dance, diet, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, wellbeing

The time we tried Barre @ Studio Velo

So recently it has become pretty clear to me that I am indeed, a fitness junkie. I may not look it, as believe me, I’m no size 8. But I don’t do it for that. I don’t do it for a beach body or a summer body, or anybody. I do it for myself, for the way it makes me feel. I do it to challenge myself, break comfort zones and insecurities and to increase my confidence. I love the feeling of working up a sweat, I prefer my gym gear to normal clothes, I spend my days waiting for my next ‘fix’, my next ‘hit’ and I’m forever on the look out for a new class to try.

New exercise classes pop up all the time,  and with each class I venture along to, my confidence increases and I feel ready to try something else. So yesterday I headed over to Studio Velo to try their barre class – an exercise programme that intends to ‘create a longer, leaner physique through stretching exercises both on the floor and on a ballet barre, using the same techniques and postures as traditional ballet.

Barre caught my eye as I felt it’s something way out of my comfort zone. I love working out to loud dance music, I like to sing, I like to really move about.  Although a little unsure what to expect, I felt Barre would be more low impact, require grace which I don’t feel I have, and less energy than I usually have or like to burn.

I have been along to Pound a few times, and I thought Barre may be similar in the way it focuses on strengthening and conditioning and isometric movements, but would I still enjoy without the rock tracks and rip stix?

I arrived at Velo with my friend Debra. I’m not afraid to go along to new classes on my own, I did just that last week trying out Cycle. But it’s great to have a friend there for moral support, and to go for coffee with afterwards.

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We met Melissa our Barre instructor in the reception area, then went upstairs to the mirrored dance studio. I took a mat, removed my trainers, (but kept the socks on as I can’t deal with feet. Not my own, anyway) and chose a spot on the floor. I have to admit, I’m not a fan of mirrored walls. Purely because the image I have in my head of me rocking my gym gear, is a far cry from what I actually see. But the mirror was there and I just had to suck it up and move on.

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We started off with a warm up on our mats to tracks I’m familiar with from other classes, but slow versions. Meaning I could still have a sing along in my head. Sometimes I forget I’m at an exercise class, not a rave. I did a block of ladies kickboxing sessions recently, and had to consciously remind myself to stop dancing to the music and I was there to kick and throw punches, not boogie.

We then moved on to planking and push ups. I’m still at the on your knees push up, level.  I kept looking over to Debra as she looked at me. I was exhausted after the warm up. We both were

Then it was time to hit the barre, where we stated working our quads using plies in first and second positions, the moving on to arabesques and lunges. Now to watch our workout, it may have looked easy since these exercises included just tiny pulsing movements. It may have looked like we were doing nothing, but let me tell you, we were.

After about 30 minutes on the barre we were back to the mats, but this time using the bar to concentrate on the core and upper body. Melissa explained we would lie on our back and pull ourselves up using the bar. Sounds easy, I thought confidently as I’ve done similar in the gym and feel I have quite good upper body strength. So, I lay on my back, feet flat on the floor ready to pull myself up, but nothing. I couldn’t move. I looked at Debra as she said to me ‘I can’t do it’, feeling quite relieved I replied with ‘Me neither’. Melissa then showed us a way to do it curling our core in rather than pulling up. I managed that. Just

We finished off with the core by staying sat on our mats, holding the barre above us, straightening and lifting then lowering our legs. Again, I’ve done similar during Pound, but obviously without the barre. I struggled then and I struggled again, but I still gave it my all.

The 60 minute class then ended with a cool down, and boy was I ready to cool down.

Despite its difficulty, I thoroughly enjoyed my Pure Barre experience. The playlist was good, the work out low-impact and it did felt very different to the sweaty high intensity kind of work out I’m used to. But it’s now the afternoon after, and I am aching. My arms, my legs, my back, I can feel it. Barre obviously has immense benefits, especially for your lower body and core.

If you’re interested in trying out Barre or any classes at Velo, then check out their facebook page for details

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diet, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, wellbeing

Indoor Cycle at Studio Velo

Thismorning I went along to my first ever Cycle class. I love trying new things, and switching up my cardio routines, and have wanted to try spinning for a while. I’ve looked through the windows of a gym curiously and wondered if it was for me, but never felt brave enough to go along, worried I wouldn’t last the whole class. But a new studio has just opened in my hometown, and decided to give it a go.

The 45 minute session was held at Velo in Whitley Bay, and the studio iteslef has only been open a few weeks. It’s a small fitness studio with its own distinctive style, providing classes for all ages and abilities in studio cycling, Pilates, yoga, barre and dance.

I was greeted by Steph, the lady behind Velo with the idea was to open somewhere local, friendly and a little bit different to exercise. Ascetically, the studio was different to any others I have been to. I instantly noticed the trendy and modern design I have never seen before in any gym, and this I liked.

I then went up the stairs to a bright and well conditioned mirrowed studio with the bikes all set up ready for class.

In the studio I was greated by Cycle Instructor Kim, who made me feel comfortable and welcome, and spoke to one of the other girls who told me she wasn’t new to cycle, but this was her first class at Velo. This made me feel so much more at ease knowing I wasn’t a complete newbie.

I chose my bike, and once everyone had arrived, Kim explained to us a little about our bikes, and how to adjust them. Explained that our hands would alternate three positions throughput the class, and how to adjust the resistance.

Once we were all set, the music was on and we were off.  There is a little screen attached to the bike, which I really should’ve taken more notice of, but I think this displays your changing heat rate throughout the class

The class was based on HIIT routines, and Kim talked us through a mental visualisation of an outdoor workout, including gear changes and pedal speed. At the start of a track we were at the bottom of the hill and reached the top by the end. I found this visualisation helpful, as I was determined to reach the top of the hill without stopping, and with as much power as I could. The uplifting tunes which I particularly enjoyed, both gave me energy and kept me motivated. I just love music and find it so much harder to exercise without. I quickly found that we were cycling to the beat, upping the speed along with the tempo during a chorus.

I’m not joking when I say 15 minutes in and I had sweat dripping off me. I do a lot of fitness, and a lot of classess but I’ve never felt so worked, so fast. I’m really proud to say I kept up with the whole class, as I was worried I’d need to pause for a break as I’ve heard how intense cycling can be. Although we were told to go at our own pace as this is our workout, I was up off the saddle and back on the saddle the same time as the rest of the class. I probably could’ve adjusted the resistance a little higher at some points, but I’m confident I can push myself a little bit more next time.

By the end of the class I felt awesome. Exhausted, but awesome. This was a well structured class, which I found challenging, with excellent positive communication from Kim throughout.

Class was 9.30 thismorning, and it’s now early evening as I write this and I believe me, I’m feeling it

Thank you so much to Velo for inviting me along.

If you’re interested in trying Indoor Cycle at Velo, then check out their website https://www.velofitness.co.uk/ or facebook page

dance, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, parenting, wellbeing

Clubbercise Mush Event

I know I should’ve written this way before now, but with it being the summer holidays and having two children to entertain, it’s often hard to find the time

But, as I mentioned in my previous blog, to wrap up the two weeks of promoting Mush – the free app for mums, I’d planned another Clubbercise event. I’d chosen the same venue as the previous one, as Flares as it is just the perfect venue for what I was looking for.

So after weeks of first of all getting myself in a right panic nobody would turn up, deciding what to wear and spending a small fortune on accessories and decs for the venue, the night was just brilliant. 

Along with Mel I arrived early to set up the venue. We thought having an electric pump, 45 minutes before the doors would open, would be more than enough time to inflate a variety of animals, palm trees, sharks and lilos and even a giant donut. However, the pump failed to do it’s job and I think we had our work out before it even began, by inflating them ourselves.  However, once done and put in place the venue looked ready for us to rock a Caribbean Neon party.

I think there was around 30 of us ravers who turned up in the usual neon, but this time with grass skirts, garlands and even flowery bras, to go with the Caribbean theme. 

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We were all just as rowdy and excited as the last event, and did our dance workout for around 45 minutes (I spent a lot of it taking pics/videos. Dancing wasn’t easy, and far too sweaty under a lot of pink and purple clip in hair pieces, a flower hairband and sunglasses)

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The girls were awesome, with their smiley faces, singing cheers and whoops. Seeing that alone made the night for me, as this is what it was all about – having fun with friends. And I know it’s always gonna be a good night with this crazy lot

The event itself definately ended on a high, with some of us even getting frisky with or riding on the ‘Dophin of Clubbalove’. You’re right Mel, Dave the Dolphin should to be your mascot and join us in every class.

We all stayed around for drinks afterwards, (like we were ever gonna just go home). My lovely friend Jeannie was lucky enough to have won us a VIP booth so there was 2 bottles of fizz and a giant Partini and a booth for us to sit and chat afterwards. We also decided rather than keep going to the bar, we’d all just order a cocktail jug for ourselves. So I was classy as always sat drinking 2 pints of Woo Woo, straight out the jug.

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We also found ourselve having a bit of a dance off with another group of girls in the VIP area, which is always fun. 

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I said from before I started my 5 weeks of marketing with Mush, I wanted to host an event which was all about forgetting about parenting duties for one night, letting our hair down, having a laugh, and remembering us mums can have fun too. Smashed it. Thank you girls all so much, for helping me do just that.

Thank you to Melanie once again for leading (and putting up with my often outlandish ‘Lou, we can not do that’ ideas), and Flares for their hospitality. The guys at Flares really are ace and could not do enough to help make us feel welcome, and the event a success. And they do awesome cocktails.

If you’re looking to make new mum friends, check out the app which can be downloaded via Play Store, and if you’re still to try Clubbercise, and think it may be the work out for you, click this link to find your nearest class.

Please excuse the poor quality of the video, but it’s from a Facebook Live

 

anxiety, autism, dance, depression, diet, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, mental health, parenting, post natal depression, special needs, wellbeing

My postnatal depression story

I’m no longer ashamed to admit that I have trouble remembering the first two years of my sons life. I can not tell you at what age he got his first tooth, his favourite food as a baby, his first word or when he began to sleep through the night.  I’m not even sure of what age he took his first steps.

My second child, I can tell you all her milestones. I think that’s mainly due to the amount of times I’ve had to go over them with paediatricians, therapists, doctors. She has autism, and was finally diagnosed at age six just last year.

My youngest,  Emily. I know all her firsts. Mainly because I was extra vigilant looking out for any red flags we had with my eldest daughter.

Each pregnancy was different. All had the usual sickness and discomfort.  But my third pregnancy, I just wasn’t feeling those feelings you associate with pregnancy. The excitement,  the happiness, the eagerness. I didn’t really feel anything.

I brought my feelings (or lack of) up with my midwife whilst getting my bloods done. I was assured it was perfectly normal , due to hormones and it would all settle down probably by my next appointment.

Only it didn’t.  I didn’t take joy in shopping for baby clothes, I was in no rush to pack my hospital bag, I just wasn’t feeling it. I was emotionless.

I booked a 3D scan around the 32 week mark, hoping that would make everything feel more real, I don’t think it did. It was a wonderful experience, of course it was, but the sadness continued.

The years which followed my daughters birth in September 2011 were dark, very dark. I was dealing with the likelihood of my oldest daughter having autism, which was causing stress along with that lingering feeling of worthlessness. But before even falling pregnant with my daughter, I was dealing with body image issues. I hated my appearance to the point it was affecting my everyday life. These feelings got worse. I’d stay home all day unable to face the world, or I’d only leave the house when it was dark. I’d avoid mirrors and my reflection in windows. I’d panic if we had a party or wedding to go to. I hide away in the toilets to avoid any social interaction.  And my heart would pound and my  head spin if I saw anyone with a camera.

I’d apologise to my children, as small as they were and unable to understand, for being a useless mother. I’d tell them I loved them as the tears rolled down my face, and that I was doing my best. I’d ask my husband why he was with me and give him the option to leave, which always left him gobsmacked and confused.

I’d go to bed each night and secretly wish I wouldn’t wake up. I’d have dreams of living a life where I am happy and have friends around me, and wake up devastated when I realised they were just that. A dream

My husband found me a video on Youtube about the ‘Black dog’, and asked me to watch it. I did. I broke down and he told me to get help.

I went to my GP, told her my feelings and filled in a questionnaire. From that she gathered I had depression and extreme anxiety. I was referred to the Mental Health Team. Again. I was already in therapy before falling pregnant with Emily dealing with body image issues. Hence my panic when faced with the prospect of having my photo taken. I was a mess. An absolute broken mess

That was September 2013. From then on I had fortnightly visits from my Health Visitor. She didn’t come to pry or check up on me. She came to lend and ear aswell as advice and support, and I thanked her for that.

October 2013 I began attending well-being courses. I picked up techniques to deal with stress, become assertive and gain confidence.

Summer 2014 I had my first appointment with I think it was a life coach. She pretty much assessed me to see if she could help. She couldn’t. My condition was too extreme.  I was then referred to a clinical psychologist. Again

I met with my therapist every two weeks and I think I had around 10 sessions before I decided I felt ready to face the world alone once again.

I learned through these sessions I was suffering with post-natal depression, and that the depression had even grown DURING pregnancy. I found out through a quick glance at my notes at the doctors surgery as they came up on the computer screen during an appointment, that  I had been suffering with PND after the birth of my second child. I found out through a letter sent to my doctors and a copy to sent to me, that I’d even been suffering with PND after the birth of my first child way back in 1999. I had my son at 21 so I’d spent most of my adult life with depression. I genuinely thought I was just useless, unlikable, disgusting. I was non of those. I was depressed.

PND took away my memories of my first child growing from baby to toddler, it kept me indoors, it filled me with fear, took away my self-esteem and stripped me of my confidence

When the therapy ended, I took up blogging. I decided to chase my dreams and enrolled on a distance learning course. This both occupied my mind and my confidence began to grow. I‘ve taken up exercise, and spend most days either in a gym or an exercise class. I’ve made new friends. I even spend two hours on a Sunday night as part of a team for a local radio station. I’m still building up my confidence to become more involved, but I know I will. I know I can do it. I can do anything if I continue to believe in myself.

Over the months I’ve thrown myself into situations I would usually avoid. I’ve done things I could never imagine doing and I am in a place now where I have never been in before. A very good place and although I am an anxious person by nature, I have my anxiety under control and I will never let depression take over my life or steal my memories again.

anxiety, depression, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, mental health, wellbeing

Dear Anxiety

Dear Anxiety,

It is not often that we personally address something which we cannot physically see, but I can feel you, and I have been able to for as long as I can remember. You’re part of me and I dislike you as much as the lumps, bumps and flaws I’ve beaten myself up over for the longest time, which I can see. The lumps and bumps and flaws which aren’t even half as bad as you’ve had me believe. I was even convinced at one point in my life that I was too ugly to leave the house, so would spend my days in doors, hidden away from the world. But I wasn’t too ugly, I was too anxious.

I have periods where your toxic thoughts take over my mind and fill my soul with negative feelings and take away every bit of self-belief I have strived to gain. I have no photos of me holding my three children as babies, not one single photo.  No visual memories of days out or birthdays with their proud mum – until this year. I did not want to look at myself as I could not deal with the repulse I would feel, or have anyone else look at me and squirm. And I hate you for that.

You’ve stolen hours, days, weeks and months from me,  even a large part of my childhood where I struggled to make friends. The school days where I sat in my chair with my head down avoiding any kind of eye contact with the teacher during reading, filled with dread and fear that I would be asked to read aloud to the class. My heart pounding. My head spinning. Sitting knowing the answers to questions, but not daring to raise my hand for the fear, the absolute humiliation of being wrong.

University wasn’t easy either. Believing I wasn’t smart enough to be on the course and I was heading for a fail from day 1. Luckily, every single assignment I got back, proved you wrong. I graduated with a 2:2 which I worked so hard to get, and around being a single parent. I was good enough, and my confidence hit an all time high. I thought I’d beat you.

I hadn’t. You’ve been the most prominent part of my life for the last three or four years in particular. Where I have battled with you literally every, single day. You’ve made me tear myself up inside to the point where when asked what it is I don’t like about myself, I had a list. I hated everything from the colour of my hair to my overly bitten fingernails. You had messed with and taken over my mind to the extent that when I looked in the mirror I didn’t see what everyone else saw, but a horrific, distorted image. You made me want to hide away. So I did. I isolated myself. I couldn’t deal with the world of thinking people are pointing and laughing at me. Thinking that everything that came our of my mouth was just plain, insignificant rubbish. Convinced I’m unlikable, and undeserving of friendships, which I find incredibly hard to make and maintain.

Eventually I went for help. And it’s from that help I was given the ammunition to fight you. I was put in a position where I had to identify and talk about my positive qualities, and given the tools to challenge negative thoughts. I was given enough self-belief to realise I can be anything I want to be, and began to pursue my dream.

I’m fully aware of you now. I can feel how you flood my thoughts and infest my mood with dark paralysis and despair. You are literally a demon.

I’m now at a place where I’ve become completely mindful. I’m finally in tune with my body and emotions. I can feel you creeping up on me, and as recent as three weeks ago, you had me convinced yet again that I’m a failure. You drained me for days. All the tears, the effort of pretending I’m fine when around other people whilst forcing a smile. The listening to my husbands words of positivity but choosing to ignore them, makes me exhausted, and him frustrated. But just like any illness, I knew it would pass and just had to ride it out. You’ve gone now and yet again I’ve gained more strength. I’m winning.

So thank you anxiety, for giving me the courage to chase my dreams. I wouldn’t be writing this if it wasn’t for you. I wouldn’t be working my way towards a diploma in journalism, and I wouldn’t be taking care of myself and working out so much to release the natural endorphins which help to keep your evil thoughts at bay and act as a must needed distraction as I feel you creeping around me, smirking.

I’m taking back my life, anxiety, so next time you try to worm your way in, don’t worry, I’ve got this.

(Origionally Published on Cultnoise Magazine)

 

 

 

anxiety, asd, autism, dance, depression, diet, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, mental health, metnal health, post natal depression, special needs, wellbeing

Who am I and why do I want to volunteer with Tots & Tums?

I,m Louise, I’m 39, and I am a mum of three gorgeous children, and married to Andrew.

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Me and my youngest, Emily

When people ask me ‘what I do’ I’m never quite sure what to say. I mean it’s easy to tell someone you work in retail, or in education, or something along those lines, but I write, and I blog, and I probably use social media way more that society suggests I probably should.

But I do all of those with reason and my intentions are always to spread messages of positivity and hope for those who may need it.

I do this because I have suffered with mental health issues pretty much all my adult life. Once I hit 16, I went off the rails and spiralled into a life which I can see now, is not the kind of life any mother would ideally want their daughter to have.

I had my first child at 21, ended up a single parent at 22, got into relationships with the wrong kind of people, made bad choices, found myself in not exactly ideal situations, but luckily I decided to try and make something of my life by going back into education at 26 once my son started school.

I met my now husband just before I turned 30 and as I was about to graduate from uni, and from then I finally got my life back on track, or more or less. We had our first child together in November 2008, then our second child September 2011.

Our oldest daughter was diagnosed with autism in April 2015, and it was at that point I said I was going to change my life. I had answers now. I’d spent so many years anxious, worrying, stressing. We had answers, a diagnosis and I needed to move forward.

So I set about making changes to my life, little by little and I can say now that I am completely through my depression. I still have moments of anxiety, but I think we all do, and I am now aware of how to control them.

I started by working towards fulfilling my childhood ambition of becoming a journalist and signed up to a distance learning course. From this I pushed myself to travel down to London on my own to do workshops, then smashed another barrier by taking my first exam, and passing. I then made myself completely familiar with my surroundings and what is going on in the area, what’s topical? What do people want to read about?, and started writing feature articles for newspapers and magazines.

I then started blogging and sharing my personal experiences of being an autism mum and living with depression and anxiety. I then took up exercise and it’s through that which I’ve made so many friends. Which brings me where I am today…

Beating depression has made me want to help others beat it too. I want to find people who have lost their way in life, and help them find it again. But I don’t want to do it sat in an office, taking notes, or as an employee who’s able to listen, but not able to give advice.

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I want to do it as me. As the girl who woke up one day and decided to take her life back. I want to find men and women who have lost all belief in themself, lost their identity, lost their path in life. I want these people realise their self-worth, identify their dreams, break their comfort zones and achieve them.

I want to be someone who helps reduce the mental health stats which fill me with tears every single time I read them. I want to be someone who makes a difference to the world, I want to potentially save lives.

And I want to do it all by sharing my experiences of kicking mental health issues and give others the confidence and belief that they can do it too.

anxiety, dance, depression, diet, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, mental health, post natal depression, wellbeing

A week of inspiration

At some point in your life, you will be lucky enough to meet someone who inspires you. Someone who in some way contributes to making you a better person. They will make you want to strive for things you always dreamed of and help you realise what really matters in life.

Not only will they be a role model, but they will also be one of the best and most genuine people you will ever have the pleasure and privilege of meeting.

I’m lucky. I have grown such a strong circle of friends over a very short period of time, and every single one of them fills my life with so much happiness and they are all helping me create memories.And I can’t possibly go a single day without talking to or seeing at least one of them.

But this week, I’ve been left feeling completely in awe and so inspired by three of them in particular, and this blog is for them.

Firstly, Debra. Debra very sadly lost her sister to a brain tumour in March 2015. I’m sure she won’t mind me sharing that. She has since dedicated all her time to fundraising for Marie Curie Care, the charitable organisation which supported not only Debras sister in her last days, but also her family. In the short space of time I have known Debra, I have only ever seen her smile. She has such a positive outlook on life which makes me question any bad days I have. As we get older I guess we’re all guilty of having a little moan as another birthday approaches. I did just last year, until Debra mentioned that she’s just grateful each year to be alive. Just to be around to celebrate another birthday. I’ll never complain at growing older again.

Then there’s Rachael. I’ve met Rachael only a handful of times, but this has been more than enough for her to leave a lasting impression. Rachael suffered firstly with anxiety, which then turned into depression, and the depression got deeper after the birth of her daughter Evie. She not only shares her experiences and talks about them openly on social media to raise awareness, but also runs a voluntary support group for other mums and dads feeling the same. Rachael does this all whilst still suffering bad days herself. She does it because she just wants to help others. To provide a support network for those suffering with post natal depression to let them know they are not alone. I strongly believe we need more advocates like this to talk about their experiences of living with mental health issues.

And Melanie. I’ve known Mel for almost 2 years now and she has had such a massive impact on my life. Overtime, I’ve realised she’s had a massive impact on quite a few lives. She’s our dance fitness instructor and she has brought so many women together, and she has literally transformed lives. It’s through going to Melanies classes I met both Rachael and Debra. I can’t talk for everyone else, but she’s give me back everything I ever lost, and everything I’ve never had.

But not only that. Melanie has also raised funds for a variety of charities. Her last one just last night hosting a family disco and raising £380 for Northumbria Bright. Melanie does all this whilst having a very busy life as a teacher, and mum of two gorgeous girls. She is truly awesome

These are just three women I know who selflessly spend so much of their time, making a difference to the lives of others, and they need to know just how amazing they are.

So next time you are touched by someone, what someone says, what someone does, tweet, blog, text, post, comment, and let them know how they or it made you feel. Tell people and tell them often just how much they matter. Not only to your life, but to the lives of others too.

dance, diet, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle

Class review – Pound Fitness

Forever on the look out to try something new at the minute, I came across POUND. A  fitness trend coming from Los Angeles, which after watching a YouTube demo, I just knew I had to try. I get to step into the role of a clubber/dancer four times a week, now I’d like to be a drummer.

POUND is a full body cardio jam session which fuses cardio, Pilates, isometric movements, plyometrics and isometric poses, burning  between 400 and 900 calories per hour.

It both strengthens and sculpts infrequently used muscles, as you drum your way to a leaner, slimmer physique whilst rocking out to a wide range of tracks from rock to current chart.

All you have to do is grab a pair of fluro green sticks, and let rip.

In case you’re wondering ‘how can a pair of drumsticks give you a good workout’?- the purpose of the sticks is distraction. NOBODY likes doing squats or lunges, right? Add a funky beat to pound along to with the 1/4lb each sticks and it takes a boring workout to a whole new level.

The other benefit of drumsticks (known as ‘ripsticks’) is that they force you to go much lower into your squats, stretches and reaches than you otherwise would, as the idea is to actually hit the floor with your sticks. Again, without really thinking about the fact that you’re squatting really deep. You’re just getting those sticks where they need to be when they need to be there.

During the class I found the choreo got progressively more complex (as you would expect), and gained speed, but I found the routines quite easy to pick up, got into a groove and actually lost track of time (to the point that three classes in and I’m still not sure if we’ve been rocking out for 45 minutes, or an hour).

I was rather hot and sweaty just two or three tracks in, and really started to feel the burn as the squats became more frequent, but surprisingly I actually found my brain was too busy trying to keep up with the drumming sequence to even realise I was squatting or lunging. The inventors of Pound call this strategic distraction. Which is pretty fricking genius

But it’s not just the arms and legs which get a workout, it’s the abs too at you sit legs in front of you slightly risen, stomach pulled in, back lifted working your abs to stabilise whilst you drum frantically from side to side.

I returned the following week, and again the week after. And it’s now my Monday night thing.

As mentioned above, I’ve done three classes now and I’m finding both my coordination and speed improving, and I’m really noticing and becoming more aware of the beat in music now, which I’m also finding is even improving my Clubbercising.

No matter what age you are, where your fitness levels are at, whether you’re male or female, if there is a POUND class near you and you like exercising to music (I can’t exercise without), and up for trying something new, I’d definitely give Pound a go.

I’ve actually just discovered another ‘coming soon’ dance fitness programme thismoring. Shanu T’s ‘CIZE’. I NEED to try this.

 

anxiety, dance, depression, diet, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, mental health, wellbeing

10 Stepts to Body Confidence

Low body confidence is an issue which affects all of us from time to time, irrespective of age and gender. It is recognised as a significant social and public health problem in the UK and throughout much of the rest of the world. Statistics show that 60% of adults say that they feel ashamed of the way they look. This feeling of shame often leads to engaging in less social interaction, leading to isolation, and in turn poor mental health.

Sadly we live in a culture where a woman’s thinness and beauty are highly valued, and where wealth and success are often considered to go hand in hand with this image of perfection. We’re fed images via the media of ridiculously thin but extremely glamorous women, and devastatingly, these images are seen by teenagers in a time when they are particularly susceptible to peer pressure.

Low body confidence is not exclusive to women and girls; men and boys suffer negative body image too – but are less likely to admit to being affected, as it is seen as less socially acceptable for men to admit to caring about what they look like enough to experience any hang-ups.

It is the aim of many advocacy groups to change the way the media portrays women, with national and international efforts being made to make marketers take responsibility for displaying unrealistic and achievable images of both men and women. But we cannot simply rely upon a change in the media to change the ways we feel about ourselves, but instead we need to act as individuals and change the way we perceive and feel.

So, what follows is ten tips for achieving body confidence: a mental detox to have you feeling better about yourself in no time.

Surround Yourself With Positive People.

Every day we are surrounded by and spend time with a variety of people, but negative people can affect your own outlook, particularly of your body image. Choose to be around people who will make you thrive, even if this does mean some drastic changes to your social life. The transformation should empower you, lift your mood, self-esteem and body confidence.

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Recognise the Use of Image Manipulation, and That Altered Images Are Altering Our Minds

These ‘perfect’ images we see in media aren’t all they seem. Celebrities have spent hours in make up, photographed under strategically placed lighting and air-brushed to perfection. Blemishes are removed, limbs are lengthened and stomachs are flattened, as demonstrated in the below clip. Learn to recognise that these alterations are unrealistic and recognise the harm that they are doing to your own self-image.

Celebrate Your Body and All the Amazing Things It Can Do

Shift your focus away from what you body looks like to what it can do. Our bodies are our means of getting about, seeing, feeling, smelling. It is the means in which we come in contact and get to know the world. We should appreciate and respect it for that.

Make a List of Things You Like About Yourself, Read and Add to It Often

These things don’t have to be physical attributes. What you look like is only part of who you are. Think of all the things you do and do well, such as your ability to make others laugh when they most need it, your quirks, or your ability to smile even when things get hard. These are all qualities that need to be celebrated. And when the critical voices start making themselves known, there’s some evidence to the contrary.

Overpower Negative Thoughts With Positive Ones

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We affirm statements about ourselves and the condition of our life with every thought and word we speak, and we practice this habit subconsciously. As we ponder over specific thoughts again and again, those thoughts become beliefs. Pretty soon these beliefs become our reality, and the condition of our wealth, health and relationships depends upon our habit of perception. Practicing positive affirmations is life changing. Use more positive self-talk. When you find yourself in the midst of a negative thought pattern, stop and replace it with an opposite statement. So stop hating yourself because you ‘look horrible’ and learn tell yourself that you love yourself unconditionally.

Exercise

Research indicates that exercise can help to improve body image. People who exercise and workout regularly are more likely to feel self-confident than those who are largely inactive.

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Body image is a strong component of self-esteem – and taking part in an activity that you enjoy, and that you gain a sense of accomplishment from, will help to build your self-esteem. Other benefits gained from exercise include overall better mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reducing your risk of stress and depression. Exercise also releases endorphins which create feelings of happiness through euphoria.

Practice Self Acceptance.

Self-acceptance is embracing yourself as you are right now.

“You really have to look inside yourself and find your own inner strength, and say, ‘I’m proud of what I am and who I am, and I’m just going to be myself.”

– Mariah Carey

To get to a place of self-acceptance you have to be able to know and understand who you are, which is likely to mean making some changes. You may have to face some fears and step outside of your comfort zone. It’s about separating who you are from what you’ve done, and understanding that everyone makes mistakes, and that’s how we learn and grow.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

Everyone has something they wish they could change about their body. Wishing you had someone else’s hair, smile, or teeth takes away from what uniquely is you. Learn to accentuate the qualities you like and minimize the things you don’t. Start to look for beauty everywhere, particularly in places you wouldn’t ordinarily expect to find it, then you will learn to find it in yourself. You might not be able to squeeze into those size 8 jeans, but you still have that killer hair.

Focus on What You Have the Power to Change

If you want to change something about yourself, do it. If it’s your hair you don’t like, try a new haircut. If you’re unhappy about your weight, look into changing your diet or maybe joining an exercise class. The sooner you start making the changes, the sooner you will start to feel better about yourself.

Invest Your Time and Energy More Wisely

Rather than worrying about food, calories and your weight, use that time and energy to do something to help others, whether it’s an individual, or even getting involved in charity work.

Sometimes reaching out to other people can help us feel better about ourselves and make a positive change to our world.

anxiety, dance, depression, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, mental health, wellbeing

What happened since my last blog..

So my last blog was an update of how my life has changed in a year since deciding to make a bit of a lifestyle change. I always planned to write it, but I didn’t actually sit down and plan what to write. I just knocked it up in about half an hour off the top of my head. I wrote a quick update and didn’t really think much of it. I actually thought ‘who even cares’?

But after I wrote it, and noticed people were actually reading, and sharing it, I felt kind of weird. I think it then sunk in that I’ve talked openly about my difficult times for a while now and I’ve done it not only for me, but for other people too. Right now, as I write this I’m still feeling like I’ve been given this thing called life and I’m still getting used to it. It’s like I’m adapting to freedom.

So, I feel I’m at the point now where I want to do a little bit more than just blog (although I’m know I’m not very consistent with that). Now I want to actually be there to help anyone who can relate to the feelings I talk about.

I want to offer hope, and encouragement and if I could help change someone, even just one person – to pull them out of that black hole I spent way too long in, that would be freaking amazing.

So, I want to reach out to as many people as possible living with mental illness and tell them YOU CAN BEAT IT. I know you can. Everyone can. I’m proof you can.

There are so many women who look in the mirror like I did and hate every single bit of what they see. Who believe they aren’t attractive because they have a tummy, or they have ‘cellulite’. I want to make them change their thoughts and understand that you ARE beautiful.

There are full-time mums sat at home with children all day who feel they’ve lost their sense of identity. Who feel they’re ‘just a wife and mum’. You aren’t. You’re more than that. You just need reminding

I want to find the women who struggle with anxiety. The ones who really want to go along to something new, but don’t yet have the courage to go it alone. And tell them to just bloody well go for it

I want to find the women who are experiencing loneliness, and bring them together. It is to me, the worst feeling in the world. Loneliness IS a soul destroyer.

I want to find the women who feel they want to improve their health and join a class or gym, but are hesitant that they ‘won’t fit in’, or worry they will ‘feel silly’, or even just don’t have anyone to go with. I want to tell them to forget all that and again, just GO FOR IT. Do it. Do it today (or tomorrow depending on what time I press the ‘publish’ button on this)

If I can reach out to anyone who lives near me, I’d happily accompany someone who wants to give the gym a go but has no one to go with. Or even bring them along to a class with me one night. I’d even pay for them because I personally believe that exercise is the answer to fighting anxiety and depression. I feel like exercise is what’s ‘found’ me. It’s the music, the dancing, the other girls, that feeling of just letting go for a while. It has given me a total mindset makeover.

I’ve actually found it better to go along to classess on my own. That way over time you find yourself chatting to the other girls rather than whoever you’ve gone along with and there is so much potential to make some amazing friends. I know this

And how do I plan to do this? Over the next few days I’m aiming to set myself the task of setting up a Facebook page aimed at women who can relate to any of the above together and we can all kick depression/anxiety/insecurities/lonliness  in the ass.

I want to do it because I mentioned the idea to my hubby and he keeps telling me to go for it and asking what’s holding me back (that would be the tiny bit of anxiety I do still have). Friends I’ve spoke to it about have been encouraging, and I’m experiencing that thing where everything around you seems to remind you of that something which you keep thinking about.

Every single person on this earth has so much potential, and so many reason to be happy. We just lose our vision sometimes and need a little help, encouragement and guidance to find that key which will unlock it. And when you do, life becomes just truely awesome.