Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Fat gene myth!

I may be about to upset nearly 75% of the population of Plymouth and countless others worldwide but talk of a fat gene has really got my back up. New human genes don't generally just pop up as indicated in recent news stories. Fat occurs because people eat too much and don't' exercise enough. It is a delicate balance and I am not saying it is easy but it is a simple fact. We can all make excuses for why we are to fat or too thin but the simple answer is we as individuals are the only ones who the power to change how much fat we carry.

I am aware that certain TV programmes highlight the use of plastic surgery e.g. liposuction to lose weight, but that will only work as a short term measure - if you want to keep the fat off you have to watch what you eat and burn some calories. It is not just about eating less but more so about eating the right things. Starving your self will not help either. Small portions little and often are the best way forward, lots of fresh fruit and veg and lots of fluids (unfortunately not gallons of real ale - never mind!). Click here for more info on your 5 a day.

On to something completely different check out this picture of the dragon flag pose- no pole required just a standard picnic bench - no costly gym membership required either! Your local
beer garden will never be the same again!

Stay healthy,

Sam x

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Perfect day.

Firstly I must apologise for not posting for a few days. We had our open day on Friday in conjunction with the Mutley Greenbank Festival. I danced intermittently from 11am till 3pm and certainly felt a little sore yesterday, I also have the bruises to prove it! Pole dancing in a hot studio is highly demanding as the pole burn is increased by the heat and your hands tend to sweat making everything more likely to fail. Still a good day was had by all and thanks to Jo, Rosanna, Mia, Helen, Jenna etc for helping out.

Today I have had a perfect day, the weather has been pleasant and so my husband and I decided to venture out to a new farm shop in Lifton (just outside Tavistock). As we drove through Tavistock we noticed a sign for the Westcountry Cheese Fair - we had to stop. I adore cheese, it may not be the healthiest food substance but I really like it and it should be ok in moderation. Tavistock Hall smelt strongly of beautiful mould ripened cheeses and they sold one of my favourite real ales - Blackawton head strong (5.2%). I know this doesn't sound like a health and fitness blog but believe me when it comes to being happy - I was in my element.

We then left the cheese fair to go to the farm shop in Lifton. It was easy to find but looked a little commercial for my liking. We ventured in to be greeted by nice range of fresh veg, home made bread and farm assured meat amongst other delights. I bought some strawberries for part of a picnic and then armed with other goodies such as locally sourced Tregida Smoked Salmon we drove to Brentor:

Brentor Church is a 13th Century Church that is situated on top of the highest point on Dartmoor. The views are amazing and it is the perfect place for a picnic. My husband and I basked in the sun watching two gliders surf the thermals - Beautiful.

We returned via the Market Inn but alas they had run out of real ale so we ventured on to the Leaping Salmon in Horrabridge for a pint of Dartmoor Ale, the perfect end to a perfect day. I feel very refreshed and will hopefully go back to the studio on Tuesday feeling invigorated and ready for some new pole tricks and cardio training. Still, Bank Holiday Monday lies ahead, maybe time for another guest ale!

Stay Healthy,

Sam x

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Jo is back!

My two and a half weeks of hell are over and Jo, my main instructor, is back from Egypt. She is looking sickenly healthy but is ready to get back on the pole. It was great to see her and it reminded me of the importance of support networks - friends and family who are there when you need them. Support networks are essential for all us us in the prevention of mental health & depression. Many homeless people develop mental health problems purely from social exclusion and how many of us are guilty of walking past a homeless person and ignoring them or looking the other way. My policy is always to at least smile rather than to look away.

I used to work with both mental health patients and people with learning disabilities and was always amazed at some people's negative attitude towards certain individuals. Smiling costs nothing and maybe if we all smiled a little bit more we would all fell a little better. I think certain shops (they will remain nameless) should have a word with their staff about the importance of smiling and eye contact. I hate going into a shop and not even making eye contact with the sales staff especially if they are too busy yapping to their colleague to take notice of me. I assume that is some homeless people feel when someone walks past them without even acknowledging their existence.

If you smile at someone and then they are rude to you then you can withdraw but I believe in treating others as you would like to be treated - anyway best I get off my soap box now and disappear of home. I am doing Radio Devon with Gordon sparks tommorow and have to be there for 7.15pm - it is a time that I have no knowledge of .

More ramblings tomorrow.

Stay mentally healthy

Sam x

Friday, 17 August 2007

Forgot to mention:

A quick amendment to todays blog - I foolishly forgot to check comments from my previous post and therefore missed two fantastic comments. Firstly Hi To Laura and Stephen in Pennsylvania - hope life in the US is treating you well? Laura gave me this link to a website that gives great advice on making healthy choices when eating fish so that you can eat well and still do your bit for the environment - Great website.

Also thanks to Amytree for mentioning that if you eat ice cream standing up then apparently there are no calories !! I think this equates to my argument that I only drink real ale as it is full of carbs and actually helps my training??

FAO - Sarah A - you are right I do not know the meaning of the phrase easy class but well done on your side climb into figure head - you should be very chuffed x

Sam x

Feeling sorry for myself

Today I ache - I sympathise with the students I have taught this week as they are probably in a similar state although most of them may enjoy knowing that I am suffering for a change as opposed to just making them suffer. I have been averaging 3-4 hours teaching a day and managed to cram in an hour and a half photo shoot yesterday morning before my daytime lessons. I feel a bit like someone has been punching me in the stomach and ribs and I am not looking forward to teaching tomorrow. Luckily I have a day with no teaching today so my muscles get to rest. At least I know the cause of my muscle pain - too much exercise!

Well enough feeling sorry for myself - admin needs doing and will be done after I have written this blog. I find that writing this blog is actually providing with a nice break from my office work. I realise that I spend a lot of time in my blog talking about physical health and less talking about mental health which is just as important to overall well being. Of course we all experience stress but for some people this can spiral into depression and clinical depression but what is the answer? I personally have a big problem with anti depressants as I believe they are over prescribed and don't always work, they are quite often highly addictive and simply being prescribed drug does not address the cause of the depression.

A leading psychiatrist, Professor Gordon Parker, has announced today that many of us are not actually depressed at all but are just suffering from life stress which he believes is a normal part of living, he also comments on the problem of labelling i.e. once someone is told they have a condition it affects the way in which they behave and how others treat them. The World Health Organisation are about to launch their yearly report which features statistics on how many people in the world are suffering from mental health issues and the numbers are expected to have risen dramatically. So are we actually more stressed or are more people being wrongly diagnosed, and, of those being diagnosed are they being offered a holistic approach to treatment.

Whatever the truth we do know that physical exercise helps deal with depression so that is good news for me and my students! And talking of good news I have to mention this weeks National fireworks competitions - how amazing they were, click here to watch a video of them. Last bit of good news - Plymouth will be hosting the start of the transat race next year, it is great news for the city although my last memory of the start of the transat race was going out to watch it in a 14 foot dory in a 15 foot swell. This activity is not highly recommended and I am lucky to be alive to tell the story, I remember watching the larger boats return to the shore the sound as My friend Chris and I ventured further past the breakwater, it was a great adrenaline rush but in fact we were very lucky to return in one piece.

Well back to the admin chores - Have a great weekend and Stay healthy.

Sam x

Monday, 13 August 2007

Something fishy?

Fish and seafood form a big part of my diet. I was a vegetarian but made the decision to re-introduce fish into my diet about 4 years ago. I have always believed that fish is a great source of protein as well as valuable nutrients like omega 3. Unfortunately the benefits of eating fish are now being outweighed by two factors - Firstly, pollutants in our seas and rivers means that some fish contain unsatisfactory levels of metals such as mercury and secondly, we have the moral issue of depleting fish stocks - should we being eating fish that are becoming endangered?

The classic example of a fish becoming extinct is Cod - for years Cod has been common on our British menus and is the classic fish for dishes like fish and chips, however in recent years as numbers have declined we are being encouraged to avoid Cod and try alternatives such as Bream or Brill. If we make a moral standpoint to buy fish that are sustainable then we allow Cod the chance to flourish again. I believe that in addition to that we need to take measures to reduce pollution in our waters.

I found a great forum thread that gives quite a bit of info on what fish we should be eating and which fish we should be avoiding click here for more info. I do still eat fish but am trying to choose carefully which fish ends up on my plate.

Well, Jo has been away for a whole week now and not only am I missing her but I am starting to get a little bit of muscle fatigue so will have to take it easy this week to avoid any muscle damage. I did overwork my quads on Saturday whilst teaching a two hour hen party so apologies to the participants because if my quads are hurting today then theirs are probably in agony.

Off to grab a quick drink on the Hoe before returning to the office to finish my end of year accounts (very boring). Lastly Thanks to Amytree for reminding me in her blog how lovely Bigbury and Burgh island are - I spent the day there yesterday with my husband and treated myself to an ice cream from Salcombe Dairy (great local ice cream - a little bit of fat in the diet is OK) and a pint at the Royal Oak Inn - Bliss.

Stay Healthy

Sam x

Friday, 10 August 2007

Naughty me!

I have just visited Jo's blog and as if by magic strange things have happened to it! I am not sure where today's cheekiness has come from but after several days feeling a little miserable (probably due to having to do my end of year accounts- very boring) I now feel revived and mischievous. The sun is shining, I have the night off work, the diary is full of pole dancing bookings and I had breakfast on the Hoe at the Coffee Shack with my husband. The view from the shack is fantastic

I think I am rambling a bit today but that is because I am calm and happy and my brain is thinking of all the nice things I have been doing or have planned. I am actually resting my body today and have not touched the pole since yesterday lunchtime. It is good to rest the body sometimes as over-exertion can cause complications, as I am always going on about the importance of exercise I thought it equally important to remind you that sometimes you need a little rest and relaxation.

Before I forget, just one quick moan regarding Dance x on BBC 1, I noticed on Sundays episode that the dancers are not given any advice on healthy eating yet they are portrayed as budding professional dancers, Ashley (one of the competitors) was reported as eating 5-6 packets of crisps a day. I was quite disturbed as these dancers are role models to some children and teenagers and i think the BBC have a moral responsibility to encourage good diet. The programme just seemed to find it funny that Ashley's diet was bad and there are no references to how their diet could affect their performances.

Next week will feature one of my favourites events - the National Fireworks Championship -it is a fantastic spectacle and well worth a visit if you are able. I find watching the fireworks extremely therapeutic as it stimulates both the eyes and the ears and provides real escapism.

Lastly well done to all my students who attended my new (slightly evil, but, no pain - no gain) pole dancing sessions this week - it was a very demanding session plan but everyone survived and no one wimped out! Respect!

Talking of escapism it must be time for me to sign off and visit the pub (just a quiet pint of real ale - no binge drinking or anything!)

Stay Healthy

Sam x

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Come back Jo!!!

Picture of Jo's view out of her scuba equipment today.

I am missing my colleague Jo immensely, I rely on her very heavily for debriefing and usually phone her at least once a day if not more. Work is very busy at the moment and I am covering Jo's hours as well as my own, I am also trying to sort out my end of year accounts so writing my blog is a small breath of fresh air ! I may hack into Jo's blog later and write cheeky things in it as another route to accounts avoidance.

Thanks to Ziggy for her comments on Mondays blog - it is nice to know that some kids and adults do know how to enjoy themselves without the use of a PlayStation or mobile phone. it is really nice to get feedback from people on my blogs.

Whilst Jo is lying on the beach probably sipping wine I have found some time to look at todays health news and have focused on several studies that I like, obviously the ones that identify unhealthy aspects of my lifestyle have been dismissed and must be untrue! Apparently researchers have been testing green tea on mice, I am not a fan of animal testing but I do like green tea. Research suggests that Green tea slows the production of skin cells by regulating the activity of the enzyme caspase 14, this means that it should be good for the prevention of psoriasis and other skin complaints.

Other health news emerging today is more evidence to back up fears over plastic food containers and the risk of plastics absorbing into the body. One plastic, bisphenol A, has been linked to a number of health problems, including cancer, insulin resistance and obesity. It makes me wonder why we need so much plastic packaging, it certainly does not seem to be good for us or the environment and we never needed it before. Why cant we get our vegetables wrapped in paper bags like we used to?

My favourite study today is one regarding fat pets, not content with feeding up our kids we are now feeding our pets to gargantuan proportions and obviously this is leading to obese cats, dogs, gerbils etc, What is worse is that pharmaceutical companies are now marketing anti obesity drugs for dogs when surely the answer is to control your dog's diet and exercise it more? Please don't get me started on the obesity gene either, I simply don't believe it exists - people just eat too much and don't work out - end of. Either this or they are absorbing too many plastics?

Stay healthy,

Sam x

Monday, 6 August 2007

Body weight culture.

Sorry for the lack of blogs over the last few days but it is the time of year when self employed people are glued to their computers trying to get their heads around end of year accounts and if, like me, you are not a natural mathematician then it is not an enviable task. I feel that stress is going to play a major part in my life over the next few weeks and my principal instructor is away leaving me with lots of extra hours teaching!! No rest for the wicked as they say.

I did find a little time over the weekend to join a new community called body weight culture. The idea of the group is to support exercise that involves lifting your entire body weight, which is exactly what we do at the art of dance. The site is full of great exercises and astonishing feats such as one arm press ups and much much more. The body weight culture also supports activities like parkour which encourage using your own body as a piece of gym equipment and utilising your natural environment as a training ground. I love this concept and wish that there were more poles around the city that I could use without having to be confined to the studio. I think this may lead to me jumping around on lamp posts and children's playgrounds to get my fix!

Yesterday I spent the day with my mum at Mount Edgcumbe and, as well as stuffing my face with the beautiful carvery spread at the Edgecumbe arms ,I found time to wander around the grounds of Mount Edgcumbe, there was the added bonus of the car boot sale and classic car rally to add to the eye-catching surroundings of this classic country estate. It was a nice gentle stroll and was more about relaxing than exercising. What was horrifying was the amount of obese children at the event most of whom seemed to be sat down and eating junk food. There were a few children out with their families playing cricket and other games and this was a pleasure to see as those children were being stimulated physically and mentally as well as increasing their social skills and improving bonds with family and friends. But the other kids that I witnessed were generally rude to their parents and others and did not want exert themselves physically.

I hate to generalise but there really was a big difference between the behaviours of some families compared to others. I am not saying that overweight kids are always less well behaved but I think a lot of kids have a lifestyle which makes them more likely to suffer social problems as well as health problems later in life due to lack of exercise, poor diet and lack of motivation - the usual suspects.

Well that must be enough whinging for one day - I will return to my accounts and then am teaching this evening. More of my rantings to follow!!

Stay Healthy (and encourage kids to do the same)

Sam x

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Milk - the new water?

Apparently milk is the new water, recent studies show that a pint of milk after exercise keeps you more hydrated than water. It seems a little strange but studies suggest that the vitamins and minerals in milk help the body absorb the liquid more easily. The study says that a pint of milk after exercise will do wonders - so I am about to become the milk guinea pig and for the next week or so will have a pint of milk after each training session. I think I am either going to feel fantastic or just put on several stone?

I tried to search the net for some helpful advice on milk and find out whether this new study had any real grounding but all I found was seriously conflicting advice including reports linking milk to the bible which then threw up all sorts of religious arguments as to why you should or shouldn't drink milk. I would imagine that if you are looking at losing weight then full fat milk may not be the best thing to compliment your training. I also know that the study I read did not mention soya milk or other alternative's. I personally try to avoid milk that is not organic as it can contain unnatural levels of hormones and antibiotics, I also try to buy locally as organic produce does need to be fresh.

I would imagine that yoghurt drinks may do the same as drinking a pint of milk but watch out for added sugars, artificial sweeteners and preservatives. I have just consumed my first pint of milk after training and interestingly it has suppressed my appetite and I feel as if i have just eaten a meal.

Apologies of you are vegan or dairy intolerant as this blog will be completely useless to you and may even offend you - Sorry! I am now going to sign off to process wages for my staff otherwise I will not be very popular!

Stay Healthy,

Sam x