Worried about your weight in the lead up to Christmas?

You have 10 weeks to take action and make a difference!

Christmas displays are now appearing in the shops and the countdown to the big day has begun. For some it can be exciting but for others it can be an anxious and worrying time. The opportunity to over-indulge with food, increased socialising and drinking and our appearance in that little black dress or dinner suit certainly increases the pressure and stress we put upon ourselves.  Taking action now and making some small changes will positively alter your run up to Christmas so that it is a much more controlled, confident and enjoyable experience.

So, what needs to happen?

  • Set clear goals about what you want to achieve
  • When do you want to achieve it by – this could be the date of a Christmas Party or event
  • Make a plan of how you are going to do this and break it down into small achievable steps
  • Build your support network (friends or family) for when the journey gets tough
  • Think about what it will feel like when you achieve your goal and the difference it will make to you
  • Strategically place reminders of your goals around the house, hang your little black dress where you can see it, stick a picture on the fridge or snack cupboard of that treat you are going to get when you reach your target

There are a number of changes you can make with no cost involved that you can start immediately:

  • Be prepared, plan meals, write your shopping list and shop only for what you need, online shopping is great for removing temptation.
  • Reduce your portion sizes – if you usually have 2 spoons of mashed potato just have 1 and increase your vegetables, have less pasta/rice or a smaller jacket potato and increase your salad.
  • Eat more poultry and fish and less red meat, use Quorn and experiment with vegetarian recipes.
  • Replace white bread, rice and pasta with wholemeal/wholegrain to keep you feeling fuller for longer
  • Use a smaller plate for your meals, our brain prefers to see a small plate with more food than a large plate with less food
  • Drink plenty of water and fruit/peppermint/green tea
  • Use skimmed milk instead of higher fat alternatives
  • Be more active, walking costs nothing, don’t leave things at the bottom of the stairs take them up, walk to the next bus stop, walk to local shops instead of getting in the car, walk with the family at the weekend
  • Make sure you get at least 6 hours sleep
  • Move yourself up the pecking order and make you a priority
  • When socialising move away from the buffet table or bar and reduce the temptation to over indulge
  • Drink spirits with a low calorie mixer rather than wine/beer which have a higher calorific value or add sparkling water to wine to make a longer drink
  • Select healthy options such as vegetable crudités and low fat dip and keep higher fat foods to a minimum or as a treat
    When eating out replace chips with salad and ask for salad dressing on the side
  • Select tomato based sauces rather than creamy sauces
    Share a dessert or just opt for a coffee

Taking more exercise and eating a balanced healthy diet will certainly help with your weight loss journey. Consider starting a new class like Yoga, Zumba, swimming, Pilates. There are many free phone apps that can be downloaded to aid you regarding exercise regimes and techniques but whatever you do always introduce it slowly and gradually to avoid any injuries or check with your GP before starting anything new.

If you find that you need more structure with discipline and control then there are a variety of slimming clubs that can support you in your weight loss journey or if you prefer a more one to one approach then a Life Coach can certainly work with you to identify your goals and coach you to weight loss success. If you have any questions or have goals that you want to achieve but do not know how to get there please contact me.

What does a Life Coach do?

A life coach can enable you to remove the obstacles that are stopping you from achieving your goals or dreams. Life coaching takes a holistic approach, meaning that the coach will cover a broad, all-encompassing range of areas intended to uncover a deep understanding of you and your life.

Typically life coaching looks at these areas of life:


By looking at all these areas it allows the individual to decide what is important to them in life and what their core beliefs are. Quite often people can have conflict between their core values and how they are living their life which can lead to stress and anxiety. A life coach is not a therapist and does not give advice, they are completely confidential and provide a non-judgmental service. Using a mixture of directional and non-directional coaching methods they encourage clients to search within and find the answers to enable them to create a plan for success. Clients need to be committed and prepared to take action in order to get their desired results.

Some of the benefits of Life Coaching are:

Enhanced decision making skills
Increased confidence
Learning new or different perspectives
Greater interpersonal effectiveness
Improvement in productivity
Satisfaction with work and life
Achievement of goals
Greater self-esteem

It is very important to find a life coach that is best suited to your personality and style, who inspires, motivates and energises you and will lead you to future success. If you have any questions or are looking for a life coach please contact me.

Is panic, anxiety or lack of confidence affecting your teenager?

Panic, anxiety, lack of confidence and low self-esteem in teenagers is certainly becoming more common and a cause for concern amongst parents and teachers. The education curriculum places greater demands on teachers year by year which means they have less or even no time to focus on all-round individual welfare. Even daily routines at home are busy and demanding with constant use of Mum and Dad’s taxi to get young people from A to B regarding social and after school activities and parents struggling with stressful jobs and an acceptable work life balance.
How can we as parents prevent these essential skills from falling by the wayside? A good starting point could be:

• Getting them to socialise and move away from their screen or Xbox
• Consideration of new hobbies/sports
• Meeting new people whilst developing new interests and skills
• Involvement in peer mentoring/buddy programs
• Parental involvement in their interests
• Showing support
• Making them feel a valued member of the family
• Rewarding achievement (does not have to be financial could be their favourite supper etc)
• Encouraging them to identify all accomplishments no matter how big or small
• Giving them the opportunity to reflect on progress and discuss what they have learnt, good or bad
• Communicating with them and discussing plans for achievements over the coming year

So what about education establishments and what can they do to improve the development of non-academic skills? Some forward thinking schools are now starting to use coaching to build confidence, reduce anxiety and increase self-esteem in their students. I work with a school in the Berkshire area that not only offers counselling to the students but offers life coaching to enable students to remove obstacles and achieve their goals/success. Life coaching is a holistic approach to life and looks at all areas from health, wealth, career, relationships, fun, contribution and then takes each area in turn and evaluates the current situation and where they would like to go and then through discussion, a way forward is decided.
The excellent thing about coaching is that the way forward comes from the student rather than a plan of action passed down from an adult. How many young people feel they have no control or say regarding what they do? Using effective questioning and Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) techniques, the coach can extract information from young people which then forms the foundation for their strategic plan forward to achieving their goal. The use of modern themes for discussion and a non judgmental approach gives a familiar and comfortable environment which young people can appreciate and open up to.
Combining parental support and coaching in the school education system has to be a recipe for success and a route away from anxiety, low self-esteem and lack of confidence. If you would like any further details or have any queries regarding group or individual coaching please go to www.simplypositive.co.uk or email me: kathrine.smith@simplypositive.co.uk

Stuck in a rut with your Teenager? Cost effective ideas to do something different and see what you get!

How many times do we hear ‘I am bored’ or ‘There is nothing to do’ or even ‘I am fed up and cannot be bothered’ from our teenagers?

‘Quite a lot,’ I would say and usually because we have very little time to give them ourselves. So, how can we help to alter their perspective and interest? Taking into account that family life is busy and that it is easier to rely on the same routine generally means we get the same results but if we do something different then the outcomes and results we receive can be totally different. Simple changes can inject more intrigue into the young enquiring mind and these do not have to cost anything at all, which is a real bonus in this costly day and age. So what are some of these low budget ideas?

• Try a new genre of film, at home or the cinema
• Listen to different music
• Walk an alternative way to/from school
• Investigate new clubs/hobbies
• Meet new people or talk to different people at school
• Consider voluntary work
• Reduce screen/social media time and engage in family chats which could be started over meal times together
• Encouragement around participating in cooking for the family, if they always bake cakes then ask them to try making something savoury or vice versa
• Parents to participate in their favourite activity for example Xbox, Wii or play a game together
• Duke of Edinburgh Awards and develop new skills
• Try new foods
• Read different books
• Make the ordinary jobs a bit more fun, introduce a family challenge!

No doubt there are lots more that could be added to the list but the idea is there. Actively participating in their lives can make a huge difference to how they respond to life in general. It does not matter how awful we are on the Xbox/Wii or playing a game/sport, it is the participation and fact that we are interested, engaged and motivated by doing things with them. Also during these activities it gives young people time to communicate with us and for parents to have exposure into their lives and experiences and to learn more about what makes them tick or even what could be bothering them. Young people do not always cope very well with direct questions and it can be a signal for them to clam up whereas indirect questions during a relaxed and enjoyable activity can reveal the most interesting and important information or even what is worrying them. Be prepared to listen actively to what they have to say and take action where necessary and give positive feedback when they ask for help and support. All these things contribute to building rapport and a happy bond with our children which in effect reduces misunderstandings and tension in home-life. So, go on and do something different, see what it brings you and who knows what enjoyment and learning you will experience along the way whilst opening up opportunities and experiences for your teenager…….

Are you listening to your Teenager?

The school term is now underway and that brings a whole host of challenges and issues for young people. Some are starting their final GCSE or A Level year which means lots of hard work and pressure and tension at home which can make life in general a little rocky to say the least.
I am also back at school coaching young people in the secondary school environment and one of the things that they regularly mention is that they feel that nobody listens to them and that they have no control over what they do, adults seem to be making all the decisions.

That feeling in itself is not a very nice one and on top of all the pressure that school demands, I can understand why teenagers seek control from other things which can come in the form of eating disorders, self harming, smoking, alcohol and illegal substances.
I spend a lot of my time listening to young people and their problems, I don’t judge or berate them but we do discuss looking at things from an alternative perspective and maybe trying something different then seeing what the results are. Quite often they get some positive and surprising results which helps them to understand that not everything that adults or parents say is right or wrong it is just how different people interpret and process information therefore giving them a different perspective. This also helps when dealing with their peer groups and different opinions.
So, my strategy for dealing with young people is this:

  • Make time to listen to what they have to say and actively listen to them
  • Support and encourage them
  • Be understanding and cut them a little slack at home especially with timescales and expectations
  • Arrange some favourite things for weekends and holidays

I feel that doing this will encourage the lines of communication to stay open, show a level of understanding regarding school demands and provide a nice treat to relieve some of the pressure of school work. Just by finding a little time on a regular basis can make a huge difference to young people and the reward for everyone is a happier household which is surely a recipe for success.

Teenagers, Driving and Safety, Is It Possible?

Yes it is possible if they are given the opportunity to build their safety awareness at a very early stage and we, as parents, support them in their journey of knowledge.

Teenagers can learn to drive prior to their seventeenth birthday by joining clubs like the Under17 Car Club. The club is run by volunteers to keep costs down and no further insurance is required as they learn in your own car, with parent supervision, on private land. Meetings are on a Sunday at various locations around the South of England and run from March to November.

Using the Roadcraft driving manuals, which are used by the police, students are taught about:

  • The mechanics of the car
  • All the essential car checks that should be completed on a regular basis
  • Road and safety awareness
  • Driving technique

On top of that each student receives tuition from an authorised instructor on a regular basis to enable students to go through the grading system and perfect their technique and knowledge.  The student has to competently demonstrate all the requirements and manoeuvres of that grade before they can progress onto the next level. The grading system goes from:

  • Ungraded on first joining
  • Grade 5
  • Grade 4
  • Grade 3
  • Grade 2
  • Grade 1
  • Grade X – although this is quite rare

Each location that they use is quite unique and has something different to offer.  They use race tracks, emergency services practice units and driving centres. By using the different sites students get the opportunity to experience real road layouts, motorway driving and what speed feels like on a track.

They also organise extra events such as Skid Pan Training, 4X4 Driving Day and First Aid Training.

My daughter joined the club in February 2014 and has only missed one meeting since the start of the season so credit goes to my husband for his dedication in taking her each week. She is currently working towards her Grade 2 which is an amazing achievement in her first year. She has learnt so much about how to maintain a car, how an engine works and how important it is to drive in a safe and sensible way. The club strongly educates young people to develop their awareness for hazards and how to prepare for them in order to keep them and other drivers safe.

If you know anyone that is interested in learning to drive before they are 17 and wants to develop into a safe driver then I can thoroughly recommend the Under17 Car Club. I have never seen my daughter and husband so enthusiastic and motivated to get up early on a Sunday morning and it is lovely to see their driving relationship developing.

By doing something different my daughter has developed new skills, increased her confidence and hopefully reduced the probability of having an accident in her later driving career.

If you have any questions or queries please feel free to comment or email me at kathrine.smith@simplypositive.co.uk

Here’s to more safe and happy young drivers!

The return to school is looming, anxious or happy?

What a pleasant summer we have had with warm sunshine, light nights and lots of opportunity to spend quality time with our family and friends in the great outdoors. As September draws near so does the inevitable return to school. For some this is no problem at all but for others it can be a very daunting and worrying time. For me it means a return to school to assist and coach students in secondary education who experience fear and anxiety in the school environment on various different levels.
Thinking back to my teenage years I remember happy times with my parents and friends, lots of sporting activities, being around horses, schoolwork and learning, meeting new people, evenings out at the ice rink, meeting boys and going to parties.
What I didn’t experience was the pressure to wear the right label of clothing, be thin, look and say the right things, be frightened to be slightly different and the publication of exam results and league tables.
The pressure on young people today is phenomenal, from what they need to look like, having the accepted make of mobile technology, wearing the best clothing labels, being in the most popular group of school friends and having to deal with the publication of GCSE results for all to see which is totally mind blowing.

Just listening to parents and young people talking about their prom regarding the cost, how to be different, prom proposals, what transport to arrive in, who to arrive and be seen with and what to wear is very alien to me. The whole meaning of having a prom to celebrate the completion of study by letting your hair down and having fun has been completely surpassed with how much money needs to be to spent  and one-upmanship. Something that should be exciting and enjoyable has turned into a competitive, money spending frenzy which totally detracts from the true purpose and it is such a shame.  All this plus working for GCSE’s is a pressure young people could do without.

Young people of today seem to be laden down with more pressure and worry compared to my teenage days which seemed to be more simple and carefree. Don’t get me wrong, there are things that have improved like technology and communications, TV choices, accessibility to music and activity choices like indoor sky diving, go-karting on ice and many more. Regardless of all these fantastic opportunities, which should be experienced and embraced, young people appear troubled and stressed! Most young people  have few responsibilities in their teenage years so why are they not more stress and worry free? Why is their focus on what other people think and do instead of concentrating on what they enjoy and makes them happy. I think that the difference between my teenage years and today could be that our children grow up much quicker and there is a rush to do adult things so therefore spend much less time as children. Social media, TV and the press has enabled young people to gain access to some vivid and horrific information which would not have been so accessible in my teenage years. So what can we as adults do to change their outlook on life?

I feel that there are two ways of approaching the problem. The first is by the young person themselves. They need to understand the purpose of what they are doing in life, how they are going about it and that they are they prepared to take responsibility for their actions? Being open to new things and accepting ‘it is ok to be a bit different from the norm’. A consideration might be ‘Would Lady Gaga have been so successful and memorable if she had not worn outrageous outfits?’ I would say, by doing something different has been very successful for her. Trying new things gives you different results and can lead to enjoyable and exciting outcomes but how do you know unless you try! A good website with lots of information around this subject is Do Something Different. If you always do the same thing then you will always get the same result. By changing your focus to doing something different gives you new things to talk about and share, you are constantly learning and developing, your confidence is growing and you are too busy to worry about what anyone else is doing or what you are not doing. Also there is no such thing as failure, if things do not go to plan then just change your approach and try again until you get the desired result, don’t let anything put you off from achieving your goals or dreams. Be committed to whatever you do!

The second approach is from a parent’s perspective. As parents, how can we help our children to develop into happy, inquisitive, adventurous, caring and successful human beings? One of the most common things that I hear when coaching a student is “I just want someone to listen to me, everybody is so busy and they don’t have time” and “I get attention if I don’t behave.” I find communication is the key with young people. Giving them the opportunity to talk about situations or issues, actively listening, not judging them and not being distracted by other things whilst listening to them are essential ingredients if you want them to open up. Trying to understand them, their world and where they are coming from is imperative if we are to provide assistance in helping them to resolve whatever is concerning them.

Positive language and what we say to young people has a huge impact on their behaviour and actions. Do not say anything that you don’t want repeating! They are quick to learn and have razor sharp hearing! Focusing on the positive will help to reduce negativity and therefore increase the probability of success. The language that we use is very important. If we said “don’t forget your key as I won’t be home later” the way the brain works is that it strips off the ‘don’t’ part of the sentence which leaves “forget your key as I won’t be home later”. This means that the likelihood of them remembering the key is significantly reduced but if we were to say ” I won’t be home later so you will need your key” significantly increases the chance of it happening as the brain has been given a positive message. A similar thing could be said for when a person says ” don’t worry everything will be ok”  it makes no difference at all as we still go away and worry whereas if we said “take things steady and everything will be ok” gives the brain a more positive message and success is a more likely outcome.

Encouraging young people to talk about their strengths and accomplishments, no matter how big or small, is a very important part towards them accepting their potential and  self worth .  Most of us are very good at identifying what we can’t do rather than what we are good at. This is not a ‘blow your own trumpet exercise’ but a constructive identification of strengths and skills and recognition of talent which is something to be proud of. Explaining the core values of honesty, integrity and fairness and to act with those in mind at all times will enable them to deal with anyone and anything. Talking to them about lessons learnt’ from previous experiences and what their focus and goals are for the coming year will help all parties to understand what they want to achieve and how we can support them in achieving their goals. It also gives them the opportunity to talk about any worries or disappointments and how these can be avoided in the future. Simple things to us can be a major concern to young people and without the opportunity to communicate regularly can mean things escalate into something far worse down the line.

Anxious young people quite often just need to know that they are loved, supported, and valued and that people will listen to them when they have something to say and that they are considered and understood when change occurs. Keeping routine and consistency at home by setting boundaries combined with encouragement, motivation and positive reinforcement will certainly make the transition back to school a more structured, pleasant and familiar experience.

Keep the lines of communication open, and make the transition back to school a SimplyPositive one.

Is your relationship with your horse based on fear or trust?

If you are concerned about this then I would certainly recommend you go and see Monty Roberts and Kelly Marks on their Autumn 2014 Tour – Stablemate to Soulmate.

I attended one of Monty and Kelly’s  demonstrations in 2007 because I was having problems with my very rude and bargy mare which resulted in me having several injuries and a total loss of confidence.

Attending the demonstration changed my perception of horsemanship from it being all about me to it being all about my horse and her understanding of situations.  I then went on to do a horse psychology course with Kelly Marks which gave me a greater understanding of horse behaviour and why they behave in a certain way. I also learnt that confident body language and clear boundary setting was essential if I wanted to make progress. Making things crystal clear, “yes” you can do that or “no” you cannot do that followed up with the correct body language and positive reinforcement meant that there was congruency between the tone of my voice and my body language. This made things much easier for her to understand and our journey of improvement started.

Creating rapport between you and your horse will help in building a bond which then leads to trust. Groundwork exercises are essential in establishing the leadership hierarchy between you and your horse. If you are not getting good behaviour down on the ground then it will not bode well for being in the saddle.

Spending time with your horse and not rushing your results, combined with understanding and variety will enable you to reduce the fear and build a relationship based on trust and mutual understanding.

So build the relationship!

Do I need to buy a Dually Halter for my horse?

Do you have a horse that barges, takes off when being led or will not load? If your answer is yes to any of these then you need a Dually Halter.
The Dually Halter designed by Monty Roberts can be used as an ordinary headcollar until you clip onto the side training rings when it then becomes a pressure and release training aid.
If you do purchase this type of halter you then need to learn how to use it correctly if you want results.
I have heard people say “It makes no difference” and “They do not work”. Just by putting a Dually on a horse does not mean your horse will no longer run off or drop off the side of the ramp when trying to load.
If you have bought your Dually from Intelligent Horsemanship (IH) then you will receive a DVD explaining about the halter and how to use it. It is really important that you watch the DVD or seek advice from someone who knows how to use one or preferably have it fitted by an IH Recommended Associate (RA).
Fitting the halter on your horse is also very important as it needs to be fitted more snugly than an ordinary headcollar so that the rope engages when pressure is applied otherwise it will not be as effective.
Practising getting your timing right regarding when to apply pressure and immediately releasing once your horse has done what you have asked is imperative. It took me a few weeks to get it right and between 3 to 6 months to perfect my technique. Obviously all horses are different and learn at various rates but please do give it time.
The Dually Halter saved me from permanent neck and shoulder damage and played a vital part in teaching my horse how to load calmly and quietly. Once I had taught her pressure and release she understood what I wanted her to do in a non-aggressive, firm but fair way. Her barging and running off were also greatly reduced and I have to say it is the best piece of horse kit I have purchased to date.
So in answer to my question, if you have a horse, no matter what age or stage of training, and you are getting undesired behaviour, then YES you need a Dually Halter. They come in various sizes and I think they even do a tiny one for ponies.

Why join a business networking group?

Four months ago I was really doubtful about joining a ladies business networking group.
I was worried about the cost and the commitment and whether it was going to be beneficial to me and my business. What was the group going to do for me?
I decided to invest my money and joined Athena last April. After several meetings it became clear that my initial expectation of “what will it do for me?” was really not how things worked. I soon started to understand that the question I needed to be asking was “what can I do for my group members?” Spotting opportunities and recommending fellow members means that if we are all looking out for each other then all our businesses grow!
I have met some fantastic business ladies and got myself an accountant who I can trust, a Reiki practitioner who helps me to relax and made lots of new contacts along the way.
For me it has been a life enriching and beneficial experience which I would thoroughly recommend.