Monday 31 January 2022

Here’s how Exercise could Really Benefit your Mental Health

Image Credit: Pexels

{This is a collaborative post}

If you want to try and improve or just support your mental health, then you are not alone. Many people in the world want to try and help their mental health to be the best it can be and why shouldn't we? Life is too short to feel sad, depressed and lethargic. Change won't just come with wishful thinking though, you need to take active steps to try and turn things around. If you want some help, then take a look below.


Exercise is a natural treatment for anxiety. It is ideal for relieving stress and believe it or not, it can also boost your mental energy. It releases a lot of endorphins, which are those feel-good hormones that we all love to experience. Anything that you can do to try and get moving will help you, but it does help to pay attention instead of zoning out. So, if you're running try and take note of the sensations you feel when your feet hit the ground, or even the rhythm of your breathing as you take a brisk walk. If you can do this, then you will soon find that you can take better note of your physical conditioning and that it is also possible for you to improve the thoughts that are running through your head. If you are keen on the idea of a cardio program, then you can take supplements to support that. Learn more now.


When you are under stress, have you ever taken note of how your body feels? You may feel as though your muscles are tense in your shoulders, your face and your neck. You may also find that you experience neck pain and headaches too. You could also experience a rapid pulse or cramps. The worry of being stressed can also cause more stress to your body, which is the last thing that you need.

Exercising is a very good way for you to try and break this cycle. It helps to release endorphins into your brain, and it also helps you to relax your muscles. This helps you to relieve tension in your body. The body and the mind are closely linked and if you can get to the point where your body feels great then your mind will too. Activities like yoga or pilates are gentle and you can start easily but they will make the world of difference to how you feel and also, in time, to your health, strength and flexibility.

Friday 28 January 2022

Finally on the Path to being Fit and Free

I’ve been seeking fitness and freedom for quite some years now. Back at the beginning of 2015, I started to use the hashtag #FitandFree because that was my aim for the year. I thought I was finally going to conquer my weight demons and manage to lose lots of weight, however, it didn’t happen and yet again I became demotivated and remained unhappy in my body.

A 35 Year Journey

My issues with my weight started when I was about 13, or that was when I became aware that I had a problem that I felt needed solving. I remember going to the doctor for help and he told me to write a food diary and then halve it. That was the start of a very painful and prolonged journey of self-hate for the last 35 years. I look back now and I wasn’t even particularly big, yes, a little bigger than some classmates, but absolutely fine.

By the time I left secondary school, I had lost some weight (through attending Weight Watchers classes with my mum) and I was around a size 12/14 I thought I looked amazing and I felt amazing but soon some weight went back on and the first suit I bought at age 16 was a size 16. By the time I headed to University at 18, I was a size 18 and I can remember that I thought that was the most humongous and gross size there ever was, I even cut the labels out of my clothes as I was so ashamed and didn’t want my new friends to know. Little did I know what was to come.

How I'd love those 18-year-old curves again

Even at university when I should have been focusing on studying and enjoying my life as a young adult I can remember going to various weight lossfollowclubs to try and shift some weight, so I could feel ‘normal’, the same as everyone else. Counting calories, recording food, drinking grapefruit juice before I ate, stepping on the scales, checking out food plan points – it was like an obsession.

By age 21 I was down to a size 16 when I met my now-husband and between then and getting married at age 28, I headed upwards to a size 20/22. When you are young you think you have years ahead to ‘sort yourself out’ and I recall weight loss being fairly easy. Cut back and restrict calories and then I could drop 1/2 stone in a week. I look back now and wonder why I never carried through and got to a healthy weight, but I was carrying so much emotional baggage and every time it threatened to resurface, I’d eat and stuff it back down and that sense of shame would grow a little stronger.

Food – my False Idol

The rejection I felt as a child carried through and was reinforced by new situations that life threw at me and I had no resilience and no idea of how to deal with my emotions or these situations. So I ate, as food always comforted me, it never let me down and it was a wonderful smokescreen to stop me from looking too in-depth at where things were going wrong.

I can’t reveal too much as so much of what happened to me isn’t just my story and thus I can’t break confidence but I am so glad I found Jesus. That is what has saved me. Having a personal and loving relationship with God is what makes a difference in my everyday life. It is what sustains me and keeps me going. Reading that, you’d be forgiven for thinking that I have lost several stones of weight and that I am now considered a healthy weight, but no, alas I am still morbidly obese.

On my wedding day in my size 22 dress

However, I don’t have to be at my target weight (I don’t actually have a target weight) to be saved, to find success in my journey. Jesus has redeemed me and I have learnt to accept (moving the knowledge from my head to my heart) that He adores me and He won’t love me anymore when I am eight stone lighter. He also wouldn’t love me any less if I got eight stone heavier.

In the two decades that I have known Jesus and accepted Him as the Lord and Saviour of my life, He has been working on me and I have had a desire to work for Him. I had no clear picture of what that meant, but He has been revealing snippets to me as the years have gone past. When our family moved to East Sussex in the summer of 2013 I had a clear understanding that God wanted me to slow down and just be for a bitfollow. I heard the phrase ‘fit for purpose’ and I believe that it was from God. For quite some years I took that phrase to mean that I needed to lose weight to address health issues and then He could use me. I berated myself each time a diet failed or I got demotivated and stopped going to the gym. Since living here I have started Slimming World around five times and been a member of different gyms on at least six occasions. I’ve also attended a fitness club and tried to do the Couch to 5K. I’m not being a defeatist when I say that all of these attempts failed.

Only God can Work a Miracle

Why did they fail? I think, probably, because I was trying to win in my own steed. A few years back I realised I needed to submit my food and more importantly my fears to God, so He could work on me to help me. But then I continued to battle and kept taking back all the things I had left at the foot of the cross and I made them all my problem again. Fearful that I’d be hungry, fearful of the saggy skin I thought I’d be left with, fearful of intimacy issues, fearful of missing out and fearful of the opportunities that may come my way if I was slimmer and healthier and able to do anything I pleased as my body could take the strain.

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Isaiah 40:31

But fear can not enter where there is faith. So, I’ve been working on my relationship with Jesus and developing that faith. I’m very proud of the hard work I have put into this process. The determination and dedication I have shown to becoming a better person, to healing my emotional issues and to being available for God has been immense. It hasn’t always been easy but I am so happy to have been through the fiery furnace and to now see my character more in line with Jesus. Of course, there is work still to be done, we’re never quite the finished project but I feel as if I have made leaps and bounds forward and that is thanks to God.

Handing over my Fears & Relying on Him

So, now, at last, I feel able to be brave and to hand any final fears over to God as I exercise my faith and start to cut back on what I eat. I don’t need to overindulgence and overcompensate for unhappiness elsewhere in my life, I am ready to fully submit and to change; to be who Christ truly wants me to be.

I am very much looking forward to starting my new job in March at least 3kg lighter and then going on holiday in October with my family and being 25kg down. That means losing 2.5Kg each month for the next 10 months, which is about 5lb a month so hopefully attainable.

Earlier today I was thinking about hope, as well as faith and being reminded that I don’t have to despair of this weight loss journey that has taken 35 years so far. There is no need for me to be exasperated with myself and to assume I’ll give up or fail, just because I have before. I now have the hope of Jesus and I need to allow Him to sustain me. The only stiving I must do is in my pursuit of Him and my relationship with Him.

Jesus has restored and redeemed me. I learned on my bible study course this morning that Jesus moved women from shame to honour and that is what He has done for me. Thank you, Jesus, that by Your blood I am saved and I can live another day to serve You and love You. Amen.

Monday 24 January 2022

Retreat at The Greenhouse Christian Centre, Poole

Review of my weeks retreat at the Greenhouse Christian Centre Poole in December 2021

In early December last year, I stayed at The Greenhouse Christian Centre in Poole for four nights and I had the most amazing time. Some of that was because I met profoundly with Jesus and the Holy Spirit did a lot of healing work in me, but much of that was possible because I was staying in a wonderful and anointed retreat centre with a hospitality-focused team. It's therefore my joy to share with you a review of my time at The Greenhouse Christian Centre. 


The Greenhouse Christian Centre is actually located between Westbourne and Branksome but has a Poole address. It is just under two miles to Bournemouth town centre and nearly five to Poole. You can easily get a train into Bournemouth mainline station and catch a bus, or if you get off the train at Branksome it is about a 10/15 minute walk, depending on how leisurely you want to walk. 

I found the location really convenient as someone who travelled by public transport, as the quaint town of Westbourne is about a ten-minute walk and there you can find coffee shops, restaurants, take-aways and shops. Or you can get to the woodland chines and access the gorgeous Bournemouth beaches by walking for about 20 minutes. 

It would be easy to find my using a sat nav if you are driving and there is plenty of parking available.


Review of my weeks retreat at the Greenhouse Christian Centre Poole in December 2021

Saturday 22 January 2022

Looking Forward to December 2022

After spending quite some time in the last week reflecting on how things have changed in 2021 and how I have grown and matured, it’s now time to look forward. In one of my many recent emails, I was asked the questions –

Where do I want to be in December 2022?

What would I like to have achieved?

So, that got me thinking and of course, praying, about what my future might hold and I figured it’s no bad thing to visualise how things might look for me in a year's time. After 2021 being such a great year of spiritual growth I don’t want to rest on my laurels. I need to keep pressing on and making myself available to deepen my relationship with God and do His will. The first few things I come up with are –

  • Be working in a job that fulfills me and makes a difference to others
  • Have made my health a priority and lost some weight so I can move better and hurt less
  • JJ settled at University and happy in his studies
  • My girls feeling prepared to undertake their GCSE exams

This first part above I started to write in the first week of January and now it is 22nd January and I am already some way towards achieving the first one as I got a new job last week. I’m going to be the Food Bank Project Manager in the town where I go to church and it needs a complete overhaul, so this will be an exciting (and slightly scary) challenge, but I feel equipped to do it as I know it is God who placed it in front of me.

Other items that I’d add to my visualisation of how I’d like December 2022 to look, include –

  • Adam being in a job that challenges and fulfills him, one where he doesn’t feel exasperated most days
  • Us all being settled in our home, feeling safe and comfortable
  • The whole family continues to be a part of our church family, fully involved in many aspects of serving
  • My girls having great friends, that they can rely on and trust. Ones who are good influences on them
  • Family life at home being more collaborative, with everyone helping with the chores and cooking as I’ll be working more
  • All of my family is well in both physical and mental health

And that’s it really. I don’t know if I’m just a simple woman or if I have low expectations but I am content with what I have in the main and I think that is a very precious gift. Thank you Jesus for all you give me and the way you are a constant in my life. I am so glad I have you to go through this life journey with. I honestly don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t have you to turn to and rely on every single day. Amen

Saturday 15 January 2022

Beauty Recommendations for Looking after Yourself in 2022

Beauty recommendations for 2022 from a woman in her late forties, wanting to look after herself more this year.
Photo by kevin laminto on Unsplash
{As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, any affiliate links will be marked with #ad}

Finally, in my late forties, I seem to be looking after myself better. I've always enjoyed wearing make-up and doing my hair but I have been absolutely hopeless at looking after my skin or having any kind of beauty regime. Thankfully, God seems to have blessed me with good skin and I've got away with it, but no longer, I realise I'm ageing and need a change. So let me share with you some of the products I've been using in recent times and I'm loving.

Body Shop Vitamin C Glow Revealing Liquid Peel - £16 for 100ml

This is a fairly new product to me, I've been using it for just a few months but even in that short time, I am really finding it effective. I had thought that my face was looking a bit dull but this has cheered it up no end and I have that lovely glow again. The product has a gentle exfoliator in it and you apply it to dry skin and as you massage it in you can feel these little balls forming and they are supposed to collect up your dry skin cells and any dirt/ grime that is there. You then rinse it off your face and it really is very satisfying to use. 

You just need one or two small pumps for each use, so I think the 100ml bottle will last me quite some time and provide good value. When I was younger I probably would have opted for a supermarket fash wash in a much bigger size for under a fiver but as I get older I realise that you do get what you pay for. I also really like the values of Body Shop (#ad) and I'm happy to buy from a sustainable brand with good green credentials, using natural products. 

Thursday 13 January 2022

4 bucket list ideas for 2022

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post}

Another year has rolled around.

And while the previous two have been distinctly more… unique than those that came before them, the uncertainty for many has only renewed our desire to push ourselves that little bit further and expect more out of life.

So it’s no surprise that as New Year rolls around we’re more motivated than ever to cross a few items off our bucket lists and level up our ambitions when it comes to those annual resolutions. With that in mind, these are just four of the most common bucket list entries – how many are on yours?  

1. Renovate your home

Maybe your home is full of odd jobs that you’ve been putting off since the day you moved in. Or perhaps the DIY renovations you began in lockdown have fallen by the wayside, and still need that final push to finish them off.

Take it one room – or even one task – at a time. Draw up a list of priorities and work through them as and when you’re ready. Resolutions don’t have to be done all at once – turn it into a long-term and sustainable project, I'm certainly going to. The bathroom is the first on the hit-list as I need to clean up the grout, or maybe even dig it all out and re-grout it as it can make such a difference to how fresh the room looks. 

Friday 7 January 2022

Review: Spa Day at Ashford International Hotel, Kent

Review of a day spa at the Ashford International Hotel, Kent, booked via Red Letter Days.

Back in November a friend and I spent the day at the spa at the Ashford International Hotel (it was a weekday, term-time visit). It wasn't somewhere either of us had been to before but with a 4-star rating, I was hopeful for a good experience. In truth, my expectations weren't too high as I know I'm pretty fussy and the day had only cost me  £87 for two of us to have the spa day with lunch and 50 minutes of treatments. So at, £43.50 each it was a real bargain, having bought it on Red Letter Days with one of their excellent discounts (definitely sign up for their mailing list, where you often get offered 10 - 25% off their deals).

Booking and Before the Day

The voucher was easy enough to buy from Red Letter Days and I had to call Q Hotels central reservations to make the booking, which was fine but I found it a bit odd that they didn't email or send a confirmation. They just gave me a booking number and apparently, this is all they do.

Once I'd booked I had a few questions to ask about the robes, lunch and treatments but the customer service was pretty awful. It took me around two weeks to actually get to speak to someone at the hotel spa. When I did, Liberty was very pleasant and helpful, but I didn't like having to chase for answers when my questions were so simple.

Arrival at the Hotel

The hotel was easy to find and there was plenty of parking available. There is a direct entrance by the spa and I'd arranged to meet my friend in the hotel lounge, so I just wandered through. The lounge and public areas are really nice, very well set-out to allow for private space and we had a very enjoyable coffee before going through to the spa. Although it was a pricey coffee at £3.85 for a regular cappuccino, so lucky it was good. 

Sunday 2 January 2022

2021 – What a Year! Thank you, Jesus

Most years I write a round-up blog post of what’s gone on that year and I might look at my goals, achievements or all the fun experiences I’ve had, but this year, my end-of-year post feels quite different. It is about sharing all the growth that has happened in me during the year and as it’s a very personal post, I have decided to place it on here and resurrect this, my faith-based blog.

As a Christian, I’m not supposed to stand still and end the year the same Michelle as I was at the start of it. I’m supposed to change, grow and become more Christlike as I age and mature. Each of the last nineteen years since I gave my life to Christ I have changed and grown but some years it has been more evident than others. I think the last year has seen the most change and growth since 2013/14 and it feels amazing to know I am becoming more secure in my identity as a beloved child of God.

From Head to Heart

You often hear Christians talk of head knowledge and heart knowledge and by this they mean, that you may have learnt what the bible says and your head understands it as the truth; it’s a very logical and cognitive process, but the heart knowledge is about the relationship with Jesus. It is about the deep and personal knowledge that what the Bible says isn’t just for everyone else, but it is for you. It is intimate when it says

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16 (ESV)  

It really means that God allowed Jesus to go to the cross and die for me. I mean that much to God. And I’ve known this for years, but I admit it, it has been head knowledge. However, this year, I have come to truly believe, with all my heart, that despite my fat, my unforgiveness, my being judgmental at times that He is here for me and meeting me exactly where I am at and that even if I change for the better and stop all my sin, He will love me and accept me no more than He does right now, right this very moment. I am enough.

I want to jump for joy! I have needed this learning for such a long time and it has only come about as I have allowed God to heal me, for the Holy Spirit to work in me and I have submitted to Him. A verse that has been really ministering to me the last few months is “May your unfailing love be my comfort” (Psalm 119:76) and it has been really special to finally understand that others can never give me what I need. I have to go to the source, to God and He will provide all I need.

I want to share in this post everything that has happened this year, but in truth, I can’t actually remember all of it, as there has been so much. I do know that I need to thank Caroline, Krisha and Sheila for the help they have given me to process my hurt, anger and grief about so many things that have happened in my life. These three spiritual women have each challenged and supported me and I’ll be forever grateful.

At the end of last year, I had the picture of a pineapple and I felt called to become sweeter. I took this to mean that I needed to let go of my bitterness and to be more accepting and tolerant of others. I bought a few cheap pineapple items and put them in my home and a keyring in my bag and they have acted as a subliminal reminder. Also, in February I read a book called Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown and took an online course about hearing God more clearly, put together by my blogger friend Joanna May Chee.follow These both really fed into the start of a year of pressing into God and wanting to know Him more, on a personal and deep level.

For months and months, I spent time with God most days to just wait on Him and to see if He could help me be set free from some of the blockages I had. I hadn’t cried for a few years and I knew there was something stopping me, but I wasn’t sure what and despite asking the Holy Spirit to guide me and show me, I wasn’t getting any revelation. When I hit a massive blip in my life at the end of September with troubles with one of my daughters and my husband went off for his sabbatical from work, I wasn’t sure what to do. It was as if I had disconnected myself from the situation and could tell the story as if it had happened to someone else. I knew it was a very sad and distressing situation but I couldn’t feel it.

Kingdom Healing Retreat

Fortunately, I saw an advert on Facebook for a healing retreat at the end of November and despite it being a few hundred quid and meaning I had to disappear from family life for five days I just knew it was important that I did. And I’m so glad. The Kingdom Healing Retreat at the Greenhouse Christian Centrenofollow in Poole was led by Dr Angela Walker of THEO ministriesnofollow and I kid you not when I say it was life-changing for me.

I feel like a new person. I lived and learnt so much in those five days I was away. I bawled my eyes out like a baby and proper ugly cried and it felt so good to be set free of the demons that I didn’t even know still possessed me. Who knew that my teachers’ hurtful words when I was around 8 years old, were still torturing me forty years later? And the wonderful thing now, is that I forgive Mrs Muckle, she didn’t know what she was doing. She didn’t intend to harm me, she probably thought she might motivate me to try harder and learn more, but words hurt.

I’ve just got my (very full) notebook out from that retreat and looked at the expectations I wrote for the course and I am pleased to see every one of them was fulfilled. At the end of the course, I wanted to feel again, to be able to cry, to process my past hurts, to know how blessed I am and to know that God loves me without limits. These things are all true. I am a very lucky Michelle.

One of the things I wrote right at the beginning of the course in very big letters was ‘I invite you in Jesus’ and I think I had forgotten that fundamental principle, that God is a gentleman and He will never push Himself upon you, He wants you to invite Him in – be it to your life, the situation, the hurt or whatever.

I learnt lots of new techniques on this course and definitely went deeper into my relationship with God. The first afternoon we had free time and I headed off on my own to spend the afternoon with God crafting. I had a wonderful time being held and adored by my Heavenly Father as I created the cross collage you can see below and I felt all these positive words spoken over me. I am free. I am loved. I am enough. I have a purpose.

As I read back over my notebook there is an overriding message of dumping the fear and living in faith. It’s that old cliché, the Truth will set me free and that’s God’s truth. His word, the bible that communicates to me His overriding love for me. He commands me to keep a short account and to forgive often and keep my spiritual dwelling pure and clean. He wants me to invite His Holy Spirit into my life, and all my daily tasks and problems. This is not a weakness; this is what He has ordained as right. I have learnt I can accept comfort and I can accept help as I am worthy of it.

Knowing I’m More Precious than Rubies

It is good for me to be vulnerable and to take risks. It does not matter if I perceive that others reject me as God never will. I felt a strong sense during one of the sessions that I am ‘beloved, beautiful, His bestie and I belong’. This was very affirming as I looked at the four words and realised, they all started with Be and this reminded me of the lesson I learned back in 2006, that I am a human being and not a human doing. That what God expects from me, is to just be, just as he created me. I don’t have to do anything to earn His love.

During one of the ministry sessions, I felt these verses strongly

“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” Proverbs 31:25 (NLT) and “She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.” Proverbs 3.:15 (NIV).

I then had a sense I was supposed to buy myself a new ring, maybe a ruby one, so that each time I looked at it I could be reminded of the Father’s love for me. We talked in the course about a ring signifying belonging and so this felt right. I have now bought myself a ring and it has a dual purpose. I went for a diamond ring, as I am more precious than rubies and the stone that is more precious is a diamond. I also got an eternity ring as this year I’ll celebrate twenty years of marriage to Adam and God has ordained us to be together for eternity, so this is the symbolism of my commitment to my marriage, however tough it may feel.

In this same session, I came to the realisation, with gentle prompting from the Holy Spirit that I had rejected myself. I had ostracised myself and made me the bad guy. Being overweight equalled not worthy. But it is a lie. I know this now. I was believing the Devils lies and allowing him to dictate my path. No more. I belong to God only and I welcome back my rejected self. I am whole again.

Prophetic writing was a skill I practiced whilst on the course and it is something I want to continue in the future as I found it an amazing way to freely hear what God was saying to me. He dictated a beautiful love letter to me, as well as instructing and encouraging me. He was also able to guide me to see pictures of my family and view them just as He sees them. That was a very special gift.

I left Poole with a stronger sense of worth. I now believe that God has a purpose for me and that He wants me to live a full life. Not limiting myself by saying no to things as I am scared I’ll fail or be too fat and make a fool of myself. He says I am beautiful and worthy and He has given me a spirit of Yes. On New Year’s Eve I was reflecting on what my word for the year ahead might be and all that kept coming to mind was ‘yes’ and I wasn’t too sure, but reading back over my notes from this retreat, numerous times I wrote that God had given me a spirit of yes and that this means bravery.

So yes God. I am here and I’m saying yes to all of it. Take me on this crazy journey of life that you have planned for me and I’ll participate and play my part. YES!