Today’s post is written by Amy Newton, a personal trainer and nutritional coach from Bristol.
She tackles the question of whether we take enough time for ourselves in our busy, hectic world and if not, how we can achieve this, tackling our stress levels and introducing a good diet and exercise plan that will maximise both our emotional and physical health.
Amy is also inviting Bristol Mum readers to have a trial session with her – please read her post to find out more.
Do we take enough time for ourselves these days?
The answer is probably no. As women, we put everything and everyone before ourselves – we’re copers, we’re work horses and it’s only when we get totally depleted, do we realise that there’s nothing left for us.
If you’re anything like I used to be, this happens in a vicious cycle. We’re determined, we have a huge to do list, a lot of people to care for and we get to work – we do it all. Then comes the end of the day and it crashes down upon us. We’re exhausted. This happens day after day until we start to feel a little niggle in our throats – that’s it, the cold is coming. Then, we’re laid up (or likely struggling on) for a whole unpleasant week.
I used to go through this endlessly, having upwards of ten colds, throat infections, even episodes of bronchitis every winter. I saw it just as an inconvenience; I was frustrated with my body – why couldn’t it cope? I wasn’t asking that much of it, was I?
In reality, I was battering it – I was working 12 hours a day, putting all my friends and family first (I could never say no), eating badly and barely moving from my desk or the sofa.
I didn’t have the time, didn’t have the money, didn’t deserve, didn’t have the energy to make myself good food, make time for me to enjoy being me or make time for movement. That’s what other people with loads of time did – that wasn’t me and I could cope.
I was so wrong – this cycle carried on for a few years until I found myself in hospital with a suspected brain haemorrhage in May 2014. Thankfully, it was a false alarm, but it was a brutal wake-up call – I needed to start taking this seriously.
I set out to deal with my stress levels and find a way to eat and exercise that worked for me, with my busy schedule. I tried a lot of different things, but have finally found a way of living that is manageable and allows me to prioritise my own health and sanity.
By setting aside an hour per day for me to do something I genuinely love, I found myself being more productive and more present during the remaining 23 hours of the day. I’m more available for my partner, I’m more present in running my business and I feel a million times happier.
I have a recurring event in my diary that crops up every day – my ‘self love hour’. It doesn’t always happen at 13:30 and it isn’t always a full hour – things crop up, priorities have to be flexible – but it always happens on some level.
With all of my clients, I work on self-love with them – I ask them to write a list of ten things that make them truly happy from the inside out. I have a list pinned next to my desk – it includes things like having a bath with Epsom salts, going for a massage, walking outside barefoot. The aim is to commit to doing at least one of these things per day, to ground yourself and to emphasise to yourself that you have to be your top priority.
If you fill yourself up first, you have so much more to give to others – husbands, children, friends – the effect is amazing.
It needs to be things that give you genuine joy – it can’t involve food or doing jobs. Then, once you’ve written the list and had a few practices, you can start to use it as a coping mechanism when things get overwhelming. Instead of reaching for chocolate or wine to cope, you can pick off the list (no real thinking required) and do something that will give you a lasting, guilt-free sense of happiness.
Therein lies the reason that I work on self-love with clients – quite simply, it accelerates the results that we get and ensures they last for your whole lifetime. Often, negative relationships with food and exercise come from a lack of self-love or a lack of connection with yourself and your body.
So often in the Western world, food is presented to us as our main source of solace, and so it becomes just that. We use food to cope with stress and difficult situations. We then feel bad afterwards, perpetuating the negative feelings. Here we are again in that vicious cycle we talked about above!
Essentially, I’m a self-love and confident coach – personal training and nutritional coaching are just my tools. I teach women how to take time for themselves, instil in them that they and it is worth it and resolve their issues with food and exercise for good. Both are an opportunity to love and honour your body – but, that’s very difficult to do if you’re trapped in negative cycles.
These cycles are very difficult to break yourself – after all, we can’t really take an objective look at ourselves! With a bit of external help, it is genuinely possible to feel good about food, exercise and, most importantly, yourself, for life.
Living like this means that you fall easily into your natural, healthy weight, you don’t need to stress about what to eat anymore and you open up into the most giving, real version of you.
Think of me as the friendly, caring personal trainer in Bristol – I don’t weigh, measure or judge clients, ever. It’s not about that. It’s not a bootcamp, I’m not a sergeant major. It’s about you, being healthy, full of life and free of worries.
I’d love to offer all Bristol Mum readers a free trial session with me – come down and see what it’s all about. Even in one hour, you will learn things you never knew, which will have a positive impact on your life.
Until then, try writing your own 10 part list – things you love and make you feel like you. Then give it a try today, tomorrow, this whole week. I’d love to know how it makes you feel.