Squats

I’ve seen those 30-day squat challenges floating about on the Internet for years and always thought to myself that they looked like an interesting little challenge, I’d start on Monday. But it’s never the right Monday, y’know? I had a few mates who did them and complained they could hardly walk so I didn’t think I was missing out!

The first session in the gym and that’s what the PT decides is going to be the best way to improve leg and back strength so he focused on technique for a couple weeks. The great thing about them is that you can do them anywhere! I’m sure YouTube or Google will throw up some videos if you search to help with form but things the PT kept reminding are:

  • Keep your heels on the floor at all times (or you’ll fall over)
  • Make sure your toes are pointing out a teeny bit so that your knees stay straight (if your knees bend in then you’re adding twisting which the knee isn’t good at)
  • Stick your bum out, keep your back straight and your head up
  • Squat down just until your upper and lower legs form a 90 degree bend
  • Take it slow and focus on the movement (if you ‘bounce’ or do it too quickly then there’s a higher risk of injury – and your muscles aren’t engaged!)

We’ve strengthened our squats with sit-stands – have a bench that you just touch your bum to and stand up again. We did 30 seconds of repetitions, focusing on form not numbers, with 60 second breaks to start for both squats and sit-stands. With practice we’ve got that down to 45 seconds of reps with 30 seconds rest! We’ve started combining it with other movements too, but that’s for another post.

Let me know where you did your squats below!

Lx

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Peace

 

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All that walking in the outdoors last week has reminded me how peaceful this city can be when you’re in the right places. This week I’m going to aim to try and bring a little more of that peace into where I am – wherever that may be. I struggle to accept some of my partners decisions – mainly when they change their mind, as I try and give them what they first wanted. I know I need to listen more and accept what they want to do for me so this week I’m going to try and consciously make an effort to accept what they are saying peacefully.

This doesn’t necessarily only apply at home, it could apply to work or family too. By making an effort to maintain peace this week, we all need to make sure that we aren’t passively agreeing to things we don’t want to. Hopefully, as well as our relationships being less stressed, we will be too.

So, what are your best methods of de-escalating a potential conflict? Try them out this week and let me know which ones work the best below!

Lx

Self-care – nature

So we’ve managed to survive another week! Focusing on nature this week has been really rewarding, my flowers in the garden are still coming up nicely, I’ve been out and explored the local canal network and learnt a bit of history along the way.

One way to relax after all that fresh air is a nice long soak in a hot bath to let all those tense muscles relax. I have sensitive skin so can’t have many nice bath products (bubbles or smellies) so I enjoy it when I treat myself to one even more. This week I’ve got a nice mango smelly and a brand new mindful magazine so I’m all set for an hour to myself.

Sometimes when I’m in the bath I enjoy putting a guided meditation on, something like a body scan to focus on each part of my body in turn to try figure out how I’m feeling. This takes a bit of practice and concentration and I still don’t find it easy to acknowledge or name what I’m feeling but it’s a work in progress.

Not everyone has a bath, or enjoys sitting in it for ages but have a think if there’s any way to relax those muscles you’d enjoy whilst you reflect on your interactions with nature this week. Do your favourite moment or photograph below with your suggestions for those muscles!

Lx

Snacks!

One thing that I have always struggled with is snacking whilst I’m on a diet. I mean, I’m used to eating what I like, when I like, and the more I’m not meant to, well, the more that I enjoy it. So I’ve had to come up with some healthier strategies.

Something that’s super-easy is veggie sticks! I love sitting at the office picking on cucumber sticks, or cherry tomatoes, or sometimes pepper sticks. You could do carrot sticks or celery too if you like them! it makes me feel slightly like a rabbit (but less fluffy and if I try to hop I’ll give myself a black eye, y’know? ) but I can keep munching as much as I like because it’s basically just water anyway!

Another easy snack solution is egg muffins, or breakfast muffins. Just break a few eggs in a bowl and add whatever you’ve got in the fridge – ham, tomatoes, onion, stuff like that, and then pour it into a (cheap, sacrificial!) muffin tray or silicone cases and bake in the oven until the egg is firm. Add a touch of salt, pepper or mixed herbs if you’re feeling brave! Egg is high in protein so is meant to keep you full up for longer.

One thing that I have learnt is that the pre-made snacks, like fridge raiders, are actually really high in salt! The UK government recommends no more than 2300mg of sodium per day, that’s about 6g of salt, or a teaspoon. And that is total – so everything that is already in our food, everything that we add whilst cooking it and what we add at the table too… Too much sodium is a factor in high-blood pressure which can lead to heart disease. Being told that I had dangerously high blood pressure in a health check at the gym recently really made me think about what I eat.

Check out your snacks sodium levels and share some of your swaps below!

Lx

The bike

Another of the most common bits of equipment in the gym is the stationary bike. I’ve not been on a real bike for approximately 12 years (and the rest!). Ever since my dad thought it would be a great challenge to ride a 30 mile race. I was about 14. We didn’t train. I thought my ass going to fall off it hurt so much! I remember my ultra-competitive dad using an 8 year old as motivation. Because telling me that they’re beating me (as I can clearly see) is going to make me ride faster!? As we got to the end I managed enough energy to surge the last 10 metres, so I wasn’t a complete embarrassment crossing the line. I hurt for days and that was the “short” race. I hadn’t got on a bike since. Until the PT told me to do 5k in less than 12 minutes.

The bike, like the treadmill, is a great fat-burning workout. Try to do 70% effort for 10-15 minutes. Imagine that you’re giving your absolute everything – 100%, or you’re just going really gently so it’s no effort – 10% and find something in between. Your bike seat should be about hip height when you’re setting it up, your knee slightly bent when your leg is fully extended. There’s two ways of increasing your effort on the bike – resistance and speed. You can increase the level (like a gear) and try to maintain a constant cycling speed, or you can keep the level low and maintain a higher revolutions power minute. I prefer a higher resistance – my little legs don’t go much faster than about 80 rpm before I think they’ll fall off, and that’s about as much of a bruising as my (apparently not as padded as it looks) ass can take!

So this week, have a go! Just get used to the feel and see where you get to (metaphorically if you’re on a stationary bike, of course). Let me know how long is been since you were on a bike below!

Lx

Nature

So the sun has gone in over the weekend and it’s a bit miserable outside, but, I love the feeling of life that a good rain brings. The parched grass grows a little more, all the animals can find a drink a little easier and the birds come out to sing and forage for worms. Everything feels fresh!

One thing my partner never understands about me is how peaceful I find the rain. Like, if there’s a good thunderstorm, I go stand outside in it and feel it on my skin, listen to it surrounding me and just breathe. I get soaked to the skin, but I am happy. Since getting a home with a bigger garden I’ve really enjoyed starting to grow things with my own hands (like out of a box!) and the rain will be great for them too!

This week, try to focus more on nature. Now the sun has gone in it will take a bit more of a conscious effort to break out of the concrete jungle but see if you can discover something or somewhere new. Let me know what you’ve been up to below!

Lx

Self-care – love

How did you all do focusing on love this week? I was feeling fairly miserable on Tuesday, like I was coming down with a cold (seriously, it’s the middle of a heatwave?!) so I allowed myself a work-from-home day to stay curled up on the sofa and skip the commute to the city. Honestly, I think I was more productive anyway without the distractions of my colleagues!

One thing I’ve learnt in the past few years is how important it is to look after myself. I usually only took some time out when I’d burnt out – not ideal. Instead I’ve been keeping on top of it and as a result, I can’t remember the last time I burnt out as bad! I mean, yes, after a crazy busy week I still get home on a Friday, go to the fridge for a pint of something cold and then crawl into the corner of the sofa, not moving for the next two days, but hey, it’s an improvement!

This week as the focus is on love, I’m going to take time out this weekend to do something I love. I really enjoy having pretty (or rebellious) nail art, so I’m going to take off my old chipped coat and put on some new. Now, I know that this idea certainly isn’t for everyone but take some time out to reflect on the week and do something that you love for yourself. Drop me some ideas below!

Lx

Update:

Soooo, I did it! This week I have unicorns and llamas on my nails!