It was the 4th January 2012 that I was diagnosed with bowel cancer. I remember it like it was yesterday. My dad coming over to watch my 3-month-old daughter and 2-year-old son whilst my husband took me to the hospital for my long-awaited colonoscopy.
I knew instantly that there was a problem, as soon as the consultant began the procedure – the weird looks and awkward silences when I asked what was wrong. The nurse wouldn’t tell me what was happening, saying only that I should wait for the consultant to come and see me. When the consultant finally did come, he said that he wanted my husband present. All of this combined with the feeling in my heart and stomach meant I knew, before the consultant told me. I knew that I had bowel cancer. You can read all about my diagnosis here if you want to know more…
The strangest start of any year! A time that should have been filled with resolutions and big plans of the year ahead with my small family became about only one – not dying. I find the 4th January more significant than finding out I was all clear for many reasons but there is something about having your all wants focused to just… being alive.
Don’t get my wrong, I still make New Years resolutions about losing weight and exercising regularly which I fail miserably within weeks, if not days (which of course are my resolutions this year as well) but at least I know that I have the main one about staying alive – covered.
But I want to hear more about you guys…. What are your resolutions? Leave a comment and let me know so that we can get each other on track!
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It seems strange that this time last year I was tentatively finding out if I would finally be able to fulfil the dream of going to University to read Literature and Writing. Here I am going into my second year (as I’m part time this is the second part of my first year). I love uni; learning, reading, writing, heaven! That’s not to say there aren’t points when it’s overwhelming, tiring and difficult to balance with small children, but here are a few things I have learnt….
In my experience, the one evening I need to get my head down, will be the evening one of my children get’s ill, won’t go to bed or launches a nuclear missile – all resulting in me needing to tend to my little darlings. So, my tip…
Do as much preparation as possible. Try and spend your time between now and starting uni working your way through your reading list. If possible find out which areas you will be studying in order so you can read accordingly. Once term starts you have so much additional work, squeezing it all in can become difficult so the more reading you can do before, the better.
Read All The Information
Expect a lot of information, try and read it all and pick out the relevant parts. Most of it is online nowadays so keep an eye on your email and for links. As with everything there is a lot of red-tape, Uni’s have to keep tabs on all students so there is lots of singing in, swiping ID cards so get up to speed on what you need to do and get into the habit of doing it from the very beginning.
Create ‘Uni Time’
How you work is unique to you and your situation but I found it easier to have dedicated university days. If I’m in university for lectures, then I go straight to the library and work for as long as possible staying in that ‘uni headspace’. Otherwise you know what it’s like, you get home think you will quickly put a wash on, make a coffee but whilst getting a mug out the dishwasher you quickly unload it and before you know it you are totally out of your uni headspace and need to get the kids / go to work. Plus you aren’t constantly trying to pickup where you left off as you are already there.
Give Yourself a Chance
There are skills that come with being at university and studying. It takes time to become good at anything, including being a student. If like me you have been out of formal education FOREVER, it is going to take time to get into the swing of it. Thankfully that is what the first year is all about, finding your feet, learning skills and building your confidence.
Sometimes the hardest thing to do but keep going, allow yourself some flexibility, suddenly you will be at the end of the year and not believe how quickly it has gone. You will be pleased of the summer break but then find you are even more excited to get back to it and into your 2nd year in September!
The first few days my actual goal that is to ‘move more’ was met but my hope for that to include daily exercising was near impossible. Mainly due to a horrible cough and cold and clashing schedules with my hubby (my friend is never going to arrange to go running with me again the amount I had to cancel on her) but as I said, I have been successful in moving more. Walking into town with the children instead of driving as I normally would, small changes like that, that are hopefully going to make a big difference.
Eating wise though things did start well. Swapping spaghetti for ribboned Courgettes when the family are having pasta, having Ryvitta ‘sandwiches’ instead of actual sandwiches and making a real point of going for the healthy option – like when we stopped for breakfast, everyone ordered the full English, I had a Granola, Fruit & Yogurt Knickerbocker Glory – somehow I swear it tastes better delivered as a dessert. I did still have the odd ice-cream with the kids (as I said nothing has been dis-allowed) but worlds apart from where my diet has been recently.
The last few days I have done really well. Swimming everyday, eating salads, rice dishes and fresh food. I do feel that I should tell you though that this is currently what I am working with – think it would actually be tougher to not go swimming everyday in this pool.
What I am hoping is that this will continue and serve as seriously good motivation once I am back in the UK. Time will tell…. But I think I need your help! I need tips, suggestions, ideas, things to do, exercise classes, apps – anything that can help push me forward it my goal of 100 Healthy Days. I am including Emotional Health in this so anything you can think of. Please pop your comment in the box below and let me know. Thanks!
A Vision Board is a collation of images and affirmations that create a picture of the things you want. This is a slight continuation of tip 21 What Do You Want? as it can help to truly visualise what you have decided you want in your life and help keep you focused.
Once you have thought about what it is you want, scour magazines, online, draw pictures, anything that brings the vision of what you want to life. For example if you want to be healthier you may put on photo’s of fresh fruit and vegetables and someone working out.
You want to put it up in a prominent place so that you see it everyday. By seeing it everyday you keep your goals, wants and dreams in the front of you mind and yourself more focused on achieving them.
Remember there is no right or wrong when it comes to making a vision board, its a reflection of you and your wants.
Stop thinking about what you don’t want and start thinking about what you do want….
Spring health & Beauty Tip 21 – What Do You Want?
So easy to focus on the bad and never the good. The problem with that is that you waste all your energy on the wrong thing. We also sometimes know that we don’t want what we have but we never truly think about what we do want or how we are going to make it happen.
So here are some questions to think about, try and answer them all and make the answers as detailed as humanly possible. The clearer the vision is in your mind, the more chance you will have of making it happen….
What have you always wanted to do but been afraid to try?
What prevented you from trying?
What would you do if you couldn’t fail?
What would you do if money wasn’t a consideration?
What does the life you dream of look like?
Now you have identified what you want, think about where you are and where you want to be and map out all the steps between here and there. Break it down into very small steps so everything is achievable.
Spring Health & Beauty Tip 9 – Only Spend 15 Minutes Doing A Task
So this tip is really focused on your inner health – or Inner Haven!! I have been hearing more and more about this so tried it and it really does work.
We can all be god at procrastinating or spending to much time thinking and not enough time doing and this skill really helps with that and then the list of things to do can get a bit overwhelming and you are left wondering how you are going to have time to do it all. Been there? I know I have!
Only allow yourself 15 minutes to do something and then blast it. When the 15 minutes is up you walk away. No ifs or buts. If there is still more to do, allow another 15 minutes at another time but it is important you do this as then you are training yourself and your brain to stay focused for short periods of time.
Its like that saying – You can get more housework done in the 15 minutes before someone arrives at your house than you do the rest of the week – its because you know you need a result quickly.
So any funny little jobs, try this today… the new 15 minute rule.
By the way did you know you can follow this blog? Just enter your email on the link on the right of this post (under all the stiff about me) then you will get these tips delivered straight to your inbox.
How are you doing with your New Year’s Resolutions? Well I have been speaking with the fantastic Leanne Clack who has done amazingly well, completing a 21 day detox in January. When speaking with Leanne just before she started she said
I was nervous about sticking to it but had been feeling so sluggish and put on weight over Christmas so I was determined to do it.
Leanne’s 21 Day Detox meant that she was only going to be eating pure, clean foods. Basically vegetables, fruit, whole grains and nuts. I can’t lie I was horrified at the thought. I gave up alcohol for January and that was enough. I’m all for eating well, but no coffee? Step too far for me!
Leanne didn’t just decide I wanted to do it and start there and then. She planned it and think’s that it was part of that planning that was key in her success.
I cleared out one kitchen cupboard that was just for me and only had food that I could eat inside it. So when I was feeling peckish and tempted I could just open that cupboard and know everything in there I could eat and snack from and I made sure that it was full of really yummy things.
It also gave me time to go online and hunt out some delicious recipes such as the Mango ‘Ice Cream’ so I still felt like I was having treats.
Tomato and Basil Soup
Hot Water and Lemon
I am terrible that if I know I am starting a diet or healthy eating plan, I use the time to binge on all the items I am planning on giving up as it will be my last chance to eat them, I have always considered this a fantastic argument but Leanne used to the time to start trying to get used to a healthier way and lower her sugar and caffeine intakes so it wasn’t a complete shock to her body when she cut them out altogether. When you think about this for longer than a nano-second, clearly makes a lot more sense than my way.
Once on the detox a typical day for Leanne was;
Porridge made with water or rice milk with blueberries for breakfast
Homemade vegetable soup for lunch
Vegetable stir-fry with wholegrain rice for dinner
Snacks included fruit, peanut butter (as long as it is 100% natural) and nuts.
I also made sure that I ate plenty of quinoa, humous and nuts for protein.
It wasn’t all plain-sailing though. I saw Leanne 3 days in and all was not so well. Complaining of headaches, tiredness and feeling hungry I am sure that this is the point that I would have given in, but Leanne stayed strong and soon really started to feel the benefits. According to Leanne, that was the hardest part and once she had got through it, the feeling of hunger and cravings for sugar and caffeine based products started to fade.
I was surprised on how quickly the cravings went and after the first few days it got easier and easier as the days went on.
Mango ‘Ice Cream’
Blueberry and Banana Porridge
After successfully completing her 21 day Detox, I was desperate to know how she felt, was it worth it and would she be sticking to it at all?
I have lost all the Christmas weight which is great, but more than that, I just feel so much better. Not so sluggish, much more energy and I am not finding I miss sugar or caffeine now.
I am planning on keeping large parts of the plan because I just feel so much better, but I have introduced chicken, eggs and yogurt. I really missed eggs and yogurt!
Leanne looks brilliant, she is looking noticeably slimmer but even more than that, she looks SO well. The white of her eyes looks so white and clear, her skin is glowing and she is radiating health. I must say I am feeling very inspired. I have even replaced a couple of morning coffees with hot water and Lemon (which I love and for more information on the benefit of Hot Water and Lemon, click here) and I am cleaning out a cupboard all ready for me.
Personally I love the new year. The time for some reflection over the last year and time to pause and think about what you would like to achieve over the next. For me, New Years Resolutions are all part of that but why is that most of us find it so hard to keep our new years resolutions and they are normally completly forgotten by mid-January? Setting a new years resolution is no different to setting a goal, like we do for Life Coaching all the time so I am going to show you those principles so that you set new years resolutions that you can keep this year.
Firstly; make sure it is a goal that you want to set. There is no point in setting a goal that you don’t really care about because you are setting yourself up to fail. Just setting the goal isn’t helping anyone, it has to be something you are willing to work towards so it has to be something you really want.
Secondly; Goals need to be specific. It’s not good saying, I want to lose weight (thought I would go with that one as it seens to be the most common), be specific. How much weight? When do you want to lose the weight by? How will you acieve this, through exercise / diet / both)? If it is diet, what changes are you going to make? If it exercise, when, where, for how long, how many times a week? It might sound like a bit to think about, but the clearer you have everything in your head, the more likely you will do it.
Thirdly; You goal should be measuareble. Think about not just your end result, but the milestones along the way. Keeping with the losing weight theme. If you wish to lose 2 stone in 4 months, you may set measurable goals of 2lbs a week. If you lost 2lbs a week, you will have lost 2st in 4 months but it keeps it easier as you are just focusing on the 2lbs every week.
Fourthly; Make it attainable. I am terrible for this one. If I want to lost weight, I wasnt to have lost 2 stone in time for a party in 2 weeks. Its never going to happen and I just feel bummed out. So keep it realistic and attainable. You must believe you ca reach the goal you are setting for yourself. If you know you do not have time to go to the gym 5 times a week, don’t set yourself a goal to do it. Once you start falling behind with one part, we are more likely to give up so keep it attainable from the start.
Fithly; Keep your goal relevent. This goes back to what I was saying in the beinning. Look at your goals in the short and long term in relevance to your life. It has to be something that you really want to do and you are willing to put the time in. Whose got the time to waste to do something they don’t really care about?!
And finally; think about your time-frame. If you have been following me so far, then you probably have already done this but not all goals fall into a specific time frame like weightloss so if yours doesn’t think about this now. It can act as a really good motivator. I for one work much better when I have a deadline in front of me.
Another tip I have is buddy-up. Sometimes it is hard to work to deadlines etc… when you only have yourself to enforce them. Working towards a goal with another can keep you motivated. Like if you always go running with your friend, chances are, even if you can’t be bothered one day you will still go as you wont want to let them down.
So what are your New Year Resolutions? Let me know in the comments section and lets see if we can all encourage each other to keep to them!