Your mind is your strongest ‘muscle’

The inner drive to want something is what initially motivates us to do something, and physical fitness or power plays a key part in getting us there. But it is your mind – your mental power – that will determine whether you make it there or not.

56553818297a453ffe25acfd36895a91Take a fitness challenge – like a race or an obstacle course, or climbing a mountain. You need to be physically fit to complete it, and most people will normally follow some kind of specific plan. But if you aren’t in the right place mentally, or can’t pull on your mental strength to get you through the tough parts, it can all fail at that point.
It’s so important to make sure you focus your training on the mental side as well as the physical. But how do you do that? A few things that work for me:

  • Recognise progress
    You need to see progress in your training, and remind yourself how far you have come each time. Give yourself that pat on the back for getting through a stage, and focus on the positive elements of your progress.
  • Identify the negatives
    Yes, look at the negatives, but focus on how you can learn from them and work out how to deal with it when it happens again.
  • Look out for the signs of your mental weakness
    Learn to notice the signs of when you are feeling mentally weak during your training, and think about how you overcame them – or how you can do in the future. This will help you in the hard moments of your challenge.
  • Talk to yourself
    Listen to that inner voice, and use it to its full effect. Tell yourself you are good, you can do this, and you will feel proud at the end. This really works! You can do it our loud if you really want to 🙂
  • Visualise the end
    This really works for me. During a tough moment in a run, or when I have climbed some tough mountains, I’ve visualised myself at the finish and thought about how I will feel. And I ask myself how disappointed I will feel if I don’t push on.

And finally – Dig Deep! When you start to feel the ‘pain’, dig deep and believe in yourself. you know you can do it. As my husband frequently tells me ‘It’s all in the mind’. And it can make or break your determination.

You are stronger than you think!

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Yesterday I ran a half marathon. This was something I had been training for over the last few months, covering some good distances and racking up the mileage. Despite this however, I really didn’t believe I would be able to complete the run without stopping, or in a decent time. I even had doubts on whether I would be able to finish.

This was all ridiculous, and I had to keep giving myself a good talking to at the start and throughout the run. Of course I could do it, and of course I would do it in a decent time, and I would be ecstatic at the end.

Strength and determination stem from mental willpower and belief in yourself, and quite often you are much stronger and capable than you think. This was definitely the case for me yesterday. Whilst I knew I had it in me to complete it, I did have to keep telling myself I was strong and I could do it, and I dug deep to get myself through it.

IMG_1617It’s achievements like this that make you stronger, more capable, and more aware of your own strength and ability. I finished that run with a sprint finish (I kid you not!), over taking a few people on the last 200 metres, and I felt fantastic – so proud of myself, and yet so surprised at my own ability. Others around me never doubted me and always believed I would do it

Yesterday proved to me that we have the strength inside ourselves to achieve whatever we want, to overcome those difficult situations, and to make yourself proud.

You are MUCH stronger than you think – just remember that!

 

 

 

 

 

 

One small change…..

Making a decision to change something can be daunting, and quite often we bite off more than we can chew and end up failing. With good intentions we make statements – either to ourselves or publicly – saying we’re going to make a change and totally transform an aspect of our lives.

I’ve been here, and seen others do it. ‘Right that’s it, I’ve had enough, I’m going on a diet and I’m going to be two sizes smaller in six weeks’…’and I’m going to do it by cutting all the bad stuff out of my diet and exercising for an hour every day’. And sometimes I’ve been so determined that I have succeeded for a few days and maybe even a week. But the habits have always crept back in and I’ve usually ended back where I started – rather disappointed in myself.Practice-One-Small-Change

Over the years, I’ve realised that you need be realistic about goals and how to achieve them and one thing I’ve found that has helped is to do things one thing at a time – incorporate one small change at a time and build on it.

It takes 21 times to change or make a habit, which means if you can make a small change daily for three weeks, it should start to become ingrained in your normal processes. So rather than trying to cut everything bad out of your diet, why not try cutting out crisps for three weeks, and then try something else after that.

I did this with trying to up my water intake a few years ago – I started having a pint of room temperature water every morning as soon as I got up. It worked! After a few weeks of making myself do it (and I did need to make sure I had a post-it note on my cupboard to start with), it became a habit. I still do it now, and it has encouraged me to drink more during the day.

Small-Changes

So don’t give yourself a hard time about needing to change things – do it one small change at a time, and give yourself a pat on the back for trying. Celebrate the small successes – they all lead to bigger and better things 🙂

 

Your biggest obstacle is yourself

obstacle 2We all make excuses, place blame on circumstance or events, and even other people for things not going our way. That’s because it’s easy to do, and even easier than to admit that it is down to ‘me’. It really is true when people say that the biggest thing stopping you achieve anything is yourself.
I’m currently training for a half marathon. I’ve completed quite a few in the past and I know what to expect on the day (having run this particular course a number of times). This time round, I’ve been quite good with my training, mainly because I have been really enjoying running and I’ve seen results – my times are getting quicker and I am able to cover longer distances without too much more effort. In the past I’ve had the nagging doubt that ‘I won’t finish’ or ‘I’ll look really stupid to the crowds’ or even ‘I can’t do it’. But this time I’ve realised that the only thing that will stop me (completing the event, and doing so in a manner of which I will be proud of myself), is me!

just-do-itI know I can do it, and I can do it in a good time, and I can enjoy it. I just need to keep telling myself – keep that mantra going in my head as I run, and give myself positive boosts along the way. I’ve found this really helps when I run, and in other elements of life too – stop telling yourself you can’t do it, and think of all the ways you can manage it. Don’t blame other things or people – take responsibility for your actions, the situation, and the possible outcome. And then enjoy the feeling of achievement.

If you can overcome ‘yourself’, you can do anything you set your mind to!

Stop over-thinking, it’s wasted energy

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I am an over-thinker. There, I’ve said it. I spend too much time thinking things through to make a decision that I could have made in a much quicker time period, and without all the worry and anxiety that I put myself through (just ask my husband who is usually on the receiving end of this over-thinking!).

I’ve had lots of time to think lately, having the luxury of being away from the usual stressful workplace. But, for someone who usually over-thinks things, I’m surprised at how logical I am managing to be, and how my levels of procrastination are dipping (only slightly, it’s not a miracle).

93700-over-thinking-kills-happinessI’ve worked out that if you over-think, you just create negative energy which is wasted on worrying about things that may never happen. And it kills your happiness. It doesn’t mean I don’t worry about things anymore, I just tend to focus a bit more on the situation, analyse and make a quicker decision.

What I have found myself doing more of, is having conversations with myself about why I feel negative or worried about something, and trying to turn it around. It’s a bit like my blog about Blue Monday – don’t let yourself be dragged down by the negatives and turn your thought process on its head. And I’ve got into the habit of asking myself the following questions when I feel worried or anxious about a situation:

  1. Why do I feel worried about it?
  2. Who has control of the situation?
  3. What can I do about it at this present moment?
  4. What would make me feel better about it?

Usually by answering these questions I can put it into perspective and talk myself into not letting it take over my day. The key thing is about control, and taking that back. Realise that you are the only one who can control your life and the decisions you make, and stop worrying about what other people think.

It really is an attitude that I feel good about adopting, and it’s making a difference. Stop worrying and enjoy life.

Change – embrace or resist?

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‘Change is as good as a rest’ – how many times have you heard this? And how much do you really believe it…….

Having gone through some significant changes in my life recently, I’ve really thought about this statement a few times. I am a big believer that change is good for us, and that we should embrace it, but I am also one of those people who is naturally stubborn and doesn’t like to be ‘forced’ into doing something. For example, I am a natural early riser and have been known to go out for a run at 5 am in the morning, just because I was awake. But I struggle with the thought of having to get up early because someone else is demanding it, for example getting up for an early meeting.

stubborn-5So I am therefore naturally very stubborn when change is imposed on me and it doesn’t just happen seamlessly. Which means I tend to resist to a certain point, even though I want to embrace.

I was having a tough moment with a change this week and made myself re-evaluate the situation and work out what I could do to make it work. I realised I had a choice:

  1. I could continue to get annoyed, frustrated, upset, angry and sometimes tearful that this was happening and I didn’t feel like I could do anything about it; or,
  2. I could work out what is was that was bugging me about the change, and try to find some solutions – and maybe the solutions involved reversing the change, but at least it would be a solution.

opportunityaheadI’m still working through the solutions, but I feel much calmer about the situation in question and I think that comes down to control. If I feel I don’t have control of something (and not in a control freak kind of way), then I don’t feel like I can make things right. Support for change is also very important, and I for one need to know that if I ask for support it is there.

Change is constant and will happen for the rest of our lives, so we need to make sure we have the coping mechanisms in place now, and look on it as an opportunity. We all cope differently with change, so don’t compare yourself to others. I know some people who just have a ‘crack on and accept it’ attitude which works very well for them, but not for others like me who need to evaluate, analyse and come up with our own approach.

Stop giving yourself a hard time, and embrace all the change life has to offer.

Some tips – making that resolution

Happy New Year all! I hope 2017 brings you health, happiness and lots of good luck.

new-year-resolution-finances-2017-getty_largeI am not really a fan of New Year Resolutions, preferring to take stock of my life and my approach as I go through the year, and make changes as I feel I need them. However, I know a lot of people feel inspired to change at the start of e new year, and often see the end of one year as the best time to make a positive statement of change. So, how do you make that resolution statement and actually make it work?  Here’s some tips that work for me when I’m making a change:

Keep it simple
Don’t go overboard and try to change too much at once, because all you’re doing is setting yourself up to fail. Maybe try one small change and see how you go – you can always make more changes as you go through the year.

Choose something achievable
There’s no point in giving yourself a goal that is too far out of your reach. Starting as a size 20 and setting a goal of being a size 8 in two months is just not going to happen, and will inevitably mean you give up sooner. Start small and build. That way you can also reward yourself each time to get to a goal.

resolutions1-712x378Make a statement
You might not want to tell people what you’re doing, but consider it. By making a statement about what you want to change you will be further committing yourself, and you can always ask for their help. If you don’t want to tell people – write it down and put it somewhere you can see it every day.

Do it for you – and ask yourself why
This one is important. There is no point changing something for someone else, you have to do it for yourself. It may be that they get the positive impact of your change, but you have to have yourself in mind when you’re doing it, and you have to be clear why you are making the change – what benefit will it bring?

Focus
Get yourself organised, plan how you can support yourself through the changes you’re making, and remove anything that is going to get in the way. And be positive – remember why you’re making the change and keep going!

And finally, don’t give up! If you have a slip up, don’t worry and throw all your hard work away. Just think about what happened and how you can avoid it again, remind yourself why you’re doing it, look at how far you have come, and move on.

Good Luck – let me know how you get on!

Approach life like a child

I’m learning a lot at the moment, as I take more time to think about things and step back from the demands of a full time career. Spending every day with two small children is a real joy, and although it can be full on and sometimes a little ‘groundhog day’, I  think we can take a lot from the way children approach life.

My little girl has just learnt to walk (here comes the fun!), and is busy following her toddler brother around at full speed! Just watching her over the last few weeks has made me think we could all do with adopting her approach – she would stand, and fall, get up,…… stand, and fall, get up ……stand, and fall over and over again. And yes whilst there were tears some of the time, in the main she just got on with it until she was successful. And she was so pleased with her self when she managed a few steps and was applauded by others.

As adults I think we tend to give up much more easily than we did as a child. Some of that comes from self confidence and being beaten down over the years, but we really should remind ourselves of our abilities and strength to succeed more often.

Children also throw 100% into tasks, and will keep doing things until they succeed, even if it is really dull. Sometimes, once they have achieved it they just move on and don’t do it again – proving it really is about just being able to do it. They are full of enthusiasm and vigour when they try something, and do so with a smile (most of the time!).

So I am going to try and approach those dull, hard, have-to-be-done tasks with a child’s attitude – and see how I get on! Watch this space…….

Reflection – you need time and space

I’m currently having some time out from work. This is the first time in nearly 20 years that I have taken more than 2 weeks at a time off, and properly switched off from work, and it has been a real eye and mind-opener for me.

I’m sure many women (and men) go through this when they have babies, or take time out to raise their families, but I have been amazed at how time and space away from the daily stresses and strains of work has opened my mind and calmed me. Despite the pressure of an instant family and adjusting to a new role in my personal life (which I am loving by the way!), I have never felt so open to life and the opportunities it can bring. I’ve realised that this has come about because I have allowed myself the time and space to consider options. My husband has noticed too as we have had lots of deep conversations about the future and our joint goals and dreams.

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pic: Grasmere in the Lake District on a trip in Nov 2015

Even though I told myself ‘work is not everything’ when I was working,  I gave it my all and immersed myself in it, stressing about things that really seem trivial now. Being away from it all I can see that there is more to life (I know it is a cliche!), and I can feel myself chilling out and being more relaxed about certain things. One thing I will always be concerned about though is finance, and that means I will need to return to work at some point, but hopefully I will do so in a much better frame of mind and with a more relaxed approach to things.

I’ve realised that in order to reflect on important decisions, and really see what options are available, you need to give yourself proper time and space away from the daily stress. not an easy thing to do when you are caught up, but I am going to give it my best shot – I’m loving this new found approach to life!

Here I am…..

So I’m in, I’m set up, and I’m ready to go……! Now what to write about..?

All those thoughts I’ve had about topics when I’ve been out running, or walking in the park with the children, all the lists I’ve written down, all the photos I’ve taken as ideas, all the discussions I’ve had with my (very patient) husband….now I just need an awesome topic to kick-start my blog. And none of them seem appropriate!

So here I am, about to start a new adventure and I have so much to talk about. I’m a normal regular woman, married, work full time in quite a demanding role – to be fair I let it demand way too much from me – and I have two gorgeous children and a crazy dog. I’m currently on maternity leave, and I’ve set myself the challenge to get my arse into gear and do the things I enjoy more:

  • fitness
  • personal training and coaching
  • cooking and baking
  • writing
  • spending more time with people who matter
  • learning
  • appreciating life
  • live better!

So let’s see how this goes….I’m already enjoying the journey!