On a lovely dog walk with a friend recently we were talking about what I wanted to achieve with my Jumpstart programme. The overwhelming thing was kindness.

By this I don’t mean going and giving all your worldly goods to charity, or taking a steaming pot of  stew to an elderly neighbour, although those are great things to do. What I mean is kindness to yourself.


All too often we think of everyone else’s needs before our own. Got children? You put them before you. Got a partner? Their needs are pretty high up. Friends? Yep, you’ll rush to help them out. Animals? They need to be cared for. You? Sorry, who? ME? I don’t have time to be kind to me!!

OK, let’s put this another way around: if you never make time to be kind to number one, you’ll run out of steam to help everyone else. So rather than saying “I don’t have time to be kind to me”, let’s try “how can I make time for me?” I’m thinking maybe 10 minutes. How about you grab 10 minutes before the chaos of the day and do some yoga stretches? Or take 10 minutes at lunchtime and walk around the block? Or include the family – take 10 minutes before dinner and all dance like loons around the living room.

Kindness, in this context, is about giving yourself the time to keep having the energy for everyone else.

If you’re struggling with how to find the time, or what to do to fit little bits of activity in, why not join our Community over on facebook. Lots of hints and tips on how to get a bit more active and ultimately be kind to yourself, and all while surrounded by lovely kind people.

A sugary treat?

One of the things that led me to become a personal trainer was the wish to help people feel better about themselves, primarily through exercise, but also through food. Now let me set this straight from the start: I am no nutritionist, but I do have basic nutrition qualifications, so when I analyse clients’ food diaries I am looking for little tweaks they can make so their food works with them, not against them; things like spotting where there’s a blood sugar slump during the day and advising on healthier snacks that could be eaten to ward that off, or advising on healthy yummy breakfasts that will see my clients getting through the morning at work without needing to reach for the biscuits.

For more detailed food work I look to two friends, one I see as my female hormone and energy level guru, the other I view as my sports nutrition guide. They are actually both qualified the same and can advise on each other’s areas, that’s just how I fit them into my little world.

Anyway, last week Health Coach friend, Kathy Payne, who runs Kathy Payne – Hormone Health and Fertility, ran a facebook challenge called Curb Your Cravings. Every day she set us a challenge, some easier, some harder. The one that really got my ears pricked up was her sugar day. We were challenged to add up our sugar intake (either all sugar or just refined sugars, it was for each of us to choose, I went for all sugar, including those from fruit, veg, etc) as we went through the day until we reached the daily recommended amount for an adult woman, which is 30g. 30g of sugar. That’s about 5 teaspoons. That’s nothing!

OK. Breakfast – soya yogurt, muesli, ground linseed, mixed berries. Yep, I’m feeling pretty smug. Oh. The muesli is 9g sugar/100g. OK, have a look at the other box of muesli in the kitchen. Oh. 14g sugar/100g. Breakfast in total was 10g (I went for the lower sugar muesli and had nowhere near 100g of it).

Lunch – right, let’s do this. Made a veggie/chickpea/spinach thing 3.3g sugar/100g. Smugness back. 1 apple. 12g!! What????? OK, mental note to self, stick to berries when wanting fruit. Total 15.3g

Mid afternoon – OK, I’ll have some mixed nuts, they’ll be fine, right? 4g sugar/100g. Wow. But you know, nuts are good fats and all, so I’ll still have them, just add them to my sugar tally. Total 4g (ish, didn’t weigh the nuts)

Dinner – cod on a tomato and butter bean sauce, with tenderstem broccoli. About 10g

So on a day WHEN I WAS FOCUSING ON MY SUGAR INTAKE I got to 39.3g. Nearly 10g over the recommended daily intake. Granted I was counting fruit and veg sugar, not just the refined stuff, and had I only counted the refined stuff I’d have been at about 9g over the day, but what an eye opener.

Interestingly nutritionist friend, Claire Doherty, who runs Namaste Nutrition, is running a sugar challenge on facebook in September. I may report back. If I survive a low to no sugar September!

Perceptions of fitness

I find this really interesting – everyone has an idea of where they sit on the fitness scale, and yet this perception is often vastly out of line with reality.

If we define the scale as running from sedentary lifestyle (drive to work, sit at a desk, drive home, sit on the sofa) as a 1, through to 10 being professional athlete, where would you put yourself? I often hear different versions of similar statements: “I’ve got the dogs to walk so I know I’m a lot fitter than many of my counterparts” (maybe placing themselves higher on the scale than they are?); “I can only run 10k, so I’m really unfit” (perhaps underplaying what they can do?); “I literally do no exercise” (only for me to discover they horseride/ dog walk/ do an active job).

I’m as guilty of it – I know I’m a slow runner, so I perceive myself to be less fit than those who run more quickly. Is that a fair assessment? Probably not. I can still run long distances, I can still swim and cycle further than many, but not as far as others. I’d position myself at a 5-6 on the scale. Where’d you put yourself? And where do you perceive me to be?