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)

It’s all good…

The title of this post might seem odd to a lot of people. There’s a lot of anxiety in Britain right now after the EU referendum and with the political parties picking new leaders. I was getting pretty stressed over this stuff so I’m writing this post to focus on the good things that are happening in my life right now…

After six years of study, I have finally been awarded my degree! 

It’s not something I really thought I’d manage, after dropping out of sixth form and having to support myself living alone at a fairly young age. But with lots of encouragement and support from my Husband (thank you!) and some very useful funding, I’ve done it! I really feel proud of myself, which is quite a rare thing for me. I feel like I’ve overcome the difficulties I had from my tricky childhood and I guess this is a real sign of how far I’ve come.

 

I had a night out with my Husband! 

This may sounds very mundane but fellow parents will know how rare this is. Even if we hire a babysitter, we can’t really relax. But this time, my lovely brother-in-law came to visit and looked after Pip while we went out. We had such a great time and it really reminded me of how we were before becoming parents. Of course I was suffering a bit the next day but it was worth it!

 

I’m actually managing to successfully diet! 

I have started diets too many times to count and they never go very well or last very long. But with my weight hitting an all time high, I’ve been really determined to do something about it. I’m now in my fifth week and I’ve lost just over a stone, just through eating healthily and exercising, mainly videos from Blogilates , a site full of free pilates and cardio videos, plus lots of healthy recipes and other tips. I’m starting to feel and see the difference in my body. I feel so much healthier and stronger than I did five weeks ago.

 

My work life is improving! 

Firstly, I’ve been moved departments at work. This wasn’t exactly my choice but it’s meant I have more working hours and therefore a bit more of a wage, which is always nice. Plus, being trained at something new is always good. I’m also looking for full time work and I’ve had a couple of interviews recently which I’m really hopeful will lead somewhere good.

 

It’s nearly the summer holidays! 

I’m lucky enough to have some time off with Pip and even a little bit with Husband too. I’m busy planning tons of fun stuff to do. It’s going to be an awesome six weeks!

 

So there! Plenty of great things are happening right now. I think it’s really important to remember that when things get tough.

What good things are happening in your life right now?

Becoming fitter & healthier: My progress

I’ve always been something of a yo-yo dieter. During my early teens, my weight rocketed to 12 stone before quickly plummeting to just over 8. For a few years, between the ages of 16 and 19, I found a balance at nine and a half stone, where I felt comfortable and healthy and actually fairly good about my appearance. I wasn’t super skinny but I just don’t have a body type that suits that.

I will entirely admit that after having a baby, I put on a lot of weight. Being at home and going through periods of depression really took their toll and I found myself not really caring about my health or well being at all.

Since moving to Cardiff, where I felt happier and more comfortable, I’ve tried dieting a few times. It always goes well until the weight loss starts to plateau, a common problem with losing weight I’ve heard, and my motivation just crumbles away.

At the beginning of this year, one of my goals was to not bother with dieting but to try and make a real effort to be healthier. I’ve failed this goal, I’m afraid, as I’m actually now trying out the 5:2 diet. I don’t feel too guilty about this though, since I’m actually finding it so easy to follow, it doesn’t feel like any of the other diets I’ve tried in the past at all. For most of the week, I can almost forget entirely that I’m even on a diet and for the two fast days, if I keep busy I find I don’t really feel too hungry either.

But the main way I’m now trying to become healthier is through exercise. Running around the park with Pip tires me out far too quickly and, to be honest, I’m scared of becoming one of those mums that can’t actually engage in any active play with their children at all. So rather than focusing on reaching a certain weight goal or dress size as I have done in the past, my goal in exercising is to increase my stamina and agility so that I can keep up with my energetic four year old, no matter what we’re doing.

I’ve been doing two forms of exercise. Running, which I’ve been doing three times a week for the last three weeks, and pilates, which I’ve done twice now and plan to keep doing twice a week.

Since I’m a complete beginner to running, I’ve been using a series of podcasts designed by the NHS Change 4 Life initiative called ‘Couch to 5k’. Each podcast is around half an hour long and guides you through your run, telling you when to run and when to slow down to walking for a minute or two. As the weeks go on, you slowly progress to more running and less walking. On week 1, you only run for sixty seconds at a time. Now on week three, I’m running for 3 minutes at a time and that’ll increase to 5 minutes next week. By the end of week 9, I should be running for thirty minutes without any walking breaks. Because it’s such gentle progress, I really feel like I can keep this up. I’m even finding that I enjoy my run, especially as I’m now with Pip all day long since she finished at nursery. That little bit of time to myself three evenings a week are really refreshing and peaceful. Also, because the amount of running increases gradually, I don’t feel daunted by the extra running time at the beginning of each week. I find I’m actually looking forward to getting to five minutes next week. I know it doesn’t sound like much but it feels like an achievement to me and a step towards being fitter and healthier.

For pilates, where I’m also a complete beginner, I’ve been using a 30 minute beginners workout that I found on Youtube. My belly, legs and arms ache afterwards but I found my second session a teeny bit easier to cope with than my first. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to progress to more advanced videos before too long!

All in all, I really feel like I’m taking some good steps towards improving my health and fitness. I’m going to keep trying to focus on feeling more energetic and healthy rather than on weight loss or dropping dress sizes but of course, it would be a nice bonus!