How to invest in yourself!

So back at Radio Verulam today with the Gorgeous Danny Smith and I was inspired to chat about ‘investments’ by Curly Headed Boy.

It’s spring time, maybe you need a fresh look at your life and a bit of an overhaul?

The question is how to invest in yourself?

Money Saving.

Money Saving Tips

We are quite strict that even from pocket money, our kids have to put something aside.  It’s just so that it becomes second nature to them and eventually when they start to earn money, they naturally expect to be putting a minimum of 10% away.  Otherwise, his head will be automatically working out how he can spend every penny.  Instead, he will automatically assume that some money goes into savings.

It’s not about how much money you earn.

Its about the amount of value that you get from it.

And how much money is left at the end of your month!

As he looks like he would prefer a creative career, he is going to definitely have to manage his money really well to weather the highs and lows, as it’s unlikely to be consistent.

Yes, he might be really successful, but it might not be long term, or he might get one big windfall, that he could blow through really quickly.  In fact we had an award system, where he earn’t quite a lot of money, and what inspired this post was that he agreed to put 50% of it away into savings.

Imagine if you’d put aside all that money since you were a kid?  At 45, I’d have a lot more going on!  Women need to be especially aware of the fact that we have a tendency to not prioritise our pensions ahead of the needs of our relationships or families.

If you would like to start, but can’t afford 10%, just work towards it.  £5 is enough, as it’s a step in the right direction.

Try to create 2 different savings options:

1) Savings forever (not to be touched apart from investing in houses/education)

2) Savings for fun (don’t pay for Christmas and holidays afterwards when the fun is over)

Check out the rest of my money saving tips here.  I have no doubt that they’ll help you out of a financial hole, make sure that you have more value from the money that you spend, and help you to be financially healthier.


Your Health

green and red healthy food

This should actually come first in my opinion.  There’s no point in saving money if you don’t have a good quality or long enough life.

I know that things happen, and we can’t plan for everything.  But there is no doubt that your quality of life will be better if you drink water, eat healthily, and exercise.

I like to focus on being HEALTHY, then FIT (no point in being fit without health), and STRONG (which means toned and tends towards slimmer).  Check out all my tips on how to get healthy without dieting or killing yourself with exercise.  It’s so easy to try to go for a quick fix, but we all know THEY DON’T WORK!

Then you need to remember that everyone needs downtime, otherwise the levels of cortisol (stress) just get higher and higher and higher.  That affects your immune system and leaves you open to illnesses and diseases, like my Fibromyalgia.  I know you will get stressed again.  But there will have been a dip, and that is what is important.

Remember, that it’s not selfish to take care of yourself!


Your Mind

Great books for mums
Books, books, books …

Have you heard the theory that if you spend 15mins extra a day learning something, then you will overtake your 99% of your peers within a couple of years?

That’s how I did so well in IT.  I wasn’t a natural at it, but I studied every night, and within a few years they’d forgotten my initial struggles.  Eventually I became a global guru – crazy!

You see it at school every day with kids.  The teachers nag parents to read once a night with their children, just for 5-10 mins.  It sounds like so little, that it’s easy to drop.  However, 3-4 years down the line, it’s really obvious which children did or didn’t get that time.  (I know that parents are often busy and it’s not always easy to fit in time with the kids).

However, as old readers will know, I’m not sure about the idea of pushing yourself to pay for a private education, as I’m not convinced it always pays off.  Hence we moved Curly Headed Boy from private back into the state sector.  So don’t assume that education has to cost lots.  Mind you, him being so keen on dancing is a bit of an investment!

I see it as an employer all the time.  Those in my team with a passion for learning are on Youtube and keeping up to date and improving constantly.  The others are just fine, but they don’t do as well and naturally don’t attract as many customers.

It doesn’t have to be a huge amount of time.  Just lots of little consistent bits, is what adds up eventually.


Your Community

Charity Shop Finds
Butterfly Sparkles!

I must admit that I believe that what you give out you get back.  If I smile at people, I tend to mainly get smiles back.  There are a few grumpy people, but the smiles I get back cheer me up.  It’s not any extra pressure on my day to make this little effort, and I get rewarded in bucket loads.

The same goes for ‘paying it forward’.  I don’t believe it’s right to be a martyr, or give so much of yourself that you damage your health and family.  But our community is important, and there are always things that you can do , however little.

Maybe it’s in helping to spread the word about a new small business on Facebook?  A simple share of one of my posts for Espiritu, is amazingly helpful.  I have lovely clients who regularly mention us whenever someone asks for a local hair/beauty salon or Spa.  I’m really lucky, so I like to help out other businesses where I can.

Perhaps you support the local charity shop where you can by buying from there and giving them things that you are finished with.  I’ve made amazing purchases in charity shops in the past, and my kids love them.  There was a really interesting post though over on a friend of mine’s blog, where she was feeling guilty about wanting to sell some more expensive items.  No you should never feel guilty – it’s not right to put yourself in trouble.

Or maybe it’s helping out at your kids school a couple of hours a week if you have the flexibility?

Remember, you don’t have to solve a WHOLE problem – that’s what often stops people from helping out, donating or volunteering.  Just help a little – and all the little bits add up.


What else?

What do you think that you should invest in?
What have I missed out?
Friendships? – I kind of fit that in with community, but many invest much more in their friendships.
Clothes? – I recently bought some clothes, as there is an expectation that I look a certain way for work, but I’ve never bought anything outrageously expensive, as I’m way too tight fisted.
Relationships? – So difficult to juggle with a family and kids, but they can last a lifetime, so worth investing in.
Houses? – With all the changes in our economy, maybe it isn’t a priority anymore to invest in bricks and mortar?
Watching TV – there is social side to this, where you can feel left out if you don’t know what’s going on!
Weight Loss Tips For Mums

Exercise Tips: Fifteen Top Tips For Running For Rubbish Runners

Last week I blogged about what a rubbish runner I am and how its to my advantage when I’m trying to lose or maintain my weight.  There are tonnes of tips out there from good runners, but hows about some tips from a rubbish runner?  After all, I know how tough it can be, whereas a good runner has probably taken it all for granted!

If I’m a rubbish runner, you might wonder why I do it?  Well apart from it being great for my weight, it is also 30 minutes with no kids, dogs, or husband, which is a huge luxury.  I can listen to music, I can meditate, I can walk, run slowly or sprint; it’s my time.

First an important warning:  Don’t run if you are obese or over weight, power walk instead.  You might lose weight faster if you run (although I doubt it).  However you could damage your body beyond it’s ability to fix itself.  It’s not worth a damaged knee, ankle or back.  You can run in 6 months time when you have lost some weight (use my free tips).  In fact then it can be a great boost to your program so that you recharge yourself with a new goal.

1) Always Warm Up: However good or rubbish you are, everyone needs to warm up.  It can be simple, just walk for a minute.  But don’t miss it, because it makes a massive difference to the quality of your run.

2) Always Cool Down: However great you are, or however little you think you ran, always cool down and stretch.  Walk for a minute or two until your breathing is back to normal.  Then do some stretches.  If you don’t know what stretches are good for your body type, then it’s worth having a personal training session with an experienced trainer, as we all have different body’s with different weaknesses.  Stretching will enable you to get back out there running more quickly without damaging your body.

3) You don’t have to run the whole way. When starting or breaking through a new distance barrier, remember that you have to RUN the whole way when you go out for a ‘run’.  Run for a while, then walk for a while; for instance I run for a song (I listen to music), then walk for a count of 100, and build up the distance gradually.  Soon you won’t need to walk at all.  Then you’ll want to start running further, so might need to add another walk in, before you can run the whole lot.

4) There is always a barrier to break through. When you start out, don’t worry when it gets harder, that is just a barrier, and ironically when you keep running or running-walking it gets easier (often about 15 minutes in at first).  After a while you will be used to it, but you will have another barrier when you try to increase the speed or distance.  It’s all part of the running experience.

5) Posture makes you faster or slower. Posture is king/queen when it comes to running.  Stand up straight, and imagine a piece of string holding your head up, keep your shoulders down, and your arms relaxed.  This gives you the ability to breathe better and will make you able to run further and faster.  If your posture is bad, try Pilates or lessons in the Alexander Technique, which made an incredible 10 minute difference to my running when I ran a few years ago and was working towards run a long distance.

6) Have a goal or something/someone to compete with. I compete best with myself, so I just have to do better than the week before and I’m happy.  Other people might need a running partner, or maybe a goal like running the Race for Life (this is a fabulous event, if you haven’t done it I really recommend you do), or running a 10k or half marathon.  Why anyone would want to run a whole marathon I have no idea, but go for it if it appeals to you!

7) Wear a hat to hide your face and avoid the embarrassment of your neighbours or friends seeing you.  Plus if it is a cap, it will keep the sun or rain out of your eyes.

8) Run in light rain. When it’s raining lightly it’s actually lovely to go for a run, because the rain (falling water) creates negative ions and you’ll find yourself really energised.

9) Get some brilliant music. This is a HUGE key to success.  As the music changes, you’ll find yourself get a second wind, especially if you organise the music so that it revs up and then calms down for a bit.

10) Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Breathing well makes all the difference.  You might not be a 100m sprinter, but you still need to breathe.

11) Get fitted properly for running shoes. There are shops where they watch you run and video you.  Then you get to try on different shoes and see which ones work best for you.  I can’t stress how good an idea this is, as running with an incorrect gait can cause you all sorts of damage.

12) Change your running shoes regularly.  Your running shoes aren’t meant to last for years, so change them regularly.  You might want to get professional advice about how often to do this, but writing this note has reminded me that I definitely need to buy a new pair of shoes!

13) Use Reiki or massage if you have any problems/discomfort after running and to give your body a break and a chance to recuperate.  Massage is obviously lovely for the general muscle aches.  But you might want to consider Reiki as a more unusual option, especially if you get shin splints, as it is brilliant for those.  Some Reiki practitioners can be a little far out, so pick one that suits you and beware the ones who are maybe too ‘unusual’ for you (I’m a Reiki Master, so I’m kind of allowed to say that!).

14) Use affirmations to get you in the right frame of mind, keep you going and give you something to do.  Mine are quite funny, but they work for me ‘I’m light as a feather, I run like the wind’ and ‘My body surprises me every day in how amazing it is’.  Basically don’t mention what you don’t want, focus on what you do want.

15) Use running as a Zen meditation. I’m not the type of person to sit in a corner quietly and ‘Ohm’ to the universe.  But Zen meditations really work for me.  These are where you really focus on an activity that you are doing, like the noise/feel/sound/taste of making a cup of tea.  So with running you would focus on the sounds around you, the feel of the air, the sound and feel of your feet.  Concentrate on your feet, not how far you have to go.  Focus on your feet rolling from heel to toe, and focus just in front of you, rather than miles ahead.  It’s like becoming acutely aware of your running and only your running.  You may have thoughts straying in.  That’s fine.  When you notice them, just pop them to one side and get back to focussing on just the running.

Weight Loss Tips For Mums

Exercise Tips: Why It’s Great If You Are A Rubbish Runner

Having been tricked into a competition to see if I could lick my elbow by the cruel MADs Blog Awards organiser Sally Whittle (check it out, because you can get a ticket to the awards ceremony or a goodie bag if you pick how many people managed the challenge), she cruelly described me thus …

“Lisa, from the Mummy Whisperer, has failed to submit any moments of athletic glory. Draw your own conclusions from this!”

Sadly, it’s true.  My athletic qualifications were always a bit rubbish.  Apparently I was a natural hurdler, but much to my PE teachers sadness it appeared I couldn’t do the running bit in between.  I also had pretty awful hand to eye co-ordination, and only won a game of tennis by my extra-ordinary serve which had my opponents in fits of laughter.  This tended to result in me presenting a confused father with a pile of academic results, and have him look at me rather bemused and say ‘yes, but it’s a shame you can’t run’.  I was a geek, there is no doubt about it, and managed to bring in more qualifications than all three of my brothers put together.  For years I thought that this meant that I shouldn’t run.

But now I realise that there is good news in this!  Because that means that running is my secret weapon when it comes to weight loss.  I’m that rubbish at it, that it is really hard for me to do.  So a 30 minute run (anyone can work up to that, I promise you), is like 3hrs of exercise for normal people.  It’s quick, it’s fast, and it’s perfect for shedding the last extra pounds or maintaining my weight despite lots of biscuit eating.  In fact you can tell how bad a runner I am, when you check out the seriously embarrassing video that Sally is going to post, as it is at least 30 minutes after I’d finished and I’m still an attractive shade of beetroot in it.

So if you are a rubbish runner, take pride in it, and remember it is your secret weapon in the battle to stay healthy, fit and trim!  I’m going to give some tips on running for rubbish runners next week, so stay tuned!

(WARNING: Please don’t run until you are a healthy weight, because otherwise you will damage your body; walk first instead.  Use it as something that you throw into your fitness regime when it starts to stall and stop getting results).

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Weight Loss Tips For Mums

Weight Loss Tips No9: Exercise

Ok, so if you haven’t added exercise into your weight loss regime yet, then now is definitely time for it.

But what I suggest might not be what you expect, bearing in mind I’m aiming for HEALTHY, FIT and SLIMMER (with a dash of sexier!), without bootcamps.

The thing is I’m over 40, the body is doing really well after 2 kids, but it isn’t quite what it was.

Plus I watched my mother spend the last 5yrs of her life in a wheel chair, not because of an accident or illness, but because she didn’t ‘use it‘, she ‘lost it‘.  You don’t want me to be explicit about how gruesome it can be when you are in a wheel chair and waiting for someone to come to your house to get you to the loo.

When you are 80/90/100 years old, do you know what is going to be your biggest fitness problem?  Running 10k?  No, it’s much more likely to be falling over because your posture is so bad you can only take tiny steps or your flexibility is rubbish.

So whatever exercise you do, PLEASE (I’m kind of passionate and shouty about this!) make sure that it includes core fitness and flexibility.  If you do nothing else, just pick something from one of these exercises.

  • Pilates
  • Yoga
  • Dancing (e.g. Zumba, Body Jam, Belly Dancing, Pole Dancing)
  • Swimming
  • Walking

Even better about all of these exercises is that they have a huge Mind/Body/Spirit kind of connection too, where you don’t just get to be fitter, but you also get a healthier mind and more balanced emotions.  You get an improvement with all exercise, but it’s greater with the ones that require some kind of co-ordination of the arms and legs, and that specifically affect your spirits or feeling about yourself.

Dancing is my personal favourite because it also adds in a bit of sparkle and feeling sexier, which is definitely a good thing for us Mums.  Plus, it’s an efficient use of time because you get more for your hour; exercise, lengthening of the muscles, flexibility, laughter (most of us being quite unco-ordinated), fun and a dash of sexiness.

You can measure your the number of steps you take a day if you get a pedometer (really cheap).  But did you know that you are aiming for 10,000 steps?  Yes that’s TEN THOUSAND, not one thousand!  That’s an eye opener isn’t it about what a recommended amount of exercise per day would be.

Don’t run if you are overweight, you are going to kill your body!  Walk fast instead and run later when you have lost some weight.  Plus, although it is a cheap sport, if you are older like me you really need to go to one of those shops that can see your running style and fit you with a good pair of shoes.  However, running is great and everyone can do it, you just start slowly and build up.  It can be really therapeutic to get some frustration out, plus it’s lovely to get fresh air and have some time to ourselves.

If you are a pear/curvy height challenged/short woman like me, be careful of exercises that will make you stockier.  In my experience I don’t need weights exercises for my legs or Body Pump or anything like that!  What you want is lengthening exercises like the ones I’ve already mentioned.  I promise you there was a time in my life when I was exercising like crazy and eating really well, but I was so stocky that I looked better when I stopped; how gutting was that!  Of course if you are a more of a skinny/boy shape, then these are the perfect exercises for you.

If you can afford at least to join a gym and get a plan written up that might be a good idea.  But remember to ask how long they have been working as a personal trainer.  If you have struggled for a few years with weight loss, then you don’t want the standard ‘I’ve been doing it for 3 yrs’ type of person and their standard fitness regime.

If you can’t afford the monthly bills for a gym, but could do a one-off, then many people are finding the Wii Fit and Xbox kinect very helpful.  For me the xbox wins, partially because it’s got Zumba and partially because I don’t have to worry about getting out the hand thingy’s, finding batteries because they’ve always run out and finding the plate thing to stand on (yes, I’m a bit lazy when it comes to extra faffing).

If you have a bit more money and fancy the most amazing holiday (and your kids are old enough to take or leave behind), then check out these Wild Fitness Holidays.  I did  their first ever trip years ago, and it was incredible.  I learnt tonnes, it was beautiful, and although I didn’t come back a size 10, I came back with the most amazing memories and the knowledge to sort a lot of my problems.  I can’t wait until they do a more child friendly version, I’d love to go back, even if I cant make it to Kenya, they now do a european version as well.

If it’s your tummy that is the problem (the muffin top, ugh!), especially one of those tummy’s that kind of fold over, then there are two easy things that you can do:

  1. Buy one of those fit balls, sit on it when watching TV or working.  Spend a couple of minutes a day balancing on it with your feet off the ground, and if you have a personal trainer get them to teach you how to do sit ups on them.  Two weeks of doing this on that holiday I mentioned and the difference was tremendous.
  2. Get a piece of string, stand up straight and tie it around your waist.  Now whenever you let your posture go as the day progresses, you’ll feel the string and remember to breathe in.  Cheap and effective!

Lastly remember with all exercise to warm up, cool down and stretch afterwards.  It doesn’t need to take ages, but it is really important.  Without it you can damage yourself and then stop your weight loss for weeks.  Even worse is you could seriously damage yourself and end up putting weight on.  Remember to take days off, so that your muscles get time to rest.

If you have problems with motivating yourself, then make sure you don’t force yourself to do something that doesn’t really suit you, instead take into account your personality.  Are you a loner (needing time to yourself; go for a walk/run/swim)?  Are you sociable (go for a class)?  Do you miss your clubbing days (find a dance class)?  Are you more of a Zen type of person (try yoga, pilates or walking)?  You can always go back to the 15 minute ‘how to get your head in the game‘ video to give yourself a boost.

p.s. I’ve nagged you about hydration before, but please make sure you drink water while you exercise.


Update: since writing this post I’ve created a whole blog series about exercise which is worth you checking out.


Update: since writing this post I’ve been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.  From what I’ve now learnt about my body I know now that this post is even more right that I thought it was.  Take care of yourself and your body, it’s important.  Don’t beat up your body, you will need it for a long time!

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