A Bad Match
Have you ever seen someone and thought "We would be a terrible match.".
You can normally get a vibe from someone and think
"I can relate to this person."
Or alternatively you know when you should just keep walking.
A few years ago I went to a national conference in Birmingham.
It was a gathering of one of the national registers of fitness professionals.
The head of this particular register asked the members to stand up
according to their relevant professions.
Personal Trainers, fitness instructors, zumba teachers, yoga teachers,
strength and conditioning coaches and more.
She then repeated the exercise and found out how long people had
been in the industry. 1 year, 3, 5, 10, 15, 20, more than 20!
A room full of experts oohed and ahhed, smiled, patted each other
on the back and felt rather smug.
Then that years speaker was introduced, Pete Cohen.
Pete Cohen stood at the front and marvelled at the experience and
skill sets in front of him, he then said "Stand up if you're good at what you do!".
Everyone muttered and joked but sheepishly stood up.
"Are we successful as an industry?"
More muttering and mumbling.
Then Pete dropped a bomb.
"Then why are people obese?
Why is the health of the nation failing?
Why are people more inactive than ever before?
Do you still think we are good at what we do?
Do you still think we are successful as an industry?"
Suddenly everyone was quiet. It was a fantastic point and one that has stuck with me ever since.
90% of the fitness industry is targeted at people who love fitness. The people who would go to classes and take PT, follow a training plan, hit the gym, follow a diet.
What about everyone else?
Those people who are scared by weights, scared by six packs, scared by hard work.
There is an illusion of perfection that intimidates people from taking that first step.
You know the industry is failing when you hear the words,
"I want to join the gym but I need to lose some weight first."
To anyone out there who feels like this is them, don't forget you matter too.
Fitness isn't about six packs, big weights, running marathons.
It's about improvement. It's about progress.
I have as much respect for someone who comes from complete inactivity to a healthy lifestyle, as I do for a good athlete who wins his or her contest.
Start to walk, get some dumbbells, join a class.
Don't be afraid.
You will find someone who will support you and you will also find lots of people in exactly the same position as you.
Don't be intimidated by fitness.
It's time health & fitness turned into a tool to help people. Not something to be flexed and shown off in front of them.
People want to be understood.
Reflexology with Wendy Guilfoyle
Wendy qualified as a Reflexologist in March 1994, so she’s a dab hand at it and has been a practitioner for 21 years. Now, if you’re like me, your feet might not be your most attractive feature. In fact, when I broached the subject of feeling slightly embarrassed to bare this most unbecoming body part, her reply really tickled me, “It’s not as though they fray at the ends.”
Don’t be afraid to bare your feet
“Hmm,” I thought, “She hasn’t seen mine.” However, my fears were unfounded and Wendy didn’t run screaming from her treatment room. As long as you show up with clean feet, all will be well.
This much neglected body part deserves more love
That’s one of the lovely things about reflexology. We often ignore and neglect our feet, when they actually deserve to be pampered. After all, they’ve been getting us from A to B for our entire lives!
So, does it tickle? Not at all!
Now, Wendy is a lovely lady who has a very calming aura which seems to put everyone at ease as soon as they meet her. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and wondered whether my feet would get a good pummelling! However, Wendy practices Gentle Touch Reflexology – which is just as relaxing as it sounds and doesn’t tickle at all.
Relax in a comfy chair next to an open fire – pure bliss
Wendy practices her Reflexology (along with other modalities such as the allergy work which she’s been carrying out for 20 years), in her cosy treatment room. She prepared a roaring open fire and got to work on my feet with a lovely scented oil. Meanwhile, I reclined in her extremely comfortable therapy chair.
Now, as far as I know, the theory goes that certain areas of your feet are linked to other parts of the body. When she manipulated a certain part, I felt a pressure in my chest and had to ask her what part she was working on. It happened to be one of my lungs. As an ex-smoker, was this more than a coincidence perhaps? After she had finished working on my feet, she wrapped them in warm towels and left me to relax by the open fire for 20 minutes.
Total relaxation that lasted well into the following day
So, how did I feel afterwards? Well, I felt great and that lasted well into the next day. So, I’d recommend Reflexology to anyone who needs a little extra help unwinding – they’ll also have the pleasure of Wendy’s company!
You’ll love Wendy’s practical no nonsense approach to alternative healing
In fact, something that really impresses me about Wendy is her approach to alternative therapies. Her background is actually in science, and one honestly gets the impression that she wouldn’t bother practising any therapy which didn’t have some sort of logical basis in science. The whole alternative health scene can seem a bit “woo” to some people, but Wendy does away with that in her own quiet but matter of fact way.
January is often the time when resolutions are made: - less sugar, fewer carbs, no alcohol, (just for January!) more exercise, start that art class…
Yet even just in the making, you may hear a quiet whisper. “You said this last January: your gym membership ran out and you’d only been twice; you want to do that - at your age?” It scuppers your resolve immediately.
This is your “Saboteur”.
You may have met him in other circumstances. Someone has just paid you a compliment – “ What a beautiful dress! You look lovely.” How do you reply? “Thank you. I love it” or do you mutter something about “This old thing? I’ve had it years”? Part of you doesn’t believe you can look lovely. There can be a deep, almost hidden, sense of unworthiness. “ I can’t possibly look that nice”. This is the Saboteur.
We seem unable to accept that we can be happy/successful/talented but envy those who are.
Panache Desai writes about the Saboteur in a most interesting book – “Discovering your Soul Signature”. Fear, sadness, guilt, shame, self-judgment, patterns of behaviour and thinking can prevent us achieving our true purpose, our full development. So can self-sabotage.
Much is written about developing your business, increasing profit, marketing, how we should look, where and what to shop for. What about you? Were you born into this wonderful world with intelligence, perception, feelings and sensibilities just to work and shop?
I think we are here to evolve. To own and heal grief, despair, guilt, fear, hatred and doubt. If we don’t, they control us, preventing us from becoming the full, joyous wondrous Beings that we really are.
Why is the Saboteur there? He is there to test our resolve. He is asking, “ Are you sure? Do you have the determination? Do you believe in yourself? Do you love yourself”. How can you catch the Saboteur at his game?
Various forms of therapy can help, but in the end it comes down to awareness, and courage. Notice these diminishing thoughts; choose to love yourself enough to be courageous in the face of them to say, ”No, I don’t believe you” and make a different choice. Stop. Breathe deeply and slowly. Come down into your heart.
“I am good enough. I can and will do this. I choose to be happy. I choose to be successful, slim, healthy”.
Good luck! You deserve it.
My Theory Of Relativity
I saw a facebook post today from a friend in the boxing community. He had achieved 2 efforts at the abdominal plank, each lasting 90 seconds. You might know the exercise, if you don't, you perform the plank lying on your front, propped up on your elbows and feet. The challenge is to keep the core muscles engaged, stop the pelvis dropping to the floor - keeping the head, shoulders, pelvis, knees and ankles in line.
It's great that he posted about his success, I love seeing posts like this.
The problem is the second half of his post. He followed his achievement with,
"But I know that's nothing compared to everyone else."
My comment to him was simple, "Who cares about everyone else!"
Really, who cares?
If you can't do the plank. And then you get to 30 seconds, and then 60 and then 90 - to me that's awesome and you should be very proud.
If someone else does 80kg on bench press and then does 90kg and then 100kg that's just as great. Should you immediately be going to check your progress against the Bench Press World Record? Of course you shouldn't, it has no relevance to your personal achievement. Everything is individual. Everything is relative.
I've been a dedicated strength athlete for 7 months and I've made good progress. If I was to take a novice training with me, they might feel out of their depth and think I was doing well. If I went to train with one of athletes at the World Weightlifting Championships which took place recently, I would suddenly be the novice and I would be well out of my depth.
Does either comparison make me more or less of an athlete? No. If I train with someone less experienced I would still have to lift my weight and they would have to lift theirs. Likewise with the Championship athlete.
So success is relative and all that really matters is how we progress in relation to where we are and where we were. Of course, if we are competitive athletes then we have to be aware of the level our rivals are performing at but, in preparation, we can only control what we ourselves do and that is who we have to compete against ultimately.
Too many people are put off by what other people are doing.
The fitness industry unfortunately can have a guise of perfection and elitism. It isn't always the case and isn't always intended but it is too often the way the fitness industry comes across and it scares a lot of people away.
They think fitness is too hard when it is only improvement that we are after. And that means different things to different people.
Some of us love to go to the gym and work until we can't move, whilst for some just going in the door is a terrifying ordeal.
I get upset when I hear people say -
"I'm not fit enough to go to the gym."
"I need to lose weight before I join that class."
Fitness is individual.
If you want to improve your health and fitness, get started. Head high, believe in yourself and go for it.
It doesn't matter what anyone else is doing, they're concerned with what they are doing. Trust yourself, track your progress and go for it.
Get 1% better every time you enter the training environment and build consistency, and a love for what you do.
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REFLEXOLOGY IN THE FOREST OF DEAN
I think it’s true that most people are very sceptical about reflexology. Although there is a small body of research confirming its benefits, one still has to be cautious when making claims about these. However, there are two things, at least, that we can be sure about.
Firstly, it has been demonstrated that reflexology encourages the release of endorphins. The word is derived from ‘endogenous’ and ‘morphine’ and is intended to mean a ‘morphine like substance originating from within the body. The function of endorphins is to inhibit the transmission of pain signals and, additionally, they can produce a feeling of euphoria. Hence, reflexology can help relieve pain and produce a ‘feel good’ factor.
Secondly, researchers have noted that the brainwaves of people undergoing a reflexology session tend to switch to alpha rhythm mode. This brain pattern is associated with suppression of depressive thoughts and chronic pain signals. Again, one can see the connection reflexology has to controlling pain and feeling better in oneself.
I could add numerous additional benefits derived from my own observations with clients. Improved circulation, enhanced immune system, relaxation, relief of stress, release from grief and trauma to name but a few but cynics are not usually impressed. I tell them that reflexology is a holistic treatment that helps the body to heal itself but they smile and think it’s a load of quackery or just not for them.
Therefore, let me approach the subject from a different angle and talk purely about the treatment of the feet. Not only do we stand around on our feet but take perhaps 10,000 steps per day and take it for granted that our feet will carry our often overweight bodies around for a lifetime. We don’t help when we wear ill fitting shoes or those designed for fashion rather than comfort. We suffer a host of complaints from bunions to plantar fasciitis and rarely do anything about it until the condition is chronic. In truth, we don’t give our feet the attention they deserve.
If one looks at the structure of the foot, there are 20 muscles as well as ligaments and tendons along with 26 bones (28 if you include the sesamoid bones at the base of the big toe) and their associated joints. There are blood vessels, lymph vessels and over 7000 nerve endings not to mention the skin. That’s quite a lot to look after!
So what has that to do with reflexology? Well, in my experience an extensive foot massage which forms a part of my reflexology treatments can bring great benefits. I have helped athletes and those with a variety sore and aching foot complaints. It seems to me that even if you are dubious about the general health benefits bestowed by reflexology, the purely physical benefits to the foot structure are themselves invaluable so my message is that if you don’t want to be associated with the term ‘reflexology’, just come for a foot massage. In view of what they do for you, surely it’s time to ‘give your feet a treat’.
On Friday on #Radio4 three women were interviewed who very much wanted to have a family but were not able to. They all spoke candidly and heart rendingly of their journeys from assuming that of course they would become #pregnant to well perhaps later to finally when, as one woman expressed it, the "goddess of oestrogen finally leaves" with the menopause, and there is no chance of pregnancy to the social challenges of not having children or grandchildren in older life. There was even the difficulty of who do you leave your precious things to?
As a young woman one can lose friends with children because it is awkward to be childless; there is little in common when the friend is totally engaged in childcare and the pain of being childless is thrown into sharper comparison.
There seems to be a whole strata of women, largely silent in society, who struggle with this pain and sense of losing something that never was. How to express a grief over the loss of someone who has never been there? How to come to terms with a miscarriage of a much longed for baby or the termination of an ectopic pregnancy, when you thought you were, finally pregnant. Perhaps the general attitude can be rather heartless but well meaning - "I expect something wasn't quite right with it" is often said in the hope that that would be some comfort...
My heart goes out to you in deepest #empathy.
I wonder how many women have to bear this pain in silence all their lives?
At a recent meeting I was asked what #chakras were. My imagination of them is as follows: -
We are essentially energy Beings, with the slowest and densest energy manifesting as our physical bodies. As with all energy systems, ours needs replenishing to negate the effect of the #firstlawofthermodynamics. The more subtle, higher vibrations of the energy associated with our energy field are too much for our physical bodies in their natural state so therefore unavailable. The chakras, seven of them located at key points in the body, act as #transformers enabling the more rapid universal energies, which are connected to and surround our bodies - our #auras - to be utilised by our individual physical systems.
Stress, illness, even difficult emotions may interfere with this transformation and flow of energy, resulting in fatigue, feeling out of balance, even more stressed.
Meditation, walks in a calm natural environment in a wood or by the sea, generally a state of physical and mental #relaxation all facilitate the renewal of energy for our physical bodies to work optimally.
Many complementary therapies like #Reflexology, by inducing a state of relaxation, according to clients feedback, may facilitate the effective flow of energy through the chakras to the the physical body.
What is your imagination/idea of #chakras?
Avoiding burn out
You probably don’t have time to read this, because after all, you’re busy running a business, spinning many plates and thinking of the next job you need to do! But take a moment to read the blog inspired after having two to three very busy weeks, I found myself in a state of exhaustion with a constant headache and not knowing which way to turn. I know I’m not alone. After speaking to business contacts in similar situations, we sole traders and entrepreneurs do everything for our businesses. Answering emails at all hours of the day or night, solving problems, phone calls to make….. the list goes on.
Don’t get me wrong – I love being busy but I needed to get a grip on my workload and develop an effective work/life balance to avoid it happening again. It’s not always that easy to take some time out and even less easy to down tools and have a holiday.
So what are the signs of burn out?
Exhaustion; could be mental or physical. Do you find it difficult to get moving in the morning? Are you making silly mistakes you wouldn’t normally make? Are you finding it difficult to concentrate or have a lower attention span than normal? Are you forgetting to do things or find your mind wandering? Are you struggling to get to sleep or sleep for a short time and find yourself staring at the clock in the early hours?
Solving burn out
For me, I sought help with a particular problem I was having that I just couldn’t solve on my own. It wasn’t for the want of trying, I’d spent days and days trying to sort out how to create a brochure good enough for print; a job I hadn’t done before. Being a perfectionist, my problem was that I was determined to solve it myself, no matter how long it was going to take. Alongside this, I had other tasks vying for my attention like little devils sat on my shoulder. In the end I had to admit defeat and enlist the help of a professional printer.
With the best will in the world, sometimes we just need to get some expert help to take over and solve our particular problem. Once I’d handed over the project I knew that it was in capable hands and I could rest easy and concentrate on other things.
Avoiding burn out – top tips
Looking after ourselves has got to be first on our daily task list. Here are my top tips to avoid burn out.
1. Turn off technology an hour before bed and allow your body to wind down ready for sleep. Answering that email can wait until morning.
2. Eat a healthy diet to give your body energy and resilience to deal with everyday life.
3. Take some regular exercise to build up stamina and allow your brain to disengage for a short time.
4. Do something you enjoy. Factor a little time in your diary to do what you enjoy; whether it’s watching a film, reading a book, or participating in a hobby/sport.
5. Share the responsibility and get some help. If you’re stuck with a problem or have too much work, there will be somebody that can help you get through it.
What are your tips? How do you avoid burn out?
Stress - a Monster or a Mouse
Stress is a word that comes up a lot in all walks of life, but particularly in business. It has been found to be one of the major causes of poor productivity, illness and absenteeism.
Relaxation is heard less often and when it is spoken, maybe it is with a wistful tone or with a glass of wine in hand! Nothing wrong with the wine, (in moderation, it is a suppressant not a relaxant), but when was the last time you felt properly relaxed and what does that term mean to you?
To be a bit technical for a mo - sorry it comes from being a Biologist in a "previous life".
Strictly speaking being truly relaxed means switching into one of two nervous systems - the Parasympathetic. This is the house keeping mode as it were. All systems are in repair, rejuvenate, revive and relax mode. There is no sense of alarm. The muscles are neutral, the mind calm and one is filled with an ''Inner smile" ( See William Bloom "The Endorphin Effect"). Think of antelope peacefully grazing in the Savannah.
The other nervous system is the Sympathetic, though it is sympathetic only to your survival. Return to the antelope a moment. All peace and quiet, then one of them hears stealthy footsteps in the long grass nearby. "LION!" Instantly, adrenaline courses through the blood stream, heads go up, heart rates increase, blood pressure goes up to bring a quick supply to active muscles, backs and legs tense… and in a springing bound the whole herd has gone.
Generally, you don't meet too many lions in your day to day life, but many situations make you feel as if one may be around the corner. The trigger varies from person to person, but something rings alarm bells, in an instant adrenaline is released and all of the above physiological changes, and many more, take place. True, you think more clearly, work more quickly, but you can't run away or turn and fight (well not usually if you want to keep your job/client/customer), neither do the stressors go away, if anything they can increase in number. So all these "stress hormones" keep circulating all day, especially if one deadline piles up on another.
OK. So you need some adrenaline to perform well, even to get out of bed in the morning. However, if you have a lot of it all day, day after day, without ever turning it off or releasing it through vigorous activity (a brisk walk, run or a visit to the gym) and also feel you have no control over the stressors, no choice to do something else... bingo! Stress!
I won't get even more technical at this point, suffice to say, that this state, though helpful in the short term, if it goes on over a period of time has a damaging effect on just about every system in your body and your health and well-being suffer. Stress becomes a "monster".
As a Reflexologist, I know that my treatment can have a beneficial effect on elevated stress levels. One client who was experiencing a particularly stressful period of time in his business, reflected that it had been the regular treatments that had helped him get through it effectively. Other clients have remarked, with a sigh, "I haven't felt so relaxed for ages" or "I don't think I knew what relaxation was until now". This may be that the gentle treatment of Reflexology encourages the body to switch over into the Parasympathetic system. The body and the mind can become truly relaxed.
In this state, there is less sense of urgency; that pile of "things to do now" looks smaller; you can think more creatively about a particular problem; you feel more patient. As another client said, " I can live my life better". You can breathe. Stress has become a "mouse".
Things to make you go "Hmmm?!"
DEEP TRAUMA AND REFLEXOLOGY
This month I have been talking and writing about trauma and the place that reflexology has in the treatment of trauma. I have talked about the various types of everyday trauma like bereavement, divorce, accidents and redundancy but, of course, most people relate trauma to war time situations and their aftermath and are familiar with the condition referred to as post traumatic stress.
With this in mind, I recalled an instance from my pre reflexology days as a musician playing mainly in social clubs up and down the country. One day my agent called and told me that a club in Swindon wanted me back and he had accepted a date. I groaned because I remembered the elderly gentleman on the club committee who had ‘welcomed’ us on the previous occasion and he was a real misery to say the least. “Just talk to him about the war” my agent advised.
I took his advice and discovered a remarkable story. He had been a rear gunner in bomber command in World War II and had cheated the statistics that gave him virtually no chance by surviving 48 missions including one where the badly shot up plane just made it home to crash land on the cliffs of Blighty. His experiences had left deep emotional scars on him and the rest of his crew. Indeed, two of them had committed suicide after the war had ended.
These days, he would have been offered specialist counselling. However, it’s a pity that he could not only have received counselling but perhaps had reflexology treatments available to him because it is strange that reflexology, for reasons not altogether clear, can have a very positive effective in treating trauma cases. Reflexology helps release negative emotions that are buried in the subconscious and can help heal the soul as well as the body. Indeed, in my own practice, I have always marvelled at the release reflexology can bring about in trauma cases.
After leaving, I felt compassion as I understood his miserable demeanour. Also, I wish I had known about reflexology back then.
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