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Fitness Fitness My story Uncategorized

Starting from Zero: Weeks 3-5

I don’t have any recent pictures of me that I can upload so I thought I’d add a lovely pic of this forest in Caerphilly – I love it up there.

Well I was meant to update weekly to hold myself to account….ooops! In truth it hasn’t been going well which is perhaps why I just didn’t get around to updating the blog.

Week 3

Well I started off well by doing a 25 minute Pilates Foundations class on the FIIT app but then I really wasn’t feeling well enough to train the next three days (bad headaches etc) so I didn’t. I probably should have at least tried to do a gentle yoga flow or some mobility work but I didn’t, couldn’t get motivated to do anything apart from a few walks so I’m not going to dwell on that now.

My next workout was Circuits #15 with Tyrone Brennand on the FIIT app, this app really is my saviour when I’m forcing myself to train. If I had to write a workout then there are some times where I just wouldn’t do it.

Week 4

Week 4 went better! And that’s the thing with fitness, it’s a long-haul flight not an Easyjet short haul (other airlines are available), it’s all about what you do over time and consistency. Obviously, humans are conditioned to want the short-term fix and so we tend to go hard for a week and when we invariably fall off the wagon, because it is unsustainable, we give up completely.

Here’s how week 4 went:

Monday

Restorative Yoga #1 with Cat Meffan on the FIIT app. I’m loving the restorative yoga, it’s slower and you hold poses for longer which is good for me because I just can’t keep up with these fast paced yoga classes. It’s also relaxing and helps which recovery so when you are doing intense exercise (which is relative to your current fitness levels), it’s good to balance things out with something that calms the nervous system. The added bonus of course being that my flexibility is, frankly, poor so the yoga should help with that and will hopefully allow me to feel better in my body.

Tuesday

Tuesday was Pilates Foundations #5 with Lottie Murphy on the FIIT app. If you knew me a few years ago, you’d probably know that I used to go to pilates twice a week and that I credited it with growing half an inch in my 30’s. I used to think that it stretched my spine but in reality my posture was probably improved. I really want to get back into pilates again and with the lockdown the FIIT app is really helping with that. I know that I could get free workouts on YouTube but honestly, it takes ages to scroll through and find one that you think may be suitable. Unless you have a recommendation from somebody, you don’t know who the person is doing the class and whether they are qualified (and safe) to be doing it. At least with the FIIT app I know that the trainers have been vetted. Anyway, this was a 40 minute class and I then did the Mobility Foundations #1 class with Richie Norton which is 25 minutes long. I’ve been getting bored in the evenings if I have my dinner too early so I found that doing a longer session in the evening helps to pass the time. Plus, I think you’d really struggle to do too much mobility work.

Wednesday

I went a bit bonkers on this day I have to say because I did the 10 minute morning mobility #2 on the FIIT app in my 15 minute tea break – luckily I’m working from home! I wasn’t a fan of this one, I wasn’t overly keen on the trainer (I’m sure he’s a lovely guy but just not my motivation style) but I felt good for moving my body so early on and also smug haha!

After work I did the Circuits #5 class with Tyrone on the FIIT app, I love this class – I probably do it too much but sometimes you have to do what you know you enjoy! This is a 40 minute class and I then followed it with Mobility Flow #5 with Richie Norton which is a 25 minute lower body mobility session. This was good but there was one stretch where I couldn’t feel anything at all and I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. It’s strange because my hips are so tight (so tight that an experienced PT that I worked with told me that he thinks that my slightly hunched shoulders may actually be caused by my tight hips).

Thursday

This was New Year’s Eve so I took my rest day, ate my body weight in cheese and watched a film. Cheese is good for recovery right?!

Friday

I started out the first day of 2021 with a 40 minute Pilates Foundations class (#5 is designed to be one that you can do daily) and the mobility foundations #1 class on the FIIT app all good fun and I was working all day so no long, bracing walks for me.

Saturday

I did take a long walk on Saturday! I rediscovered a trail near where I live and discovers that it goes up much further than I though. It is so beautiful, but unfortunately busier than I like (especially in these times) but it was fun to walk somewhere different! I walked over 7km and then did restorative yoga #2 with Cat on the FIIT app. I had planned on doing a strength/cardio workout but I was tired from the walk. Although this meant that I didn’t hit my 3 strength workouts in a week, I really if I’m doing it the next day instead. My body doesn’t know the difference between my training week running from Sunday to Saturday rather than Monday to Sunday!

Week 5

Well week 5 didn’t exactly go to plan! I did the circuits #15 class on the FIIT app that I had put off the day before on Sunday. I also did a 5km walk in the evening (on flatter terrain than Saturday) so I felt like I had a good week of moving my body. Monday I then followed up with a Pilates Foundations class. Apart from a few walks, I didn’t do anything until Saturday because again, I felt really unwell and could barely get off the sofa for three days and then felt wiped out on the Friday.

However, on Saturday, I did session 1 of week 1 of the couch to 5k plan! I’ve decided that I want to try and get back into running again and as long as I’m enjoying it I’ll do that. Obviously I’m pretty much starting from scratch despite having run (I think five) half marathons in the past because it’s been years since I would have classed myself as a runner. We’ll see how it goes – I’ll keep you updated! I ran at lunch time (I worked this weekend) and after work I followed the run with Full Body Stretch for Runners #1 with Adrienne Herbert on the FIIT app. I wanted to love this, I really did, but it was a bit fast moving for me and I didn’t enjoy it. That said, I can see the benefit so I am going to give it a few more tries before I give up on it. I followed this with a 40 minute restorative yoga session on FIIT so that I could get my zen fix!

Overall

Overall, not great honestly. On some of the days I was genuinely too unwell to exercise but on others I really should have tried something gentle. But to my credit, I haven’t thrown in the towel. There are always going to be times where we can’t train…life gets in the way, we get sick, we are travelling etc but the important thing is that we get back on it as soon as we can. You can’t really fail in this journey if you just keep trying.

I’d love to hear how consistent you have been with your training recently, have you missed any sessions? How are you dealing with it when you miss a session?

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Uncategorized Wellness

How to have a Healthy Long-Haul Flight

As I’m in a long-distance relationship, I’ve had to get a fair few long-haul flights over the past few years. Here are some hints and tips that I’ve picked up to arrive healthy and happy.

Hydrate

I’m pretty good for staying hydrated I have to say. I’m one of these weird people who actually likes drinking water. However, the day before a flight I always make sure that I drink plenty of water as well as making sure that I drink plenty of water on the day of the flight itself.

Now, plastic bottles are the scourge of the planet but did you know that in any airport there is always somewhere that you can refill your own water bottle? I take one of those metal bottles (which keeps water nice and cool for 12 hours) and fill it up. I make sure that I drink a bottle full while I am waiting for the flight to be called and then fill it up right before I get on the plane. I make sure that I have two bottles of water for the flight and then take up the offer of drinks on the plane. Generally, I avoid the free alcohol (unless it’s a night flight when I’ll have a glass of red wine with my dinner) and drink juice to hydrate. I rarely turn down a chance for a drink.

Don’t Feel Obliged to eat the Plane Food

So people have mixed opinions on plane food but I think that we can all agree that in cattle class it’s not the best. The food also tends to be fairly low on protein and has, on occasion, made my stomach feel bad by the time that I’ve landed. I sometimes eat the plane food but I tend to feel better on the flights where I stick to my own snacks. I like to take fruit, yogurt, nuts (unless it’s a nut-free flight – although I’ve only ever been on one) and protein flapjack/bars. This way I feel like I’ve had some vitamins and minerals as well as protein. But make sure that you are mindful of portion sizes! We tend to bloat on planes so you won’t be able to comfortably eat as much food as you usually do (which is why plane food portions are so small).

Remember that if you’re on a really long flight that you might want to reduce your fibre intake a little to avoid bathroom embarasment and to spare everybody else!

Freshen up

This can make the difference between feeling fresh when you land and feeling a bit gross. I take a makeup remover wipe, a mini hydrating spritzer, a thick moisturiser (only because my friend managed to talk me out of taking one of those sheet masks), anti-bacterial gel for hands (I’ve been known to wipe the tray in front with this and a tissue), hand cream, perfume, toothpaste and a toothbrush. I also take makeup if I’m trying to impress and apply it about an hour before landing (before the descent!).

You’ll have to experiment with what is best with your hair but I find that if I straighten it then coil it up on the top of my head in a topknot and leave it for the duration of the flight, when I let it down is is smooth yet wavy with nice volume.

Get Moving

Okay, so this is pretty hard to do on a plane. Before the flight I try to walk as much as possible, as in laps of the departure lounge. You are going to be sitting down for hours and when you arrive you may be tired so it’s worth trying to get those steps in early.

When on the flight, try and do some stretches to make sure that the blood is flowing. I like to wiggle as much as I can and contract and relax muscles just to keep the blood flowing (I also wear compression socks). When you get up to go to the toilet, try to do a few stretches while you’re up – you’ll feel so much better when you’re back in your seat.

Be mindful of Time Zones

So jetlag can really screw you over. I am so sensitive to it, it’s a nightmare. Keep an eye on the time when you’re on the flight and you may want to set your watch to the time that it is at the destination (although be careful about doing this when you have a connecting flight because you don’t want to get confused and miss the connection!).

As much as you can, try to eat at meal times at the destination and sleep when you would be sleeping in the destination. Sleeping on a plane is hard (especially if you’re tall). I find a neck pillow indispensable (in addition to using the little pillow that most airlines provide) as well as a large thick scarf that can be used as a blanket. I use the airline’s blanket to put around my lap (as who knows how clean they are?!) and put my scarf around the top half of my body. To block out what is going on around me I use an eye mask and ear plugs.

So those are my main pieces of advice for long-haul flights – what do you suggest?

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Food Uncategorized

Baked Oats Recipe

I’ve made this breakfast a couple of times on the weekend recently when I have a bit more time to make a leisurely breakfast. However, you could make this on a weekday morning and cook it while you’re getting yourself ready. This recipe makes two portions, but it’s good to box up and save the other half for the next day – which makes it the ideal portable breakfast. It can be eaten hot or cold, but I prefer hot with a big dollop of Greek yogurt.

If you find that you’re often rushing in the mornings, you could double up the mixture and cook it for a bit longer to make sure that you have a filling, healthy breakfast for you to eat during the week.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup of oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 banana
  • fruit – I’m using up homemade mincemeat that I made at Christmas time but blueberries or raspberries and coconut would be nice
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 2/3 cup of milk

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180C
  • Slice the banana in half lengthways and mash the other half of the banana
  • Beat the egg and add the milk
  • Add the oats, banana, baking powder and fruit to the egg and milk mixture
  • Stir well
  • Place the other half of the banana on to the top of the mixture and drizzle it with honey (you can leave this out if you like or use maple syrup instead)
  • Add to an ovenproof dish and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown

Enjoy with yogurt and extra toppings if you wish!

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Fitness Gym

Motivation vs Discipline

Not me! I need to take some photos

I tend to go to the gym four or five times per week and if I can’t make it to the gym then I’ll work out at home. This isn’t always possible but this is what I strive for. Because I workout so regularly, I often have people ask me how I am so motivated.

“Sometimes I’m tired, busy or just plain lazy but I’ll do it anyway.”

The truth is that I’m not always motivated. While it is true that I LOVE exercise, I don’t always want to do it. Sometimes I’m tired, busy or just plain lazy but I’ll do it anyway. How? Discipline. Sometimes I force myself to workout. I make myself go to the gym or pick up my kettlebells at home so that I get to the point that it is something that I just do without thinking. I finish work and I go to the gym. Now this isn’t to say that I don’t listen to my body. If I’m feeling tired, then I’ll go to the gym and do my warm up. If it feels good, then I’ll proceed to my workout; if I still feel really sluggish and horrible, then I’ll do some stretching, a bit of light cardio and go home. Most of the time, once I am in the gym, in my workout clothes and the blood is pumping, I enjoy my workout and I’m glad that I went.

Motivation isn’t something that is constant. Like anything else, we get it in peaks and troughs and we can’t rely on it. Who can honestly say that they are motivated to go to work every single day? We all have days where we want to stay in bed longer and we don’t want to go in but we drag ourselves out of our warm beds, shove ourselves into work clothes and go in every single day. That’s discipline. Sometimes we have to force ourselves do go, the same applies to working out.

My point is this. You aren’t going to want to go to the gym every day, that is normal. But you should go anyway. If you make yourself go, then chances are that you’ll feel better after you’ve been. Eventually, you’ll find your motivation again and it’ll be easier. At the end of the end of the day, discipline wins over motivation.

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Fitness Gym

Never work(out) a day in your Life

They say that if you find a job that you love, that you’ll never work a day in your life. Well why don’t we apply this to workouts?

Many people workout because they feel that they have to. They may feel that they need to lose fat, gain muscle, improve cadiovascular fitness or increase strength but they feel like they have to workout like they have to do laundry once a week (or more).

But what if we take the work out of workout? What if we stop thinking of working out as a chore or something ticked off the to do list and think of it as a hobby? Over time, I have I have managed to change my thinking and this is now how I think of going to the gym. It’s my favourite part of the day and I feel grateful that I get to go. It’s a playground for adults and yes, sometimes it’s uncomfortable and you have to push yourself, but at the end of the day I’m improving myself. It’s also the time that I can focus on my body and not on the 101 thoughts that are running through my head.

Now in order to get to the place where I have go to mentally, you need to find the type of exercise that you enjoy. This is a trial and error process but it’s fun and you never know what you might learn in the process. I’m often asked what the best type of exercise is for losing fat, and although I’m a big fan of weight training, the best type of exercise is the one that you are going to be able to do consistently. There’s no point of attending spin five times a week if you hate it because the chances are that you’ll stop after a couple of weeks never to sit on a bike again. You’re better off doing something that you enjoy three times a week if that is something that you can see yourself doing for the foreseeable future.

Workout time is time that we get get just for us and for some people (parents I’m looking at you!) it is the only time that they get to themselves so it shouldn’t feel like work. It should feel like you are rewarding your body and having fun.

Do you agree? What do you think that you could do to make you see working out as a hobby rather than work?

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Fitness Fitness Gym Uncategorized

Why I’m working out on Holiday

So I’m currently in Canada visiting my boyfriend, this is as close to a holiday as I’m probably going to get this year and as I’m out of the country I class it as a holiday. I posted this picture on Instagram today with a caption that I had joined the gym. One comment that I got was ‘but you’re on holiday’.

You see I don’t see exercise as a punishment, chore or something that I want to avoid. I’ve actually got to the place where mentally I enjoy going to the gym, and physically I find that it gives me energy. When we’re on holiday we want to feel good and if going to the gym or exercising makes you feel good then you should absolutely do that. I actually miss the gym when I’m not able to go and after less consistent attendance in December, I’m not ready to take a break from it.

I’m not following a plan at the moment so there’s no pressure to train from that point of view. Personally, I find that January is too busy to have the pressure of being ‘on plan’ and being restricted to using various pieces of kit. I also knew I was going away for a couple of weeks and didn’t know whether I would be able to join a gym for a couple of weeks. So being ‘off plan’ and in a gym with equipment I haven’t seen before is so much fun and also challenging.

I just want to add here that not exercising when you’re on holiday is absolutely fine too. It’s not the end of the world to have two weeks off training, and for many people they may actually be doing their body (and mind) a favour by allowing a couple of weeks of rest.

I don’t always train when I’m on holiday and when I’m at my boyfriend’s house I’ll often do home workouts and stretching. Home workouts can be really effective and challenging but I find it hard to get motivated.

So when it comes to working out on holiday, you feel is best for your body and mind. For me, I’ll stick to the gym this time.

Do you work out on holiday or do you take a rest? how does it make you feel?

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Fitness Gym

What Should I eat Before a Workout?

Many people worry about what they should eat before they workout. But I just want to reassure that you that as long as you’re being sensible and you aren’t an elite athlete, it’s not something that you should spend energy worrying about. You want to eat something that is going to give you energy, but not sit heavy on your stomach.

A big factor in what you should eat pre-workout is when you train.

Early Birds

This is going to depend on you and what you can stomach. Some people tell me that they cannot stomach anything at all  in the morning whereas other people cannot function without food. Personally, I fall into the latter category and I don’t think that I would even be able to physically get to the gym on an empty stomach let alone lift weights around or do cardio. I find that a banana does me nicely and on the rare occasion that I do train in the morning I eat it while drinking a coffee on my walk in. I need something but I don’t want anything too heavy. I would say that the general rule is that you aren’t going to be able to tolerate anything big so safe the fry up for after your workout.

Night Owls

By night owl I mean anybody who works out after breakfast time. Now the issue with working out later on in the day is that you have to keep an eye on what you are eating throughout the day. You probably aren’t going to going to have a very successful gym session if have a greasy burger and chips for lunch, even if your pre-workout snack is virtuous. Be mindful of avoiding things that are going to sit heavy on your stomach for the rest of the day and you should probably steer clear of things that are going to repeat on you later.

To get the most out of your training, you should eat a balanced lunch which contains protein, carbohydrate and healthy fat. You’ll probably get hungry later on so you should have a snack before you train. Personally, I find that a small banana works well for me but others find that they feel better if they have a mix of protein and carbs. It really is a case of trial and error so switch things up, try things out and see what works best for you.

Depends on the Activity

Remember what you eat is also going to depend on the activity that you are doing. I know I keep going on about bananas (this isn’t a sponsored post haha!) but I find that I can tolerate a whole banana before weights but that if I am running I can only eat half.

Lastly I want to reassure you that you shouldn’t be stressing about meal timings and correct snacks. These are the icing on the cake so master the basics first ie get into a routine with your exercise and get into the habit of eating a healthy diet first.

Have you tried different snack strategies out before you train? What works best for for you?

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Fitness Gym Uncategorized

Gym Etiquette

For many people, just the idea of setting foot in a gym is terrifying. Some people think that they are too overweight to workout in public (not true) and other people worry that they are going to make a fool of themselves (who cares if you do?!).

One of the things that new gym-goers worry about is the unwritten set of rules that more established gym-goers adhere to…gym etiquette. In this blog, I’m going to talk about that so that you have more confidence when you are making those first steps into the gym.

Wear Appropriate Clothing


The first piece of advice that I’m going to give you starts before you’ve even set foot in the gym…wear inappropriate clothing. By appropriate I mean practical, so wear trainers rather than brogues and make sure that your kit isn’t too revealing. Obviously, you should be comfortable and if you want to wear a crop top that’s absolutely fine (whether or not you are lean and toned). However, do ensure that your top isn’t too low and that you aren’t flashing. On this same note, if you are wearing shorts, you should make sure that your bum isn’t hanging out when you bend over (they don’t even have to be that short to have that issue – trust me!).

Wipe down the Equipment
Make sure that you wipe down the equipment after you use it, it’s really gross if you don’t! This is something that is starting to slide in a lot of gyms which is just horrible! I don’t want to sit in your sweat and I’m sure that you don’t want to sit in mine so let’s agree not to follow this unhygienic trend. All gyms provide paper towel, or if they’re a bit fancy antibacterial wipes, so make use of them! If you’re going to get really sweaty, then take a sweat towel. You can use this to wipe yourself down as well as the equipment.

Tidy up after Yourself
Basically, this is the adult equivalent of putting your toys away after you have finished using them. Whatever you have used, be it dumbbells, barbells, weight plates, a mat put them away when you have finished with them. Unlike your mum, it is not the gym staff’s job to put your kit away and leaving equipment all over the gym causes a tripping hazard for other users. Even more frustrating is not being able to find equipment because it has been abandoned somewhere.

Also remember that just because you can lift something doesn’t mean that everybody else can. By not taking the plates of the smith machine you could be rendering it unusable for another person…be kind people! Even if the next user is capable of lifting your weights, they don’t want to spend 5 minutes of their workout time taking your plates off a barbell.

Be Friendly
This should go without saying, but it’s important so I’ll say it anyway…play nicely. If somebody smiles at you, smile back, if somebody says “hello”, then say “hello” back. Let’s make the gym a supportive, positive environment because let’s face it, we’re all in it together. You never know what it has taken somebody to get to the gym that day and you never really know how anxious somebody is about going to the gym.

If somebody asks you for help, then help them if you can and if you can’t point them in the direction of a friendly gym instructor. Remember that the chances are that you will need help one day so treat others how you would like to be treated.

Don’t be an Equipment Hog
At certain times of the day, and all day in January, the gym can be a busy place. If you are at the gym when it is busy then don’t grab lots of different weights, kettlebells and whatever else you may need for that day’s workout. Even if you do circuits, people are going to resent you if you hog multiple pieces of kit. There are plenty of workouts that you can do with one kettlebell, one barbell or one set of weights. If the gym is quiet, then, by all means, feel free to take more equipment but just be mindful of other people.

Share Nicely
Basically, if somebody asks you if they can work in, they are asking you whether they can use the equipment that you are using while you are on your rest period. Let people do this, the chances are that the next time you’re in you’ll say hello to one another and from there blossoms a beautiful friendship…or a least there’s another friendly face in the gym. I’ve often shared the bench press and I’m always happy because I get a spotter out of it.

Give People Space
As humans, we like our personal space. We feel uncomfortable if this is invaded so in so far as it is possible, keep your distance from people. Obviously, this can be difficult in a busy gym but be mindful of this and do your best.

Avoid walking in between another person and the Mirror
The mirrors are there for a reason, well maybe two reasons if you count peacocking, to check your form! If you stand between somebody and the mirror then you stop them from being able to check that they are doing the exercise safely. They are not going to thank you for it, it’s incredibly frustrating if you are using the mirrors for anything other than posing and checking your make up.

So I think that those are the main points, is there anything that you would add to the list?