Yo Hablo Español (Kinda)

At the beginning of 2022, I decided I wanted to try to learn a little bit of Spanish. I have long held the self limiting belief that I am “not good with languages,” and I felt it was time to put that belief to the test. I downloaded the Doulingo app and got stuck in.

At the time, I was taking a break from social media, which lasted about five months, so I had plenty of spare phone time. I raced through those initial lessons. They were easy. Juan and his apples featured heavily. I would often spend large chunks of time completing lesson after lesson.

After a while, things started to get trickier. Grammar snuck in, and I would get tripped up forgetting that a cup is feminine and a glass is masculine. I would find myself getting frustrated at how little progress I was making, compared to those beginner gains.

But I didn’t want to quit. So I thought to myself, what is the smallest denomination I can break this into and still keeping moving forward? The answer was simple. A single lesson. 3-5 minutes a day, depending on how many mistakes I made, was all it would take to keep my streak going. I am now 199 days in, which Dou tells me is 83% earlier than all learners (whatever that means.)

Will this get me to fluency in record time? Absolutely not. But it will allow me to continue to improve in a way that is sustainable and enjoyable. I have a trip to Spain coming up in November and I feel confident that I will at least be able to order a round of drinks. We will call that progress.

It occurred to me that this is probably a good approach to take when starting any new habit. All too often we go out hot. We try to completely overhaul our lives/careers/bodies and within a couple of weeks find ourselves stressed, over committed and burnt out.

How many times have you told yourself “that’s it, I am going to get up at 6am every day next week and run for an hour.” Even though you haven’t exercised in ages and don’t even know where your trainers are. With the best will in the world, you are setting yourself up for failure. We try to go from zero to sixty in seconds and it just doesn’t work.

Okay so maybe the first day is good. You get up to your alarm, throw on the gym gear and you’re out the door. Day two, your body is sore from the new exercise routine and getting up is more of a struggle. You fall asleep in front of the TV at 9pm. Day three rolls around and you’re scrambling through the laundry basket because your one and only sports bra is definitely in there somewhere. Day four, it’s raining, you feel guilty because you haven’t had the energy to walk the dog all week, your body is aching from head to toe and you just say “F**k it.” You admit defeat and don’t even try to train again for another six months.

It’s such a familiar pattern.

Wouldn’t it be better to take the Doulingo approach when trying to bring in a new habit. Ask ourselves, what’s the smallest denomination I can do and still make progress. If you never drink water, deciding to chug 2-3 litres every day will be a shock to the system, the bladder especially. Could you decide instead to have 1 glass when you wake up in the morning this week. Next week you can add in a second, and gradually build up to where you’d ideally like to be.

In James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits, he sets out four Laws of Behaviour Change. I will get an example of each from my adventures with Spanish!

  1. Make it Obvious: Duolingo is one of only about 4 apps on my phone that I allow to notify me. It pops up periodically throughout the day to remind me if I haven’t done a lesson yet. Another habit I want to make sure I achieve is to take my vitamin supplements. So I keep them out on the counter along with the neon pink shaker I use to mix it. If I ignore these reminders, it’s because I am choosing to do so, not because I forgot!
  2. Make it attractive: I really enjoy the lessons. If it was a complete drag, I would have given up long ago. The little characters are cute, and every so often your progress is rewarded by unlocking sweet little stories. If you were trying to up your steps, choose a route that takes in some nice scenery, instead of doing laps of the industrial estate
  3. Make it Easy: Make it so easy it’s almost impossible to fail. Remove as much friction as you can. Phil and I want to try get into cycling, and the bikes are now serviced and accessible. If I had to wrestle garden furniture and lawnmowers out of my way every time I wanted to get on my bike it would NEVER happen. Similarly, I have plenty of training gear so I don’t have to skip my workout for the sake of a missing sock.
  4. Make it Satisfying: With Doulingo this is actually built in. You want to keep going because you don’t want to lose your streak. Even though there are zero consequences for doing so. With other habits we have to get a bit more creative. I am currently training for Hyrox, so I have my training sessions all planned out and written up on the planner. I love getting to tick that sucker off when I have the workout done. It is literally all the reward I need. For bigger goals, like running my first Park Run next month I will come up with a more substantial reward for myself.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. If you break your goals down into bite size pieces, you will be amazed at how quickly they add up.

Be well and go crush those goals xxx


The Covid Chronicles

A couple of weeks ago, Phil and I both came down with Covid. Let me tell you it was rough. Way worse than I had imagined that it would be. Until then, we had both managed to avoid it. I was even a little smug about this. Surely it meant I must have some super resilient genes or something. Sadly not!

It all started on a Friday evening. I came home from my volunteering gig and Phil was complaining of having a sore throat. His antigen test was negative and we both hoped he would be feeling better by morning. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. Saturday morning he felt worse, but still tested negative.

After a totally out of character nap, he tested again that afternoon. It was almost comical. He sat down to perform the test and even set a timer. The timer turned out to be surplus to requirements. As soon as the liquid touched the test strip, a bold red line began to emerge.

It took me until Monday to start feel unwell and by Tuesday I was testing positive too. It was horrendous. We were both completely floored for several days. Literally going from the bed to the couch and back again a couple of times each day. Fever and chills gave way to wracking coughs and nightmarish congestion. My sense of smell and taste abandoned me entirely. (A full week after testing negative again, they are slowly starting to return) In short, 0/5, would not recommend.

What helped?

Having a spare bedroom. I appreciate not everyone has this option, but it really was a life saver for us. As soon as Phil tested positive he decamped to the back bedroom, and stayed there until we both started to feel better. Nothing makes having a night of tossing, turning, coughing and spluttering worse than knowing you’re keeping your partner up. Especially if they’re also not well.

Having an early warning system. Phil got it a few days before I did, and seeing how quickly he deteriorated inspired me to do a last minute Tesco delivery and prep some meals so at least we had the provisions we needed.

My family also did a couple of dead drops, mostly consisting of paracetamol and antigen tests. These were a God send. Even with getting groceries delivered, you can only get one pack of paracetamol at a time, and with two patients in the house, we were going through them. In future I will make sure to keep buffer stock on hand!

Having a super boss at work. She could tell I was really suffering and insisted I take time away from the laptop and rest. This was exactly what I needed. I have spoken before about “hustle culture.” All too often we push ourselves too hard because we don’t want to be seen to be slacking. Working (from home) with Covid is becoming a badge of honour almost and it is so toxic. Apart from the fact that I was actually too sick to be working, my brain fog would have meant that I was doing more harm than good. Unsurprisingly, no major catastrophe occurred because I was out of comms for three days.

My mother and sister in law usually buy me fleecy Christmas pjs each year. They don’t get an awful lot of wear, so as a result I have lots of pairs stocked up. This was fantastic. It meant that each day after I showered I could put on something fresh and steadfastly ignore the washing basket. Not feeling like I was covered in a film of sweat and snot for a little while each day was brilliant.

The Unexpected Outcome

I am not usually a huge consumer of YouTube content, but when you have Covid your attention span makes Dorey look like she should be on Mastermind. I could not concentrate on anything and I had no interest anyway. Watching short videos was about all I was able for so it was great.

While we were bouncing around YouTube, we came across Mark Lewis’s channel. For any of you who don’t know him, he is a fitness enthusiast, whose motto is that we should all try to be “Above Average.” I found his content to be both interesting and relatable. You should check him out.

As a 40 year old woman, with a full time job, a dog, and a life outside the gym, I have often struggled with influencers who talk about how we should be “optimising” ourselves. I don’t want to be get up at 5am. I don’t like kale. I understand that things will come up in life which will mean that fitness goes on the back burner for a while. So this “elite” level of athleticism was so far beyond my reach that their content seemed inaccessible.

Mark’s philosophy is so refreshing, I got hooked straight away. While we were binging on, I think all, of his videos, we heard him mention Hyrox. Hyrox is a fairly new sport. The races are always the same. They consist of eight 1km runs, with fitness challenges in between. It looks so cool. A real test of physical fitness and mental endurance. No sooner had we watched the video than I was on their website seeing when we could do one.

Turns out there’s a race in Manchester in January and the plan is for Phil and I to compete in the mixed doubles 40-49 division! Watch this space!

Now, I am not a runner! I have written about this in the past. Running is my Achilles heel. I had made a few half hearted attempts over the years to improve, but always quit after a while with some excuse or other. Knowing I guess that if/when running comes up in the gym, I can either avoid it or struggle through.

Hyrox is not going to be like that! Running is 50% of the challenge, so if I don’t get better at it between now and then, I am going to have a really bad time. With that in mind, I have downloaded their training program and we got going last Saturday.

Of course, day 1 was running. 3k of it. Every 3 minutes you had to do 5 burpees. It was horrendous. Poor Phil practically had to drag me around the whole way. I got my highest ever Whoop strain. Even allowing for Covid recovery and the heat, it wasn’t a great performance.

But, we did it! We made a start and are now officially training for Hyrox. Thus proving that good things can come even from our darkest hours. I will keep you updated on our progress over the next few months. I can’t promise that we will be above average, but I can promise that we will do our best.

Be well xxx


They Are Not Your F***ing Gurus!

Whether you call it “Self Help,” or “Personal Development,” there is no denying that it is a booming industry. Every day hundreds of millions of us are consuming this type of content in one form or another. From books and podcasts to webinars and work shops, we don’t seem to be able get enough.

A quick glance at the New York Times Best Sellers List will tell you this is true. Current number 1, Atomic Habits by James Clear has been on there for over 130 weeks. To put that in context, it has been on there since BEFORE Covid. And it’s not alone, there are countless other titles racking up weeks, months and even years on the list.

This very week, I found myself using up a precious Audible credit on just such a title. (Manifest by Roxie Nafousi for those interested) and I began to wonder why. What drives us to spend our money, time and attention seeking out and consuming this type of content? What are we searching for?

It started to dawn on me that we are all probably looking for the same thing. Some sort of silver bullet to come along and “fix” us. Someone to tell us what to do, Someone to give us a list, even better. A blueprint to follow which will get us living our best lives.

As diverse as the topics self help books address seem to be, (depression, anxiety, addiction, productivity, etc.,) the vast majority of them promise the same thing. This book will “CHANGE YOUR LIFE.” I have spent some time lately wrapping my mind around what this actually means. What would it take to truly transform my life? More to the point, would I really want that?

The truth of it is, most of us live fairly privileged lives. Our basic needs are met. Just ask Maslow. We have a roof over our heads, food in fridge and are not in imminent physical danger. When we think about what we would wish for the future, it’s usually more of the same.

More money, more friends, more fun, more sex. Increased confidence, greater autonomy, deeper sense of self worth, and my personal favourite among the self helpers “abundance.” Yes, you’ve guessed it, that’s just a fancy way of saying more.

When I started to unpack this, I could see that far from transformational, all these aspirations would at best, make life a little bit better. I will give you an example. Since I found my love of fitness about a decade ago, I have wished for a little space at home to set up a small gym. Nothing elaborate, just a discrete area to store fitness equipment and be able to work out when the mood grabs me.

It was one of those dreams that was always in the back of my mind. When life got hectic, and I couldn’t make my gym classes, I would find myself saying “if only I had a little home gym.” If I had ever done a vision board, you can be damn sure it wold have been front and centre.

A few weeks ago, the dream became a reality. We had been saving for a holiday that we ultimately weren’t able to go on, and decided to repurpose the money. We had a shed built out the back, big enough to house the usual shed stuff and with enough space left over to use as a small gym.

I am absolutely delighted with it. It is everything I could have hoped for and more. It makes it so much easier for me to work towards my fitness goals, and I don’t have to share my living space with half of Rogue’s product offering. Amazing. Has it changed my life? Absolutely not!

In fact, there have been studies conducted which show that should you suffer a life changing injury, such as paralysis, or win the lottery, you would return to your base level of happiness within one year. That’s right, less than 12 months later, you would have adapted to your new circumstances completely.

It is difficult then to imagine that making your bed, not snoozing your alarm, journaling, practicing gratitude or any of the other virtues being extolled with really turn your world upside down in any meaningful way.

To be clear, I am not telling you not to invest in personal development. I am certainly going to continue to dip into what I find is a fascinating subject. You will get loads of advice and tips and some of it will likely resonate with you. You may even go so far as to implement some of the changes. I have done so myself.

Most recently I had a go at Mel Robbin’s 5 Second Rule. It’s a really simple principle. As soon as you get the urge to do something which will move you towards your goal, act on it within 5 seconds, before your brain has a chance to kill it. The beauty of this is in its simplicity, and it really does work. It helped me to reduce procrastination and align my actions with my goals.

This will undoubtedly make life a little easier and perhaps a little better. Will it change it? I don’t think so. But that’s okay. If you can make small improvements in your life which make you feel better, fantastic. If all of those small changes eventually add up to big, fat results, even better.

Here’s the thing though. Even if you follow the book’s guidance to a tee, implement every hack and dutifully execute every idea, and in a year, or ten years your life is noticeably different, the book still did not change your life. You changed your life, because only you can. Stop giving other people credit for your hard work. They may give you the tools, but at the end of the day it’s on you. They are not your f**king Gurus!

Be well xxx



I am going to go out on a limb and say that I am sure everyone reading this will have felt shame at some stage in their lives. Perhaps often. The white hot feeling, that presents like a mixture of dread and panic. Setting every cell in your body on edge. Making you want to run, to disappear.

I myself have experienced shame on many occasions. My earliest memory of real shame happened when I was very young. Five or six maybe. I had a friend who lived close by and was a little older. A little more streetwise, and naturally I looked up to her.

One day we were out rambling around our neighbourhood, when we found ourselves playing in the church grounds. We tried the door, and upon finding it open snuck inside like a couple of cat burglars. If you have ever experienced the feeling of being somewhere you are not supposed to be, you will relate when I say we were both thrilled and terrified. We tiptoed around, knowing we could be discovered any moment.

We hadn’t been there long when we noticed the “poor box.” Picking it up to examine it, we discovered what we thought was a £1 note inside. We were literally in for a penny in for a pound. So we decided to try to take. As the papery form slide out from the heavy wooden box, we realised our mistake. It wasn’t £1 it was £5.

That’s when panic really started to set in. It was the early 80’s and £5 was a hell of a lot of money. What on earth were we going to do with it? We set off to the local sweet shop, and try as we might we couldn’t spend even half of it (clearly we lacked imagination and guile.) Knowing we couldn’t bring the change home without being rumbled, we gave it to some older kids.

I will never forget what happened next. I went home and my mother was making dinner. Food was frying on the hob and a typical domestic scene was unfolding. Suddenly there was a knock at the door. My mother answered it, no doubt irritated by the interruption, to find one of the older kids. There to tell my parents about the money.

Time stood still. I knew the jig was up. I had no choice to come clean. No sooner had my mother extracted the truth from me, then she frog marched me, dinner long abandoned, over to the priest’s house to make my confession. It was a summer evening and I felt like the whole neighbourhood could see what was happening. I felt raw, exposed and utterly ashamed.

The reason I recount this story here is because we all have similar tales. Times when we have lied, cheated or deliberately hurt someone. And to be honest, at these times, we deserve to feel shame. The memory of the palpable sensation serving as a reminder, if we ever think of doing the same thing again.

It occurred to me lately, however, that a lot of the times we feel shame, we haven’t actually done anything wrong. We allow ourselves to experience this excruciating and low vibe emotion way more often than is warranted. Whether this is a hangover from strict parenting, religious beliefs or societal norms, I believe it is time we start trying to heal from this. Time to reparent ourselves.

To that end, I have started identifying a few instances when I have felt misplaced shame. I have made a promise to my inner Arwen to try to stop. Let’s see how many of these you have on your bingo card!


Sweating is 100% natural. It’s a function of a normal, healthy body, and yet, we dread it. We have been conditioned to try to prevent it, cover it up, and camouflage it. I started realising how nuts it is to be ashamed of sweating in the gym of all places.

I was doing a workout, working hard when I realised I had a big, sweaty bum. Not ideal I will grant you, but certainly not something I should have felt embarrassed about. But I did. I was practically walking sideways, praying nobody would notice and vowing never to wear light coloured leggings to the gym ever again.

It was only later when I copped on. Firstly nobody was looking at me and secondly, if they were, I doubt they would care. What exactly are they going to say? “Jesus there was a woman in the gym last night, and she was sweating! Would you credit it?!”

I no longer accept that I should feel ashamed of my body for producing sweat!

Causing Mild Inconvenience:

We have all had that experience. You get to the top of the que in the supermarket and something goes wrong. Your item won’t scan, your card won’t work, you spill your change trying to put it back into your purse and some minor delay is caused.

It’s agony! You feel the eyes rolling in the que behind you. You hear the tuts, real or imagined. You face gets hot, palms clammy and you just want Scotty to beam you up.

This is a universal human experience. Almost as much as sweating. I no longer accept that I should feel ashamed when these things happen.

Getting it wrong, with the best of intent:

We are not perfect. We are all flawed, learning and healing. None of us get it right all the time. We come up against unfamiliar situations, and sometimes we just make a balls of it.

I am an LGBTQ+ Ally in work and it is one of my greatest fears that I will say the wrong thing it this space. That in trying to help, I will inadvertently make matters worse. As an ally, and not someone in the community, I feel at risk of this happening, at least once in every meeting.

Here’s the thing. I am trying. I can’t promise to get it right every time. The landscape is changing and evolving quickly and maybe I will trip up. All I can do is own that when it happens, and be open to doing better when it is pointed out to me.

I will not let me fear of getting it wrong, and feeling shame, stop me from being an ally.

I could go on with this all evening, but I think I exposed myself enough for now.

My hope is that the next time you feel shame, and you will, that you ask yourself if it is justified or not. If you have genuinely done something wrong, try to fix it and don’t put your hand in the poor box again. If you haven’t done anything wrong try to acknowledge that this is a tiny unhealed part of yourself crying out, and give it some love.

Be well xxx


Rusty Resilience!

Folks, it’s been a minute!

Over the last while I have been struggling. Finding it hard to recognise myself. Feeling not quite me and wondering if I have anything of worth to share here. Lately, however, I have been thinking that maybe if I start going back to doing the things “the old me” used to do, I might be able to reconnect with her. Writing is definitely one of those things. So, here I am!

Earlier this week I had the unexpected privilege of attending the Executive Women’s Gathering. Unexpected, because I wasn’t on the original guest list. One of my colleagues had a conflict, so her ticket went to me. It was one of those situations when as soon as I had said yes, I immediately began to regret my life choices.

What would I wear? What would I say to people? The event was all about “networking.” A concept that makes me itchy. I am certainly not the type of person who would ever walk up to a stranger and trot out my elevator pitch. What did I think I was doing going to such an event?

The day was warm and the traffic was hellish. By the time I arrived, having spent a couple of hours in the car, I was literally a hot mess. Carefully applied makeup was wilted beyond rescue and I thanked God my dress didn’t show my sweat stains. Not quite the cool and confident persona I was aiming for.

“Gathering” turned out to be the right word. As this was exactly what happened when my social anxiety, re-entry anxiety, impostor syndrome and inner critic all showed up to have a party. Being there under an assumed name did little to assuage these feelings. Every time one of the speakers addressed the audience as “successful” women, my mind immediately retorted with “not you Arwen.”

Despite my (numerous) misgivings, it turned out to be a fantastic day. It was so nice to spend time with my amazing and talented female colleagues. Some of whom I hadn’t met in the flesh before. It was also lovely to feel like the company was investing in us. Not just in a financial sense, but in empowering us to take time away from frenetic schedules to invest in our development. Side note, if your company is not doing this for you, it might be time to start asking why not?

The speakers were all hugely successful, talented and inspiring women. Among them were Roxie Nafousi, Katie Piper, Kellie Harrington and Carolan Lennon to name a few. Each woman had a unique story to tell. As diverse as their backgrounds are, a central theme that emerged was resilience. None of us will get through life without facing some form of adversity, and it was their ability to bounce back which lead to ultimately successful careers.


The main highlight for me was Kellie Harrington. She was up last on what had been a long day, and I worried she might not get the reception she deserved. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Her authenticity and down to earth approach elicited rapturous applause from the audience. She elevated and energised the whole room. I was struck by her sense of humour and how willing she was to just be herself. Incredible.

In fact most of the speakers came across as being extremely authentic. Whether it was with the odd “F bomb” or a funny childhood story, I felt like we were getting a sense of who these women really are. I can’t overstate how powerful this was. Many of us women have grown up feeling like we have to behave in a certain way to get ahead. To play a role almost. We end up twisting ourselves in knots trying to be assertive, but not bossy, likeable but not a push over. It was wonderful to see evidence that these women were able to be successful while being true to themselves.

Another incredible part of the day was the sense of sisterhood. I know that sounds corny, but it’s true. You can’t underestimate the power of hundreds of women supporting other women.


There really wasn’t much to complain about in truth. A couple of minor snaffus with the sound and catering, but nothing that can’t be excused as in person rustiness. As much as we are all happy to get back to doing these things in real life, it will take a while for it to bed back in.

The only other complaint I had was that I felt each speaker could have been afforded more time. Each woman was allocated 30 minutes and in a lot of cases it seemed like they were just getting warmed up. Personally I would have preferred to get a little more in depth, even if that meant we didn’t get to hear from as many.

Overall the day served as a timely reminder to me that life is happening and it’s going to require me to step out of my comfort zone if I want to be a part of it. We all have fear and doubt. We have inner critics that won’t shut the hell up. We may struggle to get back out there after two years living behind a screen. But it’s worth remembering we are all in it together. You deserve love, success and happiness just as much as anyone else.

Be well xxx


If Not Now, Then When?

Back in June, gyms were allowed to reopen after a prolonged Covid related closure. For most of us, without the luxury of extensive home gyms, this would be the first time we had touch a barbell in over six months. I was so excited. I couldn’t wait to get back to squats, deadlifts and bench presses, not to mention snatches and clean and jerks. Excited as I was, I was also rusty as hell. All muscle memory seemed to have vanished. I literally felt like I was back to square one. This was especially true with the Olympic lifts.

I have always enjoyed doing snatches and clean and jerks, even though I was far from proficient in either. Their complexity is part of their appeal. When you are focusing all your attention on nailing that triple extension, it’s hard to obsess over that mistake you made in work, or the current family drama.

Olympic lifting demands concentration and going through the motions simply won’t cut it. There are times when it can be infinitely frustrating. With each failed or less than perfect attempt seeming to push the goal further away. However, on those rare occasions when you execute it perfectly, it is one of the best feelings. When you hit your snatch just right, and the bar feels like it floats through the air, you don’t need your coach to tell you that you nailed it. You can feel it. It is one of the closest things to a flow state I have experienced.

Before the pandemic hit, I had been working hard on my lifts. I felt like I was making a little bit of progress and had hoped to take part in an Olympic Lifting competition during 2020. Don’t get me wrong, I had no notions of winning, or even doing well. I simply wanted that experience of standing on a weight lifting platform. I wanted to see how it felt to perform my six lifts, in front of the judges. Also it would give me an honest line in the sand. This is where I am now, let’s see where I can get to with another year of training!

My post lock down goals, however, were a little more modest. I just wanted to try to remember how to do the lifts. Thankfully my current gym, Primal Performance and Fitness, is well stocked with expert coaches. They possess the skill and perhaps more importantly, the patience, to help me get going again.

As the weeks went by, I began to feel more comfortable with the barbell. Although not quite like riding a bike, my body did start to remember the movement patterns. I could almost feel the rust coming loose as my brain seemed to say “oh yeah, something is ringing a bell.”

We approached the end of our nine week block of Olympic Lifting and our coach suggested holding a friendly inhouse competition to round it out. I experienced a strange confluence of conflicting emotions. On one hand, this was the moment I had been waiting for. On the other hand, I wasn’t ready! On another hand (high functioning anxiety often requires octopus like limbs) this would be the safest and least judgemental environment in which to do it. It would be happening in my own gym, with the folks I had been training with for the last couple of months. Nobody was waiting for me to fail! I nervously agreed to take part

In the days leading up to the event, I struggled to silence the nagging thoughts that maybe I should wait for the next one. Maybe I should wait until my snatch was “insert arbitrary weight here” before giving it a go. Wasn’t it ridiculous to take part when my lifts were so pathetic? What if I bombed out? What if I made a fool of myself?

These intrusive thoughts are nothing new. I think we all wrestle with them at certain times. They are insidious. Their number one objective seems to be to convince us that now is not the time. Our comfort zones are so warm and cozy, wouldn’t it be better to stay here for a while longer?

They are the voices that tell us we are not fit enough to join the gym. Not qualified enough to apply for the job of our dreams. Not attractive enough to ask for that guy/girls’s phone number. They will try to convince us that when we lose weight, we will be worthy of happiness. When we earn x amount we will have made it. Their chorus will only be happy when we are content to play small and sit in the shadows of our own lives.

Silencing them is hard. It can require herculean effort to get them to shut the hell up. But like with any skill, the more it is practiced, the easier it becomes.

So, last Saturday, I did just that. I decided that the potential risk of failure was worth it. I didn’t want to miss out on ticking something off my bucket list just because I didn’t feel quite ready. At almost 40 years of age I have learned that we rarely feel ready. Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith.

Arriving at the gym, I suddenly couldn’t wait to get it over with! The irony wasn’t lost on me. Taking to the platform for my first lift, I noticed a little group of members had gathered to cheer us on. I felt buoyed by their supportive presence. Nobody was standing in judgement. Everyone genuinely wanted to see each lifter achieve their best. Whether that best was 20kg or 200kg was immaterial.

I hit my first two snatches, missing the third lift. The applause for the missed lift was the same as it was for the successful attempts. I had three good lifts for the clean and jerk. Setting a new PR in the process. Overall it was such a brilliant day. I feel like I learned so much and honestly can’t wait for the next one. It saddens me to think I could have missed out on the whole experience by not getting out of my own way.

So lovely readers, I urge you. DO THE THING! Don’t wait until the time is right, because it never will be right. Don’t wait until you reach your goal weight to begin to enjoy your body. Don’t wait until you’re as fit and athletic as you would like to be before you allow yourself to appreciate what you can do now. After all, the time on the platform is mere seconds, enjoying the process is much more important.

If the pandemic has taught me anything, it’s that there may not always be another opportunity. If not now, then when?

Be well xxx


Vaxxed and Relaxed (Kinda!)

Last Friday I received my second Pfizer vaccine. As I walked through the car park to take my place in the neatly spaced line, I experienced all kind of emotions. Relief, excitement, anxiety to name but a few. I could tell I wasn’t alone in this, as nervous tension seemed to pulsate through the assembled crowd. This was the moment we’d all been waiting for, after all!

The vaccination itself, much like the first one, couldn’t have gone better. The staff and volunteers were all competent and caring, and I was struck by the overall slickness of the operation. I have also been lucky to experience only mild and very manageable side effects. Nothing more than a few body aches to report.

Phil is having his second dose this week, and I will definitely feel relieved when that is done. He has been working from work the entire time and the risk that he could be exposed has been at the back of my mind. I can’t adequately express how grateful I am that we have both managed to get through the last 18 months without contracting Covid.

One of the strangest parts of the whole pandemic experience for me, has been the hypochondria. Since March 2020, every time I have woken up with a sore throat, coughed or had some unexplained ache, I have felt a tiny trill of panic. Thinking to myself, is this it? Have I got Covid? It doesn’t help that one of the virus’s main symptoms is fatigue. I think the stress and anxiety of living in a pandemic also has this affect!

I had been expecting that being fully vaccinated would make me feel bullet proof, but it hasn’t. I had expected that I would feel less apprehensive about the return to “normal.” Over the last few weeks, my job has been planning for our return to the office. This is going to be done in a phased way and with a hybrid approach, with most of us still working from home at least a couple of days a week. My company has really looked after us as best they can through all this and rationally I understand that we will be made as safe as possible. However, this doesn’t stop me from wanting to scream “I don’t want to go back” every time the topic comes up.

It’s not just the thought of sitting in an office that is making me uneasy, it’s all the accompanying activities too. I don’t relish the idea of sitting in traffic each day, and the thoughts of shopping for a new (roomier) work wardrobe makes me feel ill. I also don’t want to leave Annie home alone, when she has gotten so used to company.

I have always been someone who suffers from a degree of social anxiety. Over the years, I have managed to build up resilience to it, forcing myself to get on with it, until eventually it’s not a struggle. Like any other muscle which has been out of action for a year and a half, this resilience has atrophied. This coupled with all the new regulations and overall layout, has me feeling like I am not returning to the familiar. Rather, journeying into the unknown. It’s enough to make me break out into cold sweat.

Again, rationally, I know it will be just fine. A few days in, and once I have figured out which machine makes the best coffee, I will be as comfortable as ever. I dearly wish, like with everything Covid related, that we could just fast forward this part. I would love to just wake up and find myself on the other side of this. The first time I have a cold, and don’t associate it with Coronavirus, will be a happy, if miserable occassion.

I have been lucky in life so far, in that I have not had to endure much by way of grief or trauma. Any time that I have experienced grief, it has followed a similar pattern. All consuming, until it isn’t. The first and only thing on your mind, for what seems like forever. Until eventually, you find yourself realising that you haven’t thought about it for a minute, an hour, even a day. The grief doesn’t shrink, but your life expands around it.

Maybe our collective Covid trauma will be like grief. As we emerge from it, and hopefully that will be sooner rather that later, maybe it’s natural for the affects to linger. Only fading over time, as it takes up less of the discussion. It certainly seems like we will need distance and perspective to be able to move past what truly has been a traumatic time. We need to process.

Perhaps some time in the future, the memory will fade and we will look back on it as something which changed us. Something which made us value our relationships more, and the grind less. A time in our lives when we were forced to slow down and take stock. My sincere hope for us is that in our rush to get back to normal, we don’t miss the opportunity to evaluate how much of life before Covid we actually want back.

In the meantime, we still need to look after ourselves. Getting vaccinated is a great thing to do both for ourselves and for our communities, but it is not a suit of armour. We still need to wash our hands and keep our distance. If we have learned anything about Covid, it’s that it will exploit any vulnerability.

It is said that most car accidents happen with a mile of home. It’s easy to see how. The end of the journey is in sight and we are on familiar ground, so we let our guard down. We are now a mile from home with this pandemic. Let’s make sure we arrive alive!

Be well xxx


Detrimental Data!

Hey there readers! It’s been a minute, right? I apologise for my absence of late. I think I had been hoping to start writing again when life felt “normal” once more. Seeing as that seems to be taking longer than any of us anticipated, I have decided to flip the switch. Maybe writing again will be the thing that makes me feel like the old Arwen? Please bear with me as I attempt to shake off the cobwebs.

As many of you will know, I am an accountant by trade. I adore numbers. I love that they are either black or white. There are rules to follow with numbers. Debits on the left, credits on the right. No matter how screwed up the world gets, 2×2=4.

It would seem to follow then that my constant quest for information is a natural enough thing. It’s useful to have empirical data to establish the direction things are going in. We measure all kinds of data. It can inform us that today is the hottest day of the year so far, (this reassures me as the act of typing has me sweating!) Or that Avatar is still the highest grossing movie of all time. These facts interest us and at the very least give us something to talk about.

For the past 18 months, statistical data has been a big part of all our lives, as we try to comprehend the incomprehensible. We have sliced and diced numbers every which way trying to make sense of the pandemic. Sometimes these numbers can reassure us, make us feel that those in charge are doing a good job of navigating the Nation through this. Other times, however, they do the complete opposite. They can cause anxiety and panic. Fear and anger, and perhaps most worryingly, they instil a deep sense of helplessness.

As I was gathering my thoughts to sit and write this, I couldn’t help but draw parallels between how some of us data junkies respond to external events, like Covid 19, and how we manage our own lives.

Over the last few months, I have begun to notice just how many parts of my life I am measuring.

I keep an eye on my weight. I track my steps, sleep and resting heart rate using a fitness tracker. My heart rate monitor lets me know how many calories I have burned during my workouts. I periodically track my calorie intake and macros with MyFitnessPal, and I ALWAYS log the weights I lift in the gym. With the technology that exists now, we can literally measure and monitor everything that we do, and the impact it has on us. However, just because we can do something, doesn’t necessarily mean we should!

Is all of this data really helping us to “hack” our health, or are we simply seeking validation from our myriad devices? Are we merely finding new ways of asking “am I doing this right?” The more important question perhaps is if this over dependence on tech is muting our ability to maintain health intuitively? Are we building a rod for our own back?

In my own experience, I have often found myself feeling guilty or inadequate when the numbers don’t go in the “right” direction. One example of this is with my resting heart rate. Before Covid, it was usually around 58-60bpm, which my Fitbit tells me is good. External validation achieved. The wearable Tomigotchi God has been pleased! Now, it is hovering in the low 70s. This is rated by Fitbit as fair/average for my age. External validation not achieved!

There are lots of factors that have may have influenced this increase. I have put on weight in lockdown. I am more sedentary when working from home. There had been long periods during the pandemic when I have not trained like I normally would. I have probably drunk more alcohol in the past 18 months than I typically would and I for sure have experienced more stress. This is to name but a few of the potential factors which may explain the shift. In other words, the cause and effect are not easy to ascertain. There isn’t one thing I can do to guarantee a reduced HRH. It is not simply a case of trying harder.

There are lots of things in life which are like this. Our bodies are not algebraic equations where you can always solve for x. Our methods for analysing our inputs, for example our food intake, can be mistaken. And the devices which measure our outputs, such as calories burned, can be inaccurate. Yet we still sacrifice at their alter. Tell me I am not the only one who has done laps of the kitchen at 5 to midnight, trying to hit that arbitrary 10,000 step goal.

You see, the truth of it is, we have very little clue what we are doing. We make literally hundreds of decisions each day. Sometimes, we will figure out quickly whether it was the right decision or not. When we wake up hungover, we can be pretty sure that last drink was a mistake. But other decisions, especially if they are longer term, do not readily yield this kind of feedback. If you start a new job in the morning, it might be months before you can be sure if it was the right move. Start seeing someone new, it could be a few dates before they reveal that they think Brad Pitt is a lizard!

It is easy to understand the allure of these devices and their instant feedback. That buzz on your wrist or notification on your phone to tell you that you got it right. You did what was expected of you. You won the day!

How can we strike the balance between observing and chasing? How do we recognise when these numbers have stopped helping us to achieve our goals and have become the goal in and of themselves. To go back to the steps example, many of us will have first bought a fitness wearable out of curiosity. We wanted to figure out how active we were at that time, and see if we could be encouraged to move more. There’s nothing wrong with any of that. The goal was to become more active and the wearable was the tool. However, when we allow ourselves to become overly fixated on an arbitrary number and allow hitting this number to define success then it has become the goal and may no longer be helpful.

We are all rational people. We understand that 9,950 steps is as close to 10,000 as makes no odds, but it doesn’t deliver the same dopamine hit, does it?

It is a hard and scary thing to rely on your body to tell you what it needs. Sometimes my body lies and tell me it needs 6 hours of Netflix and a pint of ice-cream. But other times it will tell me exactly what I need, if only I can log off my devices long enough to listen to it.

Phil and I have been back to consistent training for about 10 weeks. Prior to that it had honestly been about 6 months since I had done much more than walk Annie. Obviously it has been an adjustment getting back into the swing of things. But we are doing our best and had been hitting the same number of sessions each week. Before I knew it, this number of sessions had become a little goal of mine. Another external validation point. Do x number of workouts per week and you’re a good girl, otherwise you fail!

This was all fine (not fine but you know what I mean) until last week. We trained on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as usual. The plan was to train on Thursday as well. However, when Thursday came, I was seriously sore. I am not entirely sure why. Maybe there was a lot of interference between sessions, maybe it was doing something new that caused it, or maybe I just hadn’t had adequate sleep or nutrition to properly recover. Who knows. The point is, by Thursday, my body was in no fit state to train again. So, I didn’t!

This was not an easy decision to make. Not only would it make it impossible for me to hit my workout quota for the week, but in a world where resting is for the weak, it seemed like a cop out. No excuses, right? Was I a loser for not sucking it up and getting it done?

I will admit that I felt conflicted. I wasn’t sure I was doing the right thing. I continued to stress about this until I got out of bed on Friday morning, feeling fresh and without soreness. I had gone against the numbers and it had turned out to be just what my body needed.

This is just a small example of how chasing numbers can be detrimental. The vast array of data available to us can be really helpful, as long as we don’t live and die by it. I am toying with the idea of going it alone for a little while to see if it will give me back a little more space in my head. But I am not sure I am brave enough to go cold turkey just yet. I mean, how will I know if I slept if I don’t wear my FitBit?

If you have thoughts on this, I would love to hear them. Be well, with out without your wearables xxx



As I sit down to write this, it has been seven months to the day since life as we know it changed. Irrevocably. Seven months since I last drove to my office, parked my car, greeted my colleagues and drank crappy canteen coffee. More than 200 days since the world last felt “normal.” Since it felt safe.

For more than half a year, we have waited. Held in suspended animation. Unable both to plan and to be spontaneous. More than half a year has been cruelly taken from us. Pilfered. Erased. And it wasn’t just any year. I, for one, so looked forward to 2020. Eagerly anticipating what seemed destined to be the most momentous of years.

As with most of the pieces I write, I am aware that this too is written from a place of privilege. I am extremely lucky that this pandemic has not impacted my own health or that of the people closest to me. I have been able to stay working, albeit from home, and so has Phil. Financially, at least so far, we have been unscathed. I know that makes me a lot more fortunate than most, and I try to remain grateful.

It’s not easy.

I often want to scream about how unfair it all is. I have spent the time since early Spring bouncing between bouts of uber productivity and complete hibernation. It was easier in the beginning. Baking banana bread and revealing my lack of general knowledge in Zoom quizzes. There was a sense of solidarity in the early days. A sense too of novelty. None of us had ever experienced anything like this, and seeing as it was only going to last for a couple of weeks, why not make the most of it?

Spring became Summer and still we waited. We busied ourselves with DIY and BBQs. We talked to our neighbours across our fences. Enjoying a feeling of vacation time, lulled by the long evenings, and the sound of children playing.

All the while we were bombarded by data. Each of us becoming budding epidemiologists as we practiced our new vocabulary. The R number. The 14 day incidence. The death rate. We absorbed it all in the hope it might provide some clarity. In the hope we might one day learn our wait was over.

It’s not over.

It is the complete opposite of over. Autumn colours have overtaken Summer sun. The seasons have moved on, but we have not. We cannot.

The situation is so abstract that it has taken me seven months to even begin to process it. To try to name it. The feeling in the pit of my stomach that defies any label. It’s not depression, but it gets me down. I miss people, but loneliness doesn’t quite fit either. I try to make sense of being utterly exhausted when I have had less activity and more rest than ever before.

The best way I can think to describe it, is that I want to wake up from this. I want to recover. Like as if from the virus itself. I long for the feeling of knowing I have come out the other side. The feeling of being weakened, but looking forward to getting back to my old self.

You see, I miss my old self. I miss that girl who worked hard and was always busy. So many of the things which defined me are now either altered or gone entirely, that I find it difficult to recognize myself. I am now a woman with a hermit like existence. Working from home, in sweats or pyjamas, talking to people remotely. Trying to fill the hours between clocking out and falling asleep. Thankfully with gyms re-opening I have training as an outlet and some semblance of my previous life to hold on to.

I don’t know where all of this is going to end, and personally that’s the part I struggle with the most. Always a planner, I am used to being ten steps ahead at all times. I have spent my life constantly focusing on the next thing. Be it in my career, or with my fitness goals. There was always something to work towards. The absence of a plan beyond today and maybe tomorrow is unsettling and unmotivating.

I am sure we will look back on this time and be grateful. When it is finally over, we will recognize how much it has taught us. Maybe it has prompted us to rebalance life and work. Perhaps it has helped us to gain some perspective over what it is that really matters. Maybe we have learned how to slow down and be in the moment. I hope so. I sincerely hope this will not have been all for naught.

As I lay in bed last night with the idea for this piece bouncing around in my head, I began to get excited. Throughout this experience, I have not felt inspired to create, and writing had become something else that I “used to do.” A visit from my muse made me feel a tiny glimmer of hope. Perhaps despite what is happening in the world, I might be able to get back to myself.

Trying to coral my thoughts into some sore of order, the words of William Wordsworth kept coming to mind,

“Five years have past; five summers, with the length
Of five long winters!”

They resonate with me because time has taken on a strange quality. Seven months have both gone by in a blink and have seemed interminable. As we learn to navigate this “new normal,” we can be overcome by a sense of aloneness. It comforts my to know lines written in 1798 still ring true today. As if to prove the singularity of the human existence.

Thank you gentle reader. I will try not to be gone so long again. Wash your hands and be well xxx


Fitty and Fatty – Ep. 93 We’re Back in The Studio

We are back in the studio after Fitty’s local lockdown! We catch up on what’s been happening (or not)

We want to thank all of you for bearing with us throughout this year as we navigate the pandemic and all of the issues associated with it. We love you guys xxx

Follow Fitty & Fatty on our Social Medias:





Snapchat: fittyfatty1