Pop Pilates: My exercise of choice

A few years ago, I was once again in a state of temporary desperation to be fitter and healthier. I’d read or heard that pilates was supposed to be a great way to tone up so I thought it would be something to do alongside the jogging I’d started doing. I went on YouTube and searched for ‘Beginners Pilates’. What I found was this video.

For a couple of weeks, I followed this workout every other day, jogging in my local park on the other days. I started feeling stronger and healthier.

I can’t remember what derailed that particular attempt at shedding some of my excess pounds and becoming a healthier person. Maybe it was school holidays or Easter or Christmas or something. To be honest, it could have been a big takeaway curry. My willpower is my greatest enemy.

Anyway, last summer, I found myself eager to try exercise and healthy eating again. Without much consideration, I turned straight back to that video. It was, for exercise, reasonably enjoyable and it was only 30 minutes long so I could fit it into small spaces of spare time. But this time, I actually looked into the person who made and stars in the video: Cassey Ho. She’s a super perky exercise instructor, plus she’s that little bit more realistic than some instructors I’ve used the videos of. It turns out, Pop Pilates is her own form of pilates, designed to be more fun and energetic than the traditional classes. I went on the Blogilates website and found the Beginner’s Workout Calendar. I followed it diligently for four weeks and then continued for a couple of months after that, using the videos I really enjoyed (yes, actually enjoyed) and I found were working best for me.

I lost 1.5 stone in those few months. I felt so much more energetic, healthy and strong. I know I probably sound like a cheesy advert right now but it’s true!

Now three months of regular exercise and healthy eating is pretty amazing for me. But inevitably, it all ended when we went on holiday at the end of summer. I told myself I’ll forget the exercise for a few days and try to be careful with eating. Well, a few days spent at Husband’s grandmother’s house and a day trip to a theme park (ice cream and burgers galore!) and I had gone totally off plan. Then it was back to work and school routine and I completely lost my motivation. I’ve now gained back half a stone.

Now January has rolled around and, despite a slight lack of real motivation (if you read my last post, you’ll know what I mean), I know I need to give a healthy lifestyle another try. The way I see it, if I can lose a stone each year overall, I’ll be my ideal weight by the time I’m 30!

I’ll be going back to the Blogilates Beginners Calendar again. It worked before and I’m hoping it’ll work again. I genuinely recommend this exercise programme to anyone who’s been interested in trying pilates but is a little reluctant or unsure of where to begin.

Good luck to anyone else embarking on a January diet!

Thanks for reading.

(P.S I wasn’t asked to write this review of Blogilates. It’s entirely my own opinion)

Change is Good (and healthy)

I am not healthy. It’s something I realised just after Christmas. I know many of us put on a few pounds over the festive season, regretted as soon as January begins. But for me, this was a little more than that. I realised that I have gained some really unhealthy habits. It’s not even just weight gain. I don’t feel healthy. I know that’s a bit of an abstract thing to say but it’s just that feeling of unhealthiness. I’ve never been skinny and I’ve been a bit overweight since having Pip but I always felt ok. Now I actually don’t, which is quite worrying really.

I do walk for around two hours every weekday but that is all of the exercise I regularly do. I’ll occasionally do half an hour of pilates but nothing regular.

I eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. The problem is, I also eat plenty of everything else. It’s always been a problem of mine. I am always hungry. Put food near me and I’m bound to eat it. It’s shameful really, having so little self control.

So, I need to make some changes. I am not going on a strict diet and exhausting exercise regime. I’ve been there and done that and it simply does not work for me. I do not have the self control. So it’s time for a different approach.

First of all,  I’m going to give the 5:2 diet a try. Supposedly it’s the diet for people who find it difficult to stick to diets. It’s also not very strict. You simply only eat 500 calories on two days of the week and try to eat reasonably for the other five days. No list of allowed foods or recipes. No disgusting shakes made from powder that never seems to quite dissolve. No special supplements.

Secondly, I’m going to make healthier food decisions. No, I’m not cutting out chocolate or banning takeaways. I’m simply going to choose healthier options. Instead of ice cream, I’ll choose frozen yoghurt. Instead of crisps, I’ll choose air popped popcorn. I’ll try to cut down on my portions a bit too. After she got a little used to eating treats over Christmas, I’ve imposed a ‘No treats on weekdays’ rule for Pip. Well, it seems a bit hypocritical if I say this to her then dive into the chocolates as soon as she’s in bed. So I’m going to try and stick to it as well. No chocolate or sweets on weekdays. That’s not denying myself them completely, it’s just putting a more healthy habit in place. Who knows, I might find myself enjoying these things a bit more if I have to wait for them.

Thirdly, I’m going to try and do some more regular exercise. I think twice a week to begin with then maybe push it up to three times. I really want to get back into jogging and I’ll stick with pilates too as my belly has been a mess for five years and it’s time I sorted it out!

I think the main thing is to remind myself that I actually enjoy lots of healthy foods. They don’t have to boring or taste bad. So I really want to look at a few recipes that are healthy, easy to make and taste yummy. Here are a few breakfast ones:

Honey & cinnamon porridge

Hot and comforting on a cold morning, this is also favourite of Pip’s. The honey and cinnamon honestly do make it taste just as good as porridge sweetened with sugar and much, much better than a fry up! Also, if you half the portion and use water instead of milk, it makes a great breakfast for fast days on the 5:2 diet.

40g porridge oats

270ml skimmed milk

2 tsp honey

a pinch of cinnamon

1. Add the oats and milk to a saucepan over a medium heat. Then add the honey and cinnamon.

2. Stir until the porridge is as thick as you prefer.

Banana Smoothie

Unlike lots of smoothie recipes, this has no expensive or strange ingredients and tastes wonderful. Also makes a quick and easy breakfast.

1 banana

250 ml skimmed milk

2 tsp honey

Put all ingredients into a blender, blend (obviously) and serve. So simple and so yummy.

Crumpets topped with yoghurt, berries and honey

I think this was one of the Hairy Biker’s diet recipes. I’ve only had it once or twice and, despite being healthy, it actually feels like a real treat! Fat free yoghurt is one of those ingredients that doesn’t cost any extra and I really don’t think tastes too different either.

2 crumpets

About 2 tbsp of fat free yoghurt

About 100g frozen berries (I like raspberries but you could use whichever you like best)

1 tsp honey

Put the frozen berries in a saucepan and heat to thaw and warm up. Creates lots of lovely juice too. Toast the crumpets and serve topped with the yoghurt, then the warm berries and some of their juice (if you use it all, you might find you get a soggy crumpet and nobody wants that…) and then drizzle the honey on top.

I’ll post some nice, healthy and simple lunch and dinner recipes at some point too.

I’m really hoping that with a few changes to my lifestyle, I’ll start to feel better again. Wish me luck!