The Avonmore Way / Clara

Anyone ever bought a car with the intention of ‘this means i can start walking more’?

Living so close to the Wicklow mountains but not having a car to drive in and do the trail routes was always a pain point of mine. Now that we have a car and my leg is finally healing after my surgeries we couldn’t wait to get out in to the mountains for some exercise, fresh air & views. Stuey & I set the intention to complete ALL of the hiking/trail walks in the Wicklow mountains. How long will this take? I have no idea. How many trail walks are there? I also have no idea! Regardless, we will complete them ALL, however long it takes. Of all the intentions/goals i have ever set, i think i’m most exited about this one.

We set out on Sunday to do the Vale of Clara forest walk, but we ended up doing 1/2 of the avonmore way instead. It was very difficult to find the route’s for the vale of clara.. we drove down the R755 laragh to rathdrum direction, looking for that beautiful white church and bridge in so many photos. Driving in the same direction look for Clara Lara fun park on the left hand side, keep driving past the fun park and a few minutes later you will see a small sign on the left saying Clara RC Church and a very steep slope down. Take that left and drive down to the bottom of the steep bank. You have arrived in Clara!

What a beautiful & picturesque tiny little village. The river, arched bridge, church & nature make for some really breathtaking scenery. We didn’t drive over the bridge we actually parked just in front of the big house at the bottom of the bank. We were unable to find the starting routes for the Vale of Clara walks, however looking back on maps afterwards we should have walked over the bridge and took a right up that steep road to get to the start. Instead we went in to the gates of the church, around the back of the church building, and saw a stick with a yellow man & arrow on directing us on to the starting point for ‘The Avonmore Way’ trail.

We followed the Avonmore way route up a steep woodland path through the trees. The path was very clearly marked throughout so once one the Avonmore way route it is impossible to get lost. On our way up to Clara the rain was torrential however by pure luck as soon as we started on the route the sun came out and stayed with us for the entire walk. We were blessed with that ‘after rain earth smell’ & sunshine glistening through the trees all at once, it was truly beautiful.

We were laughing and strolling along seeing how high we could throw sticks and acorns when we spotted two wild deer up ahead. It was so unexpected. We stopped to watch them as we didn’t want to frighten them but after a minute or two they caught wind of us and leapt off in to the mossy forest, it was so magical. Seeing wild deer was not what we set out to do but it was sooo very welcome.

The forest walk itself was like something out of a fairytale, we kept stopping just to take it all in or to take a few photos. The green moss across the rocks & forest floor, the tiny little streams trickling & winding their way through the flora, the sun beaming down through the foliage and highlighting the little ponds on the forest floor. It really has to be seen to be believed, the beauty of this place is something else.

After some time walking through the forest the trail made it’s way out on to a tarmac road (unlike the grassy forest road we were previously on). We walked around to the white house overlooking the mountains and the view from the road up there was so worth the trip, nature is incredible. If we continued on the yellow marked route this would have took us another 2 hours and lead us towards Rathdrum. As we had the car parked down at Clara church we couldn’t walk 2 more hours to finish this trail and then 3 hours to get back, so we turned around at this point and followed our same route back down.

At the starting point of the trail we noticed a few little signs pointing to another path saying ‘our Lady’s statue’, so on our way back down we took a little de tour up this path and we were not disappointed. If you are visiting this area i would strongly recommend visiting the statue. The statue itself was very beautiful and was overlooking the Church and river. At night time the statue must be lit up as there was flood lights underneath, i would love to go back and see her at night one day. The view from up there was also so breathtaking, i’m so glad we decided to follow that little sign and wander up. There’s a little bench behind Mary so we sat down for a few minutes and just soaked up the sunshine and fresh mountain air. So peaceful and quiet, i never wanted to leave.

We’re definitely going to go back and do the full Avonmore way route, but we will wait until the summer when the days are longer and warmer since it would be a total of 6 hours there and back. We’ll also go back and take the right turn up the road past the church and do the original Vale of Clara walks (the ones we set out to do in the first place). I found the directions / explanations of how to find the VOC routes were not clear at all and very confusing so when we do those routes i’ll make sure to be as descriptive of possible to help you all find your way.

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Life after diagnosis.

In 2018 I was diagnosed with autoimmunity (PsA), neuropathy & skin cancer.

I went through months of harsh medications that destroyed my immune system & left me weak & fatigued. I lay awake through endless nights of chronic physical & emotional pain. I watched my strength disappear, I watched my health deteriorate. I went from squatting 100kgs to being unable to hold a cup in one hand, unable to hold a pen, crying because I couldn’t hold my key properly to open the door. I’d get off the train from work and run home so I could climb in to bed and cry, my head and neck (aside from everything else) were in so much pain I couldn’t do anything else. I went on holiday weekends and spent the full time locked in the bathroom of the hotel coughing & crying.

I went from being the healthiest person I knew, to being the unhealthiest. How dare my body betray me like this? After all of the clean eating, workouts, yoga, years of no alcohol. Why me?

I stopped writing my blog… who wants to read a ‘health & fitness blog’ from a girl who can’t walk to the end of the street without feeling like she was going to collapse?

But guess what?

In 2018 I empowered myself by learning about my disease. I read books, I read peer reviewed scientific studies, I listened to podcasts, I changed my mindset. I came off my medications & started taking only herbal & natural supplements. I got my arthritis under control, I made progress with my neuropathy, and most importantly.. I beat cancer !

Whilst dealing with all this I was promoted to customer support team leader, and passed my probation with flying colours. I got back in to a regular gym routine & started practicing yoga again. I started to build my strength back up. I studied to become a personal trainer, passed my exams & got my qualifications ! I moved house.. and then I moved house again.. into a beautiful little apartment with my caring & supportive boyfriend. I didn’t just survive, I thrived.

The reason I’m sharing is not to get sympathy.. I don’t need it. The reason I’m sharing is to give others hope that there is life after diagnosis & to teach others about the battles of chronic disease. To show others that your mindset is absolutely everything.

I accomplished so much last year while simultaneously wondering if I was going to die. I believed in mind over matter anyway, but last year reinforced my beliefs beyond anything I could have ever imagined. Last year completely broke me… physically.. but nothing can break me mentally. Not anymore, that ship has sailed.

I am living proof that when life fucks you over, you CAN come back stronger.

I prayed to God every day to make me strong. Oh boy did he deliver. A few years ago he gave me panic attacks, anxiety disorder & disassociation. I overcame them all & became very mentally strong through that process. Then last year he gave me arthritis, autoimmunity, neuropathy & cancer.. I became even stronger.

This will be my first post of my ‘new but old’ blog. I want to share my journey & show that with the right mindset, YOU can do anything. I’ll share details of my health struggles, how they effect me daily, things I have tried & tested that have helped with the pain. Things that lesson my symptoms, things that make them worse. Yoga practices, workouts, recipes. Some of the old stuff, and some of the new stuff, some of the good stuff, and some of the bad stuff. Hopefully this will also be a place that will ease the suffering of others with autoimmunity by reminding them that they are not alone & allow others to come along on our journey learning more about it themselves.

2018 was a sucky year but sure as hell did I kick it’s ass. Here’s to 2019 !

 

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A blessing in disguise.

It has been such a tough year for me being unable to train for the most part due to being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease (PsA), but at the same time this year has made me so much stronger. Mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Last year I was training because I hated the way my body looked, I was so critical of myself and so hard on myself, and even though I was shredded to death I just wasn’t happy with my physique. I was obsessed with every little detail of my diet and training, and my life was consumed by it. Don’t get me wrong, i was really enjoying it all, but i was also creating a very toxic place in my own mind from being so hard on myself and never feeling satisfied with my progress.

After rapid onset of my disease in July last year, and very quickly getting to a point where my arthritis was so bad I couldn’t even hold my phone, walk properly, or hold a pen, i somehow managing to pull myself around and manage the pain and come off my medications (i’ll post more about how i did this later). I am finally feeling good and I have been back training for the past 7 weeks consistently, my strength and shape are both coming back quicker than I could have imagined and this time round I am training because I LOVE my body and I am amazed at what it can do.

The gym was my whole life, i had a fitness blog for crying out loud, and God took it away from me for a very long time, but it taught me to train for the right reasons and to be so grateful to be able to exercise.

I used to squat 100k and be upset because I hit a plateau, now after not training for almost a year I’m squatting half of that , and I AM SO GRATEFUL, every 50k squat I’m like fuck yeah my body is amazing to be able to do this considering my disease. Every single rep feels like a blessing, every single workout is a tiny miracle.

I have also realized that a few days off from the gym won’t kill me, and neither will a burger or a cocktail. 1 year of not training properly and being sick, yet my shape still looks tops, am I shredded to the bone? No. But am I happy with my body ? YES ! I am looking to improve my physique again, but I am also very happy with where I am at right now. I’m happy in my own skin.

To some people having a life changing and chronic disease might seem like the end of the world. To me, this is just the beginning.

Thank you, for the lessons.

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To blessed to be stressed.

If you follow my instagram & snapchat you will know already that the past few months i have been really struggling with joint pain. I don’t know where it came from but it started back in July, it came on so suddenly and very quickly spread throughout all of my joints and has continued to get worse and worse.

For the first few weeks i thought i had just very coincidentally injured both of my knees at exactly the same time. I stopped squatting & deadlifting immediately thinking that i maybe had runners knee or something like that and i just carried on with some light stretches and mobility exercises for my knees for a few weeks. I was so confused as to how i could have injured them both in the first place as my squat/deadlift form is always spot on and i couldn’t remember any incident where i might have hurt them both but if i hadn’t injured them then why could i barely walk?

A few weeks in and unable to train legs i was just focusing on my upper body exercises. I didn’t want to go crazy and over train upper body so i was just sticking to my usual exercises and one day in the gym when doing tricep dips i started getting such bad elbow pain. I stopped the exercise straight away as i know tricep dips can be quite notorious for elbow pain. I did think it was a bit weird though as i have been doing tricep dips for years with no pain. Never mind i’d just pick another exercise for a few weeks instead.

Well that was it, from that point on i was like an old woman. I can’t believe how fast something like this can spread but from the first bout of knee pain it only took about 8 weeks until all of my joints were in constant agony. I started having to get the bus in the mornings as i was unable to walk my usual 15km a day, the pain and stiffness in my knees and ankles was so unbearable. Going to the gym i was doing my best to keep the muscles firing and keep my strength but its so disheartening having to use machine weights all the time instead of being able to squat/bench/deadlift etc.

Some days it would be so bad that i couldn’t even hold my phone or a book in front of me as my wrist would be to sore to hold it. Waking up in the morning my joints would be so stiff and painful that i would have to spend 20 minutes just moving about and doing some light stretching before i could even get down the stairs.

It’s so weird because the pain seems to move around the joints and the pain doesn’t always feel the same.  Sometimes it feels like a pulling pain, sometimes it feels like burning, sometimes my hands or fingers will go completely numb, pins and needles, shooting pains, throbbing sensations. Some days is worse than others. On the days where the pain feels a little less i have been trying to get some light workouts in just to keep active and keep the muscles firing but at this stage i’m just fed up of not being able to exercise properly without being in extreme pain.

Anyway the Dr doesn’t seem to have a clue what can be going on. My blood tests came back absolutely fine. I know finding out your bloods are fine should be good news but for me i was  upset as it meant i was no further forward with finding out what is causing this. I was hoping something would come back in the bloods and the Dr would just say ok take this or do this and in a few weeks you’ll be grand. But no such luck. I’m back at the Drs tomorrow and i’m also waiting on an appointment to see a rheumatologist so i’m crossing my fingers that we get somewhere.

This post might come across as me having a bit of a moan but i promise it’s the opposite. The reason i’m writing this is because what is the point in being a blogger if your not going to be honest and share the bad times as well as the good? This past few months have been very tough on me physically, but mentally i am still in top form. I learned a long time ago that there’s no point stressing about things you have no control over. This is one of those things. It is what it is, i just have to take it on the chin and work through it whatever it may be. Luckily i have amazing friends around me who have been keeping me positive and looking after me when i need minding. To blessed to be stressed.

 

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Carb Cravings & Binge Eating – How to stop them.

People often ask me why i am so strict with my eating. The amount of times a week i hear ‘live a little’ or ‘treat yourself’ when i say no to a chocolate bar, or when we have cakes in work and i say no. I know where people are coming from and that they have good intentions but there is a method to my madness, i promise.

I often tell people that from my own personal experiences i have found when it comes to diet it really is all or nothing for me. A few years ago i really struggled with my eating and went through an awful ‘binge and restrict’ cycle for many months before i finally got to the root of it and got back in control. I think it’s pretty self explanatory but for those who don’t know it’s where you binge eat uncontrollably and then feel so guilty afterwards that you seriously restrict your diet to compensate in the following days or exercise excessively to make up for it. Obviously from restricting calories so low and upping the exercise your body is not getting the energy and nutrients it needs and you seriously crave carbs… which is when you find the fastest digesting sugary carbs possible and binge again – repeat repeat repeat! It’s a viscous cycle.

Anyway like i said thankfully i got to the bottom of my food related anxieties. I started to learn as much as i could about nutrition so that i could eat healthily and make sure my body was getting all the nutrients it needed and work my diet efficiently around my lifestyle and training.

Now a lot of this is of course a mental battle. However the main thing that i found helped me to get out of this cycle and stop those insane carb cravings was by eliminating simple/refined sugars from my diet and only consuming natural sugars with a low GI index.

I’m going to keep this as simple as possible. 

There are three main types of carbohydrates –  sugars, starches and fibres. Some carbs are ‘simple’ and some carbs are ‘complex’.

Simple carbs are easily and quickly digested by the body. Because of the structure of simple carbs and because of the way they are digested they cause the blood sugar levels to spike. Your pancreas then releases a hormone called insulin which is what tells your cells to absorb the sugar from your blood. This then causes a dramatic drop in blood sugar levels. Research has shown that when our blood sugar levels drop dramatically we lose our ability to control our desire to eat. Our body will crave the fastest source of carbs we can get and unfortunately the fastest digesting carbs are usually the unhealthy ones such as cakes and sweets.

Complex carbs as you might be able to get from the name have a more complex structure. This means that it takes the body a lot longer to break them down and digest them. Complex carbs usually have a lower GI which means that a lower amount of sugar will get released at a steady pace. This provides you with a longer, steadier and much more effective flow of energy (as opposed to the sugar rush and sugar drop of simple carbs).

Now do you see why i say no to the cakes and sweets? I’m not being boring i’m being smart. I know that if i have that cake my blood sugar will spike and drop. Then i will be craving more unhealthy carbs and go for more simple sugars… binge and restrict. So i choose to say no and keep my blood sugar levels steady. It’s actually a lot easier than you would think. The first week or two is usually the hardest as you are still craving the simple sugars because you have been eating them recently. But it is very surprising how little you will actually crave unhealthy foods/sugars once you have managed to get your blood sugar levels under control. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by giving it a try for a few weeks.

So how do i do it?

Choose foods low in sugars.

Throw out the refined sugars. Say no to breads, fizzy drinks, biscuits, energy drinks, cakes, sweets, pasta.

Say yes to vegetables, fruit, oats, sweet potato, beans, lentils, muesli.

Make smart choices. For example most rices have a very high GI so i would stay clear of them. However white basmati rice has a GI of 52 which makes it a really good option IN SMALL PORTIONS. Berries have a lot less sugar than bananas. Now i’m not saying don’t eat bananas, as i personally eat one every day, but what i’m saying is if you have already most of your sugars for today then opt for the berries over the banana later on.

Always exercise portion control. Try eating smaller amounts more regularly during the day for a steady release of energy. This will also stop you from getting really hungry between meals and then getting cravings.

Remember that just because something is a ‘natural’ sugar doesn’t mean you can eat as much as you want. Fruit is very nutritious but at the end of the day it is still sugar. So again.. portion control. I stick to two portions of fruit a day usually.

You can check out the GI of your food online, there are so many websites but i will include a link for one at the bottom of this article.

Try and keep your overall sugar consumption as low as possible. I personally eat between 20-30g of sugar a day and no higher. THIS INCLUDES NATURAL SUGARS. If you eat 2000 calories a day it is recommended you eat less than 50g of sugar a day.

A good way to keep track of how much sugar your eating as well as overall calories and nutrients is to download an app to input your meals. The one i use is myfitnesspal. Of course this is not necessary all of the time but it is really handy to use at first until you get a general idea of what your foods contain. This will also give you a shocker if your not used to counting calories, it can be a real eye opener when you find out how many calories are in some of your favourite go to foods.

Eat enough fibre. Fibre slows the absorption of sugar and therefore helps regulate blood sugar levels. This is why even though some fruits have a high GI they are still a good option because fruits are very nutrient dense and also full of fibre.

And last but not least. Believe that you can do it! If you fall off the wagon and eat some sugary foods or if you do find yourself in the middle of a binge don’t beat your self up about it. As soon as you realise you have slipped up again just stop what you are doing and take a few conscious breaths. Make note of where you went wrong and start again.. and again.. and again.. until you get it right. Nobody said it was easy, but it is worth it.

If it makes you feel any better i fell off that wagon more times than you could possibly imagine before i finally got it right, i still do from time to time. The power is in the return. Keep trying as many times as it takes and remember YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.

Love and light.

 

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My First Float.

 

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If you read my previous blog post you will know that for my 25th birthday i was heading over to Kildare for the day to experience my first ever float session in a sensory deprivation tank.

I went to Sli Beatha in Naas, Co. Kildare and was not disappointed. The whole experience from start to finish was absolutely wonderful, so much so that i decided to pay for two further sessions so i can go again in the next few weeks.

First of all i would highly recommend going to Sli Beatha Float House if you are going to try floating. If you don’t live in Naas don’t be put off by having to travel as i promise it is worth it. I got the 126 bus from the Happeny Bridge in Dublin city centre which took roughly 40 minutes & it was only 10 euros for a return ticket. The bus dropped me right outside just across the road from the Float House (ask the bus driver to tell you when your at the stop before the post office in Naas and get off there).

The whole place was very beautiful inside and felt very relaxing & ‘spa’ like. Laura was very welcoming and made me feel very comfortable right away. I was sat down in a little cosy area to watch a video about how the tank works & a few need to know things. I was then given some earbuds to keep & offered a bottle of water and then Laura took me upstairs to my private float room.

I have to say the full place from top to bottom was absolutely gleaming and spotless, such a beautiful space throughout and lovely decor & a calming atmosphere. Laura took me in the float room and explained everything to me and showed me where everything was and how to use the tank and then she left me to enjoy.

I was delighted that in your private float room you have absolutely everything provided for you so you don’t have to bring anything at all. A lovely fresh towel and a turbie towel for your hair are provided, plus you have your own shower in the room for before and after the float. I quickly had my pre float shower, put my earbuds in place and climbed into the tank.

I was a little bit nervous about doing it as i have had a terrible fear of drowning for the past 10 years ever since one of my friends i went to school with sadly drowned. I used to be quite a strong swimmer up until that happened but afterwards i would have nightmares every night for years to come and wake up in floods of tears every night. After that the fear of drowning was just to overwhelming for me that it took me 8 years before i would get back in the water again. I’m glad to say that i finally came to peace with it and started learning to swim again at the age of 24. Better late than never right?

I was surprised when i climbed in at how bouyant I was. Relief rushed over me straight away as i realised theres no possible way i could drown in here, i could barely even sit on the bottom to get in place thats how floaty it was in there. I pulled the top of the tank dow completely straight away as although i had been a bit worried before about drowning or feeling claustrophobic those fears were now gone. I floated so easily and comfortably and the tank was so big that i just wasn’t worried at all now.

For the first 10 minutes of the float they play some beautiful calming music directly into the tank & the light in the tank is still on. The light is like a beautiful pastel mood light with really warm glowing colours, enough to light up the tank inside but not bright enough to kill the mood, just right. You can turn the light off yourself when you get in if you like but since it was my first time i kept it on for now. Laura had advised me that when i get in the light will automatically turn off after 5 minutes and that the the music would fade away and turn off after 10 minutes. For the first minute or two i was just finding my most comfortable position to float in which was with my arms up by the side of my head instead of by my sides. I had a little bit of anxiety worrying about being able to breathe properly in here and was worried would i freak out when the light and music turned off so i decided just to concentrate on my breath. I practice pranayama breathing techniques regularly so i just focused on a techique i know to calm the nervous system & relax .

When the light turned off i was actually surprised as straight away the sense of being inside a tank just vanished. The floating sensation coupled with absolute darkness made me feel as if i was floating through a vast open space it was a very freeing and wonderful sensation. Any anxiety that i had felt previously completely disappeared, i did not feel enclosed or as if i was in a tank at all and it was absolutely pitch black in there i could not see a single thing. There were a few times throughout the float when i actually didn’t know if my eyes were open or closed as it made no difference either way. My neck & traps felt very achy and uncomfortable at first which i knew could happen from watching the video before hand. When there is no other sensation to focus on except your own body any aches or itches or rumbles just feel magnified times 10. Even though the aches in my neck were very prominent at first i was still extremely relaxed and comfortable and after the epsom salts in the tank started to soak in (about 20 minutes in) the muscle aches and tension eased away completely.

With the light switched off i got this indescribable feeling throughout my whole body like a mixture of relief and elation. I often struggle to calm myself or relax around other people & as i get older i become more and more introverted. The theme of my week so far had been ‘God please give me 5 minutes of peace and quiet before i lose my shit or have a panic attack’. When the music went silent in that tank i just though to myself FINALLY! Absolute silence and alone time, no distractions, nobody to have to make conversation with or answer to, no anxiety, no jobs to do or places to be, no rushing, just pure joyous bliss.

The next 50 minutes were absolutely wonderful i can’t even begin to describe. I realised a long time ago that even though anxiety is internal, for me my anxiety always revolves around other people. Always trying to people please, worrying about what other people are thinking, trying to make conversation to please other people even though i just want quiet, putting other peoples needs before my own, carrying other peoples worries as my own, fear of other people wanting to hurt me. I always find any social situation extremely draining and even though i will always be smiling and i truly do want to be there, it can just get a bit overwhelming for me at times. It was like getting some time alone in this tank to relax was an answer to my prayers. I honestly must have been radiating gratitude from every single inch of my body whilst i was in there for getting the chance to have this experience.

I let the good feelings flow in and the bad ones flow out and let my thoughts come and go exactly the same way. I didn’t try to control my thoughts or stop them or direct them, i just let them come and go without really fixating on them. Just being aware of what was drifting in and out. Being present and completely letting go of everything.

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For the majority of that 50 minutes i would completely forget where i was, i almost felt like i was in a dream or floating through the universe or just completely absorbed in consciousness. Actually i think the way to describe it would be all of those things at once.. i was awake but dreaming, floating through the universe, completely immersed in consciousness with no attachment to my physical body. It was such a beautiful and humbling experience that words do not do it justice. One thing that i was very happy about as for a while now i seemed to have ‘writers block’ and couldn’t seem to come up with things i wanted to write about any more. My thoughts became so crystal clear in that tank that the ideas just came flowing to me one after another, but gently and softly. There was never a rush of thoughts or a bombardment of thoughts. Infact i don’t know how it’s possible but i’m pretty sure the thoughts were gently flowing and coming to me but at the same time my head was completely clear and silent. Well one thing i have learned this far in life is that ANYTHING is possible. The mind is a complex and fascinating thing. All of the ideas that came flowing to me about writing and about my life seemed so perfect that it was as if God had just planted them there himself. At the same time though these thoughts and amazing ideas i was having weren’t like an epiphany. No. They were from inside me, i already had these thoughts but with the business of every day life and the outside noise it’s hard to make sense of your own thoughts or let them surface.

And then i felt grateful to myself. Grateful for following my guides, for following my intuition, i felt grateful for allowing myself this experience, grateful for me to listening to my body and practicing yoga, walking, for meditating, for allowing myself to heal, for my ayahuasca journey, for my journal. All of these things that i had brought into my life that are just for me. For taking care of myself, mind body and spirit. (Feeling nostalgic referencing back to my first ever blog post here). I promised myself in this moment that floating was going to become a regular part of my life from now on. As did yoga, meditation, journalling, so will floating. I made a comitment to myself right then to float once a month and give myself this time to let go of everything and allow myself to heal. From the inside out.

After my float was over i had a lovely hot shower in the float room before heading through to the dressing room to get myself together. I had brought towels and shampoos, brushes etc with me in my bag but it turns out none of them were needed. The shower had the loveliest smelling shampoo & conditioners of all time & the shower gel left me all silky smooth and smelling gorgeous after washing away all of the float salts – note, make sure to rinse out properly inside your ears just in case any salt water got in, as if it dries on your eardrum it could cause some discomfort. In the cutest dressing room ever there were loads of toiletries and amenities to choose from. Cleansers, moisturisers, body butters, argan oils, hair serums, deodorants, hair brushes, a selection of gorgeous perfumes, hair bobbles & clips, they literally had everything.

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After i spent a slow & lazy 45 minutes drying my hair and getting myself together i took a seat on a cosy orange elephant chair and had a browse through the guest book. It was lovely to read the messages left by all of the people who had visited before me. So many people saying they had also had similar experiences to mine, joyous, calming, the feeling of connection and oneness. My personal favourites were ”it’s all connected” & ”ooh ahh sli beatha, ooh ahh sli beatha”. So anyways i left my own message in the guestbook thanking them for a wonderful experience and then i went down to the reception and paid for my next two floats to come. No hesitation there. I already can’t wait to go back and i will keep blogging about each floating experience and how it evolves for me.

Healing the mind body & soul, one float at a time.

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Listen to your body.

I spend a lot of time lifting weights and working out. For a long time I wanted to spend every minute I had spare in the gym working out and I started to neglect all of the other things that contribute towards a good weightlifting session and good overall fitness.

I got to a point where I was working out 6 days a week, not giving my body time to rest and rebuild, not giving my muscles time to recover and not getting good quality sleep. Even though I was only having one rest day a week I hated it I didn’t want a rest today I wanted to be in the gym working on my body. If I knew I only had 90 minutes to spend in the gym I didn’t want to waste time stretching or working on mobility I wanted to spend that full time lifting weights, so I would have a quick 2 minute stretch before each workout and that’s all. My workouts were getting longer and longer and I was doing more and more sessions and less and less of the other stuff.. the ‘boring’ stuff AKA. the IMPORTANT stuff.

That was last year and since then I have learnt so much about myself. I have learnt to really listen to my body and work with it instead of against it. I got so caught up for a while in what other people were doing and started to lose sight of what works for me. It’s easy when you spend so much time on social media to see how these beautiful people are training and you want to look like that so you start to train like that to. Seeing somebody posting their training routines, training splits, how often they train, their macros etc and thinking well if it works for her/him it will work for me. This is so far from the truth and I learnt the hard way.

When I started to realise this for myself and realise how my health was being affected and how unhappy I was I made a lot of big changes to my eating and training. I now weight train 4 days a week and I actually really enjoy my rest days now instead of worrying that I shouldn’t be resting and should be in the gym. I have also reduced my weightlifting sessions to 60 minutes max.

Since cutting back on the weight sessions I have been using the extra time I have to work on my mobility & flexibility. I do yoga at least twice a week which really helps with my flexibility and I also make sure to get a good long stretch in before each workout. I bought a foam roller and some resistance bands and make sure to spend a good amount of time each week rolling out those tight areas and doing mobility exercises at home. I also now know when it’s time to REST. I’m all about pushing my limits and going all out in the gym and working my ass off, but now I know when to listen to my body and skip the gym and go for a walk or yoga instead. Sometimes that is exactly what we need. In the past this would have never been an option for me, now I can easily do this without feeling guilty like I used to.

It’s amazing what our bodies can do when we just listen to them. In my head I thought if I trained less days a week and cut down the amount of exercises I was doing per workout FOR SURE this must mean I would not make progress / lose gains / jump up weights slower and I was so wrong. Since training less days a week and working more on getting enough rest, working on my flexibility and mobility etc I have made sooooo much more progress than I was ever making before. I am making serious progress whilst still being happy with my training, getting a good sleep in and managing to actually have a life outside of the gym. I am getting so much stronger and all of the strength goals I had set myself this year I have smashed and surpassed more than I could have imagined. My cut went really well this time round even with a few diet breaks along the way and I am delighted with the result.

I guess what I am trying to say is just listen to your body. It doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing. We are all unique so we all need to train according to our own needs and who knows your body better than yourself? It’s fantastic to get training tips and ideas off instagram/facebook or off friends but what works for one person might not necessarily be for you so just remember that. Also I hate to say it but a lot of what we see on social media is just not the reality of it, so try not to get to wrapped up in ‘well if she trains like this and she’s in amazing shape then I’m going to train like that too’.

Do your research, experiment a bit, listen to your body & TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!

Love and Light x

Self-Care

 

 

Recommended Podcasts.

Since I started video logging throughout the day I have been mentioning what podcasts I have been listening to and have had so many people messaging me directly to ask what podcasts I would recommend so I thought I would write a post with my favourite podcasts.

I listen to podcasts all day every day, when i’m getting ready, while i’m travelling to and from work, when i’m in the gym, when i’m writing for my blog, when i’m cleaning, basically as much as I possibly can. I think podcasts are such a great way to get new information, I love to be always learning about new things, always hearing different opinions, always expanding my knowledge on any subjects that interest me. Sometimes in today’s busy life it can be hard to sit down and read endless books on subjects that interest you but with podcasts you can listen to up to date discussions from experts in the industry while you go about your day to day business. This is why I love to listen to fitness and nutrition based podcasts to gain as much knowledge as possible. Of course it can’t always be learning all the time we’ve got to have that bit of laughter to, which is why I also have a few podcasts from comedians which I regularly listen to just for those real big belly laughs.

Here are a list of my favourite podcasts at the moment. I’m always chopping and changing what I listen to and these ones below are in no particular order, these are just the podcasts that I am currently listening to at the moment. There’s a good mixture in there so I’m sure there will be something for everyone!  Also if anybody has any podcast suggestions for me I am all ears I’d love to find some new ones so drop me a message if you know of any you think I might benefit from.

  1. Joe Rogan Experience – Definitely my favourite podcast at the moment, mainly because he has such a wide variety of different guests on the show and it is so regular that there is always something new and interesting to listen to. He always has guests on talking in depth about different areas of fitness and nutrition, psychedelics, spirituality, sports and so much more.
  2. Found My Fitness, Dr Rhonda Patrick – Nutrition and how it affects our health is one of my biggest interests. Dr Rhonda Patrick lays down the facts on her podcast with the ins and outs of nutrition and how it affects our health, diseases, cancer, ageing, basically how nutrition is the key to everything. She also talks a lot about different supplements/products/fasting techniques/fads etc to give the low down on each one and her educated opinion on them.
  3. Danny Lennon, Sigma Nutrition – All things fitness related, training and nutrition wise. Danny Lennon has guests who discuss at length different topics in relation to fat loss, physique athletes, competitive cutting, cutting for women, fat loss plateaus and so much more. For anyone interested in fitness and more specifically bodybuilding this is a great one to listen to.
  4. The Ricky Gervais Show – Now this one is purely for the laughs. We’ve all heard of Karl Pilkington An Idiot Abroad, right? Well rewind to how Ricky & Steve met Karl Pilkington was when Karl was producing their radio show XFM. They thought he was that hilarious that they decided to start a podcast just the 3 of them, that’s when The Ricky Gervais Show was born. No matter how many times I have listened to every single one of these I still laugh my head off so much every time, it never gets old.
  5. Duncan Trussell Family Hour – A mixture between the most fascinating of topics and rambles of randomness. Duncan is such a fascinating guy and he always talks about deeply spiritual subjects. His views on psychedelics, virtual reality and different dimensions are just a few of the reasons I love to listen to his podcast, also for the laughs of course.
  6. Skeptic Tank, Ari Shaffir – Ari is a regular guest on The Joe Rogan Experience which is how I got listening to his podcast. Such an interesting character and a little ‘out there’ as well as a good joker his podcast is always a good listen.
  7. The Church of Whats Happening Now, Joey Diaz – Another regular on The Joe Rogan Experience, Joey Diaz is absolutely hilarious and man has he lived a crazy life! Any and all of his stories have me rolling on the floor laughing, mostly just because of the animated and fiery way in which he tells them. Always a good listen and it always has me in knots laughing, listen to one podcast and you will see exactly what I mean by his story telling.
  8. The True Geordie Podcast – The main reason I listen to this podcast is because hearing a Geordie accent just gives me that familiar ‘home’ comfort feeling. But the guys on this podcast always cover up to date and interesting topics and of course the magpies regularly crop up and football in general, Geordies through and through.

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Rest, recovery & re-feeds.

The past few weeks I have been writing about how so far on my cut I have been feeling great, full of energy, the weight is dropping fast and no cravings at all.

Going with a low carb diet and being in a caloric defect whilst still training to a high intensity & also walking everywhere as much as possible it was bound to hit me eventually. This past week my energy levels just seemed to drop massively and it really hit me hard. I looked like shit and felt like shit and started to get really bad knots and cramps in my muscles. I actually bumped into one of my friends in the gym last Sunday and he asked me if i was sick and told me i looked like shit (thanks pal).

I decided to listen to my body and since I wasn’t prepping for a competition and since so far I have been losing weight faster than anticipated that I would take it easy a bit this week and get my body back to normality and feeling good again and then back on the grind.

 I didn’t go all mad of course as everyone knows that wouldn’t be like me as i really do enjoy my training and healthy lifestyle. So what I did was for 3 of my workout days I decided to put my calories up an extra 200 cals worth of carbs. So in total for the full week I was having an extra 600 calories worth of carbs as to what I have previously been having during my cut. I also had a ‘cheat meal’ in eddie rockets, even with that i didn’t go nuts though i had a lovely chicken fajita wrap and some sweet potato fries which was more than enough and still not exactly unhealthy.

I wasn’t expecting to have lost any weight when i checked the scales after a few days but i was surprised to see i had still managed to lose half a pound even after putting my calories up. Those extra calories and some catch ups with friends and chats was really all i needed to feel back to myself and get my energy levels back up and smiling again. I definitely made the right choice by taking that week a little bit easy to recover and get back my energy before continuing my cut. I don’t see the point in letting myself get overworked and underfed when the whole reason i am doing this is to enjoy it and to look AND FEEL the best that i can. I learnt my lesson from last year that it doesn’t matter how good shape i am in if i am not feeling right on the inside and mentally.  

Like i said after that little recovery period i got straight back into it as usual this week and am feeling a million times better. Training is going really well and i finally managed to improve & increase my rows which i was only complaining last week that i had been stuck on them for a while. I know whilst being in a caloric deficit progress is a lot slower but man these rows were really p***ing me off. So i was absolutely delighted when i went into the gym with a clear head and renewed energy yesterday and smashed through that plateau.

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