Well what a year we have all had. For most of us it hasn't been without heart break, grief and lots of change. Some of this change has been scary, saddening and heart wrenching but some of it has been wonderful.
My year has been turbulent. Lots of ups, downs and loop the loops and the ride hasn't come to a stop yet but the best thing about the last 12 months is what it has done for my health. They say a picture speaks a thousand words.... well cast your eye below....
These pictures were taken almost a year apart. I still can't quite believe it myself but thanks to COVID I weigh the lightest I have done for years and I've kept the weight off which any Yo-Yo dieter will appreciate is a massive feat in itself! So how have I done it? Well it's been simple really. I've been moving more and eating less.... yep that simple!
It all started a year ago today when I signed up to my good friend and colleague Tom Lawrence's 30 From 30 wellness challenge. I was stuck in a massive wine filled rut. I'd just closed my clinics, money was drying up fast and I was faced with the unknown - like all of us. I'd reached for the bottle, and the second.... and the third and I needed some serious help!
My weight has always been one of my demons. Getting very large in my early 20s I managed to lose it through weight watchers after one of my nearest and dearest told me I had to lose weight or they would walk... not a nice thing to hear and something that has haunted me ever since. Since then I have bounced back and forth between a size 12 and a size 16. Never completely comfortable in my own skin, trying every diet going under the sun - and I mean that! Keto, Paleo, Slimming World, Weight Watchers again, Vegan, Intermittent Fasting, calculating macros, having nutrition plans written for me... nothing stuck.
But Tom's challenge came at exactly the right time. 8 daily tasks including 90 minutes of exercise, 10,000 steps and drinking 4 litres of water. There were restrictions too - no cheat meals or alcohol. Definitely not a challenge for the light hearted but I bloody loved it!
It gave me purpose and a reason to move my butt, explore yoga and get in my home gym. I lost nearly a stone, shredding my wine gut and starting to see some definition in my previously rather marshmallowesque frame! The below picture shows my results after 1 month with Tom's 30 From 30 - boy did good!
It also inspired me to create my own wellness group - I needed something to keep me accountable for my newly formed habits whilst also living a life I wanted - involving wine, chocolate and the odd Dominos pizza! The word habit here is key. What I embarked on this time last year was a lifestyle change involving lots of new healthy habits.
The 4:7:3 was born - 4 weeks, 7 daily habits, 3 weekly habits.
I wanted to share what Tom had taught me with everyday people. Those with kids, currently home schooling, those who loved wine and food as much as I do but needed education on why we shouldn't be overindulging. Those who were new to fitness or exercise who just need support to finally get moving. I wanted to teach people how to respect their bodies, to fuel them properly as well as nourishing their souls and minds.
Over the last year my little wellness tribe has evolved with the changes of the times and I am now the very proud founder of The Five Layer Cake Club.
As life has become more chaotic with returning to work for many people, so the challenges of the tribe had to become simpler and easier to adapt to everyday life. We now have five important principles/tasks. Here is what they are and why I feel they made a difference to my life.
10,000 steps a day - This is simple. Get off your arse and move. I cant count the amount of times I have paced the landing or jogged on the spot while watching tele. Every minute walking or pacing is one less minute I'm sitting on my arse eating or drinking wine! I swear this is the most important thing that I changed about myself this year. On an average busy day in clinic I spend most of it on my feet but I don't really move! I stand next to a table or a horse. I would get home having only achieved 4,000 or so steps and spend the rest of the evening on my butt eating. During the day a spare half hour would involve sitting watching trashy tv on my iPad but now I get outside and walk around the block or pace the car park (yes I get some funny looks but who cares!). I even spoke to someone today about how hard 10,000 steps is to get - it really isn't! You just have to get off your butt! Simples.
3 litres of water - probably my nemesis especially in the winter but my god does drinking enough make me feel good? My skin glows, my wrinkles seem less pronounced, my gut functions better AND the cravings are less! There are multiple reasons why we should drink more and why water is integral to optimal heath (check out my blog on water) but the feed back I received from members said it all. Often to start with the hardest layer to achieve is definitely the one that most members have managed to stick to, one habit that they have taken with them as it has made such a difference and it's such a simple thing to do. Just fill up your bottles and get glugging - whilst marching on the spot.....
Prioritise sleep - oh dear god did I used to abuse my sleep. I'm a night owl - or I was. Staying up late drinking wine. Netflix never ends! Did you know that? Setting a bedtime and sticking to it is the most incredible thing. Never did I think I would get the urge to 'power down' before midnight but now I struggle if I'm up much later than 10pm. Also - especially now the clocks have changed - 5am is the most incredible time of day. Still, peaceful and with beautiful skies it's something I regret missing out on for the last 35 years. As with water there are multiple reasons why we need to prioritise our sleep (yes there is also a blog on this!) but I promise you being able to get up to watch the sunrise makes it all worth it!
Optimise nutrition - now the aim of this layer is simply to educate. I want people to know the facts about their food, how to make the most of what they are eating. Why we need each macronutrient (carbs, protein, fat), how to source micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and how to do it easily! Healthy eating is not hard, it just takes some thought. Personally I count my calories - this is a slightly controversial way to manage my food intake in this age of intuitive eating but for me it works. I'm not super strict everyday. I still enjoy wine and chocolate but its an eye opening experience learning how many calories are in how much of something. However in the cake club this is not essential. We focus on making the right choices when it comes to our nutrition - whilst having our cake and eating it of course!
Self care - This is something that we should all take into consideration especially now our lives are getting busier again. Taking time out to read a book, meditate, have a bath - what ever your loves are is really important. We very often get carried away with the mundane activities in life or looking after other people but can we truly function our best if we aren't taking care of ourselves? So ten minutes at least a day is what I ask for. I have some wonderful small businesses on board providing book boxes, body shop smellies and candles to help make this a super easy layer to involve in our everyday lives too.
So if this sounds like something that interests you why not join us? Take back control of your health and wellness and who knows your progress pictures may well imitate mine in a years time! Let me show you that reaching optimum health doesn't have to be hard - it's actually a lot of fun especially with my awesome tribe of lovely people behind you cheering you all the way.
Click on the link below to join us today!
Alternatively look out for Tom's next challenge. I will be jumping on that - every coach needs a coach. I have a lot to be very grateful to Tom for - the 30 From 30 in the first place as well as his support for the Five Layer Cake Club. I still blame you entirely for this....
Check out Tom's social media at @_tomjlawrence as well as the cake club @fivelayercakeclub and myself at @sjms_osteopathy.