Monday, 24 February 2014

You - but better!

Hands up if you're glad Spring is on its way. The new season always brings an end to long, dark nights, post-Xmas credit card bills and miserable weather (please!) and instead ushers in a certain hope and new found energy. But hang on, what happened to those New Year Resolutions you made - a new job for 2014, a bikini body by Summer and a perfect, happy home that nurtures and inspires the entire family?  Ah, just as I suspected you've forgotten about your resolve to eat well, go to bed early and write that novel already. Maybe next year?

If you find yourself spending every January 1st making the same old resolutions over and over again you're not alone. In fact it's a trap that the majority of us fall into repeatedly - and not just when a new year beckons, but every time we try to make a positive change in our lives. Perhaps you'd like a career change, maybe you want to move on from a failed relationship or finally want to give up smoking? But somehow,  something always stands in your way and you find yourself failing again - or maybe not even starting.

But imagine if you were in control? And that you could visualise and achieve the life you wanted to live, without any limits. Doesn't that open up an entire world of possibilities? And wouldn't that make you one hundred times happier? And imagine if that lifestyle was ongoing - and that each goal you set yourself was accompanied by a plan of action and smaller steps to help you to be successful. Wow! Just wow!

Which is the sort of feeling you get after you leave a life coaching session with Chloe Tasch from Be Your Best You. I was lucky enough to be included in a recent workshop Chloe ran, which tackled the positive changes (as opposed to those doomed New Year Resolutions) the participants wanted to make. And it definitely left its participants on a high - full of inspiration - and perhaps more importantly - with the tools to achieve their goals.

Pinterest is vision board heaven!

The workshop I attended, was held in Chloe's home, had 6 participants, and lasted from 9.30 to 3pm. It was informal, and we had a several breaks, including a lovely lunch prepared by Chloe. Sometimes we worked as a group, other times in pairs - and some of our work was carried out alone.  I should add that what is discussed at a session is confidential, and the participants are made aware of that, and that problems or issues can be shared or not, as you prefer. Oh, and be prepared to make some new friends too!

Since life coaching is a forward looking process, the first stage was to identify where exactly we wanted to be in life - the end goal we had in mind. We used a simple chart to identify our satisfaction with a variety of areas of life - everything from work, health, money and relationships. For me, this was where the shock really kicked in - areas that I hadn't even considered would be of interest to the day were quite clearly the ones that I needed to work on. I had unwittingly, come along to the workshop with some preconceived ideas about what I wanted to get from it - and already I was learning other aspects of my life were sticking points.

More Pinterest wisdom!

After discussing our goals, we discussed our 'limiting beliefs' - the ways we have of thinking that hold us back in life and prevent us from succeeding - perhaps the very reason we are always re-starting a diet or giving up on new interests. Often we indulge in negative chatter, phrasing things in a manner that focusses on what we can't do. Choosing your response to ideas and plans you have puts you in control - and positive affirmations and simply re-framing the way that you 'talk to yourself' about your abilities gives you a far better chance of success.

Setting our goals was also an important part of the day - and Chloe taught us how to set specific, realistic and achievable ones, if necessary breaking them down. Once these goals were identified we worked on actions that would help us achieve them. The importance of re-visiting our goals - and perhaps even adjusting them - as we achieved our success was also stressed. Celebrating our success was also recommended.

The final part of the day focussed on making a vision board - a collection of 'heart-thumping' images and words (cut from magazines or brought to the session with us) that reached and inspired us and that would help keep our goals in mind. The vision board serves as a permanent reminder of the day, the goals you have set yourself and the actions you will take to achieve your goals. This picture can be pinned up on your wall or maybe even photographed and stored as your wallpaper on your laptop or smartphone, because you will need to see it often and use it to maintain the motivation and inspiration experienced at the coaching session.

It would be an understatement to say the workshop with Chloe was eye-opening. I've always considered myself quite 'in tune' with my inner self - and think I'm quite determined when I set myself a goal. And yet, I learnt so much about making goals more achievable - and how I still set limits with negative words and thoughts. It doesn't take a genius to see that a good life coach can help you draw a map that takes you where you want to be in life.

An initial chat/session with Chloe is free of charge and without obligation. She offers one to one coaching and tailored group sessions. 

If you've come to a bit of a sudden halt after having children, or have realised that you've spent so much time ensuring they are nurtured that your own goals have been lost along the way, it might be time to consider a life coaching session. Alternatively, maybe a significant birthday has thrown you into turmoil or the thought of returning to work after maternity leave has made you realise you are looking for something different? Whatever your reasons, if you want to be a happier, healthier version of you I really recommend Chloe!

What do you think? Would you try life coaching - and do you feel it's time to re-evaluate your life? Is it a natural phase parents go through after the 'baby fog' has cleared? Have you made the same resolutions time and time again - or do you know where you want to be in a year or five years time? Let me know in the comment box below.

Thanks for reading
Vanessa. x

Monday, 10 February 2014

Honking uphill...

So, it turns out Bix is uphill. I found this out when running the three miles from Henley Bridge to Bix Church carrying the Team Honk baton. It was bit tough going on the legs, but great training for my upcoming half marathon - and a great feeling to be involved in something (other than the floods) that has been sweeping the nation since January.

Meeting on the bridge

Although a tad windy, the weather for the run was dry, yes dry. Even the path I took wasn't too muddy. And coming back a slightly different route, you could even say it was pleasant running along the country lanes in the sun, passing soggy fields and sandbags.

But the real buzz of taking part in the Team Honk Relay is the coming together of bloggers and their friends and family in a common fund-raising aim. The be-ribboned baton will travel nearly 3,000 miles during its person-to-person journey from Land's End to John O'Groats. It will zig-zag its way via 38 regional (often onesie-wearing) groups doing everything from roller blading to scooting to boating (particularly popular since the freak weather). By the time it reaches the end of its journey on March 23rd, it is hoped that the relay will have raised over £20,000 for Sport Relief. And I got to be one of the Reading Team that helped it on its merry way to Oxford, which is closest I'll ever get to being an Olympian!!
Handing over the baton

But, don't feel left out of the fun because the first ever Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Games take place from Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd March 2014 too. The baton is passed over to the public (only metaphorically, sorry) who can join the fun and games by running, swimming or cycling their way to raising cash at over a thousand venues around the country, including the landmark events at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Off to Oxford it goes...

Through these events, Sport Relief brings the entire nation together to get active, raise cash and change lives. The money raised by the public is spent by Comic Relief to help transform the lives of some of the poorest and most disadvantaged people both at home in the UK and across the world, so if you want to donate visit the online donation page or text HONK to 70005 and donate £5 to Sport Relief.

I'm new to sporty fund-raising, but have you ever got involved in something similar? Have your kids? I'd love to hear how in the comment box below. Or let me know if you plan to raise money for a good cause in the future. 

Thanks for reading

Friday, 7 February 2014

Go Run (it's just what you need!)

Sometimes you meet someone and their enthusiasm is inspiring. In my case, this someone was Eileen Unwin, founder of Go Run and genuine super woman. A mother of 4 (including twins), Eileen loves the outdoors, loves to run and loves to motivate people to do the same. She's the person that gets up at the crack of dawn and pulls on one of her four pairs of muddy trainers, so she and her four-legged friend Baxter can get a run in before everyone else wakes up. It doesn't matter if it's wet, if it's cold or if it's early - for Eileen it's always a good day to be running in the Chiltern countryside.

Eileen Unwin of Go Run

Perhaps it is not surprising that Eileen is 'sporty' - her Dad ran marathons while her brother is a triathlete. Enforced indoor exercise during a stint in Malaysia further fuelled her desire to be back out enjoying the British terrain as soon as she could. Eileen is now able to complete a half-marathon in just over an hour and a half (putting her in the top 12 of female runners at that distance). And she even has plans to improve on that!

The sort of beautiful scenes Eileen comes across while out running (photo credit: Eileen Unwin)

Improving my running

But despite her amazing achievements and boundless energy, Eileen is not in the least bit intimidating. As she put me through my paces in our hour session, it is her passion and ability to encourage that shines through. As well as some basic running to check my form (generally good, although I need to relax my shoulders a bit), Eileen taught me the way to run up (and then down) hills, and got me doing some interval training (alternate sprinting then jogging), which works to improve speed, endurance and efficiency. We also did some walking lunges and squats together - as runners often use strength training to improve results.

Who could use a Go Run session?

My session was expertly tailored to my needs - I've been training for my half marathon for a while now, and distance is not an issue - although my speed and strength leave a little to be desired! And Eileen is just as talented in motivating and training complete beginners through to serious endurance athletes. She can inspire you to identify and set goals - and help you to build running into your lifestyle. Working within the Henley/Marlow area, Eileen is fully-insured, knowledgeable and always raring to go!

A bit of water ain't gonna put her off (photo credit: Eileen Unwin)

It is immensely satisfying to set yourself a goal - and then work towards and achieve it. I'm looking forward to that feeling on March 2nd (please, please no snow!). But never underestimate the power of two (it worked out well for Posh and Becks right?). Whether you are looking for someone to get you literally up and running or someone to motivate and/or challenge you to go that little further and that little faster, Eileen is the coach for you - Go Run people!!!

To contact Eileen, call 07855 717343 or message her via Go Run's Facebook page.

So, do you think a running coach would help you to get out and run? Is this the sort of thing that helps motivate you? Is there something stopping you from taking up running - or taking your runs to the next level? I'd love to know your thoughts in the comments box below. 

Thanks for reading
Vanessa. x