Fit Not Fed Up: Motivation for the Festive Season

image

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!
image

image

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 .
image

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.

image

Sunday Post: August Energy

Hello, it’s August!

Where did the time go, eh? I really like the month of August. There’s a bit of extra energy in the air as people are making the most of shortening days while still enjoying the last rays of summer sunlight. The return to school and university are imminent and slowly but surely the holiday goers start to come back, concentrating everyone into the same place again. Which is good news because your group of pals gets replenished! Everybody is ready to kick off into the next phase and we all want to spend the less lengthy evenings together, squeezing every last drop we can out of the summer.

For me August is going to be all about energy. Finding it, fueling it and using it. Energy can be found in a number of ways, through outlook, regime and (my personal favorite ) food!

So here are three ways that I am going to stay energized this month:

1. Outlook

How we look at our lives and ourselves has a massive effect on our mood and with that, our energy levels. Have you ever had a day when you just didn’t want to get out of bed? I have and it’s generally when I feel that something truly dreadful is afoot! You can’t be happy all the time but you can look forward to things and for me, this is really energizing. On Friday night I signed up for the Scottish Half Marathon on September 19th and I am considering another half marathon in Northumberland for October. Deadlines give you the energy to push forward so this month is going to be all about marathon prep for me. I have every hope that I can achieve this in 2 hours which is a goal that I had set myself at the start of the year. But that won’t happen without a lot of hard work!

Another outlook improver has been a little gift I bought myself, my Mandala book (or as my boyfriend calls it, my colouring book). And yes, it is a colouring book! But it’s a relaxing thing to just take half an hour to be creative and I have found it to be most zen!

Mandala Book!
Mandala Book!

2. Regime

So I have a half marathon coming up next month, that means making sure that I am using my time wisely to give myself the best opportunity to prepare. I have to be realistic about this because there will definitely be days when I just want to curl up and binge on Grey’s Anatomy. And sometimes that just has to be done! This month is going to be all about balancing the scales, leaning towards the healthier options and away from the lazier days. A couple of my friends and I are going to start into Bikram yoga again which will be great for the old flexibility not to mention encouraging as there are a few of us going together. I am also going to make a decent push at blogging my progress this month. Blogging motivates me so much because I am accounting myself and sharing with others, while also reading about and being inspired by others successes. Last year, when I was considering writing a blog, one of the main motivators for me was reading a Guardian article about running. The article encouraged runners to start blogging. Blogging about your goals becomes a self fulfilling prophecy: you blog about running, you have to run. You blog about being healthier, you become healthier!

Plenty more red-faced moments on the cards for August
Plenty more red-faced moments on the cards for August

3. Food

Eating well is a creative little mission that is beneficial and energizing and delicious all at once. I have tried a couple of new things over the last while including yummy homemade avocado ice lollies (inspired by The Baked Apple – a blog bible for healthy eaters, link here), home made chicken korma and more meat free dishes  – quorn and halloumi are amazing substitutes. Food is a provider of energy but it also fits really well into the above two categories too. The process of cooking and baking is a creative and joyous one and definitely helps with a positive outlook, and planning healthy nutritious meals is a great way to keep a regime going strong. One thing that we have done quite recently in our kitchen is moved the table right in front of the window to encourage us to have breakfast in the morning and make more meals. Having a bright table and looking out at the world around me actually has motivated me to sit down and eat more – in fact I am writing this post at the table right now!

IMAG1164
The korma was yummy, but no, presentation is not my strong suit
IMAG1070
If you also love avocados, try this at home!
DSC_0229
Even is the weather is poo, having a nice view is a better way to eat 🙂

What are your plans for August?

Continue reading

Just Go With It – Spring Is Here

Spring is in the air if it isn’t on the ground. Even with the snow, the mornings are bright again. I love to watch the sun rising over the river Clyde as my train crosses the bridge into Glasgow Central Station everyday. That view always stirs a smile from me, even if I’m just commuting into work. Seeing the quays lighting up with the day, the sun bouncing back off the river and the glass buildings makes me think of all of the possibilities and people around me.

Like most people, the last month has been a challenge for me. January is a notoriously tough month, isn’t it? It’s dark, the buzz of Christmas is over, money is always tight and everyone feels like they should be doing more to be a better person. Over the last month, making the commitment to get my act together when it came to my running and health goals has definitely made me more conscious of maybe a couple (of thousand) ways that I can procrastinate and talk myself into letting things slide. But it has also made me very proud of the little achievements that I have made, even if that’s just having breakfast in the morning! Starting this blog has been a big part of that. Not only in terms of thinking of my own little victories, but feeling like I can share them with other people has made me feel a bit more awesome about the little things that I have done. One aspect of this which I had never considered, was how much I would enjoy reading other people’s story’s by exploring other blogs. When I think of myself sitting on that train commute at the start of January flicking through the WordPress Reader wondering what the hell it all was, to now scrolling through the list of blogs that I follow, it’s like another world that I had no clue existed before!

Blogging has been a welcome outlet and motivator in what has been a month that has challenged me in other areas too. Outside of blogging, I have been adjusting to some changes in my life here. Just before Christmas I said goodbye to a great friend and flatmate Audrey who moved back to her home in California to pursue a Masters degree and her career. I have known Audrey since I moved to Glasgow and it was a hard goodbye as we had become very close through our shared experiences (and various disasters!) of moving to a new country. She is not the only friend that I have had to say goodbye to, our other friend from the beginning, Beth, left back in July and a lot of the great people that I have met here have moved on too. Only two weeks ago, Erica an amazing cook and sweet/hilarious friend, also made the journey back to the States. I would never grudge anyone for leaving to move on to the next adventure in their lives, it’s just that for me, moving on has meant staying where I am.

Beth, Audrey and I
Beth, Audrey and I
Erica and Audrey
Erica and Audrey

It hasn’t been all bad. My boyfriend Chris and I had decided a few months ago that we were ready to move in together, which we did just before Christmas. Chris and I have been together for almost 2 years and the last month has been our first real experience of living together, and even at that he was called away on a business trip for a week! Plus, but we have been looking for a bigger flat to rent.

Chris like h
Me and Chris
Chris and I share a love of crisps!
We share a love of crisps!

This can be a bit of a challenge when you live so close to the city as the ones you want tend to get snapped up (which we have definitely experienced) and we have been waiting for something that we really loved to give us the best possible start. Just last weekend, we were lucky enough to be chosen by a landlord to rent a really beautiful place that I fell in love with the second I walked in. Have you ever been in a place and you can just see yourself sitting on the couch or cooking in the kitchen? That’s how I felt and honestly I cannot describe how excited I am to make it my home (sorry; our home, *cough).

Personally, I don’t like life to be easy, it should be full of plans and spontaneity and fun and challenges and craic (craic is Irish for fun in case you get any ideas). So January is done and dusted and we are all moving on to the next venture. Here’s to Spring.

As the Tears for Fears Lyric says: Welcome to your life; there’s no turning back.

Let’s Go!

IMG_20150127_183835

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!

2 Years on – Where I’m Coming From

You may have been reading my last couple of posts and thought to yourself, who is this person and why is she so bothered about being a healthier? What the big deal about running a half marathon in 2 hours? In this post, I talk a little bit about what has gotten me to this point and will hopefully give some insight into who I am and where I am coming from.

I’ll put my hands up and say that I haven’t always been the healthiest person. I dabbled sports at school, luckily enjoy the gym which has gotten me through my late teens and university. Growing up in Dublin with an Irish mammy, I have always been fond of the butterier things in life and of course, the food carnage that ensues after a night’s drinking. Other than knowing the basics I never really had much of a passion for fitness.

Two years ago, I started running. I signed up for my first 10k in January 2013. It was the Dublin Women’s Mini Marathon, which takes place during the June bank holiday. So I had 6 months to train. And I couldn’t run for 2 minutes. For some people that isn’t even a joke.

And I am one of those people.

Me, after running the Flora Women's Mini Marathon in June 2013
Me, after running the Flora Women’s Mini Marathon in June 2013

Why did I sign up for the mini marathon? I had never run before, I wasn’t particularly unfit (or I didn’t think I was until I tried to run for 2 minutes!) or unhappy with the way I looked. The reason I signed up for the Mini Marathon was because, honestly, I wanted to achieve something that year. Just one thing. As you may have read in my earlier post, I quite like to set goals for myself. In this instance, I had finished up at Uni the September before, I was working in the same part time job that I had been doing for the past 3 years all the way through college. I was desperately looking for other work, any work at all that would give me the means to move out of my parents house and eventually get to do what I really wanted, which was to travel to New York on a graduate visa (I fell in love with the place when I was there while travelling around the states in 2010). But by January 2013, that opportunity was slipping away. And I wasn’t getting any interviews. It is hard when you are literally calling and emailing agencies everyday. When you are constantly on recruitment websites and you don’t ever hear anything back. You go to an interview and you don’t get the job because you’re a lovely girl but they are looking for someone with more experience. And no one will give you a chance to prove yourself.

It is an all too familiar tale for a lot of people and it is not a nice place to be. I felt stuck. I felt like nothing that I’d have done up till that point mattered because it doesn’t fit in with this employers’ view of what I should be. So I wanted to do something for myself. I quite liked exercise, but couldn’t afford a gym at that time so I figured, why not? Entering a mini marathon would (hopefully) give me the motivation to keep at it, and running is free so what have I got to lose?

I entered the mini marathon that January. I went on a trip to Scotland in February and met my now boyfriend. It was slow progress but I managed a 5k run in March. I visited Scotland again in April. In May, still with no job on the horizon, I decided it was time to make a big change, I was going to leave Ireland. I ran the mini marathon on a scorching hot bank holiday in June. At the risk of sounding like that saddest person ever (if I don’t already), I nearly cried when I crossed the finish line. I was so proud.

I ran a 5 mile race in August and then, in my wisdom, I signed up for my first half marathon (13 miles) in August. I moved to Scotland on September 8th. I got a job 1 week later. 1 month later I ran the Great Scottish Run Glasgow half marathon.

My 1st Half Marathon Result
My 1st Half Marathon Result

The next year saw me run another 2 half marathons (well, one 15 mile race and the Great Scottish Run again) and a return to the Women’s Mini Marathon. Almost a year to the day since I started, I was promoted at work and what I had hoped would be a job to get me through has become the beginning of a career.

Waiting patiently to run the Balmoral 15 mile trail race, the furthest distance I have run so far
Waiting patiently to run the Balmoral 15 mile trail race, the furthest distance I have run so far

I miss my family and friends at home of course, but I have also met some friends for life here and honestly I’m just happy. The truth is, that I believe that pushing myself physically in terms of fitness, has also made me push myself in every other area of my life. It’s not that I had never made a change or done anything worthwhile before I started running, I just found that those major changes like moving away and starting off a new job, meeting new people in another country, all felt in some ways more manageable because I felt like I was making small achievements alongside that with my running. That gave me a lot of confidence. Fitness and my fitness achievements (however small) have become a passion for me. I will always struggle with some of my lesser passions – crisps and lie ins to name just two, and I have probably given in to them a bit more in the last while than I should have.

But I find, and I hope that you find this too, whatever your goal is, that once you start having little victories, even when you fail at something, you have the confidence to go back and try again. Because you know that you have the determination to get there in the end.

My parents were waiting for me when I finished the Flora Women's Mini Marathon for the second time. I'm looking forward to returning for the 2015 race, it's become a bit of a tradition with my friends and I!
My parents were waiting for me when I finished the Flora Women’s Mini Marathon for the second time in 2014. I’m looking forward to returning for the 2015 race, it’s become a bit of a tradition with me and my friends!