2 Spuds in a Pod

Looking after your mental and physical wellbeing.

Tag: gym

Frustrating!

Why does life have to be so frustrating?! I mean sometimes we are only trying to get from point A to point B. In the way there are obstacles, hoops, wrong phone numbers, people who are no help at all. You find yourself three steps backwards and feeling down from doing such a simple task.

Customer Service

Now I could talk about customer service for hours and hours. However, for the point of this blog I will keep it short. Having worked in many a customer service role you could say I have a fair amount of experience. I also have a lot of people experience.

My current line of work

In my current line of work I deal with people who comes from all walks of life, from different careers, who have different illnesses or mental health conditions, who have different fitness goals and different life goals. Everyone in my book is treated with respect. A seven letter word that means so much but is quite often forgotten about, don’t you think? My point is with everyone I met I try to display professionalism, friendliness and a quirky sense of humour. The bottom line is that in my book everyone is treated the same. I try to give the best customer service that I can give.

When it goes bad!

I struggle when I have a big problem to solve and no one out of a customer service role is ready to help me. May be I am asking too much but then again may be I am not.

Let me paint you the picture!

Let me do just that. There is one more test I need to do for the IVF criteria and it something called a HyCoSy scan. Google can fill you in. In order to do this I need to have a Mirena coil removed.

Too many phone calls!

First of all I called my local GP but no, they apparently do not do such things. I was given another number to phone. But that number wasn’t recognised. I then got on to Google and had a search around other practices in the area to help us. But there were no phone numbers that I could see on their website. I tried the one number I could get and got through. But again no, they apparently stopped doing coil removal earlier this year. I was given yet another number. My poor phone was beginning to wonder what it had done to be calling so many different people. I got through to the last number and the lady asked had I spoken to the GP. My exact words were something like, “I have and they don’t do it, I have been sent on a wild goose chase, can you help?”.

I finally got a date!

After a few questions and a few calendar dates I finally have a date. It took about an hour to do all of that but I finally made it to the end. And here is my point. Did it really have to be that challenging to do such a simple thing?!

IVF

To me this is just another hoop we need to get through with a few obstacles thrown in. It is like we are being tested to make sure we are ready to progress down the children route. It is frustrating, it is challenging and it is darn right annoying as well. To do something so simple, which is to have children of my own, I need to go through many, many hoops.

What else do they want from me?

Exactly that. I have changed my diet, changed it again and finally changed it so it makes even more sense. I now eat a lot more than I did. The first few weeks were nerve-racking and scary while I looked at the amount I had to get through. Now I willingly make my own breakfasts and lunches making sure I have the correct meals and snacks. Admitting it now that I do like to snack. My appetite is back and I am not hangry as often. We have discovered that I have more muscle than fat and that is what is making my BMI and weight loss is challenging.

What else?

I changed my exercise regime and now run. Run! I do many more gym classes. In the rain, the sun and the cold I train. I do exercise when I really want to sit on the couch and eat cake. I do my own research into how best to go forward with IUI or IVF. Rosie and I ring many different people to try and get an answer. We have become massive Google fans as well. We read articles, forums and much more just to see if there is anything else I can do except wait.

I know it will be worth it!

Now, I know in the end it will all be worth while but I am also aware we are going through many different hoops. A lot of hoops before we even get to the massive ones that IUI or IVF will throw at us. I know I will have a little rant and then pick myself up and carry on. I have a goal to get to and I am going to try my hardest to get there.

-Helen

This time of year (and exercise)

I thought I would do a quick blog on this time of year and exercise. There are a few things that may influence our exercise during the next few months. Yes, stress will be a major factor but I am talking more about coughs, colds, flu, SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and so on.

Can we exercise when we are sick?

The short answer to the question is, listen to your body. It is as simple as that. When we are sick with a cold or flu our bodies are using up vital energy. Energy trying to fight the bugs that caused us to be sick in the first place. If we then decide to go and run a 5k the energy switches from making us better to attempting the 5k. In short, it could make us much worse which will take even longer to recover from.

Our CV system

Our cardiovascular (CV) system is made up of our heart, lungs, arteries, veins and so on. If our lungs are already inflamed fighting off a chesty cough and we decide to run a 5k then this could make us worse.

An overnight bike ride

Let me put this into an experience. With a cold I was about to complete an overnight 100km (62 mile) bike ride. I should have been at home in bed recovering but I was at the start line at 2330. Riding through the night breathing in the continuous cold air was not a good idea. My body ached, I struggled uphill as I couldn’t breathe properly and I eventually made it to the finish line. Lets just say it was more of a collapse over the finish line. I was exhausted. Later that day my chest hurt, my cough sounded like a barking dog and I had a temperature. My mother was less than sympathetic (“it’s your own fault” she said) and I ended up with a chest infection. Several years later if I get a cold it always goes straight to my chest (a reminder for being such an idiot). The long and short of it was, I should have been in bed.

Temperature

Again if you have flu or a high temperature then attempting a high intensity class will only make you warmer. If the body gets too hot then it will shut down and you will faint. Not a great thing to do in the middle of a crowded gym.

But can I exercise?

If you are like me and you are determined to get into the gym then here is my top 5 things to do if you feel you really do need to work out.

  • Stay in bed
  • Drink a hot drink (water, lemon, ginger and honey can do wonders)
  • Watch TV
  • Eat chocolate
  • Call lots of people to give you sympathy

There you go.

No, in all seriousness if you are determined then here is the “real” list.

  • Slow to medium walking on a treadmill (no incline)
  • Cycle (not a spin class)
  • Lift little weights (no 100kg’s)
  • No high intensity/circuits/or anything that will get you out of breath
  • Some light stretching

Your body needs the time to recover and it is time you will need to give it.

When you feel better

When you feel better you will need to again listen to your body. Depending on how much time you have had off you will need to let your body get back into the swing of things. Don’t assume after 2 weeks off you can do straight into lifting 100kg’s or sprint for 2 minutes. Give your body time to get back to where it was.

SAD (seasonal affective disorder)

Now, there is one condition you may get around this time of year and it is SAD. SAD is a type of depression that presents itself during the winter months. The 3 best ways to help SAD is getting as much natural light as possible (sunshine) , exercising regularly and keeping stress away. For more information on SAD please visit the NHS website.

Listen

As I keep saying, during the next few months listen to your body. Let the main symptoms disappear and then get back into your exercise routine. Don’t beat yourself up about not being able to make a circuits class. It is much better that you recover first rather than collapsing mid-class. Even I have been known to say “I think I need to sit on the couch tonight”.

-Helen

Fitness

It’s National Fitness Day

It is National Fitness Day today. This is the day when gyms are giving you discounts on membership, new classes are appearing on the programme for you to try and there are competitions at various establishments to win prizes. I am aware of this as I did an additional two high intensity classes this morning at the gym where I work. This was on top of all my other classes. I was definitely tired and hungry after all of that and I have a feeling I am going to have tired legs tomorrow.

To find out more about National Fitness Day please visit their own website which loads of information on it.

Some fitness myths

I thought this may be a good place to bust some myths. Some myths that may be putting you off exercise.

Myth 1
Crunches are the best move for good abs
Answer
I mean in some ways this is true. However, let me put it this way. Crunches are good for the upper abs, hip bridges are good for the lower abs and glutes, side plank is good for your obliques and leg extensions are good for full abs. All of these exercises help make good abs.
My opinion
Variety is key to ab work.


Myth 2
No pain, no gain
Answer
A slight discomfort is fine to carry on exercising with. The discomfort is telling you your body has worked hard in a previous session. Doing gentle exercising while having tired muscles is actually good for getting them to start recovering.
My opinion
Workout but go easy is what I would say. If I have to take a day off everytime I got a niggle or a tired muscle I would probably spend more time out of the gym than in it.


Myth 3
You shouldn’t work out everyday
Answer
Your body needs rest as well as a workout. Even the top athletes in the UK will have rest times. Yes workout but rest too.
My opinion
This is something I tend to forget to do. I have learnt the hard way on many occasions when my body is tired and sore and then I push it too far. I also see the benefit of working hard but resting as well. As a trainer I tend to have a sports massage at least every four to six weeks. It is a way to thank the body for its work.


Myth 4
Lifting heavy weights make women bulky
Answer
The short answer to this is no. According to the active fitness website it says females have 1/20th to 1/30th of the testosterone levels that men have. Females do not have the testosterone to support serious muscles mass growth.
My opinion
I do a fair amount of weights in the gym and I can confirm that I do not look like that sailor who eats spinach all the time.

Find what you love

As it says on the tin. Find a fitness craze that is right for you. I am not a runner therefore I don’t do it often (unless running for the bus). My sister and her wife however, are ultra-marathon runners! That is what they love. I like boxing, spinning, Zumba and circuit type exercises as I find them more fast paced and suited for my fitness style. Rosie likes Yoga, Pilates and the slower based gym classes. A good friend of ours likes hill-walking, my Mum likes Scottish Country Dancing and several colleagues of mine like lifting weights. All of this is fitness based. The best way to find out what you love is to try a few different things and find one that suits you. That one that makes you smile.

Fitness benefits

Fitness is great for various reasons. We have discussed in previous blogs about how it is good for mental and physical health but lets get into the nitty gritty of this.

Fitness is amazing for many other reasons:

  • Helps get your sleep back on track so you get the recommended eight hours
  • Increases your energy levels and brain function
  • Can help improve your posture and alignment (how the body moves)
  • Is great for a healthy bones, muscles, heart and lungs to name a few
  • Also good for weight loss
  • It can help reduce pain

As I have said there are many, many benefits for exercise.

My point

Be happy, be healthy, find a fitness craze you love and enjoy fitness.

-Helen

Exercise

BMI

Last week’s blog was about BMI and the parameters surrounding it. From the comments I have heard from you all I can safely say that it is making a lot of you unhappy. You feel you put in the effort of eating correctly and getting lots of exercise but then a number lets you down. I will wait and see if the powers that be will change this, although I doubt that they will.

Carrying on from BMI

Carrying on from the BMI post, I want to look more at exercise and how easy it is to get it in. As I said last week the numbers for exercise according to the NHS website are as follows:

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

Remember that this for a week. A whole week which is 7 days which is 168 hours and finally 10080 minutes. So, you can see why 30 minutes of exercise is a very achievable figure as the bare minimum. The 60 minutes is beginning to push boundaries, but it is the 150 minutes which really starts to push things. However, in my opinion I would suggest adding two more layers to the chart.

Very active – between 150 and 300 minutes of exercise a week
Extremely active – between 300 and 500 minutes of exercise a week
(Challengers – 1000 minutes and beyond)

Let’s give the people who are constantly moving a category and a pat on the back to say well done, lets carry on being active.

The new categories

The new categories seem like a lot of minutes but let me break it down for you, so it seems easy. To get 300 minutes it would work out as follows:

30 minutes of walking 4 days a week = 120 minutes
60 minutes of walking 2 days a week = 120 minutes
90 minutes of walking 1 day a week = 90 minutes
Grand total = 330 minutes per week

It’s as easy as that.

If you happen to have access to a home gym or sports centre, then take out that 60 minutes of walking and add in a 60-minute class.

The 500 minutes is slightly trickier as it involves more time however, if you do have time then it can be achieved.

30 minutes of walking 5 days a week = 150
2 x 45-minute spin class = 90 minutes
2 x 60-minute pump class = 120 minutes
1 x high intensity class = 30 minutes
Gardening over the week = 120 minutes
Grand total = 510 minutes

Activities of daily living

Let me break this down even further into activities of daily living. This is as follows:

  • Walking to the bus stop/gym/corner shop
  • Parking at the other end of the supermarket when going in to buy one item
  • Walking up the stairs at work or in a department store
  • Sitting down and standing up during an advert break on television or getting up to make a cup of tea every hour
  • Vacuuming your house from top to toe
  • Getting up at work and walking over to a colleague’s desk rather than phone them

There are many more too.

I understand we are all busy day in and day out but even small changes like the above can help us all keep active.

Challenge update

Last week I said I was going to challenge myself in getting 1000 minutes of exercise each week of July. I am pleased to say that last week I got 1042. Now, I thought that 1000 minutes would be easy and that it would be plain sailing but even I have had some pitfalls. I got one of those 24-hour buggy things and managed to pull a muscle in my leg. This meant that my Saturday was completely wiped out and my Sunday I had to go easy. The main issue I had was fitting it all in. Now I am lucky that during Tuesday and Wednesday at work my participation in the classes counted however, that still leaves 5 days of the week where I had to put in the effort.

How I got to 1042

I got to my minutes by doing various classes. I did spin, Zumba, circuits and weights to name a few. After the classes I would pop into the gym and walk on the treadmill, go on the cross trainer, cycle or have a weights session. I also walked more than normal and then spent some of the time gardening.

This week

This week has got off to a rocky start as I am still nursing that pulled muscle, so Monday was a quiet exercise day, but I was back full force on Tuesday. At present I am 349 minutes into the week.

Just get active

Do just that. You don’t have to get to my challenge of 1000 minutes in a week but challenge yourself personally and aim for an extra hour or two. Start from there and see what happens. Believe me when I say your mind, mental health, physical health and general wellbeing will all thank you. Plus, along the way you may lose weight, tone up those muscles, improve your posture, speak to people at the gym and make friends, hang out with your favourite person and so on.

-Helen

Personal training

I thought it was a good idea to bring in personal training to the body image theme we have been running for the last couple of weeks. People visit a personal trainer for all sorts of reasons but one of the main ones is because they would like to change how they look. They may like to tone a particular area of the body; they may want a swimsuit body ready for the summer or they may want to lose weight. These are all areas that I have helped people with in my work as a trainer.

What is a personal trainer?

Someone once asked me what I did for a living. I responded that I was a personal trainer, working in a mainstream gym as well as peoples houses. They summed it up as someone who comes to you, puts you through h*ll, makes you sweaty and get out of breath, gets paid and tries to make you feel better. Now this is a good conclusion. We are the ones who make you work hard so that you can achieve your goal. I have a few rules as a trainer when I work with a client and that is one of them. You work hard in our sessions, but I am also expecting you to work hard if you are not in a session. This way you achieve your goal. If you are expecting to come to the gym for one session a week and expect great results, then unfortunately it is not going to help you.

How does a personal trainer help you?

We start by having a consultation. This is where we will chat to you and find out how we can help you. This is also where we will find out if there are any barriers to fitness. In terms of barriers I mean money issues, medical issues, family commitments, work commitments and so on. These are barriers that may make it harder to achieve your goal or could stop the goal in its tracks. However, I find if you want to make a change and achieve the goal badly enough then the barriers will be hard, but you will find a way. After the consultation phase we start to put you through your paces. I will teach you exercises to help you on the road so you can gain your potential. I will also check your posture and alignment to make sure you are looking after your body. What a personal trainer can also do is go through a healthy eating plan with you and make recommendations on how to achieve one. We usually do this through a food diary which you keep. And here is one of the secrets about personal training. We tailor all sessions to meet your needs, no one else, just you.

Do I need to be fit to visit a personal trainer?

This is a question I get quite a lot as a trainer. Do I need to be fit to work with you? With me personally the short answer is no. I work with people who have never exercised right through to someone who exercises several times a week. As I say one of my rules is you work hard. I can guide you through exercise, help you with nutrition, check your posture, make you’re your alignment is good, support and motivate you along the way. But at the end of the day it is up to you how much effort you put in. The question you need to ask yourself is, are you ready?

What do I need to look like to visit a personal trainer?

You can look however you want to look. You can be toned. You can have muscles. You can be overweight. You can turn up in the t-shirt you dug out of your cupboard forty years after your college won a sports match. You can wear brand new trainers. You can come in with make-up on. You can come in straight from work with your hair all messy. My point is as a personal trainer I do not mind how you turn up. Just turn up and be willing to work hard to achieve your goals.

Lifestyle change

As I have mentioned in a previous blog it is a lifestyle change that you need and not a quick fix. To eat correctly, exercise and then see results you may need to change several elements in your life. What I mean is this: If you are eating healthy during the week but at the weekend having two bottles of wine, then this is not going to help you. You need to sustain a change. If you go out for a 5km walk on Sunday afternoon only and again expect your cardio to improve again I am afraid it will not help. However, if you eat healthy during the week and the weekend, have two glasses of wine at the weekend, walk 5km every day, go to the gym and workout then yes you are going to feel better, but you are also committing to a lifestyle change. A change where you are going to see parts of the body getting toned, a summer body peeking through and weight getting lost. All I can say is trust me on this one, I have a lot of experience in lifestyle changes and a lot of negatives to say about quick fixes.

At the end of the day it is your call.

What would you like to achieve?

Body Image

It is a hot topic at the minute with this being Mental Health Awareness Week. The Mental Health Foundation only yesterday announced that it had done a piece of research on it. According to the report 4,500 UK adults were asked, and about a third of them were anxious about their body image. Another 1 in 8 were experiencing suicidal thoughts about it. (BBC News website)

The very thought of the words body image can make someone jump out of their skin. It will have people running to the mirror and asking why me? Someone may read this blog and think I have tried every diet but why am I still big or why can’t I put muscle on or I wish I could lose that baby weight and so on. Here’s the secret: there is no magic formula. The truth is your body belongs to you. You oversee it. It is unique. 

Your body can tell a story

It is very true; your body can tell a story. It is the life of you. So, the story of me is as follows. I have a small scar across the bridge of my nose from where I decided to nosedive into a table at the age of 2.  I also have 3 keyhole scars on my abdomen from 18 months ago where a cyst on my ovary bust, caused a right issue and had me in emergency surgery to sort it out.  I have facial tics which depending on my stress levels can be very visible. My left hand holds two rings, my engagement ring and my wedding ring. I recently cut my hair really short and got myself an ear piercing.  My toes are webbed (no I still can’t swim well), I have fat around my belly which due to a medical condition makes it hard to shift but I keep trying. I wear glasses, I had teeth braces as a kid and for a female I am taller than average. I work hard at the gym doing my own workouts so I stay strong. I also love nothing more than running around in jeans and a t-shirt. There you go, a small version of my story.

The other side of the story

People have mocked me in the past, bullied me, people have said why can’t I lose weight, why were my teeth like a bunny’s and why couldn’t I dress more feminine. Some of those words hurt, I had to listen while people said these things but did I pay attention? The short answer is no. It has taken me a while to realise that I am who I am. Some people will like me, and some will not. However, at the end of the day I cannot please everyone with the way my body looks. The only person who needs to be happy with it is me and I am more than happy with my body image. 

The media

I personally think the media has a lot to answer for. As a personal trainer I often get a person coming to me for their consultation, showing me pictures of someone on Instagram or other social media. It comes with those famous words; I want to look like this. Now bringing in a picture gives me a good idea of how you would like to look and what exercises to give you to get you there. However, most people want the easy fix. Now correct me if I am wrong but that message is usually not one that social media portrays. People want that internet body which will happen overnight whilst still being able to eat fast food and binge-watching telly. I have to disappoint these people and say that it could take up to a year to get that way. What I offer is good nutrition, at least 3 days in the gym, scaling down the fast food, limiting the alcohol and a lot of hard work. After the initial shock wears off that it will take a lot longer they sigh and say I will try it. The people who have stayed with me as a trainer have lost weight, toned their muscles, changed their diet to a healthier version and so on. But here is my point: it is a lifestyle change rather than a quick fix. And at the end of the day they are much happier. 

You

So, here is the bottom line in my opinion. If you are happy with your body image don’t let anyone take that away from you. Show off your scars proudly and let them tell their story. If you are not happy with your body image, then take a small step today into making a lifestyle change and keep going. Once you catch the nutrition and exercise bug I can guarantee you will find your happy somewhere along the way.

-Helen

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