Paying homage to a beautiful month…
There’s no rain in any of these photographs, so there mustn’t have been any rain?
Well done August – good job!!
(photos all my own)
Paying homage to a beautiful month…
There’s no rain in any of these photographs, so there mustn’t have been any rain?
Well done August – good job!!
(photos all my own)
I’m not a huge fan of planning ahead – I quite like to bimble along and see where the road takes me – but I also like to give myself some stepping stones for the way ahead.
By chance I was awake in the middle of the night just as we entered the new year – fireworks woke me up and then my brain switched on! I used the bonus middle-of-the-night time to jot down some thoughts about the brand new year.
The idea came from Jeff Brown who wrote:
“I am re-braving, after a difficult stage that un-braved me. It is my hope that 2023 is an opportunity for all of us to restore ourselves, and to re-brave ourselves. A re-braved humanity will not tolerate anything that obstructs our possibilities. A re-braved humanity will craft the world of profound possibility that is our individual and collective birth-right.”
Whether we read that on a global level (as intended) or an individual level, I think it is a really positive idea to carry forward with us. And even if we only focus on the individual aspects of re-braving, we will surely create a force for good along the way.
I also wrote that I didn’t get through breast cancer to only live a half-life. I don’t have a strong picture of what a fuller life would look like but I know that for a few years I’ve been hiding & holding back & stopping myself from feeling, so I’m going to work on that this year.
So in the early hours, with these thoughts as my guiding light, I jotted down some things that I can/will try to include in the coming 12 months.
In no particular order (apart from the first one which is top priority right now!)
I like to think of all these things as gentle ways to make good use of the year, rather than things which I achieve or fail to achieve. Just a few stepping stones across the river of life. A chance to celebrate being here. An opportunity to be more present.
In the past five years I have lost both my parents, which is obviously significant, but I think the recent death of my Dad has somehow set me free to be who I always meant to be. Not that him being alive stopped me being me, but I no longer see myself reflected in his eyes and I feel lighter as a result.
Perhaps 2023 will be the year that I finally get brave, and step into my body and take up the space that I’m meant to take up…#watchthisspace
Recently I’ve been feeling that 2022 hasn’t been a good year, but a look through my photos has shown me that there have been so many highs, so here is a little review to remind me that not everything is always how it feels in one given moment…!
There have definitely been some heavy loads in the last few months – my Dad died unexpectedly on 2nd November, my house sale fell through around the same time and I’ve been struggling to mend two sore feet since I damaged them at the end of August! [Probably the feet don’t seem very important when compared to the death of a parent and the sadness of not moving house, but I feel them every day and they are getting in the way of me enjoying the one thing I really love to do #walking ]
So anyway, that’s the bad stuff…but here’s what I remembered when I looked through the photos on my phone:
Thank you 2022 – I haven’t always loved you but I’m glad we made it through together!
And 2023 I’m hoping for good things from you… #nopressure
Just in case you’d like some ‘homework’ to keep you moving while there are no classes over the half term break, I’ve pulled together some previously recorded sessions & some other ideas that I think you’ll enjoy. Of course, it is totally fine to give your body a rest or do some other activities instead – that’s what I’ll be doing!
I’m going to start by saying that I’m not a Podiatrist, so this is written from the perspective of my own personal experience and the things I see in my clients.
Our feet are truly fabulous things. The ankle and foot complex contains 26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. Considering both feet, that makes a total of 52 bones, making up about a quarter of all bones found in the mature adult body.
Maybe it’s time we took better care of these precious feet of ours??
For some reason people seem to take offence when I suggest to them that their shoes are too small. I have no idea why it would be an offensive thing to hear?? It is just a fact that our feet get wider and longer as we get older, so if you’re still wearing the same shoe size you wore five/ten/twenty years ago they are probably too small.
Also, you probably don’t wear the same size clothes you wore five/ten/twenty years ago so why would your feet be any different to your body?
If you don’t believe me you could always go and have them measured!
Or, if you are experiencing issues with your feet/ankles/knees/hips and your toes tend to looked scrunched-up (eg. crooked toes, pointing-at-the-ceiling toes or unable-to-spread-them-out toes) why not buy one pair of shoes the next size up, wear only those shoes for a few weeks and see what happens. At the very least your toes will gradually start to stretch out and spread out and breathe a little. But more likely, loads of other things will change too…
Once you’ve stopped squishing your feet into the wrong sized shoes, you can help your feet even more by giving them some release-work, stretches, exercises and a bit of self-massage. It doesn’t need to take long each day – just pick one or two things that feel useful and start there. Do those things 2-3 times a day (or more!) and notice the changes. You can add in other things later on once your feet start to change.
Here are couple of short videos from me:
Also, walk around in bare feet whenever you can – it’s a great way to strengthen your feet and that helps them to function better.
If you have any concerns, I would recommend you find a Podiatrist or Physiotherapist and let them assess what is going on with your feet. They will be qualified to offer specific advice in terms of exercise and support for your feet to get you moving more comfortably.
Be mindful of the fact that a Podiatrist will almost always recommend orthotics (support for your foot inside your shoe) which might not be your preferred/best option, although perhaps useful in the short-term.
Also, check-out some of my favourite foot-people online:
Having taken a keen interest in feet for many years, I now only wear ‘barefoot’ shoes which have no support or cushioning in the soles and they work really well for my feet. Barefoot shoes have a wide toe-box and a less rounded inside edge around the big toe to allow optimal foot function. I’m not suggesting that you go down this route without doing your own research, but am very happy that I made the switch.
I hope this has given you some food for thought and a few ideas to try if you think that your feet might be the cause of issues in your body. As always, let me know if you have any questions – I’ll do my best to answer them or direct you to someone who knows more than me
Have you tried switching to cold water at the end of your shower?!
I’ve tried ending my showers with cold water a few times in the past but not stayed under for more than a second or two! Over the past 2 weeks or so, I’ve been getting braver and I have to admit it feels great.
After a cautious start, I can now dunk my head under the shower and stay there for a good 20 seconds. I know that’s still not very long but it’s a big increase since I started out. I’m also starting to master the art of not squealing too loudly because one day the dog was sitting at the bottom of the stairs wondering whether or not he needed to come to my rescue!
Even with this relatively short blast of cold water, when I turn the shower off, my body feels like it’s glowing in spite of cool air coming in through the open windows. I don’t have my central heating on yet and the cold showers are really helping me to feel warm as I’m getting dressed and ready for the day.
Probably the most positive thing I’ve noticed is that it makes me laugh out loud every day, which is a really mood-boosting way to start the day. AND it 100% makes me feel like a super-hero!
There are so many reported health benefits, including:
The easiest way to start is by turning the dial down at the end of your usual shower, until the water is noticeably cooler. I prefer to step out of the water while it cools down and then step back in, but you may prefer to feel the temperature changing.
Once the temperature is set, focus on slow deep breaths and notice how it makes you feel. Gradually go a little colder each day until you’re at the coldest setting, and then start building up the time you spend there…
I honestly have been surprised how good this feels to me, and it’s so simple to add into your daily routine when you’re having a shower anyway.
I’m going to keep building up my times because apparently that’s when the real benefits happen. And if 20 seconds makes me feel like a super-hero already, I can only imagine how much more invincible I’ll be after 60 seconds!!
PS wouldn’t you just love to take a shower in the middle of nowhere?!
I thought I knew a bit about back pain!! And then my back went into spasm and I realised I had no idea how BAD it could feel!! Here are some thoughts on back pain, based on my recent experience…
This was me, part way through teaching a class, when my lower back and glutes locked up. Long story short, several hours of heavy gardening (a few days prior to this) had left the muscles in my lower back, glutes and hamstrings overstretched, weak and vulnerable; I carried on as usual for a few days but at the moment pictured below, my body responded by tightening up the whole of my left hand side, leaving me literally unable to get up!
I think it helped that I understood what had caused the sudden spasm. It didn’t help that I knew my class were watching on at home, unable to do anything. It also didn’t help that I live alone – it was a scary experience to go through alone…
Once I got over the initial panic, there were a couple of things in my favour:
The list above is intended as general guidance only.
If you’ve over-done it in the garden or tried a new type of exercise, this guidance will help you to get moving again – and I think that getting moving is of key importance in this situation. If your muscles have gone into spasm you definitely don’t want to leave them there…
That said, back pain is a broad umbrella term and some issues are more serious and need more urgent attention than others. If you experience sudden or unexplained back pain, or an onset of symptoms such as numbness in the legs or a change in bowel and bladder control, always seek help from a medical professional as soon as you can.
Sorry to end on that note, but it needed saying because I am not a medical professional and this guidance is not intended to take the place of medical advice. This is just my thoughts on back pain from someone who had no idea what back pain felt like until a week ago!
And my final piece of advice is this – if you need bamboo roots digging out of your garden let someone else do it…
If you’re currently working from home or worried about how to cope with self-isolation during the coronavirus pandemic, here are a few thoughts to keep you moving and keep you sane. I’ll add to them as new ideas spring to mind…
I made a short video today looking at some coping strategies to keep us going in the coming weeks. I grabbed a few books off my shelves in case you’d like to use this time to practice Pilates at home or include some soft tissue release work into your (new) daily routine…
There is so much we can do to manage our feelings at this time, but try not to get overwhelmed by all the suggestions that are circulating (including these!) Just pick one or two things that make sense to you right now and start with those.
We are in a brand new landscape right now (and will likely be for some time to come) so be gentle on yourself – breathe, move, eat, sleep and stay hydrated. If you have more time on your hands than usual, try to put it to good use but remember that doing nothing is sometimes good too.
I’ll be back with more short videos & thoughts over the coming weeks – let me know if there is anything in particular that I can help with Jx
For updates on how COVID-19 is affecting taylor-made fitness sessions please click here
(updated 21st March 2020 – changes in purple text)
Please find details below regarding changes being made to taylor-made fitness in light of the current situation with coronavirus COVID-19. For the latest Government advice on coronavirus, please click here
I am currently in the process of updating my website to reflect the changes that have been made to taylor-made fitness with regards to coronavirus COVID-19. Please bear with me until everything is fully functional again!
With effect from Monday 16th March, all in-person group classes have been temporarily suspended and will be delivered as live-streamed or pre-recorded sessions. I have set up a virtual studio in my home so everything is good to go. I will be adding a variety of class options in the coming weeks – please let me know if there is anything you would like me to include.
Please try to carry on with your regular movement practice at home – even if we can’t be in the same space, we can still be collectively exercising at the usual times – physically distant but socially cohesive!
I am going to make a change to the way class bookings are made during this period, so that you will have more flexibility while your finances may be less certain. With effect from April 6th, I will offer monthly subscriptions which will give you access to all my live-streamed and pre-recorded online classes. I hope that you will be in a position to continue supporting me during these changing times, so that taylor-made fitness can still be there to support you once everything is more settled.
I had planned to take a week off 6-13th April but this is currently under review as I’m not sure where I’d go!! I will keep you posted nearer the time and set-up the classes accordingly.
At present, I am planning to continue with the Wednesday morning walk as usual and will add an extra walk session on Fridays (details below). In these difficult times, assuming we are not symptomatic, we can all benefit from getting outside and breathing fresh air.
Managing our mental health will be even more vital over the coming weeks and walking is my favourite way to do that. I will be walking and you are welcome to join me if you’d like to.
We are lucky to live in a rural setting where we can be outside and away from direct contact with others, even if we are walking in a small, spread-out, group. Here is an article about whether it is still safe to walk, in case you have any concerns: coronavirus and walking
Please note a change to the start time on Fridays (9am instead of 9.15am)
Please do not attend a walk session if you have any COVID-19 symptoms as outlined here or have been in contact with anyone who has these symptoms
There is no charge for these sessions but if you’re planning on joining us please email/text me on the day so that we know to wait for you before setting off. For your own peace of mind, please bring hand gel if you have any as there are no hand-washing facilities available (except puddles perhaps!)
Personal training sessions will continue to be delivered in-person although the following processes will be followed:
PT clients must notify me if they have any COVID-19 symptoms as outlined here or have been in contact with anyone who has these symptoms.
I will be in email contact with individual clients to agree how to proceed and we will continue to review as the situation develops. In the event that clients think they have been potentially exposed to the virus, personal training sessions will need to move to live-streamed sessions. Obviously the same applies if I think have been exposed to the virus.
We now have guidance from the Sports Therapy Association which is as follows:
“After spending most of the night reviewing the current Governmental guidance, I have arrived at the conclusion that now is the time to cancel all non urgent appointments and unnecessary social contact , as we are not classed as Allied Health Professionals – that means all clinic appointments, home visits, pitch side commitments and training nights. I’ve shared multiple sources of information over the past few days all of which classifies our role as high risk. I hope that we can look back in several months and say we were wrong and guilty only of overreacting.” Gary Benson Founder of STA
In line with this guidance I feel that my decision to stop offering hands-on treatments from Monday 16th was the best one to take.
Please rest assured that even though I cannot treat you in person at this time, I am still available to offer help as required via online and telephone contact. As well as creating some general self-care release videos that you can use at home, I am also able to offer individual guidance via Skype or Zoom so please reach out if you need my help.
If you have an existing massage voucher, the expiration date will be extended accordingly.
This business is my livelihood and my only source of household income, so for sure these are scary and worrying times, as they are for many of you I know. But, more than being my income, this business represents my heart & soul and I am feeling very sad and worried about what might happen to it right now. I know I’m not alone. I know we will get through this. But I’m taking a moment to acknowledge the sadness too.
Today I have been lifted up by the emails & texts of support from all of my lovely clients – thank you so much, it means the world to have that contact. Thank you for your on-going support in uncertain times.
Please keep in touch. Please keep walking. Please (if you can) keep to your usual class schedule at home. Please look after yourselves and your loved ones. Please take time to look up at the sky and plant your feet in the soil. Please take time to lie on the floor and breathe deeply.
I am going to try to keep myself busy creating class content for you and I’ll send regular emails so that you have plenty to keep you busy too. I also plan to complete my L4 Sports Massage course (which is all online) so that I’ll have new skills to share soon. If I get really stir-crazy, I might pack up my dog and a tent and go off-grid for a while…
Hopefully I will see some of you on walks but if not I am here if you need anything – fitness ideas, massage self-care advice, online support, virtual cake & coffee mornings, shopping errands…please shout if you need anything from me at all Jx
After a few years without a writing practice, I decided that 2020 was the right time for me to begin journaling again. But I didn’t know where to start!! I posted the question on Instagram and here is a collection of the beautiful advice I received and the approach I have decided to take.
The simplest advice I had was to use a journal firstly for dumping any feelings that came up whilst writing & secondly for noting down any feelings of gratitude. This is a great place to start as it helps us to observe our thoughts and feelings as well as letting go (or parking) anything that we don’t want to keep carrying around all day, whilst at the same time seeking out some positives from our day.
Someone reminded me that there are no bad feelings, just interesting information so I made a note of that in the front of my journal before I got started.
Other suggestions that I found helpful as ideas for journaling, included:
And then someone gave me a brilliant list of suggested questions or prompts that we can use to shape/review our day – these can all be present or past tense depending on where you’re at in your day. There were lots but here are some favourites:
Interestingly, this list brought to mind a fabulous poem by John O’Donohue that I had recently found so I printed off a copy and stuck it in the front of my journal. The poem invites the reader to review their day – you can find it by clicking this link: At The End Of The Day – a mirror of questions
I started my journal with two words for the year. I had been thinking about them for a few weeks, weighing them up and deciding if they were right for me. Having decided that they were, I wrote them on the second page (the first page was filled with my journaling ideas) as an intentional focal point. A benchmark I could come back to when I needed to.
I chose two words – ‘heart’ and ‘connect’ – and added notes about what they mean & why they matter for me.
My journaling practice so far has been split into two points in the day – when I wake up & when I go to bed. I keep the journal (and a purple pen) on the floor by my bed (because that’s how I roll!!) so it acts as a gentle prompt to connect when I’m in that space.
I have been starting the day with some intentions and some positive affirmations as I find they give me a focus for the hours ahead. Some of them have a personal focus and some are business-related and I really just observe how I’m feeling about the day and note down things that I feel will guide me through it.
It feels really good to stop for a moment before the day gets going, which sounds a bit mad after doing nothing but sleep for a few hours, but I’m finding it really useful.
Some days I set myself defined goals for the day. Usually there’s a reminder about eating well or going to bed early because those are my weak areas…!
I have been ending each day with a review of achievements (checking-in with any goals I set myself that morning), things I’ve loved that day, moments that made me smile and how I’m feeling in myself (mentally and physically)
It is so easy to forget to celebrate ourselves and I find this process really helpful. I probably have a tendency to carry around or pick over things I didn’t do well and a few moments doing the opposite has proved really beneficial so far. I go to bed feeling much more positive about myself which funnily enough results in me waking up much more positive about myself – who knew!!
Some nights I also add in a focus for the next day too. For example, I have got into the habit of spending time on social media when I first wake up, which sometimes steals the time I need for a pre-work walk or a relaxed breakfast.
Last night my final journal entry reads as follows: “NO social media in the morning until I’m up, dressed fed and walked” And because I saw that first thing this morning, I got up and did some work, had a shower, ate my breakfast at the dining table and went to work without looking at social media… Proud moment right there!!
Thank you to everyone who gave me the inspiration to get started. If you’re new to journaling I hope some of these ideas help you to get started. & if you’re already journaling, I’d love to know what works for you Jx
Read my top five wellness tips here