Welcome to HashtagWHYNOT

What is #WHYNOT ?

Are you curious? #WHYNOT ?

The idea behind this #WHYNOT site is to encourage girls and women to have a more positive outlook on life, and crucially themselves, via sport, exercise, simply getting a little more fresh air, or through a greater appreciation of nature, their immediate surroundings and local facilities. 

The site's key aim is to promote an overall healthier lifestyle and to assist in boosting self esteem and confidence, as well as empowering women to feel comfortable within their own skin and to shape their own identity (whatever shape that may be). 

Importantly, the site seeks to demonstrate that feeling better about yourself cannot be bought!

LIVE LIFE. . LOVE LIFE. . GET OUT THERE & FACE EACH DAY LIKE IT MAY BE THE LAST! MAKE EACH AND EVERY ONE COUNT!

I love Purple. I love Pink. I like, if/whenever it is humanly possible, to SMILE or, better still, LAUGH!

If you can be Bright, Vibrant, Confident and Positive, everything and everyone around you seems better

Walk with your head held high and try to show defiance on life's rainy days!


Welcome

Hi there, I hope you enjoy this #WHYNOT webpage.   

This is not a professional or commercial site.   

I don't pretend to be anything other than me.   

I try to be honest and open, in the hope that some of what I say here resonates with you and helps to spread a little bit of cheer in what can sometimes be a less than positive world full of anxiety and self doubt. If I make just one person smile more today or feel a little better about themselves, this initiative of self-development for myself, will have been worth every second.     

Love You Lots  

Julia x

Mental Health - When exercise is not enough!

A positive outlook, an inner strength, sheer determination and a good healthy exercise routine, undoubtedly, go a long way towards helping to maintain more resilient physical and mental wellbeing. 


Often, even when our mental health is tested and our normal balance is lost, regular exercise can be enough to restore our equilibrium.

However, there are, clearly, some circumstances where a mental health condition is significantly more serious or persistent and, in such instances, professional medical support, advice, therapy or treatment may be necessary and should be sought. 


The advice would almost always be that exercise is complimentary to any other recommended approach. But, it would also be irresponsible to suggest that it is a catch all answer to every problem, or that it is some kind of miracle cure!

Sadly, all too many mental health conditions are directly or indirectly linked to how we feel about ourselves and/or our body image. We are incredibly susceptible to: turning our negativity inwards; adopting obsessive behaviour; and to using distorted self preservation mechasims as an attempt to maintain control of those aspects of our life that we believe we can shape and determine. 




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Mental Health condidtions, such as: Eating Disorders (eg. Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge/Emotional Overeating, Orthorexia); Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD); Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD); or the various categories of Depression / Dysthymia, are more common than most people appreciate. Despite concerted awareness campaigns to lift the stigma associated with psychological illness, many still suffer in silence and resist seeking support.


Incredibly, it is also estimated that one in three of us are addicted to something. Again, many addictions begin as a means of feeling better (either physically or mentally) about ourselves. Addictions don't only include the obvious, such as: drugs; alcohol; nicotine; and gambling, but, also, such things as shopping, solvents, internet or work.

Please don't ever think that you have to battle your demons on your own, or be embarrassed to talk to someone about how you are feeling. 


Even if you don't feel able to talk to family or friends, there are numerous mental health support charities, on-line awareness resources, medical professional channels (starting with your GP), Employee Assistance Programmes, Counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Services, potentially at your disposal. 

#whynot help others

Fundraising events

The 2017 CWU Humanitarian Aid Longmynd Hike took place on Saturday 2nd September. 





We really had to push ourselves to dig deep and find inner strength. But #WHYNOT. What a glorious day, beautiful scenery and a true team spirit . . . The sense of achievement and feel good factor was worth every tired and aching muscle


If you are interested in supporting this or future events, please email me at julia.upton1@btinternet.com


For anyone whose feet may be sore or muscles aching after participating in any challenging physical activity such as this . . . Remember, it's always better to give it your all, than to "sit life out"! Be proud of yourselves!! #WHYNOT

https://youtu.be/cwiE54S1h5s


#WHYNOT consider other ways of combining your walking with helping others and raising money... 


For example, #WHYNOT check out when there is a 'Memory Walk'  taking place near to you, or walk somewhere new and enter one in a different town, but on a date to suit you:


www.memorywalk.org.uk


https://www.facebook.com/alzheimerssocietyuk/?hc_ref=ARSNsoT2BmMSFLWRXOTOXr81P9IJXno-N-OVFZ65ONVklnubF5HWfZf6vPpePm2lTz0&fref=nf


Other helpful or inspiring links

We loved every minute of our 'Memory Walk' for Mum & Dad, but both Tina and I receiving one of these cards from Rainbows Hospice for Children and Young People made it extra special xx

Share your news

Any news that helps others on life's "rainy days" is welcomed

Motivational comments or quotes

"I hope you dance" 

#WHYNOT Cha Cha

#WHYNOT Parkrun or try something new

Check out local details . . .

http://www.parkrun.org.uk/   

If you don't want to run alone, either for safety reasons, or because you would welcome the friendship, camaraderie or competition, then it is well worth checking out Parkrun's national website and discover where your nearest event is (usually held on a Saturday morning). Most towns and cities have suitable public parks and now pariticipate. Additionally, even relatively small towns and villages have local running clubs. 

I have a number of friends who have described Parkrun as being "literally life changing" 

#WHYNOT 


Or, #WHYNOTcheck out some of the more unusual, more fun, alternative fitness classes near you: Circus Schools; Anti gravity yoga; Belly dancing; Hula hooping; or the many & varied dance or martial arts exercise methods . . . The world is your oyster when it comes to fun ways to feel good 


#LiveLifewhilstLaughing 


https://youtu.be/rTRXLyKa8gI



If you have any questions see the link above & contact details

Extra Motivation

#WHYNOT "Always Be True To Yourself"

The one person whose approval and admiration you need, is YOU...    


 We all know so many quotes, proverbs and motivational sayings, based on this theme. But, it is important that we all remind ourselves of this point from time to time.        


Both “You first have to learn to love yourself” and “What you think of yourself is more important than what anyone else thinks of you”, are the type of advisory ‘note to self’ phrases that are crucial to a good balanced sense of wellbeing.      


It cannot be over emphasised just how important a positive self esteem is to your mental state. But, it also impacts hugely on your drive and motivation to make conscious improvements to your physical fitness and health.   


     Those of you whose confidence easily takes a battering, or who are more readily deterred by criticism (no matter how constructively intended), or by other people's disapproval and judgemental comments, are far more likely to turn inwards, to lick your wounds, stall any progress and, sadly, all too often, give up completely. This is a perfectly understandable form of self preservation, sub-consciously designed to protect you from further potential knock backs, embarrassment or hurt. But, unfortunately, failure to break this negative cycle or to have the self assurance and determination to try new things, push your personal boundaries, or to set your own benchmark, rather than allowing others to overly influence your emotions and goals, is likely to prevent you from optimising your potential.        


Feeling good about yourself, and having the natural will to be your own person, is something that is an intrinsic part of many people’s psyche. However, for very many others, this is a quality that has to be learnt from scratch and then seriously worked at. Nature and nurture both play a key part in this.... we are who we are, but the extent to which we have felt unconditionally loved for being ourselves, encouraged and praised, rather than criticised or undermined, impacts massively too. If you are one of those people who have always been made to feel that your best efforts are simply never quite good enough, now is the time to metaphorically stick two fingers up to your doubters, critics or positivity drainers!! What they think is not what matters... How YOU feel about YOU is what truly counts!        


Try your very best not to allow your self-belief or self-esteem to be linked to external factors and the need for other people’s approval. You don’t need to be brilliant at something, or to come top/first, to progress, develop and win. Personal achievement and success is determined by the difference that it has made to you and your life – by how much better you feel as a result - not by someone else’s nominal measure, relative to their ‘expectations’.        


#WHYNOT Love Yourself That Little Bit More . . .        


#WHYNOT Remain determined to do whatever helps you to feel better about yourself . . .        


#WHYNOT Refuse to let anyone, other than you, set your personal achievement benchmarks, and      


“NEVER LET ANYONE ELSE DULL YOUR SPARKLE!!"

#WHYNOT find your own "Happy Place"





It is important that you find your own "Happy Place" to walk, run, exercise, or just breathe in some fresh air and to take 'time out'.  


Ideally, this 'personal space' should be easily accessible. So, depending upon where you live, this could be a local park, a public footpath, the beach, or a garden.  


What is most important, is that it holds no negative or stressful associations and, better still, is a setting that makes you feel good and an escape from your usual    day-to-day pressures.         


The more that you can link going there with a sense of pleasure, wellbeing, positive vibes and escapism, the more motivation you will feel to visit routinely.        


In terms of exercise... Do as little, or as much, as the mood takes you.      


Every step, is a step in the right direction . . .

On Holiday, Do normal rules apply?



I am kind of assuming that we would all accept that the main purpose of a good holiday is to recharge, rest and recuperate, with a complete break from the usual run of the mill and routine.      


This often includes doing far less than we normally would at the same time as deviating from typical dietary or drinking habits in order to treat ourselves by over indulging . . . and #WHYNOT if that makes us feel good! 


We all need a change of scenery and, from time to time, a temporary spell where standard rules do not apply.     


However, if the incorporation of regular exercise and physical motivation into our life now triggers a palpable sense of wellbeing and greater fulfilment, it can very quickly leave us feeling uncomfortable, sluggish, and/or less positive, if we suddenly refrain from that.       


The old adage of "A little bit of what you fancy does you good" holds true, but there is always a balance to be found.      





Holidays are very much about 'switching off' or embracing new experiences, but, equally, there are many pleasurable ways of still including a fun and healthy degree of exercise into our holiday escapism...


This could simply take the form of a short relaxing stroll along a beach; or a rejuvenating swim in a refreshing pool; or, instead, it could include something a little more taxing, like a heart pumping hike or bike ride in scenic countryside; a city sightseeing walking tour; the adrenalin surging stimulation of watersport activity or participation in a fun solo or team sport.       


Even on holiday, when "normal rules don't apply", chances are that our exercise preferences, whatever they now are, can readily be accommodated.  


And, if all else fails . . .  #WHYNOT Dance Dance Dance!!

#WHYNOT have a rose tint lens

Viewing Life Through A Rose-Tinted Camera Lens

I remember, from a very young age, loving to look through my grandparents' limited photo collection and hearing the associated tales of a bygone era, soaking up the palpable nostalgia and sentiment, appreciating, even then, as a small child, that you don't ever quite realise how precious a moment is, until it becomes a memory.   


 Similarly, I was always fascinated by my parents' photo albums of a lifetime 'BJ' ('Before Julia') - How was that possible?!! ... and which also included the now priceless images of our childhood and the stories that they hold - those memories that I would, otherwise, have been too young to recall.    


 I fell in love with photos (not, necessarily photography) back then and I've always been drawn more to photographic images than any other expensive work of art, no matter how amazingly talented the art form.


    So, therefore, when, at approx 8 years of age, I was given my first Kodak Instamatic camera as a present, to take on my first big independent adventure (a residential school trip about 30 minutes from home) I couldn't have been more thrilled!!    


In the days when: camera films were far from cheap; you only had a maximum of 12, 24 or 36 shots at your disposal; you had to decide beforehand whether they would all be black & white or all colour; and processing was both expensive and required patience - needing a week or so before you could collect your prize - you really had to think carefully about how you would make best use of your frames prior to pressing the shutter!! However, the suspense and excitement I felt when picking up my pack of photos is hard to articulate or compare in today's immediate and disposable digital world!!   


 It did teach me though about the need to look for the best photo opportunity and composition, rather than just pointing and shooting (chopping people’s heads off or wasting a precious shot photographing the floor). I needed to be so sparing with their use, that one film might last up to a year. That said, it wasn't unusual for the final photographs in any pack to be those old familiar candid shots of the family at home, or our dog fast asleep, just to finish them up rapidly when my impatience got the better of me!  


I think I have, subconsciously, looked at life through an imaginary camera lens ever since - recognising a good photo opportunity; weighing up the best composition; seeing the beauty in, seemingly, every day objects, mentally zooming in or adjusting the angle; noticing how the colours contrast or blend well, or simply how the lighting, hue, or colour of the sky, brings out the best in a scene or image that may be ordinary on any other occasion; and appreciating how something  that is generally thought to be anything but special or appealing, can, with a quirky angle and an open mind, be anything but boring. Some things are absolutely stunning and beautiful for their nonconformity or even 'ugliness'.  



   



Since the invention of mobile phones and, even more recently, their good quality in-built cameras, I've had access permanently at my fingertips. I am far less likely now to feel that previously frequent sense of frustration at seeing a perfect photo opportunity, or experiencing a moment that I'd have given anything to have captured, only for there to be no means to do so.


Memories in your head are marvellous, but they never have the same clarity or longevity as a still or moving/audio image. 

So many of my son's priceless childhood moments and memories would have blurred, or been lost in the passage of time, had it not been for my trusted camera lens.


I have no doubt in my mind that this creates a rose-tinted, and positivity skewed, perception - after all I'm far more likely to capture the happy, uplifting and appealing pages in my 'Book of Life' than the mundane, sad or negative. But, that is kind of the point . . . it instinctively directs me towards focusing on all of those tiny things, as well as the bigger things, that make me smile, or are worthy of remembering after the event, whilst choosing to instantly move on from those that don't or aren't.   


 I believe that a more positive outlook can be learned by teaching (some my say, tricking) the brain to concentrate on the 'feel good' factors and eliminating as far as possible (certainly keeping in check) those elements that have the potential to drag you down and zap your energy, serving no useful purpose, either as a memory or as a motivator. In other words, if they were an image on my digital camera, would I choose to press delete or would I want to save them to enjoy time and time again?!


I have found that this theory has served me well, including through my saddest and toughest times - even then, there is almost always something in any day that is capable of producing a smile or raising a laugh . . . In fact, all the more reason to put even greater effort in to achieving that objective.   


 My Mum had, in her latter years, thanks to the marvellous invention of social media (principally facebook) taken to "liking" my ready supply of shared status updates, invariably via my preferred medium of photographs.    

When she was given her devastating prognosis of just weeks (at best a few months) to live, it became her personal mission and desire to focus only upon the positive, making the most of every invaluable and available minute, with no time spare to waste on the blatantly obvious, and perfectly understandable, sadness, regret or negativity, It was this ambition that led me to start a 

"Photo of the Day Diary".   


 This had a multi-purpose: It provided a very real incentive and focus, in that we had to decide what we would do or observe that day which would merit such a 'special' moment in time photograph; 




It allowed us to discuss what (often very simple) things were truly important and to plan ahead - eg. time with family and friends, days out, girlie lunches, a pamper session, a trip down memory lane, a flower coming into bloom representing the seasonal changes, the list goes on;


It offered future milestones to be reached, with Mum challenging herself as each week passed and/or new month started, keen to see as many "Photos of the Day" as she could and complete as many new priceless "Moments in Time" as were humanly possible - For the record, she reached the 4th May (not insignificantly, that was also her birthday!); 


And probably just as importantly for both her and me, it recorded for posterity numerous happy positive images and memories that no one can ever erase, during a period that we could so easily have been forgiven for only managing to view through tears of sadness and a very fogged up, dark lens!    


Mum put her final end of life energy and resolve into ensuring that our lasting images of her were not of illness or steeped in negativity. It worked and, for that, I will be eternally grateful.     


I learnt some extremely valuable lessons and life skills during those few intense months. . . 


Afterwards, I chose to keep up the Photo Diary (for me) and not a day goes by that I don't find something that makes me smile, has some symbolic meaning or relevance to how I'm feeling, or just captures a significant part of my day's activity.      


 Now, thanks to social media apps like 'Timehop' and 'On This Day', I also get a daily retro prompt to bring a smile to my face, (including at the beginning of each subsequent year, I now have all of those amazing original images taken for Mum).  


  For anyone who has ever tried out that well known New Years Resolution suggestion of writing one thing down each day, for which you are thankful or has made you smile, to then place in a box to be opened on New Years Eve, where you'll be reminded and amazed just how many good things have happened over the 12 months (which all too often are overlooked or taken for granted), then my Photo Diary is the pictorial equivalent of that.   


 Very quickly, with a little practice and perseverance, it becomes a mindset thing. Very soon, you don't actually have to take a photo, or look through a 'rose tinted' lens, to start seeing things in a different light. 


Even the one image that we probably all struggle with most - our own self image - starts to be seen with a more favourable reflection when put into greater perspective. 


Those few bittersweet last months with Mum certainly brought that into sharp focus.  As they say: "Learn to love your perfect imperfections" ☺ 


Compared with the challenges some people are facing, what does the odd wrinkle, extra pounds, or 'bad hair day', matter in the grand scheme of things?!!!      


All things are bright and beautiful and it's a wonderful world if we just go looking or pointing the right lens at it!      


#WHYNOT

#WHYNOT Feel The Power Of Music

I would imagine that there are very few people who do not recognise the part that music plays in our lives. 


Most of us have our very own personal playlist that we may even describe as the “soundtrack to our life”. If you think back on any major event, identifiable chapter, or tangible turning point, in your past, you could probably associate it with a particular album, or song(s). Music can be a fairly dramatic mood changer, make us smile or move us to tears. It has the power to transport us instantly to another place and time . . . to bring back memories, to make our heart ache, melt, skip a beat, or genuinely sing! 


With this is mind, and acknowledging the ability that music has to change or affect our physical wellbeing, heart rate and frame of mind, we should never underestimate its positive power to energise, motivate and inspire us.  So, the key is, to use the Power of Music to our own advantage. That doesn’t mean that it always has to be cheery, up tempo and uplifting. Periods of reflection, meditation, even melancholy, also have their place to provide us with down time and perspective. But, for the purposes of exercising, getting our hearts pumping, or motivating us to feel better about ourselves, we should all have our old faithful, fail-safe, tunes and/or favourite playlist that we can rely on to hit the spot! 


So, come on girls, what are your ‘treadmill tracks’; ‘road running rhythms’; Top Ten 'move melodies’? 


What is your ultimate adrenaline pumping song?  


What would your “Entrance Theme Song” or “Pitcher’s Walk-Up Music” be? 


The first significant ‘motivational’ track that I can remember is “I am Woman” by Helen Reddy (1972).Although I was a mere 8 years old when it was a hit, I vividly remember it being frequently played throughout my childhood and then, as a teenager, it became my “I am strong - I can do anything” fight song!

https://youtu.be/V6fHTyVmYp4


Then in the spring of 1983, aged 18, and at the peak of my aerobic, fitness and dance class phase, the movie ‘Flashdance’ was released. I still only have to hear the first few seconds of the intro to “What A Feeling” and I’m instantly back there with my leotard, leggings and leg warmers!!   

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VzALZjoIx0g 


When it comes to treadmill or cross trainer type exercise, or when you are walking and running, listening to music helps to determine and maintain your preferred pace. It also provides a means of clearing your head of everything else. Your choice of artist or the quality of the music is not as important as the mood and momentum that it naturally sets and also, for me, the familiarity that it offers. I can put my earphones in and know that I will immediately be put in the right frame of mind to walk to that sound, rhythm, and to know pretty much where I will have reached by the end of each track (for this reason, I am not a fan of random ‘shuffle’ selection when listening to music – but maybe that is also the touch of ‘control freak’ in me!)

 

Like I said, it doesn’t need to be one of the music industry’s greatest talents or legendary artists to achieve the desired result. Case in point, is the fact that one of my regular exercise choices when building my strength and fitness back up following surgery at the end of 2008/2009 was the ‘Girls Aloud – Out of Control’ album. Well, what can I say?! – Lol!

https://youtu.be/xPrZ4yAdj8I


As for songs that motivate me and get my heart pumping – both physically and emotionally – the list is extremely extensive.  I am very much a lyrics person. I love language and, therefore, ‘The Power of Words’, as well as the music itself, is, more often than not, what inspires me and gives me added strength and stamina.


Here are just a few examples (and each for quite different reasons):


https://youtu.be/21LGv8Cf0us

Louis Armstrong – What A Wonderful World (1968) 


https://youtu.be/U2PIXjePaa8

Van Morrison - Brown Eyed Girl (1967 - but discovered by me in the late 1980s)


https://youtu.be/JpsmTzPnXNQ

Robert Palmer - Simply Irresistible (1988)


https://youtu.be/p47fEXGabaY

Ricky Martin - Livin' La Vida Loca (No 1 on 11th July 1999 - Joel's Birthday!)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RV-Z1YwaOiw 

Lee Ann Womack – I Hope You Dance (2000)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DorNUsi5LE  Various (Josh Groban) – You Raise Me Up (2003 & Timeless)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Bsq7jIKahk  

Santana/Jennifer Lopez – This Boy is Fire (2007/8) 


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3X-xTEJn4ks  

Elbow – One Day Like This (2008) 


https://youtu.be/1rnRvVK2J30

Paolo Nutini - 10 out of 10 (2009)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xn676-fLq7I  

Kelly Clarkson – Stronger (2011)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pjr_983fKgM  

Pink – Bridge of Light ‘Happy Feet 2’ (2011/2012) 


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J91ti_MpdHA  

Alicia Keys  - Girl On Fire (2012) 


https://youtu.be/LrA3mm7bLxM

One Republic – I Lived (2013) 


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtF6Jej8yb4  

Avicii – The Nights (2015) 


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xo1VInw-SKc  

Rachel Platten – Fight Song (2015) 


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDTb6hHJlRA  

Jonas Blue – Mama (2017) 


So #WHYNOT think for a moment 

What would be the “Soundtrack To Your Life”  – If it is not a great one, do something about it now!! Change your mood music! 


#WHYNOT #LiveLoveLaugh




The challenge of staying upbeat and strong through life's toughest moments . . .

We all need to acknowledge that life can, all too often, be tough and none of us are super human. It is unrealistic to think that we can simply sail through unaffected by events. Our resolve will inevitably be tested from time to time, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t seek to better equip ourselves to cope with the rollercoaster journey.  


Life’s many different chapters can bring with them a variety of major challenges: From those early childhood pressures not to be different and to be accepted by our peers, right through to old age, and having to adapt to the limitations of our bodies and ultimately our mortality.  


I am fortunate enough to have a naturally positive attitude and, generally, a fairly calm and smiley disposition. But, there have been many circumstances in my life when that has been seriously tested and where sheer willpower, determination, exercise and the great outdoors have seen me through. 


I am also conscious that, when others are really struggling, this kind of positivity can be sickeningly irritating and any suggestion of gushingly sweet feel good factors seems a million miles away from how you are feeling. This is especially the case for people whose emotions run deeper than just feeling a little low and are, instead, having to deal with chronic physical pain or mental health conditions. In such circumstances, the mere suggestion that getting out to enjoy a little fresh air; exercising more; or participating  in some kind of sporting activity, could very well be interpreted as me being totally ignorant of the depths of the struggles that you are dealing with, or wholly insensitive to what you are going through.   


I am certainly, in no way, trivialising mental illness, emotional or physical pain, suffering, or grief. On the contrary... But, I also know that the greater the reasons are for not being able to feel good about yourself and positively face each day, the greater the need to try to find the strength (somehow, somewhere) to do something about that.  


For anyone who says: “Well, that’s easy for you to say. Of course you can feel good and upbeat with your great little problem-free life, without a care in the world!!”, I would respond with one of my favourite quotes – one that has stayed with me since childhood, which is: “Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it”. 


Don’t get me wrong, I consider myself to be extremely lucky and I count my blessings everyday for that. I also never underestimate the difficulties and greater daily struggles that others have, over and above anything that I have to face. 


But, by way of demonstrating the 10% / 90% point: 


As a young teenager (probably any girl’s most self conscious phase), and having relatively recently moved to a new school in a new area of the country and desperate to establish a friendship group, fit in and be liked, I suffered a fairly serious dog bite to my face. The injuries, stitches and subsequent scarring, (in addition to already having to wear thick “milk bottle bottom” glasses), had a significant impact upon my confidence and self image. I brazened it out and truly hoped that the old adage “True beauty comes from within” might just be the case; 


However, at 17, despite being only marginally overweight, my self-esteem issues came back with a vengeance. I had sufficiently significant body image, emotional control and obsessive compulsive issues, for them to begin to manifest as an eating disorder. Thankfully, with early support and encouragement from family and close friends, I was able to channel this need to take charge of both how I felt about myself, and how I was perceived by others, down a far more positive route. I came out the other side, much stronger for the lessons learned... Exercise, hard work, caring/equality causes, travel, broadening my horizons, and developing a more confident and positive view of myself and life (often through a camera lens) proved to be the key to my sense of wellbeing;  

 

Then, in my early 30s, after a couple of years of pretty chronic pain, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, eventually requiring drastic colon/bowel surgery. I was determined not to let this negatively impact my outlook or lifestyle.  Exercise was limited for a while, but my hospital consultant recommended a bespoke rehabilitation programme which proved to be invaluable;


That said, by my mid-thirties, shortly after the birth of my son and with the inevitable lifestyle changes that come with the sudden realisation and responsibility of motherhood and juggling a full-time job, I became concerned that I may be suffering from a mild form of depression, stress and anxiety.  I will be eternally grateful to my extremely astute GP, who wrote out a prescription for me for “45 minutes of exercise to be taken at least once daily”.  I dutifully took this, as prescribed, and have done so ever since at the first sign of the slightest drop in mood or rise in stress levels;


By the time that I had a further major health scare, some 10 years later, leading to me needing a hysterectomy, this approach had become such an intrinsic part of who I am, that my only issue, by then, was ensuring that I allowed a sufficient period of time to recover from the surgery before getting back to business as usual;  


More recently, the positivity and sense of wellbeing that I gain from exercise, fresh air, walking/running, and the “me time” that this provides, has seen me through my greatest trauma in life so far – ie: coming to terms with my Mum’s terminal cancer diagnosis and the priceless final three months of her life, in which I learned so much from her about the truly inspirational meaning of that aforementioned 10%/90% quote;


If ever there was a practical example of how to gain strength from smiling through your toughest days, it was the true role model that my Mum showed herself to be and the legacy that she so desperately wanted to leave behind; and, then, feeling my way through the darkness of my Dad’s deteriorating health after losing Mum, and then, as a consequence, him following her within a year (to wherever you do or don't believe that may be), and all of the emotional trauma, grief and re-evaluation that came with that. 


None of the above is intended to demonstrate anything other than the importance of lifting yourself up, no matter what, brushing yourself down and turning a negative into a positive motivator . . . 


This is my fight song:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8qDOGLCSFo

YOU'VE RUN OUT OF EXCUSES

RUN out of excuses not to exercise   

#WHYNOT can change your life for the better NOW!  

FEEL UNSAFE OR LONELY EXERCISING ALONE?  #WHYNOT join a local walking/rambling/running club or check out the range of activities available through your local leisure centre/sports club/gym; 

SHORT OF CASH AND DON'T KNOW WHERE TO EXERCISE FOR FREE?  #WHYNOT find where your nearest public footpaths & cycle paths are;   

FEEL EMBARRASSED OR SELF CONSCIOUS EXERCISING IN FRONT OF OTHERS? #WHYNOT invest in some low cost, or second hand, home exercise equipment – even a simple ‘Hula Hoop’ or skipping rope make for a great workout;

   THINK YOUR AGE OR CURRENT FITNESS IS A BARRIER?  #WHYNOT start with a gentle walk or low impact activity. You’ll be amazed what little step changes can lead to;

   CAN'T FIND TIME TO FIT A SPORT OR EXERCISE INTO YOUR ALREADY HECTIC LIFESTYLE?  #WHYNOT think of ways of incorporating more activity into things that you are already doing, eg. school runs or work commutes;   

WOULD LOVE TO FEEL PART OF A TEAM, BUT BELIEVE YOU HAVE NO REAL SPORTING TALENT?  #WHYNOT see if there are any local teams, eg. Softball, where like minded girls/women get together more for fun than competition;  

ALLOW YOURSELF, OR OTHERS, TO ZAP YOUR SELF ESTEEM, SO THAT YOU BELIEVE A CHALLENGE OR GOAL IS BEYOND YOUR REACH?   #WHYNOT prove them wrong!  

THINK YOU ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH?  #WHYNOT THINK AGAIN! 

YOU ARE ALREADY BETTER THAN YOU THINK

#WHYNOT be inspired

The T Shirt reads: 

"Wear Pink  Live Pink  Love Pink"

Given the association these days with the colour 'Pink' and defiantly 'Standing Up to Cancer' (in particular Women & Breast Cancer), I especially like these sentiments.

 #WHYNOT Girls

#WHYNOT have an open mind to..

An alternative approach

Sometimes we all need a little bit of extra motivation or help to achieve a more positive mindset.  If you've never tried 'mind programming' techniques, now may be the time to give it a go . . .  These methods all centre around the principle of you needing to learn (or relearn) subconsciously how to feel better about yourself and more comfortable with who you are. 

They are not about 'diets', self loathing or self sabotage - In fact, on the contrary, I would never suggest or promote anything that reinforces negativity. However, life can be stressful and we sometimes need a kick start to recognise our own self-destructive behaviours and habits. Even if you don't really believe that 'mind programming' is something that could possibly work for you, ask yourself what do you have to lose? 

At the very least, these techniques offer 20 - 30 minutes of relaxing downtime and a form of de-stressing meditation / mindfulness and, who knows, at best, they could be a huge step towards a new, more motivated and positive you. What's not to like in that?!  

Most of these books/CDs (even by the more well known authors / celebrities, such as Paul McKenna) cost between £5 - £10, or they can be downloaded as an app on your phone for less than £5. Other less well known apps, like "I can make you slim" by Amanda Stanhope, are completely free to download . Therefore, it doesn't have to cost you a single penny to give it a try! 

 All of these tend to focus on the simple benefits of moving your body more, as a way of improving both physical and mental well being. 

I don't approve of the negative, self sacrifice, approach to dieting . . . .  So, if that is more your thing, please ignore all of the above!! :-)

#WHYNOT Measure Progress

Motivational Benefits of Tracking & Monitoring

"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving"

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

If you have never kept a personal diary, activity record or success chart, please just, for now, go with me on this . . . It may seem like unnecessary effort to you, or even a little simplistic and childlike, particularly if you have not kept a diary or filled out a chart since you were a young girl. 

But, believe me, there is genuine motivational merit in setting yourself a goal and being able to experience a real sense of pride and satisfaction when you achieve it. Even, on the occasions when you don't fully meet your personal aim (and it's your own little secret - nobody else needs to know!), it still provides you with a focus and serves as an incentive to stay on track. Remember, every step is a step in the right direction . . . tomorrow is another day and "the beginning of the rest of your life". 

Don't waste time and energy regretting what you didn't manage to do today. But, instead, just seek to be even more determined at the next available opportunity, using your diary, log, pedometer or tracker to awaken or inspire that part of your brain responsible for self discipline.

If as a young child you ever had a 'Star Chart', or received 'Smiley Stickers' as a reward, you can no doubt remember the positive impact of a visual demonstration of success, achievement and progress. You may even have subsequently used the same tactic with your own children. Never underestimate that desire within all of us to set ourselves a challenge and then feel real pleasure when we rise to it.

It is not simply the act of physically writing things down, filling in a chart, electronically tracking or measuring that gives you the focus you need, there is also great motivational benefit gained from making such a tangible psychological commitment. Far more important than any promise or statement of intent made to anyone else, this is a commitment that you are making to yourself, to do something, potentially life changing, just for you! This is very powerful. It has the ability to divert and diffuse negativity, with each day providing a new opportunity to make positive progress towards a healthier way of life.

The benefits of health and fitness tracking are now so widely accepted, that electronic and GPS devices, for this purpose, have become very big business, with some notable brands flooding the market. Depending upon your budget, these may be worth considering. That said, most mobile phones have free fitness tracking / GPS settings and apps, or a good old-fashioned paper diary record is still a positive starting point.

#WHYNOT give it a go. As the saying goes "What gets measured gets done"


A Healthier Lifestyle is easily within your reach

A healthier lifestyle is something that most of us strive for.  But, sometimes it seems near on impossible to achieve. 

In order to give you a head start, these are 5 #WHYNOT Tips to help you obtain that healthier lifestyle goal: 

1. Daily Exercise -  It is important to get regular exercise.  It doesn't have to be a lot.  Exercising for just 30 minutes a day is medically proven to have an incredibly positive impact on our physical health and mental wellbeing, as long as you are doing something that gets the heart pumping slightly faster and, better still, makes you break a sweat. 

2. Drink More Water -  There is no healthier drink option than a simple glass of water. Water is the best way to quench any thirst. 

3. Eat More Fruit And Vegetables - Although it may be stating the obvious, it is always good to remind ourselves that fruit and vegetables are invariably the healthiest option. You should aim to incorporate fruit and veg into your meals as much as possible. 

 4. Take Breaks From Your Work  -  It really isn't healthy to work all day without a break. Divide your work into smaller elements and maybe go for a short walk in between to stretch your muscles, rest your eyes and clear your head. 

5. Get More Sleep -  A good nights sleep is very important to a healthy life. You shouldn't deprive your body of sleep. If that means going to bed earlier, then do so. You will undoubtedly feel better for it.

Well, the #WHYNOT website has now been up and running for several months and we've probably seen the best of the warmer weather (in the UK at least). But, remember, the #WHYNOT attitude means that, even on those rainy days, we need to show defiance :-)     


In the words of the Dalai Lama:        

"Once a year go some place you've never been before"  


#WHYNOT give some thought to where your 'new place' might be.  It doesn't need to be a full blown holiday, a foreign country or even a different city, but you should try to seek out somewhere new: a path or route that you haven't taken before, some place that you will be seeing through fresh eyes..  


Get out there for fun, fresh air, flora, fauna, fitness & to feel fabtastic!!!    


LIVE LIFE  LOVE LIFE    


And do at least one thing every day that makes you smile :-)


Julia x

"This Girl Can" Week

If you're Leicestershire & Rutland based, please see this link. But, wherever you are, this may inspire you further.

When is your "This Girl Can" week? https://m.facebook.com/ThisGirlCanLeicsandRut/