February – Drink Up!

Pause and Reflect

We’re 17% of the way through 2019. 59 days down. 306 days to go until 2020.

What victories can you claim so far? How have you been investing those precious moments of your life? If you’re not sure what you’ve been up to, but would like to start focusing on key areas for improvement so you can make some tangible gains throughout the rest of the year, join me in my #happyhealthyme 2019 monthly challenge!

#happyhealthyme 2019 challenge

Realising at the end of last year what a distracted-do-all-the-things-at-once-mess I was, I decided my word for this year would be FOCUS!

Part of my strategy for living out this mantra this year is to pause at the beginning of each month and assess which area of my life could do with my full awareness and an upgrade in order to move my health and wellbeing to the next level.  

The beauty of this strategy (if I do say so myself 😉) is that it allows me to slow down and really drop into one particular behaviour. And if I can make even a 1% improvement in the chosen area, and get that dialled in as the new default, i.e. a new habit, this will compound over time and have an enormously positive impact on my health trajectory. BAM!

A month is also heaps of time to practice the new behaviour.  Practice is the operative word, because more often than not we can’t just declare we’re going to do something better and then just go right ahead and do it forever more.  

A month gives me lots of times to read all the books, listen to all the podcasts, get inspired and informed, and experiment. It give me time to cock it up completely, forget about it, come back to it, and time to sit down, reassess what’s tripping me up, and try, try, try again.   

My goal is that by the end of 2019 I’ll be able to point to 12 tangible upgrades i’ve made in my life that have raised my bar.

I gave up sugar in January, you can check that story out here.  No more added sugar for me. That was a biggy. So February was something a little less huge. Water.

If you’d like to join me in this fun challenge head over to my free Essential Wellness community and let us know what you’re working on each month.

February – Drink Up

Do you drink enough water? Most of us don’t apparently. I had a sneaking suspicion that a little more water would do me good.

There are different schools of thoughts on the topic.

Some say not to overthink it, drink when you’re thirsty and you’ll be fine. Don’t worry about those ‘8 glass a day’ prescriptions. They’re a myth,

I’m so up for listening to our bodies. Trouble is, it’s such a noisy world and I think we often get confused about what our body actually needs. We may spend so long ignoring our body’s messages that our body kinda pipes down.

Sure your body will tell you when it’s thirsty. It’s not going to let you die of dehydration.

But on the other hand, does that mean you’re drinking the optimum amount of water? Or would everything work better with a bit more of the juice of life flowing through you and plumping up those beautiful cells?

 

Finding My Optimum

That was my experimentation this month. To find the sweet spot of how much I should be drinking to feel optimum, while not needing to wee every 2 minutes.

One calculation I found stated that we should try to drink between half an ounce and an ounce of water for each pound you weigh, every day. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, that would be 75 to 150 ounces of water a day. Bear in mind that food, teas etc, also contain liquid, so it doesn’t necessarily all need to come from straight-up water.

A few other sites, including the NHS, state anywhere between 1-2 litres a day. Again, it depends on your size, the temperature outside, whether you’re blasting out some HIIT or laying around on the  coach…so use your judgement… don’t be the ONE person that overdoes it and ends up in A&E with water poisoning. True story.

 

My Evolving Water Habit

I drink a 600ml bottle of water first thing in the morning. I dialled this habit in several years ago and it feels great. I definitely notice if I don’t do this. For this month’s experiment I was looking to add another bottle between breakfast and lunch and another one between lunch and dinner. That ended up being too much so I scaled the challenge back down to adding one more bottle.

Some days it was easy. Other days I had incredible resistance to drinking the damn water.  What the heck is that about? By this stage in my wellbeing journey I’ve learned to look at resistance with curiosity and find creative ways to break it down.

Tips and Tricks to Work Your New Health Habit

Like I said above, a month gives you a really good window to hack the habit you’re working on and get through the resistance that inevitably comes up when making changes.

Here’s what helped me:

Make it easy and obvious.

💧 Every evening before bed I fill my water flask up and take it up to bed with me. It’s so easy to wake up and drink my water in the morning. The momentum is set in motion the night before. I applied this to adding another round of water by filling up the flask again at breakfast and placing it next to my laptop, with the lid off. This last bit turned out to be a small, but crucial step. The lid off acted to get things in motion again. It was much easier for me to pick up the bottle and sip the water slowly between breakfast and lunch. Just seeing the lid off began the behaviour.  

Crazy no??  But it really is these tiny little shifts that can make a huge difference and tip the chances of us doing what we say we’ll do, and what we want to do, and turn this into what we actually do.

Set some simple boundaries

💧 Post-breakfast, I set up a rule to not eat anything else until lunch, or, until I’d had this extra bottle of water. It’s surprising how often we confuse thirst with hunger.  By focusing on drinking my water I can easily stick to my three meals a day, no snacking eating rhythm.

Jazz it Up

💧Sometimes plain water is just not inspiring. I love adding a drop of my doterra citrus essential oils, lemon and grapefruit are favourites, as is the metabolic blend.

Track It

💧Using The Moon is My Calendar Journal has been super useful as each night I sit down and draw a  little symbol to indicate if I’ve practiced the habit of the month. I draw a love heart, to indicate the practice is a practice of self-love, which it always is. Taking care of your health is self-love at it’s best.

💧Not being able to draw a little heart at the end of the day was a major bummer for me. I felt sad for not taking care of myself as I’d intended, which motivated me to do better the next day.

Reward Yourself
  • One of the most successful formulas for establishing a new habit is trigger, habit, reward. Set a trigger to remind you to do the do, do the do, then rewards yourself for doing it, at least until the reward inherent in the behaviour takes over as the rewards itself.
  • With this in mind, I spent some time thinking about what could encourage me to drink that extra bottle of water, instead of reaching for the snacks (old-less-good-habit).  It’s kinda childish, but why not? Stickers. Love hearts. Each time I drink a bottle of water I get to add a love heart to the bottle of water to decorate it. As time passes and I win at this drinking game, my bottle because full of love, which reminds me of all the love I’m showing myself with this new habit.

 

So that’s that’s 17% of the way through the year and I have kicked sugar out the door and upped my water intake to feel full and juicy AND cut out snacking between meals. Feeling #smug.

Next up – Spring seasonal cleansing. Do you do a seasonal detox? Fancy joining me on mine? 

What are you feeling called to focus on next in your life. Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

 

Sam x

 

 

 

JOIN ME ON AN ADVENTURE TO HAPPIER, HEALTHIER HABITS

If you know you need a habit overhaul and a lifestyle upgrade to unleash the best of you that’s lying dormant within, but you’re not sure where to start or how to stay the course to see the changes through,  check out my 10-month happy healthy habits course.

Previously offered as a 10-week programme, I’m reworking it so we can dive deeper and really make changes that stick, stick stick, so we all emerge at the end of 10-months operating at a new level of frequency. High-vibes all the way.  Register your interest to join the waitlist and I’ll be in touch as soon as the course is done cooking.

What’s The Cost Of Our Choices?

I’ve started leading a 10-week habit transformation course. I guide a group of up to 10 people through a habit and identity-shifting process.

We pick apart our daily routines and take a microscope to our existing habits and patterns. We drill down to the micro-choices that we take each day on autopilot and start to throw light on their true cost.

The link between cause and effect becomes very clear as we move through this process and start to skilfully implement new routines that will lead us to the optimum outcomes that we most want.

We design our lives with the end goal in mind: how we want to feel each day.

As I’ve participated in this 10-week programme, and now started leading it myself, I’ve become incredibly sensitive to the cost of my choices. I can trace back my current state (either good or bad) to the micro choices I’ve made in the previous 24 hours.  It’s become so obvious that it’s painful when I go off track. I feel it HARD!

An example from just this week. I worked on some intellectually stimulating material on my laptop in the evening. I also drank some herbal tea. I turned my laptop off at 8pm which is my electronics curfew. All seemed to be on track.

That night I went to bed early as usual and got to sleep. I woke up around midnight thinking about the stuff I’d had my mind wrapped around until 8pm. I also needed to pee. So up I got to go to the loo and then went back to sleep. It took me awhile because my mind was chatty from the project I had been working on, but I was eventually able to slip back into sleep.  

At 2am my partner woke up and could not sleep. So he got up, showered, and then came back into our bedroom to dry off and get ready. This activity in the bedroom woke me up. Again.

This being the second waking of the night I wasn’t able to get back to sleep.

Between the midnight wee, time spent trying to sleep again after that, and the next 2am disturbance, I probably had about four hours of sleep. i.e. not enough sleep by half!

I had to go to work in the morning. Disaster. The day was pretty much a write-off. Productivity and mood rock-bottom. Ability to safely navigate the M4 commute to work and back: sketchy.

My low energy triggered me to eat a lot of fatty and salty junk food at lunch just so I could lurch forwards to the end of the day. This in turn made me feel pretty sick. I woke up the next morning constipated  from the processed food which does my pregnant body no good. Too much information?

I want the point to be super clear.  This sleepless night cost me two days of my life where I just wasn’t able to function properly or enjoy life. 

There were a combination of factors involved, sometimes there really is nothing you could have done differently. But in this case, my own choices to get entangled in something mentally stimulating and drink a herbal tea before bed set me up for this epic fail.  Two simple, and fairly innocuous choices cost me two days of my life. Two days that just didn’t cut the mustard. 

We have the capacity to design our life. Design our experience. Design the kind of sleep we get. Design how we feel when we wake up in the morning. Design how much energy and vitality we experience. Design how much happiness and ease we’re willing to allow in.

Are we paying attention to our choices and noticing the full power of their effects? Just like the butterfly effect, even the tiniest of choices that we make on a daily basis can have a ripple effect that either supports or undermines us as our life unfolds.

Ask yourself:

How do I want to feel tomorrow?

What small choices or actions can I take today to align to that?

Just One Word

This year I’ve eschewed new year’s resolutions in favour of a single word. An intention. A theme for the year.

One of yoga’s key teachings is that what we focus on expands.  Like nurturing a seedling through regular watering, whatever we place the light of our awareness on grows.  

This is why a daily gratitude practice has the power to bring much positivity into our lives.  By focusing our awareness each day on a few things we’re already blessed with we begin to see blessings everywhere. We expand our experience of abundance.  We focus on the good and the good expands to fill our awareness and shift our perspective.

It works both in the positive and the negative. If we don’t consciously choose what to focus on, it’ll choose us. And in this complex, distracting and materialistic world, chances are our attention will be locked onto the things that are shouting the loudest, but that aren’t necessarily of true value to us.

When reflecting on 2016, one realisation that stood out for me that I want to carry into this new year is that I want to experience more ease and joy in each moment.  That’s the quality and experience I’d like to expand this year.

I’ve always been quite future oriented. “I’ll relax when I’ve done this”, “I’ll be happy once this is out of the way”, “I have this thing looming ahead which I’m nervous about therefore I can only allow myself to be 80% happy right now…I must maintain a 20% level of stress” etc etc…Sounds mental when I type it out but I’m sure we all do these sorts of mental bargainings with ourselves.  Most of our problems are in fact just thoughts in our minds. Completely powerless to actually impact our reality. Except, crucially, for the power we give them.

Well I don’t want to do that any more. I want to enjoy each moment as it arises.  My ability to start doing this more has been helped massively by 2016’s major lesson: let go of expectations. Shout-out to Brexit for nailing that one down. And Trump. Finally. This lesson’s been a long time coming.

So this year, sod whatever is in the diary for later in the day, or next week, or next month. Whether it’s “pleasant” or “unpleasant”, it doesn’t need to effect my enjoyment and ease in this moment.

In order to make space for more joy and ease in each moment I need to, well make space for it.  Which means simplifying.

Complexity creates stress, simplicity creates ease.  More than anything I want ease and joy this year, so my word is simple. Simple.

Simple. Simple. Simple. 🙂 

That’s not to say I’m going to avoid anything challenging, that would be boring. But I don’t want to create dis-ease for myself by complicating things, by trying to do too much at the cost of enjoying too little.  By putting pressure on myself to be at some imaginary point further ahead.  By comparing myself to others. By buying more shit I don’t need to distract myself from more important though less instantly gratifying matters. I have a long list of ways I complicate life unnecessarily.

Simple. Simple. Simple.

I want to slow down, simplify, to appreciate and enjoy more.

An inspired Christmas gift from a work colleague who clearly knows me well. I can fully indulge my fantasy of building a shack in the words and living the ultimate simple life 🙂

The beauty of a one word theme is that it’s easy to remember and it ties up a lot of separate intentions I have.

Something I’m drawn back to this year is minimalism; the art of living with just the things that you need and/or that bring you joy. This creates more space for all the actual important stuff, like relationships and experiences.

One intention around living more simply is to be more mindful of how I spend my money. I had a realisation over Christmas of just how fast we’re consuming more and more “stuff” at serious cost. Fast fashion is a prime example.  We’ve chosen quick and cheap over quality, durability and sustainability.  I realised I don’t even have the skill of identifying good quality clothing, or even where to find it!

As a first step to simplifying I’ve put a stop to all non essential purchases so I can slow down and see what and why I’m driven to buy “stuff” and whether that stuff is actually likely to add any value, to simplify my life or bring joy. In just a week or so I’m already  appreciated and noticing the many things already in my life and at my disposal. And saving money!

If you had to pick one word for the year what would it be?

 

Being and Doing

After a long period in a hyper-masculine state of go, go, go, do, do, do, I find myself in  an open void of what feels like complete nothingness. Like a rocket that’s been violently thrusting its way up against the atmosphere and the gravitational pull of the earth and finally breaks through the stratosphere into the vast stillness of outer space.

I’m in outer space right now. Except it’s inner space.

All the doing I’m so very fond of has given way to simple being. I’m whiling away every free moment doing pretty much nothing. No thing. It feels rather delicious, rebellious even, to simply lie on the couch, not reading, not sleeping, just being. Ahh vast inner space, I’ve missed you.

I used to fret during these periods where I found myself withdrawing from action and being unproductive. I’d fear i was wasting time. Now I appreciate that being is the other side of the coin to doing. It’s a crucial part of the cycle. There’s no day without night and no light without darkness.

This period of ‘chill’ is just as important to my overall capacity to move forwards in life and create the awesome things I’d like to create as the periods of activity. A field that’s allowed to lie fallow is ultimately more fertile and more productive the next time seeds are planted.

I’m lying fallow right now.  

This is a skill I’ve developed. To know when enough is enough and when action is no longer helpful. When resting in stillness is actually the most productive thing you can do.

All my ‘go-getter’ self-development books have fallen by the wayside. The thought of reading anything ‘productive’ makes me feel a bit queasy. At some point we need a total break. There’s a certain intellectual materialism around devouring knowledge through books. We to pause.. How can we ever see what’s inside ourselves if we’re always consuming, bringing the external internally?  What about bringing the internal externally?

These periods of lying fallow are vital to tapping into our own creativity.

Be still and curious, see what arises.

I listened to a podcast with an author, Karan Bajaj, who works for four years as an engineer and then takes a sabbatical year.  Fours years on, one year off. He repeats this cycle. His sabbatical year is a year to step out of routine and do nothing. He sets no goals or expectations for this time, it’s a year to simply be and see what happens.  What he’s found is that by doing nothing he allows his creativity to really flow. He’s written best-selling novels in these sabbatical years, even though that was never a goal or intention.

This is resonating with me so much right now. I know from my own experience how powerful it can be to surrender into a more receptive state of being. Sometimes when we’re not trying to bash away at something, not trying to actively produce something from our logical, linear, egoic mind, we open ourselves up to something deeper. Inspiration. Spiirt. Grace. Magic. Call it what you will.  I’ve definitely found that in the nothingness there is space and clarity, and in that space, without any forcing or probing,  unexpected insights and ideas arise.

There’s a certain trust involved in holding this space. In refraining from busywork for awhile and simply waiting.  Trust it.

If you’re not ready to abandon all doing for weeks simply add some being into your day. A 20-minute savasana can do the trick.

 

How Coaching Freed Me From My Own Bull***t

I’m shocking myself here, but it’s the honest truth. The best money I’ve ever spent is the hefty £5,000 (yes, it hurt!) on a coach who I’ve been working with since the beginning of this year.

Coaching isn’t something anyone strictly needs. It’s easily lumped in the luxury-that’s-nice-to-have department. It’s the sort of thing I would have rolled my eyes at just a year ago. I used to think coaching was totally wishy-washy. Maybe useful for people who were confused and didn’t really know what they were doing. But OBVIOUSLY this didn’t apply to me.I’m a pitta you see, and this means that I know everything already.  Ha!

Being an only child I’m pretty darn independent. I’ve always enjoyed and taken pride in blazing through things solo. On the surface level, it’s done me well. I’m successful in many ways. The idea of working with someone else, like a coach, or God-forbid a whole group, was not altogheter appealing.

That all changed dramatically this year.

They say that when the student is ready the teacher appears. I guess I was finally ready and humble enough this year to accept that going it solo isn’t the most effective way of travelling through life. I was ready to receive the support I needed. 

My life on the surface has been ‘successful’:

A* grades at school, check; university degree, check; good career with regular progression up the ladder, check; a partner who I genuinely think is the most awesome person in the world, check!

And yet, there were some pretty big internal challenges that I’d be grappling with for years.

I realise looking back to the start of this year that I had given up on myself. My relationship to my deepest desires, my core values and my life itself was out of whack and I’d resigned myself to this being ‘just the way it is…’ You gotta be ‘realistic’, right?

That’s where my coach came in. It’s as though I had been sitting in a darkened room, the four walls of which were made up of my own bullshit stories, excuses, limiting beliefs and fears.

I was sitting tight in this darkened space of resignation. Comfortable within the walls of my familiar if dissatisfying stories.

budWhen she came along she turned on the lights. Showed me there was a door right in front of me to exit the room.  “You can stay there if you want” she said, “but choosing not to step into your full potential and live life fully is just that, a choice, not an inevitability”.

It is so powerful to have someone point out your own bullshit to you. More often than not, we just can’t see it for ourselves. It’s much easier to see the inherent greatness and potential in another person. It’s easy to see their stories and limiting beliefs for the self-made shackles that they truly are and see the many possibilities available to them.

It’s waaaaaaa[insert about million more ‘a’s]y harder to do this with ourselves.

Our own fears and objections to stepping up and out into the world seem very real. The imaginary boundaries we’ve created to keep ourselves seemingly safe actually choke us instead. Nevertheless, we continue to cling to them. The excuses and weak reasoning as to why it has to be so, for us, pour forth like a fountain of never-ending yes, but-bullshit.

When you have a coaching relationship you cannot hide behind the bullshit anymore. A good coach changes the changeway you look at the world, which changes your world. That’s huge! And you can’t unsee what you’ve already seen. There’s no going back. Which can be painful if all you want to do is scuttle back into your box of limiting beliefs.

Coaching prods and probes you until the best of you rises to the surface to take responsibility for your life experience.

You can engage with life and create an experience that is so utterly fulfilling that your baseline is ‘bliss with overtones of ecstasy’ right through to ‘fine’ and ‘ugh, yuke’. You choose where on the spectrum you want to live from. Coaching helps you see that there’s always choice. 

If you’re not feeling fully alive and vibrant that’s a choice.

If you’re not doing work that inspires you, that’s a choice.

If something’s not working, you can choose to persevere and try something different.

If you’re piling on the pounds and moving towards stiffness, degeneration, and disease, that’s a choice.  

If you don’t have what you most want in life, that’s a choice, albeit a subconscious one.

If you wake up feeling like you’ve won the lottery every morning, that’s a choice, you’ve chosen to have the blissipline to take the actions that will lead to that experience.

You choose what you get in life. You choose how you feel. You choose whether you live a life aligned with your values. You choose whether to experience fulfillment or simply it’s-fine-ment

You choose.

Getting a coach has been my best investment so far because this point is crystal clear to me now. No more bullshit. No more excuses. My coaching relationship has empowered me to step into my authentic power.  
No more eye-rolling from this pitta.

The power of choice and freedom from self-made bullshit is something I can get behind.  When you realise the only thing stopping you is YOU, you become unstoppable.