I’m Confused!

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You may, or may not know, I am vegan, and have been for over 4 years now.  I am very conscious that the reasons why I adopted a vegan lifestyle, may not be the same reasons why someone else would want to become a vegan.  My partner and I primarily did this for his health initially.  Since then, as animal lovers and as compassionate human beings, we stay vegans for the animals and also for the planet.

During our time as vegans, we have influenced numerous people to adopt a plant-based diet.  I get that it’s not us “converting” them.  I think it’s more the fact that people watch from a distance, their curiosity is peaked, they find out more, they give it a go, they feel good and next thing they know, they are eating a plant-based diet!

This week I set up a Facebook group, My Kind of Diet, primarily for people who are interested, or is on a plant-based diet; to share what I know and help where I can.  As my background is Exercise Science, with a particular interest in health, it makes sense to speak about the benefits of a plant-based diet for our health.

I know that for health, we are looking at a wholefood, plant-based diet, but hey …. baby steps, right?

So, someone in the group asked me what the difference was between a vegan diet and a plant-based diet.

Here are my thoughts about it.

On the surface, they are the same. You can look at two plates of food and they would be identical.  Nothing on the plate would have come from animals, and would be vegetables, pulsed, nuts, seeds.

The difference between both plates would be the principle behind what is on the plates.

Someone on a vegan diet is prompted by animal rights issues, the ethical treatment of animals, and environmental impact of animal consumption and exploitation (for diet, fashion, etc), and so will also live a vegan lifestyle, e.g. use of leather, wool, etc.  The Vegan Society in the UK define veganism as,

“A philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.”

On the other hand, a plant-based diet is a diet based on foods derived from plants, including vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and fruits, but with few or no animal products.  A plant-based diet is not necessarily a vegetarian diet. Many people on plant-based diets continue to use meat products and/or fish but in smaller quantities.  People who follow a plant-based diet generally do so for their health, i.e. either to prevent chronic illness and disease or reverse chronic illness and disease.

I hope that helps clear up any confusion for you.  And as for which diet to choose?

My personal recommendation is to start with a predominantly plant-based diet, as there is substantial evidence that indicates a diet that is low in animal products and high in fruit and vegetables can help manage most chronic diseases.  A strict plant-based diet has been shown to halt, and even reverse some chronic diseases.

Adopting a plant-based diet is also one of the top three lifestyle choices that we can adopt to reduce our carbon footprint.

You may find that you are very happy here.

On the other hand, you may find that you are driven to make even stronger ethical choices, and may then move towards a vegan lifestyle.

Whatever your choice, I implore you to look at your health and begin reducing the amount of meat and animal products that you are consuming.  You can start with meat-free Mondays, and move on from there.

For further discussions and help, come join my Facebook group.

You Are Enough

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When we were in Bali last month, my partner bought a couple of banners for our yoga studio.  The words on the banner were,

Always remember …

You are braver than you believe.  Stronger than you seem.  Smarter than you think; and twice as beautiful as you’d ever imagine.

I had the pleasure of sitting in, observing a fellow Les Mills Trainer deliver an advanced training course at the weekend.  Over the same weekend, there was a bootcamp in London, for potential new Presenters/Trainers to join the Les Mills UK team, and I knew a few people who were invited to attend.  And it nudge me into reflecting on why we do what we do, and the ever interesting question of, “Am I good enough?”

Why is such a simple question so powerful?

Why is validation and recognition something most of us crave?

Is it how we are brought up?  If that is the case, then it is a pretty universal issue, as this affects so many of us; regardless of race, gender, social standing.  Perhaps it is every parent’s desire for their children to have and be the best?

What does it take for us to realise that we are good enough; that we always have been, and always will be?  Just because we don’t get the acknowledgement we seek does not mean that we are not good enough.  It probably is not the path we are meant to go down and it is the universe just saying, “Wrong direction.”

And then, I also remember reading somewhere, or hearing someone say, “It’s not about you, and it’s all about you.” (hence the picture above!)

Think about that for a moment …

And the picture above.

There are larger forces at play.

When I started my yoga teacher training journey, my teacher said that life is like the underside of a carpet; messy, not pattern or direction.  Flip the carpet over and you will be met with the most amazing art work.

Such is life. Whilst we are caught in the mess of it, we fail to recognise that every strand is special and significant in its own right, and that we are but one strand in the grand scheme of things.

It is not about whether you are good enough.

You are good enough; to do what you are meant to do.

So instead of asking yourself if you are good enough, ask yourself what are you here to do.

Because when you drop into the path that you are meant for, you will know that it is where you are meant to share your gifts and is what you were always meant to do.

Life On My Terms

it starts with you ...

I heard something recently that really made me think, and reinforced my feelings about most people.

We spend 40 hours a week in school, to step into a 40 hour a week job, for 40 years of our life, only to retire on about 40% of the income we are used to …

Or, something like that.

Does that even make sense to you?

Those of you who are fitness instructors, and self-employed may be thinking that you escaped that treadmill.  You left a “job” and struck out by yourself. 

You are living life on your terms.

Sorry to burst your bubble, …

But, there is more to living life on your terms than that.

For many years, I was under the illusion that I was doing just that.  Working for myself as a freelance group exercise instructor, yoga teacher, trainer for Les Mills UK and other training providers.  If I worked hard and did the hours I had accepted to do, I would get paid, and the rest of the time would be mine to spend for my pleasure.

Yeah, right?!

The reality is this … when I am sick, or injured, or just do not feel like working, I do not get paid.

When I take time off for a holiday, I do not get paid.

And, there are times when I do not get paid on time because the company had a problem with their banking system.

Or, better still, I have a wait for a cheque in the post (which is usually late), which I then have to take to the post office to bank in and wait for it to clear.

What provisions do you have in place for when you are older and need care?

Oh ….

And if you have children, what have you got in place for them when you are gone?

Is that really living life on your terms?

I know you are no doubt doing what you love, so are you truly happy that this is the case?  That your cash flow is dependent on external factors?

For many years, this was me too. 

And, I realised that it had to stop.

When you are younger and just starting out on the self-employed journey, it is exciting and thoughts of the future tend to be a long way away.  Whilst I think most of us believe that we will die … eventually, it is not featured at the forefront of our minds.

As I write this, I am sitting on a plane to Bangkok to visit my parents.  I have not seen them in over 6 years and the reason for this is because I was busy working.  I had accrued debts from a previous relationship ( .. how on earth did this happen?).

I just could not afford the time out, financially and personally.  In my mind, I needed to accept all the work that came my way because I was afraid that if I didn’t, it would affect any future work that would be allocated. 

So, something needed to change.  I wanted to be able to take time off and not worry about my cashflow, and my career.  I wanted to be in charge and truly live life on my terms.

And, I am on my way there.

Now that I get it and am putting the pieces in place, I can see how many self-employed people still have an employee mindset, and will never truly live life the way they want to. 

It frustrates me and I really want to help them see that there is another way of thinking, and here are some tips for you:

  • If you have not read the book, Rich Dad Poor Dad, and/or the Cashflow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki, read them!  It will change how you view your finances and your money mindset.
  • Look at what you love doing and what you are doing now.  Your experiences are unique to you and is a potential source of abundance.  If you have been in the group exercise industry for a long time, like I have, you may be feeling that it is time to make a change and do something different.
  • Are you trading your time for money?  For example, teaching a BODYBALANCE class for a health club and getting paid £25 for that class is trading your time for money.  It is an hourly rate, and therefore no different to if you were an employee.  Understanding this is the first mindset shift out of being coin-operated.
  • What could you offer alongside what you currently do that will make the shift away from that and towards getting money to work for you?
  • What other sources of income do you have?  If you are self-employed and you became incapacitated, your income stream could potentially stop. If you are employed, you could lose your job or be made redundant.  Life is uncertain, more so today, than ever before.  Be open-minded and look at additional sources of income.

I would love to have a chat with you to see if I can help you make this shift.  I am offering a free 15-minute chat slots, so please click here to book a time.