Tag Archives: personal trainer

Serotonin, Dopamine & Endorphins

Serotonin is a mood booster

Dopamine is a pleasure hormone

Endorphins block pain

Mine are broken.  My mood is apathetic & my dopamine and endorphins have gone on holiday I think, or my remaining serotonin killed them before killing itself.

serotonin20and20dopamine-the20only20two20things20we20enjoy-preview

I’ve spent days trying to convince myself that talking about mental health is ok, and not a  glorified excuse for attention (thanks, brain!) It feels almost wrong to discuss it freely, like it’s still a taboo & when people ask how you are, they don’t actually want to know; they’re just being polite – this is my current perception of people in general at the minute.

I have depression – a chemical imbalance in my brain that has essentially switched me off.  You seen Inside Out? Where her core memories switch off?  It’s kind like that….sort of. but not really.  Everyone’s experience will vary & this is probably why I put off seeking help for as long as I did – if you read old posts on here, there’s definitely a few that have underlying tones of something not being *quite right* for me.

anigif_enhanced-buzz-21049-1435275954-9

Sadness is too sad to walk

However, my blog is not a mental health blog – it’s about my journey through fitness/strength.  I’m aware that you mindset has a lot to do with how you progress, which is the main point of this post……here comes the part that some may not agree with, however the perk of one’s own perceptions; amirite?

A while ago I wrote about how fitness quotes/memes for the most part irritate the living daylights out of me, I thought I’d gotten past that but I now know that I haven’t.  They seem to trigger something in my brain that makes me irrationally anti-motivation.  The buzz words that surround those whose lives are engulfed by the process of becoming stronger and leaner fill me with something that I cannot coherently explain.  I want to scream and shout that not all people think that way & just by saying something doesn’t mean it’ll happen – regardless on what some “fitspo” instagrammer has told you, it simply isn’t the case.

  • The difference between where you are & where you want to be is you!
  • You can be it, if you believe it- you can achieve it
  • Tell yourself you can & you will
  • Focus on being positive

When I started my blog a little over a year ago I hated the above sentiments. However, my personal drive to improve myself meant I chose to ignore them, or sometimes I might have even possibly believed a few – there’s plenty of motivational posts on my blog. That doesn’t mean I’ve aimed them at anyone in particular, that’s just how I felt at that specific time….all the while there was a belligerent part of my brain screaming, silently into a pillow. NO. NO. NO.

No one ever seems to want to talk about what happens when the above sentiments are interpreted as hostile. I’ve been to the gym three times in three weeks.  Do I care? No.  Do I feel bad about it? No. Will reading positivity garbage on line help me get back into my gym routine? No.

I believe that I should be able to teleport to wherever I want to go…..Does that mean I can? No.  What if I focus that I positively believe that it should be achievable, will that make it happen? No.  SO WHY SPOUT THIS STUFF ONLINE?!

That seems a little extreme doesn’t it? Well, what about those who want to do something fitness related, who have tried in the past but given up for whatever reason.  Is reading the positivity going to help someone who is in a dark place go back? I don’t think so.

I have a huge, huge vexation with telling people to be positive – you’re essentially forcing your discomfort of someone else’s unhappiness/numbness/apathy away & life doesn’t work like that.  Ever told a boy that he shouldn’t cry? You’re forcing them to hide their emotions, to block the negativity that they feel instead of talking about it, or allowing them that moment to be vulnerable & at one with how they feel.

stronger1

It’s ok to break.

It’s ok to not be happy.

It’s ok to not smile.

It’s ok.

I’ve been hiding my mental state for probably longer than I’d like to admit. I’ve put my woes to a backburner & chose to forget about them, I’ve not acknowledged the spiral in my head & how lost I have felt at times & how I felt like I was drowning in a swathe of emotions that no one wanted to talk about.

I know the gym* & personal trainers are not a place for therapy or qualified to help you in dire times of distress – that’s what counsellors & shrinks are for.  I’m also not saying that you should expect this kind of service from your fitness professionals, what I am saying is that “sucking it up” helps no one.  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over & over again expecting different results – so even if you train enough to keep your dopamine & serotonin levels high, don’t neglect your feelings on an intimate, almost subconscious level.  Showing the world you feel ok & actually being ok are two completely different things.

Also, if you ever tell someone that you feel sad/empty/upset and they tell you to smile, be positive & to get over it, take a hint from Bronson:

eOjW68A

*The gym is a great place to destress & exercising can increase your dopamine levels but it’s not going to fix the issues inside your mind

 

Advertisements

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

11050705_442441642581432_7937388424536406483_n

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)

10455108_10155131653070455_2824764528476236210_n

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.

10923586_1595618517318520_7092745305819888101_n

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

Untitled

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.


Training With Prior Issues/New Injuries

I figure, that due to almost rendering myself unable to train yesterday due to massive pressure on my left side (that I ignored) it’d be prudent to make a post like this, as all of us at some point or another will suffer some level of injury that hinders our training; whether it be for a few days or a few months – it’s a good idea to be aware of some of the basics for training with injuries/issues.

69-380x380

I’ll use myself as an example; I have a series of issues with my back & sometimes it can flare up & render me to an almost immobile state – over the weekend I felt my left hip beginning to burn; the first sign of more pain to come.  It must’ve been bad as I had terribly interrupted sleep on Sunday, however I still went to the gym on Monday. I was doing ok until I got to 40kg barbell squats, did one….felt a pull across my entire lower back & made a noise that may have been heard by hades himself…I heard it & I had headphones in.  TBF, should’ve know as after I walked up the stairs I could feel my hips rubbing.  Sounds gross & painful??  Yeah, it is.  Anyhoo…..I was training on my own.  SHIT!  What do I do??  The urge to run downstairs, cobble my gear together & get the fuck out of the gym was my first thought.  However, I seem to be growing as an individual, so I racked the bar & attempted to compose myself.  I managed to (while thinking lots of encouraging things) do another one before I decided that it was probably wiser to drop the weight down, so I took 10kg off & did 10 reps before deciding that it may not be wise to continue with more reps.

Because of this, I began to wonder what would I do if I’d injured myself further or if it was a new injury & I didn’t know how to deal with it. The misconception that you should rest all injuries is still pretty popular & couldn’t be further away from the truth, resting completely can cause issues along the road – sitting immobile while you heal is gonna cause hindrance as the muscles seize up over time, making recovery longer and more painful.

You can still train if you’ve broken a limb, you can still go to the gym if you’re full of cold, you can even go to the gym after breaking your nose & recovering from concussion! That last one, I did actually do.  I just made Andy aware of how I felt & whathaveyou before we began training.Which leads me to how do you know if you’re fit for the gym? I’m came up with my own little checklist:

  • Does it hurt? Pain levels can vary immensely, let’s use this scale chart:

I’ve experienced all levels based on this scale.  Monday I’d say I was at about a 2-4, at this level I’d still go to the gym. I’d probably still go to level 6, pushing it a little with 7 & above.  So, go with this.  Does it hurt? Yes. Will I be off work cos of it? No. GO TO THE GYM.

  • Will it stop me from going to work? I know I’ve already mentioned this in the pain point, but it’s worthy of another mention. If you’re still able to go to work, then you’re able to train, however you may wanna take it slowly initially depending on the level of injury.  There’s the flip side too; post op it’s probably best to steer clear of the gym for a while (I avoided the gym when I’d had a rather large tattoo session) When I broke my nose I didn’t go for the first week after it’d happened, so I guess to assess on an individual basis.  However, if you feel well enough in yourself, then as long as someone in the gym knows you’re a little ill/post op/in severe pain so they can recommend things to do to avoid hurting yourself.
  • Progress or pain? This is an odd one, (I wrote some of this at work then carried on thinking about it on the cycle home & I think this was my point) Think about the pain you have – Remember the handy scale!! Now, if you’re teetering on a 7, will going to the gym hinder your progress? Yes, probably.  However, if the pain is localised to a body part that you can omit; a leg say then (imo) there’s no harm in going to the gym to do an upper body workout. Just remember if it hurts, STOP & assess the situation – can you carry on, even with a lower weight? yes, good on you – the Marines would be proud of you!
  • Is it gonna be a long-term injury? I consider my back issues to be a hindrance more than a debilitating irritation; however I received some interesting reading material to my work email today that suggests my back issues are worse than I thought, but I digress…..I have friends that are trying to regain strength after months of limited training due to needing bones pinning back together & extensive physio sessions. I have had my fair share of physio & I guess my issue is long-term too, seeing as how I’ve dealt with it since my twenties.  It was only when I started training with Andy that I learned how much of a complication it has been on my body, my left side is completely shot.  I say is because I still have a deficit that I’m trying to correct (I’ve blogged about this annoyance before)  What I will say though is that any progress is STILL progress! no matter how small, take the little victories! Did two more reps than before? Fantastic! Could lift a slightly heavier weight? Incredible!  Recovery takes time & it’s frustrating, but I refer back to the previous point; going too fast because you wanna catch up to the beautiful people will only make your journey more of a struggle in the long run.
  • DO NOT FORGET TO EAT! Oh, I’m not feeling too well, so I won’t have lunch or I’m not training today so I don’t need as much protein. Right? Wrong! I learned this the hard way. I started to do barbell squats; my first lot were going pretty well, then the following session I went to do them again & couldn’t.  During a conversation with Andy he explained my body hadn’t recovered from the last session, or my lurgy (I had a cold when I started BB squats) and that was why I couldn’t lift the weight. I was really annoyed with myself cos I thought I was doing ok, but I wasn’t.  I’ve since made a conscious effort to eat better & it’s definitely paying off dividends in the gym!

 


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.

112cde6

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

Motivation Requires Sacrifice

Whilst I was walking home from the school run my mind wandered to my Instagram post from this morning, I’m a massive convert to TimeHop; I find it fascinating to read over my posts from years ago – talk of cookies, eating whole tubs of ice-cream, being overwhelming tired & having pain that excruciating I needed steroid injections to stem it. Along with many, many rage posts.  It’s strange to read them sometimes & others have me instantly flashing back to the precise moment that they happened.

Anyway. Back to Instagram…..I walked past the mirror mid-getting dressed & I was pretty fucking pleased with my reflection.  My other half reckons I can’t walk past a mirror without looking in it & he’s right. I make no excuses for my narcissism, and have no intention of changing. I don’t make it a habit (much) to take photos of my reflection; in fact a massive pet peeve of mine is those who snap selfies in the mirror & look at their reflection instead of the camera lens.

I’ll admit, changing has not been easy – there are still days where I don’t want to cycle to work, let alone the gym and sometimes I will allow the want to be “lazy” and get the bus. I always pine for my bike when I do though.  However, the point in this post is to give some of my tips to stay the course & become the person you’ve only ever been able to dream about.

Zig-Start

TIPS:

  • Invest in a Personal Trainer – I know this may seem like a major expense, but even if you see them once a month & then follow a programme they have set for you will help!  In my early weeks going to the gym I only went if I felt like it. Paying to see Andy meant that I had to go, he sets me things to do without him & I know the next time I see him, he will ask if I’ve been to the gym since the last time we met.
  • Stay the course – It sounds easy enough; Go to the gym, train, ???, PROFIT. It really isn’t that simple though. We have, as a human race become so dependant on machines to do things for us. Yes, technology has advanced so we don’t have to hunt for our food or walk miles to get to places but does that mean we should be complacent with our health?  Training requires effort, it’s hard graft – if it was easy then everyone would do it.
  • Nutrition. Nutrition. Nutrition – Food!  Glorious food!  Anyone who reads this regularly will know I love food.  What you eat is tantamount to what you do in the gym, if not more so. Reduce the carbs & increase the protein is a good starting point.  I didn’t realise what a negative effect not eating correctly could do.  Seriously.  All that effort put in to training to lose it from eating poorly? Don’t forget to stay hydrated too!  I’ve seen what dehydration during sports looks like & it does not look like a pleasant experience.
  • It will hurt – After my first leg day I wondered if I’d ever be able to walk again properly. I wish I was joking, but I’m really not. When I was much, much younger I used to run cross-country at school & my legs never hurt to the degree a proper leg day gets you. It’s not just your legs either; ever tried to take a sports bra off after doing a silly amount of skull crushers & chest presses? No? It’s almost impossible.  How about laughing after crunches?  I’ve done it, it gave me muscle cramp in my abs which I couldn’t stretch back out for ages!
  • Weights! – If there is another reason to invest time with a Trainer, I can’t think of a better one than learning to use weights effectively. When I started going to the gym I spent most of my time on cardio machines, wishing I was fitter or dead….whichever was gonna come faster!  Cardio has its place, but I now believe it should be for warming up as opposed to the reason you go to the gym. Lifting heavy shit is awesome & with the right guidance is really, really awesome.  The feeling of beating a personal best? Incredible!  I did 90kg the other day – a good 20kg more than my body weight.
  • REST! – I know I’ve said stick at it, eat well, train hard but all of that work & effort is worth nothing without looking after yourself. I have two rest days a week – my days off work & Saturday is an “Only cycle” day, as the gym opens too late for me. The most important thing is to give your body the recovery time it needs, if that’s 4 rest days a week to begin with then so be it.  However, never drop them entirely. They are vital!

Doing Makes a Diff Pic


Progress. Detailing The Last Six Months:

I promised to detail what I do & how I’ve achieved my progress.  So, here we go.  Feel free to TL;DR if the history is boring…..

History

OK, so I won’t go too far back.  Er, about 2 years ago I was told I had a crushed L4 & a crumbling L5 disc in my spine – they’re the two bones right above your sacrum.  It was also causing nerve issues at my SI joint, I was asked if I wanted surgery (I said yes) to be told, No. Surgery might not be the best option, lets try Cortisone injections.  Fast forward to February 2014 & I got my injection.

1496602_10152537875204199_562129498_n

MRI of my spine. Blue line shows where the damage is.

Prior to this I’d had SPD during pregnancy, two lots of physio as well as Diclofenic, Ibruprofen, Naproxen, Codeine, Tramadol, Gabapentin & Amitriptyline. Mmmmm!! That was over the course of around 5 – 8 years. 

Everything was fine, until July.  I went to move from a seated position at work to standing & I have no idea how I did it, but I caused myself a pretty intense injury; which resulted in me being immobile for the better part of a week. I was miserable, I relied heavily on my Husband to do everything & I promised to do something about it.  I’d gotten nowhere with Physio, so decided I needed a trainer, someone who was versed in strength as opposed to micro movements that may, or may not help.  I already had a gym membership (OK, it was *quite* dusty from non-use, but it was there)

TL;DR: Back hurt a lot, needed to do something.

dhhedh

Going back to the gym. Happy Face.

So, I went back to the gym.  Met Andy, a Trainer at the gym.  I told him what had happened, gave him a brief history about my back & that I wanted to improve my core.

If I’m completely honest, I’m not really able to detail how we’ve done it (I say we, because without Andy, I wouldn’t have progressed to this level) most sessions I’ve had with him have varied AND we’ve moved to a new gym (He got a new job, my membership was up so I went with him) what I can tell you is we’ve gone from resistance machines to more free weights.

akklsna

Left – August. Right – September.

Spending time with Andy helped me to learn that my left hand side was weaker than the right – we’re still in the process of attempting to get them to a similar, if not same level but I have progressed with it.  Some things are now easier with my left than they are with my right.

A lot of our sessions have focused on different muscle groups.  I’ll *never* forget our first leg day.  Never known pain like it! I hated warm up & cool down as well though because cardio.  Cardio can do one, I hate cardio.  When I first met Andy, I smoked – around 10-15 a day, I knew there’d become a time when I knew I’d have to stop, as I’d lose out on a lot of the benefits of exercise due to my smoking. It took me 6 months to stop, but I did.  Finally.

I now do my cardio outside of the gym, it maximises my time with Andy, but it also helps me boost my fitness.  I cycle to the gym, I cycle to work – from home to work is 9KM, from home to the gym is 8KM. I hated that too, but I pine for my bike when I’m not on it.  Even if I’ve smashed my face up, I *do* still miss it.

PicsArt_1416422720529

Left- August. Right – November

**Important Information**

When I started, I mostly hated it.  There was always something new, a stronger weight, a longer run time, circuits, spinning, squats, lunges, back extensions, kettlebells, assisted pull ups.  EVERYTHING was hard. Everything has been a struggle.  I’ve wondered if it was worth it, why I was doing it, how long it was gonna take to enjoy it/feel better/get stronger.  Then I had a week off as I was healing from getting tattooed.  I went back and had lost so much progress.  I’d gone from 35KG on the pull-down to 20KG, 5 minutes on the Vario machine instead of 8-10.  I was angry.  Angry at myself, I’d come so far & lost so much really quickly.  It did make me see how far I’d come though, which spurred me on to get back to where I was.

I still hate parts, but I do them as I know there is a method in the madness.  One of the best things though?  There are things that I LOVE doing.  I’m not overly bothered with PB’s but there are things that I’d happily do over, and over, and over again.

IMAG0838

December