What’s in it for you? Five reasons running will make you feel better.

Ooh you are good.

That’s what I hear when I tell people I’m a runner. Like I’m virtuous. In my mind, virtuous is spending half an hour cleaning up dusty oats and stray strands of spaghetti out of the bottom of the larder cupboard. Not putting on my trainers and clearing off for a while under the ruse of ‘keeping fit’.

Running is selfish.

Running has nothing to do with conforming to what the world thinks my body should look like.

Running is mine.

Running can be yours too.

Unsure about starting or thinking about getting back into it? I challenge you to give it a few weeks and not feel at least three out of these five benefits:

Bypassing the mind-traffic

I run without headphones which means I can tune into the buzzword of the moment: mindfulness. The birds swearing at each other, the trees, the rustle of a squirrel in the undergrowth – and of course the beating of my heart. All sensations that root me in the here and now. If you enjoy wearing headphones, music can do exactly the same thing – all that matters is that you take your human body back to what it’s good at, moving.

Improved mental health

And I’m talking about making a real impact on the chemical imbalances in your brain – particularly if you suffer from stress, anxiety or depression. Endorphins lift your mood and if you suffer from brain fog (like I do), it can help to clear your mind, so you can get on with life.

Toning up

I once met a lady who said she’d lost two and a half stones doing Couch to 5K. Lovely, I thought, I’ll do the same. I lost half a stone, which I now know is normal for me. But, I had to buy smaller running trousers and you could bounce pennies off my thighs. I’m learning that #strongnotskinny is another hip concept that definitely resonates with me.

You’ll learn just how strong you are

The routine of a programme like Couch to 5K gets you over the hurdle of ‘can I do this?’ The first time you run 30 seconds, uninterrupted, it feels like you’ve completed a marathon. The sense of achievement is massive, believe me. And then you’ll go from hurdle to hurdle like a pro, notching up your own personal trophies on the way.

It’ll alter the way you see your body – in a good way

The multi-million dollar diet industry is changing. Giant player, WW have recently altered their slant on shifting pounds by focusing more on wellness. The scales are still involved but I think it’s a move in the right direction. Putting more thought into what you get out of your body than what you put in seems more likely to defeat diet cycles which can inflate self-esteem issues and ultimately lead nowhere. I eat well so that I can run and feel healthy.

Fat-shaming has never kept me away from chocolate cake.

Remembering I’d like to be a few pounds lighter, so that I can improve my personal best, has.

(Although I still remain a firm believer in the joy of chocolate cake.)

So, get your kit together, download a training app (I most whole-heartedly recommend Couch to 5K) and get going.

If you can’t run

Obviously, have a chat with your doctor if you have health concerns, it may be that it’s not advisable for you to run at this time. No matter. Buy a decent pair of trainers, put aside sportswear just for the purpose and get yourself a water bottle. Invest in a fitness watch or get an arm band for your phone and…

Walk instead

The benefits? You’re as serious about your fitness as anyone else out there – whether they’re running in the park or working out at the gym. The muscularskeletal and cardiovascular benefits of walking are well-documented as are the benefits for fighting off dementia and bolstering mental well-being.

Like to know more?

Check out my five top tips for plus-size runners and read up on why lack of movement is more of a threat to your heart health than being overweight. For reasons why the fat-shamers are wasting their breath, read my thoughts on why they’re playing a losing game and if you’re looking for some inspiration for a healthy lunch, I’ve a few kitchen tips too.

Thanks for reading. Share if you’ve found this helpful and leave your own thoughts below.

Enjoy your run (or walk).

It’s a shame

I’ve been buying holiday clothes. I know the UK has so far had a stonking summer, we’re off to even warmer climes soon and I’ve acquired not one but two tankinis. Despite lusting over the stunning attire donned by bloggers such as Danielle Varnier, Callie Thorpe and FullerFigureFullerBust I’m still not ready for a bikini – but I have no doubt that those days will come.

There will be a few off-the-shoulder numbers in my case as well, along with a light and airy bodysuit and a slinky little dress. The theme is cool and relaxed, with just a hint of cover-up for comfort.

So, with this new-found confidence in mind (provided mainly by my buddies who love me the way I am), I saw a lady texting by the side of the road this morning and it made me stop and think. She was wearing one of those floral smock things that the racks at some plus-size shops are often full of. Now I know the joy of a long t-shirt that hides lumps and bumps but this garment wasn’t doing her any favours.

Her shoes, on the other hand, were another story. Red slippers with tiny beads and sequins, stitched with aqua, deep blue, yellow, pink and green, they looked like something from a fairy tale. The creativity and joie de vie of her feet and her bodily attire didn’t seem to be singing from the same song sheet.

And I know why. It starts with shame – shame over showing your body and I’ve lived that since I was ten. Yep, ten. That’s a lifetime of shame.

This shame, fuelled by the ridiculous notion that producing well fitting fashion for over size 16s is enabling obesity, leads women to cover their bodies in shapeless smocks. This is the same rhetoric that declares that we’re normalising obesity – well I’ve got some news: take a good look around you, obesity IS normal. And if ‘they’ want to do something about it, we have to change the way we think about, talk about and look at big bodies.

Now I don’t hide the fact that I’ve chosen to drop a few stone – it’s hard work and it’s taking it’s time because I’ve had some massive changes to make but I’m doing this for health reasons, not because I want to adhere to the social norm and here’s why.

Shame comes from fear

Fear leads to doubt

Doubt feeds anxiety

This melting pot of negative emotions is hardly the place for someone to make a monumental change in their life. And they’re unnecessary, unfair and ultimately pointless emotions. Social norms of how someone should look and act are, like everything else, just stories.

Just stories. Don’t forget that

So, I pledge

  • That I will never again wear floral smocks.
  • That I will wade around in the hotel pool like a goddess.
  • That me and my fat will be welcome wherever I go and if we are not, we won’t go there again.

Fancy a little inspiration for your holiday? Check out any of the bloggers mentioned above on Instagram, they’re worth a follow.

But the best thing you can wear is confidence

And remember shame has no place in your wardrobe

Have a most superb summer x


My veggie kitchen heroes – spinach and thyme frittata

A cracking breakfast option

I posted a pic of this on Instagram earlier this week, in a few moments sandwiched between a longish run and a busy morning at my desk. I’ve had a request or two since then for the recipe and like most of the things I cook, it’s sort of been fudged together in my kitchen.

And it’s my kind of breakfast because I usually pop something on the stove while I’m writing as I’m lucky to work from home most of the time.

If you’d like to knock up your own version of this, you’ll find everything you need to know below. Feel free to add mushrooms and courgettes – just keep an eye on your egg to grated ingredient ratio, otherwise it may not hold together all that well in the pan.


Handful of fresh spinach

1 sprig fresh thyme (or you could use a teaspoon of dried if that’s all you have to hand)

1 medium onion

1 medium potato

1 large free-range egg

Salt and pepper to taste

Spray oil


  • Give a really good frying pan, about the span of your hand a liberal covering of spray-oil and set it on the stove on a medium heat.
  • Wash, thoroughly drain and roughly chop spinach and add this to the pan to wilt. This will only take a couple of minutes – agitate it with a spatula now and a gain to make sure it doesn’t catch.
  • Meanwhile, grate the potato and onion into a bowl and add the thyme. If I’m using fresh (which is worth it because it’s thoroughly yummy) I can usually get away with just gently backcombing the leaves off the stalk with my fingertips. If you get the odd, tiny stick in there, don’t worry, it tends to soften in the pan.
  • Add a little salt to taste and lots of black pepper to the bowl, crack in the egg and combine it all together.
  • By now, the spinach will have wilted to a decadently dark green pulp. Add this to the ingredients in the bowl and stir in quickly.
  • Spray a little more oil into the pan, pop the mixture in and put it back on the stove.
  • Let it sit and fry for a couple of minutes. When the mixture has started to solidify and brown you should be able to slip a spatula around the sides of the pan and underneath. Gently flip it but don’t worry if it’s not perfect – the end product will have a glorious mix of soft and slightly crispy textures.
  • I serve mine with baked beans. I was a child of the 70s with veggie grandparents, when no one else I knew had veggie grandparents. So, the old 57 varieties are a bit of an addiction, and I guess there’s worse things to be addicted to, right?

And in the time it’s taken to write this, I’ve scoffed mine down. Time to slip my plate in the dishwasher and get on with some work!

Getting over slim


The surprising things that can happen when a plus-size positive blogger turns up to a weight management class.

I have a happy job. Whether I’m writing brochure material for people choosing their next holiday or website content helping walkers to find the best baths and breathtaking views, the words that help make someone’s day brighter, also pay my mortgage.

Lucky as I am, there are gremlins in the tools of my trade: namely pet hate words. The first two on the list are ‘nice’ and ‘tasty’. Rather benign words and their bland nature is exactly why they rarely come across my keyboard.

Third on the list is the word ‘slim’.

Let me explain.

I’m a bit of a liberal feminist in that I believe the spirit of equal concern extends across all of humanity, not just womb-men but during my studies I was fascinated by texts by the likes of Jeanette Winterson, Susie Orbach and Michelle Boulous Walker. A vast area of reading, discovery and discussion, I was intrigued by how society tells us what our body means and how to use it.

For example, take the backlash against plus-size model Tess Holliday Instagramming pics of herself at the gym or blogger Callie Thorpe looking fabulous in her curvy, white wedding dress last year. These are women getting on with their lives, being creative, making waves. Why is their size the first thing people think about? Why do everyday people suddenly turn into metabolism consultants, all concerned about their health? Would people dream of giving feedback on any other aspect of someone’s life? Like high-profile people who drink, smoke or take drugs? What about shifty politicians who take away benefits from vulnerable people and call it austerity? All that cortisol can’t be good for them.

So, back to the word ‘slim’. What does that word mean?

A child of the 70’s, to me it conjures up slacks -beige, tailored polyester trousers with an invisible support panel. It’s rows of women on their backs in a church hall, raising their leotard clad legs in unison: “and lift, ladies, lift”.

Slim is the goal, slim is acceptable, slim is what women should be. The onus is on us to be slim – whether pushing a small child in a trolley around the supermarket or pulling a workbag on wheels into a conference room, valid women are slim. Why would anyone want to take a fat woman seriously? We’re mumsy, ill-disciplined and have clearly let ourselves go.

And this is my problem with slim. It’s a political word. It doesn’t just mean you’re lean – you’re also hard working, controlled, an achiever.

But where does that leave the rest of us?

Should those of us who’ve fought podge since childhood be left on the heap? I have a First Class Honours Degree – I earned this while I was a single parent to a toddler and holding down a part-time job in order to survive. I think I have self-discipline aplenty. I enjoy my job, have a happy family and now post-forty I’m more comfortable in my fat body than ever before.

But I’m not slim.

I have not achieved slim.

Not ever.

And the outrageous soul within doesn’t want me to conform. Even if I lost all the weight, I don’t think I’d ever want to be considered slim. It’s just not me.

So, when I found myself sat in a Slimming World class for the first time earlier this week, I thought “why am I here?”.

I thought I’d feel compromised but I didn’t.

I thought the inspirational chat at the beginning would make me run out through the community centre fire doors screaming but it didn’t.

I thought the terminology would annoy me (as so often jargon does) but it didn’t.

And now I’m left wondering why.

And I think it’s to do with my mate who brought me along. She’s a savvy lady. Seen a lot, done a lot. There’s little she doesn’t know about raising plants, nurturing children, crafting and ushering warm dishes to the table. But she’s also a trusting soul with a realistic view of the world – she knows where to place her cynicism, where to make compromises and she has a deep perspective that reaches out into the long-game.

And my childhood friend who made me feel a foot taller with one phone call earlier this week. This body is beautiful, it’s valid, I’m loved.

It’s also that the focus of the eating plan (‘diet’ is naturally my forth most hated word) is all about nourishment, not going hungry and realism: cocking up is not just tolerated, it’s expected.

I know that I have an intricately marvellous vessel (check out You Are Already Amazing) and it’s bumps and curves tell its story of survival. I believe that we all can feel good now. Right now. Not in some far-off future. And without this belief, you’ll make minor changes that bring temporary results but to make a lasting change, you have to be convinced of your value. Right here, in this moment.

Like everyone, I forget this sometimes: and I think the word slim just doesn’t help.

But I also have diabetes peppered throughout my family – something I can’t afford to ignore.

So, because I love this body and I want it to continue, I’ll put up with the word slim. Perhaps I’ll reinvent it, make it mine, unload it. Who knows.

I’ll check back in and let you know about slim when I get there.

How do you feel about ‘slim’? How do you feel about ‘nice’ and ‘tasty’?  Do you feel like you need to defend them? What are your pet hate words? I’d love you to share them.

And if I’ve made you think about what values are written on your body, check out some of my other ideas on being body positive like The Tibetan  Proverb and What I’ve Been Doing Wrong All This Time and The Damaging Lack of Control that Could Sink the NHS.

An autumn warmer for World Vegetarian Day

Is there any better time than World Vegetarian Day to find a new, meat-free way to embrace the flavours of autumn? Check out my warm, easy-going family-pleaser: Comforting Bean Stew.

The season has now well and truly turned – it’s the time when my trusty cast-iron casserole comes out, along with the spice jars, rolling pin and my stockpile of hearty storecupboard ingredients.  My sofa is piled high with cushions and throws, abandoned crochet projects get finished and I rediscover the pleasure of thick socks and my flowery DMs.

So, looking at a couple of abandoned cooking apples in the fruit bowl and cool rain running down the window one day last week, I thought it was a day for hot pot. With a whole day of writing ahead of me, and a full schedule of errands after the school run, the idea of something simmering on the stove all day felt like the best option.

The result was a warm, thick, beany stew which I served with a warm, fresh, crusty loaf (the breadmaker’s first outing of the season as well).


Comforting beany hot pot

Serves 4

1 tablespoon oil

1 onion, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

1 teaspoon each of ground turmeric, garam masala, corriander, cumin, paprika, ginger

1 cooking apple, peeled, cored and cut into chunks

1 mug of dried beans

1/2 mug pearl barley

300ml vegetable stock


Put a large, lidded, heavy casserole pot on the stove to warm. Pop in the oil and let it warm too.

Meanwhile, rinse the beans and barley and rinse thoroughly. Place in a separate pan and cover with cold water, bring to the boil and simmer vigorously for 10 minutes.

Add the onion to the casserole pan and allow it to soften but not brown.

Add the carrots and apple, mix a little and then add the spices, along with a little salt and pepper to taste.

When warmed through, well coated and starting to cook, add the beans and barley, when they’ve finished bubbling.

Add the hot stock and mix well. Pop on the lid.

Leave for 8 hours (which will seem like eternity if like me, you work from home) but return now and again to check water levels. Bear in mind the barley and beans will thicken the stew as it cooks.

It’s ready when the beans are soft and the barley is plump.

Put the butter dish and bread in the middle of the table along with the casserole dish and call everyone for dinner. It’s also great with a little strong cheddar crumbled on the top – it melts in wonderfully.

*a note on beans*

I have jars of beans in my cupboard – red kidney, cannellini, flageolet, yellow split peas, green lentils – and a mix of these usually does the trick. You can choose to use as few or as many varieties as you like. Some supermarkets do a great line in mixed beans (the best is Waitrose’s ten-bean mix). Some people soak their beans overnight but I find this can ruin their texture. Simmering them for 8 hours or more should be more than enough to make them good to eat.

If you don’t have the time or you’d rather not buy dried beans, 2 tins of canned beans will do. Reduce the cooking time or the beans will reduce to goo. If you still use pearl barley (the comforting thickness it adds is well worth it), you’ll still need to cook the stew for a couple of hours.

Earthy smells and riotous colours – I love running in autumn. With darker mornings and evenings, there’s more reason to make sure I sharpen my schedule to make sure I keep moving. Check out my plus-size running posts if you need a little inspiration.

Getting in a fizz: Lidl and the prosecco fiasco

Bubbles without the price tag? When news of Lidl’s upcoming prosecco offer came out, it was bound to be a Bank Holiday hit but at 6 bottles for £20, was it all too good to be true?

I’m ashamed to say I found myself part of the desperate woman’s prosecco club this morning. Five of us, strangers, parked up in my local multi-storey, long before the rest of the shops were open. Desperate to get to the doors just as Lidl opened, we had to take the same, unscheduled detour and discovered we were all on the same mission. One had left her four month old baby at home with her husband, another stomped along in flip-flops, the fourth member of our group had her face set to the morning sun, determined to reach her goal on time.

All of us were in on the secret that Lidl had six bottles of prosecco for twenty quid. Twenty quid. That’s just £3.33 a bottle!

8.03am we got through the door, red faced from our race around the roadway. Abandoning the idea of a trolley, I scouted from aisle to aisle. Would the cases be at the end, with the special offers, with the alcohol? We went up and down, getting a little more frantic moment by moment. Where were the cases?

When it became apparent that there were none, we started grabbing bottles off the shelves. One of our impromptu group had stopped for a trolley and could carry more than me. I looked down at my basket, knowing that it was now inadequate. Would she watch my six treasured bottles for me, while I went to get a trolley. I looked at her eyes. Could I trust her?

One of our number went off to look for a member of staff.

Why can’t you find one when you need one?

Then came the news that the bottles on the shelf weren’t included. They needed to have screw tops, not corks. An assistant shrugged his shoulders and said there was a pile of boxes earlier. But where were they now?

Where were they now?

The shop has only been open for a few minutes, I thought to myself, where are all these people at the checkouts with their cases of prosecco?

Something fishy was going on. Hysteria was beginning to build.

“Should have gone to the one up the road” I said to myself.

“No, I’ve been there” someone replied, “the car park was jammed at 7.30, I’ve just heard from my wife, they were all out at 8am too.”

It was clear we were too late. We stood around, dazed, dismayed, confused. It had all been for nothing.

I picked up one, lonely bottle and putting it through the checkout, looked down into my neighbour’s basket to see she’d managed to get the golden ticket. I sneered quietly. I felt less than neighbourly.

“Honestly” I heard one sales assistant whisper to the other “these women, it’s only prosecco”. Yeah, I thought to myself, because you managed to shove a few boxes in your locker before the shop opened, didn’t you, you smug thingie.

I limped up to Costa and sat with a latte awhile, deflated. Where had all the angry, half-rabid women gone?

And what had happened to us all in there? We’d gone from relatively placid humans into semi-feral beasts, grabbing and shoving in our pursuit of a bubbly bargain. Perhaps lions on the Serengeti have the kind of temperament that could bake pies and pull up socks nine tenths of the time but put a carcass in front of them (in our case, a box of Italian fizzy wine) and that’s when the savagery, bubbling under the surface arises.

I know they say we’re all only two meals away from barbarity but this was just ridiculous.

So I brought home a few Perlenbacher instead. That’ll do just nicely.

But what happened to the Prosecco? I guess we’ll never know.

Prosecco is just a hobby – by day I’m a writer, blogger and runner. Sign up for more of the same, share with your mates (go on, it’s a happy thing to do) or read more about the small things you might miss if you don’t stop and look once in a while.

The positive power of no

“Who taught her that word?”

A toddler takes off across a park/snatches a toy off a fellow playgroup attendee/refuses her favourite dinner.

From a young age, we’re taught that this, the tiniest of expressions of non-conformity is a negative thing. Something that shuts things down, creates havoc, ruins plans.

No is just not welcome.

But I turned 40 a couple of years ago and in a wonderful revelation, discovered a new side to these naughty little digits.

10 ways no opens up new possibilities:

  • Rejecting an idea creates space for new perspectives and new ways of thinking.
  • Rejecting a way of doing something can stimulate the acquisition of new skills, exploring the way other people do things and can bring about better procedures.
  • Unpicking the things that people hold on to as ‘common sense’, gives an opportunity to hold core values up to scrutiny. Are they really sensible? Are they common?
  • It stimulates conversation – rather than shutting it down: a collaboration to find new ideas and new common ground.
  • It brings about ‘what if’ – exploring scenarios and creating new combinations of ideas.
  • Things can’t always go to plan – but this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Alternative solutions are often better ones in hindsight.
  • No one is perfect – rejecting a behaviour or pattern of behaviours creates an opportunity for growth, for everyone.
  • Healthy relationships rely on well-communicated boundaries. It’s a constant negotiation, of course but it needs to be balanced on both sides. Telling someone when they’ve strayed off-side is an important part of this.
  • Deciding to change direction is often upsetting: we’re creatures of habit. When one path is blocked by an obstruction, working around it is an invaluable learning opportunity and it inevitably opens up new paths, new experiences and new ways of thinking.
  • The experience of parting company with someone you’ve worked with/lived with/spent time with sits somewhere on a sliding scale from elation to utter devastation. But it also opens up the chance to meet new people. The person who’ll be a major player in your life in ten years, you may not have even met yet.

It’s not easy – I struggle with boundaries on a daily basis but what I have learned is that I own this word. It’s mine. I can use it when I see fit – it’s just a matter of having the belief that I can deal with the consequences.

And there are times when, no matter how empowered I feel, I’m just not brave enough. But I know that if I stay true to my core principles, in whatever way I can, things will work out for the best in the end.

Please let me know how you get on with your own ‘no’ projects. I’d be delighted to hear all about them.

Because sometimes saying no is answering in the positive

Oh heart, I’m doing this for you

I went for my second run in ages this morning. Early sun lifting mist off the nature reserve, leaving naked branches in silhouette against the whitewashed vegetation. The first shoots of daffodils poking up from the brown of last year’s fallen leaves.

Birds singing obscenities to each other.

And I thought to myself – I like this, why haven’t I run for so long?

For a while it was anaemia (I couldn’t understand why I was getting so out of breath). But, I guess it was mostly despondency. I didn’t feel like I was fast enough. Didn’t think I was losing any weight.

I’d lost my mojo.

And with most high-street retailers not selling fitness gear for plus size women and some running apps not acknowledging someone seriously runs at my speed, it’s no wonder.

Am I just too fat and slow to be a serious runner? Does running do my overweight body any good, or am I just slogging my lumbering guts out for nothing?

Sound familiar? From talking to people on Facebook, my friends and from what I’ve read, I’m relieved to know it’s a common thing.

So, consider this.

A US study into women’s heart health found that lack of strenuous exercise was more likely to lead to heart disease and heart attack than being overweight alone (read my ramblings about it here).

Think about it.

If the numbers on the scale or the stopwatch are an impediment to my body getting more efficient at pumping life-giving blood around itself, are they helpful?

I think not.

So, scales and running app back in the cupboard of sadness where they belong, I put my running shoes on this morning and enjoyed  a bit of spring sunshine.

And I got thinking about the mate of mine who I met in the supermarket the other day. She’s a plus-size honey and she’s been working with a personal trainer. Oh my, she looks sweet.

“But I’ve fallen off the wagon” she said.

“Doesn’t matter, just as long as you get back on it” I replied. I think I was talking to myself.

Weight, speed, whatever – all to one side for now. They’re not helping.

I’m doing this for my heart.

Fancy taking up running but don’t know where to start? Check out my top ten tips for plus size running. Good luck.

Misty walk

Why I never give up on new beginnings

Autumn. A time when nature starts to shut up shop for the winter and the humans turn their attention to retreating indoors for cooler, darker days. Odd that it’s also a time of new beginnings, but it is.

And it’s not just the new term that I’m talking about: although whether you’re a four-year-old starting school or a forty-eight-year-old beginning the final year of your Masters, there’s the potential for new books, new people and new ideas.

It’s the concept of the summer providing a fire gap. On one side, the wind up of the old term, work schedules geared towards taking time off for a holiday and a season of barbecue weekends and cold beer in the garden. Then the disruption to the normal routine – whether there’s kids at home or not – and eventually a return to what went before.

Or is it? Do we really go back to what went before?

I spent some time working as a childminder a few years ago and during August the phone would ring off the hook with new enquiries: usually women who, with the upcoming new term, were re-evaluating their employment status or taking on new studies.

Likewise, it would seem that some women re-evaluate every aspect of their lives as they edge towards autumn, including their bodies. Social media has been wall-to-wall this morning with introspective comments, some positive, most negative, about how lazy and unfit people feel. Is this really the case? Could it be that with children back at school and/or the distractions of summer out of the way, there’s some time and space for these women to think about who they are and where they are heading?

The new term brings new beginnings for everyone, I guess.

So, I started running again this morning. I walked around the supermarket afterwards, remembering the buzz and how strong my legs feel. And despite missing the lazy, warm days of summer with my children, how exhilarating it is to be out alone under the trees, with this new beginning stretching out in front of me.

I love the chance to start again, no matter how many times I’ve done it before.

Thinking of new beginnings yourself? If you’re looking for inspiration, check out my Top Ten Tips for Plus Size Running and for a little motivation, why we should ignore the doubters and just get out there for the sake of our heart health. If you want a giggle, there’s my retort to Nicole Arbour’s fattist outburst and if you’re looking for a re-stabilising moment of calm, what the body obsessed modern world can learn from an ancient Tibetan proverb.


Eat Half, Walk Double, Laugh Triple and Love Without Measure – the Tibetan proverb and what I’ve been doing wrong all this time

The yo-yo diets that don’t work. The gym memberships that end up at the bottom of a bag under your trainers. The resolutions that end up at the back of the cupboard behind the wine glasses. All symptoms of the same problem – our tendency to think of things back to front.

It’s time to rethink.

Not a day goes by when I don’t see something that makes me ponder. Articles in the papers, snippets on newsfeeds, posts on Facebook. Some things get my goat, make me angry but at the weekend, I saw something that really made me sit up and take notice.

A Tibetan proverb that someone posted on line:

For a long, healthy life you must –

Eat half
Walk double
Laugh triple
Love without measure

Now, I know it doesn’t sound like much but I know this works, I’ve seen it. I live in a town that is home to a large Nepalese community. Not Tibetan, I know, but by the way they live I can see there is a similarity in philosophy. The elderly walk, laugh and browse the market with a real joy and interest on a Thursday morning – you could almost believe they hadn’t seen carrots and onions before. And I was saying goodbye to my Mum as she left in the car with her boyfriend yesterday morning, when two ladies wandered past – brightly coloured, well-shod. Both easily north of 70, they jumped and laughed when we offered a Namaste. I later saw them perusing the root veg in Morrison’s – their need to walk, explore, laugh, interact is strong, inbuilt, vital.

And then this morning, someone posted something on one of the pages I follow on Facebook to remind me about a fabulous plus-size yoga teacher by the name of Dana Falsetti. I’ve known about her for years but her approach to whole body and mind connectedness served to crystalize in my mind the key reason why diets and exercise programmes don’t work for some of us. We’ve concentrated on the first two principles of the proverb for so long, we’ve forgotten the second two. And in terms of quantity, it would seem they hold more weight, as it were.

I can offer some suggestions why this might have happened. Food intake and activity are easily measured, not to mention even easier to make a charge for. But how can you eat half and walk double if you don’t laugh triple and love without measure? It’s so clear to me now, I have no idea how I’ve not seen this before.

So what does it mean? Well, what if it was more than just OK to kick back and have a giggle with your friends and family, what if this was essential to living a healthy, happy life? What if laughing and loving were treated not merely as additional elements but critical components of a health regime? What if we dumped self-hatred and body-loathing in favour of acceptance, confidence and joy?

What if we took the brave step of connecting and thinking?

Eat half, walk double are key to the commonly held notion of calories in vs. calories out, granted (and there’s enough research out there to support the health benefits of fasting). But this principle is meaningless without the second half – the balance is way too out of kilter, too many grand efforts are bound to fail, too many people lost to empty diets and self depreciation.

So, today I ate a modest breakfast and climbed a hill in the North Downs to catch some early sun. I laughed with my Mum on the phone this morning and now I’m sharing this with you.

Have a great day x


Time to breathe and think

Time to breathe and think

Walk double – I suppose climbing the 115 steps and running down the sloped route would count?