Category Archives: motivation

The Power of Music

Have you ever been asked if you had to lose one of your senses which one could you not be without?  I can answer if without hesitation; my hearing.  I simply couldn’t be without it – having had a few ear infections I know how miserable I am without it.

The past few weeks of lamentation were hellish for me, I struggled to snap out of it, however I have managed to push away the darkness & soldier on through the tirade of bullshit that can be my life…..a break from it would be nice, but that’s a different blog ENTIRELY!

Music is in my soul. Music is the lifeblood.  Without it, I cease to be who I am. Need to be motivated? I have a song for that. Bad mood? Got a song for that too. Angry? I know a good song for it. Wanna dance? Yep, got a song for that too.

It’s not about ignoring people. It’s not about being an introvert in an extrovert’s world. It’s about the music filling my head with the melody, instilling whatever mood I need to be in/get out of within the opening seconds of the track.

I only ever train without my bluetooth headphones if I am with Andy, otherwise they’re paired & switched on before I’m even ready to lift.  Without them, my sessions are completely different.

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The Rock gets it.  It’s a deep concern; I need to be in a certain mindset to lift that heavy “whatever”it may be & there’s some whiny, tinny beep bop screeching through the gym’s sound system.  Erghhh.  I still go & train, but it’s usually through gritted teeth, a sense of forlorn hanging over me for my forgotten compadre.

Not been to the gym for a week, meant I didn’t listen to music as often – I believe this tantamount to my mood lull.  No tunes & all work makes Jack a dull boy….or girl ;P

Music is life. It helps me to be who I am, or what I need to do.  I listen to a huuuuuuuuuuuuuge range of music, however some genres are out of bounds as I consider them to be noise & not my “jam” although, I know a fair few people consider a lot of my choices to sound like my speakers are broken, or that I am in fact; deaf already.

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I Don’t Like It…

I don’t like when something isn’t right

I don’t like when it feels out of sorts

I don’t like not having a “hold” on things

I don’t like the swell of frustration in my head

I don’t like it.

My head is awash with so much running through it at the minute, it’s hard to string a concise sentence together. Even now, I’ve been sat staring at this page for longer than I care to admit; trying to find the words & not just FFAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!  When I’m occupied to a level that I can only think on what it is I’m doing at that very minute; I am fine.  It’s when I have a moment, I used to enjoy the peace, the solitude, the “alone time” and now it feels like a constant buzzing of white noise whirling around.

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I used to be of the belief that if you can change something, to change it & if you can’t; to forget it & move on. You’ll waste too much energy dwelling on things that you have no control over.  I probably still think that way, but at the minute I am stuck & I hate it more than I’ve hated anything for a very long time.  My previous post was about frustration & I guess this is a follow-up (after a conversation with Andy on Friday) as I kinda have a clearer idea; a new perspective on how to look at it.

You can either let the frustration take over you & allow it to consume you or you can look at it as a driving force to become greater than you thought you could be.

So, in a nutshell.  I’m pissed off.  There’s so much that annoys me at the minute it’s hard to see the light, however being as annoyed as I am with many aspect of my life, shows that I’m not happy with my current situation -which is a GOOD thing.  It means I don’t want to settle, I don’t want to just “be”

It’s given me the vigour I’ve desperately missed for the last few weeks, if not months.  I got complacent, then got irritated.  The irritation is my driving force.  Not happy?  Use it! Channel it into something that will make you happy.

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Phillipe wants to go down the safer looking route

Since Friday, I’ve had some of the best training sessions I’ve had for a long time.  I deadlifted more on my own than I’ve done since about February, I gave myself some of the most heinous DOMS that the cycle to the gym today felt like I was cycling through thick glue & it was never going to end.

Today, my session was incredible. I felt so content leaving the gym, there’s something to be said about hormone releases during exercise.  It’d have been interesting to see my dopamine levels as I was cycling home – interesting fact, there’s a blog post about dopamine & it’s effect on your motivation levels, not just it being the “reward hormone” It made a lot of sense to me, this feeling I have now is one that a few years ago was with me permanently, I was driven to be better, I strived to become greater than I was, I wasn’t going to be beaten or have someone be more recognised than I was (this was in a work environment where I excelled)

It was an eye opener.  That time in my life is gone, I miss it everyday & the void it left inside me was getting bigger.  I *think* I’ve finally found the solution.  Training has taught me so much about myself.  This last year has seen me do so much more than I ever thought possible, it’s given back to me more than I could have ever imagined.  I’m not the physically strongest, but fuck me; I’ve had some pretty epic hurdles to jump over since I started this blog.  My self doubt, my struggles with food, overcoming the desire to quit – more than once.

How I feel now, was the feeling I had when the year started – before everything started to go wrong.  I still wonder where I’d be now if everything had gone smoothly this year, but what would I have learned?

Side note:  Having an AMAZING support structure has helped me overcome the darkness that was trying to swallow me.  Thank you, Burton.  Thank you Gem & everyone else that has messaged me recently.  you’ll never know how much your kindness has helped me.  ❤

I leave you with an image of the cheesecake I made when I got home from the gym:

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It’s Been A Year

As you know I am a fan of timehop (I have no shame) and recently, it told me it’s been a year since I started training with Andy.  So, what have I learned over the past 12 months?

(FYI, this blog post was gonna go a different way, but I’ve settled on this route)

OK, so you all know by now the reason behind me training.  If not, it’s in my about section.  Anyway, let’s get on with it;

Progress is not A to B

If the main thing I have learned over the last year is that getting to where you wish to be isn’t as simple as drawing a straight line & walking it.  It’s more like a spirograph pattern; or it has been for me.  I knew it wasn’t going to be the easiest thing I’ve done but I probably wasn’t ready for how many zigs, zags and loop-de-loops I was gonna have.  Some were my own doing, others were pit stops that were not by choice.

  1. I got a pretty large tattoo on my thigh that was two sittings – total time away from the gym: 2 weeks
  2. Fell off my bike, broke my nose – Total time away: erffh, a week then my training dipped when my confidence was shot
  3. Fell of my bike (again) smashed my cheek & eye – Total time away: Honestly, cannot remember.
  4. Tired/Lacking dedication/Pissed off – More times than I’d like to count
  5. PT off – Not often, but I tended to be quite lackadaisical if I knew Andy wasn’t in in the earlier stages
  6. Hospital appointments – Because of my spine, I go to Spinal Clinic every few months & it always tends to be on a training day, then I wasn’t allowed to train after my most recent spinal.

So, if you took out all the time off, I’ve not been training for a year but lets not be pedantic; it is how it is. I’ve stopped beating myself up for the times I’ve not been to the gym.

Food is extremely important

I’ve not really been one for diets, I did keto/Dukan a few years back but the weight I lost whilst doing it came back once I stopped. I’d also not really thought about what I was eating, then started cycling and Andy told me to be more aware on my food intake (I’m not gonna repeat too much, there’s plenty of posts on my blog about food)  it’s still a delicate balancing act, but now I know what I need to eat if I’m feeling a certain way.  Lack of veggies as an example seems to make me incredibly tired.

The media tells us that weight loss can only be achieved with eating “weight watchers” garbage & exercising; what they don’t explain is the more energy you’re expending, the more calories you need – eating too little can be as bad as eating too much & you’ll stagnate.  It really, really is a delicate balance – it took me 9 months & trying a few different things before I found a way of eating that works for me.

I’ve also stopped feeling awful if I’ve had “bad” food, one cookie or yoghurt or whatever isn’t going to make me gain back all the weight loss & I’m human, some days I just want a chunk of rocky road & goddamnit, I’m gonna eat it & it’s gonna taste FUCKING AMAZING!  (on a side note; it’s a mission of mine to somehow make something higher in protein/lower in sugar RR variation)

However, remember: There is no way to outrun a bad diet

My way is not your way

(this was the original point of this post)

There is no hard & fast correct way to train.  The person training for a marathon isn’t going to need to do the same thing as the person training for a physique contest. A lot of cardio is good for some & terrible for others & you are a dick for belittling someone else’s way of training (I will admit, I was a “cardio is for chumps” kind of person a few months ago, but I actually do an hour’s cardio a day, 5 days a week) the most important thing though, is to make sure you do whatever it is you’re doing correctly.

Learn. Learn. Learn!

It’s more than just going to the gym & using the machines, lifting weights, or whatever it is you’re doing.  I like to know why this method is better, or why I shouldn’t do certain things, and the names of the muscles I’m working, not just that feels weird on my shoulders, or whatever.  In the last year I’ve gained a massive amount of experience; I can look after a bike fairly well (ish, no comment!  😛 ) I know what types of food to eat, I can cook! sometimes, really fucking well. I’ve read up about muscle growth, bone formation, learned about correct footwear, posture and so on.  I’m only on the tip of the iceberg too!

Keep going!

If anything, this year has taught me that I am more capable of doing things than I thought. I’ve often thought of myself as broken.  The pain I endured most days was tiring, upsetting and most of all, frustrating.  Yes, I have had epidural injections to help stem the pain but I no longer want surgery (I actually met someone recently who had metal rods in her spine & was wheelchair bound due to the pain she was in, it was extremely humbling to know that I had once begged for similar surgery and the surgeons had decided an epidural was a more viable option for me)

I am. I can. I will.

A year’s progress in back images


Something Profound Happened….

The past week or so things have thwarted me in one way or another from training as much as I’d like. Some sound like awful excuses; so I’m not going in to it. It’s made me feel quite shitty & I’ve had to get back on the codeine.

I’ve been looking in to my diet & have made some changes- hopefully I’ll get to blog about it in greater detail later.  For now, I’ve added BCAA’s to my morning routine & have had some minimal success with Beta Alanine pre-gym.

Today, once I’d finished my set I weighed myself.  It’s not really something I want to make a habit of, but I do like to know where I am.  I’ve lost 3 kilo’s (6lb) this is the most I’ve lost for a long time.

Anyway, while I walking to work I was thinking about that 15kg – I use 14kg kettlebells to do squat warm-ups.  I used to carry that weight EVERYWHERE.

Although my journey to being fitter has never been about weightloss, I find it quite profound that what I lift (& couldn’t a few months ago) was the extra I used to weigh. I’ve never looked at it like that before.

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My Top Inspirational People

I’ve been thinking about a post like this for a while, I had an idea for this & have been dwelling on it.  I now think I have my list; the people who in one way or another drive me to be better, who show through their own achievements; that you can be greater than the sum of your parts.

Andrew Burton

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My trainer.  The man who has to put up with me talking & procrastinating when I should be lifting.  Who watches me hand out protein treats to other trainers, because it’s rare I make gluten-free stuff. He’s seen me laugh, he’s seen me cry; he even trained me when I was covered in bruises from breaking my nose.  He’s experienced his own fair share of trauma & heart ache. but is still really humble despite all this.  His energy radiates & it’s really hard to not be sucked in to the enthusiasm he has. I swear at him & tell him he’s mean, but he pushes me to beyond what I thought my limits were & I wouldn’t be where I am now without his guidance (despite him telling me, it’s all down to me. It really isn’t)

Amy

My internet friend for a few years; Amy ended up in hospital a few years ago & it was during her stay that she decided to change her life & lose weight. She dropped a lot & began heavy lifting, she was the first woman I knew to lift heavy & seeing her transformation was inspiring! (I was still quite lazy at the time, but admired her dedication & her results speak for themselves)

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Steff

I found Steff on Instagram after she’d liked one of my progress photos & her own personal training journey should be one that anyone who has ever wanted to get in to lifting should look at, she is just incredible to look at (I’m sorry if i sound like a perv, but hard bodies! hnnng!!)  Just viewing one of her posts makes me want to go to the gym!  It’s taken her a few years, but good things come to those who wait.  Based on her Instagram she’s training to go to body building competitions & I’m genuinely intrigued to see her progression.

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And lastly, but by no means; least. My Husband.

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My beloved.  My hero.  He believed in me when I didn’t.  He’s told me to train for years & I’d never bothered until last year.  He’s helped me in more ways than I could ever imagine. He carried me when I was at my weakest, brought me back from despair & has encouraged every step of my training journey. He’s open & extremely blunt but will make time for anyone who wants advice or just someone to talk to.  He’s creative & courageous; he endured painful physio after an injury that rendered his rugby playing days obsolete – pains that still live with him today.  He’s the strongest person I know.


A Quick Progress Update………

I posted a progress picture earlier & Andy had some feedback for me, I won’t bore you with details but he essentially aid I’m still selling myself short.  Tonight; whilst perusing facebook I happened upon an old image that I decided to change to a progress picture instead:

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The text I added to it was as follows:

A progress picture; with a difference. This is not about weight, not about physique nor vanity or whatever. This is about my overall well-being and being able to function without grimacing in pain.

First image is from October 2013, I was in a tremendous amount of pain. Taking tramadol, ibuprofen and gabapentin like they were smarties. I was awaiting my appointment to beg for spinal surgery because I was tired. Tired of hurting, tired of not being able to carry shit, tired of waking up in the night because my back hurt.

Fast forward to now and, although the pain is still there, it’s no longer constant. It’s no longer looming over my head like a grey cloud. My medication intake has dropped to a few codeine every now and again, only if I really, really need them.

It’s not been easy and I’m no where near my goal, but I’m a hell of a lot closer than I was. I wouldn’t have got this far if it wasn’t for the support and encouragement I’ve received. “if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.”

That is all. For now.


Personal Trainers – The FAQs

Before I start, I just want to add that this is my opinion & by no means a definitive “be all & end all” to Personal Trainers. I’ve asked around before creating this post about others opinions & will add that where I see fit.  Everyone will have a reason that they want to spend time with a PT, mine is mentioned very briefly on here.

I want a personal trainer, gimme! Gimme now!

Calm yo’self young Padawan!  You wouldn’t just walk in to a shop, pick the first thing you saw & pay for it would you? No!  (if you do, stop it. Stop it right now!) There are many ways to get one, main way being Go. To. The. Gym. There are independent ones out there, but unless you have a really bizarre schedule which means you can’t go to the gym then (imo) this isn’t really necessary.

OK, I’m in the gym, now what?!

If you’re an existing gym member, chances are you’ve already met some of the trainers – they’re the beautiful people in tight spandex looking ripped…..probably.  You may have been approached by one, or even just said hello to them.  If not, based on my experience in gyms there will be a “Meet The Trainers” board situated somewhere, you could read that to gain some info on them if you wanted to. Another way, would be the way I did it:  I contacted my gym & asked to meet a trainer, told them why & they suggested I meet with Andy.

Right. I’m meeting a Trainer, but….

Firstly, don’t be embarrassed or feel silly or whatever.  First meetings are usually to gauge your requirements from them, what you would like to achieve & how you want to be trained, or at least this was my experience.  I told Andy I prefer brutal honesty, don’t need regular encouragement (like, after EVERY rep) and am not adverse to swearing.  We discussed my goals, my flexibility/moveability and whathaveyou.

Don’t feel like you have to like them & sign up with them immediately, if you want to wait, think about it or meet some others this should be okay.  Not everyone is going to get on with everyone & there is always the possibility that what you want to achieve would be better handled by a different trainer.  They have the knowledge & expertise to guide you.

I’ve met with the Trainer, but I’m still not sure.  It’s a lot of money.

The average price for a Trainer in the UK can vary (the internet tells me “average” is from £15-£50 an hour) however, what you have to ask is how much do you value your health & well being? You’re paying for their knowledge, their skill set that they have spent years honing & refining to be able to tailor a lifestyle change specifically for you.  That’s the point, it’s not just paying to see someone in the gym, it’s a complete lifestyle change – Andy gave me nutrition advice, then a food programme & suggested protein shakes to help me as my training increased.

From my own experience, I’ve had people approach me in the gym after seeing posts on here to tell me how different I look in such a short space of time.  I’ve always told them who my trainer is if they didn’t already know & I know my story (so far) has helped others seek out the help they so deserve.

HELP ME! First session in & now I think I’m dying!

This is a feeling that I experience quite regularly – every time a new machine or weight is introduced my body normally screams at me internally for a day or two afterwards.  I’ll never forget my first leg day; the pain stayed with me for the better part of a week.  You learn to love it, to embrace it & eventually crave it!  If I leave the gym now without some level of ache I feel like I have not done enough – despite how much I may moan at Andy during training.

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And there you have it.  My opinions and advice about how to get yourself a personal trainer.

  • Do your research
  • Get to a local gym if you haven’t already
  • Check payment options with your PT
  • Be honest about your fitness levels/goals
  • Utilise the advice of your PT
  • Remember what you put in is what you get out