You Matter

If you follow me on Facebook you know I like to remind everyone how important it is to put your health higher up the to do list. I asked Bea Marshall to write me a guest post about the importance of looking after you and to back me up!

I’m going to come straight out and say it. You matter.

Maybe you think I’m talking to someone else and you don’t think that I’m talking to you. Are you a Mum? Are you busy juggling several balls and working out how to keep it all together? Are you struggling to find enough time to balance everything on your plate? Are you tired because raising kids is hard work? Really hard at times.

If the answer to any of those question is, “Yes, that’s me.” then I’m going to say it again:

You matter.

Two words that are easy to brush off because the implications of allowing them to settle deep within your being can be huge. If you imagine, for a moment, that you are no longer in the equation then what happens around you? What happens to your children, your partner, your job, your laundry, your garden, your life admin if you are no longer available or present?

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Things quickly go downhill. You do an extraordinary job. This is why you matter.

It’s vital to take care of the things that matter. It is vital to take care of yourself.

As a Parenting Coach, I help Mums to have extraordinary relationships with their children without needing to spend time and energy on discipline or coercion (how great does that sound?!). I speak with many Mums about the challenges they face as parents and one question I always ask is, “What are you doing to take care of yourself?”

So I ask you the same. What are you doing to take care of yourself?

If you’re anything like the majority of mums I speak with, you might not actually be doing a lot. Hot baths seem like a luxury that take too long when you have laundry to put away and bills to pay. Some daily yoga or meditation gets pushed down the to-do list because you haven’t got time for that right now. Going to a local exercise class would be nice in an ideal world but your kids have homework or you’re too tired from a day at work. Investing in yourself financially with a Personal Trainer or a massage would be amazing but you need the money to pay for school uniforms or baby clothes and next year’s holiday.

I understand all of this. As a single Mum of two amazing boys, running my own business from home, I really do understand the pressures of family life. I also know that when I prioritise my own self care I have significantly more resources to invest into my family. I have made it a priority to take care of myself because that is the best way to take care of others.

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I choose to get up early so that I can go to the gym first thing in the morning because this sets me up for the day. It clears my head, gets my body moving and ups my energy. I also set aside a small amount of money to work with a Personal Trainer every fortnight. He keeps me focused on my goals and he also encourages and supports me, especially when I feel weak or tired. I am learning about mindfulness and meditation because connecting with what’s going on inside me really helps me to be a peaceful, present and connected parent.

Self care is a journey that is best taken with small steps.

I decided in December 2014 that I wanted to get up at 5.30am instead of 7.30am. That was an impossible goal in the short term but I worked out a manageable approach in the long run. I set my alarm fifteen minutes earlier each week or two until I was waking at the time I wanted. Some mornings this was really hard and occasionally I listened to my body and went back to sleep. Sometimes I gave in to excuses! But now I get up at 5.30am and the first few hours of my day are mine completely.

I also decided to stop spending time on my phone at bedtime. Instead I choose to read a book. It’s a really small act of self care that makes a huge difference. And often I’m so tired that I’ll only manage a couple of paragraphs! Small steps still go the distance.

What small steps can you take to move towards valuable self care?

Unless you begin to say Yes to your own needs you will find that you cannot consistently say Yes to your children’s needs. Self care leads to less irritability and less shouting. It also leads to improved mood and increased energy. And one of the most important, and often most forgotten, aspect of self care is that it models to our children how to take care of themselves. We need to be the change we wish to see in our children.

Here’s my challenge to you.

Choose 3 things that you will do in the next 7 days that are directly related to your self care. You might plan a hot bath, ring a friend and go to a Fit Mums class together, get up 15 minutes earlier in order to sit quietly with a cup of tea and your thoughts. What will work for you?

You matter.

Your own self care is one of the best ways to ensure that you are being the best Mum you can be.

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Bea Marshall is a Parenting Coach who helps Mums to have an extraordinary relationship with their children, without spending time and energy on discipline and coercion. She is also the Founder of Yes Parenting, an amazing way to raise children in a complex and demanding world.

www.beamarshall.com 
www.facebook.com/groups/DiscoveringYes 

My Endurer Dash

Last weekend I took park in the Endurer Dash 8km event in Dronfield and LOVED it! As part of the 8km course I had to walk up streams, crawl through mud, scale fence’s, swim across a pond and trudge through lots of mud (as deep as my thighs at some bits!).

If you have ever had a fleeting thought that these events look fun and one day you might like to enter one, then please please do. Its so much fun and I was so proud of myself afterwords. The feeling was very similar to how I felt after I gave birth. Proud of my body when I have asked it to above and beyond!!!

The Endurer DASH is a test of your strength, stamina and the limits that you can endure. Two obstacle races, an 8km and a 14km course for you to thrash around. Don’t rock up and expect to be rubber necking at the amazing Peak District scenery, or sniffing the fresh country air on a gentle morning jog. Expect to become one with the mud and country. Expect an epic obstacle course pitched on some serious terrain. Challenge Yourself. Become an Endurer!

Upcoming 2015 events – get in there early for discounted sign up rates! Let me know if you sign up, I may be tempted to join you and do it again!!!

Endurer Dash 8km: September 26th Peak District

Endurer Dash 14km: September 27th Peak District

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Upcoming 2015 events – get in there early for discounted sign up rates! Let me know if you sign up, I may be tempted to join you and do it again!!!

Endurer Dash 8km: September 26th Peak District

Endurer Dash 14km: September 27th Peak District

Garden Workout With Kids

I often get asked how I manage to fit in workouts with a toddler and a preschooler so I though this video would help! Make it fun and get them involved and you will get so much more from your workout.

Remember you are showing your kids that being active and exercising can be fun so mix it up and don’t worry about how many reps you are doing!! We were out for about 45 minutes and yes it was raining at the end! It ain’t training if it ain’t raining!!!!

Exercise names have been altered for the benefit of the game! Dinosaurs are much more appealing to to four year old than walking lunges!! Give it a try and let me know how you get on!

Dreaded DOMS

A lot of my Fit Mums and Park Fitters are asking me (possibly complaining but I’ll assume asking for the purposes of this post) about muscle soreness so I thought I would write a little blog post to help you all out!!

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) often occurs a day or two after heavy exercise. It is often described as stiffness, soreness, inflammation and tenderness. This stiffness and soreness is felt in the main muscle groups that you worked in your last exercise session. It is eccentric movement that causes DOMS. An example of eccentric movement is when you slowly lower your arms in a bicep curl.

Funny story. I got DOMS in my biceps after I gave birth to my son. I had had an epidural and was instructed to hold on to the back of my knees and pull (eccentric contraction). I swear my biceps hurt more than anything else in those 72 hours after labour!!!! Ditch the weights, push out a baby!!!!

You are more likely to feel DOMS if you are new to exercise or when you increase the intensity of your workouts. What you will be pleased to hear is that after the first bout of DOMS is often the worst and then you are protected from damage from subsequent exercise for up to six weeks. This gives you time to gradually ease into your workouts and increase the intensity over time. Basically this means that once that first session is out of the way, you need to continue with the exercise to avoid getting DOMS as bad!!

The precise cause of muscle soreness is unknown. DOMS can be produced by a number of different factors.

– Tiny tears in the muscle tissue
– Osmostic pressure changes that cause fluid retention in the surrounding tissues
– Metabolites accumulating in the muscle cell producing cell damage and reduced force capacity
– Acute inflammation
– Combination of the above

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The best thing you can do speed up recovery if you are experiencing DOMS is to keep moving!! Avoid the temptation to sit down and not move for a week! DOMS isn’t an injury so very low intensity exercise such as walking or swimming will help to loosen the muscles.

Stretching daily will also help, but especially after exercise. This will help to lengthen the muscle fibres and increase the blood flow to the muscles. This increase in blood flow helps to bring vital nutrients and oxygen to the muscles to aid recovery but also flushes out the waste products. Drinking plenty of water and massage will also help with this process.

Warm baths can help to relax the muscles affected and ease the soreness. Adding two cupfuls of magnesium flakes will also help to feed the muscles and replace minerals. Stay in the bath for at least twenty minutes to allow the magnesium to absorb through your skin. My favourite magnesium flakes are from Better You (another fabulous company based in Sheffield!!).

Ensure you have plenty of protein in your diet to help feed and repair the muscles. A few spoonfuls of cottage cheese before bed is a great source of protein that acts to repair the muscles while you sleep. If you struggle to get enough protein in your diet there is the option of protein shakes. These are fast acting and provide your muscles with instant “food” to help kick start the healing process and thereby reducing the severity of DOMS. Protein powders are a massive money making industry and a bit of a minefield that I could write a whole topic of blogs on (watch this space!). All I will say for now is that it is down to personal preference so don’t go out and buy a massive tub! Try some trial packs until you find one that you like the taste and consistency of!! Chocolate milk drank within thirty minutes after exercise, has also been shown in recent studies to have positive effects on reducing muscle soreness after exercise and is a cheaper alternative to protein powders (yet another blog post, I’m starting a list!!).

Yes I am telling you to go drink chocolate after exercise, it helps. I promise. You can thank me by sending this blog to all your friends and letting them know about it too!!!

Why is fitness so confusing?

There are mixed messages regarding health and fitness everywhere we look.

Orange juice that is part of your five a day but shouldn’t be drank because its too high in sugar.

Do 1000 squats each day but only in a morning.

Eat a banana before each workout unless you have a protein shake after.

So who do you believe? What do you do? I think a good rule of thumb is to trust your instinct. If you have to ask yourself if you should be eating something then you probably shouldn’t! Same with exercise. If you feel guilty for constantly making excuses for your inactivity then stop and start with some small steps to get you back into regular exercise.

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Have you ever heard the term KISS – keep it simple stupid? Well apply that to your health, fitness and nutrition.

In terms of food…

Stear clear of any foods that are advertised (apart from where the food type is promoted such as British Lamb)
Trust your instinct. If you find yourself asking “should I be eating this?” Don’t!
Eat less food that has been processed and more food that has either grown or once lived.

In terms of exercise…

Don’t over complicate things, just move more!
Workouts don’t need to take an eternity, decrease time but increase intensity (this must be done safely. Always speak to a fitness professional if you are unsure)
Build fitness into your lifestyle by embracing active travel, walking, biking, jogging to and from destinations.

I’ve created a new Facebook group where you can get support, advice and motivation in your fitness journey. Come and join in and feel free to share what you feel confused about in fitness.

Click the link below to join. And sorry guys its ladies only!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/480300295378116/

8 top tips for healthy eating on a budget

 

  1. Plan– plan your meals for the week before you go shopping so you can mix and match ingredients to avoid wasting leftovers. Having a list will help you avoid impulse buys.
  2. Go seasonal – fresh fruit and vegetables that are in season are often a cheaper option.
  3. Stock up on store cupboard staples – canned tomatoes, beans and pulses count towards your 5 a day and can bulk up any casserole dish. Choose low salt and sugar varieties.
  4. Top tins– tins of oily fish such as sardines and salmon and cheaper than fresh fish, have a longer shelf life and still provide you with omega 3s.
  5. Veg out – vegetables are cheaper than meat or fish so try adding more vegetables to your meat or fish based dishes and help towards your 5 a day.
  6. Fill up your freezer –frozen fruit and vegetables tend to be cheaper and can be used as and when you need them.
  7. Love your leftovers – don’t eat more than you need to just because it’s there.  Separate your food into containers and either store in the refrigerator for tomorrow’s lunch or freeze for a later date. This will save you time another day.
  8. Credit crunch lunch –take a small portion of last nights evening meal or make your own sandwich, this will allow you to control what you take to work and will save you money at the end of the week.

Do’s and Dont’s on Going Minimalist

This is the second in Julia Buckley’s series of guest posts on Minimalist Running. Find the first here.

In last week’s post I said that going along to one of the Vibram FiveFingers clinics would be the perfect way to get an introduction to minimalist running. But I’ve been getting a lot of messages on twitter from people who are keen to give it a try but can’t make it to any of the London clinics. I know that Vibram are planning a national tour in the near future, so hopefully there’ll be a clinic near you soon. But I thought I’d share some of what I learned at Monday’s clinic to give you a few pointers if you’re keen to get started right away.

Don’t be Afraid!

I’ll admit it – I was a bit scared of those weird looking shoes to start off with! Being so used to ordinary trainers I thought running in something with so little cushioning might hurt. I’d read a lot about making “the transition” to minimalist shoes and it sounded like quite a technical process. But I can report that it was fine. I put the shoes on and I ran. It felt good. The way I ran did change, but I didn’t have to think about it – my feet seemed to automatically know what to do!

Do Take it Slowly

Having said all that, you don’t want to go out, buy a pair of Vibram FiveFingers, and continue running your normal distances in them as if you’ve just replaced your shoes like-with-like. Because you will be changing the way you move, your body will need time to adapt and you should build up gradually.

As with most things, everyone’s different and you should listen to your body. But, as a general rule of thumb, Vibram advise people to start out running about 10% of their usual distance in the FiveFingers shoes for the first couple of weeks. Then you can gradually increase the distance by 10-20% every two weeks afterwards. They also recommend taking rest days between runs for the first month.

Don’t do Anything that Hurts

If it hurts, stop. That’s a rule you should follow whatever you are doing really! Never try and push on through pain when you run or you could turn a minor niggle into a serious injury that will keep you out of training for much longer than if you rested up right away.

Plus it’s supposed to be fun – as Corrado said at the clinic, “We already have a job, this is not work, running is to be enjoyed!”.

Do Ask the Experts

I know I had lots of questions for the guys at the Vibram Clinic and talking to them really helped me feel confident in the shoes. If you’d like to go along to one of the clinics you can get free advice and a training session with them too. But if you can’t make it in person you can reach the team on Twitter or Facebook and they’ll be happy to help.

Minimalist Running

The wonderful Julia Buckley has agreed to provide some guest posts for you all to learn more about minimalist running and Vibram. For more info on Julia please check out her website here – http://www.juliabuckley.co.uk/

I’ve done my first minimalist run! 

The first Vibram FiveFingers clinic was at the Run and Become shop in Victoria last night, where I got fitted out with a lovely pair of Vibram FiveFingers SEEYA (see photo).

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You have to put them on a little differently than ordinary shoes, otherwise your toes don’t go into the compartments properly. It seems a bit fiddly at first, but coach Corrado showed me an easy way of doing it where you place the shoe on the floor and sort of press down and ease your foot into it… It’s probably one of those things that’s better demonstrated than described really! (I have some video footage of the fitting, which I’ll add shortly).

When I first put the shoes on they felt quite strange and I was very aware of the separation of my toes. I got used to them surprisingly quickly though, and after about half an hour I stopped noticing I was wearing them.

About 30 people showed up for the clinic and run. It was all very laid back and friendly. Corrado gave a short presentation on minimalist running before we all headed out for a mad-cap run around the surrounding streets. Corrado had us running forwards, backwards, around in circles, jumping in the air and crawling on the ground. London is full of visitors for the Olympics at the moment and I think some of them thought we were some kind of Olympic sideshow as they were stopping to watch and take photos!

I’d always thought you needed to learn to run differently and work on changing your technique before wearing minimalist shoes, as there’s been a lot written about how they encourage forefoot striking. But I was one of many first-timers there last night and no one suffered any ill-effects from the short run we did after a just few minutes warming up. I normally hit the ground heel-first when running, but I found that I naturally became a forefoot striker in the FiveFingers shoes. Surprisingly, it felt quite “natural” and I didn’t have to concentrate on running differently at all.

However, the Vibram team did stress that it’s important to make the transition to minimalist shoes gradually, so I won’t be trying them on runs of more than about a mile yet. But I am looking forward to wearing them for my gym workouts and finding out what differences they make there. Of course, I’ll be reporting details back you on that here too.

There are lots more Vibram FiveFingers clinics coming up across London over the next fortnight and everyone is welcome to go along. Last night the group was a real mixed bag of people, some totally new to the idea of minimalist running who’d come to find out what it was all about, and others who were barefoot veterans. It’s all free and there’s no obligation to buy the shoes. Some people joined the run wearing another brand of footwear last night and the guys didn’t mind. Those who didn’t have any minimalist shoes were given pairs to try.

I can’t think of a better way to get introduced to minimalist running, so do go along if you’re at all interested.

There’s an updated list of dates and times for the remaining clinics below (more might be added soon).

In the meantime you can see lots of photos of part one of my minimalist adventure on the Vibram FiveFingers Europe Facebook page.

Vibram FiveFingers are hosting free minimalist training clinics across London until 12th August. You can find a list of clinic dates here: http://www.fitnessrocks.co.uk/blog/vibram-fivefingers-clinics-dates-and-times