Tag Archives: fitbit

Making 2017 All About Dad

In all honesty, the last 7 months have been a whirlwind. They have knocked me for 6 198376484! 2016 was indeed one hell of a year, but this is why 2017 WILL be better.

July of last year saw me bring my second daughter in to this world. The birth went as well as these things can, but a few problems saw us stuck in hospital for a few of days afterwards. Keen to escape and get back to a slightly different “normal”, we headed home. Anyone that has been through labour and the first few weeks of caring for a baby will know what a rollercoaster we were already on.

Just a few weeks after our daughter’s birth, I received a phonecall from Mum. Dad had been admitted to a hospice for symptom management. This call didn’t immediately concern me. Dad had been suffering with the varying and increasing symptoms associated with Parkinson’s Disease for over 20 years. Respite, hospital stays and additional care had become somewhat usual. It was only after speaking with Mum, that I knew things were worse than before.

The problem with Parkinson’s is that it is so unlike other diseases. It doesn’t affect just one area. It attacks all of you, physically, mentally. Parkinson’s affects muscular control – eventually, the muscles just can’t do what you want them to. Not just limbs, but the very essence of all movement. Blinking, talking, balance, swallowing. It was the last of these symptoms that had begun to set in.

An inability to swallow obviously means that it is very difficult to ingest foods and drinks. Not just that though, it means that saliva cannot be swallowed in a regular way, so it builds up & has nowhere to go but out. This also means that speech can be difficult if not impossible.

Nutrition and hydration can sometimes be solved by either tube feeding (through the nose/mouth) or via a peg direct to the stomach. Unfortunately for Dad, neither of these were suitable due to the severity of other symptoms and issues. So that leaves us…?! Oh.

I can’t tell you the pain & anguish involved in that kind of news.

Dad was bought a little more time with some wonderful medication that helped to halt the production of saliva. This at least meant that he could get a few words out, when he wasn’t too tired. It also meant that we were able to help him take in a little liquefied food and drink (despite his best efforts to get us to fetch him some fish and chips). He asked for ice cream and champagne a lot!

Dad was, after a few months moved to a nursing home that specialises in complex care. He was well looked after & had heaps of visitors. His chair from home was brought in for him. Though he then became bed-bound. Not once did Dad ever moan, complain or cry. He was the very essence of composure. He always was. Totally unshakeable.

On the 31st December 2016, Dad passed away, peacefully, with us all at the nursing home – though I was feeding my baby in the family room & missed his last breath by about 30 seconds – something I will eternally beat myself up over. I think & hope he knew that I was there though.

The hospice that Dad was in was St Wilfrid’s Hospice in Eastbourne. The care team there, medical, support and volunteer are just amazing. A real home from home. So warm , welcoming & supportive. It is also incredibly family friendly & peaceful. A real gem in the care sector.

One beautiful Summer’s day, my sister and I were with Dad at St. Wilfrid’s. Dad dozing in his bed, the sun streaming through the open door to the gardens. We decided that we should take on a challenge that could help us to raise money, in a way as a thanks to Dad & all those that were supporting us all.

Nic and I usually take on the moonwalk marathon in London, but we felt we needed to do something closer to home this time. We found the South Downs Challenge – a 50km hike. One of the partner charities was Parkinson’s UK. We discussed at great length whether we should fundraise for Parkinson’s UK or for the St. Wilfrid’s Hospice as they had been so good to him & us. We eventually decided to raise funds for Parkinson’s UK, as they have been working with us as a family for over 20years.

My fundraising page for the challenge can be found here and any donations to our event would be so very welcome!

However, I cannot shake the feeling that I need to do something to say thank you to St. Wilfrid’s for everything they did & the peaceful time that we had there (slightly less peaceful when my baby started to cry… sorry about that!). So, I have decided that I will personally raise money over the course of 2017.

I will be and have been measuring my daily mileage on my fitbit and for every mile I walk/run/hop/cycle/dance/crawl I will donate 10p. I seem to clock up somewhere between 3 & 5 miles in a normal day, so once the big training gets underway for our South Downs Challenge, I’ll be able to get some decent mileage under my belt and a bulging fundraiser for St. Wilfrid’s.

I’ll keep you up to date with my mileage as the year goes on & as the clock strikes midnight on New Years eve, the anniversary day of my wonderful Father’s passing, I shall tally up my total miles and convert it to a donation. I’m not asking for help on this, I’m raising it with my own feet, however, if you do ever wish to add to my pot, please let me know & I will gladly send you details on how to top up the donation fund. The hospice is absolutely worth every penny & if you have ever had need of them, you’ll already know that!

Here’s to 2017, here’s to you, Dad xxxxx

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My Top 10 Tips for Fitness and Weightloss

I’m no expert, or fitness/nutrition professional (so, clearly, these are just my opinions & observations of my own journey), but I have managed to shed over 4stone and drop almost 4 dress sizes, since January – and you know what, it really hasn’t been that difficult!

Here are my top 10 tips on how to get fit and lose/maintain weightloss:

  1. Get in the ‘zone’;

There is absolutely no point you reading any further if you are not 100% ready to do this. You need to look at your end goals and how you want to achieve them. If you want to starve yourself for 3 days and hope that it works, it won’t, you’re doing it wrong.

Look at yourself like a car – you need fuel to function, so starving or heavily restricting your diet is rubbish, you will just eat away at any muscle you have & store fat, so it’s a lose lose situation. Work out why you want to lose weight. For me, I was fed up of looking like a lard meatball, a flabby, unrecognisable heap of my former self (for the record, I have NEVER been ‘skinny, but I could at least shop in the high street stores before!).

You also need to move to keep working. Think of the last time you saw a car that has been parked up for an age – rusty, bits fallen off, won’t start – yup, you want to avoid that scenario where possible! My goal has never been to be ‘thin’ it is to be healthy, and that is where the difference lies.

2. Be time efficient;

“I don’t have time to exercise”

“I’m too busy”

“It’s too hot/too cold”

“I’m tired”

I definitely used to say these, there was always a good ‘reason’ as to why I was fat and why I didn’t do any exercise. Well, here is the answer to those ‘reasons’:

“Those that really want to do something find a way; those that don’t, find an excuse”

Occasionally, I find myself trying to think of excuses to get out of running, doing a workout or cycling, but you know what? Nothing is MAKING me do any of it, I CHOSE to do it, so I don’t have to get up and move my ass, but if I don’t, what would make me get up the next time? I find that excuses lead to excuses. Don’t get me wrong, it is good to have rest days, you don’t have to kill yourself every day, but think of even walking to the shops as a mini workout – just get moving a bit every day.

Get up half an hour earlier and do a workout. Do a mini workout whilst watching the TV in the evening. Do some weights or squats when you’ve got 5minutes spare (& yes, EVERYONE has at least 5 spare minutes in a day – even ‘very busy’ people). Ride a stationary bike whilst reading a book.

Find. The. Time.

3. Fuel yourself;

It is so important to eat right if you want to change & if you want to see any kind of results. I do do quite a bit of exercise now (you wouldn’t have read that from me last year!!), but if I was still drinking a bottle of wine a night and eating take out every day, I wouldn’t see much change. You need to take a holistic approach to it, so food and fitness go together.

Don’t restrict your foods or calories drastically, you will fail, or make yourself ill. The biggest annoyance for me is when people say, “oooh, which diet are you on?!” – well, I’m not on any diet. I can eat whatever I want, I just eat less & I try to make good food choices, for example:

WANT CRISPS – have some popcorn

WANT CHOCOLATE – have a cocoa nakd bar

WANT WINE – have sparkling water

WANT CHIPS – make carrot chips, or, just have a half portion of chips if you really really want them.

I also give myself ‘cheat days’ – typically at the weekend, because we usually see friends or family, so I can have wine, I can eat chips, I can have dessert, I can have cocktails and cheese, but you know what, I just eat less than I would have done when I was bigger and I try to offset it with exercise.

I also try to really focus on eating more protein – I’d rather have 2 helpings of protein and then either none or a half helping of carbs – I’m not on a low carb scheme or anything, but I KNOW that protein will help to keep me full and will help with building and retaining muscle tone, in combination with exercise. (I ADORE QUEST & CLIF BARS!!)

4. Gear yourself up;

If you are totally serious about getting fit, then there are a few things that I would totally recommend buying or downloading:

  • myfitnesspal app (free) – allows really easy tracking of foods and nutrition, tailored to your weight and goals
  • fitbit (£) – I have a flex, it is BRILLIANT – read my review here
  • 30 day shred DVD (£) – I CANNOT recommend this highly enough
  • freeletics app (free version) – for when you have been working out for a little while!!
  • a piece of gym equipment (£) – I have a stationary bike and a crosstrainer. I would totally recommend getting a little fold up exercise bike, not too costly (especially if you grab it in a sale, or secondhand)
  • get some hand weights (£) – you’ll need these for 30 day shred anyway, but you can use them independently, you know, for your 5minute workout.
  • enter a race (£) – set yourself a real challenge. Race for life is a good starting point. I completed my first last month – read about it here.

5. Hydrate;

Water. Just drink lots of water. You don’t need energy drinks, you need good food & lots of water (and sometimes a berocca tablet!).

6. Dump the Car and Move it;

Quit driving everywhere. Use your legs to walk. Walk to the shops, carry your shopping back in a rucksack!

My 3 year old can walk pretty far now as we traipse about everywhere, plus, we get to have silly chats on the way.

If you have to drive to work, park further from the building, use the stairs. Get off the bus a few stops early etc etc. See everything as a possible challenge. Do it. Move it.

7. Donate or sell your ‘fat clothes’;

Every time I try on some clothing that is too big, I put it in a charity shop pile. When I get a nice little stack of clothes together, I take them round to our local charity shop. This takes away my safety blanket, I can’t get bigger again, because I’ll have no clothes & I really really don’t want to have to buy bigger sizes again. Plus, it’s always good to give to charity, much better than chucking them out or hoarding them in the loft! 😉

If they are fancy or expensive clothes, you could also try your hand at selling them, then using the money you make to buy new, smaller clothes.

8. Involve your friends and family;

It is much easier to stay on track with your new lifestyle, if everyone around you is involved. I’m not suggestion that you get Grandma up and running a marathon with you, but she might like a stroll (or push, if she is in a wheelchair) around the park.

Feed your family whatever you were planning to eat – my hardened carnivore of a husband, now actually likes ‘meat-free meat’ and tofu, my 3 year old will eat fruit and vegetables till the cow comes home!

Get outside as much as you can. See if your sister or brother want to come with you to a race, even if it is just to spectate.

The more you all move about, the easier and more natural it becomes 🙂

9. Don’t Beat Yourself Up;

Remember, YOU are the one that is choosing to do this, NO ONE is forcing you. If you choose to have a day off, then do. If you choose to eat an entire chocolate bar, then fine – your choice. But try to look at things in the long-run. If having a rest, or eating something a bit naughty & delicious will stop you from reaching your end goal completely, then don’t do it, but, hey, we’re all allowed a day off here and there.

This is a lifestyle, NOT a temporary diet.

Which leads me on to…

10. Never, ever, ever quit;

Progress is progress, no matter how slow. But quitting will stop you from reaching your goals, always.

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Fitbit Flex – My Fitness Guardian

This little dude never lets me sit on my ass (well, most of the time…)

photo 3 (2)If I’m totally honest with you, I bought this on a bit of a whim. ‘This’ is my fitbit flex. I’d seen them plastered about all over social media & I wanted to find out what the big deal was. I did a bit of research, read a few reviews, asked a few people if they were worth getting &, really, almost everyone I know that has one said it was awesome. Right, gotta get me one!

When the little guy arrived in the post, I jumped up and down a bit with excitement & ripped open the box to get it set up. The flex comes with a large and a small wrist band, in a variety of colours – I’m a sucker for blue, so this petrol-blue kinda colour got my vote. I found that I needed the smaller band, so got it charged up, set up and downloaded all the software and apps. The band adjusts too, so I’m finding that, as I lose weight, I need to tighten it.

photo 4If you use myfitnesspal, good news, this syncs automatically to it via a bluetooth connection, so it will automatically deduct calories as I move.

So, anyway… what IS a fitbit flex? On paper, it is kind of a very fancy pedometer (but much more). It senses steps; the number of steps & the intensity of the steps. It knows, for example, if I am running, or dawdling & it will colour code your steps in either red, yellow or green based on the intensity of the activity. It also tracks distance, calories burned & sleep (this is a bit scary if you are a parent of a non-sleeping child!!). This information is all based on your own stats too, so it is tailored to just yourself.

photo 1

On the flex wristband, you can tap it during the day to see how close you are to hitting your target. You can set which target you’d like it to display, mine was initially set up with steps, but I changed it to calories. Once you hit your target, you get a little vibration and some dancing lights – honestly, I’m like a small child getting a pat on the back when that happens *cue proud face*.

In order to get the fitbit to track your sleep, you tap in repeatedly and set it in to sleep mode, then just tap repeatedly again in the morning, once you have woken – then check out what the app shows. Nine times out of ten, I forget to set it, so you can manually add the info the next day on your phone or computer – or not, if you’re not bothered!

The one slightly annoying thing about the sleep mode, is that if you are doing anything that involves short, sharp vibration going through your wrist e.g. pushing a shopping trolly across a carpark, it tends to put it in to sleep mode, but you can just undo it again, it usually won’t count it if you are still moving, if it does, you can manually delete the record later.

You can either have your fitbit account set as private, or you can link it with your friends. I have my sister linked with mine, so you get a bit of extra motivation by trying to beat each other each day. This acts a little bit like a silent, wrist-based, emotional fatness bully! It is a little voice telling me to get of my butt and move it (ESPECIALLY if my sister takes the lead!).

Fitbit have got a variety of different products on offer, the flex sits on your wrist & can be worn all the time, even in the shower, so I chose that for convenience. I know a few people that have the fitbit one, which can be worn on clothes – though I personally would probably forget to put it on every day (scatterbrain!). One of my friends has got the fitbit scales, which automatically sync with other apps and devices too – these are SO going on my Christmas list!

So, there are heaps of advantages to having a fitbit. I’d say, that if you are serious about getting moving, tracking your activity, then get one. If you think you might be having a bit of a fitness or diet fad, then, I’d look out for something a bit cheaper as it is a little bit of an investment at around £80. However, by making the decision to spend the money, it does make you more aware of it & encourage you to stick to a plan.

If you are set on buying one, but stuck making a decision between a fitbit flex, or a fitbit one, just remember that a flex will pretty much always be with you, where as a one tends to get taken off more often. The flex, being a wristband, picks up a little less motion if you are doing an activity like cycling, or, as I found out, if you are walking pushing a buggy, as your wrist remains more still. The one, can be worn on clothing, so can be attached to a hip pocket or waist band, so I think tends to be a little more aware of leg movement. If you’re anything like me, however, you’ll base your choice on ease of use & what it looks like – the band won out for me!

Have you got a fitbit product? How do you find it?

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