Pie advice for Christmas

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For info, this is a Mr Kipling but I intend to try many more brands before January rolls around

Do you know how many calories there are in a mince pie? I don’t. And I don’t want to; it’s not going to affect whether or not I eat one.

At this time of year we are even more conscious of ‘bad’ foods than usual and it makes me sad. If you want the pie/wine/chocolate, in my opinion, you should just have it. But make sure you genuinely do want it. If you’re just stuffing your face because it’s there and you can, where’s the enjoyment in that? Equally, where’s the enjoyment in denying yourself if you really want it?

Sure, fitness, BMI, cholesterol levels etc are important, but so is mental and emotional wellbeing. Equally as important, actually. And by counting the calories of everything you eat or drink this season, you’re bringing stress into the equation. If you’re someone who struggles with their weight, with emotional eating or you have a tendency to obsess over healthy foods, counting the calories in every extra treat you have this season is going to make matters even worse. I suggest, if you’re worried about over-indulging, ask yourself this: ‘Will I get proper enjoyment from this?’ (or, ‘Is it worth it?’ if that’s more the way you think). If the answer is yes, then go for it! Life is too short to overthink things. If you feel like you’re maybe just eating and drinking things because they are there, perhaps it’s a good time to take a break.

It can be so simple really; listen to your body – if you’re honest, you know what it feels like when you’re overdoing things, so back off a bit and you’ll feel better. And if you’re really worried about putting on weight, factor in an extra run, walk or other workout, just for good measure.

Let’s not ruin the awesome relationship we have with that mince pie by over-analysing it; it’s there to make you happy, that’s all. Stop worrying about food, be kind to yourself and have fun!

How to poop!

I guess you’re looking at this thinking, ‘I’ve been pooping all my life; I think I know how to do it.’ But, as someone living in the Western world, it’s likely you’re not pooping in the optimum way. You’ve probably heard before how squat toilets are actually better for you, and it’s true! Our ‘luxury’ toilets (thrones, if you will) are lovely and comfy and you can browse social media for hours without bother, but it’s actually not how we’re supposed to be positioned when we poop.

What’s this got to do with fitness though? Everything. If your insides aren’t working properly, physically, you can’t work at optimum efficiency. I recently went on a course to learn the latest all about the pelvic floor. I had signed up so I could be a fountain of knowledge for my pregnant and post natal clients, but it’s totally relevant to anyone who wants a strong core and doesn’t want to be incontinent any time soon. Or ever, really. And one of the things we discussed was how to poop without putting undue strain on the pelvic floor or any muscle in the core area. This step-by-step guide (below) was in the handout and it’s brilliant. Follow these simple steps and it’ll change your life! Well, it’ll change your toilet habits anyway.

And (top tip) if it all seem a bit of a palarva, at the very least, just make sure your knees are higher than your hips when you sit.

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Dealing with setbacks

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My humorous. Not where it’s meant to be.

Nobody’s invincible. We all know that, but it’s easy to forget when you’re on a roll, training is going well, you’re in good health and you have goals that you really can reach, if you just carry on. So when the rug is pulled from under you, what do you do? A few weeks ago, I had just completed an ultra marathon and was heading into training for a road marathon when I fell on a bouncy castle (yes, I know, I’m 40 – my mum has already mentioned this) and dislocated my shoulder.

 

So it’s all change. Ten days in a sling, four weeks with no high-impact or weight-bearing exercise. Sixteen weeks recovery with physio. It would be easy to get down about this. And at times I have been, but the thing that’s most surprising is that it’s actually not that bad. Sure, I had to drop out of the marathon, and not being allowed to drive has been a pain but, overall, I’ve realised that it’s ok.

First obvious problem is training. I was worried I would lose fitness, lose all the hard work I’d put in. But all that hard work is in fact still paying off – if you have incorporated fitness and training into your everyday life, it takes quite a while to lose. And I’m lucky, I’m a PT, so I have devised a couple of zero-impact, cardio and resistance workouts that I’m confident will keep me going while I wait to get stronger.

Second problem is work. I can’t demo new moves, I can’t drive to see clients. After a disastrous morning where I insisted I could walk from client to client with a kettlebell, yoga mat and bag all hanging off one shoulder (the good one), I realised I could ask for help. This can be really difficult, even when people outright offer, when you’re used to doing everything yourself. But the relief when you do and (in my case) don’t have to try to figure out a new non-weights routine for your client, don’t have to get cover for teaching a class… the relief. Look at it this way, if someone you cared about needed help; nothing crazy, just a lift in the car or lending something for a few days, you absolutely would do it! You wouldn’t even think twice about it. Take the help when it’s offered. Ask when you need it.

I guess I’m just advocating positive thinking and positive action. Not a new concept, but certainly a good one. And maybe that marathon would have been a boring one anyway.

 

Drink up!

I have a drinking problem… I am NEVER properly hydrated. I’m pretty good at drinking coffee, and wine, but water is something I definitely don’t get enough of. I was recently commissioned by netdoctor.co.uk to investigate the role of electrolytes in hydration and what I found confirmed that I need to hydrate more! I’m trying to at least have one electrolyte drink (500ml) per day and any water/herbal tea/cordial I can add to that is a bonus. Have a read on the link below and see what you think – you might be surprised at the facts:

“Do I Need Electrolytes?”

Survivor!

6717749373698048I ran 100km on Saturday.

Oh my, it was TOUGH. I’ve run ultras before, but never quite this far, and those extra few miles really made the difference. Obviously I wasn’t fully prepared (is anyone ever?) but, looking back, I think I’d done a lot of good. I didn’t have a lot of miles in my training, but I’d hammered the Pilates and kettlebell sessions; I’d really researched and experimented with my hydration and nutrition and all was good there, and my kit was well-worn and well-loved. But I guess I just found my limit – after about 54 miles I was mentally so over it. Thank goodness there wasn’t far to go at that point (comparatively) and I was still in fairly good shape – at that point I was oblivious to the blood blisters forming on my toes – so I pushed through to the end and even managed to smile, coming over the finish.

It’s a first for me – I have hurt, cried and felt so, so negative during a race before, but this was somehow different. This went on too long. So I found my boundary. It’s quite an impressive boundary and I am very proud of it, but I feel a bit odd – I’m not indestructible, I do have a limit, and that’s new for me. I don’t think I’m sad about it, I just feel different now. I just know more about myself now.

Here are some pictures of me ignoring the pain.

It’s all about me

I’ve been cultivating this new attitude: stop pressuring myself. When we enter events, we instantly start to feel the pressure – it’s official, you’re going to run or cycle or climb or whatever, on this date, for this distance and you’re going to be measured officially in some way too. And that’s all good in terms of rising to the challenge and improving your sport, but what about the pressure from peers and fellow contestants? And from yourself? Some people thrive on this, and I think I did once, too, but these days I’ve realised I need to re-shape my priorities and stop thinking about stats and stuff.

I’m training for the Race to the Stones ultra marathon at the moment and, rather than beating my best time, I’m just aiming to get there. To start. To enjoy it. Whatever happens after the gun… happens. I’ve done what I can to make my body strong and ready and that’s all I can do. I can’t control conditions, trips and falls, sniffles, hay fever, a bad night’s sleep, so why worry? All sounds very zen, right? It’s pretty hard but I am trying. Enjoying the ride is what I want to do, I don’t want to find myself dwelling what might go wrong. (Obviously, I am dwelling on what might go wrong, but I am trying not to and that’s a good first step.)

I’ll let you know how I get on. But then again, I might not. No pressure, right?

(S)pace setters…

Lyme Regis

End of the road… Lyme Regis harbour

We’ve been to the coast for a long weekend. Escaping our fast-paced city lives for a few days, we were looking forward to lie-ins and copious amounts of wine and seafood. But of course we also took our running gear ’cause, you know, we’re us.

And Day One presented a bit of a problem – the idyllic Lyme Regis beach run had to be nixed because Lyme Regis beach is a pebble beach. Yeah, should’ve checked that. So we headed towards town and found the Cobb wall and harbour on our way. This is a lovely sweeping arc of a pedestrianised walkway right out to the tip of the harbour – perfect for short sprints and a bit of tag-team speedwork. Lots of fun, even if it wasn’t the run we had planned. It got me thinking about having to ‘pivot’ when something gets in the way of your route (closed roads, floods, fallen trees…. pebbles instead of sand). It’s always worth keeping some ideas in your repertoire to adapt as you go, here are some that only need a small area:

  • Run 100 steps fast in one direction. Run 100 steps slowly back to where you started. Repeat 5 times.
  • Choose 6-8 evenly spaced points along the route you have. Sprint past two, walk back one; sprint past two more, walk back one etc. (This is a classic hill exercise so all the better if you have an incline.)
  • For two people: start at opposite ends, sprint towards each other. As you pass each other, go down to a slower, recovery run. When you get to the other end, turn and come back – when you pass each other, go back up to sprint. Keep going, switch from sprint to recovery every time you pass each other. Do high fives if you must.
  • Add in some bodyweight exercises by creating a course (there-and-back, around the perimeter of carpark, whatever) for running; one person runs while the other performs squats. Switch. Do this with lunges, press-ups etc etc.