Wellness Wisdom for Busy Women is not about the perfect body or the perfect morning routine. It’s about real women who understand that good health underpins every area of their life and shapes who they are and how they show up in the world. Get a glimpse into the lives of women just like you and find out how these women prioritise wellbeing… no matter how chaotic life is!
If you’d prefer to watch, head over to Instagram when you’ll find the recorded conversation or click play below to listen while you multitask.
Otherwise, keep reading to discover what wellness means to Wellbeing and Life Coach, Beverley Ross. Beverly is a woman who lives and breathes wellness, and is deeply passionate about supporting other women to create S P A C E in their lives for well being and self care.
Your business is called The Wellness Lioness. Can you share the story behind it?
There is a story behind it. I was thinking of a name for the business that really stood out, that represented me but it needed to include ‘wellness’. I went through all the names such as The Wellness Woman, thinking like Wonder Woman, and me and my boys, my husband, my dad are all big football fans and England were playing and [the word] ‘lioness’ was mentioned and I thought that’s it.
I‘m passionate. I’m supportive. I’m proud.
I’m all these things that a lioness is, so The Wellness Lioness was born.
At Vitalita, we believe wellness is about creating a life brimming with vitality. But I would love to hear, in your own words, what wellness means to you and why it matters.
Wellness, I’m gonna be honest, maybe a decade ago didn’t play a great part in my life and if you asked me what wellness was I would associate it with the physical side. So, for me, wellness was if I saw a magazine and there was a woman on [the cover] that was working out; if I was describing a friend who really embraced wellness, they were going to the gym. It was literally, for me, physical and it was something that I didn’t have time for. I didn’t have time for that side of life, I suppose.
Now ask me what wellness is and, for me, and I hope it is for lots of other people, wellness is so much more than that.
Wellness is the connection of the mind and the body and the soul and too many people separate it.
And the mind, body and soul (if we think of it as one) and we get this balance, it just takes you to a complete place of bliss, and we all know that when we’re in that place of bliss, everything just goes quite natural and organic and we’re not fighting against the tide.
Just a little bit of an example of the mind, body and soul is when we are stressed, we may get a headache or something physical and that is the body. And we don’t always associate what’s going on with what’s happening with the body or maybe people that love to work out and they have a routine, whether it be yoga and meditation or going to the gym and they take time out to go on holiday, they can actually get a low mood.
So, you know, I’m not being woo woo when I’m [talking about] the mind, body and soul. For me, it’s there, it’s obvious and if you don’t look after one [aspect], you will be completely out of sync and it leads to mental health and, you know, how we look after ourselves. It’s not just about how you look physically and what you do.
Why is it so important? If we don’t have wellness, what are we left with? Illness.
Much like myself, you experienced a rather alarming wake-up call. Can you tell us about your journey and how you came to be where you are today.
So, I would say that I hit crisis point in 2014 with my health. And, at that point in 2014 I was a Senior Manager at a corporate business and I’d been there, at that point, for 18 years. I was leading 120 people and my boys were aged 3 and 6. And, like I always imagined myself in the circus, spinning plates and you don’t want one to fall. Now I look back, I realise that’s what I was doing and my Mum had led a quite similar life so I kinda like think is it learned behaviour, you know.
You think it’s just normal but she pulled me to one side and she just said: “I’m really worried about you and all the signs are there, not only that you’re doing too much but you’re going to burn out and you may not recover.”
My Mum had had a breakdown in her 20s and, luckily, she did recover and then went on to be a businesswoman.
I didn’t listen because, if I’m honest, I think I was driven a little bit by my ego and I wasn’t gonna fail. Nobody was gonna tell me that, in my 30s, I couldn’t keep my career and be a mum and a wife and everything else life was offering me, even though my health is depleting quickly.
So, I’d gone to London with work and one side of my body stopped working. I carried on, I dragged myself on the Tube, I went to the meeting. And that wasn’t the company, that was me. That was me pushing myself – that was my choice to do things like that. There are so many other things in this period of time that, obviously, my mum and my husband were observing but I ignored it.
And, a couple of months later I think it was, I went into work early [in the] morning and I got a call and to say your mum’s had a stroke. It was unexpected I left work and I raced to the hospital and I sat with her for five days until she took her last breath. And at that point, I knew that if she could speak, she would have said to me “don’t let this be you”. I was 38. She was 64 and I was 38 and I’ve never felt so much like a child in my life. It was just heartbreaking to know that I wasn’t going to have my mum anymore but at home, I had two boys aged 3 and 6 and I’m proud to say that, in all the time I was busy with work and doing everything else, I was and still am a really good mum. I don’t know how much longer I would have been able to continue that.
It’s so so sad that my mum had to lose her life for me to take a step back and go: my health and wellbeing now has to be a priority.
The thing is, I did lots of things to help me. I reduced my hours by one day which was frowned upon because women at my level, anybody at my level, didn’t do that. But I set the bar then because other people were able to reduce their hours at my level so that was a high point.
I started meditating again. I started doing yoga again. I started getting out in fresh air but it took me until 2019 (5 years later) when everything had got on top of me and I can’t remember the drive home from work but I do remember my husband coming in from work if I was in a ball in the corner of my bedroom sobbing. And he just said, “this cannot continue”. And around the same time, redundancies came up at work and it was like the Universe had just gone “it’s now or never”.
And I’d also signed up at that point to train with Beautiful You [Coaching Academy] to become a life coach and you know when you just feel you’re in a vortex that’s just pulling you in. You take what’s been offered, go past the fear because, obviously, this was going to impact us financially. But I took the leap and it is the best thing I’ve done. And I’m exactly where I need to be and I’ll never ever go back.
My absolute passion is to support women to know that you don’t have to live like that, and there are choices.
You are a leader and role model for your clients but you also have 2 children. How important is it that you set a good example for your boys?
I absolutely want to be a role model and, not that my mum wasn’t because, you know, my mum and dad brought so much to my life and I’m forever grateful. But you do learn from their behaviours. You cannot get away from what you see as a child, it feeds in.
So, of course, there are times when I’m stressed and tired – I’m only human – but I think the biggest thing that the boys have seen from this change is I am happy, I am healthy, I have time for them, I’m not in bed before them and we as a family get out[side] as a family. And, you know, I probably have this bargaining tool, Mum and Dad need to get out for our mental health, fresh air is amazing and once you guys get out, you enjoy it. Once you’ve done it, you can come back and see your friends or go on a games console, whatever it is but you won’t do that until we have done something [together]. And, you know, they love it!
Through COVID we have bought kayaks, we have been cold water swimming, my boys do that with me and they wear wet suits that my sister sent over [from Australia]… We mountain bike together. We move our buddies together and they know how good they feel when they’ve done it. Getting them there isn’t easy but when they’ve done it, that for me is the role that Matt and I want to set and we want them to want to do it so when they can go out with their own friends, they may go on their mountain bikes or go walking somewhere.
Also, my eldest went through SATs [Standardised Assessment Test] which is like the exam before you go to senior school and we used Headspace. We downloaded it on the phone so it felt a bit grown up, and [he] listened to Andy Puddicombe’s voice and went to sleep with it or woke up with it and it’s things like that. If you just make it normal, if you allow them to experiment and if it doesn’t work for them then that’s absolutely fine but that’s the type of things that Mark and I want to do for the boys.
They were even involved in the decision on my redundancy which people might think ‘you are crackers, this is your income and your life!’. But it’s theirs as well and I had to explain to them that walking away from of really well paid job, and until my [coaching] business was successful, would impact our lives. My youngest said, “can you remember what you wrote in our Christmas book?” We have a little book which we hang on the Christmas tree and we write our lists of what we want every year and mine is to be happy and healthy. My son remembered that and he said “yeah, that’s fine mum. Set up your own business ’cause you’ll be happy and healthy”.
Why did you decide to try cold water swimming?
Again, when you talk about wellness, you’ve got to have a fun element. It can’t all be healthy eating, working out, mindset work. You know, that’s all good and you can make it fun but when I work with my clients, I always try and explore what’s fun [for them], what’s missing from their life that’s fun. And I ask myself the same questions.
As a child, I loved to go on the mountain bike, I loved to get outside and we’re really lucky. We’ve got lakes and tarns near us. And the sea, but I don’t do the sea. And I just knew that that [adrenaline] rush of going in cold water, it sets you up for the day. It is bonkers to immerse yourself but it is the best natural high you can have. The first time I did it, I came out and I was in my wet suit so you never would have thought it would be that cold but oh it was cold. I was with one of my friends and my godson, and I poured myself a coffee and sat down and all of a sudden the coffee was going everywhere and I didn’t realise that the body was going into a little bit of shock and it was so cold. So there are little things that you do have to be aware of. You know, I was very naive. I just thought you go in and swim and life is great. But I got cramp in my hand one of the times, and you’re quite far out and I was thinking ‘Can I get back with one [hand]?’ So, I’m learning as I go but this is literally about giving myself time to do something that makes me feel good and I don’t feel selfish about it. Matt doesn’t want to join me – he’s in the kayak by the side but the boys joined me a couple of weeks ago and it just felt great to be able to include the family and I have a couple of friends who have joined me as well. You know I’m really mixing it up, it’s not just about me. But, equally when you are by yourself swimming and you have these mountains in front of you and the water is still and I had a family of ducks come by me the other day with all the little ducklings and I thought ‘this is just heaven!’.
When you take that last breath, don’t you want to just say you tried everything you could?
What is something you tried – perhaps a wellness trend or a recommendation – that just didn’t work for you? Why?
I am such a free spirit, I don’t really follow trends. Same with fashion, I just do what works for me.
One thing that stands out is not a trend at all, and it works for so many people, but it really didn’t for me is the gym. In my 20’s, everybody was going to the gym and I thought I must need to do this so I went and I joined and I had my induction. I then paid monthly for 12 months (and it was a good gym) and I never went near it because it wasn’t for me. After that first induction, I looked around and I thought ‘I will never return’ and I do not know why I continued to pay and I should have maybe given it a go but there was something, even in my 20’s I followed my gut. I knew that certain things were not for me. And I think it’s because I am much more outdoorsy. I’m not somebody who wants to workout inside.
Also turmeric. Turmeric was huge at one point. Turmeric was like the Prosecco of the health world. I got everything – I got capsules, I got rubs, I even had a turmeric face mask at one point because the health benefits were immense. But I don’t know if I got anything from it. My face felt tighter, I don’t know if my joints felt better.
But yeah, they are the only two things that I may have gone into and then retracted from.
And what is your one non-negotiable? What impact does it have on your life?
My one non-negotiable is no technology for the first hour of the morning.
Not technology – no phone, no emails, no checking up on the world, no nothing.
And, no matter what time I get up, even if it’s later than expected, you will not see me reach for that because that is my old life where I was [always] on my Blackberry and my personal phone.
Don’t get me wrong, I miss things. Like yesterday morning I got a message from the school to say your child has to self isolate. I wasn’t on straight away but then when I did come on, I saw it and sorted it.
But I’m not going to change that for the sake of somebody might need me for the first hour of the morning. That’s my space, that’s my time and that’s something that I think everybody needs to move away from. We didn’t use to have this, the demands that technology puts on us. That is how you start your day. Anything that you see or read or respond to starts your day. There are so many more amazing things you can do with that first hour.
I wake and I land in my body. I breathe.
So my breathing exercise is just deep breathing, really allowing my body and my mind to wake up. I stretch – not yoga – I just stretch and feel how I am. You know, I’m 45 now and there are a few aches and pains I need to stretch out.
And I’m present. Like really present and I will ask myself things like:
- How do you feel?
- How do you want today to go?
- Why do you have that niggle in your tummy?
And even if something comes up that isn’t amazing, like I’m not looking forward to something, then at least I know at the top of the day why I feel the way I do and it doesn’t just land on me.
So, I land in my body. That’s what I do for that hour when I’m not scrolling on social media or reading emails.
Don’t have your phone in your bedroom. How many people reach before their eyes even open. Some people reach for glasses [but] most people reach for their phone. What has happened in that 7 hours since you closed your eyes and went to sleep?
“What do I need to do?’
‘What do I need to react to?’
Don’t have your phone in your bedroom. Have it as far away as possible and switched off. But it’s like anything, if it’s in reaching distance you can’t break the habit.
If you do this for just one week, drop in and tell me how good you feel because you know if I was giving this advice with money, I would refund you if you came back to me and said, ‘It was terrible, I benefit so much more from zoning into technology and everybody else’s world first.’
Your day is set up by you not the influence of social media or social expectations or any work things. It can wait.
Finally, what is the one thing about wellness and self care that you wish all women knew to be true?
The one thing that I think helps with your wellness is to remember that deep breaths are like little love notes to your mind and body, and it’s free.
And if you just allow yourself to take deep breaths at any point in the day and listen to what comes up, you’re in an amazing place because you’ve stopped rushing, you’ve stopped reacting, you’re listening, you’re breathing. And, with that, the mind settles, the body settles and again you find that place. Not always of bliss straight away but it’s healthy and that, for me, is what everybody needs to do. Stop. Take a deep breath and enjoy that little love note. Who doesn’t like a love note to themself?