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)

 

 

 

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.

 

dance, general, health, health and fitness, mental health, wellbeing

WARNING – Things THAT will happen to you when you start to exercise

It’s just gone 2 years since I went out and purchased my first pair of trainers since school (I’m not even joking), threw on the leggings, bit the bullet and ventured into the world of ‘fitness’.

So if anyone is thinking of doing the same, I should highlight some of the changes, in both body and mind, you can expect to experience.

These aren’t a load of scientific facts I’ve googled and threw together, but all based on personal experience.

First off, expect to feel an increase in energy. You know when you find it really difficult to get up in the morning, particularly in the winter? You’ll find yourself waking up rearing to go. Especially if it’s a class day. And if that is the case, you’ve probably went to bed the previous night excited for morning. I mean who actually looks forward to 6am? That’ll be me

Your physical co-ordination will improve, helping you navigate even the most cluttered of tasks or busy crowds like the ninja you are

You’ll find yourself feeling good. Like really really good, less stressed and so much more relaxed. That’s the beauty of serotonin

You’ll gradually notice you are feeling so much more confident. You know all the things you wish you could do, but believe you can’t? The things you’d love to try but worried you’ll be no good at? The changes you’d like to make in life but are held back by the ‘what ifs’? You’ll do them. Because you’ll have the self-belief and confidence to have a go at absolutely anything you desire. And if it doesn’t work out as planned – you won’t care because at least you’ve given it a go

Your wardrobe will change. I have way more gym gear than ‘normal’ clothes. Barely any of them fit and I prefer to stick to black or gray, but I saw, I liked, I bought, and I’m sure they will at some point. Trainers will become the new heels. Especially if you go out for a few sociables after class. It happens

You’ll experience a sense of pride as your self-esteem begins to rise as you set and smash those goals you will start to set. Some fitness related, some not. Whether it’s to run a mile, fit into a pair of jeans or go along to a new class. There is no better feeling than that of achievement and you’ll reach a point where you believe you can have a go at pretty much any thing, although it’s important to not become too delusional. Don’t think after two weeks of pumping iron you’re ready to fly a plane. Keep it real

You’ll meet new people. People you’ll strike up friendships with, as you’ll all share a common interest and passion. Friends you’ll look forward to seeing, who cheer each other on, lift each other up and will play a special part in your life.

You’ll start to care so much less about what others think of you. As your confidence grows, so does a layer of thick skin which any unwanted negative comments you may unfortunately find being thrown your way, just can not cut through. There will be no room for negativity in your life. Good vibes only, people

In addition to all the above, your body will inevitable change. Not only will you be losing the pounds, your shape will change. You’ll notice you look and feel toned as muscle starts to form (especially if mixing weights with cardio).

So unless you want to feel utterly fabulous, completely change your mindset and open doors to a whole new you, you best avoid the gym and all the funky new fitness classes I just can not get enough of

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

pos

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

pos2

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.

exer

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.

 

 

anxiety, clean 9, dance, depression, diet, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, mental health, wellbeing

Making a lifestyle change – two years on

On National Fitness Day September 2015, I  blogged about the affects a lifestyle change was having on me. That was 4 months into the decision to try and change my life.

It’s now two years since I decided to make the change and live a healthier lifestyle, and thought I might give a little update.

Going back just over 2 years ago, I was in a very dark place. I had zero confidence – to the extent that some days, I even avoided leaving the house. I had really low self-esteem and a negative body image. I hated my appearance so much I ended up having weekly appointments with a Clinical Psychologist for CBT. That was way back in 2011, and what I believed was my last resort and attempt to break free from this awful feeling which was both ruling and ruining my life. However, 10 weeks in, the treatment was proving unsuccessful as I was making no progress, so the sessions came to an end.

My days were spent at home on my own. Just me and my youngest daughter. I couldn’t face taking her to soft play like other mums. I couldn’t handle the social anxiety I’d feel in toddler groups. I’d spend my days on my own.  The only people I would see week in week out was either family members, or my hubby. They were my only source of adult conversation, not that i had any conversation. I mean what can you talk about when you’re sat in your living room all day with a toddler.

I felt lost. I was lost. I didn’t know who I was, what I liked/disliked, or why I was even here. I felt empty, I felt drained and in pain. Mental pain

Then on Facebook I just happened to see something about a dance fitness class about to start in the area. I’d already heard about the new fitness trend and I was actually on the mailing list for one class, meaning I would get an email once a place in the became available. But every time I got that email, I made an excuse to myself why I couldn’t go. But this time, as nervous as I felt, I decided to go along to this new class and give it a try. I had absolutely no idea that by just making that small move, I was about to change my whole life.

Over the next few months I progressed from one class, to two and by august 2015, I was attending all 4 classes a week. In addition to that, I’d also started training once a week with a PT I’d had recommended to me. I’ve since had to stop the PT sessions for the moment, but go to the local gym two or sometimes three times a week.

I went along to the first class thinking I might drop a few dress sizes, since that’s what working out is all about, right? Obviously my body has changed shape, I’ve lost weight and I am stronger, both mentally and physically, but I don’ want to highlight the physical changes, I want to stress the mental changes.

Over the last two years my confidence has gradually grown. I’ve done things I never thought I could do. If I want to do something, anything, there’s no thinking about what could go wrong, or doubting myself. I just go for it.

I can’t even remember the last time i felt ‘depressed’. I may have had a few bad days, who doesn’t? But the depression, those horrible dark days where I just did not want to get out of bed in the morning, they’ve gone. The anxiety, the inability to even some days go shopping as I just didn’t want anyone to even look at me, that’s gone too. The massive void I had in my life where most people have friends, that’s been filled. I have made so many friends throught Clubbercise, and as new girls come to class, I’m making more all the time. And our friendships don’t just stay within the classes. We see each other quite often. We go out for lunch, we’re in contact via messenger, I spend days during school holidays with Melanie (our instuctor) and we go out with our children, we go to each others houses, we have nights out. I can safely say these girls have been my saviour

By making that small but to me brave decision to go along to a fitness class a year ago, my whole life has completely changed and I now I have everything I’ve ever dreamed of.

 

 

 

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

Fitness Review – Clubbercise

BY LOUISE SHARP | June 19, 2015

So after spending the last couple of months of 2013 and most of 2014 working on ‘the inside’ and after going though mentally challenging times, I decided that 2015 was going to be the year that I started to work on the outside. It’s now June and apart from dyeing my hair ‘Blackcurrant’ and updating my summer wardrobe, I haven’t done much to change. I want to be slim, toned and healthy. However there is one vital problem, like an awful lot of people, I hate gyms. I hate them with a passion.

After forking out around £300 to join the local ladies gym nearly six years ago, I reluctantly dragged myself there most nights for less than a month, making excuses to never again return. My nights were simply too busy, what with all the time spent watching tv and eating jaffa cakes. To be fair though I even gave the ridiculous (aptly named) ‘Insanity’ a half-hearted whirl a year ago, but found that I was literally gasping for breath after just 30 seconds of sprinting on the spot.

But then I heard about Clubbercise, a new rapidly growing fitness trend which seems to be taking the UK by storm, who claim to bring ‘a night out to your workout‘.  A keen clubber in my twenties, but now having other commitments and rarely having the time to go out, usually at home with my pajamas on by 10, I decided to give it a go. I tracked down the nearest class, and made the self promise to actually attend. night arrived, I threw on the black leggings and neon top, dug out the trainers and rocked up at the venue, a local scout hut. Being a Friday night made it the perfect start to my weekend.

As I walked in I was pleasantly surprised to see thirty to forty other neon clad females, aged from as young as fifteen to those who were probably in their forties. I paid for the class (a bargain £2, a half price offer), purchased my pink disposable glowsticks and before I knew it the room sank into darkness. Laser and disco lights filled the room, and I took my place (at the back of course).

This was actually the first session of a new class, so most of us were new to Clubbercise. After a brief introduction and being told to go at our own pace, the tunes began and within the next hour I had burned up to 600 calories dancing about to 90s classics such as the rave tune ‘Set you Free’ and to the recent beat of ‘Up Town Funk’. The hour passed in no time, and ended with us all winding down to stretch it out while also singing along to an upbeat version of ‘Man in the Mirror’. I felt great. Sweaty and hot, but fantastic. I left the venue feeling like I’d left a club, yet only sober.

The next morning I awoke only slightly feeling the burn. I surprisingly felt full of energy and on a bit of a natural high from the night before, only without the hangover. I eagerly went along to a different class the following Monday, but this one had been going a while and I was the newby amongst a group of regulars who already knew all the moves to Sigmas ‘Nobody to Love’. I didn’t and caused an injury. I’ve only made it back to one more class with having other things happening on a Friday night the past couple of weeks, but I will be there this week and I’m determined to make this a regular thing.

If you tend to feel intimidated by the usual aerobics, fitness classes and gyms like I do, and would rather  dance like nobody is watching, then Clubbercise can most definitely be your thing. And after watching the video above, who wouldn’t want to give it a go?

clean 9, depression, diet, excercise, forever living, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, mental health, wellbeing

Diet Review – Clean 9

BY LOUISE SHARP | July 14, 2015

We’re a nation obsessed with losing weight, but slimming is not an easy task for most. Last year it was all about juicing and the Paleo Diet, but figures released by Google at the end of 2014 show that the most searched diet of 2014 was Clean 9. Created by Forever Living, who amazingly enough don’t advertise their products but rather rely up word of mouth, this diet claims that you can loose up to 12lb in just 9 days.

Following a proven step-by-step plan called Forever Fit, which is an advanced nutritional, cleaning and weight management program, Clean 9 is designed to make you look and feel better. The Forever Fit plan starts with C9. The premise of Clean 9 is that it will help you begin to remove stored toxins from your body and feel lighter and more energised. Then it is followed by Fit 1 and Fit 2, which concentrates on sustaining weight loss and toning up.

Clean 9 involves taking a small variety of products supplied in the pack, along with an eating and exercise plan. It works with a combination of the effects of cleansing the body by drinking aloe vera gel, taking supplements like garcinia and forever therm which boosts the metabolism, and drinking a meal replacement shake.

The first two days will involve putting nothing into your body other than the products which are in the pack. However, there is a long list of GI free fruit and vegetables which can be eaten if necessary. Days 1 and 2 are aimed at resetting the body and mind and purging toxins. During days 3 to 9, one 600/800 calorie (women/men) meal a day is introduced for lunch or dinner, alongside the shakes and supplements.

So that’s what Clean 9 entails, and I decided to try it out for myself.

Most people weigh themselves before the detox, and take measurements.  However, I chose not to do this for a couple of reasons, which others may find strange and I appreciate that. Primarily, I wasn’t doing Clean 9 to lose weight; I was doing it to kick-start the healthy lifestyle I’ve wanted for so long, but always sabotaged within a couple of days with some kind of sugary snack. I wanted to have nothing but positives to report about the Cleanse. I was worried that if by day 9 I had only lost as little as 2lb, I would feel my efforts had been wasted and dwell on that rather than focus on the positive benefits of the cleanse.

The other reason is that I threw the bathroom scales out a few years ago after finding myself up in the night checking my weight, as well as several times during the day. I do want to lose weight. I want to finally say goodbye to the extra pounds I gained whilst pregnant with my youngest 4 years ago, and I’m hoping this will change my relationship with food and get me on the right path to feeling comfortable and happy with myself as I once did.

I planned exactly when to start the Cleanse. I wanted to do it during a time without any temptations. I had a weekend away planned, followed by family visiting. I knew there would be high calorie food and the odd glass of wine during those occasions that I wanted to partake in, so I chose the monday after as my starting point.

The sunday before the cleanse I made the most of eating whatever I liked, so I went out for a carvery, followed by a big slab of chocolate cake. I wanted that full feeling, the feeling when you’ve eaten more than you needed to and I wanted to remember it and how awful and unnecessary it can feel.

I really thought I would struggle on days 1 and 2. But I’m surprised to say that I didn’t actually feel hungry over the first two days at all. Breakfast was two capsules of Aloe Gel, which doesn’t taste pleasant. However, by day two I’d worked out a technique of doing the two shots of gel first, whilst holding my nose, followed by the two gel tablets and therm tablet. This way I could completely avoid the taste. But to be honest, by day 4 I wasn’t bothered by the gel at all. I was already feeling the benefits and they were worth the unpleasant taste.

On the first day I mixed the chocolate shake with water. I didn’t enjoy this at all, so switched to either rice or soy milk for the remainder of the cleanse, which gave it a much more enjoyable and palatable taste. I also gave it a good shake which made it quite frothy, and more like a McDonald’s milkshake and who doesn’t like a McDonald’s milkshake?

On day three I felt quite proud of myself for getting through the notoriously known hardest part of the diet, and really looked forward to my 600 calorie meal that night. I put a lot of thought into what to make, and went with chicken wholemeal wraps, with peppers, onions, lettuce, cucumber, a homemade salsa, and sour cream. On that same night, my daughter had two friends come for tea and I actually had no problem at all resisting the cake and crisps I had laid out for their tea party. I was also already starting to find that my clothes were starting to feel loose, and my skin looked much brighter and healthier than usual.

By day 5 I started to wish I had noted weight and measurements. My clothes were again feeling looser, and I was feeling more energetic by the day. I was also finding that at dinner time, I was feeling really full after my evening meal, even though my portions were much smaller than what I would have served before the cleanse.

On day 6 I tried on a maxi dress I didn’t anticipate wearing this summer and it fit. I also tried on a short, colourful cropped cardigan, which I had bought a few weeks earlier without trying on in the shop, got home and realised it was at least a size too small and surprisingly, that fit too. It was a Saturday and usually a takeaway night. I made a whole wheat noodles, chili and ginger salmon and prawns, steamed carrots, peppers and pak choi, which I enjoyed much more than the usual Singapore noodles, lemon chicken, fried rice, curry and chips.

Then day 7 arrived and I realised that shakes for breakfast were starting to feel routine now. I was actually really enjoying them, but not so much for lunch; I was longing for a healthy wrap of some sort. I also noticed the shakes were starting to taste slightly sweeter. With not eating chocolate for a whole week now, I was really starting to taste the natural sweetness in foods.

By this point, each morning I was filling my water bottle and putting an apple and banana in my bag to take out with me in the morning, without giving it any thought. With just two days to go, I felt like this was becoming a lifestyle which I was more than happy with to adopt.

On day 8 I’d expected to feel really excited about reaching the end of my cleanse, only I wasn’t. What was once the dreaded aloe gel in the morning had now become my routine and drinking it no longer phased me. Taking the daily supplements (8 tablets a day), were never a problem. Meal times were what they were before the detox, I never eat processed food or ready meals, but my downfall was often tucking into a couple of doughnuts whilst cooking a healthy meal.

When day 9 arrived I woke up feeling a massive sense of achievement. I had stuck to the cleanse and done everything by the book, even measuring quantities of rice to go with a delicious red Thai curry I’d made. I really enjoyed my first lunch in 9 days – two wholemeal pittas filled with prawns and salad that replaced the chocolate shake.

I felt the most energetic I had in a very long time. My mood felt uplifted throughout the whole 9 days, my skin was clearer than ever and my hair thick and bouncy. At no point did I ever experience hunger other than the normal hunger you might feel as lunch or dinner time approaches. I had no negative side effects what so ever.

I really wished I had taken note of my weight and measurements, as I would say in 9 days I felt like I must have lost near a stone. The differences were very noticeable. Some of my clothes were almost too big, and some fit much more comfortably and some I thought I wouldn’t be wearing this summer, now fit.

Today it’s a week since I completed the cleanse and I can proudly say I haven’t gone back to my old ways; I haven’t eaten any chocolate or biscuits, although I do admit I have had a handful of crisps and literally 5 Haribo hearts. But I’m not thinking about cakes, I have no interest in chocolate, and snacks are now fruit or a handful of nuts. My meals are still completely clean, and the portion sizes remain what they should ideally be.

I’m actually missing the aloe gel in the morning, so much that I may invest in some. I enjoyed the feeling of knowing I’m putting something good into my body each morning. My daily water intake has increased. I realise now how dehydrated I was before the cleanse and it showed in my skin. I exercise each day with a long walk in the morning and a Clubbercise class on a Friday night, I also plan to do another class during the week.

I will definitely be investing in another Clean 9, possibly in January next year as I do plan to have a small indulgence over Christmas. If anyone is thinking about doing the cleanse, stop thinking about it and just do it. It may be pricey at £116, but it is worth every penny.

It claims to be lifestyle changing, but if you’re like me and constantly battling with your weight and yo-yo dieting – which in turn affects your mood – it could be life changing.

(Origionally published on Cultnoise Magazine – currently under reconstruction)

https://www.facebook.com/cultnoise

anxiety, diet, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, mental health, parenting

Man Down

Things have been a little bit hectic since my last blog. My hubby has been poorly and a trip to his doctors Thursday morning led to an overnight stay in hospital, and an emergency op that night. I had to stay at home with the kids so I had a really anxious day waiting for news. He went straight to the hospital from the doctors with a very low phone battery and no charger. Meaning contact was going to be very brief. Until a nurse realised the situation Friday morning and kindly gave him a charger.

So I spent two days last week at home on my own with the kids. Feeling very worried and stressed. I didn’t really eat anything for those two days. Being anxious I had no appetite at all.

But he’s recovering really well and feeling much better now, but will be off work for a few weeks unfortunately, due to the nature of his job.

We obviously missed a PT session, and I couldn’t go my Thursday Clubbercise double. However, I did make it Friday night. I needed that hour and as it was a later class. the kids were ready for bed when I left so it was no problem for Andrew. I was able to go Sunday morning, too. I’m not sure how much the class did for me physically as my head wasn’t really with it and I don’t feel I put my all into the routines, but it definitely helped relieved some of the anxiety.

So, whilst Andrew recovers, there will be no gym for at least 4 weeks. I know I could go alone, but he’s my training partner and it doesn’t feel the same without him. And with him being off work we need to cut back on spending for a bit. Obviously I’m still going to be going to Clubbercise. I don’t just go to burn calories, I go for fun and I need that. It’s my sanity (and social life).

This last week has really got me thinking about the importance of being in good health. I was worried sick when Andrew told me he would be put under a general anesthetic during surgery. Obviously any medical procedure carries a risk, but luckily he had the fact he is well within the healthy BMI range, physically fit, and a non smoker or drinker on his side. Had he been overweight, unfit, a heavy drinker and smoker, he would have been at major risk of complications during surgery and be looking at a much longer recovery period

With all this in mind, my ‘diet’ this week has became even stricter. I feel my focus is less about the outside and more about the inside. I’m far more concerned about my health than my appearance now. I don’t want to be at risk of any kind of illness or conditions now or in the future. I want to be in the best physical health I can be for my children, and my husband.

I’m now making extra effort to make every single meal from scratch. No cereal for breakfast, no bread, no convenience cold pasta meals picked up for lunch time from the supermarket. I’ve spent so many hours in the kitchen this week, making and preparing meals.

An average day now consists of eggs, scrambled or poached, wholewheat pasta, chicken (even to snack on), protein shakes if I’m struggling for protein or after exercise, fresh fish, brown rice, veg, lots of veg.

pasta

chicken

 

salmon

But NO shop bought ‘healthy’ snacks. You know the kind. The ‘low fat’ crisps, biscuits, cakes. No justifying a bar of chocolate with ‘I’ve done 4 hours exercise this week’.

I made chocolate protein brownies today. They didn’t turn much like brownies. I think I may have followed the recipe wrong and they turned out slightly too gooey to turn into anything other than a splodge. But a chocolate splodge. A really tasty chocolate splodge.

mix

splodge

So after my many failed attempts of a diet, I know I have got this now. My aim isn’t to ‘look good for summer’. It’s to be healthy all year round and for the rest of my life

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