Archives for posts with tag: happy

Cloves & Ginger began life as a healthy-living blog around five years ago. It was a platform for me to share a few recipes and workout ideas, and write about healthy food choices. Over time, my idea of what healthy-living means has broadened. Healthy-living is not just about eating well and doing the odd exercise session – it is about finding the right balance in every area of your life. Put very simply, being healthy means having a healthy body, a healthy mind, healthy relationships, and a healthy environment, which means that in order to be healthy we need to do the things that nourish our bodies and minds.

I have always needed to exercise on a regular basis to stay sane; but over the past few years, I have come to realise that finding time to write every day is just as essential to my well-being. If I miss a few writing days, I begin to feel down and grouchy, and then I notice that my other healthy habits (like eating well, exercising, dancing, walking outside, and having fun with my family) all begin to go out the window too!

There is a wonderful saying doing the rounds on the internet at the moment:

 

Make a list of things that make you happy.

Make a list of things you do every day.

Compare the lists.

Adjust accordingly.

 

I love this little nugget of wisdom. For me, this is what health is: finding the things that make you feel alive and energised, and then trying to do those things as often as possible.

Up until now, I have mostly kept my creative writing work separate from my healthy-living writing, but if being creative is part of my healthy lifestyle, it seems only fair to let it become part of the Cloves & Ginger blog too. This is all a rather long-winded way of warning you that you might begin to notice the occasional post about my latest novel or an extract from a story popping up on here.

I hope you continue to visit Cloves & Ginger and enjoy the range of subjects I share.

My YA fantasy novel is available to buy on Kindle (US link; UK link) or in print, here. To find out more about my writing and publications, please visit www.sarahmahfoudh.com and feel free to get in touch at any time by emailing me: sarahmahfoudhz@gmail.com.

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Hello. How has 2015 been treating you so far?

It’s been a busy few months for me: I got married in November and then there was Christmas and New Year, and then a couple of weeks ago we moved house. All of these are very happy events, but also immensely draining and I’m afraid to say they’ve left me a bit exhausted and lacking in ‘get up and go’! I know I’m not alone in this: a lot of people I’ve talked to recently have said they feel the same. We all started the year with such enthusiasm and with so many promises to be the fittest and healthiest we’ve ever been but I think the reality is that with dark mornings and evenings, cold weather, having to go back to work, and the after-effects of Christmas, many of us feel the strain in January.

That’s why I’m setting up a February ‘Love Yourself’ club. OK, I know this sounds a bit cheesy but it’s really not. This is a chance for you to spend a little bit more time focussing on yourself and what you really want to achieve. If you keep on promising to do something but never quite get around to it, now is your chance. Or if you think you’ve been too hard on yourself recently and fancy a break from all the negative, self-sabotaging thoughts, February is the month for you.

I don’t know about you, but I can be pretty nasty to myself sometimes. I boss myself about and deprive myself and judge myself in ways I would never judge anyone else, especially someone I love. I’m always telling my personal training clients to be kinder to themselves and forgive themselves when they ‘slip up’ by having a bit of chocolate or a couple of drinks, and yet I’m not always so nice to myself about these things. January can be an especially difficult month because so many of us start the year by setting ourselves harsh and overambitious resolutions; we then get down and disappointed when we don’t stick to these resolutions. Of course, it’s good to have goals and to challenge ourselves but it is also important to allow ourselves a little bit of down time to do what we want to do rather than what we think we should be doing.

This is where the ‘Love Yourself’ club comes in. It’s a chance to spend a whole month focussing on just one or two personal goals and learning how to be a bit kinder to yourself. Perhaps your goal is health and fitness related like trying out a gluten-free diet or working on a specific aspect of your fitness; perhaps you want to spend more time cooking healthy home-made meals or meditating or learning a new skill; perhaps you just want to find time each week to read a book. It can be anything really: for example, this February I want to curb my sweet tooth once and for all and I also want to find more time to write each week.

You can join in by following this blog and you can also join the private ‘Love Yourself’ Facebook group by finding me on Facebook (here) and sending me a message, asking to be added to the group. Anyone is welcome. Whatever it is you think you want to do, even if it’s as vague as being healthier in general, the ‘Love Yourself’ club is a chance for you to spend a whole month focussing on you and getting support and inspiration from others who are doing the same thing. 

Whether you’re joining me on Facebook or just joining me in spirit, here’s to a wonderful February!

x

I can hardly believe it’s been a year since I launched Sarah Thorp Fitness, and what a year it’s been. It’s been incredibly busy (as you may have gathered from my lack of blog posts) and fantastically rewarding at times. But this doesn’t mean it has all been great fun – far from it: there have been quite a few times over the past year when I have felt over-worked, stressed, exhausted and generally down. It’s upsetting to feel like that when you think you have finally found your dream job but, at the risk of sounding cheesy, it has forced me to rediscover myself; to think about what really makes me tick and what is important to me, and to make changes to my work and life to fit in with this.

I don’t regret setting up Sarah Thorp Fitness and I’m very lucky to be able to go around dancing and exercising for a living, but I don’t want that to be all I do. I’ve discovered I need variety in my life:

I love to teach dance and fitness classes…but not too many.

I love being left alone to do editing work or to write stories…but not for too long.

I love doing hardcore HIIT workouts, going to exercise classes, dancing and I love love love stretching…but I also love lying on a sofa for hours on end and engrossing myself in a good book.

Most of all I love spending time with my family and watching my little girl grow up and being around for her as much as possible.

I guess I knew all of this before, but somehow in my endless quest to find the perfect job and have the perfect body and be the best and healthiest person I could possibly be, I’d managed to forget that being healthy and happy is all about balance and not about any one thing.

There are so many healthy living blogs out there written by amazing people who seem to have discovered the best and only way to live and eat and who (if what they write on Facebook or Twitter or on their blogs is anything to go by) never, ever slip up. Paleos, vegans, raw foodists, vegetarians: they all think their way of eating is the only way to be truly healthy. Then there are those who swear by daily yoga, daily meditation, daily runs, daily juicing, daily green smoothies, daily supplements, daily oil pulling or tongue scraping (yes, these last 2 are real things – google them if you don’t believe me). Many of these blogs are truly inspiring and educational and I still read them from time to time, but I’ve had to ration myself because I got to the point a few months ago where I was becoming obsessed. I was reading healthy eating blogs and articles constantly and was becoming increasingly stressed and confused, and I felt like a complete failure because I didn’t have the time (or the inclination) to do all of the things I should be doing every day. Even worse, I was beginning to stress my family out with all my ‘shoulds’ and ‘shouldn’ts’ when it came to food. And the funny things is, the harder I tried to be healthy, the worse my digestion seemed to get and the more down on myself I became.

Why am I sharing all of this with you? Because I know I’m not the only one who has experienced this and I want to remind you that being healthy is not just about doing the hardest workouts you can do and having the healthiest diet in the world. In order to be healthy we need to be kind to ourselves from time to time: we need to know how to listen to our bodies and know when to give in to laziness or when to have something nice to eat just because it makes us happy in that moment. Of course, I am not saying we should all start eating rubbish, give into every single craving and slob out all the time but we need to find a balance that works for us as individuals. I know that drinking too much cow’s milk or eating too many tomatoes makes me feel sick and that too much sugar and too many grains makes me anxious and agitated, but equally if I cut grains out of my diet completely I feel low, angry and lacking in energy. Other people won’t eat meat or fish because it doesn’t feel right for them but as long as I don’t eat meat too late at night, I don’t have any problems with it.

Everybody is different and needs different things in life, so rather than beating ourselves up and setting rigid rules about what is good and bad for us, shouldn’t we start listening to our bodies a little bit more and find out what works for each of us as unique individuals? Read these blogs, feel inspired and take on board the advice given but don’t get carried away with it all. Experiment with your food and fitness and mental well-being and see what makes you feel the healthiest, happiest and most alive you can feel…and don’t be afraid to change your mind if what you thought was right to start with doesn’t seem to work anymore.

x