Tag Archives: dance

Changing my routine

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I’m a creature of habit who loves a routine, but I don’t want to get stuck in a rut, especially if the routine is an ‘old story’ I’d do best to forget and write a new one.

With three weeks to go before I needed to go back to teaching dance four times a week, I wanted to re-establish the important routines in my life.

The first step was to get back into my daily walking routine. I hadn’t stopped walking each morning, first thing, but I’d been doing less steps then, and far less during the day, as my time was spent renovating. Now that’s done, I’ve created a new morning walk that is working towards clocking up 3.5k steps and 30 minutes of active exercise on my Fitbit.

I started with 2.5k and 20 minutes, which was fine as I’ve also got back to pulling brambles and nettles, and barrowing stones, so they clocked up extra active minutes, but by pushing over the 30 minutes in the morning, I’m guaranteeing myself the minimum every day, and setting myself up to achieve a minimum of 10k steps too.

My 5 minute arm workout is also back as a daily one, especially as I’m not dancing as much at the moment. I was thrilled with how toned my arms looked in my sleeveless dress at my son’s wedding, and I want to keep them that way for as long as possible!

Having used Dr Gregor’s Daily Dozen App for over a six months, I’ve been able to keep my diet pretty balanced, and get the nutrients I’ve needed, but I have been eating a little more than I’ve needed. Vegan Magnum ice lollies are delicious, but don’t count as a whole food, unfortunately, so they, and a tendency to eat dates by the handful, need to be kept under control. I’m keen to return to eating until I’m full and then stopping, as the healthiest way to eat on a whole food plant based diet.

I’ve committed myself to more magic on my river bank than I have been this year so far. At the last full moon, I set off a powerful healing spell for a friend, that was added to and boosted by other magical creatives, and I’m happy to say our friend is a lot better.

But I’ve struggled to get back into a writing routine. I’m used to days, or big chunks of days, where my partner is at work and I can write. Even with a few hours to myself, I’m not writing, so I decided to hold myself to account. I have to write for ten minutes every day. It doesn’t matter what it is, but I have to sit and write for a minimum of ten minutes.

I’ve six short pieces so far (more by the time you read this!), some of which could be longer stories, or even novels.

Visit again for Holding myself to account, and a chance to have your say as to how I should expand my writing.

 

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The Wheel turns. Everything changes Part 3

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The Wheel turns. Nothing stays the same. Since 14th June this year, my life has been chaotic. I’ve spent the past three weeks attempting to restore some of my familiar, important routines, but from the chaos I’ve emerged changed myself.

I don’t think we know what we’re capable of until we are challenged. Eighteen months ago, I stopped smoking, my hormones went crazy and I gained 30lbs in weight. I’ve never felt so ill, depressed and anxious in my life.

I didn’t look like myself, and felt like a totally different person. The doctor told me I’d have to get used to the mass of weight around my middle, that there was nothing I could do about it. I refused to believe her, and embarked on my own programme of diet and exercise, in a way that suited my life and body. Whole food plant based eating plus walking, dancing, yoga and a few specific exercises meant I attended my son’s wedding on 30th July, having lost all the weight and happy with my ‘new’ body.

And on the 14th June, we made a commitment to our daughter, to renovate the upstairs of our house to create a welcoming room for her by the 3rd August. We turned a barn-like space into a sanctuary.

Eating good food and not smoking helped our endeavours. Having lost a lot of weight and getting my waist back, helped me lime mortaring, lime washing, emulsioning and rubbing down woodwork, as I was able to bend and stretch as I always had, but realistically, I knew I couldn’t do everything. I still had dance classes to teach, and performances to lead my ladies in, so they had to stay, but without a deadline for my novel, I put my writing on hold.

I didn’t stop writing completely. I had a short story started, so I set myself the deadline to get it ready for the submission date of 15th July. I didn’t make it, but I’ll read you the story from my Welsh riverbank soon, and you’ll hear how much I enjoyed writing Secrets in the Water. (You can listen to other stories read by me on my YouTube channel Phoenix and the Dragon https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCw3ee9CuNdek9ZC1Im8I_iA?view_as=subscriber)

And why have I changed?

I can do anything. All I need to do is go for it. Living my life with my daughter is wonderful. Who knows what adventures she and I will have in the future. Maybe we’ll start a business together. Deadlines are important, but spending time supporting and loving your family and friends is more important.

Visit again to find out which routines I’ve reinstated and a new way to get writing again.

 

Life Begins at Fifty – Healthy Life #7 – Listen to your body – exercise

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I began the Healthy Life blogging on 22nd February, well into my plant based living journey, but striving to find the right balance of food and exercise to suit my newly ‘nicotine free’ body. It’s for anyone, not just those of us with those numbers beginning with 5, because the problem with any choices we make about diet or exercise won’t necessary be perfect for our bodies. We need to find the balance that works for us.

This post ‘Listen to your body – exercise’ will be followed by ‘Listen to your body -food’. I really hope you enjoy them and find them useful.

Not getting hung up on what the scales say has made me get on with my life, do my best and feel a whole lot better…well enough to show you the changes in my body shape since 22nd February. I’m not sure how well you’ll see them as I live in an old farmhouse with tiny windows, so lighting is always tricky…as is the fact we are effectively living inside a renovation project so there’s mess everywhere, but I’ve done my best.

It’s only been five weeks, the changes are subtle, but what you can’t see is how tight my bum is getting and how the hills on my walks are much easier to climb now.

For me ‘Listen to your body – exercise’ has been about working out the exercise routines that work for me, while still aiming to reach achievable targets that I know are beneficial to my health and fitness.

What I’ve learned in 5 weeks

Walking 10,000 steps EVERY day isn’t essential – I was quite obsessive to start with, but now I aim for more ‘active minutes’ on my Fitbit, minutes of exercise that work my heart and my muscles a little bit harder. I’ve kept my Fitbit minimum on 30 minutes though, because on a particularly heavy writing day (it does take time to write a novel!) a good morning walk and another in the evening, might be all I can manage. I know this works for me…on my Fitbit, my cardio fitness has risen to 38-42.

I can use a lot of what I do to aid my reaching exercise targets without needing to go to a gym – After the weight piled on, I worried I might need to go to the gym to address specific areas of my body that needed to be exercised. I’m learning to use what’s around me…

I move a lot of wood! My partner chainsaws while I do the picking up and barrowing…I make sure I’m  doing single or double arm curls when I pick up logs, and depending which way round I barrow, I’ve found this uses different muscles in my shoulders, back and arms.

Collecting tiny new trees on our land gives me a great squat work out. I collect one plant on each squat, come up, walk to the pot and plant the tree and walk to the next one….I have knee damage after falling about fifteen years ago, so I find repetitive squats hurt almost immediately and I can’t do more than half a dozen. This way, I get to do more and I don’t hurt at all.

Due to back damage, I find digging in the usual way with a spade down into the ground undoable, but using a mattock to break up the earth, and my new, smaller curved handle spade to scoop up the soil and stones, I’ve turned the final corner digging out the foundations for my potting shed (an old conservatory we helped to take down that we’re recycling) I can mattock straight in front of me with my legs bent, or to either side, all three positions have strengthened arms, shoulders, back and legs. Digging out the earth and throwing it up into the barrow works my triceps really well!

Dance is the best and most fun exercise ever! I always bill bellydance as a full body work out, and having started another beginners class in Aberystwyth, I’m now teaching six hours each week, plus a regular private lesson, plus any events we dance at.

I’m thoroughly enjoying my yoga when I get back from my morning walk. I do as many and which ever poses I feel like (sometimes I just sit and breathe) and I’m loving the peace it’s bringing me.

I wish someone had told me I would feel like this a year ago

A year ago, having to go back on HRT after the lack of nicotine in my body sent my hormones manic, and being put on a different dosage to the one I’d had before, I put on at least two stone in weight in a matter of weeks. Only now, one year on, after trying jogging, walking millions of steps and trying all sorts of different foods and combinations am I starting to feel like ‘me’ again.

The return of the menopausal symptoms dragged me down, both physically and mentally. I felt like my whole body was out of my control, condemned to be ‘down’, droopy and saggy, being pulled without my say so. Although my doctor was keen to recommend ‘Couch to 5k’, which proved too much for my knees, she told me I’d have to put up with the band around my middle….lucky for me, I’m a fighter.

It’s been hard work…actually, it’s been DAMN hard work! There have been mornings when I’ve wanted to stay in bed and let the world carry on without me, but I didn’t give up….all life is far too precious to waste it.

One year on I do still get ‘down’ days, but life is generally on the ‘up’, and I make the most of every one of them.

Thank you for reading. Join me next time for Healthy Life #8 – Listen to your body – food. Bright blessings xx

 

Life begins at fifty #healthy life 6 – The scales are not your friend

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I never owned bathroom scales because I didn’t need them. While I was smoking, if my jeans felt a little tight, I increased the amount of exercise I did, watched what I ate, and over a few weeks, the jeans would loosen, but not anymore….

My absolute conviction that eating five hundred calories a day less than I’m burning would make me lose weight has been shattered. I’m sure it plays a part, but I should have realised my mistake; we’re amazing, complex individuals – why would only one formula apply to everyone?

In a bid to affirm my belief, however, I bought bathroom scales in the January sales. I read lots of helpful advice online about weigh ins, the best I thought was weigh myself three days running, once a month to get an average of the weight loss….

What I did was weigh myself every morning, even though I said I wouldn’t. Why? Because I was exercising loads, following my plant based diet to get good nutritional benefit from my food and logging my calorie intake into Cronometer, so my reward would be to watch the pounds drop off, right? Wrong!

On the first three mornings I gained weight. Even though I knew I was being dumb, I got upset about it…and then I increased the exercise, to the point I was permanently exhausted. I continued this self berating/weighing scenario for about a month, before sharing with women in my dance class to find that they too were experiencing the same problem….their shape was changing, but they weren’t losing any weight, even though people were commenting that they had.

You may ask, why am I hung up on the amount I weigh and it’s a simple answer…the less weight I have to carry, the less pressure it puts on my already damaged knee. Yes, it would be nice to fit into my clothes again, but carrying less weight while increasing my exercise has to be better for me.

I am starting to listen though…my shape change could be because the fat is going and muscle is appearing, which we know is heavier. Since my body did its ‘return to factory settings’, I’m beginning to feel the benefit of the exercise in my legs…I’m walking quicker but getting less breathless…

On Saturday, my ATS® Bellydance tribe, Tribal Unity Wales and I hosted a hafla, a bellydance party, to raise money and collect donations of clothes, blankets and toiletries for S.H.A.R.P., Swansea Humanitarian Aid Response. We had so much fun, raised £132 and took in bags of donations….and I clocked up the most active minutes ever on my Fitbit!

I’m not getting hung up on the weight anymore, but instead, I’m looking for more ways to have fun with exercise, eat new, interesting food, try new recipes and live my life to the full.

I hope you’re enjoying Life begins at fifty – Healthy Life! Please like and follow and let others know!

Visit again for recipes, tips and sharing.

 

The magic of writing, dancing and healing – International Women’s Day 8th March 2019

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I am author, wise woman and goddess. I write, I dance, I teach, I heal, I inspire.

In March last year I published my first Witchlit novel, The Naked Witch, contemporary fiction, magical realism, where the magical and the mundane co-exist. Since then, I’ve published two more, The Orphan Witch and The Flowerpot Witch, gritty and believable stories with magic sprinkled through them, offering the reader a new perspective on reality. There are layers to my novels, making them enjoyable to all readers, hopefully teaching and inspiring too, dispelling the myths about modern day witches.

I discovered belly dance at the age of forty, having been told I was a fairy elephant and too fat to dance as a child. Fifteen years on, I’ve been teaching for eleven years, encouraging women to shake off their inhibitions and dance for themselves. I learned Egyptian belly dance first and taught that, before being bitten by the tribal bug, and completing my training in American Tribal Style® Belly dance. I began Tribal Unity Wales in March 2014. We take our dance into the community, not to perform but to share, offering other women the opportunity and the freedom to dance irrespective of age, size, shape or ability.

I’m reiki and aromatherapy massage trained, so mixed with my latest facilitator training in Kate Holland’s Awakened Bellydance ™, and my magical practice, I heal in my classes and workshops and through my writing.

I’m a riverbank witch, a hedge witch, living my life with the Wheel of the Year, honouring the Sabbats and loving and respecting all that lives on our amazing planet.

Embracing my crone phase, I am wise woman, not necessarily right, but reflective and contemplative where once I jumped in feet first. Looking back, I learn from my mistakes, let go of old stories and embrace new beginnings and exciting ideas.

 

The goddess is in me and in every woman. She is the tiny voice that tells you how beautiful and perfect you are. Trust in her helps us remember, because we all know, but it is just that this reality encourages us to forget who we are and where we came from. Hers is the voice that has inspired women to stand up for equality, for equal pay and equal rights, throughout history. The more we trust in her, and ourselves, the possibilities are infinite. Listen. She is here.

 

 

 

 

 

Life begins at fifty – Healthy Life#1

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There are plenty of blogs and vlogs available to inspire everyone to make their lives healthy ones. There are less by women over fifty.

One year on without nicotine has changed me, and not always in the ways one would hope for. You can read more here https://wendysteele.com/2019/01/24/1-year-without-nicotine-how-was-it-for-you-darling/

For 2019, all blog posts that begin ‘Life begins at fifty’, will be for everyone wishing to know more about the menopause, and looking for support and help with their healthy eating and fitness challenges.

There will be inspiration, recipes, links to blogs and videos, but there will be honesty too, and I’m starting with photos of how I look right now. I’ve suffered with body dismorphia all my life, so this isn’t easy, but though I’ve been inspired by fab videos online, either the women have had surgery first, or they’re almost half my age! Light is limited in my old farmhouse, but as I’m not focussing on weight, but shape, I’m hoping to see the difference over this year when I look in the mirror.

My routine at the moment:

Walking 10k steps every day (including at least 30 ‘active’ minutes)

Yoga every morning, between 3 and 5 poses or stretches

Teach 5 hours regular bellydance each week

Following a whole food, plant based diet every day

 

The idea is for the walking to build up my strength and stamina, while the yoga stretches out my body and calms my mind. Bellydance does everything!

I shall be exploring all sorts of ideas and possibilities for health and fitness this year, and telling you all about it….I’ve only been doing the yoga for a week and I’m loving it!

Join me on my fitness journey to be the fittest, healthiest and happiest I can be:-)

 

 

 

1 year without nicotine – how was it for you, darling?

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If you’ve been following my posts you’ll know I haven’t found stopping smoking easy. One of the reasons was I didn’t feel any better or healthier, in fact, for a number of months, I felt dreadful. I’d made so many changes already. Why didn’t I feel any better?

More than twenty years ago, the terrible, scary pain in my side was diagnosed as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), and I spent the next four years coming to terms with a massive change in diet and trying to find a work/exercise/eating balance that worked for me.

For a couple of years I ate very little because the less I ate, the less pain I was in, but gradually, I built up my eating (I was already vegetarian) and rebuilt my body with bellydance.

I believed I was strong, slim and fit due to my diet and dancing, but what I didn’t realise was that the nicotine was playing a part in this equation. Taking it out of my life, my hormones were like socks in a tumble dryer; all over the place. My IBS returned with a vengeance for a couple of months, as did violent menopausal symptoms, and on top of all this, I’d sleep for two hours and then lie awake for the rest of the night. Mood swings were violent. I experienced chronic anxiety on top of depression…

But this didn’t last! Yes, I felt terrible, but now I’m finally feeling some benefit for giving up my addiction. I’m no expert, but here are a few things I wish someone had told me….

Firstly, make sure you’re giving up for the right reasons. The Alan Carr book is really good, challenging you, making you face what you really know but don’t want to believe. Stop smoking nicotine because it is best for YOU. YOU are worth it! YOU deserve to live a healthy life.

Secondly, they say (whoever they are!) you don’t need to replace smoking with another habit, and maybe that works for some people, but I needed something else. The day I chose to begin my day walking, was the day I began to feel better. I chose walking instead of choosing that first cigarette, and that really helped me in a number of ways:

I changed my routine

I set myself a new challenge

I quickly found I wasn’t as fit as I thought I was!

Walking is the BEST exercise

Thirdly, make sure you’re supported by friends and family. I’m so glad my partner and I stopped together, and support and encouragement from my tribe kept me going at the hardest times.

My final piece of advice I can tell you, but you might not believe me….you don’t have to feel as rubbish as you do. Your joints don’t have to ache. You can feel SO MUCH BETTER than you do now.

Why did I find life so difficult without nicotine? One reason was because I put on two stone which appeared on my body like a weighty, solid belt, and undermined all my confidence. All my old hang ups about my weight and appearance returned. I felt old, heavy and weighed down and I didn’t look or feel like I was the same person. Unable to show my ladies dance moves was devastating.  

The doctor was kind. I’m back on a very low dose HRT and I sleep better now, but as far as the fat orbiting my stomach is concerned, I’m told it is my lot, middle age spread I’ll have to put up with….

NO WAY!

I’m making even more changes for 2019! If I’m going to be a different person, I’m going to be the person I want to be. I am now committed to a wholefoods, plant based diet and to exercising for a fitter, healthier me. There will be changes on my blog too…

I’ll be encouraging you to watch videos, read books and check out the data about plant based eating as the best diet for you, your family and the planet.

I’ll be trying and testing new plant based recipes and sharing them with you.

Dance will always be my favourite exercise, but I’m going to be trying out other exercise which I’ll share with you.

No longer will I ‘fit in’ those aspects of my life that make me happy….I’m going to begin with them and work my life around them.

I’m looking forward to a busy, exercise packed, fun filled, exciting 2019! Come and join me xx

 

NB: even if life throws a curved ball, don’t give up. Check out my latest video from Phoenix and the Dragon and see what I mean…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dz7O480_fws

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the love of power naps

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I discovered power naps fifteen years ago, and now I’m self employed with no dependents living at home, I can use them to gain even more constructive time in my day.

Four years of IBS left me thin and weak, and then I discovered bellydance. If I wanted to dance, I had to eat, but also be as rested as possible, to give me the best chance of dancing the hour and a half session. How could I fit it in? I was so tired and yet, daily household tasks needed to be done and the children needed collecting at 3.15pm. I chose to power nap from 1.30pm to 2.10pm, rising from my bed, driving straight to the school able to spend almost an hour in the car writing my first novel.

I loved bellydancing and wanted to dance more. There was another hour and a half session the following evening. Could I manage two nights of dancing? It wasn’t just the overwhelming fatigue I felt every minute of every day, but the pain was often excruciating, leaving me drained and nauseous and ready to give up on life. I tried the classes and with the help of my regular nap, I was able to bellydance twice a week.

Sticking to the routine was easy for me; it helped with pain and tiredness and enabled me to do the things I wanted to do. I had so much more energy for the children too, making getting them to clubs after school so much easier.

The power nap combined with bellydance changed the course of my life. Before I had my children I ran an Offshore Funds Settlements Department in London; in 2007, at the age of 44, I created Phoenix Bellydance and began teaching Egyptian dance to women and girls, as well as continuing to write. I had articles published in dance magazines, interviewed dancers and musicians and wrote their stories, but it was around 2009 that I knew I wanted to write magical novels, having discovered the stories of Dion Fortune.

My mind was opened to all sorts of possibilities, but managing the IBS was still a problem. I’d taken on two cleaning jobs for friends, just three hours a time, but with teaching in the evening, and attending classes and workshops myself, I struggled to manage my pain and the fatigue again. And then I discovered reiki. I’d signed myself up for an aromatherapy massage course, hoping to learn more about essential oils and their healing properties, but there weren’t enough people so the reiki course was suggested as a stop gap.

Learning about chakras gave me the frame work to heal my own body and mind. I attended a later aromatherapy massage course too, and proceeded to Reiki 2 training. My naptime took on even more relevance, a time not just to rest but to heal. Around this time, I realised a sense of ‘self’ I hadn’t known before. I discovered American Tribal Style® Bellydance and around the same time, greater confidence working magic on my own or with close friends and my daughter.

Throughout this time, I discovered that a power nap wasn’t called Forty Winks by accident. Forty minutes was the perfect length of power nap for me; any less, I didn’t feel refreshed after and any more, I felt heavy and lethargic and struggled to get going. I was allowed to press the snooze button though, as it gave me ten minutes if I needed it, to come round slowly.

Now, especially if my partner is working away, I use power naps to make my day even longer. Up before 6am and out walking by half past, if I nap before 3pm, I can still have energy to pull brambles, dance, research or write until about 11pm…I feel like I’ve fitted two days into one! It’s not possible to use them every day with work commitments, but if I’m up early and fading by 11.30am, I’ll always try and fit in a power nap…or sometimes a cat nap if a kitten comes to join me.

Dance against all the odds

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Our two half hour sets at the annual Lampeter Food Festival held in the grounds of University of Wales Trinity Saint David, gives Tribal Unity Wales the opportunity to share the dance we love and all the hard work we’ve put in since January, working on a new theme. This year, as well as learning new dance moves and combinations, we’ve been focussing on formations.

Getting ready together, we were oblivious of the problems the organisers were facing….… one of the generators had been tampered with. We arrived at the entertainment tent to discover there was no electricity to our half of the site. All we could do was wait…and have our photos taken… …and wait. We were told, no more than fifteen minutes…twenty minutes later one of the fabulous husbands ran home to get his guitar amp. We wouldn’t rock the festival with it, but we could certainly hear the music to dance to….and the crowd enjoyed it too.

We’d never danced in a chevron to fast music before. It’s really hard because only a few people can see the leader, relying on every member of the tribe to cue clearly to pass the moves on. Despite the quiet music, we loved it! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3O7wGp5Yzas&t=2s

We were rained on a few times during our break between sets, but still the generator wasn’t fixed; another had been delivered, but didn’t work either. My partner drove home to pick up another music machine for The West Wales belly dancers who were dancing before us, but in the end, it wasn’t needed as one of them had a spare generator. They were able to perform to full sound and kindly allowed us to borrow it for our set too.

Supported by the rest of the tribe zilling, three of my advanced dancers and I shared duelling duets in public for the first time. See if you can work out how it works….it’s tricky to perform, but once you get the hand of it, great fun. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWgmwsUjH_8&t=5s

We did it! We shared our love of dance, especially American Tribal Style® Bellydance and invited up the audience to join us at the end. Because there is no choreography, American Tribal Style® Bellydance is a dance language, bringing dancers together from all over the world. Watch out for the Worldwide American Tribal Style® Bellydance Flashmob, held annually. This year, on 13th October, American Tribal Style®dancers will dance to the same piece of music, on the same day, all around the world and share their videos on Youtube. This year the music is Burning of the Temple by Djinn and it looks like Tribal Unity Wales has secured permission to dance somewhere other than the park….it’s going to be brilliant!

I was a chubby child I was often called clumsy or a fairy elephant, told I could learn the piano but was too fat to dance. All my life, I believed I couldn’t dance…until I was 40 years old and walked into a bellydance class for the very first time….and I haven’t stop dancing since! My daughter joined me on that day fifteen years ago. I’m pleased to say, she loves to dance and we sometimes get the opportunity to dance together.

Don’t wait, join a dance class near you today!

Check out the Tribal Unity Wales Facebook page for details of classes, photos and videos. https://www.facebook.com/Tribal-Unity-Wales-1291117667580270/

 

 

 

Toegate continued

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The broken toe is healing…slowly. Today I’m walking my steps for the first time in Wellington boots since the crunch.

(Not sure why I look like I’m hovering over the earth!)

I started a few months ago, getting up around 6am and starting my day with 2k steps for two reasons, both related to me stopping smoking. Firstly, I miss the first cigarette of the day with the same intense craving I’ve woken up with for forty years, so I’m trying a different start to the day. Secondly, I’ve put on weight around my middle and I don’t like it.

Teaching women to bellydance, I encourage them to love their bodies, I know, but this bit around the middle doesn’t belong to me. It has been sent by the Nicotine Monster because I won’t feed him anymore, and I refuse to sign and accept the delivery!

So I’m building up the steps again slowly; 1k in the morning, 1k at lunchtime and another 1k in the evening. Combined with 6 hours of dance each week, I’m hoping to see a difference by 1st September.

Tribal Unity Wales will be performing at the Lampeter Food Festival on 28th July and at the Cardigan Bellydance Festival on 4th August. After that, I’ll return to 2k every morning…why not join me?