Image Bri Mansys

#DisabilityFight4FashionRight

Welcome to Part Two of my interview with Gemma Flanagan.

In Part One we looked at Gemma’s story and how from being an active young woman travelling the world for her job, she ended up in hospital completely paralysed.    How she was in hospital for almost a year and has had to come to terms with life in a wheelchair.

In this second part of the interview we explore the work of Models of Diversity (MOD).  Angel and her team are challenging the perceptions of beauty as portrayed by the fashion, beauty and media industries.  They are campaigning for change, inclusion and equality.

In this second part we will explore the campaign #DisabilityFight4FashionRight.

DisabilityFight4FashionRight

DisabilityFight4FashionRight

I will share with you how important the #DisabilityFight4FashionRight campaign is, not simply for people with disabilities who want to make a career of modelling.  This campaign has a much wider impact offering inspiring role models to others.

Beauty is diverse across the full spectrum of Society.  There are many beautiful men and women who would not fit into the conventional and frankly outdated sense of what is defined as beauty by the fashion, beauty and media industries.

CH: MOD is more than simply fighting for acceptance of disability on the catwalk and is having some great wins – would you please share some of these with us?

GF: For a start diversity embraces much more than just disability. It includes ethnicity, age, size, height, non-binary gender.

Yes we are having some fantastic wins and that we have some businesses and brands we’re talking to. Unfortunately there are a lot who are not so enlightened and so it’s slow progress.

We are in discussion with various brands and some are really embracing what we’re doing. Top Shop are meeting with us and discussions are ongoing.   Jack Eyers is part of this Men’s Fashion Week for TopMan.

Male Disabled Models seem to be more readily accepted and I think that’s because of the association of War Veterans.

CH: Is the UK different from other countries in its approach and acceptance of diversity in the fashion industry and if so how?

GF: The UK is certainly behind other countries. Take the US as an example

There is certainly more diversity in New York Fashion week. In February this included our own Jack Eyers who was on the catwalk. The first amputee to feature in New York Fashion Week.

US Brand Nordstrom takes a more inclusive approach using models who would be considered diverse in all of its shows.

The UK does lag behind not just the US but other countries in Europe.   Our culture is much more reserved. We seem to be more awkward about embracing and celebrating diversity.

Image by Chio Photography

Image by Chio Photography

CH: Is there any sense that the fashion industry will use diversity simply to gain public approval, be seen as ‘doing the right thing’, an act of tokenism?

GF: Sadly there are indeed acts of tokenism. With a ‘hey look at us’ approach and the media attention dies and life returns to the way it’s always been.

We want it become just normal practice.

Our message is very clear.  We are passionate about not having special treatment.

We don’t want to be taken on as models because we are disabled, or due to our ethnic origin etc.

We want to be accepted as models because we have the attributes required for a model: Beauty, confidence, we are professional, able to take direction.

What we are campaigning for is not to be treated differently and to have a level playing field.

 

CH: Of course the campaign that MOD is fighting for is so important for anyone who wants to work in the fashion industry, but what are the effects for people outside the industry

GF: With over 80% of people suffering from body confidence issues it’s so important to celebrate beauty in all its forms.

Before my illness I was size 8, toned and tall. GBS has meant that my body shape has gone through many changes.

I know how seeing someone that I could have related in a role that is all about being visible would have helped me to get through an incredibly tough time in my life.

Our campaign is much more than the modeling industry. We want retailers to think more about Diversity.

  1. How many mannequins do you see in wheelchairs?
  2. Disabled changing facilities are often used as storage space?
  3. Which retailers provide a lower counter facility for wheelchair users?
Image by Tim Los Hemmingway

Image by Tim Los Hemmingway

CH: As an Ambassador for MOD and its campaign for Diversity can you tell us a bit about the #DisabilityFight4FashionRight and what you want to achieve?

GF: To put it simply we are 4 disabled women addressing exclusion of disability in Fashion.

We want to see fairness and equality. We do not want to be shamed or excluded.  We wear clothes, so why shouldn’t we be represented in the Marketing and Advertising campaigns that the industry generates?

Our #DisabilityFight4FashionRight Campaign is simply to ask the Government to Enforce & Regulate strict guidelines to the multiple areas of this industry.

On September 18th 2015 we launched our petition at the House of Lords.   We met with Baronness Benjamin and Baronness Hussein-Ece who were happy to add their support to our campaign.

We have until 23rd March to get 100,000 signatures for the Government to consider this for Parliamentary debate.

DisabilityFight4FashionRight

DisabilityFight4FashionRight

 

CH: Are people being supportive? How are you raising awareness of the campaign?

GF: We had a great response when we launched. But we’ve still got a long way to go.

We are starting launching a UK tour on 30th January and we’re hoping that this will generate more publicity.

It’s actually harder to get the disabled community engaged, their concern is that we’re trying to make money out of disability – nothing could be further from the truth!

None of us get paid for what we do!   We are all volunteers. A lot of modeling shoots and fashion shows are done to generate publicity – we don’t earn from them.

However, as our #DisabilityFight4FashionRight campaign is for equality, this will include embracing engaging models on equal terms.

DisabilityFight4FashionRight Tour

CH: How can we support Models of Diversity?

GF: Please, Please sign the petition.  We want as many people as possible to see the #DisabilityFight4FashionRight  campaign and have a chance to support us.

To get this out to as wide an audience as possible we are asking for everyone to SHARE this campaign.

Please put a link on your Facebook Profile, Twitter Feed, Instagram and wherever you hang out online.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who does sign for #DisabilityFight4FashionRight as you are supporting inclusion and fairness.

*Part 1 – read more if you missed how Gemma’s life changed almost overnight – from traveling the world to lying paralysed in hospital.

 

Image by Paul Cummings Photography

Gemma Flanagan an Inspiring Model

Gemma Flanagan lived a life that many would envy.   Travelling all over the world, partying in some exciting cities and getting paid it!

Gemma was a member of BA’s cabin crew until 2011 when her life changed forever.

Within a week of starting to notice slight tingling, Gemma ended up in hospital completely paralysed, where she stayed for almost a year. Gemma had been struck down by Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS)*1, a condition that affects only 1 in 100,000 people.

I met Gemma last year when Angel Sinclair invited me to provide clothes for her Models of Diversity Catwalk Show in Shepherds Bush Market.

In this 2-part interview you can learn about Gemma her amazing courage and positive attitude.  In this part we talk about her illness and recovery.  In part 2 we will discuss the amazing work that Models of Diversity Does and how you can help.

Gemma Flanagan

 CH Hi Gemma can you please introduce yourself and your current role, plus your really exciting news!

GF: Hi I’m Gemma Flanagan I’m the Assistant Director of Disability for Models of Diversity. When I’m not campaigning for Models of Diversity (MOD) I am a fashion model, but this is also an extension of my role for MOD.

I’m so excited that I got engaged at Christmas!! We went to look at our first wedding venue last night and it made me realize just how real it is now!!  We are just celebrating our fourth anniversary.

 

CH: Your life changed forever in 2011 – what happened?

GF: I was on a stopover in Vegas and realized that I wasn’t feeling quite right.

My feet started to feel strange.  I had pins and needles and my legs felt heavy – Sounds daft but I put it down to the 6” heels I’d been partying in!

On the return flight I felt really tired and thought I’d been overdoing things.   I was due to report for my next flight to Nairobi 2 days later.

I made it out of the door and on to the street (in full uniform!) only to collapse in the street. I struggled to get up. The weird thing was that I was in no pain. I just couldn’t walk.

Gemma Flanagan Before & After GBS

 CH: Presumably you didn’t make the flight to Kenya?

GF: Hardly! My flatmate took me to a WalkIn Clinic – not surprisingly they were really unsure what to do with me!  So I ended up in A&E and was admitted to hospital for tests.

It was then that things started to get a bit scary as they mentioned stroke, meningitis and tropical diseases as possible causes for my symptoms.

The doctors confirmed the diagnosis as GBS* after a lumbar puncture.

From that point things deteriorated really quickly – within a week of being admitted to hospital I’d lost my swallowing reflex and was totally paralyzed. I was literally trapped within my own body.

 

 CH: How frightening it must have been to go from being an able bodied person to being completely paralyzed?

GF: The doctors kept telling me that it was a mild case and I was really calm.

However, I did get a bit hysterical when I’d been in hospital for 4 days and a friend who was visiting asked what was wrong with my face.

My face had totally dropped on one side. It sounds so vain but that was the point I got a bit upset!

I was moved to Intensive Care (ICU) for two weeks, when the paralysis kicked in.  This was despite the fact that I still didn’t think I was ill enough to warrant being there!!

After 2 months it stopped deteriorating and I was transferred to Liverpool. In January 2012 I entered rehabilitation.

Image by Matt Jamie

Image by Matt Jamie

 CH: What did the rehabilitation involve?

GF: It was tough with 6 hours per day of therapy.

As the nerves start to recover they become hypersensitive. This involves a burning sensation so intense it’s like an electric shock you can’t move away from.  I was in a lot of pain and trying to cope with this and 6 hours of therapy per day was not easy.

I had to learn to swallow, talk, write and partly walk again.   Not exactly what I’d planned to be doing aged 27!   I was in rehabilitation for 7 months.

I left the amazing Walton Neuro Centre on crutches and was told that it was highly likely I’d make a full recovery.   I missed the bit where they said it would take time!

CH: At what point did you realise that life was never going back to the way it had been and how did that make you feel?

GF: For 18 months after leaving hospital I refused to use a wheelchair. I believed that I would get better if I kept pushing myself.

Unfortunately I was my own worst enemy and have irreparably damaged my spine and skeletal system. It means that I now need to use a wheelchair full time.

Over the last 2 years the doctors have been telling me that I’m not going to get better.   It took me another year to accept the fact, so it’s been a long time.

Last summer I went through a grieving process as I came to terms with the changes in my body.

But I’m one of the lucky ones! Not everyone survives GBS!

Image by Andy Green

CH: You are now diverting your energy into an incredibly worthwhile cause can you tell us a bit about that and how you became involved?

GF: I needed a purpose in life and have been lucky that I’ve found that with Models of Diversity (MOD)

Since meeting Angel Sinclair in 2012 I have been an ambassador for MOD and recently been promoted to Assistant Director of Disability.

I have so much to thank Angel for as she helped me realize I could be glamorous and get back in front of the camera. It had an amazing effect on my self-confidence and self-esteem.

As a model Angel realized that in order for changes to be instigated someone needed to start raising awareness.   Angel founded MOD in 2008 and has been campaigning for change ever since.

In Part 2 of my interview with Gemma we explore  Models of Diversity and their tireless efforts to campaign for change in the fashion, beauty and media industries.  We will look at the Petition they launched at the Houses of Parliament in September and the race to get as many signatures as possible before March 23rd.

 

*1 Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS)

GBS is a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system.  The peripheral nervous system is found in the feet and other extremities of the body.

GBS can affect anybody. It can strike at any age and both sexes are equally prone to the disorder. The syndrome is rare, and only about 1 in 100,000 people are affected.

No one yet knows what causes GBS or sets it in motion. What scientists do know is that the body’s immune system begins to attack the body itself, causing what is known as an autoimmune disease.  It can spread to the body’s organs and that’s when fatalities can occur.

The disorder mutates differently in each case which makes it difficult to diagnose and treat.  Some sufferers make a full recovery, others like Gemma are left managing pain and suffering mobility issues for the rest of their lives.

 

New Year Resolutions share selectively

New Year Resolutions Don’t Work!

Did you know that 92% of people fail in their New Year Resolutions.  That means only 8% of us make it!

stressed womanWhen we’re chilling on the sofa with a glass of something and a box of chocolates within arm’s reach, over Twixtmas it’s all too easy to dream how life will be different the following year.

But these dreams are often based on unrealistic expectations and we set ourselves up to fail.

However we should be setting goals and this means following a few simple guidelines! Now that you are back in work mode it’s a great time to do a bit more than simply dream from the sofa!

Did you know that the majority of New Year Resolutions are related to our body image, confidence and wardrobe?

The top 3 goals for 2015 were:

  1. Losing weight
  2. Getting more organized,
  3. Spending Less

So how do we set personal goals that we can stick to? Follow these simple 5 steps and refer to my examples to see how you can set fantastic New Year Resolutions that you’ll be looking back on in December 2016 and proudly saying – yep I did that!

 1. Why ‘to do’ lists don’t work!

If like me you are a ‘list’ person there’s nothing more satisfying than looking at a long list. It shows you’ve thought of everything right?

No! It means you’re losing focus before you’ve even started! You won’t achieve anything! Sorry sounds like another negative thought but it’s true.

Sean Covey and his co-authors explain in The 4 Disciplines of Education *1 that our brains are not wired to cope with multiple tasks.

As we try to cope with more and more inflow of information and tasks we give each less attention and do none of them well.   I can certainly relate to that one. Switch off my email and social media to write blog posts and it becomes a whole lot easier!

We love to believe we’re good at multi-tasking in our ever ‘busy’ worlds but the truth is that nothing gets done properly when we focus on multiple tasks.

multi-tasking

2. Make those goals SMART

SMART is an acronym, which stands for:

Specific – there’s no point having a goal that sets out to ‘lose weight’. Instead come up with a goal that says I will lose 10Kg by 31st May.

Measurable – as above you are going to lose 10kg by 31st May. These measurements can be defined.

Actionable – how are you going to do it? I’m going to cut out XY from my diet, I will go to the gym 3x per week. These are actions that will work towards your goal

Realistic – saying you would lose 10kg by 31st January would not be realistic. It’s recommended that you aim to lose 0.5Kg/week. This rate should ensure that the weight loss is sustainable and at a healthy rate.

Timely – You’ve set the goal of 31st May.   This gives it an ultimate achievement date. It may help if you add in interim dates to check your progress.

SMART goals help us to be really clear on what we need to achieve and by when.   They provide us with clarity and measurability.

new year resolution to lose weight

3. Write it down

It’s a fact that if you write down your goals they are far more likely to happen than if they remain just ideas in your head.    Your goals become a statement of intent.

A study by a professor at the Dominican University of California found that people who wrote their goals down and shared then with others were 33% more likely to achieve them versus those who did not write down their goals.

This is no coincidence and scientist can explain this with the way that the brain works, explained by Henriette Anne Lauser in her book ‘Write It Down, Make It Happen’*2.   The act of writing down triggers a reaction in the brain which sends out a message to ‘pay attention’ ‘check the detail’.

Finally while writing it down may trigger our long-term memory our short-term memory is more likely to need a nudge! So write your goals down where you can refer to them on a regular basis.

 

New Year Resolutions Write Your Goals Down4. Review Regularly

It’s a fact that we cannot accurately predict the future and we cannot control all external factors.

Here’s another great example about getting organized and spending less.

Having learnt from our SMART Goal Setting process we might say:

  • By 1st February 2016 I will have detoxed my wardrobe.
  • Clothes I have not worn for 6 months will be donated to charity or thrown away depending on their condition.
  • I will ensure that items I’m keeping can be used in 3 outfits.
  • I will then make a list of items missing from my wardrobe so that I can allocate my 2016 clothes budget of £xxx to what I need to buy.

Then in April you receive an invitation to a wedding that you hadn’t expected. By regularly reviewing your goals you’ll be able to make plans as to whether you have anything in your wardrobe or if you need to reallocate your budget.

wardrobe edit

5. Share them Selectively

Until last year I’d always been reticent about sharing my goals.

But in December 2014 I decided to follow the advice I’d read about sharing your goals, as telling people will help you to get support and also holds you accountable.

I proudly announced on Facebook that Mark (my husband) and I would be walking GR20 in 2015.

GR20 is a long distance footpath.  The path traverses the mountains of Corsica and is the hardest long distance footpath in Europe.  It takes around two weeks to walk from end to end, staying in refuges (basic mountain huts) or camping.  It means carrying a pack and hiking for several hours a day.   It’s been a dream since 1998 when we first started travelling to Corsica that we’ll walk GR20.

Our plans were shattered when I sustained a knee injury about 4 weeks before we were due to travel and it stubbornly refused to heal enough to walk and climb with a loaded pack.

Share your goals but with someone close to you who will offer the motivation and encouragement you need, but don’t broadcast to the world! Bragging rights can be left till after you’ve achieved your goals!

share selectively

 

So it is okay to dream big and have great ideas – life would be pretty dull if we didn’t use our wonderful imaginations.

But when it comes down to what you really want you need sit down and work out those goals, follow the guidelines and remember that this is for your benefit.

As part of the goal setting process keep it positive.   Our new year resolutions tend to focus a lot on negative actions. We need to be kind to ourselves and use positive thoughts – we’ll achieve a lot more by banishing should and must from our vocabulary. Instead focus on will and want they will give you much more encouragement!

Now how about you?  Have you ever set a really big goal and achieved it – how did that make you feel?  I’d love to get your thoughts on the subject and find out if you consciously set yourself goals.  Please leave your comments in the box below.

*1 The 4 Disciplines of Execution – Sean Covey

*2 Write it down make it happen – Henriette Anne Lauser

body confidence party pooper

Body Confidence Party Pooper

75% of women have cancelled a social engagement this Christmas, according to a recent survey. *

body confidence cancelling social engagements

The reason given by the majority of women is because they are ‘having a fat day’.  Christmas can be a challenging time for anyone with body confidence issues.

Women in particular suffer from an overload of stress at this time of year. The additional tasks of present buying, arranging family events, co-ordination of children’s extra activities, expected to attend social events.

Add into that mix a partner who is too busy to help or simply doesn’t ‘get the issue’. Perhaps he’s someone who thinks Christmas begins with shopping on 24th December, as he’s an Amazon Prime member?

As 73% of us suffer from body confidence issues all the time, add the demands of Christmas and it’s pressure cooker time!

Step 1, grab a cup of tea, take a few minutes out for yourselves and read my survival guide or my 5 top tips for improving your body confidence and self-esteem.

body confidence love your shape

1. What bits of your body do you love?

Improve your body confidence several fold by identifying which parts of your body that you love and emphasizing them. Not sure what I mean? Let me give you a few examples.

  1. Cleavage – if you’ve got a great bust then show it off! Look for V Necks, Low necklines with detail, necklaces and pendants that draw attention to your lovely cleavage.
  2. Arms – got a great pair of arms then wear a sleeveless dress or top – you can always add a bolero, shrug or pashmina to keep you warm until the evening heats up!
  3. Legs – there are plenty of maxis with a split or mini skirts that will show your pins to best advantage.
  4. Shoulders – as an athletic body shape rather than downplay my broad shoulders and toned arms I like to show them off!

2. Make time for a Digital De-Tox

We find it very hard not to constantly check our social media feeds.   This in turn gives rise to body confidence issues.

Inevitably we compare ourselves with our friends. We find ourselves lacking – we’re not as pretty, slim or having such a great time as everyone else.

Facebook has a negative impact on our mood and body image. This has been tested by research done by The University of SW Australia and the Centre for Appearance Research at West of England Universities.

Studies were carried out to compare the effects between social media and fashion/celebrity magazines. The negative effect of Facebook was greater.

My own view on this is because we can dismiss celebrity lives as being unattainable or unrealistic. However the lives of our friends are much more genuine and thus have a greater impact.

body confidence and exercise

3. Back on the Treadmill again!

My recent blog post about exercise showed the effect this has on body confidence.

We can improve our body confidence by regular exercise.

Over the holiday period our routines get disrupted. We drink more alcohol, eat richer food, go to bed later and many of us have around 10 days holiday.

These factors contribute to a general feeling of lethargy and it takes a bit of motivation to kick our butts off the sofa and get moving!

But seriously you will feel better if you do something! Even if it’s just getting your boots on and heading out for a walk regardless of the weather, with 2 dogs we don’t have a choice and don’t have a day off walking. But even before we had the hounds I always got out for a run on Christmas morning and how good did that feel!

body confidence good nutrition

4. Body Confidence is linked to good nutrition

If you feel good about the way your clothes fit, you do not feel bloated or lethargic through eating the wrong foods, you will feel better about yourself.

You can eat well and enjoy Christmas. Let’s face it a Turkey Dinner has a lot of plus points from a nutritional perspective – lean white meat and fresh vegetables.

Okay so potatoes cooked in goose fat, stuffing, bread sauce, sausages wrapped in bacon aren’t quite so good! But indulging one day per year isn’t exactly the end of the world.

The mistake that we make at Christmas is eating too much throughout the holiday period, often without consciously realizing it. We snack on salty, high fat snacks and consume too much sugar and cream.   Not to mention the number of calories we pour into our glasses!

If you over-indulge one day that’s fine, just balance this with ‘healthy’ days.

body confidence affected by lack of sleep

5. Body Confidence is affected by lack of sleep

In December office parties and additional stuff associated with getting ready for Christmas, play havoc with our sleep patterns.   Add a few drinks too many into the mix and quality of sleep takes a nosedive!

If we are not rested and replenished from sleep, this affects our well-being in so many ways. We feel sluggish, cannot concentrate, we tend to become irritable and short-tempered, overly emotional.

One of the outcomes is likely to be that we do not feel so good about ourselves. If we are suffering from body confidence issues this will simply magnify the negative perception we have of ourselves.

Contrast this with getting enough good quality sleep. How much better do we feel after a good night’s sleep? We are more focused we enjoy a sense of well being about ourselves.   We are more confident about ourselves.

Christmas is about giving?

How can you give anything unless you have something to give?

It’s the oxygen mask theory – we must ensure that we put on our own mask before helping others.

How can we be the perfect party hostess, darling daughter, ‘mazing mum, wonderful wife unless we feel good, confident and happy? We can’t is the simple answer. We need to take as much if not more care of ourselves than we do of others.

If we take care of ourselves, we’ll feel good about ourselves. We will not be resentful or over-tired we will be more relaxed and happy. It follows that either we will have more body confidence or somehow our body confidence issues will be relegated to a locked box in the attic!

filling ourselves up first

*Huffington Post – Rachel Moss

Workout Clothes Trainers

Exercise in January is Pointless

exercise makes you happy

How fit are you feeling right now?

Have your gym sessions or exercise routines broken up for the Christmas holidays yet?

Or maybe you don’t have a regular routine? Are you planning to make time to get fit as part of your 2016 goals?

Are you squirming in your chair yet knowing you ‘could do better’ – the phrase we dreaded on our school reports! Or perhaps you’re scrolling through this post as you cool down after a run and feeling virtuous but curious as to what I’m going to say?

I’m  a huge advocate of keeping fit and so I’m keen to share why you should exercise.  The benefits go far beyond burning calories.  So if you are being told by your GP, or simply have this nagging doubt that life would be better if you did, then let me share with you the reasons why you should make exercise a part of your routine.

1, Exercise is Better than Drugs!

During exercise powerful mood and mind boosting chemicals are released into the brain. They are natural and have no side effects (well only positive ones!) and are legal!

Be warned though you may get addicted!

Endorphins

Endorphins are chemicals which are released during exercise.  They help to reduce pain from exercise.   This in turn allows you to exercise longer and more intensely.  Endorphins are also responsible for:

  1. A euphoric post exercise ‘high’
  2. Decreased appetite (must admit haven’t noticed that one!)
  3. Boosting your immune system. Less snuffles and sneezes – yay!

Serotonin

Mood enhancing Serotonin is also released during exercise. There has been a lot of research done on the effect of serotonin levels on the body and while earlier studies claimed that boosting serotonin levels could help depression, this is now being rejected. But serotonin’s mood enhancing effects are accepted.

Glycerol

A faster metabolism means you burn energy faster and more effectively.  Glycerol can be thought of as the courier service that delivers oxygen from the lungs to your muscles during exercise.  This happens regardless of your fitness levels after exercise.  Why is this important?

After only 10 minutes of exercise, this can have a positive impact on your metabolism. Scientists also believe that if you exercise regularly this can stimulate long-term changes in your metabolism, but admit they are at early stages in understanding this  (read more *1

Blood Chemistry

When you exercise the muscles use oxygen transported from your lungs via your blood. A chemical reaction takes place to convert glucose in your bloodstream into energy. As this process takes place chemicals are produced which reduce your blood’s acidity levels.   An over-acidic blood supply can lead to constant fatigue and low energy levels.

exercise the physical benefits2. Exercise the Look Good Factor

Of course there are the outward signs, you will see increased muscle tone. You won’t see this happen overnight but over time you’ll develop more shape. This will of course depend on what you do, how long you do it for and to some extent genetics. Expect to see a difference after 2 months of regular exercise.

Manage Your Weight

Exercise can help you to manage your weight. I’m always reluctant to go as far as to say that exercise will help you to lose weight. This is because we tend to eat more when we exercise.  We are hungrier and over-estimate how much energy we burn.  It’s also a known fact that gym goers are more likely to indulge in chocolate bars!

Keep Going for Longer

Depending what exercise we do we will feel other benefits including increased stamina and flexibility.   Every day tasks become easier as we get stronger and fitter.

Hidden Benefits

There are also the hidden physical benefits of exercise.  We can see some of these with the help of technology, such as the effect on our blood pressure and the fat v muscle ratio.  Others are not so obvious but are long-term health benefits we should not ignore.

Research has also shown that exercise can reduce our risks of succumbing to serious diseases such as heart disease and type 2 Diabetes. Research also shows a correlation between exercise and a reduced risk of some cancers.

By strengthening our bones through exercise we reduce the risks associated with osteoporosis. This was one of my motivators for high intensity cardio aerobic exercise when it was diagnosed that I’d had my menopause in my 20s and I could be at risk of brittle bones later in life.

exercise improves self-esteem3. Exercise Helps Self-Esteem

If you are feeling fitter and becoming more toned it’s very hard not to feel better about yourself.  As a result you become more confident about the way you look and in turn this will make others attracted to you.

I cannot stress this enough for new business owners who get caught up in wanting to put their time and energy into their business.  If you don’t feel attractive to yourself then how will you be attractive to your prospective clients?

Pilates is a great way of improving your posture, which in turn will ensure you stand taller and will look better in your clothes.

Just a word of warning though!  Without wishing to put anyone off exercise it can also create some interesting clothes shopping dilemmas!

I used to do a lot of running and step aerobics.  The result was very over-developed calf muscles!   Finding skinny jeans was always a laugh!

My current routines mean while the skinny jeans issue is no longer a problem, my arm muscles are well developed.  I find some jackets and tops are not an option as they compromise the blood supply to my upper arms!

Exercise can also be relaxing.

Yoga has become a part of many people’s lives over recent years.  It is a great way to learn how to slow down the relentless pace of life.

Working out also helps you to put life back in perspective!

If we feel better about ourselves, are more relaxed and physically tired this helps our sleep patterns. Getting enough sleep is essential to our overall well-being.

Exercise classes are a great way to share a common interest and have fun with others.

Since adding Boxfit to my weekly routine I’ve made new friends, through the camaraderie in the class.    We work in pairs and as a group.  This leads to a lot of peer motivation and encouragement.  There’s a lot of laughter during the class and the banter continues for hours afterwards on social media.

OCR (Obstacle Course Racing) has become huge over the last few years and is not elitist.  You do not have to be a hard core fitness fan to take part.

The events are open to mixed abilities.  It is a another way of meeting people and offers a very supportive environment – so I’m told!

Getting wet and extremely muddy is not my idea of exercise heaven! The exception I make to this is walking my dogs but the amount of water and mud is thankfully less extreme!

exercise is relaxing

January is the worst month to start a fitness routine!

Dedicated gym bunnies are not the ones who started their fitness journey on January 1st.

They are the ones quietly grimacing or smirking from the rowing machine as the sales staff show prospective clients round the facilities.

Grimacing as they know that inevitably people will sign up and gyms become crowded for a few weeks until people give up.

Smirking because the statistics prove that people signing up to gym membership in January are most likely to fall off the wagon.

If you are not used to exercise and have indulged over the Christmas break you are setting yourself up to fail.   Most people joining a gym at the beginning of January find that it’s very difficult to stay motivated.  It’s hard enough to get through the longest, darkest and often coldest month of the year.  Many people are also starting to diet or change their eating habits and this is really making life hard.

I’m not trying to put you off, but why give yourself a mountain to climb, when you could start with a walk in the woods?

December is a much better option to kick-start your fitness routine. If you do decide to join a gym they are relatively quiet and there are some good deals around. You can feel less guilty about Christmas indulgences! Get yourself in the exercise groove in December and you’re much more likely to carry on into the New Year.

I’d love to hear from you about your fitness journey.   Whether you make exercise a part of your life and how it helps you or if you’re just starting out or returning to exercise it would be lovely if you share your thoughts and ideas.

 

*1 Chemical Reactions in the Body after Exercise