Thinking about wellbeing

Part of my day job is wellbeing within organisations. I create and deliver courses about wellbeing, and I coach people around their wellbeing and their life work balance (if there is any such thing).  Many of the people I work with are women who are balancing work, families and domestic stuff.

Many of us are so busy in the everyday, so focused on the needs of others and trying to get through the never ending to-do list, that we forget about ourselves.  Our own wellbeing gets neglected or slips down the priority list.  We just don’t think about it enough.  My role as a wellbeing coach is to help people think, reflect, plan.  To bring their wellbeing to the forefront.  Like many coaches I have questions that I use regularly. They are a way to get the conversation started and help the person I am working with to really think about where they are and what they want.  They provide an anchor for future discussions.

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Reflecting on our wellbeing on a regular basis is something that many of us can benefit from. Here are a few of the questions that I often ask my coachees.

What does wellbeing mean to you?

 How would you describe your current state of wellbeing?

 What makes you thrive?

 What gives you energy?

 What is your biggest wellbeing challenge right now?

 What is the thing that you most want to change about your wellbeing?

 What’s the first, or easiest, step you could take to improve your current wellbeing?

 Thinking about your wellbeing, what does success look like to you?

 What gets in the way of you prioritising your wellbeing?

 What do you want to achieve – and by when?

 

When did you last think about your wellbeing – and make yourself your priority?

She came, she saw, she ran a bit

I did it.

Despite all the wondering if I still could, it went just fine.

My time was good, better than I had hoped for.

Even if I did get overtaken by someone in a giant bumble bee costume.

It has been three years since I ran in an organised event, and today helped me remember just how much I loved it.

Arriving at the start, number pinned to your shirt.  People watching.  Standing with the crowd, waiting for the signal.  The noise of hundreds of runners all around you, feet pounding on pavements.  Shouts of encouragement from the crowd.  The kindness and generosity of the volunteers.  The last push to the finish line.  Another t-shirt for the collection.

I am back in the game.

Now what can I sign up for next?

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When you didn’t know that you could

I started running a few years go when a friend dragged me a long to a Couch to 5K group. After we completed the course and bagged our freebie t-shirt, we started to go running by ourselves, near her home.  We figured out a 5K route and once a week or so we would run and walk and talk in between.

Typically we’d just set off and see how it went. We’ll run until we get to that tree and then we’ll start again at the next lamppost. And so on.

One night, we’d only done around a kilometre when it started to rain. Just a light drizzle that rapidly turned into a downpour.  We figured we would get wet anyway if we turned back so we might as well carry on.  Because of the rain we decided not to walk and just see how much we could run so that we could get home as quickly as possible.

And we ran all the way.  The full 5K.

It hadn’t occurred to either of us that we could, so we hadn’t.

Sometimes, we don’t know what we are really capable of, until the moment presents itself.

So when that moment comes and finds you, seize it.

 

Mind-set

Last night I went for a run. For the last few months I’ve been doing a variety of run / walk combinations.  I set off, with one eye on my watch, counting down until the first chance to walk.

And then I decided not to.

My legs were protesting but I know from experience I always struggle for the first kilometre or so before I warm up enough to find my rhythm.

I decided not to stop and walk.

So I didn’t.

Once the decision was made it didn’t even occur to me again at any point during that run to walk.

A reminder that when it comes to this fitness stuff, your mind-set matters. The things you tell yourself about what you can do and what you can’t, become your reality.

Decide. And then do.

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Running. Probably.

I’m doing a run on Saturday. An actual event run.

It’s been nearly three years since I have felt capable to sign up to a proper event. It’s only a 5K.  Not quite the half marathon distance I ran in 2016.  But it’s big to me.

In the Spring of 2016 I was at the peak of my physical fitness. I ticked off my first half, triathlon and long mud run, as well as a couple of other 10Ks. By mid-Summer I was unwell.  The last actual event I entered, I was a DNS. The rest of that year was spent mostly on the sofa.

It’s been a long road to this coming Saturday. I have got back on my bike and back in the gym. I’m regularly taking classes, cycling and lifting weights.  Running however….. that’s still eluding me.  I’m not quite sure if it’s in my legs or in my head, but something that used to be there, just isn’t.

I signed myself up to this event as a challenge to myself. In recent weeks and months, every time I have gone out to run, whether outside or on a treadmill, it has felt like a hard slog. It still does.  An event pushes you out of your comfort zone.  Makes you work harder than you do alone.

If I’m honest, I am dreading Saturday coming around. The prospect of not being able to complete even this short distance is huge.  It is entirely pressure of my own making.  I could just not turn up.  Decide to go to the gym instead.  In the gym, there’s no one to watch you fail.

But.

But.

Only by challenging myself, only by trying and risking the potential of Did Not Finish will I know if I can. If I am truly back to health and self.

Five days and counting……

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Excuses, excuses

My training isn’t going so well. I’m working out but not seeing any noticeable difference to my capability, physical shape or weight.  It’s obviously not my fault.  I haven’t quite decided who or what else I can blame, but I’m working on it.

It is definitely nothing to do with:

  • The amount of wine I drink (and a recent ‘Bottomless Prosecco’ incident).
  • Eating out
  • My diet, which is too heavy in carbs.
  • The lack of water I’m drinking.
  • Prioritising exercises that I like rather than the ones that I need to do.
  • Chocolate.

Once I figure out the real reason I’m not progressing, I’ll let you know……

wine

No quick fixes

I was chatting to some friends on Twitter today about the constant clickbait quick fix torrent of ‘information’ about diet and fitness. It is a source of frustration for me.  Every year I find myself blogging about the ‘new year new you’ narrative, that, following the messages to eat all the food and drink all the drink at Christmas, turns to telling you that you need to sort yourself out and reduce the size of your thighs.

It’s mostly about marketing. But the marketers are only telling us what we want to hear.  We don’t really want the truth.  We want something easy and quick.  We want to look like the beautiful people in the magazines, even though deep down we know they are airbrushed to hell or living on kale and never, ever have a glass of Prosecco.

The reality doesn’t sell quite as well.

You want to get fit or lose a lot of weight? Here’s the reality.

It is going to take a long time.

It will be tough and involve significant effort on your part.

When you get to where you want to be, you will have to work just as hard to maintain it. Probably for ever.  This is just as hard as the getting there in the first place. 

You will have to give up stuff you like.

Your body will hurt, quite a lot in some cases.

You will want cake.

You will also want wine.

You will have to make good choices in the moment. Every single day. 

Sometimes, it will all feel like too much and you might want to give up.

You might never look like the person in the magazine in real life. Although you might be able to on Instagram if you get good with Photoshop.

The quick fix stuff doesn’t work – not in the long term. We know that.  Most so-called miracle diets are anything but. Otherwise they wouldn’t need to keep inventing new ones.  The diet industry in particular has failure built in – their revenues depend on it. Because if you can easily lose the weight and keep it off, you won’t need to buy any more stuff.

The quick fix stuff is a nice idea.  It’s also a dangerous one.  It sets people up to fail. It can encourage bad habits.  It promises but can’t deliver.  And this helps no one.

Reality is better.  Even if it isn’t quite as sexy.

 

 

 

Move in the moment

move

Many of us are time poor. We have long commutes, jobs that spill into our homes, children, housework, life stuff.  This can result in our own wellbeing sliding down the to-do list.

Lately, I’ve seen wellbeing coaches and so-called thought leaders talking about taking time out to do nothing and just be, their hour a day mediation practice, going off the grid and back to nature. I get that this might well be good stuff for wellbeing….. but some of us just don’t have the ability even if we have the desire.  (If anyone has any ideas about how you can just be when you have two young children running around I am listening).

For some of us when it comes to our wellbeing, it is about fitting in what we can, when we can.

And here’s the good bit. All movement counts.

You’ve seen the advice I’m sure, about taking the stairs instead of the lift, walking instead of getting the bus to up your step count, standing up to take a phone call….. but all these small activities add up.  Have a walking meeting. Walk round the block at lunchtime.  Move your body.

You don’t have to join a gym. You don’t have to run 10K. You just have to move.  As much as you can, when you can.  This is enough. You are enough.  Even if you aren’t living the perfect, Insta ready, wellness guru lifestyle.

Build it in.  We follow habits and routines.  So if you normally take the lift, you will take the lift, unless you stop and think to take the stairs.  Take a moment to reflect.  Where could you build in a little more movement into your day?

Move in the moment.

 

 

 

Let’s stop talking about willpower

I don’t have any willpower.

Or so someone said to me recently.

Like it’s a thing that you are lucky enough to be born with. Something that can be big or small, present or not.  In your DNA.

Newsflash. It’s not your willpower. It’s you.

When we think that is it our willpower that is driving us, we surrender control. We other it.

It’s not me don’t you know. It’s my willpower.  It is a cognitive convenience.

Instead of willpower, think instead about choice.

If you eat the chocolate, it isn’t because you have no willpower, some malign force conspiring against you.

It is because you choose to eat it.

Only by owning our choices and recognising that they are ours and that we do have control over them, can we truly take responsibility.

It starts with you.

What’s your practice?

What are your daily wellbeing practices?

This question appeared in my twitter timeline this morning. The tweet has long gone….. the thought remains.

I aim to do something that contributes to my wellbeing every day. It’s a deliberate thing for me; it helps me focus, keep it top of mind.

Wherever possible, that daily practice is about exercise, because this is the thing that for me, more than everything else, makes me feel awesome. Exercise contributes not only to my physical health but my mental health too.

This might be a class, some weights, a run or a bike ride. It’s the movement that matters.  When work or life stuff gets in the way, I will replace exercise with something else.  Get my steps in, walk rather than getting the bus, make some healthy eating choices, have a long hot soak in the bath (posh bath oils, of course).

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Self-care isn’t selfish. I am responsible for my wellbeing. Me. No-one else.  It shouldn’t be something that I do when I think about it or when I can find the time. Wellbeing needs to be deliberate.  It needs to be a practice and a priority.

What are your daily practices?

And if you don’t have any….. maybe it’s time to begin.