My Top Slimming World Tips

I’ve been a member of Slimming World for almost 18 months and today I want to share my Top Slimming World Tips.

I’ve lost around 4 stone since joining and earlier this month I shared my Slimming World Story so far so be sure to read that if you haven’t already.

Throughout this post I’ve shared some photos of Slimming World friendly meals and treats I’ve been enjoying lately.  Do let me know if you want to know more about them.

My Top Slimming World Tips

Keep speed food on hand

I love fresh fruit and vegetables but it’s also great to have ‘speedy’ store cupboard staples and non-perishable speed food on hand for those times when you don’t make it to the shops. I’ve always got jars of pickles (beetroot, red cabbage, pickled onions, gherkins) on hand. I always have passata and tinned tomatoes in the cupboard and I always make sure I’ve got frozen speedy veg (spinach, chopped onion, green beans, brussels sprout) in the freezer. This means I’ve got no excuse not to have speed food with my meals.

Top Slimming World Tips Breakfast

Find sources of daily inspiration

I love my group and make a big effort to stay for IMAGE therapy as much as I can. I love the feeling of walking out afterwards with a plan in place and some tips and suggestions from other members to try. But sometimes a few days later my inspiration is waning. This is where more regular inspiration comes in. Our group has a Facebook page which I’ve joined. I also have a dedicated Slimming World Instagram account. I love to pop on often and scroll through for recipe and food ideas and see the amazing transformation photos.

SW Lunch Salad

Have a ‘Favourite Meal’ Plan

I’m definitely a meal planner and usually sit and plan out meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) each week at a time. I’ve been a meal planner for a long time and find it much easier to write a shopping list and get the groceries in when I know what we will be eating.
But sometimes I don’t want to come up with new recipes to try or work out the whole week…so I keep a list of my favourite, plan-friendly meals that can fill a week if need be.

SW Dinner Fish Cakes

Stick With It

I think it’s been proven that members who come each week and stay to group are more likely to succeed. I can see why that’s the case. There have been times when I know I’ve not followed the plan or had a wobble and convince myself I’ve gained lots of weight. But by showing up to weigh each week it draws a line in the sand so I can move on.
I was amazed to have only gained 2.5lbs after our week-long family holiday last year. I felt so much better once I’d weighed and stayed to group for some inspiration to get back on track.

Top Slimming World Tips Dessert

Track Your Food

When I am tracking the food going in my mouth I am much more successful at making healthier choices than when I don’t. I use the weekly food diary sheets that are available at group. And I carry it around with me during the day and try to write things down as I eat them. It’s so easy to forget otherwise. You can also buy special journals to track food or use a plain notebook.
Some people take photos of everything they eat (& post to instagram for extra outer accountability!). Taking photos is a great way to keep track if you don’t have your food diary handy!

SW Taster Cheesecake Bites

Celebrate Your Progress

I am a sucker for shiny weight loss stickers and certificates and love my growing collection! As well as the standard half-stone interval awards it’s also great to see a new “stone zone” (when you go down from a weight starting with a certain stone to a new one).
I take my measurements every few months and savour the moment when I get to buy a new dress size! Photos are great for comparison as well to see how far you’ve come.
As well as my member’s book where my weight is logged I also track my weight loss on the Slimming World app and in a tracker in my Bullet Journal as well. I don’t always have my book with me so it’s handy to track progress in my bujo.

SW snack and coffee

Glossary for Non Slimming World Members!

  • IMAGE therapy – is the talk that happens after you weigh each week. It’s a great opportunity to get a plan in place for the week ahead. As well as pick up advice and recipe ideas from other members.
  • Shiny Stickers and Certificates – members get a new shiny sticker and certificate for each half stone they lose.
  • Speed Food – certain fruit and vegetables are considered “speed food” as they help your weight loss. Slimming World suggests at least 1/3 of your food is speed food.

 

I’m feeling more inspired now than I was a few weeks ago. I’ve even set myself some mini targets to work towards.
I’ll be sure to share other tips in the future.  I’d love to hear your top Slimming World tips or advice for making healthy food choices!

If you enjoyed this post you may also want to check out my blog post “Sticking With It – Tips for Building Habits“.

Tips and Ideas for School Holiday Fun

Today I want to share some ideas for Finding the Good Everyday as a family – specifically school holiday fun. I’m sharing cheap and easy ideas for activities at home as well as out and about.

Last week was Half Term for my 7 year old son. We tend to go away to visit family for part of the school holidays. Last year and this year we purposefully kept February half term clear of travel. Being Winter with the weather being a bit unpredictable we wanted a more chilled-out week at home.

We’ve kept it quite casual. I wrote down all the days on a post-it and pencilled in a theme/activity for each day so we had a rough plan. Here are some of the activities we got up to to Find the Good Everyday as well as some tips…

School Holiday Fun

Ideas for School Holiday Fun

Out & About

  • Visit the Library – our local branch is about 15 minutes walk from our house. Great for some fresh air and exercise along the way
  • Writing and posting letters – even the trip to the Post Office to buy stamps can be an adventure!
  • Chalk drawing outside – we have a paved front garden and I make sure I keep a steady supply of sidewalk chalk on hand for dry, sunny days. The colourful creations cheer up the boring slabs and it washes away next time it rains
  • Plan a day trip or two – take advantage of special offers to keep the cost down. We used an offer to get cheaper train tickets for London and visited the Tower of London with our Historical Royal Palaces pass. In the past I’ve used Tesco Clubcard vouchers to get entry tickets to Longleat too

At Home

  • Reading Stories – dig out some books and curl up on the couch (or inside a den – see below) to read for a while. This is great if the weather is bad and you’re trying to avoid spending too long near screens
  • Sorting out toys – this may seem a bit meh but if you get the kids involved they often discover long forgotten toys to play with
  • Magic Painting – in our clear-out we discovered a magic painting book – my son happily painted over the pictures with a brush and water to bring the colours out
  • Disco Bath – I got this idea from a YouTube video – buy water-activated flashing cubes and use them in the bath instead of a drink. Turn the bathroom lights off and use any torches and fairy lights you have on the bathroom counter. (TIP – we got 12 flashing cubes in the box but 4 were more than enough to light up our bath. I’ve stashed the rest away for when the batteries run out)
  • Plan a special morning or afternoon tea – we had a Valentine’s Day afternoon tea – a picnic in our lounge featuring pink and red foods
  • Build a den – gather up all the blankets, cushions and tents to create a fort….hang fairy lights for some extra whimsy. We bought a construction fort sets a few years ago and it’s been great for building dens of all shapes and sizes!
  • Baking – ranging from shop bought kits or cornflake cakes to more elaborate recipes based on your skill and patience levels!
  • Make Pancakes – Shrove Tuesday fell during half term this year so it was a good excuse to have pancakes! Pancakes are our celebration food! We have them for Christmas, birthdays and usually during most school breaks too

Tips for School Holiday Fun

  • Make sure you have some time to yourself – I continued doing daily yoga and allowed my boy some screen time while I did so.
  • Have a chat to see what the expectations are. I told him we needed to practice spelling and reading everyday. He told me he prefers eating lunch at home than going out.
  • What did you love doing as a kid? What would you like to do again? I love painting and always relish the excuse to get the paints out and sit painting together.
  • Plan in some quiet at-home days. You can make these seem more exciting if you make them “pyjama days”! My son loves the idea of staying in his pyjamas all day long! If we get cabin fever we get dressed and out the house for a little while. It’s a great way to slow down and get some quieter time.
  • If you’re looking for other ideas for family fun check out my post about Seasonal Activities – we created an Autumn bucket list and displayed all the activities we wanted to do over the season. I’m hoping to come up with something similar as Spring approaches too!

My Slimming World Story

Today I want to share my Slimming World story so far…

my slimming world story my slimming world book

I joined Slimming World at the end of August 2016. We’d been back in the UK for almost 3 months after 11 years away. 2016 had been one of the most stressful, difficult years of my life and I knew I needed to do something to take better care of myself.
I’d just finished reading Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin and was eager to try the strategy of a Clean Slate…

“Any beginning is a special power for habit creation”

I was living in a new country in a new house with a new kitchen. I had access to completely different shops and different foods and my schedule was completely open. It was the perfect time to start forming new habits for eating and staying healthy.

I’ve previously tried other diets and healthy eating plans. I’d had some success with Weight Watchers in Scotland and New Zealand, Scottish Slimmers and Michelle Bridges 12WBT. I had managed to lose weight and eat healthier with each plan but I’d never reached my target weight. I decided to try something new. Slimming World was brand new to me. And I knew of a few people that had great success with it.

Joining

When I researched it and discovered a local group within a few minutes walk from home on a day at a time that suited our family I knew I had to give it a go.

Not knowing what to expect at all – I was a bundle of nerves walking in. I listened attentively to my consultant Angie as she walked me through the plan and how it worked. And then I sat in the meeting and listened to the tips and advice from other members.

Getting Into It

The Extra Easy Plan was unlike anything I’d tried before so it took a while to get used to what foods were free, which were considered speed foods and how healthy extras and syns worked. I faithfully completed my food diaries each week and was grateful that Angie provided feedback to me.

The first week I was happy to lose but was a little disappointed that it was only 2.5lbs. In my research I’d come across stories of people losing half a stone and more on their first week. I refused to be disheartened though and carried on.

The following week I did feel disheartened when the scales showed a half a pound loss. Was I doing something wrong? I was so grateful for the support and encouragement of group members that night. They convinced me to stick with it and try a few things to mix it up.

On my third weigh in I lost 5.5lbs and claimed my half stone award and sticker. I finally felt like I was getting somewhere!

My weight losses do tend to be sporadic. It just seems to be the way my body works. I think hormones have a great deal to do with this and my consultant encouraged me to look at my losses across the whole month to ensure I could see the results.

By the end of 2016, 4 months after joining I had lost 2 stone 1 pound.

My 2017 Slimming World Story

Once I’d been a member for a while my consultant was looking for some extra helpers at our group. I stuck my hand up knowing that outer accountability helps me stick at things! By volunteering to help each week Angie was depending on me and this meant I had to go along regardless of how I thought my week had gone.

It was also good for me to get to know people and their names as I’m not as comfortable in a group setting.

2017 had it’s ups and it’s downs but overall I ended the year lighter than I’d started. I weighed on Christmas Eve and had lost a total of 4 stone 5 lbs.

I’ve gone down about 3-4 dress sizes and I am pleased with all my shiny stickers and certificates (I am motivated by stickers!).

slimming world 2017 results

My “Journey”

I get a bit fed up with the word journey and yet I find myself using it a lot. It does describe how Slimming World has worked for me. At our meetings there is a sign called “Your Journey to Target” which talks about how your “journey” can work. You could be going straight from A to B with no distractions or taking the scenic route with a few stops along the way.

I’m definitely taking the scenic route and at this present moment I feel like I’m at a rest stop and feeling a little tired at the thought of carrying on. I’m hoping to refuel my tank of motivation and continue on my way. I hope that my writing about my progress so far that I’ll be inspired to carry on…

face to face

Where I am at Now

Over the last few weeks some of my old (bad) eating habits have creeped back in and I’ve had more gains than losses. I keep giving myself pep talks and I feel encouraged each week after group…and yet a day or so later I am not sticking to the plan.

I think I need a bit of a reset. This week I have picked up a For and Against List. I completed one of these a while ago but I think it’s time to revisit and seriously consider my reasons for sticking with Slimming World.

I know that when I stick to it the plan works. And I know that I feel happier and healthier and more in balance when I follow the plan. I don’t have aspirations of being a size 8 but I do want to know that I am fuelling my body with good food and that I have a healthy relationship with food and my body. Slimming World is helping to teach me that.

 

I’ll let you know how I get on and perhaps share some tips and recipes as I go along.

Have you got a Slimming World story? Or a story about having a healthy relationship with your body and with food? I’d love to hear more if you do!

Getting photos into physical form (using chatbooks)

Whilst taking part in the Boho Berry Year End Review challenge I decided to turn my photos into a book so I have a physical record. Today I’m sharing some of the pages from my photo book. I created the book using Chatbooks*.

I think it’s important to get photos out of phones and computers and into something we can hold in our hands. In the past I’ve been a scrapbooker and also did Project Life for a few years. Although I don’t scrapbook photos anymore I still think it’s important to have physical keepsakes. Recently I’ve been making photo books.

I previously used Chatbooks last year to create a photo book for our family summer holiday.

For this book I set a recurring reminder every few days in my calendar during the month.  I added the photos in the app as I progressed through the challenge. It only took a few minutes each time and then once the new year rolled around I checked all the pages and ordered my book.

My Year End Review Photo book (using Chatbooks)

I went with a soft cover design and chose my Farewell 2017 image for the cover.

Including the Boho Berry Challenge prompt list on page 1 helps explain each of the prompts.

I chose to include the dates at the top of each page to help link back to the prompt list.

There is the option to include captions with the photos. For most pages I excluded the captions but I thought it was worth adding in the caption regarding my break-through moment as there was some extra explanation required. I was choosing the photos from my Instagram feed so it used my Instagram caption (I had the option to change this if I wanted).

I added my Word of the Year announcement image as well as the prompt (even though the dates of the images don’t line up) so that my word was displayed in the book.

I’m happy with the printed book. It’s great to have my 2017 review and 2018 plans recorded on paper as well as Instagram.

I decided to close out the book with my Welcome 2018 image to look forward to this new year.

The book ended up being 38 pages long and cost me $19US ($15 for the book plus $4 for shipping). This equated to £14.05 at the time I ordered. I ordered the book on the 6th January and it arrived mid last week (around the 17th January).

If you are keen to try using Chatbooks I have a referral code you can use. If you click here you can get your first book free*.

(* denotes an affiliate link. If you order through this link I will receive a few dollars off my next order).

 

Sticking with it – Tips for Building Daily Habits

Sticking with it

A friend recently asked me if I had any tips for sticking to a 30 day yoga programme. As I was typing a reply I realised I had lots of ideas that might help her practice daily and complete the programme. And I realised that this could make a great blog post.

Over the last while I’ve been building daily habits that make me feel more happy, healthy and in balance than I have before. I’ve not always been great at sticking to something day in and day out but I’ve picked up some strategies over the last few years that have really helped me.

What habits do I do daily?

  • Yoga – I’m up to 372 days of consecutive daily practice
  • Keeping a Gratitude Journal – I did this every day last year and have started a new journal this year
  • Morning Pages – I do these most days (about 90-95% of days in 2017).
  • Daily Self Nurturing Activities – since around April 2017. I’ve written a blog post all about it.
  • I also put Slimming World in this category – I don’t always follow the plan daily (if I did I’d be at my target weight by now!) but my commitment to Slimming World has been ongoing since the end of August 2016. This is now the longest time (that I can remember) that I’ve been active and engaged in my weight loss efforts. I have consistently attended a weigh in every week and I’m at my lightest weight for a long time (probably over 10 years).

I’m planning to share more about my weight loss journey this year. I know that it can be a contentious issue but I’m keen to share how being a member of Slimming World has helped me develop healthier habits.

My Tips for Sticking With It and Building Good Habits

You could be looking to do any of the things above or something completely different. These are my suggestions for what might help you in building daily habits.

Be clear about what you want

For example: I want to…

  • do Yoga everyday
  • write down at least one thing I’m grateful for every day
  • write Morning Pages everyday
  • stick to the Slimming World plan and end the year lighter than I started
What tools could help you stick to it

For example: do you need a yoga mat, a journal, a notepad, to join a slimming club?

What time of day will you complete your activity (most days)

I tend to fit yoga in when I can (I aim to do it when my son is at school on weekdays), I list my gratitude every night in bed before I go to sleep, I write my morning pages as soon as I wake up.

Slimming World is a little tricker – what I do that helps keep me on track is schedule time to do a weekly meal plan and a shopping list (then the shopping itself) and I write down what I eat as I eat it…to begin with I needed lots of reminders to do this, now it’s second nature. And my weekly meeting is scheduled into my calendar.

What is the best way to remind yourself?

You could:

  • Set a daily reminder on your phone
  • Put it on your to do list
  • Have a calendar displayed somewhere you will see it (and cross off each day as it’s completed)
  • Put a post it on your bathroom mirror
  • Create a tracker to mark off your progress (great for Bullet Journallers!)
What is your motivation? Why do you want to do this?

This is so important when/if you get to the stage where it gets hard and you don’t want to do it. Remember why you started. Write your reason down somewhere:

  • as a note on your phone
  • email it to yourself
  • put it on a post-it on your mirror
  • find a relevant quote and make it the screensaver on your phone or computer

Revisit your reason when needed. The text for my daily alarm to wake up is “Morning Pages – they make you feel good”…a combination of my reminder and my reason!

Go easy on yourself

If you miss a day don’t let that mess up the whole plan – just get back to it the next day. Sometimes life does get in the way. Doing something 90% (or enter any percentage here that is an improvement on your current situation) of the year is better than doing it for 5 days and giving up completely because you missed day 6!

Have a contingency plan
  • For me, a 5 minute yoga practice counts!
  • If I forget to write my daily gratitude before bed I write it as soon as I remember. The time I forgot to take my gratitude journal away with me – I emailed my notes to myself to add in later.
  • If you can’t make your usual weigh-in, know when other local meetings take place to attend.
Get yourself accountability / Go public

Some people thrive when they have accountability of some kind. I’ve talked about my Obliger tendency and how having outer accountability helps me to achieve my goals. Would getting yourself some outer accountability help you stick with building daily habits? You could try going public with your intentions on social media.

Gretchen Rubin’s The Four Tendencies are first introduced in Better Than Before and help you work out how you deal with inner and outer expectations. 

I’ve created an infographic to summarise my tips…building daily habits infographic3

Don’t Wait – You can Start TODAY

If you’re reading this and thinking –

  • it’s too late – the new year has started and I haven’t started X Y or Z, or
  • I did start and I already failed

STOP!

In my opinion it doesn’t matter – you can create a fresh new start for yourself whenever you choose! Think about where you could be next week, month, season or year from now if you start TODAY.

I have learnt that, for me, it’s far easier to do something everyday than a different frequency. Trying to get to the gym 2 or 3 times a week doesn’t work long term for me. Committing to daily yoga practice (even 5 minutes on those tough days) does. Writing whenever I have “spare time” NEVER works but making time every single day to write (even when the words make no sense!) makes me a writer!

Some other ideas for sticking with it

  • Compete with yourself and no-one else – try and get a milestone streak (10 days in a row, 30, 50, 100…)
  • If you break your streak – start again and try to beat it!
  • Find a community that supports the thing you want to do. I LOVE Instagram and have found awesome communities on there for slimming world, yoga and bullet journalling. I’m also a member of Facebook groups that support my goals. Surround yourself with others that inspire you to continue on your journey.
  • Use habit building strategies to help you – I’ve already talked about Gretchen Rubin’s book “Better Than Before” – in it, she shares 21 strategies for building good habits and breaking bad ones. She also has some tip sheets on her website for which strategies could work with what you want to achieve.

I think a lot of these tips could work for building habits at whichever frequency you choose (not just daily). What are your tips for sticking with it and building daily habits? Or habits in general?

How I want 2018 to look

2018 is here!

I want to talk about how I want 2018 to look. This is my second proper day back to routine after the Christmas break. Yesterday was spent re-filling the fruit bowl and fridge, doing laundry and other fun jobs! So although we are on the 5th day of the new year it feels a little like it’s just starting for me now!

The end of 2017 has been and gone. 12 months passed. And another 12 new months are ready ahead of us. I love the magic of this time of year. The anticipation of what this new year will bring. And at the same time looking back on the previous year.

Over December I worked my way through the rest of the Boho Berry Year End Review and I thought I’d share some more of the prompts with you. Previously I’ve shared Money and Time Well Spent in 2017 and what I will Start, Continue and Stop Doing in 2018. I’ve also shared my Word for the Year for 2018.

Taking part in the challenge really helped me get clearer on what I achieved in 2017 and how I want 2018 to look. And I’m excited to get started!

Setting Intentions for 2018

I used this prompt to come up with some short, snappy phrases that will help keep me on track through 2018. Each one helps me see how I want 2018 to look. They are not goals as such, more guiding words. I am planning to display them somewhere I will see them every day as a visual reminder.

  • Be Open
  • Natural Choices (where possible)
  • Keep it Simple
  • Create
  • Stay True to Myself

2018 will feel successful if I…

This was a simple list to come up with. These are the things I want to rock this year! I intend to write about my progress in these areas through the year.

  • reach my target at Slimming World
  • earn money as a writer
  • take good care of myself and my family
  • keep learning and growing

Top 3 Goals for 2018

The prompt above flowed well into this one. Learning and growing is important to me as well and I hope that achieving each of these goals will help me with that. Behind these 3 goals I will be creating SMART goals which are more measurable and specific.

  1. Be a Writer (& ideally get paid!)
  2. Reach target weight/size
  3. Take care of myself and my family

A new year, a new Bullet Journal

I’ve also set up a new Bullet Journal for 2018 and have been steadily working on setting it up to capture everything I need it to. I’ve created a one-pager to display how I want 2018 to look.

2018 1 pager

As you can see – it displays my word of the year, my values, my core desire feelings and my top 3 goals for the year.  I’m hoping this will be a visual reminder to keep on track with my goals. Getting it all on one page helps me see what the priorities are.

I have also kept a page near the start of my journal for my word of the year – I plan to use it to write down some of the quotes and phrases I shared in my blog post.

What now?

I’m going to spend this month working on my goals and my intentions for 2018 in more detail. I have a couple of goal workbooks to work on and hope to share more about them as I work with them.

I’ve set myself goals for January which fit into my top 3 goals – one of which is more planning for 2018!

I’m excited for what this year will bring – I am OPEN to possibilities!

Wishing you all the very best for 2018! And if you need some tips for building daily routines and good habits come back on Monday as I’ll be sharing my best tips!

Announcing my Word for 2018

My word for 2018 found me. I was starting to wonder if I should be doing more to seek it out but then it presented itself to me! I was taking part in a guided meditation and it popped into my head demanding I take notice. Sorry if that’s a bit woo-woo for you but it’s how it happened!

I’ve already talked about Choosing a Word for the Year and how my word’s for 2016 and 2017 worked for me. And today I’m ready to share my 2018 word…

…OPEN.

I want OPEN to be my guide and my lens for 2018.

In 2016 I used BELIEVE to strengthen me and help me through a stressful, life-changing, across-the-world move. In 2017 I have used DARING to be brave, try new things and push myself. I am looking forward to what OPEN will bring me in 2018.

My word for 2018

What comes to mind when I think about Open?

  • Open heart
  • Open mind
  • eyes wide Open
  • Open for business
  • Open to opportunity
  • be out in the Open
  • Open up
  • Open doors

Settling into my word for 2018

Each year I find myself researching my word when I choose it. Sometimes I’ve researched a couple to help me choose. I start by looking up the dictionary definition of the word. Then I look at the synonyms and the antonyms (or opposite-nyms as I called them when I couldn’t remember the word!). I also seek out quotes containing my word.

Here’s what I discovered for OPEN…

Definition:

I love that OPEN has so many interpretations and that the word in itself is open to definition! I won’t copy it all here because there are so many variations but if you’re intrigued give it a google and see.

Synonyms:

Unlocked, extensive, exposed, unfurled, available, accessible, candid, honest, direct, clear, visible, neutral, unbiased

Antonyms:

Shut, closed, decided, biased, end, finish

Quotes:

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open” – Jawaharlal Nehru

“Open your eyes, look within. Are you satisfied with the life you’re living?” – Bob Marley

“Time to open up a new chapter in life, and to explore a larger centre” – Lillian Russell

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls” – Joseph Campbell

What will Open bring to my life?

I think the word itself is encouraging me NOT to set boundaries or guidelines for it. I don’t want to write a list of what Open will bring into my life. I’ve learnt the previous two years that the words tend to take their own journey and sometimes teach me far more than I anticipate. Sometimes they also teach me about what they are not (if that makes sense?).

I want to keep myself open to all possibilities. I am intrigued to see what Open can teach me about boundaries and saying no versus yes. It’s tricky for me not to try and define it more and set intentions for what I expect it to do. Maybe that’s why I need this word in 2018!

 

Have you chosen a word for 2018? What is it?
And I’d love to know what OPEN means to you or if you know any great quotes about Open.

My Core Desired Feelings

Today I want to share my Core Desired Feelings, how I came to choose them and what they mean to me.

As well as my Core Desired Feelings I also have a set of Personal Values. I see the two sets of words a little differently…

  • My Values help me go about my life in ways that feel right to me.
  • My Core Desired Feelings help me with the direction I want to go.

Together they help me to make life decisions, set goals and work toward achieving what I want.

What are Core Desired Feelings?

Have you heard of a book called the Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte? It’s a workbook for determining your Core Desired Feelings. The tagline of the book reads “A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul”.

the desire map

This is what the author has to say about Core Desired Feelings and how they relate to goal setting:

“You’re not chasing the goal, you’re chasing the feeling that you hope attaining the goal will give you.”

“So what if, first, we get clear on how we actually want to feel, and then we design our goals – intentions that are in sync with who we truly are, achieved in ways that are actually life affirming and nourishing instead of an endurance test.”

“Knowing how you actually want to feel is the most potent form of clarity that you can have. Generating those feelings is the most powerfully creative thing you can do with your life.”

I see Core Desired Feelings as the essence of my hopes and aspirations. They are the feeling behind my goals.

How I chose my Core Desired Feelings

I determined my Core Desired Feelings as part of the Soul Seeker Retreat I did in 2015. I started writing Morning Pages at the same time. To begin with I loaned the Desire Map book from the library to use during the retreat but before the book was due back at the library I ordered my own copy!

It’s a great book – split into 2 parts. The first part contains a lot of essays by Danielle LaPorte about our desires and why it’s so important to set goals with feeling behind them. The second part is the workbook with lots of exercises for determining your Core Desired Feelings and how to use them to be happier in life.

The workbook walks you through different areas of your life and gives you prompts to help you determine how you want to feel in each area. There are some great exercises to help you “claim” your core desired feelings and work out which feelings you want more of in your life.

My Core Desired Feelings and what they mean to me

My core desired feelings

Magical

Believing, in awe of the bigger picture, part of the universe, amazed, in flow

Spark

Excitement, anticipation, creativity, alive, daring

Nourishment

Healthy, nurtured, self love, self care, absorbing goodness (in all areas of my life)

Connection

Mindful, loyal, engagement, collaboration, love

Peace

Tranquility, quiet, contentment, not in battle with myself or anyone else, grounded

Where I am at

I want to be honest and tell you that I’ve not been as focused on my core desired feelings in 2017. I don’t currently have a visual reminder that I see everyday (I’m going to pin up the list in the photo above so I can see it!) and sometimes weeks have gone by without me thinking of them. When I looked at my goals and aspirations for the year I did take them into account. I think I tend to aim for those feelings without even making a conscious decision to do so.

I’m not sure I feel as connected to these words now as I did when I first decided them. Each one still holds great meaning to me but I’m not certain they are still the feelings I want to seek more than anything else. It’s been enlightening to write about them and doing so has helped me reconnect with them. I think I will re-read The Desire Map next year and consider revising my core desired feelings.

Have you read the Desire Map? Do you agree that goal setting is more about what we want to feel than achieving something specific? I’d love to know what your Core Desired Feelings are if you have your own. I’m fascinated by the words that people collect (as an avid word collector myself!).

Better Than Before Changed My Life

Today I’m sharing how a book by Gretchen Rubin called Better Than Before changed my life and how I got to meet Gretchen herself…

Better Than Before Changed My Life

Super Fan!

I’m a long-time fan of Gretchen Rubin. I first discovered her through her book, The Happiness Project. I went on to read Happier at Home and Better Than Before. I’m signed up to her newsletter and daily happiness quote emails and I regularly listen to the podcast she hosts alongside her sister Elizabeth Craft.

If you haven’t heard of her I really recommend trying out her podcast or one of her books ASAP! Especially if you want to do something to improve your life in 2018.

An Evening Adventure…

On Monday evening, after dark (so sometime after 3pm…thanks British Winter!), I took myself off on a little adventure. I travelled into London to see Gretchen Rubin speak about her newest book – The Four Tendencies. Gretchen explained the Four Tendencies and how they work together (or not!) and answered questions from the audience.

After Gretchen’s talk I joined the back of the queue to get my copy of The Four Tendencies signed. As I worked my way up the queue I knew I wouldn’t have long to talk and wondered what I should say. In the end I told her my name so she could sign my book, asked for a photo (which came out so blurry!) and then declared “Better Than Before Changed My Life!” I didn’t want to hold up the remaining queuers so made my way out after a very brief chat.

Gretchen Rubin and I

How Better Than Before Changed my Life

As I wandered back to the tube station to start the journey home I gave it a lot of thought. I knew the book had changed my life…but how specifically had it done so?

Better Than Before is all about how we can make good habits and break bad ones. In it, Gretchen shares strategies for how to change your habits to make your life better. I read it in the summer of 2016 just after our arrival back in the UK. My life was completely up in the air, upside down and turned inside out. And as I read about the strategy of the clean slate I realised I was in the perfect position to take advantage of this.

Much of what I read in the book resonated with me. I started to get a better understanding of why I was struggling to achieve goals that were so important to me and what I could do to help me reach my aspirations.

My name’s Katie and I’m an Obliger…

One of the first sections of the book talks about the Four Tendencies framework which groups people by their relationship with internal and external expectations. The Four Tendencies are:

  • Upholder,
  • Questioner,
  • Obliger and
  • Rebel

There’s a quiz you can do here to find out which tendency is yours.

I came out as an Obliger which I felt a bit disgruntled about. The definition of an Obliger is someone who meets outer expectations and resists inner expectations. Basically I’m great at doing things for other people but not for myself. It explains a lot!

Knowing my tendency and learning more about the strategies to build great habits has helped me immensely.

I’ve learnt to find some outer accountability to help me achieve my goals. Here are some examples:

  • I joined Slimming World to help me lose weight.

This was a combination of the clean slate strategy I noted above and also getting outer accountability. I volunteer as a helper at the group so someone else is depending on me to go! This means that even if I’ve had a lousy week I still button up my coat and go along as I don’t want to let anyone down!

I committed to posting a picture every day through January to confirm I’d done my daily practice. I ended up posting daily until around 60 days then at various milestones throughout the year.

  • When I wanted to increase my writing and be more serious about it I created this blog.

Committing to posting a couple of times a week got me that outer accountability I needed to sit at the laptop and get the words out.

  • For NaNoWriMo I declared my intention here on the blog and on social media.

I also committed to attending write in’s where I would be with other writers…interestingly some of my most productive writing time was at the write-in’s!

This is an interesting one because it’s something I do for myself and I don’t have anyone checking to see if I’ve done it. On the Happier podcast they’ve talked about little tricks Obligers can use to get outer accountability and I think I unknowingly used one (when I first started this habit before I read the book and knew I was an Obliger). The trick is to imagine your future self as an external source. I am doing my morning pages every day because my future self will be happier as a result!

Other strategies from the book that have worked for me

  • Pairing

I decided to pair my desire to walk more regularly with the school run. I now walk several times a week – either walking to school with my son and then home alone, or I drop him at school and then go for a walk before I jump back in the car to come home.

  • Treats

I set myself treats (rewards) throughout NaNoWriMo at milestone word counts.

  • Monitoring

I created trackers in my Bullet Journal to monitor my yoga practices and my daily self nurturing activities.

  • Scheduling

When I want to commit to a habit I add it as a recurring appointment in my calendar. I have one set at the moment to join in with a Year End Review Instagram challenge.

Have you read it?

I am sure if I thought long enough I’d be able to come up with plenty more ways that Better Than Before changed my life. I am looking forward to picking up more tips in The Four Tendencies book – especially in how my husband (a Rebel – resists outer and inner expectations – the trickiest tendency to understand) and I (an Obliger) can work better together!

If you haven’t read Better Than Before I would wholeheartedly recommend it!

Choosing a Word for the Year

Have you heard about choosing a word for the year and using it as a mantra?
I’ve done it a few times now with varying degrees of success. I’m starting to think about a word for 2018 and want to reflect on my words for 2016 and 2017 as a starting point.

Choosing a Word for the Year

Choosing a Word for the Year in  2016 – BELIEVE

In 2016 my word of the year was Believe. It worked its magic. Believe got me through:

  • the uprooting of our little family from beside the sea in Wellington, New Zealand and the repositioning of us in the South East of England.
  • our gorgeous dog, Rhett, being diagnosed with cancer and the awful decision we had to make about the right time to say goodbye.
  • a tough few months at work before leaving my job in NZ to move to the UK.
  • starting my memoir and healing myself as I poured the stories onto the pages that I’d held tight inside me.

After last year I now understand how choosing a word for the year and using it as a mantra can be powerful. Each time things got tough I would whisper it to myself. I’d repeat it to myself over and over. I’d even spot signs of it as I went about my days.

Believe, to me, meant:

  • faith in myself and the universe that I could get through everything life was throwing at me.
  • me developing a deeper belief in myself (it strengthened me).
  • When things got tough it offered hope.
  • When ideas and inspiration came to me it spurred me on to pursue them.
  • And it reminded me of the magic that children believe in and how fun and exciting believing can be.

I feel deeply connected to Believe. I think it will continue to be an important word for me – especially during tough times. It’s proven itself a worthy mantra for sure!

Choosing a Word for the Year in 2017 – DARING

As 2016 closed out and with the approach of a new year I wanted to pick a new word. I had moved through one phase of my life and into a new one and I wanted something fresh and challenging for the new year.

So I played around with a few words (like brave and courage) and during a conversation with someone she asked me to clarify what I wanted from my word. I tried to explain that I wanted to challenge myself and take some risks. As I was speaking she picked up that I used Daring and it sounded like it lit me up. I sat for a while with Daring and it seemed to claim me. It felt right.

She also suggested that I use my Word for the Year as a lens in which to look through. I love this way of looking at it. It has helped me set goals for 2017 and it’s helping me to make progress and achieve those goals.

What has Daring encouraged me to do?

  • Commit to daily Yoga practice and try lots of new poses.
  • Work through The Artist’s Way completing all the tasks and exercises.
  • Get my memoir to 50,000 words and start sharing it with my husband and family.
  • Start the editing process on my memoir with a view to making enquiries with publishers.
  • Create this blog and putting my words and thoughts out into the wild.
  • Taking up pottery classes and embracing messy creativity.
  • Joining a mentoring and personal development group who meet monthly.
  • Having a go at NaNoWriMo.
  • Venturing out for walks in nature in all seasons and weather.
  • Signing up for things that I felt nervous about (workshops, training etc).

How has Daring changed for me through the year?

At the start of the year I had a picture in my mind of me stood in a superhero pose at the top of a hill surveying the lands in front of me. I was probably wearing a cape! Taking leaps and bounds from one challenge to the next never stopping for breath.

It’s a great fantasy but I’ve learnt that living a Daring life isn’t necessarily like that. Sometimes Daring means:

  • sitting quietly and Daring to dream my hopes and goals.
  • little nudges rather than giant leaps.
  • a reminder in my ear when I find myself taking the easy route (and asking myself how can I do this better?).
  • showing up 100% as much as I can, in everything that’s important to me.

As we see out the last weeks of the year I will be coming up with a word for 2018 that feels exciting and right. And while I search out my 2018 word I’ll also keep making the most out of Daring.

Have you considered choosing a word of the year or do you already do this? If so I’d love to hear what words you’ve had or what word you have chosen for 2018.

I originally got the idea for choosing a Word for the Year from the scrapbooking community. I think I first heard about it from Ali Edwards who runs a year-long one little word workshop and has heaps of great resources on her blog for helping you to choose your word.