Equestrian Workshop with British Eventing – Book now!

I am running a sport psychology workshop for equestrians this Saturday 23rd November. You can book online via the link below – I hope to see you there!


Head for success this winter’ – Sport Psychology Workshop with British Eventing


90-minute unmounted workshop at Wellington Equestrian, Hants. Open to British Eventing members and non-members. Click here for more information and to book your place!

Something to ‘slim into’

Do you ever remember a parent buying you school uniform that was at least two sizes too big because you’d “grow into it, darling”? In my case, my mother’s estimations were particularly over-enthusiastic and I spent the first five years (i.e. all) of secondary school in a blazer that would have been more suited to a six-foot rugby player. Or at least that’s how it felt.

Buying clothes for ourselves as a ‘grown-up’ however is a whole different ball game. For women, the buy to grow into mantra is flipped on its head entirely. In fact, a recent online article reported that 28% of women have bought items that are too small for them as inspiration to slim. I do wonder whether they hide their new item from their partner or whether they showcase their amazing bargain (!) before revealing that they intend to “slim into it, darling”.

My question is, does buying clothes that we simply cannot squeeze into before losing 6lbs act as a motivation to lose weight? – be that by adopting an exercise regime or a healthy eating plan, or both. Can I, for example, buy a spangly new dress for my work Christmas party and expect instant inspiration to drop a dress size in four weeks?

I’m afraid the short answer is no.

One in six British women (17%) are clinging onto clothes they bought too small, in hope that it would spur them on to slim down, but to no avail. These women were on average aiming to lose a stone in weight. The result is that the typical British woman harbours £173 worth of clothes that she has no intention of wearing but can’t bear to throw out. The latter figure I’m sure is inflated by unwanted gifts, lost receipts, impulse buys and the like (possibly clothes hoarding?), but my point is: Statistically, the act of buying clothes too small in itself is not necessarily good for our figures or for our purses.

Nonetheless, presumably some women did slim into their purchases. The 11% of women who ‘purchased too small’ but don’t still have these outfits in their wardrobe are not accounted for. We have to assume that either they did reach their target weight or that they passed the items onto a friend/charity shop or flogged them on eBay. If the former and more optimistic account is true, then my next question is: HOW did these ladies use their shopping ‘habit’ to their advantage and lose weight? And how can others do the same, should they spot the Christmas party dress or January sales bargain and opt for a ‘snug’ fit? I’ve outlined five key motivation-building pointers below:

1. Set goals. Not just a vague goal (“I’ll fit into that dress at some point, maybe next Summer”). Set a main longer-term goal that determines WHAT you want to achieve, e.g. “I will lose 3 inches around my waist and look great in that dress by my birthday”
Then set short-term goals that will determine HOW you will get there, e.g. “I will…go jogging with a friend two mornings per week….go swimming one evening per week…drop my daily dessert” and so on.

Write these goals down (it will help you commit to them), and make sure that they fit into the SMART template below:

Specific – Get as much detail into your goals as possible
Measurable – How many inches will you lose? How many miles do you want to be able to run, in what time?
Agreed – YOU should set these goals (with guidance if needed, e.g. fitness trainer, nutritionist)
Realistic – Being over-ambitious can be de-motivating, so set moderately difficult goals that will challenge but not overwhelm you
Time-based – Set a target time, e.g. lose X lbs by X date; be able to run X miles in Y minutes by Z date

2. Work with someone else. Exercising or setting healthy eating plans with a friend can provide motivation via useful advice, encouragement and support, enjoyment, and even friendly competition.

3. Hang your clothes somewhere prominent. Don’t just chuck them in the back of your wardrobe, use them as a visual aid. Every time you see them, they’ll drive you towards your target and remind you of your progress.

4. IMAGINE wearing those clothes. The image you create must be positive, e.g. wearing your new outfit to a friend’s party and feeling fabulous. Make this picture as vivid as possible. How will you feel when you wear it? What will your partner/trusted friends say? Try using different perspectives – first and third person. The mind can be an incredibly powerful motivator.

5. Monitor your progress. Either write in a diary or on a calendar, use an excel sheet or an app, or chart progress on a graph. This will keep you focussed on your goals and is a great way of logging and reflecting on your progress.

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2413630/British-shoppers-hoarding-4-67bn-worth-unworn-clothing–bought-sales.html

What we can learn from the ‘Iron Man’

Last week jockey AP McCoy celebrated the incredible feat of totalling 4000 jump racing victories. To put that into perspective, his closest rival is Richard Johnson on 2,600 winners. McCoy has also demonstrated ultimate consistency by achieving the no.1 spot in the PJA rankings for the last 937 consecutive weeks (I’ll save you the maths, that’s 18 of your birthdays!).

The following statistic might therefore surprise you. McCoy has also fallen off an estimated 1000 times and broken over eleven different bones in his body (some bones more than once!). This seems paradoxical; to be at the top of your game, yet suffer so many ‘batterings’ (falling at 30mph speeds with a field of up to 20 or so horses and jockeys behind you isn’t my cup of tea). To some extent, falling off – and brushing yourself off! – is a setback that’s part and parcel of jump racing. Except that this particular setback seems to affect some jockeys more than others, both physically and mentally. It certainly doesn’t deter McCoy one jot according to Martin Pipe, champion trainer who employed McCoy for nearly ten years.

“I remember one race early on where the horse slipped up on the bend at Chepstow, AP fell and the whole field galloped over him. He really got flattened… Lo and behold, two races later, out came AP to ride Or Royal and duly won on it…He really is an iron man.”

So what can we learn from McCoy’s success?

What struck me is the ‘unquenchable thirst’ that people allude to when describing McCoy; his ‘will to win’. ‘hunger’ and ‘drive’ (see link below). In psychology we talk about two kinds of motivation – extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsically motivated athletes are driven by external means, such as winning, money, goods, and recognition. In contrast, intrinsically motivated athletes are motivated by improving and developing themselves and often find the task itself (in this case race riding) inherently enjoyable.

Research would suggest that a mix of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation is a powerful combination in athletes. Such an athlete would have a natural will to win, yet also be motivated by improvement and enjoyment of the sport (important because we cannot win every time, however good we might be!). This seems to be the case for McCoy, who is fiercely competitive, his sporting mantra: “I don’t see the point of doing anything if you can’t win”. Nevertheless, he also hints at intrinsic drives: “I love what I do. I couldn’t think of anything worse than having to retire”.

Perhaps then – alongside a lot of talent and a bit of luck – McCoy has superior determination to his rivals. Picture this: At Southwell racecourse in 2002, McCoy fell at the 10th fence. His horse disappeared rider-less into the distance. Instead of calling it a day, McCoy ran after the horse, which was caught by a groom. He remounted and continued the race, albeit now a long way behind the pack. Incredibly, every other runner proceeded to fall and McCoy won the race. At the time, this had never been done before (and never will again since re-mounting is no longer allowed). Still, I’d hazard a guess that there wouldn’t be many other jockeys out there who would have gotten back on.

I’ll leave you with a link to the following short clip of sportspeople paying tribute to one of jump racing’s legends.