Focussing On Health First

Every year I set the same goals, exercise more, eat healthier, get more sleep etc. etc. I start off well, even losing weight and feeling quite motivated. But then one of the children may be ill or work on the house disrupts my routine and all my new healthy habits get forgotten as I get distracted with life outside my own personal wellbeing.

I have struggled with exercise since starting with fibromyalgia in 2013, until then I would go to the gym two or three times a week and walk the school run twice a day, the rest of my time revolved around doing housework, shopping and helping my elderly mother with her shopping and housework and taking her to medical appointments, she had suddenly started declining into dementia and it was a very traumatic time. I didn’t work but was constantly on the go as my husband worked away from home so I was entirely responsibly for the children with very little support for myself. I think the stress of all of this is what led to the fibromyalgia. Literally from doing a full workout in the gym one day, the next time it was like trying to run through treacle, and it never got better.

My symptoms of fibromyalgia included widespread pain, I felt bruised all over and would brace myself when my son, who was only 5 years old at the time, would try and jump on me wanting to play fight, I wasn’t a fun mum anymore. I had morning stiffness, it took a few hours to loosen up so I could function and the stiffness would return in the evenings after sitting for a while. I used to joke that I felt like a tin man. It affected my sleep too, I’ve struggled with insomnia on and off for as long as I can remember but I started waking in the night feeling very anxious for no reason. As well as the pain came the exhaustion, which was probably the worst. I just didn’t have the energy to do anything, I had to learn to pace myself and do a little at a time, my co-ordination and concentration was affected too. Any stressful situation made it worse, I would literally seize up and had to learn to distance myself from stressful emotions in order to deal with anything. Being diagnosed with a long term illness and told there is no cure and very little help other than pain killers, is very difficult to come to terms with. I was offered CBT and went along for the assessment and felt hopeful that this therapy would help but I was about to move to France so couldn’t start treatment.

Over the years the condition hasn’t exactly got worse and I’m grateful that my symptoms are quite mild compared to others, but I’ve gained a lot of weight which makes everything worse. I wasn’t going to give up though, I continued to exercise and even joined the local line dancing group and performed on stage at the village fetes. I love to dance but found the classes very painful and I was ashamed as I’d get sweaty and breathless and I assumed that was because I was unfit and overweight. The village did an annual ‘Marche Gourmande’ which was an night time, 13K hike stopping at intervals for each course of an evening meal ending in a party and firework display. It was a very popular and successful event and I was a volunteer serving ice cream for a couple of years. I did the practice run of the hike the very first year we moved here and I struggled climbing the steep hills with my seven year old son tugging on my arm. The other hikers were avid ramblers and I was lagging behind as they waited, I couldn’t get my breath, when I stopped to drink water and catch my breath people would look concerned and ask if I needed help, so I’d keep pushing forward to catch them up, when I’d reach them they would march off again as they had rested while waiting for me. I finished the walk though and managed to do it easily at the official event because I could go at my own pace. Since then, my breathing got worse and again I would think it was because I was unfit and overweight but it never improved with exercise at all. I’d also get periods of extreme exhaustion where I didn’t have the strength to keep my head up or even talk, I suspected it might be my heart as my pulse was also very erratic during these periods. The doctors tested me for everything and nothing showed up so they said I just need to lose weight. I felt fat and lazy and blamed myself for the state I was in. Until by fluke, last year the doctor detected unusually high blood pressure at a random examination, this is when I finally got to see a cardiologist and discovered and had Atrial Fibrillation (Heart Arrhythmia) and Sleep Apnea!

This latest discovery was quite emotional for me, realising I wasn’t going crazy or just being lazy afterall. But I also felt I’d made a breakthrough and now I had something to work with. I’m being treated now and the heart arrhythmia is under control and I don’t get that overwhelming exhaustion anymore but it’s still early days. I still have to get used to using a CPAP machine and get into a better sleep cycle but I feel optimistic that now I will get results from my efforts to get fit.

What Now?

So here I am again at the beginning of a New Year with all the same intentions except now I feel I have a chance of achieving them. Losing weight and getting as fit as I can is a priority.

I have done all the diets over the years, Slimming World, Intermittent Fasting, Keto etc. I’ve learned a lot about nutrition and have learned to cook quite well. I have friends with different dietary needs so when we get together to share a meal I’ve found recipes to accommodate everyone and my store cupboard has all the core ingredients. Living in rural France we don’t have the temptation of takeaway deliveries and because the nearest supermarket is a 20 minute drive away you can’t just nip to the local corner shop when you have a craving. Most food is cooked from scratch which is always healthier. I find writing down everything I eat and calorie counting tedious though, so I need to find a way to lose weight without all that hassle.


The priority for getting into shape and losing weight is nutrition and portion control but there are other factors to include to help me achieve my goals:

  1. Healthy balanced meals
  2. Exercise
  3. Emotional and Mental Wellness
  4. Relaxation

I plan to incorporate all my knowledge from previous diets and not obsess about calories, so lots of healthy fruit and veg with a healthy balance of protein and small amount of healthy carbs. I decided to cut out alcohol for a few months so I will be drinking more water and herbal teas and I will not deprive myself of the occasional treat, my weaknesses are crisps and chocolate.

I have lots of cookery books but there are a couple of websites I can recommend with a vast selection of low calorie recipes for all the family: Both the websites linked below list all the nutritional information of their recipes, are compatible with many slimming programs, they have cookbooks you can buy and most importantly the recipes are delicious and simple. and

So basically I’m not going to obsess about food, if I go out to eat I will just make sure I don’t overindulge and try to find healthier options. I don’t eat out often so it shouldn’t be a problem.


Exercising has been difficult for me because of pain and energy levels but I do feel better if I exercise regularly, I find it easier to exercise in the spring, summer and autumn as I tend to go into hibernation mode in the winter.

I am very fortunate to have a swimming pool, gym equipment and a room where I can exercise to fitness DVD’s, not to mention living in the countryside with a very enthusiastic border collie who loves going for walks.

So there are no excuses, I’ll start off little and often and build up from there.

Exercise itself only contributes about 10 – 20% towards weight loss so the focus is on cardiovascular health, flexibility and strength with the hope of reducing pain, improving sleep and gaining more energy.

Emotional and Mental Wellness

Emotional wellbeing is the best way to keep on track with goals because stress has a huge impact on everything and learning to calm your mind and emotions will help with rejuvenating sleep and reduces the chance of reaching for unhealthy options in order to cope.

Being a holistic therapist I believe on working on all levels and addressing the cause rather than just treating the symptoms. Trauma and stress can be held in the body long after an injury or illness has been treated. The cells of the body hold memories from traumatic events and even if we don’t remember them, unless they have been released they will cause pain or dis-ease somewhere.

Avoiding stress in the first place is the ideal option and this can be done by maintaining a healthy balance on all levels; physically, mental and emotionally. Sometimes things happen that are out of our control and can really upset that balance, the after effects can have a huge effect on the immune system and while we address the physical implications, it will greatly help to find ways to release negative emotions that linger long after the event, whether it’s recurring memories of trauma, resentment about an accident or coming to terms with a diagnosis there are many methods out there to help.

A couple of methods I will be using myself are Emotional Freedom Technique and The Emotion Code. I will be writing some articles on these and sharing my experiences but if you want to know more on the subject there is plenty on information on the internet.


Restful sleep is the best medicine, it’s when we are in deep sleep that our body heals itself and our mind processes the events of the day. We should wake up feeling energetic, alert and ready to face the day but that isn’t always the case. This is one area I’m hoping to improve for myself, I have a lot of healing to do and years of sleep deprivation to recover from.

Practicing things like yoga and meditation or prioritising taking a break and making more ‘me time’. Reading a book, taking up a hobby, quality time with people you care about and have things in common with, there are tons of options, you just need to find what is right for you.

I will be following on from this post with articles about some of these subjects too, so if you feel it’s beneficial to you then please subscribe below so you can see further material.

I am currently affiliated with Body FX. This page may contain other affiliated links and if you purchase any item from following one of these links I may receive a small commission. Images that I haven’t taken myself are from or

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