New year, new you – Part 2

Hi all,

With January fading into the distance I wanted to round off what I referred to earlier this month as “Self Improvement month” by bringing you two articles written by two friends of mine. They are writing about very different topics but they are both brilliant people who have a story to tell.

Firstly we have Emily Knight, who, in her own words…“I was mortified. At 5’6 and heading towards the 15 stone mark, I was classed as obese in BMI terms.”…embarked on an amazing weight loss journey.

No fad diet, no life of abstinence and sacrifice but a journey that seems accessible to all. Consider this before you read what she has to say. Emily is Bristol’s leading food critic (Bristol Bites). She eats out more than ANYONE I know, sampling new and established restaurants around the city and cuisines which includes fine dining to burgers. And she still made the weight fall off.

I’ve known Emily for 12 years and am so proud of what she achieved and how she did it. Simply incredible.

Secondly we will hear from James Tomkies. James is an incredible Physio Therapist, but he is also much more, he, I believe is a guru of moving well and staying injury free. James can treat any injury BUT he’d much rather work with you to prevent it happening in the first place.

If you suffer from any back, neck or related aches/pains have a read and see if his actions help you like they’ve helped thousands of his clients over the years.

I really hope you enjoy the blog and are enjoying what I am doing here. Please feel free to share this with your friends and if you have any thoughts on what you’d like to see from future articles be it more about the Life Insurance Industry or more guest contributor pieces, just let me know.

Stay healthy,

Ben Mason
Futures Protected – Family and Business Insurance



Emily Knight – A Weight Loss Journey

I’ve never normally been one for New Year’s resolutions. As Ben said in his previous blog post, many people set the bar too high and subsequently fail…and I’ve always been one of those people.

But January 2016 was different. I write about food for a living, which is fun (a LOT of fun), but which had gradually taken its toll on my weight – so gradually, that it wasn’t until I saw the photo of myself from the previous summer that I realised how big I’d let myself get.

I was mortified. At 5’6 and heading towards the 15 stone mark, I was classed as obese in BMI terms. Measuring my waist with my tape measure, handily colour coordinated and labelled with healthy waist measurements, put me in the bright red “HIGH HEALTH RISKS – SEEK ADVICE TO LOSE WEIGHT” category. I was time to make a new resolution for 2016: and one that I’d actually stick to.

A friend of mine had been seeing great results with Slimming World, but at first I wasn’t convinced. Sitting in a room with loads of other people, talking about why we’d gained weight and detailing every single thing that had passed our lips? No, it wasn’t for me…or so I thought. I delved a little deeper and found out that I could still enjoy all my favourite foods and wouldn’t need to eat sparrow-like portions, and decided to pluck up the courage to give it a go.

In January 2016 I walked into my local group, signed up and was weighed, beginning my journey at 14 stone 9 pounds. I lost 4lb in my first week, and managed to lose 5 stone in 8 months to reach my target weight. Since then I’ve lost another half a stone, reaching my final target weight of 9 stone 2 pounds. I love the group atmosphere too: it’s all about mutual support, there’s lots of laughter, and I’ve made some really good friends.

In Ben’s previous blog post he talked about the importance of thinking small: breaking down your task into smaller, more manageable tasks. It’s exactly the tactic I employed throughout my weight loss journey. 5 stone seemed ridiculously unachievable, so I set myself a series of mini targets – each half stone lost, moving down to a different number on the BMI scale, moving down into the next stone bracket…I wrote myself a list of mini targets that had no more than a maximum of five pounds between goals. I’d reach one, tick it off, and think, “Right, four pounds to my next goal – I can do this!” It broke the journey down and kept me motivated, rather than giving up after a week or two as I’d done in the past.

I’m so passionate about Slimming World that I’ve now trained to become a Consultant, and run my own group at Ashton Park School on Blackmoors Lane (BS3 2JL) at 7.30pm on Thursday nights. It’s massively rewarding to be able to help others with their own weight loss journeys, and my members are showing some amazing results: in the third week alone, they lost over five and a half stone between them: the amount of weight I’ve lost in total. I’m so proud of them – and I’m so pleased that I started this journey just over a year ago: I feel so much happier and healthier, and I’m helping others to do the same. Perfect.

Emily’s Slimming World Page

Ashton Park Slimming World Thursdays


James Tomkies – Staying injury free

My name is James Tomkies. I have been a Chartered Physiotherapist for over 25 years with my own  practise for the last 16. I’ve treated Ben on and off over the last eight years and over the last 12 months seen him one to two times a week while managing his shoulder recovery following an operation.

Over the period of 25 years I have picked up a huge amount of information about improving people’s wellbeing, I have also seen a few common causes for re-occurring issues. Knowing my interest in health and wellbeing Ben has asked me to put a few thoughts together on preventing injury through adopting a few simple daily actions.

In my opinion there are three key areas that could help everyone lessen their chances of injury or a niggle that sees you end up on a physio’s bench. Those areas are – Moving Well – Stretching – Posture

Moving Well

I am a great believer in functional training. Functional training is key to ensuring we have a strong, stable body and with continuing research it is proven a good core is key to helping people of all ages lessen the likelihood of injuries and their severity should an injury happen.

Functional Training like most exercises can be pitched at all levels, I always advise people to seek professional advice to see what is best for you. However, to give you an insight as to what Functional Core Training looks like take click here .

Most people can execute some basic functional training moves in their living room as well as at the gym, this leads to improved stability running through the body. For example, standing on one leg and performing a small knee bend will see the ankle, the knee and hip all improve in stability. To make it harder hold a light object away from the body in one hand and feel your trunk muscles engage in the movement also.

Basic movements such as this are key to helping prevent injuries, they are easy to add in to a daily routine, with just 15 minutes a day making a real difference.


Stretching is without a doubt one of the easiest ways to I have found to help prevent injury, the easiest to perform both in terms of technique and time required, yet, fewer than 20% of new clients admit to stretching for more than ten minutes in total a week.

The internet is full of ideas on the subject but for those new to stretching or wanting to get back into it here are two routines that can help. BuiltLean5minuteroutine and LivestrongStretching

My recommendation would be that any induvial, particularly as they age, stretches for at least 10 minutes, 3 times a week. It is better to stretch when you are warm, after you exercise or have been for a walk, this allows your muscle tissue to be more flexible and more amenable to stretching.


In the last 50 years there has been one big change to life that has led to more neck and back complaints than anything else….sitting at the office desk using a computer.

I see clients every month that have a sore neck, back and associated problems. In this position the neck pulls forward, this causes the spine to flex and increases load on the spine, secondly our dominant arm is in an outstretched position causing muscles in the shoulder to work in an uneven way which can lead to significant neck and shoulder pain.

It isn’t possible to just stop using a desk for most people so here are three tips to help reduce the impact of using a desk.

– Take a break, every 30-40 minutes stand up walk for 60 seconds, roll your shoulders and take a few deep breaths. If you have the space maybe execute a couple of the upper body stretches from the earlier videos for a minute.

– Get a good chair – the benefits of a good chair can pay dividends.

– Try to replicate the desk set up in this picture. It should make an immediate difference.

In 25 years I have seen that simply from, moving well, stretching and improving posture people have far fewer injuries, 25 minutes of basic stretching and some functional movement a day can cause a great change and improvement.

I hope you have found this article useful, naturally there is a lot more I can go into but in keeping with a blog post I didn’t think 3500 words was appropriate. If you have any questions, would like to no more or are interested in meeting to discuss your situation please drop me an email at

Keep moving well and take care,


James Tomkies – PhysioElite Ltd
Chartered Physiotherapist MCSP




Futures Protected Ltd and Pink Home Loans are not responsible for the content of any third-party website.

New Year, New You…

…The making of annual resolutions is a flawed enterprise. Fewer than 35% of people are still on target by January 31st with Forbes citing that only 8% make it through the year.

In this month’s blog, Futures Protected looks at resolution making, and examines some thoughts on increasing your chances of success.

Firstly, I want to say that I think ‘new year resolutions’ in their typical form are a bad idea; they have become fanciful, are hard to achieve, and often have no clear path to success. When we don’t keep going all year, we perceive ourselves as failures, thus putting more worry and negative thoughts into our already stressful lives.

A resolution should be a positive and informed decision, not an arbitrary rule imposed on a given date.  It should allow for some flexibility so that as long as we are moving towards the goal, a small slip won’t throw us permanently ‘off course’. After all, if you’ve eaten healthily for five days then had a small cake on the sixth, the world will not end!

Thinking small

If we are honest with ourselves, we could all do with a few more ticks in the win column. So, let’s set about making these resolutions in a more achievable way. To do that, let’s look at the concept of “Thinking Small”.

Picking a goal that is too large, and not having a clear path of how to get there, can turn even the most passionate and motivated person into a disillusioned quitter. Breaking down the goal into manageable, realistic tasks is the key. Accomplishing these tasks builds momentum, and inspires us to tackle the next challenge.

A common example might be setting a goal to lose three stone. There is no healthy way to lose three stone in a week, so instead sustained changes must be made to diet, lifestyle and activity levels. For example, the first week’s activity goal could be “Increase daily steps to at least 3000,” and in the second week it could be “Increase daily steps to 5000,” and so on. If someone has a previously chosen a sedentary lifestyle, making a resolution to walk the recommended 10,000 every single day just won’t happen long-term. By setting a moderate and achievable target, and continually reviewing and increasing the personal challenge, that person is far more likely to make that long-term change to their activity level.

All the data shows setting huge unplanned goals doesn’t work for 92% of us. What percentage of us could manage year-long change if we just thought a little more carefully about our resolutions?

If you want to read more about thinking small I personally enjoyed this article.

Don’t beat yourself up

Did you read that newspaper story where the lady who was on a diet ate a cake and died???

I didn’t think so, because it didn’t happen. But if you listen to some people when they break a resolution or falter from their plan, you’d think they’d broken every law known to man. All that happens with this kind of thinking is that it lowers self-esteem, and crushes the belief that you can achieve your goal. Needless to say, that isn’t healthy! It’s often in those low moments that we reach for the very things that we are trying to give up/reduce.

There is no shame in ‘falling off the wagon’. Everybody falters; just dust yourself off and get back on it.

If you want to read a good short article about falling off the fitness wagon click here.

Know yourself

When making goals for yourself, I think it’s key to know yourself; be honest with yourself. Recognise your strengths and weaknesses; what will make you succeed or fail? What are your key motivators and demotivators?

For me, there is absolutely no point in me saying “I won’t eat any unhealthy food in January,” because I will never succeed; I love all food, both healthy and… less healthy.

So based on principal of small, achievable, realistic goals, here are mine;

  • Maximum of two junk foods / bad foods per week
  • Gym three times a week
  • Build 15 minute core plan with physio I can do at home before I go to work

Those three goals aren’t earth shattering or huge, but they are something I can achieve that will help me move towards my overall goals.

Different goals

Whatever you choose for your personal goals for 2017, best of luck with them and I hope you, your family your friends all have an amazing 2017. Leave me a comment below about your goals for the year, and how you plan to achieve them.

P.S. As it’s January, and in the theme of self-improvement, there will be a second instalment of the blog at the end of the month, from two guest contributors. Both are health related. One on weight loss, which comes with the most amazing real life story, and another from my physio on keeping yourself injury free.

Anyway, I’m off for a light snack or two!

Futures Protected Ltd and Pink Home Loans are not responsible for the content of any third-party website.