Posts tagged ‘exercise’

July 4, 2012

Simply Swim: swimming costume review

On Sunday we took the kids swimming for the first time in ages. Although both of them have done toddler swimming sessions, my daughter struggled when she started swimming lessons properly. She’s so slim (as a result of her premature birth) that she used to turn rather cold and blue almost the minute she hit the water and that, coupled with her fear of getting water in her face, was enough to make her really upset every time we took her. Three sessions later, we gave up completely, and tucked the idea away for some time in the future when she was ready again.

That time has finally arrived and so, armed with a new pair of goggles each, we all went to the local pool. They have a Family Splash day on Sunday, with lots of inflatables and floats. Both the kids really loved playing with these, and, together with her new goggles, they helped Eve to forget about her fears of getting splashed with water. With two adults, we even got the chance to steal away to the full sized pool each and do a few lengths for a little exercise. It’s been ages since I went swimming, and I really enjoyed it. It’s such a great alternative to the running and cycling that I try to fit into my life. Less pressure on my joints for one thing. I felt especially confident re-entering the pool, as I had a brand new swimming costume to try out, courtesy of ¬†Simply Swim. The company have a huge range of costumes to suit everyone from mums like me who want something suitable for swimming the occasional few lengths, right up to seriously competitive swimmers and triathletes. They also have large ranges of costumes for children, men and lots of accessories too. The costume I chose is part of the Speedo Sculpture range, with low cut legs, extra thick material, a control panel over the stomach area and a discreet logo. Perfect. I really like being able to order and buy things like swimming costumes online, as it completely removes the paranoia of trying them on in store fitting rooms. Trying things on in the comfort and privacy of my own home is far preferable! From making my choice to the costume arriving took merely a few days, and it was packaged so that it could be posted through my letter box – no having to wait in for a courier service, or having to make the trip to the sorting office, which was an added bonus.

I’m really pleased to say that the family swimming session went so well. We’re going to keep going regularly, so that Eve is confident enough to join her class in their weekly swimming lesson when she moves up a year in September. I’m also going to sort out a few one-to-one lessons for her to build up her confidence. Ben, who is only three, basically thinks he’s Michael Phelps, so the main issue with him is making sure he doesn’t get out of his depth. Swimming is such an important skill, so I’m really pleased that the kids want to learn – not to mention that we’re having lots of fun together as a family too.

My swimming costume was sent to me for review by Simply Swim.

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May 14, 2012

Running Without Music

Recently, I wrote my first guest post for a fabulous blog, A Hell of A Woman, about running and pre-eclampsia. Since I wrote it, I’ve been feeling a bit of a fraud, considering that I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been out for a run in recent months. I can give you lots of reasons why, from lack of time to sore feet, but the overwhelming reason is my sheer bloody laziness.

Having written it, and sent it flying through the ether where I cannot change a word of it, I have taken the other option. That of starting running again, so that I’m not a liar who writes about running whilst sitting on the sofa drinking tea. I’ve been twice this week, and although I’m obviously a lot less fit than the last time I ran, I’ve enjoyed myself more than I anticipated. It’s made me want to try harder to find the time to run and to beat my own excuses for not doing exercise. I struggle with running, because I do have plantar fasciitis, which gives me a shooting pain up into my foot each time I land, but it’s being managed by physio and, if I’m honest with myself about it, it’s far easier to manage when I’m slimmer and fitter.

When I run outside, I always use my Ipod (safely; off road, in public and during the day, before you start tutting at me) to keep me going. Sadly, this was inside the bag that I had stolen recently, and although I received insurance compensation, I ended up spending my new iPod money on ballet lessons for my daughter. So I’ve earned myself much-coveted ‘Good Mummy’ brownie points, but I’ve had no music.

I never thought that I was much of a music fan. Certainly I barely know what is going on in music these days, either the ‘X Factor’ stuff or the cool, indie underground so-new-no-one-knows-about-them bands. Most of the time I end up listening to Radio 2, or whatever the kids want to listen to, a mix of Disney and LMFAO which is enough to make your ears bleed! For a brief period many years ago, I had a deeper fascination with music. I’m talking a LONG time ago, back when I used to buy Smash Hits to memorise the lyrics and try to tape the Top 40 countdown without getting any of the DJ talking at the end of each track. That took plenty of dedication and swift ‘press the pause button’ responses, I can tell you. I doubt I’d have such lightening fast reactions these days.

I’ve realised though, since losing my iPod, that I listen to music far more often than I’d realised and so I do need to replace it. I miss music, in my own middle-of-the road not very cool kind of way. (Perhaps I am cool though, those eighties and early nineties Smash Hits have left me able to sing along to almost any song from that period, which drives my husband up the wall!)

The one thing I thought I needed music for, above anything else, was for exercise. I listen to the kind of dance and pop music that my daughter loves, because the tempo is better. Also, I do love pop music, I cannot continue to pretend otherwise. (Ok, I’m not cool. I know that really…)

I run off road, and so don’t suffer from the kind of ‘ Run, Forrest, Run!’ type comments that people who run on the roads often have to contend with. However, being able to block out even that possibility was one of the reasons I’ve always worn headphones when I’m running alone. In company, it’s a bit different. I’m usually running with, or more accurately, behind, my husband then and busy concentrating all my energies on swearing at him to bloody slow down.

I’ve realised a few things when out running this week. Firstly, not listening to music meant I was listening to birdsong instead. This was actually really lovely and made me feel more a part of the environment I was running through, which was a truly positive feeling and one of the ace things about being outside and not in a gym. When I’m out with my husband, we chat, when I can breathe enough anyway, so I never really listen to the birds.

Unfortunately, I also realised that I talk to myself a lot when I’m running. On my run yesterday, it started off with the odd ‘come on’ whisper when I was struggling a bit. But when I was reaching the top of a horrible hill, there were distinct Incredible Hulk noises coming from somewhere deep inside me, until I reached the top and keeled over heaving, like an out of condition racehorse.

I was a bit shocked to hear myself so now I’m wondering if I always make these noises? Am I blithely running about with my headphones in, grunting all over Temple Newsam? Do I sing aloud? Dear God – can other people hear me?

So, I have decided, that lovely though the birdsong was, it is definitely time to invest in a new iPod. Maybe when I’m out running with my husband, I will try to listen to the birds. Running alone without music is a bit like being a character in a film with no soundtrack and that soundtrack needs to come back. I may be grunting, singing and heaving on the outside, but in my head I’m Rocky Balboa, listening to ‘Eye of the Tiger’ and feeling like a champion…

January 23, 2012

Energy In, Energy Out.

So, running again yesterday. It was hard. Much harder than last week, which lulled me into some false sense of security. Today, the wind was blowing a gale, all the frozen ground had turned into a good few inches of mud and it was really difficult. I had to stop and walk in places, because it was so slippery I couldn’t get a grip, and given that I’m only just recovering from one injury, I didn’t want to end up with another. So, I spent quite a bit of the time, walking, swearing and watching my much-fitter husband disappearing into the distance.

See what I mean?

In the summer of 2010, I was the slimmest and fittest I’ve ever been, if you discount the year when I was 19 and working full time in a riding stables. I even fitted into a pair of size eight jeans. For about half an hour. Although I am fine about being bigger ( I don’t think I’m ever really destined to be a size 8 again) I am less happy about my level of fitness dropping so much and truthfully, I don’t want to let myself get any bigger than I am now. A combination of injury, greed and laziness has resulted in me putting on quite a bit of weight and losing muscle tone and although I’m still fitter than I was at my lowest point in 2006/7, I am still unhappy about it.

So, time for a plan. As well as the weekly outdoor run, I will make a better effort to get to the gym for two mixed cardio and weight sessions a week and also try to find something that will help my ever-decreasing flexibility. ¬†Although my body is far better suited to cycling than it is to running, the reality is that running gets me fitter, faster. I simply don’t have the time on a regular basis to put in the miles of cycling. So that will have to be for occasional fun, with completing Cycletta being the highlight of my cycling year.

The simple truth about losing weight and getting fitter is this: Energy In vs. Energy Out. That’s it. Although there are a million ways (all complete with a best-selling diet book) of doing it, they all rely on that one fact. Granted, there are better and worse ways of obtaining that energy, but I’m not a nutritionist, so I’m not going to try to describe them. Suffice to say, more of what you eat should be in the form of vegetables than Mars Bars. But that’s it. If you put more energy into your body in the form of calories, than you expend through living, breathing and exercising, that energy will be stored by your body. Use up more energy than you put in, and your body will use up those stores of energy. The bonus is that muscle uses up more energy than fat, even at rest, so you continue to benefit from the exercise even when you’re not actually in the middle of it.

Of course, what this doesn’t take into account is our emotional relationship with food. If I tell myself I’m not going to eat cake for a week, there is barely a second goes by without me thinking of cake. So, the deal I am making with myself is this – a bit less cake, a bit more exercise. Just enough to tip the Energy In vs. Energy Out balance. We’ll see how I get on.