Thursday, 28 June 2007

Spoil yourself!

Well, another day and another fantastically healthy diet, spinach, nuts, fresh mackerel, orgainc eggs and more! I have had the correct portions of fruit and veg , I have hydrated my body with plenty of water and herbal teas and yet I still feel the desire to wash everything down with a pint of ale.

Since writing this blog I now feel a sense of guilt every time I do something unhealthy, I caught myself sneaking out of the off license last week with a few bottles of real ale hidden underneath a copy of the Herald and then I quickly made a dash for the car hoping that nobody would see me. When I finished training prematurely today I felt like I was setting a really bad example, I am sure that we all feel a bit guilty when we plan to do something and then do not complete the desired outcome. So should we feel guilty or not?

Feeling fit and healthy is not just about diet and exercise but more so about a feeling of wellbeing and calm. Sometimes your body is saying it needs a rest, I am sure most of us encounter enough daily stress so finding time to relax can be essential. I am aware that throughout my blogs I have failed to mention sleep, how wrong of me! Sleep and rest are essential, Insomnia in this country is rife and can affect all of us. The biggest cause of sleeplessness is thought to be depression and none of us can argue that we have never felt stressed or depresssed.

Apologies for my next set of comments but I can't resist! Have any of you watched any of the sleep clinic programmes - how entertaining, obviously not for the poor people who are dancing around their bedroom whilst asleep but great TV nonetheless. Back to a serious note, here is the NHS web page for advice on insomnia - click here

As I mentioned before stress and depression are the usual causes of sleeplessnes so make sure you get some quality time to your self, our busy lifestyles often mean that we do not take time for ourselves. Simple things like reading a favourite book, going for a walk or having a massage can give us some time to unwind, for me exercising is actually a great form of stress relief and no matter how miserable I am feeling I always feel better after a good session on the pole.

Well, now I have justifed having a pint later and have probably made countless typos throughout my blog I will stop my ramblings and sign off.

Have a great evening and stay healthy

Sam x

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

New day new blog!

Today is the day I start my new blog page and as with all new things it has taken me a little while to get used to get used to using the new system but I like a challenge. I am hoping to get you all a little more involved with the blog by posting comments on your ideas for health and fitnes and general feedback on what sort of information you would like included in the blog, otherwise you just get my opinion.

I want to hear from you on all aspects from food to drink, sport to alternative exercise, unusual remedies and funny stories involving your own personal health and fitness. Videos and photos are also welcome and can be sent to me via e-mail:

I must be honest the grey skies are not inspiring me to get you to be more active in fact quite the opposite, we should be outdoors enjoying the fantastic June weather but for those of us in the UK that is far from the case. As the news showed us today actually going out in the terrible rain can be deadly and that is certainly not a topic to promote health and fitness. Let's hope the weather improves.

So I leave you to think about how you can help my blog and also for those of you in and around the south west why not visit the Ocean project, run by the barbican theatre. The ocean project is choreographed by Jules Laville and will feature youth dance groups perforing outside the National marine Aquarium and in and around the barbican. It wil be a great opportunity for local people to learn more about the ocean and get involved with local dance. The event will take place on June 30th and July 1st, for more information please visit

In the mean time I will look forward to your inspiring comments on health and fitness, Stay Healthy, Sam x

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Grey skies and motivation

Apparently today is the longest day of the year and therefore we should have the most sunlight hours - obviously this is not quite the case today. For some of us the grey skies and rain can make us feel less than motivated but we live in hope that there is some sunshine on the way.I suppose the fact that Glastonbury is running this weekend guaranteed that bad weather would imposing itself upon us. Anyway I must apologise for the lack of blogs over the last few days but I have been updating my first aid training and I am now desperately waiting for someone to injure themselves so I can practice my skills. As a fitness-professional I should be looking at damage limitation but the excitement of bandaging someone's head has taken over. One thing that the first aid training reminded me of was the fact that heart failure is still our biggest killer. This fact reminded me about the importance of healthy living and a good diet to prevent the hardening of the arteries and high blood pressure that ultimately leads to heart attacks and strokes. We can all look after our vital organs just a little bit more and so I refer back to the usual suspects: drink lots of water, eat lots of fresh fruit and veg, exercise and be happy. Buy some fresh food, only yesterday I went down to the fish market next to the National Marine aquarium and bought some beautiful fresh bass from Rex down, not only was it lots cheaper than the local supermarket but it also tasted fresher and I knew that the money was going to local people. Generally the fishmongers do not mind members of the public popping in as long as it's between 9am and midday Monday to Thursday. And so off to cook my next healthy meal, a serving of bass - California style (pan-fried in spices). Enjoy the longest day of the year and eat well. Sam x The stroke association website - information on heart attacks and their prevention. - fresh food delivered to your door

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Endurance - more than a Japanese game show

Now for some of you the idea of Endurance may conjure up the idea of some Japanese game show but for others such as marathon runners they are familiar with the realism of endurance and exactly how much the body can be pushed to its limits.I spoke to two of my students who have both completed marathons in the last year and was amazed at what they had chosen to put themselves through. Take Nicole Burns, a busy 30-year-old mother and university student, despite the challenges of having a six-year-old daughter she still decided to run the New York marathon. She is quoted as saying "When I eventually stopped running (I had run the entire 26.2 with no walking apart from drink stations) I could barely walk - a very bizarre experience! My socks were blood red, I lost both my big toe nails and had blisters/sores which took 4 weeks to heel." And then to Viv Richards, 40 year old mother of two, who says that she has no idea why she decided to do the Paris marathon but can assure me that at the time you swear it will be your last! What seemed to come from both these ladies was a sense of great physical and psychological achievement despite the pain, dehydration, heat etc. Both ladies mentioned the point at which they wanted to give up but carried on regardless. I have stated in previous blogs the idea of overcoming your own personal expectations but both Nicole and Viv had taken it to the extreme and how proud they must feel. I think all of us can take on a new challenge but most of choose to make excuses instead. We should take a leaf out of their book, we don't have to run a marathon or swim the channel but we can always do more! Another thing that these ladies have proved is that keeping fit is not only important for us as individuals but we also need to be role models for the next generation and Nicole and Viv have done exactly that. Their kids must be inspired by their actions. You only have to read the news at present to look at the disturbing statistics of obese and generally unhealthy children who survive on poor diets, and complete lack of exercise. These children are going to suffer physically and mentally and that can only have a negative impact on the rest of society let alone the impact that this will have on the NHS. So no more excuses, no more saying I haven't got time, if two mothers with young children can do it then the rest of us have no excuse. Oh and don't try the bad back excuse either, generally exercise helps strengthen the core muscles which in turn will protect the back. If you do have a serious back condition then always consult your GP before taking on any new challenges. Oh and don't think that I am suggesting that you have to run a marathon - quite the opposite, I can assure you that I have no intention of running a marathon this year or next, I do however like to keep setting myself new goals no matter how big or small and it is these goals that will keep us fit both physically and mentally. Thank you to Nicole and Viv for their comments and help in writing this blog Stay Healthy, Sam x - exercises to boost core strength a great source of training advise for any of you considering running a marathon - advice on endurance training

Monday, 18 June 2007

You can push yourself

I was sitting in Mutley Baptist church yesterday waiting to give blood - I thought I should do a good deed and it gave me an hour away from work.The staff as usual were absolutely brilliant and I was reminded what a fantastic job they do. Whilst writing my blog I have been reminded how much we take our own health for granted. The fact that most of us have our mobility is great in itself and then I look at those who do have physical disabilities and yet they can still manage all sorts of physical feats. It makes you think that we could all push ourselves just that little bit more and so today I set about my new training regime, adding a new list of pole tricks to my already challenging schedule. Despite the extra workout I felt really good, I had exceeded my own personal expectations and, despite the bruising, I felt I had really achieved something (I may regret it tomorrow!). I am sure we can all do a little bit more than we think we can and although giving up feels like the easy option the sense of reward you get when you do go the extra mile is well worth it. Look at the recent half or full marathon, how great it must feel to cross that finish line. Your goals don't have to include running a marathon it might be as simple as walking to work instead of driving which will boost your health and your wallet. Perhaps you could try increasing your gardening routine getting the health benefits and then enjoying the visual results of your hard work. If none of this is appealing to you then just thinking about something simple like improving your posture just by lengthening through the spine and holding your tummy in a little you are improving your core strength, you can do this even whilst watching the TV. So while Stacey on Eastenders is making Bradley's life miserable you can be toning your abs by holding the belly in a little and lengthening the spine making yourself feel that little bit taller. You could surprise your self with the results. Well that's enough for my blog today as Saturday evening is approaching fast and I have a pint of Real Ale waiting to reward me for my vigorous workout, I have guzzled a large amount of water and now feel justified in my sin! Have a happy and healthy week. Sam x Check out the sofa workout -,,258_166820,00.html The gardening workout - Everything you need to know about getting a flat stomach- Help the health and fitness of others by giving blood-

Friday, 15 June 2007

Exercise is boring

was a little stunned today to hear someone utter the words “Yes, but exercise is boring”, They obviously haven’t been watching ITV’s “Britain’s got talent” and therefore haven’t seen the lively display of varying types of exercise from angle grinding and aerial silk to break dancing and parkour.I am unsure if the rapping granny was exercising but she was very entertaining nevertheless and proof that you are never too old! Exercise forms are endless and all you need to do is find something you enjoy. The main aim with exercise is to get your body moving in some way, shape or form. You do not have to go for a traditional workout and you certainly should have no excuse for getting bored with your exercise routine. Since hearing the boring exercise comment I started to look around Plymouth to see exactly what was on offer and there really is something for everyone. Just by perusing a local magazine I found references to line dancing, street dance, football, Thai- boxing, trapeze and judo to name but a few. Even if you are the sort of person who is not into group sports or if you have limited funds we live in area of beautiful coastline and fantastic moorland so why not just have a walk? The aim is to increase your physical activity and judging by the group of people sat outside a local fast food takeaway today most of us really do need to exercise more. You don’t have to be a gym bunny and spend vast amounts of money on monthly memberships there are certainly cheaper alternatives. If you are looking for something different then I would suggest finding an activity that you don’t have to over commit too - just try a few classes or activities at a time to see if you really like it. Also make sure that the activity is suited to your own personal needs. Think about why you are exercising; Is it to lose weight, increase your lung capacity, tone up or maybe you have a medical condition and have been advised to exercise by your GP. Your GP may be your first point of contact when considering new forms of exercise. If you are attending a fitness class then the instructor should be able to advise you if you require GP consent. If you are merely walking on the moors try to increase your walk a little at a time maybe increasing your walking pace as well as the duration of your walk.. Remember the aim is to enjoy exercising and prevent it becoming a chore. - Download information walks on Dartmoor South West coast path walks Advise for senior citizens on exercising safely All the info you need for finding sports and leisure activities within Plymouth. Stay Healthy and get out there and start sweating! Sam x

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Alcohol and chocolate

I suppose the title of today's blog alcohol and chocolate does not seem quite right for a fitness blog but as I am a great believer in having a little of what you fancy it seemed appropriate.

Only yesterday I was reading that Cadbury Schweppes are introducing a line of low fat chocolate, supposedly a healthy alternative but then low fat usually means stuffed with artificial sweeteners and flavours so is this really a healthy option?

I like Amy Winehouse's new approach, despite her being renowned as a lover of multiple alcoholic beverages she is now turning over a new leaf and adding a shot of fruit juice to each beverage, What a great excuse to carry on drinking and yet still argue you are being healthy.

Joking aside, alcohol certainly poses many health risks and for binge drinkers and alcoholics it is definitely no laughing matter. I cannot plead innocence in this matter as I am very partial to real ale and despite claming to be a health professional I feel justified in having the odd pint or two or three. Again we come back to the topic of moderation and also thinking about what our drinks actually contain. A study carried out several years ago at the University of Plymouth looked at the high number of additives in certain lagers and noticed a direct correlation between sales of these drinks and recorded instances of anti-social behaviour. As the advert says – please drink responsibly!

So back to chocolate, is it really all that bad? If any of my instructors are reading this, and I know that a few of them are very partial to a bit of chocolate, then they may be pleased to know that chocolate can be good for you. Chocolate is linked to serotonin levels in the brain which may explain why some people feel happier after eating chocolate; this is not entirely proven as other studies argue that we like choclate because it melts at body temperature giving a nice physical sensation when being eaten. Remember chocolate is a stimulant and therefore should always be taken with caution, although if taking stimulants are your concern then you should be far more worried about the effect of overindulging in coffee. Too many stimulants are definitely not good for you, but as with alcohol there’s a bigger picture to think about. How much sugar does your bar of chocolate contain and how much phenethylamine, I could bore you with a list of other chemicals but again I resort to my moderation argument and advise simply reading the label on your bar of chocolate to give you an idea of what might be in it.

I am now probably the most unpopular person in the world having written negative things about two of people’s most favourite sins - alcohol and chocolate - and will also take responsibility for those who have read this and have been reminded how much they like chocolate, and have therefore gone out and bought a bar or worse have just nipped out for a quick beer.

To finish I announce my miracle cure, drinks lots of water then at least whatever toxins you have introduced you are half way to flushing them out! Stay healthy and happy x

Websites you may find useful: (a good one if you like chocolate!)

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Eating well is more than a salad diet

Well, where should I start? After being asked to write a regular blog on health and fitness I realised what a huge topic I was expected to cover.I am sure that you are already bombarded by media attention on health issues such as what you should eat, what you shouldn't eat, what you should drink, what you shouldn't drink, how much to exercise and what is safe exercise! I find it fascinating that what is supposed to be good for you one day is suddenly bad for you the next. I have always had the opinion that moderation is the key and as my husband always reminds me - even moderation needs to be moderated. Diet and exercise are obviously crucial to good health but I think as individuals we have to listen to our own bodies without giving in too easily. There is a huge amount of advice out there but I think that enjoying your food is the key. A classic example is the humble salad. Now to some of you this may mean a soggy old piece of lettuce, a tasteless tomato and the end of the cucumber that has been cut some time ago (Restaurant and cafe owners beware - some of this is directed at you!). If I ask for a salad I expect flavour and texture, I at least expect freshness, ideally local and organic but always fresh. A salad can be even more exciting, just nip over the channel and find selections of salad such as Tuna Nicoise a great healthy option that is full of flavour. Now the Plymouth Arts Centre knows how to do salad, they usually have four or five salads on offer and even my carnivorous husband is usually tempted by at least one of their vegetarian offerings. Of course eating salad does not guarantee you will be healthy and resorting to the nasty limp salad and then plastering it in sauce is not really the answer either. I am not saying that you have to live on salad in fact quite the opposite, after all variety is supposed to be the spice of life. Oh dear - now I sound like some born again dietician! Learn to enjoy food and always try new things. Your taste buds do change, don't eat things you hate. Remember diet is a very personal thing - think about your own health needs - are you trying to lose, gain or maintain your body weight. Do you have medical issues that affect your diet and what you can and can't eat? If in doubt always consult your GP. Here are some useful websites that I have found that may help. this is the food standards agency website - an American alternative giving advice on Women's diet issues - general advice on things such as portion size Eat well and stay healthy x