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By Megan Smiley, Dec 12 2016 09:36AM


2016 has to be my weirdest year on record yet. Starting off with being a victim of identify fraud by someone, somehow getting a key to my building and coming in and stealing post over a couple of months leading to them stealing the identity of three of the four flats in the building!


Next having two operations for my foot. First operation to fix the arthritis in my foot, second one to fix the mistake they made in the first operation! Resulting in five months on crutches, nearly six months not working and a slow and ongoing rehabilitation of my foot, leg and life!


Then being shocked/disillusioned by 52% of the British voting population, and let’s not even get onto what happened in America.


Finally a positive one, I got married!


I’m hoping all of these things are one offs for my lifetime at least and that I won’t have to go through any of them again. My wedding day was absolutely brilliant but for obvious reasons I hope not to have another one!


But even with the above bad things (there are more but don’t want to bore you with the less ‘exciting’ events) now that we’re coming to the end of the year I surprisingly feel in a pretty positive place due to a number of reasons:


1) When I’m not going slightly insane about one of things mentioned, I seem to have found a certain clarity, almost a philosophical take on life!


2) I have more appreciation and love for my nearest and dearest. This year has really highlighted those people who are important to me and how great they are.


3) You can’t get many years in life that throw so many mental and physical ‘obstacles’ your way, so most years to come will be a breeze in comparison.


4) It’s nearly over! Which means it’s time to focus on 2017 and beyond (and get planning - I do love to plan!).


I’ve always preferred odd years anyway, so here’s to a fantastic 2017 and good riddance (in most parts) to 2016!



By Megan Smiley, Oct 18 2016 09:13AM


I’m finally at the stage of weaning myself off crutches (down to one now!). It’s been nearly five months and it’s given me quite a different perspective on lots of things but mainly people!


Firstly the practical side of things, not being able to use your hands and walk at the same time really does make things tricky, and slow. From everyday jobs like carrying the washing to the machine, taking a rubbish bag out or really little things like checking the time by glancing at your watch, they all become harder. Then there are things that actually become a challenge like getting on and off an escalator at the busy tube station. Everything requires thinking it through beforehand and working out how to do it without falling, failing or causing amusement to others!


What all of the above leads to though, is people offering to help, and when I say people I mean complete strangers. There sometimes isn’t that much someone can do to help unless they fancy picking me up and carrying me but it’s been absolutely lovely the number of people who offer. I’ve even had three cars stopping to ask if I want a lift somewhere whilst crutching down a street. When do you get that in ‘normal’ life?


Another thing you get besides offers of help are comments and conversations aplenty. Comments ranging from ‘skiing accident was it?!’ (seems to be a popular one) to ‘playing football?’ (which is meant as a joke but ironically my trauma related osteoarthritis was most probably a result of an injury from playing football). My favourite one has to be when I was out with my boyfriend and I got ‘kicking him too hard?’ And although Alex might say he’s taken a bit of a mental battering from me over the past few months, his shins can’t take credit for my injury!


The conversations; I think it’s probably a bit like having a cute dog or baby, as since I’ve been on crutches, everyone and anyone talks to me. Asking me what happened and how I’m getting along. The other day I heard a voice from above and looked up, and there was a man sitting on his balcony and he said ‘your walking has improved so much, I’ve seen you go up and down the street and you’re looking much more comfortable now’. This was lovely and encouraging to hear!


While most people say the ‘right’ thing, kids are another matter. Due to their refreshing honesty and lack of filter, they point, stare in amazement and ask their parents why that woman has a pink/red/purple/grey leg, or why she’s walking funny, or will they ever have to have one.


What I’ve realised is that people are nice and want to help other people but are generally to scared/ worried to offer help to a stranger. Be it because they don’t want to offend someone e.g. not giving your seat to someone on the tube as you’re worried that they’ll think it’s because you think they’re old/pregnant/ill rather than the fact you were just being nice! Or because you’re worried that you’ll put yourself in danger e.g. if someone’s being attacked you could get hurt if you get involved. I listened to a TED talk the other day about altruism and how some people might genetically be more selfless but I think most people are instinctively selfless, it’s just cynicism and modern life that make it less apparent. When you’re on crutches that seems to disappear, maybe people’s perception of me is that I’m not dangerous (well only to myself) and their selfless caring nature prevails.


The problem is many people do need help, but it’s not as easy or obvious help like holding a door open to let the person on crutches hobble in, so what’s the answer? Maybe just try to do a few small helpful things for a stranger more often than you currently do. I guess if more of us did that there would be less worry of offending and more acceptance of help.


I won’t miss my crutches but I will miss the chats and the acts of kindness from all those lovely people out there.




By Megan Smiley, Jun 27 2016 10:05AM

If you haven’t seen me, heard from me or noticed my social media #PinkCast posts this month, you won’t know that on 1st June I had an operation on my foot, an arthrodesis of the first metatarso-phalangeal joint to be specific! This was due to osteoarthritis in my mid-foot/ big toe joint due to (some unknown but most probably sporting injury) trauma.


Now as a fit, healthy, 32 year old personal trainer this wasn’t ideal and as you might imagine I’ve had a few surprised people when telling them I have arthritis in my foot. Even my podiatric surgeon said I’m the youngest person he’s done that operation on!


Now nearly four weeks after the surgery, having had a fair bit of time to reflect on things (although amazingly I haven’t be bored or watched any daytime TV yet!) there are a few things I have realised about having a major operation:


1) However healthy/ fit/ young(ish)/ determined/ stubborn you are, you don’t bounce back straight away and your body needs time to recover and recuperate. That includes plenty of rest and proper nutrition – your body is healing, creating new bone, tissue, skin cells and needs plenty of nutrients, vitamins and minerals to give it the best fuel to fix it.


2) How even the smallest things can be a big challenge, and you can feel a real sense of achievement in doing these things. Think showering on your own, getting a cup of tea from the kitchen to the sofa, making in down the two flights of stairs from your flat to the outside world.


3) How important and amazing your family and friends are. I honestly would have struggled with a lot if it weren’t for their help and support. It’s made me truly appreciative of them and realise how lucky I am to have them.


4) How amazing the body is. After just two weeks I had an x ray and where the bone had been broken and cut away and screws put in to hold it in place, bone had regrown and was fusing together nicely. Also, the foot looked surprisingly normal albeit a bit swollen, yellow from the iodine and with a big slit down the side, but not that bad considering. And luckily they put another cast on quickly so I couldn’t inspect it any further!


So four weeks down and six more on crutches to go, but it’s all going in the right direction and at the end of it I will have a foot that doesn’t cause me pain to walk and in time I should be able to go back to playing sport and being as active as I once loved being. So all in all I feel very happy, lucky and excited about my new and improved foot. I just have to wait a little bit longer...


By Megan Smiley, May 4 2016 04:34PM


Mindfulness – meditation techniques to create awareness of internal (yourself) and external (your surroundings) elements to improve your well-being – has most definitely been one of the buzz words of 2016. It has moved from the world of the juice drinking, yoga practising (complete stereotype I know) people to the mainstream, with companies providing employees with workshops and talks on mindfulness and being prescribed on the NHS for patients.


Although many people have practised meditation for years; yoga is increasingly popular and various well-being activities are more and more readily available, it is now a much more widely accepted and practised concept, just look at the adult colouring books around at the moment!


For those who know me you’ll probably have heard about the Wheel of Life. It’s a life reviewing system I created years ago. I have harped on and shown many a friend on the back of a napkin/ beermat about it over the years! It has five areas: health, wealth, friends and family, love life, and work life. You assess your Actual Wheel and then create an Action Wheel. There need to be enough areas of the wheel fulfilled to move along nicely in life. However, if everything is completely fulfilled it can lead to the wheel moving too quickly and problems can arise. e.g. you always need something to strive towards. I review my Wheel of Life every six months and it gives me focus, peace of mind and sometimes a much needed kick up the bum to get going on an area! This may be a little too hippy-esk or structured for some so this is where the 3Ms come in.


Whilst recently chatting to my mum about mindfulness she mentioned her 3Ss: singing, sport and silence. She explained this was an idea she first thought of back in her 20s, so quite a while before mindfulness had become a thing! And that she thought the combination of the three things helps you achieve the mental well-being that we’re all talking about. I had to point out to my mum that the 3Ss had taken on a new meaning sometime in the past 40 years, and it was probably best to update, hence the 3Ms: music, movement and moments. I actually prefer the 3Ms as it’s a little more inclusive, music over singing and movement over sport, but the same concept.


So if you like the idea of mindfulness but aren’t sure where or how to start, I suggest giving the 3Ms a go. Music, be it listening, playing, watching, is a great way to immerse yourself in a world of creativity, inspiration and beauty where you can let your everyday worries drift away. Movement, be it sport, yoga, dancing, walking, it’s a great way to achieve both physical and mental well-being. Moments, taking a step back from life, the busyness, and the endless to-do list, is so important and I think becoming harder to do these days. With smartphones, whenever you have a minute you don’t take a moment, instead of gazing out of the a window on a bus, out pops the phone and you respond to that email, check social media, pay that bill or any of the other million things you ‘need’ to do.


So over the next few weeks aim to get your intake of Ms in whatever way suits you, and I have no doubt that your overall well-being will benefit!




By Megan Smiley, Mar 21 2016 09:48AM


Last week, in my opinion, was a significant one in the world of health and fitness. From a variety of different directions it was acknowledged that, a) we do have a health and fitness crisis on our hands in the UK (levels of activity too low and levels of obesity too high), b) we know things need to change to address this, and c) there are lots of people who want to make this change.


Firstly, the controversial sugar levy on soft drinks. I appreciate there are holes in the policy e.g. that it doesn't apply to fruit and milk based drinks, unless they dilute the drink which would actually make them healthier- less sugar- and then they would be applicable for the tax. Or the fact that it could increase consumption of diet drinks that have artificial sweeteners in like aspartame that are thought to be very bad for your health. But the overall message that soft drinks with high levels of added sugar are bad, is a point that needs to be amplified, as sugary soft drinks are the biggest contributing factor to child obesity. And, if you increase the cost of a product/ service people buy less, so it's definitely a positive step in my mind.


Plus it's twofold; the money generated from the tax levy will go towards funding more sports in schools. So to all those people who are slating the sugar tax, just think, even if the tax doesn't have that much of an impact on level of consumption at least money it generates will get more kids active and playing sport. Now surely everyone has to agree that's a good thing?!


The second thing that happened last week was Public Health England released an updated Eatwell Guide. This is a user friendly, visual set of guidelines outlining what a healthy diet should include. The previous version was out of date and therefore probably not used that widely due to lack of current relevancy. The new guide (although I don't think bagels should be included in the list of good carbs) is pretty good and I really think it could help many people understand what a balanced diet looks like and where they need to make changes.


Finally, it was Sport Relief over the weekend, which saw the country get sporty to raise lots of money. There were over 1,000 events across the country, with the public walking, running, cycling and swimming thousands of Sport Relief miles. As well as the more extreme challenges by the likes of Eddie Izzard's Marathon Man – an epic 27 marathons in 27 days and Jo Brand's Hell of a Walk – 135 miles in 7 days!


I love the concept of Sport Relief as it gets people active and participating in sport to raise money so more people can live a happy, healthy and active life. The money is split 50/50 to help people in the UK and people in the world’s poorest communities. This year they've so far raised an amazing 56 million!


So all in all, with the doom and gloom that seems to fill our news feeds, last week was a breath of fresh air, and made the future look a little less rotund and a bit more active. Let's hope it wasn't just a one-off week!



By Megan Smiley, Feb 4 2016 09:54AM


Entomophagy, the act of humans consuming insects. Although the norm for many cultures (around 80% of the world's population) across South America, Asia and Africa, most Brits' exposure and knowledge of eating creepy crawlies starts and finishes with having watched celebs eat them as a challenge on I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. And for them, the idea of it isn't an appealing one.


However, with the detrimental environmental effects (air and water pollution, deforestation and overfishing) of farming such vast quantities of livestock 'needed' to fulfil the growing demands for meat and fish, then eating insects might be the answer. It is a cost-effective and eco-friendly process and they're packed with protein, minerals, vitamins, fibre and healthy fats.


The availability of insect based products in the developed world is increasing and cricket flour is one of the main ingredients you'll see. Smash Nutrition have Madagascan Vanilla and Peruvian Cocoa flavoured protein powder made from natural protein sources including soy, casein, pumpkin seed powder, spirulina and, of course, cricket flour. Protein bars using cricket flour are also popping up for your 'on the go' insect fuelled protein hit!


We are yet to see much of a take up of using insects as a main component of a meal, though apparently cheesy locust croquettes are pretty tasty! There is now a restaurant dedicated to entomophagy in Pembrokeshire called Grub Kitchen and Wahaca did feature grasshoppers on their menu for a while, but apart from that, insects are a rare sight on most menus.


I personally don't have a problem with the idea of eating insects, I might not hanker for a cricket 'burger' in the same way I do a tuna steak, although I don't know that as I've never had one. But I can see the massive benefits and I care about our planet, and if we don't change our eating habits, with an increasing global population and an ever increasing meat and fish consumption, then the impact on the environment could and will be catastrophic.


I understand not everyone will like the idea of eating insects, but if we don't shift our stubborn and unfounded views and move this very sustainable, eco-friendly and nutritious source of protein away from a taboo food and into an everyday food then we're asking for trouble. Many of us don't think twice about eating seafood which isn't dissimilar to insects in many ways, and who's had those delicious garlicky buttery snails in France?


There are other ways in which you can help as well:


- Go meat-free for at least one day a week. There are plenty of non-meat products that contain protein that aren’t insects, think lentils, beans, soya, nuts and seeds.


- Buy ethically where you can. Fairtrade helps human rights of producers, Organic helps environment sustainability, and Farm Assured helps the quality of food, animal welfare and environmental protection. Also, think about about buying local and seasonal products, reducing the 'food miles' of your groceries.


- Don't waste food! This is one of my top pet hates. If you have leftovers, great, keep them and eat them. Don't let food go off, and if it is a little after it's best you can still use it. I'm not talking gone off meat and fish but over ripe fruit and veg - great for smoothies and soups, stale bread - great for bread crumbs etc. And remember you can pretty much freeze anything, there's really no excuse!


Now, anyone for some mealworm fried rice?




By Megan Smiley, Dec 1 2015 11:43AM

Most of you will have heard of clean eating, a term and lifestyle choice that's grown in popularity over the past few years. Clean eating is pretty much exactly what it says; eating cleanly by avoiding 'dirty' foods such as anything processed, and opting for whole and fresh foods.


With Christmas, comes a month of social events, indulgence and eating and drinking scenarios out of the norm. So can you get through the festive period without becoming a 'dirty eater'?!


I'm an advocate of clean eating and I do pretty much stick to it. I rarely eat processed foods, I cook most of my meals from one ingredient items, as in from scratch: no packets or jars, and I eat whole foods and lots of fruit and veg. Having said that I'm also an advocate of the 80/20 diet, being good 80% of the time and then letting your hair down 20% of the time. It's all about balance, don't you know!


So how am I feeling about the festivities on the horizon, as there will be way more than six days (20% of the month) where there is festive fun to be had.


Well firstly I'm excited – I love Christmas. And secondly a little anxious of the inevitable slip up in my health and fitness levels. This anxiety has been amplified the last couple of years by worrying about squeezing into a made-to-measure bridesmaid dress for a wedding on New Year's Eve last year, and this year heading on a beach holiday on the 27th December. But I do think you can have a clean Christmas.


Eating clean doesn't mean no treats or tasty stuff, it just means thinking and picking a little more wisely when it comes to food. Clean eating isn't about calorie counting, it's about the quality and the balance (in terms of macronutrients e.g. the ratio of carbs, proteins and fats) of food you're putting in your body. So there can still be over indulgence but just the right type of over indulgence! Think salmon rather than salami, dates over doughnuts, roasted chestnuts over chocolates, you get the picture.


There is one thing I haven’t mentioned though, alcohol. Clean eating, unsurprisingly, encourages reducing alcohol consumption… I'll just make sure I drink it in that 20% 'letting my hair down' window and it'll all be fine!




By Megan Smiley, Oct 23 2015 04:52PM



Yesterday, Public Health England (PHE) released their long awaited report into sugar. There's no surprise in the fact that it clearly states that sugar consumption in this country is out of hand and if action isn't taken, weight gain and health related issues will increase even further from the current worrying levels we're already at.


With almost 25% of adults in England classed as obese and significant numbers also being overweight, and treatment of obesity and its consequences (type-2 diabetes being one of the most significant) already costing the NHS £5.1bn every single year, if we let this problem escalate further there will be not only catastrophic health, but also economic issues.


The Scientific Advisory Committee of Nutrition (SACN) have recommended the public to halve their sugar intake, so that just 5% of their calories come from sugar. This currently looks pretty unachievable without some drastic change. One can of fizzy drink contains way over the amount of sugar to stick to the 5% recommendation.


I strongly believe that Government, organisations such as PHE, SACN and food manufacturers have a vital and urgent role to play in this battle, and if the recommendations in PHE's report, listed below are fulfilled then this would definitely be a start to addressing this problem.


* A sugar tax between 10% and 20%

* Significantly reducing advertising high sugar food and drink to children

* Targeting supermarkets, takeaways and other food outlets special offers and promotions

* Setting clear definitions for high sugar foods to help create better regulations

* Sugar reduction in everyday food and drink

* Ensure the sale of healthier foods in hospitals and other public places

* Ensure training in diet and health is delivered to influencers of food choices in catering, fitness and leisure sectors

* Continue to raise awareness of this issue to the public, health professionals, employers, the food industry and provide and encourage practical steps on how to reduce sugar intake


The last point above touches on this: it is also down to individuals. Yes, the public needs more information and needs educating, and to not be tricked or persuaded into marketing traps e.g. low fat foods being healthy options when they're actually loaded with extra sugar. But, ultimately, people need to take responsibility for their own health and look after their bodies.


The sugar crisis is pretty much due to added sugar – yes, all sugar is sugar. However when you have a piece of fruit yes, it contains fructose but also vitamins, minerals and fibre. Plus not many people eat excessive amounts of fruit like they do cakes/ biscuits/ fizzy drinks etc. Processed sugary foods like that have very little, if any nutritional value; this is why they're known as “empty calories”.


So, guess what? Yes that's right, if people avoid/reduce processed foods and eat natural unprocessed foods then this problem would slowly but steadily disappear!


Read more on this on the Guardian and BBC websites.


By Megan Smiley, Sep 10 2015 08:48AM

As the days get shorter and the weather starts to feel more wintery, I always feel a pang of sadness to be saying goodbye to summer (not that it felt much like summer over the past six weeks!).


There are many reasons for this: I am a sun worshipper; I could spend hours lying in the sun soaking up the rays, and I feel the cold. So the fact I work outside in parks all day means I really notice the change. Plus on a more practical side the shorter days mean there are fewer hours in the day I can train people. And getting up when it's still pitch black, makes those 5.30am mornings that bit harder!


However, once I’m over that initial sorrow, I start to get excited about what the coming seasons have to offer. This might sound like a complete contradiction to what I just said above, but autumn is actually my favourite season. There is less of an expectation for good weather therefore less room for disappointment, and the colours are magical. Trees become things of real beauty, layers of leaves become glossy carpets and on those clear days with the sun sitting low in the sky, long slender shadows make everything look stunning.


Also, in summer the parks are full of picnickers and 'fair weather' park goers, but as the days get colder the parks get emptier, with only your hardcore people made up of fellow exercisers, dog walkers and a few random others. This creates a more peaceful (and fulfilling – I'm out in the cold when most others are sitting indoors) environment to be in.


Finally, with autumn follows winter, and those who know me, know how much I love all the festivities around Christmas, and then a cheeky ski trip in the New Year makes a very positive start to the year!


Basically, I love seasons and the change in nature, activities and people's behaviour you see throughout the year, and I would hate to live somewhere where it gets dark at the same time all year round and where you don't need a winter coat. So if you do hear me moaning about being cold, tell me to be quiet as you now know I secretly like it!


By Megan Smiley, Jul 30 2015 08:48AM


I've always loved a bit of sportswear from the days of shell suits and over sized Kappa t-shirts to C&A's brightly coloured ski range. So it's lucky that I ended up in a job where I get to wear sports clothes every single day as my 'uniform'. In fact, I sometimes feel a little strange when I pop on a pair of jeans and a top that doesn't have a racer back!


However, the lack of decent, affordable women's sportswear has been an issue over the years. As with many things in sport, it is dominated by a focus on men, and it has felt like women's clothing has often been an afterthought. But there's been a shift. Stylish and functional sportswear for women has started to pop up all over, rather than being a pleasant surprise when you found something decent, now you have a choice.


This has been down to a number of reasons: the big established sports brands expanding their women's range, and collaborating with designers and significant style icons - the most famous being Stella McCartney for adidas. Also, high-street shops like H&M branching out to sportswear. And not to overlook the growing number of female specific sports brands such as Sweaty Betty and Lorna Jane.


All of the above and more, means you can choose your clothing for what exercise you're doing (be it tennis, yoga, gym sessions, running, cycling etc), colours, fit, style, or what brand you want to be seen in. I'm obviously a purist when it comes to sportswear as I still love the originals like adidas, nike and puma. There is a downside to this, for me anyway, and that is that as there are so many great pieces around now, that I could end up spending a small fortune on sportswear (I obviously need it all, it's my job!). I am in double figures, at least, for the number of sports leggings I have!


But I would much rather have the choice of good looking, good fitting and good performing sportswear and have to show a little self-restraint at times, than how it used to be!