Honouring our mothers (and mother figures)

As it’s Mother’s Day, I thought I would talk a bit about honouring our mothers and mother figures today.

I’m lucky. My relationship with my mum is pretty spot on. We get on, we chat – we’re friends. But I know not everyone has this. I know people who have lost their mothers. Some have a difficult relationship with them.

So, on days like today when everyone is shouting about how wonderful their mothers are – what can you do?

I like to think mothers day isn’t necessarily just for biological mothers. I think it should be a day when you can look around, see just who is supporting you and say thank you.

If your mum is around, go for coffee and talk. Talk about when you were born, what your mother went through, how it made her feel. Nobody’s perfect and being a mum is, I imagine, not all fun and games. Acknowledge this and, if you can, honour it. Honour it with a thank you, a gesture – no matter how small.

If your mother is no longer in this world (getting spiritual here guys), give her some good thoughts. Remember what she taught you when she was here and what life lessons you have learnt. Look to the mother figures in your life and reach out to say thank you (even if it’s your dad).

If you have a difficult relationship with her, think about what she’s teaching you. Even if it’s a lesson in how not to parent… And of course if you can find forgiveness and compassion in your heart, let it show.

And above all else, remember that all these ‘days’ are made up by greeting card companies and don’t have to mean jack shit if you don’t want them to.

I like being able to share my gratitude with my mum today, because I know I’m terrible at doing it any other day, so mum, I know you’re reading this…

Thank you. Thank you for all you do for our family, for supporting us, holding us together and of course for bringing us into the world. We know you’ll always be there for us and that knowledge is more than anyone could ever ask for.

– InstagramTwitterFacebookPinterest –

Looking after your mental health

Most of us are pretty clued up about physical health. We know what we should do to keep ourselves fit and healthy (whether or not we actually do it is another story, but you get what I’m saying), but what about looking after our mental health?

Some people will be reading this and thinking, “I don’t have a mental illness I don’t need to worry about that”, and to those people I want to say… oh honey, no.

We ALL have mental health and we ALL need to look after it.

Mental health doesn’t just cover conditions or ‘disorders’, it covers stress, loneliness, grief, feeling anxious, low self-confidence…. everything.

After experiencing my own mental health issues and working at the Counselling Directory for years, I’ve learnt a huge amount. The biggest lesson I’ve learnt though is probably that looking after ourselves and practicing self-care is key to helping prevent small concerns turning into all-consuming crises.

looking-after-mental-health-3

Mental health is just as important as physical health. This is why I’m so keen to talk about both aspects in the ‘health‘ category of Blue Jay. To feel well and ‘healthy’ in life, we must look at the whole picture.

OK, so now I’ve lectured you all about the importance of mental health – how can we actually go about looking after it?

Below are a few things that may help. Just remember though, we’re all beautiful unique little snowflakes, so what works for me may not work for you. Take these suggestions as inspiration and see how you get on.

Looking after your mental health:

simple self-care practices

  • Check in with yourself. So often we don’t realise something is wrong until we have a physical symptom. If I’m suffering from a lot of headaches, it’s a sign that I’m stressed (or hungry… but that’s basically the same as stressed, right?). So rather than waiting for your body to say ‘hey, something aint right here’, try to check in with yourself every now and then. How are you feeling? What’s going right? What’s going wrong? What do you need?
  • Spend some quality time with you. As great as it is to be social, sometimes we all need a little alone time to process things. Why not have a night in to read your favourite book? Or go to the cinema solo to see that film your boyfriend isn’t interested in (and get all the popcorn).
  • Spend some quality time with others. Yeah, this is (contradictorily) important too. Sometimes when we’re feeling a bit off we shy away from others. If you’re feeling isolated call a friend and go for coffee. Have a chat and be honest about your feelings. You’ll be surprised how much a good chat can help.
  • Journal. I know, I always harp on about this, but I honestly think it does wonders for your mental health. Note down when things aren’t feeling right and try to spot any patterns, or just jot down some things you’re grateful for.
  • Surround yourself with positivity. Follow inspirational people on social media, read uplifting magazines, watch a film that makes you smile. The world can be a scary place, sometimes we need to protect ourselves.
  • Reach out. Sometimes, we simply need an extra hand of support. This could be from a family member, a friend, someone on an online forum or a counsellor. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, it is a testament to your strength and courage.

Bonus tip – surround yourself with cute cats and pretty plants to remind yourself life is good. 

Nothing ground-breaking here I know, but it’s incredible how often we let our mental health fall off our priority list.

Let’s pick that bad boy up and put it to the top.

– InstagramTwitterFacebookPinterest –

Inspiring people to follow on social media

Recently I have been really enjoying social media. I know that’s quite an odd thing to say, let me explain.

Social media has become so intrenched into our daily lives, it can feel very passive. We sit and scroll aimlessly, often forgetting to look up. The media is full of tips on disconnecting and stories telling us ‘social media makes you depressed’…

but what if there’s another way?

To clarify, I totally support disconnecting from time to time and paying attention to the world around you, BUT – I do think you can enjoy social media and make it a positive part of your day.

screen-shot-2017-03-04-at-17-48-37

me attempting to up my game on Instagram!

After watching the Minimalist documentary on Netflix, the first thing I did was ‘cleanse’ my social media feeds. This basically meant going through and unfollowing anyone that was filling my feeds with negativity or just junk.

I then started finding people and brands that would fill my feeds with VALUE. They’re either people I know and love in real life, or people/brands that inspire me.

So now, my social feeds are full of support, positivity and light. I’m much more engaged and active too. I comment, I join conversations, I’m social.

If you follow me on Instagram you may have noticed I’m now posting daily and playing with insta-stories. I’m learning more about this platform and it’s inspiring me to up my game photography-wise… and I’m bloody loving it.

But it’s the people I follow that make my scrolling inspiring and not mind-numbing. I feel like I’m quietly joining a community of like-minded souls on the vast expanse of the Internet.

Inspiring people to follow on social media

I’m going to try and keep this brief as there’s so many people I could point to, but here’s a quick run down of who I’m loving on social media right now – I’ve linked to their Instagram accounts as that’s where I hang out most *stalker alert*.

bodyposipanda

I discovered Megan through Oh Comely magazine and fell in social love (is that a thing? It should be a thing). A recovered anorexic, Megan is all about body positivity, self-acceptance and shunning an industry that profits on our self-loathing, amen to that.

kayley.e

Kayley is the CEO of Wear Your Label, a clothing brand my colleague found that encourages conversation around mental health. I love her openness and #girlboss attitude. Also I want to buy all of her company’s clothes. Immediately.

katherine_ormerod

Editor of workworkwork.co which describes itself as “An anti-perfectionism platform for women to share their challenges & triumphs both in & out the office.”, Katherine is relatable and and I really enjoy the website’s content and ethos.

(shout out to my colleague Ellen who pointed me in the direction of both Wear Your Label and WorkWorkWork – girl has excellent taste)

hannahrainey_

I originally found Hannah on Twitter after seeing the hashtag #TalkMH which she created. This hashtag is used to encourage people to talk about mental health and support each other. The Twitter chats are an inspiring place and a shining example of how social media can be used in a positive and healthy way.

kay_ska

A mental health blogger, Kay is sharing her healing journey in an honest and powerful way. She’s confronting her fears head on and I’m finding her body acceptance and positivity truly inspiring.

tattooedyogimama

Tattoed Yogi Mama is just a frickin’ ray of light. She’s an ‘ED survivor’ (eating disorder survivor) a ‘spoonie’ (lives with chronic illness) mother of three with a love of yoga,  tattoos and self-love. I’ll be honest, I mainly follow her for her videos in Instagram stories, she’s awesome. Get involved.

OK, that’s a few to get you started. I could have pointed you to all the huge wellness ‘gurus’ and Youtubers out there, but hopefully there’s a few people here you haven’t come across before.

So, who else do I need to start following?! Let me know in the comments below or, hey – why not give me a shout on social?

– InstagramTwitterFacebookPinterest –

letting-go-of-perfect

Letting go of perfect

How often do you tell yourself you’re not good enough?

Whether at work or home, a lot of us have a view of what perfect looks like. The perfect wife. The perfect employee. The perfect friend. We hold ourselves up to these impossible standards, compare ourselves to others and feel like shit when we don’t achieve them.

Since when did perfect become the end goal? I guess social media hasn’t helped here. With Pinterest and Instagram showing us pictures of other people being the ‘perfect’ version of themselves, it’s hard not to compare.

I used to struggle with this a lot when I was younger. I never thought I was good enough, pretty enough, thin enough.

I remember I used to horse ride, and was pretty good at it. I then quit for a while and returned to it when I went to uni. Because I hadn’t ridden in so long, instead of being the ‘best in class’ I was one of the worst. I HATED this and promptly stopped riding for good. Which, now I look back at it, is pretty sad.

Why can’t we be OK with being… just OK at something? Or simply accepting that we have flaws?

I hated this picture of me initially, because my hair was messy… *eyeroll* time to get over it.

It all boils down to the way we treat ourselves. We have to be able to give ourselves a break from time to time and take. Off. The. Pressure.

Letting go of perfect

  • Look at your expectations, are they realistic? Give yourself permission to change them.
  • Stop the negative self-talk. Right now. Show yourself a little compassion, we’re only human.
  • Accept your flaws, they are beautiful. No one can be good at everything.
  • Stop procrastinating and start doing. If you wait until things are ‘perfect’ before you do something, it’ll never get done.
  • What are you really afraid of? Think about what would happen if you didn’t achieve your goal, or if you fall short of your own expectations – would it really be that bad?
  • Accept other people’s flaws too. Learn to love them…. or at least work around them.

When we let go of this idea that we have to be the best at everything, we give ourselves permission to be ourselves in all our flawed glory. And once that happens, you can really have some fun.

Copy of In a society that profits from your self-doubt.png– InstagramTwitterFacebookPinterest –

How to become a morning exerciser

How to become a morning exerciser

“Urghhh, you’re one of those people?” I hear you groan. Yeah I am (sorry about that) but I wasn’t always, I swear!

In fact up until last year the thought of getting up before the crack of dawn to exercise would have me laughing, rolling around the floor saying ‘hellllllll no’. I love sleep. I love bed. Why on earth would I leave them?

When I first joined the gym, I went after work, like a lot of people. But I struggled.

After a hard day at work, the idea of driving through rush-hour traffic to fight for a parking space and then fight for machines at the gym was… well, let’s just say it rarely happened.

When I moved in with Emily, I watched in awe as she got up early and went to the gym before work. Whenever she suggested I work out in the morning I used to say “oh no, I can’t do that, I’m not a morning person.”

morning-exercise-4

Contemplating my life decisions.

But after a while I realised that although I was saying “I can’t”… I had never actually tried.

So how did I know, really? I thought to myself…. maybe, just maybe, if I can get past my aversion to getting up early, I could do this.

And I did. I started setting my alarm, getting up and either doing some strength training at home or going to the gym.

Let’s be serious though – it was hard. It was really bloody hard. But you do get used to it and the benefits for me far outweigh the pain of waking up early. Now, I wouldn’t do it any other way.

Benefits of working out in the morning:

  • Less chance of talking yourself out of it  Your alarm’s gone off, you’re awake, this is happening. When I had a whole day of work before the gym it was far too easy to talk myself out of going.
  • No traffic – This is a huge plus for someone who doesn’t love driving!
  • Loads of parking – What’s that? A space right by the gym entrance? Lovely.
  • Quiet gym – No more awkward ‘are you going to be done soon’ side-eye moments.
  • Feeling pumped before you get to work – Oh hey there energy and endorphins! Good morning to you too.
  • Not having to work out after work – Ahhhhh now this is the best bit. You’ve worked out already, so if you really want, just flop in front of the TV tonight – go on, you deserve it.

I should say at this point that morning exercise isn’t for everyone and I appreciate that a lot of people are fully capable of motivating themselves to get to the gym after work. For me, it just didn’t work. I also know that I am lucky – I live close to my gym so don’t have to get up stupidly early to fit it in before work.

If you can logistically work out in the morning and want to try it – give these tips a go, they may help.

morning-exercise-1

How to become a morning exerciser

  • Lay out your gym kit/clothes the night before. This is important! Make life as easy as possible for yourself. Having your gym kit ready to go and in your eye line mentally prepares you, gives you a little motivational boost in the morning and saves you valuable time!
  • Have a dressing gown close to hand. It’s cold in the morning in the UK and it’s warm and lovely in bed. Make the transition easier by swaddling yourself in a cosy dressing gown as soon as you roll out of bed.
  • Move quickly. The longer you faff, the easier it’ll be to say ‘nah mate’ and go back to bed. Once I’m up I promptly wash my face, brush my teeth, get my gym gear on and go go go!
  • Blast some tunes on your way to the gym. This’ll wake you up and get you in the exercising headspace. Bonus points for singing along.
  • Eat a decent breakfast after. I personally don’t eat before I exercise, I wait until after and then stuff my face with oats and fruit. I don’t do anything too hardcore at the gym and feel better working out on an empty stomach, this may just be me though. See how you feel and listen to your body.
  • Enjoy the morning! There is something quite special about being up before most people, especially when you get to see a nice sunrise.

And there you have it. A few ways you can become one of those annoying perky morning gym-goers.

Yes, you will struggle at first, you will feel exhausted after lunch, you will feel like a zombie – but you will adjust. You will start going to bed earlier and you will feel better for moving your lovely body more.

The key take-away here? Don’t say you ‘can’t’ do something until you’ve tried it.

– InstagramTwitterFacebookPinterest –

Are you trapped in your comfort zone?

Comfort zones are nice, aren’t they? They’re where we feel safe, confident and – well, comfortable. But apparently, if we are to believe everything those motivational quotes on Pinterest tell us, life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Comfort zones are the easy option. There is very little effort required.

I’ll be honest here, they are my preferred option. I see myself as a content person, but a little while ago I stopped, looked around in my comfortable little bubble and realised if I push myself… great things could happen.

Let’s delve a little deeper and split into two categories – work and life.

Work

My comfort zone – I’ve been at my place of work for over four years now and I love it, but last year I felt like I was treading water. I was going through the motions and felt like I was saying no to new ideas too much. I had become a bit complacent to be honest.

Pushing the boundaries – The Christmas break came at the best time for me and two weeks away from work was exactly what I needed. I came back in January with a fresh mindset and re-discovered my ‘why’. I now make time to be creative – read articles, keep up with the industry and explore new ideas. I listen to my colleagues and try new things more.

How to escape your comfort zone – If you’re feeling complacent, stifled or even, dare I say it… bored, try to think how you can push yourself. Do you need to allocate time for creative thinking? Would some training help you expand your skills?

Speak to your manager about steps you can take to improve your offering at work – sometimes we have to push ourselves and ask for more.

Life

My comfort zone – Outside of work I feel anxiety plays a big part of me feeling trapped in my comfort zone, especially when it comes to driving. If i can get away with not driving, or only going to places I know… I will. I find it really hard to push myself to do something that effectively, scares the shit out of me.

Pushing the boundaries – I keep saying to myself ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’. I think about the times I have done just that and how amazing I felt after. For example: interviewing obscure bands in East London, enjoying a solo lunch in Dubai on my birthday, travelling to Thailand and Costa Rica alone… zip lining through the Costa Rican rain forrest.

I think about how great it feels when I do actually poke my head out of my comfort zone and try to apply it to my driving. It’s a work in progress I’ll admit, but I’m aware of it and working on it.

How to escape your comfort zone – Take small steps. If fear or anxiety are standing in your way, go slowly. Try setting yourself small challenges and write how you feel after. Think about how you’ve felt in the past when you pushed yourself – focus on how proud and exhilarated you felt after. Finally, know that it will never be as awful as you’ve built it up in your head.

are you trapped in your comfort zone?

Thinking back to the times I have pushed my boundaries I realise that yes, wonderful things do happen at the end of your comfort zone.

Having said this, I think comfort zones have their merit too. This is where you can build your confidence, where you feel capable and totally bad-ass.

So perhaps it isn’t necessarily about escaping your comfort zone at all. Perhaps it’s about pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone so you feel comfortable and confident trying new things… now there’s some food for thought.

How do you push the boundaries of your comfort zone?

– InstagramTwitterFacebookPinterest –

Having a shit day

My little tagline for Blue Jay of Happiness is that it’s a blog about ‘health, happiness and hope’, which is pretty cheery, right? Thing is, as much as I want this to be a space for light and positivity, I do think it’s important to acknowledge darker moments and negativity.

The wellness industry is a glaring white light full of smiles, perfect looking breakfasts and motivational quotes. And, as lovely as this all is, I do think it can put a lot of pressure on us as a society.

We are being shown a picture of what health is. What happiness looks like. So when your life doesn’t look like this every day, it’s easy to think ‘is there something wrong with me?’.

Ironically perhaps, I feel like this societal pressure of positivity affects us in a negative way. Making us feel anxious and worried when  our life doesn’t reflect that.

The truth is, everyone has shit days.

We all have those days when we can’t force fake smiles for our colleagues, when all we want to do is stay in bed and eat pizza all day, when coffee is the only thing that gets us through.

having-a-shit-day.jpg

I heart coffee ❤

These days are… important. I mean, they aren’t great (obviously) but it’s important to recognise, acknowledge and allow those less cheery feelings to surface. If we push them down under mumbled “I’m fine”s they will take root and fester.

As tempting as it is to stick your head in the sand and try to push through, often it’s better if we just embrace our shit days – take ownership of them.

What to do when you’re having a shit day

  • If you can, take the day off work. If you’re feeling run down or just not yourself, book a day off to help clear your head. Sometimes the monotonies of every day life get too much when you’re feeling rubbish.
  • Think about what you need. For some people it might literally be a day in bed, eating junk food and watching Netflix. For others it may be going to the gym and getting some face-time in with friends.
  • Write about it. Try writing about how you’re feeling, this may help you figure out what’s causing it and even how to resolve it.
  • Be honest. If you can’t get time off work, or you have to interact with other people, be honest if they comment on your mood. Say you’re not feeling your best, that you’re having a shit day. If you don’t want to talk about it don’t, but being honest helps take some pressure off being ‘cheery’ when you’re feeling anything but.
  • Watch a movie. Sometimes I like to watch a sad movie when I’m feeling sad – it’s an excuse for a good cry and just helps me let out what’s bubbling under the surface.
  • CRY. Crying literally releases stress hormones and relieves tension. It’s nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about.
  • Eat chocolate and listen to sad songs. Sorry, sometimes it’s the only way.

While I aim to make content in Blue Jay positive and motivational, I want to make it clear that nobody is happy all the time, including me. It simply isn’t attainable or healthy.

What is healthy is respecting your emotions, understanding your needs and knowing what to do when tough feelings emerge.

– InstagramTwitterFacebookPinterest –

What an introvert is (and what an introvert isn’t)

When I was younger, I was one of those kids who was scared of everything, but especially people I didn’t know (and don’t even get me started on people dressed in Disney costumes – terrifying).

Now I’m all grown up (apparently) I’m pleased to say I’m over this fear and enjoy meeting new people and generally being social. Not going to lie, people dressed up in costumes still aren’t my fave, but whatever.

Having said this, over the last few years I have educated myself on personality types and realised I am, at my core, an introvert.

This means I have to do certain things that may be different to other people to feel energised. There’s quite a lot of misconception about what an introvert is, so I wanted to share my piece and hopefully answer the questions about what an introvert is, and what an introvert isn’t.

Before we get into this, a little disclaimer – we are ALL different. This includes fellow  introverts, although we share characteristics, it works on a sliding scale and we all have different tendencies and limitations. Below is my experience of being an introvert.

What an introvert is

Someone who gets energy from alone time

This is the crux of introversion. Being an introvert means you need to carve out some quiet, alone time every now and then to feel recharged. Extroverts on the other hand get their energy from being around people.

Part of my ‘self-care’ routine, i.e. looking after my mental health, includes dedicating time to be alone. Recently I had a few full-on weekends socially, which was great fun, but also a little exhausting. So, when I had a free weekend between engagements, I took the opportunity to have some quiet time with both hands.

When some friends invited me out for drinks that weekend I was honest and said I needed a couple of evenings alone. It’s hard not to get ‘FOMO’ when you turn down nights out, but I knew there would be plenty of chances to see them and having some downtime simply took priority.

Someone who enjoys in-depth conversation

Introverts typically don’t enjoy small talk, instead favouring in-depth, meaningful conversations.

I am not totally adverse to small talk, but I do find it difficult to chime in when there’s a big group talking. I would rather stay quiet and then have more meaningful conversations with people later on, one-on-one.

Someone who likes working in a quiet environment

Noise can be one of those things that over stimulates and therefore tires out introverts. This can make working in a loud environment quite difficult – especially if there are lots of conversations going on and everyone’s competing to be heard.

As someone who spends most of their day at work either reading or writing, I can relate to this. While I welcome the odd ‘chat break’ with my colleagues, there are certainly times when I have to put my headphones in and shut everyone out for a bit. Luckily my brilliant team are very similar, and we often go into headphone mode together!

What an introvert isn’t

Someone who’s shy

People often label someone who doesn’t speak up much as ‘shy’. Yes, of course, some introverts are shy and nervous about speaking, but many aren’t. It’s not a case of being shy necessarily, more a case of not speaking until they have something meaningful to contribute.

I used to be labelled as shy and quiet at school, and I hated it. Now, I don’t think people who know me would describe me as shy. I’m pretty confident in myself, I just choose my moments when it comes to talking.

Someone who hates being around people

Another common misconception. Being around big crowds of people for long periods of time for introverts can be draining – but that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy it!

I love socialising, meeting new people and being around people in general. I just know that to stay energised, I need to intersperse some alone time.

There are some people in my life who, after spending time with, I actually feel incredibly energised. Any time I see my boyfriend or my girls, I feel lifted. On the flip side to this of course, there are people who I spend time with who do the opposite. This doesn’t mean I like them any less, I just have to be a little more considerate when making plans with them.

Someone who hates parties

Noise, light, people – parties combine all the things that have the potential to drain an introverts energy. Does this stop introverts from attending parties and having fun? Hell no. It may mean they need to take a five minute break to get some air. It may mean they don’t attend every party going. It may just mean that they don’t stay all night.

I love a good party/night out/social gathering. Give me a few rums, some good music and I am happy. Sometimes I struggle to last all night and have to head home early. Sometimes I’m all spent energy-wise and have to decline an invitation.

It’s all about balance. The more you understand yourself, what makes you feel good and what doesn’t, the easier it is to find this balance.

I didn’t truly understand introversion until I read ‘Quiet‘ by Susan Cain, which I highly recommend. Since then, things just made sense and I stopped making excuses for my behaviour. I simple adjusted my actions to ensure I stay energised. Simple.

Do you consider yourself an introvert or extrovert?

“A little hibernation is good for the mind.” – Michaela Chung

– InstagramTwitterFacebookPinterest –

My eating disorder story

An extra Blue Jay post this week because it’s Eating Disorders Awareness Week – something I feel passionately about. The eating disorder charity Beat are focusing on early intervention this year and to support this, the website I work for (Counselling Directory) are running a campaign, Fight the Fear.

We chose this name because that’s what you have to do to seek help – fight your own fears. Fight your fear of gaining weight, of losing control, of losing who you are.

It is terrifying.

You think you’ve ‘got this’. You think you don’t need help, you’ve got it under control. The harsh truth however is that, you don’t have it under control. You are under its control. And the only way to get control back and own your feelings, your health, is to get help.

I filmed a video for work of me looking through my old diaries to hopefully give people an insight into how it feels to have an eating disorder and what it took for me to seek help and recover.

I’ve never filmed myself like this before, but I felt strangely comfortable. I think it’s because I was talking about a subject I know so intimately. My hope is that it’ll show people watching that no matter how dark things get, there is light at the end of the tunnel – there is a way out. And it is so worth it.

If you know anyone you think may benefit from seeing the video, please share it and please follow Counselling Directory’s campaign #FightTheFear. Thank you.

– InstagramTwitterFacebookPinterest –

Staying motivated with sports and business manager Emily Allen

For the ‘hope‘ section of Blue Jay, I was really keen to interview some inspiring people – after all, hearing other people’s stories gives us all a little hope.

I thought about who I could interview, and realised (very quickly) that the people who inspire me the most are my friends. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by friends who are not only hugely inspiring but also real, beautiful, honest and generally kick ass every day in their own incredible and unique way.

To start with, I’m talking to Emily. She was, in my eyes, the epitome of ‘cool’ when we were at school. I don’t think we actually ever said a word to each other… we ran in different circles. This all changed when we got seated next to each other in Media Studies at college and I quickly discovered that she was so much more than ‘cool’.

We have since become good friends and even flatmates. Her attitude to life inspires me in so many ways and I’m excited to share her pearls of wisdom on all things fitness here on Blue Jay.

Hi Em! So, to start with, can you tell us a little about yourself and your fitness journey?

If I was to describe myself in three words I would say confident, caring and resilient. I’m 30 years old and a Sports and Business Manager. I’m a very positive person who is self motivated and always looks to find a solution or positive outcome to whatever life throws. My family and friends are my world and I have to say I am happy with who I am.

My fitness journey started at the age of three with dance – ballet, tap, disco and modern. I continued dancing up until the age of 11 – I still love dancing but for me it just naturally came to an end.

Like any normal young kid I thought watching TV and seeing friends was more important.

I always struggled with my weight when I was younger and comfort ate a lot – a big factor of this was that my mother was suffering from MS. Watching your parent go through such a horrific illness as a child was not only stressful and heart breaking – I was overcome with such a sense of helplessness. I think this is why I have such empathy for people now as an adult and will always try to help people.

I never took PE seriously at school and this was mostly down to the fact that I was unfit and I would go red when I exerted myself – something that my teachers didn’t mind pointing out to me! I would say I re-started my fitness journey when I joined the leisure industry.

You can’t help but want to be active and I really started to fall in love with training. It’s when I get to focus on me and it helps me work out any frustrations or worries I may have. It’s my form of self therapy and I love it when I go red now because I know I’ve worked hard.

My body feels stronger and I am so much more confident with how my body looks – if I could go back to my younger self and tell her not to care about what others thought of you and how you looked working out, I would.          

In 2015 you stopped drinking for a year – what prompted this?

Honestly, I knew that I had started to binge drink too much and I wasn’t happy with who I was when I was drinking. I clearly wasn’t happy – I hadn’t really dealt with my mum passing away or my relationship breaking down and really I was just using alcohol as a bit of a crutch.

I decided on New Years Day 2015 that I was going to stop drinking for a year, start focusing on my health again and take ownership of my emotions.

This was without a doubt the healthiest year of my life. I didn’t miss alcohol and I found my confidence again.

It has changed my relationship with alcohol now – I know my limits and when to call it quits.

I don’t have to have a drink when I go out and I can have just as much fun sober as I can when I drink.

How do you think not drinking during this time contributed to the way you view your health?

I know that if I have had a heavy night of drinking, the next day I feel like crap – it makes me want to eat crap and you forget how much it can play on your emotions. The term “beer fear” has been created for a reason.

I do like having a night out and drinking with friends – but I love having a productive day/ weekend more. Life is precious and I don’t want to waste it being hungover every weekend. I also know that if I’m not in a great mood then going out drinking is not the answer – I have a workout or go for a walk instead.

How has your career in the leisure industry shaped your attitude to fitness?

It’s taken away any barriers I had of fitness. No one is ever judging you when you work out. The staff are there to support you and I love it when I see someone who isn’t “perfect” working out.

I also know how powerful exercise can be not only for the body, but for your mental health too. If I had told my younger self that I was going to work in leisure I wouldn’t have believed her. I’m such a believer in exercise being good for the body and mind that my work is now sponsoring me to gain my PT (personal trainer) qualification!

How do you stay motivated when it comes to being active and eating well in day-to-day life?

I never realised how disciplined I was until a few years ago. I like structure and I love routine. I have it in me to be self motivated and positive which I believe comes from having to be strong emotionally as a child.

My Nan has always told me that you have got to make things happen – something I live by. I use inspirational quotes and images to keep me motivated. Buying colourful workout gear and having a good workout playlist works too.

I’m very strict Monday to Friday and have embedded my workout into my work routine. My alarm goes off at 5.30am and I’m at the gym in work first thing. I have about an hour working out and then I shower, change and am at my desk feeling ready to take on the day. At the weekend I do tend to eat what I fancy, but I am now actively starting to make smarter choices.

fitness-motivation.jpg

What advice would you have for someone struggling to stay motivated?

Make it part of your daily routine and don’t look at it as a chore – it’s the time you get to really spend with yourself. And remind yourself that you deserve to treat yourself well.

Start with little goals and once you start to see changes and feel changes, that’s when you will enjoy the experience. Mood boards and inspirational quotes work and preparation is key. Pack your bag the night before, have your lunch ready to take to work with you.

Progress pictures are another great motivator too. Whatever you do – however little it is – you will not regret it.

You deserve to enjoy the body you’re in and be thankful for the opportunity to look after and care for it.

Thank you Em xx

em-and-kat-hope.jpg

– InstagramTwitterFacebookPinterest –