Exceptional People – Like you and me

This month has been another busy one for me.  As I promised, I’ve kept learning and moving forward.

I’ve read three more amazing books:

The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy which is about the difference taking a small action each day has.  If you read nothing else in this book, read the $3,000000 vs $1 bit – it blew me away.

Secrets of Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker  so many “aha” moments in here and lots of practical advice and actions you can do to improve your money blueprint.

Low Cost High Life by Mark Homer this is book filled with an interesting story of success, contrarianism (which I love) and success.

So this month, I took Cam on a weekend property training course and it really opened his eyes to other ways to make money.  He’s starting to come round to the idea that I may have instilled a slightly one sided view on him.  In May I’m taking him to a two day money course, to help re-programme us both.

I’ve attended an amazing three day training event which has resulted in a lot of knowledge on E commerce, but perhaps more importantly, I’m in a What’s app friend group where we check in on each other and motivate the group to keep going.

I’ve found a commercial property for a national developer and am just waiting on feedback as it was my first.  If it’s a no, I’ll learn a lot that I can put into practice on my next attempt and if it’s go, I’ll get a nice finders fee. Win:win.

I’ve learned that I need to focus on one thing, a little bit each day but this left me at a bit of a loose end whilst I wait for things to happen so I’ve revisited this to focus on one of my three projects each day.

I’ve also been learning about marketing and social media so Sort My Shit Out Blog is now on Twitter @sort_shit and Instagram @sortmyshitoutblog as well as Facebook and I’m attempting to be much better at posting.  I’ve decided to go for inspirational quotes, I know they are everywhere but I’ve found people like them and they have a bizarre habit of being relevant at that time.  So hopefully you’ll find them useful, amusing and/inspiring.  I’ve tried to keep them close to what I do and add some context.  If you have any snippets of advice, do send them in, I’ll of course credit you :).

The biggest thing I’ve learned this month is about how “normal” exceptional people are.  I’ve had the pleasure and opportunity to meet so many people this month, whom I would class as inspirational, and they are, but the thing that strikes me the most, is how like me they are, how normal and down to earth and keen to help and share their success and learning.

It’s made me realise that I can be successful too, the only difference between myself and them is that they took sustained action.  I have, for want of a better word “pedestalised” many people, and had an aspiration to be like them, but I am like them, I just need to learn from them and take action.

Twice this month I’ve gone out for a meal with two sets of amazing people, and felt right at home, not out of my league and not at all awkward.

We all can be exceptional, we just need to get going and take action!



Exercise changed my mind!

I’ve always done some sort of exercise, but never really taken anything particularly seriously.  I struggled with finding motivation and commitment and then would feel bad as I watched the pounds pile on.  This created a negative cycle in my mind and had an impact on my body too.

A few years ago, I was chatting with my brother in law and he was telling me about this new gym he’d found.  Their family live several miles away so I had a look to see if there was anything similar near me.  There was, and there was a free trial session so I duly went along to Crossfit Southampton in Eastleigh.

O….M…..G!!!!!!! When I got there, I was very scared.  It was a massive, noisy warehouse, no machines, just a load of ropes, metal climbing frames, a few big balls and barbells dropping all around.  I nearly turned and walked out but I was greeted by a cheerful lady around my own age who I later found out was one of the owners.  So I stayed, I did the workout, which was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, and from that point on, was totally hooked.

I signed up for the membership the very next day and virtually lived there for two years, going almost everyday.

I was literally the worst at everything, except skipping and sit ups, but something about it kept me going back.  I worked enormously hard, inspired by the women around me who were the strongest I have ever seen.  Everyone cheers you on and even being last is an achievement, by the fact you didn’t give up.  People in Crossfit gyms really respect effort!  And, so began my obsession.

I remember my first deadlifting attempt.  I managed a very small weight, under half my body weight.  Two years later I lifted 1.5 times my bodyweight.  I went from barely being able to hold on to a pull up bar for five seconds, to being able to do two strict pull ups.

I met an amazing group of friends there and my amazing other half.

After two years, my obsession turned into curiosity about the mechanics of our bodies and the beauty of form, and I started to realise that lifting heavy wasn’t my goal anymore, movement was, so Mark and I made what felt like a heart wrenching decision, we switched entirely to Calisthenics – more on that in another post.

This journey with sport, has had much more of an impact on me than simply dropping dress sizes.  It has informed the way we eat, the approach we take to sleep and improved my overall mental health.

Crossfit taught me lessons – it humbled me every day, yet I got up to do it all over again the next day.  Because simply getting through one of those workouts is a physical and mental achievement.  The buzz that gives you is amazing.

It introduced me to so many people, when you suffer together you bond.  I remember rolling around on the floor fighting the urge to give up, next to one of my now closest friends and yelling at her to keep moving!

It taught me that I have strengths, and others have different ones.  I was often humbled by people complimenting my squat or my sit up prowess, or my ability to double under skip, all of these people were people whom I saw as “elite” but realised they, like me, have weaknesses too.

It gave me the realisation that I can endure practically anything!  Sometimes the fight to finish was not with my body but with my head.  There is a short workout called Fran, it consists of two movements, barbell thrusters and pull ups, this, like all workouts are scaled to your ability, it takes around 5 minutes to complete, but every single person hates it.  You just want it to stop right from the first round.  To be fair, most workouts did this to me.  But again, that feeling afterwards is such a reward.

It gave me confidence, which I was severely lacking, and days when my self esteem was low, I’d go and lift some heavy weights and that somehow made me strong in my head again.

It inspired me to learn more, to challenge myself, to push harder, to achieve more and frankly made me feel quite invinsible at a time in my life when I was sliding down.

Callisthenics provides this for me now, handstands are my current main project.  A few years ago,  I would have given up after a while, Crossfit taught me to never stop trying, and slowly, my handstand is improving.

I am stronger now, at forty, than I have ever been in my life.  My posture is better, which enhances my breathing which helps in everything.  I can endure a lot more mentally and push myself hard.

I still need motivating and to help with this, I always workout with Mark, and we have had a personal coach in both Crossfit previously and now Calisthenics.  I moan a lot but we laugh a lot, usually at me, but I’m good with that.  Crossfit also taught me to laugh at myself.  There are several memories I have of  our group going home with sore abs, not form the workout, but from laughing.

I progress slowly, but I progress. When I think back to when I first started Crossfit, or even when we made the switch to Calisthenics less than a year ago, the improvements are enormous.

It’s easy to forget how far we have come in any part of our lives, but I often get frustrated at my lack of progress.  In our whats app friend group, we often flip from being annoyed by our gym performance to reminding each other just how much improved we all are.  I’m not one for looking back on the past, but I know it is important to do this.  To remember how we have changed and celebrate this.

Time tends to blur all things, experiences, memories, feelings, but it is important to see back through the blur to the reality at the time.

Being committed to exercising, is being committed to yourself.  I see it as an investment in my future.  I want to be agile and pain free as I age, I want to be fit and able to move freely at 100 (lets face it, we all might live this long now).  But I want the peace and pride that it gives me in my head the most, the foundation to be healthy.




Sorting my shit out with eating

Unlike most people, I am an emotional non eater.  When I am emotional, my body just never feels hungry.  “I wish I was like that, you’re lucky” people exclaim, and I get it!  Most people I know eat and eat and eat when they are  emotional, and then put weight on, and then feel bad because they’ve put weight on, which makes them emotional, so they eat more etc etc.

It doesn’t feel “lucky”.  I struggle to deal with my emotions for a number of reasons, which I’ll elaborate on in another post.  But the hunger is replaced by something far more uncomfortable, even painful at times.  It’s a big hard lump in my throat and tummy, an entirely emotional hard lump, but it feels like I’m so full, like I cannot eat anything.

When you are emotional, you need food to keep your body going, I just feel weaker and weaker and that makes me even less able to cope with my emotions.

Let’s face it, I’m not in danger of starving but it does affect my ability to be resilient and find a way out.

The key I have found, is to nibble.  I have discovered a love of English cherry tomatoes, they are almost like a tine little sweet drink and have often helped me to get back to eating more substantial meals. 

When I’m not having an emotional meltdown (these are getting rarer and rarer) I have discovered that nourishing your body rather than just feeding it, is an enjoyable and delicious thing.

I cook from scratch every night – remember I work a full time job, run a business, and go to the gym most evenings, so having the time to cook anything used to be a major issue, let alone something delicious and nutritious.

This is where the ubiquitous Joe Wicks, AKA The Body Coach comes in.  You’ve almost certainly heard about him or even seen him.  He helps transform people’s bodies using a combination of food and HIIT training.

Well, I’m not one for diets, somehow deprivation just isn’t something I can maintain, but he produced a cook book called Lean in 15: The Shift Plan. For me, being able to cook ANYTHING in 15 minutes sounded interesting.  Even ready meals can take that long, right?

We bought the book in early 2016, and quickly snapped up his other two Lean in 15 books as they came out.

Over the last two years, 99% of the meals we have eaten have been from his books.  The meals are unbelievably tasty and really do take fifteen minutes to make (sometimes less).

Things Joe Wicks taught me:

  • I love cooking
  • I’m quite good at cooking
  • Sesame oil is perhaps the most divine substance you can put of your food
  • How to get kids to eat spinach and kale (Mark’s daughter cites kale as one of her favourites!)
  • Fat in your food is not the enemy
  • My body feels nice when I eat well
  • That planning meals and shopping to recipes is the ONLY way to be able cook nutritious meals quickly and from scratch when you are a normal person!

I don’t follow his methods meticulously, as with all that I learn, I take what works for me and make sure it sticks.  He talks about prepping your meals in advance.  I found I just didn’t want to do this, it took up my Sunday and I didn’t want it to.  So we eat breakfasts, inspired by the books but modified to suit us, lunch could be anything but the evening meal, is Joe Wicks time (with a few “Lou” tweaks).

An example of a “tweak” I make each day is that as I am vegetarian, wherever there’s meat or fish, I swap in Quorn. Easy.  Oh, I also leave out fish sauce and add a bit more sesame oil if the recipe calls for it.

Even if I haven’t convinced you to give Joe Wicks a go, do try to meal plan weekly and then do your grocery shop online.  Why?

  • by planning your meals, you’ll know exactly what ingredients you need –  there’s nothing worse than choosing a meal to cook tonight and realising you haven’t got chopped tomatoes you need, and then having to come up with something else.
  • it means you don’t have to think about what to make for dinner when you get home.  Just check the planner and off you go!
  • shopping online prevents those impulse buys, this helps your waistline and your pocket as you’ll only buy the stuff you need – so it will save you money!  I was surprised when I first started doing this, my weekly shop was on avergage £20 cheaper online than in the store – not because it cost less, but because I knew exactly what I needed – I used to meander around the store with no list and frankly no idea what I was going to cook, making it up as I went along.
  • it saves time – you don’t have battle the crowds and queue in Asda.  These days, most supermarkets deliver for a fee, and often if you buy a delivery pass, the fee works out very cheap.  And if you live close to your supermarket, like I do, or you pass it on your way home, try click and collect.  Some supermarkets charge for this (about £1) but others, it’s free.

Here’s a link to a Meal Planner I’ve created.

As with most things, you need to be quite disciplined with yourself to make this stick but very quickly you will see the benefits.  

Here’s how I do it: Shopping list

Friday evening – select 7 meals from the three Joe Wicks books making sure I write down which book and which page number along with the title of the recipe on a planner. Here is an example of what I use– it’s just a spreadsheet. (I sometimes get Mark to do the selecting.)

I then write a list of what I need to order for the shopping – in addition to this, I put a new list on the fridge door each week for things that we use up during the week and things that we need every week, like squash, bin bags, rinse aid, bread, milk etc. Here’s an example for you –

Then I go to my Asda app and order the food.  Asda are quite good at telling what’s in or out of stock at the time you order it so you can make changes as you go – interestingly though, not all the products on the shelf at Asda are available online so I found out.  So sometimes, rarely but sometimes, it’s worth having a stroll around the actual store, pick your time though :).  Anyway, I tend to do click and collect and I just pick a time on the Saturday that works for me.

Saturday in the allocated hour – drive up, scan the order QR code and they bring your shopping to your car! Perfect!  And you have all you need to cook all week!

This approach saves me time, money and is relatively stressless compared with battling the masses on a Saturday.

Going back to the start of this post, this approach actually takes away a lot of the issues I would face when feeling emotional i.e I can’t think of anything to cook (already taken care of), I don’t have anything in (again, sorted), I don’t feel like cooking (ok, this one is a bit harder but it’s 15 mins to a great meal).

Sometimes, when we feel emotional, achieving something can help.  Sometimes that’s simply getting out of bed, other times it’s climbing a mountain but I find making a lovely meal for my family, that is well planned and therefore easy, makes me feel just a tad better and sets me on a better path emotionally.

So now I’m off to plan my meals for next week.

Comment if you have any questions or thoughts.  If you’d like the templates in editable formats, drop me a line and I’ll send them over 🙂