Meditation, Crossfit, British Military Fitness and Fitter Food from Amanda Alexander of AmandaAlexander.com
Listen Below and Here’s What We Recommended:
- Headspace – for meditation
- Dragon Naturally Speaking – for dictating to the phone and answering emails whilst doing other things
- Evernote – can use it for dictating notes and for storing recipes using the web clipper
- Freeagent – software for bookkeeping
- Buffer – for social media scheduling, an alternative to Hootsuite
- Optimum 9000 – a blender that Amanda recommends as a cheaper version of the Vitamix
- Working Families – Charity
- Forward Ladies – a membership organisation unleashing potential in professional women.
- Psyllium husks – an ingredient in life changing bread
- Dying to Be Me by Anita Moorjani – Amanda says, “it’s about a near death experience and if you read the book you’ll find out more, is that the thing that we need to do in our life, the one thing we need to do, is to be ourselves”.
- The Fear Cure by Dr. Lissa Rankin this book comes from a medical perspective, and she’s talking about the link between fear and cancer.
- The Paleo Primer – a book with very tasty, very healthy recipes
- “my morning routine is I wake up and the very first thing I do is I meditate”
- “The yoga bridge”– to retain flexibility
- “The 5 Tibetans”– from the blog further.net by Brian Clark, the key to lifelong youthfulness and health. 5 exercises to do in under ten minutes, yoga/tai chi based”
- “Eat the frog first”
- “What is the one thing that if I do it today, it’s going to make the biggest difference to my business?”
- “I love the way, for me, fitness and community and friends and living, they are one and the same thing. They absolutely lift me. Being in a group of people, testing myself, pushing myself, I love doing that.”
- British Military Fitness – “involves mud and beasting sessions, lots of really really pushing yourself”
- Crossfit – ORE in Telford
- Tough Guy Nettle Warrior “involved electrocution, running through fire, climbing up things, jumping into pools, running through nettles”
- Open water swimming – life affirming
- Chi-running – a workshop on running
- Paleo lifestyle– “a way of life, It’s about trying to cut out the crap, trying to cut out processed foods.”
- Life Changing Loaf of Bread – gluten free amazing bread full of nuts and seeds.
- Fitter Food – a community to find out more about eating well and general health and exercise.
To Contact Amanda Alexander
- http://www.amandaalexander.com/ ‘The Imposter Syndrome Quit Kit’
- Amanda’s Facebook
- Amanda’s LinkedIn
- Amanda’s Twitter
- Amanda’s phone number +44 (0) 1829 752004
Jo Dodds: Today I'm interviewing Amanda Alexander of amandaalexander.com. Hi Amanda. Great to have you with me.
Amanda: Hi Jo.
Jo Dodds: Tell us a bit about you, what you do, where you do it, sort of paint a picture for what your day looks like for us.
Amanda: Oh my gosh! That's one of those questions, and tell me about you. Who are you? What do you do? Why did you start? I was born at a very early age, and the rest they say is history. Who am I? Primarily my profession is as a coach, and I have had that profession for 13 years. Before that, I was a project manager in the IT industry, but I got better and I escaped. That all came about from when I got pregnant with my first son, Max, who is now 13 years old, and really, my company didn't quite know what to do with me when I got pregnant.
Anyway, I won't go into that story, but I came across an article about life coaching. I think it was The Sunday Times Magazine or something like that, and I'd never heard of this new-fangled concept of life coaching. I read about it and decided that I was having a midlife crisis. I wouldn't call it a midlife crisis now, because I think I'm only just coming up to midlife now and I think that will carry on.
Anyway, I read about this thing called life coaching and I decided to try it out. I thought, "Yeah, I'll have some of that. I'm going through this crossroads. I don't know which way to turn and I'm not quite sure if I'm in the right job," et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. I hired a life coach and what happened was she really helped me to see what was possible. She really helped me to, I guess, access my courage, and that's what I'm big on is helping people to access their courage. It's a big, big thing for me, courage. She helped me to see that I didn't actually have to carry on doing what I was doing.
I had a belief that I needed to continue in my job as a project manager, earning my salary, my pension that came with the job, my company car, my sickness benefit, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. My husband had been made redundant. We were at a real crossroads in our life. I was pregnant. We'd just moved house, a bigger mortgage, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Anyway, what the coaching did was help me to look at what I really wanted to do and it sounds very Miss World but what I really wanted to do was to help other people. You could just imagine, couldn't you? What do you really want to do? I want to help other people.
Jo Dodds: Aren't you supposed to say travel, look after animals, and help other people? I'm not quite sure you've got the Miss World thing right there.
Amanda: Yeah, travel and look after animals, and of course, major world domination has always been on my to-do list. There was that with the helping other people. Anyway, so I set up ... and I retrained as a coach. First of all, I spent the first 6 months wondering where the heck all the clients were and waiting for the phone to ring and nothing happened. Then I started to meet some successful coaches, started to network with the right people, all that good stuff, and realised where I was going wrong.
One of the things that I realised was that I didn't have a niche, and so my niche was born, pardon the pun, because my niche was coaching mums. Coaching mums, up until last year, has been ... What I've been known for is the working mums' coach. I started coaching mums way back in whenever it was, gosh, 2002, 2003. I can't even remember. I built up my business known as the ´working mums' coach’. However, at the end of last year, I decided that whilst I understand the issues we have as working mums, I've got 2 boys myself, and all the things that we're doing, that really I've kind of moved on from the working mums label.
The women that, because I'd say probably 80 to 90% of my clients are women, not all of them but 80 to 90% of them are women, the women that I love helping are women who really want to step up. They really want to live their life full out. Now whether that's with their career or their business or something that they want to do, they just know that life is there to live purposefully, I guess, rather than accidentally. The thing is, and I know this is a sweeping generalisation, but I know from years and years of working with many women is that you give me any woman to work with, and underneath there's always this self-doubt. There's always this thing going on, this ... Have you heard of impostor syndrome, Jo?
Jo Dodds: Absolutely. Tell us more.
Amanda: Yeah. Impostor syndrome is basically where somebody, and it is usually a woman, and I know that men suffer from this as well but it is usually a woman, thinks that she's going to be found out, that everything she's achieved can be attributed to luck or being in the right place at the right time or that she's somehow hoodwinked everybody. I've spoken to so many women who suffer from this whole impostor syndrome, no matter what they're doing. No matter how senior or what they've achieved in their lives, there's this kind of bit that's going, "Oh my gosh, they're going to find me out," and that can be responsible for holding you back.
Jo Dodds: Interestingly, Amanda, I've read quite often that that is actually how a lot of people feel at the end of their career, male as well as female, so really senior people in IBM, Microsoft, whatever, really big companies, they've been chief execs, senior directors, and they feel it too. It isn't just women and it isn't just people at whatever level people might imagine in organisations or their own businesses. It's even the really big guns that you see on the telly and all that sort of thing. All have that same thing as well, which is really interesting.
Amanda: Yeah. You're bang on because when it really hit home to me, when I was speaking to a friend who is a very senior director and comes over as completely confident, unflappable, very, very high level of confidence, and she admitted to me that every day she thinks, "Oh my gosh, they're going to find me out." It's really interesting.
My thing as a coach is helping people, particularly women because that's who I work with, to believe in themselves, to have much stronger self-belief, confidence, and also, I'll say the C word again, courage, a lot of courage, so that they stop holding themselves back, because, and I know it's a bit corny and it goes with my Miss World image, darling, we only have one life to live. I'm about living full out, joie de vivre is what it's all about for me. That's what I do, and I could go on forever, because if you give a coach a chance to speak, because usually I'm being quiet and listening to people, it's like, "Oh, I want to speak to everybody," so I think I should stop now. You better ask the next question, so have I told you about me?
Jo Dodds: What does that mean as far as day-to-day how you do it and where you are? Do you work from home? Do you see people face-to-face? How does that manifest on a daily basis?
Amanda: It manifests on a daily basis from ... I work from home so I'm based from home and I have clients all over the world. At the moment, the furthest away I have a client is in Dubai. Oh, I've also got clients in Australia within my club, because I have a professional club called Success Club for women. Now I've got someone in Kuwait in that club and someone in Dubai. For those clients, for the clients that I'm working one-on-one with, we work over the phone, over Skype, over ... I use GoToMeeting as well, Ruiz webinar facility, which the lovely people listening will have heard of.
I also work face-to-face. I work with corporate clients. I do a lot of facilitation and training. I've got a specialty area in work-life balance and integrating flexible working policies, so I do a lot of work with an organisation and charity called Working Families. That tends to be face-to-face, so I go down to London to do that work. Part of my business is I work, I'm a regional director for an organisation called Forward Ladies, and Forward Ladies is about unleashing potential in professional women. As part of that, I do face-to-face work with organisations who are in line with the whole female talent agenda.
It's a mixture. It's a mixture. I also have an online club which I run webinars and group coaching calls, and I have an online life coaching course with that. Yeah, a little bit of everything, lots of variety.
Jo Dodds: Yeah, okay, so you're in common with a lot of people I speak to, probably different starts to your day on a regular basis, but when you're at home and you're on a normal day, if you like, if there is one of those, what do you do? Do you have a particular morning routine or do you just take it as it comes, or how does it run?
Amanda: Okay. Shall I give you the Miss World answer or the real one?
Jo Dodds: Yeah, yeah. Give us the ideal version and then tell us the reality.
Amanda: Sitting on my pedestal here. When it goes right, which it does 70 to 80% of the time, my morning routine is I wake up and the very first thing I do is I meditate. I've been doing that now for about a year and a half. I've been paying lip service to meditation for about 10 years before that, but only about a year and a half of actually doing it properly and regularly.
I know one of the things that is useful for you to share with your listeners is what apps do we use. One app that I use is something called Headspace. You might have heard of Get Some Headspace. It was started by a guy called, I think it's Andy Puddicombe, I think, Andy something or other. Anyway, this guy, I think he's in his 30s, but he spent several years as a monk in Tibet. Then he came back and he wanted to bring mindfulness into the UK. I believe he's been very successful in introducing it into the City and into organisations.
He started Get Some Headspace, and I discovered him a couple of years ago, 3 years ago. One of the things that I use is this Headspace app. What I like about that, I'm not on commission or anything unfortunately, but what I like about it is that I subscribe to it. You can buy a yearly plan or an annual, or a 2 year plan or whatever. You get a different meditation each day, a different mindfulness exercise each day, and they have packs.
There'll be like an anxiety pack, a stress pack. They've even got one for pregnant women now. There's a self-belief pack. There's a time management pack. It's all about being ... All of these things that you're really learning, a mindful approach to life. I'm someone, if you talk about the traditional personality type A or B, I'm definitely an A, so this helps me. This is my journey towards being more of a B personality. I do 15 minutes. It's usually about 18 minutes in the end I spend on my meditation. I do this from bed, and so I do it from bed and I do my meditation. Then I do ... This is a bit strange admitting this.
Jo Dodds: I'm glad I asked. I don't know what you could be saying next, but I'm glad I asked!
Amanda: I do the bridge. You know the yoga bridge where you bend backwards with your hands and your feet on the floor? Because I'm determined that, as I grow older into my next phase of life, well obviously the middle age, not there yet, but when I do the bridge, it gives me ... I just feel that that whole being flexible as you get older is really important. Then I stretch forward.
Now the ideal thing, if I wasn't being genuine here and I was pretending I was perfect, would be I would then tell you that I get up and that I do an exercise called the 5 Tibetans every single day. Unfortunately I haven't quite got that routine of my 5 Tibetans down as a daily, but my intention is to do that. I'll tell you about the 5 Tibetans, because that's going to be a useful thing for your listeners.
Jo Dodds: Please do. Yeah.
Amanda: I learned about the 5 Tibetans, oh, several months ago on a blog called further.net. That's Further, F-U-R-T-H-E-R, and Further is ... It's a blog that's been started up by Brian Clark, Brian Clark who is the head of Copyblogger, probably the biggest blogging website. Brian Clark has started up Further. It's basically a blog where he shares stuff that he has learned, quite a lifestyle blog. I really, really like it.
Anyway, Brian did a blog about this thing called the 5 Tibetans, and apparently it's the key to lifelong youthfulness and health, etc etc. “Gosh, these Tibetan people, they're so wise, aren't they?”, I thought, "Well, I'll have some of that. I'd quite like some of this lifelong youth”. What I really liked about it is it takes less than 10 minutes and I can actually do it in 7 minutes.
The 5 Tibetans is 5 exercises. They're kind of yoga, tai chi based exercises. They are really good. When I make sure that I do them, again it takes me from the mindfulness to doing something that stretches my body and gets the body moving in the morning. I also believe it's really good for your metabolism to do some exercises when you're moving first thing in the morning, kickstarts your metabolism apparently, so there you go.
My other thing about my morning routine, and the thing that I start each morning with, I like balance in life, so I like to detox in the morning but then I like to retox!
Jo Dodds: With your cup of coffee, don't tell me.
Amanda: Yes. Yes. I have a weird thing is, I have 2 cups in the morning, 2 mugs in the morning. One has my hot water with my lemon in, and the other has my triple shot cappuccino. I always drink a few mouthfuls of my hot water with my lemon with my cappuccino, but I actually do walk around, wander around with the 2 cups, and I drink from both.
Jo Dodds: That's brilliant.
Amanda: It's probably not necessarily to be advised, but I've done this for years. I love my coffee. No one will ever tell me that coffee's bad for you. I have a bean-to-cup machine, and I can tell you, if there was a fire, the bean-to-cup machine would be out the door before the kids or the dog. It's that important.
Jo Dodds: Brilliant. Okay, so that's your morning. That's your very best morning and I guess less good mornings are a combination of some of those things and not all.
Amanda: I haven't mentioned the kids, have I?
Jo Dodds: That's right. These are the days when they're maybe not there.
Amanda: Yeah. Yeah, one thing I should explain for those people listening is I have a bit of a schizophrenic life. I'm separated on my way to divorce at some point maybe. When the boys are with me, my life is manically crazy, because there's just one of me here and I also have a dog, a Labradoodle called Ernie who's 4 years old but you'd think he was about 4 weeks old. He's got that much energy. My 2 boys have also got lots of energy, and like all siblings, they're great at fighting and shouting and screaming and testing my mindfulness.
When the boys are with me, there's this thing about getting them up and out in the morning, and there's never enough time. Like all mums, there's never enough time and there's always a rush to get everybody to school. When the boys aren't with me, it's probably not much better to be honest. When the boys aren't with me, I don't have to make breakfasts and to do all that, pick your clothes up off the floor please for the umpteenth time, are you ready yet, etc etc.
Jo Dodds: Yes. You've had your morning. How do you then transition into work? Do you use particular ways of planning your day, managing your time, through the day?
Jo Dodds: Come on. Give us the Miss World version again. Go on.
Amanda: The Miss World version is, this is what you need to do, darlings. You need to think about the top 3 things that you want to achieve in your day, and you need to eat the frog first, do the thing that you least want to do first. That's my theory. In practice, it's very different.
Jo Dodds: Just like me.
Amanda: Yeah, but that is ... I do try to think like, what are the 3 things? I love this question. What is the one thing that if I do it today, it's going to make the biggest difference to my business? I do try to think about the things that are important. For me, it's like, okay, what is the thing that's most likely to result in more revenue, in more income? That's an important one. As I say, theory is all very well. Practice, I'm a bit of a ... My bloke, John, says to me that I like bright, shiny objects, and...
Jo Dodds: No.
Amanda: …he looks at me and I'll be halfway through a sentence and then I'll see something else. He goes, "Ooh, shiny”. I've got an attention span of a gnat. The theory's all very well and I'm a work in progress always.
Jo Dodds: Yeah, yeah, as we all are.
Amanda: Yeah, and then there's other days where I'll have a client first thing. When the dog's with me, I need to walk him or go for a run with him or whatever. It depends. If I've got a client first thing, it's a different start to the day. It's about the client. Sometimes I have a client, I do a 6:30am call, and when there's a 6:30am call, I have to say I rarely do my meditation beforehand, but coffee is still number 1. Coffee is the consistent thing in my life, and hot water really!
Jo Dodds: The net result of that question is your morning routine is coffee with a bit of lemon water and maybe some other things thrown in on good days. Excellent.
Jo Dodds: Talking about the bright, shiny objects, what about things that you use, tools and apps, that you use? You've already talked about Headspace as something that you find really useful. Have you got other stuff that you've discovered on your bright, shiny objects searches that might be useful to people?
Amanda: Yes. Yes. Now one thing that I like to use, and I'm hoping it will get better as the technology improves, I'm an Apple woman. I'm all things Apple, so I've got this whole Apple suite, not the watch yet, I'm not convinced by that, but so I have my iPhone. Like everybody, I'm forever looking for the answer to the eternal question of, how do we kill our emails?
One thing I like to do as a mum, when I have moments of time, the waiting time that you have with kids, in between time or cooking the dinner, is I like to use the dictation in-built app within my iPhone. I think that's really useful because I hate tapping away. Actually I can dictate answers to emails on my iPhone when the WiFi's up and when it's working pretty well. That's one thing I like to use.
I occasionally use the Dragon Naturally Speaking app which is free, which you can get for your iPhone. I'm not sure if you can get that on an Android as well, but I'm actually finding that it's easier to use the in-built app. If you haven't used it yet, it's the little microphone that you'll see on your keyboard if you are of the Apple persuasion. That's one thing I like to use. That's a good one.
Jo Dodds: I could jump in as well. I could jump in with Evernote. You can actually record audio directly into Evernote, and it gets transcribed. You can only do 2 or 3 paragraphs at a time, but I've used it and found it to be actually quite accurate, so that's another option for people perhaps if they're using Evernote is to try the dictation into Evernote as well.
Amanda: Oh, I had no idea, because I do use Evernote. I've got a bit of a love-hate relationship with it, perhaps because I'm not using it properly, but for example, I store my ... Okay, well, Evernote is another one. All my recipes now, I store on Evernote, so I will clip them using a web clipper. You can download onto your browser, Safari, Chrome, whatever. I'll click them on to Evernote and I'll find that that's really good.
However, even though I'm in the Pro version of Evernote, I'm a bit frustrated with it, because I was actually doing my life-changing loaf of bread which we'll talk about this morning and I was trying to load up the recipe and it's taking ages to load up, even though I've loaded it loads of different times. I'm not quite sure about that. Do you know the answer to that, Jo?
Jo Dodds: No. Just Evernote being annoying. Yes.
Amanda: That's another thing, in terms of ... Oh, FreeAgent. Absolutely love FreeAgent and I use FreeAgent for my bookkeeping. What happens is it's ... It's so good. I have my business bank account and my PayPal account, because I get people paying me through PayPal when I've got programmes. They are all connected to FreeAgent. I log into my FreeAgent account. I pull in my latest version of my bank account. It comes up with the transactions. I explain those transactions. My bookkeeper also, so my accountant has access to it. You can run reports on looking at what your profit and loss is, what you're spending on. I invoice my clients from there. I can set up recurring invoices. It's not perfect like anything, but it actually makes bookkeeping not fun, but occasionally on my anorak moments, I actually can get quite into doing my bookkeeping on FreeAgent, so really recommend that. I love it.
The other thing that I've started using recently is for social media scheduling is Buffer. I'm paying, oh, don't know, a few dollars, 10 dollars a month or something like that, for Buffer. I like it better than Hootsuite. I'm sorry if I'm talking jargon to people, but I'm assuming people are business owners. Hootsuite and Buffer are social media scheduling tools, so if you're in business and you want to have your profile in people's minds and, "Oh yeah, she's good, she shares this good stuff, blah blah blah," it means that you can space out your social media sharing.
The reason I like Buffer is because I can use it from my phone again and it's pretty easy. I can also clip bits from ... For example, if I've done a blog post, obviously my blog post is full of Miss World wisdom, so I like to clip bits of my wisdom to share with the world to enrich the world from Buffer. That's very easy to do and I can share with different social media platforms at the same time. That's another one I like. Yeah, that'll do for now.
Jo Dodds: Yeah. That was amazing. That was loads. Brilliant. Thank you. Okay. Switching modes a little bit, what about health and relaxation? You already talked about meditation and some of your stretching exercises. You've talked about the bridge, mentioned the bread, which I introduced you to, so tell us more about that and tell me how you keep healthy and make sure that you're relaxed, energised, exercised, all those other things.
Amanda: Okie dokie. In terms of health, if we take exercise, stress, and food, I'll talk about exercise first. I absolutely love ... I'm one of these people. I love pushing myself. I love mud. I love challenges. I love mixing with like-minded nutters who also like mud and challenges. I do something called British Military Fitness, which involves mud and beasting sessions, so lots of really, really pushing yourself. I also do Crossfit, so the way I do that is my bloke is in Shropshire and I go to his Crossfit gym in Telford. It's called ORE, O-R-E. It's fantastic. If you're in Telford, and you're looking for something different, what an amazing community.
I love the way, for me, fitness and community and friends and living, they are one and the same thing. They absolutely lift me. Being in a group of people, testing myself, pushing myself, I love doing that. I like entering races. I've done 1 marathon in my life. I've done lots of races. The first one I did, I did by myself actually before I'd come across BMF or Crossfit or anything. It was called Tough Guy Nettle Warrior. Tough Guy Nettle Warrior involved electrocution, running through fire, climbing up things, jumping into pools, running through nettles, all that kind of thing. I love all that stuff. I love it more than running a marathon. I've done a couple of triathlons as well. I don't really have time to train for triathlons.
I also love open water swimming, especially if it's swimming where you shouldn't really be, because I'm a little bit of a rebel and I like to break the rules. I like that. I like a bit of open water swimming. I find that very life-affirming. I sound like Miss World! I love doing that. I love being active and I love running as well. Running is very much like meditation for me. I run in the forest with Ernie, my dog. Actually I'm a crap runner. My running style, people will look at me and said, "I've never seen a running style like that before”.
Jo Dodds: And you can tell I don't mean it as a compliment.
Amanda: No, it's not a compliment. I did actually do this course called ChiRunning last year. It was this workshop on ChiRunning, but it doesn't seem to have helped much. Anyway, that's a lifelong challenge is to get my running style up, but anyway, I enjoy it, even if I do look odd when I'm running. That's what I do for exercise.
I'm quite bendy and I've always done yoga on and off over the years, which is a kind of ... I guess it's the balance with all the frenetic activity, but the frenetic activity I do find is very ... It's just I think being in the flow, it is a form of mindfulness. I'm up for any challenge, whether it's coasteering, gorge walking. I used to rock climb, all that kind of stuff. Absolutely love all that stuff. I'm up for anything sort of adrenaline pumping. That for me is a very, very important part of my life.
In terms of food and nutrition, in the past few years, I've become increasingly aware and curious about what we put in our body. My bloke, John, introduced me to Paleo, the Paleo lifestyle. The Paleo lifestyle, for people who've never heard of it before, a lot of people liken it to, what was that thing where you were supposed to eat loads of meat and fat and you have…
Jo Dodds: Atkins
Amanda: Atkins. A lot of people liken it to Atkins. I think that's wrong, because for me and what I understand by Paleo lifestyle, and you'll notice I say lifestyle, not nutrition, it's about looking at an optimal way of living. It's about trying to cut out the crap, trying to cut out processed foods. Yes, it is cutting out a lot of carbs. I only do that a little bit because I find my body is okay on certain carbs, but I rarely eat pasta now. I rarely eat bread now. I've cut a lot of that out.
To me, it's about looking about how we lived and getting back to basics. It's not just about eating grass-fed meat without any hormones pumped into it, organic vegetables. It's about also looking at what sleep do we need, what rest do we need, what exercise do we need, how do we exercise. Paleo lifestyle would look at us, our exercise being functional fitness, which is what British Military Fitness and Crossfit is about, functional fitness, meaning how would our bodies have needed to move back in the day when we were hunting and gathering, short bursts of energy etc etc, but it's not necessarily about constant cardio, absolutely fascinating.
What eating means for me now is that I no longer buy any of those crap cereals. I did, however, and this is about not being perfect, give in the other day to Freddy when he begged me to buy him some horrible, nasty Rice Krispies, but I haven't bought them for months. I make my own Paleo granola now, and that will be made from nuts and coconut oil, and I'll bake it and so on.
In the morning, instead of eating cereal or toast, my typical breakfast would be ... I might have 3 soft-boiled eggs and an avocado or half an avocado, or I might have some of my Paleo granola with some full fat yogurt. That's the best thing about Paleo is full fat, lots of butter and cream and stuff. I might have made my own almond milk. God, I really sound really worthy now, don't I?
Jo Dodds: You do. I was just thinking that very thing. It's all a myth everybody. We know that she's not really doing all this stuff.
Amanda: Yeah, it's all a myth. Just in case you're thinking I was too worthy, I did go to a café the other day and had this evil chocolate fudge brownie, but I actually felt awful after it. I really did wish I hadn't eaten it. Yeah, it's about trying to go back to basics really. I'll eat a salad for lunch now with plenty of protein and plenty of fat rather than a sandwich, a packet of crisps, and half a tub of soup, which is what my lunch used to be. Very rarely eat pasta now. I'm more likely to eat something with meat and vegetables.
If anyone's curious about this and have never come across it before, don't knock it until you've investigated it. Where I would say a great place to start learning is a place that both Jo and I, we're both kind of members of this community, it's called Fitter Food London. It's run by a couple called Matt Whitmore and Keris Marsden. They really know their stuff. They've got a fantastic book called The Paleo Primer. I don't believe in being extreme with anything...
Jo Dodds: Apart from your exercise!
Amanda: Apart from my exercise.
Jo Dodds: Yes, other than that.
Amanda: And life of course. Extreme life. Yeah, it's a great place to start. There's a Facebook group with some really knowledgeable people who know lots more than I do, but just look at the processed foods. Look at things like the cereal and the bread, and just see what tweaks you can make. It's not worth getting het up about but I do think it's ... I'm very worried about the stuff that they're shoving down our children's throats. For me, as a mum, it's a really big thing.
Oh, smoothies. A new thing for me this year is I have got a blender. It's not a Vitamix, which you will have heard of. Mine, because I'm a cheapskate, I look for the alternative, so Optimum. Mine's called Optimum 9000 or something. It's an Australian brand. It's actually got a heavier duty motor than Vitamix, works just as well as a Vitamix but you'll save yourself a couple of, a hundred or so quid on it. I shove green smoothies down the boys' throats. They don't necessarily like it, but it's a way of me getting some of the good spinach and kale into them. Yeah, again, it's an ongoing project. That's the food.
Jo Dodds: What about the bread? You didn't tell us about the bread.
Amanda: Oh, the life-changing loaf of bread, yeah. Jo introduced me to this bread. She posted this message on Facebook about this life-changing loaf of bread.
Jo Dodds: It is fairly life-changing, isn't it?
Amanda: It is. It is stunning. Slather it with butter. Toast it. Even my son Max said it wasn't bad.
Jo Dodds: There you go. Praise indeed. Praise indeed.
Amanda: Yeah. It's made with ... The secret ingredient that you can't miss out is something called psyllium husks, P-Y-S-S, oh, god can you spell it?
Jo Dodds: P-S-Y, I think, P-S-Y, double L, I-U-M, or something like that. I'll put them in the show notes.
Amanda: Yeah, something like that. Anyway, these psyllium husks, and Jo will know a lot more about this because she's far more brainier than I am, is they absorb 10 times their own weight or something. That helps too. You kind of make this and I tend to leave it for a day before baking it. It's full of seeds and nuts. It's got a few oats in there. It's absolutely gorgeous. There's no flour in there. It's just full of good stuff, isn't it, Jo?
Jo Dodds: It is. I haven't made it for a while. I think I may go and set some off later today. You've inspired me.
Amanda: I'm going to have a slice after this call. I can't wait.
Jo Dodds: Talk about inspiration. What about any recommendations for books, films, music, anything that you think would inspire our listeners?
Amanda: Oh, okay. Books, oh, oh, yes. The book that I have just read is called Dying to Be Me by Anita Sharma. The reason that that one jumped into my head, it's one of the ... As a coach, I'm actually not very good at reading any kind of self-development books. I get bored easily. I'm the opposite of Jo, who is compelled to read a book till the end no matter what. I've got, as I say, an attention span of a gnat. If it doesn't grab me within the first chapter, I bin it or I put it on the shelf and feel guilty about not having pursued it whichever.
This book, Dying to Be Me by Anita Sharma, is about ... It's essentially about near death experience, absolutely compelling. To me, I've had quite a lifelong fear of death, which I did some work on a few years ago, which I have to say I'm much more at peace with the idea of death now, but this was a book that I was recommended by someone and was really transfixed about. It's about a near death experience, which sounds really sort of a bit weird, but read it.
The message that came out of this for me was this lady who got cancer and who was basically taken to hospital dying with stage 3, stage 4, whatever it was, cancer, and had no chance of surviving, not only did she survive, she came out of that coma with no traces of cancer, absolutely incredible, but the conclusions that she comes to with the experience, and if you read the book you'll find out more, is that the thing that we need to do in our life, the one thing we need to do, is to be ourselves.
For me, this is a key message because what I do as a coach, what I'm absolutely passionate about, is people being themselves, being themselves and not having to fit in with anyone else's idea, just absolutely being yourself and loving yourself. I know that's far easier said than done, but this book really hits home with that message, so I do recommend that book to everyone.
The book I'm reading at the moment is called The Fear Cure by Dr. Lissa somebody or other, I forgot her surname.
She's a Hay House author, and I know her personally. Her name's got 2 Ss in it, L-I-S, oh, Lissa Rankin. That's it, Lissa Rankin. The Fear Cure is ... I like this book because she comes from a medical perspective, and she's talking about the link between fear and cancer. Don't worry, it's not about blaming people for cancer. It's far more in-depth and very, very well presented, the scientific principles in this book. It's a mixture of science and woo woo and practical, woo woo meaning things that some of us might have to question as being a bit not very easy for us to understand, a bit out there, a bit ‘knitted muesli’ so to speak.
Anyway, it's a good mixture, this book, and for me, as I said, courage is a big thing for me, helping people to access their courage, so The Fear Cure is a really good book to read because I believe that we hold ourselves back through fear, particularly fear of what others think, which also ties in to why I'm so attracted to the book by Anita Sharma about being ourself and not having to mould ourselves into something just because we're worried about what other people will think. Again, I don't say I've got this nailed myself, but I'm certainly on the journey.
Jo Dodds: Excellent. Those sound really good. I'll obviously put those in the show notes and I'll go off and check them out myself. We've talked a bit about things not quite always being as you would want them to be in your routines and so on. What about on those days where things don't go right? What do you do? How do you deal with it?
Amanda: Sometimes not very well. The thing is I'm one of those people who, to outward appearances, I'm confident. My policy is, with social media, is to be positive. If I don't have anything good to say, I, unless it's a rant, because I like ranting with things I'm passionate about. I tend to then sort of withdraw myself, so being, and I think it's important to be real and authentic, so you don't come straight out with it. I can get really upset and worked up with things. As I said, type A personality. I can really wind myself up. Again, working on it, but I can really wind myself up.
What helps me when I do that is talking to John, my bloke, who is one of those people who just ... He's so wise and he just cuts through my crap. He'll say, "Look, it is what it is. What is the point in eating the good stuff, doing the exercise, if you're going to get yourself this stressed?" You and I have talked a lot about stress. That helps me. Getting outside and actually getting outside and exercising, or talking to people, talking to someone, talking to a friend, talking to my mum, talking to someone who loves me and who I love, really, really helps, and I think that's an important thing.
Of course, when you get yourself wound up or upset or down, it's probably the last thing you want to do. You just want to sort of sit there and navel-gaze, but I do think the whole mind-body link. I always say to my clients, "Let's look at ... Just stretch yourself up. Put a smile on your face. Put your lippy on”. My Mum always says to me, "Put your lippy on”, so that kind of ... drying your tears, putting your lipstick on, getting out there, and getting out of your own way, I think, is a big thing. Sometimes as a coach you get those times when things are going wrong in your life or you're upset, you've got people who are ill in your life. We've all got stuff going on.
One of the things that coaching has taught me is to stop thinking about myself, stop being so damn self-centred, and I say that with kindness and love to myself, as well as to other people. If I've got a coaching session or a coaching call with someone, that is a sure-fire way of me getting out of my own slump, because I have to focus on that person and I have to forget about myself. Once you focus on someone else, once you give your energy to serving someone else, then it makes you feel better and happier, and I think that's really, really key to think about other people.
Jo Dodds: Yeah. Yeah, no, that's good. Thank you. On a day then when you've ended that day knowing that you've had the chance to live more, and I talk about living more as being the times when you get to do what you want to do, rather than necessarily what you need to do or you feel like you should do, so when you've had that chance to live more, what have you done? What's a good day for you, a perfect day for you?
Amanda: Say the question again. What was it about the need and should?
Jo Dodds: It's stuff that you want to do, rather than stuff that you need to do or feel like you should do, so it's the stuff that you want to do rather than any of the other stuff that sort of gets in the way in our lives at times. What's a day where you've done the bit where you want to do everything that you've done?
Amanda: You mean a working day or a ...
Jo Dodds: Any day.
Amanda: Any day.
Jo Dodds: One of those days. If I said to you what was a day where you really feel like you got everything ... everything lined up so that you got that chance to live more, what would it have been? It must involve mud surely.
Amanda: Of course it involves mud. Yeah. My typical Saturday morning you won't be surprised to hear, if I'm here, I live in Cheshire, it starts off with some mud and some fun and some beasting with the BMF gang. That's important to me because it's that wonderful physical exercise. It's being outdoors. I would live outdoors all the time if I could.
It's being with really good people. I love people, and I love people who are so in love with life and so willing to embrace life even when it's challenging, that they go for it and they push through the barriers. I don't like people who spend their lives talking about other people and being doom and gloom and nasty about other people. Those people that I share this love of exercise, of challenging myself, of outdoors with, that sort of people I’m with. If I'm in Shropshire, then Saturday morning will be at Crossfit, at the Crossfit gym. Again, absolutely wonderful people. You walk in there and it's hugs, and then it's, "Oh my gosh, we've got to do what?" There's that shared connection.
Connecting with people is really important to me, so a really ‘live more’ day would definitely involve doing some sort of physical, challenging exercise with people that I love and connect with and admire. It would then probably involve a wild swim somewhere. Obviously it would involve very good coffee as well. Now my bladder after 2 large babies will not take coffee in the morning on Saturday mornings before a BMF session. That's not pretty!
Jo Dodds: Too much information. It's a lunch time coffee on that day, is it?
Amanda: Yeah, lunch time coffee. It would involve good coffee, and oh, God, you know what I'd like to eat on this wonderful ‘live more’ day would be eggs benedict.
Jo Dodds: Oh, yeah, I like that. Mm.
Amanda: With the bread. I love eggs benedict, so that's what I would love to eat. I'd love to be sitting outside somewhere in the sunshine. I'd like that day to perhaps then go on to having dinner later on with good friends, with people I love, or it might be sitting around a fire pit in the evening, having a barbecue with the fire blazing. I think that points to my values of freedom, of adventure, of connecting with people. Oh, and of course, my ‘live more’ day would involve champagne. Yeah.
Jo Dodds: Good. Yes, that sounds much better than the mud.
Amanda: In the evening, have champagne or good wine. I love that. I love chardonnay. I know it's really untrendy, but a really good chardonnay or in fact any good wine will do. It doesn't matter whether it's white or red. In fact, it should be both.
Jo Dodds: Lovely, but not mixed together.
Amanda: Not at the same time, no.
Jo Dodds: No. Brilliant. I've spent so much of this interview being taken to wherever it is we're discussing with your evocative descriptions, so I think it's been a really good interview. I'm now desperate to make some of that bread and very annoyed that you're going off to eat it now. And thinking I quite fancy some champagne, so thank you so much,
Amanda. Really enjoyed interviewing you. How can people find out more about you and connect up with you?
Amanda: They can connect with me on ... You can go and look at my website. If the impostor syndrome thing sounds like you, I've actually got a really nice resource on my website, amandaalexander.com, called the impostor syndrome quit kit. There's a test there to see if you're suffering from impostor syndrome. Of course you are. There's some strategies for actually dealing with it, so you can go and check me out there and have a browse around there. You can find me on Facebook and I can't remember what my Facebook page is, but if you want to friend me on Facebook, all reasonable requests are considered, unless you look like some dodgy person who isn't a real person. I'll check you out and unfriend you, so Jo, you can maybe put the link to my Facebook ...
Jo Dodds: Yes, I will do.
Amanda: ... because I'm never quite sure of that. LinkedIn as well, I'm on LinkedIn. Again, I can never quite remember the link for that. Twitter, @AATheCoach. Don't hang out on Twitter quite as often as I perhaps should do. Facebook is where I attempt to show up as me. Or you can pick up the phone and call me if you want.
Jo Dodds: Any which way. Brilliant. Thank you. Really, really enjoyed it, and looking forward to putting it live.
Amanda: Thanks Jo. Thanks for having me.