Tag Archives: health and fitness

Life Begins at Fifty – Healthy Life #7 – Listen to your body – exercise

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I began the Healthy Life blogging on 22nd February, well into my plant based living journey, but striving to find the right balance of food and exercise to suit my newly ‘nicotine free’ body. It’s for anyone, not just those of us with those numbers beginning with 5, because the problem with any choices we make about diet or exercise won’t necessary be perfect for our bodies. We need to find the balance that works for us.

This post ‘Listen to your body – exercise’ will be followed by ‘Listen to your body -food’. I really hope you enjoy them and find them useful.

Not getting hung up on what the scales say has made me get on with my life, do my best and feel a whole lot better…well enough to show you the changes in my body shape since 22nd February. I’m not sure how well you’ll see them as I live in an old farmhouse with tiny windows, so lighting is always tricky…as is the fact we are effectively living inside a renovation project so there’s mess everywhere, but I’ve done my best.

It’s only been five weeks, the changes are subtle, but what you can’t see is how tight my bum is getting and how the hills on my walks are much easier to climb now.

For me ‘Listen to your body – exercise’ has been about working out the exercise routines that work for me, while still aiming to reach achievable targets that I know are beneficial to my health and fitness.

What I’ve learned in 5 weeks

Walking 10,000 steps EVERY day isn’t essential – I was quite obsessive to start with, but now I aim for more ‘active minutes’ on my Fitbit, minutes of exercise that work my heart and my muscles a little bit harder. I’ve kept my Fitbit minimum on 30 minutes though, because on a particularly heavy writing day (it does take time to write a novel!) a good morning walk and another in the evening, might be all I can manage. I know this works for me…on my Fitbit, my cardio fitness has risen to 38-42.

I can use a lot of what I do to aid my reaching exercise targets without needing to go to a gym – After the weight piled on, I worried I might need to go to the gym to address specific areas of my body that needed to be exercised. I’m learning to use what’s around me…

I move a lot of wood! My partner chainsaws while I do the picking up and barrowing…I make sure I’m  doing single or double arm curls when I pick up logs, and depending which way round I barrow, I’ve found this uses different muscles in my shoulders, back and arms.

Collecting tiny new trees on our land gives me a great squat work out. I collect one plant on each squat, come up, walk to the pot and plant the tree and walk to the next one….I have knee damage after falling about fifteen years ago, so I find repetitive squats hurt almost immediately and I can’t do more than half a dozen. This way, I get to do more and I don’t hurt at all.

Due to back damage, I find digging in the usual way with a spade down into the ground undoable, but using a mattock to break up the earth, and my new, smaller curved handle spade to scoop up the soil and stones, I’ve turned the final corner digging out the foundations for my potting shed (an old conservatory we helped to take down that we’re recycling) I can mattock straight in front of me with my legs bent, or to either side, all three positions have strengthened arms, shoulders, back and legs. Digging out the earth and throwing it up into the barrow works my triceps really well!

Dance is the best and most fun exercise ever! I always bill bellydance as a full body work out, and having started another beginners class in Aberystwyth, I’m now teaching six hours each week, plus a regular private lesson, plus any events we dance at.

I’m thoroughly enjoying my yoga when I get back from my morning walk. I do as many and which ever poses I feel like (sometimes I just sit and breathe) and I’m loving the peace it’s bringing me.

I wish someone had told me I would feel like this a year ago

A year ago, having to go back on HRT after the lack of nicotine in my body sent my hormones manic, and being put on a different dosage to the one I’d had before, I put on at least two stone in weight in a matter of weeks. Only now, one year on, after trying jogging, walking millions of steps and trying all sorts of different foods and combinations am I starting to feel like ‘me’ again.

The return of the menopausal symptoms dragged me down, both physically and mentally. I felt like my whole body was out of my control, condemned to be ‘down’, droopy and saggy, being pulled without my say so. Although my doctor was keen to recommend ‘Couch to 5k’, which proved too much for my knees, she told me I’d have to put up with the band around my middle….lucky for me, I’m a fighter.

It’s been hard work…actually, it’s been DAMN hard work! There have been mornings when I’ve wanted to stay in bed and let the world carry on without me, but I didn’t give up….all life is far too precious to waste it.

One year on I do still get ‘down’ days, but life is generally on the ‘up’, and I make the most of every one of them.

Thank you for reading. Join me next time for Healthy Life #8 – Listen to your body – food. Bright blessings xx

 

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Life begins at fifty #healthy life 6 – The scales are not your friend

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I never owned bathroom scales because I didn’t need them. While I was smoking, if my jeans felt a little tight, I increased the amount of exercise I did, watched what I ate, and over a few weeks, the jeans would loosen, but not anymore….

My absolute conviction that eating five hundred calories a day less than I’m burning would make me lose weight has been shattered. I’m sure it plays a part, but I should have realised my mistake; we’re amazing, complex individuals – why would only one formula apply to everyone?

In a bid to affirm my belief, however, I bought bathroom scales in the January sales. I read lots of helpful advice online about weigh ins, the best I thought was weigh myself three days running, once a month to get an average of the weight loss….

What I did was weigh myself every morning, even though I said I wouldn’t. Why? Because I was exercising loads, following my plant based diet to get good nutritional benefit from my food and logging my calorie intake into Cronometer, so my reward would be to watch the pounds drop off, right? Wrong!

On the first three mornings I gained weight. Even though I knew I was being dumb, I got upset about it…and then I increased the exercise, to the point I was permanently exhausted. I continued this self berating/weighing scenario for about a month, before sharing with women in my dance class to find that they too were experiencing the same problem….their shape was changing, but they weren’t losing any weight, even though people were commenting that they had.

You may ask, why am I hung up on the amount I weigh and it’s a simple answer…the less weight I have to carry, the less pressure it puts on my already damaged knee. Yes, it would be nice to fit into my clothes again, but carrying less weight while increasing my exercise has to be better for me.

I am starting to listen though…my shape change could be because the fat is going and muscle is appearing, which we know is heavier. Since my body did its ‘return to factory settings’, I’m beginning to feel the benefit of the exercise in my legs…I’m walking quicker but getting less breathless…

On Saturday, my ATS® Bellydance tribe, Tribal Unity Wales and I hosted a hafla, a bellydance party, to raise money and collect donations of clothes, blankets and toiletries for S.H.A.R.P., Swansea Humanitarian Aid Response. We had so much fun, raised £132 and took in bags of donations….and I clocked up the most active minutes ever on my Fitbit!

I’m not getting hung up on the weight anymore, but instead, I’m looking for more ways to have fun with exercise, eat new, interesting food, try new recipes and live my life to the full.

I hope you’re enjoying Life begins at fifty – Healthy Life! Please like and follow and let others know!

Visit again for recipes, tips and sharing.

 

Life Begins at Fifty – Healthy Life #5 High Carb Hannah and my salad bowl

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High Carb Hannah was one of the first whole food, plant based YouTube channels I began watching, and I loved her immediately. She’s refreshingly honest and inspiring to watch, her recipes are straight forward and she isn’t afraid to tell it how it is!

She’s been YouTubing for a while and lost loads of weight with a whole food, plant based, high carb diet. Her channel is stuffed full of videos of recipes, what she eats in a day, her workouts and hilarious mukbangs, where she, and sometimes her husband, make and try different foods.

Let me say straight away, I can’t eat carbs the way she does! White rice and white potatoes aren’t easy for my body to digest, but she’s found a way of eating that works for her, and she wants to share it to help other people. It doesn’t matter though, because I can alter her recipes to suit my body. I love watching someone make fresh, wholesome food, because it makes me want to eat it. Tune into her channel here https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCs1uwp7bB1J_3r5xN2ioL_w

Watching videos about plant based eating has inspired me, and helped me make the changes to plant based eating.

I’ve discovered I love rocket, or arugula (love that word!), and that’s a good thing as it counts as a tick in the box for cruciferous vegetables on Dr Gregor’s Daily Dozen (Use this link to take you to Dr Gregor’s website https://nutritionfacts.org/)

Cruciferous vegetables are vital to our health and wellbeing, protecting us against cancer and other diseases. You can watch videos about the benefits of cruciferous vegetables here https://www.youtube.com/user/NutritionFactsOrg/search?query=cruciferous+veg

In my salad bowls above I’ve included rocket and red cabbage for cruciferous, mixed salad leaves for greens, carrot, tomatoes, potato and onion for other vegetables, hummus for beans and sunflower, pumpkin and chia seeds and a couple of walnut halves and a brazil nut for nuts and seeds.

The beauty of the bowl is you can have lots of different food. Get creative! Go for lots of colours. Sweetcorn and peppers brighten up any bowl of food. And with every new creation, there are twenty different salad dressing options! High Carb Hannah has a sauce book out, and you can find all sorts of options on her vlogs. I put ‘salad’ in the search box and here are the results. Enjoy, and share the love for the salad bowl https://www.youtube.com/user/Rawkaholics/search?query=salad

 

Tip of the day

Whenever you have the oven on for baking or cooking, pop in an extra potato, or sweet potato, as they’re both great cold in salads the next day.

 

 

 

 

Life begins at fifty – Healthy Life #4 Best smoothie ever!

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Thank you so much for joining me again on ‘Life begins at fifty – Healthy Life’. Thank you for liking my posts and following me for more. It’s been lovely to visit your blogs too, and something struck me…I don’t know where any of you are starting your Healthy Life journey from, I mean, I was already a vegetarian (a wheat free one at that!), so I’d already made changes from my previous typical British ‘meat and two veg’ type diet in my twenties and then again, in my thirties.

Making changes to eating habits isn’t easy because that’s what they are…habits, and we get really hooked on them. I remember the realisation that I might never be able to eat wheat based bread again, and how impossible that seemed, but after more than twenty years, I don’t really think about it.

This recipe is something everyone can try, and it ticks a number of the boxes on Dr Gregor’s Daily Dozen (You can find out more about plant based eating and Dr Gregor here https://nutritionfacts.org/)

My good friend Cate gave me the recipe for this awesome smoothie….and I’ve tweeked it for even more goodness!

1 cup blueberries

1/2 cup cherries

1/2 banana

2 cups spinach (or 3)

2 tablespoons ground flax seeds

1 tablespoon peanut butter

6 dates and/or tablespoon date syrup

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

11/2 cups of water (warm if using frozen berries)

2 teaspoons maca powder

2 teaspoons spirulina powder

This makes enough for two people and is great for elevenses or as a boost during the day. The additions I’ve made are the final two, maca powder and spirulina. Maca powder is high in certain minerals including potassium, calcium, magnesium and zinc as well as some B vitamins including B3 (niacin). Its also a good vegan source of iron. Spirulina is known as a nutrient-dense food and is packed full of vitamins, including vitamins A, C, E and B vitamins, as well as a whole host of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc and selenium. In particular, vitamin C and selenium are both antioxidants and help protect our cells and tissues from damage. This algae is also an excellent vegan source of iron.

One glass of this smoothie ticks off 1 berries, 2 fruits, 1 greens, flax seeds and nuts and seeds off your daily dozen and I promise you, you won’t taste the spinach at all! We often add 3 cups of spinach if the blender will take it.

Feel free to experiment….would kale work in this? Can I add more banana to make it more creamy? Or avocada? Or mango?

Have fun and experiment with this versatile and healthy smoothie.

Join me next time when I introduce you to one of my favourite YouTube channels and for an insight into my lunch time salad bowl!

 

 

 

Book Review – The Wiccan Wellness Book by Laura Perry

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Having ‘met’ Laura Perry on the Witch Lit group on Facebook, and seen that she had updated this book, I treated myself to a copy, and I’m so glad I did! It’s been on my bedside table for me to dip into for a few months and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.

Laura Perry, N.D. is a Pagan author and artist, herbalist and Reiki master who considers natural healthcare to be part of her Earth-oriented spiritual life, focussing on healthy living in body, mind and spirit. Here’s my review of The Wiccan Wellness Book by Laura Perry…

This is a gentle, beautiful and caring book, well put together and offering the reader a host of ideas and options for ultimate wellbeing. The author’s knowledge and experience is evident throughout the book, but more than that, her intuition and spirituality shine through, giving the reader the experience of being healed and nurtured.

The Wiccan Wellness book is an interesting read in its own right, the author paying heed to all aspects of our lives that have a bearing on our wellbeing. However, I can see it being a wonderful reference book in the future too. The reader is able to select a specific section or chapter, depending on their needs at that moment, finding help from the author, or links to other books or societies who can offer more help.

The concept that mind, body and spirit working in harmony leads to well-being, is the basis of this book, and I thoroughly enjoyed exploring all the possibilities to seek further balance in my own life.

It’s a versatile and informative book, while still being a magical read. A perfect ‘pick me up’ when you need a personal, spiritual boost.

You can purchase this book on Amazon UK here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wiccan-Wellness-Book-Natural-Healthcare/dp/1720269459/ref

And for friends across the pond here https://www.amazon.com/Wiccan-Wellness-Book-Natural-Healthcare/dp/1720269459/ref

If you are interested in magical writing or reading, join the Witch Lit Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1055104057875422/

or subscribe to our new channel on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHtAJO5uh6c9TSai1lhwF7g

We’re hoping to interview Laura Perry on our podcast very soon!

 

Life begins at fifty – Healthy life #3 Ignore the images!

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I have no problem with young women taking charge of their lives, and looking to be as fit and healthy as they can be, but I do have a problem when the media bombards women with only images that are not attainable by most.

I was twenty three when I join a gym for the first time, and I wanted to look like this. The reality was, I trained twice a day, six days a week and in five months, I pretty much did, but it wasn’t sustainable…or rather it was if my whole life revolved around exercise.

At this stage in my life, I have so many things I want to do! Exercise can be part of my life, and I’m happy about that, but I want it to be part of who I am, so the exercise HAS to be enjoyable.

From all I’ve read about exercise and health, there seems to be two things that are important:

Consistency

Active exercise

Consistency means you do a certain exercise, in a certain way, often, and I’ve chosen walking for this. Every morning, I walk between 2k and 4k steps around my land before breakfast. I’m now following this with 3-5 yoga poses. So, my walking is consistent but the length and intensity of my walk may vary, depending on what else I’m doing for the rest of the day. When I started, I worried I wouldn’t make 10k per day and pushed the mornings too much, especially on a ‘dancing day’. I managed the day, but struggled to get up the next morning! I’ve let go the need to achieve the 10k, listening to my body more, and going with how it feels.

Active exercise is about raising your heart rate in order to burn calories and fat efficiently. I use my Fitbit to monitor this and its really useful…yes, I can programme in extra data, but I don’t want to get obsessed by this. My active exercise can be pushing the walking harder, dancing or working on the land….mattocking and digging works well!

Should you have a goal? Should you have a weight target or a dress size? Should you have a fitness challenge?

It depends what motivates you,

I’ve set myself the challenge to lose 14lbs – 21lbs, because I think my knees will thank me for it! Carrying less weight and fitting back into my jeans is my motivation, but I’m not setting myself a time limit.

I’m also not on a diet as such. My eating is whole food plant based and I’m using Cronometer to monitor the nutrients I’m getting in as much as the calories. Most days I’m eating between 1.3k and 1.8k calories, while burning more than 2.1k. As my body muscle increases and the fat slowly drops away, my weight will decrease and I’m happy for it to be a slow process.

Join me next time for a delicious, versatile smoothie that you’ll love!

Life begins at fifty – Healthy Life #2 – Whole food, plant based diet

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I’ve been a vegetarian for thirty five years, but it’s only been over the past five years that I’ve cut down on my dairy intake, and now taken eggs also from my diet. We’re influenced by so much advertising online that it isn’t always easy to know whose advice to take, but my information first came from my children.

My middle son has suffered from arthritis since the age of twelve. He’s always been vegetarian, but five years ago, he took dairy from his diet and the difference to the pain in his joints was massive and very noticeable. Where he’d been walking with a stick, he was free of it, and he put this down to cutting dairy from his diet after reading articles and watching videos by people like Dr Michael Gregor, T Colin Campbell, Dr Neal Barnard and Dr Caldwell Esselstyn.

My eldest son followed his advice, and he and his fiancee gave up meat in favour of a whole food, plant based diet.

I was already wheat intolerant and struggled with other foods too, so the thought of giving up goat’s cheese and the occasional Magnum ice lolly made me sad at first, but worth it….no, say it louder, REALLY WORTH IT! I waked up every morning and none of my joints ache anymore. Yes, I get achy if I’ve danced too much or overdone the bramble pulling or barrowing, but since giving up dairy I don’t wake up hurting every morning.

The longer I’m without dairy, the better I feel and out of all the advice and videos, one person resonated most with me and he is Dr Michael Gregor. His website has it all and his short to the point videos on YouTube cover every topic imaginable.

Dr Gregor’s advice isn’t about ‘dieting’ as such, but about changing the way you eat for a happier, healthier life. If you start with the veggies, pack in all the nutrients and vitamins you need, no one says you can’t have a couple of slices of pizza as well!

Dr Gregor’s website: https://nutritionfacts.org/

Dr Gregor’s YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/NutritionFactsOrg

Dr Gregor reads all the medical papers, so we don’t have to, and draws together all the relevant information you need to make decisions on health for yourself.

I highly recommend the App that was made for him called Dr Gregor’s Daily Dozen, as a guide to getting the most from your food for the benefit of your body and mind.

It takes practise to fit everything in, but that’s the fun part, trying new, tasty recipes and foods along the way.

For food ideas, type ‘plant based’ into the search on the home page and my favourite tried and tested recipes will come up. I’m always trying new recipes and will share with you all.

I hope this is useful for those of you looking to change and embark on an exciting journey of discovery, towards a happier, healthier you.

Life begins at fifty – Healthy Life#1

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There are plenty of blogs and vlogs available to inspire everyone to make their lives healthy ones. There are less by women over fifty.

One year on without nicotine has changed me, and not always in the ways one would hope for. You can read more here https://wendysteele.com/2019/01/24/1-year-without-nicotine-how-was-it-for-you-darling/

For 2019, all blog posts that begin ‘Life begins at fifty’, will be for everyone wishing to know more about the menopause, and looking for support and help with their healthy eating and fitness challenges.

There will be inspiration, recipes, links to blogs and videos, but there will be honesty too, and I’m starting with photos of how I look right now. I’ve suffered with body dismorphia all my life, so this isn’t easy, but though I’ve been inspired by fab videos online, either the women have had surgery first, or they’re almost half my age! Light is limited in my old farmhouse, but as I’m not focussing on weight, but shape, I’m hoping to see the difference over this year when I look in the mirror.

My routine at the moment:

Walking 10k steps every day (including at least 30 ‘active’ minutes)

Yoga every morning, between 3 and 5 poses or stretches

Teach 5 hours regular bellydance each week

Following a whole food, plant based diet every day

 

The idea is for the walking to build up my strength and stamina, while the yoga stretches out my body and calms my mind. Bellydance does everything!

I shall be exploring all sorts of ideas and possibilities for health and fitness this year, and telling you all about it….I’ve only been doing the yoga for a week and I’m loving it!

Join me on my fitness journey to be the fittest, healthiest and happiest I can be:-)

 

 

 

For the love of power naps

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I discovered power naps fifteen years ago, and now I’m self employed with no dependents living at home, I can use them to gain even more constructive time in my day.

Four years of IBS left me thin and weak, and then I discovered bellydance. If I wanted to dance, I had to eat, but also be as rested as possible, to give me the best chance of dancing the hour and a half session. How could I fit it in? I was so tired and yet, daily household tasks needed to be done and the children needed collecting at 3.15pm. I chose to power nap from 1.30pm to 2.10pm, rising from my bed, driving straight to the school able to spend almost an hour in the car writing my first novel.

I loved bellydancing and wanted to dance more. There was another hour and a half session the following evening. Could I manage two nights of dancing? It wasn’t just the overwhelming fatigue I felt every minute of every day, but the pain was often excruciating, leaving me drained and nauseous and ready to give up on life. I tried the classes and with the help of my regular nap, I was able to bellydance twice a week.

Sticking to the routine was easy for me; it helped with pain and tiredness and enabled me to do the things I wanted to do. I had so much more energy for the children too, making getting them to clubs after school so much easier.

The power nap combined with bellydance changed the course of my life. Before I had my children I ran an Offshore Funds Settlements Department in London; in 2007, at the age of 44, I created Phoenix Bellydance and began teaching Egyptian dance to women and girls, as well as continuing to write. I had articles published in dance magazines, interviewed dancers and musicians and wrote their stories, but it was around 2009 that I knew I wanted to write magical novels, having discovered the stories of Dion Fortune.

My mind was opened to all sorts of possibilities, but managing the IBS was still a problem. I’d taken on two cleaning jobs for friends, just three hours a time, but with teaching in the evening, and attending classes and workshops myself, I struggled to manage my pain and the fatigue again. And then I discovered reiki. I’d signed myself up for an aromatherapy massage course, hoping to learn more about essential oils and their healing properties, but there weren’t enough people so the reiki course was suggested as a stop gap.

Learning about chakras gave me the frame work to heal my own body and mind. I attended a later aromatherapy massage course too, and proceeded to Reiki 2 training. My naptime took on even more relevance, a time not just to rest but to heal. Around this time, I realised a sense of ‘self’ I hadn’t known before. I discovered American Tribal Style® Bellydance and around the same time, greater confidence working magic on my own or with close friends and my daughter.

Throughout this time, I discovered that a power nap wasn’t called Forty Winks by accident. Forty minutes was the perfect length of power nap for me; any less, I didn’t feel refreshed after and any more, I felt heavy and lethargic and struggled to get going. I was allowed to press the snooze button though, as it gave me ten minutes if I needed it, to come round slowly.

Now, especially if my partner is working away, I use power naps to make my day even longer. Up before 6am and out walking by half past, if I nap before 3pm, I can still have energy to pull brambles, dance, research or write until about 11pm…I feel like I’ve fitted two days into one! It’s not possible to use them every day with work commitments, but if I’m up early and fading by 11.30am, I’ll always try and fit in a power nap…or sometimes a cat nap if a kitten comes to join me.

Toegate continued

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The broken toe is healing…slowly. Today I’m walking my steps for the first time in Wellington boots since the crunch.

(Not sure why I look like I’m hovering over the earth!)

I started a few months ago, getting up around 6am and starting my day with 2k steps for two reasons, both related to me stopping smoking. Firstly, I miss the first cigarette of the day with the same intense craving I’ve woken up with for forty years, so I’m trying a different start to the day. Secondly, I’ve put on weight around my middle and I don’t like it.

Teaching women to bellydance, I encourage them to love their bodies, I know, but this bit around the middle doesn’t belong to me. It has been sent by the Nicotine Monster because I won’t feed him anymore, and I refuse to sign and accept the delivery!

So I’m building up the steps again slowly; 1k in the morning, 1k at lunchtime and another 1k in the evening. Combined with 6 hours of dance each week, I’m hoping to see a difference by 1st September.

Tribal Unity Wales will be performing at the Lampeter Food Festival on 28th July and at the Cardigan Bellydance Festival on 4th August. After that, I’ll return to 2k every morning…why not join me?