Get Fit While Flossing – The 4 Minute Workout

This is going to sound a little odd but, for the sake of sharing my story and, hopefully, helping out a few people along the way, I’ll suck it up.

I work out while I brush my teeth.

And that’s pretty much the only exercise I ever do.

Yup, that’s it. I, like 99% of the population (stat totally just assumed), don’t like working out. The thought of going to a gym chills me to my very core and, though I occasionally get up the motivation to do a quick jog around the block, I’m not exactly what you’d call a fitness fanatic. I’m barely even a fitness fair-weather friend.  I have the upper body strength of a (very weak) kitten.

I’m also a mother to a 9-month-old baby, so I appreciate how difficult it can be to carve out dedicated slots of time.

So what’s a gal to do? I know how important it is to keep fit but ugh, I just hate it. Know what else I hate doing that’s still important? Flossing.

So I just married my two big dislikes and BAM, now I get fit while I floss.

I don’t have a set routine, but this is what I started doing:

-+- Lunges while brushing my teeth. I can get about 30 done (15 each side). Approximate time: 2 minutes.

-+- Calf raises and butt clenches (stop laughing) while flossing. I can get about 40 done. Approximate time: 1 minute 30 seconds.

-+- Squats while rinsing with mouthwash. I can get 20 done, and I hold the last one for a count of 20. Approximate time: 30 seconds.

Feel the burn while brushing

Feel the burn while brushing

I try to switch it up sometimes so I don’t get bored (and so I can get a bit more of an all-round workout) by doing push-ups against the edge of the bath.

OK, I know it’s not groundbreaking, but there’s no point in me gushing about the benefits of a solid hour’s effort at the gym if it’s just not me. This site is all about sharing what works for ME, so that it might inspire YOU. (If you’re a gym bunny, you should’ve already stopped reading by now.)

Is it going to turn me into an Olympic athlete? – No.

Am I going to lose a bunch of weight? – No.

Am I going to have washboard abs? – No.

Am I going to increase my endurance and resistance, all while toning up? – Ever so slightly. And that’s good enough for me.

Is it better than nothing? – Definitely.

I’m certainly not advocating a sedentary lifestyle, nor am I suggesting for a second that this minuscule bit of exercise will somehow save you from heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes, or any number of nasty things.

What I am saying is that if, like me, you detest working out and have made countless promises to get fit only to lose heart and motivation a month later, maybe start small like me.

As I said above, I also occasionally run (read: slowly huff and puff, with several walking breaks) around the block. I also sometimes do squats or jumping jacks if I’m waiting for something to heat in the microwave.

So if you’re really struggling to get any form of exercise, try to incorporate little things into your day. Identify small blocks of time and see if you can fit in some form of movement.

* Push-ups while waiting for your porridge to cool down

* Skipping instead of slumping up the stairs

* Running on the spot while running a bath

There are a million different ways you can incorporate some small amounts of exercise into your everyday life, no expensive gym membership required. Find a few and get cracking!

What small thing do you do to add a little energy to your day? Share with us in the comments!

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Pay It Forward (or ‘How To Make The World A Better Place’)

“Do a good deed” has been on my ‘to do’ list for a few days. So I finally decided that yesterday was going to be the day I actually put a big check mark next to it. I’d spent the previous evening trying to think of things to do, and had come up short. (It’s a sad day when you can’t even think of something nice to do for another human being.) As it turned out, Facebook was my friend.

I logged in yesterday morning to have a quick look before heading off to work. Lo and behold, the very first update I saw was from a group I joined recently. One of the other members was posting some items she was selling off in order to raise funds for her autistic son. She wrote about how difficult she was finding it because she really loved some of the items she was offering but, obviously, she loved her son more.

So there it was – the universe was presenting me with an opportunity to do good. I got her PayPal address and send a small contribution to her. That way she would have the money, but would also still have the items. And I left for work feeling mighty pleased with myself.

The reason I’m sharing the story is not to gloat, but hopefully to inspire someone else to do a good deed too. Over the years, there have been many people who have made my day with a kind gesture or a genuine compliment. Those people will never know how grateful I was, and how their words and actions stayed with me. If I can do the same for someone else, all the better!

You know that saying, “Be the change you want to see in the world”? That’s what good deeds are all about. If you want the world to be a better place (and, really, who wouldn’t want that), you have to start by being a better person. You have no idea how much your actions could affect another person. When you smile at a stranger, or make conversation with a cashier, you could be impacting on that person’s life much more than you know.

Pay It Forward

Maybe that person was going through a tough time – perhaps even feeling utter despair – and your smile was the brightness they needed to see. Maybe that person was just having a bad day and felt unloved and unappreciated, and your casual question about how they were doing made them feel acknowledged. Maybe that person had just moved to this new place and was feeling lost and alone, and your offer to help them with directions made them feel secure and confident.

Once you brighten someone’s day, they’re much more likely to brighten someone else’s… and on and on it goes.

Has anyone ever said or done something that made you happy? Why not pay it forward? It’ll make both you and the recipient feel great. Double win!

So go ahead, do a good deed today. Then come back here and tell us about it in a comment.

Have you got tips for things people can do to ‘pay it forward’? I’d love to hear them!

Pinterest stole my life… and it’s coming for yours too

Pinterest is a tricky thing. When I first discovered it, I spent many, MANY hours diving right down that rabbit hole. After that, I had to go cold turkey or risk never seeing the light of day again.


Yup, that’s about right

Having said that, I think it might be time to dip my toe tentatively back in the waters of infinite wisdom. (More and more bloggers I know are now turning to Pinterest rather than Google when they have a question about something.)

The beauty of Pinterest is that it’s visual. It gives you a snapshot, so that you can scan at your leisure rather than always being bogged down with words.

With that in mind, here’s my Pinterest board for all things cleaning and organising:

Do I implement all the tips? No. Do I implement any at all? Yes. So that’s something. And the rest are there for when I win the National Lottery and buy my dream home. Any day now! 😉

If you only implement one tip from here, or it inspires you to get your junk drawer in order (here’s mine), it’ll all be worth it.

But maybe leave it until you’ve got a good few hours to spare…

Do you use Pinterest? What do you mainly use it for?

Got Paper & A Pen? Then Get Cracking On A Better You

If you were to ask my nearest and dearest to describe me, I’d be surprised if “organised” wasn’t a word that appeared quite frequently. I’m forever writing lists to keep myself on track. I used to scribble notes on anything that was close to hand – a scrap of paper, a white board, the back of an envelope… In fact, I still sometimes come across old letters and things with ‘to do’ lists scrawled on them.

Recently, I’ve ratcheted it up another notch, by trying to keep everything in one place. (I say “trying” because I use both digital and paper calendars and ‘to do’ lists.) It’s still a work in progress but, today, I’d like to share how I keep myself and my family organised, and some tips for how you can do it too.

Get organised


The answer is pretty simple – a calendar. Ours hangs in the kitchen and keeps track of anything that affects the household – appointments, times when one of us will be out of the house (for meetings, lunch dates, business trips, etc.), birthdays, anniversaries, visitors, etc. It means my husband and I can both see upcoming events and plan accordingly.

(I know a lot of people use digital calendars these days, and most of the tips below can be applied there too, but for the purposes of this post, I’m sticking with paper. Keep an eye out for a future post on digital calendars!)

I also colour-coordinate our calendar, which may be a step too far for some people, but I can tell at a glance which one of us is busy at a given time, rather than having to read through an endless list of black ink to try to figure out who’s supposed to be where. My appointments are green; my husband’s are purple; our daughter’s are pink; anything involving just my husband and I (e.g. a wedding invitation, date night, etc.) is blue; all 3 of us is orange; birthdays are red; and, finally, miscellaneous (e.g. someone coming to visit or do work on the house) is black.

(I know, I know. I’m a crazy person. 😛 )


Source: annwood on Flickr – paintbox 2/09/09

I also use paperclips to attach things directly to the calendar. So, for instance, a wedding will be written directly onto the calendar, but the invitation will also be clipped to the bottom so we can refer to it for directions, accommodation, dress code, etc.


So here are my tips to keep yourself (and others) organised:


1. Any calendar will do – just get it set up.

There are lots of options to choose from, but don’t spend too much time thinking about it. Some people use a fancy white board, some use a calendar customised with photos of their kids, and some (like me) use a store-bought calendar. Anything will suffice. In the beginning, I used to print out Google Calendar pages. If even that presents a problem for you, just grab a piece of paper, write the month at the top, and divide the rest of the page into numbered squares. As long as there’s adequate space for you to write, it’s good enough. It’s that simple.

Blank January 2014 calendar

Function first, fun later (see #6).

2. Capture everything relevant.

In the beginning, sit down and write in every appointment you can think of. (If your calendar covers other people, get them involved too.) If it has to be done on a certain date, it goes in the calendar. Pull out appointment cards, invitations, flight details, etc. and get them all down.

Note how I said everything “relevant”. These are for things that have a date attached to them. For instance, you may WANT to get a particular errand done on Friday, but unless it absolutely HAS to be done on Friday, it goes on your ‘to do’ list, not on your calendar.

(BUT you could clip a little reminder to the side of the calendar, as long as it doesn’t start getting cluttered. For example, every January we get our oven cleaned so we can clear out the Christmas gunk. It doesn’t have a specific date, but it will once I call the guy and find out when he’s available. I clip his business card to the bottom corner of the January page.)

If you work the same hours every week, you wouldn’t put that on your calendar. But you would put holidays on it. The calendar is to remind you of things that you or your family might otherwise forget. No-one will forget that you work 9-5 Monday to Friday if you do it every single week. But they might forget that you have the first week in February off. THAT goes on the calendar.

Note: if it’s a family calendar, try to keep it to things that affect everyone. I might have a blog post to publish on a particular day, but my husband doesn’t need to know that, and it doesn’t need to clutter up the family calendar. Have a separate, personal diary for things like that.

3. Keep it clean.

Chalkboard Alphabet

Keeping a calendar is supposed to detract from your stress, not add to it. If it’s indecipherable, it’s not serving its purpose. Keep only relevant information on it (see #2 above), and keep it as neat and tidy as your handwriting will allow. Leave some space between each item so you can tell at a glance how many things you’ve got going on that day.

4. Consider colour-coding.

Also great for at-a-glance ease. You could use different colour pens, or different colour highlighters, or even stickers.

Either use different colours for different people or, alternatively, use one colour for appointments, one colour for work-related projects and deadlines, one for birthdays, one for parties, etc.

Try to keep it simple. Until you get used to it, keep a note of what each colour means right on your calendar.

5. Keep it updated.

There’s no point having a calendar if it doesn’t contain all your important times and dates. As soon as something arises, put it on the calendar. If it’s something you don’t have time to insert immediately, clip the letter/invitation/whatever to the calendar and mark the date with a star. That way you’ll still know at a glance that you have a commitment that day, and you can sit down when you have time and write in the details.

If you live with others, get them used to doing the same. If it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t happen. They won’t make that mistake twice!

I keep a pen clipped to mine so I can write things in immediately.

6. Make it fun… eventually.

My calendar is a Where’s Wally one (or, if you’re from the States, Where’s Waldo). Each month I look forward to turning the page and having new things to find. It’s silly, but it keeps it fun and interesting. I like using it.

Where's Wally calendar

If you’re not used to using a calendar, function is the important thing to begin with, as in #1 above. After that, break out the colours, stickers, Washi tape… whatever makes it more appealing for you.

Just remember not to overwhelm it. You still need to be able to spot things at a glance. That’s difficult if you’ve got the page cluttered with cute kitten stickers.

6. Put it somewhere visible.

What’s the point in having a calendar if you can’t see it? If you have to go look for it, you’ll never use it. Hang it in a place where everyone passes regularly. Ours is in the kitchen near the fridge. How many times do we go to the fridge each day? Several. There’s no excuse for not knowing what’s coming up.

7. Break the rules!

If colour-coding isn’t your thing, don’t do it. If you prefer to note things in hieroglyphics, do that! The important thing is to do whatever works for you. Once you’ve got all the information down, the ‘hows’ don’t really matter.

Once you’ve got a calendar up and running, you’ll never miss an appointment again. You’ll feel more in control, less stressed, and you’ll save yourself a lot of time. (“What time was that appointment again? I better ring and double check.” “I know I put that invitation somewhere… Now where is it?”)

PLUS, seeing things on your calendar will prompt you to get other stuff done too. When you see that birthday party invitation, you’ll know to go out and buy a gift. When you see that your kid has soccer practice this week, you’ll know to throw the sports kit in the washing machine. When you see that you’ve got a particularly busy week, you’ll know to get the grocery shopping done in advance so you’re not living on takeaways… or starving.

Take a few minutes (or hours, if needs be) to set up a calendar, and a few seconds a day to keep it updated, and the benefits will be far-reaching.

6 Ways to Ensure Success when Goal-Setting

How are those resolutions holding up? If you’re doing well, then congratulations, you can look away now. Nothing to see here. 😉

If you’re struggling, or have given up completely, then keep reading!

Let’s look at WHY you’re having trouble. Is it because you didn’t set SMART goals? Maybe you weren’t specific enough about what you wanted, or there was no way for you to measure your level of success. How can you lose weight, for example, if you don’t know what your starting weight is, and what your goal weight is?

Maybe your resolution wasn’t achievable or realistic. For me, I find it hard to hit goals that require a lot of time investment, or a strict schedule. I have an 8-month-old daughter, so promising myself I’ll work out for half an hour every day or that I’ll write a blog post every day just isn’t realistic. BUT I can promise myself that I’ll be more active around the house, and that I’ll write at least one blog post a week. Those are things that are much more do-able and flexible, while still pushing me to get things done.

Maybe you didn’t set a timetable or time limit for yourself. When do you want to have achieved your goal? Or how often do you want to do something?

Maybe you set too stringent a time limit.

Maybe you gave up too soon.



Here are some helpful hints and tricks to get you back on track:

1. As mentioned above, set SMART goals.

Aiming to get fit isn’t SMART, but aiming to take up one new sport and committing to attending training at least once a week certainly is.

2. Be flexible.

Life has a tendency to throw curveballs every now and again. By all means promise yourself a workout every morning, but also recognise that, sometimes, that workout might have to wait until later in the day. Or later in the week.

This isn’t an excuse to procrastinate, but rather a reminder to roll with the punches.

3. Be patient.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are good habits. Your house is unlikely to be immaculate after one day of cleaning (but I take my hat off to you if it is). Slow and steady wins the race.

4. Start small.

By all means, dream big. But don’t expect to get there in one big bound. You’re not going to be perfectly organized overnight. Start by buying a calendar or planner and filling in important dates and appointments.

Want to drink the recommended 8 glasses of water a day? Start by just drinking one glass a day until you get used to it. (If this really is one of your goals, you’ll want to read this.)

Leo Babauta talks about it in this article on habits, which is well worth a read (as is the whole site).

5. Do what you WANT to do, not what you think you SHOULD do.

Recently, I saw a link online advertising the hundred books I “had” to read in 2014. No thank you. I’ll read the type of books I want to read, and I’ll be reading them at my own pace for pleasure, not racing to get through chapters just to tick off two “must reads” a week.

(Believe me, I learned this the hard way after resolving to read “War & Peace” in 2012. I did it because it’s “a classic” and therefore I felt obliged to read it – like I’d somehow be considered stupid if I didn’t. I read it, but I hated pretty much every second of it. Lesson learned.)

If you feel like you’ve resolved to do something that, on reflection, you really don’t want to do, just drop it. Re-examine your resolutions and see if there’s a “should” in there anywhere. Either turn it into a “want” or delete it.

6. Go easy on yourself.

One fall is not failure. If you gave up every time something was hard, or every time you hit an obstacle, you’d never succeed at anything. If artists gave up with every slip of the paintbrush, we wouldn’t have nearly as many masterpieces. If authors gave up when they received a rejection letter, we wouldn’t have nearly as many great, bestselling novels. If babies gave up as soon as they fell over, none of us would be walking!

(Read this post if you still need convincing.)

Remember, no matter how little you think you’ve achieved, you’re still farther along than when you started. When I did Jillian Michaels’ exercise regime ’30 Day Shred’, the only thing that got me through it was not wanting to have to start all over again. I did it every day for 30 days, because there was no way in hell I was going to go back and re-do any of them. 😉

You’re one day closer than you were yesterday. And tomorrow you’ll be one day closer again.

Do you really want to have to pick up and start all over again, or are you going to pull up your socks and make it a little bit further?

Runners don’t go back to the starting line every time they feel out of breath, trip up, or get cramp. They take a breather, and then keep on going.

Are you going to fall and use it as an excuse to fail, or are you going to get back up and finish anyway?

Friday Fun – Life Before Google

If you’re a parent, or you work in retail, the excitement everyone else feels on a Friday will mean nothing to you. We don’t switch off at 6pm on Friday evening. We don’t have a whole weekend of freedom stretching seemingly endlessly out in front of us.

But you know what? We may not be free from responsibility, but we can still have fun! We can still switch to a lower gear, loosen our collars, and bend the rules a little. Rules are for weekdays. 😉

With that in mind, here’s a little something I hope will make you chuckle:

I’ll be back with a new post on Monday but, if you can’t make it through the weekend without your fix, have a browse around the site for some great content, or come on over and join the fun on Facebook.

Have a great weekend, folks. (Even if it involves dirty nappies, like mine will. 😉 )

Overcome obstacles to keep your New Year’s resolutions – climbing back on the wagon


So, did you start yesterday all clean and fresh and eager to get fit, get healthy, and generally take control of your life?

Are you still on a high or is the motivation already starting to wane?

If it’s the former, well done you! Small successes spur us on to achieve bigger and better things.

If it’s the latter, fear not. All is not lost! I once read that one chocolate isn’t the end of a diet. I think that’s so true. Just because you slip up doesn’t mean that you’ve failed. It just means you’ve hit a dip in the road and it’s up to you whether you give up, curl up, and never try to see what’s over the horizon, or you crawl right out of it and keep on truckin’.

Source: (ID-100148181)

Let’s say you decided to give up smoking, but succumbed to one cigarette in a moment of weakness. Does that mean you failed? No, it means you’re human. Instead of telling yourself that you’re a smoker, understand that you’re a non-smoker who just had a tiny setback before moving on.

I don’t drink alcohol. Never have. But, do you think that if I’d had one drink, that I’d suddenly be classed as a drinker? Of course not! One drink wouldn’t make me a drinker, the same as one cigarette doesn’t make you a smoker. Yes, it could certainly be the start of a slippery slope, but an isolated incident doesn’t define you.

One bar of chocolate doesn’t make you unhealthy, and one missed workout doesn’t make you lazy or unfit.

But you have to be careful. One incident can lead to another, and another, and… pretty soon they’re no longer “isolated incidents”; they’re a habit. Once you smoke that first cigarette, it’s so much easier to smoke another. Once you eat that first piece of chocolate, it’s so much easier to eat another.

But you don’t have to! Recognise that you have a choice. Yes, it can be hard to recover from a slip-up. But “hard” doesn’t mean impossible. “Hard” doesn’t mean failure.




Of course, the best way to stick with your resolutions is to maintain control 100% of the time. After all, you certainly have control over that first stumble. It’s much easier just to not reach for that first piece of chocolate than it is not to reach for that second piece.

As Mathew Perry, self-confessed alcoholic, recently said, once he has one drink, he can’t stop having another and another. So how does he stay sober? He realizes that, while he may not have control over subsequent drinks, he has control over whether or not he allows himself that first one.

It’s much easier to say no all the time than it is to say no after having said yes once.

But, again, it’s not impossible. Falling off the wagon doesn’t mean you can never get back on. Obviously once you’re on, you should try to stay on, but a little tumble doesn’t mean you’ve been left behind forever. Dust yourself off, straighten yourself up, and get yourself back in the driving seat. (Maybe you just need to re-define or re-evaluate your goals. Click here to read about how to achieve almost anything you set your mind to.)

Do you seriously think one little slip-up makes you a failure? If Usain Bolt didn’t win one race, do you think that would detract from his success? Do you think it would mean he’d never win a never race again?

Do you think that one blow-out suddenly means you have to scrap the budget? Does one lie-in mean you’ll never get up early again? Does one day of neglecting the housework mean you’ll never have a clean dish again?


Confession corner: I wasn’t super productive yesterday. I normally start a new year on a buzz of adrenaline, and the day is spent cleaning, de-cluttering, eating healthy, and doing some form of exercise. This year? Not so much. I got a bit of cleaning done, but that was pretty much it. I just wasn’t feeling it. (Plus, having a baby to look after is pretty much a ‘get out of jail free’ card, don’t you think? 😉 )

But I’m not beating myself up about it. I know it doesn’t mean that the rest of my year is going to be unproductive. In fact, I’m already starting to get back on track today.

Hang in there! You’re doing great. Even just WANTING to change is commendable. Recognising that a certain thing hasn’t been working for you and identifying what you need to do to change it is the first step.

Taking one or two steps back doesn’t mean you’ll never complete your journey. Keep marching on!

So tell me, how are you going to make 2014 the best year yet?

How to achieve anything you set your mind to – the SMART way

So, it’s that time of year again – New Year’s resolutions. I used to start every year with the same goals – get fit, eat healthy foods, be better organised… And guess what? Like 99.9% of people who make resolutions, I failed. Miserably. Why? Because they weren’t SMART resolutions.

I had heard of the SMART way of setting goals while working in retail many years ago, but it meant nothing to me at the time. If I’d listened a bit more back then, I might not have wasted so much potential in the interim.

source: Shutterstock

source: Shutterstock

So how can you achieve pretty much anything you set your mind to?

You set SMART goals. That is, goals that are:


Let’s take the example of getting fit, which is one of the most popular resolutions people make every year. Does it fit the SMART criteria?

Is it specific?

Uh oh, a stumble at the first hurdle. Being “fit” means different things to different people, but I think it’s safe to say it will involve some form of exercise. How much? And what type? “Fit” to one person might mean being able to run a 5k race, but “fit” to an overweight chain-smoker might mean being able to climb a flight of stairs without gasping for breath.

Do you consider a yoga practitioner fit? Or someone who runs a marathon once a year? Or does your idea of “fit” involve bulging biceps? Figure out what “fit” means to you. Maybe it’s something as simple as being able to keep up with your kids.

Get specific about what you want.

Is it measureable?

Leading on from the above, how do you measure fitness? There is always room for improvement, so you need to define the point at which you will consider yourself fit. Is it when you can complete a series of yoga positions with ease? Is it when you can swim 50 laps of the pool without stopping?

Set a tangible target that, when hit, will tell you that you’ve reached your goal.

Is it achievable?

There’s no point giving yourself a goal of running a marathon if you’ve barely been off the couch. It’s OK to be positive and to set your sights a little higher than before, but it also needs to be well within the realms of possibility. A 5k race is much more achievable, while still stretching your abilities. Once that’s done, set your sights on a 10k. Once you’ve mastered that with relative ease, then perhaps consider a marathon.

If you’re unsure if something is achievable, set yourself a smaller goal and then build on it.

Building on success

Is it realistic?

Let’s say you want to get fit in order to climb Mount Everest. Sure, that’s quite specific, and yes, if you plant a flag on the peak, that’s a pretty good measurable indicator. It’s even an achievable goal, in theory. But is it realistic? You might start out climbing hills, and then increase the altitudes, but this goal will require a lot more than “getting fit”; This goal will require a lot of time and a LOT of money.

Climbing the local mountain range on weekends is one thing – taking several weeks off from work and family, and buying expensive equipment and airplane tickets is quite another.

Examine what exactly is involved, and be honest with yourself.

Is it timely?

That is, is it measurable in time? This is a very important one. Your goal to get fit might meet all of the above criteria, but unless you set a time frame, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Without a deadline, a goal is merely a wish. You might wish you could run a 5k race, but until you challenge yourself to run it within the next 10 weeks, your chances of actual completion are slim. You’ll always be working on it, but never be able to check it off your list.

Similarly, a deadline that’s far into the future may as well be no deadline at all. Do you think that if I tell myself I’ll be able to do 100 sit-ups by the end of the year that I’m going to make any progress at all for the first 11 months? Giving myself 4 weeks, however, will help to focus my mind a lot more and give me something concrete to work towards.

Some things will require one deadline and that’s it. For instance, you might have “run a marathon” on your bucket list, but have no desire to maintain that level of fitness after you’ve completed it, and that’s totally fine.

But some things aren’t just about deadlines, or one single point in time. I might push myself to the limits on deadline day and just barely manage 100 sit-ups. Does that mean I’m now “fit”? Of course not. What most people mean when they say they want to get fit is that they want to reach a certain level of fitness, and then either stay there or continue to improve gradually. They want to be able to do 100 sit-ups 3 times a week, or swim 50 laps of the pool once a week, or run a marathon once a year…

Set yourself a deadline and, if necessary, a way of tracking your progress over time.

Creating SMART goals

Example of a pre-SMART resolution: get fit.

Example of a post-SMART resolution: complete a beginners yoga class within 10 weeks, and then practice yoga for 10 minutes at least twice a week.

Specific (yoga practitioner), Measurable (class completed and twice weekly sessions), Achievable (beginners level), Realistic (one course, and short sessions thereafter), and Timely (10 weeks initially, then weekly goals).

Now it’s your turn. Have you made some resolutions? Examine each in turn and see if they meet the SMART criteria.

Comment below and let me know what your resolutions look like pre-and post-SMART.

How to deal with criticism and overcome negativity in 3 simple steps

I don’t take criticism very well. Not even constructive criticism. I go through various stages of negative emotions, many of them just different types of anger, and I let it eat away at me long after the event. I can retain bitterness, even years later. ‘A woman scorned’, and all that.

(Have you noticed how, in the heat of an argument, women have an uncanny ability to remind you of every foolish thing you ever uttered, and of even the smallest slight against them going back to the beginning of time? We tend to come to a boil, then sit and simmer for a while, before eventually boiling over again.)

Anyway, recently, I had the misfortune of being criticised by a stranger. It was in the form of “oh, you shouldn’t have done that”, so it couldn’t have been construed as constructive in any way. There are fewer things in life more frustrating than being told how to do something, particularly when there’s no real “right” way of doing it.

But this time I was determined not to let it get to me. It consumed me for a whole 24 hours… and then I just let it go. Holding onto bad feeling like that does nothing but increase stress levels and blood pressure. It takes over your every waking thought, until you find yourself constantly tense and on edge. I wasn’t going to let a stranger rule my life that way.


“Don’t let negative and toxic people rent space in your head. Raise the rent and kick them out.”

― Robert Tew



1.   I asked myself if there was anything positive I could take from the experience.

Any silver lining at all. Was there a compliment hidden in that big, grey cloud?

Sometimes you can’t see an upside. Sometimes the experience itself won’t be positive, but will lead to something positive. Sometimes you’ll sit at home stewing about getting caught out in the rain and now being stuck shivering and shaking, and then look up to find a loved one offering a blanket and a warm meal.

There may not be goodness in every single thing, but there is goodness. Look for it and you’ll start to see it everywhere.

2.   I looked for the lesson.

Not every experience is positive, but most experiences that stir up strong emotions have lessons to be learned, even if the lesson is only to avoid future similar experiences.

They don’t have to be life-changing lessons, like who your true friends are; they can be practical things, like knowing from now on which floorboard creaks when you’re creeping away from your sleeping baby’s crib.

Treat every bad experience as an opportunity to learn and grow.

3.   I asked myself if there was anything to be gained by holding onto the negative thoughts.

If you’ve followed steps 1 and 2 and extracted what you can from the situation, the answer should be ‘no’.

Negative thoughts drain our energy, deplete our willpower, distract us, deceive us, and drive us demented. They prevent us from enjoying our lives.

How many times have you snapped at a loved one because you were still annoyed about that rude customer in work? Or spilled your coffee because you were so busy fuming about that person who cut you off in traffic?

Can you see where negativity gets you? Needless and avoidable arguments.Irritability. Tension. A dry-cleaning bill.

Does it always work for me? Hell no. I can still hold a grudge like no other. But does that mean I should always just succumb to negativity and never try to be a better, calmer person? Of course not! I try every day. Oh how I try!

Negative thoughts lead to more negativity. But, fortunately, it works the other way around too – positivity breeds positivity. (For more information about why this is the case, read my post on ‘confirmation bias’.)

Pure negativity has no benefits. At best, you’ll feel cranky and frustrated; at worst, your health will start to suffer. Is it worth the tension headache to re-play the episode over and over again in your mind, getting more and more bent out of shape each time?

Pick out the positive, learn the lesson, and let it go.

What do you do to overcome negativity in your life?

Super Mario Bros in your browser

If you’re a child of the 80s, like me, then you more than likely have at least a passing familiarity with legendary game, Super Mario Brothers. And if, again like me, you currently spend an awful lot of time online on your desktop or laptop, you’re going to want to have a look at this:

Full Screen Mario

‘Full Screen Mario’, from creator Josh Goldberg, is a full HTML5 remake of the 1985 Nintendo classic. It’s got the original maps and music, and you can also create your own levels or play random levels. In other words, it’s all the fun of the old game but in your browser, and with added FUNctionality if you’re digitally DIY-inclined.

And best of all? It’s free!

So if you’re willing to while away a few hours with old friends Mario and Luigi, visit and get clicking on that keyboard!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m suddenly feeling very old…