Fit Not Fed Up: Motivation for the Festive Season

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Brrr! December is certainly living up to it’s seasonal reputation – it feels like I’ve been in a permanent state of wet feet and red nose for weeks! Not only this but with all of the festive merriment going on, our health and fitness priorities have a little habit of going out the window don’t they? I’ve been thinking about what’s been keeping me motivated lately and thought I’d share it here.

Get Yourself a Buddy: I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, having a partner in crime is a must if you feel your will power slacking. I recently joined the same gym as one of my friends. Having someone there who to laugh through the pain of Pure Abs with made the torturous nature of side crunches just that bit more bearable. Even if we’re not going at the same time, it’s good to be around people are are pushing toward similar goals to you. So look at who’s around you and encourage each other in these dark days of Winter!

Do Something For a Good Cause: There are tons of sponsored walks, runs, hikes, swims and dives at this time of year for so many good causes. Although Winter events tend to have a higher risk of cancellation – which myself and Chris fell victim to a couple of weeks ago when our BHF 10k was cancelled due to course flooding- when they do go ahead it’s a great day out. I ran the Glasgow Santa Dash 5k in aid of the Prince and Princess of Wales Trust Glasgow 2 weeks ago. It was a fantastic event with Santas of all ages – and a couple of dogs disguised as Reindeer – running through the streets of Glasgow on what was a beautiful mid Winter’s day. With all of the parties and days out this season, you could do worse than having a day out in the fresh air planned where you can meet people and generally have a bit of good clean fun. It’s great for the body, soul and you’re helping someone who needs it!
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You Don’t Need To Party All Night: I love a good night out but with the sheer amount of Christmas festivities right now I’m finding it impossible to have a late one every time! When I went out the pantomime last week it was a great night but I decided to take the last train home instead of face the queues in the cold for a taxi later. Committing yourself to public transport or a lift home may not be as glamorous but for some reason I enjoy the night more when I do it! Plus you can get a cheeky hot chocolate on the way back too if you’re hear a late opening Greggs too! Win win .
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If You See Some Good Weather…Go!:
Beautiful days can be few and far between so if you see one get the runners or walking boots on! Even in the depths of Winter nature is beautiful especially covered in frost and lit by pale sunlight. Dress warmly and make sure your footwear has good grip. It my be an antiquated notion and I do think gyms are great but you can’t beat some fresh air especially in these dark days.

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Lovely Life of Earth

 

Saturday morning started off with a big disappointment for me. I’d been in touch with the lovely people at New Lanark about paying a visit to the world heritage site there and much loved Christmas Experience event that they put on every year. It was to start off what has now become a very busy build up to Christmas for me before I skip off to Dublin to spend the holidays with my family. But when Saturday dawned with high winds battering my building and as we heard on the radio “too many road closures to mention”, it was quickly decided that the trip to New Lanark was just not going to be a possibility . Which was a real shame. However, to salvage the morning myself and the girls went for a little breakfast instead and my eyes were opened to a new gem in Glasgow…

Bakery 47

I’m always the last to know when it comes to trendy new places so most people living in the South Side of Glasgow are likely aware of the little treasure that is Bakery 47. But I just found out so I’ll tell you anyway! This is a gorgeous, bakery and cafe with a small but delicious and reasonably priced menu. They sell all manor of cakes and bread but like any good bakery I could see that if you want to get what you need you’d better get in early. At around 11:30 when we were ready to leave I could see a bit of a queue gathering – clearly this place is loved among the locals. I had a beautiful warm mince pie with almonds and vanilla cream. The pasty was melt in the mouth and a little bit flaky which made it perfectly light. And while no mince filling will compare to my mum’s homemade fare Bakery 47s was pretty close. Even more than the mouthwatering food though, the service there was fantastic – you can tell that there is a lot of love behind that little spot and I had a lovely time there.

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Back to the Gym

While I’ve clearly been sampling the plenty of festive food, I’ve been working out more this week than I have over the last couple. This is a massive cop out but the poor weather has been putting me off running. At the end of the day, I have a demanding full time job and while I’d love to get up at 5am and run, my body clock just doesn’t work that way even though I wish it did. While I find running a great way to unwind, getting soaked and blown about the place and risking a fall just isn’t what I’d call a relaxing end to my day! Yoga and home exercise just weren’t cutting it so I’ve joined a local gym. And I love it (yes, I am one of those sad people who likes gyms). It’s good to have the option of classes again too. Although on Monday I went to an abs class and forgot my water bottle like a total chump – seriously, running sweatily over to the water fountain during the much needed rest periods was a nightmare. Lesson learned!

 

Books

Living well is as much about diet as it is exercise and I’ve been trying a few recipes from Madeline Shaw’s book Get the Glow. There are some nice simple meals in here like the spiced salmon and cucumber, and the almond pancakes which I made for my parents last week on their visit. The chia pudding has also been a breakfast staple for me over the last while. However, as you can probably tell from my bakery trip, I’m merely dabbling in Madeline’s healthy diet as I’m not in a position to fully commit to it just now. If I’m honest, the premise of the book is great but if you’re a person who incorporates regular cardio workouts into your regime – which I think people really should if they can – I don’t think that sticking to her diet is actually possible. For me, delicious and skin clearing as it is, I just don’t feel like it gives the carbohydrates and energy I’d need regular meaningful workouts. For brekky, smoothies and ideas though it’s great to have on hand.

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I went on a little Waterstones binge last week and as a minor sci fi and general space geek, Chris Hadfield’s An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth caught my roving eye pretty quickly. Reading about life in space is fascinating but even more so is how a person gets there in the first place. The drive, ambition and preparation that goes into a life’s work of making an aspiration a reality was both inspiring and encouraging to read. I particularly love his philosophy on being prepared for every eventuality and the way he rubbishes positive thinking alone as a means of getting what you want. There’s a saturation of “inspirational” people out there who, for the life of me I just can’t figure out why people think they’re inspiring. It’s refreshing to read about someone who has worked hard for success that is not only personal but used to educate and benefit everyone. Give this one a read!

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Like Chris Hadfield I want to make the most out of the time I have and make it count. So rather than letting the crappy weather get me down (much) I’m in the gym, eating cakes (sorry Madeline) and of course getting into the festive spirit. Take that Scottish weather!

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The excitement of putting up our first tree!

Jen

A Windy Weekend

Me Getting Ready
Me Getting Ready

I had thought that being March (already?!) and with the longer evenings ; maybe, just maybe the long awaited Spring weather would be here. Sadly, I was wrong and for those of us who like to be outside, the weather of Glasgow has brought us wind, rain and little else! However, we’ve got our goals to achieve and we can blame the weatherman all we like but that won’t stop those races, climbs and ski trips from looming ever closer.

After my Run
After my Run

On Saturday I had to forgo my parkrun in favour of a trip to town as I was off to a very fancy Presidents Award dinner for work! However, a 5k run was definitely on the cards and I got one in in a respectable enough 35 minutes on Saturday. I love getting a run in before a night out and will always recommend a bit of light exercise as part of getting ready.

After a night of dancing, Sunday saw me placed firmly on the couch and Monday has seen the winds rise again and I chickened out of a run I’m afraid! However being very conscious of the Edinburgh ten mile coming up next month I plan on getting two 5ks in before the weekend and then a long run on Saturday 6-8 miles if I can find a good enough route! Another event that I am rather looking forward to this week is getting my internet installed in the new place! I’ve been posting from my phone which really isn’t ideal so I’m sorry if my last few blog entries have seemed a bit akward. Come Friday all will be well again! Do you have any interesting plans for this week or recommendations for my ten mile preparation? Please leave a comment if you do I love getting them!

Sunday Post: Blending In

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Welcome to Sunday!

It’s funny how weekends and days off in general are supposed to be restful, but often they are anything but! This weekend for example, I had a long over due wardrobe clear out to look forward to, oh joy of joys. As I mentioned in my last post, I have a move coming up in the next few weeks and, I’m in the process of getting my possessions packed up in the least chaotic fashion possible. To be honest, even though I have not been living here for that long I can still find clothes and things that I can give to charity! That might just be me though. I am not the most materialistic person and am very quick to say when I don’t need something. I can fit all of the clothes, shoes and make up that I need and want into one suitcase (although to be fair, I cannot say the same for books). That has it’s advantages and disadvantages. For example, my style could definitely be described as simple (read: boring) and there is a strong possibility that subconsciously I am just constantly preparing to make a quick getaway (I may have been some kind of fugitive or hunter gather in a past life). I’m just not a great possessor of things. If I no longer have use for something, I throw or give it away. Sentimentality only comes into a few, probably quite strange items that I own: postcards, my dads scarf which I wear nearly everyday, my race numbers and some pictures. That being said, though, I don’t believe in denying yourself something that you want. Life is for living and experiencing not for saving it all up for a rainy day! For some people that’s a new lipstick, for others it’s a holiday or just (we’re getting crazy here) a few hours of down time to do nothing at all.

IMG_20150126_182354Recently, I bought a Kenwood Tri-Blade hand held blender set. Calm down lads, I know this is getting a bit wild! Seriously though, I have been meaning to get something to make soups and smoothies with and was initially just looking for a simple single unit blender as they are reasonable priced and would really help me to pack some fresh fruit and veg combinations to my diet. I ended up going for a bit extra as there was a set on sale with a balloon whisk, shredder and soup blender, so for the sake of an extra £20 I figured it was, as Kevin Bacon would say, a no brainer, but the hand held mixer is what I will be getting the most use out of. Over the past week or so I have been trying out a few different concoctions including a kale, chilli and broccoli soup. I actually got a compliment about the smell of this soup from someone sitting beside me at lunch one day, which, for any kale eaters, made me rather proud as we all know that it can smell rather pungent at times! I also like cucumber and apple smoothies which are incredibly refreshing. I have found smoothies to be great with my breakfast because they make me feel nicely full and stave off hunger for a good while.

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The Blender set has been a welcome addition to our culinary collection. There is something rather satisfying in the act of blitzing things after a long day at work too! Another, slightly more strenuous health and fitness aid that has entered our home this week is the lovely pull up bar which my boyfriend has just purchased. Pull Up Bars don’t seem to like me and in the past have had a habit of falling on my head during an ill advised door closures. This guy is no different, our first acquaintance ended in half a pull up and copious swearing. But now that it is here, I am going to try to make some use out of it as I know that it will be an amazing way to build up my strength, and, tears and swearing aside, help me to achieve my goals as a runner.

When it comes to the things that you have, thinking about what you need is important from time to time. Getting a blender was something that I wanted and will make good use out of but the pull up bar is probably a challenge that I need. So that’s my brief chat on possessions and things. Truth is though, the best one that you will have is your body; yourself. Use it, test it, rest it and take care of it.

Take care of yourself.

Fitness Tutorails and Videos: My Recommendations

I think I have mentioned in previous posts that this blog is about the real and not the ideal. The two can get a little bit confused when you are online. For example, looking at a feed full of photos of people running, walking and biking on stunning snow flecked trails and swimming in lakes lit by the pale winter sun I find myself thinking, wow look at them go! Followed swiftly by; but wait, it’s January. Can this be done in January? While I’m all about positivity and encouragement here in this blog, I am also very much a realist. If you are working 9 to 5 or a shift based job, or are a full time student or even a full time student with a shift based job (as I myself have been) the chances are that you can’t just drop everything and run away to a beautiful scenic trail to exercise in the morning or evenings, no matter how much you want to. If you’re lucky, you could do it at the weekend or on your day off, but you are at the mercy of the weather. You may want to exercise inside, but you mightn’t be able to afford a therapeutic yoga class or even a gym membership. I have been in this position myself and it’s a little bit rubbish. So what do you do?

Now for the positive part!

Well, on Youtube, there are these lovely little things called Exercise Videos and Fitness Tutorials! They are generally well produced and clear, they can be as quick as you need them to be and they are completely free. For a lot of them, you don’t even need equipment. All you need is yourself, a little bit of space and something to protect your knees/elbows from a hard floor.

This week, I decided to try a few out. If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen me post about feeling like a bit of an idiot trying to keep up with a video. To be honest, I went a bit hard trying to get as much out of them as possible and ended up flailing about my yoga mat and making some pretty strange noises at some points! Luckily I had the house to myself (and the blinds down)….

So before you jump straight into the wonderful world of Youtube tutorials, I have compiled a little list of Dos and Don’ts to help you get the most out of an exercise video:

 Do:

  •  Watch the video before you start your work out. Even if it’s just a quick scroll through, this will give you an idea of what to expect and whether this video will meet your requirements whether that’s cardio, toning etc. You can also look out for parts of the routine that may focus on areas where you may have an injury or weakness. For example, my hip is still tender since I fell the other week (I’ll never let that one go, will I?), so I have been avoiding any floor work that involves lying down on that side until it is completely healed.
  • Know what you need. Are you looking to try out your new weights/exercise ball? Do you want to do something with no equipment involved? How much time do you have? There are so many tutorials online there is one to suit every need that you might have, but choose a video that is going to give you what you are looking for. It can be pretty disheartening to start into a great video with a really motivating instructor, only to realise that you don’t have the equipment required to complete the workout. Easily solved: just include what you are looking for in your Youtube search (for example, mine was: exercise video no equipment 10 minute)
  • Give yourself plenty of space. I’m 5 ft. 9 inches tall and when I am doing something for the first time, I am not the most coordinated. Make sure that the couch and the coffee table are out of the way before you get going and don’t risk injury and annoyance by banging off the furniture!

Don’t:

  • Try to do everything within the given time. Whether you are trying a video for the first time or not, take your time. It’s more important to get the exercise right than to do it within 8 minutes. You are risking injury and Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness if you push too hard to keep up with the instructor. If it’s going too fast, just drop the pace. 5 slow measured reps will be of more benefit to you than 10 rushed and awkward ones!
  • Lose Heart . As you can tell by their bodies, the instructors on these videos are at peak physical fitness. They have also been trained to do, or have come up with the exercises that they are showing you, so of course they can rattle them out perfectly! If you fall on your face during a planking exercise (as I have did) don’t let it get to you, just slow down and try again

I don’t know about where you are, but here in Glasgow it’s due to be pretty miserable this weekend, perfect weather to give a fitness tutorial a try. Here are some of my recommendations.

1. Laura London: 

I have been using Laura’s ab video since the summer of 2013 and do a lot of her exercises at the gym. Personally, I like a friendly instructor and Laura’s home video’s are perfect for someone like me who wants a bit of encouragement. She will work you hard but she keeps things simple and I find, very effective. She has a full Youtube channel and has a workout for every body part. This one comes highly recommended from me:

10 Minute Ab Workout with Laura London Fitness

2. Popsugar – Anna Renderer:

I tried this cardio workout for the first time this week. It’s a straight forward, no equipment workout that covers the whole body. The instructor Anna is bright and motivating, plus with the two other girls in the video, it felt more like a fitness class (which is something that I like). This workout is tough and I did break a sweat. I found the planking exercises the toughest but they are something that I need to work on so I will be going back to this video again! Plus Anna does a warm up with you at the start which I think is really important.

Fitsugar 10 Minute No Equipment Home Workout, Full Body Exercise Class

3. Fitness Blender

If you prefer a less personal approach, Fitness Blender is the one. The workouts are straightforward with simple coaching instructions which allow you to put some music on in the background if you prefer. I tried the 8 minute abs workout this week and my stomach felt rock hard afterwards. Again, it’s tough, but you will get results if you stick with it!

Fitness Blender 8 Minute Ab Workout

If you decide to give these a try I wish you the best of luck and I hope that this post has been of some help! Also, if you are a blogger who creates fitness tutorials, send me links I would love to try and also share them!

I will be out running this weekend and back to my evening runs during the week too. January is almost over and the mornings and evenings are getting brighter already, yipee!