Foody Thoughts (because you can’t outrun a bad diet)

As we get older, diet and nutrition becomes more important, we just can’t get away with eating (and drinking!) like we did in our teens! I am currently studying on a menopause training course which is focussing on all things holistic such as food, sleep, stress, movement and much more.

The food aspect has interested me hugely as to what foods/vitamins/minerals (or lack of them) can affect your hormones and menopause symptoms and how they do this.

As a nurse and a Personal Trainer I am in an ideal position to help people correct some of these lifelong habits with food that are causing symptoms they may not recognise as being nutrition related.

Poor food choices or habits such as comfort eating, binge eating, or just not giving much regard to the nutritional value of what we consume, i.e. a diet high in sugar and carbohydrates, can cause inflammation in the body and can be related to many common illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, dementia and depression. In addition, poor nutrition can exacerbate symptoms of peri menopause and menopause such as hot flushes, mood disturbances, cognitive function, energy levels, weight gain, ability to manage stress and changes to skin, bones and hair.

But, its not all bad news! There are things we can do to turn things around and it is never too late to make changes. As the title says, ‘we can’t out run a bad diet’ and it is true. We can run miles every day but if we don’t input the right nutrients, we could start suffering from the above complaints.

One thing I say to clients regularly is nourish and move. We need to treat our bodies kindly, inside and out. After all, they do a lot for us and its the only place we have to live! This is not easy though! Especially if we try and use willpower alone! Habits form over years and years and take a long time to change and re form, but it is possible. Breaking bad habits takes time and effort, but won’t be regretted.

Below are some of the points I address with clients in order to help them break habits and eat in a way their body deserves.

Mindfulness – being in the moment, thinking about what we are eating and tasting it. Not rushing around with a chocolate bar in your mouth whilst doing something else. Are we comfort eating, binge eating? Eat 3 mindful mouthfuls…it sets your digestive system up ready, eat slowly and stop when you have eaten enough. Listen to what your body is saying. Can you hear your ghrelin and leptin?? 🙂

Eating real food – Limit or remove ready meals and highly processed food. Eat fresh food and a rainbow of colours while reducing beige foods that do our blood sugar levels no favours. I purchase veg/fruit boxes from Odd Box. They deliver weekly or fortnightly and everything is fresh and minimally packaged. I get very excited when it arrives as I never know what’s inside! OK, I know that makes me a little bit sad, but it makes me think about what I am eating and taken me out of a rut of eating the same things.

Hydrate – drink water. All these lovely nutrients we put in won’t do much good if we are dehydrated. Also, when we are hydrated, the feeling of thirst doesn’t get mistaken for hunger.

Habits – acknowledging them, using them to your benefit, breaking them, changing them, developing healthier ones.

Ways of eating – trying different things to suit us such as intermittent fasting, 5:2 diet, low carbohydrate diet. These are not fad diets that have an expiry date, but a way of eating in a way you feel better but don’t feel like you are missing out on anything. Different ways of eating suit different people and different lifestyles. I love intermittent fasting, it works for me, it doesn’t work for everybody.

Enjoy food – food is great. It is tasty(hopefully!), it is sociable and pleasurable, it is needed for life.

I will write more posts about the different aspects of nutrition, especially in relating to peri and menopause.

If this is something you would like help with please get in touch for more information.


Odd Box goodies 🙂

Swimming in Wastwater

I’ve been to Wasdale a few times and walked the screes and Scafell Pike but had never been in the lake….the deepest lake in England…until this weekend. I’ve carried on swimming at least once a week through the winter, usually in Capernwray but other times in lakes. This weekend I wanted to brave my fears of going in the deep, dark, cold water of Wastwater.

The lake has easy access from laybys on the road. On the Friday the weather was windy and damp, very low cloud over the surrounding mountains, but we thought ‘its now or never’!

Zipping up wetsuits in anticipation we headed down the grassy slope to the water. The wind was blowing hard across the lake and there were sizeable waves! We took a rocky slope which shelved quite steeply into deep water….ooohhhh that cold feeling when the water runs inside your wetsuit… I love it! Swimming was a little difficult whilst being slapped in the face with waves but once we’d stopped yelping we swam towards the middle of the lake. It was amazing. The water felt clean (but looked really dark underneath). I had forgotten to put my goggles on so kept my face above the water (apart from the waves!)

After 15 minutes of swimming around, bobbing about and marvelling at the scenery I swam to shore and got warm. I’ve got that off to a tee now…quick speedy wetsuit removal, dry, dress, coffee, chocolate! 🙂

I loved the swim so much I decided on another one on the Sunday morning before heading home. The water was still this time, no waves, still dark and cold. I had goggles on this time and managed some front crawl and looking down into the dark below was beautiful. I am normally nervous about looking into the depths of a lake but because the water felt so clear it didn’t feel at all spooky. Being weightless, supported by the water, whether looking up at the beautiful mountains or down into the darkness below brings about such a huge feeling of being alive and safe. I absolutely love it.

Swimming in Ullswater

Last weekend we travelled to Patterdale in the Lake District to swim in Ullswater, a lake I’ve read about in my wild swimming book but never been in. I know the area really well as I have run/walked the full Ullswater way around 8 times. Its a beautiful area and I was keen to get a dip. That weekend we got, not one, but two Ullswater swims.

Parking at Patterdale we headed onto the trail towards Howtown, rucksacks packed with snacks, warm clothes and a jet-boil for a well needed post swim brew. After walking for a couple of miles we came to a tiny track through the ferns down towards a small shingle beach next to the lake.

I had a bad wrist (don’t ask…nasty cat bite!) so I braved it in a cossie. In we waded, the water was fresh and clear but felt really cold! Ullswater is known for being a deep, cold body of water. It certainly was. Deep breath and swim…it was fabulous. The scenery, the cold, the freshness of the water, the stillness. Beautiful. People were walking on the trail and waved to us. It was great seeing Ullswater from a different perspective. We got out, dried off in the sheltered cove and after re-fuelling, headed back to the van.

The following day we decided to try a different location so drove towards Aira Force on the other side of the lake. The car park was opposite the lake on the other side of a busy road. We changed and (again, me in my still damp cossie) entered the water. Not as clear over this side and still had the great cold feeling. We swam around a bit until…something touched my leg…cue inner panic

Anyone who swims with me knows I’m scared of jelly fish and generally anything else in the water. After remembering there are no jelly fish in the lakes, I calmed down a bit…just reeds…probably. We swam a bit longer but with the ‘leg touching’ incident and the busy main road very close by, this swim was not as perfect as the first one.

However, two swims in two days in a new lake was great and the sign of a good weekend!

Where to next?…need to get my book out again.

What’s in a session?

It is hard to know whether Personal Training sessions are what you want or need until you start them. This post is a little snippet into what a usual training session with me would be like. Obviously the sessions are different depending on my client.

All the sessions are outside and usually in Williamson’s Park in Lancaster. The park is beautiful, well cared for and lends itself to being a great gym.

We start with a warm up, fast walking, up hill usually and talking about how you are, just checking in with any niggles or worries etc. Sometimes we then do some short running drills, generally back and to a fixed point, such as a lamp post, or a timed shuttle run. Adding into that some simple body weight exercises to make sure all the muscles are warm and ready to work.

Then comes the main session, usually a mixture of body weight and weighted exercises for a fixed time. Sometimes that will be one time, or can be multiple sets of the same exercises.

During the hour we add run sets or step sets into the workout, client dependent. I look closely at how the client is feeling to check the workout is at the right level for the client on that particular day, we all have some days that are better than others for many reasons.

We work core and abdominal muscles through-out the session and also some of this is towards the end, lying on mats or standing.

An easy cool down follows, with plenty of stretching of legs, arms and back.

Some clients want exercises to do at home but others prefer to do them with me in the park and do their own activity in between such as hill walking, running, cycling or swimming. All of this is fine and different things work for different people, the main thing is consistency. Try to increase your activity in daily life and fit small sections of exercise in when you can. Look after your body, its the only place we have to live!

Cornwall…….seals and surfers!

I recently spent ten days in sunny Cornwall (the first week was sunny anyway). I’d never been down there before and found the coastal views really stunning. I had taken my bike, paddle board and of course wetsuit and swimming gear, ready for some outdoor activities.

The first few days were spent walking the coastal paths around the Lizard, Lands End and Penzance. Really stunning. We saw some seals and had some lovely swims and a paddle board. Unlike Morecambe bay, the sea was clear and the sand was soft and sand-like! Kynance Cove was just beautiful. Had a lovely swim there too.

On the second week we moved over towards Newquay and Padstow. The coastal walks were still great but I preferred the other area further down. The sea however was something else. Its surfers paradise. I’ve never been in such huge waves! Not much swimming went on, but lots of fun in the waves, whilst watching out for the surfers riding the waves!

The weather turned wet and windy so the walks were shorter and the ‘swims’ got even choppier. I’d come off my bike the previous week so my knee was recovering but I think the sea water helped with that.

With the weather turning we decided to return home a few days earlier. Time to wash the sand out of everything!! 🙂

Since getting home I’ve had a couple more swims at Capernwray. The water has definitely cooled down now but am hoping to keep swimming all winter like last year…watch this space!

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