How do your hobbies make you better at your work

I came across this question from Dave Kerpen on LinkedIn; How do your hobbies make you better at your work?

Exercise, reading a book, painting picture etc things we associate with winding down, relaxing and forgetting about work. Many of us try so hard to keep our personal life separate from our work life that we don’t always realise that experiences in our personal lives can actually make us better at our jobs. This question got me thinking about how my own hobbies and without realising how they have helped me in my work and shaped the person I am.


Over the years my range of hobbies have varied, up until the middle of last year I regularly attended a kickboxing class. Finding the right class with the right people is important, the activity itself is a contact sport but it also teaches discipline and respect for each other. We don’t all walk into the class as black belts, it takes hard work, determination and practice to get the moves right. None of this happens if you don’t have the support of your club, your team and your instructor. Everyone at all levels working together to encourage and teach, you have no idea the positive effect a few words of encouragement can have when you think you haven’t got enough energy to survive that last minute in a round of sparring or if like me your lower body isn’t very flexible when you can finally get your round kick that little bit higher. It is those qualities that can be transferred to the workplace. Support and encourage your team, we all fall down sometimes and need a little help to get back up again knowing you have your team in your corner can make all the difference to how you progress, handle certain situations and projects.


My other hobbies include reading. When needs must, I have resorted to reading a book on my mobile phone using the Kindle app, but you can’t beat reading from a physical book. Yes they take up space and to the untrained eye can be seen as clutter, however there is something about a good book that can help you escape from the drama of life and help you relax. I’ve recently discovered audio books on YouTube and when I want to block out the world oddly enough having my headphones on and a book playing in the background helps me to concentrate, maybe I’m just odd like that but whatever works to help make me productive can’t be a bad thing.


I’ve not ever been a fan of yoga until I discovered the online videos which I can do at my own pace and to my own ability. I’ll not ever be able to move in those pretzel shapes but just doing the short bedtime and morning yoga videos help me feel a lot calmer, the tight muscles and knots get stretched out and I feel much better within myself. The breathing techniques learnt from yoga help me bring myself back to a much calmer place when I’m feeling stressed at work. I have been known to have essential oils at my desk like peppermint to help my sinuses and altogether feel ready to tackle the task at hand. The office can smell of peppermint but who doesn’t like that scent?

As individuals we are always learning and changing, I’m a believer that depending on the job role our personal and work lives can and do influence the other. I know from working for the NHS has benefitted me and changed my thinking for the better.

So, how do your hobbies make you better at your work?


Miss me?

I know it’s been a while since I last posted, with starting a new job, then Christmas then getting back into the swing of things come 2015 time just got away from me.

The new job is local so instead of the 45 minutes up to over an hour my morning commute is now down to 20 minutes. At the moment it is a contract role with some potential to go permanent but lets see what happens, whatever will be will be. At least I’m no longer sitting on the A130 / A12 in stand still traffic wondering if I should set up camp on the side of the side of the road!

I’m working in a small team and have been fortunate enough to once again be working with a nice group of people.


All the extra classes and bruises paid off, I got my red belt. I’m not going to lie the grading was tough, I gave it everything I had, by the end of the grading I was completely exhausted and sweating buckets! The next belt is brown, there are a lot of requirements for this grading and at the moment I can’t dedicate the time or money, so for now I’ll be content with being a red belt.

I still love kickboxing but think I may cut back on it for a little while, I want to try and get back into wall.

Game Consoles

Over the Christmas break I unpacked the Wii console I took from my brother, he didn’t want it anymore. I am hooked, the boxing is good fun. I’ve bought a second hand ‘Just dance’ game and a Wii fit board plus game. Not sure how long this new found interest is going to last for but for now it is a lot of fun.

I also took my brothers Playstation, I highly recommend Mortal Kombat and Tekken 4, although I keep losing at Tekken 4 when up against my friend!


Back in November  I made some baby shower cupcakes for a pregnant friend. Baby Rahaan came into the world Monday 5th January 2015 weighing 7.5 lbs. I got to see him after a few weeks, he is as cute as a button and slept most of the time I was there until he was hungry! Both mother and baby are doing well, the new dad is just as laid back as he was before baby Rahaan came along.

I have been baking but I’m going to save that topic for another post, seeing how long it has taken me to write this one I have no idea when that will be!

Kickboxing ; Close Quarters

It has been a while since I updated everyone on my kickboxing. As many of you will know I am getting ready for my red belt grading next month. This may not be something every martial club does but part of the Jim Mcallister martial art clubs all those going for grading have to attend close quarters. This class covers for two gradings and involves learning basic first aid and self defence techniques.  Although we are learning kickboxing we are in a controlled environment and usually paired with someone of a similar size / build. Should I ever find myself in a situation where I need to defend myself I hopefully will remember some of the self defence moves taught in the class to escape.


IMG_20141117_082954[1]Perhaps kickboxing is not the ideal activity for someone who bruises like a peach but its something I enjoy so deal with the bruises, close quarters was no different. Whilst practicing the self defence moves I was both the ‘attacker’ and the ‘victim’ and we had to be as realistic as possible, hence the bruises that appeared the following day!

I still have a few weeks left to train before grading. Sunday just gone I had a double lesson my legs are suffering a bit today butnothing I can’t handle. Sunday was the day the heavens decided to open up and down came the rain! It was one of those days where you would rather stay indoors curled up with a hot chocolate, but I persevered through the torrential downpour to the extent I nearly drowned my poor car making her drive through large puddles to get to class. See, that’s how dedicated I am. 😉

I am a bit nervous about the grading but I know I have been working hard putting in the time and effort to do the best that I can and I have the bruises to prove it!

Red belt training

Finally, for what seems like forever my awful cough is going! I can actually get a sentence out without suddenly being overcome with the need to cough my lungs out, this cough was most likely linked to an infection that left me feeling exhausted.  Although I wasn’t convinced about the asthma pump I was prescribed I have been using it and it has been helping.

Last night was my first week back at my Thursday kickboxing classes. The first set of crescent kicks to warm up would usually be simple enough, this time I was getting tired quite quickly. It’s not all doom and gloom though, all the single kicks and combinations we were working on were part of the red belt syllabus, guess who’s working towards their red belt? 😉 To top it off my round kicks are not only getting more powerful but I am also managing to kick a bit higher without my hips feeling like they are being ripped apart! Improving my kicks was in part getting the technique right but for most it was all in my head, focusing and finding the confidence to believe I could perform a decent round kick.

No one is a perfect martial artist, we all have our strengths and weaknesses,. My kicks may not be able to take a sparring opponent down but I can use them to help give me an opening to come in with some good punches.

We didn’t work on our punches last night but my instructor knows I can throw out some decent punches, for me to get that red belt it’s the kicks that need work. I’m not going to lie, there is nothing lady like about my expressions and what I would say are growling sounds that come out of me when I getting power in those kicks and punches but knowing I have that strength is a feeling I can’t explain, especially when to many people I look like a delicate flower.

By the end of the class my energy levels were low but it was worth going. I had my asthma pump if I needed it, built up a good sweat to drain out some germs and I get a good nights sleep. Win win situation really 🙂

Since the class was forced to change times to a later slot to fit in with the gym’s schedule our class numbers have been sporadic so it was good to see two new faces. Whether these girls come back next week remains to be seen. I hope they do as it is a good class with a great bunch of people. If you are looking for a martial art class in Essex then check out the Mcallister Academy Of Martial Arts.

Bring on Tuesday for a two hour kickboxing workout!

Round kick bruises

Thursday nights kickboxing was not one of my favourite classes, we worked on our round kicks. As I’ve mentioned before I struggle with these kicks, I have tight hips which makes these kicks that little bit more difficult for me.

The way the lesson was structured meant we did a lot of repetitive moves, this worked well for me as it gave my leg muscles a chance to warm up and for my hips to open up. As the class went on I noticed my kicks were starting to get a bit higher without feeling any pain!

IMG_20140921_092245[1]We kept changing partners and even though we were sharing shin guards I think one of the women may have had some pent up anger which she let out in her kicks. I’ve had worse bruises but they still hurt the following few days! I know I’m glutton for punishment and will be back there again, in all fairness I can give as good as I get, usually with a hook or a jab 😉

We did the usual rounds of sparring which contributed to me glowing a lot and getting ready to collapse, I usually recover by the time I get home. With every minute of sparing I kept thinking to myself ‘think of the abs, think of the abs’, I keep trying to achieve the 4 pack abs which keep evading me. I guess it doesn’t help when I can go through a share bag of crisps by myself in one sitting. 😉

Traffic and Kickboxing; Exciting life I lead ;-)

Did all the Gods get together, decide to set aside their differences and create a nightmare on the roads this week?!? This week has been a colossal pain in the rear, Wednesday it took an additional 45 minutes to get home, stop start, stop start. Fortunately I made it home in time for Great British Bake so at least that was one crisis averted, sitting in traffic, hungry, tired and missing GBBO would not have made a happy Foz.

I know other drivers too want to get home too, they’re tired, hungry, frustrated but people let’s not forget the stick near your wheel, yep the indicator. Please use it just to give me a heads up that you want to change lanes before you start moving into the side of my car. I know the traffic is moving slowly and it may appear that my lane is moving faster than yours for that nano second but if you hit my car and cause an accident, that lane won’t be moving faster for much longer will it now?

Plus side of this week, despite being flat out exhausted I have survived the week! I had two excellent kickboxing sessions. Tuesday’s Kickboxing was an interesting one, walked into the class a few minutes late and noticed there were a lot of new faces. The addition of new people meant for a change the hall we train in was full, I also noticed I was the only female in the class! Usually there are at least three other females but for some reason they weren’t there, it felt like a memo saying guys only class had been sent out, only I didn’t get it.

All of that said it was a very good session, we worked on improving the basic moves and learning different stretching techniques. I sweated buckets, disgusting I know and was sore right up until Thursday’s class but it all pays off in the end.

Speaking of Thursday’s class is was a reversal of Tuesday as in the only male was the instructor. We did a few circuits before practising techniques, it was enough to get a decent workout and for me not fighting the urge to chuck my guts.

Today my eldest nephew starts primary school. It will only be an hour to begin with and my sister will stay with him, gradually moving to half days without my sister staying then moving onto full time. The little angelic demon is growing up.

Have a good weekend peeps!

Baking disaster and dressing up!


The long weekend was a bit hit and miss. I tried to make the cinnamon and sultana bread again which turned out worse than the previous attempt, in fact this attempt wasn’t even edible!

My first attempt at modelling chocolate was definitely a miss. I thought it was going well until I reached the kneading stage at which point it turned into a crumbly oily mess. According the tips online if I left the chocolate alone it would soak the oils up and be ok. It wasn’t, I thought I would end up with a smooth easily mouldable chocolate instead I was left with a rock!


The one day the heavens decided to open up is the day my family and I were attending a walima. There were three weddings taking place at this place in separate function halls, so you can imagine what car parking was like, it didn’t help when a Mercedes owning muppet decided to block the entrance to the over flow car park just because they want to be that one step closer to the entrance of the venue. The car park wasn’t even that far!

We were later than the time stated on the card for guests to arrive but on time to see / greet the bride’s family. We would have been earlier if it wasn’t for the car park drama.

IMG_20140825_Foz[1]Unfortunately my youngest sister wasn’t feeling very that day so we didn’t take many pictures this time. My mum took this one, it’s a bit dark but turned out ok.The event itself was nice, it was a walima, you eat, meet and talk to people, not much else goes on really. Some people turn it into a party with dancing, all depends on the family who’s function it is. It was nice to see some aunties who I only see at these functions, not really sure what the protocol is but I’m myself when I speak with the aunties. My urdu / Punjabi isn’t great so I speak in English anyway, they are joking and laughing with me so guess it’s all ok. Some people might think I should be a bit more stoic and quiet, I just don’t talk to those people. 😉 I should mention that these people who I call auntie and uncle are not blood related to me, I called them auntie and uncle out of respect.

The seating was meant to be organised with everyone already seated by table numbers and name cards. This family have known me since I was a child yet they still spelt IMG-20140825-ThreeGirls[1]my name wrong! IMG_20140825_Fauzia[1] It didn’t matter where I was seated anyway, I had my starters sitting with my family, had my mains and dessert sitting with another aunts daughter and her husband as some of the people at their table hadn’t turned up, so I became ‘Natalie’ for a bit. My sister and brother came and joined me for a short while as well.

This picture is with my sister and my aunts daughter, she waned it for her mum who wasn’t able to attend.

We popped to my sisters who lived round the corner from the venue. My niece didn’t recognise me at first, she just kept looking at me until she was convinced I was her auntie and not some random stranger trying to lure her away from her mum.


First round of Kickboxing this week turned out pretty good. Our instructor had been to Malaysia to visit his unwell mum, whilst there he met some people who imparted their self-healing stretching techniques, these are mainly for joint and body aches and pains. You can watch a video of one of the stretching moves here. I’ve not yet tried this stretching exercise yet but my instructor swears by it, at 66 he is still more flexible than all of us in the class.

Better get on with the rest of the week. 😀

Kickboxing: Hold the pads in the right place!

It’s no secret I enjoy kickboxing, even the bruises, the sweating the adrenaline rush. Ok maybe not the part where I generally feel like I’m going to vomit my guts out but most of it. So you can imagine how peeved I get when I’m partnered with someone who can’t be bothered to put in a bit of effort or acts like they don’t want to be there.

For me and others I train with, kickboxing isn’t just a health conscious thing or learning how to fight it’s also about having a bit of fun and meeting new people. This doesn’t mean when we train we act like it’s a walk in the park we put in a lot of effort and try to improve the moves, after all we’re all going to get better with practice. This also applies to the person you are partnered with, you can only improve if they encourage you, hold the pads correctly for you and don’t stand there biting their nails or wincing when my leg connects with theirs because they couldn’t be bothered to hold the pads in the right bloody place to begin with.

I’ve reached the point where I am going to execute the moves whether the pads are the right place or not. Fortunately the instructor adjusted the pads of the person I was partnered with so I could do a kick or a punch as close to being correct as possible but still mid-way through the set that person would act like they’ve lost interest and the pads would go back to where they were before they were adjusted. Stop biting or picking at your nails or whatever it is you are doing and hold the flipping pads with a bit of support behind them and in the right place, seriously is it too much to ask for?

I just don’t get it, if you don’t want to be there then why pay your money every week? The only reason I’m paired with some people is because there is a lack of females in the class, but how can I improve if I’m not with someone who doesn’t seem interested in improving themselves or aren’t able push me to also do better without me coming across as a total and complete b1tch? Answers, anyone because I am at a total loss. Yes one person in particular is much younger than me, I have given up even making small talk because the nonsense that comes out of their mouth just gives me a headache.

Is it because the instructor comes round and says I’m doing well, they do that to everybody in the class! Or because I joke not flirt but joke around with some of the guys in the class? Is it an attention issue that I’m not aware of? Or is it simply that this person is just a colossal pain in the booty?

Towards the end of the class the person I was paired with gave up and sat out, it was only 5 minutes until the end of the class, the instructor held the pads for me so that was ok.

I know I am probably sounding unfair and unreasonable but people, guys and girls, if you don’t want to make an effort then don’t come. You won’t be chastised for making mistakes and the kickboxing classes I’ve been to, the people are very nice, helpful with higher grades advising how to make a kick or punch more powerful. But if you have that glazed look on your face that gives the impression there is tumbleweed blowing through the gap between your ears then spare the person you will be partnered with. Either partner with someone else who also just likes to tell people ‘oh I go kickboxing’ or just stay home.

Kickboxing; I ‘glowed’ profusely!

Last night there was a bit of confusion over which room we were going to have our regular kickboxing class. There is a new gym manager who wasn’t aware of the regular, weekly kickboxing class so had double booked the hall we usually use with another martial arts class. We were eventually ‘housed’ in a studio that had half-filled free standing punch bags, this is so they are easier to move. These things are good and evil at the same time, perfect for trying to improve my kicks but it also means the instructor stepped it up a gear last night to the point I thought I was going to throw up! xxl-wavemaster-free-standing-punch-bagThis can be seen as a good thing as it means I’m pushing myself especially when I can still stand up at the end of it. As you know girls don’t sweat, we glow and I was glowing a lot throughout the class, imagine being the only girl in a room full of sweaty guys? Kindly get your minds out of the gutter as there was nothing sexy about last night’s training.

I was partnered with someone who had, had a break from training and was now back. It worked out well for me as he was able to give me some tips on how to improve. Downside is trying to support the half-filled bags whilst he kicked took some getting used to.

Took part in sparring this week and was colossally beat, nursing a few bruises today. I’m pretty sure one of the guys who likes to tease me was cheating a bit with leg swipes and grabs, it’s a kickboxing class not MMA! He says he wasn’t and that I’m just a sore loser, I still think he cheated!bathroom_scale_clip_art_23558

I weighed myself at my parents last night, I don’t have scales in my house. Either the scales are wrong or I have lost a little bit of weight, it was only a few pounds. Losing weight isn’t something I planned to do as I’m fine with how I am, I can only think the weight loss is down to me eating less junk food and snacking. I don’t feel any different and still have energy but will keep an eye on it to make sure I don’t lose any more weight.

I was speaking with a friend over the weekend who used to go kickboxing before she moved many moons ago. Since then she has tried different class and different martial art styles but hasn’t been able to find a class where she felt comfortable enough to go on a regular basis. It’s something that also concerns me, In my friends case, fingers crossed she has finally found a class she is happy at, she has gone from kickboxing to Muay Thai. In that sense I am lucky enough to train with the people that I do, even if some of them cheat!

Is this week over yet?

Though not the worst, it also hasn’t been the best week.

The first kickboxing class of the week, in my opinion, was cr@p. Just when I feel I’m improving, a break from classes here and there has led to me digressing. It could be where the instructor is pushing me to improve by picking out where I’m going wrong, though it felt like most of what I was doing was wrong.

I bought a nice high waisted pencil skirt in a size I am usually comfortable in. It’s fine as long as I don’t stand sideways, eat or breathe! I’m hoping that the bloated look I had going on is just water retention, I’m no good with any form of dieting. My last attempt at a ‘lifestyle’ change lasted about a week.

To add to the mix, I’ve been having spot break outs to the extent I feel like I could be a poster girl for an acne product, this shouldn’t happen to someone of my age, but alas it has. All I can say is thank goodness for concealor!

I know these are not considered ‘real’ problems to complain about and there are many others who have ‘proper’ reasons to feel a bit cr@p, but let me have this one.

It may not sound like it but there were some positives to this week.

Fortunately the second kickboxing lesson of the week was slightly better. I wasn’t in the best of moods to begin with, that most likely helped with the aggression side. A few difficult moves and spinning kicks thrown in, bit dizzy by the end but worked up a disgustingly good sweat. To top it off I was home in time to watch ‘2 Broke Girls’.

20140625_BananaNutella[1]Thanks to some over ripe banana’s my kitchen was smelling of eau de banana, what else could I do but make muffins with them. I found this quick and easy banana and Nutella recipe. Despite me not ‘swirling’ the Nutella enough the muffins were a hit and with the fruit content surely should count as one of my five a day. 😉

In case you didn’t know (where have you been) I also have a working shed which hopefully I will start filling up this weekend.

Next week, I’m hoping it will be a bloated, acne free one and I’ll just overall be in a better mood. 🙂