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    A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO SELF DEVELOPMENT Self development is a relatively new concept within the last few years, in particular on social media. You might be finding yourself seeing things like gratitude, manifesting, journaling, self-care and wondering how to implement it into your own life. Look no further, I have put together a simple list of ways that you can start a self development journey if you’re a complete beginner, filled with other resources to help and support your journey. Self development is not limited to your mind, it can also encompass your health and well-being, confidence, your career, your relationships, your style, your finances and many more. I am a huge advocate of self-development and becoming our best selves, I truly believe self-development is something that can help us to live happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives. So here are 9 tips and things that I recommend if you are new to self development: Ditch the “motivational speakers” Motivational Speakers are not self development, they are designed to motivate you. We all know motivation is temporary. So steer away from them for now and focus on those who are teaching self development practices. Start a journaling practice Journaling will allow you to understand yourself more, express yourself and document your self development journey. If you’re unsure where to start check out my last blog all about Journal Tips for Beginners which is supported with a Podcast Episode if you require further insight. Read self development books Self development is such a broad term, and there are so many different elements to it, so books will allow you to learn about it from both a broad perspective or a more refined perspective. If you’re looking to improve your productivity, morning routines, discover your purpose, spirituality, self love or confidence, there are books out there for EVERYTHING. You can find some of my favourite non-fiction reads here. Curate your social media Social media can be really influencing your mindset, and if you’re wanting to work on developing your mindset and thoughts, do not limit yourself by consuming the same content you used to. Establish the kind of content you wish to consume and follow creators that share this content. Feel free to unfollow or mute pages/people that no longer support your goals and mindset. Meditate Meditation was one of the most powerful things I discovered at the beginning of my journey, and I didn’t do it in the conventional way where you sit down and close your eyes. Instead I played calming meditation music when I woke up which put my mind into a state of peace instead of fight or flight, I then continued listening to that playlist on morning walks to keep me in this state. If you want to take things a step further, you can select playlists that suit your goals and needs (it’s also important you like the voice of the meditation if you opt for guided ones), short list them so they are ready and available. Some of my favourite meditations are 2-5 minutes long, you do not need to strive towards 30 minutes of meditation. If you need more meditation tips, you can find them on Episode 37 of The Real & Raw Podcast. Develop a morning and evening routine or menu Having a morning and evening routine (regardless of how long) is incredibly beneficial for allocating time for your self development practices (whether reading, journaling or meditation). This is a pocket of time at the start and/or end of your day that is designed for you and your mind. If you have multiple things you’d like to complete but limited on time, I would create a morning and evening routine ‘menu’ which is a list of all the things you like to do in the morning or evening, and then cherry picking the ones you need on that day based on how much time you have or how you want to feel. Working with a life coach It’s a complete myth that you need to be self developed to work with a life coach, in fact it’s more likely to be the opposite. If you are a complete beginner to self development, a life coach can help to guide you through this journey, it is someone who has a non-bias approach with only your best interest at heart. They will not only teach and provide you with the tools required to help you to achieve your goals, but they’ll be able to help you with specific examples in your life. If you’d like to find out more information on my life coaching services you can do so by visiting or listen to Episode 36 of The Real & Raw Podcast Listen to podcasts Podcasts are a great way of helping you to develop your thoughts, learn more about self development or challenge your existing belief systems. You can find over 60 episodes on The Real and Raw Podcast that will help and support you in your journey! Self Care We’ve probably all heard the term ‘self-care’ but what does that mean and how do you fit it into your life. Self-care isn’t just bubble baths and face masks, it’s also setting boundaries, it’s turning your phone off, it’s making yourself your favourite meal, it’s taking a nap, it’s going for a workout, it’s getting an early night, its anything that involves taking better care of yourself because you deserve to feel good and cared for. If you need further tips and information on self development for beginners, check out Episode 24 of The Real & Raw Podcast


    JOURNAL TIPS FOR BEGINNERS Journaling is one of my favourite and most long-standing self development rituals, and it’s one that I am asked the most about. So I wanted to put together this blog for those who are newbies to journaling, including everything you need to know about how to start, what to write and how to further develop and sustain your practice. Journaling truly is one of the self-development rituals that I believe is worth the hype, but you have to establish a few things first, so that you get the most out of it. Firstly, let’s start with things you need to know about journaling; There is no right or wrong way to journal You can write WHATEVER you want There are so many different types of, and ways to journal It’s a very personal experience Let’s unpack this… There is no right or wrong way to journal! Most people think this is because when they open a journal for the first time they feel a bit lost and confused about what to write. So in those instances, I tell clients, write ANYTHING. Try to use “What is on my mind right now” as the prompt for your thoughts and write whatever is on your mind… whether that’s your to-do list, a recent disagreement you’ve had, your goals for the day or week. It truly does not matter what you write. The point is the commitment you’re making to your practice. Once you remove the ‘performance based metric’ to journaling, it becomes so much easier and natural. You can write WHATEVER you want. Similarly to the above, there is no limit on what you write. Some days I will write my to-do list, and others I might journal about something that came up in a dream, or simply about my day the day before. Some days I’ll write positivity or gratitude logs if I’m struggling to connect with my thoughts. When I first started journaling in January 2021 I wrote words, that’s it, just a bunch of words. This allowed me to create a mini challenge for myself, I would write the words (ones that described my thoughts or emotions) and then each day I would try to be a bit more explanatory with them or piece them together by using the prompt “why” for example, if I wrote “Stressed” or “Frustrated” I would ask myself “why” and then write it down. You can add more layers to this by asking “why” to your first “why” response to get to the root cause of your emotions (this isn’t something that happens within a few days, but it will certainly happen after a couple of weeks consistently journaling). There are so many different types of, and ways to journal. There are prompted journals, and blank journals, journals for travel/self development/gratitude/love/religion or spirituality (amongst many more). My favourite type of journal, and one I mostly recommend to my clients is blank journals, usually a page per day journal. This allows you to learn and practice your journal practice more and more vs the overly prompted ones which ask about your 5-10 year plan (There is nothing wrong with that question, but if you’re wanting to learn more about yourself and your thoughts, those prompts may force you down one route of journaling) It’s a very personal experience. This is such an important point for me to emphasise, because it all depends why you’re wanting to journal, don’t just journal because your favourite influencer posted the five minute journal on their stories. Do it because you have a reason, perhaps you want to learn more about yourself and your emotions, maybe you need an outlet, maybe you love expressing yourself via words, maybe you want to keep a track of things happening in your life. Define why you want to journal, and then take that approach and research based on this. Eg: If you’re wanting to learn more about yourself, google ‘journal prompts for self awareness’ whereas if you were wanting to keep a gratitude log, you’d google “prompts for gratitude” etc. Journal Tips for Beginners: Define your reason for journaling Choose a journal that suits your reason (prompted or unprompted) Google journal prompts to help guide you but do not rely on them Write down words that describe how you’re feeling or whatever is on your mind Ask yourself “why” and explore those thoughts Monitor your journal inputs - do you notice any patterns? Choose a time of day to journal (I prefer the first thing, but you can also do it before bed - just be mindful of becoming too tired to journal) - just find a time that you can be consistent with. Spend time re-reading your inputs once weekly Keep this journal for you, this is not to be shared or for anyone to have access to - keeping this private will allow you to express yourself more freely. Remove any pressure from yourself about what you write and just write whatever comes to mind Need more tips? Listen to Episode 28 of The Real and Raw Podcast


    MY FAVOURITE SELF CARE + WELLNESS RITUALS I recently shared some of my favourite self care and wellness rituals and there were a ton of requests and questions for me to explain the how, what, when and why so here is The 411 on 7 of my favourite self care and wellness rituals! Some of my favourite self care and wellness rituals are; Dry brushing Helps with lymphatic drainage and inflammation. I habit stack my dry brushing with another already implemented routine - drinking my lemon water! So I dry brush for a couple of minutes whilst the kettle boils, this way, I do not have to find any extra time to do this. This method is perfect for those short on time. FAQ: How do you do it? Upwards motions, everything towards the heart! Spend a little more time on stubborn areas such as outer thighs if you struggle with low circulation in those areas like myself. Always do it whilst your skin is dry, before a shower instead of after. FAQ: Which brush do you recommend? Any! I personally use an ESPA one from Amazon, which I couldn’t find, but it’s identical to this one. Gua Sha Gua Sha and facial massages again help with lymphatic draining and inflammation, so if you find your face feeling puffy or swollen, gua sha and lots of water will certainly help with that. I love to use a steel tool instead of a crystal. I aim to do this each morning, but sometimes, I forget until after I’ve done my makeup. You want to do this when you’ve applied some serum to your face, otherwise it’s going to drag your skin as you perform the exercises. You can google Gua Sha exercises for a full guide on how to do it (it’s very simple and takes a couple of minutes). FAQ: When should I do this? Add this into your skin care regime, after you’ve cleansed and applied serum, but before SPF and moisturiser. Daily Smoothie + Vitamins I am not someone who loves to mix their nutrition up, I prefer consistency especially during the week, because thinking of new food ideas just adds more thoughts to my already busy mind so I love to have a staple breakfast that I have every single day that provides me with protein, carbohydrates and all of my essential vitamins in addition to extra vital supplementation. FAQ: What is your daily smoothie? I am living for Free Soul Chocolate Vegan Protein, it tastes delightful, so thick and creamy unlike most chocolate proteins which taste like dishwater. I add half a banana, 1tbsp Glutamine, lots of ice, and I use oat milk, but you can use any milk you prefer. FAQ: What is Glutamine and why do you use it? L-Glutamine is an amino acid, conventionally known for preserving muscle, but also a fantastic supplement for improving gut health and strengthening the gut lining, therefore creating a more ‘robust’ gut. Therefore, less bloating and stomach issues. FAQ: Which vitamins do you use? Non-negotiable vitamins for me are, Multivitamin, Omega-3, Vitamin B6, Vitamin D, Acidophilus Secondary vitamins that I love to take to optimise my health are; Magnesium before bed, Ginkgo Biloba for brain health, collagen sachets added to my decaf coffee. FAQ: Do I need all those vitamins, can’t I just take a multivitamin? No, you do not need all of the additional vitamins, but it would be unrealistic to say that we get enough vitamins through diet alone to optimise our health and well-being. Multivitamins are a blend of many vitamins, however as women and if we’re living in colder climates, we will need more than the ‘average recommended dose’ - however it’s important that you consume any vitamins or supplements at your own discretion and if you are uncertain, consult a professional before taking additional vitamins and supplementation. Tongue Scraper Our tongues hold so much bacteria which can be linked to poor oral health. Tongue scrapers can remove up to 79% more bacteria than brushing alone. Poor oral health has been linked to poor brain health, and as someone who is wildly passionate about taking care of my brain, this is a non-negotiable for me. FAQ: How do you use it? Simply floss, brush your teeth, then scrape your tongue using a metal tool, rinse with each scrape until your tongue no longer has any residue remaining other than normal clear saliva. Use it twice daily when brushing your teeth. FAQ: Which one should I purchase? Any metal tongue scraper will suffice such as this one Journaling Journaling is one of my favourite tools for understanding my thoughts, reflecting, and self expression. FAQ: When should I journal and how long for? I recommend a daily practice, for a few minutes up to however long it takes you to write what you need to. There is not ‘magic’ amount of time to journal. FAQ: What do I write? Set an intention before you open your journal, what do you want to get out of it that day? Do you want to write your to-do list? Want to write about a recent conflict with your partner? Want to write a positivity log? Maybe just the emotion you’re most feeling right now? It really doesn’t matter what you write about, it’s personal to you, at that moment. The more you journal, the more natural it will become when you put pen to paper. FAQ: What if I’m not good at it or can’t think of anything to write? There is no right or wrong way to journal, it’s simply the concept of putting words to paper. If you struggle with what to write, you can google journal prompts to help guide you, or my favourite is writing a list or a few words about how I’m feeling this could look like “stressed, overwhelmed, confused” for example, then I would spend time asking myself ‘why am I feeling stressed right now?’ and then try to answer those questions on paper. Each time you do this you will become more aware of why you’re feeling the way you are, and if you do wish to find a solution, you can do so now that you’ve pinpointed the cause. FAQ: Which journal should I buy? Again, it’s personal to you. But, I personally do not enjoy the heavily promoted journals, I find them both overpriced and not useful especially as a beginner. I would recommend a plain page per day journal, you can always buy a plain notebook for longer journal logs. Having a blank canvas allows your thoughts to flow more freely vs a promoted journal that asks you what your 5 year goals are when all you want to do is journal about how you’re feeling in that present moment. I use this journal, and have done since January 2021! Hot + Cold Therapy One of my FAVOURITE self care and wellness rituals has to be hot and cold therapy, this is essentially a sauna followed by a cold plunge. The contrast in temperatures is incredible for the central nervous system, inflammation, endorphins and the immune system. FAQ: How long for each? I spend 15 minutes in the sauna, followed by a cold plunge for 3-5 minutes. I will then repeat this process 2-3 times (time dependent) FAQ: What if I do not have access to a sauna and/or cold plunge? Check if your gym has a sauna as most leisure clubs do, or see if you can access a local facility. Unfortunately, you cannot replicate a sauna at home unless you have something like a sweat blanket or suit, which are not identical as saunas help with your breathing and cardiovascular functioning but they will certainly make you sweat, they are just not so cost effective! For cold therapy, again some gyms will have a cold plunge (such as David Lloyds) you can also find local facilities (mostly in London) that have cold plunges available since the rise in popularity amongst the health and wellness community. Alternatively, lake/ocean plunges will suffice (granted you live in close proximity to one). But lastly, and the more accessible option is a cold bath or shower, feel free to create an ice bath that you can submerge yourself in for no less than 3 minutes (if you struggle with the time, ease your way up to the 3 minute mark, do not give up, keep pushing you time), or, simply take an ice cold shower, which will be more difficult to sustain the temperature as it is not evenly distributed, my favourite hack for cold showers is having the water hit my chest to stimulate the vagus nerve which is responsible for regulating our CNS. Caffeine Free If you follow me closely on social media you’ll know I haven’t touched a drop of caffeinated coffee since April 2023 when I was forced to remove it from my day during a health and wellness retreat and haven’t since looked back. We all love a cup of coffee, myself included, which is why if I do have coffee it will be strictly decaf only, even heavily caffeinated sodas have gone from my life. The reason for this, was because I was finally able to see the negative impact that caffeine had on both my mind and body after removing it, I did have one small coffee after removing for 4 days and I could not believe how terrible it made me feel, making it a very easy transition to a caffeine free life. I will add, I would have most definitely found this difficult had I attempted the detox/removal in the midst of a busy daily life, so my advice would be to try and remove coffee/caffeine whilst travelling or away from your usual regime where you may feel reliant on coffee. FAQ - What do you drink instead? Decaf coffee if I desire the taste for it, herbal tea, lemon water, or decaf tea or turmeric lattes FAQ - How differently does it make you feel? When I had the coffee after 4 days, I noticed I felt anxious and on edge for no reason, my heart rate was fast and therefore more adrenaline in my body, I had a cloudy head and stomach pains, and it made me realise, all of these things were a normal part of my day to day beforehand that I confused with ‘energy’. Caffeine is a stimulant and therefore will quicken your heart rate, do not mistaken that for energy. FAQ - What can I expect if I remove caffeine from my diet? You will experience headaches for the first 24-48 hours, I found them to be extremely intense, and paracetamol didn’t really budge them. Because I was restricted and unable to even access coffee had I wanted to, I had to ride it out, so that would be my advice to you, expect a headache, but do not give in and have a cup of coffee. Once this passes, you will notice how much more natural energy you have. Change your perspective from ‘I need a cup of coffee’ to ‘I’m tired and need to get an earlier night’, if we have 7-8 hours of sleep, there shouldn’t be a need for stimulants. Understandably and if you have young children, this may not always be easy to achieve, so I would avoid trying to cut something out unless this is realistic for you to ensure you have consistent and high quality sleep to support you through this transition to a caffeine free life. I hope you loved this blog and have more clarity on how to implement these rituals into your day to day life. If you have any more questions, feel free to drop me a DM over on Instagram @helenderbs


    THE SECOND CHILD DILEMMA Do you and your partner regularly face the dilemma as to whether you want more children? Perhaps your first one keeps you exceptionally busy and you cannot possibly fathom where more time would come from for a second child? Perhaps you’re quite content with one and cannot imagine being able to love another child as much as your first born. Whatever it is for you, you’re reading this blog for a reason. It’s a shared challenge so many parents face after having their first child, and a dilemma both myself and my partner regularly find ourselves in. So I wanted to put together this honest perspective on what that thought process looks like, and hopefully make you feel like you are absolutely normal in every single thing you’re thinking and feeling about having more children. It’s quite an unusual concept that most of us find ourselves in, you know the one, you meet someone, settle down, then the relatives are asking “when’s he going to pop the question” then he pops the question and its “when’s the wedding”, you have the wedding, then it’s “when will you be having children” you have a child and it’s “when’s the second one coming”. Now whilst our relatives probably mean zero harm with these questions, it can be exceptionally overwhelming for first time parents. Such questions from relatives can add pressure to our decisions, especially with the “two under two” club being a popular one, so that your children can grow up close in age and “keep one another company”. Your heart might feel torn as you see your first born growing up without a sibling, making you doubt yourself more and more as to whether “should we just have another now whilst they’re young” - but if you’re anything like myself and my partner, this thought alone overwhelms us considerably. Being the parent to one child is already a lot, especially when you want to raise that child a certain way, with present parents who attend to their every need, it might be really overwhelming to try and even visualise how you possibly do that x2. Myself and my partner often find ourselves struggle to be unable to even envisage being a family of four due to the current pace of our lives/careers, we can honestly identify that something would need to be sacrificed in order to expand our family, and we are not in a position where we are ready to openly and happily make that sacrifice, however that doesn’t mean it’s off the cards forever. We have endless discussions about what our future looks like, both near and far, and that also includes the possibility of more children. Being able to openly communicate about how we feel about expanding our family is incredibly important. I personally feel that not everyone approaches parenting with the same mindset and in many instances one parent is for more children, and the other may not be on that page yet. One of the many reasons people have more children is to provide a sibling for their first born, which in all honesty is the main reason we would consider having more children, we feel exceptionally content with experiencing being parents just once, but the want to give Belle that support when she is older makes it difficult to come to a decision. What has helped us, is letting go of time-frames, our original timeframe was 3-4 years apart, and now we have a much looser timeframe of 5-6 years, and if we come to that point and we are still not ready, we will re-evaluate the timeframe and our position. I think it’s important for me to mention this because so many parents can box themselves in with a very strict cut off point which can sometimes force us into making a premature decision. There is a part of me, some days that dreams of having two children running around and my decision is a firm yes, and then there are other days where I struggle to balance everything in my life the way I’d like to and I cannot possibly imagine adding more responsibilities to the mix, please know it’s completely ok to feel this way, it is a huge decision and not one to rush into. What helps me is understanding and visualising the kind of parent I want to be, both to one child or more, and then working backwards about what I would need to do for that to be possible, and then being realistic and understanding how far I am away from that. This could prove useful to do, imagine what kind of mother/father you want to be and whether that’s realistic given all of the other responsibilities you have presently or in the near future if you expanded your family. Many parents online claim the newborn days are easier than the toddler days but we’d have to disagree. I would honestly say it took at least 12-18 months before parenting stopped feeling so overwhelming and intense, there was so much newness, first times and doubt that looking back, it can be a little overwhelming to consider going through that initial period again. Each and every families parenting journey will differ, it may feel a lot more manageable if you have family around to support who are very hands on, but you still may be unsure if you’d like more children, or you may be someone like us who doesn’t have any family in close proximity other than my mum who lives 200 miles away, this can shape a person's decision to add more responsibilities to their life, so assess your responsibilities/support systems in depth factoring in a second child before making a decision. Here are some questions and tips for the next time you find yourself wondering whether you should have more children, please note, I am not for or against more children, but if you are quite clear in the fact you want more than one, I imagine you wouldn’t be reading this blog, therefore the questions below are designed to give you more awareness and choice over your decisions in a world that is designed to idealise families of 4 and above, this blog is here to empower you to make your own choices that suit yours and your families needs instead of being pressured to make decisions based on our families or societal pressures. Where did this thought come from? Has anyone asked me lately about providing a sibling for my first born or has social media generated this thought? (It doesn’t matter where it came from, the important part if you know the thoughts origin). What would my life look like with more children? How does that idea make me feel? (if you feel overwhelmed by that idea, perhaps the answer is - no more children for now and let’s revisit in the future) Do you and your partner have the same perspective on this? Are they for/against more children - does this impact your decision? What would you have to sacrifice to have more children? (eg personal time, career, travelling, quality time, finances, time with your first born) Are you prepared to make those sacrifices now or in the future? Do you think you would feel resentful if you made those sacrifices now or in the future? What is the reason for wanting more than one child? How much of that is impacted by societies ‘ideal family of four’ vs your own wants and needs. Do you need to make a decision right now on this or can you park the idea for a period of time? If not, what is the deadline on this? Is it imposed by something you can change? What are your belief systems around families? Perhaps you grew up with siblings so assume that’s what you need to do for your family. Is there a world where maybe you’re happy with one child? Did you have an idea in your mind about an ideal age-gap which is quickly approaching? Is there any way that can move in order for you to give yourself more time and freedom to make choices that suit your personal and family's needs? Remember; you do not need to make a decision right this second, it can be a decision that evolves and changes 10 times before coming to the final one, and always remembering that regardless of the outcome for or against, life works out exactly as it was supposed to. I hope this blog brings you comfort and awareness, to empower you into making a decision for you and your family vs others and society.


    SURGERY, AESTHETICS AND SELF LOVE In July myself and Natali Kelly hosted a self love evening at her flagship clinic in London where we discussed all things body dysmorphia, body confidence, self love, and procedures. You might be wondering, how does self love and body dysmorphia fit into aesthetic treatments and practices - isn’t it the opposite? During the workshop, I explained to our guests about how to recognise if you are getting treatments or changing your appearance for the ‘wrong’ reasons which generally come from a place of low self esteem vs a place of empowerment. There are a few signs you can look out for which I will discuss further throughout this blog. The online self development community tells us that we need to learn to love and accept our flaws and then we will have self-love, but I do not wholeheartedly agree with that which is why I wanted to put this together in a blog so I could help women to understand how the two work together should they want them too. So let’s start by understanding what self love actually is? Now in my professional and personal opinion, I believe self love is something that we must actively work on cultivating, especially as a woman in the modern world. For most of you reading this, you probably grew up around mothers, sisters, friends, and aunties who did not use the most positive language towards their face/bodies, which was reinforced by the mass media, we are only now in the past five or so years becoming more aware of terms such as self love and self acceptance, and as amazing as that is, it doesn’t erase those years of our subconscious minds being penetrated by unrealistic body standards. So I believe it’s incredibly unfair to expect women to just “have some self love” and expect that they automatically become accepting of the things they perhaps do not like about themselves, or things they’ve been brainwashed into believing are ‘wrong’ or ‘too big’ ‘too small’. For me, I believe self love isn’t restricted or even related to how we look, I believe we can have self love AND want to change/tweak things about our appearance, I also think we can be comfortable in our skin and still lack self love. Everything (even opposites) can co-exist. Self love for me is about having a strong moral compass, established core values that I live in alignment with, staying true to myself, being authentic, living with integrity, being kind and compassionate towards myself, being accepting of my mistakes and open to learning. It is also both accepting what I cannot change, and also accepting that there may be things I need to change in order to have more self love, again that’s not limited to appearance, and is inclusive of personality traits, characteristics, behaviours/actions so on and so forth. So where does cosmetic surgery or aesthetic procedures fit into a self-love journey? I believe that when we do the inner work and curate our self love out of moral compass/ core values etc, we naturally put less focus on our appearance. When we raise our self worth, through healing and reprogramming our belief systems, we feel less inclined to do things for others (e.g. change our appearance). We feel less likely to have procedures done so that we are ‘deemed more attractive for a potential partner’ or ‘because everyone else has it done’, we feel more confident and rooted in ourselves that we make the decisions for us and us alone. This perspective allows us to be more intentional about any tweaks we wish to make to our appearance. Rewind to a time when I had low self worth and an absence of self love, I would allow my appearance to be dictated based on what others around me did, such as having more lip filler than what suited my natural features, wore clothes that I thought would allow me to ‘fit in’, want to change my appearance to piss my ex partner off. THIS is when treatments and procedures are problematic, because you are no longer doing them for yourself but for the approval or acceptance of others. It is crucial to note, that changing things about our appearance doesn’t equate to having self love or finding the person of your dreams, we must have self love first and foremost and then any changes/tweaks we have are simply additional extra and you have them for you and you alone. If you are someone who finds themselves having treatments/procedures or surgeries and soon thinking “what’s next” or “what else do I need to change” - this would support the notion that the treatments are not the answer and there is a deeper rooted issue to address. I’m not saying we need to live in a world where we never change anything about our appearance, it’s simply about empowering yourself by knowing what is truly for you from a holistic stance point vs a place of low self worth. I think the biggest thing for people to understand is that there is zero shame in changing anything about ourselves if it makes us feel a fraction more confident, despite what people around you or online might tell you, IF you feel more confident having some botox, or even a cosmetic procedure then go for it, if you feel more confident having your hair done regularly, go for it, if you feel more confident dressing a certain way GO FOR IT. When we do things FOR ourselves, that naturally boosts our confidence. I truly believe life is too short to not do the things we want to do - whether that’s having an aesthetic treatment such as botox or some lip filler or living a life that others struggle to understand. It’s down to you to understand whether you’re doing it for the right reasons, to enhance your natural beauty, perhaps freshen your face up a little if you’ve been feeling/looking tired lately or simply to express yourself in a way that makes you happy. You can BOTH love yourself wholeheartedly AND have treatments/surgery done and anyone who shames you or tells you that’s not the case, isn’t very happy within themselves and is projecting their insecurities onto you. Here is to doing whatever we want, with our bodies, as long as it makes YOU happy.


    THE KEY TO SUSTAINING YOUR HEALTH AND WELLNESS GOALS This blog is for those who are tired of setting goals in relation to health and wellness only to find themselves no longer sustaining it beyond the 2-3 week mark. And no, this isn’t a motivational blog to boost your motivation to ‘get back to it’. This is a holistic approach that will explain why this happens, what it means for you and your goals, and how to sustain your healthy habits long term in a more harmonious way. We all know the importance of taking care of our mental and physical health. Not only does exercise strengthen your body and adds longevity to your life, but it is a fantastic way of maintaining a calmer mind and having better sleep! But for me, the biggest benefit of taking care of my health is the way it makes me feel about myself. When I take care of myself, I feel really proud and grateful but it hasn’t always been that way. Health and wellness goals can be anything from eating more nutritious meals, taking your vitamins and supplements, moving your body regularly, and prioritising sleep and rest. Now some of you may know me from my competing days (for those who don’t, I competed in 8 bodybuilding competitions across the span of 4 years with my last show ending in around 2015 or 16). When I was competing, discipline was not an issue for me, but after my competitions had ended and I was left with a poor relationship with my body, that put me into a ‘punishment and reward’ mindset in relation to my nutrition and exercise. Meaning, I would eat something as a ‘reward’ for a hard week in the gym, and punish myself with exercise for eating said ‘reward’. This was not a healthy cycle to be in and I found discipline to be exceptionally hard and sustaining my goals and habits started to feel like chores and I found myself falling out of love with anything health and wellness related, which naturally was a byproduct of the cycle I found myself in. (If you feel a similar way about your body, please read my previous blog about healing your relationship with your body) Once I was able to break free from that cycle, which took a good couple of years and stepped completely away from anything related to intense fitness, that included friends, gyms, on social media, the way I trained and ate and channelled my energy elsewhere. Luckily, I had worked on my relationship with myself more for a couple of years before falling pregnant with my daughter, and having a stronger relationship with my mind and body allowed me to be in total awe of my body's abilities during and after pregnancy. Over the past 2-3 years since having my daughter, I have found setting and sustaining health and wellness almost effortless, so let me tell you how to get to this point yourself. But just before we get into the main body of this blog I just want to emphasise the importance of having a better relationship with ourselves through self development to support us in setting goals that are designed to take care of our mind and bodies rather than punish them or see movement and exercise as a chore. Shifting Your Perspective Shifting our perspective from ‘exercise’ to ‘movement’ and focusing on ‘moving our body in a way that feels good’ vs ‘going to the gym’ allows us to have a much more positive viewpoint on health and wellness. Understanding that exercise and healthy eating is not about the way we look, but about the way we feel. Knowing that we are investing in the future version of ourselves each time we show up for our daily/weekly movement, each time we take our supplements, each time we go to bed early instead of staying up late. Moving from “I have to go to the gym” to “I GET to workout”. You can also use positive affirmations to support this perspective shift. Affirmations I really love are; I am committed to my goals I am passionate about health and wellness I am taking care of my mind and body I am taking care of me, for me I am healthy and thriving Building Self Trust This is a big one, how many of you find yourselves being either all or nothing? Especially in relation to health and wellness? We do this because we haven’t yet discovered a middle ground and we do not trust ourselves to be anything other than “all” when we’ve immediately set a goal. We can build self trust through committing to our promises (they do not have to be related to health and wellness), simple things like following through with what you said you would do, trusting your gut instinct, connecting on a deeper level with yourself where you can understand what you need and when and nurturing that relationship so that you can move towards a place of self trust that even if you do not make it to the gym one day or week, that’s ok because you have enough self trust that you know you can easily get back to it, you have enough evidence of making promises and commitments and following through with them. One day/week off the gym doesn’t mean it automatically defaults to ‘nothing’. I have to skip the gym for a few weeks altogether if I’m too swamped with work but I trust myself that I’ll resume when I can, and most importantly when I’m ready. Allow yourself to be in control of your health and well-being rather than it controlling you. Setting Realistic Goals This is an important point, so many of us (me included in the past), set unrealistic goals because they give us an instant dopamine boost. How amazing does it feel to plan that 6am workout the next day and have 1-2 days of eating really strict? It feels great right? Until day 3,4,5,6,7 and you’re burnt out, hating the food you’re eating, wondering what on earth you was thinking and end up defaulting back to prior habits. Now, this isn’t because you’re “not disciplined enough”, it’s because you set an unrealistic expectation without a solid plan in place to support you in achieving those goals, not to mention, they weren't sustainable. We cannot go from one extreme to the other and expect longevity. The key to sustaining healthy habits is by following the habits that you can SUSTAIN long term. Creating a Solid Plan This point is more complex because it requires a lot more examples and information but it might just be the important point. Ok they’re all important but I feel this one need a big fuss. So, a solid plan isn’t just telling yourself in your mind you’ll do xyz. It requires a lot of analysis and reflection. It requires you to understand both your limiting habits as well as the new habits you wish to adopt. If you want to start going for morning workouts and it requires you to be out of bed by a specific time in order to complete the workout, the limiting habit would be staying up late on your phone. If you’re wanting to eat healthy nutritious meals but you didn’t plan to go grocery shopping or prepare anything in advance, it’s going to make it difficult. What I like to do, and I took inspiration from James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, where he talks about reverse engineering your goals. So essentially looking at the end goal, and working backwards. So, for example, if your goal is to improve your overall health and well-being, and say you’d like to get to a point whereby you’re working out 4-5 times per week, you need to understand what is required for that to happen. Will you start with 2 times per week? When will you workout? At what time? What type of workout? Identify all of those things, and then, identify your limiting habits, similarly to the examples I mentioned above. For me, I really love going for a morning walk, but I know if I don’t lay my workout clothes out the night before and put them on as soon as I’m out of bed, I’m not going, because I will get too comfortable, not want to go back upstairs and creep past my daughters bedroom (which has 1 extremely creaky step and wakes her up) and then the walk simply doesn’t happen, and I know that about myself, so instead, I might lay my clothes out downstairs the night before so regardless of whether I remember to get changed right away, I’ll see them when I come down and it will prompt me. You have to apply this very concept to every single one of your goals. Want to start taking vitamins? Do you have them all available? Are they on display to remind you? Can you set a reminder on your phone? Why not take them with breakfast every day so that your breakfast is a prompt. That’s called habit stacking (another James Clear reference), whereby you stack your habits together to combine more into less time and to prompt you to do them much easier. Building Healthy Habits Loosely touching on habit stacking in my previous point, ways in which we can do this is, listening to a podcast when we go for a walk, dry brushing whilst your kettle is boiling (my favourite right now). The habits that come after a non-negotiable are really powerful, such as meditating after you’ve finished your morning coffee, going to the gym after work because say work and your morning coffee are fixed and established in your routine, so by programming your mind to do your new mindful healthy habit after the pre existing one really increases your chances of sustaining it. The cliche saying is ‘it takes 21 days to form a habit’ but I don’t believe that, I believe a habit needs to be continually built every single day until we have enough trust in ourselves that it’s ok if we miss a day or a week that we can bring it right back. The habit must also be optimised based around your life (examples I gave above, whereby it’s integrated into your life and attributed to your goals) in order for it to feel simplified, sustainable and hopefully effortless. But don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t mean that every single workout I cannot wait to do, it just means I get up and show up because that’s my habit and routine, but also knowing when to listen to my mind and body and ease off knowing I have the ability and the habit is deeply ingrained already that I’ll return when I’m ready too and that’s where I want you to get too. Celebrate Milestones This is something not enough people do, we only seem to celebrate the huge big things (and sometimes not even then). It’s important that we celebrate the micro-milestones. Things like, your first morning run, taking your vitamins consecutively for a few days, meditating for 5 minutes vs 2, simply having a quieter mind whilst you meditate, showing up for your journal practice each morning. This really supports self love and that positive feedback loop rather than the negative loop which I spoke about in my introduction. Incorporating Variety and Flexibility: Some people love flexibility and variety, and others like repetition, I’m a blend of both. I’m perfectly ok eating the same thing for lunch every day as it’s one less decision for me to make, whilst I love variety in my workouts, so having 2-3 resistance training days, 1 tennis day, and 1 boxing workout makes me excited for each of my workouts rather than the same thing day in day out. So perhaps consider whether you have enough variety in your nutrition and your method of movement. Can you find an exercise class you absolutely love and it gets you excited? Also being ok with trial and error, I’ve tried so many different workout classes all to find the one that I can’t wait for the next class. (Kobox - London FYI). For some of you, you might also be ex-competitors where resistance training is all we did, plus the cardio during contest prep season so it might feel hard to break out of your regimented routine, but I promise you the more colour and variety you add to your health and wellness, the more enjoyable you will find it and therefore, more sustainable. Accountability + Community Find yourself a support system that can help you in not only being accountable, but to also make this journey more enjoyable. Core Values Last but never least, is core values. You know I love to talk about core values! But I swear by them. By establishing your core values (which assuming one of them relates to health + wellness) allows everything to be so much more effortless. But not only the establishment of these values, but also the very long term goal associated with these values. So for example, my life long goal in relation to health and wellness is to be the agile grandma to my future grandkids, it’s to be the old lady that still plays tennis, is light on her feet and youthful regardless of age, it is to live a long life so that I am around to experience more, and to hopefully live a life that is healthy for as long as it possibly can be. But in order for me to achieve that goal, I have to come all the way back to the present day and ensure that what I do now is meaningful and beneficial to the long term goal. Having this life long goal actually takes the pressure away, there is not a specific deadline or day attached to it, but my efforts will compound over time to help me in working towards that, and because the goal is so attractive and beautiful, it feels second nature to take care of myself today, it almost feels easy. For more information on establishing your core values, listen to Episode 58 of The Real & Raw Podcast To conclude, remember that sustaining your health and wellness goals is not a one-time achievement; it is an ongoing commitment that requires dedication, adaptability, and self-compassion. Embrace the process, for it is in the daily choices, small victories, and even occasional setbacks that true growth occurs. Celebrate every milestone, no matter how small, and use setbacks as stepping stones to propel you forward. Surround yourself with a support system that uplifts and inspires you, and practice self-care to nourish your mind, body, and soul along the way. For more information on sustaining health habits, listen to Episode 21 of The Real & Raw Podcast Here’s to being the healthiest and happiest versions of ourselves. Love and Light, Hx


    MY FAVOURITE SUMMER SALADS I don’t know about you, but something about Summer just makes me crave a vibrant nutrient packed salad and I have 3 on repeat right now that I just had to share with you. #1 - Inspired by Jennifer Aniston Apparently, Jen ate this salad for TEN YEARS on the set of friends, so you know it has to be good! I saw this recipe circulating on social media and it was filled with everything I love, and it was a total success. This salad has been my Summer Go-To for the last two summers. This salad is a not only refreshing but it’s packed with protein from chickpeas, so if you prefer a meat free lunch, this works as a great alternative or if you’re wanting to up the protein, you can add your protein source of choice as you go rather than preparing all together so it stays fresher for longer. I’m really not a ‘measurement’ kind of girl, I find it too complicated, I just make my salads based on approximately how many days I’ll be eating. When I make this salad, it stays in my fridge for four lunches and does not go soggy! If you’re like me who loves removing the “what shall I eat today” out of my day, then this salad is for you. You can make a smaller version by halving all of the ingredients. I also love this to keep in the fridge and serve as a side salad in the evening. Ingredients; Chickpeas (1 tin) Quinoa (I use the Merchant Red and White Quinoa) for efficiency (1 pack) Small red onion (1) Cucumber (½) - I de-seed my cucumber Pomegranate seeds (I use approx ½ a pack) Nuts of your choice (I use walnuts, Jen used pistachios - pecans would also work) (1 handful - and cut them fine so they go throughout the entire salad) Red pepper (1) Fresh mint leaves Fresh parsley leaves Feta cheese (I use approx ½ a block of feta cheese and cut finely or you can use the cubed feta and use as much as you desire) Dressing Olive oil (1-2 TBSP) White wine or balsamic vinegar (Optional) - (1TBSP) Sea Salt Black Pepper Method Microwave your quinoa for a quick 30 seconds and add to a large salad bowl and allow to cool (I prefer to warm it slightly so it’s softer) Dice all ingredients - red pepper and onion should be finely chopped Finely slice your mint and parsley Drain your chickpeas well Pour all ingredients together and use salad spoons to mix well Add your dressing (you can either add this now, or add when you serve) #2 - Everything is peachy! If you love a fruity salad, these next two are for you. I’d love to say I created this recipe on my own, but I didn’t! I always try to look for new recipes but sometimes it’s time consuming. I usually stalk my friend @emthenutritionist on Instagram for my inspiration, but this week during my online food shop I came across a new favourite recipe hub - Waitrose Recipes! What I loved most about this was I could add the ingredients directly to my basket unlike other grocery websites where you have to go and search for them (which can be annoying as you often forget and have to keep coming back to the recipe page!). I made half of this and it served me for one large salad. Due to the moisture in this salad I didn’t want to make too much more and risk the rocket going soggy from the peach juices. So my advice would be to make this one as you go along, it takes less than five minutes! Ingredients Chickpeas, Spinach and Quinoa Pouch (300g) Olive oil (2 tbsp) Balsamic Vinegar - (1 tbsp) Wild rocket (2 handfuls / 30g) Italian Mozzarella (150g) Yellow Flesh Peaches - Sliced (2) Pecans - Roughly chopped (or you could use walnuts) - (20g) Method; Heat the grain pouch according to pack instructions. Meanwhile, whisk together the oil and balsamic vinegar with a pinch of salt. (Allow the grains to cool otherwise the mixture of temperatures is a little unusual) Slice the peaches - try to opt for ripened peaches otherwise they may be a little hard and difficult to cut as well as eat Layer your rocket over the grains, followed by your torn mozzarella and sliced peaches. Spoon over the dressing and serve immediately. Recipe Credit: #3 - Watermelon sugar Hi! I am obsessed with watermelon and feta salads with a sprinkle of mint during the Summer, but I also love halloumi, so when I saw this recipe I just had to try it and I can confirm it’s a solid 10/10. I’m not sure how long this would last in my fridge, I’d say max 2 days vs 4 like recipe #1. Ingredients: Cherry vine tomatoes - cut in halves Watermelon chunks - 450g (I didn’t measure mine) Merchant Gourmet Red & White Quinoa (this is a staple in my pantry) Mint Leaves (½ 25g pack - finely sliced, reserving a few whole leaves) Olive Oil - (5 TBSP) Unwaxed lime, Zest + Juice Halloumi, Sliced (250g) - Again use however much you desire and never let anyone tell you there's too much halloumi in anything - you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. Sumac - ¾ tsp (I’ll be honest, I’ve never tried/used this, and I’m not sure what taste I was looking for, but don’t stress yourself out going to different supermarkets looking for it). Balsamic Vinegar (Not in the original recipe but I added a touch for extra zing) Method; Put the cherry vine tomatoes in a bowl with the watermelon chunks and pouch of quinoa; toss together. Add the mint to the bowl, along with the olive oil and the zest and juice of the lime; season. Slice and pan-fry the halloumi in 2 tsp olive oil until golden, then stir half through the melon mixture. Spoon the salad onto a platter, then top with the remaining halloumi and mint leaves. Sprinkle over the sumac and an extra drizzle of olive oil, if liked. Recipe Credit: Bon appetit! Let me know how you get along with these! Hx


    HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR BODY In a world that often bombards us with unattainable beauty standards and unrealistic body expectations, it's no wonder that many of us struggle with our relationship with our bodies. In 2023, we are all about self love and body confidence, but it wasn’t always this way. From magazine covers to social media feeds, we are constantly surrounded by images that seem to suggest there is only one way to be considered beautiful or worthy. However, the truth is that our bodies are unique, diverse, and deserving of love and acceptance. Working on our relationship with our bodies is a deeply personal and transformative journey. It's about embracing our imperfections, celebrating our strengths, and nurturing ourselves from within. It's not just about physical appearance; it's about the way we feel about ourselves and how we treat our bodies with kindness, respect, and gratitude. Within this blog I will teach you how to replace self-criticism with self-compassion, self-doubt with self-confidence, and self-judgment with self-acceptance. Whether you're just beginning to question society's standards or have been on this journey for some time, this blog is here to support you. It's time to silence the inner critic, appreciate the incredible capabilities of our bodies, and embark on a path of self-discovery and growth. So let me start by explaining the science behind how our body image is created. There is a part of the brain called the parietal, which is responsible for our special and body awareness, as well as sensory perception. The way it does that is by utilising external stimuli (imagery/messaging) to create our perception of the outside world, the way our parents showed us a tree when we were younger and we therefore now know that is a tree, is the same area of the brain that our body image is created in. But the problem is, a tree is a tree, and whilst there are many different types, trees do not have the mass media morphing our perception of reality, through unrealistic beauty standards, the 90’s era of “size zero” or the “Atkins diet”, body shaming celebrities, our mothers, aunties, sisters, whoever always being on a new ‘diet’. This is the external stimuli that warps our interpretation of our own body. If your best friend tells you she “needs'' to lose weight but she’s smaller than you, what does that do to our subconscious mind? The same can be applied to those who are slender in relation to the Brazilian bum and legs era we went through 5 years ago, where muscle on women was the thing society was applauding, what does that do to a woman who has a body type that struggles to gain muscle? It can make her feel like her body is not acceptable. So just know, if you do not feel satisfied with your body, it’s through no fault of your own, and unfortunately, is the world we’ve grown up in for the past 25-30 years, and social media certainly doesn’t help with this. Our brains have been programmed to see our body in warped ways vs reality. It takes a lot more than a few social media posts telling you to “love yourself no matter what” to reframe YEARS of subconscious programming. BUT I can help you with how to start by providing some holistic tips for how we heal the relationship with our bodies. Be Kind to Yourself Be kind and compassionate to yourself during this process, as I mentioned above, it’s not something we can just flick a switch on (despite how much I’d love that to be true) and we all of a sudden love our bodies. I appreciate that each individual will have their own feelings and emotions towards their bodies. So please, be kind to yourself during this healing phase. Be Mindful of External Stimuli Be mindful of the external stimuli, such as media consumption, especially social media, the attitudes of those around you in relation to their bodies. Curate your social media (and your friends) to avoid anything that triggers you. Work on Self Acceptance Self acceptance not only includes accepting the things we can change about ourselves (whether that’s your mind or your body), but it also encompasses accepting that there are things we might want to change to support us in having more self love. This was a big one for me, I had to change some of my thoughts, behaviours and actions so that I could live closer in alignment with my authentic self which therefore generated more self love. Understand Your Self Talk Triggers Are there certain things that make you criticise your body? For example, I used to always tell myself I looked ‘disgusting’ when I’d be in the house in a tracksuit, or if I looked really tired it would trigger me into picking flaws with the rest of my body, not having clothes to wear was another big trigger as then I put more focus on my body. Knowing my triggers allowed me to make really small tweaks, such as wearing nice pyjamas or lounge wear at home (it might sound simple but it allowed me to reprogram my mind away from negative self talk, I then found myself being aware of any time I would talk badly about myself regardless of what it was in relation to), other things like purchasing clothes that made me feel good supported in my positive self talk. Some of these may not be relevant to you but the point is finding your triggers (even if they’re not in relation to your body specifically) and trying to create a plan to avoid them. Use Affirmations (When You’re Ready) Using affirmations to reprogram your subconscious mind. I love an I AM statement BUT they do not work for everyone, and it also depends where you’re at in your journey. I’m not going to tell you to stand in the mirror saying I am beautiful and hey presto you gain 10 points of self love, it doesn’t work like that. When I use affirmations I like to make them really relevant to whatever it is I’m doing or needing, so instead of just telling myself “I am beautiful” I might say, “I am kind to myself” or “I am focused and productive”, I use them in all areas of my life and the byproduct of that is the most positive self talk you use, the better you feel about yourself. Affirmations do not always have to relate directly to the body in order for you to build a better relationship with yourself. Raise Your Self Worth Low confidence and poor relationships with our body generally stem from a place of low self worth. The thing is, we weren't born with low self worth, it happens because of our own personal experiences and challenges, perhaps that bad relationship, or a career challenge has left you feeling low. When we have low self worth and self esteem, it goes hand in hand with having a poor relationship with the way that we look. So by raising our self worth, it certainly helps foster a better relationship with our minds and bodies. It’s not a simple fix to ‘raise your self worth’, it requires us to go on a journey of healing to discover what perhaps contributed to the way we now feel about ourselves and whether there are any habits or behaviours that are supporting you feeling low, such as the kinds of people you’re friends with or dating, or how you physically treat yourself, does that support a positive relationship or hinder it? It takes a lot of self reflection and analysis and the way I advise my clients to that is through journaling and challenging your belief systems. Challenging your belief systems can come from the books you read, the podcasts you listen to, or by hiring a life coach that will ensure your existing beliefs are challenged to support you in re-building new ones that encourage more self worth. Pay Gratitude To Your Body - Shift Your Perspective Gratitude is the art of appreciation. When we practise gratitude it allows us to make a perspective shift. We can do the same thing but with our bodies! Rather than thinking of all the things your body “isn’t”, think about what your body truly does for you. All of the things that make you happy, that bring joy to your life, are all made possible because of this beautiful vessel we call ‘the body’. To conclude, working on our relationship with our bodies is a transformative journey that requires patience, self-compassion, and dedication. It is a process of unlearning societal expectations and embracing our unique beauty and worth. By practising self-acceptance, self-care, and self-love, we can begin to cultivate a healthier and more positive connection with our bodies. Remember that this journey is not linear, and setbacks may arise along the way. But with each step forward, we empower ourselves to appreciate the incredible vessel that carries us through life. Let us continue to support and uplift one another, celebrating the diverse forms of beauty that exist within each of us. By embracing our beautiful journey, we can inspire a collective shift towards body acceptance, liberation, and a more loving relationship with ourselves and our bodies. Love and light, Hx


    OVERCOMING THE FEAR OF TURNING 30 Life is an ever-evolving journey, marked by various milestones and transitions. One such milestone that often brings mixed emotions is turning 30. For many, the approach of this significant age can trigger anxiety, self-reflection, and even a sense of unease. However, it is important to realise that turning 30 is not the end of youth but rather the beginning of a new and exciting chapter. In this blog, I will explore the common fears associated with turning 30 and discuss how to overcome them, and how to embrace this milestone with confidence and optimism. Let’s start by understanding where these fears come from. In my personal opinion I believe society has adopted this fear around the age of 30 due to comparisons made to future generations in relation to milestones. For example, when a family member compares what they did when they were your age, like thanks Grandad, I know you owned a house at 21 but they cost 4p when you were that age, or when they tell you that they were married with three children by the time they were 25. Now before we direct our frustrations at our poor grandparents (or parents/aunties/uncles), it’s important to note, that the generations before us do not mean ill-intent when they make these comments, but regardless it can penetrate our subconscious mind and collectively create this facade that 30 is in fact “old”. When in reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In my mid-20’s I most definitely shared these fears that you may be feeling as you see 30 in the distance, whether near or far. I made fear based decisions that would propel my life into a direction that I thought it had to go in order to stay on this time-frame. I’m talking, the 4-bed detached house, with the range rover on the driveway, two dogs with the talks of having children all before I was 26 just to ensure I ticked all of those ‘life goal’ boxes before the big 3.0. I did in-fact achieve those goals, minus the child before the age of 26, and do you know what? I have never been more miserable. In my gut I knew I’d rushed every single decision and tried to get in the way of the universe's divine timing. What I truly believe, and allow this to be open to your own interpretation is that the universe has a path already mapped out for us, and each time we try and intervene we’re faced with set-backs/challenges or total road-blocks (this is the way the universe re-routes you). Once I deepened my spiritual beliefs to adopt and deepen this belief I surrendered and handed my trust over to the universe to guide me on my path. As I approached 30, I did so with so much excitement for a new chapter rather than dread. I completely changed my perspective on what it meant to turn 30 and here’s exactly what I did, and what you can do too. Re-define Success As we approach our thirties, it is common to assess our achievements and compare them to societal expectations. However, it's crucial to redefine success on your own terms. Focus on personal growth, fulfilment, and happiness rather than conforming to arbitrary standards. Recognize that everyone's path is unique, and there is no right or wrong way to navigate through life. Check out my episode on Defining Success > Episode 42 Embrace Self-Acceptance Embracing self-acceptance is a powerful tool in overcoming any fears you have about your age or accomplishments. By practicing self-acceptance, it allows us to also learn self-compassion and teaches us how to be kinder to ourselves and not to compare ourselves to others when we are more rooted in who we truly are. Celebrate your achievements, talents, and the person you have become, knowing that you are constantly evolving and improving. Check out my episode on Self Acceptance + Self Love > Episode 54 and Episode 33 on Self Love vs Self Acceptance Prioritise Personal Growth Your thirties can be a time of incredible personal growth. Embrace new challenges, explore your passions, and invest in self-improvement. Whether it's learning a new skill, pursuing further education, or taking up a hobby, prioritize your personal development. By focusing on growth, you will find confidence and a renewed sense of purpose. If you feel you have been doing all of these things, or need a helping hand, consider hiring a life coach to support you during this time. Check out my episode on Life Coaching > Episode 36 Embrace Change It is in our basic human design to change and evolve. Embrace turning 30 (or any age for that matter) rather than resisting it. Understand that change brings opportunities for growth and new experiences. Be open to new possibilities and take risks that align with your dreams and aspirations. Remember that stepping outside your comfort zone is where true personal growth occurs. Cultivate Strong Relationships Entering your thirties is an excellent time to reflect on your friendships and relationships. It was a turbulent time in my life when I really started to analyse my friendships, and the people I had around me. I’ve never had the best luck with friendships up until I turned 30 and that’s simply because my self-worth was driving those friendships and relationships, so once I worked on raising my self-worth I understood who were the kind of people I wanted to be surrounded with, rather than surrounding myself with people I thought I should, or even friends that weren’t friends where I tried so hard to keep those friendships alive (FYI if you have to try to keep a friendship alive, it’s already dead and gone). Surround yourself with positive, supportive individuals who uplift and inspire you. Nurture meaningful connections and let go of toxic relationships that no longer serve you. Remember that quality is more important than quantity when it comes to friendships and relationships. If you’re single, don’t allow the decisions you make to be driven out of fear when it comes to looking for a partner. I'm talking about overlooking red flags because you ‘better settle down soon’. Once you raise your self-worth, become more self aware and confident you will attract people that are on that same wave-length and will treat you how you deserve to be treated, but if you rush and settle out of fear, you’re again, standing in the way of meeting your true soulmate (who may be JUST around the corner). Check out this episode on Friendships > Episode 23 Embody a Healthy Lifestyle: As you enter your thirties, taking care of your physical and mental well-being becomes increasingly important. At any age in life, our bodies go through changes, so if you’re feeling particularly insecure or mindful about aging, adopting a healthy lifestyle is going to support in maintaining a youthful mind and body. Cultivate mindfulness and stress-management techniques to maintain emotional equilibrium. A healthy body and mind will contribute to your overall well-being and help you approach this new chapter with vitality. Check out this episode on living a healthier lifestyle > Episode 21 Focus on the Present: While it's natural to reflect on the past and contemplate the future, it's vital to focus on the present moment. Appreciate where you are in life and the journey you have undertaken. Set realistic goals for the future but also enjoy the present without constantly worrying about what lies ahead. Remember, life is a series of moments, and being fully present in each one is what truly matters. Going from 30-31 vs any other year was so pivotal for me because I took the steps I’m recommending for you to take, I felt like all the fear, doubt and worries of my 20’s just faded away and everything slotted into place. I promise you, you are not alone in the fears you share, but always remember, our fears are simple False Evidence Appearing Real. 30 is not ‘just a number’, it is a chance to really become a woman. Use this time to come into your own, to become more rooted in who you are. I promise you won’t regret it. If you’re struggling with managing your fears - Check out Episode 63 - Your Fears Are Clues | A Guide on Facing Your Fears and Becoming Fearless And lastly, please watch 13 going on 30 on your 30th birthday like I did and just have a complete nostalgia overload! Love and light, Hx


    A BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO SELF-LOVE: NURTURING A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP WITH YOURSELF In a world that often emphasizes external validation and perfection, cultivating self-love is a powerful act of self-care and personal growth. Loving yourself unconditionally, embracing your flaws, and prioritizing your well-being are essential ingredients for a fulfilled and balanced life. This beginner's guide to self-love will provide you with practical steps to embark on a journey of self-discovery, acceptance, and empowerment. But before we start, I want to mention and highlight that ‘self-love’ is not something we should just have, it's something we must cultivate and there's a plethora of different ways of how to do that. Your self-love journey is unique to you, and dependent upon your past experiences, your upbringing or prior relationships may determine how easy or challenging this journey is. So don’t let social media make you think that self-love is something that you’ll get automatically once you’ve put a face-mask on and taken yourself for a walk, unfortunately, it’s a lot more vigorous than that! Work on Self-Acceptance A huge myth when it comes to self-love is the notion that we need to love ourselves regardless and accept every flaw and who we are right in that present moment, which whilst it’s some or that, it’s not the full picture. For me, self-acceptance comes before self-love, but self acceptance to me also means, accepting the fact there are things that we need to change in order to love ourselves more. There might be things you can identify very quickly, or through journaling or upon reflection that you can say that if you changed those things, self-love may be something that feels in closer proximity. I’ll tell you a little story about what this meant for me. So back in the infancy of my self development journey, I had to ask myself uncomfortable questions like “why do I attract people like xyz” or “why am I having challenges amongst my relationships/friendships” as well as “am I comfortable in the way I present myself” and a lot of answers came up, I had to realise that perhaps I was too stubborn in my relationship and that was causing friction, perhaps I was looking for the wrong things in people that meant I attracted the wrong people for me, perhaps the problem to some degree was my own behaviours (that shit is really hard to face and realise!) trust me, it wasn’t a one page of a journal kind of realisation, it happened over time, after each challenge or difficulty I had to stop blaming others and take a good hard look at myself and have the courage to say “Ok let me work on those things”. Changing those things about myself allowed me to love myself, it allowed me to have a life I was so proud of filled with people that are right for me. I have so much compassion towards that prior version of me who knew less than I know now because she had the courage to change. Check out this episode on Self Acceptance and Self Love - Episode 33 Practice Self-Compassion: Self-compassion is the foundation of self-love. Treat yourself with kindness, understanding, and forgiveness, just as you would a close friend, family member or your children. Acknowledge that you are human and prone to mistakes and setbacks. Replace self-criticism with self-compassion, offering support and encouragement in challenging times. One of the things I started to do when I became a mother was telling myself “If I wouldn’t say it to my daughter, then I don’t say it about myself” and that was such a great way at me to reprogram my negative self-talk into self-compassion. I truly believe self-compassion is the key to setting us free and allowing us to let go of the shackles of the past. Prioritize Self-Care: We see #selfcare all the time on social media, and you might think “and when on earth do I have time for that” - Don’t worry, self-care doesn’t have to always be an hour of soaking in the tub. It can be small, and simple rituals like ensuring that you take your vitamins and drink your water, having a nap or sleeping in, simply turning your phone on do not disturb mode, not skipping meals, or saying no and protecting your time and peace instead of always saying yes and pleasing everyone else but yourself. Self-love thrives when self-care becomes a priority. Take the time to nurture your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Engage in activities that bring you joy and recharge your energy. This could include practicing mindfulness, engaging in regular exercise, maintaining a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and indulging in hobbies and passions. Cultivate Positive Self-Talk: Now this might be one of the hardest steps in a self-love journey, and often people think it’s one of the only steps. We’re not born talking poorly to ourselves, it happens because of something someone has said to us along the way, how we were talked to by our parents when we made mistakes when we were younger, or simply not being taught how to soothe yourself during difficult times when you do make a mistake for example (we all make mistakes, its part of being a human!). The way I like to recommend my clients to start with improving their self talk is by firstly being mindful of your inner dialogue. If you catch yourself saying something out loud or in your head that is negative, write it down in the notes on your phone and then ask yourself “Would I say that to my best friend, loved one, child?”. That process alone can be really emotional, because it often takes us by surprise. Another way I stopped my negative self-talk was physically saying out loud whenever I thought something negative about myself was “No, we do not do that anymore ''. That’s your inner cheerleader telling your inner critic who’s boss. Once you’re aware of your inner critic, you can start looking to replace the negative self-talk with positive affirmations and empowering statements that remind you of your strengths, accomplishments and unique qualities. These statements generally start with “I Am”. Initially it might feel strange for you to say them (and no you don’t have to say them in the mirror for them to work) you can say them silently in your own mind and they still have the power to rewire your subconscious mind. I use positive affirmations all the time, and not just for self-love, but for comfort. If I’m going through a stressful time I love to remind myself “I am protected, I am safe, I am on the right path”. They truly are powerful, I’m a big believer in making them unique to you rather than copied and pasted off the internet. It’s more authentic. Treat yourself with kindness and encouragement, building a foundation of self-belief and self-confidence. Set Healthy Boundaries: Setting boundaries is an act of self-respect and self-love. Understand your limits and communicate them effectively to others. Learn to say "no" when necessary, prioritizing your needs and well-being. Surround yourself with people who respect and support your boundaries, nurturing healthy relationships. Setting boundaries, initially can feel extremely daunting but they are incredibly beneficial for protecting your peace and strengthening the relationship you have with yourself. Each time you say no to everyone else's demands or requests you say yes to yourself. Setting boundaries isn’t about saying no to absolutely everything, it’s about knowing when you want to say no, and listening to what need. For example, you’ve had a crazy busy week at work and your friends asking you to go out but you really wanted to stay home and have a restful weekend so you feel recharged for the week, a beautiful way of setting a boundary would be “Thank you for the invite, I’ve had a really busy week so I’m going to take it easy. Could we grab a coffee instead next week. Would love to see you” - this way you are providing a more convenient option for you. But if you really don’t want to see that friend, just omit the follow up suggestion! Check out this episode all about People Pleasing and Setting Boundaries - Episode 47 Let Go of Perfectionism: Perfectionism can be a roadblock to self-love. Release the pressure to be flawless and embrace the beauty of being perfectly imperfect. Accept that making mistakes is a natural part of growth and learning. Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small, and focus on progress rather than perfection. Practice Mindfulness and Self-Reflection: Cultivate mindfulness by being fully present in the moment. Take time to reflect on your thoughts, emotions, and experiences without judgement. Mindfulness enhances self-awareness and helps you identify patterns and triggers that may hinder self-love. Journaling or meditation can be powerful tools to foster self-reflection and self-discovery. Check out this episode on “Everything You Need To Know About Journaling” - Episode 28 Surround Yourself with Positivity: Evaluate the influence of your environment on your self-perception. Surround yourself with positive influences, supportive friends, and inspirational role models. Minimize exposure to negativity, including toxic relationships, social media comparison, and self-deprecating content. Curate a positive and empowering space that uplifts and encourages you. You may need to detach from certain people or remove them from your life entirely. I love the quote “Some people are in our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime”. Sometimes we have to remove people and their access to us, so that we can live a more authentic life. Check out this episode on “How To Break Up With Your Friends” - Episode 23 Celebrate Self-Expression: Discover your hobbies, passions, interests, and creative outlets. Engage in activities that allow you to express your true identity, whether through art, music, writing, or any other form of self-expression. Celebrate your uniqueness and let your light shine. By doing this you will feel closer to your authentic self. You can find out more about your true passions and hobbies through journaling about the things you used to find enjoyable as a child or young adult and revisiting them, trial and error with new hobbies to see where you find enjoyment. Seek Support and Connection: Self-love is not a solitary journey. Reach out to trusted friends, family, or professionals such as a life coach who can offer guidance and support during this journey. Find online or in person communities and surround yourself with people that share your values and provide encouragement along the way. Not only will you feel more supported but you will feel a greater sense of life satisfaction when you are surrounded by like minded uplifting individuals. I hope this blog has allowed you to see self-love beyond the Instagram posts or the surface level references we see online. Embracing self-love is a transformative journey that requires patience, practice, and self-compassion. By prioritizing self-care, cultivating positive self-talk, setting boundaries, practicing mindfulness, embracing imperfections. If you’d like to join a community of like minded women, you can stay up to date with my latest events by subscribing to the Real & Raw newsletter, and ensuring you’re following the Real & Raw Instagram Channel @thisisrealandraw


    HOW NOT TO LOSE YOUR IDENTITY AS A MOTHER HELEN DERBYSHIRE - 5 MINUTE READ If you’re a new mom, soon to be mom, or your children might be older. You’ve landed on this blog for a reason, perhaps you’re worried about losing your identity, or you’re wanting to regain it. When we have a child, our bodies undergo so many mental and physical changes, our roles as mothers become an all consuming one, especially in those early days. Regardless of whether you have a support system in place, it can still feel like an overwhelming time, especially whilst your hormones are going hay-wire. Maybe one day, you’ve found yourself covered in vomit stains, with hair on top of your head, on the 9th melt down of the day (yours, not the childs) and quite frankly asking yourself “how the f*ck did this happen”. The problem I find with social media is it portrays motherhood to be either, a fairytale dream where we’re skipping through the fields of gold with our breastfeeding child hanging off our nipple with flowers in our hair, or the complete opposite, when you become the last priority, you’re constantly overstimulated, your children drain everything from you, and that’s just your life for the foreseeable future. But what if I told you that it doesn’t have to be any of those things? What if I told you that you can be both a loving calm mother, as well as having your own hobbies, personality and identity. I find what happens in most instances, is new mums (myself included in the early days) look externally for support, tips and tricks on how to do this thing called ‘parenting’ because it’s the first time we’ve ever done it. But what happens is we also find ourselves open to comparison, and then we adopt a ‘should’ mentality. What is a ‘should’ mentality you might be thinking - you all know the one “I should be with my child every second of every day” “I should have all this figured out” “I should put everyone needs above my own because that’s what good people do” Should, guilt and resentment are all very close friends. When you use the word ‘should’ to curate the decisions and actions in your life, you put yourself in a box, a box of society's definition of a ‘good mother’ (or anything for that matter). This is when guilt and resentment are living their best lives inside your mind which feels like emotional torment. How can you possibly have your own identity when you feel guilty for doing anything for yourself? How can you possibly have your own identity when you do not respect your own boundaries? Having your own identity as a mother, I feel, contributes to a happier healthier motherhood journey and in turn, a happier calmer child. Think about it, those times when you feel overwhelmed, stressed (and definitely resentful if you never take time for yourself), we have less patience and mental capacity to hold space for all 8375 emotions that our child may have that day, let alone space for our own. It makes your ability to be the parent you want to be, and that your child needs you to be, that much harder. I’m not for one moment suggesting that you go and find hours on end for yourself, I’m suggesting shifting your perspective from “I’m my child's mother” to “ I am also (your name)” - you can also list all the other roles that you are, but the primary focus is you. Then, you’re going to want to establish what are the things that make you you; Your hobbies and interests Your friendships Dressing in a way that makes you feel really good about yourself (but doesn’t feel like a chore to do it) - what are some non-negotiable things you can do, is it making sure your hair is always done, maybe it’s your makeup, maybe it’s something as simple as making sure you got your shower that morning and a cup of tea that was warm. (For me, it used to be a solo morning walk, and if I couldn’t do that, it would be my reading - even 20 minutes in the morning before my daughter woke up). Your eating habits - so many of us, when we have other mouths to feed, prioritise our own last - is there something you can carve out in your day where you make time to eat something nourishing (It can be a simple meal - it’s not about the contents of the meal but it’s about reminding yourself that “I’m important too” Hobbies and interests are a great one for developing your own identity, as it allows you to explore them more and know what to carve time out for within your day or week. For me, it was reading, so I always make sure that I find time to read, usually in the morning before my daughter wakes, but before she woke up at a consistent time, it was more of a ‘when I can’ type of mentality, but I knew if I did that, it would help me feel like I took that time out for me. So think about what it is for you and start small, you don’t need to have all of the above identified on day one, but you might see something that stands out to you and feels really manageable to make time for, as I said, it could be a hot cup of tea or coffee and 5 minutes to yourself. The lesson here is found in how you feel in that moment, when you remind yourself that “I have needs to” and the more we fulfil them, the better we are for those around us. Slowly but surely, and depending on your child's age, you will start to notice you see more opportunities and pockets of time for yourself. For example, if you found 5 minutes for your hot drink and moment of peace, you’ll realise how good that feels, and start looking for extra moments for yourself once you realise that all hell doesn’t break loose when you take time for YOU. I am exceptionally passionate about mothers prioritising self-care and self love, it really is such an overwhelming journey at times, but I want to remind you that it doesn’t make you any better of a parent to neglect yourself. I appreciate some days, your children may take every ounce of your energy and you may simply have none left for anything else, but those are the days when you need self-care the most. (Remember - self-care can look like going to bed early, it could be sitting in a quiet room for 5-10 minutes and catching a break, it can be going for a walk, it can be cancelling plans if they’re overwhelming you amongst all your other duties). It may require for you to communicate with your partner or family about getting their support especially if you are a mother of multiple children who all have a variety of needs. But the task starts with you getting in touch with yourself more so you know what to ask for, so that your needs can be met too. Slowly but surely and overtime, you will start to carve out more time and space for yourself, that alone will help you define or find your identity, you will appreciate your own company more, you will see the value it has on your overall well-being and you'll be able to set boundaries more and more around your personal time because it will become important to you. To conclude, it's important that everything is realistic for you. Some of my tips and comments may not resonate with your current dynamic, but they may in the future. I first started carving out intentional time for myself when my daughter was 4-5 months old and because it helped me so much, I maintained it and make it a priority, but until that point I physically did not have the mental capacity to factor in any hobbies of my own and was merely in survival mode! So if you're a new mom, don't be too hard on yourself, ride the wave, and know that it will pass and you will again have time for yourself. Remember: YOU ARE IMPORTANT TOO. I hope you enjoyed this motherhood blog, and if you’d love to hear more on motherhood, you can head over to the Real and Raw Podcast!


    IS ARGUING BAD FOR YOUR RELATIONSHIP? HELEN DERBYSHIRE - 5 MINUTE READ The term arguing tends to have a negative connotation, but what if I told you that it could be transformative for your relationship if done correctly? When we think about arguing we think of raised voices, hurtful words exchanged, apologies (not always), and usually one if not both people left feeling upset, low and hurt. Regardless of the way you argue it is still a method of communication. One of you, or both of you have something on your mind that you have to express, however the way in which you express it may be counterproductive for the desired outcome. A very important point to make here is that sometimes you will be upset, pissed off and hurt and therefore emotions will be high and if you do not have the communication skills to express those emotions and thoughts, it may come out as those raised voices and frustration. However on the flip side, you or somebody you know may be the type of person who refuses to argue and disagree which can also be extremely difficult for you / the other person if you or they need a place to express themselves. Suppression of feelings, thoughts and emotions may lead to resentment within your relationship so it’s so important that you always hold space for such conversations regardless of how difficult they are to have (and vice versa, you should always be given a space to express yourself within your relationship). Arguing should never be seen as taboo, bad or wrong. However, hurtful words exchanged and the game of who can win, should be avoided. So let’s get into that… In all instances they will be vice versa, you may be the one who does these things so be mindful what to look out for in both yourself, your partner and your relationship as a whole. Your partner has done or said something that upset you, perhaps you bottled it up, or you let it blow straight away (which usually is because of an accumulation of things that rub you the wrong way / hurt or upset you built up overtime causing the explosion of emotions). This build up causes deeper emotions to fester, perhaps you felt a little annoyed initially, and now you feel resentful, you start to look at all of the other things they do and do not do within your relationship, and now you’ve really frustrated so you say “I’m sick of you always doing X, why do you never do ___” and it comes out as a verbal attack. What happens then is your partner feels extremely attacked, which gets their back up and you go back and forth in this game of hurtful word ping pong, they react to your attack, you say something more hurtful, they tell you they can’t do this anymore, you think how dare you say that when THEY are the one who caused the problem initially, so you one-up them desperate to get your point across, and this back and forth continues until one of you is so hurt you break down, walk away or just continue until you’re quite frankly emotionally exhausted. Regardless of how long it takes for you to make up again, perhaps you don’t even apologise and you go back to normal life or perhaps you agree to disagree or one of you forces the other to admit they’re wrong and the other surrenders. Regardless of the outcome, you’re left feeling unsatisfied and the intimacy within your relationship (not sexual intimacy) just connection has been impacted. You then are fearful in the future to have further disagreements in case they end the way the last interaction did so you start to suppress even more and the cycle continues. This is because there is a potential trust issue between you both, trust that the other will not threaten to end the relationship for example, which is why you may avoid conflict. It is important that you both work together to create a SAFE space where you can both freely express yourselves regardless of how difficult that may be for you or the other person to hear those thoughts and feelings. What makes arguing (communication) helpful, productive and beneficial is realising you are both on the same team, even if the other did something that really pissed you off, you want to work together to express how that made you feel and for your partner to listen and support and make you feel good again (and vice versa). Here are my top 10 tips for arguing (communicating) effectively within a relationship… 1. Working as a TEAM - this is not a competition of who is right or wrong, sometimes you’re both right and sometimes you’re both wrong, it shouldn’t matter if you’re both wanting to work towards the goal of a peaceful relationship 2. Be solution focused 3. You must have self awareness - awareness of how you communicate 4. Talk in a way that resonates with your partner - yours and your partner's needs may be totally different, this needs to be considered when we want to get a point across. 5. Use I statements instead of YOU. “ I feel sad / frustrated / hurt when you do / do not do X” is much better than “You hurt me when you did X”. Although it feels very similar, you and your partner are always likely to receive this better 6. Use empathy and compassion when communicating, try and zoom out from your point of view and try and see it from a different perspective, you may be able to see that yes your partner hasn’t been helping you around the house for example, but they have been really stressed with work. Now that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be supporting you, but it does allow you to lead with compassion. For example “I know you have been really busy / stressed with work lately, I am feeling overwhelmed by everything that needs doing around the house”. 7. Never invalidate your partner's feelings or allow them to do the same to yours. Even if you think what they feel or say is ‘irrational, silly, or them being ‘insecure’, you / they do not get to decide how you are feeling. Try replying to your partner's thoughts and feelings with “I can appreciate that is difficult for you” for example rather than “OMG that is ridiculous”. 8. Work on creating a SAFE space. A safe space is where things can be said and expressed without the other one interrupting the other, or reacting to what the other person has said. 9. Even if your partner really hurts your feelings by expressing themselves, it doesn’t authorise for you to attempt to hurt them back (and vice versa) and if you ever experience this, respond “I know what I said may have been difficult for you to hear, however your hurtful words are not beneficial to this argument and I will be taking myself out of this situation if you continue to use such words against me” (or words to that effect). 10. If you find it difficult to maintain your cool within a disagreement, or if your partner struggles whilst you work on your communication skills. Perhaps you both have a ‘take a break’ strategy. Perhaps this is a word you can use, a phrase you can use or a simple explanation of “when we spoke about disagreements in the past, we agreed when it became heated we would walk away and revisit later, for me this is becoming heated so I’m going to take myself out of the situation, this doesn’t mean I am ignoring what you have to say but right now, it’s becoming really difficult for me”. Likewise if your partner says this back to you, just know they are not abandoning you, they are just taking a breather for the outcome of a calmer discussion at a later time. This is actually a BONUS and a huge sign of good communication skills. To summarise Step 1: Develop your self awareness of how you are truly feeling Step 2: Think about the situation and think about how a solution could be found prior to communicating with your partner (you could always spend time journaling about this first) Step 3: Use I statements when expressing your needs/wants/frustrations Step 4: Lead with compassion Step 5: Propose a solution or find one together Step 6: Always remember that hurtful words are not beneficial to the outcome - Remember, you are on the same team! Step 7: Not every attempt at communication will result in finding a solution, you may need to revisit it, one of you may become upset and that’s ok and totally normal!

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