My 10 Commandments for Lent! | Simply Marcia


Shortcuts and top tips to a more healthy, mindful, positive and energised you!

My 10 Commandments for Lent!

So, the frying pan is back in its rack (ours literally gets used once a year for pancake day – I’m not a natural cook sadly – what can I say – and flipping pancakes is not a skill that comes naturally to me …). Anyway, as today marks the first day of spring and the first day of Lent*, when we traditionally give something up (typically food or bad habits) to improve our health or demonstrate self-restraint, it’s made me think about what I might give up (chocolate, gin, shouting at the kids?) or whether, rather than give stuff up (I have little in the way of self-restraint, instead favouring (too much sometimes) the ‘life’s too short’ mantra (aka permission to over-indulge in everything …), I could take something up?

I’m not talking about taking up anything too physical (obvs) and much as I love popping over to Instagram every once-in-a-while to watch yet another motivational Body Coach ‘live’ workout, it’s not really for me. I consider my once a week yoga and constantly running around after my masters (the kids) is enough for me – thanks all the same.

I’m thinking more about how I can take up a better attitude to life in general; taking up a priority for my wellbeing. When things are a bit tough it can be so hard to see the wood for the trees and all that and sometimes I really need to ‘have a word’ with myself – easier said than done – though I’m not about to get all deep and meaningful!

So, keeping with the (sort of) spiritual train of thought, I’ve come up with my ten commandments for taking up a bit more balance in my life, a greater sense of wellbeing, and a spring in my step 🙂

1. Smile – just more often really. I will embrace my inner ‘Elf’ mantra: ‘Smiling’s my favourite’.
2. Be grateful – every day I will remind myself of the things that day, that I can be grateful and thankful for.
3. Share the load – I must, I must, I must … get my kids doing more. They’re not babies any more (eldest is 14 and possibly cannot operate a tin opener yet) – things need to change. I need to stop doing everything then moaning that I can’t do everything (wtf ha!).
4. Hydrate – simple one this – drink more water. This is one Body Coach tip I can do – yay!
5. Do one thing at a time. Think like a man – do one task at a time. Sod the multi-tasking, it just gets my knickers in a twist. Every day I’m now writing a short and achievable to-do list in my diary and getting proper and real satisfaction from actually ticking stuff off!
6. Walk more. I love walking, getting fresh air, seeing nature and taking photos. More of this please.
7. No dieting. Healthy, simple foods only. Chocolate when needed. I’m thinking a more holistic approach in listening to my body and what it needs. Recognising that my fuel needs can change day-to-day (some days I’m literally ravenous regardless of how much I’ve scoffed and others I’m just not …).
8. Banish negative thoughts (at least try to). Embrace positive mantra’s and words: I can, I do, I will, I am … ok.
9. Breathe. Slooooowly. I’ve recently discovered yoga so every day, I spend 15 mins doing some simple but calming yoga stretch and balance moves. And even though my stress levels are quite high’ish right now, I swear my asthma is so much better – I’m sure it’s down to the yoga and considered breathing. Downward-facing dog anyone (this is a great stretch!)?
10. Sleep. I think I need more of this stuff. I love my bed but not necessarily going to bed early (there are too many box-sets to be viewed and indulged in, right?). However, life is super-busy right now and I’m super-yawny so even I’m starting to recognise that I need to take up regular early nights of shut-eye. I’m thinking weekend box-set binges instead?! Happy!

Umm, one sneaky extra commandment – more flowers. I love them. A simple, budget-friendly and super-cheery ‘must’ for me and very spring-like!

So, I now command you go forth and create your own ten commandments to help you take a step in the direction of balance and wellbeing 🙂

*A super-quick history/theological lesson: Lent is a 40-day fast and this year will run up until the Thursday before Easter Sunday (April 13). Christians believe the Lent period reflects when Jesus fasted and suffered in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights during which time he was tempted by Satan, but each time he managed to refuse his temptations.

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New Year, new you?

Not that I’m suggesting there’s anything wrong with the current you, it’s just that 2016 is almost over, the clock is ticking down to the New Year and it’s around about now that we traditionally reflect on what’s been and gone and all our achievements to date, and consider all our goals, hopes and aspirations for the coming year … what awaits you?

It can be easy to roll out those generic New Year resolutions, like: I’ll lose weight, get fit, get a new job, earn more money … but maybe it’s about the small steps we can all take – and setting small but achievable goals which in turn lead to small but brilliant successes, satisfying senses of achievement and the motivation and inspiration to keep going.

Instead of thinking then in generic big-change terms, maybe we ought to think about the smaller steps we can take to achieve some of our bigger goals. So, if for example, your bigger goal is to get fit this year, break this down in to smaller achievable and realistic goals such as joining a yoga class once a week, walking to work once a week and maybe finding out about something completely different to really challenge yourself – rock climbing anyone?!

Now is a great time to find out about new and different things to try and do – you’re never too old to try new stuff. I know it’s a cliché but it’s so true – sometimes you need to step outside your comfort zone – nothing crazy but maybe something a bit different.

This happened to me recently – I was offered a super last-minute opportunity to work as a body-double and extra for two overnight shoots on a film set – something I’ve never done before and was potentially going to turn down but instead, supported my lovely partner, I threw caution to the wind and (in the words of Nike) just did it! And wow, what a fun and brilliant and creative experience. I met some lovely, inspirational people – people I’d never normally work with or meet and they were fab – a breath of fresh air – and it gave me an ‘accidental’ confidence boost – my advice, just do it!

Whatever your ‘thing’ is for this year, some top tips I’m going to try and keep hold of myself to take me through 2017:

• Think positive and smile – make it a habit
• Set achievable and realistic goals
• Get back up if you have a setback (don’t berate yourself, ever if you ‘fall off your wagon’)
• Surround yourself with positive, inspirational people
• Stop occasionally. Breathe and take stock
• Have belief in yourself
• Don’t compare yourself to others
• Recognise the joy and pleasure in small and simple things
• Take care of yourself – that means mental and physical health
• Be kind and grateful
• Say ‘thank you’

I’m sure there are others, but for me, these are the important things to try and remember as we head in to 2017 and all it brings …

Happy New Year all – may it bring you happiness, health, peace and joy 🙂 x

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New (Look!) shoes

If you love a new pair of shoes (I do!), aren’t really in the market for super expensive ones (not me) and are desperate for a pair of nude, strappy ones (yes me) then I think I may have stumbled across the perfect pair – and a super hot bargain! A double whammy 🙂

I realise of course that I’m unlikely to fall in to the New Look target market (I’m a wee bit older than 20!) however, having been dragged in there by youngest child today, looking at small person clothing, I couldn’t help but have a quick wanderette … And then I spotted them – it was a love-at-first-sight kind of thing (especially as the price tag was less than the price of a .75L bottle of my favourite gin!).

These sexilicious sandals will go with pretty much any summery dress you throw on (mine will be getting their first outing to a wedding!) and, more importantly, I can actually walk in them! Hooray!

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Exercise excuses

Umm, so the thing is, I don’t really do exercise. I mean I walk super-fast, shaking my booty as I go, as I’m pretty much late for EVERYTHING. And I walk the dog. I bend up and down when hanging out the washing (good for your waist no?!). I have bags dumped on me left, right and centre by the kids when I pick them up from school (I AM the archetypal laden-down, harassed-looking, bag-carrying mummy – aka slave) – great for your arms. I take the kids swimming and kind of drift around, with my 8-year old non-swimmer-child firmly attached to me (umm hello weight-bearing and water-based exercise? No?!).

It’s that for me, both the idea of and the actuality of going to and participating in an actual exercise class (of any description) is like the biggest turn off ever for me. Anything with the label ‘exercise’ will elicit an immediate harrumph and shaking of head from me. As Mr Cowell would say, “it’s a no from me”.
I’m not massively lazy; I mean, I’m actually very, very busy (obvs) and there’s always stuff to do (usually requiring me to be in a stationary and sedentary position), and quite frankly, if I’m being very, very honest, I’m just not that bothered about doing exercise.

Yes, I know about all of the health benefits blah blah blah – I have lived a bit you know. Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be super-lean and firm and all that stuff, I just live in a continuous state of delusion that one day, all the careful and healthy eating will (actually) pay off and without the help of even one stomach crunch or leg squat, I’ll wake up looking super trim …

Ok, so back to reality. I’m 44. My body is kind of changing I think. Weight is definitely harder to shift than it was even 5 years ago. Which means less calories are needed (what?!! crap) and I realise a ‘must try harder’ attitude is needed.

A quick visual assessment of my body (which I do love – just a teeny bit firmer please) indicates that legs and tummy are the areas to focus on – think waist down. So my challenge (which partner is (annoyingly) helping to enforce) is to basically do a shed-load of said leg squats, stomach crunches, planks etc. EVERY day and at EVERY empty-space opportunity. Think whilst waiting for the kettle to boil, when brushing teeth (leg squats only for this one – am thinking teeth brushing whilst stomach crunching could be taking multi-tasking a step too far) or whilst waiting for the bath to fill up. The golden rule though: never in public – empty-space opportunities such as waiting for the bus to arrive, or waiting for the kids to hot-foot it out of the school gates are not the time.

If, like me, you need a Mr (or Mrs) Motivator to keep you going, then have you come across The Body Coach? He’s on a one-man mission to get us all lean, clean and super-hot. Follow him on Facebook for free (and quick) toning-up tips and recipe ideas 🙂

No more exercise excuses!!

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Pom-e-nutritious

If you ever need to pack in a massive punch of nutritious body-boosting loveliness, then head to your supermarket and grab youself some ruby-red pomegranate beauties. These Mediterranean (it’s that Med diet thing again!) fruits are not only a spectacular colour but they’re delicious and nutrient rich and are briliant for your overall health.

They’ve been medicinally used for thousands of years to help fight against heart disease, high blood pressure, inflammation and some cancers, including prostate cancer. They’re also a good source of fibre and contain vitamins A, C and E, iron and other antioxidants – umm what’s not to love about these proper little nasties fighters?!

If you’re not sure how to deseed and collect the super-red pomegranate seeds and have a couple of mins to spare, check out this Youtube video clip of a very enthusiastic pomegranate deseederer!

For a good old nutrition boost, try adding pomegranate seeds to breakfast cereals and porridge (I’m thinking with overnight yoghurt-soaked oats), cold dishes and salads. They also work really well with lamb and Moroccon inspired dishes – in fact, check out Nigella’s warm shredded lamb salad with mint and pomegranate – delish 🙂

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Get your glow on!

At the top of my list of beautylicious desirables is dewy-soft and super-glowy skin, however finding a product that a) doesn’t break the bank and b) does-what-it-says-on-the-tin is not akin to finding the Holy Grail … So, step forward Superdrug’s (yes, Superdrug’s)  Simply Pure Hydrating Serum.

It’s brilliant (and only £2.69 a bottle!! £2.69!!!). It rehydrates and moistens and plumps and brightens, imparts a super lovely dewy glow AND it’s got a bit of a cult following by those in the know (late last year stocks ran out as crazy women who should’ve known better, stampeded through Superdrug’s doors to bag themselves a bottle (or two, or three … literally)).

Stock up now (umm I have) …

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Hello gorgeous!

I’m not always so great at accepting compliments. I mean, I want to (who doesn’t secretly love a well-deserved compliment?) but the self-doubting, non-believer and non-deserving side of me is always a bit surprised, shocked and convinced that anyone complimenting me has an ulterior motive – what do they want? They must mean the opposite? “Oh god, I must look like sh*t today”, is what I’ll be thinking (instead of graciously accepting said compliment and leaving it there) – it must be a joke – a set up? Etc, etc, blah, blah, blah … Negative thoughts can (annoyingly) creep in pretty quickly after that 🙁

Which I know sounds totally ridiculous. And which makes me super-irritated and annoyed with myself. I might even have a bit of an ‘harrumph’ moment.

So anyway, a week or so ago, a mummy at school gave me a lovely compliment and well, I decided to take it. I basically had a word with myself and took and accepted that compliment in the way in which it was intended (with genuine meaning). I enjoyed the moment 🙂 and how it made me feel (a bit glowy!) and decided there would be no more daft over-thinking about receiving compliments. A gracious thank you is all that’s needed and a belief that I do deserve compliments.

Fast forward to today. Lunch-break – dashing out of M&S when a young man called to me “Hello gorgeous!” Yup, he was talking to me (I did that head swerve thing – looking and checking to see who else he might have been speaking to – and unless an old boy in his 80’s or a goth-teen-boy were his thing, he was, absolutely, talking to me). Normally I’d have dashed off at 90 miles per hour – a bit terrified – but today I took it 🙂 Yes, I thought, I am looking pretty gorgeous today with the rain and wind whipping my hair in a ‘just-got-out-of-bed’ sexy manner (!!) – and then I dashed off at 90 miles per hour – as said young man was collecting in the streets for a national charity … And yes, I know that his job was to charm and flatter mid-40 year old mummies like me in to handing over their bank details but well …

Bring on the compliments – I’m finally ready 🙂


Bikini body brushing & buffing

Sometimes, at this time of year, when about to reveal bits of my body that have been in a (very) dehydrated state of hibernation for the previous 6 months, I recognise that a bit of brushing, buffing, scrubbing and slathering is in order. Without question.

My routine goes something like this: every day for a week I body brush (downward strokes everyone) whilst repeating ‘be gone damned cellulite’, I apply fruity-smelling scrubs in the shower (yes even more body scrubbing) followed by a good old slather of ‘make me smooth and luscious’ body lotion (whilst visualising magically transformed long and lean goddess body) … and then (probably) the novelty wanes … until the next wave of sunny weather (or when I realise it’s the summer hols count down – eeeeek!), miraculously springs me back in to another frenzy of BBB (bikini body buffing).

Lovely Liz Earle has a great body brush (super-reasonable too) for helping to get rid of teeny lumps and bumps as well as a brilliant body care range. And if you’re in the market for a (ahem!) slightly cheaper (but obvs still as lovely and effective) range, then look no further than super-Superdrug for some scrummy-smelling and effective body scrubs and lotions!

Of course, you could also (at no cost) apply a big dollop of ‘not-giving-a-sh*t-attitude’ 🙂 and simply style it out!

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Summer’s on it’s way – hooray! (Oh crap, I’m so not summer-ready …)

I love, love, love the fact that a mini-heatwave is predicted for this weekend – yay!! Love the sun and how it makes everyone blissfully happy 🙂

However, even though I’ve had since January to do the following (and get myself super-sunshiney-glowing) it’s umm not quite happened and I’ve totally fallen off the bandwagon (big time): lose one stone; tone up via mega planking, squatting and thrusting; learn yoga (for a perfectly toned tummy); get hair stylishly cut and styled; get medi & pedi … and all that stuff.

Eek – so 5 months has now become 4 days to get summer-ready. In desperation, my last-minute summery-sun-kissed-goddess plan of action consists of:

No carbs; shed-loads of fruit & veg (please no spots due to rapid detox); no alcohol (that’s right – for 4 days – no alcohol); lashings of self-applied fake tan (I’m planning to look peachy-sun-kissed – though alas, my track record in applying to bronzing stuff is not great – but I’ll wing it – streaky is better than pasty right?); stomach-crunching like it’s going out of fashion and finally, most importantly, a bit of fakery attitude – which involves bunging on a summery dress that show off my best bits (little hint of boobs) and some wedge sandals to give me a bit of height.

Done. Ready. Bring on the sun! x

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