What I’ve learnt from being six months sober

What I’ve learnt from being six months sober

 

Well today marks being six months sober for me.

It’s 8am and I’m sat in my garden in my bikini sunbathing thanks to this glorious British weather we are having and sipping black coffee writing this with a clear head after a 9 hour sleep.

With England through to the semi finals of the World Cup yesterday then I suspect that most of the nation isn’t even awake yet, let alone up and enjoying the day like I am. Plus let’s not talk about how rough many people will feel for most of the day if they’ve been out celebrating with alcohol…

Continue reading “What I’ve learnt from being six months sober”

Why I do what I do

Why I do what I do
I’ve not posted anything on this personal blog for a while and in fact the last time was on just after finishing my MBA (poor show!) as once that was done then my Bolst Global business took over and the focus was more on the business blogging and getting some clients on my books and start growing some revenues.

Italy for Easter

Seven months in now and I’ve come back to Italy for Easter (a place I visit fairly regularly as I have a close friend living here) and I’ve spent the last two days working in the unexpected glorious sunshine  by the lake in a beautiful Northern Italian town in the mountains.  My friend has been working leaving me to my own devices to wander around, sunbathe and get lost in my thoughts. And it’s been so good for me!

Italy photo

Time to think…

Getting up early I’ve handled emails and phone calls in the morning over coffee and breakfast and then left the laptop at home and just taken the trusty iPad, pen and paper along with some healthy nibbles out to the lake for the afternoon so I can work on some important aspects of business proposals, personal goals and the entrepreneurial spark programme that I am currently a part of.  It’s been great because being wifi disconnected and in a new warm environment I’ve felt so productive and reenergised and managed to get through all of my tasks fairly quickly as well as give some thought to things I just haven’t had the headspace to lately.
I know I’m lucky – in so far as I have control of my time and my schedule now and can therefore do this. I am here for six days and have no boss to beg for annual leave! I can work when I want and take the time off when I want (or allow myself to- still need to work on that but that’s a post for another day!) and this is definitely one of the reasons I started Bolst Global in the first place. I’m happy to work every Sunday this year if I can have days and weeks like these at other times!
Carolina

Dreaming of my own balcony

Another big advantage is the ability to be geographically mobile with the kind of work that I do again allowing me to travel and work from anywhere- I have a long term goal of splitting my time between various countries one most likely Spain where I can sit on the balcony with my morning coffee and laptop and work from there!
Here in Italy I see and appreciate how forward thinking the UK and my mindset is when it comes to this flexibility with work and how we perceive workplaces and professional expectations and obligations. My friend has pushed for a some amount of her time to be working from home because essentially her job is tech based and so is fully able to do so. However culturally her italian employer doesn’t accept this so she is having to do twelve hour working days during the week just to get to work, work and the come home again. Leaving her no time for exercise, food shopping (shop shuts in the town at 7.30pm) or just general down time and she is exhausted!

Definitely worth it

So whilst having your own business is a LOT of work and a real rollercoaster (not without its sacrifices either!) I wouldn’t change it for the world – for the experiences it has given me so far and the future opportunities that it will bring too.
Happy Easter everyone- no chocolate eggs for me but off to buy some half price Prosecco from the supermarket before it shuts! 😉
Victoria x

Why without your wellbeing you ain’t got a thing…

Why without your wellbeing you ain’t got a thing…

It’s been an interesting, exhilarating and exhausting week after finally finishing my MBA at Leeds Business School.

 

I had the opportunity to head down to London straight after finishing and spend time building relationships and networks at the Speciality Fine Food Fair, staying with several friends who were very kind to put me up during my time there.

 

So I broke the strict gym routine for a week and the healthy eating regime (impossible not to sample some of the innovative sometimes naughty treats on offer at a food fair like this!) and spent my time packing the trip to the full….

 Taking its toll

Except I don’t think I realised how tired and emotionally drained from the week before I was and it hit me hard. When Tuesday arrived I was exhausted. Physically and mentally.Hours of walking round the stands in high heels (yes I am still refusing to succumb to flats for the time being!) and often with my bags took their toll on my feet, calves and back. And all those conversations with exhibitors, peers and in meetings although fantastic and the right thing to do also left my brain numb and devoid of it’s usual sharpness.

 

Whilst staying with one of my friends, only a few years older than me who runs an export department like I used to do in previous full-time employment she also told me about how she’d been travelled so much on business at the beginning of this year she’d collapsed at work and now was taking on-going medication due to her stress levels.

 

Now she absolutely loves travelling like I do. She loves and speaks several languages, just like me. And she loves work too, as do I. But hearing her story, knowing how similar we are and acknowledging that this week I’d pushed myself too hard made me remember yet again the importance of taking breaks and looking after yourself. That could have so easily been me or anyone else who fits a similar ‘go-getter’ profile.

 

Two years ago I also suffered a really bad injury in the gym and it put me out of action for six weeks. Looking back I do believe in part it happened because I was doing too much. Not being able to get to work as often due to my job when I did go I tried to squeeze in as much as I could and with fatigue I sustained an injury that was avoidable.

 

Thinking back about that episode coupled with this week has made me take yesterday OFF completely. The first full day off in a long long time without any MBA deadlines creeping into my head! And it has allowed me to rest properly over the past couple of days and today too, knowing I need to do so in order to be more motivated, more focused and importantly more fun to spend time with.

 Take a rest!

So the message is this: there’s always more we can do but actually sometimes the best thing for our body, mind and soul is to do nothing, at least for a little while.

 

So if you know you’ve been doing far too much of late and you can take some time out to rest today then do it! You won’t regret the way you feel after and it will help massively improve your overall wellbeing.

You’ll start the new week feeling refreshed and looking forward to the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.

Don’t learn the hard way like so many of us do!

Happy Sunday everyone,

Victoria x

The importance of getting away from it all

The importance of getting away from it all

So this is the first day of my week away in Spain and I’m feeling great (despite overindulging in some delicious Spanish gin last night!)

Coffee, cream (well oil really!) and a commitment

I’ve made a commitment to blog daily whilst I am away so that I can get into the habit of writing more frequently, which actually doesn’t come naturally or easily for me.

So I will get up with my black coffee and sit out in the garden of my friend’s beautiful apartment under the hot Spanish sun to write and reflect on what I’ve been reading, experiencing and thinking.

 MBA madness

At the moment it’s quite stressful with the executive MBA course that I am completing and I have a number of important deadlines over the next couple of weeks to meet. In some ways you could say that taking a holiday right now is the worst possible moment to do so…but actually I’m embracing it and using the days under the sun to do a little bit of Bolst Global business planning but in the most part to focus on the reading and assignment planning that I need to do.

 A learning environment

And being away from home, the office and the working environment is the best way to get on with this as I’m always battling the guilt of not concentrating on one thing over the other (MBA versus business versus other things I commit to) and here I feel like I can allow myself to focus on the MBA work. And actually being a bit of an academic junkie then for me being able to do this on holiday I find enjoyable  (yes, I’m a bit crazy!) and will prevent me from becoming even more stressed when I get back to drizzly England.

 

That’s why a change of environment and getting away from it all for me and everyone is so important. It refreshes you and you  can focus on the often neglected but fundamental stuff that your daily activities prevent you from thinking about or doing.

So if you are about to go away- how can you best use this downtime to obviously relax but also to possibly make some decisions or think about those things you haven’t had enough headspace to address?

 Making ‘sunny’ decisions!

I really enjoy being in the sun and so I’m using this time away from the routine to multitask on getting up to speed on some neglected MBA work whilst topping up the tan and thinking bigger about the future. Last year on holiday I made the decision to start up my own business and to start blogging on business related topics.

I wonder what decisions I will have made by the end of this one?

And which ones may you make too?

Please let me know!!

Thanks for reading and happy holidays!

 

Victoria x

Why mental toughness rules in the gym

Why mental toughness rules in the gym

There’s a gym in Leeds called Sudden Movements that is not like the many chain gyms that exist. It doesn’t have loads of machines, a pool or a sauna, bikes or rowers.

 

This gym has a rig, it has rings, it has weights and it has some classes that require as much of a mental work out as they do a physical one. Very different from convention as we generally know it!

 Fitter than ever

And yet I’ve been going there for three years and I’m at 31 much fitter and in better shape than when I was 21 – both physically and mentally !

I go there not because of body image or because I want to compete in anything. I go there because I want to conquer the exercises in the classes and be as fit as I can pushing every week to be stronger while juggling an MBA, a business and of course spending time with family and friends.

 

In the 3 years I’ve been going there has been a hardcore of regular attendees who stick the distance. By this I mean they don’t quit:  no matter what.

 

They aren’t all in physical peak condition, some of them have lifestyles that mean they can’t be but they turn up, they commit and they don’t give up no matter how tough the routines we work on get.

 Scaling that wall

The thing is the routines aren’t that tough if you tell yourself you can and will achieve before each class. If you see an 8ft wall and tell yourself you can scale it you will but a 5ft wall will be too much if you allow yourself only to see the barrier and not your ability to overcome it.

 

Those who can’t scale the 5ft wall, those are the ones who lack confidence in their ability to complete moves at the gym and it’s such a shame as they eventually allow that lack of confidence to tell themselves they can’t do it and they invariably quit more often than not.

 

Another thing I have learned over the years: never measure yourself on someone else, measure yourself on yourself and then go be better tomorrow!

So if something you’re asked to try at a gym class is hard, go at it until you fail. It’s ok to fail then pick yourself up and go at it again next time, pushing yourself to be better. Eventually you will be able to do it!

 

Mind over matter – it’s not a new thing and it’s so very relevant in so many things.

 

For me stepping into that gym for the first time having not really worked out before (or signed up to a gym before) I felt it would be a challenge…but I also felt I could do it.

 

My mind was capable of more than my body was and it still is because as my body gets stronger my brain tells me I can do more and so I push on.

 

Anyone can do this, we are all capable of climbing our mountains! Just look up from the bottom and see yourself at the top.

 

You don’t have to have perfection and you don’t need to measure up to others.

 

Let yourself succeed, don’t worry about when it’s hard or when you reach your limit. Reaching this where you place the marker for next time.

 

So go out there and flex your mental strength! And see what your mind and body can achieve.

 

Victoria x

How to stay 100% motivated

How to stay 100% motivated

Well it’s been a good May bank holiday weekend for me with plenty of exercise, sauna and eating well. But that’s also been easy to do because I feel ‘on it’ at the moment and have a goal of a week in the sun (whilst doing some study!) in Spain to look forward to that is spurning me to get some marginal gains on the fitness and physique as well as prepare me for some slack in the healthy eating too (and some prosecco and sangria that I am really looking forward to!)

 It’s hard work!

However let’s be honest it’s REALLY hard being always 100% motivated and I’m the first to admit that this year I’ve probably only felt this driven about half of the time. Why? Because life gets in the way- things and events happen that mean you don’t always have the energy to stay on track with the nutrition. And for me whilst I can stay pretty consistent with the fitness and workouts it is the healthy eating that is the hardest to maintain. Especially so when it does require a lot of food prepping and forward thinking, declining of beige buffets at events and the continuous having to explain to people why you don’t eat certain things.

 

So acknowledging that continuous motivation isn’t always possible (unless you are superhuman) how have I found it best to stay as motivated as possible?

Here are some tips from what I’ve learnt along the way:

1 Build a community of like-minded individuals around you

This could be fellow gym goers or others that you work or interact with who share similar  values when it comes to having a positive mindset and understand what you are trying to achieve from a healthy lifestyle, mainly because they too are trying to do the same. Choose to spend more time with them than others who may be unable (or unwilling!) to comprehend why you don’t want to share a bottle of wine and why you’d find being in the gym a great way to spend a bank holiday. Often I find that these people are unhappy with themselves but aren’t willing to make changes to their own lives so would rather try to cajole you into indulging with them so they feel less guilty about it as a result.

 

  1. Try to always have a goal

By setting up goals to achieve that are personal and meaningful to you then you have a focus and I’ve found this much easier to keep the motivation going. Whether it’s a number of reps of an exercise, a target size of a part of my body, a set period of super cleaning eating when you have short term goals that feed into your long term aim of living a healthy lifestyle then it becomes much easier.

 

  1. If you slip, get back on it asap

This will happen. Whether it’s some overindulgence, too much booze or a couple of weeks out of the gym then there will be times when you feel disappointed in your actions (or lack of action!) what is important here is not to just then give in and then have some of the bad stuff, booze or stay away from the exercise but to recognise that you’ve slipped but it’s not the end of the world and there is tomorrow to start again. But make sure you do- if it’s a Saturday then don’t think well I’ll start over on Monday- do it on Sunday! The sooner you can get on track (whatever that means for you) the better you will feel and can get closer to your goals that you’ve set.

 

So how do you stay motivated with your healthy lifestyle?

 

Any additional tips or advice then please comment and share!

 

Have a great shorter week ahead,

 

Victoria x

The Grapefruit Test

The Grapefruit Test

A strange title for a blog post I must admit but it was tucking into a half pink grapefruit this morning that made me realise how far I have come in re-adjusting my palate over the past few years.

Childhood memories

Grapefruit for me is the fruit of my grandparents. When my sister and I used to stay at their house in York or stay at their caravan during the summer holidays in Skegness we would often be presented with half a grapefruit for breakfast. And it would taste so sour that we would have to beg Nanna to sprinkle it with sugar on top, just to make it bearable to eat.

And yet today this half grapefruit didn’t taste sour at all. In fact I would say that it almost tasted sweet! Without any added sugar or sweetener.

Sugar strikes!

Over the past couple of years as I have become more and more hooked on exercising and eating well then I came to understand and evaluate just how much sugar I was eating on a daily basis. Not just the obvious sugar related stuff like chocolate, sweetened and milky coffees and sweets but also in other products where the sugar is either hidden or you are told the product is ‘no added sugar’ but is instead laden with artificial sweeteners such as aspartame or maltitol. These ingredients, particularly in processed foods are everywhere and we as consumers are by and large unaware, particularly when the clever marketing messages are making us think we are making healthier choices.

It was nearly three years ago after I had lost over a stone in weight through exercising and doing the 5:2 diet for a couple of months that I realised nutrition was so important and that it wasn’t enough just restricting my calorie intake, I needed to overhaul my eating plans and cut out all forms of sugar from my diet as far as possible.

Making Changes

On the whole this has been successful and I feel great for doing so! Don’t get me wrong – I am still human do occasionally indulge in the odd piece of cake/biscuit/chocolate. However what I have found is that often the things I used to eat and enjoy now just taste far too sweet and artificial.  Last Christmas I left the chocolates to one side and instead was craving mince pies and Christmas pudding as my indulgence – more natural fruit based products.

Also I enjoy and can appreciate much more the taste of many other foods and genuinely believe that my palate has adapted for the better. I savour food much more than I did in the past.

So take the grapefruit test – how does it taste to you?

And if you want to make it taste sweet over time then it’s never too late to start making changes to your diet for the better with gradually reducing your sugar intake Believe me your body and your mind will thank you for it!