2 Spuds in a Pod

Looking after your mental and physical wellbeing.

Tag: happiness

Holiday Blues

Holidays can…

Holidays can be interesting experiences. They can make you see, hear and taste things you may never have experienced before. They can make you experience cultures and adrenalin sports that you swore you would never try. They can make you happy, alive and laugh more.


Sweden was amazing. I ate loads of Swedish ice cream. Swam in water about 15 degrees warm. Was terrified of falling out of the sea kayak when we went on an archipelago island trip. Saw family that I hadn’t seen since last year. I saw parts of Sweden I had never seen before too. Slept lots and laughed my little socks off. Both of us had an amazing time.

The holiday has been and gone

The holiday has just that. It has been, as I say it was fantastic, but it has now gone away too. The holiday blues remain though. I would say that this is a normal feeling. You have gone from long lie ins, to sunshine, to iced cold drinks by the pool, to doing what you want when you want. Suddenly you are back to your alarm going off at 0600, the work “to do” list as long as your arm and you are counting down the days to the next holiday.

Holidays can also make you reflect

This is very true, a holiday can make you think about your life, your family, your work and your goals as well. When Rosie and I were on holiday in February of this year we started talking about 2 Spuds and here we are several months later with a website, blog, Instagram page and hopefully much more still to come. When we were in Sweden, we did speak about 2 Spuds and the direction we wanted to take it. This is what we are working on now. Sometimes you need to go away from your normal routine to make sense of life around you. All I can say at this point is stay tuned for exciting news to come.

Make a change

Here is the thing though. If your work is not making you happy, if you goal is too far out of reach or if you feel like you should be on a different adventure then make that change. Yes, it can be a scary thing to make a change but at the end of the day it is your happiness that we are talking about. A holiday can make you reflect on these questions and perhaps even make a plan to help you reach whatever goal you want.

Love the work, hate the sales

I love the work I do. I love working with gym clients or standing at the front of a class instructing it, but I hate with a passion that my job seems to involve targets and sales strategies. Now, I am sorry, but if it is so important for me to be doing sales then why is it not in the personal training qualification. I am fully aware that I need to promote personal training and how it can help you as an individual but complying by a number is not my style. It infuriates me no end. From our trip to Sweden it is making me think long and hard about what my next steps may be.

My point

A holiday can be fun and exciting, but it can also make you reflect which leads to questions, realisations and perhaps even change.



I have had a couple of great days now, and I feel very grateful and happy. Mental health can be a heavy topic so I want to try and share some of my happiness. I feel it is as important to share the good stuff as it is the bad. This post will look at what it is that has made me feel this way.

Time off

This is self explanatory. When you work long shifts with 5 or 6 days in a run with only 2 days off in between then you really appreciate having 6 days off. We had already made a few plans over these days, and it has turned out to be a very busy few days. I really try to make the most of them, and I get to spend more time than normal with the wife. So amongst the chores we planned some good stuff too. I’ve been looking forward to these days a long time now, and that is one of the points I want to make here. Put a date, or several, in the diary. Plan fun things to do and do them. This could be absolutely anything, but it is important that they are things that you think are fun. I think it’s great to have things to look forward to, that helps me a lot.

Spending time with loved ones

It is easy to take your partners, friends and family for granted. Helen and I booked a day away for Friday just gone. Something we love doing is going away on little adventures, and we had planned to go to Crieff to do Segway and air rifle shooting. We had a fabulous time! I loved the Segway in the morning, Helen less so but then she had a very close encounter with a tree. Now this was apparently because she did not want to scare the horses nearby. This is one of those things that makes perfect sense to her but no one else. Following lunch on a blanket in the sun it was time for air rifle shooting. I was quite bad at this and I find it hilarious that Helen, who always needs her glasses, took them off whilst shooting and she did way better than me!

This was followed by a walk in the gardens at Drummond Gardens. They are absolutely amazing, and we learnt that they were used as one of the locations for Outlander.

Drummond Gardens


I’ve started taking photos again, and that in itself makes me very happy. For a long time I did not take any at all, but I’m now getting back to it.

Cake and flowers

It was my birthday on Friday. What I appreciated the most was that I was off and so was Helen. As mentioned above we had made plans for a fun day, and we did have a great day. She also made me a cake with lots of cream and fresh berries. She did a marvellous job! It is delicious. We make sure we have smaller pieces and still do lots of exercise.

She also presented me with 5 (!) bouquets of flowers. I am so lucky!

Pink, yellow and red rose

Top up the good stuff

As you can see, the last few days have been full of things that make me happy. There are a few mundane chores too, but I’ve planned them in with the fun things. What also works is getting rid of the boring chores first so that what is left is the fun stuff.

Get some dates in your diaries for the things that you know you want to do but never get around to. Have some fun!


What a difference a year makes

Looking at the photos from our day out on Loch Ard with paddleboard and kayak, I’m struck by how happy and confident I seem (have a look here), I have found the photos we took last year, at the same place and around the same time.
That I am looking happy and confident does not have anything to do with being a fantastic paddler (trust me, I’m not), but it simply shows how far I have come. Naturally this gives cause for reflection.

Standup paddleboarding last year

When we arrived at Loch Ard for the first time last year, I was simply blown away by how beautiful it was. The sun was shining and it was warm.

Loch Ard
Loch Ard
Loch Ard
Loch Ard

What’s not to love, right? We hired a board for me and I was very nervous when I first got on it. I sat down a lot and paddled that way, whilst trying to build up the courage to stand up. Eventually I managed to stand up on it, at least for a very short while.
I can see that I am nervous and anxious. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s when it takes over that it becomes an issue. It’s obvious in my body language that I am really uncomfortable.

Rosita on a paddleboard
Rosita on a paddleboard on Loch Ard

Standup paddleboarding this year

What a difference a year has made! It shines through in the photos, I’m so much happier and more confident. This is not just confident with being on a paddleboard, I mean this in general too, with everyday life. I still have days when everything just feels rubbish, I can’t stop worrying and being anxious about the most ridiculous things. There are a lot less tears these days which is quite nice.

Rosita on her paddleboard
Rosita on her paddleboard on Loch Ard

Using photos as a cue

I find that having a photo to look at from a certain event or situation helps me remember it much more clearly. In some instances it helps me remember that it happened in the first place. I am not sure why this is although I believe it is to do with stress and all the negativity that the brain has endured. It simply cannot keep up. It does bother me because I have always considered myself organised and thorough, however I’m feeling less so these days.

It does get better

It might not seem like it, but it does. I cannot say how much is down to lifestyle changes or medication, but I am in a good place now. Medication is a topic for another blog, I am not quite ready for this yet.


Do something you love!

Do exactly that. Do that one thing that will put a smile on your face, will give you that extra spring in your step and will make you feel happy. Take some time out for you and do something nice. Now, this doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. It could mean running a warm bubble bath, lighting some candles and taking a long soak with a glass of wine and a (waterproof) book. It could mean going away for a spa weekend or it could mean spending time friends and family. Last weekend I did just that. Something that I love.

I haven’t been cycling for ages

This is very true. The last time I did any type of long distance on a bike was about 18 months to 2 years ago. I used to do it all the time. Almost every weekend I would be seen on a bike heading out to the Thames Tow Path, Richmond Park or over to Windsor Castle. Rosie and I met through a cycling group as well. On top of that I was doing a long of long-distance charity cycle rides. I did the Thames Bridges, London to Brighton and Pedal for Scotland to name a few. I cycled at least 4 times a week then did the strength and conditioning in the gym. Once I started working closer to home, I started cycling to and from work which could mean up to 7 days a week. For those of you who are London based sometimes cycling was the best way to get from A to B. So, as you can see, I cycled a lot.

Life got in the way

Once we had moved up to Scotland life unfortunately life got in the way, we started new jobs where the commute was much longer than 15-minute cycle. Rosie also got sick. The bikes were put at the back of the garage with a tarpaulin over them and were just “left”.

The preparation

Last Sunday after I felt like going on a cycle to see how far I could get before having to give up. I first had to get my bike out. Not an easy task as we have been using the garage as a storage area and there were hose pipes, barbecue, shelves and garden kit in front of it. I was not going to be defeated at the first hurdle. Let’s just say our garage is now re-arranged into a tidy mess now and I got to the bike. For being neglected for the last year or so it wasn’t in too bad a shape. I cleaned it up, checked and inflated the tyres, check and re-oiled it, triple checked the brakes and gave it a good once over.

Off I go

I had decided that I would go along the Forth and Clyde Canal Tow Path. I had been along parts of it before but had never done a full stretch of it. Today was the day. I started at Croy and joined the path at Auchinstarry Marina. It took a good few kilometres to get my legs into the rhythm of it all again and remember to keep my posture in the correct position as well. It took me even longer to figure out the gear system. But as the kilometres passed on, I became more comfortable and as the say I was back in the saddle (so to speak).

Before I knew it

I was at the Falkirk Wheel and had a decision to make. One way would take me to the Kelpies and the other way could take me to Linlithgow and Edinburgh. I decided on the Kelpies. Once I had got there, I thought about taking the train back home but my legs were enjoying the cycling, so I ended up cycling all the way home.

I was tired and hungry

Rosie and I have a saying: a good exercise session is where you are falling back through the front door tired, hungry but happy. And that is exactly what I did. I had cycled for around the 4-hour mark (including breaks) and I had clocked up an impressive 53 kilometres. For someone who hasn’t done that distance in a year or two I thought it was a great start.

Do something you love!

And this is my point. Go out and do what you love. Put a smile on your face, put a spring into your step and be happy.

Challenge update

We are in week 3 of the challenge. Last week I got 1063 minutes of exercise. This week is a bit of a struggle though as I have a lot of things to do which leave a lot less time for exercise. At present I am 338 minutes in. This means I have 662 minutes left (11 hours) and 4 days to do it in. I will give it my best shot but at present I think I will fall short. Time will tell, I guess.


Weekend Me Time!

This is supposed to be the time where we unwind from the week, catch up on the chores and generally get ready for the next week ahead. Unfortunately, at weekends we sometimes forget to give ourselves me time. The time we need to digest what has happened in the previous week and mentally prepare for what awaits us at our desks come the next workday morning. At weekends we spend the time tidying the house, washing the dishes, making food for the week, doing the laundry, making sure the work shirts are ironed and so on. As I have said we forget to take me time.

We forget

We forget that on the weekends our alarms do not have to go off at that crazy hour to get up for work. We forget that we can spend an extra hour in bed watching tv or having that extra cup of coffee while we look at the news or funny online videos. We can also forget to do the more fun things like, going to your favourite class at the gym, going to the cinema, meeting friends for dinner or hanging out in your pyjamas all day and eating chocolate. As I say we need to reward ourselves sometimes with the me time. That time that says well done for working that stressful week.

Time well spent

Now me time can last anywhere from an hour right through to the full weekend. It doesn’t matter how much time we put on me time just take some. Have a bubble bath with a glass of wine, stay up on Saturday night to watch one more episode on Netflix, read a book on the couch wrapped in a blanket and I am sure there are many other suggestions too.

Yesterday evening

I spent time yesterday evening trying to construct a bench for outside. It was one of those ones with loads of screws, lots of different parts and instructions which made no sense even when I did hold them the right way up. It wasn’t a sunny evening, but it was dry and warm. Now from a week which has been continually rainy and grey it made for a pleasant evening. The downside was that none of the screws seemed to fit in any of the holes they were supposed to. However, several hours later, a few swear words here and there and that one screw that seemed to be left over I finished the bench. Dinner had been and gone, it was almost dark, but I had finished the bench. It was an achievement. It will give Rosie somewhere to sit with her coffee when she needs her me time in the garden.

The main point

Here is my point, I could have waited to do the bench until there was more time, I could have waited until a better time of day and I could have waited until after dinner. But here is the main element of this blog. I love constructing things. Whether that is a bookshelf from Ikea, a tv cabinet from Argos or a garden bench for somewhere that I cannot remember. It was my me time and as I am writing this sitting on the couch wrapped in a blanket watching tv it makes it all worthwhile.

Me time

However, you spent your me time just make sure it is your time. Time for you and only you.

– Helen


This is interesting as identity defines who we are as a person but what it shouldn’t do is stereotype us into a box. If someone has short hair it does not mean that they should automatically be stereotyped as a boy. If someone wears a pair of those pineapple shaped sunglasses it does not mean they are weird. If someone wears a kilt and dreadlocks in their hair it does not mean they are a girl for wearing a skirt. These are people’s identities and they have chosen these types of dress and styles as it makes them happy.

As I have said in a previous post, I like nothing more than running around in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Now this style is very tomboy and I think my mother would be the first to agree with me. I wore skirts for school but outside of that my mother had me in a skirt up until three years old and then never again as I refused to wear them. Skirts and dresses are not who I am. Whereas Rosie will wear a dress to a wedding, to a party, out to the theatre and so on. That is part of her identity.


Some of us work in a place where a uniform is provided and some of us work in a place where we must select what we wear. I would admit that a uniform makes life easier at six o’clock in the morning when you are getting up and ready for work. But other than that, it has been selected for us to wear by the boss of the company. We do not usually get a say in how a uniform should look. It can take our identity and put it into a different person temporarily while we are at work and other times it does not. In the evening we put on our own clothes and go back to our normal identity. Sometimes though we spend our whole lives in a uniform and we may forget where the uniform starts and the person begins. Rosie experienced this after she finished being a police officer.  Rosie was moulded into a particular model which when she left the force she had a hard time adapting to civilian life. She let her hair grow, got some new piercings, is debating another tattoo and is enjoying wearing shorts to work.


Identity can be many different elements. It can be clothes, hair style, make up, shoes or eye colour. But it can also be how we identify as a person. It can be what we believe in, are we religious, what sports team do we like, what social life do we like, what class do we belong to and so on. You could start being called Helen from birth but then during university and work people start calling you H and it sticks. It can be your age or your marital status. It can be absolutely anything.

Don’t listen

Do exactly that. If someone is berating you from being different then don’t listen. It is highly likely that they want to be more like you and don’t know how to be, or that you are showing them a way of life that they can’t quite match up to. There are many different identities in the world these days and I am sure there are many more to come. But this is the cool part. We are all different for different reasons and we interact with different people at different times in our lives. I find it keeps the world interesting and if there is respect present then you are on to a winner.

Lost identity

Simple answer to this, find it. Explore different ways of living. If Rosie had her way she would go and live in a forest in a treehouse. Get yourself a new haircut, get your ear pierced, try on a different shade of lipstick, try on a different shirt, learn a new language, experience a different culture and so on. The only person who is going to stop you from doing this will be you. I say go for it. At the end of the day it is your happiness as a person which is more important.

Identity and mental health

It doesn’t define you as a person. I have Functional Movement Disorder and it is a part of my life but that doesn’t mean it identifies me as a person. Just the same as I have short hair and a piercing. Those do identify me as a person. It was my decision to make these changes, so I did.

As I like to say you are unlikely to say to someone: “Hello, my name is Helen and I have Functional Movement Disorder”. It may come up in a conversation, but I tend not to open with it.

The bottom line

We are all different and that’s what makes the world more interesting. Respect it, explore it and just be you.


[#identity #style #happiness #clothes #lochlomond]

Carefree identity in Loch Lomond
Helen standing with rolled up trousers in Loch Lomond, her carefree personality shining through.

Body Image

It is a hot topic at the minute with this being Mental Health Awareness Week. The Mental Health Foundation only yesterday announced that it had done a piece of research on it. According to the report 4,500 UK adults were asked, and about a third of them were anxious about their body image. Another 1 in 8 were experiencing suicidal thoughts about it. (BBC News website)

The very thought of the words body image can make someone jump out of their skin. It will have people running to the mirror and asking why me? Someone may read this blog and think I have tried every diet but why am I still big or why can’t I put muscle on or I wish I could lose that baby weight and so on. Here’s the secret: there is no magic formula. The truth is your body belongs to you. You oversee it. It is unique. 

Your body can tell a story

It is very true; your body can tell a story. It is the life of you. So, the story of me is as follows. I have a small scar across the bridge of my nose from where I decided to nosedive into a table at the age of 2.  I also have 3 keyhole scars on my abdomen from 18 months ago where a cyst on my ovary bust, caused a right issue and had me in emergency surgery to sort it out.  I have facial tics which depending on my stress levels can be very visible. My left hand holds two rings, my engagement ring and my wedding ring. I recently cut my hair really short and got myself an ear piercing.  My toes are webbed (no I still can’t swim well), I have fat around my belly which due to a medical condition makes it hard to shift but I keep trying. I wear glasses, I had teeth braces as a kid and for a female I am taller than average. I work hard at the gym doing my own workouts so I stay strong. I also love nothing more than running around in jeans and a t-shirt. There you go, a small version of my story.

The other side of the story

People have mocked me in the past, bullied me, people have said why can’t I lose weight, why were my teeth like a bunny’s and why couldn’t I dress more feminine. Some of those words hurt, I had to listen while people said these things but did I pay attention? The short answer is no. It has taken me a while to realise that I am who I am. Some people will like me, and some will not. However, at the end of the day I cannot please everyone with the way my body looks. The only person who needs to be happy with it is me and I am more than happy with my body image. 

The media

I personally think the media has a lot to answer for. As a personal trainer I often get a person coming to me for their consultation, showing me pictures of someone on Instagram or other social media. It comes with those famous words; I want to look like this. Now bringing in a picture gives me a good idea of how you would like to look and what exercises to give you to get you there. However, most people want the easy fix. Now correct me if I am wrong but that message is usually not one that social media portrays. People want that internet body which will happen overnight whilst still being able to eat fast food and binge-watching telly. I have to disappoint these people and say that it could take up to a year to get that way. What I offer is good nutrition, at least 3 days in the gym, scaling down the fast food, limiting the alcohol and a lot of hard work. After the initial shock wears off that it will take a lot longer they sigh and say I will try it. The people who have stayed with me as a trainer have lost weight, toned their muscles, changed their diet to a healthier version and so on. But here is my point: it is a lifestyle change rather than a quick fix. And at the end of the day they are much happier. 


So, here is the bottom line in my opinion. If you are happy with your body image don’t let anyone take that away from you. Show off your scars proudly and let them tell their story. If you are not happy with your body image, then take a small step today into making a lifestyle change and keep going. Once you catch the nutrition and exercise bug I can guarantee you will find your happy somewhere along the way.


Almost there!

We have been busy getting the final preparations done for our 2 Spuds in a Pod launch.  We have had a major delay with our logo designer who in the end we had to walk away from. However, thanks to a recommendation from a personal training client of mine we sourced another designer.  In the space of a few days our logo has been designed, amended, signed off and put across all our social media and website. A small triumph in the grand scheme of starting a new business and the logo looks a lot better than my little pencil drawing which we had to start with.  Tomorrow afternoon I am planning on spending it on the phone finalising the last few business parts. A mundane but highly important part of proceedings.

Time out

We have also taken some time out this weekend.  As Rosie’s last post mentions it is great to take some time out and concentrate on yourself.  Sometimes you just need to recharge the batteries before you go back to work, school, family or life in general.  We decided we would go up to Edinburgh on Sunday and spent the day going up Arthur’s Seat, Calton Hill and around the City.  We ended up doing around 23,000 steps according to our phone step counter, not bad for a day out! If you haven’t already checked out the photos on Instagram then grab a cup of tea and head over there to take a look.  

L2 Award in Mental Health

I am also very excited to have finally started my L2 Award in Mental Health qualification.  It is online reading at the minute and I have to admit that me sitting down to concentrate on something is very tricky.  I have so far managed to read, clean the house, read, make dinner, read, do laundry and so on. In small bite sized chunks I will finish the reading and be ready for assessment over the next few weeks.  I find this works for me so my stress levels don’t reach a high point. You must do what works for you. If that is reading with chores or reading with watching online videos once you get to the end of the chapter or reading while outside in the garden then at the end of the day you are still learning. All you have done is make your reading and revision work for you.  


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