2 Spuds in a Pod

Looking after your mental and physical wellbeing.

Tag: challenge

Something different!

I thought I would do a slightly different blog today.
I mean yes, I could write about my week. About how my own personal trainer gave me many ab exercises that I now have DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). All I can say about that is it hurts every time I sneeze or cough. I could say that I had my flu jab this week too and my arm feels like a dead weight. May be I could mention that I am incredibly frustrated that I had my weigh in this month. I only lost half a kilo. I am still heading in the right direction which is something. Still eating the “good and healthy foods”, exercising like there is no tomorrow, not drinking alcohol or eating chocolate. However, I am currently wondering where I am going wrong, I can’t work it out. With PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) I am aware it will make a weight loss harder. But is that the main reason on why I am not losing a lot of weight? Couple this together with the fact it means even more hoops for me to go through before I get to even start IVF. It is a slow journey and at the minute it feels a little troublesome.

The Nutritionist

On the up side we are due to have a chat with a nutritionist on Friday. This is causing some anxiety. Let me just clear something up here. As a personal trainer we are qualified in nutrition. We do the basics as part of PT school. We are allowed to get you to write us a food diary so we can give you recommendations on it. This all has to be in line with governmental guidelines and the NHS Eatwell Plate. However, what we are not permitted to do is; write food plans for you, send you for blood tests to determine how your body is working and so on. A nutritionist or dietitian will have been to university and done a full degree in the subject. They are the ones who should know the subject inside and out.

Why am I nervous?

So here is the thing. I am concerned for Friday because of my background. Is the nutritionist going to laugh at me as it should be something I know?! Is said nutritionist going to think that I am lying in my food diary. Eat cakes all day and that is why I am struggling (I am not!). I know it seems like a small issue to deal with and I am desperately trying to keep it that way.

My week and my blog

So there you go. I could write in depth about that but I want to keep this blog fairly upbeat I will change topics.
Last week I went to the Enchanted Forest up in Pitlochry, Scotland. May be not what you were expecting me to say but there you go. Now why do I want to write about this?

The moon and the world!

Well, the main reason is we are tiny in comparison to the moon and the world. Sometimes the world feels like it is on our shoulders and we wonder how we are going to get through to the next day, the next and the next.

Facing a problem

But stop to breathe, rise up with your boxing gloves on and ready to take on that challenge, whatever it may be. This is what helps me get through some of the hard things I have to deal with. I take a deep breath (may be two), stand up taller, shoulders back, chest out, raise my head and then take that first step into the challenge. I have found if I am physically strong then I tend to be mentally strong as well. The Helen from years ago was a quiet type who wouldn’t take on a challenge. The Helen today picks wisely what challenges need attention and what ones are just going to zap my energy and I will walk away from.

The illusion!

This is another image from the Enchanted Forest. The moon and the world in the background are suspended on wires above the water to give its reflection. The trees were just there but gives it a very cool and mystical theme. Sometimes taking your mind off of the problem, looking at a different element of it or turning the problem on its head is when you may find you solve it better. I tend to find if the moon is smiling back at you then everything is going to be ok.

You could always just pop up to the ISS (International Space Station) for a quick birds eye view of a problem before you tackle it.

I’m sure the astronauts up there won’t mind and I am sure there will be some freeze dried tea to offer you. Someone told me that a cup of tea solves almost everything. It’s a shame I don’t drink it really.

Problems and perspectives

All I am saying is sometimes the world will throw a curve ball at you, something unexpected. That nice email you wrote a month ago will go unanswered. A weight loss journey will seem like you are going nowhere fast. You will lose sleep over something that can be sorted within minutes but the body likes to worry about it first. You will plan a day out which then needs to be re-scheduled. And so on.

What is meant for you will not pass you by!

My Dad keeps telling us this. It is true. You may not see it at the time and it will get frustrating when you have you heart set on your goal. But afterwards you will be able to connect the dots and realise that it didn’t happen then for a reason. Your goal will come when it is the right time and the problems leading up to said goal will just melt away.


Look at the beauty the world creates and see some of your problems in a different perspective. That is what I am saying, this is my point. The Enchanted Forest is made up of lights (and clever artists). Just lights but gives us that amazing mystical affect and can take us away for the evening to just have fun (or find a solution to a problem!).


First challenge is complete

Well the 1000 minute a week exercise challenge is now complete for July. For proof please see the above photo. It was an interesting challenge to say the least. It was hard but rewarding at the same time. Hard because it involved a lot of time from my schedule. Sunday mornings were where I would usually lie in, watch films, enjoy a leisurely breakfast and generally relax. But the last few Sundays I have been in the gym doing high intensity classes, gym training and walking home afterwards. It was rewarding though as I feel I am stronger; my cardio has improved greatly, and I have learnt some new exercises. I can certainly confirm that my muscles are now crying for attention and luckily, we have a sports massage booked for this coming Monday.

Will I continue the 1000 minutes?

That is a very good question. Although it did take up a lot of time, I will continue with the 1000 minutes a week target. However, what I will not do is be too hard on myself. If I want a Sunday morning off, then I will take it. Simple as that. After last week blog I still have 15 kg to lose so the more exercise the better really.

The secret to diet and exercise

Here is the secret to diet and exercise. It isn’t a quick fix. You can crash diet of course and the weight will come off very quickly. However, as soon as you start eating a normal diet the weight will creep on again. You also have the yo-yo affect where you crash diet, eat normally, crash diet, eat normally and keep repeating until you break the cycle. Again, with exercise, you can exercise for two months solidly and gain results. But if you then for the next two months sit on the couch watching television you will lose the benefits you have gained in the first place. It really is that simple. Which leads me to the next secret in diet and exercise.

A lifestyle change

It is a lifestyle change. Diet and exercise techniques are put in place so that 10, 20, 30 years down the line you are still strong, healthy with a good exercise regime and well-balanced diet. Now don’t panic. Although it is a lifestyle change it does include treat days. We have Saturday evening as ours. This means we can have an ice cream bar, dessert, one of those fancy corner yogurt things or equivalent. All it means is we have a specific day rather than eating ice cream every day of the week. As the saying goes, everything in moderation and you will be fine. It also means that you value whatever your treat is (and pick wisely at the supermarket).

Our progress

We are to have a first weigh in, in a couple of days’ time. We have chosen to weigh ourselves in at the end of every month only. Weighing ourselves in at the end of every week may take away from what we are trying to achieve. For example, one week you are down 3 pounds, the next you are up 2 pounds and the next you are down 4 pounds. It gets too complicated in my opinion. Weighing in once a month gives you a truer picture I find. We are over the first week where our bodies were craving bad foods, we were grumpy from lack of food and generally not pleasant to be around.

And here is the good news

However, (and here is the good news) we have settled down, we have move energy, we look forward to our fruit snacks and we generally are starting to feel better. Our house is full of fruit, veg and health snacks, we spent more time preparing food and we are getting a lot of exercise. Take it one step at a time and see what you can achieve. Please see our earlier blog on lifestyle exercise.

Another secret

If you want your goal badly enough you will put in the hard work. That’s it.


An even bigger challenge

Back to that BMI thing

I am going to go back to this BMI thing one more time. I am sure you are all getting bored of me going on about it, but I have been for good reason. The BMI is part of the criteria for fertility and IVF treatment. Last week we went for our first appointment. Surprise, surprise we met all the other criteria except for the BMI one. And it is as plain and simple as this. If you do not meet the crazy BMI number, the NHS can’t help you. End of story. I find it a bit harsh that it all comes down to just this number and that your activity levels and exercise regime is not taken into consideration but there you have it. It frustrates me no end but that is the bottom line and to get into the service we need to meet the criteria.

My (mini) challenge so far

In my last blog I mentioned that I was having a lot of things to do last week and I may not be able to get all my minutes in. I am pleased to say that I managed to get just over the thousand minutes in the last couple of days which makes it 3 weeks with over a thousand minutes per week. I have found taking a book into the gym then setting either the bike, arc trainer or treadmill to random hills and reading is a great way to pass the time. I even tried two high intensity classes this week. One was Grit Cardio and the other Body Attack. Now Grit Cardio is a hard class. I knew all the exercises of the class but seemed to lose track between brain and legs. I am glad I was standing at the back of the class where I could look like an idiot. However, what I have done is book myself in with one of the Grit instructors so they can go over with me how the class is choreographed. I am hoping after this I may get on a little better in the class.  

Anyway, I have just over 1 week to go before this month’s challenge ends. However, I have an even bigger challenge awaiting me.

An even bigger challenge begins

As I have said we are beginning to go through the tests for fertility treatment and at present my BMI is too high to be accepted into the service. After the appointment I came home and did all the calculations to make us eligible. To put it simply I must lose 18 kilograms. I have currently lost between 2 and 3 and have another 15 to go. It is a lot. It is an awful lot.

What we changed: exercise

With regards to exercise I think 1000 minutes a week is pretty good going so I will not be changing much here. I will keep going and add in a couple of high intensity classes. The beauty of a high intensity class is that I will burn calories long after the class has finished. Which in turn helps a lot with weight loss. I will keep as active as I can be and make sure I have a physio on standby for those worn out muscles.

What we changed: food

Now this is where the biggest change is going to come in. Diet wise mine isn’t too bad. I don’t drink a lot of alcohol. I don’t eat a lot of chocolate, crisps, biscuits and the like. I don’t eat a lot of take-out and microwave dinners either. Looking at my diet it has more to do with portion sizes than anything else, I think.

The 1940’s to 2019 plate size

Now you may think this is a bit weird but stick with me as I explain. From the 1940s to today portions have become (in my opinion) out of control. According to Google the plate size in 1940 was about 9-inches, and today, it is 12-inches. That is a 3-inch difference or about the size of your credit card. Which seems crazy! So the long and the short of that is that my portion sizes are going to come down dramatically.


As well as my 3 meals a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner) I am trying to eat more fruit as well. I would say I was the occasional fruit addict. Some weeks I would eat lots and some weeks not so much. Now I am going to have to eat lots as my snack. I am trying to eat the rainbow (and no I don’t mean the sweet Skittles) but the fruit and vegetable rainbow. Basically, lots of colours and variety. It also doesn’t matter what form it comes in either. I find fresh a better option but that doesn’t mean other varieties are excluded, for example, tinned.


I am also drinking a lot of water. Now water and I have a history. I used to drink a lot of squash and fizzy drinks but after meeting Rosie she made me get more involved with this water stuff. After several months and a couple of years I now willingly drink the stuff but not a lot of it. I have a water bottle and have been challenging myself to drink them throughout the day.

Stay tuned

I am aware that I have set myself an almighty challenge, but I am going to give it my all. I am sure there will be days where I want to sit on the couch and watch television with a chocolate bar. On the flip side I am sure there will be days when I exercise too much and my fruit intake has excelled. So as I say, stay tuned to see how I get on throughout the next few months.


Marketing bit (2 Spuds doesn’t do it often but it fits in nicely here)

If anyone has just read that and wishes their nutrition checked this is something I can do as a personal trainer. I can take your food/drink intake (and I want to see the good, the bad, and the ugly) analyse it and recommend changes for you. Just get in touch.

BMI and my challenge

I thought I would do a blog on one of my pet hates about the fitness and health industry and that is the BMI or Body Mass Index. Stick with me through this as there is a reason why I am writing about it.

What is BMI

According to Google it is a numerical value of your weight in relation to your height. There is a formula that you can use to work out the actual BMI result. It is one of those scary looking ones and well advanced for the basic 2+2=4. It is:

Weight (kg)
Height in (m)2

See I told you it looked scary. BMI even comes with a colourful graph to show you which box you may fit in too. They are:

<18.5 is underweight
18.5 to 24.9 is normal weight
25 to 29.9 is overweight
30 to 39.9 is obese
>40 is morbidly obese

And there you have it, the numbers and the definitions.

Why does it annoy me?

It has always annoyed me and has recently cropped up again due to an upcoming appointment. Said appointment will have a BMI reading to determine if we are fit enough to get on to the next stage. Mine is high and I currently sit in the obese category. However, this is where it gets interesting. My legs and arms are quite muscular, but my stomach is where I carry most of my fat. I would be the average apple shape if I had to pick. The whole BMI topic is a hotly debated one and it annoys me greatly as I don’t think it takes people who work in sport or fitness into consideration when it is calculating it. I am sure there are also other industries which can get into hot water with it too but considering I work in fitness I will pick that one.

Let me explain

Take a rugby or a football or a rowing team for example. These guys and girls will train 7 days a week for several hours each day. They will work on their cardio, they will lift weights down the gym, they will make sure their core is up to scratch and they will work hard to achieve their body which will make them win the match or the race.

What happens when we take the BMI from one of them?

For example, lets take imaginary man Stuart who is 6 foot and weighing in at 16 stone. He is built of solid muscle and there is very little fat around him. Stuart’s BMI would be 30 which makes him obese. Just so it is fair let’s also take imaginary Shona who is 5 foot 3 and weighs in at 12 stone 5. The BMI results would be 30 which again pops her into the obese category. Do you see where I am coming from? Stuart and Shona are the fittest they can be, but because muscle weighs more than fat they are in the obese category, even though they are not obese. I am really hoping this makes sense.

NHS BMI Result

What annoyed me even more was when I went on to check my BMI on the NHS website. I understood the first part of putting in my height and weight, but it was the second part on exercise levels that really got me. NHS defines exercise as:

Inactive – less than 30 minutes exercise a week
Moderately active – between 30 and 60 minutes of exercise a week
Active – between 60 and 150 minutes of exercise a week

Now the numbers I understand and please bear in mind that this is bare minimum of exercise a week. This comes down to thirty minutes of exercise over five days of the week. In my opinion you should be aiming for a lot more that 150 minutes a week. Now being a personal trainer and doing my own work outs I am nowhere near any of those numbers. My exercise in minutes for the week does not have a box. And therefore, I average anywhere between 500 to 800 minutes of exercise a week depending on what I am doing. I am several times over the “average”. If people are going to take this number to give me a correct answer to BMI, then I can’t do it as it doesn’t exist. I can get the answer for the height and weight formula, but it stops there.

The challenge

To prove a point, I have decided for the month of July to set myself a little challenge. You are of course welcome to join me in this challenge. All you will need is somewhere to exercise whether it is at a gym, a class, outside in the garden, walking the dog and the list goes on. You will also need somewhere to track down your exercise in minutes. The challenge is to exercise for 1000 minutes a week. This roughly translates as 2 and half hours of exercise every day. It may seem like a lot but if you break it down even further and say walk both to and from work, as well as go for a stroll at lunchtime you can easily do an hour just by that. It also really boosts your mental and physical wellbeing. Add in an hour’s gym class, you have 2 hours and then spend the last 30 minutes in the garden mowing the lawn then all together that is 2 and a half hours done. Say at the weekend you go for a 5 hour walk in one of Scotland’s National Parks then you have a bank of additional hours. And so, on and so forth. It is a challenge after all.


I will keep you updated as we go through July but at present after three days, I am currently on 478 minutes. Not a bad start but still a long way to go.


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