What I really think about England

Copy of How to Survive the Visa Process

Dear England,

One year ago I stepped off the plane at 1 am and stumbled my way into the long customs line. I was leaving my family and friends & the drawn out, stress filled visa process behind and spider monkey jumping into the arms of my goofy English man. I thought it was my happy ending or maybe my happy beginning.

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This was not my first international move, but my fourth. My fourth time choosing to start over in a new country.

This time felt different.

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A Slice of England: Beyond London

 

I came to England for the first time in August to meet my partner’s family and travel in Europe for the summer. My partner and I decided to stay longer term and I’m hoping to make it my home now(after a few months of sorting out my visa.) Many people think London as soon as you say England, but just like New York is much bigger than New York City– England is much more diverse than London. London is awesome, don’t get me wrong, but newsflash to my American peeps..  I don’t live in London. I am definitely not an expert on England and I still have tons of places I want to visit but I am going to share with you the gems I’ve discovered since living in Southern England for the last four months! When you plan your trip to England– explore a bit more and see what else this historical and adorable country has to offer.

Glastonbury– This was my first stop when I came to England because it’s my partner’s hometown. It is most famous these days for the huge Glastonbury music festival so most people know the name but haven’t been there when there aren’t 100,000 others lined up in tents raving for five days.

The town itself tiny- it’s colorful, charming and very spiritual. The history runs very deep.The streets are lined with crystal shops, vegan and vegetarian cafes and hippie clothing stores. Right in the center of the town are the Glastonbury Abbey ruins– a former monastery from the 7th century that was burned down in 1184. Christian legends claim the abbey was founded in the 1st century by Joseph of Arimathea.  Another famous landmark in Glastonbury is the Tor. You can see the giant hill with Saint Michael’s roofless tower from miles away. It is said to be a very spiritual location linked to many myths about King Arthur and has a lot of other lasting mythological and spiritual associations. The hike up is steep but the view at the top is incredible.

 

Some of my favorite spots: The Chalice Well, Rainbow Cafe, Red Brick Building– morning yoga classes, brunch at the Boca Bar(which also turns into an amazing night out- think silent discos, live local music and art gallery & bubbles type events) and simply wandering down the high street peeking in all the crystal, book and charity shops and people watching– you will not be disappointed as the fairies, witches and quirky attire is plentiful.

Bath– I fell completely in love with England when I step foot in Bath. It is the definition of a quaint English town with so much character- it almost doesn’t even look real. When I first arrived in England everything looked miniature to me. The houses, cars, buildings, roads. When my partner’s mom picked us up from the airport(we were exhausted traveling from New Zealand) I woke up in a panic in the back seat because I thought we were driving down a one way street! I couldn’t believe how narrow the roads were, and that wasn’t even the worst of them!

Bath is most well known for its natural hot springs. There is a large museum at the site of the original Roman-era Baths with many ancient artifacts, statues and temples. They have audio guides you can get more detail and it’s easily accessible for museum goers like me. I definitely want to see it but I don’t want to spend 2 hours at each exhibit. Quick and dirty is my approach for museums.

Some of my favorite spots:  the Botanical Garden and Royal Victoria Park, a picnic in front of the iconic Royal Crescent, Kennet and Avon Canal and just walking around exploring the amazing architecture, shops and cafes throughout the city. We only had a day there and I felt like we saw a lot but if you have more than one day there are many art galleries, fashion museums, history museums I have on my list for next time.

Bristol– This place is turning into the coolest city and county in South West England. While in England I have lived 30 minutes outside of Bristol(in a quriky little beach town called Weston-Super- Mare)  so I have been there quite a few times and everytime I discover something new to love about it. It has a bigger city feel but there are so many unique areas along the Bristol Harbour and adorable spots like Clifton. The arts are a plenty, the food is delicious and there is always something going on. I’m no expert but these are the places I have enjoyed so far

Clifton Suspension Bridge– In August right when I arrived we went to Bristol for the popular annual Balloon fiesta- bought a little picnic and climbed the hill to Clifton Observatory which has an incredible view of the bridge and the city! Unfortunately the windy weather lead to the balloons being cancelled but the view itself was magical!

Brunch spots– I’ve brunched a few times in Clifton. Proper brunch menus with avocado toast, eggs benny, and my personal fav shakshuka. Primose Cafe and Bistro on Boyce Ave has outdoor seating and very affordable brunch prices. The Crafty Egg was a cozy spot my friend introduced me to with an epic shakshuka and serious good vibes. The Grain Barge is an awesome converted barge that offers delicious brunch, pub grub, drinks and awesome views.

The Crafty Egg

Some of my favorite spots: people watching Queen Square, Arnolfini- an international arts center I saw the Grayson Perry exhibition, Street art- the birthplace of Banksy Bristol has tons of his work and many others scattered about the city. If you want to see more here’s an awesome guide.  Seasonal favorite was the German Christmas Market ( in November-December) and shopping/grabbing drinks along the harbor anytime of year.

Those are the main places I’ve frequented- but I’ve made awesome day trips to Wells, Burnham on the Sea, Sand Bay, Cheddar Gorge, Lyme Regis Beach,West Bay, Totness and Bantham Beach. All pictured below & worth checking out!

The most exciting part is this is only a tiny sliver of this beautiful country and I haven’t even explored the rest of U.K. yet. When you book your trip to England consider making your stay in London a bit shorter and get out there and explore. I promise you won’t be disappointed. Cheers mate. Happy travels! xxx

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Offline is the new luxury: Why you should stop blogging

I’ve come back to my blog after 2 glorious months away traveling. I’ve been to 7 countries, rode quad bikes all over the island of Santorini, drank sangria and hiked along the Costa Brava in Spain, took a boat cruise through the canals of Amsterdam, drank cocktails on rooftops in NYC, got lost in the endless streets of mansions in New Orleans, explored old quaint villages in England,  met my boyfriend’s family and friends had him meet mine and didn’t blog about one second of it.

But all of that material and content. Those photos must be amazing. Those are spots a lot of people would love to have some tips for. That is like a blogger’s heaven.

A funny thing happened to me on the course of this trip. One that I’ve talked about before and continues to tug aggressively at my heartstrings. I realized even more deeply that offline is now our greatest luxury. I think it is far more tantalizing for someone to hop over to the Maldives and not plaster it on their Insta story, Live Youtube channel and have 4 blog posts written before they even leave. Oh yeah, I’ve been to Barcelona this summer too! But I couldn’t tell from your social account… But Susie, it’s your JOB.

It is my job. But it is also my job to question my satisfaction constantly. It’s my job to color outside the lines. Just because you start building an online business doesn’t mean you should all of sudden be blind to the strong emotional and psychological ties we all are forming to our individual devices and technology as a whole. I can’t pretend I don’t feel it. I can’t pretend that I don’t see it changing our world, our youth and our relationships. As usual, when I feel something I can’t keep my mouth shut about it.

My heart and soul seriously struggles with the fact that as an online business owner it is my job to stay connected. It is my job to constantly share, create content, engage my audience, come up with clever captions, content, free resources and recipes and basically rewrite and translate the Bible (on Facebook live) while traveling in a foreign land–not to mention 365 days a year. When you start out with your own business, you don’t have someone to do it for you. And consistency is key if you want the algorithm to work in your favor. You’ll lose followers. You have to remain relevant. This doesn’t feel like freedom to me.

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The flow knows where to go

This week and weekend I experienced the feeling of flow so many times that I felt as if I needed to pinch myself. But when you experience flow.. you go with it. C’mon we learned that when we were like ten.  While I was teaching on Monday, a few of my students seemed to be showing tremendous progress from where they started. I felt excited for them and so proud. Hearing and watching someone transform their language, communication skills and confidence is incredibly rewarding. Not only did I feel fulfilled in my teaching job but I had an awesome week with my coaching business as well. I started a new fitness challenge and have another engaged and fun group of women who are making positive, sustainable changes to their health and nutrition. Guiding people through the process of change and believing in the power of their body and especially their mind is so satisfying. I also experimented with going live and sharing some of my thoughts to inspire those who follow along with my journey. It is incredible what a difference it can make for people to hear your voice and feel connected. I am excited to have yet another medium in which I can express myself and impact the lives of others.

Balance is a continual struggle for me and I think it is the true elusive desire of most people. This week the weather has been getting very warm in Australia, which is the complete opposite of the other side of the world. Not only does this make the balancing act of work an play more difficult but this serves as my humbling reminder that we are not all there is. There is  a whole other hemispheres, planets, galaxies and who knows what out there and we are just a mere blip in the radar. But in our day to day life we often get trapped into narrow minded thinking. We get sucked into feeling like our problems are certainly the end of the world and our successes are something that must be celebrated by everyone who knows us.

But here is the thing, although we think we matter a lot, in the scheme of things we matter very little. Some people use this as an excuse to live on a small scale. I view it as the opposite. I use this fact to propel me forward into my future with as much passion, action, adventure and chutzpah as humanly possible. In the end, the only one who knows if you lived the life you are capable of is you.

 You answer to yourself.Personally, I am a very harsh critic. I will be massively successful in all areas of my life.  I refuse not to be. Being mediocre is the most terrifying fate in my book. Sometimes I let this drive me to be a workaholic but thank god I have learned to channel both my workaholic and my free spirit simultaneously. It’s not easy to do this. I continue to struggle with balancing work and play.

But I try to break my life into 1 hour increments. What can I do for the next hour that will be the most beneficial for me? Now, beneficial sometimes means for my business, my mental health, my relationship, my blog, my sanity, my teaching job. If I don’t have an hour-I break it down into half hour segments. It is amazing what you can do when you utilize the time in your day the way YOU want to.

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Go deeper

When I started this blog I had no idea what it would turn into or if I would even stick to it. I started it a month before I moved to Thailand as a way to keep up with friends and family and share my journey on the other side of the world. Today, my blog is a safe haven for me a place I go to unwind, reflect and make sense of the rapid paced world we live in. Since then I have gone from teaching in Thailand, backpacking South East Asia, teaching in New York and starting my own coaching business to teaching in Australia and growing and developing my coaching business and my writing career. Originally my blog served only as a spot of reflection but the further I advance and evolve as a coach the more I want to integrate my blog to be not only stories from my life but also a source of motivation for making a change in your own life and resources for living the life of your dreams. Before I dive into integrating coaching into my blog I want to explain my journey as a coach to my readers and followers who might see snippets on social media but don’t really understand what I am doing or why I am doing it.

I wholeheartedly understand that the fitness lifestyle whether it is Beachbody, Crossfit, yoga, spinning, BBG, Barre, etc. is taking over the internet and at time it seems overwhelming and maybe even “cult like.” I want to explain to you from my experience WHY I am sharing and what this community and these programs have done for my life. Like most things in life, we observe them at face value. But my words have always given me the ability and the calling to go deeper. The internal strength I have gleaned from committing myself to a healthy lifestyle is part of the reason I have been able to reconnect with my inner voice and I believe one of the tickets to making my writing what it is today. My goal is to use my passion for health and wellness and my passion for writing , connecting and expressing to better people’s understanding and ability to work on their health in all areas: mind, body and soul. Since I am a storyteller by nature, here is a glimpse of my journey into a healthy lifestyle and why it has become such a defining part of who I am.

In graduate school, a friend gave me a thumb drive with all of the Insanity workouts on it. Yes, I am a Beachbody coach who is fully admitting to obtaining my first program illegally. I was in the middle of student teaching(for non-teacher friends, that is full time unpaid teaching) and going to graduate school full time. I was waking up at 5 am every morning after drinking myself into a 4 glass wine coma almost every night. I physically could barely keep my eyes open until I chugged at least two cups of coffee. My stress levels and anxiety were at an all time high but I had tunnel vision for completing my MA in Secondary Education. I had so much built up stress that my temper was out of control and I could snap/ have a mental anxiety attack at the drop of a hat. Due to my schedule, I had basically cut out my exercise routine besides on the weekends but I usually spent those WVU weekends hungover and unable to exercise. This was the first time in my life I explicitly saw how intense the effect of exercise was on my mental health.
I was a former gym rat for most of college but I literally did not have the time to drive to the gym across town, workout for an hour and drive home. I needed something else. After trying Insanity once, I committed to the 60 day calendar and set off on a journey on my own in my kitchen every afternoon. I absolutely loved and hated Shaun T all at the same time. My roommates thought I was actually insane but I could not replace the endorphins and stress relief that program gave me. I could squeeze it in between the end of my school day and my night classes even if that meant going to class with slightly( okay, really) sweaty hair. Since I had the calendar hanging on my wall it was a mental game for me and I literally couldn’t miss a day. Everyone is different but for me, that was motivation enough to stick to it for 60 days. It was the hardest thing I had ever done physically but I was determined to make it work. My friend Amy was posting on social media about Insanity and this “coaching thing” and one post even said she quit her job to do her coaching business full time from home! I was intrigued so I messaged her and then realized that Insanity was part of one of the biggest fitness companies in America that also had so many other workout programs, a superfood shake and a whole WORLD to offer. Not to mention, this was also an opportunity to start my own coaching business helping other people commit to their health and fitness and transform their lives. Long story short, I started coaching just so I could get the new Insanity Max 30 program and Shakeology and wanted to help enough people per month to pay for my own Shakeology. I also had hopes that the second income could help with my student loan debt and measly teacher salary. I had no IDEA what I was in for.

Now, I’ve been a coach for a year and a half and my life has been greatly impacted by the community, the programs and the job itself. I have never been so motivated and dedicated to my health for so long. Sure, we can all go through stages of motivation, a vacation, wedding, reunion or special event that we “diet” for and crush it at the gym but how many of you actually sustain the type of healthy lifestyle you want year round? I didn’t before Beachbody and now I actually achieve that 80/20 lifestyle I desired and I feel happier and healthier than I ever have in my life. I don’t believe my challenges or our programs are the only way to see results or achieve a healthy lifestyle but I know how well they have worked for me. THAT IS THE WHOLE BASIS OF THIS BUSINESS. I have never “sold” anything  because I simply share my experience what I use and have used & believe in myself. I represent these programs BECAUSE I believe in them and I have seen them transform my life and the lives of thousands of coach friends, clients & strangers.

Why I am fascinated by our programs and our community is because the whole AIM of the challenge and my aim as your coach is to introduce a lifestyle that fits INTO your lifestyle. You do not have to be “into” fitness to join a challenge. You don’t have to own seven pairs of Nikes and know everything about macros and clean eating. The whole point of the challenge is to introduce a nutritional guide and simple portion controlled eating system and short but effective exercise into the lives of anyone who is not happy with their current fitness or nutrition level. Believe me, I knew how to exercise before challenge groups but nutrition, forget it. I knew what healthy food was but I had no clue how much I should be eating and of what. I was definitely under eating for a large portion of college and would turn into a junk food monster on the weekends once I had a night out at the bar. Not only does the eating guide give you an easy way to know what to eat and HOW MUCH to eat but the secret sauce of the whole operation, Shakeology, gives you all of the nutrients and vitamins you could possibly need. It isn’t a protein shake, it’s a superfood shake with over 70+ superfoods that gives you natural energy, curbs your sweet tooth and junk cravings and keeps you full. I never drank shakes before Shakeology and I was honestly very hesitant. But now I’m willing to pay 50 extra dollars a month to have it shipped to Australia because I simply can’t go without it. It takes 60 seconds in the blender and sets me up for a nutritionally sound day.

The programs and the products I believe in 100% but the key to any successful fitness lifestyle is the community. The challenges I run every month keep me motivated, accountable and genuinely excited to stay on track and do my best with my health and fitness. This does not mean you need to be or I as your coach am perfect. I have cheat meals and days. I have alcohol. I still have dessert and I admit it to my group. We admit our successes and our failures. The goal is not to all of a sudden cut everything out that you enjoy, it’s to learn how to stick to a healthy meal plan that is sustainable for much longer than 21 days or the duration of the challenge. A little change goes a long way and people rooting for you, giving you awesome recipes and commiserating when your legs are so sore you can barely sit down on the toilet really is a game changer. Not only do you get a “fitness community” you get people who are positive, motivated, encouraging and want you to succeed in whatever you set out to do. Unfortunately, sometimes that is really hard to find. I love giving the opportunity to my friends, family, and new friends I connect to.

Before I was a coach I always thought fitness fanatics were a little vain or superficial and I remember thinking to myself I didn’t care enough to spend all that time to try to “perfect” my body. The more I have learned about health and nutrition the more I know that exercise and eating right isn’t some silly fad. It’s not superficial unless YOU make it superficial. My goals are not based on what I want to look like. They are based on my strength and quite honestly my willpower, self control and mental clarity.

Before I became a coach I didn’t understand the constant selfies that gym goers posted even though I was exercising regularly myself. Now I see that most of the time the selfie is not for the person posting it. It is for all of the people they hope to inspire. Sharing my fitness journey has become such a powerful part of my journey because it allows me to be transparent and vulnerable. When I receive countless messages thanking me for the inspiration or the motivation to get off the coach or cook something healthy or start to believe in themselves, I know sharing is beyond worth it. I am proud to share because I share to bring value to others in any way that I can. So next time you see a fitness coach on Instagram or Facebook, applaud them for lifting people up instead of rolling your eyes. Read the caption. I guarantee it goes deeper than you would expect. Fitness and nutrition is the actual key to LIVING a long and fulfilling life. Your diet affects EVERY part of your life including your physical health (on the inside), sleep patterns, physical appearance, stress levels, mental health and overall quality of life. Exercising shouldn’t be about what you want to look like but instead what you want to feel like. That phrase has become cliche, I know. But seriously, post workout highs and endorphins, you simply can’t replace that.

So please, ask yourself: How long do you want to live? Do you want to run around with your grandchildren? Do you want to go on hikes when you are retired? Do you want to be able to help your children move into their new homes? Do you want to bound up the stairs without breathing heavy? Do you want to look in the mirror without looking away? Do you want to step on the scale and not give a damn what the number says? Do you want to wake up feeling good and go to bed feeling satisfied? I do. I also want to feel purposeful, centered, positive, confident in myself not just in the way I look but the person I am. Committing myself to my health and fitness has been a catalyst for change in every area of my life. I feel like I would be doing a huge disservice NOT to share everything I have learned and experienced. Once I saw how sharing my journey, not just with health and fitness but with navigating life as a 20 something in our society, impacted others and inspired others I made a vow to myself to never stop sharing. I made a vow to myself to never be afraid to “annoy” people. If I annoy you at any time, I sincerely hope that you realize that my message is straight from the heart and maybe you don’t need to hear it all of the time but someone does. Someone needed that reminder on that specific day, that they are enough, they can start fresh today, they are worthy of happiness and of self love. You are enough. You can start fresh. You are worthy.

This fall we have an awesome line up of programs and opportunities because Beachbody as a company is continually striving to end the trend of obesity in America and unfortunately the rate of obesity is INCREASING. 70% of Americans are obese. 70 percent. That is absolutely heartbreaking and terrifying to me. I am doing everything I can to spread not only the message of my company but my own PERSONAL message. Coaching has taught me how important it is to share your journey and story, not just the triumphs but also the struggles. Not only has my business given me the platform to reach out and connect and talk to people every day but it has reminded me how badly I need to share what is within. And luckily for me, expressing myself in words is a talent of mine and one that I desire to pursue for my entire lifetime. I am just a girl who is trying to remind people that being healthy is so much more than having muscles or a flat stomach. Being healthy is a commitment to yourself from the INSIDE… OUT. You need your mind, body and spirit to feel healthy and each area deserves time, attention, relevance and respect. The journey takes so much self awareness, acceptance, actualization and confidence so no wonder we have trouble doing it alone. I am here to remind you that you don’t have to.


Now that you have a deeper look at why I got involved in coaching, I want to extend to you an invitation to be a part of my community. If you stumbled upon my blog or you have been following for a while and you don’t follow me on other social media sites, you probably don’t know how much time and effort I put into helping people achieve their goals but I would be honored and excited to share that with you. If you do follow me on social media and you’ve been tempted to get involved in one of my challenges before but never bit the bullet I have exciting news that you are going to want to get involved in next month’s health bet! Beachbody is so passionate about the mission of ending the trend of obesity in America and introducing this life changing community & program to as many people as possible, they are making a bet for anyone who joins a challenge group in September! The pot is climbing to 2 million dollars and will max out at 3 million!
Here’s how you play:
1. Commit to an at home workout program and join my challenge on our challenge tracker app
2. Workout 3 times a week & track in the app
3. Drink Shakeology 5 times a week & track in the app
THAT’S IT! Whoever completes this will split the pot! I am super competitive and love things like this so I am excited to share it with you. If you have already completed a challenge with me or are one of my coaches you can still participate!! I would love to discuss this opportunity further with anyone who wants more details. You can send me an email at susannahaobell@gmail.com, contact me via Facebook (my name on FB is Susannah Aimee) or any of my social media accounts (my details are in the contact tab).
Even if you are not interested, I genuinely hope that I can inspire you to make small steps and positive changes to improve your health. Without our health we quite literally do not have our life and I don’t know about you, but I would like to stick around for as long as possible. If you have any questions about how I can help you or just about your own journey in general please do not hesitate to ask! Many coaches on my team and I do exciting fitness & recipes groups absolutely free and the more people who join the merrier! Knowledge is power and there is so much out there to help get you on the right track. Thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope this gives you some insight into my life as a coach and why I am so dedicated to spreading this community to as many people as possible. Remember, like Mahatma Gandhi said, “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” I’m trying to shake the world to go deeper and lead lives full of positivity, self love and the reminder that we all deserve to feel beautiful from the inside out.  Don’t hesitate to reach out to me, my ear and heart is always open.

Chasing Summer

I will spend my life chasing summer. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve checked in due to my crazy schedule for my holiday in America.  I escaped the Australian winter and took off to the US for a month of fun in the sun. It has been nonstop since I landed in NYC and reunited with so many sorority sisters and friends from college and apparently, believed that I could still party like my former sorority girl self. I spent many of my first days in America hungover until the afternoon when I could finally recoup, exercise and then get back at it again. This lasted for my first weekend and then my body rebelled. It was so amazing to see my friends and my family and even though I haven’t seen any of them in person for a while we just carry on the conversation like it never stopped. It’s pretty amazing how that works. It’s also crazy to genuinely realize that you are past the age where partying is worth it. I enjoy a few glasses of wine. I always will, but I wholeheartedly would rather stay in with friends and family, or even alone, than suffer through the misery and anxiety hangovers bring. Is this growing up?

Luckily, I also managed to have a few “touristy” experiences in NYC because even though it’s my favorite city in the world I’ve been to countless times, I still want to be a tourist because I’m rarely there anymore!  I walked the Brooklyn Bridge, went on a food crawl, did an amazing hot yoga class, took my first Soul Cycle class and spent time with so many people near and dear to me. New York is one of the few cities that I believe has a pulse. You can actually feel how alive it is. Before I knew it I was on a plane and off again to Nashville to attend my annual coaching convention. I experienced this event last year for the first time and this year did not disappoint. There is something so tangible about gathering together that many positive and motivated people for a fitness convention to celebrate our successes, attend seminars and trainings, attend live workouts with our celebrity trainers and just bond with our teammates that we work with predominately online. This time it wasn’t the city that felt alive, but the energy from the people in it. I lost my voice the first day from having so many heart to hearts and possibly from belting out country songs at the crazy bars on Broadway. Just because it’s a bunch of fitness coaches together for a work convention doesn’t mean we don’t have our fair share of fun! It’s an awesome balance and one I attempt to emulate in all of my personal travels… until someone introduces the idea of a tequila shot.

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