Monday, 12 March 2018

Fitness ideas

Happy February to you. I thought I would use my turn to write a blog to talk to you about my exercise regime, fitness and weight loss, and hopefully inspire some of you to either start exercising again, or to keep going.

I didn’t struggle with my weight until I turned 31 and left work to retrain as an osteopath. I was exercising less, sitting more and comfort eating for the first time in my life. After five years of study, I found myself carrying an extra two stone of weight, which categorised me as ‘overweight’ according to BMI charts. I was so determined to get back to a normal healthy weight that I started dieting (weight watchers, calorie counting and the 5:2), none of which worked in the long term. So I made a new plan to make a long-term change for the sake of my health.

Part one of my plan was to eat less sugar, so Monday to Thursday became treat free days (I do allow myself natural sugars such as dairy and fruit), and Friday to Sunday became eat what I fancy days.  Giving up sugar entirely was a no for me, whereas cutting down substantially was doable and has made me appreciate the treats I do eat, instead of just shovelling them in without even tasting them. There have been times when I’ve fallen off the wagon, namely the Christmas break and holidays, but I’ve managed to get back on track again.  

Part two, to exercise more, was more challenging. When I was studying I did the ‘Couch to 5k’, which was ok, but always a chore. I then tried the ‘Couch to 10k’, which was a step too far for me as I find running for twenty to thirty minutes or more incredibly boring. I tried swimming a couple of times a week, but after progressing to swimming 1km with reasonable ease, and teaching myself to do front crawl whilst breathing on both sides, I was bored again.

I reluctantly started Zumba, thinking I wouldn’t enjoy it because it wasn’t a style of dance I was familiar with. I was wrong.  Initially it was pretty difficult to move my body in the required way because I was too stiff, but I soon I found myself able to move my body more fluidly, and I can now easily shake everything I’ve got. Zumba is such a good cardio work out, which burns around six hundred calories per class according to my fitness watch. Plus, it gets you to move your body in lots of different ways, so it is good for muscle development.  

I guess it is no great surprise that I am totally obsessed with Zumba, given that dance has always been a passion of mine. Like many little girls, I wanted to be a ballerina when I grew up (I still do), alas I grew too tall and wasn’t good enough to make it professionally anyway. Ballet was always one of my favourite dance styles, and for that reason, I started classes again about a year ago after a twenty year break. My body understands ballet. It might not be as strong, flexible, or graceful as it once was, but it understands the movements and posture, which I guess is muscle memory. It is benefitting my body so much. My sillouette is coming back – I have a smaller bum, more of a jaw line, a waist, and best of all I’m seeing the return of some abdominal muscles! Although I feel fitter, longer and slightly leaner, there is still a long way to go in terms of strength, which is apparent every time my posture is corrected, a common occurrence with my grand plies as I always inadvertently find a way of cheating. Like all dance, ballet is also great for my brain. Not only is the act of watching, memorising and repeating movements/exercises really good for my memory, the fact that dance is so joyful means that I get an emotional lift too, plus I get to meet new people.

My other great dance love is tap, which I started in January of this year after a fifteen year break. I definitely find tap more natural than ballet, probably because it doesn’t require as much flexibility and doesn’t hurt as much. It is great fun and good for fitness because you are constantly on the move, jumping up and down. Like ballet, there are brain benefits too as the rhythms and syncopations that you tap out are challenging mentally, and the act of tapping is a great way of bashing away the frustrations of the day. I’ve been quite surprised at how much tap I can remember, but the fact I’m constantly corrected in ballet and tap for going too fast, is proof that I need to work on my counting.

The culmination of eating less sugar and dancing is weight loss – hoorah. From my heaviest weight in 2015 to now, I have lost a little over a stone, which puts me back into the normal range of the BMI charts. More importantly I feel healthier. I feel fitter, lighter, I no longer have reflux, I sweat less, and best of all, my lower back pain has all but disappeared. I still have a stone to lose to get back to my happy adult weight, but that is fine. It took five years to put the weight on, so it is perfectly acceptable that it might take five years to shift it. My plan is to be fit for forty (in a year and a bit), and to maintain it for life.

For any of you that are struggling with your weight, especially at this time of year when we have made and possibly broken our new years resolutions, I encourage you to exercise more. The only thing that has worked for me is going back to what I love, and I encourage you to do the same. Find your inner child again. Try and remember what it was you enjoyed. Was it football, gymnastics, trampoline, swimming? If you are unsure whether you are fit enough, strong enough, or if it is safe, speak to your GP or osteopath. Whatever you do, start slowly and build up. If something doesn’t feel right, or hurts, stop and seek an opinion. If you’ve never been sporty, or haven’t yet found what it is that you like, experiment. If you can’t think of anything, or really hate to exercise, you can build exercise into your day by walking to work, or cycling if there is a safe route. Walking is so much nicer than sitting on a bus, and cheaper too. Sling on a decent pair of trainers, maybe wear something you don’t mind getting slightly sweaty, and pop some earphones in to listen to the radio or a podcast (I do this, my current obsession is The Archers). If it seems too daunting, or you have to get home to feed the kids, perhaps you could start small by walking to work and getting the bus home. Have a think about what might suit you and give it a go.

My next challenge is to improve my flexibility and my ultimate goal is to do the splits. I’m laughing as I am typing that as I couldn’t even do them as a child, I was always about 5-10cm off the floor, but I am going to give it a go. I’ll let you know how I get on in my next blog. Wish me luck.

Jane.


Thursday, 16 November 2017

Need more energy? Want to give your morale a boost ?

Try introducing activities into the working day. Exercise helps us to be  motivated and gives our  concentration a boost. 
Some things that you might try. 

- Cycle or walk to work and home again. 
  • Get off the bus a stop earlier than usual. An old one but it would add a few minutes of walking to your routine every day. 
  • Take the stairs.  
  • Short bursts of activity during the day build up over the week.Running ,walking or other activities during lunch time are a great way to give you a boost during the day. Has your work Place installed a fitness room ? Or maybe there is a gym close to where you work ? 

- Go to Yoga or Pilates sessions at lunchtime, before or after work. Both are good ways to stretch and unwind if you are sitting a lot during the day. 

 - encourage colleagues to join a gym or go to a class together. Company means you are more likely to stay with a new routine.
- organise/join lunchtime walking and running groups. 

  • Hold a pedometer challenge 
  • Throw a soft ball around an open plan office 
  • More ideas www.workplacechallenge.org.uk
Gardening 

5 ways to protect your back 

1- Kneel Bring yourself down to where you are working 
2- bend your knees, this is good exercise for your legs and reduces back strain 
3-Alternate activities from bending to stretching. So weed for 20 minutes then prune for 20 minutes. It may mean that weeding takes 2 or 3 sessions but you will feel better when you have finished. 
4- Bring pots up onto a table. 

5 - Do get help-a job shared is a job halved. 
 Ladies if you love running and you love high heels this is for you. 

Today I saw a lady who loves to run and loves to wear high heels. This is a conundrum because when you wear heals you shorten your calf muscles and your Achilles' tendon and when you run you need these to be long and flexible.  calf strain 

So what to do ? Give up heels?Give up running ?It isn't my job to tell you what to do but to support you in what you choose to do so don't worry the answer isn't to give up either. 

So if you love running and you love to wear heels stretch. Join a class, go to the gym, anything but please ,please stretch. Pilates and yoga are excellent ways to work on tight muscles which can cause problems when running.  If you can make time to attend a regular class it will make a huge difference to your running. People who add a stretch based activity to their fitness routines are less likely to be injured and have a shorter recovery time. 

Basic warm up and cool down stretches should be part of your normal running routine. If not try to add them. Warm up and cool down with a calf ,quadriceps hamstring and ideally a gluteal stretch as a basic routine . This will help you by preparing you for exercise ,you are also more likely to stretch if you add it into an existing routine. 


Ask your Osteopath or personal trainer for ideas they will be happy to help. 

Osteopathic leadership 

 One of my goals this year has been to work with other osteopaths and broaden the scope of my practice beyond the clinical setting. I was very pleased to be given a place on this years Osteopathic leadership course which started in London in June this year. 

I was one of twenty Osteopaths who were selected to take part in the course. As a group we looked  at leadership styles and the way we can lead in our profession.We did this through e learning, personal study and working as part of a team on a group project. The people I met and had the pleasure of working with were very inspiring. Before the course began many of them had already begun projects which would benefit Osteopathic Practice in the U.K.


There are in Scotland many advantages in terms of lifestyle but as osteopaths we also have a disadvantage professionally as there is a lot less on offer in the way of CPD and networking. I'm very pleased to be part of this innovative new project.  The group I worked with were looking at career structure for osteopaths. We are currently writing a proposal for the institute of Osteopathy to bring together Osteopaths from across the country. I will keep you posted on details of its development. 

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Sitting 

We were designed for movement, sitting all day without regularly moving can lead to stiffness and muscle fatigue. 

What to do ?

-   Above all create good habits 

  • if you have time, take regular breaks, stand up, stretch and move around. 
  • Keep hydrated 
  • Stand while you are on the phone, it gives your voice a better sound as well as helping your back and neck to keep moving. 
  • Try a sit fit .Not for everyone but these air filled cushions help to get you moving and engage your core muscles. 
  • If you don't have time.Stand up and sit back down again every twenty minutes. You can keep typing or reading. The regular movement ensures that you don't over strain muscles and may prevent poor posture from developing. Each time you move you use your spinal muscles and gluteal muscles which ensures that they get a fresh blood supply and a new nerve impulse. You will increase your daily movement by about twenty this will leave you feeling more flexible at the end of a busy day. 

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Could your bag be giving you backache ?

    Could your bag be giving you backache ?


  1. Weigh your handbag or rucksack.You may be surprised how heavy it is. 8 kg is the heaviest that I have seen carried on a daily basis. This was at the start of the day not including anything that was added in the way of shopping. 
  2. Check your bag regularly and take out anything that you don't need. This a good habit to decrease the weight of your bag. 
  3. Change the side you wear your bag. Alternating the side spreads the load on both sides of your back. 
  4. Wear your bag across your body when possible. 
  5. Try not to carry your bag on your elbow as this can increase the pressure on one side of your upper back and shoulders. Holding in in your hand is less stressful for your upper back.