Women’s Wellness Activator

I’ve been on somewhat of a personal and professional development path this past couple of years. If you’ve been reading these newsletters, following my social media and attending metafit, you will have noticed various shifts and changes in my message, my focus and my attention.

I’ll be the first to admit, I did fall out of love with taking metafit sessions day after day, week after week, and felt I could offer so much more than just metafit. So, I went searching …

I invested in courses, and business coaches. I entered an affiliation relationship. I experimented with a few different class offerings, I focussed on a different market segment.

I tried stuff – some worked, some didn’t.

Some things gave me great joy and satisfaction, others depleted me.

And it is as a result of all of these combined experiences – positive and negative – I have arrived where I am today … and that is exciting.

I’d like to introduce you to me – Jacqui Toohey – Women’s Wellness Activator – a funky term for a Health & Wellbeing Coach.

I help women build strong bodies, minds & lifestyle habits so that their strongest, healthiest and fittest years are ahead of them, not behind.


Fitness not Fatness

How do you measure the success of your exercise or fitness program?

Was your answer an aesthetic measure – loss of weight, thinner waist, smaller thighs, visible abs, less cellulite …

So what happens when none of the above happen after weeks or months of exercising? Your weight is the same, you still have love handles, and your cellulite hasn’t budged. Have you failed?

If you said “yes” you’re not alone. Visible results are used as the measure of success by many – the diet industry, leading fitness chains, social media influencers to name a few.

Unfortunately, this is also one of the main reasons women give up on exercise – because they interpret their efforts as “failing” when appearance related milestones aren’t reached.

BUT, despite the scales not budging, you have more energy, can run 5km without stopping, have reduced your blood pressure, improved your cardiovascular fitness, reduced your resting heart rate, can carry 3 shopping bags in each hand from the car up your front steps…

Where is the cudos, the recognition or even the before and after pictures that captures all of that?

Somewhere along the way the reason we exercise has been flipped to be more about FATNESS NOT FITNESS.

But how fit and healthy you are is so much more than how you look. Its about how you FEEL, what you can DO, how much MORE you can LIVE.

That’s why I will NEVER run a 6-week challenge where how much weight you lose is the measure of success, I will never use before & after pics, and nor will I promise that by working with me you will lose weight.

What I WILL do, is encourage and empower you to reclaim your PHYSICAL POWER – the power to be, and do, and live more, and measure your success on what your body can DO, not what it LOOKS LIKE.

And see the word exercise to mean FITNESS NOT FATNESS again.

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Stress – the good, bad and the ugly

Is the feeling of being “tired but wired” familiar to you?

Or maybe you are on the “coffee, chocolate & wine” diet. You NEED a coffee to wake up. At 3.30 the afternoon slump hits and you seek out chocolate for a quick pick-me-up, and then a sneaky wine or two at night to help calm you down and fall asleep.

Squirming a little?

Let’s talk about STRESS today as nothing stuffs your hormones, health or happiness faster than unmanaged or chronic stress.

But first – I want to stress (ha ha) that not all stress is bad. In fact, a healthy dose of stress is needed to motivate you to perform and work at a high level.

The key is to manage your stress so that it doesn’t spiral out of control and set off a series of health issues and hormonal chaos.

I’d like to introduce you to CORTISOL – one of the main stress hormones (the other being adrenaline).

Cortisol receptor cells are found in almost every cell in the body, therefore this hormone can have a number of different actions depending on which cell it is targetting. Cortisol plays a role in:

  • Controlling blood sugar levels
  • Regulating metabolism
  • Acting as an anti-inflammatory
  • Influencing memory function
  • Controlling water and salt balance
  • Influencing blood pressure
  • Sleep/wake cycles
  • Digestion
    …to name a few!

Poor old cortisol gets a bad rap, but as you will soon see it is the chronic activation of the stress response that is the issue.

I could get super nerdy and detailed about the stress response, but let’s keep things simple. Here’s a brief explanation of the “fight or flight” stress response.

Your senses detect a potentially life-threatening situation that the brain interprets as “danger”. In response to this acute stress, the branches of the autonomic nervous system (sympathetic and parasympathetic systems) work in tandem, together with the hormonal system and set off a series of reactions we call the stress response.

In reaction to a stressor, the sympathetic arm – let’s call it the accelerator pedal – will initiate the “fight or flight” response. A series of messages stimulate the release of hormones, one being CORTISOL, and the body is activated to protect us from the danger by preparing us either to stay and fight or to get away as fast as possible – we become faster, stronger, and have more endurance for a short time.

Once the stressor has passed, the parasympathetic arm – or the brake pedal – promotes relaxation and recovery and brings the body back to its normal state.

This reaction is healthy and beneficial when it is turned on AND off.

The challenge is that for many people the accelerator pedal is always on, keeping the engine revving too high. This is CHRONIC stress and the cortisol surge never turns off. This can lead to elevated cortisol, or it may cause your cortisol levels to swing wildly between too high and too low – sometimes within hours of the same day!

Hello hormone imbalance!

The problem is that your body does not know the difference between physical & mental stress, actual or perceived stress, and it triggers the same physiological response.

Unfortunately, the body can overreact to stressors that are non-life-threatening, such as traffic jams, work pressure, family or relationship difficulties, even perceived stressors that don’t exist, except in our imagination, too much intense exercise without sufficient recovery, extreme dieting…

The more stressors, the greater effect on the nervous system. If the individual cannot remove the stressors the more dominant the sympathetic nervous system becomes.

Long-term effects of chronic stress have been linked to:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Increased belly fat
  • Changes in the brain, particularly the hippocampus which is the memory centre
  • Insomnia
  • Immune system dysfunction
  • Inflammation
  • Osteoporosis
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
    …wonderful hey!

The GOOD news is, however, that with a few tweaks to your lifestyle these effects can be halted or even reversed by managing your stress levels and finding the “Goldilocks” level – not too high and not too low – for cortisol.

Here are 3 strategies to start feeling a little more relaxed…


Find something that you LOVE to do, that takes you outside, that gets the happy hormones flowing. Yoga, dancing, zumba, swimming, walking, LISS (low-intensity steady state cardio), pilates. ANY movement that leaves you feeling better than before you started.  **Beware of adding to your stressed state with too much high-intensity exercise.**


As women and mums, we are very good at trying to be everything to everyone, feeling guilty when we fall short of our own expectations and “not enough”. Working on your mindset, practicing self-compassion, choosing to do less to achieve more, will all go a long way to relieving the feelings of stress and anxiety that build up, keeping the accelerator pedal down and the engine revving.


Mindfulness is a form of self-awareness training. Mindfulness is about being aware of what is happening in the present on a moment to moment basis, and not making judgments about whether we like or don’t like what we find. When we focus on the present and disengage from mental clutter, it allows us to have a clear mind. It makes it possible for us to respond rather than react to situations, and therefore improve our decision-making and potential for physical and mental relaxation. Ahhh!

Do you need to press PAUSE and take your foot off the accelerator? Then I’d love you to join me at our next mmmPower Your Heart Body & Soul workshop where we focus on the three m’s above – Movement, Mindset & Mindfulness.

WHEN: Monday 18th June
TIME: 7.30pm – 9.30pm
WHERE: The Swedish Pilates Studio, Glen Iris
BOOKINGS: Click HERE (you’ll be taken to Mindbody)

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Why Shopping for Clothes is my kryptonite

Dress shop window

How a coach can help you overcome your kryptonite

Kryptonite! We all have our own version of Superman’s kryptonite – something that exposes your ultimate weakness, fear, aversion, or a phobia.

What’s my kryptonite?


Closely followed by…


And I have done A to attend B this week. Just typing those phrases gives me a funny feeling in my stomach and makes me break out in a cold sweat.

Why? Because of the stories I tell myself whilst in the fitting room. You know the ones

“I can’t wear that, I’m 48, not 18!”
“I’m not tall enough to wear that length, I need at least another 10cm”
“That doesn’t suit me, I don’t have any boobs!”
“Black…my cupboard is full of black…matches the dark circles under my eyes though”
“Oh, crap heels too! No way I look like I’ve drunk a magnum of Moet at the races trying to walk in those killers”

And the BIG story I tell myself…

Everyone else looks so glamorous and confident, and happy and comfortable in heels!

But, with the help of a wonderful shop assistant who immediately identified I was feeling the effects of kryptonite, I did find something whilst shopping today. She listened to my stories, asked me some great questions, gave me a few options, and steered me gently towards being able to make my own choices. I felt at ease, I felt supported, I felt empowered.

Change the scenario, and the truth of the matter is a LOT of women feel just like me. Let’s use going to the gym as an example.

Do these stories sound familiar?

“I can’t possibly run, everything jiggles”
“I’m too uncoordinated to do a class – everyone will look at me”
“I look so lumpy in activewear”
“I’m too unfit to go to the gym”
“I’m too old to start, and I don’t know what to do”.

And of course the old chestnut…everyone else looks so confident, fit, strong and like they know what they are doing.

But, just like the wonderful shop assistant coached me through my version of hell, a great health & fitness coach can help you overcome your kryptonite and inspire you to bring out your best. A good coach will help you feel at ease. Feel supported. Feel empowered.

Maybe I could be that coach for you. x


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Today I did something I haven’t done for a while…

Woman sitting on ledge thinking

Today I did something I haven’t done for a while – I stood on the bathroom scales and weighed myself.

I used to do this daily.

The number I saw on the scale would then influence my mood, what I ate, how much I exercised, how I dressed, what I thought of myself. In short – it would dictate whether I had a good day or a bad day.

What happened today? Looking down at the scales I noticed the numbers where a little different to the last time – “interesting”!

I looked in the mirror and I saw myself. I saw the body of a (nearly) 48-year-old woman. A woman who has carried, birthed, nourished and nurtured 3-children. A body that has been physically active for as long as its been alive. A physique that is strong, has run marathons, can do pull-ups, can deadlift more than it weighs. A scar that signifies the entrance to the world of baby #3.

A body that is starting to change as it transitions from child-bearing years through the years of peri-menopause to menopause and beyond. A frame that supports a family, encasing a heart that beats, lungs that breathe, and limbs that move.

A body that I am at peace with.

But it hasn’t always been that way.

There were years of fighting with my body. There were years of restriction, over-exercising, of not feeling thin enough. There was a great fear of getting fat, weighing more, of not being fit enough, of not being enough.

When I looked in the mirror then I only saw flaws – not tall enough, not busty enough, arms too muscly, too many veins, not enough curves, not a flat enough stomach…

And when I looked at the scales then, the number was much less than what it is today.

Weight does not equal health, or worthiness, or happiness.

Thin does not equal fit, or healthy, or happy.

Well-being and healthy habits are so much more important than the number on a scale. Living a fulfilling life is not dependent upon how you look, what you weigh or how young you stay.

I am heavier, happier and healthier now more than ever.

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Do you suffer from Decision Fatigue?

My 5-Top Tips to avoid Decision Fatigue

Decision fatigue. Heard of it? It’s that feeling of overwhelm that gradually builds up, to the point where if you have to make one more decision, for yourself or someone else, it may just tip you over the edge.

Let’s face it – life is one decision after the next. If you are a (recovering) perfectionist like me, trying to make the “right” decision whilst keeping everyone happy, reduces your capacity to make excellent choices when it really matters.

Personally, I have learnt that by trying to make the “right” decision about every logistical arrangement for the family, every group fitness session, every post on Facebook and every minute of my day is not only impossible and exhausting, but it leaves me mentally and emotionally drained to make great decisions about the things that matter the most.

I was sweating the small stuff!

So rather than trying to make the perfect decision, or not make a decision at all in case it’s the wrong one, I now try to make a choice that meets a basic standard of satisfaction, and then move on.

This is what I like to call “its good enough”. Decision made, move on.

In practice, this allows me to get more done because I’m not wasting precious time or energy on decisions that in the grand scheme of things, don’t really matter.

For example – So I didn’t get the best possible price for my new runners. Meh. Move on. So my choice of salmon at dinner didn’t look as tasty as the chicken my husband chose. Move on. So I didn’t correct the typo in the Facebook post before I pressed publish? Move on.

Here are my 5 top tips on how you can avoid “Decision Fatigue”

  1. Don’t fall into the comparison trap! Despite your best intentions, if you compare there will always be someone who made a better (cheaper, tastier, better looking, easier, quicker results etc) choice. Make the best decision you can with what you know and leave it at that. So your shoes cost $50 more than Sarah’s who bought them online, OK, move on, let it go.
  2. Limit your choices. I love the idea of a uniform. Why? It takes away the need to make a decision about what to wear each day. Steve Job’s was known to wear only blue jeans and either a black or white t-shirt to work every single day so he didn’t’ have to waste his energy each morning on deciding what to wear. By applying this principle to those things which aren’t really critical, will free up your time and brain space for the meaningful stuff. Long live activewear!
  3. Lower your bar or standard. This has possibly been one of the harder things for me to do, but also the one that has made the most difference. By lowering the decision-making bar to what is a ‘good enough’ choice rather than what is the perfect choice, has saved me hours of unproductive research, worry, and indecision. 80% is good enough.
  4. Make it irreversible. Some decisions we make, such as what to wear to work, are not going to change the course of history or damage your health if you simply make the decision and move on.But, if you make an open-ended decision by keeping your options open just in case you change your mind later, or hedge your bets, this will leave you wide open to constantly second-guessing yourself which is exhausting. Make a choice, stick to it, end of story.
  5. Be decisive despite your uncertainty. Hands up if you’ve let the fear of making a wrong decision stop you from making a right decision…or making any at all. Yep, my hand is UP. Of course, there are genuinely important decisions that we need to make throughout the course of life – and these are the ones we want to save our energy for. We have so much data, information and a plethora of possibilities at our disposal that if we analyse the small stuff for too long we miss out on living life and allow potential or opportunities pass us by.

Research has found, the most successful people don’t sweat small decisions and they don’t spend years analysing and researching the big ones. Instead, they make the best decision they can at that time with the available data. If the outcome is less than ideal, they pivot and move on. Delaying a decision at the time can seem like the safest thing to do, but can often be the riskiest.

What I’ve come to realise is that good enough is truly good enough. By letting go of the fear of making an imperfect decision I am no longer distracted from making great decisions about the things that matter the most in life. Living life, being in the moment, that’s what really matters x

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“The Change”

Change is sometimes forced upon us. Menopause is a little like that. We don’t have any control over when it will happen, how long the transition will take, or what symptoms we will suffer. But just like paying taxes and dying, women will travel through perimenopause on the way to destination menopause. But what we do have control over, is how we react to and manage this change.

I am 47. It’s a little weird to see that number on paper, as it confirms that I am creeping ever closer to 50 and yet it doesn’t seem possible. I still feel 24 in my head, my body usually acts like a 30-year-old and my outlook on life remains young. Yet I can tell my body is changing. Although it’s been pretty smooth sailing up until now, I know bumpy seas may not be too far away…

Entering my forties was a breeze – in fact I was in better condition both physically and mentally than I was in my twenties. I felt awesome! The baby-making days were well and truly over (you can read about my Bump, Bubs & Beyond story here), I was running faster & further than ever (pic above is me running New York City marathon in 2011 age 41), lifting, jumping, studying, I started my own business, worked with a charity, managed an active family. Life was (and still is) good.

Then earlier this year, I started to notice a shift both physically and emotionally.

Physically I’m not bouncing back quite as quickly from training as I did 12 months ago. I need to include recovery, restorative activity and rest days regularly or I pay for it (hello sore back!). I’ve noticed a little “marshmallow” around my tummy and upper legs despite no deviation from my usual diet. And, I have days when I am completely s p e n t.

But I think it’s the emotional side that is most telling. In general, I’ve never really been too up & down with the monthly ebb & flow of hormones. Not any more –  I’m all OvEr the place!  Some days I’m clear headed, efficient, super productive, can handle anything that comes my way – good or bad. Other days I’m in a complete fog. Making a decision is stressful, being “on” and “up” for clients a real challenge, and trying to see the good in situations or people takes a lot of effort. My darling daughter tells me that there are times when my fuse is really, really short and I’m super grumpy mum! I also have days when I’d prefer to be by myself.

So, although I haven’t had it medically confirmed (blood tests next week) I’m pretty sure I’ve just taken a seat on the perimenopause train. This could be a quick express trip or stopping all stations. Either way, this is why I’ve started researching, questioning, listening and talking with other women about menopause. I want to know the facts that will help answer all the “why do I feel like this” questions I have. I want to find solutions and work out strategies so I can embrace this stage of life and see it as a positive experience. And I want to STAY STRONG, FIT & ACTIVE (in active wear) for a long time to come.

Women are brilliant at talking! Sometimes we just need a little kick start to get the conversation flowing, but when it does – BOOM! Let’s start this conversation about menopause. It (menopause) will happen so staying silent is not going to make it go away. Being a negative Norah (sorry Gran T x) about all the side effects will not make them feel any better. If we share our experiences, talk openly and honestly – without judgement – we can help each other through this stage and out the other side with our dignity, sanity and badass attitude intact!  Because guess what – we still have a whole lot of living to do.

If you’ve got a story to share, questions to ask, strategies that have worked for you, I’d love to hear from you. Please email me at  or join the closed Facebook Group I’ve created especially for all of the 40+ fabulous women of the Heart Body & Soul community.

All power to the badass ladies of Heart Body & Soul xx


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Let’s talk periods

Let’s talk periods, or more specifically the menstrual cycle. Our reproductive years are marked by the regular occurrence of a menstrual cycle. Like it or loathe it, the menstrual cycle and the hormonal changes that drive the cycle, lie at the core of a female’s health and well-being.

Some of us are really in synch with our monthly cycles, others (me being one of them) not so much. But there is much to be learnt from tuning into your menstrual cycle and then to use this knowledge to your advantage, particularly if you have specific strength, performance or physique change goals.

The cyclic hormonal changes involve a number of important organs in the body that are instrumental to the development and regulation of the reproductive and immune systems. These hormonal changes influence your mood, energy fluctuations, cravings, body shape and performance. By having an understanding of your cycle it can provide you with a useful “snapshot” into the status of your overall health, and therefore how to potentially make a few tweaks to your lifestyle to see positive changes.

The following is a brief summary of the menstrual cycle, the hormonal changes and how exercise prescription can be altered to take advantage of these fluctuations. It may also explain why you feel stronger one week and like you’ve hit a brick wall the next.

A normal menstrual cycle can be anywhere between 28 and 35 days. For the purpose of this article let’s use 28-days as that fits neatly into a 4-week period. A cycle can be divided into 2 main phases – the Follicular and Luteal Phase. Each phase is characterised by a change in the ratio of the two main sex hormones – oestrogen and progesterone.

Follicular Phase

This first phase occurs between day one (first day of bleeding) and ovulation (when an egg is released from the follicle). When you have your period oestrogen and progesterone are at their lowest levels. Interestingly, this is the time when women are physiologically “most like men” which explains why you may feel strong and good when exercising.

Oestrogen levels rise gradually during the first 10-days of the cycle and peak just prior to ovulation around day 14. Oestrogen has a positive effect on mood and energy, muscle strength and force production, and has a protective quality in mitigating muscle damage.

In regards to exercise and training – this phase provides an opportunity to build muscle, improve strength and train at higher intensity. The body can handle more pain, can produce more muscle force and recovers well. Therefore, high intensity, short duration interval sessions are effective, as is training for strength and hypertrophy gains.

Interestingly, during this phase the body utilises more glucose and is more insulin sensitive – the body’s cells readily absorb glucose out of the bloodstream to use as fuel. It is therefore important to fuel the body with adequate amounts of carbohydrates to meet any increase in energy demands.


Ovulation – when an egg is released from the follicle – occurs around day 14 and is characterised by a sharp increase in all hormones, including testosterone.

Luteal Phase

The time between ovulation and menstruation is the luteal phase. Initially there is a dip in oestrogen levels, but this rises again, along with the hormone progesterone.

Progesterone is known to be “catabolic” in nature – it “breaks down” molecules – as a result increasing core body temperature and a switch in fuel source from carbohydrate to fat.

If you are in tune with your body, you may notice subtle changes that occur after ovulation – energy shifts, mood changes, maybe you don’t recover so well after training. And, as you near your period, you may experience symptoms of PMS and/or cravings.

This is potentially a time to switch down gears and reduce intensity and loads to match your energy level and mood, and honour how your body is feeling. In the lead up to your period, you may find switching towards lower intensity, longer duration intervals and exercises, circuit training and general play may be more beneficial than short, sharp intense sessions. If you suffer from bloating, cramping and other premenstrual symptoms, the ability to activate your inner core may be impacted and could leave you vulnerable to injury without adequate preparation.

And finally, if you really are feeling crap – give yourself permission to rest. A few days of lighter training or relaxation will actually improve your overall health.

Some women are more prone to cyclic changes than others. Understanding how you respond to your cycle can make it easier to adapt your lifestyle – exercise, nutrition, sleep and stress levels in particular – in order to work with rather than against your cycle.

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One step back…two steps forward

Do you feel a constant urge to make progress? In life, relationships, fitness, business? Have you noticed that progress isn’t always one way traffic?

Progress is by definition “forward or onward movement towards an objective or to a goal”, or my preferred definition “gradual betterment”.

The path towards the goal may plateau and undulate, and even loop back on itself, but ultimately we move forward, we get better, we progress.

Back in the day I very rarely (ie. never!) took a backward step in training until I was forced to. For the stubborn among us, sometimes we are forced into or need to regress a movement, skill or training load – such as when faced with injury or illness – before we can progress.

But there are also times, (and there are also sensible people who work with a good coach) when we can embrace regression or chose to take a backwards step, in order to take two steps forward.

If we embrace regression – rather than wait for imbalance or injury to strike – we give ourselves a better opportunity to succeed in the long run.

So, is it time to give yourself permission to REGRESS?

Maybe you’ve had an extended break from training. Maybe you are returning to exercise after having a baby. Maybe you’ve been stuck on a performance plateau for a few months. Maybe you have an underlying injury or imbalance that’s causing a chain reaction in other parts of your body.

Addressing an injury, imbalance, weakness or a plateau doesn’t have to be a negative experience

Tackle your weakest link, the one you’ve possibly been ignoring or avoiding for a while.

Regressing doesn’t always mean choosing “easier” exercise options.

Try slowing down – less is more.

Train smarter – not harder.

Try increasing your range of movement – focus on quality over quantity.

Allow for adequate recovery – within and between sessions.

You may find that by taking a step back, you come out stronger on the other side, and take two giant steps forward.

I’m embracing regression this term and working with a new coach. My focus is to slow down, less is more, quality over quantity – in order to become more efficient, move better, and progress.

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Teenage Boys & Laundry

What is it with teenage boys & laundry?

Ladies I’m curious…is this the same at your place?

Have you found that at a certain age, the male child who was once verbal, communicative and fairly compliant with daily chores, completely disappears. In his place is someone who looks familiar but has sprouted hair in a few new places, a deeper voice (when its used) and who likes to spend a lot of time in his bedroom with the door closed.

On venturing into said bedroom (once male child has left the building), my first reaction is to pull open blinds & windows and let fresh air IN and THAT stench OUT! Holy mother of…what is THAT!

Next is to try and work out what needs to be washed which isn’t as straight forward as you would think. What has been worn obviously need a trip to the washing machine. BUT – here’s what gets to me – clothes that haven’t been put away, let alone worn, need to be washed too just because they have been sitting underneath what has been worn so it STINKS TOO!

This expedition into said bedroom doesn’t happen all that often as I leave the kids responsible for putting their washing down the laundry chute – you want clean clothes, you put them out to be washed. But, when you haven’t seen any washing come down the chute from teenage son#1 in some time, and the dog can’t even stand the smell wafting out from under the door, then you know it’s time for action and the expedition.

Try as I do, there just seems to be a disconnect between teenage son #1’s intelligent brain and practical ability. I sometimes wonder at what point he’d crack (if I didn’t crack first) and see how long it would be before he thinks it’s time to remove the upper layer of floor covering and put it down the laundry chute to get washed? After he’s worn jocks more than once? When someone mentions he’s a bit on the nose? I shudder to think!

So, I’ve decided to go back to the daily “has anyone got any washing” question. With a little prompt, the practical ability kicks in and sure enough, I get a chute full of stinky laundry – just the way to start the day!

How do you get your teenagers to look after themselves? Any tips?