Hello Again!

Wow, it’s been a long time. It seems that life just continues to get in the way of blogging. I started writing this post on the 30th of May and good ol’ WordPress promptly lost most of it… it’s taken until now to get round to finishing. Recently I’ve found myself thinking of lots of things I’d like to share so I think it’s time to get back on the horse. Its been so long though, I think it’s time for a little catch up first. And I’d love to hear from you guys as to whats going on with you?

Going back a little further than the last 2 months, I started working a bit more in January. I used to do 2.5 days of seeing patients and another half day was admin time. It felt like a really great balance as I did 2 full days and friday afternoon, but I’d go in on friday morning to get some work done and keep my admin up to date. Because we are generally understaffed and workloads are getting greater all the time, I offered to increase to 3 full days of seeing patients and do my admin from home (because I don’t have or want childcare for the extra time the admin would require.) I have full access to my desktop from home but it means I’m squeezing paperwork in at home in Bea’s nap times or usually at night, and its really tipped the balance in a negative way. My work days are way busier because I’m trying to pack extra in, I’m staying later and still have stuff to do at home. And that ends up just making everything feel worse. At the moment we still need it at work, but I’m thinking all the time about whether to change things back.

The house is also being a bit of a mental drain, if not a physical one. We started one of our main bedrooms back in January – stripping the walls ready for the mammoth job of replacing the wooden windows, re-plastering, putting a new (old) fireplace in and then getting to the fun part of actually decorating and filling it. Its going to be a playroom for Bea and then in the future will become her big girl bedroom when we need the nursery again. Its been somewhat of a false start however as we have been messed about by the company we ordered our windows from and as I write they are promising they will be fitted next week. Funnily enough, I’ve heard that one before from these guys, more than once, but I’m not going to write any more about it otherwise I am likely to swear. A lot.

We have also got another super exciting house project on the go but that one deserves a whole post of it’s own. ;)

I finally started doing some exercise recently, well in January. I found a running buddy, my friend Meriel, and she basically kicked my behind into making it out of the front door for a change. Being brutally honest I have done pretty much no exercise since Bea was born (another blog post in the making,) and there have been lapses when life didn’t allow or I lost my motivation, but I’m pretty proud that over all, I feel like I can call myself a runner now. I get out at least twice a week and my ‘minutes per kilometre’ number is falling all the time. More than anything the regular exercise has actually made me crave more. I miss it when I don’t have opportunity and I feel good when I have managed to do something, even if it’s a short run. High fives all round!

I’m feeling pretty sad I’ve let things slip around here, partly because I miss the posts I wrote about Bea – the last one was when she was 11 months – almost 12 months ago now and she’s turning into a little rock star. I guess part of the reason I don’t get time to post is that I prefer to focus on her fully, but I miss documenting all her little changes and cuteness. Despite the odd very trying day (hello toddler tantrums!) motherhood is still the best adventure I ever embarked upon.

So I’m going to leave it there, because I want to write more, be here more, and if I waffle on much longer I won’t manage another post!

Now what have you been doing so far this year?

Rebecca
x

September Shape Up.

It’s not the usual time of year for it, but because of the promise of a new season, new clothes and a bit of serendipity too, I’m ready to make some effort finally to get into shape.

I’ve got more to wrote about post natal fitness and losing weight but for now as it’s the first and we have a month before our holiday and I am dying to buy new clothes but have promised myself I won’t before I lose the last bit of weight I want to, I’m setting myself some challenges. I’m keeping it simple and making it achievable and because it’s only a month, hopefully it can be measured by the end of the month before Ive forgotten about it.

I wondered if any of you would like to join me? It doesn’t have to be a fitness goal. Maybe you need to shape up your filing cabinet, wardrobe, garden shed, living room, your CV or diet. Write it down int he comments and give yourself 30 days to accomplish it. Maybe you need a treat as a reward too ;)

My goal is to…

~ Do some aerobic exercise 3 times a week
~ Do some floor stomach exercises every other day

What’s your goal this month?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS, I’ve been saving loads of Pinterest workout plans and ideas in anticipation of this – take a look here!

How to Run [For people who hate running...]

This afternoon’s post is by the legendary Penny from Bad Penny Says. Usually our new music guru, she also happens to be a fully qualified personal trainer and after all the talk lately about keeping healthy and happy her choice of topic is very apt. In the summer months I enjoy running, there’s nothing like it to clear the head, but I have so many friends who say ‘I just can’t run…‘ Well, let Penny show you how…

I have lost count of the number of clients who come to me and speak in wistful tones about how they’d love to be able to run, but they’ll never be able to. They gaze enviously at joggers in the park and gym-bunnies on treadmills, as if these people are a different breed to them, magically gifted with winged feet/ lungs that don’t burn just 20 seconds into a run around the block. As if, as foetuses, these people simply laced up their shoes one day and ran out of the womb.

Stop the madness! I am here to bust these myths wide open. If your body is capable of walking to the shops, you should be able to run. And once you get into it, the sky’s the limit. Running is a weapon with which you can fight obesity, depression, anxiety, it strengthens your cardiovascular system and it frees your mind. You too could be one of those people who other people gaze wistfully at. I promise. Tried it before and hated it? Don’t worry – there are tricks you can use to cheat the system. This is how you get into running, when you think you can‘t run:

1. SLOW IT DOWN. This is the biggest mistake I see people making. Running should not be fast – not at first. It should be very, very slow. The best way to start out is to walk for 5-10 minutes, gradually increasing your pace until you’re walking at such a speed that it starts to feel a little uncomfortable. Then – without increasing your speed – lift your feet between steps. Congratulations. You are running. Doesn’t it feel easier than walking really, really fast? Good.

2. BREAK IT DOWN. Rome was not built in a day. Running is a learning process for your body, which needs to get fitter in order to be able to do what your brain is asking of it. Remember that burning chest feeling you get when you run for the bus? If you get that, you’re doing too much too soon. Once you’ve mastered the slow run (see above), try interspersing 1 minute runs with 2 minute walks. Repeat 5 times, with a 5 minute walk to warm up and cool down either side, and you have a 25 minutes of excellent running activity, all done by you, the supposed non-runner. Well done!

3. KEEP IT UP. Consistency is the key to progress. Aim to get your running practice in 2-3 times a week. If you only manage to grab 15 minutes here and there, that’s just fine and dandy too, and we‘ve established above that it doesn‘t have to be especially strenuous. The main thing is that you do it – no excuses, no putting it off until tomorrow. Write it in your diary if you have to, stick it on the fridge, leave your trainers by the front door in the morning – whatever it takes. As you get more confident, increase the length of your running intervals, and reduce the walking. See how much further you can go. Feels good, doesn’t it? You couldn’t do any of this a few weeks ago, and now you can. Feel proud.

The biggest running myth of all is that you should feel completely knackered by the end of your runs. If you’re doing it properly, you should feel energised and invigorated. If you find you’re becoming exhausted to the point where you lose motivation and start skipping sessions, then you’re running too fast or for too long. Really. Take it down a notch. There’s no point running yourself into injury – you’re doing this because you want to care for your body, not punish it.

Finally, the common sense stuff. Learn some stretches to cool down with, and make sure you’ve got trainers with a reasonable support in them. Keep hydrated. If you’ve got any existing medical issues that you’re worried may be aggravated by high impact exercise, then get your doctor’s approval before starting out.

Over to you! Do you love running? Then tell us how you got your mojo…

PS Find Penny on her blog Bad Penny Says, or @TokaiPenny.

*All images taken from Rebecca’s Pinterest account and originally uploaded by users so without source credit.

Diet Do or Don’t?

Well good afternoon readers! I hope you’re all feeling chatty this afternoon because I’m looking forward to a good catch up. On what you might ask? Well, It’s almost 4 months since the start of the year and my first post on my weight and being comfortable in my own skin. Since then, I’ve been going to British Military fitness usually two, sometimes three times a week, and initially it was all going well. I even got into the jumpsuit for Pete’s birthday. Shortly after that weekend of excess, I went ski-ing and it was game over for the unwanted pounds and since then, I’ve been hovering all over the upper end of my usual weight, going down to 9st 11lbs at one particularly pleasing point, or, back up to 10st 2 or 4lbs (like now).


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I have definitely toned up. A few of you have made comments on the blog about my arms (in this dress,) and my stomach is flatter, but I do still feel that there’s a layer of blubber hiding my hard work. The weather this month hasn’t really helped, as I’d normally be out running now, but it’s all I can do to brave the cold for BMF, never mind extra runs. I’ve also got a bit of a problem with my foot at the moment, due to recently diagnosed collapsed arches so they are sore which doesn’t exactly encourage me to pound the pavement. And although I’m often pleased with the outfits that I wear and share with you all via the What-to-Wear posts, it’s definitely not a good thing having to scrutinise yourself on such a regular basis and decide which images are less blubbery looking!


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When I wrote that first post I was determined not to diet. I love my food too much, and I hate the social restriction a diet causes – having to turn down dinner out with friends or to go along and not drink because you’re ‘being good’. Of course I also know I’m hardly obese, I’d just like to be able to see the results of my hard work at BMF!

As a medic, the thought of sending my body into a feast or famine panic by restricting my calorific intake terrifies me, as I’ve seen friends and patients with ruined metabolism due to faddy dieting and constant starving themselves. Right now however, with a holiday (and bikini) looming, I feel like I’m going to kick myself if I don’t do something about my extra pounds.

I’ve had more than a passing interest in the Dukan diet recently but I really can’t decide if it’s healthy or not, placing such a protein load on your kidneys and basically inducing a ketotic state to burn fat cells. My sister recently embarked on it for 7 days and lost a hefty 6lbs but admitted it was gruelling and more than a little nauseating at times. I can see the medical reasoning behind it, but I haven’t yet had the time to research any real downsides or risks properly.


Image from Pinterest

So today, I’m wondering how you guys have done since January. Quite a few of you were looking to lose weight or shift a couple of extra pounds post-Christmas, and some of you were getting in shape for your wedding. I also wondered if any of you had done the Dukan diet or if you had any other tips or tricks to recommend and help me deal with the bikini fear!

Lot of female ‘why do we do this to ourselves?‘ love,
Rebecca
xo

Disclaimer: I do not endorse the Dukan Diet in any way and anyone embarking upon a serious weight loss plan should consult their GP.

Triumphs and slip ups…

Now it’s February, it’s a month since I first wrote about wanting to shift a bit of weight, tone up and get fitter. I reckon it’s about time I shared with you all how it’s been coming on.

The truth is, like many of you I guess, there have been ups and downs. In terms of tangible weight loss, I’m not sure I’ve made that much progress. I think the term ‘yo-yo-ing’ would be fairly accurate. After a good first couple of weeks, I relaxed one weekend and gained back a couple of pounds, then lost it, then went away to Wales, then lost it, then had this weekend of birthday celebrations and the whole thing went totally to pot. I feel like my mindset is six of one and half a dozen of the other… on the one hand, I still really want to get a couple more pounds off, then I’m more than happy yo-yo-ing around a couple of pounds either way. But on the other hand, I’ve had a great last 3 weekends and I will never be a slave to my weight at the expense of my life. Bonus points for anyone who can solve that problem for me then!

However, when it comes to exercise, I’m seriously hoping that eventually all the good work will pay off and I’ll start to see results. I’ve been to my BMF class twice weekly since starting at the beginning of January and am still loving it. I took my first fitness test last weekend (they suggest you do one every 3 months to assess your progress) and I was really pleased with the results. I get to wear a Red bib (the middle group) and having been back this morning for my first session since, not only am I still a physically broken woman(!) after giving my all for the test, but I now know that my cardiovascular strength is way below my muscular strength and I worked my ass off at the running with the next fitness test in mind as motivation. I’m not sure I can truly see a cosmetic difference in my shape just yet, (Pete says he can, but bless him, he’s always been the encouraging type!) ;) It’s only been 4 weeks though so I’m not losing hope yet.

I think motivation is a massive thing when it comes to exercising and I am the worst for giving up when it hurts my chest to breath or my legs start wobbling or I want to actually puke from the effort (sadly a little too often at the moment!) Probably my biggest achievements have been running the Manchester 10K, not just because of the distance but the effort involved, particularly on the day. Whilst I can recommend having a goal to help you train, I’m naughty and when training for a run, often stop and have a little walk when it gets hard. With all eyes on you in a run you can’t do that and so I have to say to myself over and over again, be grateful you have legs and can actually do this. Being physically able to run is such a great feeling when you place the value of it in context like that.

And after sharing my day job with you all yesterday it seems an apt time to share this with you too… a video Pete actually showed me after an educational session he attended a week or so ago.

It’s a long one, so watch it later this evening or at the weekend, but it’s a fascinating insight into how exercise affects your long term health and mental well being, and reduces the risk of chronic disease. It certainly made me think about how much I sit down, even though I’ve mentioned it before. I wish I could walk to work. Maybe I’ll have to start walking to my home visits!

Now it’s over to you. How is your diet/exercise/healthy lifestyle regime going now that the New Year call to action has faded a little? Share your successes and slip ups with us here and lets all motivate each other a little bit more to keep going.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Burning off the Bundt

Well, it’s time to check in on January health and fitness plans with you all and update you on my efforts. This week I thought I would focus on the exercise aspect of what I’ve been doing after we talked weight loss methods and food last week.

I’m a bit militant when it comes to exercise once I start doing it and I also think that dieting alone is a really counter-productive way to lose weight. It can also ruin your metabolism by starving your body and encouraging it to store fat as soon as it gets its hands on excess calories again, because it’s in feast or famine mode.

You might remember me saying that I love food and I love both eating and drinking socially – its just not practical for me to say that I will forever be careful, not have that extra drink, or refuse the cake on offer with coffee. It’s never going to happen. Although I’d like to make my healthier diet a long term change, moderation, not denial is key.

With that in mind I needed to find a new method of exercise. Pete and I cancelled our gym membership with a three month notice period and it finished on the 31st of Dec. We must have been the only people cancelling at this time of year! The membership had gone up and up and up and we weren’t going anymore as It wasn’t as convenient for my new job.


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Thinking back, my favourite exercise ever was a circuits class I attended there, loosely based on military fitness by the instructor and a mix of cardio and weights or strength work for toning. I was physically exhausted after every session but saw fast results and it was addictive. I wanted to replicate that and was also aware that exercise doesn’t have to be expensive. I’m fortunate in that despite living in Manchester, I live ten minutes from a vast stretch of waterpark with miles of running tracks through woodland, around lakes and fresh air that feels miles from the city. So I wanted to get back to outdoor exercising too.


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All that lead me to British Military Fitness. I’d known of the classes for a while but never been and I won’t deny being nervous. The classes are based upon the kind of training the military use and particularly rely on when they’re out on tours of duty. They have to maintain their fitness without equipment and sometimes in limited space so the exercises are an intense combination of cardio (sprints and short runs) interspersed with all manner of total body exercises ranging from star jumps and air boxing to the dreaded burpees and more traditional sit ups, push ups, tricep dips and squats. They do all this in parks or open spaces all over the country and for a bargain price. it’s £35 to join and the class I attend is £28 for 1 class a week or £36 for as many as you like, at any location in the country. (I know that it’s higher in the South East and London – Gemma C-S has confirmed she paid £50 per month for unlimited classes in Hyde Park, but she agrees it’s worth it even at that price)


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I admit I couldn’t face it in the dark during the first week of January when the gales were blowing and rain lashing, but I got to my first on on Saturday the 7th, anticipating a gruelling session due to my miserably diminished fitness levels.

Was it hard? Yes. Definitely.

Will I be going back? Without a shadow of a doubt. (I’ve done three sessions since writing this and am now wandering round under a black cloud as due to work commitments I can’t attend until Thursday, it’s that good!)

It was great fun, the instructors were unfailingly supportive and encouraging and the sense of achievement at the end was fabulous. Even better, you can expect to burn around 500 cals an hour and I immediately recognised that it was going to make a massive difference to both my cardiovascular fitness and general strength and tone. I joined at Sale Water park and you can try your first class free by downloading a voucher on the BMF site.

Get Fit with Florence!
I have a had a thought for those of you who are more goal orientated and looking for a fitness aim for 2012 to motivate you. There are still a few places for the Manchester 10K which I have done a couple of times before and will be doing again. It’s a fantastic atmosphere on the day and I can highly recommend the sense of achievement you gain from completing it. I could even be persuaded to arrange a mini-meet up for lunch after the race if anyone is interested?

Just drop a comment in the box below :)

So, have you done BMF? Will you be giving it a go now? Do share what your exercise goals are and how you’re going to get there, team sports or head clearing runs, I’d love to hear more.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

*Credit to Glitter Guide for the title phrase, a rather affectionate way I thought, of referring to the extra pounds we’re all working on shifting post-Christmas!

The Weigh In

Last week’s post about feeling comfortable in your own skin and the fact that I am definitely not happy in mine, rang true for quite a few of you. As promised, here’s the update. Each week that I update you I’ll be sharing a little tip or insight into things that work for me when it comes to shedding a few unwanted pounds and hopefully get you all sharing more tips and tricks.

So, I’m sitting here writing this and I am starving. That kind of hungry you get when you’re dieting because the outrageous gluttony of your ‘must-leave-behind eating habits’ has stretched your stomach beyond reasonable proportions and it’s begging for a massive bowl of mashed potato, or gnocci, or fresh bread. Sorry, you came here for help, not temptation so I’ll wind up the carb chat. (I should also point out that although that was evidence of a serious carb craving right there, I don’t routinuely ditch carbs as a diet trick, because although, sure, it makes you lose weight fast, as soon as you start eating white foods again, those pounds go right back on.) And that kind of feast or famine dieting is exactly how you ruin your metabolism. So don’t do it kids!

I got weighed this morning (cue party poppers) 2lbs off and I’m feeling pleased with myself.


Image Credit: Constant Motivation

So what have I been doing? Well, it’s mainly been about food and breaking my habits of a lifetime. I’m a big snacker and I also boredom eat. I graze the fridge as soon as I get through the front door each the evening and more often than not I put food in my mouth without thinking about it. So I’ve made a real effort to stop that. Did you know, by the way, that real change in behaviour takes 30 days, or so they say? After 30 days past habits can be erased and your new healthy change becomes your habit, making everything easier, so you’ve only got x more days to struggle through!

A lot of my personal sucess rate with dieting is down to planning. This week instead of leaving the shopping to Pete I made sure I had healthy lunches (Delias Root veg fat free soup) to take to work, fruit to snack on (pink lady apples and juicy seasonal clementines) and planned our evening dinners. Here’s an idea of what I ate:

  • Monday: Tom Yum Soup (look out for the recipe later this week)
  • Tuesday: Baked cod with a potato and celeriac rosti on swede and carot mash – using up the veg left from the soup
  • Wednesday: Gnocci with puttanesca sauce (both from Morrisons) and parmesan shavings. Although not a classical ‘diet dish’ it’s fine as long as you watch the portions.
  • Thursday: Salmon Steak with stirfried savoy cabbage (mounds of it) and leeks.
  • Friday: Treat night – Turkey breast fajhitas (Just an old el paso kit and I limited myself to 2, with loads of peppers and onions.)

I’ll admit, I didn’t really want to diet, but after a couple of days of trying to be good but with mountains of food around the house post-christmas, I was still grazing. My solution to that is to keep a food diary and so instead of returning to Weight Watchers, I decided to give My Fitness Pal (on my iPhone) a go. Lots of you have recommended it and I actually had downloaded it a while back on my phone but not had the motivation to really use it. It’s free which was perfect as my bone of contention with WW was that I really didn’t want to pay for something I knew how to do, I just needed to do it. That said, if you’ve never had to diet before and need pointers on where to start, WW can’t be faulted and I’d definitely recommend it.

So far, so good. Ive used the app most days. It lets you list all you’ve eaten, tells you how much you should eat to lose the weight you want and adds in health information too, like if you’re going too far and underweight. Nearly all foods are there with the calories and if you do any exercise you record that too and get to eat more. Bonus! There’s also a little progress graph and you can diet with friends. By the way, if you want to look me up it’s RebeccaFF :)

I’d love to hear how you have all been getting on this week. Have you been dieting or focusing on exercise, or have you tried My Fitness Pal? What is your secret to diet success?

Of course I’ve also been upping my game when it comes to exercise but I’ll save that for next week :)

Love,
Rebecca
xo