The Gym – Satan’s Second Home

Writing

Not much of the athletic type, the only way you’ll get me running is in the opposite direction from you if you start going into a long-winded spiel about the weather or how you’re deeply madly in love with your cousin twice removed for that matter.

With that being said, I think my wispy body has been in desperate need of a bit of toning up, my mind continuously screaming out for a hit of dopamine, the kind only garnered after you’ve expelled every drop of blood, sweat and tears out of every orifice in thine very body. In other words – exercised.

With the intrinsic pep talk echoing in my ear one evening after I found myself binging my way into a diabetic coma, I decided to finally muster up the courage to face the embarrassment and shame of my noodle arms shaking under the tremendous pressure of a 5 lb dumbbell, (heaven forbid I tried deadlifts). I remember that first night as if it was yesterday (really it was a week ago but who’s counting), entering the gym felt more like entering an amphitheatre full of lions. Men built like bison, muscles bulging through their over-washed teeny weeny v-neck vest tops. I couldn’t place a bet on which would be first to rip, their crop tops or the vein in their thick thick necks from the gargantuan amount of strain which could have only surmounted in weight to easily 102.5 of my very self. A double take at that weight-lifting carry on was enough to have me retreat as any gym newbie does, by scuttling to the corner of the gym and onto a treadmill. From which I’m reaching for the oxygen tank like a chain smoker on death’s door, after all of 10 mins on the thing. I’ve gotten better though in my 5 days of attendance so far. I no longer use the treadmill, I attend the classes, which is the best solution if you’re like me and don’t have a clue how to use any of the gym equipment and don’t feel like losing a limb in the process of trying to use a weight machine only to find out it has a second calling as a modern day guillotine. If you don’t believe me watch the move – Final Destination 3, I’ll say no more on that front.

So far I’ve done yoga, and a spin class, which tallying it up now sounds pretty lame, but considering the most exercise I ever did prior to a week ago was holding the door open for a tailgater in my apartment block, then I’m doing quite well, don’t you think?

Next up is barre and Afrobeats, the dancer truly truly lost within me will be be buzzing for these. I better bring my sweatbands. Wish me luck………….

The Wacky Walking Race

Writing

Have you ever had a silent race on a footpath with a stranger? Where you both take it turns  to overtake one another. Steadily and surely picking up the pace in a desperate attempt to outmaneuver your opponent.

I’ve had this too, but what I haven’t had is an argument with an old lady who is desperately trying to outrun me on a  residential road on my walk home from work. Well, atleast that was the case until yesterday.

Yesterday evening it was dark, 5.30pm was fast approaching and my legs were making a speedy getaway from the workplace. On my usual route home I walk through quite a nice middle-class neighbourhood which, to my finding, can act as a quite the backdrop to some not so nice characters. As I trot down this residential road, as I do every other day, I try to overtake  a fellow commuter – a short elderly woman, who was walking at a slow pace and had a grocery bag full of red wine.  This was a maneuver I should have never attempted, no sooner am I inches ahead of her than can I see out of the corner of my eye her grey haired head bobbing straight passed me as she jogs with vigor to get ahead of me. I found this peculiar but thought nothing of it and so attempted to get passed granny once again. Yet this time, before I even had the chance to get parallel to her, she spins her head round like The Exorcist to glare at me before 1, 2 3, going at full throttle running the street to get away from me.

In shock at her antics I held back out of fear that had I somehow managed to outpace the geriatric then she’d have taken it upon herself to do me in in such classy style with a bottle of red wine to the back of the skull. And with that image quickly flashing into my head I decided to detour up a side road to avoid that rather inconvenient yet very probably possibility. And in doing so, the old doll, now an ant-like size in the distance, shouts back –  ‘good riddance, piss off’!

Now, bearing in mind I don’t know this woman from Adam or Eve, I have not bumped off her first born, taken the last red wine bottle in the supermarket or told her she’s a coffin dodger, so what is her problem? Can I not walk own the street without being hurled abuse at?

But I guess this is nothing compared to getting your hair spray painted red by an absolute stranger as you wait for bus no.24 at your local bus stop. Later do you come to realise through the city news rags that your newfound hairdresser is actually an escapee of a local London asylum. But I guess that’s a story for another time…..;)

Want To Live Longer – Get Yourself Outdoors

Writing

I think I’ve cracked it, Italian folk aren’t the longest living people because of their diet, they spend longest on the planet compared to any other nationality because of their beautiful weather! Who wouldn’t want to stick around and bask in the glorious sunshine?

Whether it’s key to a long life or not, one thing’s for sure, sunlight must be a contributing factor to people’s overall mood and so quality of life, and this must indeed lead back to  life longevity, no?

I ponder over this point as I dip one toe into the pneumonia-inducing waters of the English Channel, while the other remains firmly on the shingled beach of Brighton this bank holiday.  Temperatures soar into the twenties (degrees celsius) as sweltered sweaty bodies lie down soaking up the sunrays like cold-blooded reptiles.

The sun boosts everyone’s mood, there’s just something so comforting about the (picking off your sunburnt peely skin the day after) smell of suncream and the sounds of waves crashing against the seashore. Sunlight is my version of rose-tinted glasses.

 
The Benefits Of A Sunny Day

Vitamin D – Your skin produces vitamin D whenever you are exposed to UVB sunlight rays. Vitamin D helps maintain the health of the bones and teeth, playing an essential role in regulating the amount of phosphate and calcium in  the body in addition to numerous other health regulatory roles.

T-Cells – The T-cell is a type of white blood cell which is essential to human immunity. Recent research into the body’s reaction to sunlight has quite literally shed new light on its effect on the body’s immune system in particular. Some studies conducted have highlighted the effect of low levels of blue light (present in the sun rays) exposure on T-Cells. The blue light is believed to trigger the release of hydrogen peroxide by the T- cells, a reaction produced in response to an infection normally. This release of hydrogen peroxide thus leads to the increased mobilisation of the cells throughout the body. Thus an increase in mobilisation would mean the cells could get to sites of infection more quickly.

Mood Booster – The winter blues are no doubt a real thing. And so is SAD – ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’, which links seasonal changes with patterns of depression. With a lack of sunlight resulting in lower serotonin levels, a rise in sunlight thereby boosts serotonin in the body, serotonin is the chemical neurotransmitter that boosts our mood. Sunlight triggers special areas of your eye – the retina to produce serotonin.

Lowers Pollution Levels – Your descendents will thank you as they aren’t left permanently attached to an oxygen tank.Reducing the need to burn fossil fuels should surely be something that brings a smile to our faces? That is, ofcourse, if you feel the planet is worth saving. If you don’t then wake up now! Sunshine is unlimited, fossil fuels are not. Although solar power is not completely waste free, it’s still doing a better job than the waste produced from oil and coal burning.

What more reasons could you need for the sun to put a smile on your face? Get outdoors now! Your T-cells will thank you!

The Struggle Of Trying To Eat Healthily

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I would rather bite  my own tongue OFF than put another rice cracker with low fat margarine IN my mouth. You read that correctly, self-maiming seems like a healthier option as oppose to a life full of flavourless feeding habits.  I’m in no way against people being as healthy as they can be, I’m just somewhat reluctant to believe that I can summon myself to a life of carrot sticks and hummus.

Maybe I’m just not imaginative enough with my food choices, perhaps there are a million and one ways to make avocado and toast the reason you get up in the morning, but to me a fry up will forever be the way to my heart (quite literally)! I wouldn’t say I’m overly unhealthy, I indulge in the odd weekend takeaway, I have a biscuit with my cuppa, so where’s the harm in that?

Perhaps my downfall isn’t that I’m eating badly, it’s that I’m not eating enough of the good stuff. I wrote a post yesterday about how I feel tired alot and a big role to play in this is  mental well being, I also want to touch on a physical contributing factor to utter exhaustion – the nutritional value of our foods, or shall I say the lack of. It’s one thing eating enough but we also need to make sure we are getting enough nutrients.  That’s right a plate full of fried chicken, mash potatoes and gravy may actually lead us down a path of osteoporosis before we’re 30 if we’re not careful! So with that being said, where the f*ck can I get these damn nutrients from?!

5 of the most nutritious foods according to science at present (in no rank order, ain’t nobody got time for that):

  1. Salmon

All man may be created equally, but sadly the same cannot be said for all fish. When it comes to healthy oils salmon’s your knight in shining scales. With a dense packing of omega-3 fatty acids, you’ll be solving those crossword puzzles in seconds thanks to the beneficial effects these fatty acids have on brain functionality. Plus others here

  1. Garlic

I don’t care how pungent people find this clove, I f*cking love this stuff. So much so that I eat it raw each morning so that I get more personal space on public transport when commuting to work each morning. (joke). Truth be told, it packs a stench and alot of other mighty benefits also: studies have suggested that the smelly spice helps lower the risk heart disease and some cancers due to its sulphurous compounds. Coined the term ‘Russian Penicillin’, it’s antibacterial properties also help fend off skin conditions too. I’m a fan through and through.

  1. Potatoes

I’m not talking about chips, or mash made with 4 sticks of butter. I’m talking about the humble old potato with the SKINS ON (fibre for digestion and controlling blood glucose levels)! Packed with enough vitamin C to send off scurvy in a heartbeat, you can bet your bottom dollar that making a spud a staple on your plate and in your heart will serve you a world of good in the long run. They contain almost every nutrient you need, from magnesium and potassium to manganese and copper. These tuber treats are basically tasty periodic tables if you ask me.

  1. Seaweed

It’s about time a green veg made an appearance on my list but I’m not going for the predictable Kale or broccoli, which ofocurse are highly nutritious. Instead the weed of the sea gets a healthy high five from me. One of its notable beneficial compounds is its high levels of iodine. You may ask why is iodine important for the body?  Iodine is important for the body in making thyroid hormones. Our thyroid gland plays a major role in regulating many body functions through hormone release including metabolism, digestion and brain development. Specifically, for brain and bone development during pregnancy.

  1. Dark Chocolate

This list seems more bearable than I had anticipated, and no better way to top it off than with the topic of conversation being –  chocolate. But note, white or milk won’t give you the same effect as dark. This is because dark chocolate contains a higher concentration of cocoa solids than it’s milkier cousins (which contain milk solids in addition to cocoa solids thus diluting their concentrations down per bar). It’s in this original cocoa where all the nutrition is stored. One being ‘flavonoids’, very beneficial antioxidants to the body, they are naturally occurring plant pigments and can also help promote blood vessel flexibility thus improving overall cardiovascular functionality.  Your heart loves dark chocolate even if you may not.

Do you eat enough of the 5 above, or even any? I definitely don’t eat enough. But it’s never too late to change that. Hope you enjoy a balanced healthy lifestyle, because you deserve it.

bed cute dog female why am I so tired?

Why Do I Feel So Exhausted?

Writing

At the ripe old age of 23, it’s safe to say that fatigue should be a common occurrence, right? Wrong! Then why is it the norm for me to walk around like a zombie and  to fight to keep my eyes open by noon? Lots of us feel tired alot of the time but we’re no marathon runners so what’s the reason behind it?

Well, according to the NHS, psychological causes of tiredness are much more common than physical causes. Examples of which are stress, trauma, depression and anxiety.

How we can help to potentially relieve these:

Stress

  • Exercise – this sounds almost counter intuitive in trying to alleviate the feeling of tiredness. But it is a proven theory that exercise does indeed help lower stress levels in the body.
  • Sleep – another obvious one considering we are talking about tiredness! But studies have shown less sleep = more irritability which as a result increases the chances of a more stressful situation arising for you.

Trauma

  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) – an interactive psychotherapy technique , the therapist asks the patient to relive the traumatic experience while directing their eye movements. The validity of this therapy is still undergoing testing.
  • Support Groups – It may be difficult for people who have not experienced a traumatic event to truly understand how someone who has feels. This is where support groups offer a chance for people to get things off their chest and find emotional support in sharing the fact that they have all gone through a traumatic experience and thus can learn from each other,
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – this treatment aims to change how you think and act. It is a practical form of therapy, Read more about it here.

Depression

  • Exercise – according to the NHS, exercise can lower your risk of depression by 30%. Releasing endorphins and improving overall body confidence as the body becomes fitter.
  • Keep Social – when you’re feeling low, it’s easy to want to lock yourself in your room. This is exactly what you don’t want to do, instead going out with friends or family will keep moods from dropping and helps build relationships so that you can have someone to talk to if you’re feeling down at times.
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – as mentioned above, it can be used as a treatment for a range of needs.

Anxiety

  • Breathing Exercises – anxiety can lead to a build up of tension and shortness of breath which can result in panic attacks. Trying to control our breathing (abdominal vs chest) is a common way to reduce tension and maintain control when we feel anxious. See here.
  • Yoga and posture – Harvard findings here

**Wikihow has some good tips here.

Ofcourse exhaustion could just be down to physical demands, be it from your job, your exercise regime or the burden of life (bit deep)! These are obvious things that make you tired but I think it’s important for us all to take time to reflect on our own mental well-being, for if looked after properly, I’m pretty sure all of our lives would be vastly improved beyond simply alleviating the feeling of tiredness.

How Important Is Your Health?

Writing

The answers is yes, if you don’t have a screw loose, but if this is the answer then why do so many of us struggle to keep the gym routine in check, or even have one to begin with?

How often should you really go to the gym?

It’s  a shame to say it but yes, I skip leg day! And every other day that involves strenuous exercise! Although the truth must be told, when I’m in the mood to willingly work up a sweat I do ask myself the same questions -‘ how often do I need to go’ and ‘at what time of the day is best?’

Let’s have science pull their weight on this one:

How often do I need to go?

The obvious response here would be to say ‘how fit do you want to be?’ But there’s more to it than that, studies have shown that it takes approximately 2 weeks of inactivity to start to lose your cardio fitness and 3 weeks to start losing muscle strength.

So with all this inactivity making your Summer body fade in a heartbeat, what really is the minimum amount of exercise us lazy sods can get away with to still maintain that body of a Greek God? Well, the general consensus seems to be at approx 2 – 3 days a week. With 41 per cent of Britons aged 40-60 failing to walk for even ten minutes a month according to the independent even this seems like a stretch! The report also states that training 3 times a week is a good aim to have when your goal is to stay fit and healthy, and not necessarily to become Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.

What time of the day is best to workout?

There’s this idea that working out in the morning on an empty stomach will boost energy levels and promote weight loss, others believe an evening session will be more beneficial at it gives time for your body to naturally warm up throughout the day and so be ready for the routine come evening.

Once I heard about these two theories it made me even more torn on which is best to choose. This video below gives alot of great variables and actually mentions how muscle growth is slightly increased on a consistent evening workout as oppose to that during  the morning.

But I think the best answer is the following – “the best time to work out is the time you’re most likely to work out.” The words of Chris Jordan, an exercise physiologist who created the Johnson & Johnson 7 minute workout

And to add to that – doing any sort of activity being low, moderate or high is still better than doing none, if not for physical health then mental health in my opinion.

art dancing female flame learning aerial silks circus arts

My Goal To learn Aerial Silks

Writing

Most people pick up a hobby like going swimming or painting at weekends, I’ve decided to pack all that in and run away to the circus.  Not literally but……physically. In the form of ‘aerial silks’. For anyone who is none the wiser as to what this mysterious terms refers to, let me enlighten you.

It’s basically the most elegant way to slip a spinal disc, fall to your death, or, do both, with such finesse. Yes, indeed, signing away my soul was as easy as a £250 transaction  and turning up to the first of 10 weekly lessons.

Things must be going somewhat ok because I’m on lesson 5 this week and well…..as you can tell I’m still here, or else it’s my ghost writing this post. Which is very plausible.

But really why have I decided to embark on this elegant challenge? It is because of just that – it’s a challenge. Don’t get me wrong, being ‘comfortable’ is great, sitting at home watching Netflix really does sound ideal 9/10 times for me. But for about a year now there’s been this little nagging voice in my head encouraging me to try something new, to do something different. And this difference was in the form of actually getting myself off the sofa and into the realms of uncertainly in the form of a big silky green curtain with too much give and not enough grip.

The aim of this challenge is with any to learn and progress. I do feel like I’m getting better if only slowly. In the first week I couldn’t even climb off of the ground, by week 5 I can climb a decent height and tumble purposefully and no longer accidentally.

My goal is to perform a choreographed piece without any flops which actually looks half decent. So watch this space, I’m planning to post it on here when I’m successful!

Being comfortable is boring, what challenge will you try to develop yourself for the better?

5 Concentration Boosting Tips

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As humans, I think it’s fair to say procrastinating is in our blood, some of us just do it less than others. If you want to be one of ‘those’ productive people  then give these 5 concentration-boosting methods a go:

  1. 1. Eating Tasty Food

Yes, that’s right munching on blueberries, dark chocolate, avocados, seafood and much much more good stuff gives the brain a nutrient boost of e.g. antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, B and E vitamins to name just a few. All of which will act as brain fuel while you continue with the task of spelling your name correctly for the first time. The struggle is real!

  1. Hug Hug Hug

Hugging has been scientifically proven to reduce anxiety by increasing the amount of endorphins in the blood stream. A decrease in anxiety will allow you to focus more intently and for longer.  Less time will be spent biting your nails down to the bone and more time on scrawling out your latest fan-fiction novel.

  1. Quidditch Match

Who doesn’t love prepping their brain for some Pythagoras theorem than by running around a poorly marked football pitch with a broom between their legs screaming ‘QUAFFLE’! That’s right, exercise does more than just the heart good. That sponge in your head will be thankful too. According to Harvard Medical school, exercise actually results in chemicals (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor – rewires memory circuits so they work better) being released by the brain which reduces ‘memory fog’ and cognitive decline. The key is for the exercise to be regular and moderately intense, so sorry, but if the odd jog to the supermarket for milk late at night in your slippers is your type of ‘exercise’ then prepare to forget your name by the time you’re 30.

  1. What’s That Smell?

The BBC reported that smelling lamb’s favourite herb – rosemary can increase memory, Huffpost, shared that cinnamon could increase mind sharpness and that peppermint could boost concentration. Inc, also supported the brain boosting effects of rosemary and peppermint by writing that the former can promote memory and alertness while the latter could enhance the accuracy of memory. * Just to note, these studies focused on essential oils, not your mum’s spice cupboard.

  1. Watch Funny Cat Videos

It’s been reported that laughter helps strengthen the immune system, but what has this got to do with building up our willpower? As mentioned by ABC the BBC (so many letters), having a good laugh can boost your willpower levels. But how? Supposedly laughing releases endorphins and reduces the stress hormone (cortisol) concentrations in our blood, as a result this helps boost our immune system which in exchange changes our brain wave activity, changing it more towards a ‘gamma frequency’ which aids memory recall.   So perhaps taking 5 mins to watch some funny clips or listen to your favourite comedian could just be what you need to be at your most productive.

Well, I hope you’ve been concentrating throughout my spiel above, if not I hope the distracting cat videos were worth it!! 😦

 

**This post is intended for ERIC Magazine.

Flip Out

Writing

If you want to sign up for your unexpected yet highly likely dose of concussion and ligament contortion then enjoy a day out at  Flip out.

Where the only thing coming out is your hip from its socket when you take the plunge into the shallowest ‘safety’ pool known to man, woman or child on Earth.

Flip out for those of you that don’t know is a ‘fun for all’  trampoline centre. Fun if you’re 5, a death trap if you’re any older. I had the absolute luxury of attending a while back and I’m still nursing the long term injury of mental trauma from that brutal day.

They have this thing called a ‘ninja obstacle course’ which involved 3 mini obstacles and finished with the grand finale of a concave climbing wall thing. Kind of like this. 3 obstacles, this is going to be a doss about I thought. I ashamedly fell at every hurdle.

Obstacle 1. monkey bars – I f*cked that up my hands were so sweaty from anticipation.

arm biceps fingers hand

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Obstacle 2. Floating boards – basically boards like you see in Ninja Warrior. Only these things were made from the cheap nasty kind of plastic which would slice through you like a hot knife through butter. I tried lurching onto one to the next (there were 3) but decided to retire out of fear of decapitation.

Obstacle 3. Swingy bridge thing – moving rickety planks that made up a bridge. The only thing that came to mind was this movement (not the bod. unfortunately).

man splitting on driftwood

Photo by antas singh on Pexels.com

The warped wall – thank my warped sense of judgement for ever thinking I’d be able to get to the top of that without potential neck break. To be fair all I limped away with was a sore sense of self as I watched on as kids half my size swanned up the wall when with all my might I still couldn’t even reach the ledge.

The trampoline part was fun though!

**I actually really enjoyed the experience, I just enjoy whinging about the aftermath also. No offence intended haha

 

Tough Mudder…..

Writing

So…..it happened folks, there I was, kneeled down  on one knobbly knee reciting the rules and regulations of how the organiser will take no such part in my untimely death had I decided to fall off that 10ft wall or drown in those muddy trenches. Oh yes, washing their hands of any liabilities while I got knee deep in sh*te. I don’t blame them, for deadly this course was indeed! Let me tell you why:

Let’s start with the weather conditions. It just so happens we were blessed with sunshine but cursed with the 30 heat it brought with it. When you hear people screeching through megaphones “if you have to quit, quit!” You know it must be BOILING!! Anyway, undeterred by the ‘egg-frying-on-rock’ temperatures I tied my shoe laces up that little bit tighter and set off.

Obstacle 1: Stick Your F*cking Face In Shite

Picture barbed wire knee high, picture manure knee high. Now army crawl through that sh*t like your insignificant life depended on it  for a full minute. I can definitely say that the event lived up to its name from the get go.

~ ~~jog jog jog about half a mile ~~~

Obstacle 2: Time To Get Winded

As if scaling a 10ft wall wasn’t challenging enough, let’s add a God almighty slant to that wall. So the it’s  basically falling forward toward you at an angle. This means the wall’s big long ledge is now at a decent head-banging angle. If, like me, you tried to take a run and jump at the thing you were in for a treat. Let’s not forget I’m 5 ft 6 inches/ 167.64 cm, so I’m certainly not going to hurdle this. Learning this the hard way I take a massive lunge toward the forbidden wall of terror with the premise of  basically scalping myself, retreating back concussed I ask for a foot up over. Only to be dropped mid lift and crush my lungs against the ledge. By this stage I started to truly understand why the organisers take no responsibility for injuries sustained to the competitors!.

~ ~~jog jog jog about half a mile ~~~

Obstacle 3: Hay Bale Hurdle

One of the more forgiving obstacles and one of which I could infact hurdle over.  3 hay bales, jump over. Bish bash bosh. You’re done. NEXT!

~ ~~jog jog jog about half a mile ~~~

Obstacle 4: Piggy Back Ride / Fireman’s Lift

Yes. Finally some respite, some unfortunate fool’s gonna carry me 50 metres. *collar bones cave in. My sister just mounts me like a mutt in season as I’m forced to walk bow legged for what feels like as far as the eye can see.  You can tell this was one of my favourites, right?

~ ~~jog jog jog about half a mile ~~~

Obstacle 5: Slippery Slope

A curved 10 metre wall you had to run up and if you were lucky at the top you were greeted by an equally sweaty hand, if unlucky you braced for the burns you’d endure over 80% of your fragile body as you skid back down awkwardly to face the run up all over again.

This obstacle relied heavily on human kindness. So the fact that I fell down the slope more times than I’d like to admit should really set off alarm bells in all of our compassionate minds, no? Just kidding, kindness does exist, I got yanked up the slope like a ragdoll in 5 seconds flat.

~ ~~jog jog jog about half a mile ~~~

*By this stage of the fun I could feel a slipped disc and some facial 3rd degree burns setting in. At this point, I had continuously soaked myself with so many cups of water around the course, so much so that I had managed to wash off all of my sunscreen from parts of my body I needed it the most to parts where I need it the least – my eyes!

Obstacle 6: Light At The End Of The Tunnel

Anyone with phobias, you’re truly spoilt for choice with this one, confined spaces and murky water marry together to give you the experience of a lifetime. Crawling on your stomach through ice cold muddy water with the only thing in front being someone’s hairy ass, and only view behind was your very own. Why did I pay for this torture!

And while I let this thought marinade in my mind, I think it’s a good stage to have a little pause.

Have a read tomorrow for a run down on the obstacles which blessed the  second half of the course, there’s a few cheeky ones in there believe me. My fingers are tired typing so see ya then!