Category Archives: Health & Fitness

A new sports bra

moving comfort-015For many years now I’ve been a loyal fan of Sportjock Sports Bras.  They’ve comfortably supported me through hundreds of running miles. And on top of that they come in a range of colours so I can coordinate them with my various running tops.  I know this is over-attention to detail as no-one can see my what I’m wearing under my running top, but it always makes me feel better.

However when I started Julia Buckley’s Fat Burn Programme her clothing partner Moving Comfort kindly sent me one of their bras to try out.

On first inspection I was very excited: it came in a vibrant pink with a blast of purple around the edges.  We were off to a good start.  But a sports bra is one occasion where comfort takes precedence over aesthetics.  Was it up to the job?

First of all it was very different to what I was used to.  Yes I know it’s just a bra but particularly with running, and any high impact sport, choosing the right bra is very important.

My old Sportsjocks are compression bras ie they squash your boobs against your chest.  They are crop-top style and lined with a soft cotton.

This moving comfort bra (Vero style) is like a conventional bra with a wide three hook fastening at the back.  It uses compression as well but it also has shaping and a little padding around the cups.

I’ve tried it out on several occasions now and I have to say that it’s very comfortable.

When I’m working out with weights ie low impact then either make of bra does the job well.  However the Moving Comfort bra definitely gives more support when I’m running.

Its straps can be criss-crossed over the back to stop them from slipping but I found they didn’t slip anyway so I’ve left them as they are.

It’s a man-made fabric and whilst I prefer the feel of cotton then this one probably wicks away sweat better.  I haven’t worn it on a long enough run to comment on this but sometimes the Sportsjock ones do get quite damp.

Pricewise it’s a similar price to my Sportsjocks (I’ve seen both on the internet for just under £25 although some colour options are reduced to under £20 on the Moving Comfort website when I looked just now) so I definitely think I’ll be adding another one to my collection.

The only negative I have for it (and it’s a small one) is that it’s smaller, more bra-like than a crop tmoving comfort-016op so those small bulgy bits of back flesh look a little more, well, bulgy in this.  But that’s a small niggle and as I don’t plan to go running around the county without a running top covering me up then the only person who knows about that is me.

And you of course.


The Fat Burn Revolution programme: mid point results

Workout shot from week 3 of The Fat Burn Revolution
Workout shot from week 3 of the Fat Burn Revolution

I was hoping to write this post last week, but as it was half term my children had other ideas.  So technically I’m just past half way through the programme I started back in September but I thought it about time I shared the results so far.

The question I get asked the most is: “How much weight have you lost?” and it’s actually the question I want to answer the least.  Not because I’m not proud of the fact that I’m half a stone lighter now than I was seven weeks ago but because it doesn’t tell you very much.

Let’s face it, I could live on cabbage and water for a week and I’d lose half a stone and we all know that I’d put it back on again the following week.

This has been different.  I’ve worked out five or six times a week: sometimes with heavy weights and sometimes doing high intensity running in bursts of 30-60 seconds at a time.

I’ve changed some of the things that I’ve been eating.  I stopped eating sugar around 18 months ago so I didn’t have to worry about that and I rarely eat refined products like white bread and pasta, preferring the wholewheat versions.  I’ve upped my fruit and legume intake and concentrated on eating as healthily as I can.

So where does that leave me?  Well the numbers that I was interested in changing were my body fat percentage and the size of my waist.  Then after I’d taken my initial photos I realised my bottom needed some serious work too!

Back in September my body fat was around 35% (which equated to around 51 lbs of fat). It’s now fluctuating around 31% (which equates to around 43 lbs of fat).  I’m really chuffed with this. I keep imagining what the 8lbs of fat that I’ve lost looks like and it ain’t pretty.

My waist has dropped by 11cms (that’s just over 4 inches) against a target of losing 15cms or more.  I’m thrilled at this.  There’s still work to be done but I can feel muscle underneath and as a bonus of strengthening my core my back is feeling stronger than it has in a long time.

My bottom (I measured around the widest part of me) has gone down by 3cms.  Now I know this doesn’t sound much but I’m as pleased about this as I am about my waist.

Why? Well that’s a good question.  The measurement just doesn’t do justice to what has been going on with my bottom and legs.  When I started they were a bit lumpy, bumpy and with more than their fair share of cellulite.

Now I’m pleased to say that there is hardly any cellulite left and my bottom is looking, dare I say it, peachy?  I don’t think I’ve ever described my bottom in such glowing terms.

So with five weeks to go I’m feeling enthused and confident that there will be more positive changes to report on in December.  Woo hoo, let’s go.

By the way, if you’re feeling inspired to try any of this yourself, Julia’s book The Fat Burn Revolution has just appeared on Amazon ready for pre-order.

Food glorious food

Healthy Lunch
Healthy lunch

I promised a few weeks ago to write about the food I’m eating on Julia Buckley’s Fat Burn Revolution programme.

I thought this was going to be an easy post to write.  I mean I ate pretty healthily before the programme (no sugar, very little refined goods, rarely any alcohol) so this was just going to be more of what I normally ate.

And at first it was.  My only change in the first week was to increase the amount of water I drank and to make some healthy wholesome soups for my lunch (eg. sweet potato and chickpea or spicy lentil and tomato).

I carried on with my bacon sandwiches for breakfast and ate normal dinners with rice, potato or pasta.

But Julia recommends minimising processed carbohydrates (that’ll be the bread and pasta element) and eating more unprocessed carbs (fruit and vegetables – although that doesn’t mean increasing the potatoes just in case you were wondering).

Now I’m the first to admit that I was pretty resistant to this. I mean wholemeal bread and pasta are healthy carbs aren’t they? And with all the extra exercise I’ve been doing I figured I needed the energy.

But Julia seemed to think otherwise.

So I cut a little bit out here and there. I swapped my bacon sandwiches for bacon with saute potatoes, onion and cabbage (which I love incidentally) and I chose potatoes (the new, old and sweet varieties) over pasta and sometimes didn’t have any at all, just vegetables with my meal.

At first I struggled to eat enough and was supplementing with snacks of peanuts, carrot and humus or cheese and raisins.  Then I felt a bit low for a few days, so I started eating a bit more fruit and increasing the vegetables and chucking in a few extra chickpeas and lentils in to my dinners.

And now it feels like it’s all back in balance.  Curiously I feel a little more energetic too. I must admit I’m a bit puzzled by it all.  It throws into question some of my beliefs about food and so I’m going to keep going for the moment and see how I feel.

I’m still going to eat a little bread here and there but mostly I’m planning on eating more fruit, veg and pulses along with my lean protein (chicken, steak, fish etc).

By the way the picture above shows a lunch I had a few weeks ago: chilli with a jacket potato and salad.  I’m eating the same lunch today but I’ve added chick peas into my chilli and I’m having it with an avocado and some salad and without the jacket potato – and it’s just as filling this way.

I won’t say I’m converted just yet but I’m beginning to think this is a healthier way for me to eat.

Next week will see me half way through the programme so I’ll be sharing with you some of the results so far (which I’m pretty excited about).

A massage treat

It’s the start of my second week on The Fat Burn fitness programme.

The scales and tape measure are telling me that a few changes have taken place and I can certainly feel them.  I’ve ached in places I didn’t know existed and after the lower body workout I had to hold onto the bath and the sink just to get myself on and off the toilet!

I’m told that this is all a sign that my muscles are being used well and this will make them burn more calories and tone up my body, so I’m certainly feeling inspired to carry on.

But just in case I wasn’t I had lined up a couple of treats for myself.  On Friday it was a sports massage with Mel Burns of Maintenance Massage. (Next week it’s a pedicure).

I’ve been to Mel a few times and I think she’s struggled to find any knots or kinks in my muscles to work on.  This time, though, was a different story.

“That feels a bit tight,” she said, pushing what I think was her elbow into my gluteus maximus.  “Aaaagh, yes it is,” was all I could manage in reply as I gripped the edge of the massage table.

But I know if she doesn’t help loosen that muscle my lower back won’t thank me later.

And so it went on: my adductors were tight, so were my calfs and as for my top half, her thumbs found some muscles around my collar bone that have probably lain dormant for 40 odd years and have now contracted hoping not to be disturbed for another 40.  Well I’ve got news for them on that one.

By the end, Mel’s firm but gentle technique had left me feeling relaxed and sleepy but with a lightness I wasn’t feeling at the beginning.

She also reminded me of the importance of stretching  – and I have to admit I have been rushing through some of my stretches.  The minimum you should hold a stretch for is 30 seconds, whereas I was probably making that my maximum.  So I’m going to allow an extra five minutes in my workouts for my stretches from now on.

I’m feeling proud of my achievement for the first week. I did all of the workouts, even when I had a bad cold at the beginning of the week.  I ate fairly healthily, although there’s room for improvement there (more on this next time).  And I feel pampered with my massage too.

Six workouts planned for this week again and then I can sit back and enjoy a pedicure.

First week of The Fat Burn Revolution

Yorks Fitness-017
Yorks fitness equipment for The Fat Burn Revolution

My fitness equipment arrived this week and I got stuck into the first week of the fat burn programme.

It’s been a while since I did anything like this – at the last count probably at least 15 years and possibly closer to 20.  I mean I run a bit and I do the odd yoga session and I even throw some light weights around, but I last went to a gym and did any kind of tough weights in my twenties.

And I have to say that I’m loving it.  Yes, it’s hard work, but only in very short bursts.

Today I did an upper body work out using these weights from Yorks Fitness. A few bicep curls and push-ups and things like that and now my arms don’t want to move in any direction at all.  But I’ve always liked that feeling of knowing that my muscles have done something.

Tomorrow, I’m going to be running. Very fast. But only for four minutes.  It’s High Intensity Interval Training and there’s been a lot of interesting reports on it in the press.  Horizon did a progamme about it last year and its supposed to work the body out really well and burn fat.

Ok, so there’s a bit more to it. I have to warm up and cool down and the intense running is in one minute bursts with a gap in-between each one.

But that’s it.  All done and dusted in 20 minutes. I think I can manage that.

Getting fit for Christmas

Yes I know its way too early to be talking about Christmas, but really I’m not.

This blog, like my fitness levels has taken a bit of a dive over the summer holidays.  In fact it’s fair to say that since I injured my knees in March and had to pull out of the Richmond Half Marathon, exercise has slipped out of my life like a half-remembered dream.

And do I notice a difference? You bet I do.  Just running after the children leaves me breathless and whilst I’ve not put on any weight everything feels squishier and saggier than it used to.

Well it’s all about to change.

Not only am I digging out my running shoes I am also about to embark on the Julia Buckley fitness programme: a 12 week exercise and healthy eating programme designed to tone and sculpt my body.

Mostly I’m hoping to reclaim my abdominal muscles which I believe are buried under the mountain of wobbly fat that’s tucked inside my jeans and haven’t been seen since pre-pregnancy in 2001. Oh, and stop my underams from jiggling whenever I wave goodbye to the children.

It’s a tall order but one that I’m very excited to be embarking on.

The Fat Burn Revolution

Julia Buckley is a fitness trainer and journalist.  She has created this programme which is also being published as a book: The Fat Burn Revolution (Bloomsbury, January 2014).

I (along with several other journalists) am taking part in a pilot run (starting next Monday 16th September) and will be writing about it in a variety of different media.

I’m going to spare you the embarssment of any photos of me on here just yet – although so far I have agreed to supply before and after photos to Julia for her website and also to a popular women’s weekly magazine who are planning a photo diary of my efforts.

And believe me, the thought of scantily clad pictures of me appearing in national press is more than enough incentive to ensure that I follow the programme to the letter so that the after pictures will be far less cringe-worthy than the befores and maybe even ones that I can be proud of.


Hearing Loss

Today I had a bonding experience with my middle child that I had hoped I wasn’t going to experience.

Because of my genetic hearing loss my children have all had their hearing monitored from birth and until today all their tests have shown them to have good hearing.

The school nurse identified a small problem with Jack’s hearing some time ago and during his referral appointment today it was confirmed that he had suffered some hearing loss in the last two years.

Early signs are that he has inherited a gene that may see his hearing deteriorate further either in childhood or later on in adult life.

It is estimated that one in six people in the UK have some form of hearing loss and yet it is still an invisible disability. We don’t have “I can’t hear you” stamped across our foreheads (for which I’m very grateful) but without a doubt it is harder to communicate when you are working very hard just to make out what people are saying to you.

I lipread, I flll in the gaps of people’s speech and when all else fails I just pretend. I’ve learnt to laugh and nod at all the right moments. And for the most part I get away with it.

But by not being honest about what I can and cannot hear I’m shortchanging myself and the people around me.

It’s time for that to stop, not just for me but for Jack too.  His hearing loss isn’t as severe as mine but I want him to know that if he can’t hear that it’s ok to say so.  After all I can’t control how his hearing will develp but I can teach him to have a positive attitude towards it.

For more information see Action on Hearing (Loss)