Top Fitness & Lifestyle Advice for Breaking Out of that Career Bubble

in our interview with Melissa Land, PA, personal trainer & Merit club member, we discover Top pieces of lifestyle & Fitness advice, how to break out of career bubbles & the best ways to reach your health goals this 2018.

For Melissa Land, an Executive Assistant in London, a trip to Southern California turned her life around. Having worked as a PA for many years, Melissa was used to working in challenging environments where the demands were high and days long. As many of us can relate to, under a huge amount of pressure at work, eating habits can become rushed, sleep patterns disturbed, and morning starts can become uphill struggles. How many of us allow our tiredness and lack of motivation to affect the jobs we love and our confidence? We know Melissa is not alone. So rather than stick in these repetitive lifestyle cycle, Melissa was able to break free and experienced a lightbulb moment when she went to live in Southern California with her partner, where she made up her mind to explore how she could change her lifestyle, fitness and nutrition habits.  

We caught up with her to find out how we too can transform our approach to our lifestyle and fitness for a happier and more confident 2018. Unlike Melissa, we're unable to move to sunny California just yet, and so we wanted to find out how we might be able to bring a sense of their attitude and fitness motivation here in the UK.  

MC: You’ve had such an amazing journey so far, with some really defining moments in your life that have shaped your career and lifestyle. Could you let us know what continues to motivate you today and what goals you are working towards at the moment?

ML: Seeing changes in my body is what motivates me. I get personal satisfaction as a result and feel revitalised and re-energised. Exercising and eating well clears AND cleans my mind. I’m currently on a 14-week training program and am enrolled for a fitness competition in April, which will (among multiple wardrobe events) involve me going on stage in a bikini! I’ve noticed that my confidence has grown with incorporating a dedicated and focused personal fitness routine into my life. I’m astounded with how much better I feel. There’s no denying I’m still nervous to do the competition, but I know I want to overcome this challenge so I’m going to give it my all.

MC: How do you find your career is different now than to before as a personal trainer? The advantages, disadvantages, the reality of being independent… how do you find it?

ML: I feel that I'm a stronger person mentally and physically. I’m able to make decisions better and I know I can now deal with situations with confidence. My immune system has definitely got stronger too. I used to get colds quite a lot but they have now decreased significantly - to the point where I just take echinacea & some garlic tablets if I feel a cold is coming! This journey has also allowed me to improve upon how I deal with stress. As for personal training, supporting clients throughout their journey is what brings me satisfaction. Assessing and understanding that some people are more sensitive than others, requires a need to be in-tune with mindsets and boundaries. I am a coach to my clients. They look up to me and expect to be led and advised (which I really love!). I see potential in every client and keeping them on track can be a constant challenge. There’s a sense of personal responsibility involved and it feels great to work with people looking to achieve new goals. In my role it is important to provide honest feedback and strategies with support to help them move ahead. I love it when they overcome the challenge and make the connection that our team approach has helped them - it makes my contribution towards their personal development more rewarding! 

MC: It’s easy to get stuck in routine and it’s often hard to separate ourselves from our hectic work schedules to make time to look after ourselves. If we’re lacking in free time, what would you say we should prioritise, and how should we make the most of any free time we have?

ML: I really believe the time we allocate to our personal health and well being is simply non-negotiable and should always be automatically assumed and fitted into our life before everything. It's easy to think we don’t have “free time”, however it may be what we define as free time. For example, I used to dedicate a portion of my Sunday towards watching TV or sitting on my phone scrolling on the internet. Today I dedicate that time on the weekend to getting out and about, doing some exercise, going food shopping and spending a couple of hours preparing and cooking my meals for the first part of the week (lunch, snack, and dinner) so we don’t have to worry on nights after work. I find cooking therapeutic and a great way to switch my mind off of day-to-day work. It's an approach that allows me to stay active and relax at the same time. One area that is also important is to phone family and friends and spend time with them - this is sometimes tricky but I'm working on it!

MC: How would you encourage someone to step out of whatever bubble, work zone, career-focused mindset they may have to see the bigger picture?

ML: Introduce some sort of physical activity into your daily schedule. Even if it’s one activity per week; a yoga class, spin, gym session, walk in the park (maybe during your lunch break). Start small, but do anything to get you moving. It’s the initial step people tend to be afraid of, or think they don’t have the time to complete. Perhaps, instead of going for an after-work drink, swap it for a workout once a week. If money is an issue, why not try a free class somewhere, join a boot camp, or visit a local gym and take advantage of their free initial training session. Once you pass the fear of something new, another door will open to help you go to the next stage.

MC: Do you ever experience moments when you struggle with your work and lifestyle balance now, and how do you keep on track?

ML: If my boss is in town and I’m working long hours it can have an impact on my energy levels. However, I’ve noticed that as soon as I began to incorporate my workouts I felt great and my batteries re-charged! No matter how busy my work life, I also ensure that my husband and I have at least one night per week dedicated to watching a film or having dinner together. Discipline is the key. Holidays away, especially those with long flights or locations without a gym can be a challenge. But they are also essential for overall health and wellness and giving rest to the body and mind! Returning with new fitness goals helps me to restart with a renewed sense of energy.

MC: What are the key things you can do to get into the right mindset about fitness and nutrition?

ML: Buy some inexpensive equipment and do a home workout before the day starts. Foam roller, dumbbells, bands... or just use your own body weight and watch a fitness video on YouTube. Even just a minute plank a day... anything like this to get you started positively for the day ahead. I’d also recommend preparing your own food ahead for the week ahead. As far as specific nutrition recommendations, think about some of the foods you currently eat and what might be a healthier alternative. For example: Swap those choc biscuits for a couple of cubes of dark chocolate and a small handful of almonds.    

MC: What would be your advice to someone who may be struggling with their fitness regimes and is looking for motivation?

ML: Write a list of things you wish to do and the changes you would like to make and see in yourself. As a point of self-inspection, view your current lifestyle habits and pick something that you could remove… and change it. 

As office-based workers, many people get the 3pm crash at the desk. In some instances this can be related to iron deficiency. I’d recommend that people write a food diary (or use a food diary app), and that everyone should visit their GP and go for a full, comprehensive blood test. This will provide you with a benchmark on where you are starting from and the results can enable you to learn about your baseline and start to feel in control of your life. 

It really is up to you to motivate yourself. No one else can get you out and moving. Make plans for yourself, plans that work for you, and take charge of your routine - even if it’s just one small, achievable change you make at first that you can carry through.

MC: The Merit Club’s foundations are rooted in celebrating women and joining together to empower one another. Do you feel there’s a way fitness and wellbeing can contribute towards this, and how do you think women can empower one another?

ML:  I do believe that the rise and popularity of social media websites has had a big impact upon the way we view ourselves. Many of us scroll through social media websites and are inundated with images of beautiful and fit people, stories of success and failure. It can be alarming and impactful in positive and negative ways. One should recognise that it’s one new tool (of many) and it’s important not to be alarmed. When it reaches the point where it troubles you, remove it. Don’t surround yourself with negativity and know that everyones fitness journey is different. Fitness and well-being can be empowering. My view is that we should never criticise anyones journey towards becoming fit, or improving their sense of well-being. For women to feel powerful and recognised for good, whether through social media, or other outlets, is something to be applauded. Sharing stories, journeys and making changes, however small, can be such a pick me up. 

There's no doubt that self-confidence is a big issue today among many. However, when we eat well, we think well. It’s the same result with daily exercise. A walk in the park can get those happy endorphins going! Happy endorphins = confidence and more cause to celebrate just how much we can achieve if we put our minds to it.

MC: Finally, what does success mean to you? What are your resolutions and aims for the year ahead?

ML: In my eyes, success is setting goals and meeting them.  My aims for the year ahead are to set up my website for fitness and continue to work and develop skills in fitness, wellbeing and health! There is so much to learn.

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Melissa Land

Personal Assistant and Personal Trainer