Hi! I'm Sophia - a British born, London trained, Californian living Pilates Instructor, Personal Trainer and lover of all things fitness & wellness. I'm wife to John and Mama to baby Theodore. I workout to keep my body strong and healthy and my (over-worrying anxious) mind calm and focused. My approach to fitness is to listen to my body and move it in a way that makes it feel good - some days this means slow, controlled mindful Pilates and other days this means a higher intensity, sweaty workout! But the main thing underpinning every workout I ever do is good form - moving well means maximising the benefit of every exercise (and workout) reducing the risk of injury and, ultimately, feeling much better in mind and body....'move well, live well' as I like to say!
Anyone who knows me well knows that I LOVE food! I have a semi-serious chocolate addiction and am currently working my way through every Californian Pinot noir and Chardonnay available. To me, living a healthy life doesn't have to mean excluding the things you love; to build a positive, life-long relationship with fitness and food, nothing should ever be considered 'bad' and you shouldn't ever be made to feel guilty about what you ate or the workout you didn't do (rest days are super important!)! Yes, of course, we must consider the nutritional value of our food and make sure that we include as much nutrient-dense food in our daily diet as possible (for optimum energy and health benefits) and, of course, if we become overweight for our height/build then we might need to consider whether we're consuming more calories than we're expending and look at reducing daily calories consumed from certain foods (as well as increasing activity levels to create the calorie deficit required for weight-loss). BUT....if we exclude the less nutrient-dense (but super yummy and soul-nurturing) foods from our diet completely, we will only ever end up wanting them more and (more often than not) will end up developing a very negative, unhealthy (and potentially disordered) mindset towards food. And, let's be honest, food is one of THE most wonderful things about life so let's enjoy it!
My approach to wellness is just as much about my downtime on the sofa with Netflix and a glass of wine as it is about my workout program....I get anxious and overwhelmed pretty easily (even more so since having a baby!) and so downtime is SO important to me for my mental health and overall wellbeing. We moved to the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area last year for my husband's work and I had my gorgeous baby Teddy last summer. So life is currently pretty much all about new Mama life and figuring out how I maintain my fitness and wellness as best as possible now I have my mini-man to look after (without being able to call my Mum to come and save me when I can't cope...argh!). I hope you enjoy my little blog - I don't find the time to update it half as often as I'd like to (I only wash my hair once a week these days so sitting down to write a blog post is nothing short of a miracle!!) but take a peek below for my thoughts and top tips on all things fitness and wellness, including advice based on my recent pregnancy and postpartum journey.
Oh, and I'd love to hear from you - get in touch if you have any questions, requests for content or want to connect or collaborate!
Big virtual hugs, Sophia x
As we finish another week during this strange and anxiety inducing time that we're all living in, how are you feeling mentally? Have you taken the time to even ask yourself that? As someone who has experienced anxiety for over 10 years, I wanted to share some tips that have helped me to understand and manage something which I know can completely consume you and your life when it's at its most severe. Believe me, I've been there; fortunately i've only ever experienced four full-blown panic attacks but I remember how much the first one (aged 24) shook me up. Not knowing or understanding what it even was or where it had come from was the starting point for me to do the work on understanding what had triggered it, what needed to change (both in my life and in my behavioral patterns) and how I could manage my mental health better on a daily basis. I feel so fortunate to be in a position now, aged 35, where, although my anxiety comes and goes as both external and personal circumstances and events in life change, I feel confident in my understanding of myself and my ability to proactively manage it.
There's SO much I could say on this topic but I thought i'd summarize the most important points by saying be KIND to your mind! Stay with me....I have some serious points to make, I promise (and I had to collate my masses of thoughts on this topic somehow!).
K - Know your own mind! This means checking in with yourself mentally on a daily basis and asking yourself how you're really feeling. Just as we notice how we're feeling physically each day, proactively asking and acknowledging to ourselves how we're feeling mentally (whether it's good or bad!) basically helps us feel more in control of something which is very much centered around feeling out of control. Also, how on earth can we work out what we need to do to feel better if we don't even acknowledge how we're feeling in the first place? Oh and side note - if anyone or anything in your life makes you believe your feelings aren't valid.....IGNORE THEM. Your feelings are your feelings and you're feeling them for extremely valid reasons. No one has the right to invalidate them.
I - If you don't want to do something...DON"T DO IT!! Now I know this one is much easier said than done and not always realistically possible (of course there's some things in life that we don't enjoy but just have get on with and do) but when you're feeling super anxious, life can feel completely overwhelming. So it's really important to try and simplify your daily/weekly activities as much as possible and only do what is actually important, necessary and/or something that you actually want to do. Outside of your job, immediate family life and personal wellness, look at what else is in your diary and whether any of it is REALLY necessary. If it's not and it's adding to how overwhelmed and anxious you're feeling about how much there is to fit into life then cancel it! Anyone who is a true and understanding friend will understand (and anyone who isn't just isn't worth your time in my opinion)
N - Never ever ever negatively compare yourself to anyone else. Yes, of course, look to others for positive inspiration and motivation but don't allow yourself to go down the dangerous road of wishing you looked like or had the same lifestyle as someone else. You've read it a million times before but it is so so true that comparison is the thief of joy. Instead, focus on acknowledging and loving all of the wonderful things about yourself and your own life. I know that it can be difficult to see the positives when anxiety hits you hard and clouds your sense of perspective but I honestly believe that practicing gratitude for all that you have in your life is a fundamental part of managing mental health. Oh and sidenote....close/ignore your social media pages whenever you find yourself slipping into those bad habits of comparing yourself to others! I love social media for how it can bring people together and help motivate and inspire but if I ever have a day where I find myself slipping into comparison mode (usually it's a day when I'm feeling anxious) I log out and don't use it that day. That way I can live my day more focused and present within my own life, rather than slipping into the dangerously unhealthy territory of living it through someone else's!
D - Direction in your life is likely to be very important to you (a common trait amongst people who struggle with anxiety). And naturally so..us humans like to have direction and purpose in our lives; it gives us more meaning and clarity in a world which can often feel uncertain and confusing. Direction in our personal life can help give us a sense of control in a wider world which can feel (and often is!) completely out of control. Try this...make two lists; one of all the things that you CAN control and one of all the things you CAN'T control. The first list will be things in your own, personal life and lifestyle and the second list will be things in the external/outside world. Now listen carefully......RIP UP THE SECOND LIST!!!! It's an absolute complete and utter waste of every single ounce of your emotional and mental energy thinking about how you can change things that are outside of your realm of control (easier said than done I know but a really really important one in learning to manage your anxiety). Now look at the list of things in your life that you DO have control over - these might include things like your home, your job (or certain elements of your job perhaps), your health and fitness (your diet, your workout routine), your sleep habits, your behavior and language to yourself and those in your home (positive, kind vibes only please!)...this list is potentially endless. There are actually SO many things within our lives that we have the power to control and working out what those are and how we can proactively make positive changes helps give us an enormous sense of direction within our lives. I promise you; if you're feeling lost, overwhelmed and anxious, looking at things that you can positively change and control within your life will give you the sense of direction that you might not even realize you need. On a much simpler and smaller scale, I also find that a good old 'to do' list gives me that daily/weekly sense of direction that my easily overwhelmed brain craves!
I sincerely hope that even just one of the points in all my above rambling has helped you in some small way but please know, above all, that feelings of anxiety (whilst not healthy if ignored) are very normal, especially in today's highly stressful and uncertain world. Struggling with anxiety does not make you weak or any kind of failure (people that struggle with anxiety are often, in fact, highly driven, high-achieving perfectionist types!). I really hope you can learn to understand your own mental health and what changes you might need to make in your life to help manage your anxiety but please please, if you're struggling to manage it on your own, don't hesitate to contact a professional;. there's absolutely no shame in asking for help in what can be a really complex area of our health and wellbeing.
My final point to make (promise i'm shutting up shortly!) is that, when I first experienced anxiety aged 24, I had almost a year of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) which really helped me understand what anxiety even was, my behavioral and thought patterns that were causing it and practical solutions to help me work out how I could manage it. Here's a link to more information about CBT and how it might help you if you're struggling and your doctor should be able to help you discuss any other available therapies that could help.
Sending you all lots and lots of virtual love and hugs and please share this post with anyone you know who it might help xx