Power cuts

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I am sat at work as there is a power cut (I have moved to a desk where there is emergency power, I’m not THAT good – I’m not using my super powers or anything!) and I’m watching how people behave in a moment like this. It’s been fascinating to see that some take opportunities like this to either carry on regardless of the situation at hand or to sit back and use the time to coast along doing nothing. Some may even use the time (which some have done) to try and go home as there ‘isn’t much they can do here’.

How are you in situations where the goal posts shift and you’re suddenly in the dark? Do you get on with things, use it as a way to get out of making the best of a bad situation by doing nothing at all or do you give up altogether? Treat life as a power cut and figure out what your general attitude would be. You might just learn something about yourself.

Mysogyny in Fitness

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This post has been a long time coming; I’ve been so disgusted with the way social media has been a platform for people to be very mean to others, particularly on their appearance. I’ve waited a while to write though as I didn’t want my anger to allow the piece to become a rant, so apologies to those who have been waiting to read my thoughts. In a short space of time there seemed to be so much going on where women were getting attacked on blogs, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and it became too much. Unfortunately I haven’t really calmed down as it seems there is something else that crops up daily that reinforces my angst in how women are constantly attacked.

I follow a fair amount of fitness people and with my aspiration to enter a fitness competition which has been put back until next year due to my operation these include women that lift weights. It isn’t for everyone I get that, but the really nasty comments I witness all the time about more muscular women are totally unnecessary and are very toxic. So working out “too much” is a no no, apparently … Women are suddenly unattractive when they become stronger, many of those making such comments don’t seem to even run for a bus. Hmm.

Then we have those imbecilic folk that post photos of those that don’t work out at all or are clinically obese making vile comments. One person who does this regularly even defended his position by saying ‘they’ve eaten themselves to that place’ and pointed out the fact that he also posts “inspiring” photos as if that cancels it out before declaring ‘no fks are given’. Many of those photos are women who have clearly injected their breasts and bottoms with silicon and then claim to have squatted their way to fitness. Very fitting from someone that decided they would change their appearance having no sympathy/regard/empathy for those that haven’t gotten to his stage yet. While this is one example, there are many other douchebags that constantly post photos of obese folk and use it as a licence to be nasty. A classic example I personally came across was by a male Personal Trainer who claims to be for the people trashing anyone that didn’t agree with his ethos and described people who went out drinking at the weekend as “tramps” with his own hashtag on Twitter/Instagram no less. Needless to say, I’ve removed myself from that negativity as trying to reason with him fell on deaf and ignorant ears.Then we have another type of trolling that I honestly will never EVER understand. Especially from fellow women. Attacking pregnant women.

I don’t follow many celebrities, but it was difficult to miss all the backlash that went with Kim Kardashian’s (bad) choices in maternity wear and more specifically to her size.
Yes, her clothing has been quite bad considering she is supposed to have stylists around her, and she does insist in wearing clothes and shoes that are far from flattering, but the attacks on her size while she’s pregnant are in my opinion extremely horrible. Before the rise of the “celebrity” culture, women were allowed to look however they wanted. But not now. If you walk into a shop and browse the magazines, there are TONS of front covers with people who have lost their baby weight in six weeks, not to mention the myriad of regimes/programmes helping you “fight the flab” and similar nonsense as if mothers don’t enough on their hands with a baby to look after, they now have to get some start jumps in while expressing Junior’s next feed whilst vacuuming as he sleeps. Where is the time to rest after such a very physical and emotional experience? Just pop out the baby and keep it moving, yeah?

Women are already at a loss where fitness is concerned as we are targeted with fluffy pink dumb bells weighing less than our handbags, being bombarded with images of the perfect body (but only if you’re White, I won’t touch on the very alarming lack of Black faces/images used as inspiration as we clearly don’t work out or anything *side eye*) and patronised by pretty much every angle without this nonsense. Women sweating is a HUGE no-no. We “glisten”. It’s about time we took a stand. Lifting isn’t going to “make you huge” as we simply do not have enough testosterone in our bodies, AND it does the world of good for metabolism. If Zumba is your thing as you like dancing, go for it!! If you prefer kickboxing, do your thing. if you prefer yoga, I’m down with that. My abs have made a come back as a result of that post op. Find what makes you tick and do YOU.

We need to stop listening to men who have no idea whatsoever about women’s bodies telling us how we should look/feel. We also need to stop competing against each other and become more encouraging instead of tearing each other down. We also and most importantly need to realise that whatever way we decide to train as long as it is done properly is the right way if it makes us feel great.

“Don’t expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong.”

The power of self belief

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Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past few months you would have seen that I’ve been rebuilding my body using yoga. While I’ve used basics to stretch and stay supple, I didn’t use yoga a great deal as it was there support my running and bodyweight/weighted gym training. I have to say it has been the only plus side to my operation as its forced me to discover where I can take my body where the discipline is concerned.

I know I can run. I know I can squat. I know I was able to dead lift 100kg before the operation. But I hadn’t done handstands or the crab (yoga folk call it ‘wheel pose’) since I was a child. I haven’t suddenly woken up, jumped out of bed and into a scorpion pose or anything. Daily work and belief have got me here.

Life can be extremely tough and you feel like you will never reach that illusion goal, but you can. Set smaller goals to get to your final destination. Rally up the positive influences in your life and ask for help. Just don’t stop.

I’m watching a friend of mine from the sidelines at the moment who has her personal goal, she was scared to begin her journey due to fear of the unknown. She set herself some goals and rewards before setting out and I’ve seen her suddenly blossom and no matter what she says to me, it is all down to HER believing that she can do this, nothing else. To say I’m incredibly proud is an understatement. I know she’ll read this and beat me, but she knows I love her dearly.

Whatever challenge you have set yourself that has become a hard task fitness or otherwise, it’s about working on and believing you can do it. Take that first leap of faith and soon you will realise that you can not only walk; you can fly.

My Headstand Challenge

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A challenge was set a month ago to see whether I could teach myself to do a headstand in thirty days.
I wasn’t able to balance well at all, which I put down to recovery and though this would be a fun way to get that back and keep occupied. At the time I was happy to get to the point where I would be able to get into a headstand and remain there for thirty seconds or so. How did I do?

Well it is safe to say that my confidence has been boosted immensely and I have taken it even further with another goal of being able to perform an inversion whilst in a headstand and also in a forearm position. While its very early days with the secondary challenge and technique needs to definitely be fine tuned I’m am ecstatic with the progress I’ve made in such a short space of time.

It is so rewarding to set small challenges and be able to achieve them with a little hard work, I cannot wait to see how far I get with my new found love for all things upside down! I guess you’ll find out when I do just how far I can go. ;-)

(Above photo is the beginnings of a headstand inversion and below me working on ‘scorpion’ pose.)

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#AbsLikeAngel – Week Two

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Well hello there!!

I have been more than chuffed with the great response from you all with this challenge, thank you all so much.

Am working on the video, due to some difficulties the vid won’t be available until next week, so I have listed a workout below and I will grab a willing victim tomorrow while I’m with my running crew for some photos to assist your workout and will edit this page accordingly.

Any questions, please ask!! Twitter/Instagram: @Angel_Deelight or drop the questions in the comments at the bottom of the page.

If you would like to do the Week One workout you can find it by clicking here. Love and Light. Angel xx

Superman Planks

Like the photo above, smiles are optional. Get into plank position (as always adopt good position with straight back and core engaged.) Lift left arm and right leg, extend and hold position ensuring arm and leg are straight in line with torso. Slowly return to plank and swap sides. Repeat for a minute, rest and do two more minute sets with thirty second recovery in between.

Sit-ups

Adopting good posture and using a chair to hold feet if necessary take your time and get as many sit-ups in within a minute. Core engaged and smile on face.

Side planks

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

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.

Alternate Froggers

Adopting the plank position, bring right leg to the outside if the right hand. Bring back to plank position and repeat on the left. Three one minute sets with thirty second recovery in between. Maintain good posture throughout.

Sit-ups

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

Mountain Climbers

I know how much you loved these last week, as a reward you can go a little faster, but remember good form on these. Get into plank position and slowly bring knee to chest, repeat on other side. This is one repetition. Repeat for one minute.

Abdominal Hold

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

#AbsLikeAngel

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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!!

#DropItLikeASquat – The End – Or is it?!

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Today marks the last day of Drop It Like A Squat; well done to those who have participated whether you went from day one to the end, started and didn’t finished or came onto the challenge from part way through. The fact that you did something is ALWAYS going to better than nothing at all. So to those who weren’t happy for any reason, please don’t be!

I congratulate each and every one of you and thank you for even jumping on the challenge to begin with; I put out some feelers on Twitter and Instagram and have had a really nice response from you all on and offline.

I am feeling much more toned and stronger in the glute, thigh and calf area and have definitely felt better with my running. I have decided to incorporate squats in my daily routine to maintain and possibly exceed my level of strength in my legs as I would really like to tone up my thighs and create the ‘teardrop’ effect above the knee and shred the sides of my thighs, possibly with the aid of deeper barbell squats so watch this space!!

Tomorrow on the start of 2013 it is the beginning of a new challenge with push-ups, so keep your eyes peeled out for that post during your hangovers.

Once again, thank you all so much for your support and I should wish you a Happy New Year, 2013 is going to be full of fantastic challenges I have set myself – I hope that you’ll take that journey with me and set some of your own. Let me know and I will do what I can to get you to the end.

Love and light

Angel. xx

#DropItLikeASquat … How is it going for you?

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Hi guys!

We’re 13 days into the challenge, getting into serious numbers now so I thought that I would check in on you all. I have had such a nice response seeing as I posted the original photo on Instagram and Twitter so thanks to you all. Special mention to my Instagram friends in the US @fit_digitalcurls and @Imsbs who have been really lovely, and a mention to Tennille, Hayley and Eliza who have been gung-ho with their training. Well done ladies!

So, how have you been getting on? It has been quite challenging and I definitely have had to focus on a few things, some days its been tempting to skip. But I haven’t and have actually done that days squats twice a day.

Just remember that your ass and thighs will love your hard work and you’re not doing this alone I am proud of each and every one of you.

I am always here for encouragement on Twitter/Instagram.

Love and light x

Are you up for a challenge?

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A week ago I saw a friend post on her Instagram a squat challenge for December, and as i like a good workout I have taken this on with both hands (thanks Redzy.)

With such a great response from you guys joining in, I mentioned on my Instagram that for the next few months there will be other challenges to see you into the start of 2013 with focus as well as toning up those problem areas.

So to put it out to you all officially, January will be a push-up challenge and February will be sit-ups. You know I love a good workout so I can’t wait for Fabulous abs in February.

I will post up a schedule for each month on the final day of the previous month’s challenge as well as a photo for correct positioning to ensure you’re not getting injured, it would be great seeing you post your photos and tweeting your progress so that we can all give each other positive encouragement.

(There will be a little prize to the most motivated folks at the end of the month too, I have been watching you all so watch this space ..) ;-)

December – #DropItLikeASquat

January – #PushIt

February – #AbsLikeAngel

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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! ;-)