Tag Archives: fitness

A mile in your shoes…

I’m a bit of a Harry Potter fan. When I re-stumbled upon this Dumbledore quote, it gave my challenge new purpose. I’m doing this for Dad. And, with Dad, I can do it.

It is the Easter holidays for 2 weeks. I’m half and half on how I feel about them. Part of me really loves having the bigger girl around, shes funny, helpful, kind & chatty. The other part of me misses the structure of routine, the silence of nap times, the flow of the day. The biggest change of all is my morning walk.

Every morning, after school drop-off. Baby & I head off for a 3-5mile power buggy walk. In the beginning, it was to get her to nap. Whilst that is still my primary conscious concern, I didn’t realise until this week just how much *I* rely on it.

We’re still heading out for walks, the 3 of us, but they are slower, shorter, more stressful. The usual 9.02am eye-closing is replaced by a fraught crying & yelling & 9.18am eye closing, because baby has spotted her big sister & thinks it is play time. Poor big girl has to walk ahead of the buggy, out of sight – this makes me feel bad.

I’m conscious that I need to let baby sleep for her half hour nap (or else all hell will break loose), but also that 6 year old legs can’t walk as fast or as far as mine – though, to give her credit, she has powered through miles in rain & sun without a single moan & joyful exclamations about how “fit” she will be.

I miss the head-space afforded by 40minutes of zoning out.

I’ve realised that I am governed by times & timings. I *think* that my grief & post-natal hum has been, so far, managed by strictly controlling each portion of my day. This explains my unease at things (or me) running late, of baby not napping or eating on time, at people phoning during meal or nap times, the horror of someone wanting to “pop in” at an unarranged time. And I know people look at me with a “wtf” expression when I can’t do x, y or z because of naps, feeds, etc, but you can’t understand how someone else copes, you can only ever understand how you would cope. You cannot judge someone based on how you would handle a situation. You cannot walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. You can only support them. Judging them or using condescending or negative tones isn’t helpful. You are an expert of your own experiences only.

I digress… back to the walking. I’m a numbers nerd. I love the data that my fitbit gives me. Each week, I try to better the last (another mental battle I’m trying to “be cool” about this week). I try to ensure that I reach at least 5 miles a day, every day – with 5 weekday walks & 1 long weekend hike in place, slowly building up the miles. I’m SO looking forward to the challenge & truly believe it is totally achievable.

I’ve been clocking up 6, 7 & 8 miles regularly, but I now need to start chasing double figures. Dad, being a military man, always said “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” & so, I’m doing my very best, with the time & resources I have.

Grief leaves a huge hole in your soul. I feel as though different types of grief are digested and managed in different ways. No grief is more or less important than others, but some leave a much larger gap.

My hope is that the fundraising achieved through doing this challenge, will go someway to help find a cure or treatment for Parkinson’s Disease. I hope that it may fund a specialist Parkinson’s nurse. A valuable piece of equipment. Anything that might ease another family through a turbulent period.

Nic & I have been truly astounded by the generosity of those that have donated, we really have. To think that so many of you have been so thoughtful is truly heartwarming & we really appreciate every single donation, Really, every pound makes such a difference. If you’d like to donate to our 50km hiking challenge, we would be thrilled. You can find the justgiving page here.

Thank you all so much. Be kind to one another. xx

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Biscuits are Important!

Never underestimate the importance of a biscuit during a pivotal moment of life…

I went on a training walk this morning, around 8 or so miles. On my return, I had a fig roll. It wasn’t an ordinary fig roll, but the last in a very significant pack. This was the pack that I bought on the morning of New Year’s Eve – the day that Dad passed away.

There’s a standing joke in my family, that I always deal with any situation by providing food. Probably true. Anyway, in December, I had debated whether to take jaffa cakes or fig rolls over to Dad. I knew he loved both & though he was barely able to eat at all, he never turned down a bite of cake or biscuit. So, I plumped for fig rolls and headed over.

I never thought that he’d never see them. I envisaged bounding in to his room… “hi Dad, I’ve got you some fig rolls”…

Anyway, it was today, almost 3 months on, we opened the pack. So insignificant and significant at the same time.

The grief becomes less constant, but more powerful. Rather than a perpetual ache, it swings between normality & all consuming sinking.

If, by walking & walking & walking, we can raise any amount of money that could help another family through this, or to fund a Parkinson’s specialist Nurse, or can help to fund research in to symptom management, well, anything would make it all so worth it.

Each & every donation helps to top up the team pot. We are hoping to not just reach our fundraising target, but to obliterate it. If you are able to help us to do this here, we will be so thankful. Every pound really does help. Thank you all so much! xx

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Dear Santa, I’ve been ever so good…

Now, I’ve been pretty committed to being good this year, so I reckon that Santa should take note of my ultimate Christmas list. Some of these will most definitely NOT be under the tree this year, because my Santa is a bit of a tight-wad, but hey, it’s worth asking for a Christmas miracle, right?!

Dear Santa,

Pretty please may I have these things??

  1.  A TRX home suspension trainer:

trxI started using this back in the Summer & you just wouldn’t believe how amazing, effective & difficult it is. Working out using your own bodyweight is amazing on so many levels. Helping to build strength and mobility in a million, bajillion different ways. If you’ve never tried this out before, you are really really missing out. Venture out in the cold, find a gym that has one and get someone to show you what to do with it. I promise, you will be hooked!

2. A new, bigger kettlebell:

kettlebellI’ve already got an 8kg kettlebell (in a rather attractive purple colour), but as I progress with using kettlebells, I’m beginning to need a slightly heavier one for certain moves. It is actually best to have a variety of kettlebell weights as different weights are better for certain moves, but they are kind of expensive, so treating yourself to one every few months is cool. I personally like the vinyl coated kind. Not only do they look pretty awesome, but the vinyl cushions your forearms a little and it allows a little extra grip when your hands start to slip. I like these Fitness-Mad Kettlebells, which I found on amazon, but try a few out & see which you prefer!

3. Quest Bars:

quest barsI just can’t get enough of these. Sure, you can buy quest bars, by the box, nearly anywhere, but you’re stuck with just one flavour. The awesome guys at Protein Pick & Mix have got a ‘Not so dirty dozen’ mix – pick 12 different flavours if you like – totally up to you what you go for. This is genius because I find I like most of the flavours, but I don’t want a whole heap of one kind. Also, the dudes behind protein pick & mix are brilliant, super friendly & possibly the fastest dispatchers of protein laced goodness ever! Check them out for all your protein needs! (P.S. I’ve just seen that they do gift vouchers now too, so, you know, they are just perfect for a stocking…!)

4.  Omron BF511 Scales with Body Fat Monitor:

omron scalesTo be honest, my 10 year old crappy digital scales that I bought from a supermarket are just not cutting it for me any more. Whilst they occasionally can provide me with my rough weight (I say rough, because the reading depends on where I put it on the floor, where I stand on it & which day of the week it is), they can’t give me the information that I really need. I’m less interested now in what my overall weight is, and more interested in what is making up my weight. The Omron BF511 Scales with Body Fat Monitor gives me readings and classifications in: body fat, BMI, skeletal muscles, visceral fat, resting metabolism. I found this set on Newitts website.

5. The Tom Tom Runner Cardio GPS Watch:

tom tom cardioAs far as I’m concerned, this watch is the mecca of all GPS watches.  Take all the good things associated with an average GPS watch, like run tracking, times, auto sync-ing, water resistance etc, then add in the fact that it has a built in cardio monitor – yes, built in, no stupid chest band – win win. It is easy to use and navigate through, it has a slim design and it looks pretty awesome too, but at over £200, Santa has gotta realllllllllllly love you! 😉 Grab this awesome watch from Tom Tom.

6. A pair of Nike Free Flyknit 4.0 Trainers:

nike freesI’m becoming a bit of a trainer collector. I’ve gone from having one pair (that I’d owned since I was 15 – now got rid of!) to 4 pairs; a pair of crosstrainers, a pair for natural style running, a pair for gym work & a pair of trail shoes for OCR events. These flyknits would make an awesome addition to my spring running collection – lightweight, flexible & comfortable. I found these on startfitness.co.uk – I use this site lots for brilliant bargains!

7. A ticket for Tough Mudder 2015:

tough mudderIf the phrases ‘OCR’ or ‘Tough Mudder’ mean nothing to you, then either read ahead & find out all about it, or quit now & let it remain a mystery. These mud filled obstacle course races (OCRs) are a bit more than your average run in the park. Think river walking, mud swamps, tunnels, walls, bars, ladders, ropes, fire pits, logs, tyres, electrocution, cuts, bruises, sprains, blood, sweat & tears. I took part in my first OCR event earlier this year at mud monsters run & it was AMAZING! I’m also signed up to the Dirty Dozen Races next year. But everyone knows that Tough Mudder is the king, so I want in!

So Santa, if you are reading, please take note! I reckon this beats last year’s list that consisted of chips, wine, crisps, cheese, wine, cake & wine…?!

Cheers,

Charlie *kissy kissy kissy*

 

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My Fantasy Food Team

I stepped on the scales this morning – I actually don’t do this very often, as I find it can sometimes have a detrimental effect on how you behave for the rest of the day/week/month if you don’t like what you see. According to my (cheap, old, not very accurate) scales, I now weigh in at 139.5lbs. The half pound is very important because that makes me UNDER 10 stone, that is NINE STONE something. A loss of OVER five stone. Good times.

Anywho, I’ve noticed recently, that a lot of people I know are passing comment on my weightloss (something that actually creeps me out a bit!) & then asking how I’ve done it. Well, there’s no special secret, trick or magic spell. The answer is simple:

Eat better. Move more.

You’ll notice that I’ve said “eat better“, not “eat less“. Whilst limiting calories is an age-old, time-tested way to certainly reduce weight, it is actually more important to make sure that you are eating the right things first. For example, you could calorie count a 1500kcal diet & eat low fat crisps, low fat cheese, and sugar-free sweets till the cal counter tells you you’re done. You’ll have sunk your daily intake, but likely feel hungry, tired, a bit crabby as you are being ‘punished’ on your diet. You’ll also be far more likely to crave more food & make further poor choices.

I’m a huge advocate of snacking. Little healthier snacks between meals will stop you from sugar-crashing & craving a quick fix, like chocolate. Choose things that are full of either proteins or complex carbs, as these will help you to feel fuller for longer.

By eating better – choosing fruits, vegetables, healthy snacks AND the odd treat, you will find that you will not be so hungry, nor as likely to delve in to a huge bar of chocolate. You won’t feel so ‘punished’ if you are full. You won’t feel so terrible if you actually allow yourself an occasional treat*

*a giant bar of chocolate, giant bag of crisps, 3 bottles of wine isn’t a treat – try a small bar of chocolate, a bag of baked crisps or a glass (maybe 2) of wine.

I thought I’d share my food staples with you. These are foods that I eat at least 2/3 times a week. Foods that help me to feel full and that feel like a treat in themselves, when really, they’re all pretty healthy! They might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but give some of them a go:

  • Nakd & Trek Bars – I’ve mentioned these in a previous post. They are still delicious, sweet & sticky – perfect for sweet cravings. They have also just released a Christmas Pud flavour & it is out of this world.
  • Quest Bars – These aren’t for everyone. I spend quite a bit of time doing exercise, both cardio & weights. I am aiming to build strength, build muscle. These delicious protein bars come in heaps of different flavours and feel like a real treat. They are low in carbs, low in cals and high in protein. They are a bit on the £££ side of the snack world, but for me, they are totally worth it & they are a MILLION times better than a yucky protein shake!
  • Yoghurts – Either plain, fat free greek yoghurt (I like fage total the best), or, Danio fruit minis, or Liberte fruit layers. All low in fat and low in cals, but thick & creamy, so quite filling.
  • Fruit – I eat heaps of fruit. If I’m feeling lazy (and likely to reach for something worse), I’ll get the pre-prep packs from the shops, but most of the time, I’ll prepare it myself. Try freezing grapes as a great sub for sweets. Eat alongside other foods to make it go further & fill you up even more. Grab up a sack of clementines – seasonal & the perfect size for snacking on. A good ol’ banana is a powerhouse!
  • Marks and Spencer’s Guilt-Free Snack Range – The crisps that these guys sell are great, mostly around or under 100kcals per pack. Huge range of flavours. My faves are the sour cream and chilli lentil curls & the little bacon lentil tubes. Also a great pesto chickpea shell flavour available too. Perfect substitute for ‘normal’ crisps.
  • Popcorn – Amazing stuff. My fave brands are metcalfes (the sweet & salt and the  heat & sweet are to die for). Also try portlebay – the lemon sherbert flavour is unbelievable! Popcorn is relatively low in cals and the flavoured varieties make it feel like a special treat.
  • Rice-cakes – These are a bit of a new revelation for me. My faves at the mo are made by Kallo. There is a great kiddy range that are strawberry yoghurt & come pre-packed in 2s. Also give their dark choc and orange flavour a go!
  • Quorn – low fat, low cal, protein source & really reasonably priced. The family ‘chicken’ roast is so good & ridiculously good value!
  • Ryvita – great source of fibre, low in fat, low in cals and perfect for topping with delicious stuff. My fave topping is cottage cheese, ham, fig and basil.
  • Warburtons Wholemeal Pitta Halves – I don’t eat much bread, but these are high in fibre and relatively low cal. Great to eat with soup.
  • Low Fat Cottage cheese – great source of protein and low in fat & cals. Great as a topping, or as a replacement for mayo. Chuck in on crackers, mix in to tuna, blob it on soup, spread on ham and add a gherkin for a roll-up snack, use it in cooking & baking too.
  • Protein powders – these are great for whipping up great snacks. I’ve got the protein powder cookbook & the banana bread & vanilla blueberry muffins are super delicious and quick to make. Most of the recipes are low carb, low fat, high protein & made with great stuff like coconut flour.
  • Oats – I eat these mostly as porridge (made with skimmed milk), but also use them in lots of recipes
  • Soup – the days are getting colder and darker & soup is great for lunch. Make your own where possible, but for those of you with limited time or without the inclination to make it, there are some very good pre-prepped stuff in supermarkets now. Just try to avoid aby that have cheese or bacon/chorizo in, as these will be higher in fat and therefore, higher in cals too.
  • Vegetables – A bit of a no-brainer, but eating loads of veg will help to fill you up. Eat it raw, steamed, boiled, roasted. As a quick side dish, I like to chop loads of crunchy veggies up and chuck in a spoon of plain greek yoghurt, some lemon juice and some herbs & seasoning – perfect speedy sort-of coleslaw!
  • Veg chips – some days only chips will do – unless you can make veg chips! I like to make veg chips using carrot, parsnip, sweet potato and sometimes bog-standard normal potatoes. A teeny bit of oil, a good non-stick baking tray, hot hot hot oven and a great seasoning mix (I use semolina, for crunch, a little sea salt and some paprika and cumin). So good, give them a try!
  • Hognuts Nutbutters – A relatively new find for me. So delicious, loads of gorgeous flavours of nut butter – all hand blended & high in protein. Great toast topper, awesome stirred in to oats, or baked in to a protein cookie!

This isn’t an exhaustive list, by any means, but they are certainly favourites of mine. I try to avoid full fat cheeses and fatty meats such as salami or sausages. I don’t eat very much bread or pasta, but when I do, I eat wholemeal, where possible. I limit my alcohol intake and don’t drink at all during the week. I generally have a day of ‘relaxed’ eating at the weekend, especially if there’s a birthday or if friends are over. I do still put everything in to myfitnesspal though – even if it is wayyyyyyy over what I should have had – I find that by doing this, it does make you think & ask yourself whether you should really have that extra slice of cake or not – the answer is usually not! 😉

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September, Time for a Change…?!

I literally cannot believe that September is here already. I’m sure that Summer has really only just begun, but, thinking about it, Summer has been (mostly) full of long & wonderful days.

September still, as it always has, marks a new start for me, a time for change. Thanks to my brief career in teaching, I am functional only through an academic calendar. I still feel the ‘fear’ that I know all teachers around the country are feeling this week. I STILL get the nightmares about forgetting to have planned a lesson, forgotten resources, waiting to teach the class that you really can’t stand… I don’t think I’ll ever be able to use a ‘real’ calendar. And, anyway, what’s wrong with that? I love the feel of a new beginning along with the browning of the leaves, the chill in the air and the all important run up to Christmas.

This September, in particular, feels most important to me. It suddenly struck me, this morning, that my little girl will be heading off to big girl school next September. That’s only one year left. Big deal, I hear you say, well, it is a big deal to me. Don’t get me wrong, she has great fun at nursery and will be starting her new preschool class there this week. She’s very excited (& actually, I’m excited too, to get some time back to work). But there it is… work…

I’m tired of work, of being self-employed, of having an entire business on my shoulders. Tired of dealing with emails, deadlines, schedules, accounts, marketing, making, complaints, mistakes, listings, photographs. Tired of sitting up late in to the night trying to get orders finished or sitting with my bastard of a kiln, who, really is actually quite good, but in desperate need of a service and new elements, so again, my fault really, because that’s another thing that I’m in charge of. I’m tired of balancing all of that with looking after a small person, who, over the summer has had very limited time away from me. So we’re walking, playing, making stuff, cooking, building, searching, hunting, painting. I’m tired of also having to balance all the other, normal day to day stuff too, the laundry (how the hell do we ALWAYS have a whole laundry box, with just 3 of us?), the cooking, the cleaning, the shopping, the gardening, the tidying, the fixing that needs doing, the bill sorting, the endless list of paperwork that is always in need of sorting. Did I mention that I also have another job too? This one doesn’t even pay as it’s a voluntary position, burning the candle from all ends, maybe?! Yet, by not having a ‘real’ 9-5job, I’m apparently not doing anything… *insert anger face*

One thing I’m not at all tired of though, is my new life. My new ability to be able to eat well, keep fit and ENJOY it. Really, since January (when I first started to change my life), everything has got better. I feel as though I’ve found something that I am meant to enjoy. After recently joining a local gym, I’m even more excited about keeping fit. Firstly, I am amazed that I am able to walk in to a gym. These places have scared the bejeezus out of me, always. Now, it is like my church. It is the one place I can go & do whatever I want to do, for however long I want to do it and I don’t have to worry about/think about anything else. I can be totally, 100% selfish about my time there & it is great. I’m learning new techniques, using new equipment & it feels awesome. Don’t get me wrong, I still feel weird walking in there & I totally don’t know what I’m doing most of the time, but I figure I’ll get there, right?!

Anyway, so September is a month of change, a month of possibilities and the mark of the beginning. I know that I have just one year left to make some massive, huge and scary decisions. Decisions like, WHAT do I actually want to DO with my life?! I reckon my free-pass expires when P starts school, so I’ve got 52weeks to figure out what I’ll do with myself come next September. I can’t return to teaching, it was never my job soulmate. In all honestly, I can’t keep plugging at my business, whilst it has brought in a miniscule (more or less none) bit of money over the last few years, it is too taxing, it is too 24/7 and, 5 and a half years of working long hours for nothing takes it’s toll. I suspect that fish is dead in the water, but it’s hard to actually let go, to admit defeat, to call it a failure.

I’ve made a decision to cool it this year with my business. I worked tirelessly last Christmas, pulling 18hour days, 7 days a week, for 2 months up to Christmas. I sure didn’t make a fortune from that, but it did mean that by the time Christmas day rolled around, I was finished. Christmas last year made me realise that I was missing all of the good bits, missing watching my little girl get excited about Christmas. I missed ME getting excited about Christmas. For the first time in EVER, we took our decorations down before the end of the year – I was so sick of it all!

I’ve become too used to working from home, so a ‘real job’ scares me. I’ve got too used to working for myself, so the thought of having to answer to someone makes me, well, a bit cross. I’ve got too used to being my own boss, how do I adjust to not randomly making jam inbetween orders? But, you know, the bills don’t pay themselves, right? So I have to do something. I’m not sure that I’ve got the strength or the energy to set up or run another business, or even a franchise of a business, in order to continue working from home. Boy, this is tricky… I’ve also got more crazy decisions to make regarding schooling for P – that’s a whole other blog post right there.

So, I’ve made a decision. I’ve decided that this year, 2014-15 is for me. I am going to take some time to find out what I want to do, I’m going to look in to new jobs and training courses, I’m going to take lots of time to figure out what (if anything) I’m good at and what I enjoy. I’m going to take this time to spend more rewarding time with my girl. Rather than juggling orders and emails whilst telling her to sit down and watch Frozen for the 100th time, we’re going to go out, explore & enjoy her last year before she embarks on a whole lifetime of learning and new experiences. I might even find a rekindled love for my business after a decent break! So, yes, I “won’t be doing anything” as I still won’t have that 9-5 job for a while, but you know what, I’m OK with that & if anyone else isn’t, then it doesn’t matter, because that’s not my problem!

 

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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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St. Michael’s Hospice Moonlight Walk

Confession: I’m becoming an addict.

medals

From essentially being a total couch potato last year (unless lifting crisps or wine to my mouth was exercise…?!) to now, I have developed a bit of an obsession with exercise and, especially event exercise.

It started with getting out of my chair, stepping away (a little bit) from my wine glass & getting some training done.

My first event came in the shape of a race for life & I was determined that I was going to run the whole thing – which I totally did btw, yay me! You can read about that here. The second event took place on Saturday and was a 6mile moonlight walk in aid of raising money for St. Michael’s Hospice.

The route took us – us being my sister and I and a bunch of other people, suitable dressed in pirate wear – from Bexhill, right along the coast, past rows and rows of beach huts, up on to the promenade in St. Leonards, straight along in to Hastings, down to the really, very beautiful old town & circling back up to the White Rock Hotel.

SMH

1. Start Point, Bexhill. 2. Turning Point, Old Town. 3. End, White Rock Hotel. [credit: google maps]

The walk was great. Not too hard, not too fast & not too long. We did get split from the group a bit as a couple were further ahead and lots were far behind, so we did look slightly  very amusing to everyone we passed, dressed in our pirate wear!

I managed to grab this very fuzzy shot of Hastings in the distance - I refused to break my stride to take a better pic!

I managed to grab this very fuzzy shot of Hastings in the distance – I refused to break my stride to take a better pic!

We managed to slam the 6miles down in just 90minutes, score!

There was a little buffet waiting for us at the end point and lots of water, which was very much needed. We got a little medal, which I’ve added to my tiny, but growing collection. Then we walked home*.

*Note to self, don’t walk the half hour home after a 6mile walk.

Next event on my radar is a dirty dozen 6k military obstacle race – this may just finish me off!

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Freeletics – High Intensity Workouts

Good grief! Now THIS gives you a workout!

freeletics

I totally stumbled across freeletics, by chance, on twitter. It is a free workout plan that can be accessed via an app on your phone – at least, that’s how I use it. The basis of freeletics is that you can complete various high intensity plans using nothing more than your own bodyweight – no high cost equipment, win win!

Don’t make the assumption that by not using weights, resistance bands, or any machines, that it will be a walk in the park. It WILL try to kill you!!

I’m relatively new to fitness still, only really starting in January of this year, so I’m certainly not one of the crazy fit, flexible, beautifully toned & ripped people that you see doing the exercise demos on the app. So maybe it is tough work for me and my fitness level – BUT, the beauty of these types of workouts is that you get out what you put in. There are hard and easy versions of each move & the only restriction is your own ability – you can go as fast or as slow as you like (looking at my scores up there, I’m pretty freaking slow!!).

The planned workouts are pretty bloody evil. Don’t expect to be able to walk/move/breathe for a little while after doing one (p.s. you will also be feeling the pain the day after!). There are also ‘Max’ workouts, which I love – this is essentially you against you, trying to beat yourself to do more sit ups or squats, etc. There are leader-boards available to view and you can get your friends to sign up too, for added competition.

There is a premium service available – this is obviously one that requires payment, but it is apparently tailored to your needs. I’ve not tried this, so I can’t comment on it, but the free app version is great!

Search ‘freeletics’ in your app store and feel free to add me if you can find me (I’m the slow one, at the bottom!) Who wants a squat-off?! 😉

*This is not a sponsored post, I just loved the app!*

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What’s in Helen’s Cupboard?

I so so love looking through your cupboards, it is so nice to feel that you’re not alone – to see that other people make constant conscious decisions about what to keep as great cupboard stand-bys. Come and join in, show us your kitchen cupboards – share your best recommendations with us!

Next up on ‘in your cupboard’, we take a look through Helen’s cupboards. I’ve known Helen, online, for a good few years now – not only is she super talented at cakes and sugar flowers (Helen made some gorgeous sugar poppies for my daughter’s naming day cake), but she also blogs over at everydaybride. I’ll hand over to Helen now, so she can guide you through her cupboard & her recommendations for your next shopping trip!

Well, here it is! It’s a bit of a mish-mash in there to be honest. You’ll spot a large jar of Nutella – I hate it but my boys love it on toast! There’s also a selection of pasta, rice, bread sticks, chocolate chip brioche and wraps in there. With three growing sons we go through a LOT of carbohydrate based food! helen

The last few months have led me to reassess what we eat as a family. I’ve discovered a couple of new food based triggers for my asthma so there’s an added incentive to change how we eat. In an attempt to lose weight I don’t want my boys to see a mum who’s always on a diet. I’ve done Weightwatchers and Slimming World before and although they produced results, I was miserable the whole time! I want to change small things that will help me be healthier.

I still have weight to lose after having my third son last year, but currently I’m running twice and doing two karate classes a week and you can’t do that on an empty stomach! I’ve been searching for changes that fit in with that and a busy family life. I’ve struggled with anemia and asthma flare ups since Christmas and with them both finally under control it’s about making changes to help prevent them returning.

So my cupboard contains lots of herbs and spices and tins of tomatoes. I make a lot of slow cooker food. It’s my secret weapon! Casseroles, stews, curry, pasta sauce, all sorts of things. It’s great to know by 10am that dinner is organised and it prevents the last minute give up and order takeaway! Also the boys can eat as and when they’re hungry meaning I can eat with my husband when he’s home from work. I know exactly what’s in the meal and I can sneak veg in there too! I’m changing other things as well so there’s a bag of wholemeal pasta in there and the wraps are half and half ones in an attempt to get away from the ‘white’ versions. Let’s see if they notice!

This week a box of Nakd bars went in my shopping trolley after seeing them on this blog. It’s a change away from a Kitkat so hopefully they’ll be good and give me a boost! I struggle most in the day after the school run when the boys are eating everything in sight! That’s a real test of will-power.

I think my main recommendation is fizzy water! I drink a lot of it. Not the fancy stuff, just own brand but I think a lot of the time I’m thirsty and not hungry. And I cannot get away from sugar in my tea, so if I don’t drink it I don’t have the extra sugar! Oh but the lemon olive oil is good too – makes boiled new potatoes a fabulous treat with a teaspoon drizzled over them.

I’m trying small changes here. A big drink of water when I feel hungry. A step towards more wholegrain. More and more homecooked food. Sneaking veg into everything. A handful of salad with lunch. A peach instead of a biscuit. Less tea. And then a Nakd bar when I’m desperate.

I hope it works!

This is fab, Helen, thanks so much for sharing. A totally sensible approach to food and nutrition – I think that Helen has the key here – little changes, nothing too drastic, no fixed ‘diet’ as it were. So important not to pass ‘food fears’ on to little guys (and girls). Haha, I’m sure that eveyone has a jar of nutella – I can’t stick it either, but there are two other hungry mouths in my house that seem to love it – gimme marmite any day!
I also love the way that Helen is trying to use diet to help control some health issues like asthma, I think that this is really important too.

Big thumbs up on the running and karate!

What do you guys think about Helen’s cupboard? Leave a comment below, or catch me on twitter or facebook – don’t forget to go check out Helen’s blog too!

Want to join in & show us your cupboard? Drop me a contact form (on the about page), or mail me at: info@cherrypielane.co.uk and I’ll get you linked up!

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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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