Can you be big and fit?

I’ve just watched a really interesting interview with a lady called Louise Green who was talking about how society views larger people and automatically stereotypes them as ‘unfit’, and it really struck a chord with me.

womanonscale638x425Louise is a larger lady and was really interested in getting fit, and made herself go along to a class a number of years ago, but recalls feeling like she would be out of place, she would be the biggest, the slowest there, or that people would look at her and think she was in the wrong place. However, she stayed and enjoyed the feeling, and to cut a long story short, Louise is now a personal trainer and is helping others to enjoy fitness, even if they are not the stereotypical ‘small, fit size’. Louise is indeed herself ‘overweight’ but you can see that she is fit from the videos she promotes, and from the endurance activities she talked about.

The interview was really interesting and there was a lot of live comments from viewers who said you can’t be ‘fat and fit’ or ‘fat and healthy’ and there was some debate around whether promoting that it is OK to be overweight or obese was dangerous. I agree to some extent that telling people it is OK to be fat and unhealthy is not appropriate, but what Louise is saying, and I fully believe myself, is that you can be slightly overweight but have a healthy lifestyle, and be fit and enjoy exercise if you are a bit larger than average (what is average these days?!). The danger only comes if you believe that you can be overweight/obese without any thought or action with regard to your fitness and diet and that approach is healthy – that is not OK.
fit-and-fat-artI really liked the advice given in the interview, which is something I have been saying for years. I have struggled with my weight forever, and really given myself a hard time over the years. I am not a perfect size 10 – far from it. But I’ve learnt to love myself and accept my body, and be extremely proud of what it has achieved. I will never be that size 10 again (I was once), nor would I want to be. Yet I am physically fit, love exercise, am a qualified personal trainer and nutritional advisor. I’ve run a marathon, numerous half marathons and endurance races, I’ve climbed mountains, cycled from Edinburgh to Scotland in 5 days, lifted weights and pushed myself to my limits a lot over the years. But I also love my food and socialising. My philosophy has always been ‘everything in moderation’, and don’t deny yourself. Don’t focus on your weight or the scales but try and be healthy. Life is too short.

So yes, what Louise said is so right – move your body more, eat reasonably well as much as possible, and be positive rather than giving yourself a hard time. You can be bigger than average and fit – and most definitely enjoy exercise. I’ve just ordered Louise’s book too, and am really looking forward to reading it!

Spring – the opportunity for a fresh approach

Here in the UK, the clocks went forward at the weekend, making it lighter in the evenings for a bit longer. Spring has finally sprung, we are enjoying some sunshine and warmer weather, and best of all, we are seeing flowers and plants bloom again. It’s just beautiful to be outdoors.

Whilst my favourite time of the year is  Autumn, as I love the colours and I am more of a cold air ‘wrap up warm’ kind of girl, I love the sense of opportunity and new beginnings that Spring brings. After a long Winter when many of us have spent a lot of time indoors, with shorter darker days and sometimes miserable weather, it’s a real treat to see the sun shining, trees budding and flowers blooming. It lifts your mood, instils a sense of anticipation and excitement, and generally makes you feel happy.

This time of year always makes me want to sort things out and clean up – I guess it’s a bit of ‘Spring cleaning’. It also makes me want to try new things and focus on what I can do to improve things. So I’ve been busy about the house painting, clearing and cleaning and having a good sort out has really made me feel good – almost cleansed!

springcleanfitness_headerAnd I’m taking a similar approach to myself – focusing on how I can improve my well being, health and general outlook. To do so, I’m cutting back on sugar and looking to up my running distances (and using my Garmin tracking app to give me stats and focus). And one more thing I’ve decided to do is to challenge myself by incorporating one body weight exercise a day to my routine for the whole of April – I’ve decided on press ups. I’m going to start with 10 a day and build it up each day. Small changes, one at a time.

Spring – it’s time to bloom and progress!

Your mind is your strongest ‘muscle’

The inner drive to want something is what initially motivates us to do something, and physical fitness or power plays a key part in getting us there. But it is your mind – your mental power – that will determine whether you make it there or not.

56553818297a453ffe25acfd36895a91Take a fitness challenge – like a race or an obstacle course, or climbing a mountain. You need to be physically fit to complete it, and most people will normally follow some kind of specific plan. But if you aren’t in the right place mentally, or can’t pull on your mental strength to get you through the tough parts, it can all fail at that point.
It’s so important to make sure you focus your training on the mental side as well as the physical. But how do you do that? A few things that work for me:

  • Recognise progress
    You need to see progress in your training, and remind yourself how far you have come each time. Give yourself that pat on the back for getting through a stage, and focus on the positive elements of your progress.
  • Identify the negatives
    Yes, look at the negatives, but focus on how you can learn from them and work out how to deal with it when it happens again.
  • Look out for the signs of your mental weakness
    Learn to notice the signs of when you are feeling mentally weak during your training, and think about how you overcame them – or how you can do in the future. This will help you in the hard moments of your challenge.
  • Talk to yourself
    Listen to that inner voice, and use it to its full effect. Tell yourself you are good, you can do this, and you will feel proud at the end. This really works! You can do it our loud if you really want to 🙂
  • Visualise the end
    This really works for me. During a tough moment in a run, or when I have climbed some tough mountains, I’ve visualised myself at the finish and thought about how I will feel. And I ask myself how disappointed I will feel if I don’t push on.

And finally – Dig Deep! When you start to feel the ‘pain’, dig deep and believe in yourself. you know you can do it. As my husband frequently tells me ‘It’s all in the mind’. And it can make or break your determination.

One small change…..

Making a decision to change something can be daunting, and quite often we bite off more than we can chew and end up failing. With good intentions we make statements – either to ourselves or publicly – saying we’re going to make a change and totally transform an aspect of our lives.

I’ve been here, and seen others do it. ‘Right that’s it, I’ve had enough, I’m going on a diet and I’m going to be two sizes smaller in six weeks’…’and I’m going to do it by cutting all the bad stuff out of my diet and exercising for an hour every day’. And sometimes I’ve been so determined that I have succeeded for a few days and maybe even a week. But the habits have always crept back in and I’ve usually ended back where I started – rather disappointed in myself.Practice-One-Small-Change

Over the years, I’ve realised that you need be realistic about goals and how to achieve them and one thing I’ve found that has helped is to do things one thing at a time – incorporate one small change at a time and build on it.

It takes 21 times to change or make a habit, which means if you can make a small change daily for three weeks, it should start to become ingrained in your normal processes. So rather than trying to cut everything bad out of your diet, why not try cutting out crisps for three weeks, and then try something else after that.

I did this with trying to up my water intake a few years ago – I started having a pint of room temperature water every morning as soon as I got up. It worked! After a few weeks of making myself do it (and I did need to make sure I had a post-it note on my cupboard to start with), it became a habit. I still do it now, and it has encouraged me to drink more during the day.

Small-Changes

So don’t give yourself a hard time about needing to change things – do it one small change at a time, and give yourself a pat on the back for trying. Celebrate the small successes – they all lead to bigger and better things 🙂

 

Don’t let life get in the way of living

We all do it, and I have been more guilty that others recently – letting the daily grind get in the way of doing things I love, and generally ‘living’. It’s been a busy few weeks, and I’ve just focused on ‘getting what needs to be done, done’ which has meant I haven’t done as much of the good things I like to do – once again seeing them as luxuries rather than requirements for my happiness. So I haven’t run as much, I haven’t seen friends and been out socialising as much as I wanted to, I haven’t baked as much as usual, nor been creative round the house (favouring the need to just keep it clean and tidy in the time I had), and I also haven’t blogged in a couple of weeks – which makes me sad.

So I’ve given myself and good talking to, and realised that I need to MAKE TIME for these things, and give myself a break – do the things I enjoy more. After all, life is too short. It’s also good for your mental health to do things you enjoy doing, and look after your well being. Don’t look on it as ‘spoiling yourself’, look on it as ‘looking after yourself both physically and mentally. A saying I heard the other day really hit home with me, and as I continue to go through quite a reflective period in my life, I’m going to try and use this as a reminder (I may even get it printed out and framed on a wall!). The saying is:

‘Don’t let your search for a happy life get in the way of living’

7018-Ralph-Waldo-Emerson-Quote-Life-is-a-journey-not-a-destination.jpgSometimes we all get caught up in our day to day being and just existing, so that we can have a good future, that we often forget to enjoy ourselves along the way. As I am sure you have heard before ‘Life is a journey, not a destination’ and this is something I truly believe.

So take time to appreciate the good things in life every day, spend time with people you love, do things you enjoy more frequently, and look around you – there’s lots to smile about along the way, if we just give ourselves the time to acknowledge it. The other stuff will still be there tomorrow…….

Just ‘let it go’…

let-it-goSometimes things don’t work out quite as you planned, and how you deal with it can have a huge impact on the rest of your day and most definitely your mood! I had a day a bit like this yesterday, with lots of things planned out and a to-do list of things I wanted to get done. I was really motivated and woke up with a spring in my step.

The first major task of the day was where it all went wrong, and I actually surprised myself with how I felt about it and dealt with it. I decided to take my two children to a playgroup session which I regularly attend with a friend – this would be the first time I went on my own and I tried not to think about running about watching two of them at the same time without back-up! Anyway, it took me longer to get the two of them out of the car, in the buggy and into the play area in the building, than it did for my son to decide he would have a meltdown resulting in me deciding to leave -after just 15 mins!! I then had two hours of meltdown to deal with whilst trying to keep calm for the other one, so my plans went out of the window.

The rest of the day kind of followed suit – I couldn’t do some of the jobs I had planned as my son decided not to sleep at lunchtime, and continued to test me throughout the day;  the dog carried a whole load of mud into the house and decided to roll it on the cream rug (that DID test me!); I spilt a whole carton of milk on the floor (I know ‘don’t cry over spilt milk’!); my son decided he didn’t like any food put in front of him; and then my daughter had teething issues and didn’t want anyone else but me at bedtime, which meant I couldn’t go out to play netball.

let-it-go-disneyI could have had a meltdown myself, and got annoyed, but I actually stayed calm and just decided to ‘write the day off’ or in the words of that famous Disney movie (Frozen) ‘Let it go….’. I decided that I would just have to let it go and deal with my to-do list and every other plan tomorrow. But, one thing I did decide I needed to to to help me with that, was ensure I did one thing for myself that day – because that would help me feel better and I wouldn’t feel I had totally lost it. So, I enlisted the help of my mum for babysitting duties and I went for a run, and I felt so good for doing it.

So if you can do one thing for yourself, something that makes you feel good – read a book, go for a walk or run, take time out to watch your favourite film or TV programme, have a bath etc. it will help you re-focus, put things into perspective and ‘let it go’. everything else will still be there tomorrow and you will have done something for you 🙂

Blue Monday…pah!

So today is being billed as ‘Blue Monday’, mainly by the media and anyone else who wants to breed negativity. Apparently we are all feeling really miserable by now for a number of reasons:

  • Christmas is over
  • Most people haven’t been paid since Christmas and won’t be for another couple of weeks, so we’re all broke
  • Christmas credit card spend hits our bills round about now
  • It’s cold outside
  • We’ve given up on New Year Resolutions

and there’s more I’m sure….blue-monday
So, essentially we have a choice – we could  listen to all that depressing negativity, or we can use today as a day of reflection and turning things on their head.

  • So Christmas is over – get over it, there will be another one. Think of other events that are coming up and write them down so you can look forward to them.
  • It’s a while until pay day. Work out what money you have left and look at what things you can do for free until the end of the month. Use today to rally friends and plan a get together at home and have a cheap catch-up. Get planning!
  • We have bills – get them all out, write down what debt you have, and work out how to repay them. Being honest with yourself and getting it all out in the open will make you feel better than hiding those bills.
  • It’s January, it’s meant to be cold, and will be for a few more months yet so get used to it. Think of things you can do in the weather and wear dress appropriately. Get outdoors for a few minutes each day for fresh air and sunlight – get your Vitamin D. I promise you it will make you feel better.
  • So you may have had a wobble with your resolutions. Don’t worry, don’t beat yourself up and most definitely DON’T GIVE UP! Think again about why you’re doing it and re-prioritise yourself. Read my blog about resolutions to re-focus yourself.

Be stubborn and kick those negative vibes been thrown about by the media today into touch. Don’t let yourself believe it – re-focus, be positive, count your blessings, and enjoy your life!

 

 

Retox, don’t detox!

We spend most of December overindulging with all the foods and drinks we try to eat in moderation throughout the rest of the year. And sure, we enjoy that period of having glasses of sparkle and wine whilst out socialising, enjoying them with canapes, snacks, cheese and sweet treats. Not to mention the boxes of chocolates that seem to be lying around everywhere – at home, in the office, even in shops at the counter, and I even saw them at the gym! Why do we think to is acceptable to eat so many of those little chocolate delights in one go throughout December?

image1-4

Anyway, by the beginning of January, I for one feel a bit sugared out and lethargic, mainly because I have over-indulged. Yes, I kept up with my exercise routine, but like many others I used it as an excuse to allow the indulgence…….Anyway, it means that for a lot of us we have depleted our bodies of the vitamins and nutrients is needs and we need to work on getting the balance back.

image2-2So many people talk about January as being a bit of a detox, with many giving something up for the month (dry January etc.). I like to think of it more as a ‘retox’ month – getting those vitamins, minerals and nutrients back into my system. I’m working on:

  • Upping my juices (natural, home-made and full of fruit and veg);
  • Increasing my water intake (this also keeps me full);
  • Cooking healthy fresh (easy) meals – my favourite being poached eggs, avocado and spinach, full of Vitamin B, Iron and Vitamin D;
  • Reducing my refined sugar intake, so swapping sweets for fruit and nuts; and,
  • Getting outdoors everyday, regardless of the weather.

It’s not always easy, but the results are worth it – clearer skin, more energy, better focus and generally feeling healthier. So give it a go – think about the changes you are making as positive introductions to your body and lifestyle, rather than depriving yourself. And don’t deprive yourself – we all need a treat now and then 🙂

Retox, don’t detox!

The power of beetroot!

My husband is a keen gardener and we have a fantastic allotment and kitchen garden where we grow a vast array of vegetables and fruits. It has been a real eye-opener to see what we can grow, how much we can harvest, and what I can do with it all. I’ve really enjoyed having the freedom to try new recipes and ideas with lots of different vegetables.

image1-3One veg we have had huge success with is beetroot – the vegetable that has so many benefits, tastes great, can be used in so many different ways, yet not a lot of people eat it. I’ve made chocolate brownies, rich tasty juices (I have one of these to kick-start my morning every day), salads, coleslaw, houmous, cakes, beetballs….the list is endless. This week we picked a few from the allotment and I made the most delicious beetroot and goats cheese tart – see below for the recipe details. This tasted so good as a hot dinner choice, and even better the next day as a cold leftover with salad – I will definitely be making this again!
I’m guilty of thinking of beetroot as that pickled stuff in a jar that my Dad got out at Christmas, or had with his crackers occasionally. I never really tasted it as a youngster, or wanted to! But now, having grown it and researched it, and tried so many recipes with it, I can see how versatile, healthy, and nutritious it is – and it has so many health benefits.

Beetroot is a good source of iron and naturally occurring folic acid, so therefore is great for getting your daily intake (which most of us struggle with). It also contains nitrates, betaine, magnesium and other antioxidants.

Other research has shown that beetroot can support lowering blood pressure and even prevent dementia. And one that I am super impressed with is – it boosts exercise performance, which is why we see so many exercisers drinking its juice before,during and after exercise.

beetroot-glovesSo, go on, give it a try – eat it, drink it, and reap the benefits. Oh, and
why not try baking or cooking it in a different way, like a cake 🙂

Oh, and useful tip – wear gloves when handling it!

Let me know what you do, and if you enjoy it.

 

 

Recipe details – Beetroot, spinach and feta cheese tart:

1 tablespoon Olive Oilimage3
1 red onion, diced
500g peeled and grated beetroot
3 tablespoon white wine vinegar
3 tablespoon water
small knob butter
375g all-butter puff pastry
1 medium egg
200ml creme fraiche
200g feta cheese
two large handfuls spinach
8 cherry tomatoes, sliced
handful of olives, chopped

Heat oven to 220 degrees C. Heat oil in pan and fry the onion until softened. Add beetroot, vinegar, butter and water. Cook over low heat for 5-10 mins, stirring occasionally, until all liquid has evaporated. Set aside.

Roll out pastry, place on an oiled baking sheet and score line approx. 1.5 cm from edge. Brush with egg and score again. Cook in oven for 10 mins until golden and raised. Remove and press down with your hands on the centre.

Spread spinach leaves and tomatoes on pastry. Add creme fraiche to the beetroot mix and spread on top of spinach. Add feta cheese and olives on top and bake for 5 mins until cheese has melted.

Serve and enjoy!

 

 

Get outdoors, but stay safe!

We’ve had some pretty rubbish weather in the UK this week, with a lot of frost and fog. This morning was particularly foggy and slippery out there, and when I looked out of the window I wasn’t really up for a run, but knowing how good it makes me feel, and how I need the time for myself, I pushed myself out the door. Not before I made sure I was visible though!

I’ve seen so many runners on dark evenings or in bad weather, like today, out there in poorly chosen clothing. It may give you a good silhouette (black is slimming as we know), and hide all those lumps and bumps, but dressing in black in poor visibility is just silly, and can be dangerous. So, I made sure I was hi-vis in my choice of running gear, and was confident I could get on with my run and people could see me. I also sent the husband out in a hi-vis vest 🙂

So even though I didn’t fancy it, the run was so refreshing, gave me time to think, and has set me up for the day. It has also made me feel a little bit better about the over-indulgence which I have enjoyed over the last few days……

So go on, don’t use the weather as an excuse – get out of the central heating, away from the TV and get some fresh air and exercise. I guarantee you it will make you feel better! Just make sure you stay safe and visible.