No Summer Bodies around here

20130806-082708.jpg

As the Summer/holiday season is underway you’d be hard pressed not to find a magazine that doesn’t encourage you to “get that Summer body” you’ve always wanted. But what happens when the tan fades and you’re sat at your desk reminiscing about the wild weekend you had with Julio while you and your girlfriends were away in Corsica? Does the work of starving yourself since April and going to every body blast class fall at the wayside until the following April? Was that constant feeling of hunger even worth it? I’m guessing not.

The motivation to be fitter and healthier should be a motivation and that would then ripple out to wanting that all year round. This doesn’t mean constant starvation, feeling unhappy or any unhealthy patterns as a lot of these seasonal plans tend to be, as weight loss in a short space of time is usually just that.

Make this Summer season the start of you leaving behind the Summer body and taking on a healthy attitude to your mind and body which is for life.

Hold on, I’ll be five minutes …

20130627-205534.jpg

This is technically not a fitness post, but I’ve been known to throw in a couple of curve balls here and there so bear with me. Whilst I’m an advocate of exercise and being healthy, I extend this to the mind. I suffer with depression and have made efforts to ensure that the bouts I have are few and far between, staying active is a HUGE part of that. There is also another way that I work on staying in a good place and that’s through rest and relaxation, particularly meditation.

I know you probably now have images of me sitting in a room full of floaty curtains, pillows and such like, but unfortunately I don’t have a pretty room like that in the ghetto lol.
Jokes aside taking five minutes out during work hours, before bed, on the way to a meeting to put away your phone, closing the laptop and concentrating on just breathing does wonders.

Research conducted by a university in California which was part of a Telegraph article showed that meditating for five minutes before class saw a significant increase in the concentration and grades of the students. In a busy world where there “isn’t any time” to do anything, taking five minutes out a day could impact you in a positive way. You don’t have to rush out and buy whale sounds, incense and pillows with little mirrors on. Yourself, a chair and five minutes is all you require. Shoot, you don’t even need the chair!

So try this: during your break at work; turn your phone off, find a space if you will have someone trying to talk to you and break your focus, get relaxed and just sit for five minutes clearing your mind of the stresses of the day and see whether or not you feel better afterward, you may just be surprised.

Giving myself a daily boost

20130628-152605.jpg

As you know, I’m all about my fruit and veg. So much so I bung them into a blender raw and drink to my hearts content. But recently I’ve been taking a battering due to the air con at work being up so high that I feel I’m in Antarctica and its been circulating recycled air and germs.

To combat this, I’ve just bought and have been trying out a powder to add to my drinks which is packed full of vitamins, minerals, proteins, essential oils and herbs. It is called Nature’s Plus “Source of Life” energy shake in a granola flavour that I picked up from South London’s finest health food shop Baldwin’s. if you live in South London, then I know that you are aware of this store, it has been there before I was on this planet and will probably be here long after I’ve departed. They have an online store which you can peruse at your leisure here.

In the coming weeks I will let you know how I fair, and give my verdict on what I like or don’t like about it and post.

20130628-154200.jpg

Why I’m standing on my head

20130414-185641.jpg

You may have seen me tweet or post Instagram photos as I work on getting my headstand game up recently and thought I was crazy, or wondered why I was going back to my roots of performing these in the playground.

As you may or may not know, I had a major setback with my fitness and am still in recovery mode at present. I’m not able to train and whilst I’m now able to run, I have lost my running mojo which hasn’t been helped by my knee. So while pottering around, I saw a yogi posting some really cool forearm poses and decided I would work on getting to that stage again by first working on my balance while toning my arms, shoulders, back and lightly on my core. Balance is to me very important in general as it means body and mind work better together.

After a few days into what is going to a month long challenge, I decided to research the benefits of headstands when practiced properly. I discovered the following:

1. It is very good for the digestive system, the pituitary gland which is important in creating energy is stimulated whilst chilling upside down.

2. The lymphatic system is improved; lymph fluid is a major player in building the immune system.

3. Helps your brain! With the blood flowing towards the brain easier, it gives it stimulation when endorphins are released, enhances concentration as well reduce anxiety and stress.

4. Boosts cardiovascular and lung function.

5. Improves strength in the neck, shoulders, back and core region of the body.

I’m seven days in and I have to say it has been quite fun. When my mum isn’t shouting “boo!” Or “she fell over,” I am seeing improvements already. Will be nice to see how far I get by day thirty.

** update** to make sure you’re doing it correctly, best you give this link the once over

#AbsLikeAngel – Week One

20130204-010619.jpg

Greetings challengers, I hope you’re raring to go?

Please remember to stretch before and after your workout as well as hydrating. Both very important for your body and overall fitness.

image

Abdominal Hold

With your back straight and your abs engaged, hold in the position for a minute. Rest for thirty seconds and do this three times in total.

image

Plank

Keeping a straight line from head to toe, rest on your forearms and hold for one minute. Rest for thirty seconds and get three sets in.

image

Slow Mountain Climbers

Get into plank position and slowly bring knee to chest, repeat on other side. This is one repetition. Repeat for one minute.

image

Russian Twists

Getting into the abdominal hold position, take right hand across your body concentrating on keeping back straight and core engaged, repeat with left arm. This is one repetition. Repeat for one minute.

image

Plank Rows

In plank position lift one arm and raise to chest and hold for a second whilst keeping back straight and engaging core. Swap sides and repeat for a minute.

image

Sit-ups

Get as many as you can in a minute. Take care of your back and engaging your core whilst remembering to breathe.

image

Side Plank

Resting on forearm keeping body straight with core engaged, hold. Switch sides after thirty seconds.

Now get tagging and posting #AbsLikeAngel !!

Twitter/Instagram: @Angel_Deelight

#AbsLikeAngel

20130203-124903.jpg

The time has finally come for the “Abs Like Angel” challenge to begin.

There will be workout set for you to do and a new workout will be posted weekly. Ideally try to do this twice a day if you’re able, but once a day as a minimum and add it to your current workout (where applicable.)

As always it is recommended that you consult your physician if you have any concerns and modify your workout if need be.

The “Abs Like Angel” tab will magically appear tomorrow and that’s the best place to post questions as well as under each workout post every week.

There will be a prize awarded to the individual that makes a significant effort. In order to be eligible you will need to tag your photos, blog posts, tweets etc with the hashtag #AbsLikeAngel. Take a simple self shot before you start the challenge and one at the end of February so you have an idea of your progress as well as something for me to judge alongside your online presence throughout the month. Terms and conditions will be on the tab on Monday.

Most of all, enjoy yourselves!!

The big ‘Fat’ issue

I have been toying with speaking on this issue for a month now, but I have decided I would finally blog about this after a conversation with a friend.

After reading about Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation’s recommendations to encourage more young women to remain interested in sport, I did go off on Twitter about it.

If you haven’t heard/read about it (article here) some of the recommendations included Zumba classes and rollerblading which made my blood boil. There was also mention that girls felt that being sweaty was not feminine. This rang true with what I remember the girls at my school feeling like which prevented them from participating in activities. But do you think Zumba and rollerblading are a way of changing those imo negative images of fitness? Because I don’t!!

There is already tons of terrible imaging for staying healthy in the industry. Photos of perfectly made up women in Lycra without an ounce of sweat, smiling at the camera while holding a 0.5kg dumbbell is not the way forward, so to enforce this terrible stereotype with Zumba and rollerblading is atrocious. The emphasis on exercising to lose weight is also a very negative and damaging undercurrent to fitness.

The article also touched on some schools only paying attention to those girls who excelled at sport, and I could see why those that weren’t so good would feel like giving up. But this is not true of all schools, I know some very good schools and teachers who are inclusive to all and try to encourage a healthy lifestyle.

As a Black woman, it amazes me how many women/girls don’t exercise due to the fact that they “don’t want to sweat out their hairstyles” when we as a race are more likely to have diabetes and heart problems. I remember reading an article on this very subject around a year or so ago, to much annoyance, I cannot source this article to share with you.

But what broke the straw on the camel’s back for me was when UK Athletics Head Coach, Charles van Commenee allegedly stated that Jessica Ennis was ‘fat’ (I should point out it was later on denied by him, but by then the damage was already done.)

In the year that sport has been put under the spotlight with our Capital hosting the biggest sporting event in front of the rest of the World, it is a catastrophic failure that this was even brought to the forefront. Women have enough to worry about as it is without this nonsense. This is a perfect opportunity for our young women to see the likes of Jessica, Perri and Paula on the International stage doing their thing, sweating and working hard to achieve their dream of standing on the top step of the podium with a gold medal adorning their necks. Encouraging our women to shake off the attitude that fitness is about weight loss and believing that wanting to be healthy means being strong mentally and physically even if they themselves don’t want to become a World class heptathlete or sprinter. Being comfortable with being sweaty during that workout, and as Bangs says worry about being ‘pretty on rest days.’ (For more on that badass mantra, her blog Spikes and Heels can be found here.)

This should encourage a new wave of young girls seeing those women as role models and possibly getting into sport to become the next set of great female athletes our country has seen, because let’s face it there aren’t many we can hail from the UK.

Thankfully growing up, I was active without even realising it. My mum would always take us to the park. I am hyperactive so now I am a parent I can see that she was doing this to tire me out, and for my siblings and I to get exercise. I do not know what a calorie is even if it walked up to me and slapped me in my face. Our diets were basically healthy; crisps and chocolate were scarce in the house, but with moderation we did have some. Every day before this five a day campaign, we always snacked on fruit and veg if we were hungry. My mother has never been on a diet. Ever. I see this as a huge problem for my friends as it seems those that have ‘issues with weight/diet’ are those that watched their mothers counting calories or trying the latest in fad diets that DO NOT WORK!! please don’t think I am attacking your mother if she did, but please make the connection for yourselves.

If we are to turn this negativity surrounding sport/fitness around, we definitely need to change the industry to reflect this and remove the emphasis on weight loss and calorie counting. Mothers of girls STOP following the latest detox diet of lettuce leaves and fad shakes and start eating proper and healthy meals and take your children with you when you go for a jog, bike ride, swim at least once a week so they can see you working out and getting sweaty. I understand a lot of us parents use this time to get AWAY and have a break from the kids, but maybe one of those workouts you could take them along with you?

Outdoor exercise needs to become more prevalent (yes, I am from the UK but by staying in when it rains – we are never outdoors!!) and get a little dirty. If it means getting dirty with your partner, so be it! ;-)

One small step for man ..

image

There have been many conversations recently with friends and even my line manager at work about my “running obsession” as someone close kindly pointed out as I embarked on my 15 mile run after a big night out. Been so strict with my training too .. Schoolgirl error.

The theme to almost of all of the conversations was the misconception that I got up one day and clocked up 6 miles with my eyes closed. So far from the truth its quite funny. Nice to think that my friends think so highly of me, but come on, son.

The way that I had to walk after two minutes I ran and then build on that for a couple of months until I ran a mile without stopping was to me rubbish. Having been a sprint runner my whole perception of running longer distances was completely wrong. And running alone as I was too proud to ask for help hinder my progress further. Its only when I spoke with others that I found out they had similar or worse experience because they did it alone.

To those wanting to take up running don’t do it alone, ask for help and don’t be disheartened if you’re not clocking marathons after a month. And don’t run with a hangover .. It is not fun! But you can do it!

“Slow and steady wins the race”

When Angel met Run Dem Crew

One March afternoon, Angel sat with a box that contained her new Lunarswifts, Sportsband w/sensor dreaming of the day that she would run with a much talked about group of nomads who come together once weekly to run the streets of London. It wasn’t until ten months later this would happen. But the moment she sprinted toward Charlie Dark shouting and the other members of the group waiting after a six-mile run she had the flashback to the Lunarswifts sitting in their duvet of tissue paper and smiled. She had arrived.

I had wanted to run with them for MONTHS especially watching people I follow on Twitter relay their excitement at going for a run, meeting up for events .. EVERYTHING. But I thought I wasn’t good enough yet, I would only slow them down, blahdee blah blah. So when I finally plucked up the courage to ask Bangs in October/November whether there was space and she said to hold fire, the needle off the record noise came. ARGH!! WHYYYY?!!

*cue dropping to knees in a rain-soaked street as the camera pans out*

I could’ve kicked myself at not hollering sooner, but then I thought ‘hold on right there, Missy. Your time will come and when it does it will be worth it AND when you do get in, you’ll kick some serious ass and they’ll not want you to leave’ – narcissistic comment but, bite me!

I continued to train when I could, ran an extra mile where I could, got up on Christmas Day and all sorts. So when that email came … I was ready.

The whole day of Tuesday 17th January 2012 I was excited, no, in fact it was the day before when I read the newsletter that hit my inbox signalling the start of the new season at Run Dem Crew.

Fast forward a pretty emotional day at work and me rushing home to get my kit on and battle through rail delays, stinky people on the tube and me bouncing down the road to the temporary meeting point. The moment I went in through to door with the logo much like a secret society, I was greeted by new and existing runners with RDC who all I spoke with in turn as I sat nervously on one of the storage boxes (GENIUS idea!!) The place slowly filled up with more people and Fleur who was also there as a new member and Bangs had copied into the tweet earlier in the day introduced herself to me and mentioned that she read my blog which really made my day. (As much as I blog, I always feel like only one person reads the blog, so to have an actual live person mention it made me SO happy) we spoke about our excitement and how we came to be sitting in a gallery in Shoreditch waiting for the famous Bangs of the “Bangs goes Rap” phenomenon and all round badass chick.

More people came and sat down and introduced themselves new and existing members so by the time Bangs arrived I was so relaxed although I frantically waved at her as she came through the doors .. *cringe* but thankfully she wasn’t running back out again to call the Police, she came and we hugged (well I hugged her and didn’t let go first.)

Enter Sir Charlie of Dark .. founder of RDC and my excitement meter basically blew up but me being me, I tried to play it cool with a nod which turned into a wave of excitement … *sigh*

After toilet breaks, we finally started the housekeeping. With my eye on the clock I was already worried about getting back late as The Boy was at home with The Mother whom I said I’d be home usual time of around 9pm as that’s the time I’m home from NikeTown and this looked like this wasn’t gonna happen … eek! Anyways, Charlie went through the history of the crew and even before he was through there I had already decided I liked these people. Stories of various contributing members and how they came to be there with absolutely inspirational stories. So by the time we got to how the Run Dem Crew Youngers came about, I was overwhelmed with just how awesome each and everyone there was.

With that over and Charlie finishing off with the words ‘Be the best you can be’ the build up to it all and the experience pretty much pushed me over the edge and out the door to run!!

As we set off with Daniel an old college friend and Glenn as our pacers, I realised the extent of the size of the group as in my group of runners the Fast Hares (8 min milers) we had 42 alone!! and we all had to cram onto the narrow pavement off into the dark of the night. we ran through the city toward St Paul’s, over the Millennium Bridge which I vowed I’d NEVER cross … (that’s for another day,) East along the riverbank past my workplace and along Bankside towards London and Tower Bridges before we crossed over and ran from Tower of London through Aldgate, Liverpool Street right through the middle of the station back into Shoreditch. And before I knew it … I was sprinting toward Charlie as I heard him shout at us to the crowd of the other groups who we passed going in the opposite direction earlier during our run. Thoughts of my Lunarswifts came flooding back and I smiled. Six miles clocked like it was nothing and had spoken to a few really wicked people along the whole route.

I will most definitely be running with RDC from now on. No offence to the wonderful people over at Niketown London as they are truly awesome and I will be running with them also, but in my heart of hearts I feel that I would love to contribute to RDC and embrace that community even if they don’t like it!

I have to say a MASSIVE thank you to Bangs, Charlie Dark,¬†Karleen and Georgina amongst others who were just amazing and made me feel welcome and to Fleur and a whole host of new members who really went out there and took it to the streets of London. I salute you all. Darren, you will be coming with me in a fortnight, I know you are ready … they’ll love you!

For more information on RDC please visit their wonderful new website.

The “Gaitway” to remaining injury free

Now before you call the Spelling Police on me, bear with me while I explain the reasoning behind today’s post ‘spelling mistake.’

I will be talking to you about … Gait Analysis *sense the dogs have been called off … phew!*

While I am not a fitness expert yet as I’m just starting on my journey to qualify as a Personal Trainer, I am reading loads as well as actually going through a lot of the topics I cover on my blog. With that being said, you should always seek the advice of a trained professional if you are unsure.

During the well documented ITB injury *groans from the regular readers of the blog; I know you’re all fed up of me going on about it now* it was advised that I go through gait analysis while going to physiotherapy and when I get new trainers as it was established that my beloved Lunars were the cause of the knee injury.

But what is Gait Analysis?

Gait analysis looks at your body’s movement (biomechanics) during running. It is commonly used to help athletes run more efficiently and to identify movement-related problems for people who have injuries. –

Bupa Health

This means that you walk and/or run on a treadmill and they look at how your feet land as you’re doing so, this can look at which part of the foot strikes the floor first and if the feet roll inward/outward/not at all. You’re usually asked to take your current running trainers with you to compare them with the trainers that would be recommended after analysis. And finally the sole of your foot is analysed in order to establish whether you have arches (which will be explained in more detail in a moment.)

If you find you have ‘a little twinge here or there from your feet up as far as your lower back, this could all be down to your footwear. I never knew any of this until I started my running journey, but didn’t really hit home until I spoke with my physiotherapist after I had injured myself. Here is a brief explanation of the foot.

Pronation – An explanation

Basic terms: How your feet turn as your foot lands on the floor as you walk/run. Now here are the various ways the feet turn in/out. I will be as simple as I can! (Not that you smarty pants readers need it, of course! *wink*)

  • Supination (Underpronation)Place your left hand palm faced down onto the table. Now arch a lot. Now try to roll your hand towards the right. Doesn’t go that far over, does it? This is what your feet are doing as they land on the ground as you walk/run. High arched foot, which doesn’t roll inward enough. You will be placing most of your weight on the outside of your foot. According to what I have found out you should look for shock absorption to reduce impact on your lower legs and back as stress fractures are higher.
  • Overpronation Place your left hand palm faced down onto the table. Now roll your hand towards the right. It should come over to the point where the outside of your hand is off the table, right? That is what your feet are doing as they land on the ground as you walk/run. The foot is either flat or has a very slight arch and this causes the foot to roll inward too much. The weight is mainly distributed to your big toe and puts stress on your knees and hips which causes the alignment to shift. Issues can also occur to the Achilles area of the foot. Stability at the Achilles and stability support in the arch area will make life much less pain free.
  • Neutral Luck you! You tend to strike the floor around the middle area of the foot or the outside of the heel which is evening out the weight across the whole of the foot. Give yourself a pat on the back and stop looking so smug!

While I was devastated that I had to buy a non Nike pair of trainers for the first time ever in my adult life (my Converse don’t count and I had a pair of Adidas gifted to me) I have *touch wood* been injury free and with pride swallowed I will have to continue to wear non Nike trainers. But I draw the line at my running shoes for now.

If you are unsure of what you need, any good store stocking running trainers will have Gait Analysis available. And again, always seek advice from trained physicians or physiotherapists if need be!