Golden Handcuffs

Blog 9 of my mini series…

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At the end of February (feels like a life time ago now) I traveled to Belfast to attend the Only Just media Summit.  This was just as Corona Virus was starting to become a ‘thing’, before Social Distancing had become a ‘thing’ and the week that Northern Ireland had just had their first case.

The event was a full day of speakers, all experts in their fields, talking to a room full of bloggers, Vloggers, content creators and brands.  My plan immediately after the event was to write some blogs on the speakers and my key takeouts.  Life then got in the way, CoronaVirus exploded and took up all my time at work and this idea got left in the notes section of my phone.  Until now.

Today is the blog nine of ten where I want to outline my key take outs for the day.

Why?  To be honest it’s probably multipurpose (like that kind of cleaning product you but to clean the kitchen and bathroom if like me you are not a ‘Mrs. Hincher’.  Partly I think it will help me solidify the key points I took away from the day, because although I’ve not written about them here until now I have started to take action.  But also because I think you as the reader could also benefit from these takeouts.  You might not be interested in branding or social media or content creation but some of the ideas I took away could just be useful for your approach to your job or you life in general.

So introductions over today’s blog will focus on the talk given by Tyler Babin, creative resident at Adobe and former creative for Gary Vee.

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Among other things Tyler talked about how being happy is strategically better than making a strategic decision for financial gain.

When you are looking to make changes in your career, whether you be self employed or employed it can be easy to look at the route that will offer the most money in the least amount of time.

But Tyler talked of this being like ‘golden handcuffs’ in that you get material value from this route but it can be detrimental to your mental health and your happiness.

It can sometimes therefore be better to look towards opportunities that align with your values and benefit your life in a more rounded way and work towards monetary goals this way instead.  Whilst undoubtedly taking longer, you are more likely to enjoy what you do during this period or growth and so get more personal value from it and be happier in general.  This in turn can make you more willing to put the work in to reach your ultimate goals.

I think this is an important idea to remember, we live in a society where we are used to getting things instantly and encouraged to attain high salaries and buy a lot of material things.  In tandem to this however we also live in a society where mental health problems are common and many people report being dissatisfied with their work life balance.

Therefore taking  a step back and deciding what works best for you, rather than what on appear looks like the best option, could make you happier in the long run.  Of all the messages from this Summit I think this is one of the most powerful.

 

 

Scoring an Own Goal?

I had a conversation with a friend over the weekend about goals.

Goals are great for keeping you motivated and on track with your training and nutrition, and people who are quite consistent with their eating and training are often very good at setting and then working towards goals.  This is a good thing obviously, but equally it can cause us to put unnecessary stress on ourselves.

See when we are very motivated to achieve XYZ it can become easy to start comparing yourself to others, to start picking holes in our own progress and under valuing our own results.  It can also become difficult to recognise that as your goals differ from other people’s what their success looks like and what your success looks like will also be different.  Even more so as your goals change what you measure results on might change at the same time at which point it can become even harder to accept the subsequent changes to our body or strength.

Added to this, most of us generally take on board what other people say and think about our bodies with minimal questioning.  So if those around us comment on say our weight when we have been training to increase our strength (as opposed to trying to lose weight) it can be difficult to remind ourselves that our weight isn’t important to us because that isn’t our goal.

What I’m trying to articulate here is that at a really basic level setting goals is a great start to a fitness journey but for people where fitness is already part of everyday life we can sometimes get confused about what our goals are and what they mean by paying too much attention to other people’s opinions and other people’s goals.

For me, previously my goals have been running orientated and next year I’d like to pick that up again, at which point my training and nutrition will need to reflect that.  Right now though, if I am totally honest I need a break from a specific goal.  I’ve spent the last few years chasing one goal and qualification after another and need a bit of a break.  I actually just want to train and eat to feel good.

I often say I’d like to be leaner, but if I’m honest right now I’m no willing to stop eating cake in the quantity I do or train more often or for longer that I currently do, so I’m not likely to get leaner than I currently am as I don’t want to change my current lifestyle.

That will change- probably next year I will reset everything and work towards a running based goal.  But until then if I see someone smashing out some PBs, running marathons or looking stage ready and feel that sense of failure that I’m not in that condition right now I need to remember I’m not in that condition because I haven’t trained to be in that condition and I haven’t trained to be in that condition because that is not my goal.

Set a goal by all means. Set one that means something to you. Then work to that goal and don’t be swayed by what other people think, say or are doing.  And if you change your mind and change your goal that’s fine, you can always readjust your own goal posts.

 

 

 

Why I Run

Over recent years I’ve entered a lot of races.  10k, half marathons , even a marathon.  People always ask why.  There is one simple answer.

For the goodie bag.

That’s partly a joke – I like the support from the crowd and the variety in the route which makes running a long distance more palatable than just plodding down the same cycle route or park that I normally run in.

But essentially getting some food and a t shirt at the end is an incentive for me (want to be my friend- I’m very food motivated)!

I have a friend who literally runs for medals- she picks races based on what the medals are like!

I have another friend who does endurance events almost purely just to see how far they can push themselves.

In all our cases the event itself, location, the time we might get, our likely finishing place are almost irrelevant factors in our decision to take part.

Our motivation for doing incredibly challenging things doesn’t always have to be a story worthy of it’s own background music on a Britain’s Got Talent audition.

Do you struggle to set yourself a fitness goal?  Is that because you can’t think of that thing that sets your soul on fire and when people ask you about it you can give a long inspirational speech about how an angel came to you one night and told you that you were destined to do this thing?  Do you have something you’d quite like to try for whatever reason but that reason seems a bit superficial, silly even?

I run for goodie bags.  You can do literally anything you want for any reason you want!

5 Reasons Group Ex Instructors should consider signing up to Jump 4.2

Hello!

So today’s blog is actually a video. If you follow my blog you know I’ve been blogging about my progress on the fitness nutrition and mindset programme Jump 4.2. This is a bit of a follow up to that where I explain 5 reasons why any group ex instructors or regular participants who train a lot but aren’t getting the results they want should consider doing Jump.

I’m not your traditional advert for a fitness programme. I haven’t had a massive physical transformation in 8 weeks – I haven’t developed a six-pack. What I have gained from working with Ricky is a healthy relationship with food, my training and my own head. I can have weeks where I eat too much and don’t train of course, but now I can deal with them – they don’t derail my progress or make me feel like I need to start again. I know what I can achieve if I want to get super lean, equally I know where my happy place is where I’m fit, healthy and able to enjoy life.

I think that’s what most of us really want. Most of us don’t want to give up cake and cocktails or spend hours in the gym in exchange for abs- we just want to feel good whilst still enjoying our favourite indulgences. If that’s you then I’m the proof that Jump 4.2 works – I’m the most boring yet honest advertisement going!

The last intake in 2019 opens on 1st September. If you are interested and have any questions you can contact me on instagram DM @heather.sherwood or Ricky Long @rickylong42 or @jump4.2.

I have a couple of discount codes for 15% off – if you would like to sign up with a discount drop me a message.

Anyway – here’s my video!

Jump 4.2 Video

Feel the Fear and Do It Anway – Reblog

On Sunday I travelled down to London to do my Aim 1 (Advanced Instructor Module) in Sh’bam.

Now I can’t dance. I closely resemble a plank of wood attempting to move to the beat (I can hear what I’m supposed to be doing and when, I just struggle to make my body do it when it comes to dancing). So whilst I’ve done the equivalent courses already in Body Pump, Body Combat, CX Worx and GRIT and also my Aim 2 in Body Pump so knew what was coming, I was really really (really really really) nervous about this one.

Added to this, for personal reasons, I wasn’t in the best head space when Sunday arrived and my confidence and concentration was at an all time low.

I won’t go into the ins and outs of what you do on an Aim but in addition to teaching and getting feedback on this particular course you also learn about (and try) various different types of dance, which- in my case- meant spending the whole day trying things I’d never tried before (ballet, contemporary, Jazz…).

I will start by confirming that, as anyone who has ever met me would expect, I did not excel in any of the movements tried. I also managed to completely forget the choreography for my track about 10 seconds in the second time I taught and pretty much fell to pieces.

I spent much of the day feeling really quite uncomfortable.

But I’m glad I did it.

We all like doing things we are good at. We never mind trying things when we are confident they are going to go really well. That’s fine because even if you’re good at something, going on courses such as these and getting feedback can still improve you.

But although I was by far the least able person in the room on this occasion it was probably one of the most valuable Aims I’ve done. Regular readers will know I hate cheesey phrases like ‘step out of your comfort zone’ but on this occasion, this is what I was forced to do. Not just occasionally but for 9 hours straight! I gave so many things a go that just didn’t feel natural or comfortable or easy- and when my attempts went wrong I tried my best to laugh it off.

I will never be a ballerina but learning how to do things that scare you is a skill that can help you in all aspects of your life, not just the gym.

So if you think your rubbish at squats and so fear approaching the squat rack just go and do it. You might still be a bit rubbish afterwards but you’ll be giving yourself a chance to improve at the same time as reducing the mental block surrounding it.

If you want to learn to do a handstand, sod what people think and just start practicing – the worry about what you will look like is normally a lot worse than any kind of response you might actually receive.

I’ll sign off by saying a massive thank you to Laura Turner for putting up with me the whole day and not laughing at my attempts to dance and also all the other Sh’bammers for their encouragement and advice!

If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes

I haven’t posted anything for a couple of weeks as I’ve been busy preparing for my Level 2 Gym Instructor exams, which I took the weekend just gone (and passed!).

The days leading up to the exams were stressful.  Some parts of the course came naturally to me but other parts definitely did not and I suffered severe self doubt that I would be able to pass certain elements.

I almost decided to cancel and not even try to sit them because I was convinced I wouldn’t pass.

In the end pass I did though, so I’m glad I didn’t give into my own self doubt.

Does that mean I was stupid for worrying, getting so stressed out about it?  Some people I know would probably say yes and that I’m just a stress head but I don’t think I was – I was genuinely concerned I wasn’t adequately prepared and was scared of hearing that I’d failed.  Actually just deciding to go and try my best and see what happens meant me having to fight my own anxiety and fears.

People will often say walk away from things that cause you stress but sometimes to get to where you want to be you have to accept that you have to face up to rather than walk away from difficulties, to face up to potential failure and give it your best shot regardless.  If you really want something, you need to sacrifice things / do things, which make you uncomfortable short term to get results.

Next up for me is Level 3 Personal Training and I know this course will be harder and I will need to try and get less stressed before I give myself a heart attack!

But this has also enforced the idea adage that if nothing changes nothing changes.  If you don’t occasionally push past your own comfort zone and challenge yourself you won’t move forward.

Football Post (Kind of)

The World Cup deosn’t really interest me to be honest.

I’m in a prediction league for it at work and I’m currently bottom.

I found this article really interesting though (I also like the Guardian Opinion page by the way- I don’t know if that say’s anything about me but I prefer reading people’s opinions on the news than the news itself).

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jul/06/failure-decency-southgate-england-manager-mateus-uribe

Dealing with our own failures – we see lots about that.

Re-framing our own failures when we subsequently have success is quite easy and cathartic.

I never really thought about how I react to other people’s failures previously.

Gareth Southgate’s reaction to the player who missed a key penalty was obviously framed by his own past experience but it shows that we can have a powerful and positive impact on others in the way we handle their failure.

Not rubbing it in their face or gloating and instead trying to show some empathy.

I bet that player still felt bad but perhaps found a little comfort in the show of support, and I bet Southgate felt better the next day knowing he had shown kindness on top of his team winning the penalty shoot out, a couple of seconds which cost him literally nothing but may have meant something to the other person.

I Don’t Have Time

“I don’t have time.”

I eat pretty well most of the time, I plan my meals, meal prep once or twice a week and train 3-4 times a week on top of teaching my classes and my day job (I make myself sound better than I am here but I do do these things).

I’m not saying everyone should do this. I train because I enjoy it and I meal prep because I want to feel healthy and look a certain way.

I strongly believe everyone else should train and eat in a manner that provides the outcomes they want – whether that be to look a certain way, feel a certain way, gain or lose weight or just eat whatever the f@@k they want and enjoy it.

Often – as I sit with my tupperware box of food someone says to me – I wish I had the time to prepare food to bring in.

As I head to the gym after work people will remark I wish I had free time to go to the gym after work.

My normal response is.

  1. I set aside one or two hours on a Sunday to prepare all my meals for the week because I know I won’t have time to make meals in the week so perhaps they could do the same.
  2. I enjoy training so I make the time so if they did want to train they could probably do the same and find one or two windows a week.

The normal response to this is

  1. Oh but I don’t have time to spend two hours on cooking on a Sunday- I work all day and barely get any time to myself / with my family so I’m not wasting time on Sunday cooking.
  2. Oh but after work I’m tired / have to get home to the kids / go to the pub after work.

Now…

The implication here is almost a little (unintentionally) assumptive about me – that I do have two hours where I personally wouldn’t rather be out with friends on a Sunday or that I would have nothing else to do of an evening.

The fact is I have made a choice.

  1. I choose to eat homemade food because it’s cheaper and I feel better for it and know if I didn’t take food to work with me I would end up living off fast food and chocolate. I also know that as I’m out and about from about 6 am until around 10 pm most weekdays if I don’t meal prep on a Sunday I won’t want to when I get in at 10 pm so I’ll be reaching for the takeaways.

I am aware of my obstacles to healthy eating – I CHOOSE to overcome them and find solutions. That solution is finding some time in my week to prepare.

Would I rather not spend 2 hours on meal prep each week? Of course – but then if I don’t I know I can’t really complain about not having the food I want to eat during the week. I would need to eat whatever was served in the staff canteen and accept that has been my choice

2. I choose to go to the gym after work sometimes (most of the time it’s for work i.e. I’m teaching a class), not because I have nothing else to do, but because I value how I feel after training. If I have plans that evening or am teaching, I will train on my lunch break. In other words I fit my training sessions around my life and job(s). Again, this is a choice I could choose not to do this but I couldn’t truly blame this choice on my circumstances – it would be a case of me prioritising something else over training.

I go back to my point that I don’t think people who do not prioritise exercise or anything else are wrong. We should all decide how we can live our own happiest life and not be judged. To those who happily go about life eating cake and never setting foot in a gym fair enough – because they are happy (and this sounds quite good to be fair).

I’m talking about are those who repeatedly say they WANT to be fitter or thinner or eat better or anything else (insert any goal – fitness related or not here) but when it is suggested how they could achieve this there is a list of ‘Buts’. Reasons why they cannot take the actions that could help them towards their goal.

So when someone says to me I wish I could do what you do and eat that or go to the gym what they mean is I wish I could get the results without having to do the things that get the results – which is a different thing entirely.

“I don’t have time” translated into honesty is “I don’t really want to.”

I do these things because I’ve decided they are important to me. It doesn’t mean they are easy or I do not have obstacles and ‘buts’ I need to overcome but that I make a choice each day.

I’ve found it useful when making an excuse for not doing something to think about it in that context – because if you really want it you will work out a way of doing it. If you don’t that’s OK but just be honest with yourself and admit that- at least then you can get on with things you do give a real f@@k about.

A recent example for me – I kept saying I wanted to run another marathon- to do this I knew I’d need to make time in my day for weekly long runs. This was doable but would require sacrifice – I kept making excuses until eventually I said you know what, I value my Sunday morning lie in more than running another marathon so I’ve given up on that idea.

If we want to change we can – we can make small changes, mini sacrifices, find life hacks to get closer to that change. It’s generally easier to make excuses, which is why we so often do that.

Next time you think I don’t have the time maybe reconsider rephrasing that in your own mind to evaluate if that is really true or if you actually just aren’t as bothered about it after all- I don’t want to sound preachy, it’s just been a really useful tool for me I wanted to share.

Relationships- Facebook and Reality

I’ve had a few conversations recently that made me think about our relationship with social media and how social media affects our relationships with others.

How many friends do you have on Facebook you haven’t seen in more than 12 months? more than a month? How many have you never met?

Social media has warped our perception of what it means to be friends.

I’m old. To me my friends are the people I speak to daily, weekly, sporadically but often as well as those who I may see less often but have deep seated connections to (old housemates, best friends from school etc.).

Then I have friends I know via my jobs but don’t really know well enough to have a one on one conversation with. We all have friends who fall into both categories sometimes people can cross from one to the other over time, others stay in one camp all the time.

This is how I see the distinction. The number of people on a friend list, number of followers and number of likes and gushing comments on posts do not define my worth. The people I speak to all the time – who know what’s happening in my life not just what I post on Facebook- their opinions matter to me.

I feel like for some, perhaps more so those bought up in an age of social media, this is less the case. The distinction between quality interactions and connections versus instagram fame are less defined.

This has more to do with fitness than you would first think it does.

Fitness is big social media business these days. The platform allows you to make yourself well known and carve out a reputation by depicting yourself in a certain light.

This is a brilliant tool and I’m not knocking it at all- I know many people who have used the medium well and carved out reputations that are genuine and true to who they are.

These people tend to understand the difference between real life relationships and Facebook relationships. This ability to understand what a real connection is allows their personality to show on social media and whilst they may come across less polished than others at times they tend to be pretty happy with how they are perceived, largely I think because they are comfortable within themselves – they have their people, their support – the reaction to something they post therefore becomes ess important to them.

I also know of fitness professionals who post to boost their business in the way they think will win them clients and likes, but which is maybe more detached from who they are in real life. To be fair I’ve seen this method build profiles and large followings of strangers – make people recognisable to people they’ve never met – so for some people this works really well. Again, those people still tend to nurture a group of positive relationships away from social media.

But I worry there is a risk amidst all this Social Media hype of people getting swept away – because having lots of friends online doesn’t help you when you need a shoulder to cry on or you are having a crap day. If we focus all our energy on growing followings we risk loosing opportunities to build personal connections with people we actually see or speak to daily. That’s not saying I think we should all quit social media – but perspective and balance are lovely things!

To be honest when I’m enjoying someone’s company I normally forget to log onto Facebook or Insta. The people I speak with most often – when I meet up with them I’m less likely to tag that on Social because I don’t need to tell the world I’m there to make it worthwhile for me – although obviously if there isn’t a selfie it didn’t happen still, that’s jus the law these days – which is unfortunate because if it isn’t food I’m unlikely to photograph it!

This has been a bit deep and rambling (sorry) but my takeout from my brain dump is pretty simple.

I think we should embrace social media- I have great banter online, love sharing photos and Insta stories along with my random opinions and gnome updates. Sometimes it can be used to great effect to get your message and opinions out there. You can meet some lovely, like- minded people. We just need to remember to cultivate real life relationships at the same time. Because, if nobody online likes your photo but you best friend messages you and says it looks great which matters more?

You Control You

I feel like my posts this week have been quite deep so I thought I may as well keep to the theme (don’t worry next week I’ll write about falling falt on my face doing box jumps or something).

I feel like I’ve changed and progressed a lot in the last twelve months and most of that has come from a change in mindset.  I’ve written about this previously in various forms but essentially I’ve just started doing little things, considering certain questions I hadn’t thought about before which has led to me taking more control of my outlook and emotions.

  • What are my aims- for this week, month, year, five years, 10 years?
  • Why do I want to do these things?
  • What is my purpose for doing what I do? What purpose will doing these things serve and will it get me closer to my aims?
  • What do I need to focus on right now to get to where I want to be?
  • How can I use my goals to motivate me to do things right now?

By starting to think about these things and structuring my life around these questions I feel like I’ve started to gain more control.  Even if things are not perf6ect right now there is a purpose for what I am currently doing which fosters a more positive outlook that before.

There are lots of things that happen in life I can’t control of course but I can control me and my reaction to those things and turn those reactions back to focusing on my why and purpose.  This is so much easier said than done and I often have blips where it doesn’t quite happen immediately but building mental fortitude takes time.

Have a read of this email which pretty neatly sums up where you can start with thinking about your why:

Why?: https://mailchi.mp/08cb9784151a/free-workout-316403