Saturday, 31 March 2012

Why I'm so cross with a number

I’ve told you about our local gym before.   It’s small – really small – and not remotely fancy.  It doesn’t open all the time cos it’s run on a shoestring – and the membership fees are paltry (yet, even so, a lot of local people can’t afford it).  But, anyhow, that’s all moot because it’s shutting.  We’ve just been told that 1610 (formerly Somerset Leisure) is closing the gym from the end of April. 

People are upset, very upset.  And me?  I’m cross.  Okay, so in the scheme of things, it’s hardly earth-shattering.  A little rural gym used by 80 people?  As someone said on Twitter, you don’t really need a gym to get and keep fit – you can do it all by yourself, using minimal equipment or even just your own body weight.  And that is absolutely true.  But this little gym is far more than ten cardiovascular machines, eight weight machines,  two mats, two fitballs, a TRX and a set of free weights.  It’s a little community. 

I’ve been to a lot of gyms.  But I’ve never been to one whose members’ ages spanned eight decades.  And I’ve certainly never been to one with such a bloody brilliant attitude.  Or such lovely people.  Which is why I’m hacked off it’s shutting. For me, personally, it's not the end of the world - I use it because it's there and it's great but I do have other ways of keeping fit. However a lot of people really rely on it and they deserve better.

The great irony is that it’s shutting down in the year this country hosts the Olympic Games. Our politicians lecture us that we’re overweight and underfit; they urge us to take up sport, to exercise, to move our bodies.  They're right: exercise is vital – our bodies need to move in order to stay fit and healthy.  Sure, you could get out there and walk/run/cycle/swim.  But you need to be motivated to do that and, let’s be honest, for a lot of people motivation is the toughest part of the exercise equation.  Trisha, one of the instructors, is one of life’s natural motivators. I have watched people literally change shape under her mentoring.  They shed pounds, drop dress/trouser sizes, go from couch potatoes to people who run marathons. Seriously.  I’ve also seen confidence grow, shyness fade away, depression lift, anxiety calm down. People have healed themselves at that damn gym, damnit.

There are people in their 80s there,  going hell for leather on the bikes, pumping iron.  Often more gung-ho and up for it than those half their age.  It was attracting those tricky teens too – and by heck, surely anything that encourages young people to get off their backsides and move is a good thing?  Trisha devised fun, safe programmes for children too, getting them moving, while also gently introducing them to the concept of healthy eating. 

I've met people there who are fighting cancer and yet more who have kicked that bloody disease into touch and use exercise as part of their regime for staying fit and healthy.  And people who suffer other illnesses, not just physical but mental too.  And there, I think, lies the true benefit of the gym.  Because it’s not just about the equipment, the machines, the regimes. It’s about the psychological benefits of belonging, not remotely in a forced or formal or regimented way, but in the quiet magic of a little ad hoc casual conversation; a smile; an acceptance; a tacit nod of support.

Exmoor is a beautiful place but it can be very isolating living here.  People often don’t realise that rural communities can be deprived just as much as inner city ones and West Somerset is officially classed as deprived. 

The gym acts as an unofficial support group to many people.  Members often drop by just for a chat, even if they don’t have time for a workout.  As far as we can, we help one another – we don’t pry, we don’t push but I guess we provide a listening ear, share suggestions, introduce helpful people.  You can’t put a price on that.

Yet, despite all this, the gym is closing because… Well, presumably because of money.  Or lack thereof.  But this is what I really don’t understand.  Apparently we needed twenty more members to go into profit. Just twenty bodies. Yet 1610 (yeah, I know, isn’t it such a stupid name? Can a number even be a name??) barely advertised the facility and seemed uninterested in encouraging more people.  Not long ago I wrote a long email to them suggesting ideas for boosting membership (family memberships, links with GP surgery, better marketing, etc. etc.) – I never received a reply. 

I can understand that times are difficult, funds are tight.  But 1610 is a non-profit making leisure trust - it’s not big business.  Their website says: ‘Our aim is… to help people live fuller richer lives through an active body and active mind.’ Oh really?  You could have fooled me.   

What will we do?  Fight, of course.  Because that’s what you do for things that are worth it, isn’t it?  You don’t roll over and give up.   So we’re going to talk to the local council; we’re going to get media coverage of the issue; we’re going to see if there’s a way of taking the gym into our own hands and running it ourselves.  Something Dulverton always likes doing.  Cos it may only be 80 people but they are 80 people I know and care about.  And, with a bit of enthusiasm and inventiveness and passion there could be a lot lot more of them.  So, if there’s any way you can help, do get in touch. We now have a website:  Exmoor Gym - and also a Twitter account - @exmoorgym - follow us and support us if you can.
And if you have something similar in your neighbourhood, please support it.  In tough times it’s the little things that make a difference, that help us get by. Don’t let them falter and fall through neglect.
Update (10th April):  Following a meeting a working group has formed and has drafted a detailed business plan showing the gym is totally viable. Our town council and the church are fully on side and we have had support from a wide range of people - both gym users and others.
We would like to run the gym as a registered charity (accountable to locals via the Town Council).  We are confident we can run it professionally and within budget, ploughing any profit back into the facility. However, to date, 1610 are refusing to discuss the issue.  They would not go on local radio to talk about it. They have refused to meet with the group or the Town Council.  They want to keep the gym - but keep it closed. Now where is the sense in that?  Without wanting to be a conspiracy theorist, you have to wonder why?

So we have a  bit of a David and Goliath situation. Our MP, Ian Liddell-Grainger, isn't being exactly supportive so far. Which is also interesting because it's his party which has advocated the 'Big Society' and this, surely, is localism in action, rather than just rhetoric.

So right now we are seeking press coverage - because, frankly, the situation sucks.  So, if you have any contacts and could spread the word, we would be very grateful.  Actually, I suspect it might make a darn good story. 

Wednesday, 14 March 2012


Touch.  So essential.  So overlooked (or rather so undertouched).  We're touch deprived, so many of us  - we really are.  I've been fascinated by the healing power of touch and have been reading the research for the last twenty years. It gets more and more convincing.  We humans need touch - it's as essential in its way as food, drink, air.  The saddest thing?  Babies in orphanages deprived of touch.  They fail to thrive; if they do survive they grow up with behavioural problems.  On the other hand, babies who are held, cuddled, stroked, kissed, grow up calmer, more resilient to stress, with stronger immune systems.  Baby massage? Fabulous.  Well, if your baby will go for it.  James absolutely loathed it.  But we spent a lot of chilled time, skin to skin, when he was small to compensate - and he loved that - so maybe it was just that I wasn't the best masseuse! 
I could bore you for hours about this, cos I find it fascinating, but anyway...
If I were in charge of the country I'd make massage therapy free on the NHS. Cos I figure it would solve on helluva lot of our problems (not just health-wise but societally too). It would also save a shedload of money.  

Back in the 90s, when I earned a decent whack, I didn't spend my spare cash (oh, the thought!) on fancy shoes or clothes - I spent it on good bodywork.  I used to visit this guy called Paresh Rink once a week, out in Glastonbury.  No fancy spa, no shiny clinic.  He worked from home, from a little back room of his terraced house, with socks hanging on the radiator (okay, so that bit wasn't quite so fabulous).  But frankly it didn't matter one jot because he ironed out my body. And my mind followed.  Of course. Because what profoundly  affects the body, affects the mind - and vice versa. How could it not?

Now I think I have found my new Paresh (the original escaped back to California). You already know I love the Hands On clinic in Braunton which, incidentally, is as clean and fresh as a brisk sea breeze from nearly Saunton beach.  Not a single damp sock in sight.  Well, I went back yesterday, for another session with Phil Steward.  I told him I'd wrecked my Achilles (again) and that my coccyx was gridlocked. At which point he laughed out loud and plucked out a textbook and showed me a picture.
'Don't worry,' he said with a broad grin. 'I won't use that particular technique.'
'Thank feck for that,' I replied, eyes like saucers at the prospect of having my coccyx manipulated from the inside out.

The next hour melted me.  He used a combination of techniques but really that's just the bottom (sorry!) layer of the puzzle.  The guy's a healer, pure and simple.  At the end he got me to turn over onto my back with my arms crossed over my chest and he did this thingy where he got me to breathe in and then exhale as he put his weight on me (and he's one big guy).  'Lift up your chin,' he said. 'Like you're trying to do a crunch.'  I managed about an inch (tough when you've got no air in your lungs) and the whole set of my thoracic vertebrae just gave in, clicked and released in sequence. Unbelievable.  No trauma, no invasive manipulation.
'Your body really needed to do that,' he said.
'Er, just a  bit,' I said. Then added, 'Was I very tense and uptight? Like all over?'
'Er, just a bit,' he said.

Now not everyone shares my love of being pummelled and pounded.  I know some people who literally shudder at the idea of being massaged.  And that saddens me, it really does. Not because I think people should like the stuff I like (horses for courses and all); it's just that I can't wrap my head around the idea that anyone wouldn't adore having their body sorted out by someone who really knows what they're doing.

Of course there are reasons why some people don't like touch (it often goes hand in glove with early abuse) and that is even sadder.  

Other people raise their eyebrows when I say I like getting massaged by guys.  In fact, out of my top five best massage therapists, three were men (Paresh, Phil and some guy at the AlpenMedhotel Lamm in Austria).  Interestingly, the two women both do chavutti thirumal, the Indian rope massage (where they mainly use their feet to go deep into the muscles and fascia). Cos, see (or rather, feel) I like a deep touch and it might sound sexist but guys just do tend to probe that bit deeper.

'Ooooh, no, I could never be massaged by a man,' said my friend Gill.
'But why?' I said.
' know...' She paused and looked meaningful.
'No. What?' 
'Well...' More eye gestures.
The penny dropped. 'Oh, you mean sex?'
'Well, you did mean it, didn't you?' 
'Oh, for pity's sake!'

It's not just women either.  When I raved on about Phil on Twitter I got a dose of Carry On 'ooh errr, missus' from our own Jake Barton.
- All that hands-on malarkey would worry me. Prone to alarmist tendencies re wandering hands [he said]
- Don't be ridiculous, Barton. [I said]
- Shy boys like me dread the very idea of massages. Far too much indiscreet rummaging. [he said].
- No comment. [I didn't say.]

I mean. Really. Get over yourselves.  That idea of massage really is dead and gone - unless, of course, you find your massage therapists from cards in telephone boxes or in small ads that say 'added extras' and throw in a Badedas bath at the end.  Today's bodyworkers are supreme professionals.  You're a body.  With issues.  That they can fix.  That's it. 

And my poor body had issues.  In fact, according to Phil, its issues had issues.  But now it feels...rather delightful.

Seriously, if you're anywhere within driving distance of North Devon, give your body a treat and go see Phil.  And if you really do have guy 'issues' another of my top therapists, Jules, works there.  And if you can't handle 'deep' massage (no, not of the anal variety, for pity's sake) they have other therapists who, I'm willing to bet, are pretty damn good too.  Cos Ellie (Phil's partner) vets them all and I get the feeling she's as picky as I am.  

Sooo... How about you? Love massage? Hate it?  How do you like it?  Whom do you rate?  

The Hands On clinic is in Braunton, North Devon. Check out their website for more details:

Monday, 12 March 2012

On Not Being The One

Something special for you today.  A guest post by someone I love and admire hugely.  I met T.L. Tyson on Authonomy (yes, that place has a lot to answer for!) soon after I joined. In fact, I read her book, Seeking Eleanor and nearly left straight away as I figured I had no hope if all the writing was as good as that.  We’ve been in touch now for, what? Three years?  She’s smart, funny, fun, quick as a whip, heart-tearingly honest and wise.  
I would strongly advise you read her blog, watch her vlog and, if you happen to be an agent or publisher with any sense whatsoever, nab her quick. You can also catch her on Twitter (@TL_Tyson) and Facebook.
Anyhow, I asked if she’d like to write a guest post and this is what she sent me this morning…and it sent a tingle down my spine as, just like always, she has hit the nail on the head..  

On Not Being The One – T.L. Tyson
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve hated disappointing people. Even now, as an adult, it hurts to let someone down. This isn’t a feeling specific to me. Humans have this tendency to want to please others, especially the ones they care about, and when they don’t feelings of not being good enough surface, often against our will.  
Recently, I’ve been mulling, which is never a good thing, but it’s allowed me to come to terms with not being the one. Oh, no, this isn’t about romance or love or fairytale weddings, this is about expectations and trying to change for others. This is about who we are, and who others want us to be.  
All through growing up, we desperately want to find our identities. In theory, being ourselves is easy. In reality, it’s one of the hardest things to do. Often, we’re encouraged to dress, act and think as individuals, to walk our own paths, as long as it isn’t too extreme.
A lot of us struggle to find who we are, searching through our twenties, even our forties, and, sadly, some of us never figure it out. Still, we keep at it. We put the time, energy, and work into learning to like our reflections. The path can be tedious, but it’s worth it to accept our flaws, our idiosyncrasies, and embrace the person inside us. To love who we are, in order to allow others to love us back. 
Except, sometimes people love us for who we aren’t. For who they think we are.
Let me explain.
People have expectations. Friends, lovers, siblings, mothers, fathers, spouses and even acquaintances all have desires, needs, and dreams, both of themselves and of each other. And, when we don’t live up to their standards, ideals, or hopes, it’s crushing—for both parties. But the truth is, we cannot control how others want us to be.
 In the last year, there have been several instances where people have wanted me to be someone I’m not. Someone who may vaguely resemble me, but who lacks the same morals, thoughts, aspirations, and reacts differently than I do. The hardest part is feeling inadequate, like I’ve mislead them into thinking I might be the girl they longed for, the friend they always wanted, the lover they never thought they’d find. Human nature is a tricky thing. Above everything else, we want someone to get us, understand who we are, and we will do anything to feel that connection, even idealize them.
The most frustrating part is, I’ve done it myself. In the past, I’ve glorified  people and tricked myself into thinking they have qualities they don’t, because it was what I wanted. This is wrong. I don’t want to make someone out to be something they’re not. And I don’t want someone making me out to be something I’m not. It’s okay to have expectations of ourselves, but having them of other people is a dangerous business. It’s a hurtful one.
Earlier this week, I wrote something down on a scrap piece of paper. One sentence that said, “I’m sorry I’m not the girl you wanted me to be.”
They are simple words, but they make me ache, because it hurts to realize you aren’t enough, especially because we spend so much time trying to figure out who we are. It’s gutting when other people simply can’t accept you for you. It’s hard not to take it personally, and even harder to move past.  
The feelings of inadequacy are pointless, though. We need to let go of feeling insufficient because we cannot change to please someone else. It’s better to be ourselves and without, than with someone and pretending to be something we’re not. After brooding over this, I realized there is only one way forward. Acceptance. We need to accept others for who they are, in hopes they will grant us the same luxury. Above all, we need to accept ourselves, and embrace who we aren’t. 

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Let it go!

The Bonkers House is feeling nervous.  It is being decluttered. Drastically.

Editing my book The Detox Plan for Kindle made me feel guilty, damn guilty. I know all this stuff but do I follow my own advice? Hell no. 
Truly, it’s nigh-on impossible to get any clarity in your head, in your life, if you’re surrounded by stuff.  And hell, do I need some clarity.  So the stuff has to go.
My mother was supreme at this.  In fact, when she died, there was barely anything left to clear. She had pared her life down to a suitcase of clothes and one bookcase of beloved books.  A few pictures, a journal, her photo albums.  A dog. 

Anyhow. It’s spring. The time for clearing and cleansing – and decluttering.  So I started blitzing.  Eight bags of books. Five bags of clothes. One box of DVDs/CDs.  Two boxes of assorted detritus.  So far…

If you’re gonna declutter you have to do it fast and furious, I reckon. Sling on some loud music, grab a pile of bin bags and just get ruthless. It’s fatal to pick things up and look at them too long. Don’t even go near the memories of where you bought, who gave, when given.  Nooooo.  Just fling ‘em in the bags and let go. 
Do you use a holding area, asked someone on Twitter. Hell no!  Holding areas are strictly forbidden, the devil’s spawn. They offer the promise of the second chance, of return, of reprieve.  Get the stuff out the house quick, before remorse or doubt sets in.  Well, that’s the theory.  My fly in the ointment is Adrian.

Adrian is a dragon.  No, not just cos of the Welsh bit or the fiery chilli and garlic breath.  He hoards. For pity’s sake he wears socks that are more hole than sock. Pants that are shredded, and no, not in a funky way.  He is a mild man on the whole, but when it comes to books, he turns nasty, positively gladiatorial.

‘What have you been doing while I’ve been away?’ he asked suspiciously on his return from Belgium last week.  I frowned, wondering if he’d picked up on the covert exorcism.  But no.  He peered over my shoulder and pointed accusingly.
‘You’re getting rid of books again, aren’t you?’
‘Only mine,’ I said defensively but he darted past me and pulled them all out, looking pained, making small piles which then turned into larger piles.  Ones he ‘might’ read.  Ones that ‘shouldn’t be got rid of’.  Ones which were, he insisted, his in the first place.
Sigh.  I don’t see the point.  Yes, I keep reference books; I keep books I need for work but novels?  Only those I’ll absolutely read again.  And those with huge sentimental value (and, actually, less of those all the time).  I used to read four or five books a week.  Keep them all?  Impossible. The house is already rammed to the gills with thousands of the beasts. Something has to give. In feng shui they say that you should always leave space on your bookshelves – to allow new knowledge to come in. 

Ditto clothes. What’s the point of hanging onto stuff you never wear? Honestly, even if you do fit back into it at some point, it won’t be in fashion anymore.  They’re sneaky, those fashion people, the styling is always slightly different; the cut tighter or the sleeve wider.  I’ve got a couple of jackets from the 80s which are gorgeous - one is an Elaine Challoner with the funkiest buttons, and the other I had made by Idol and it’s plain fabulous.  But I tried them on the other day and, seriously, they made me look like something from Dallas.  Hell, those shoulder-pads!
Since losing weight, the vast majority of my wardrobe hangs on me and, last time I looked, Irish potato famine chic ain’t coming round again.  I know I should do eBay but really, I haven’t got the nous or the energy.  So off it goes to the charity shop. 

James is like me. He doesn’t hoard.  But he does have a canny eye for making money.
‘You’re missing a trick, Mum,’ he said, eyeing up the ever increasing pile of boxes and bags.
‘I am?’
‘Sure. They’re doing a table-top sale next month. You and I could make us some money.’
Given he regularly manages to sell enough stuff to fund his gaming habit, I listened.
‘Look. Sellotape it up so Dad can’t get to it and put it in the utility room.  We’ll split the proceeds. I can get my video recording stuff and you can get a DVD player.’ 
‘I don’t need a DVD player. If I want to watch something, I can use your Xbox.’
He snarled.  ‘Just do it, Mum.’
‘Okay, boss.’

So, against my better nature, I have a holding area.  Just for now. 
How about you?  Hoard or let go?  

Thursday, 8 March 2012


Imagine waking up each morning feeling full of energy and vitality yet also feeling calm and relaxed about the day to come.   You know what?  Abundant health and wellbeing should be our natural state. We should wake up ready to launch into each day feeling joy, peace and a deep connection with our bodies. 
Yet it doesn’t happen, does it?  There are a whole host of reasons why we avoid total vibrant wellbeing.  But it’s always good to find something external to blame, huh?  So let’s scapegoat those nasty old toxins.

To be fair, the modern world is a bit of a toxic battleground.  Everywhere we turn we are assaulted by generally man-made toxins:  in the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink.  Allergies and sensitivities are on the increase, many caused by the growing levels of pollution in the environment, chemicals in our homes and additives in our food.  Should we eat organic if we can afford it?  Hell yeah.  Should we think twice about the chemicals we put on our skin, in our mouths, around our houses?  Er, yup.

It is not just our physical bodies which bear the brunt either.  Our minds are overloaded; we feel a rising sense of panic when we try to cope with our increasing work load and the deep stresses and strains of coping in an increasingly complicated world.  When mind and body are assaulted, our souls can easily become “lost” in the battle.  We feel physically unwell, emotionally drained and psychically bereft.
So a whole bunch of us throw up our hands, thinking that since toxins are so prevalent why try to combat them?  Equally others fall into the opposite camp, living a miserable life eating seaweed and permanently purging themselves with enemas!  But there is a middle way. You can have your cake and eat it - you just need to cleanse it out every so often. 

I’ve written two books on detoxing and more features than I care to remember.  I looked into all the research, tried out pretty well all the practices and figured out what was worth doing and what wasn’t.  Recently I’ve updated and expanded my first book on the subject, The Detox Plan and Kim has put it out in Kindle format.

The aim was simple. Provide a straightforward, sensible guide to coping with our toxic world.  I tried to take a realistic look at the toxic threat - with clear advice about how you can reduce your own personal toxic load.
There are two programs detailed in the book.  A full one-month program which can be easily fitted into your everyday life or a weekend “retreat from the world”.   
I’m no angel.  I may have known all the theory but I didn’t always put it into practice.  But, as I explained in earlier blog posts, I was inspired by Marek Stefanowicz and his books to smarten up my act.  I became vegetarian (verging on vegan), gave up alcohol and caffeine, and took up meditation and exercise.  I also started fasting (usually one day a week or fortnight) and juicing.  Net result?  I dropped three dress sizes, toned up and barely ever get colds anymore. 

Now, not everyone is gonna want to go that route.  Which is where this modified version comes in – aka detoxing.  If you do regularly overload your body, a periodic detox (now is the ideal time as the weather gets warmer and we edge into spring) is a boon.  Sorry, but there is no gizmo that will do it for you – it’s a case of cutting out the baddies (just for a while) to give your body a break.  It may be a bit tough to begin with (your body becomes addicted to some stuff – caffeine and sugar in particular).  But honestly, you will feel absolutely amazingly good after a thorough cleanse – so good that you may not even want to go back to your old ways!  But if you do, your choice entirely.  Just give your body a break periodically – at the change of the seasons works well.  I hope the book cuts out all the crap (so to speak) and gives a sensible, easy to follow, plan.  

What it doesn't include are the following: 
Colonics.  Seriously you don’t need to do this. 
Gimmicky foot patches, magnets and other malarkeys – save your money, honestly.
Expensive spa treatments.  A nice adjunct but won’t do the hard work for you.

You can buy the book by clicking here  - I’ve also put up a Pinterest board for a bit of added inspiration. 

Monday, 5 March 2012

The Natural Year...

There were primroses along the banks as the SP and I walked up into the woods this morning. The wild garlic was shooting up and a haze of green was shimmering over the forest floor. Spring is dawning. The earth is waking up again.  It put me in mind of my second book, The Natural Year, which I wrote when I was living on the Somerset Levels.  A very different landscape, flat wetlands punctuated by soft bosomy hills.  Every day I walked with Monty, our boxer, and noticed the tiny shifts in the world around me and felt how they were echoed within – in my body, my mind, my emotions, my ‘soul’. 

Certain times of the year resonated in different ways.  They had a different mood, a different ambiance and it felt to me that it was important to honour that, to shift the way I lived to fit with the cycles of the year.  That there were times to be all outward and gung-ho but equally times to go within, to bring the focus inside.
Yet society goes right against this – demanding that we’re always up, always switched on, always bright.  It completely ignores the natural cycle of life, the wheel of the year. 

So I wrote The Natural Year.  My puny attempt to redress the balance, to suggest ways of bringing more natural rhythms into our lives. 
We have spent the last century or so desperately running away from nature. We have sought to control the natural world, to bend it to our will, to allow ourselves to live free of its dictates. We have ignored the wisdom of the ancient earth-keepers, those who held faith with the Earth.  We have been arrogant and careless. 
And we pay a price. We become sick in body, sick in mind and sick in spirit. 

Anyhow.  I started The Natural Year with spring.  Because, to me, it symbolises new beginnings with the bursting of fresh life, the optimism that comes with lengthening days and increased sunlight. We come out of the mystical soul-time of winter into a season which is unashamedly about the physical.   It’s a great time to start on a new life-plan because you’ll be working with the thrust of the year, moving with the energy of its natural rhythm. 
So, if you want to make changes in your life, now is a great time to get started.

The Natural Year was originally published by Bantam Books but I recently had the rights reverted and now (thanks to Kim Jewell) it’s available for download to Kindle.  I’ve kept the price low – so hopefully it’s within reach of everyone’s pockets.  Check it out here and here

It’s a smorgasbord of all the stuff I learned from all the fascinating people I met when I was writing a weekly natural health column for the Daily Mail; plus my own interests and researching.  The idea is that it will take you through the year, offering suggestions and hints and tips. You pick those that resonate and let the rest drift by…it’s not a draconian plan or bullying regime by any manner of means. 
I’ve also created a visual board for it on Pinterest and intend to post up odd bits of information along with lovely images that sum up the shifting seasons.  So do drop by and check it out periodically. 

Let me leave you with some thoughts for spring. 
Key focus: getting into the body, working on your relationship with your physical self. 
Secondary focus: starting to think about your life, about introducing change, if that is what you need.
The main tasks: introducing a healthy diet; starting to exercise; detoxification; tonifying the body; boosting the lymphatic system; increasing flexibility.
Questions to ask yourself: How do I really want to live my life? The rest of my life?  How do I want to treat my body? Am I willing to take responsibility for my health? Am I willing to take responsibility for my mind? 

By the way, if anyone would like to review the book for your blog, drop me a line.