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! ;-)

Two challenges; one post .. hurrah!

Now aren’t you a lucky lot today, two posts? Yes indeed!

This will be a double hitter as I don’t want to shock you so much with a third post now, that would be far too generous of me. *wink*

First up a heads up, its the first day of the 30 Day Ab Challenge I was forced into signed up to. And judging by the first workout it looks like Things. Just. Got. Interesting. Let’s hope I’m still able to move later as I am running with my friend Darren later.

Not too late to sign up. 30 other people are on this so you’ll have a support network, its free, and everyone has their own reason/personal goal as to why they’re on this quest, so don’t be shy. Details below.

Next up is my latest Vlog to keep you posted on my Year of the Unstoppable journey. Hopefully better than my first attempt. Enjoy.

For more information on the 30 Day Ab Challenge check out Thru the Blue’s blog, and while you’re there check out the post written about me (yay)

If you’re on Twitter follow @thrutheblue, or search via the hashtag #30DayAbChallenge.

Crunches and Kilometres

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Today is the penultimate before I take part in the 30 Day Ab Challenge set out by Melissa and I’m actually looking forward to 30 days of hard work. Glutton for punishment? Perhaps.

For me its going to be more of a test in discipline as well as focusing me on a(nother) goal. My core muscles are terrible in the sense of suffering with sciatica and this will hopefully add to my current target of eliminating the excruciating pain I go through most winters. I can’t afford that when trying to train, walking is a myth when the pain hits let alone a 5km run!

We had to submit a before photo which did momentarily throw me but in essence it is to make a comparison at the end, and in many ways remind you of how far you’ve come.

That reminded me that I need to be documenting my running progress more so that I have a tangible route for where I started, travelled to and ended up. I mean, I plan my routes when I go running so why not my entire journey?

Before I go all Dalai Lama on your ass I’ll stop, but I will try to document progress more and for those who wanted more video blogs, we’ll see?

For more information on the 30 Day Ab Challenge check out Thru the Blue’s blog, and while you’re there check out the post written about me (yay)

If you’re on Twitter follow @thrutheblue, or search via the hashtag #30DayAbChallenge.

30 Day Ab Challenge

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So despite having my hands full with training for a half and full marathon I’m also taking on a 30 day ab challenge set by Melissa of Thru the Blue as I clearly didn’t have enough on my hands!

It will consist of:

* 30 day progressive ab and core workout plan, including daily workouts
*Scheduled Rest Days and Stretches
*Basic Nutrition Advice
*Video Guides
*Supplementary workout ideas

Now until just now I didn’t realise we would be starting it tomorrow with a photo submission so I’ve put the spuds back on the counter as I’m already bloating due to my monthly visit coming early *groans and throws herself onto the floor*

I’m a mixture of focused, excited and anxious but hey, bring it ON!

For more information on the 30 Day Ab Challenge check out Thru the Blue’s blog, and while you’re there check out the post written about me (yay)

If you’re on Twitter follow @thrutheblue, or search via the hashtag #30DayAbChallenge.

Food, glorious food!

Getting the body to temple status is not just about fitness. Without the adequate “fuel” for the body, all the push-ups, sun salutations, Zumba and Spin classes in the World won’t help.

I have a relatively decent diet, but there are those moments in the month (I know you know what I’m talking about, girls) where for a few days it all goes to pot. More like seven but who’s counting? *grimace*

So I have decided to make sure that the other three weeks are going to be a little more healthy to counteract that one bad one. And everything in moderation is my rule, I could never … NEVER give up the chocolate or cheesecake. Life is far too short to be unhappy. (can I get an ‘AMEN’ from the people in the back? Alright now!)

If you Google ‘Running Nutrition’ SO many articles come up, it becomes confusing, but I read an article on Runners World which for ME makes sense, although I haven’t eaten EVERYTHING suggested. You may find another article that is better suited to you and your dietary requirements, so this isn’t about being the definitive guide or anything. I have also noticed that since I have started taking vitamins (Glucosamine, Omega 3 and Cod Liver) my energy levels have increased tenfold. Again, may not be for you!

Also if you have suggestions, they are well welcomed, so let me know!

Article below taken from Runners World “Eat Carbs, Eat Smart” © 2010 (original post here)

The night before your run: prepare

What to eat… pasta, rice, soup, wholegrain bread, vegetables

…and why: The week before a race is a time to reduce your training load and tuck into plenty of carbohydrates. This will allow you to draw on fully-stocked glycogen levels for energy during the run.

Aim to finish eating by 7pm – this will give your body time to process everything you’ve eaten.

Slow-burning complex carbs such as brown pasta or brown rice will keep your glycogen levels topped up until the race. But watch out – carbs that have been over-boiled or -baked may release their energy much more quickly.

Throw in some protein to slow the digestion of carbs and help fuel muscle growth. Chicken is a time-honoured source of protein for runners, but pork chops are a great alternative – a 3.5oz serving has 28g protein compared with 30g in the same amount of chicken. Throw in some iron-packed spinach or cashew nuts to boost your haemoglobin levels – and your energy.

It’s easy to get confused about what’s the right intake of fibre. Fibre slows digestion and stabilises blood sugar levels, keeping fatigue at bay. Too much fibre, however, can give you gastrointestinal discomfort the next day. Keep a healthy balance by sticking to complex carbs, which are almost always high in fibre.

On the morning of the race, blend low-fat plain yogurt with a banana, a little honey and some ice cubes for a pre-race shake. The yoghurt is packed with tyrosine which your body can convert into adrenaline, while the honey and banana will supply you with quick-release carbs to get you off to a good start.

During long runs and races: refuel

What to eat… nuts, sweets and dried fruit

…and why: After 90 minutes, your glycogen stores will be seriously depleted and will need restocking if you want to keep up the pace. In order to refuel on the go, your body requires carbs that it can convert quickly into glucose.

Nuts are among the best foods for this as they are full of Omega-3 unsaturated fat, protein and a nutrient called CoQ10, which helps cells produce energy. Unlike runners downing caffeine-based gels, your energy levels won’t crash when the effects wear off.

Dried fruit is among the runner’s best friends – and raisons and dates are top of the pile, with the most carbohydrates and protein. The process of drying fruit concentrates the nutrients within while simultaneously retaining the fruit’s natural sugar content, which can be easily absorbed into the bloodstream.

Avoid refined sugars which will take longer to give you an energy boost – natural honey rapid releases simple sugars will give you a kick to the finish. And while adding salt to recipes is often unnecessary, a pinch of sodium chloride will replenish the electrolytes you’ve sweated out.

After your run: recover

What to eat… Banana, whole-wheat bagels, quinoa

…and why: Carbohydrates, protein, electrolytes and fluid are the four magic words for fuelling your recovery.

Keep drinking. Although you won’t need telling at the finish line, it’s important to have plenty of water for the rest of the day.

Within half an hour of a run you should restock your glycogen store with a healthy balance of fast-releasing and slow-burning carbs, giving your muscles the food they need for recovery. The perfect food for this is quinoa. It’s packed full of protein and carbohydrates, and contains more magnesium, fibre, iron and folate than brown rice.

In any race longer than a half-marathon, much of the body’s natural mineral resources will have been sweated out. Of those lost, the most valuable are sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium, known as electrolytes. Replacing these electrolytes will help regulate muscle contraction and stave off post-race cramps.

A homemade milkshake will help replenish these – blend a banana (for potassium), half a glass of milk (calcium) and ¼ tsp salt (sodium) and if you fancy a treat, a scoop of ice cream.

On rest days

What to eat… fish, whole grains, whole fruits, salad

…and why: Your rest day strategy is just as important as your workout schedule. After a hard run, it can take up to two days to fully replenish your glycogen stores and your muscles need protein to rebuild. Eating slow-burning carbohydrates and protein will help your body to recover from the hard training of the days before and revitalise it for the next workout.

Opt for bread made from whole grains, such as cracked wheat or wheat flour, with 3-5 grams of fibre per serving. Unrefined grains contain both the bran and germ, which house nutrients including B-vitamins, iron, magnesium, selenium and fibre.

Couscous is one of the healthiest carbohydrates, packed with protein and calcium and very low in fat. The recipe below takes advantage of this understated staple, and combines it with Alaskan salmon. Fresh from the wild via sustainable fishing, this salmon contains high levels of Omega-3 oils for a healthy heart, high levels of protein for speedy muscle recovery and is lower in cholesterol and mercury than Atlantic salmon and many other types of fish.

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