Tag Archives: Fitness

Why I’m No Longer Counting My Steps.

We seem to ask technology to enhance our everyday life; we have everything from fitness watches, earphones that no longer connect via a wire and even shout “Alexa” or “Siri” to turn our music on. In my case, I used a step counter for over three years and sometimes it felt overwhelming and even have the opposite effect of what it’s meant to do. Today’s post is all about how and more importantly, why I’m no longer counting my steps.  

IMG_20180528_105123_748.jpg(I used it to not only track my steps but to also, track my workouts.)

If you’ve followed me on my Instagram for a few years now, you’ll know that for a long time, my first board of call when it came to documenting my fitness was my FitBit. I went from the Flex to the Blaze, and I have had the FitBit Blaze for a little over two years now. I even got my Mum and her partner to get one too and they love theirs. The only time I didn’t wear it was when I went for a shower; with it being able to track your sleep, I wanted to see all that information so taking it off when I went to bed, wasn’t an option for me. Over the last month or so, I decided to take off my tracker to see how I felt because I had been using it for so long, I wanted to see if I felt any different without it. When you’re so used to each step being counted, it is strange to suddenly not have it there anymore.  

So why exactly did I want to try living without it? Why is this so significant that I felt the need to write about it? The problem for me was I relied on my tracker too much; if I didn’t hit the 10,000 steps the one day at the weekend that I was cleaning the house, I felt bad. Sure, I had cleaned the house and felt great for it, but I didn’t get that little buzzing notification that I had hit my steps. I started to feel bad over one thing I hadn’t done rather than the small tasks I had done around the house. Having been in therapy and working on validation issues like these, I knew it had become a problem. Some people could say, “Well, why don’t you just take it off?” When you have depended on something for so long and you look to it for validation, it’s not quite as simple as that. 

IMG_20170812_110243-02.jpeg(In terms of running, it wasn’t that reliable when it came to accurate distance when running.)

To give you some back story on me; I’m a fairly active and fit person. When I was working in the city centre, all I needed to do was walk to work which was half an hour and back again, and that was 10,000 steps. It was almost too easy to hit that target every day but for someone else who was driving to work and not getting out of the office as much as I was, it could have been harder for them. I would go to the gym twice a week and I would try and do the same in terms of going for a run too, so I never had a problem with needing to hit my step targets.   

LPP-podcast-artwork_3_3000-300x300(Picture from LivengProof.com)

I’m a massive fan of podcasts and one I have been listening to recently is “The Liveng Proof” podcast by Engrid Latina. If you follow me over on Instagram, you’ll see her pop up in my stories at least once a day (and for very good reason too!) In one of her latest podcasts, her guest was one of her clients called Dorothy and you can tell they had a very special relationship, just by how the conversation flowed. In this episode (which is linked here) Dorothy talked about how she worked with Engrid about helping her fitness get back on track and it starting out with walking, to create those guidelines to help figure out where she was starting off. Dorothy then talks about her mentor taking off her FitBit off and that inspired her to take hers off. She openly says it was for vanity reasons, and I really feel her in that because they can be quite bulky and let’s face it, they’re not the most fashionable of accessories, are they? She goes on to say that this gave her more freedom and she didn’t feel the need to track every step so I definitely felt like I was on the same wave length as Dorothy while listening to this episode. She goes on to say that she thinks it’s important to open ourselves up to new things and I believe that can still be the case when we talk about letting off of every single tracker we have on ourselves.  

It’s all about purpose; do I believe step counters are important? Of course! If you’re someone who wasn’t aware of the exercise they were doing before and wants to keep an eye on it, then absolutely. If you’re someone who doesn’t feel like they walk enough during the day and wants to see if they can improve themselves with a step counter, then that’s even better. However, if you’re someone who struggles with control and sometimes lets little things take over, then maybe (like me) you need to re-evaluate if you need a tracker in your life.  

strava879400568.jpg(This is an example of the tracking that Strava can do where it gives you the map with your distance, your time and your average pace per kilometre or mile.)

Don’t get me wrong, I still use trackers. I am a massive fan of Strava which can be used for a number of different exercises on Apple and Android, but I tend to use it for my running and my cycling. It’s a fantastic way of keeping track of all my runs and how far I have come in terms of my timing for running a 10K distance for example. I always like to keep an eye on it when I go cycling too because I never tend to know the distance when I’m cycling, so it’s nice to have that too. I’m certainly not against trackers in any way shape or form but for me, I believe that it needs to have a purpose and for me, a FitBit no longer serves its purpose for me. 

As I mentioned when I talked about Engrid’s podcast, Dorothy felt freedom when she stopped using her tracker and so did I. It was hard at first to let something go that I had used for so long but it gradually got easier. I didn’t put so much pressure on myself to hit my target each and every day and that was big for me. Scott has tried to encourage me to start using the Samsung Health app to track my steps but again, it’s not important to me to do this. He loves using it and he’s always in the top 5% in the world of steps but it’s not for me, right now at least and I’m pretty proud that I have been able to take a step back.  

Let me know your thoughts on today’s post; do you use a fitness tracker? Do you count your steps? Why do you count your steps or have you stepped away from it too? Thank you so much for reading it, and if you know of any other posts that are similar to this, please send them my way. 

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Becoming A Cyclist (Again).

Last year, my Dad’s wife gave me her old bicycle because she was getting a new one. It had been quite a while since I had my own bike but I was excited to be riding again. The only difference was when I last had my bike, I wasn’t cycling on the roads, but this time I knew it was the best way to get around so today’s post is all about how I felt becoming a cyclist (again). 

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I can’t remember the last time I rode a bike but I remember getting on this new bicycle and almost falling off. I wasn’t used to it at all and slightly panicked when I thought I was going to have to learn all over again. Thankfully that wasn’t the case and in ten minutes, I was golden. I’ve been wanting to cycle again for such a long time but buying a bicycle was never a priority so I’m very glad I got this opportunity. I didn’t have one sole reason why I wanted to cycle again; I know it’s so good in terms of physical health and an amazing way of transport (depending on where you go of course) so it’s a no-brainer and I wish I had have made it a priority before now. 

I took it step by step; I stuck to the footpath most of the time which I’m sure a few pedestrians weren’t pleased about but when you’re first starting out, it’s much safer than being on the road. I didn’t get on the bike much until after I finished up at my previous job so I’ve been using the opportunity to get out on it as much as possible. Over this time, I’ve been using the bus lanes as much as I can and I’m taking full advantage of the greenways we have around the city. I initially became worried about cycling on the roads because you sometimes see the bad attitudes of other drivers and being a driver myself, I have tried not to have the same attitude. I don’t believe that cars rule the road but unfortunately some drivers believe that they do, and in turn, that means they don’t care about anyone but themselves including cyclists. I had visions of drivers beeping their horns at me, not being able to make a turn on the road in case I couldn’t get across because drivers wouldn’t give me the time of day or a line of traffic sitting behind me and I worried that I would becoming panicked all of a sudden. For months before that, I remember openly telling friends that I wouldn’t dare cycle in the city centre on the roads because I had those exact worries. 

20180901_170106.jpg(One of my favourite cycling trips was up to Carrickfergus for the afternoon. It has the perfect cycle route from Belfast to the town centre.)

I’m seeing so many benefits after a very short while; it helps that I already love going to the gym and I love where I am in terms of running at the minute too but I believe the cycling is making a huge difference to my physical fitness. My legs feel stronger because of it; although a cyclist did pass me a week or two ago and said that I should probably adjust my seat higher because my knees do bend further more than they should, so I’ll try adjusting it to see what happens. I don’t listen to any music or podcasts when I’m cycling because I think it’s important to hear around you, just in case you might miss something behind you or in front, but I’ve enjoyed not having headphones in all the time. I have a bad habit of needing to hear something all the time so whether that is a podcast or music, I can see myself becoming less dependent on it, which I never thought would happen.  

20180726_163918.jpg(This is part of the cycling route to Carrickfergus and this particular location is Hazelbank Beach, very close to Jordanstown and Loughshore Beach. It’s a favourite of mine for running and cycling.)

As surprising as it is to write this, I haven’t had that many bad experiences so far. While there has been a car or two get a little too close trying to speed past me to get around the corner, that’s about the height of it.  I do get a little self-conscious because I know I’m slower than a car or a bus and I’m worried about holding someone up, but I soon got over that when I realised I had every right to be there as another vehicle. (Plus the cycling community around Northern Ireland also told me this on Twitter, which was lovely) 

We’re always in such a rush nowadays and being a driver, I can understand the frustration of being behind something slower but we do all need to realise that whether you are driving a car, bus or a van or riding a motorcycle or bicycle, we all have the right to use the road. As long as everyone sticks to the road rules, then we shouldn’t have a problem. Unfortunately, I’ve heard (and seen) some horror stories (especially on Twitter) against cyclists but I’m glad that I haven’t had those experiences.  

I can’t wait to start exploring more of the city because I absolutely love using the greenways. I don’t think I’ll be taking part in any races, I prefer to have cycling as a hobby rather than turning it into a competitive sport but full power to those who race in races competitively. Thank you so much for taking the time to read today’s post, I really appreciate it! 

How I Fell In Love With HIIT.

From the start of the year, I have drifted away slightly for the gym setting and because I was starting to run more, I felt like because I was running, I didn’t necessarily have to go to the gym as often. This Summer, I have incorporated a new workout structure into my routine, HIIT and that’s what today’s post is all about.

pexels-photo-866021(Photograph from Pexels.com)

If you don’t know what HIIT is (I’m sure most of you do though) it stands for high intensity interval training and according to Wikipedia, “is a form of interval training, a cardiovascular exercise strategy alternating short periods of intense anaerobic exercise with less intense recovery periods”. I had heard of HIIT before, it’s all over the internet at the minute so I wasn’t completely oblivious to it but it never occurred to me to add it in on a regular basis. Scott had originally shown me a workout or two and at the time, it completely exhausted me but I loved it. It was the first time in a long time where it had the same impact that running had, so thinking back now, it seems very strange that I didn’t keep it up.

As I mentioned at the beginning, my usage of the gym had slipped from the beginning of the year and because I was started to run more, it almost gave me the excuse not to use the gym as often as I should. My motivation had started to lower severely over the last few months too so that also became a factor for me.

So what prompted my interest in HIIT workouts again? Well, one of my favourite Instagrammers at the minute is @steffi_loves, a local personal trainer in Belfast who not only is one of the sweetest women you’ll see on Instagram (and real life) but she is incredibly motivating when it comes to fitness. She records her own fitness workouts for her website and Instagram and doesn’t make it seem like the toughest thing in the world to do either. She had announced that she was hosting a HIIT session with a brunch afterwards and I’m all about a good brunch so I decided to sign up. I was going through a period (and if I’m being honest, I still am) of low self-confidence so I was more nervous than I was excited, but I knew that if I wanted to get over that hurdle, I had to make myself uncomfortable, even if it was just for a morning.

pexels-photo-868757(Photograph from Pexels.com)

I don’t tend to go to a lot of group exercise classes, I prefer to workout on my own but after a while, I felt very at ease. At my local gym, when I hear group classes going on, there seems to be quite a lot of shouting from the instructor and that’s what puts me off. If I wanted to be shouted at, I would shout at myself, I don’t expect someone else to do it for me. I understand the reasons behind it; it’s meant motivate people to work out harder but it does the opposite for me. It simply makes me more annoyed and want to quit. Thankfully Stefanie wasn’t like this at all and I believe that was one of the biggest reasons why I enjoyed the class so much.

Now unfortunately I can’t remember how many or all the names of the exercises we did on the day but if you’re looking for exercises to put together yourself, you can check Stefanie’s website or there are hundreds of resources online. For our class however, we did a body weight circuit with thirty seconds on and fifteen seconds off then we repeated that three times with a minute and a half break in between. Once that was done, we completed a ten minute cool down with cardio mixed in there but some stretches too. It was such a fantastic class and it gave me the same exhaustion that running did, so I knew something had really clicked.

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(One of the first HIIT sessions I did on my own after going to Steff’s class)

My set-up is very simple at the minute but I don’t think it needs to be complicated. I choose to do these workouts in the gym but they are so easy to do at home too. All I need is a mat or a soft floor then depending on the body part I’m focusing on, some hand weights too. That’s it, it really is that simple.

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(One of my most recent HIIT sessions focusing on the arms.)

It has really changed the way I look at my fitness performance. When I first started the gym around five years ago, I wouldn’t leave until I had at least completed an hour worth of exercise and I felt like I had to hit a certain amount of calories before I had left. Back then, I didn’t really know that the calories on the machine weren’t that accurate and I thought the longer you worked out, the better it was for you. I was very wrong but thankfully over the years, I have started to become more knowledgeable about fitness and how you should pair different machines with different body parts that you want to focus on. I’ve discovered this year that I have completely fallen in love with both running and HIIT and while I know I can’t workout this way every single day because your body does need recovery, it’s nice to know that I’m still learning about my body and the way certain exercise can impact it.

Thank you for reading today’s post; I’m really excited that I have become passionate about using the gym again and HIIT training has changed the way I workout as well as giving me that little kick up the butt that I needed when it came to fitness.

January to March Reflections and April to June Goals (2018)

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Back in January, I talked about changing my perspective on New Year’s Resolutions and how I’m now looking at goals in a three-month basis rather than all year round. We’re now in the second quarter of the year and it’s time to not only reflect on the last three months but to look ahead to the next three. 

(Number One) Clear my spare room. 

I haven’t completed this one yet, I’m getting there but not just yet. On the positive side, I have filled six large black bin bags and given away four bags of items away to charity with more bags still to be filled. So while I haven’t completed this particular goal, I’m much further on than I was at the start of the year.

(Number Two) Finish my nutrition course.

I have my final exam to take and then I will be finished. I’ve been working hard the last few weeks to give myself time in the evening to study so to be so close to the finishing point, I’m so pleased!

(Number Three) Read fifty pages a week. 

I kept track of this for the first few weeks of January but that very much slipped so I don’t know how many pages I have read since the start of the year. I know that I have however, read two books and listened to two full audiobooks. By the way, how did I not realise the beauty of audiobooks until this year? With four books altogether, I know that was more than I had read altogether last year so I’m very pleased already with that number.

So on to the next three months; this will cover April, May and June and at the beginning of July, I’ll be back to tell you about my progress for my latest goals and what I have in store for the next three months after that. 

(Number One) Begin my research into growing my blog. 

This particular goal has been something I have been thinking about for possibly two years. I want to have my own domain name, I want to build my own media kit and I want to be able to curate my blog design to how I would like but it’s not something you can change in a day. I know research will be required for what host I use, what website do I go through for the domain, the type of service I want and whether I want someone to build me a design. There are so many more things to think about so while I’m not committing to changing everything in three months, I want to at least look into everything I want, estimated costs and how much time it will take too.

(Number Two) Note down my spending for one month. 

Note that I have only said one month, simply because I feel like I only really need to do it for one month to see an average spend. The last number of months have been expensive months in terms of special occasions but these next three aren’t too bad so that’s why it was a perfect time to do this. My main purpose is to be able to start saving money again because I like to have my own “just in case” money and even if It’s not a large amount I can save, it will at least be something.

(Number Three) Try a new fitness class. 

I’m not a huge fitness class person. I prefer to work out by myself and the furthest I go is a run with my boyfriend. I went to a spin class before but I didn’t enjoy it; despite this, I wanted to push myself outside my comfort zone so my boyfriend and I have both signed up for a kick boxing six week class. I’m really excited because I’ve been looking for a boxing type class for a while but they all seemed to be “contact” classes and I didn’t want to get punched in the face, and this new class is pads and bag contact, so no injuries for me!

Let me know what you think of goals; are you more of a New Year’s Resolutions person that focuses on all year-round goals or do you like to split them up like me? 

Training for a 10K Race: Wait, again?

If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you’ll know that in the middle of last year, I decided to take up running. This was partly influenced by my boyfriend but it was something that I had wanted to do for a long time and I didn’t really know where to begin. Luckily for me, he was more than happy to come running with me, teach me how to run properly and be my support system.

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(Back at my first official 5K race: The Connswater 5K)
Through my running, I’ve taken part in about a dozen parkruns, quite a number of my own personal runs with various distances, mini run club runs, a charity fun run, a 5K official race and a 10K official race. While I documented my running journey of building myself up to a 5K race, I didn’t do that as well as I had hoped for the 10K and that’s one big regret of mine. Not so much for the blog, although I would have liked for it to worked as inspiration even just for one person; it was more so for myself because I would have liked to see written progress of that process too.

Being the romantic that I am, for Valentine’s Day, I signed us both up for the Titanic Quarter 10K race happening at the beginning of April. He told me that he’s done this particular race before and because it’s in a newly developed part of the city with views of the water, it’s a really nice backdrop for a run. He didn’t know I was signing us both up but he seemed really pleased that we would get to run together in another race, and this also means going out on more training runs together whenever we can.

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(I don’t stop to take photographs too often on a run but on occasion, it’s nice to take a breather)
My plan of action for the build up to this race is pretty simple. If you follow me on Instagram, more often than not, I post my runs on there so I plan on still doing that and additionally, I’ll be doing a blog post every two weeks talking about them more in-depth. I don’t want complicate it because running shouldn’t be complicated so why make my blog that way?

I hope you’ll follow me along on my latest running journey because it’s something I’m very passioniate about and I love that I can share it with others too. While you’re here, you can catch up on some older running posts too:

Training for a 5K Race: An Introduction and My First Run.
Training for a 5K Race: Running and Negative Mental Health.
Training for a 5K Race: The Lone Run.
Training for a 5K Race: My First (Unofficial) Park Run.
Training for a 5K Race: Last Minute Training.
Training for a 5K Race: Race Day!

SS: Sunday Saves (#68)

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Happy Sunday evening everyone (or whenever you read this!) I’ve had such a busy weekend that the evening of my Sunday Saves was the only free time I had to write my post. I’ve just taken part in the #UKRunChat over on Twitter (it takes place every Wednesday and Sunday at 8pm) and I’ve came across a number of running blog posts during that so I thought it would be quite nice to talk about those.

1) Two Legs One Beard (My First Parkrun)

Reading Richard’s blog post about his first parkrun reminds me of my first parkrun last year (even though I started getting into them properly just a few weeks ago). He’ll give you some advice on what to expect from the Saturday morning run and he also talks about his experience.

2) Honest Fitness (I’m back. Running, blogging and moaning!)

Kev has just started up his blog again and he talks through some of the life changes he has gone through over the last few years. He talks about mental health and taking part in a 10K along with his little boy, so lots covered in just one post.

3) The Run Blog (Winning The Mental Battle)

The mental battle when running is something that I still struggle with and if you haven’t read my blog post on it, I’ll link it here. I love Paula’s honesty around running and how it used to make her feel versus where she currently is now. It’s definitely a relatable post for anyone who feels “off” when they run.

And we’re done for the evening! I hope you all enjoyed my chosen posts and remember to give them a little read and maybe a comment, it always means so much. Have a great weekend everyone!

SS: Sunday Saves (#66)

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Happy Sunday everyone! I hope you’re all enjoying the Bank Holiday weekend so far (for those of you that are in the UK of course). I’m having quite a relaxing Sunday morning; I have a few tealights lit, I’m about to move onto my second cup of tea and 30 Seconds to Mars is the choice of music this morning. In today’s Sunday Saves, I’ll be talking about the difference between men’s and women’s fitness magazines, the best websites for stock photographs and knowing when a job isn’t right for you.

1) Cake Vs. Scales (Why Women Should Read Men’s Fitness Magazines)

Katie makes a good point and I think anyone who is in the fitness world, someone who is starting out or simply someone who reads magazines, should read this post. She talks briefly about the comparisons behind men’s and women’s fitness magazines and especially the “attention grabbers” on the front cover. Women’s fitness magazines tend to focus on the bikini body and articles on how to have a better sex life while men’s magazines tend to focus on becoming stronger (it’s important to note they still talk about sex but it seems to be a smaller amount than women’s). Katie’s post explains it much better than me but next time at the shop, why not have a look at both and see what she means.

2) Laura Conteur (12 Best Stock Photo Sites in 2017)

It’s no surprise that I use stock photographs and there seems to be some judgement towards this for some bloggers which I’ll never understand. I don’t have time to take pictures every week for certain posts (although I try to use as many as my own photographs as possible) and when I do use stock photographs, I almost always credit them (unless I forget). Laura gives her recommendations for the best websites; I use some of these websites and she’s even given me some new ones to try!

3) Hello Sara Lou (How To Know You Have Found The Right Job: Joy Over Job)

Sara is one of my lovely Twitter and blogger friends who I have met in real life (and she’s just as lovely in real life as she is on Twitter) and we were talking about meeting up for some lunch last week and she mentioned about her two job moves. She told me she had written a blog post all about it (and silly me hadn’t seen it). In her post she talks about starting a new job that she was so excited for but she thought she had stepped down the career ladder when she actually got there so she talks about how she felt about going back to her old job, and how she’s much happier now. It’s hard to start fresh in a job but to feel like you’ve just undone all progress must been horrible so I have the up-most respect for Sara for realising this and going back to her old job.

Thank you so much for reading today’s post; remember to go over to the posts and give them some love. If you want to check out last week’s edition, you can find it right here!