Start with self awareness

In my last post I wrote about negative self talk and the fact it is not okay to put yourself down or to call yourself horrible names. However, we’re human and doubting ourselves and being self critical is in our nature. Even the most self assured and confident person in the world will have bad days.

I have recognised some situations where I’m more likely to slip into being self critical and so I take measures to reduce the chances of falling into using unkind and judgemental self talk.

Like so many people, I’m likely to be unkind to myself when I’m struggling with my body image. Feelings of dislike and shame for my body and appearance are often triggered when I go clothes shopping. Feeling crappy about myself is definitely not limited to those times only 🤦🏼‍♀️ but it’s a situation where I know I can find body acceptance more difficult.

Because I have acknowledged that when I try on new clothes I can start to spiral into feelings of unease, frustration and disgust. I have developed ways to make clothes shopping easier and reduce the number of negative thoughts that arise.

Here are some things that I have found work for me, feel free to use them:

⁃ I remind myself that I am so much more than my body. My body does not equal my worth.

⁃ I don’t attach myself to one clothes size, so I will never say ‘I am a size X’. I will wear whatever size fits my body best.

⁃ If something doesn’t fit me or suit me I do not blame my body. That piece of clothing is wrong (for me), my body is never wrong. It is not what needs to change.

⁃ I show myself some self love and treat myself to a fake tan before I go shopping – might sound strange but I feel so much better when I have a tan, especially when the harsh lighting in changing rooms washes me out.

If you can, identify the situations where you know you will be harder on yourself, try to take steps towards achieving a more positive experience. Being self aware is the first important step to change our thought patterns. It allows us to move away from a place full of self loathing to a place of neutrality and self compassion and finally towards self love 💕

Paula xo

The language you use, matters…

How do you talk to yourself? Is the voice in your head kind and compassionate? Or is it harsh and cruel? What words do you use to speak to yourself? Would you direct those same words towards a friend?

I think we can all agree that it is not okay to call someone else horrible names, but many of us don’t hesitate to do exactly that to ourselves. Young children can recognise bullying and the vast majority of them know that it is not okay to bully anyone, ever, but many of us adults beat ourselves up and put ourselves down on a daily basis. It needs to stop.

Being aware of our self talk is the first step towards changing it. A lot of our internal dialogue is on autopilot. We are letting it play, listening to it as if it’s valid, absorbing it, allowing it to change our mood and set off a cascade of negative emotions without ever stopping to check whether it’s acceptable or not. Our thoughts are just our thoughts, they’re not always true or right or valid, we create them and we do not have to accept them.

The next time you’re feeling yourself spiralling into negative self talk, to start with, try to be more aware of it, recognise that it’s negative and just observe it. Try to step back from the thoughts and observe them rather than getting consumed by them and allowing them to trigger a cascade of emotions.

By separating yourself from negative self talk you are acknowledging that it’s not really you, it’s just your insecurities and doubts bubbling to the surface. Everyone has these thoughts but only some of us choose to listen to them and believe them to be true.

To start with, try to move towards being more accepting of yourself. You do not have to love yourself or suddenly become the most confident person in the world, but try to be neutral about aspects of yourself you have previously disliked. Remember – if you don’t have anything nice to say, just don’t say anything at all.

Anxiety & Me

Earlier this week, I watched Nadiya Hussain’s documentary ‘Anxiety and Me.’ it encouraged me to write this post. So, today marks the end of Mental Health Awareness week and although we have come a long way in removing the stigma around mental health, I have found from experience that there is still judgement and misunderstanding around mental health.

For as long as I can remember my default is to worry and to feel anxious. When my anxiety levels are high, I have a constant feeling of unease, I can’t relax and I cannot shake the feeling that something’s wrong. I feel irritable and emotional and I usually withdraw from social situations. When my anxiety is at it’s worst, the physical symptoms I experience include: shortness of breath, chest pains, heart palpitations and dizziness.

I have found ways to dampen the intensity of my anxiety disorder but I don’t think I will ever be completely rid of it. For me, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, meditating, reading and practising gratitude all seem to have a positive impact.

I would class myself as ‘high functioning’ so despite the anxiety I feel, I’m able to achieve, to work, socialise and maintain healthy relationships. Like many others with anxiety, I am able to hide my inner turmoil behind a smile and a laugh. It is only my very closest friends and family that can see when I’m struggling.

I know that having anxiety does not make me weak, it does not make me delicate or fragile. I am strong. I am strong because despite the feelings of dread and doom, I push forwards, I do my best and I’m full of hope and optimism.

Have the courage to try again

I’ve been pretty much absent on my social media accounts over the past few months, I discussed the reasons why I took a step back in a previous post so won’t bore you with the details! I have wanted to get stuck back in again for a while now and start producing content for you all but I have found that the longer I left my social media pages, the harder it’s been to get going again…

I’ve noticed this with other habits too – particularly the daily habit of meditation! I think when you start a new habit the novelty of it keeps you going for a while until it becomes a true habit. But, if you stop a habit, for whatever reason, then starting it again seems harder. There’s no longer any novelty about it, you’ve been there, tried that before and failed to keep it up so no point in trying again, right?

Well if there’s anything I’ve learnt, it’s that you’re perception and response to ‘failure’ matters. Being consistent over a long ass time is what gets you the results you want and nobody is perfect, so it’s impossible to maintain all your habits all of the time.

It’s okay to miss a habit for one day, a week or even a month or two – look at the bigger picture. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. What differentiates successful people is their courage to try again and again, to continue despite setbacks.

So if you’ve dropped a ball you’ve been juggling, firstly, don’t sweat it (remember, self compassion!) Then, if you want to and as soon as you’re ready, pick that mother fucker back up and get juggling again!

Paula xo

I am qualified in Exercise Nutrition!

I have been completely neglecting to produce any content as of lately. I have been challenging my energy into other pursuits and something had to give. As we entered into the new year, my prioritises changed – I decided that I wanted to complete my Nutritional Certification before March, our wedding planning stepped up a gear and Dan and I committed to doing a photoshoot in April, the lead up to which involves focused training and nutritional programming.

As much as I enjoy writing this blog, for the past month I couldn’t muster up the enthusiasm to be creative or find the time to sit down and write. In January producing content for the blog, wedding planning, studying, training, food prep, practising as a chiropractor and the usual day to day tasks just all felt too much. I was overwhelmed so I made a decision to reduce my load – I assessed my priorities and decided that my blog needed take the backseat. This decision wasn’t something at the time I felt good about or really wanted to do, but I am so grateful I did.

I think throughout life, we have to give ourselves permission to give up something that no longer serves us. It’s okay to reduce our workloads and to say no, it’s okay to quit. I am trying to lead an authentic life, to practise what I preach. Being stressed out, staying up late to get things ticked off the to do list and spreading myself thinly just lead to anxiety and worry. My mental health is one of my top priorities and I encourage everyone adopt behaviours that support good mental health. I cannot preach this and then abuse my own by taking on too much.

The decision to reduce my workload paid off and I am super happy to say that after studying for the best part of a year I have earned Precision Nutrition’s Level 1 certificate in Exercise Nutrition! It’s been a huge commitment, including reading THE biggest textbook ever, filling out a workbook, watching online videos and completing modular online exams. I am so grateful that Dan pushed me into doing this course – it was outside my comfort zone and was probably the biggest commitment to learning I had taken since graduating with my Masters Degree. Feeling that I am growing and learning is essential for my overall happiness so this achievement means a lot to me and I cannot wait to share valuable nutrition content with you all!

Paula xo

Save yourself

In the U.K. we are fortunate to have free access to healthcare, I’m grateful that my loved ones and I have somewhere to go if we get sick or injured and it baffles me that some take it for granted and some go as far to abuse it.

The very things that make the NHS what it is, free and accessible to everyone, seems to be resulting a population who feel entitled and take less and less responsibility for their own health. When the NHS was founded, it was done so for a smaller population with less complicated health issues. The NHS simply wasn’t designed to meet the demands of a chronically sick nation. For the NHS to survive and so that future generations get to benefit from the service, I believe we need to change the way we view and treat our health. We need to focus on prevention, on staying as healthy and independent as we can, for as long as possible.

The NHS already invests so much in helping those who are in ill health, it is estimated that the average adult in the UK will spend the last 17 years of their life in poor health. The government has pledged to spend more money on services that promote wellbeing and tackle the root causes of poor health. This is a step in the right direction but this alone won’t be enough. We need to take responsibility of our health, of our family’s health, we must own our decisions and do our bit.

There are diseases or conditions that cannot be prevented – these are usually present at birth or are inherited through faulty genetics. However, these are rare and do not account for the majority of NHS spending. The biggest killers and biggest costs to the NHS are all chronic, preventable diseases which arise from lifestyle choices. If there was less chronic, preventable disease, more money could be spent on services and resources needed by people who have no control over their illness, who were just dealt a bad hand.

I was recently sent the picture above and I love the message it sends. I would argue that it is the individual’s responsibility to maintain their own good health. Too many of us make choices every day that harm our health. We know that if we eat too much, smoke cigarettes, drink excessive amounts of alcohol, exercise too little, don’t prioritise getting enough sleep and fail to manage stress we are increasing our risk of developing a host of chronic diseases. I question whether these choices would be as readily accepted and adopted if the NHS wasn’t there to pick up the pieces.

Ultimately, our health impacts us more than anyone else. We have one body, take care of it, don’t wait until you’re already sick, act now and save yourself.

Paula xo

The importance of good friends.

Loneliness is known to be a threat to our physical and mental health, social connections are a crucial component of maintaining good health and wellbeing. It is estimated that there are 9 million lonely people in the UK. The lack of social connection they are experiencing is thought to be as damaging to their health as obesity or smoking 15 cigarettes a day!

We have all felt the benefit that good friendships have on our mental health. Nothing leaves you feeling brighter than getting together with friends. Friendships are especially important if you are going through a difficult time and you need someone to talk to. Having connections with others lowers stress, decreases your risk of developing depression, boosts self-esteem, self-confidence and self-worth. The physical benefits of friendship are also just as incredible. Feeling loved and connected reduces your risk of developing chronic disease including heart disease and dementia. You are also more likely to maintain your independence as you age and have a lower use of medication.

While friendships can be a source of support, love and laughter, I think it’s important to be aware of negative friendships. In my youth, I tolerated friendships that dragged me down. I has so called ‘friends’ that would judge me harshly, criticise me and be anything but supportive of my goals. A true friend is understanding and encouraging. They see the good in you, even when you can’t, they lift you up and don’t tear you down. They applaud your successes loudly without a hint of jealousy. There is balance in a good friendship, you are there for each other equally.

I think that I tolerated bad friendships in the past because I didn’t have confidence to stand up for myself or walk away. If you find yourself with friends that do any of the following- they’re highly critical, they judge you or use you for their own gain, work on your relationship with yourself. If you build up your levels of self love and compassion, you’ll find that you no longer suffer the company of bad friends. Once you realise your worth I don’t think it is necessary to consciously confront people about their behaviour or cut people out of your life, you will just naturally drift away from them. Of course, if you really value a friend and they have been acting differently lately, have an honest conversation with them.

I’m very lucky to now have a small circle of friends that I can rely on. Here’s a gift I received from a friend recently, if this isn’t the sign of a great friendship where women empower women then I don’t know what is!

Paula xo