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  • Instructor Newsletter 30th August 2012

    I have to begin this newsletter with a huge thank you for all the Get Well soon messages I received after I told you about my eye operation 2 weeks ago now.

    I really really appreciate it and judging by a lot of the emails I received it definitely made many of you stop and think……what if you’re injured or sick suddenly and couldn’t work?

    I really hope you are now putting some plans into place, working on your online strategy and systems and getting your business properly online. Look at your income streams and make sure you don’t just rely on one. All successful businesses and entrepreneurs have multiple income streams and it’s important your cultivate and engineer yours now.



    To update you on my situation, it’s been 2 weeks since my operation and I’ve not been able to go back to teaching as yet. I’ve trained almost every day since my early teens and not being able to lift weights and teach class has driven me mental, as you can imagine!

    When training and exercise is as important to you as brushing your teeth or washing your hair you do become paranoid about putting on weight, losing muscle mass and not feeling your tip top self… But hey, as it’s my eyes I just can’t take any chances.

    I have missed teaching so much! I’ve missed my classes, I’m missing my participants, I’ve also not been able to drive, so after trying to contain my daily frustration it has given me a lot of time to think about my business, goals and future ambitions both professionally and personally.

    It’s been a week of finishing up projects and starting new ones that I’ve been thinking about for ages but not had the time to devote days at a time to. So that’s a definite positive!

    Today’s newsletter is all about “when life gets in the way of your business”. Chatting to all my mentoring clients plus my recent “stop me in your tracks moment” inspired me to make that the theme of the newsletter. Things do happen, events do take you away from your business, the kids being off schools makes it difficult to concentrate on coming up with new plans and ideas, Family events, personal issues the list goes on. But hey that’s life and there really is no point beating yourself up. So if you are tearing your hair out in frustration with your lack of progress read on and I hope you find the newsletter inspiring. I read a brilliant quote from Michael Port this week that sums its all up.
    “Life cant get in the way…Life IS the way

    Please feedback me via Twitter@RachelHolmes

    Kick Start Fat Loss LIVE CLUBS – Business / Franchise Opportunity

    In 2007 when I created KSFL I never really considered where it potentially could go. The online model is going great guns and the data I’ve been collecting and the nutritional tweaks, plus the workouts and mindset coaching all work to get amazing results. There has been some jaw dropping, life changing and awe inspiring stories.

    I’ve learnt so much by running the online format.

    So now the 2nd phase of KSFL is to run as a LIVE weekly club. I’ve been running successful community classes for 24 years. I know exactly how to build a sustainable community class business, what people want, how to market to them, the best venues, time slots and the nuts and bolts of the community structure.

    The success of KSFL is not just the cutting edge nutrition and workouts but the power of the group and community . The Group support can take someone from 65/70% success to the full 100%. I see it time and time again, friendships made, unrivaled support systems in place, camaraderie, the 3rd space – the Cheers theory. – The Bar where everyone knows your name all combine to get clients to their ultimate lifestyle goals.

    Put a Live weekly KSFL class with online back up and support and you have one powerful juggernaut that will guarantee fabulous results for the general public.

    I’ve been working on a new KSFL Live Club model with its own unique USP for different areas of the UK and for innovative niches and demographics.

    It’s time for a new kid on the slimming club block.

    Fresh, Innovative, cutting edge, results based workouts in local venues run by a new breed of Fitness and Nutritional Coaches.

    It will be a franchise business as I want to to work extensively and very closely with the initial franchisees. Assisting with Set up, Launch, Business Building, Offline and Online with weekly support and advice from me directly every step of the way. I want to mentor each business to reach potential.

    I’ll be launching next week and looking for 20 Instructors in 20 areas of the UK. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a client base, you’re just setting out or are a veteran Instructor and want to get in from the beginning of something new. I’m looking for motivated, committed and entrepreneurial Instructors.

    This will be my biggest project to date and I cannot wait to get cracking with it. If you are interested and would like more information and a chat drop me an email as soon as you can My long term goal is to break the hold of the big slimming clubs and give people in the UK more choice, the best and latest fat loss information coupled with innovative 30minute workouts. KSFL Live Clubs will be fatloss and body transformation clubs for the future.

    5 Star Fitness Holidays in Turkey 7 – 14th October 2012

    As summer is ebbing away its time to think about some winter sunshine, so, what about a week all inclusive with a full range of classes, fantastic sports facilities and fabulous whether?
    There are some cracking flight deals to Turkey from all UK airports and you can choose from 3/4 or 7 night package.
    I will be hosting a group fro the UK so if you are interested in coming along to this fantastic resort check out all of the details or drop me an email.
    Click here for more information

    New Courses and Workshops coming up in September

    19 Day Create your Fitness Business Online Jumpstart programme – This has been one of my most successful business coaching courses I have created. It’s all online with daily webinars, information, personal coaching and input from me every day. click here to view

    How to Build and Create Successful Community Classes – This is a webinar series that will teach you which classes to teach at what time, The 7 most lucrative time slots, The new untapped niches, Marketing and PR, Set Up and Launch and building your brand in the community. Click here

    Kick Start Fat Loss Back to School Detox starts on Monday – There are already over 40 people signed up and ready to start this is a 17 day programme with new workouts and mindset coaching.Click here to book

    The Ultimate Toning Project Workshop with Kelly Reed – Kelly’s brand new sparking tour kicks off in Cambridge and stops off at all of usual workshop hotspots. Sessions include The Ultimate Toning Project Workout, Lean Legs, Slimmer Abs, Blissful Stretch and Relaxation. Click here to book

    Time Management and Increasing Your Productivity by Rachel Holmes.

    How do you stay focused and on track every day. All instructors have a million ideas and thoughts running though their minds daily but how do you sort through everything and get things done. Here are my simple tips.

    1. I always set a timer so 60minutes first thing to answer emails/Social Media/Hootsuite/Upload into my Facebook groups/Prioritize my To do list/Do a Blog/Vlog or Audio. I’ve got all this down to 60minutes now and the timer stops me wasting time.

    2.For bigger projects I set the timer in 2 hours increments. Work as hard as I can on that project for 2 hours then take a break, a quick walk or 10minute workout. I then go back to it or move onto another task.

    3. Always have a to do list. I split my list into 2 sections. List a I always have 4 things that I MUST do and I don’t stop until they are complete and list b the things I would LIKE to do if I have time, I only ever put 4 things on each list.

    4.When I go into my office I work and think as if I am the CEO of a HUGE company. That might sound a little out there but when I get behind my desk I work like I mean it.

    These simple steps will be better than having a million things going through your mind. Get your ideas on paper. Make and divide your lists up appropriately and focus on running the best business you possibly can.

    Summer Holidays – Does your business survive or thrive? by Sally Ghafoor

    So for those of you that are parents, how are the summer holidays? Combining being a mum, doing the normal upkeep of the house, along with entertaining the children can mean business taking a side track. Don’t beat yourself up about it.

    Now I know how people who are successful make sacrifices now to get to where they want to be to reap the rewards in the future, however what sacrifices are you as an individual willing to make? For me when it comes to my kids, I am not making sacrifices. I do not want to look back when my children are grown up and pine after those summer holidays when we could have been on days out enjoying ourselves when the reality was I was stuck to the computer and missing my kids growing up. Do you remember being a kid, the countdown to the holidays was epic, the last thing they expect to be doing is watching me blog!. This summer holidays have been one of the best in my memory of school holidays (and believe me there has been many) and it’s because I stopped feeling guilty about what I should be doing, after all this is MY business and MY life not anyone else’s.

    The past four weeks I can honestly say I have not achieved a lot in business, all the blogging I was doing everyday prior to the school holidays have been for no reason, as for four weeks no one has heard from me. I have slipped off the radar. However, this has taught me many things, one of them being I have to work smarter when the kids are at school so I can have time off when they are off for the holidays.

    Here is my plan from now on

    1. I need to plan in the school holidays – When the school holidays are getting closer I shall ensure I have enough blogging material and webinars to just pop them on so I do not disappear for weeks on end.

    2. Always have great content saved for when things do not go according to plan – its not just about holidays, what about if the kids are ill? or if I am ill (yes that unfortunately does happen to us supermums even though we still try to plough on)

    3. Ensure all projects are completed prior to the holidays and none taken on during the holidays

    So for the next school holidays we shall see if my plan becomes reality, as before we know it half term will be upon us and I am not going to find myself in the same situation. However this summer holidays will be one I look back on and smile about when my kids are all grown up. #memories

    So raise your glasses, here is to being a mum, juggling the kids, housework, hobbies, business, school holidays, as well as keeping our own identity as a person not just a mum and housewife.

    What are your top tips for being a mum in business during the holidays, let me know 🙂
    Twitter @sallyghafoor

    CHASING LEADS by Yvonne Radley

    We are about to go into meltdown in September we have SO many things going on at Action Boot Camp.
    This week we are sending emails to our ” dead list” – clients who haven’t been coming for a while. If you don’t keep lists you are leaving money on the table.
    They are sales leads just ripe for the picking. You know they like you because they used to come to you and pay you regular money but life probably just got in the way – a new job, a house move, a new baby. Whatever the reason, they broke that habit.
    We regularly contact our “dead” list even if it’s just to say hello and check on how they are doing but September is the perfect time to get people back to your camps and classes. The kids are about to go back to school, Christmas is just around the corner, and they still haven’t dropped that dress size they said they were going to at the start of the year.
    We are offering them a free taster week for themselves and a friend. BUT they have to take it September 3rd to 9th. They can go to any venue, any day and give themselves the kick-start they need as well as filling up our sessions.
    Once they remember why they used to love coming to us anyway hopefully they will be signing back up and staying for at least the next three months till Christmas gets in the way!!
    Another major event we have going on this month is a charity ball in our city. We have donated an auction prize and anyone who is anyone is going to be there. It’s a great way to network, give back to the community, and raise your profile.
    The organisers post regularly on Twitter pushing our company and we will get great exposure on the night.
    We may pick up some new clients who show an interest and the guys who win our prizes might become loyal customers and tell all their friends about us.
    It really is a win, win situation. Yes, it’s costing us to hire a black tie and ball gown, and some tickets but it’s still cheaper than an ad in a local paper or magazine that gets you very little return on investment and we all get to raise money for the local neo natal unit, and I imagine we’ll have a very good time as well!

    Go with the flow by Jill Gardner

    I often catch myself thinking that I have to be super productive ALL of the time! However, recently I have literally had to have a conversation with myself ‘It’s OK to just go with the flow sometimes!’. The school summer holidays have meant business has HAD to take a back seat. And you know what? It’s OK and actually it can be a benefit!

    Life is like a roller coaster. Literally. Think about all the natural things that happen like this:

    Sea waves – the rise and fall of the tide
    Rivers – the ebbs and flow
    Sex – you build, then you climax (hopefully you do!)
    Exercise – you go fast, you go slow. You go heavy, you go light
    Eating – feast and famine
    Even sleep goes in a rhythm – REM to NREM
    Industry and economy – boom and bust
    Athletes – peak and off-peak
    Cars – you accelerate, you slow down
    Plants – they bloom, blossom and then shed their leaves
    Season – they come and go
    We even molt our hair and skin!

    Imagine an engine revving continuously, or maintaining orgasm for hours!!! You would eventually get exhausted (despite how much fun it sounds) and it is not sustainable.

    Sometimes we just have to learn to go with the flow. If we expect the full steam all the time then life would be pretty one dimensional with no stimulus to grow or change. When business is quiet, this is when we can sit back and re-evaluate. When clients aren’t losing weight it’s time to sit back and create a new strategy. When sales are down, it’s time to re-invent or change your products.

    Life would get stale and boring if it was always on a high. With each high we have to learn to expect a lull. I know I will be suffering from POD syndrome for a few more weeks (Post Olympic Depression) and so too will many of the athletes that have trained to peak at this time.

    It’s time to go with the flow and not fight the tide,
    life is a roller coaster and we should enjoy the ride.

    Big love, small tummies!

    Jill – The Fat Controller

    Claire Mockridge

    Get stuff done!
    By Claire Mockridge
    Ante/Postnatal Fitness Expert

    This Bank Holiday week, I’ve actually not taught one class and it’s kinda felt quite weird. Do you ever find you get a fantastically creative idea and you start brainstorming things, only to look at your watch and yelp “Oh no, is that the time!” where you realise you have to be out the door in 5 minutes to take a class? I have moments like this all the time, so I decided I’d better book this entire week off just to “get stuff done”.

    Since Monday, I’ve managed to: write loads of blog posts and articles, film vlogs, get a 3-month marketing plan in place, update my website, write aerobics choreography, take my offline business forward, do a Pilates/exercise photo shoot, read 2 pre/postnatal exercise books, tidy my desk (oh dear lord did that need doing!), do some filing (notice I said “some” filing there!) managed 30 minutes of HIIT exercise each day, and spent the rest of the time just finishing off a huge list of things I’ve started, yet never quite got round to finishing.

    Although I’ll probably need another week off to recuperate, I feel tremendous, and actually more in control of my business now. The secret to “getting stuff done” for me is doing things in “batches”, so I booked out certain days to do certain tasks in batches of 1-3 hours, whether it was admin, filing, reading, brainstorming, marketing, filming and just put my head down to “get stuff done”. I already do this style of time-management from day-to-day anyway, BUT, to block out an entire week to just “get stuff done” has been brilliant.

    If it’s not possible for you to book out an entire week where you “get stuff done”, I’d seriously consider booking 2 days off together to get those creative juices flowing, and get yourself blooming well organised! We’re very creative as FitPros, but we aren’t notoriously good at time-management, are we?

    I have a Workshop coming up soon called “Bridging the Gap” and I cover time-management and marketing amongst other things. It’s a Pre/Postnatal Exercise & Marketing Workshop, and if you’re interested in finding out more, connect with me here:

    Closed Facebook Group:!/groups/clairemockridge/

    Have a great Thursday, but most importantly go out there and “get stuff done”!

    Claire Mockridge
    Ante/Postnatal Fitness Expert

    September – the final countdown by Cori Withell

    With September classically comes the timetable re-jig, planning for the countdown to Christmas. Is this good or bad? Well, I am split on this. Personally I think if your classes are doing well then why would you change them? If it ain’t broke – why fix it? But there are those that say we all need a refresh from time to time and I can see that point of view too! I do wonder though how many of us actually look at our clients when changing things around. How many of us actual know who our clients are or what would they like? Do we ‘think’ we know them but actually they are just a group of men and women that come to class once or twice a week and we occasionally have a little chat to them? Do we know what our ‘ideal client’ actually is? Do we want to know?

    I know that when I first started in the industry every time someone mentioned ‘ideal client’ I went into this mild panic. For a while I wasn’t even sure who they were going on about and then when I did start to get it, I was terrified that I would lose business because I could only teach to people if they fitted my ideal client mould!!! Let’s get this straight – just because your ideal client is a professional woman, earning +£60k, married with two kids, aged 40-50 DOES NOT mean that you cannot teach anyone outside of that remit! BUT, do you take your client profile into account when changing your timetable around? Do you look at the needs of your client or are you putting on what you want to because you like it and they are going to have to ‘like it or lump it’?

    Fatal mistake. If they don’t like it you will lose them as clients and you will have to work extremely hard to get them back and you may never do. You cannot be everything to everyone all of the time. Yes, you do need to be teaching something that you enjoy, if you don’t that will come through you as the instructor and your class may die anyway. Choosing something that you like and that fits in with your client profile is no easy task and it does take time so why not take the opportunity of the final quarter to really test the waters so that you can enter 2013 confident that you have got it right and your client base is already there?

    Customers can see through fakes. Be true to yourself and be true to them. Take time to learn who your ideal client is, pitch to them, market to them, timetable to them. This will make you an even better instructor because you will be teaching the classes that you want to teach to the people you want to teach and those people will love you – happy days!

    Once you have this right, it is too much fun to be called work, adding in extra value and service will be something that you just want to do, not something that you feel you have to do. I absolutely adore working within my client niche, if I didn’t there is no way that I could do it. So, go away and do your client profile, work out what it is you want to teach and do and make sure the two match. If they don’t. there is a little bit more work to be done 😉

    Health and happiness x
    Best wishes
    Cori x


    ”Pressures of the fit pro” by Tanya Oliver

    Today I thought I’d write about something that I’ve gone through recently. I love doing what I’m doing and always have. Since entering the fitness industry I find having the ability to help people change their life around is the best reward you could ever have in your work life. I love it but I do yet however find it draining at times, I don’t know about you but `I take everything right to heart and when I see my clients struggle or go through hard times in their life it hurts me too and I take so much more on board than you ever think a trainer should!
    I find in this industry as your knowledge grows so does your client base and the services that you offer and the cycle goes on. We tend to read book after book, go on regular courses and read through masses of research to improve our knowledge of the human body. There’s so much pressure put on us to keep ourselves up to date with the latest fat loss techniques and programmes. I find that it can sometimes take over and there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to teach, read, research, as well as having to pick up the kids from school and everyday household tasks!

    I’m going to be honest here since entering the industry lots of doors opened for me & I walked through them all it lead me into working beyond a full time working week I went to working pretty much 60hrs or so. I’ve pretty much always followed the latest trend and ran the latest popular class. Yea my classes were full, I was running 28 sessions a week I can say right here and now that this had huge impact on my health. I totally struggled to find time to care for myself and look after my family, I was drained and never had any energy, I found myself reaching for the sugar hits and stopping off at the nearest Starbucks for coffee. Just because I’m a trainer doesn’t make me a machine, I was totally burnt out, I’m still human. This made me disappointed with myself there I am preaching to the clients to stay away from coffee, processed foods and yet here I am grabbing them as soon as I get a chance. From my own past life experiences and having a food addiction myself and suffering from bulimia in the past I found I was starting to struggle with taking care of myself and started thinking, ”if I can’t take care of myself, how on earth can I care for others”. Made me totally re-assess what I was doing. I have a long story behind me, if any of you are ever interested drop me a line and I’ll be happy to share it.

    What I’m getting at is that all of these things that were coming my way were leading me off into a completely different direction to what I initially set out to do. Initially I set out with 1 focus and that was to make a change. Now most people would have said just walk away from the work, but when you’re getting offered good money and you’re excited that people like you and what you’re delivering you can just get carried away with it.
    I found that I was sacrificing so many aspects of my life, my health, my time with my boys and also I wasn’t setting myself apart from all the other trainers in the area. But because I’d fell into this trap I didn’t quite know how to get out of it. I am pleased to say the industry has so many fitness professionals and mentors that are there to help one another to name Rachel Holmes, Katie Bulmer who helped me a great deal since entering the industry.
    I’ve now realised that we may take many paths in life and I believe that we need to in order to find our feet. Learn from things that we do in order to make us better, think of it like this ”it’s the paths that you take in life that lead you to your final destination”. My top tips for today would be,
    Go where your heart/passion lies & don’t let anything get in the way
    Find your niche – research & survey to get as much insight into what they would like
    Focus solely on one programme/product at a time
    Get yourself out there, make yourself known for you & what you do
    Update your knowledge in your area of expertise on regular basis
    Create a list of potential clients
    Create free content/information for your niche

    Please don’t waste time, effort, energy and money like I did. I came back down to the ground and started all over again. Going for what I initially set out to do in making a change. I can say that I can’t believe how much my business has progresses & how much it means to me now. I’m now doing what I set out to do, I’m me, most definitely found my niche, my motivation is back, I’m living my passion and can go as far as to say I’m living my dream.

    If you haven’t yet found your niche dig deep ask yourself why did you enter this industry? What is it you’d like to achieve? Who do you want to help? Where do you want to be in 3 year time?

    Give yourself time to sit back and perform these 3 stages!

    Go for it, do it, have a mint day.

    I Am What I AM……..!!
    By Andrew Crawford

    Wow…Beverley Knight, the most under-rated British soul singer closing the opening ceremony of the Paralympics.
    What a beautiful voice.
    Did you see it?
    She is what she is.
    Prince Harry was photographed naked in a Las Vegas hotel room. My question here is….”How the blast did the Sun newspaper quietly ‘slip through’ his armed guards and manage to get those bare faced shots in the first place??
    This guy is a Royal….!!!
    I’m sure he should have noticed cameramen positioning themselves to take shots…can you imagine the scene…?
    “…Hold it …snap…Now turn to your left….no…your other left…snap…now bend….!!!…”
    Exactly …it wouldn’t happen. Some fink just ain’t right there. Someone got paid mofo….!!
    He is what he is
    Let’s not talk about Syria.
    That is What it is.
    Whilst Apple Chief were sipping on fine wine, veuve, Bollinger and the obligatory iced cold beer, Samsung’s Executive’s were reaching for their cheque books.
    Why was this?
    Well…Apple had protected their brand and Samsung infringed on their patents.
    Samsung lost the battle in court….and was fined £664m ($1.05bn). Ouch..!!
    They are what they are.
    This could so happen to you and your business. Have you protected your fitness brand yet?
    Over the last few months I have had plenty of emails, Facebook queries and mobile calls on this very subject alone. It seems pretty hot since you guys…..and gals are ramping up your businesses.
    Some of your businesses are exposed to outsiders and your competitors to come and ‘ripped’ your fitness business from under your feet.
    That’ll serve you right……even after years of hard work..!!
    Unless, off course, you know what to do…how to do, when to do it….
    You are what you are.
    Or instance…..There was a situation a couple of weeks ago, where a web designer ‘pulled down’ this woman’s site…!! I would have gone doo -lally…!!!
    Her fitness business went “snap”…just like that. Why?
    She had no control…she had no protection….she failed to put some simple things in place to protect her fitness business.
    This is a common theme…So I decided to do something positive about it.
    At about 11.15 am this morning…I want you to visit this link…..
    I have put together a comprehensive e-book guide on how you can Protect Your Fitness Brand and earn some good dosh from it. I thought I would share the tricks I use to protect my clients, friends, and lovers businesses.
    I am making it available to you around that time.
    I am what I am.

    So Andrew,
    What has Beverley Knight, UK’s great soulful singer, Harry’s naked antics in a private hotel room, Samsung ‘stealing’ Apples patents because they didn’t realise it was protected and that poor woman who got her business wrecked by a designer got to do with Accountancy and Tax?
    Well…It’s all about exposure.
    Exposed a great voice, exposed his bare essentials, Apple exposed Samsungs the lack of credibility, the web designer exposed the lack of protection.
    Here, I’m exposing my 10 Commandements to use when you are away on a business weekend trip.
    Keep every single receipt you spend on the weekend.

    Log your mileage or keep your petrol receipts to and from your destination, claim the full £0.45 per mile.

    If employed, claim expenses against your employment income.

    If buying equipment on the weekend, you can claim up to £50,000 in full against your profits.

    If you are the director of your business, get your company to reimburse all of your expenditure.

    If you haven’t started to trade yet, the expenses incurred on the weekend can be claimed within 5 years before starting to trade.

    If your buying items as a gift, you can claim up to £50 a year to each person, against your profits, as long as the gift advertises your business.

    Drinks and meals away from home on the training weekend are allowable deductions.

    If self employed ensure expenditure is wholly and exclusively incurred for your sole trader business.

    If you have a limited company, ensure expenditure is incurred wholly, exclusively and necessarily.

    Do you want to know how to get 100% tax deduction for a car?
    Buy a van…!!!
    100% tax deduction in the year of purchase……ABC (Absolutely Bloody Marvellous Captain)….!!!!
    Neil Armstrong, the ‘First man on the moon’ departed us this week. There is still the questions raging as to whether he did or didn’t.
    He became a recluse and did not give any interviews…..if it was me….I would have set up to Space Bootcamp to train budding Astronauts…and Astronautettes
    The other 2 guys with him, were the same….they simply disappeared…!!
    Sceptics believe that it was all staged….what do you believe.
    Watch the youtube videos and make up your own mind.
    Whatever way you may think…blessings go out to Neil and his family.
    Don’t forget y’all….from 11.15 am I am making available my ‘Protect Your Fitness Brand’ e-book guide from this link.
    Use it or lose your business to your competitor
    Stay protected. You are what you are……I am what I am.
    Andrew Crawford
    There are more FREE resources, downloads and tax advice at our site, visit like our facebook page :
    Questions to: or

    REST ASSURED by Vikki Scovell

    I can hardly believe that I have been on Andros for 7 long, balmy days already. This time last week, the entire holiday was stretched out before us, and I hardly knew how I would cope with so much ‘spare’ time. Half that time has evaporated into the hot, hot air; we still have a week to go, and I want it to go s l o w l y but I can already feel it slipping between my fingers. This last week has been an eye-opener for me, and made me realize how over-due I was R’n’R. I very rarely do nothing; OK sometimes I don’t do very much, but it isn’t quality not-very-muchness, just run of the mill not-very-muchness, and usually in short bursts before I think of something I should be getting on with. I do spend 10 minutes at each end of the day when at home sat on my step, just trying to be in the moment and push all thoughts away, and sometimes I take time out on the thinking bench overlooking the fine Welsh hills and try and sort everything in my head so that it makes sense (not very often recently). Being here is an experience. My friend Lou’s house gleams square and white on a hill side of terraced olive groves, looking out over an expanse of sea and sky. At the moment a sailing boat is drifting by, serenely cutting thought the sea which for once is mirror-flat. Louise built this place herself and every detail is painstakingly thought through to make it the most relaxing, romantic and beautiful location. I almost don’t know where to put myself it is so lovely, and SO appreciated. Since we arrived, we have been, reading, swimming, eating salads in shady, lazy, Tavernas; drinking the local golden wine over ice, whilst staring out into the blue horizon. We have had some fairly hair-raising journeys to almost inaccessible beaches, swum in the sea, and waited until the sun has set before making the trek back home. This amount of high quality not-very-muchness is doing me the world of good. All of my silly anxieties and insecurities have taken a back seat, and now I am a woman who chuckles and woops as the Landrover bumps over unmade hair-pin roads instead of holding on with white knuckles whilst reciting Hail Marys’. She who saw swimwear as the devils work, wanders around in a bikini all day without a care. Ms. panic-pants who was spooked by boats, deep water and shadows on the sea floor, dared herself to swim into the deep sea with the black rocks beneath, and did it without a) hyperventilating or b) thinking about JAWS. And the jittery person who exceeded the emotional-baggage allowance on the plane, has been happy to just chill, like a me-shaped sponge; soaking up the sun, the vibes, the beach-bar music, and ahem…. the vino.
    Before we came away I was struggling with keeping the kids happy through the holidays in our remote house on our windy hill top. It had rained and rained; we boasted that we had a moat, (through some bizarre Welsh weather-magic, our hill-top floods regularly) but our elevation to being of the moat-owning classes did nothing to cheer us as we looked out bleakly into August freezing-hill-fog. They were bored, they couldn’t understand why I was working, and I was exasperated by their reluctance to grasp that as a single parent with financial responsibilities, I couldn’t just stop. Their constant bickering was tedious in the extreme, and they ignored my endless shouts of ‘I’m TRYING to work here….’ My productivity plummeted, nothing quality was getting done, naught achieved, and no decent time with the kids either; just a muddy mixture of not getting decent work done and not being a great parent into the bargain. It was getting me down, and with my divorce like an extremely disgruntled, bitter and spiteful elephant in the room, and the reappearance/disappearance of Mr. Fabulous (I know, you don’t have to say it) I was at a low ebb. Then I was plucked from the damp greyness and dropped into the hot blue, and there is something about the vibrancy of the colour and beauty here; deepest and palest blues of sea and sky, rich gold rock, fiery sunsets, that wakes you up, gives you a bit of a pep-talk about the wonder of life, the amount of fish in the sea (plenty more), rustles you up a mojito and leaves you in peace to sort your head out.
    I have been feeling deeply relaxed and have sat, watched the sun set behind the islands, and the crimson moon disappear beneath the sea, and let go of it all. The person remaining after the layers of worry have peeled away barely recognizes herself. I had bought along work to get on with, and thought that it was an ideal place to get some stuff done, but now that I am here, I can appreciate that what I actually need is complete rest, total escape, and distance from it all so that when I get back, I can start afresh. Lou sat me down the other evening and we wrote a mind map, which I would suggest as a good exercise for anyone with a jangled noisy brain (mine felt like white noise and multi-coloured spaghetti). We put me in the middle, and then all of the aspects of my life like bicycle spokes around me; work, children, money, divorce, Mr. F. We then listed all of the feelings/worries about each of those things, and finally what I can do practically to resolve each issue raised. It was great; simple but helpful, and has left me with a personal action plan for when I get home, which has helped me to relax even more. The thing which I am happiest about; the first thing on my action plan is business mentoring with Rachel again. Last time left me on a driven and focused high that lasted for weeks and gave me the boost I needed to turn around my business, and was only cruelly ground underfoot by the reality of the school holidays (my kids get 8 weeks; yup, that’s EIGHT WEEKS, and all our friends were AWAY). I have been turning myself inside out feeling like I had let myself down on the work front in the past few weeks; classes have been awesome, but other projects have been left at the back of the fridge to slowly wilt and eventually go mouldy. Giving myself a hard time achieved nothing, and was a waste of time and energy. It has been one big mess of a year, and somehow I had to accept that and let it sink in before I could move on. It is through the generosity of my dear friend that the kids and I have been given this amazing opportunity to get away from it all; they have had a tough time of it all too, and we all needed a break. I intend to enjoy every single remaining moment of it, and take nothing for granted; each perfect sunset is an exercise in mindfulness, every time I swim in the sea is the greatest release and feeling of complete freedom that I have felt in a long time, and spending such good times with my friends and children is healing us as a family. It’s all good, it’s too good to be true, and it is a gift.
    If you are struggling, letting stress get the better of you, and reprimanding yourself for your lack of motivation or progress, then maybe you need to book some quality doing-not-very-much time for yourself. Let the guilt and frustration go, and take a break from pressure. A little distance may re-align your perspective. We all need it, but are you allowing yourself time to do it? If you keep pushing that boulder up the hill when you are tired and weak it WILL roll back down over you and leave you flattened, so do yourself a favour: stand to one side and just let go whilst it rolls to the bottom. Then give yourself a chance to build your strength, or hire a JCB to take your boulder to the top of the hill for you. I know you can’t all spend two weeks on a Greek Island, although I wish I could bring you here, but move forwards into the busy time of the year which is coming, with some clear boundaries set between work and relaxation. As weight-lifters know, progress comes during the rest periods, so find a way to take the weight of the world off your busy shoulders, rest and relax. Then come back FIGHTING.

    Vikki Scovell @fitbite and feel free to check out my holiday snaps on FB!

    Have a wonderful Thursday

    Love Rachel xx

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