Posted in Personal Development

10 Ways to Stay Motivated to Exercise!

Well it’s 2019 and I bet plenty of you have muttered these words… ‘right that’s it after Christmas… I’m going to get fit/loose weight/diet. But come February is your determination wavering after the usual hum drum of life sets back in? Your so tired after work, the kids need you, you’ve not got time, blah blah… we’ve all been there. So how can you start and more importantly stick to a new you fitness routine? I was thinking about this on the treadmill the other day. What sparked me to is knowing that January will be a manic month in the gym but come February it will trail off. So here’s my advice on how to stick with fitness this year.

1. Make it a health mission

Firstly I think it needs to be just that… a health mission. This is about you feeling better, brighter, more energetic and full of life. That needs to be your on going goal to feel good… notice how I say ongoing… there’s no end goal here this is your life and you should strive to feel the best you can through out it.

2. Find something you love

You need to find something you love. You can’t make this a chore! If you know you hate the gym don’t pick that!! Maybe you could go swimming? Walking or jogging? Tennis? Zumba? This is all about committing to exercising. Don’t let you mind just jump to the gym… what did you enjoy as a child? Could you join a local team? Bottom line… if you don’t enjoy it it’s harder to stick to it.

3. Get the right gear

What ever you choose get the right clothes to wear. You want to look the part even if you don’t feel it. Also if you buy yourself a new fitness outfit it will spur you on into going to… I mean you don’t want to have wasted your money! The wrong gear can also make you sweat more. I once had some trainers that I swear made me hotter when I trained… they just weren’t breathable enough.

4. Find the right place to train

So this doesn’t apply if your exercising at home but if you are doing it out the house not all places to train are the same. Just because you didn’t like one gym doesn’t mean you won’t like another… some are large and spacious, others more intimate. Some are women only which might appeal, some are aimed at body builders/heavy lifters. I wasn’t a fan of swimming unless it was on holiday… pools are not warm enough and I’m always cold in the changing room after. I recently changed fitness club and guess what? I tried the swimming and I loved it! The pools not busy, temperature is good and the changing rooms are lovely.

5. Find the right instructor

Much like the right place to train an instructor that is good at what they do and train at a pace you enjoy is worth their weight in gold. Personal trainers vary massively I’ve learnt over the years… yours should really make you feel at ease and listen to you but also motivate you to go that extra mile. Instructors of fitness classes styles will vary too. I’ve found this a lot though in yoga. I once went to a class where the teacher literally whispered what we were doing through out! I struggled to hear and kept having to crane my neck to see what she was doing! Some people may have enjoyed that but I preferred to hear the direction clearly. If your trying a fitness class, try several! Find an instructor you like.

6. Don’t set unrealistic goals

I love goal setting, goals are great as they motivate you! But try not to set super challenging ones. You will only be disappointed when you don’t achieve them. Instead set goals in bite size pieces… if you are just starting out running and your aim is to run a marathon keep it in mind but maybe write down run 5k first and keep upping your goal. Another one is promising yourself you will go the gym five days a week when you know it will be a struggle. Why not aim for three which is more manageable and if you go any extra it’s a bonus.

7. Schedule your workouts

Life is busy! Get those work outs in the diary like you do with work appointments and drinks with friends. If it’s in the diary it has to happen! This is my mentality anyway. If it’s right in front of your eyes as you look at your day/week which is bound to be full of non negotiable stuff your exercise regime becomes a part of this too. I also find finding fitness classes where you have to book in helps. I’m on the fence about exercising with a friend thing though… if you do this be careful who you choose as their just not feeling it tonight can rub off on you. If you come dependent with going with someone.

8. Create the ultimate playlist

It’s amazing how much music can motivate your work out. Obviously if your going to a fitness class they are mostly done to music. But that music is carefully selected for a reason. Get together a playlist of songs you love but ones that make you want to train faster and harder. Also if you’ve got headphones in people are less likely to speak to you and interrupt your work out – BONUS!

9. Take progress photos

Okay so you may well hate this at the beginning if your unhappy with how you look… but take the photos trust me. You might think your not progressing or changing but you can miss these little changes as you go along. Progress photos will help you to notice better and will serve as a reminder of how far you’ve come. That said I’m a big advocate of its about how you feel as much as how you look.

10. No such thing as a bad work out

You’ve heard this before but it’s totally true. I’ve had days where it’s just not happening for me, I’ve done half a work out and literally left the gym! Then the next day I’ve come down with a cold. Listen to your body… it knows. However be realistic with yourself… make sure it’s your body that’s not feeling it and not your mind. If you really feel unwell don’t push it. Any form of getting your body moving is better than none. Also if you have a bad day don’t let it set the tone for the whole week!

It might not be easy at first but persevere. In my experience there will come a point when it is part of your routine and you feel almost guilty if you don’t go/do it.

Any other tips you would add here? You’ve got this… in 2019 your going to feel amazing!

Rachael πŸ™‚ x

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Posted in Personal Development

What’s not to love about January?!

I have to confess… I’m a total lover of January! I know this month is not favoured by many… so I thought I would sell it to you. Let’s look at the first month of 2019 through rose tinted glasses, let’s have a positive start to the year!

1. You get to put away the tree, decorations and all the Christmas presents and other bits of random crap that have gathered through out the festivities. You can’t deny it… there comes a point when you just want your house back. Bonus – your living room feels huge now!

2. Normal life resumes… now you might challenge me on this but I love my job, I love working (I know I’m lucky) I love to get back to routine. None of that ‘what day is it even?’ If it’s not got a name (Christmas day, Boxing Day etc) we have no bloody clue.

3. It signals the start of a brand new year! You can put the past year behind you good or bad and think about your hopes and dreams for the year ahead. Added to this is the fact you can start using a brand new diary (sorry – stationary lover here! I still adore a paper one)

4. GOALS… I love to plan, try to be organised and set goals. What are your plans for 2019? Don’t just saunter through life from month to month with no direction… go plan those goals… you will feel great when you achieve them. Make this a great year to look back at!

5. New year, new me! Post Christmas it’s time to get fit! Everybody loves to make January the month they commit to fitness, motivation is at an all time high and it’s great to see! Be a cheerleader for your friends and offer support as they start out on a new fitness journey… help them to see it through… not just in January.

6. Everyone is skint in January so nobody will be wanting to do much therefore you will be able to save money by staying in. Which is only a good thing after the hectic month of December where endless nights out and activities with the kids are sure to have left your bank account crying… not to mention the gift buying. Embrace the cold dark nights with a new Netflix series.

7. You can actually see things in shops… no but seriously… I love to shop but December is torture, saying excuse me every few seconds as you navigate yourself through crowds to find what you want and don’t get me started on the queues!! Added bonus is the sales if you can be bothered rummaging through (I fast lose patience!)

8. With Christmas done and dusted January is a great month to look at holidays. Where do you fancy going this year? Planning a holiday will give you something to look forward to.

9. It’s my birthday! Ok so that’s a reason for me to love it not you unless you are a January baby too! If so Happy Birthday!

So that’s it… is there anything you would add here? Happy January guys! Make it the start to a fabulous year.

Rachael x

Posted in Personal Development

New year, new goals… How exciting?

So with 2018 drawing to a close like many of you my thoughts are turning to the year ahead. Apparently this is a late post for 2019 goal planning as a quick google told me a lot of people were writing such posts back in October. But in my opinion it’s better late than never and technically were not even late as there’s still two days of this year left!

I totally love having goals, it makes me feel excited about the future. But it’s rare I write them down… it’s usually all just in my head or in the notes of my phone. But I read somewhere that a study revealed that by writing your goals down you are more likely to achieve them. So I spent yesterday afternoon finalising how I want my year to shape up by actually getting them down on paper.

I’ve always loved drawing and colouring so there was something therapeutic about cracking out my felt tips and making my 2019 goals oh so pretty!

For optimum goal planning I found it’s helpful to break them down into categories as oppose to having a long list. I decided to divide my goals into the following eight categories as I feel it covers all areas of life. But choose categories that you feel are relevant to you.

  • Fitness
  • Family and friends
  • Personal enrichment
  • Fun and adventure
  • Spirituality
  • Self care
  • Financial
  • Career

For each of the eight categories I wrote 2-5 goals down. Some could have fit in more than one category but I just put them in the one I thought they were most relevant too. Just to give you an idea here’s a few of mine…

Fitness – To improve the time I can run on the treadmill

Family and friends – spend more time with my adorable nephew Noah

Personal enrichment – read more often

Self care – Have a green smoothie a day

Fun and adventure – sea lion trainer experience

Spirituality – meditate every day

Financial – stay out of debt completely

Career – finish setting up my clothing company for dance and cheer

These and several of my other goals could be further explored. For example read more often – I could then write a list of books I want to commit to reading. The sea lion trainer experience could be pencilled in my diary or even booked. Look how you can further develop your goals to make it more likely for you to achieve them.

Finally I made sure my list had space still so under each category as I may decide to add more. It’s important though to not overwhelm yourself initially so remember your list is adaptable. Who said goals are just to be planned at the beginning of the year? Goals can be set at anytime but January is obviously the perfect month to look at the year ahead with optimism and excitement.

So off you go to plan your goals! I hope I have inspired you if you haven’t already done it… I hope in 2019 you achieve all you want to.

Rachael πŸ™‚ x

Posted in Baking

Making easy all butter shortbread

I have always loved shortbread. It was a firm favourite of my Grandmas, I can remember it always being on offer at her house. Shortbread biscuits can be baked all year but I love to bake them at Christmas in particular. My cousin Sarah is an amazing baker so I have to confess this recipe is not my own but let me tell you these are the most perfect all butter shortbread I’m about to share with you.

You will need:

  • 340g plain flour
  • 60g sieved icing sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of ground rice
  • 263g butter
    Sprinkling of caster sugar

Start by preheating the oven to 160c. Weigh out all the dry ingredients, cut up the butter and rub it in until a soft dough is formed.

Next role out the dough ready to cut out biscuit shapes (simple shapes are far easier as detailed ones are harder to get out the cutters!)

I was excited to find a baking stamp in my cutter box that I had forgotten I ever bought! I stamped some and left others plain to decorate later. Once they are all cut out place them on greaseproof baking paper and pop in the oven for about 15-18 minutes.

Please note: Do not overcook, as soon as they are starting to brown (even if only a couple!) remove from the oven.

If you are leaving them plain sprinkle with caster sugar as soon as they come out of the oven (the heat makes it stick) I put sugar on the stamped ones. I left them all to cool before I further decorated the others.

I wanted to use icing sugar to decorate the others as I had some little Christnas embellishments to add too. It’s important to make sure the icing sugars not too runny or it will drip off the edges. The easiest way is to put the biscuit face down to cover the surface and then you can use a knife to further spread it if necessary.

The icing took a while to dry fully so be careful if not to put them on top of each other. The finished results were eye pleasing and yummy! I will definitely be baking them again… I might try adding choc chips instead of decorating next time.

Have you made anything yummy in the run up to Christmas? I would love to hear!

Rachael πŸ™‚ x

Posted in Christmas Activites

Christmas Inspiration at Bents Home and Garden

If you were ever short of Christmas inspiration there is a garden centre in Cheshire that is absolutely killing it. Bents Home and Garden are well known for going that extra mile when it comes to Christmas. With Santa’s arrival around the beginning of November officially opening the festive period, people come from far and wide to marvel at the beautiful Christmas displays throughout November and December.

On Friday night we decided to go and have a little look and much to my surprise it wasn’t overly busy. I think it’s getting to the point now where people have done the majority of decoration buying. But this is more than your average garden centre selling trees and decorations. It almost an experience and I thought it would be lovely to share this with you through photos below.

Upon entry you are greeted with the big man himself – a delight for children.

Outside this house it’s snowed and the children are having fun in this winter scene. I love the topsy turvy snowman!

Unicorns have been all the rage this year and this little whimsical scene gives a nod to all things make believe and magical.

Check out the VW camper van parked up in this rustic log cabin scene (note the reg plate… great the attention to detail!)

A beautiful simplistic Christmassy living room… great of you don’t have kids, ha ha!

Dining in style here with a classic red and gold theme. I love the wreath hanging over the stags head.

Obviously the whole point of these scenes is to inspire you. I think pretty much everything you see is available to purchase – the decorations, dinnerware and soft furnishings.

Moving on to the Christmas trees now and I all I can say is WOW. Several colour themed trees are on display in the store, alongside them of course are the decorations beautifully displayed for purchase.

First up is ‘rural retreat’ and I absolutely adore this one! Not your average festive tree but still a head turner. Look at the birds perched on the branches at the top!

This one called ‘so magical’ takes on just that theme with unicorns, rabbits, fairies and pink and white colours.

‘Snow much fun’ would be one your children love! It had skating reindeer and plenty of snowmen hiding amongst its branches.

For a more extravagant tree theme this ‘festive fusion’ would add colour to your living room and is definitely a head turner.

These were just my favourite four trees there were indeed quite a few more to marvel at.

Worth a mention too are the miniature model villages and moving trains. They are also available to buy, although I think you would need lots of room to make a scene like this at home!

The traditional fairgrounds are so cute! I could stand and watch the moving rides for ages. They were always a favourite of my sons when he was younger.

We spent over two hours wandering round and also had something to eat. I purchased the most amazing thing though… scentsicles! For those of you who have a fake tree for ease and less mess but adore the smell of a real tree these are what you need…

You hide the little scented sticks in the branches of your Christmas tree and your home will be filled with lovely waft of a real one!

Are you all set for Christmas now? I think I’m just about there. I’m getting really excited… seven sleeps eek! Wishing you a Happy Holidays everyone!

Rachael x

Posted in Christmas Activites

Christmas Wreath Making

Making my own Christmas wreath has been on the list of things I want to do for a long time. At weekend I finally got myself on a wreath making afternoon and now proudly hanging on my door is a home made wreath.

Whilst I could of had a go at home going on a course was nice as it definitely gets you in that Christmas spirit. Woolly Willow Creations ran my course… if your in Cheshire I could definitely recommend them. They supplied everything you needed, super friendly tuition, Christmas music and refreshments. It was Β£20 which was very competitively priced in comparison to other wreath courses I sourced.

The afternoon began with a clear demonstration. We were to make our wreaths in two parts… building up the greenery and then embellishing.

You see on the tables here moss rings which we started with for ease. However you could get your own wreath ring and build up adding the moss as you go securing with reel wire.

One of the benefits of coming on a course is everything is supplied (not to mention the mega mess wreath making creates… not having to clean up is an added bonus!) The right greenery can be tricky to find and quite expensive to buy. But here’s a list of what to look out for –

  • Ivy
  • Holly
  • Conifer
  • Hebe
  • Spruce
  • Cedar
  • Eleagnus
  • Yew
  • Cornush twigs
  • Just make sure whatever you use it’s ever green. Once the demonstration was over we set to on our own wreaths. First off you use some stubb wire to create a ring to hang your wreath eventually.
  • With the ring in place this will be the top of your wreath. Adding foliage to it will now build it up. Choose a good mixed selection to create what you call a unit. It’s several of these that cover round your ring eventually.

    Secure the reel wire to your moss ring and then hold the unit in position. Wrap around the reel wire twice to secure the unit to the wreath… you must pull it tight. It is essentially this technique you use all the way around. Each time you place the next unit overlapping the last to hide your wire work.

    It was easy to build it up. The thing that took longest was selecting which foliage would go in each unit.

    Once you think your wreath is complete hold it up as you may have areas now as full. But this is no problem… you simply use the stub wire to make an anchor and and then wrap it around the bunch of foliage you want to add in. Poke the wire into the area of the wreath that’s lacking.

    The second demonstration showed us how to embellish our wreath. This is where you can get creative! Again using the stubb wire you can attach embellishments such as baubles, berry’s, pine cones, dried fruit, dog wood sticks and bows.

    I wanted quiet a traditional looking one so I added a more rustic style bow, pine cones, berries and cedar wood sticks which are a lovely red colour.

    A few tweaks here and there and we were finished! It was lovely to see although we all started out with the same stuff everybody’s wreaths came out different.

    I was pretty pleased with how mine turned out, I think maybe it could of see a little more embellishments though. The whole afternoon was really lovely and I will definitely be doing a wreath next year. I might even attempt drying some fruit to add. It got me thinking though that maybe I could do an Easter one next!

    Why not have a go at wreath making? I’m obviously no expert but I thought this post may help to guide you a bit and inspire you.

    Rachael πŸ™‚ x

    Woolly Willow creations do many other crafty courses, go check them out here – https://m.facebook.com/groups/305417686849882

    Posted in Christmas Activites

    How to Elf on the Shelf like a Master!

    When my son was 4 years old I came across this wonderful Christmas idea where in December an elf arrives at your house to watch your children for the month… I don’t need to fully explain elf on the shelf here… if you are reading this post chances are you are looking for inspiration and thinking why the hell did I start this?!!

    I consider myself as an elf master. What gives me that right? Well… I was elf on the shelving much before it became a mainstream thing in the UK. When I started nobody on my Facebook knew what it was. Sure enough though people loved the posts about our elf Alfie causing mayhem in the run up to Christmas. My son was literally bursting with excitement every December morning.

    Now I can be a bit of perfectionist with things so no half hearted elf effort was going on in my house! In total I completed 5 years of elf magic – that’s some serious planning! However when my son this year uttered the words I know about Santa my heart broke a little as much for the end of Alfie as it did for this. Out the other side of this I thought I would tell you guys some of my favourite ideas and what I consider the best way to elf on the shelf without loosing your mind!!

    My son was Five when I first heard about this so we only started it then (silently breathing a sigh of relief). I know many who are starting at three! That’s seven years planning guys… but I get that you want in and are excited! At three your kid has no idea or concept of time. Do yourself a favour and have him arrive on the 15th – that applies to until they start school and of course then you won’t get away with this as others in the class will be chatting about theirs.

    Only move him the first year… make it a game of ‘find the elf’. Don’t over complicate things when at such a young age they can’t fully appreciate your efforts.

    Year two… have him move but only do good things. This is where my confusion came in with elf on the shelf… this little dude comes to watch your behaviour and report back to Santa yet the little s*** is causing absolute carnage! Ha ha! Talk about double standards!

    Year three onwards (age five) I think then is the time to up your game. Your child is older and will appreciate the naughty behaviour and be shocked by it. But again don’t max out your ideas… save the best ones until a few years in.

    Now I know some people have like a full on calendar planned but sometimes life gets in the way and the idea you had for a particular night is no longer practical. So I kept a list of ideas in my phone instead. I did ‘elf’ shopping towards the end of November and picked up any bits I then needed along the way.

    Now I will share 30 of my favourite elf ideas I did along the way. I also asked my son which he remembers best and of course it’s the ones where he was extra naughty, ha ha!

    1. Think about your elf’s arrival! I think the year we did North Pole breakfast was a favourite.

    2. Simple ideas like this with photos are great! Also you could use a white board marker or simply turn pictures upside down.

    3. Feeding the ducks… definitely one younger children will like.

    3. Did you know elves only drink green elf milk?! Food colouring is obviously your friend here. My son looked for ages to find him this morning!

    4. I took too long getting the decorations out so Alfie did it for us creating a right mess! (I must be mad!)

    5. Have your elf make breakfast… if you don’t mind cleaning the mess ha ha! My son loved this one!

    6. When your elf wants to be on top of the tree and takes the fairy hostage!

    7. Elf olympics – bringing snow from the North Pole and check out his knitted scarf!

    8. Elves only bath in marshmallows ha ha!

    9. I’m sure school loved me this day… I swapped my sons whole lunch for chocolate stuff and marshmallows! When I arrived at school to collect him that day practically the whole class ran at me to tell me about this ha ha!

    10. I have hair extensions so I cut the old ones and when I heard my son stirring that morning quickly arranged myself like this. Let me tell you he was shocked!! I think he was scared for Alfie but he also found it hilarious… I threatened to send the elf home! Ha ha!

    11. With I’m a celeb always on at this time of year and my son liking to watch it I had to take advantage of this!

    12. Curtesy of Halloween stuff stored in the loft, Alfie finds himself in a spin!

    13. One for every year – something baking related. This was my sons favourite I think, decorating a gingerbread house. But we also did mince pies, cookies etc.

    14. When your elf gets into your make up and draws you a picture! (Old make up used of course!)

    15. Could this be the ultimate elf trick? Changing the bed to Christmas bedding whilst they are sleeping!

    16. My son adored this one! It took him ages to find him hidden in the Christmas tree!

    17. Would only recommend if your going to decorate anyway! However I had the intention but it stayed like this almost a year! Ha ha!

    18. Caught by the Lego superhero’s one night!

    19. Face painting whilst asleep always raised laughs in the morning!

    20. Quite a simple one but one he loved non the less! The sign said ‘I flew your mums car to Lapland last night to show all your toys where I live, we didn’t make it back in time before the magic ran out!’ I also parked the car erratically on the drive/half on the grass!

    21. Pick and mix shop… luckily he did listen to Alfie and only took a few to school!

    22. Banister sledging on candy canes!

    23. When your elf doesn’t make it back in time!

    24. Elf washing disaster! (I used bubble bath, made them in the sink and then moved to the floor)

    25. When your kids not keen on showering your elf comes to the rescue by filling it with balloons (warning – don’t be deceived this took almost 2 hours and approximately 75 balloons)

    26. Shrinking the cookies to elf size! Good for younger ones.

    27. When your elf cuts up your mums top in the laundry!

    28. Alfie plays Star Wars and bring cinema tickets to the movie! Your elf can do good too if your little one is behaving!

    29. The year Alfie took Lex home to see Santa! Look at his face! A surprise trip to Santa is always a winner… we were lucky to be able to do Lapland that year.

    30. When you want a night off! Ha ha! Seriously though this one is great of behaviour isn’t good. The getting up rule was not before 6am… he got up at 5am!!

    So there we have it… I hope this has inspired you! Our elf Alfie had his own page on Facebook too… I will post the link below if you want to check out what else he did. I’m no longer posting to the page as sadly the magic is over for us but the page is live for ideas. I’m going to follow this post up with another one on the perfect end to elf on the shelf.

    Now I’m out the other side do I think it was worth it? Absolutely… yes it’s a commitment but your kids faces each morning… well that’s just priceless! These little elves will make the run up to your Christmas so magical, your kids will love you for it. When my son found out one of the first things he said was ‘oh wow mummy, you did all that? I can’t believe it! Thank you!’ I know he will forever remember our Alfie’s antics with a warm heart and a smile.

    Happy elfing guys… remember it doesn’t last forever!

    Rachael πŸ™‚ x

    Link – https://www.facebook.com/alfieselfantics/