Where my freelancer journey began

Let’s start a little further back, New Year’s Day 2017. I’d been umming and ahing about whether to do a yoga teacher training or not. I love yoga, it changed my life so much, but I was already signed up to do my Personal Training Course which would be every Saturday until April, if I took this teacher training I had my eye on, I’d have to leave my job at the end of March to be able to do it, as my hours at my job wouldn’t have accommodated the course. I knew I could do some freelance translation work, but I didn’t have any other income. I’m not sure what clicked for me on that day but I decided I would just do it, so I applied. My mum, who is my biggest supporter and the person I go to for advice, wasn’t entirely sure it was the right decision. I had a flat to pay for in London, bills to pay, a course to pay for, and how was I sure I’d make any money? Well I definitely wasn’t sure, but what I knew in my heart was that I couldn’t work in an office anymore, working for someone else wasn’t my jam and I have realised that client relations and project management wasn’t the job for me.

So that landed me at my last day at my old job last year at the end of March, I was a little sad to go, but I had two days before the start of my yoga teacher training AND two days of PT exams to get through, so I went straight from work into revision mode, exams and then my first day of my YTT. I was lucky in that I got some good work through translation as well as blogging over April and May, and I went into my first two months as self employed making a decent amount of money. I got my first class at a studio as a fitness instructor and never really looked back.

This brings me to today, I’m sat on the Northern Line going back home, it’s 2pm, I’ve taught two classes so far today, I’ve had a PT client and am teaching a corporate yoga class this evening. My schedule is full. I feel a little tired. Am I happy? Yes, most certainly. Did I make the right decision? 100%. I know freelance isn’t for everybody, managing your own time is hard, but I love what I do and I enjoy running my own schedule, so for me it’s perfect. However there have been some ups and downs, it’s not been easy. I know I am still a newbie, but I want to share with you what I have learned over the past year.

Make a Plan

My mum made me write out a business plan for how much money I would need to make per month, and where that money would come from. It significantly helped me to focus, and I felt more stable with a plan. I am not a business person, business isn’t my forte, I am lucky that both my parents are self employed, as is my aunt, my step mum and several of my friends. If you’re not fortunate enough to have that, then find someone who is freelance and seek advice from them. You are not alone in this, there are loads of us out there! I would also try and have some money set back, even just a few grand in case things don’t quite go to plan.

Delegate

As I am not into businessy stuff, I’m also not a numbers person and I never bothered with bookkeeping or doing my own taxes. I pay for someone to do it. If you live in London, seek someone outside of London (both my bookkeeper and accountant are in Devon) as it’s significantly cheaper. I know that it would stress me out so much, take too much time, and be a waste of my energy to do it myself. Delegation is the key to every business, and you are a business, remember, you are not alone.

Allow For Transition Time

It takes time to get used to your new way of living, so be patient. I went through some ups and downs, a friend and fellow freelancer calls this the 5 stages of grieving for your old job. I felt an amalgamation of fear, happiness, joy, sadness, confusion and eventually it just mellowed into my new normal.

At First Say Yes A Lot

I know we are trying to learn how to say no, but as a new freelancer who may not have stable clients and a steady income, say yes to things. Just say yes. Do the stuff nobody else wants to do, be willing and be ready, if like me you’re a fitness instructor/PT/yoga teacher, take cover at the last minute, be willing to go the extra mile, because not many people are and trust me people notice this and it will pay off.

Network

The word ‘network’ used to freak me out. It made me think of those business parties you’d see on TV shows, people in suits making small talk and exchanging business cards. That is not networking. Networking is just being friendly, talking to people, being open, trusting in the universe that natural connections will occur, sometimes from the people you least expect. When you are a freelancer and you work for yourself, you are your brand, every person you meet could be a job for you, I actually got a job through a guy I once snogged in a night club, I’m not even joking, it happens (and it wasn’t because I snogged him, I want to make that clear!). Essentially be nice, be yourself, don’t be a dick to people, and the right things will come your way.

Be Prepared

This one is big. If you’re a PT or someone who works with their body, injury is your worst nightmare. The same goes for if you’re ill. We don’t get sick pay like everyone else. I twisted my ankle and had to take a week off work, I was lucky that I could get my classes covered and that I could take Some translation work, so I didn’t miss out, but if the fitness stuff was my only source of income, I’d have been worried. So make sure you get insured and try and have a back up plan. Be prepared for holidays to be blissful but also to be stressful, whether it’s because you have no income for a week, or because you run a business and your employees might not be able to leave you alone. It’s not the same as just putting your OOO on, sending your handover, and forgetting about work for a week.

Finally, it’s worth taking the risk

If there is one takeaway from this past year, it’s this: just fucking do it. That risk I took one year ago when I left my secure, safe job, has paid off. I have made so many huge leaps and bounds, am making about £10k more per year as a freelancer, and have never felt more like myself than I do right now. I’m finally figuring out what I want from life, what I want to achieve, what foot print I want to leave behind when I’m gone and how I want to help shape the future, it’s pretty big. This wouldn’t have been possible without taking that leap. Your leap of faith might not be leaving your job, you could love your job! I don’t think everyone has to be self employed at all, but I do think everyone has a purpose in life and sometimes you have to risk something to find what that is!

Thank you so much for reading as always guys! Are any of you considering going freelance? What are your barriers? I’d love to talk more about it!

Last week over on my Instagram account I shared a post about how I really honestly feel like my relationship with food had become very negative and unhealthy. I was binging on chocolate and sweets probably twice a week, and I mean to the point where I felt sick. It wasn’t healthy, I had a definitive idea in my mind of what was healthy and what wasn’t, and if I broke that and had something ‘bad’, which I was very frequently, I’d be negative to myself and I just got into a vicious cycle. Not only that but because I was eating foods that were less healthy and because I was eating way more than necessary, I felt sluggish and lacking in energy as well as bloated. I decided to come up with the hashtag #MindfulEatingMay and it resonated with so many of you that I thought I would share 5 ways to eat mindfully.

What is Mindful Eating?

There are probably many ways to explain or describe mindful eating, but in my mind, it’s the opposite of eating mindlessly. In the last few months I’ve found myself half way through a bag of minstrels numerous times without even realising how much I’d eaten. Mindful eating is taking the time and consideration to think about what you’re eating, how much you’re eating, where you’re food is from and how you’re eating it. I know that I rarely actually take the time to think about what I’m stuffing in my mouth, where it’s come from, and how much of it I’m eating. Mindful eating is also analysing whether you’re eating something you need. We often eat when we are bored, emotional etc., which doesn’t actually benefit us in anyway and can usually make how we’re feeling worse.

What are the Benefits of Mindful Eating?

There are a tonne of benefits that come with practicing mindful eating, you will undoubtedly feel better in your body as you learn to eat when you’re actually hungry, and you learn not to be triggered by your emotions. In return your relationship with food will get better and you will in turn probably be a lot happier. With mindful eating you’ll learn more about how different food affects your body and how you learn what suits you best in terms of diet, which I think is really interesting! So here are five of my top tips on eating mindfully:

  • Listen to when you are hungry and when you are full

Our bodies give us very clever and very obvious cues as to when we are hungry, listening out for this and eating when your body is telling you it’s hungry (as opposed to be being bored or upset and craving food to soothe that), will help you to understand what your body really needs and when. Our bodies also give us the same cues to tell us that we’re satiated and that we’ve eaten enough, but it does take a little bit longer this way round. So often have I over eaten and ended up feeling sick because I didn’t eat slow enough, and as a result my body didn’t have a chance to tell me that actually I wasn’t hungry anymore.

  • Limit distractions when eating

I am so guilty of stuffing my face whilst watching something on TV, paying no attention to what I am actually eating, I’ve been doing it for years. But if you actually limit the distractions around you whilst you’re eating, e.g. no TV, no phone etc., you will begin to focus on what you’re eating and you’ll be less likely to overeat, you will also probably enjoy what you’re eating way more.

  • Think about what you’re eating

Being conscious about the food you’re putting into your body and actually thinking of the ingredients has changed the way I look at food. I try and limit the amount of food that have an ingredients list on the back, as this way I avoid preservatives and other things that aren’t necessary in life my diet. But this also comes down to the quantities of things I’m putting on my plate. A really great way of noticing how much and what I am eating has been to get an accountability partner. Myself and a friend send each other Snapchats of everything we eat in a day, this way you actually take the extra 20 seconds it takes to take the snap, to look at what’s on your plate, the longer you do this for the more of a habit it becomes and that 20 second consideration period won’t need to be forced anymore. Also, think about where your food is coming from, I am going to try really hard to actually check the packages of food to see if anything is in made in the UK, because most of our fruit and veg comes from abroad. If I can start to consume more locally grown produce, then I’ll not only be eating fresher food (and getting more minerals and vitamins), but I will also be lessening my environmental impact.

  • Think about why you’re eating what’s on your plate

Why are you eating that? Go on, tell me. If you’re eating for any reason other than to nourish and fuel your body, perhaps take a second thought about it. I’m not saying we can’t eat for enjoyment, but I am saying that if every meal we eat is simply to enjoy it, and we’re not thinking about the nutrients we’re putting into our bodies, then we’re not helping ourselves. The reality is, is that our bodies are only designed to consume a certain quantity of food, and more often than not you may be feeling bloated because you’ve simply overeaten. If you blow too much air into a balloon, what happens? It bursts. Too much of anything is a bad thing. If you are going to eat something that may not be super nourishing or good for you once a week, that’s absolutely fine, just acknowledge it, accept it, and move on, don’t allow any lingering negative emotions surround it.

  • Lose the idea that there are ‘good’ foods and ‘bad’ foods

Newsflash, our bodies don’t see any difference between say a frozen pizza and a nice healthy salad. Our bodies see it as a combination of fats, carbohydrates and protein. The quantities of each may be different, and the quality of them may be different, but at the end of the day our body takes what we give it and breaks it down. Yes some foods are better for us and are more easy to digest, but our body won’t suddenly hate us, go into lock down, or increase its fat % by 10% if we eat something less healthy. Just accept what you’re eating for what it is, food, nourishment, and start to look at the foods which make you feel better and which give you more energy. The other evening I went out for Tapas and ate A LOT, and a lot of it wasn’t super healthy, but the next day I was able to absolutely smash my gym session because I’d eaten higher calories, my body wasn’t hating me for eating ‘bad’ foods, it was actually enjoying the extra energy.

I have only been doing mindful eating for a week, and already I am feeling the benefits within my body. I feel happier, more content, and my bank is loving not buying the extra chocolate every Saturday when I’m home alone feeling tired and sorry for myself!

Do you have any mindful eating tips? I’d love to hear from you!

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I’ve been thinking about the type of advice I would give myself if I were starting my fitness journey now, and thought maybe it would be useful to share it in a blog post, so anyone who is beginning to make changes to their lifestyle or even for those who are thinking about it!

1. Focus on your eating as much, if not more on the workouts. This is key and I learnt that the hard way. It’s true when people say it’s 80% diet and 20% gym. So throw yourself into the kitchen as much as you throw yourself into the gym, because you won’t see a lot of progress if you don’t clean up your diet.

2. Your progress may not be linear. Mine certainly wasn’t! My journey could not have been more up and down so far! If you’re not seeing results at first, or even if you were seeing results and now you’re not, DO NOT GIVE UP!

3. This is for life, not just for a few months. Look at this as your new life, don’t put a massive amount of pressure on the first weeks or months. If you slip up, don’t worry! Just keep looking at the bigger picture.

4. Take more progress photos. All the time! Even if you don’t post them. You will appreciate them when you look back on your journey. I remember looking at the photos I took right at the start and feeling so unhappy and just deleting them. Now I truly wish I hadn’t deleted them and had kept them hidden, because now when I look at them I can look at them with pride knowing how far I’ve come.

5. Make realistic, achievable goals. Whether they’re daily, weekly or monthly, it’s so important to set yourself goals, diet-wise or fitness-wise.

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I really hope this is helpful to some people! If you have any questions I’d be happy to answer any.

All photos are by @orlagracefit