Fitness Blog // BBG Week 1

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Last week I posted (here) about shaking up my training and starting again with a new mindset. Typically after talking about chronic illness and how it shapes fitness / lifestyle, mine started to step in and take over my plans for the week.

I’ve had a kidney infection for the last few weeks which has played havoc with my body, leaving me feeling weak and nauseous. This meant that I had to put aside my first full week of re-starting BBG and work around what my body was capable of doing day to day.

 

I still had some kidney pain and was feeling faint so I decided that I would do the recovery sessions. My body was tight and I had little flexibility to stretching and foam rolling sessions would hopefully lesson this and enable me to perform better when I was able to complete the resistance workouts. Avoiding using the roller on my lower back due to the kidney pain my Sweat with Kayla sessions were as follows…

Tuesday / Recovery – Upper body

Thursday / Recovery – Legs

Saturday / Recovery – Full body

Sunday / LISS Cardio – slow 5K run.

I spent Sunday resting as Friday and Saturday had involved a fair bit of driving and I was quite fatigued and uncomfortable. After lunch I went back to bed and read for a little while then decided to take the dogs out for a walk. The benefit of living in the countryside as opposed to the city is that there aren’t many street lights in the village and we regularly get beautiful sunsets that are completely mesmerising. The fresh air also did me the world of good and I felt that I could attempt a LISS session (Low Intensity Steady State) so  switched on my SWK app and completed a slow and steady 5K over the 40 minutes.  I felt a lot better when I got back to the house and it was good to finish the week off completing more than I thought would be possible.

I’m hoping that I can build on this during week 2, with sunsets like the one above I think getting outside is going to be a lot more appealing in the evenings! I also thought that in next weeks post I’d talk about the supplements that I am taking which help me stay as active as I can.

Here’s hoping to a relatively pain free week! Do you have any tips for coping with chronic illness and exercise? I’d love to here them!

Amy xx

 Linking up with IBOT , Fitness Friday , Talk Less – Say More , Friday Favourites

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How to implement the mindset of a world champion (even with a chronic illness).

In the last 16 days sporting heroes have arisen and we’ve witnessed some incredible achievements. I love the Olympics, the aura is somehow different to any other sporting event, whether basking in triumph or the heartbreak of ill timed injury and defeat, everything seems more intense and encapsulating.

MY DREAM

I still vividly remember getting swept away with the Barcelona Olympics as an 11 year old in 1992.

Linford Christie’s Gold in the 100m. Staying in the car outside my aunts house so that we could listen to Sally Gunnells 400m hurdle race and erupting when she took Gold.  Kris Akabusi’s Bronze in the 400m Hurdles, Steve Backley’s Bronze medal in the Javelin and Bronze for both the men & women’s 400m relays.  That is all from memory but I’m pretty sure it’s correct!

Freddie Mercury & Montserrat Caballé belting out ‘Barcelona’ was spine tingling and it was listening and watching the athletics montage at the closing ceremony I decided this was for me; I wanted to be there competing someday.

My dream was not to be due to illness and circumstance, but I am now lucky enough to be working in top class facilities, with national and world class coaches enabling our most promising young athletes to pursue their Olympic and World Championship dreams.

I still want to be the best athlete / version of myself that I can be however. Exercise has not only been about achievement for me, but it clears my head and makes me more confident and happier in myself.

I’ve been asked a number of times how I manage fibromyalgia enough to be able to train, whether that be running or working out at the gym.

I’m going to be completely honest and say that it includes a lot of what I have considered to be failure. What you see on my Instagram / Twitter / Facebook feed doesn’t usually include the darkest of days. The days when the pain is crippling, my negativity and self doubt is all encompassing and I cry myself to sleep. It really isn’t pretty.

CASE STUDY // JESSICA ENNIS-HILL

Jessica Ennis Training with a chronic illness

What I’ve learnt from working amongst this calibre of athletes however is that without doubt they have exceptional talent, but as ordinary human beings they come with their own battles and difficulties to overcome.

The other week I sat down on Sunday afternoon to watch Jessica Ennis-Hill: A Coach’s Story on BBC Iplayer (definitely worth half hour of your time, click here to view ). I’ve always admired Jess’ coach, Toni Minichiello and the relationship they have (he’s coached her since the age of 13 and taken her to Heptathlon Olympic and World Champion), but I took much more from the documentary for myself than I thought I would.

Returning to training after the birth of her son Reggie, Jess admitted that she underestimated how hard it would be coming back after having a baby, doubted herself and found it difficult to come to terms with her post pregnancy body.

“We had a lot of times where I said: ‘I’m rubbish, I can’t do it – I can’t run like I used to, I can’t hurdle like I used to,'” she said. “And he’d just say to me: ‘You know it’s going to take time. It’s not going to happen straight away. Just stop comparing yourself to who you were in 2012.”– (Jessica Ennis-Hill)

It could take twelve months for her body to get over pregnancy and birth and they both had to learn how her new body worked, performed and the approach needed for her to be able to return to competition.

There was the “frustration and the anxiety – she would always measure herself against the athlete she was, but physically she wasn’t the same person. It was really tough mentally.”– (Toni Minichiello)

So her coach introduced “Post Pregnancy Personal Bests, or PPPBs, as he refers to them.” The only way for her to mentally overcome the frustration and negativity of comparison to her pre-pregnancy body performance was to wipe the slate clean and start once again from zero. “It helped her redefine her view of herself as an athlete.”

If Jess had continued to try to train the way she had before having her baby she would have crashed and burnt, most likely hindering any chance that she had of competing in the future. After most people had written her off, she came back within 14 months to win World Championship Gold.

And that’s when it hit. Now I’m in no way comparing myself to an Olympic and World Champion, but bare with me, the principle is the same.

MY STORY

After my diagnosis of fibromyalgia I was still in the frame of mind that I could achieve what I had pre-diagnosis. I took part in an intensive eight week programme where frustratingly my body was still capable of doing what it was before, but the crippling pain and fatigue that followed prohibited me from doing so again.

It was a gruelling eight weeks, mainly because physically I was far too able to be in the physiotherapy group I was in. The aim of the rehabilitation was to keep my body mobile and to increase my pain threshold so that I could cope with the pain of every day activities. I could have easily been in the group of athletes above me though and still had the competitive mindset – I had to win every activity set, no matter the cost to my body afterwards.

Despite my physiotherapists advice I believed that I could beat the pain, mentally I still couldn’t accept that my body was no longer the same as it was.

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I had been told time and time again that I would not race again but I still believed that I could. In my head I was still the same. I started training at the track with a group of high achieving young athletes and it was clear straight away that I was misleading myself.

Some  these athletes are half my age and that alone should have been enough to stand back and say “hey, don’t expect too much of yourself here“. I’m 34 years old with fibromyalgia and training with an endurance squad that competes week in week out. I was setting myself up for failure. My body was so fatigued that I had nothing to give and felt like a complete fraud.

A DIFFERENT CHALLENGE

Admitting that my body was no longer the same was extremely difficult – it felt like failure and I quickly needed a new challenge.

I found it in Kayla Itsines BBG. I signed up and downloaded the app and was immediately hooked on the workouts.

28 minutes of high intensity exercise split up into 7 minute sections, sounded much more manageable. It was until the workouts got more difficult and my body was in so much pain and fatigued by the sessions. Once again I became frustrated and negative because I was still comparing my performance to what it would have been before the fibromyalgia raised its ugly head.

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ACCEPTANCE & STARTING AGAIN

I’ve watched the documentary with Jess and Toni a further three times! I’m determined that fibromyalgia won’t take over my life. I’m someone who needs to have a goal to work towards, but in order to be able to train and achieve any set goals I need to change my mindset and training methods.

Whether we have just had a baby or have a chronic illness we need to accept that our body is now different and will work in a different way, therefore we need to adapt accordingly.

MOVING FORWARD


From today I am a new athlete…

My running PBs have been wiped out.

The number of reps I could lift / circuits I could complete have been forgotten about (the fibro fog helps with that!).

The one plus with wiping the slate clean is that from today onward, every session will be a new PFBB (Post Fibromyalgia Personal Best!).

When I return to the track in a few weeks, I’ll be purely coaching. If I run, it will be by myself with no expectations and I will be starting Sweat with Kayla again from week 1, adapting it to how my body feels.

I’ll be taking Toni Minichiello’s advise to  “always write your plans in pencil and have an eraser ready” , as those of you with chronic illness know, it is unpredictable and is always throwing up new challanges.  I’ll be documenting my progress here once a week and also on my social media (follow me on Instagram here).

I may not be bringing home an Olympic Silver Medal as we have seen Jess accomplish in the last week, but with a more relaxed attitude and no expectations who knows where we can go!

If anyone wants to join up on this journey please contact me – the more company the better!

Amy xx

NB: Quotes taken from Giles Mountford’s article for the BBC click here to read in full.

Linking up with IBOT, Hello Monday Linkup

Life Lately

Well this seems like the perfect time to reacquaint myself with this little space. I’ve been awake since 5.20 am and instead of wasting the time lying awake driving myself crazy here’s the post I’ve been trying to write for the last two weeks. Is it longer? It may be….oops!
Anyway these last few weeks have been super busy but in typical Amy fashion, when I have lots to do something raises it’s head which leads to not much getting done, so this week is going to be crazy busy!
I was all set to make the most of my last few weeks in the office I’d kindly been given as part of my business bursary. I’ve got three talks to develop, a marketing strategy to finalise, three funding applications to write….you get the drift. So of course, my poor daughter came down with a chest and ear infection, returning to school only last week and the impending half term next week, a conference tomorrow which leaves me with three days to complete the talks.
Oh, and my washing machine has completely packed in and I’m in need of a new central heating system which has resulted in four home visits in three days….stress!
Good news though, I found the perfect tonic – I was actually able to complete a legs and bum class at the gym with my lovely friend Sue. I think it saved my sanity this week and although it’s frustrating that my body can’t do as much as it could, it felt good to be moving. I initially panicked once I was home as the pain set in leaving me tearful  , tired an irritable but the next day, apart from the usual stiffness that you’d expect from working out I felt no heightened fibromyalgia pain. So happy, I’m ready to go again this week and it has got me seriously crushing on some new gym gear!

There was also the small matter (ha, who am I kidding) of a Six Nations rugby match Friday night which I am trying to forget about. Thursday, along with my sister I went to the Welsh rugby team hotel to get a rugby ball signed for my nephew and his team. It was freezing out but I was not going to turn down the opportunity to swoon meet Mike Phillips, Leigh Halfpenny and Alex Cuthburt again! Friday evening I couldn’t believe I was driving to England to watch the massive Wales v England match that was being played in Cardiff, especially as my sister was at the stadium. But the bubbly was pouring as we turned a little corner of the English countryside red, with even more alcohol pouring after the result. There were tears, that’s all I am willing to discuss on this matter. 
Being a heartbroken Welshie in England that morning, there was only one thing I could do. So I took Maya and myself off for a walk into the forest where nobody could find us! Panic set in mind, as in my misery I forgot to pay attention to the path we were taking and realised I didn’t have a clue where we were! After not seeing a soul and fretting that with no phone signal, we would never be found (yes, it was a dramatic day!), we finally made it back to the car and home for a cup of tea. Now back in the safety of Wales for a few days, I’d like to think we’ve brushed ourselves off and are prepared for Scotland next week! 
How have you all been doing? I’m looking forward to catching up with everyone’s blogs this week and getting back in touch with the world again (as long as I can stay away from the rugby news of course!).
Amy
xx

Linking up with IBOT 
*image credit unknown, if you have it please let me know and I’ll be happy to add it 🙂 

High school mama – September goals

This morning has seen me burn my arm on my hair straighteners, drop my mascara on my bare toe, put my clothes on back to front, turn the wrong plug on for the iron only to confuse myself for around ten minutes as to why it wasn’t hot!  The reason for this state of drippiness? My baby girl started high school this morning and I am worried sick. Has the SENCO really informed ALL of her teachers about her needs?  Will she be able to cope moving from classroom to classroom? How will she keep up with the other children?  It only seems five minutes ago that I was taking her to nursery, aged three for her first day.  Now, eleven seems far too young to be starting high school.  She looks grown up today in her smart new uniform but spent all last night awake, upset and thinking up every possible scenario of what could happen today, as a mum this crushed me. Twenty years ago to the day, I started this school and now she is there.  It is scary how time flies and as I anxiously wait for her to come home it is probably best that I stay away from any sharp or hot objects.
The start of the academic year always feels like the ‘new year’ to me than the official January 1st.  Although sad to see summer end, the crisp air of September seems to motivate me to set goals for my personal growth for the next year and they seem more achievable than in the gloomy grey skies of January. Although I am taking a break from my post graduate studies until January so that I can settle Megan into high school, I still feel the need to set some goals for the month.
Health and fitness
Health and Fitness Quotes

Although I usually eat well, the end of the summer holidays have seen more treats and less exercise than normal and I am definitely feeling it.  To help me stay organised and on track, I have decided that on the first Tuesday of every month I will post my fitness and menu plan for the month and document my progress from the following month.  As I have written about before, my fitness goals have now changed from being competitive and in perfect shape to keeping me mobile, helping me in day to day activities and to look after my emotional well being.  This is something that I am still getting used to so will be a learning curve but I am determined to get somewhere with it. 
 A new yoga class has started at Megan’s dance school on a Tuesday morning, which is perfect for me being on my day off so this is my first goal. 
I am also going to start preparing my lunches for the week on a weekend.  I usually miss lunch on the days I work due to finishing at 1.30 and then having to rush straight home to be there when Megan finishes school.  If I plan them in advance then I can just grab it out of the fridge in the morning and eat it on the bus home.
Career goals
Write down project ideas and arrange meetings so that an action plan can be made to monitor progress. I decided to put all my project goals on hold over the summer holidays to spend time with Megan.  I am now muddled with so much to do and not knowing where to start!  I want to have made clear headway by Christmas and with limited time outside work I  need to know exactly what I should be doing and when to achieve this.
Household

Mirrors used as windows in the basement
Financially, I am finally in the position where I can decorate the house and by furniture that is exactly what I want!  I have so many ideas that I want to put together a mood board this month so that I can start purchasing items and decorating next month. I also need to declutter and I am so looking forward to this and having a nice home by Christmas! 
and finally…..
I want to bake an apple crumble!  I haven’t had one in years since I was diagnosed with coeliac disease and I am missing it so bad! I’ve literally been dreaming about cuddling up on the sofa with a warm, homemade apple crumble with lashings of custard on a cold autumn night!
Do you have any goals for September?  How do you manage to stay on top of everything?
Amy-Louise
xx