Oct 10

Drive a 45ft truck – Check!

passing drivers testI have always loved driving! I passed my driver’s test first time, I don’t have any penalties on my license and I’ve only reversed into a lamppost once! So from early on I started to set my sights higher and have always said to family and friends, ‘One day I am going to drive a coach or a bus or a truck!’ And last week I did just that! I drove a 45ft truck on an ‘Into The Blue’ driving experience and it was awesome!

 

Life long goals or Bucket list?

Whatever you call your goals, experience days are a perfect way to meet them. Up until now the biggest vehicle I’d ever driven was an 18 seater minibus – which seemed like a coach the day I picked it up. When I sat in that drivers seat only a couple of years after passing my test, I looked in the rear view mirror and thought ‘how far back does this minibus go?!’ So here I am a few decades later and I can now say I have driven a 45ft truck!

 

Experience days

Experience days have been on the increase over the last 25 years when they first took off here in the UK by entrepreneur Rachel Elnaugh and her company Red Letter Days and have increased in the range of activities you can experience. It used to be the usual Spa days or Racing car days but now you can choose from Afternoon Tea to Flying lessons or Vineyard tours and wine tasting to Meet the Meerkats!

Of course my family have always known of my dream to drive something big and last year Christmas my teenage children bought me this experience day for my Christmas gift. Needless to say, I was over the moon! Of course my family have always known of my dream to drive something big and last year Christmas my teenage children bought me this experience day for my Christmas gift. Needless to say, I was over the moon!

 

What can you do?

The gift voucher was with a company called ‘Into The Blue’ based in Kent, UK and they have been,as their strapline says, ‘Making Memories Since 1996’. They were founded out of the world renowned Biggin Hill International Air Fair and as such they specialised in aviation activities but soon branched out into other activities. Now you can choose from well over a hundred different experiences ranging from flying, driving and water sports, outdoor activities such as Falconry, Clay Pigeon shooting, Animal experiences and ‘Zorbing’ whatever that is! Then there are the creative experiences such as dance lessons, photography and DJ sessions and the classic pampering, gourmet cooking, days out and short breaks. Something for everyone.

 

Booking online

The first thing I needed to do was to activate my gift by going online and registering with my voucher number and pin code which came as part of my gift package which I might add came in a smart contemporary blue metal case. I then had to call a number and book a date. However, I always do a bit of research with companies I don’t know anything about or events I’ve never been to. So I went online and read people’s comments on their driving experiences. Amongst all the encouraging positive things said, the one thing that stood out were warnings not to book your day when any major races or events were taking place at the venue as it could mean you don’t get your full allotted time.

Armed with this information I searched on the Rockingham website and eliminated race days and other main events and then lined up what was left with dates I was free. I then called ‘Into The Blue’ where a pleasant customer service staff member went through all the details and booked me in for the August Bank Holiday Monday. Remember I got this gift from my children for Christmas but it is up to you when you register and book your experience. I eventually remembered to book around May time and already dates were being snatched up.

 

D-Day Truck day!

So the day arrived and I was filled with anticipation and some trepidation and my husband son and Father travelled with me, 20 miles to the prestigious Rockingham Race Track, Corby, UK and attempted to find our way to the experience. I say attempted because it wasn’t very clear where to go for the car parking or for the experience day. When we finally found the event personnel there were quite vague and didn’t know who was collecting us or when. Eventually they told me that I would have to wait another hour as the Into the Blue people keep booking too many people together for the same time slots! I guess all the above could have opened the floodgates of negativity with the potential to spoil my day…but guess what? I didn’t allow it! I saw other people getting upset but I decided that there was no benefit to me or anyone else in stressing out over these things and it was more beneficial to stay in peace. As I remained patient I actually got a longer session with my instructor and I didn’t have to share my session with anyone else!

 

It was easy!

But it wasn’t simple! Peter was my instructor and showed me the basics. The truck was described as a 45ft German 440hp MAN truck pulling a 45ft Supercar Transporter. I got into the passenger side first of all, (it was a beauty of a beast to climb up into!) and Peter drove us to the designated area for me to have my drive. He went through the controls and I was pleased to find out it was an automatic with that wonderful hiss of the air brake systems, every time the brake was applied. And as I watched Peter driving he bounced up and down on this massive seat air suspension system. And wow, was there power in that accelerator!

When I got into the driver’s seat, which was like floating on air, and i looked into the enormous wing mirrors, it was then that I realised how very long 45 feet was! And I had to learn to manoeuvre that beast around corners. Let me ask you, have you ever been at a junction where a long truck or bus or coach wants to turn into the road you are in? And they come up so so close as if they are about to hit your vehicle? And then just in the nick of time, they turn their vehicle so that the whole length of their vehicle swings round and misses you and doesn’t mount the pavement? Well, naah, nah nah naah, nah…I can do that now! 🙂 It was easy – NARRRT! You have to keep on resisting the urge to turn until right at the last possible moment and THEN turn and you look back through your monster wing mirrors and see your long truck just swing round that corner – so smooth and graceful.

 

Highly recommended!

It was exhilarating and every time I drove past by my family I could tell that they were as excited about it as I was. I had fulfilled one of my dreams to drive a truck and a big truck at that. Even though there were a few hiccups along the way I would thoroughly recommend it as an experience to go for.

But if trucking is not your thing, you can choose from one of the many options mentioned above. And even if someone else bought you a truck driving experience and you didn’t like the sound of it, you could swap your experience for another one. If the cost of your new chosen experience is greater, you just pay the difference and if less, you can choose a second voucher or save the credit to use at a later date. And remember to book your day early enough to get the date you want.

 

What next?

Well for me could it be a new career in truck driving? Perhaps star on the hit Canadian TV show Ice Road Truckers? Ha, I think not. In fact when I suggested I would love to drive this for a living, Peter quickly retorted, ‘Oh know you wouldn’t!’ We laughed and I ended my day with a picture with my star instructor for the day in front of my juggernaut and happy memories.

I would go for it if I were you? And if you want to treat someone to a truck experience you could get a good deal if you keep looking out for one. Right now Into the Blue have reduced the normal price for the truck experience from £99 down to £49!  So there’s always good deals to be had. Within no time at all you could or someone you love could be enjoying experience days too. You too could be checking off activities on your bucket list or your life long goals. Why not share your experience too!

Drive a 45ft truck? Check!

10-7!

(That’s ‘signing off’ for you non-trucker people! LOL!)

 

Dawn

Dawn

Dawn is a qualified Science Teacher and Community Worker in the UK. She has a passion for empowering and boosting confidence through writing, public speaking and communicating her thoughts and research online.

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Jul 05

Walking Towards A Goal – Update

Way, way back in 2015, May 9th to be exact, I walked 5km in the Waendel Walk in Wellingborough, where I live in Northamptonshire, UK. I was walking towards a goal to raise funds to open up a school holiday lunch provision – you can read all about this amazing project called called MakeLunch in the article I wrote last year.  Parents of children who would have free school meals do not suddenly have extra money available to pay for the extra meals needed whilst school is out and so many children do not even have one square meal a day. It’s a terrible state of affairs to be going on in the UK!

Back then we raised £118.05! A year on and we are still preparing to start the project. The organization has changed its process and we have to run the project as a Franchise, which means we have to raise a few more pennies. It’s all good though – I can see the real benefits to setting up the project in this way. It will mean more consistency as projects get set up around the country and a greater sharing of good practice too.

 

Am I still walking?Walking towards a goal - update

Oh yes indeed! And I am still challenging myself. Well I should say, my daughter is challenging me! Whilst browsing the internet she came across the Alzheimer’s society, ‘Memory Walk’ and there and then she persuaded me to join her in a 10K walk around our home town of Bedford. And we did just that. On October 10th last year, I completed my first 10K walk and raised over £100! Whoop! Whoop! Here’s my medal and T-shirt.

 

 

 

We had a such a good time!

Country Park

Bedford Priory Country Park

Again just like my first walk, I experienced the beautiful countryside around me but this time it was tinged with a little bit of sadness…I was born and bred in Bedford and lived there for 41 years and had never walked around the 250 acre Bedford Priory Country Park like I did on that sunny day in October.

Why do we do that? Live somewhere all our lives and never venture further than home to school or from home to work and back again? If you get anything from this article, please get this post – go and investigate your home town and it surroundings – it’s probably going to amaze you! Anyway, I digress!

 

 

 

 

If You Were Wondering… fundraising goals

I really didn’t realise how valuable the money raised for this charity is. The chart on the right shows the different aspects of the work that the Alzheimer’s society do.

One of my friends from work sponsored me and she was telling her Father about the walk and he generously sponsored me too. Why? Because he himself was beginning to show the symptoms of Alzheimer’s too and he was so grateful for the support that the Alzheimer’s society was giving him and his wife on various aspects of living and coping with the disease. Well that secured it for me. I now knew first hand that the society was making a difference in someone’s life. Sadly, he passed away a few months later which is why we must keep on supporting these great causes as they research a cure. Someone else sponsored me because they had watched a loved one suffer with the illness too. On the actual walk nearly every other walker wore a sports vest or a specially printed T-shirt labelled in memory of someone close to them that had succumbed to the disease.

 

Memories

And so they kept the memories alive of those who once walked with them in life. But of course one of the well-known symptoms of Alzheimer’s is the losing of precious memories, where the person you now care for is not the person you once knew – that’s so painful to watch. So, when you next see someone collecting for Alzheimer’s Society or advertising for funds on the TV, stop and think how precious memories are and do something to help improve their quality of living and perhaps soon save a life. Walking towards a goal will hopefully have a profound effect on all our futures someday soon.

 

And there’s more… waendel walk 2016 15k

Guess what I did next? Does May and the funny name Waendel mean anything to you by now? Yes, I started off this post with the news that I had walked 5K on the 2015 Waendel Walk. Well this year, although I was recovering from an illness that knocked me for six, as the expression goes, my daughter AGAIN persuaded me to do my second Waendel Walk. She was walking to support her friend who was going to Morocco with ‘Original Volunteers’ and we walked, not 5, not 10 but 15K!!! It took us around 4 hours, over 29,000 steps, (smashing my 10,000 steps per day target!) and there were times when I thought I am not going to make it…but we did and my daughter raised £70 to help her friend who lives in Oxford, go and help children in Morocco, refurbishing their orphanage and doing various children’s work activities. Read more about what the organisation does here. I just walked to support her and I think she’s amazing – walking to help a friend like that!

 

So What’s Next?

Yes I hear what you’re all saying…’so next year you’re going to just keep increasing that goal.’ Well, I’m not so sure about that! You see, you don’t know what the next category after 15K is do you? You would expect a 20K route but oh no! They must think if you’ve done 15K you can do anything because it jumps right up to 25K!!!… I can hear my daughter already! So I’ll keep you posted on my walking health and the MakeLunch project that we hope to see up and running for the October mid-term school break.

I shouldn’t grumble because here at balancing the real you, this is what I’m supposed to be doing setting goals to balance my life and improve my well being. I hope you are inspired to walk and get healthy too but to also think about walking towards a goal that helps others along the way – you’ll be surprised at how far it will take you!

Dawn

Dawn is a qualified Science Teacher and Community Worker in the UK. She has a passion for empowering and boosting confidence through writing, public speaking and communicating her thoughts and research online.

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Aug 17

What is the REAL definition of love?

We’ve all heard the term ‘Jesus loves you!’ It’s used meaningfully by Christians and it’s also used to make fun of Christians and their faith. Either way it doesn’t detract from an important fact I’m about to share with you. Let’s find out what is the REAL definition of love!

It’s actually not about Jesus loving YOU!

Yes we know that love is more than an adjective it’s also a verb – it is an action – at least it should be! If I tell you that GOD doesn’t just love you but that he IS LOVE that puts a greater emphasis on GOD than on you. You see if God just loves you then you could respond with “I’m not good enough for his love” or “I don’t even want his love.” Or you might say “God is a liar surely he can’t love everyone – surely some of us are definitely unlovable? Some of us don’t even count in society!”

But when I tell you that GOD IS LOVE then nothing you say or do matters. God doesn’t just SAY he loves, He DOES it!

 

GOD is LOVE!

God-is-Love_03_Jim-LePage

You want to be rid of anger? Well, if GOD=LOVE then you can ask God to remove anger from your life. Anger can’t survive for long around love.

What about peace? Do you need more peace in your life? Stress levels through the roof? Well, peace and love go hand in hand don’t they? Where God’s love is, peace is in plentiful supply.

Go on, tot up all the negativity in your life, all the hurt and pain in your life and if I asked you would a little love help for starters? I’m sure you would say ‘yeah, I guess so.’ But what I want to tell you is that God’s love is a little more than a little – it’s a lot, a whole lot more!

We often describe God as all powerful, (omnipotent) and all knowing (omniscient) and everywhere present (omnipresent) and then on top of that…God IS LOVE? Wow! That kinda makes His love really…OMNI-something doesn’t it?… if you see what I mean. His love must therefore be all powerful, all knowing and everywhere present.

Whoever needs to get this will…simply get this! My hope is that everyone gets to experience this great love that God is.

 

So what is love?

There’s this letter in the Bible that the apostle Paul writes to a Church that’s got a lot of problems and he writes to them with some strong words of correction, teaching and instructions AND then he writes about a whole lot of LOVE…

 

whatislove

“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

1Corinthians 13 (The Message Bible)

In other words you could be this great group of people or highly intelligent or have great gifts and abilities but if you haven’t got love you’re nothing!

He then goes on to describe what love really is…

What is Love All About2

“Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.

Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.”

Now if that’s what love is then that begins to describe who God is doesn’t it?

 

The struggle…

I always end up realising that I don’t really have a whole lot of love after reading that letter. But it’s humbling to know that even a great man like Paul also wrote about his struggle to do what was right and instead found himself doing what was wrong! This is what He writes in his letter to the Romans.

“I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

 

stock-illustration-46331262-abstract-businessmen-good-fights-against-evil-

It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?”

Does Paul’s struggle sound familiar? Even the very best of us, those amongst us who would say ‘I’m a really good person’ have found that we don’t always live up to our own high standards. Here’s the final question again that Paul ends up asking…

“I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me?”

And comes to this conclusion…

“ The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.”

Romans 7 (The Message Bible)

 

Give yourself up!

He recognised that the only way out of that ‘tug-of-war’ was to hand himself over to the one who IS love rather than trying to do love himself. That one is GOD.

Remember Paul wrote “Love never gives up” because he experienced it on a daily basis; God never gave up on him.

You can experience the God that IS LOVE by asking him your questions and sharing with him your concerns. He’ll soon let you know that HE IS LOVE.

 

Dawn

Dawn is a qualified Science Teacher and Community Worker in the UK. She has a passion for empowering and boosting confidence through writing, public speaking and communicating her thoughts and research online.

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May 21

Walking Towards A Goal

I did it! Saturday 9th May, 2015, I completed the 36th Annual International Waendel Walk 5K route and it wasn’t just for fun! I was walking towards a goal discussed throughout this site. In fact it wasn’t just one goal this time but two for the price of one that Saturday.

You see I was walking first and foremost to raise money for a community project, our Church intends to get off the ground this summer. It’s called “Make Lunch” and it aims to ensure that children who would usually get a free school meal during school term time would still be able to get a hot nourishing meal during the school holidays.

Didn’t realise that did you?

Schools-Out-for-Summer

Well join the club. It never even entered into my head. It stands to reason doesn’t it? That if you cant afford to pay for a school meal during term time, your hardly going to be able to during the school holidays. There are almost 2 million children in the UK that receive free school meals and they come from all walks of life but some come from poverty stricken backgrounds which translates to, when schools out, they don’t get a nourishing meal inside them every day for the long six weeks of the school summer break – or the school holidays during any of the school holidays. Imagine that in winter time.

Sam, one of the stars of the documentary that inspired Make Lunch, said that the school holidays added an extra £10 a week to the household budget as his dad had to feed him and his sister. And in 2012, when the Archbishop of Canterbury asked a group of secondary school pupils whether they were looking forward to the summer holidays that were about to start, they said no, because they wouldn’t be able to get their free school meals while the school was closed.

This documentary set a chain reaction off inside the head of Rachel Warwick who is the founder of ‘Make Lunch’. She thought, ‘No this cannot be happening in the UK in the 21st Century?! And so Make Lunch was born. Since 2012 Make Lunch Kitchens have been open and have served 1000’s of meals to 100’s of children. And that’s not all that’s happened.

Some people’s lives, in particular the lives of single mums and dads and grandparents struggling to feed their children during the long holiday breaks absolutely see ‘Make Lunch’ as a ‘God-send’ for them and their families. Here’s one testimonial….

“We met a young dad with his 2 kids, he was desperate to help out, cleaning tables and sweeping floors. We didn’t see him on the second day (the kids said he was still in bed) but nan brought the youngest child along. The sausage, mash and squash was the first thing he’d eaten that day. We had lots of leftovers so were able to plate the family up some extra meals for tea time.”

Holiday activity clubs and Mums and Toddler groups have sprung up from this initiative and it continues to grow – the hope is that more Churches and community groups will open up ‘Make Lunch’ Kitchens all over the UK wherever there’s a need.

Is that the only goal?

No, because surely the ultimate goal is to eradicate poverty and the need for ‘Make Lunch’ Kitchens. But in the mean time there is much more work to be done. Politicians are being lobbied and journalists are reporting on this on a regular basis. Like this one from Channel 4 News.

 

I first came upon this project idea from the well renowned mission book called ‘Hope – The heart of Mission’ compiled by a group of people who want to help Churches do what they are supposed to do – ‘Communicate the Gospel with God’s love.’ Transformation is at the heart of God and as transfomed by Christ Jesus we are commissioned by Christ to be like Christ not people who speak Christianese but people who have experienced the power of His love.

This book is packed full of projects from Debt counselling to working with victims of violence. From Food Banks to Festivals and Street parties and the stories of people who have been impacted as a result. I challenge you to ‘not’ find something you could get involved with. Seriously, you will be amazed! You can find out more at www.hopetogether.org.uk

Yes, there is HOPE!

Christians have in the past been given a rough deal and image concerning what we do, where we live. From statistics on Churches closing down to spectacular ‘scandals’ within the Church. And yet much of the ‘news’ thats reported to us isnt doesn’t always the full or true picture.

Nominal Churches may be closing down but in their place independent churches are experiencing exponential growth and under the right 21st Century leadership, everyday people are coming into contact with the REAL Jesus and the REAL Christian faith and REAL hope.

Wellbeing is one of those areas that perhaps Churches did not do very well in the past. Church and Church life was all about the spiritual aspects of the faith but it is now very clear that we cannot live with that imbalance for long. Wholeness and well being is all about the whole person and so the whole person and their needs will have to be addressed; BODY, MIND and SPIRIT.

Balancing the real you is the goal of this website and I hope to make the journey alongside you. My body and my journey to fitness has always been a long road for me but and it’s a BIGBUT’, I am determined to keep going and doing the Waendel Walk has certainly kicked started ‘something’ on the inside of me.

That something that says to me it is extremely important to look after this body, it’s a temple, that needs to be respected. When it’s respected the return is, it looks after you. When I began my ‘balancing the real me’ journey I know that my body was in a bit of a state and I knew that I had stop-started a healthy lifestyle many a time. But as I have already said on this site, my age is catching up on me and I don’t  know about you but I have lots to do and I keep on being limited by this body of mine.

BUT NO MORE!

I started walking a lot more as a way into fitness that would have a gradual impact on me in terms of stamina, pain and money.

Stamina

If your stamina is poor then start of slowly, maybe just doing the housework with a bit more vigour and emphasis will help you burn a few more calories than normal and help build your stamina.

Pain

High impact sports may not be right if you haven’t done a lot of sports for a while, so to jump in with jogging, or spinning lessons at your local gym or Shaun T’s Insanity DVD’s, may bring with it a lot of pain on joints and muscles.

MoneyWaendel walk certificate

Walking is free!

There are always exceptions, right?

Okay – it’s not free for example if you’re entering an organised walk like the Waendel Walk but it was well worth the £5 registration fee. Just for the structure, the people we met and the mapped out routes and the certificates and medals and the overall AWESOMENESS of the day!

 

 

The Waendel Walk is named after the Saxon leader of the early 6th Century called Waendel when Wellingborough was originally called Wendelingburgh. I moved here from my home town of Bedford, where I was born to help work with a Church plant. 7 years later I am connecting more and more with my fellow Wellingburians.

Year after year I saw people doing this walk and heard that people came from all over the world to our little market town of Wellingborough to just…walk! Well, actually to walking enthusiasts, it’s never gonna be just a walk. Some people I spotted had jackets dripping with medals from walks they had accomplished. You could walk five different length routes; 5, 10, 15, 25 and 42km over three days doing as many walks as you wanted to.

As we all crossed each other’s routes we would say ‘hello, how are you?’ and you could hear the different accents from around Europe. There was such a lovely community spirit. The local Music school brass band was playing and I saw people from all walks of life. From us native Brits to the Japanese, Indians and  here is a picture with new friends I met from Holland.

Holland Walkers

They told me that this Waendel walk was just a practice for their four day march next month back home!

There were soldiers and Mickey Mouse and Minnie – yes I did say Micky Mouse and Minnie. You don’t believe me do you?

Mickey Mouse at Waendel Walk

 

 

Told you! Good ol’ Mickey was raising money for the local branch of MIND (the Mental Health charity). It was just a great day all-round.

 

 

10,000 steps!10000 steps

Remember, my blog on the magic of 10,000 steps? Well, I was ready to break the walking ‘sound’ barrier on this 5k walk. But I was so disappointed! My number of steps only came to 8,897!!!

As I said recently, I have started on this walking journey recently on new routes around my home. And one day I thought I had done this long arduous agonising walk only to come home and measure my route on Google maps as around 2K! So when I decided I was going to do the Waendel walk, I quickly opted for the smallest route at 5K and thought I was really going to push myself.

That was until days before the walk I would meet people and tell them about the up and coming walk and they would say things like, “5K? You can do more than that!” And you know what? They were RIGHT! It was EASY! J Don’t get me wrong I did have hills to climb that I huffed and puffed up and there was a time I stopped to redo my laces and then I felt a muscle go in my foot which niggled me or a while but with good company and a lot of laughs…it was a walk in the park – ‘literally!’

My daughter and her friend must have accomplished well over 10,000 steps! Why? Because they pushed themselves and went for and finished the 10K route! When we had finished, I called her on her mobile and she immediately made me feel jealous as she described the beautiful countryside she was walking through and how well she felt and how much she was enjoying it all! She took lots of pictures…here are a couple.

 

 waendel 10K

 

And here she is (in the background) with her friend…walking the walk!

 

 waendel 10K

 

Why not You!

‘If I can do it, you can do it too!’ Find an organised event, and sign up! Be aware, you may have to pay a fee to register but the benefits are immeasurable; fun, safe, meeting new people and keeping fit. Add to this the opportunity to raise money for a worthy cause and you’ll soon be walking towards a goal or two in no time!

Have fun and tell me all about it!

 

Dawn

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Apr 25

Why Your Weight Fluctuates

Understanding why your weight fluctuates is arming yourself with knowledge about why this might be happening to you. In an earlier post I advised you to weigh yourself everyday and take the average weight at the end of the week to give you a truer picture of your weight. I know, that this could be quite demoralising for you, seeing your weigh go up more instead of down but the knowledge gained will help you in the long run.

It means you can understand the weight changes and go on to analyse and deal with them from a positive and more productive viewpoint.

 

So why does our weight change?

And did you know that it doesn’t only change from day to day but within the same day you could see fluctuations in your weight – and we’re talking pounds not ounces!

fluctuating weight

4 common reasons for weight fluctuation – that have nothing to do with body fat!

  1. Meals recently eaten
  2. Water retention
  3. Constipation
  4. Hormones

 

 

1. Meals recently eaten

 

steak large meal weight fluctuations

A large meal will take from 6 to 8 hours to digest in the stomach and small intestines. So weighing oneself after a large meal is obviously going to push the needle a little further to the right than one would like.

Even in the morning when more than eight hours have passed, if you have not had a bowl movement, an important part of the whole digestion of food and excretion of undigested materials process, that too may cause your weight measurements to be higher than expected.

 

2. Water retention

water retention

There are actually around fourteen different places where water retention can occur in your body and these places are affected by things like salt intake, blood pressure changes and physical inactivity. Water retention in the ankles, feet, knees and legs are the most reported areas.

The message nutritionists and medical professionals are trying to get across, is to eat healthily, stop smoking and drinking excessively, exercise regularly and do so sooner, rather than later.

 

3. Constipation

man-constipated

The lack of a bowel movement over a few days is at the least uncomfortable and at the worst can be extremely painful.

Constipation can simply be a result of ignoring those signals your body gives you when it’s time to do a number two! Or can sometimes be a part of the pre-menstrual phase of a women’s menstrual cycle; those few days just before a period.

Stress or even lack of sleep can knock your body out of sync too or slow it down so much so that you don’t do naturally what you should do regularly.

 

4. Hormones

causes of weight fluctuation

A healthy diet and lifestyle is what I’m hearing throughout this topic and no more the less when considering the opposite kind of lifestyle and it’s effects at a biochemical level with hormone imbalance.

Lack of sleep for example, causes changes in normal hormone levels. When you are sleep deprived, hormone imbalance increases hunger and appetite.

When your body is under stress the hormone ‘Cortisol’ is also released which in turn increases appetite – and usually when under stress we reach for calorie-laden foods.

It’s Time To Get Analytical

The above is just a sample of weight fluctuation causes. They are all manageable and treatable when given due consideration on your journey of balancing the real you. This is personal – everyone is different. That is why you have to find out why YOUR weight fluctuates and adapt, increase or decrease, switch to or move away from – whatever it takes to balance your weight management successes and failures.

Let me know your thoughts on this and any strategies you use to combat weight fluctuations.

Over and out!

 

 

Dawn

dawn@balancingtherealyou.com

Dawn

Dawn is a qualified Science Teacher and Community Worker in the UK. She has a passion for empowering and boosting confidence through writing, public speaking and communicating her thoughts and research online.

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Apr 10

The Magic of 10,000 Steps

It has been calculated that another way to burn calories, is all in the magic of 10,000 steps. Walking 10,000 steps each day, builds stamina and works muscles effectively including making the heart work harder.

 

Is it easy to accomplish?

I have been trying to work out ways of walking more. Walking at lunch time and walking into my local town centre instead of driving. But I found out that doesn’t cut it. One day, when we were one car down, I HAD to walk into town and so I decided to use the pedometer on my phone and make those steps count. I could not believe when I got back that I had only walked about 3,000 steps – this meant I would have to walk into town and back two more times, and some, in order to meet my 10K target!

As you know from this website, I am on a mission to improve my health, so some sacrifices have to be made. It’s Easter and so as a Teacher I am off school for the holidays. So I started to walk and measure my steps around new routes in the vicinity of my home. This morning I ventured out on a particularly hilly route and came  home and estimated my route on Google maps to be around 2Km. Guess how many steps? 4,888! Whoop! Whoop! So all I have to do, to make more progress, is do two of those a day or maybe one and two half routes.

 

Why 10,000?

This is awesome! I had known about this 10,000 steps phenomena for a while now but I wanted to know more. And watching a TV programme one day, as I changed channels and the 700 Club was on and a Dr Michael Roizin, a medical Doctor and a Professor of Anaesthesiology, shared more key facts. He declares in his book, ‘This Is Your DO Over’, that 10,000 steps each day can drastically improve our health and reverse damage done in previous years. He says that moderate, regular physical activity is the way to stay healthy.

This statement actually correlates with the ethos behind the 10K phenomena. There is no one organisation that actually officially recommends this set amount of steps, however, a brisk walk over and above what you usually do would be considered moderate activity of which you are supposed to undertake 150 minutes of each week. That’s 30 minutes a day for 5 days. (Click here to read my related page on boosting energy).

As I live in the UK I often refer to the NHS, (National Health Service), for my health advice and there, on their website, they too state that walking 10K steps is a fun and easy way to become active and exercise more. There it is again ‘fun’ and ‘easy’ in the same sentence as ‘exercise’! Strange but true! Anyway, I have to say, it is soooo refreshing to get up early and walk before your day starts. You feel ready for anything it can throw at you!

 

pedometer, instrument, waist, bracelet, watch, senses, steps

 

Measuring your progress

The current advice is, get a pedometer, a small instrument you attach to your waist band or place in your trouser pocket, or even wear as a watch or bracelet or on a lanyard, which senses each step you take. Use it daily for a week and assess what your average steps a day are. One quote suggests that the average American citizen walks around 5,000 steps a day. So, after you have worked out your average then set yourself a short term goal – say an extra 1000 steps a day. Then over several more weeks gradually increase your goals until you too experience the ‘magic’ of 10,000 steps. See how you go and let me know your progress.

Walk good! (West-Indian phraseology!) 🙂

 

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Dawn

Dawn is a qualified Science Teacher and Community Worker in the UK. She has a passion for empowering and boosting confidence through writing, public speaking and communicating her thoughts and research online.

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Mar 31

Vitamin D In The News

 

Report, after report, after report reveals more and more evidence that Vitamin D deficiency is on the increase and yet most of us don’t know it. Vitamin D in the news could be considered scare mongering but all the reports I have seen have been based on Scientific research big and small.

 

Report #1

medical report vitamin D

Take The Guardian, May 2012, where reporter, Sarah Bosely, reveals that 25% of the UK population are deficient in Vitamin D. This supports my findings in my earlier blog last week. Bosely finds that there is growing evidence from a study in Denmark that suggests there is growing evidence that a shortage of vitamin D may make us more susceptible to other health problems, from heart disease and cancer to multiple sclerosis.

The problem is exasperated because current advice is to stay in or cover up in the sun and plaster on layers of sun screen. Which of course, that in itself is necessary advice to prevent skin cancers. What needs to happen though, is that advise needs to tempered with a knowledge of how much sunlight exposure is good for us vs when it becomes a health risk.

In The Guardian’s report, Dr Gail Goldberg, senior research scientist with the Medical Research Council’s Nutrition and Bone Health Research Group, now believes that there is more at stake than the increase of Rickets and that other health problems are arising which seem to be linked with a deficiency in Vitamin D.

 

Report #2

This is further confirmed in a report by The Telegraph, May 2014, where reporter, Sarah Knapton, reports on a 20 year study of 30,000 women, that found that those who avoided the sunshine were twice as likely to die! The study suggests that women who never sunbathe during the summer are twice as likely to die than those who sunbathe everyday. More specifically, it suggests that women who stay out of the sun are at increased risk of skin melanomas and are also twice as likely to die from any cause, including cancer.

 

 

Poor sunbathing advice

sunbathing and vitamin D

The Karolinska Institute in Sweden suggests the advise given to people to stay out of the sun unless wearing sunscreen may be harming the population, particularly in countries like Britain. Confirming my earlier blog and the above Guardian’s report from 2012. More information needs to be given to give people informed choice about their lifestyles.

 

 

Report #3

The most current report I have found, dated February 23rd 2015 is titled: “Low Vitamin D in Childhood Linked to Heart Risks Later in Life and Raises Adults’ Risks of Severe Stroke and Cancer.” the report is summarised with the following points.

  • Vitamin D deficiency in childhood may double your risk of hardening of the arteries in middle-age
  • People who have low vitamin D status are far more likely to suffer more severe strokes, and they also have poorer outcomes after suffering a stroke compared to those with more adequate vitamin D levels
  • Patients diagnosed with metastatic colorectal cancer who have higher levels of vitamin D have a far greater progression-free survival rate than those who are deficient

The report goes on to state that it has been known for years that babies born to Vitamin D deficient mothers are at increased risk of Type I Diabetes and that deficiency in Vitamin D is associated with severe asthma and allergies.

The remedy is of course to increase the levels of Vitamin D in the general population. I blogged previously, that our Vitamin D levels are dependent on our sun exposure and nutrition. Both of which can be hard to balance depending on your skin colour, where you live, related to sunlight hours available and current diets.

 

Chronic diseases that claim nearly one million lives yearly could be avoided.

These scientists are stating that by increasing levels of vitamin D among the general population, could prevent chronic diseases that claim nearly one million lives throughout the world each year. I don’t know about you but this sounds serious. You should read the whole report it confirms other reports I have read and even a discussion I had with a friend whose son is a Sickle cell sufferer.

He experiences extreme pain and not just during a ‘crisis’. She began to tell me about his ‘pain’ journey and some of it sounded similar to what my family member had been experiencing. She had to fight hammer and nail to get answers from her son’s medical practitioners and sure enough she discovered that her son had low Vitamin D levels that were attributed to this pain he was suffering with.

pain problemsThis is very big people and I intend to find out more and what we can do to improve our health. I don’t think Vitamin D in the news is going to be ‘out’ of the news for a very long while yet. I want to look into the links with pain and other ailments and how we can help ourselves to improve our physical well-being. Let me know if you find out more.

 

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dawn@balancingtherealyou.com

Dawn

Dawn is a qualified Science Teacher and Community Worker in the UK. She has a passion for empowering and boosting confidence through writing, public speaking and communicating her thoughts and research online.

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Mar 28

Not getting enough Vitamin D?

There’s not many of us shouting out about ‘not getting enough Vitamin D’ is there? Lots of us complain that without a shadow of a doubt we are ‘not getting enough vitamin C’ because that’s the first thing we say when we come down with a cold. We all know that if we don’t eat enough citrus fruits in our diets we could be setting ourselves up for immune system meltdown.

 

 

Citrus fruit and Vitamin C

So we stock up with Vitamin C supplements in the form of ‘One-a-days’ or energizing ‘effervescent tablets’ or we start to correct our diets and eat more fruit and veg. Yes I did say ‘veg’, because there are quite a wide variety of vegetables with considerable levels of vitamin C. E.g. Broccoli, Kale and Yellow Bell Peppers being amongst the top 3 for Vitamin C levels.

But with Vitamin D, how much DO you need anyway and WHY?

 

 

The Vitamin D conundrumVitamin D the sunshine vitamin

Vitamin D however, is quite a conundrum. Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin because we need the sun’s UV light rays to produce Vitamin D in our skin. This vitamin D has to undergo two further activations in the liver and kidney where it takes on its main role to facilitate the absorption of calcium and phosphorous from the gut.

 

Without this absorption, you could drink as much milk as you like,  you wont be able to benefit from the calcium it contains and you need in order to grow and strengthen healthy bones. Vitamin D can be gleaned from our diets but is present in very few foods. Over the decades, some foods have been fortified with vitamins including Vitamin D. Vitamin D is of course available as supplements but some Scientists would agree that the levels in supplements are not high enough.

 

Take Note!

In the UK, where I live and where clear blue sunlight hours are few and far between, a massive 25% of the population are known to be Vitamin D deficient. Why does this matter? You’re gonna wish you never asked! One big reason is that Rickets in young children, a disease which was once associated with the slums of 19th Century England, has been reported to be on the increase. Rickets, is a classical Vitamin D deficiency disease which means that the bones of young children are not strengthened with calcium and phosphate resulting in soft bones and skeletal deformity.

 

Why the drop in Vitamin D levels?

Some reasons include;

 

calcium rickets

  • Children don’t play outside as often as they used to.
  • Free milk abolished by Margaret Thatcher government in 1970’s
  • 60% of children have a can of soft drink a day
  • 250, 000 vegans in Britain (no meat or dairy products eaten)
  • 1 in 10 teenage girls is vegetarian or vegan
  • Youngsters are unlikely to eat fatty fish such as Tuna and Salmon, rich sources of Vitamin D
  • Poorer families increasingly find healthy diets unaffordable
  • Milk allergies and lactose intolerance
  • prolonged exclusive breast feeding

 

Vitamin D is necessary for the absorption of Calcium and Phosphates from our diets. And we all know that Calcium is imperative for the development and growth of strong bones. So no matter how much Calcium you may drink, if you are not getting enough Vitamin D, your calcium isn’t going anywhere!

 

How do you know if you’re getting enough Vitamin D?

Symptoms of poor vitamin levels are shockingly quite wide ranging and deficiency of Vitamin D have been attributed to several conditions and diseases, such as hypertension, various cancers, Type 1 Diabetes, inflammation and limited fetal growth in pregnant women.

Your vitamin D levels should be 20 nanograms/mililitre, (ng/ml) and above using the 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test. This is considered healthy. A level of less than 12ng/ml indicates Vitamin D deficiency. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms you should make an appointment to see your Doctor and arrange for a blood test to check your levels.

 

How can you increase your Vitamin D levels?

In order to get the right levels you need to:

  • Spend 10-15 minutes in the sunshine, daily with as much of our bodies exposed as possible.
  • Most beneficially between the months of April to October.
  • Between the hours of 11am and 3pm.

But they are not the only factors involved. Many of us do not realise that our skin type is an important factor in determining how much sunlight we will actually absorb. More specifically

  • The colour of your skin and
  • How easily you get sun burnt

Both of the above are linked in some ways but maybe not as closely as you might think . In other words just because you are dark skinned doesn’t mean that you can’t get sun burnt or don’t find the sun’s rays irritable in some way.

 

skin colour

Skin colour and Vitamin D

 

I have to say, being a black woman myself I had not even given it a second thought that I could be Vitamin D deficient because of the colour of my skin. I obviously knew that my skin colour is a result of my inheritance which traces back to the Caribbean and ultimately Africa; both are tropical countries with intense sunlight practically all year round. My skin is brown because of a pigment called Melanin which gives me a degree of protection from the sun but ironically this protection could mean that I am not receiving enough of the Sun’s energy if I live in a region with lower levels of daylight. It means that it takes my skin longer to produce the same amount of Vitamin D, than someone with a lighter coloured skin.

A member of my family is being being tested for Vitamin D levels because Doctors cannot find an answer to why they are suffering in so many areas of their body with pain, inflammation and even heart palpitations. I want to find out more about Vitamin D deficiency and would like to hear about your experiences and insight. If you’re not getting enough Vitamin D, let me know how it’s affecting you and let me know if there is anything you want me to find out too.

 

Dawn Anita Russell

 

PS I’ve just read another article regarding a 20 year research on the rise in certain cancers and the decrease in exposure to the sun habits based on avoiding skin cancer. Controversial. I will update you with another blog.

Dawn

Dawn is a qualified Science Teacher and Community Worker in the UK. She has a passion for empowering and boosting confidence through writing, public speaking and communicating her thoughts and research online.

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Jan 26

How To Create New Year Resolutions!

Oh go on then! 🙂 I mean that’s what you’re tick new year editedsupposed to do at this time of the year aren’t you? We are almost programmed to think this way at the beginning of a new year…

  • Time to lose weight.
  • Make new friends.
  • Start a new hobby.
  • Eat healthily.

The list goes on and on. But actually, how do you create New Year resolutions?

 

Not such a bad idea after all!

It’s true though. Starting afresh, something new is quite exhilarating. The things is we’ve got to change our way of thinking about this. Because we all know what happens after a couple of weeks – the fresh start becomes a boring chore, an endurance test that you wish you never started.

 

21 days to form a habit!

Did you know it is said that it takes 21 days for a habit to become a lifestyle! Well actually that’s not true. In fact the person with whom this phrase first originated, Dr Maltz, a plastic surgeon back in the 1960’s, came to this conclusion after observing his patients, and he actually said it takes a minimum of 21 days for a new behaviour or situation to become a habit. Measuring across many patients over time he actually deduced that It actually takes 2 to 8 months to establish a habit but realistically it is all down to you!

wristbands healthy

 

It’s all up to you!

You have to be determined to stop snacking. You have to be determined to exercise more, you have to be determined to give up smoking even if it’s got an addictive hold on you. Yes, your brain is an intricate network of millions of electrifying connections between synapses that control what we do but we can master it. It doesn’t have to feel like it controls us!

So if your sitting there thinking ‘No I can’t set another new target and ‘No I can’t stop my 10 year old bad habit,’ – think again! You have a lot of say in the matter.

 

5 ways to create a New Year resolution.

writing blog journal
  1. Write it down
  2. Be specific
  3. Tell someone else
  4. Journal/Blog your progress
  5. When you fail – pick yourself up and try again

 

1. Write it down

Recording your intentions makes your goal more definite. “On the 15th January i have started a New Year resolution and here ti is. Highlight it, underline it and make it bold.

2. Be specific

Don’t be vague. Fuzzy, and ambiguous goals lead to uncertainty and leave room for excuses. I want to lose 3 Stone in weight is a good and admiral goal but if after the first couple of weeks you lose shed loads and then slow down and only lose a couple of pounds you might begin to feel this is unachievable. However, if you do some research, you would discover that this is the norm and so I will map out what I should expect to see and aim for that as my milestone.

3. Tell someone elseTell someone

Secret resolutions remain just that – a secret and what nobody else knows about, nobody can hold you  accountable for. Telling someone supportive about your New Year resolution can help you stay on what can often be a narrow tightrope that you can fall off at any moment.

4. Journal/blog your journey

Get a notebook and pen or internet connection and laptop and write, draw, mind-map, keep a diary, until your hearts content. You could even make voice notes or make video recordings of yourself at regular interviews. You could keep these personal or make them public to feed the extrovert in you or the entrepreneur in you.

5. When you fail, pick yourself up and try again? 

Because you will fail. It may not be catastrophic or it could feel as if life as you know it has ended but all you need to do is a mini assessment. Why did this happen? What should I do to prevent this happening again. And then pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try again.

 

How does it feel?

Happier? Fulfilled? Contented? Purpose driven? You have to take the bull by its horns and march forward. How is it we expect our children to get disciplined with their studies or the sports club they join because they want to excel and yet we cant even get rid of a bad habit.

How about a change of environment! 200468691-001

If you want to give up smoking, you don’t surround yourselves with people smoking. If you want to stop buying junk food on the go, you don’t make it a habit to frequent your High Street take away every lunch time, do you? No. You stay away from places, people or things that would entice you back in to bad habits. Your environment is key!

Think about that for a while. There are 2 ways to change the environment

  • change the physical environment
  • change the emotional environment.

 

Changing your physical environment

Have you ever wondered why you feel so good when walking along the banks of a river or reading in the park or laying on a beach on a sunny day? These environments take us away from the everyday hustle and bustle of everyday life and slip us into a serene place in our minds. Our minds get the chance to relax and slow down.

And yet your mind is quite a complex place. Governed by chemical reactions that can alter our behaviour and perception of things. Indeed it is these chemical reactions that produce hormones and other chemicals that help us relax and slow down our racing thoughts.

How about changing the environment you work or live in to help you start and maintain a New Year resolution.

 

Changing your emotional environment

What stresses you out? Or maybe it’s who? What makes you cry and what makes you laugh? Take a self examination of your status quo and work out what  makes you tick. Get a handle on what helps you perform at optimum levels and  what drags you down – and then make changes. Go on – your worth it! 🙂

 

Dawn

Dawn is a qualified Science Teacher and Community Worker in the UK. She has a passion for empowering and boosting confidence through writing, public speaking and communicating her thoughts and research online.

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