POSITIVE EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE

WANT A THRIVING WORKPLACE? CREATE POSITIVE EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE

By Jessica Brownlee

Our tips and insights into being successful at work you do, by valuing and investing in people …

Growing your business and being successful is hard, especially in times like these. We all want to make more money, smash those business goals and just feel like we are achieving our best lives at work. And yes, your customers are the heart of your business. But your employees and people you work with are the life blood. Think about it, you cannot get a single thing done without your people. Literally, not a single thing (barring what you can achieve on your own steam, of course).

When we think of increasing our business or product value we often immediately think of the customer. But what about the employees and people driving the value? Just as customer service has transformed over the years, along with the customer, into customer experiences (the holistic perception customers have of your brand or business stemming from every interaction they have with it) so too do we need to transform our employees’ engagement and happiness by intently focusing on their employee experience. After all your employees are your first customer, and the human side of your brand. 

If the fiscal side of employee experience doesn’t captivate you (we all have different motivations) consider how much of our lives we spend at work and that you as a brand or employer have the power to make someone’s workplace, and by implication life, better, more positive and happier. If there is ever a time to flex your altruistic muscles and show some kindness to others, the middle of a global pandemic and on-again-off-again lockdowns would be it!

POSITIVE EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE

The deal with Employee Experience

A positive employee experience is more than just a decent place to work. Employee experience is a combination of your workplace culture, the physical work environment and the tools and technology which enable the work. As an example, when you go to work you want to experience a sense of belonging and shared purpose (culture), where you feel safe, can attain goals and grow while working in a healthy, safe and well environment with a technology or machinery that enables you to be efficient and perform. As leaders or business owners if we don’t address and manage all the factors impacting our employee experience we may pay a heavy cost. To convince the stoic and unmoved out there, here are some tangible examples of employee experience impacting the bottom line:

 

  • It is a proven fact (by science, people) that a happy employee is 20% more productive, imagine losing 20% of your employees’ production every day for a year. That’s a full day a week, almost full week lost a month just because your employee is unhappy. 
  • An engaged workforce outperforms one that is lackluster by tripling profit to 147% profit per share.
  • A positive employee experience creates an engaged workforce. Annually disengaged employees cost the USA $450 to $550 billion a year!
  • Managing your employee experience allows you to shape your culture and culture eats strategy for breakfast.
  •  To have talent and the best employees who give of themselves at work, they need to feel appreciated, and that means more than a competitive paycheck. Google increased employee satisfaction by 37% thanks to their investment in employee support.
  • Another hidden cost of poor employee experience is the increase in sick leave and absence, an unhappy employee takes 15 more sick days a year.
  • If you are in a highly competitive industry, positive employee experience can give you the edge with increased innovation and performance from your employees. Happy people just think and work better!

Insights into Your Business’ Employee Experience 

If we want to focus on cultivating positive employee experience, a good starting point is understanding what and where it is now, establishing your status quo. Understanding your employee experience can be simplified into two main focus areas:

  • What do your employees expect, want and need?
  • How does your business design the solutions to meet the wants, expectations and needs of employees?

You can understand your employee experience by evaluating three things:

  1. The physical space: 

Evaluating your workplace design and its impact on interactions, daily work life and wellness.

  1. The workplace technology: 

Embodying frictionless technology that enables and supports performance.

  1. The company culture: 

Understanding and building the right behavioral norms, values and policies on what is acceptable inn your workplace.

Tips to cultivating positive employee experience

So you have a good idea of what employee experience is, why it is important to you and how to evaluate and understand your current employee experience. Hopefully, you feel energized to take action in addressing your employee experience, for your business value and for your employees. Here are some tips to assist you in starting to build a more positive employee experience:

Foster Psychological safety

Yes, it sounds complicated, but no it is not. Simply, psychological safety is merely about giving people the freedom to bring their whole selves to work while feeling valued, connected and accepted. To create increased psychological safety at work we need to approach others with positive regard, allow failures and successes, treat people with dignity and act inclusively. Our interactions, especially the leaders at work, need to down regulate fight or flight responses and allow people to be calm, energized and focused.

Communicate with your employees

An important part of employee experience is communication between the business, leaders and employees. Great communication starts with listening. Actively listen to your employees. You can create discussion boards, virtual collective spaces and even schedule team lunches that allow open communication. Really listen and try to understand what motivates and demotivates your employees, try put yourself in their shoes and understand their day-to-day lived experience. Storytelling is a great way to share ideas and communicate with employees. Host town halls or social media campaigns to keep them feeling connected.

Make people feel valued

Focus on fostering a culture of acknowledgement, people have a fundamental need to feel valued and this is true for the workplace. Recognize contributions to the team and company success in meaningful ways beyond monetary incentives. Create the habit of frequent feedback and make a point of letting people know you see them and their efforts.

Give employees’ growth opportunities

A big part of a positive work experience is feeling like you are growing and contributing to something bigger than yourself. Ensuring employees have routine learning and development opportunities gives them the chance to grow and progress. Growth can take the form of free access to Udemy courses or short courses, personalized development plans to one’s career aspirations or creating a learning culture in the organization with knowledge sharing and learning lunches. 

Work Life Integration and Balance

We all want to feel like we have a good work life balance, in essence we want a positive experience at work and at home. As work and life become more integrated it is really up to leaders and business’ to enhance employee work life balance and show employees they genuinely do care for their happiness. Small steps such as increased autonomy and flexibility at work can go a long way to making employees feel empowered and valued. Consider others schedules when booking meetings, perhaps try have stand up meetings instead of sitting in a board room. Be mindful of the emails your forward and who’s mailbox you are filling. And most importantly encourage employees to switch off and recharge, often. 

Integrate the desired experience into people practices

You can’t achieve the employee experience you want without ensuring all other initiatives in the business align. If you want to encourage feedback, make it a weekly habit in the team. If you want people to act inclusive, build it as a measure into your performance management system and include it in onboarding initiatives. Once you have identified the pillars you will use to build your employee experience make sure you integrate it into all the employee touch points to reinforce the change in behaviours and make it stick.

A word from Jessica Brownlee

Through the sharing of knowledge and experience, we want to help build communities, organizations and individuals become the most optimal version of themselves, both physically, emtionally and mentally.  

Your health is your wealth so make lasting changes, one habit at a time.

The WellBe Team


About Jessica Brownlee

Jessica is an industrial and organizational psychologist specializing in learning, leadership, talent, neuroscience and wellness. A self-proclaimed wellness geek, Jessica writes The Humble Humanologist blog to inspire, motivate and uplift others on their work and wellness journey. She is her own boss, running a consulting company, Psychology360 (www.psychology360.org) and consults globally to some of the leading organizations. Jessica also strives to find balance and is an avid yogi and yoga teacher (who is yet to master a hand stand).

Instagram: @thehumblehumanologist

Facebook: Psychology360

Website: www.psychology360.org

Let’s be positive

Set yourself up for a positive day, everyday

Do you feel like everyday is a struggle to find the motivation to do anything? Well then it’s time to make some serious changes! Adding some positive daily habits into your life can definitely help with creating a bullet proof routine that will ultimately encourage you to have a great day, everyday.

Being positive is a choice. I truly believe that if we have our mind in a positive space we can become unstoppable in all aspects of our life. But finding a way to keep ourselves motivated and positive takes work and conscious effort. You need to create a morning routine to get your mind into a positive space. This way you will feel motivated to tackle everything in your day!


7 Tips to get onto the positive train

 

Get up and get going

You know when that first alarm goes off? Don’t press snooze! Get up right away and get going. Trust me, I know it’s much easier said than done but it really makes a difference in helping you feel less groggy and more motivated! 

What am I grateful for

Waking up and thinking about or writing down what you are grateful for will really help you focus on the positive things you have in your life. It doesn’t need to be more than 5 minutes every morning, but make this a priority! This will set you out in a positive direction and will put you in a good mood.

healthy and happy

Drink water

Even though it may sound obvious, drinking a big glass of room temperature water first thing in the morning BEFORE you grab your coffee will make your body feel good and revitalized. Drinking water will hydrate you and wake you right up!

Meditation or deep breaths

Taking 5 minutes in the morning to meditate or even do breathing exercises is a great way to clear your mind before your day starts. It doesn’t need to be anything formal, you could literally just sit down while doing your gratitude exercise or drinking your water and take a few deep breaths!

Have a healthy wholesome breakfast

Instead of skipping breakfast completely, eat something healthy and nutritious. If you don’t have too much time you could throw together a smoothie that is jam packed with wholesome goodness! Eating healthily goes hand in hand with feeling good about yourself and your day. 

Put together a playlist

Put together a playlist of your favourite happy songs! That way you can just press play and that positive feeling will come your way. Music really can bring in those feel good vibes into your life, so try to incorporate that into your morning (whether it may be when you are getting ready for work or when your commuting to work).

Move your body

Finding time to move your body and get a great workout in definitely has a massive positive impact on the body and mind. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but exercise helps release endorphins (happy hormones) into your body which make you feel happy and positive! I suggest trying to fit in your workout in the morning but if not set a time that works for you everyday.

Let’s be positive!

Ultimately, you have the control on how you live your life and how you decide to look at things. Using the above tips will really help set you up for success and get those positive vibes flowing throughout your day, everyday! 

“The positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible and achieves the impossible!”

 

Gratitude

Living with Gratitude: How To Make Every Day Count

by Jessica Gaynor

You’ve got one life. These are our tips on how to get the most out of it!  

It’s easy to see the glass half empty right now. After COVID-19, Stress has been labeled as the number  one health pandemic, the global economy has hit one of its all time lows and poverty is rife.  

How can we possibly see the glass half full?  

The Secret to Happiness  

Ah, the age-old question!  

There was a 75 year-long study at Harvard focused on uncovering the most important factor in human  happiness. You might be thinking: financial stability or having a purpose right? The conclusion might  surprise you… It’s a human connection.  

When we talk about human connection, we’re not talking all that social media stuff. We’re talking real  physical and emotional connection with other human beings, and the quality and depth of those  relationships.  

Human interaction can foster a great sense of community and sense of support. 2 Things we have always  needed and will always need as humans to grow within ourselves and within the world. When we have a  sense of community and support, we feel safer and more willing to try new things because we know 

we’ll be backed up by our tribe regardless of the outcome. Not to mention, it’s been proven that daily,  quality social interaction can slow the onset of memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease.  

So get out there and socialise (socially distanced of course!), make those connections, find your tribe and  try new things to get the most out of life and keep your mind healthy. But this isn’t the only thing you  can do to elevate your life…  

We can actually rewire our brains  

Until fairly recently, scientists firmly believed that the brain is unchangeable when we become adults.  Who we are is who we are. Solid, concrete, unalterable brains. Once we’re adults, that’s who we are – no  buts about it.  

Now we understand that the brain can be remolded and rewired to think differently – a term known as  ‘neuroplasticity’.  

If you’ve always got a gloomy outlook on life, fear not – you can change your mindset! If you have a bad  habit, you can change that too (phew!). All thanks to the ever-changing miracle and mystery that is your  brain. The secret to changing the brain is repetition.  

It’s all about habits  

To start thinking differently, you need to create new habits that support the life you want to live. You  need to implement changes consistently. The tried and tested way to build a habit is to ‘habit stack’.  

Habit stacking means doing the “new” habit right after an existing one. For example you could try  meditating and brushing your teeth in the morning – because that’s something you do every day  (hopefully!).  

The more we repeat something or think in a certain way and make it a habit, the faster our brains will be  rewired in line with those thoughts and actions. So let’s make sure it’s a positive change!  

Creating an attitude of gratitude  

Expressing gratitude is the single most powerful way to create a more positive outlook on life. When we  focus on what we’re grateful for, we focus on what’s good in our lives. Then, by repeatedly focusing on  the good, we start to create a habit of thinking positively which ultimately extends to the way we see the  world. 

There are a few ways we can change our view on life:  

  1. Keep a gratitude journal 

Did you know that the information we learn with multiple senses sticks more easily? Writing in particular  is a very powerful tool we can use to learn because it engages both our senses of touch and sight. This is  known as ‘multimodal learning’.  

Get yourself a notebook in a size that floats your boat. A bonus for this one is if it looks nice on the  outside so you’re more drawn to pick it up and use it. Keep it in a place where you’ll see it often – next to  your bed is the best.  

Every day – before bed or when you wake up – write down 3 things you’re grateful for. It’s powerful to  write down full sentences that result in affirmations. For example: “I am grateful for my healthy body”.  

When you’re feeling low, have a read through your journal (which over time becomes prey  substantial!). After a year you’ll get to read more or less 1000 things that you get to be grateful for. 

  1. Take -me off social media  

Ever had a “(s)he’s got it all” moment when you’re scrolling? It’s really easy to get down into a slump  because your life seemingly isn’t as good as others’. It’s important to remember that people don’t post  their life’s lows. All you’re seeing are people’s highlights and that’s not real life.  

Set up the screen balance feature on your phone – they all have one! Make sure you’re not  scrolling through unrealistic expectations all day. Put your phone away and sit in the present to  acknowledge what you have in this moment. Why not even have a read through that gratitude journal?  

  1. Breathe 

It’s something we do without even thinking but really should. You know that thing where the air moves  in and out of the body and gives us life? Yeah that one!  

When you focus on the breath, you bring yourself into the present moment and that’s what we all need  the most. We’re always living in the past or the future but very rarely in the present. When we live in the  present we become more aware of what we have and how we feel. Basically, we live life in HD and who  doesn’t want that? Breathing in and of itself is something else we can be so grateful for. 

  1. Exercise  

We’re working even longer hours now that many of us work from home and struggle to set work/ home boundaries. We sit for way longer than our bodies were ever designed to do and our spines  compress, giving us all those (very common) back aches and pains. Set a timer on your phone to take a  break from your desk – that might mean just gebng up and walking around the house a few times.  

Try and exercise for 30 minutes, 5 -mes a week or 20 minutes every day. Your body will release happy  hormones and instantly give you a mood booster.  

  1. Give back  

As we spoke about before, community and connection are a big part of who we are as humans. When  we perceive that we are supported and can support others, we instantly have more purpose in life – and  that’s been proven.  

Why not support a charity or cause? Donate clothes or even your time? Taking the -me to help others  will give you a sense of gra-tude and pride in our communities by working towards the common good  for everyone.  

A word from Jessica Gaynor

Through the sharing of knowledge and experience, we want to help build communities and individuals  become the most optimal version of themselves both physically and mentally.  

Your health is your wealth so make lasting changes, one habit at a time.  


 

About Jessica Gaynor

The human mind fascinates me beyond words. After I was diagnosed with stress-induced Epilepsy, I  started to revaluate the way I was living my life and I became acutely aware of the global stress  pandemic. It’s become my life mission to help others become aware of it too, through meditation and  mindfulness – because awareness is the first step towards change.  

I’m a registered Yoga Teacher and Employee Wellness Coach with a focus on mental health and  wellbeing. I am currently studying towards a certification in Yoga Therapy – a discipline centered around  helping people understand and manage both their physical and emotional imbalances in the body. 

Running

UNDERSTANDING THE BRAIN BENEFITS OF THE ‘RUNNER’S HIGH’

Written by Sarah Braithwaite, a WellBe&Co Neuroscience-based Life & Health Coach

We have all had that same message drummed into our heads since we were young – ‘eat plenty vegetables, exercise often and get enough sleep’ , and while we are all familiar with the physical benefits these have on our body, most are not aware of the incredible impacts had on our brains – particularly when it comes to exercise. Our brain and body is intrinsically connected and while neurology is flowing downwards, physiology is flowing upwards and to separate the dual effects on one another would be impossible.

The love-hate relationship of endurance running is real – time, commitment, pain, and pressure, versus that insane ‘runners high’ that keeps us coming back for more and more. Let us unpack the latest science on brain health in relation to exercise – after all knowledge is power, and these juicy facts may give you a whole new appreciation for those long arduous training sessions.

How exercise actually rewires your brain

More than a mood boost

The latest buzz word in the neuroscience world, ‘neuroplasticity’, means our brains are able to change and rewire depending on many factors, one being physical movement. Beside the mental health benefits of reducing anxiety and depression, regular physical exercise is actually rewiring your brain for better cognitive function as well as improvement of emotional regulation. Exercise also allows the release of the stress hormone, cortisol, from the body which is hugely beneficial and explains why we experience mood changes after a workout.

It’s all biochemistry

During exercise, the body begins to produce endorphins which are our ‘feel good’ hormones. The effects of these endorphins plus the release of important neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, means that you are getting all the right kinds of ‘highs’ while you are running. Dopamine affects the reward pathways in the brain while serotonin stabilizes our moods – both are essential to mental health and well-being. While physical exercise is best, studies have also shown the mind boggling benefits to the brain from simply visualising a detailed exercise session in your head – what better evidence to prove the brain’s role in physical movement?

 

Run

4 Ways to maximize your training for better brain health

Okay so now that we have indisputable evidence of just how great movement is for our minds, here are a few easily implementable training hacks to help you get the most out of it:

  1. Incorporate HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

HIIT-style training has been shown to help prompt new cellular growth in the brain as well as increasing activity between neurons and prompting neuroplasticity. 

  1. Keep consistent

Regular exercise improves memory function in the brain. The hippocampus is responsible for memory and learning, and studies have shown that exercise improves these functions and causes neurogenesis (new cellular growth).

  1. Sweat out the stress

Use exercise as a stress release tool to rid your body of excessive levels of toxic cortisol. Cortisol is the stress hormone that we produce, and it can become toxic when chronic. Stress can quite literally cause the physical release of cortisol.

  1. Be mindful

Combine exercise with some mindful or visualisation practices to encourage neuroplasticity. The mind battles to distinguish reality from imagination, and the power of visualization is helpful in ingraining those neural pathways that are used when performing the activity. 

  1. Eat the right brain food

The brain thrives off of slow release carbohydrates as well as healthy fats. Dr Tara Swart, a remound Neuroscientist, recommends food such as: eggs, nuts, avos, coconut oil and salmon. Other foods such as sweet potatoes and healthy grains can also be beneficial. 

Movement for the mind 

Regular exercise, like running, really has profound benefits for both the brain and body, and that ‘high’ is there as a reminder to keep coming back for more. And with that in mind, I’m putting on my trainers and hitting the road…

A word from WellBe

This blog was written by Sarah Braithwaite, of MindSight, is a WellBe&Co Neuroscience-based Health & Life Coach, in collaboration with RunMalibu.

Fitness

THE POWER OF MOVEMENT: INCORPORATING EXERCISE INTO YOUR LIFESTYLE

We all know that incorporating exercise into our lifestyle is beneficial; but this does not change the fact that many of us do not feel motivated to be active. Exercise starts off as a discipline, that eventually turns into a habit. Initially it can be challenging to stick to your routine, but the more you commit, the easier it becomes. In this article we explore the benefits of living an active life and we explore the different kinds of exercise to help you find the type of exercise that will best serve you. 

Benefits of Living an Active Life 

Exercise has both physical and mental benefits. Not only does it build muscle, maintain weight, or encourage weight loss, but it also affects our brain positively

Brain Benefits 

  1. Reduces stress
  2. Improves memory 
  3. Reduces depression (increases serotonin) 
  4. Lowers anxiety 

Physical Benefits 

  1. Lowers risk of chronic diseases (heart disease, diabetes)
  2. Lowers blood cholesterol and blood pressure
  3. Develops stronger bones and muscles 
  4. Assists with weight loss 

Read more: TIRED OF FEELING LOW? 4 LIFE CHANGING HABITS TO BEAT THAT AFTERNOON FATIGUE

Exercise has numerous benefits for our overall health, and one way to maintain your exercise regime is to find a type of exercise that you enjoy. Trying to commit to something you hate is a lot more challenging and increases your chance of giving up. 

Get Fit

Types of Exercise: Finding your Niche 

Exercise should be a lifestyle, not an event. It is therefore important for you to find an activity that you enjoy – this way, exercise becomes something you look forward to, rather than something that you do because of a specific outcome e.g. weight loss. 

There are many types of exercise, and depending on your interests, availability, and access, you may opt for different forms: 

 

  • HIIT Training

HIIT training stands for High Intensity Interval Training. It alternates between short intense anaerobic exercise with less intense recovery periods. For example, TABATA, which is 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest interval. It is great for individuals who only have 30 minutes to squeeze in a training session. It is a form of cardio training and is effective in burning fat and calories. 

  • Cardiovascular Training 

Cardiovascular training is any type of exercise that leads to a sustained rise in heart rate throughout the exercise duration. For example: swimming, running, and cycling. This type of exercise is generally sustained for a longer period of time than a HIIT workout. 

Here’s a great read: 8 PRACTICAL TIPS FOR WORKING OUT AT HOME – GETTING MOTIVATED AND GETTING MOVING

  • Yoga 

Yoga is a form of neuromotor training – it involves balance, agility, and coordination. It is important to improve posture, decrease risk of injury and reduce stress and inflammation. Yoga is a great way to build muscle and it is less intense on the body than activities such as running and HIIT. 

  • Gym classes 

A lot of individuals benefit from exercising with others. When it is a social event, they are more likely to commit and enjoy themselves. Gyms offer numerous classes such as spinning and Zumba which allow for an interactive exercise routine. 

  • Pilates 

Pilates is a low-impact activity that focuses on flexibility, muscular strength, endurance movements and core strength. It emphasizes proper postural alignment, core strength and muscle balance.

  • Team Sports

Many people enjoy exercise when it is in the form of team sports. Joining a hockey team or soccer club creates a community and your commitment to the sport increases. The enjoyment of the game is the primary focus and the health benefits are secondary. It becomes a social activity and often not seen as a challenge like going for a run alone. 

As you can see, there are numerous ways to reap the rewards of exercise and any form of movement is better than none. Remember, exercise should be a part of your lifestyle, not an event. It is therefore important for you to find an activity that you enjoy – this way, exercise becomes something you look forward to, rather than something that you do because of a specific outcome e.g. weight loss. 

Fitness

8 PRACTICAL TIPS FOR WORKING OUT AT HOME – GETTING MOTIVATED AND GETTING MOVING

2020 has served us up with a fair share of challenges. Who would’ve thought that we were going to have a global pandemic and be locked up inside for months on end – not me haha! As much as it’s been a trying time, we might’ve actually been able to come out of it with some lessons learned and a new perspective

One thing quarantine has done is it’s completely changed up our workout routines. No longer have we been able to visit our local gym and use all the equipment which we were used to using. Now we have been faced with the task to use our bodies and at home ‘equipment’ as a means to exercise. Which to many is not something they are used to doing. But maybe this challenge actually taught us how little we actually need?

I myself was used to using the cardio machines and weights during my workouts as well but I had to adapt during this time along with everyone else. This doesn’t mean I became limited it just means I became creative and had a plan in mind.

So what are my key tips for exercising effectively at home you ask?

Consistency is key

Oh yes, we’ve heard this one a million times but my goodness it’s true. If you want to continue to see results even when you are training from home you need to be consistent. Just like you would go to the gym for certain days of the week, you need to do the same at home and stick to it!

Live better

Create a new at-home routine

Just like you would usually follow a routine (eg. wake up, pack your food, go to gym, go to work etc) you need to continue to follow one at home. The moment you don’t set a time slot for your workout, the harder it becomes. Because we all know that excuse “Oh I’ll do It later” and then later comes and Netflix and chill sounds way better. Ya feel? 😉

There are endless amounts of exercises

 You may think you’d be way more limited but in all honesty, there are so many bodyweight exercises you can do (and hard ones at that) and there are so many items you can use in your house as ‘equipment’ for your workout (chair, filled water bottles, towels, backpacks, a bag of potatoes etc – you name it).

Have a workout space
Creating a space where you workout every day helps a lot. This can be seen as your place to get serious and your ‘me time’. The space doesn’t need to be big at all. Usually, the size of a yoga mat works perfectly fine. Try steer away from working out in a space that will distract you such as close to the TV or the fridge. 😉

Put on your workout clothes
Just like you would change to get ready for the gym, you must do the same at home. This tells your brain that it’s time to workout! Also, don’t give yourself enough time to think about it or convince yourself otherwise, change and get moving ASAP!

Music makes you move
I’m telling you if I put on some of my favourite upbeat music I already feel keener to get moving. Do the same at home to keep it interesting. Also, change up your playlist every now and again to keep it fun!

Have a plan
As we all know, when we don’t have a plan we tend to feel more overwhelmed and demotivated. Knowing what workout you are going to do every day definitely helps you with exercising at home. Our WellBe 12-Week Body Reboot Training Guide is perfect for this!

Eat well
If you fall off track with your eating you will naturally fall off track with your exercise routine too. Make sure you are eating healthy wholesome meals that leave you feeling full and satisfied. There are tons of incredible recipes in our WellBe 12-Week Body Reboot Nutrition Guide that will leave you feeling good and full of energy every day.

As much as going to the actual gym has its upsides, it’s not the be-all and end-all. I truly believe we already have what we need in order to get a great workout in – our bodies. I have come out of this understanding my body more than before and I have really realized that we really don’t need all the fancy extras.

To end off, here’s an at-home full-body workout that requires zero equipment:


  • 30 x squat to oblique twist
    • 10 x 4 mountain climbers to push up
    • 30 x side lunges (per side)
    • 15 x burpees
    • 20 x star jack-knives
    • 30 x jumping jacks


3/4 ROUNDS

Let’s keep in touch:
Instagram and Facebook: @thelivelyfitnessgirl

Website: www.livelyfitness.co.za

Email: jessica@livelyfitness.co.za

A SUSTAINABLE LIFESTYLE

PRACTICAL HACKS TO HOLISTIC HEALTHY LIVING: HOW TO CREATE A SUSTAINABLE LIFESTYLE YOU LOVE

A little bit about me 

First off, Hello! My name is Jessica Thiels AKA The Lively Fitness Girl

I am a holistic health and fitness coach with a heart full of passion to help people create a beautifully balanced lifestyle that is sustainable and realistic. Since I was a little girl I always had a lot of energy. You would always see me jumping around and moving around. I never wanted to sit still and I would get bored super easily – sorry parents LOL! 

I found myself naturally leaning into sports, specifically running. I loved the challenge of it and I love how it made me feel – unstoppable, strong and free. As I got older, I got very good at running in High School and then I naturally started going to gym and discovering new ways to challenge myself. After studying a BCOM at University, I realized very quickly that I’m not cut out for the corporate environment so I went ahead and studied a Personal Training Certificate and Group Instructing Certificate at FitPro. I then decided I wanted to further my knowledge, so I got a health coaching certificate through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition which qualifies me to guide my clients to create a holistically healthier life – from exercise and nutrition to relationships, career, and spirituality. 

With a couple years of experience working as a Health and Fitness coach – I couldn’t be happier with the path I chose to help people create and live the lives they deserve. 

Let’s talk about you! 

Anyways, enough about me! Let’s talk about you. How are you doing right now? Are you constantly hopping on and off diet and exercise plans? Are you restarting every Monday after binging on the weekend because you were too restrictive during the week? Are you feeling like you can’t stick to anything and you can’t seem to find balance? 

Listen, I TOTALLY feel you. We’ve all been there. All of a sudden becoming too restrictive and too hectic can cause you to resent the whole process and journey of health and fitness. Yes, if you have goals you want to reach you do have to make certain sacrifices but if you are trying to create and maintain a sustainable healthy lifestyle, becoming overly restrictive will make you hate the process and turn back to your old habits.

The goal is NOT to feel like you need to consistently restrict yourself or start again every Monday. The goal is to create a lifestyle where you have balance. Where you feel good about yourself all of the time! Trust me, I know it’s easier said than done but what I do know is it is 100% possible. Starting small, celebrating yourself along the way and keeping it simple is a fab place to start!

HACKS TO HOLISTIC HEALTHY

The health hacks you’re after

Let’s dive into it! Here are a few tips to get you to start building a healthy balanced lifestyle for yourself:

1. Start small

Don’t go from zero to hero, it never works! Being super restrictive isn’t sustainable over a long period of time. Focus on creating small changes or small healthy habits that will become the building blocks to an overall balanced lifestyle.

2. Move your body

We all know that after getting some form of exercise you feel more positive and productive. Set a routine and ensure you move your body or exercise for at least 30 minutes every day – whether it be the morning, afternoon or evening. Also be sure to find something you enjoy and stick with that! Any form of exercise will do.

3. Work on your mental health

This is SO important. Often, we are focusing far too much on diet and exercise that we don’t even check up on our mental health. Just like you need to make healthy decisions everyday with regards to diet and exercise you need to do the exact same for your mental health. 

Take some time in the day and check up on yourself, make some time for meditation, journaling and breathing. If your mental health is not in check it will directly affect everything else in your life. Make this a priority!

4. Fill your fridge with yummy goodness

No, this doesn’t include just kale and broccoli. 

I’m talking about filling your fridge and pantry with a variety of fresh wholesome foods that will make you excited to eat your meal. Start learning some new healthy, tasty and quick recipes – there’s millions on Google. Being healthy doesn’t mean missing out on yummy food it means learning how to cook and create healthy yet tasty meals.

5. Have healthy snacks available always

Guys, full disclosure: I’m a snacker myself and if there’s no yummy fruit available or something to grab I will always feel like I need to have something sugary or salty to fill the hole. 

Have fruit, nuts, natural health bars/protein bars etc. available to you to avoid grabbing the wrong things.

6. Drink water

No but really drink water. Most of the time if we haven’t drank enough it causes us to snack unnecessarily.

7. Get some good shut eye

Guys, sleep is so important. I know it seems like a basic thing but often we stay up too late working, fiddling on our phones or watching too much TV instead of trying to wind down for good quality sleep. In order to do this, you need to make sure you have a good night-time routine! 1 hour before bed, start slowing things down and preparing for at least 8 hours of sleep. If you don’t get enough sleep it will affect how you function during the day and it will affect the choices you make during the day.

8. Treat yourself

What a lot of us try to do is cut out absolutely everything we like and then hope for the best. Becoming too restrictive like this can cause us to then have a huge binge day because you’ve restricted yourself far too much. You can still have the foods you love but in moderation. Try not to get into the habit of creating a ‘cheat day’ because this mostly leads to us over doing it and feeling super sick and angry with ourselves. Have a chocolate, have a pizza etc. but then continue with your normal meals and routine thereafter.

9. Listen to your body

What is your body asking for? Sometimes your body might need you to slow down a bit and this is when you need to listen. Not every day are you going to feel like an intense workout session. Maybe sometimes your body needs something more chilled like stretches or yoga. This is a huge part of creating a balanced lifestyle because not every day will feel the same. So, tailor your day to day to what your body needs. And no this doesn’t mean giving into laziness or giving into excuses. It means changing things up when your body genuinely needs some TLC.

The bottom line

If you are trying to feel good, then let’s start by saying hell no to quick fixes! Learn that nothing worth having comes easy – you need to put in the work and make the changes. After all, nothing changes if nothing changes, am I right? 😉 If you make consistent healthy decisions every day you will quickly start to form a new routine and new normal for yourself. This new normal is the balanced lifestyle that you deserve to live. Something that will be sustainable throughout your life.

Realize that there is no destination to health and fitness. It’s a journey and it’s your journey! Enjoy the ride.

Let’s keep in touch:
Instagram and Facebook: @thelivelyfitnessgirl

Website: www.livelyfitness.co.za

Email: jessica@livelyfitness.co.za

 

Vegan 101

VEGAN STARTER PACK: INFILTRATING THE INNER CIRCLE

A top tip from the inner circle of veteran vegans; once you make the decision regarding the BIG ‘V’, please do yourself a favour & prep, babe! This is not a choice to be taken lightly, it is a lifestyle change at the end of the day & your current pantry staples are more than likely not really up to scratch! You reckon you’re fine, ‘cause you have bread & butter, you’ll just make a sarmie? 

Nope. That bread is probably made with milk & your fave sandwich spread is 100% made using eggs. UGH!

You are about to venture into the most intense game of speed reading you could ever imagine. I am pretty sure every single Pick ‘n Pay employee in Jozi must think I’m not lekker in the head; I stand for hours reading labels. Why does everything use MILK POWDER? You’re about to lose A LOT of the products you once knew & loved. Perhaps, take a moment of silence for your once beloved packet of Doritos.  Shame.

This all may sound scary & overwhelming, thinking that you’re ‘losing out’ by going vegan. But, you are about to gain so much more! You would not believe the incredible vegan alternatives to absolutely everything you can imagine… Vegan chocolate is the flippin’ bees knees! (No bees were harmed in the making of this blog thanks to SunnyBo Hunny!)

Oh, while you’re here, check out my other blog: VEGAN POLICE: THE TRIALS & TRIBULATIONS OF A MODERN DAY PLANT-EATER

Vegan Food

Shopping List

Back to business, though! My newbie vegan shopping list is short & sweet, to get you through your first week. You probably think it’s a list as long as my arm, consisting of quinoa, agave syrup & tofu? Well, the truth of the matter is, there is only one thing in this realistic vegans starter pack…

Peanut butter.

Yep, that is all you need, honey. Peanut butter (OhMega Nut Butters being my personal favourite!)  & a spoon big enough to feed the inevitable cravings. Because, they will come. Trust that! I think the vegan community has created an air of being ‘from the Earth’, drinking water straight from the damn stream & bathing in oat milk… (Oat milk is hella expensive, it would be a very shallow soak.)

But the reality is, most of us are just as unhealthy as the next person. Myself included! I can promise  you right now, every single vegan alive has some sort of nut butter in the cupboard. Not all of us want to eat kale & drink Kombucha. DO NOT BE FOOLED!

You need to understand, going into this that your body is going to go through some major changes. A lot of withdrawal & you are going to have some hectic cravings for things you never thought you would miss! Fish paste from boarding school when you were in grade 7? GET IN MY BELLY! A lekker oily boerie roll from that dodgy braai stand outside of Builders Warehouse? ASSEBLIEF! 

But, if you’re committed to your decision to tread more lightly on the planet, then push through! The reward far outweighs your need for a lamb chop or even a Wimpy burger! Think of the impact you as a person are making in the world. For every year that you choose not to eat meat, you would have saved 10 055 pigs, 647 737 chickens, 11 357 cows & 3 million prawns! I highly suggest checking out Fry’s website to see some really eye-opening stats!

 I mean, that is a hell of a lot of good karma!

A Raw Deal

I think my least favourite question I get, being a vegan (and trust me, there are PLENTY) is, “but why are you vegan?” I am never quite sure how to respond to that one. Should I be brutally honest? Should I sugar-coat it so that I don’t offend you? And, are you genuinely asking out of interest or are you just waiting to give me your opinion? 

My answer? I am vegan for all of the reasons. 

But mainly ‘cause Russel Brand told me so & who could ever say no to him?

 

Want some meal inspo? Check out these plant-based meals: 

CHOCOLATE OAT BOWL

CHICKPEA CURRY

PASTA ALLA RELISH

 

Vegan 101

VEGAN POLICE: THE TRIALS & TRIBULATIONS OF A MODERN DAY PLANT-EATER

The Journey: Part 1

I don’t really remember the day, to be honest, the specific day that I stopped eating meat. It was more of a slow process of eating less of it & a whole lot more frozen broccoli than I care to admit. 

All of a sudden, I realised it had been MONTHS since I had eaten any meat. I kind of accidentally became a vegetarian & felt like a new woman. But to say I was nervous to tell anybody about my new lifestyle change, would be a MASSIVE understatement. I knew the stigma. Hell, I had possibly added to the problem many times throughout my life, with poorly timed jokes at the expense of someone else. 

The Saturday afternoon that I had been dreading for months finally reared its ugly head… A family braai. It was time. Time to break the news to my VERY Afrikaans family that, “no, I will pass on the boerewors today, Oom. How about a fried mushroom instead?” Shock & horror followed this, as predicted & there was a moment of silence for the loss of a comrade. I scoffed down that rubbery mushroom & got the heck out of there before they had the chance to ask me, “but where will you get your protein?”

Although the braai was not nearly as difficult as I thought it might be, the judgement & scandal behind my choices extended past my family. Strangers felt the need to let me know why meat is a necessary part of my diet, their favourite argument being… “If we’re not meant to eat meat then why do we have canine teeth?”

Vegan

The Journey: Part 2

My living hell was only perpetuated when I took the next step of becoming vegan. A no-brainer for me, but more of a NO-BRAIN to those around me. It was an easy transition, my only regret? Not doing it sooner.

I was living in the mountains of the Drakensberg at the time, doing yoga in the veld & eating tomatoes straight from the freaking earth, man. I was some kind of hippy, minus the leg hair (mostly.) I was always the odd one out. The black sheep, or rather the black BeyondMeat patty.

For the most part, being vegan in the Berg was a breeze. I got a few quizzical looks at coffee shops when I asked for non-dairy milk. Huh? Like… Goat milk? Uh. Never mind, I’ll just have still water. It was actually during that time that I learnt how to drink black coffee & pretend like it didn’t taste like sadness. I only cried in the shower a few times. WINNING!

But everything changed when I moved back to the city. Jozi, baba. You beaut! I found a community here, a community of like-minded people. A place where I could vent about the RIDICULOUS price of vegan yoghurt & not have someone roll their eyes straight back into their skull. I so appreciate that in a friend. If you’re looking for a starting point, I would highly suggest you check out my fellow veggie compatriot Caley’s blog, for all the inspiration you could ever hope for, honey!

Vegan Job Opportunities

At the same time, I realised that within this beautiful community of amazing people, there are a plethora of other factions. Societies within society & they’re out for blood. Human-blood, of course. They would not appreciate that joke!

I’ve affectionately named these groups; The Vegan Police, The Plastic Police, The Palm Sugar Police, The Gluten Police & The SAPS. Well, the last one is only on this list ‘cause I’m pretty salty about my lack of vegan wine in the cupboard, but that’s a whole other story.

These groups work tirelessly to ensure that you’re happy, but never TOO happy. Like your mother-in-law on a good day.

Enjoy that oat milk latte, Claire. But it better be in a paper cup! Oh, I hope you didn’t add any refined sugar to that? Is that coffee fair-trade? Are you going to recycle that cup or do you just hate sea turtles? 

All I can say is that I am so happy that during a global pandemic, during this Coronacoaster, these cops have jobs & that they’re able to work from home! LUCKY! I just hope they’re being paid for their ‘ESSENTIAL’ services to the vegan community. 

My wish is that this blog spot somewhere on the interweb inspires you. Inspires you to try a Fry’s Chicken Nugget without dry-heaving. Even if you chase it with a mouthful of fatty biltong. I’m not here to anybody; I’m just here for a good time not a long time, uhh. I mean, I’m here for the animals. 

Eat food. Not too much, mostly plants.

“The most damaging phrase in language is; we have always done it this way.” Grace Hopper

While you’re here, check out some of my recent recipes with WellBe: 

CUPPA CHOCOLATE CHIP CAKE

ANCIENT GRAIN STUFFED AUBERGINE

QUINOA PORRIDGE

 

Until next time…

Claire’vocado

CUPPA CHOCOLATE CHIP CAKE

CUPPA CHOCOLATE CHIP CAKE

DIFFICULTY: EASY

Time: 5 minutes

Serves: 1

The perfect dessert to make in a hurry! Filled with all the right flavours, this vegan mug cake is the treat you need (right now).

INGREDIENTS 

  • 4 Tbsp spelt flour
  • 1 Tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp almond butter
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 Tbsp chocolate chips

METHOD

Add all the ingredients to a mug & mix well. Microwave on high for 1 minute & 30 seconds.

 

DOWNLOAD YOUR CUPPA CHOCOLATE CHIP CAKE RECIPE HERE