Body shapes and working out

A very personal blog today….yet again about exercise.

I went to my 1st suspension circuit training class the other day which was a mixture of using the TRX, aerobics and core strength exercises.  I really enjoyed it and felt I’d used every muscle in my body afterwards. Actually I was pooped particularly as I was daft enough to do a fitness pilates class straight after. Will I ever learn?

The funny thing was when I looked around the room I was the only person with my body type i.e what I would describe as somewhat chunky with an ample bosom.  Everybody else was lithe and lean.

It got me thinking… if I continue to do this form of exercise will I become lithe and lean (I somehow doubt it), does the lean body shape respond best to this type of exercise or are the chunky types put off when they see the athletic bods strutting their stuff and think “I can’t do that”? I don’t think there is a right answer but I believe people lean towards exercise that their body responds best to.  For me it’s most definitely heavy weights and endurance which doesn’t lend itself to the long-limbed, bouncy pony tail look (can’t even do the shiny ponytail!) but at least I know I’ll be fit and strong well into old age.

With this is mind I have decided to undergo an experiment after the Easter hols – anything to keep me entertained! Over a 4 week period, with the help of my personal trainer, James, I’m going to see if I can change my body shape by primarily changing my exercise routine but also being slightly more vigilant with my diet. This article from The Conversation outlines what can and can’t be done.  My regime will no doubt include more HIT training, pilates and doing lighter weights but with more repetition.  I obviously can’t change my genes and my physiology but I might be able to give the impression that I look leaner. I might even take a before and after photo if I can face it.

So watch this space and I’ll report back…

The benefits of walking….for me

I had a change of direction for the blog this week and wanted to talk about my love of walking and how great it makes me feel.  Those who know me, know I love a good yomp – I love urban, suburban and rural, pavement pounding and muddy puddles and they are all good for my soul.

I think it probably stemmed from childhood – being kicked out of doors with my brothers and father so mum had the house to herself to cook Sunday lunch.  Luckily for us a walk ususually involved a pub so there was always a treat midway but we used to trudge across farmland and beautiful bluebell woods.  Then there were holidays in Swanage where we used go on massive all-day expeditions with my aunt, cousins and any other friends and family tagging along.  These were filled with laughter, sunshine and great conversations and I loved that feeling of comradeship and exhaustion from all that fresh air and exercise.

These days my walks tend to be more solitary; some long, some short but they give me the opportunity to:

  1. Be nosy. Nothing beats peaking into people’s houses when the lights are on the curtains are yet to be drawn
  2. Observe life and the seasons around me. Life seems to run at 100 miles an hour and by walking you can see things that you’ve never noticed before; be it architecture, wildlife, people. Go slow.
  3. Be outside.  Yes I enjoy the gym too but being out in the fresh air (even if urban pollution) clears the head.  Also I can be out for longer as it’s less tiring than running and my body shape ain’t made for marathon running!
  4. Discover new areas close to home or further afield
  5. Exercise and it’s free.  Whenever my brother, who works for Handiworld (nice plug for you Tobes!) is in London for meetings he walks everywhere.  He enjoys the freedom it gives him and saves on those rather expensive tube tickets.  It also gives him the time to clear his head before the next meeting. And according to this article in the Daily Telegraph a brisk 20-minute daily walk reduces an individual’s risk of early death by 25 per cent (University of Cambridge research)
  6. Catch up with friends.  I love a walk and talk and it’s a great way to catch up.  I also use this for work too – if I need to talk with a colleague I often suggest a walk.  As soon as you are out of the office it’s easier to talk and rationalise what the issue is and put forward solutions
  7. Come up with new ideas – it’s a well know fact that nobody has their best ideas sitting at a desk. Take a mo to read this article at which explains why
  8. Give myself a sense of perspective. This to me is the most important factor. I tend to stew and get wound up easily and the rhythm of walking allows me to think stuff through and put things into perspective.  My husband now recognises this and if he sees me getting angsty or in a tizz will drop me off somewhere on the way home and by the time I’ve walked through the door all is good with the world again. And vice versa, if he’s working from home and I hear him effing and blinding at the computer I take him for a walk round the block so he can let off steam.  Win: Win

So if you can, step away from your desk and pop out for a walk as often as you can.  And if you can’t escape see if you can walk part of the way to or from work – even regular short blasts will do and observe how you feel. I hope the endorphins kick in for you too.

Keeping fit, healthy & strong

This week I have asked my personal trainer James Chandler from Eat Well and Work Out to contribute to my blog.  Working full time my question to him is always how do I prioritise my fitness and health whilst being glued to my office chair during the week and spending time with family and friends at the weekend? I’m lucky that even if I haven’t done anything all week, a heavy weights session with James makes me mentally and physically stronger even if it does go pear-shaped on a Saturday night! I hope you find his tips helpful….

“Life has a certain amount of bandwidth. Our physical and mental energy levels dictate how much ‘space’ or effort we can put into all the things we have to do and we really can’t do it all.

Almost daily I have a discussion with one of my clients about how to prioritise health despite having responsibilities pulling us off in many different directions:

  • Work
  • Kids
  • Relationships
  • Family
  • Emergencies

There is no one easy answer on how to deal with it all, however, do we actually need an answer? Could worrying or stressing about the things that we REALLY can’t influence be actually taking bandwidth away from fitting in a bit more. Feeling guilty, disappointed or regretful is a waste of mental energy…could we simply channel this back into taking ACTION?

This is where you have to get smart with the priorities:

  • What can you sacrifice in return for good health habits?
  • When could you do A instead of B? E.g. walk in the woods instead of another episode of [insert box set]. (Pettit Post comment – Or do some exercise whilst watching Grey’s Anatomy in my case!)

Can you try and incorporate any of these habits into your daily life?

  1. Move well, and move often
  2. Lift heavy things
  3. Drink only water
  4. Eat real food (nothing that is more than two steps from its natural form, ensuring every calorie you consume is the most nutritionally beneficial you can find)
  5. Sleep well
  6. Reduce stress

The pyramid image you can see is one I created for my clients to illustrate the excellent hierarchy model created by Alwyn Cosgrove. This one is specifically for fat loss, however you can tweak it for any goal you may have. What is really important to remember is that you can only do what you have time and energy to do.

Hierarchy Of Fat Loss.

What I find really impactful is the use of the time available arrow down the side. If that new job, baby or relationship puts you in that 1 hour a week slot and you can only do 1 thing, then it is nutrition you need to focus on. Moving up the pyramid as we get a tad more time shows us exactly what we should apply focus too.

It is simple…fill the space where guilt, regret for yesterday’s ‘not so’ healthy choices or disappointment with acceptance that you are doing the BEST you can at this moment. Simple, yes. Easy, no. However, with practice and putting a bit of time into learning what works best for you can smooth out the journey considerably. Remember, view the long game and enjoy each twist and turn.”