Salad Free Zone

Holidays play havoc with your waistline – and your fitness levels.

Outside of normal routines, often with fewer opportunities for exercise. Ice creams, beer gardens, meals out. A cheeky afternoon tea and cake. Seaside fish and chips.

This past week I’ve officially been living in a salad free zone. I’ve managed a few short runs but that’s about it.

But I’m ok with it. There’s room for balance in all things. Every now and then it’s just fine to drop your routine and have a little of what you fancy.

What matters is picking it back up again afterwards.

See you in the gym, tomorrow.

Running Tourist.

I love to run on holiday, especially when there’s a chance to run by the sea.

There’s something about the air, being somewhere new, not being entirely sure of your route.

Yesterday was hot. I set out with a vague idea where I would head after a glance at Google maps. I ran through a housing estate before stumbling upon a beautiful cove and following a coast path for a little while. Not wanting to simply retrace my steps when it was time to turn for (holiday) home, I picked a random road that looked like it was heading in roughly the right direction.

Shame about the giant hill in the middle of it. Half way up, I had to stop for breath. Heat and hills aren’t my favourite combination. Another, much fitter runner cruised past me. He clapped me on the back.

‘Carry on, you can do it.’

And he was right, I could.

Mindless Eating

I had a meeting a couple of days ago, in a room where earlier on,  a training course had taken place.

The training course delegates had had a buffet.

They hadn’t eaten the crisps.

I know right?

I mean what sort of people had been on this training course anyway?

As I chatted to a colleague, I put my hand in the bowl and helped myself.

And then again, and then again.

I looked down five minutes later and realised I had munched a massive pile of the things without even noticing.

They were nice, but I hadn’t been hungry and I didn’t really need or want them.

They had just been there. It was completely mindless eating.

There was no active thought process.

This is so easy to do. Something left on the kids plate.  Biscuits in the office.  Leftovers on the cooker.  An empty packet of something or other in the fridge.

Automatic pilot kicks in – and off we go.

Afterwards, the recognition……. and the regret.

Are you eating mindfully – or just eating?


Fresh Starts

There’s a poem that speaks to me. It’s called Everything Changes by Bertolt Brecht.  A slightly tired copy, picked up from a café, is pinned to the noticeboard in my kitchen, where it often catches my eye.

Everything changes. You can make
A fresh start with your final breath.
But what has happened has happened. And the water
You once poured into the wine cannot be
Drained off again.

What has happened has happened. The water
You once poured into the wine cannot be
Drained off again, but
Everything changes. You can make
A fresh start with your final breath.

Today a colleague reflected that when it comes to your wellbeing, sometimes life just throws you a curve ball and our all good intentions disappear. And then all you can do is pick yourself up and carry on.  It made me think of Brecht’s words.  You can make a fresh start with your final breath.


We’ve all been there. Made resolutions we have not kept.  Joined a gym and not gone.  Started a diet and eaten all the cake.  Planned to give something up, and then fallen off the wagon.  Intended to find that elusive better work life balance… and then just found more work.

But we can always begin again. Start over.

Just because we didn’t quite get there last time, something got in the way (or we got in our own way, doesn’t mean we can’t make tomorrow the day we focus on our wellbeing.

You can make a fresh start with your final breath.


Go run

I’m not a runner, I hear you say.

I didn’t think I was a runner either, until I ran.

Being a runner doesn’t mean completing marathons or even joining a local running club.  It doesn’t mean competing or living a certain kind of lifestyle.

It simply means having some trainers and running in them.  Running isn’t for everyone  but it is great cardiovascular exercise, it’s free, gets you out in the fresh air and almost everyone (certain health conditions aside) can do it.

Parkrun is a free, timed and local 5K that takes place in thousands of locations all over the world on Saturday mornings.  If you search online you will be able to find your nearest group – and I cannot recommend it more highly, especially for new runners.  You will find a warm and welcoming community.  There will of course be the superfast runners, but there will also be people walking, joining in with dogs or pushchairs, and no one cares if you aren’t very fast.

If you don’t want to join a group, the Couch to 5K app is great.  You can simply plug in your headphones and follow the instructions that include running and walking combinations, slowly building your abilities until you can run the whole way.

Starting to run might sound like big and scary thing to do. It might not sound like ‘you’.  But you don’t know what you are capable of until you try. Feel the fear and do it anyway.

If you try running, remember that slow is just fine.  You are still lapping everybody sitting on the sofa.   And at an event like park run, DFL (Dead F***ing Last) is always better than DNS (Did Not Start).

You don’t have to go fast, you just have to go.


New Year, Same You

I do love new year. It is a time for me of reflection; thinking about the year that has almost gone, planning for the one still to come.  But this time of year can promote the unhealthiest of habits (no, not Prosecco).  The idea that at midnight, everything changes.  That somehow, with just a strong dose of willpower, the help of the latest guru or a bunch of promises to yourself or others, January 1st is the day.  New year, new you.

new you

It is of course, a heady mix of marketing and hype. After the holiday excesses comes the guilt trip. We can make it all okay, all better, all over again.  If we just buy more stuff and spend more money.

The problem with the new year, new you narrative is the underlying suggestion that there was something wrong with the old you. The old you ate too much, mediated too infrequently, failed to exercise sufficiently, didn’t detox and so on.

First things first. The old you is awesome.  You are not what you eat, how much you weight, how much you drink, the carbs you consume, the gym visits you undertake.

If you want to make a change in your life, by all means start at the beginning of the year. But please, don’t make a big long list.  Don’t try and change everything all at once.  It is too big, too scary, too much to deal with cognitively.  Those new white, clean trainers will never make it to worn.  Instead, think about this.  What is the single most important thing you want to work on for your wellbeing right now? What one thing can you do to support that?

And then do it. Keep doing it for a while, until you are happy with it, until it becomes a habit, until you are satisfied.  Then pick something else.  Whatever day of the year that turns out to be.

Change enough of the small stuff bit by bit. It will all add up to big stuff by the end of the year.

New year, same awesome you.

Don’t fall for the hype

Man in Santa Claus Costume


Somewhere, right now, there is a celebrity.

She (for it is ever thus), hasn’t had a mince pie this festive season.

Not a single Quality Street has passed her lips.

No pigs in blankets are on the Christmas lunch menu.

For this celebrity is on a diet. She’s been on a diet for a while now.  Low, low calorie.

She’ll have been spending some serious time in the gym. Supported by professionals all the way.

She’s lost the weight. She’s toned up all of the important bits.

And it is time for the paparazzi photos and the Boxing Day DVD to drop and all of the congratulations to roll in. Doesn’t she looks amazing?!

But she knows what is coming too, deep down.

That you can’t sustain very low calorie for too long. That real life gets in the way.  That wanting a life will get in the way.

That the industry will move onto the next quick fix and quick buck.

Those magazines that flaunted her new figure will line up to share pictures of any future weight gain. Any future dare to drop the façade.  Any sign of being human.

Spare a thought for this celebrity and her Prosecco free Christmas.

And don’t fall for the hype. `

One lamppost at a time

I love exercise. But I don’t love running.

I recognise the benefits it can bring me, and after I’ve run I feel a sneaking satisfaction, but it will never be my exercise of choice.

If I have a choice, I cycle or I go the gym. But as the nights are drawing in I’m not so confident on my bike, so in the last few weeks I’ve switched to evening running.  And oh, can my body feel how long it has been……  My longest ever run was a half marathon.  The whole way around my legs wondering what the heck was happening to them and when would it every end?  There’s no way I could do that right now.  So I am back to what I did when I first took up running.  Lamppost training.

It’s my very own form of fartlek. I run as far as I can, and then I aim for the next lamppost.  And then the next.  When I need to stop to walk a little, then it’s just to the next lamppost and no further.

The more I run, the most lampposts I tick off, the strong and faster and better I become. The only way to get better at running, is to run.

There’s no shame in being slow and steady. In walking a little when you need to.  You don’t need special equipment or a fancy running watch.  You just need to get out there and do it.

One lamppost at a time.


Autumn Feels

I love to exercise outside.  When there’s no time to drive to the gym or a whole hour for a class, outside is easy.  No fuss or cost or timetables.  No noise nor conversation.  Just me.

For weeks and months now, my evening bike rides and runs have been filled with sunshine and warmth.  Those extra layers of winter clothing not required.  It’s easy to forget what winter brings.

But this last week or so, you can feel the change in the air.  Tonight, as I cycled through my local park, the leaves were starting to fall.  In a few more weeks the nights will draw in, and the light filled rides along the waterfront will stop…. for a little while.

It is harder to get motivated to exercise when it is dark and cold.  But I do believe every season brings something a little special for those that brave it.


Autumn. Crunchy leaves.  All the colours.  The smell of bonfires and fireworks.

Winter.  Crispy, cold, bright mornings.  Bundled up in your extra layers.  Breath fogging in front of you.  On the run up to Christmas, passing the fairy lights and the decorated trees.  Feeling like you’re a little bit badass because everyone else is indoors and you are in the streets.

And then to spring.  There’s that first evening you get home from work and there’s still plenty of daylight.  Flowers and trees waking up, seeing the change day by day.  The promise of warmer days just around the corner.

But from here on in, for a little while, its freezing noses all the way.

Bring it on.

I see you


She’s new, I think.

She seems unsure. A little uncertain, especially around the big machines, the gym hardcore elite.

The weights don’t sit neatly in her hands… just yet.

She looks around, but doesn’t make eye contact.

She hangs out only in the deserted areas of the gym floor.

She is dressed like I did, when I first started out. Covering up as much as possible.

Nervous laughter.

She has someone with her. From the corner of my eye they are doing all the right things.

Starting slow. Demonstrating technique.  Encouraging smiles.

I see you, I want to say to her. I see you and I feel you.

Stick with it, I want to tell her.  A few weeks from now you will feel stronger and more confident.  Just stick with it.  Keep coming.  Listen to your guide.

Believe in yourself, I want to cheerlead for her.

The stuff you are doing today can be your warm up in the future.

You got this.

I see you.

And I know I’ll see you soon.