Swimming at High Dam Tarn

Swimming at High Dam Tarn – I have been outdoor swimming for around six years now but this was my first visit to High Dam with my lovely friend Lindsay. High Dam is a beautiful area near Finsthwaite, at the south end of Windermere. It is a gorgeous, magical woodland area with oak trees, birches, larch and pine trees. Carpetted in a range of bracken, heather, bluebells and wild garlic, winding trails and footpaths guide you around.

We swim often together and had a free day off so decided to venture further afield. Our last swim had been at Devils Bridge, which was lovely, but theres always the slight worry about currents! As I’d never been to High Dam (but had heard about it) we opted for a trip up the M6.

It was a beautiful sunny day, after what seems like months of rain, it actually felt spring like. We had a short hike to the tarn from the car park. A very pretty warm up before getting into the water! I loved the woodland, it was so peaceful and quiet, smelt gorgeous and fresh, and was very picturesque.

We changed into our cossies and headed for the water. There was no one else swimming, but a couple of women sitting by the water. That first feeling of stinging when you get into the water, a few gasps and controlling your breathing, then, bliss. Oh I do love that feeling once youve got over the cold. We had a lovely swim up and down the tarn. Looking at the woodland views and listening to the birds and some vocal geese at the far end of the tarn. So Beautiful and so peaceful.

After our swim we left the water, dried off, dressed (although I forgot my knickers!) and sat in the sun eating and drinking to warm up. Lots of good chatter, and then another walk to get the blood flowing again.

Days like this are just fabulous, they fill me up and get me ready to face what life throws. I’m so very lucky to have some wonderful friends who love these things as much as I do. Find something you love doing, and do it often 🙂

To read about other swims please click here.

Movement in menopause

A few years ago I started getting symptoms that I didn’t understand. My sleep was very broken, my mood was low, my anxiety was high, I started gaining weight in areas I hadn’t before. I thought I was losing the plot! Then a friend suggested it may have been changing hormones, as I was around 45. It was a relief when I could identify what was happening.

After researching and reading up on movement in menopause, I enrolled onto a course about women’s fitness/wellness and menopause and went to discuss my symptoms with the GP. Having started HRT and increased my self care, I began yoga, meditation, more movement, mindfulness and listening to self help podcasts. I have always been very active and although I am not running as much, I make up for it in hiking up mountains and swimming outdoors. I make poor food choices sometimes and I drink wine….enjoying life is important! But I’m much more aware now of what my body needs and pay attention to it.

Most of my clients are women between the ages of 40 and 65 so all these things also benefit them. I like to share my knowledge. I developed a greater awareness of just how important movement is to women of our age. Obviously movement is important at any age but with passing years we start losing muscle mass, bone density, balance, strength, cardiovascular function, mobility and flexibility. Its not all bad news though as there are lots of things we can do to help slow down these processes. Motion is lotion! Moving helps keep our joints and tissues hydrated. It builds strength and flexibility. It increases bone strength to protect us from fractures if we fall (which we wont as we are working on our balance too!). This is espcially important for women.

Our range of movement bubble shrinks as we age, we need to move our bodies to the edge of our bubble. Moving for the love of our body and the joy of being active. We need to nurture our body with good food and adequate rest times and movement. Most of all, we need to have fun whilst we are doing it. Movement in menopause is so important! For every bit of our bodies.

There are many reasons why we forget to take care of ourselves. Tired, busy lives, lack of motivation, hormones all over the place in menopause, but nobody will do it for us. We need to take control and care for our body and mind. Its the only place we have to live.

For information about the outdoor peronal training sessions I offer click here.

For more information about menopause click here.

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. So, here are my foody thoughts!

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 by taking a look at your daily diet. 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. Our diet should be filled with things that give us nutrients.

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. For information about my outdoor personal training click here.

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



Odd Box goodies 🙂

Wild 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. But had never been swimming in Wastwater. 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 swimming in the outdoors.

For my experience of swimming in Ullswater click here.

For more information about wild swimming in the Lake District click here.

Wild 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 an outdoors 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, wild swimming in Ullswater twice 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.

To read about wild swimming in Wastwater click here.

For more information about wild swimming in the Lake District click here.

What’s in a PT 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. So, whats in a PT session? Obviously the sessions are different depending on my client. I like to build up a friendly rapport with clients to ensure everyone feels at ease and is relaxed and happy. People respond in different ways to exercise intruction. I dont shout at people as some PT’s seem to. I gently encourage and help people to see their potential.

Where are the sessions held?

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. What better than to work out in the great outdoors!

The 1 hour session

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. This can be a lamp post, bench, path 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. I mix it up a lot to challenge the body, and sometimes the mind, and ensure a great and also enjoyable workout.

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!

If you are going through peri or full meopause and are still unsure, have a look at my movement in menopause post by clinking here.

An active holiday in Cornwall…….seals and surfers!

I recently spent an active holiday in Cornwall. Ten days of sea, sun and sand (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!

To read about my swims in Ullswater and Wastwater click here and here.

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