What is Stopping you from Starting?

There are a number of factors why good intentions to eating more healthily or exercising more never make it to fruition. Maybe you try something once and then give up and go back to what you did before, or you talk yourself out of even starting. And so nothing changes for the long term. This can be disheartening and frustrating.

If this sounds familiar, don't worry. You are not alone. Eat, Move, Be Happy can help you change this story.

Read on to discover Eat, Move, Be Happy’s 5 top tips for starting and continuing your journey to a healthier lifestyle. 

Our Thinking

Our philosophy is to:

challenge thinking, inspire bravery and build confidence in whatever you are doing.

We believe that we can all achieve fantastic things if we have the confidence to try stuff – and we have some awesome success stories to share.  Eat, Move, Be Happy offers a different way of thinking about eating and exercise starting with the question:

Most of us know what we should be doing to have a healthy lifestyle - eat better and exercise more – and yet we don’t do it. Why?   

Starting here we help you unravel your current habits around health and wellbeing, including eating and exercise. If you know more about why you do what you do, and how you can practically shift habits to healthier choices, this helps build momentum and confidence to ultimately Eat Better, Move Better and Be Happy(er)!

Habits are the psychological shortcuts that help us get through the day. We form habits when we do the same things regularly. This means we don't have to spend as much time thinking about what we do and how we do it - we just do it, saving energy and time.

So, accepting that our habits are ingrained (for a reason) and it takes more than pixie dust to shift them to new ones, how do you start?

Tinkerbell the fairy sprinkling pixie dust
It takes effort and energy to make different choices and shift habits

Barriers to changing

To understand a little more about habits, the reasons they are important and why they can be hard to shift check our articles on Why considering a wellness plan is a great plan!, Turn Your Plan into Action and Changing behaviours and developing habits.

There are some common barriers to changing our habits - we have talked about these in relation to eating habits before in Eat Better. It actually doesn't matter what the habit is, the psychological hard-wiring of our behaviour means changing habits is tough.

The first thing to remember is the hardest step is the first step! And you are not alone in this - you are just human.

Some of the common barriers to taking that first step are:

  • Lack of self-motivation or support – “It seems like so much work, I can’t do this alone…”
  • Busy schedule, lack of time or not convenient – “I can’t change how I eat right now. The exercise class I want to do doesn't fit with my schedule. I travel a lot, am rushed off my feet and it’s just not convenient at the moment”
  • Difficult emotions/mental health – “I’m going through a difficult time in my life right now, I enjoy comfort food and I can’t deal with even more by going on a diet. I cannot face exercise on my own/ with others, I am too self-conscious, they will be better than me, I am not good enough...”
  • Fear of getting it wrong or looking silly - "I can't do exercise, I'm not coordinated, balanced, young enough. I will look like a fool! I won't be as good as other people."
  • Inertia – “I’ve always been like this, I’m not going to change now…”
  • Not wanting to give up current life – “I like socialising with my friends too much!, I have family commitments and they come first”
  • Lack of knowledge/skills – “I hear so much contradictory advice, I don’t know where to even start!, I cannot commit to 5 hours of exercise a week so what is the point in starting? I am rubbish at sport/ can't do the technique”
  • Home environment/family/friends – “I’m surrounded by food, treats and people who are not interested in changing how they eat or exercise”
  • Too much temptation – “I can hear the chocolates/ TV calling to me!”
  • Food tastes – “I don’t like the taste of ‘healthy’ food”
  • Exercise preferences - "I prefer team sports and there aren't any local teams. I don't like gyms."
  • Putting it off/lazy – “It sounds like hard work, I will start tomorrow. I will start when I can really give it my attention and commit...”
  • Environmental barriers – “There is nowhere to get healthy food/ do the exercise I enjoy where I live/work”
  • It’s not high enough on my to-do list – “I already eat and exercise well. I’m not unhealthy. I’m happy as I am.”
  • Making excuses – Any or all of the above plus countless more…

Understanding which ones relate to you is a start. When you know what you are really dealing with you can better prepare to overcome the barrier. And it is far better to tackle them in smaller chunks rather than try and deal with everything all at once.

We know this can feel daunting. This is where Eat, Move, Be Happy can help you.

Eat, Move, Be Happy Approach

We at Eat, Move, Be Happy know people are better at overcoming their barriers when they have support. Everything is better when you have the support of others! Apart from anything else it is fun to share - your attempts, your successes and also the things that didn't go according to plan. The encouragement from others is huge in helping keep momentum and in you holding yourself to account for the choices you make.

So out first Top Tip is:

Don't go it alone!!!

text with yes you can

Our online wellbeing community means you can connect with other people, ask for and offer support, ideas and encouragement and grow together. Plus we are on hand to add our pennyworth from time to time and point you in the direction of resources on the website.

Our second Top Tip is:

Get your head in the game.

Only you can make the changes you want to make. You have to want to do this - with your heart and your head. They are linked and your head has a strong influence. The Eat, Move, Be Happy Mental Health series helps you raise awareness of your psychological wellbeing. With practical tips you can use every day to help you refocus on the things you want to try and the choices you want to make.

Support is on hand, but no one else can do it for you. Being really clear about why making the changes matters is an important step - and working through that with the help of our Eat Better podcast series and Learn & Explore resource will provide a step by step guide to making the change.

Our third Top Tip:

Doing something is better than doing nothing

No matter how long you exercise for and how frequently. Obviously we would encourage you to build up your exercise routine and challenge yourself. We know you will feel so much better physically and mentally when you do.

We believe the key to exercising more is our fourth Top Tip:

Do what you enjoy doing! And have fun and laugh lots whilst doing it.

It might sound obvious, but you are much more likely to exercise if you enjoy it. Nobody wants to send time doing something they don't enjoy. And it doesn't matter what it is, as long as you are active, moving more, getting a bit out of breath on occasion and having fun.

We can help you with structure and a plan for your exercise routine. You can build your own workout from our Workout With Us online video library and plan hassle free training with our written Weekly Workout Plans. And we can help you develop your knowledge and technique with our exercise demos and tutorials. All you have to do is give it a go and try.

And our fifth Top Tip:

The second time is always better !

So we encourage you to try things more than once before you decide something is not worth the effort. Whatever it is.

When we first try something new we are not likely to be great at it - which can feel a bit frustrating. Stick with it, the second time we are more aware of what to expect, always more relaxed and a bit more confident. We know this!

Homework

Getting this far is a good way to you making your first step. And remember, the first step is the hardest!

Help keep yourself moving forwards by:

  1. Review the common barriers above and write down the ones that apply to you most frequently. You will then be clearer about what you are dealing with.
  2. Review our Top Tips for overcoming barriers and write down how you will put these into action.
  3. Test Eat, Move, Be Happy to start on the road to your new habits and enjoy a five day free trial.  There are lots more ideas and resources to help you start and continue and we think you’ll like what you find, love the results you get and want to stay.

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Lockdown Relay Challenge

One of the things we have noticed during this period of Lockdown is the community spirit and creativity from the different people and groups we continue to work with and support with health and wellbeing. And there is a common theme - doing things together is better than doing them alone!

So, Rees Fitness is running a Lockdown Relay Challenge!

When is it?

Sunday 10th May between 11am and 5pm.

Who can take part?

Open to people from the Get Moving Group, Eat, Move, Be Happy Peer Support Group and Rees Fitness clients, whatever ability and fitness level.

What is it?

The aim is to complete 6 hours of activity as a relay challenge, starting with a group Movement not Miracles stretch session Live on Facebook and finishing with a Facebook Live Get Moving session. 

Each person can register their own 15 minute time slot to involve at least 5 minutes of activity. To get your time slot complete the form below.  If you are feeling energetic - and brave, you can register more than one time slot by submitting multiple times. And as this is a challenge it would be great if your activity has an element of personal challenge. 

Each time slot will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis, so choose yours now before it goes!

The aim is to fill each hour with different people completing their challenges. Depending on numbers, there may be more than one person completing their challenge in any time slot. Let’s hope we have lots of people so this happens!!

We will publish the activity schedule so you know who is passing the baton to you and who you are passing the baton on to. And we will keep the Eat, Move, Be Happy Facebook Group updated with progress throughout the day.

You choose your activity challenge, then when you have finished, rest! But don’t forget to send your photos, during or after your activity, to the Eat, Move, Be Happy Facebook Group.  We want to make a nice big gallery.

For those creative people amongst you please feel free to make your own baton to show off in the pics. There may be a prize for the most ingenious baton passing idea. Enjoy the challenge!

If you have any problem seeing the form below, click here instead.

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Training logs – what are they and why you should do one

Training log

Yay! Training logs! What an awesome clickbait title we have! This is sure to get people coming here in droves...

OK, so it's not the most exciting of subjects, but boy, is it an important one. Maybe it's just the result of my science degree, but I can't emphasise enough the power of even a small amount of gathered data.

Going back to first principles, our fitness/strength improves through a thing called "Progressive Overload".

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How to make your own home workout

Here at Eat, Move, Be Happy, we have an ever growing archive of exercises and workouts for you.

You can try all our Workout With Us videos here...

Or you could try our written workout plans here...

But maybe you just want to know how to easily make your own workouts at home from scratch. No worries! We got you covered! Follow the presentation below to find out exactly how we make some of our favourite workouts and how you can to!

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Turn Your Plan into Action

This is the third step and final chapter in our Wellness Planning series..

The first step, Why considering a Wellness Plan is a great plan explores what wellness means for you. This is the foundation of your plan. It is a good place to start your planning.

The second step, Build your Wellness Plan gives ideas on creating a practical, personal plan using the 5 Ways to Wellbeing framework.

So the first two steps have all been about building your knowledge around your wellbeing. And this chapter focuses on using your plan to help you when you need it the most - turning your plan into action! This part is the doing.

Remember,

Without this step, nothing changes.

So now it's time for action!

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Build Your Wellness Plan

This is the second chapter in our Wellness Planning series. 

The essence of wellness planning is that we can help ourselves when we are not at full mental fitness by using our understanding of how we think, feel and behave when we feel great. 

A quick reminder of the 3 Step Approach:

  • Step 1 – Know Your Wellness

We covered this in the first chapter Why considering a Wellness Plan is a great plan! This explores what wellness means for you. The foundation of your plan.

A key thing to remember is that wellness is a personal thing and unique to each of us.

  • Step 2 – Build Your Wellness Plan

The focus of this chapter is to create a practical, personal plan using the 5 Ways to Wellbeing framework.

Create your road map to guide you when you feel less twinkly, more vulnerable and your resilience is lower. And do this... when you feel amazing!

The final chapter in this Wellness Planning series. This focuses on how you turn your plan into practical ways to feel amazing. The doing. Without this step, nothing changes.

yellow start on blue background with caption 'it's okay not to feel twinkly.'

So, we are ready to build our plan!

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How you ruin your efforts by “pausing” your exercise and good eating for a week

Do you recognise this thing I was told the other day?

"I’m just going to put my diet and exercise on pause while we are in isolation… I’ll get right back on it after…"

I’ve heard variations of it so many times over the years and I wonder if there is a fundamental flaw in the thinking there…

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Why it is important to stay playful in full lockdown

Playing and having fun when we are facing this health, social and economic crisis may seem ridiculous. And yet this is a very real human necessity for us and one that can help us look after our mental health and wellbeing, particularly during this tough time.

Play and being playful is not just for children.

two older women playing a guessing game and laughing
We can all play and have fun

We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

George Bernard Shaw

What is playful?

Playful is a way of describing behaviour when someone likes to have fun and doesn't take things too seriously.  We don’t have to play all the time, just as we don’t have to be serious all the time either.

We start off playing - a lot. Children learn through play about themselves, relationships and the world around them. Unfortunately often as we grow up we can forget to play at all. Sometimes in adolescence, playing may seem child-like so teens shy away from it. Yet playing is so good for all of us!

We have all heard the phrase:

‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.’

There is a lot of research about the importance of play for children developmentally and for adults psychologically. We are not going into the specific details here, just to summarise that the evidence supports the fact playfulness helps us (as adults) develop our creative thinking, problem solving, openness to change and flexibility. Playing is fun and also helps us enjoy the moment more - we feel better. It has a real, positive impact on our wellbeing:

“Engaged play increases your happiness, aligns you with your deepest needs and is a huge predictor of your well-being.”

“Don’t Miss Your Life,” Joe Robinson 

Ironically, as adults, we tend to play less, especially when we are facing challenges and feel more stressed. Just when it could potentially help us more.

And given the current challenges and uncertainties we all face with the Covid-19 pandemic, our instinct is likely to take the serious stance.

Another significant barrier to adults playing is simply - we often don't want to look silly!

Man pressing his face against a window to make a silly squashed face
Be silly - and feel better

Recognising there is a time and a place for playfulness, how can we embrace this more to help each other through times of greater stress like this period of isolation?

How to increase our opportunities for play together

Staying connected when our social interactions are restricted is more important than ever. Focussing on relationships, well established and newer ones, is vital for our wellbeing. And, in the words of a wise man, we might need to enlist the help of Plan B to help!

So we need to get creative. There are some ideas as a starter below.

Talk to each other and engage in playful activities virtually:

  • Play games over the internet - cards, pictionary, charades, name that tune, quizzes. Take it in turns to host the event and prepare the games.
  • Virtual film night - complete with movie snacks. All coincide the start of the film and watch together staying connected via skype/ facetime etc
  • Virtual afternoon tea/ breakfast/ tea break - invite colleagues and friends to share their favourite biscuit or snack.

Be purposeful in building group connections - Eat, Move, Be Happy Peer Support group is an example of just that. This aim of our online community is to create a shared experience where we can support each other and keep momentum. This is also a great way of keeping in touch with lots of people and sharing information. 

Remember, groups and particularly virtual groups don’t replace talking and real conversations. We also need to keep talking.

Ideas for play in groups:

  • Photo challenge - set a theme and encourage people to share the photos they capture. Prizes or a scoreboard for the funniest or wackiest taken.
  • Fancy dress challenge - engage the group/ family in finding and making a fancy dress costume/ models from items around the house. You can set time limits - 10 minutes to a week!

Schedule playtime

No matter how little time, schedule time to daydream, reflect and consider new ways of doing things with a playful twist. This does require some positive thought and a desire to engage in playful thinking. Getting help from others if you find this more difficult would be a good place to start.

Learn from children - if you can spend some time observing how children play and join in! They are experts at it. Play balancing games, dancing games, hide and seek games, imagination games… embrace your inner silliness and feel the difference!

Play Games together

Some of the classics are the best. Remember Simon says, Hick Hack Hock, chocolate games - have I got your attention now?

chocolate, knife and fork, die, hat, gloves and scarf for the chocolate game
Eating chocolate with a knife and fork

There are loads of ideas on the internet if you cannot remember. You could introduce a new game every week - and these could all be played virtually connecting digitally with a bit of imagination.

And finally, a couple of no brainers for me:

Sing and dance - lots. It doesn’t matter how badly or how out of tune. You can do this on your own, though as with most things, it is better with someone else! And that can still happen virtually.

Be silly - lots. You may be surprised at how much brighter and better you feel when you have had a moment of pure silliness and laughed hard. 

Smile more and laugh when you can - laughing is a huge benefit psychologically and physiologically. If you are singing and dancing more our guess is you will also be laughing more! Enjoy!

So your homework...

Find three different ways to play this week. Mix it up a bit, on your own and with others. And let us know how you get on through the Peer Support Group. Some photos to accompany your updates would be great!

multi cultural dad and daughter wearing tutus dancing and smiling

Need further support…

If you are worried about your mental health please seek professional help and advice from your GP. If you cannot visit your GP and need urgent help visit A&E. 

Other sources of help include:

  • The Samaritans who offer a free, confidential 24 hour helpline.
  • Mind a Mental Health Charity offering information and support line.

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Why does it feel a bit like Christmas?

I don’t know if it’s just me, but these last few days have started to feel like that week between Christmas and New Year.  The days have started to lose their structure, people not going to work, shops looking ransacked and everyone hoarding food because they don’t know when they will be able to get more...Happy days, eh?

So remember what it’s like during and after that Christmas week:

  • You forget what day it is.
  • You get less productive.
  • You drink and eat more.
  • You exercise less.
  • You spend the next month trying to get life back under control
  • You experience the most miserable time of the year.

And that is what happens after just one week of chaos!  We have got several weeks/months of this to look forward to!

So why does this happen?  Well, a major reason is how all our usual habits and structure of living is thrown on its head.  Our routine goes out the window and our lives are left unstructured. And when everyone around you is in the same situation, it quickly becomes really hard to function properly (just like that Christmas week).

So I guess we have a couple of options before us:

  1. Descend into anarchy, learn what we can from Mad Max and go hog wild.
  2. Adapt to the new situation and keep/build as much structure/routine into our lives as possible.

Mad Max

Personally, although option 1 sounds exciting, option 2 will probably be best overall…

Identify your old structure/routine

Identify the old structure/routine you had in your day last week.  Everyone is different, but it probably followed a pattern something like this:

  • Wake up at a set time.
  • Get breakfast/shower/clean teeth etc
  • Get yourself/others to school/work.
  • Eat a meal at a set time.
  • Come home from school/work.
  • Eat a meal at a set time.
  • Do “leisure” stuff (watch TV, go to the gym/pub etc).
  • Clean teeth and go to bed at a set time.
  • Repeat.

Once you know what your routine was, we know what your “anchors” throughout the day were.  You could trust these, you know where, when and why these things happened. It is these “anchors” that help us get through the day/week/month.

After speaking to people, I’ve noticed that many of these “anchors” have come unstuck and without anchors, our lives can start flapping about like a mother hen.  And that’s no good for anyone. Being a health and fitness coach, the first thing I notice people doing is not exercising or being active enough, and even, dare I say it, eating badly (I’m sorry, it’s my job to notice these things!)

Flapping like a hen
Life without anchor points is like a flapping hen...chaotic, unproductive and not much use to anyone.

So what can we do to help fix things?

Set new anchors

Yep, if our old anchors helped keep us grounded, new anchors can help us get grounded in reality again.  Of course, things may have changed now, so we will have to adapt, but the principles should remain the same.  There are some habits that are simply just “good” for us, regardless of the context. And just because we can go all Mad Max, doesn’t mean we should.

So, take a look at your calendar/diary for the coming week.  If it’s anything like mine, it’s emptier and has a lot of things scribbled out.  But we can still incorporate good habits and plonk them in there as big, heavy, solid anchors to keep us going.  Some suggestions include:

  • Still get up at a set time (you decide what time).
  • Still do your morning routine of shower/s**t/shave etc.
  • Still have all your meals at set time (even if you don’t need to)
  • Still go to bed at a set time (even if you don’t need to)
  • Set aside a time to do the jobs you have been putting off for months (yes, I’m actually going to do some admin!)
  • Set aside a time for social fun (it may get difficult, but life is all about overcoming difficulties)
  • Set aside time to stay connected to friends and loved ones. Even work colleagues, especially if you’re working from home
  • Set aside a time to exercise and keep active (in case you didn’t know, we can help you with this!)
  • Set aside time for your Mental Health. Give yourself space for mindfulness or wellbeing solutions (we have articles to read on this too!
  • Set healthy eating habits (we have an entire online course dedicated to changing your eating for the better).

Homework

I like to end on a point of action.  So here is your homework (if you choose to accept it):

  1. Identify what your anchors were last week.
  2. Identify which ones can be kept going for the coming weeks/months.
  3. Add new anchors that will help you, for example:
    1. Stay/keep active, fit and strong.
    2. Eating good, healthy food and avoiding junk food.
    3. Maintain an income to pay your bills.
    4. Improve your skills or education.
  4. Subscribe to Eat, Move, Be Happy and get all exercise, eating and support you can shake a stick at (do you like my attempt at a Jedi mind trick there?)

So keep talking to each other - stay connected, and remember it’s okay to not be okay. We are here for each other.

Until we meet again, make sure you sign up for our mailing list or join the Eat, Move, Be Happy Facebook group...

Keep your habits!

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In these extraordinary times…

It is difficult to know where to start. Globally we are facing a new and challenging phenomenon and there are a lot of unknowns, for us all.

With all the advice out there on all things COVID-19, we don’t want to confuse the issue or repeat what is already out there.

Check out Mind.org and BBC (to name just two) for lots of great information including practical considerations for self isolation and guidance on how to look after your wellbeing whilst this extraordinary situation continues.

We do think it is worth mentioning that there are some things to sensibly consider whilst we face this uncertain time:

  • Keep connected with people – online options provide a workable Plan B to keeping in touch. Check out our online wellbeing community too to meet new people.
  • Focus on what you can control – it is easy to get carried away on the tidal wave of destruction with COVID-19. Concentrate on the immediate things you can do with your family and friends.
  • Share the positive stories – so often it is easy to get hooked on the negative stuff (check out Why considering a Wellness Plan is a great plan! to find out more). We have heard some great stories, from people helping find toilet rolls and cat food for elderly, anxious customers to our Get Moving clients offering to pay for our attempts to offer online exercise options. That brought a tear to my eye.

And remember – we are all in this together and will get through this, together.

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