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Archive for the ‘Fitness’ Category

Hot, Happy and Healthy by Christmas?

Around three weeks ago, I replied to an invitation to participate in a challenge. I’m a bit of a soft touch for challenges; my inner adventurer loves to get involved and saying “Yes!” always feels much better that saying “No!”… for some reason it also seems so much easier, though that advantage tends to evaporate once reality sinks in! This time, it was the Be:Fit London Hot, Happy and Healthy Challenge (#HHHChallenge). The object being to achieve those three ‘Aitches’ for Christmas. And when someone offers you “…access to a nutritionist, personal trainer, health professional & life coach … free of charge!” that’s some incentive!

Be:Fit London is an initiative of the Telegraph Media Group and organises an annual Women’s Health and Fitness Festival. I spent an energising, uplifting and inspiring day at the 2014 event back in March, where I munched and drank my way through endless nutrition product samples… mostly delicious, tried a few items of fitness equipment for the first time, had a lovely, relaxing head massage… and tried a Bokwa class. There were several classes on offer during the day and I found they were all very popular and filled up quickly. By the time I got to the head of the queue to choose one, there were only two or three left to pick from and Bokwa won because it claimed to be suitable for all fitness levels. We had a five minute warm up and it turned out that was more than challenging enough for my particular fitness level at that point. I spent most of the remainder of the class leaning against the wall rehydrating, though I did pop back in for a couple of short spells and for the cool down (cool downs are really important and should never be neglected) and it gave me a lift to see several young women around a third of my age who had given up and slumped against the walls long before that point – I really wasn’t doing that badly for an oldie – for a start, I’d just leaned, not slumped! I also realised soon afterwards that I was in the early stages of a chest infection. Apart from the chest infection, which I didn’t allow to spoil things too much, I had a great day and I’ve been on the Be:Fit mailing list ever since. Next year’s Be:Fit is at the beginning of May, at a different venue and I’m already looking forward to it.

Back to the present. I accepted the challenge and got invited into the closed Facebook group, where there are now a little under 200 women being completely up for this and supporting one another as only a group of passionately committed women can. In week one, we went Paleo. It was a bit of a shock to begin with, to learn about all the everyday items that aren’t Paleo. Some of us (yes, me included) showed some resistance, but after a bit of a struggle, we got into the spirit of it and found that we can do things we’d never thought possible with foods that tend to be too often overlooked. So that’s been a real pleasure!

In week two, we committed to going tech-free after 10pm, enjoying some nice relaxing, restorative yoga before bed, aiming to have eight hours of sound sleep each night and agreed to work out at least three times during the week, while adding something new to our routines for at least one of those. I’m working out six mornings a week now anyway, so the three times was easy to do. I added the shoulder press machine to my upper body workout… and after several weeks of gradually building my walking pace on the treadmill, actually broke into a run for the first time in … oh, it must be decades … only for 30 seconds the first time, but I’m extending that already! I’m beating my COPD bit by bit!

There have also been some freebies! Everything from classes to teabags… the classes have so far all been in London and at times that meant I couldn’t get in for them, but the feedback from those who have done them has been fantastic! I have had one freebie though, a bottle of Little Miracles Organic Energy drink, made with lemongrass tea, orange juice, ginger, ginseng and agave. It was delicious and refreshing and did give me the energy lift I needed at a crucial time, to get a sixty page manuscript of my poetry completed and submitted to a New York publisher!

It’s still possible to join the challenge, so if you’re interested, check out for how to get involved!



This morning at the gym, during a ten minute treadmill session, I took the next step up in pace. Having got myself used to walking at 6.5kph over the past couple of weeks, I pushed it up to 7 and found I had to break into a run! I managed around 45 seconds, then dropped the pace to get my breath back. I did a second burst of 30 seconds towards the end. Running has been a huge physical and psychological barrier for me. Five years ago I could barely walk 100m without my lungs bursting.

Running was something I thought for a long time wouldn’t be possible. Even when I was younger, running was never easy for me, as my lungs almost always reacted by going into spasm. Sometimes that meant several days in bed recovering. A couple of times they pretty much wrote me off. So what I did today was huge. And after the way I’ve quickly adjusted to increases in walking pace over the past few weeks… at both 6 and 6.5 kph, I struggled to last a minute the first time I tackled them, but yesterday did 20 minutes at 6.5 with no difficulty. Those seconds of running will become minutes very soon!


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