A recent social media post of mine sparked some interest and questions around which were the best apps for tracking your menstrual cycle. And when I started researching, well…let’s just say there are a few out there! So I have reviewed the apps and have shortlisted 5 for you – a mix of menstrual cycle and symptom trackers for active women, including physioogical recommendations for training and recovery; and the period trackers and ovulation predictors for fertility support.

As with all tracking apps, the more you use them and input your data, the more accurate they will be in their predictions. It’s also important to note if you do go searching for your own apps, that they can vary in their quality; by that I mean, the amount of input from scientists, researchers and medics to control the monitoring and interpretation of the metrics, and subsequently the information provided to the user. However these 5 listed here seem to be legit.

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I know, your inbox and social media is full of emails and posts about goal-setting and how to “plan your best 2019 ever!” right? Well, in this article I am going to be talking about 2019, but I’m actually going to be focusing on 2018. Why, you may be asking, when 2018 is essentially done and dusted? For one great reason – you achieve a hell of a lot in a year and I’m guessing that the majority of us don’t stop to acknowledge that! We just power right on through into the next year, scribbling down all our grandiose goals on New Year’s Day, without actually stopping to consider what actually went down this past year. Take a moment. What did you actually accomplish this year? What were the good bits, the hard bits, and the lessons you learned from both? What’s worth keeping and bringing into the new year, instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater and starting all over again?

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I did promise you a follow-up to last weeks’ article, More is Not Better, in which I shared with you the experience of my life grinding to a halt within a mere few days, how I managed to salvage my work and health, and my subsequent epiphany about my current MO – and the realization that it was beyond time for a new one! Well, here it is. I will show you what I did to change my life so that I actually ENJOY each day, whilst still being productive and achieving my goals. Sounds like a win-win doesn’t it? It is. Here’s why.

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I used to think very differently to this – ask any of my training partners, coaches, or even work colleagues and bosses for that matter. More ruled my life for longer than I care to admit, and it’s gotten me into a pickle way more often than I’ll likely ever admit!

But thanks to my experience last week–and the never-ending patience of my personal development coach–I finally see the error of my ways. Let me unpack this for you, and perhaps it might help you out of the same pickle – if you’re also of the More is Better school of thought.

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I’m just going to come right out and say it early – I myself am terrible at setting realistic expectations. I have been most of my adult life, come to that, but I live in the hope of reform.

I should be better, I know. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to learn about setting expectations, between two uni degrees, over a decade-long professional career, and years of racing triathlon. Yet despite the many, many disappointments I have experienced in each of these areas, I never fail to keep setting the bar too high for myself, and continuously setting myself up for failure. Ironically, it’s kind of become…an expectation.

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I think it’s safe to say that the majority of us have experienced the struggle for motivation to varying degrees at some point in our triathlon careers. The more I speak with my friends, training buddies and fellow triathletes, the more prevalent I realise this issue is. And it’s not surprising really, when you consider the commitment it takes to not only train for 3 sports, but achieve a certain level of competency in each to be able to string them all together and actually compete in a race! Yep, it’s a demanding sport alright, no matter what level you’re competing at.

For most, this challenge is one of the most appealing factors at the beginning. The thought of mastering such a tough beast is an irresistible challenge, the dream of one day conquering it fueling your enthusiasm. And – truth – it makes you feel a little bit special when people look at you with such adoring admiration when they find out you’re a triathlete! Wow. This alone makes the effort worthwhile, right?

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Whilst I was completing my quarterly review a few weeks ago, I was struck by how much my life had changed in the space of a year, and consequently how different my goals are for this quarter and for 2018 overall. Let’s just say 2017 will be chalked up as a year of growth and learning for many reasons, not least of those being involved in the craziness of a start-up company in Europe, and eventually ending up living out of a suitcase for 6 months with various members of my family around the world. Needless to say, 2018 is looking decidedly more prosperous!

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I’ve had the absolute pleasure of attending the Supporting Champions conferences for the past couple of years, and as far as professional development opportunities go, these absolutely cannot be missed! In my opinion anyway. Innovative, inspiring, collaborative, out-of-the-box thinking – they are definitely not your average run-of-the-mill conferences and they will certainly give you a shake-up, and enlighten you in so many ways. I personally love the ability to learn from the best, be inspired by new ideas, personal insights, professional lessons and fantastic networking opportunities, as Steve from Supporting Champions has the enviable ability of attracting the world’s best scientists and high performance professionals from around the world.

I have written a guest blog for Steve and Supporting Champions summarising the conferences  – so if you’re keen to hear more, you can check out the full article here.

And to learn more about Steve and Supporting Champions, take a look at their website.

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A week later, and I am still living with the euphoric feeling of achieving a great accomplishment; in this case, my solo 6-day training camp that I completed last week. To others it may not seem like much–and to be honest I would have laughed at myself a few years ago at such an “easy” challenge–but right now this was a really special achievement, and I must say I am extremely proud of myself for accomplishing it! There can be no better feeling in the world than setting yourself a goal and then achieving it, and exceeding your own expectations in the process. Read More

Whether you are a practitioner working in a high performance sports institute or federation, or you’re a freelance consultant with your own business, your ability to flex your working style to adapt to your clients is almost certainly going to be the most relevant and important skill to have…or to develop (fast!). Because if we aren’t able to match our style to that of the coach to effectively meet their needs, then our careers are as good as over…probably quicker than they started. Read More

Yes, for the fans, I am about to reference the movie Shrek, that wonderful piece of cinematography. Honestly, who doesn’t love it? The life lessons to be learnt from these children’s movies can really be so insightful! And it was this one that struck me on Saturday night, as I rekindled my love for the film.

We are all just like onions. Read More

I listened to an excellent episode of the Virgin Disruptors podcast yesterday, and the closing remarks from the host Holly Ransom really got me thinking about the course of my own career. The episode was on the theme of Purpose, and listening to the panel of young entrepreneurial disruptors speak with Richard Branson about how they’re pushing the boundaries of their respective industries was incredibly inspiring. A very interesting point made by one disruptor was that if she had known in the beginning how much work it would be and the sacrifices she would have to make to float her business, she probably wouldn’t have started at all. And this is absolutely true. Read More

I had an interesting discussion with a very close friend and colleague in academia about managing high workloads and the expectations and pressure placed on work output. Both of these topics have been major issues for both of us for most of our short careers, so the current situation and ensuing discussion was nothing new; sadly, it was quite familiar. So here we were on a Sunday night, she was home working on her laptop (as she had been doing all weekend in a desperate attempt to “catch up”), and I was on Skype for moral support and to “workshop” the issue of reducing her workload to a more realistic level, and integrating some steps towards work-life balance. Read More

New Year, Same You

I have spent quite some time recently exploring the concept of professional identity and what it actually means. During this process I came across some really interesting concepts during the countless hours I spent poring over seminars, leadership summits, self-development readings and the rest, that made me take a closer look at myself and my philosophies. For starters, what were they?? Read More