2 Spuds in a Pod

Looking after your mental and physical wellbeing.

Tag: happy

Zumba

The well-known dance aerobics style exercise. Great music, dancing, an instructor leading from the front of the class and a fantastic workout for the full body. What more could you want after a stressful day at work?! I started Zumba around seven years ago at our local leisure centre in London. My first session I was wondering what I had let myself in for. I have two left feet, no sense of rhythm no dance experience and absolutely no idea on what Zumba was. But I was open to trying new experiences and that day several years ago and after a stressful day in the world of conference organisation (past career) I was willing to try anything to dance away those stresses.

I did Zumba in two or three different places in London with several different instructors and many dance styles. I then moved to Scotland where life took over and I had to stop going. I lost the passion for it. I thought it would be a nice thing to do every so often but didn’t really do anything about it. Then there was a promotion for our local sports centre in Cumbernauld. I checked the class timetable and took my free pass to the reception desk.

What if?

Next thing I knew I was standing in a massive hall with loads other people waiting for the Zumba instructor to turn up. I found myself a little corner at the back of the room where no one would really see what I was doing. Going through my mind was what if there are steps I don’t know, what if everyone else is better than me, what if I fall over mid-class, what if my shorts and t-shirt is not the right thing to wear, what if, what if, what if.

The music started

Then the music started. Well that was it, I was off. My feet started to move, my arms started to move, I followed the instructor as best I could, and I danced until I could dance no more. Halfway through the class I moved from the safety of my spot at the back to the front of the room. I had found my Zumba shoes again. That day I was feeling negative about the day, frustrated at what was going at work and annoyed at the fact life was throwing me curve balls with no break and it wanted me to keep going. By the end of the class I had a completely different frame of mind. I went home and by the end of the afternoon had done the admin that I had put into the “to do later” pile, tidied the house, been to the supermarket, made healthy snack bars, had dinner in the oven and was waiting patiently to talk to Rosie so I could tell her all about my day. Later that evening I was speaking to Rosie about a gym membership so I could do more Zumba classes. By the end of the next day I had a membership, a class timetable and was already booked into two further Zumba classes the following week.

The instructors

Now, these are the guys and girls who can make or break a Zumba class. These are the one that must put together the dance routines then teach it to the class participants. At our local sports centre there are a good handful of instructors. Some of them dance, some of them chat and one person makes you dance and laugh at the same time. I did her class a few weeks ago and I laughed from start to finish. This instructor brings a tongue in cheek approach to it and can have the class in hysterics. If you are not laughing or just smiling at the end of one her classes, then something is very seriously wrong. I feel it takes a great person to have such a unique quality and with her energy it is hard not to move your feet.

Today

Today I Zumba around two to three times a week. To be honest I would probably Zumba seven times a week if my schedule allows but it unfortunately doesn’t. When the musics starts I just go with the flow. I fully admit I’m the person facing the wrong way during the songs, going left when everyone else is shuffling right, making up my own steps and trying my best to keep up with everyone else. But here is my point, it doesn’t matter what you are doing as long as you are jumping, waving, smiling, burning calories and having an excellent time dancing away those life stresses.

So, this is a very long way around to say go and try Zumba. Dance, laugh, burn calories and have an excellent hour away from life stresses. I guarantee you will feel better at the end of it all and ready to face the next challenge thrown your way.

-Helen

Ps. I always welcome a buddy with two left feet to stand next to me at a class!

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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