Category Archives: exercise

Bikes Aren’t Just For Men…

If you do a Google image search for women riding bikes you’re greeted with images upon images of women riding road bikes in a closed race style setting, or idealised images of a working woman on a city bike, suited & perfectly coiffured.  Both of these things could be (& probably are) true, however to me it paints cycling in an idealised setting. Showing that women should probably only ride this type of way….

I first & foremost, identify as a “cyclist” before lifting, before nutrition; I LOVE my bike. I have done since I got it, & I’ve loved riding for as long as I’ve been able to ride.  That being said, I am a minority when it comes to bike riding.  Courtesy of Cycling UK I have some figures for you:

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That’s a huge difference in averages – I can do 9 trips on my bike in a week.  Why is this? Why does cycling seem to attract boys moreso than girls & then the continuation of that attraction into adulthood?  It’s not like manufacturers don’t make bikes for women.  I can’t wrap my head around it, however I thoroughly love being on my bike so it’s natural that I wouldn’t understand why someone would prefer to not ride.

Again, I turned to Google & two main things appeared:

  1. Safety. As cycling is seen to be male-centric, women have (in some cases) felt belittled, scared or intimidated whilst riding.  It’s fair to guess that we’ve all seen *that* viral video (which; to clarify is staged & doesn’t represent a real life situation) However, that being said….if a bloke gets a puncture, chances are he can fix it road side. Could a woman do the same? Perhaps, maybe, certainly – however, not many women would be comfortable on the side of the road pulling out an inner tube, especially if it’s getting dark, or it’s secluded or whatever.
  2. Ease. Cycling to work, uphills, in hot weather or in winter layers can be a sweaty affair. Not good if you have a customer facing job, or don’t fancy helmet hair/wanting a shower etc.  Plus, how do you transport a suit/smart clothes/uniform on a bike? Then there’s the mothers out there…how do you carry your shopping & your child on a bike?!

I also asked friend’s on Facebook if they rode bikes, if so; what for:

“I don’t but I’d like to… no bike, and living in such a built up area there’s nowhere nice to go.”

“I like the idea of cycling but I always had shit bikes and the memories of bike maintenance on the go are kind of off putting.”

“I do! Generally to work and back or town and back for shopping”

“I cycle off road cycle paths as I don’t like car times. It’s my favourite way to relax and focus on the moment outside as nothing is being asked of me and I can just breathe.”

“Not any more, but I wish I did. I used to cycle to work, but it was uphill and I was super sweaty and tired by the time I got there. I also used to go shopping a couple of times a week.”

“I alternate between cycling and walking to work (about 2 miles each way) and just enjoy going on ‘adventures’ where I just get my bike and cycle until I’m tired to discover new places and just because it’s fun. It’s a bit of a nightmare to cycle in Leicester since bike lanes are horribly designed and only cover small segments all of which are crowded with pedestrians anyway.”

“I have a cycle but would like somewhere nice to cycle not just round the roads”

That’s just a few of the responses, however the majority don’t ride, or would like to but facilities/places to ride around England are pretty garbage, unless you can shove your bike in a car, drive somewhere & then ride for a few hours.  (For the record, the number of women that regularly cycle in Scotland is higher than it is in England)

I also got a response from Squat Rack Shenanigans (if you don’t follow her blog/insta/facebook, you *totally* should!)

Hi it me! San Diego, CA. I ride for cardio on bodybuilding contest prep, and for enjoyment because I live in a beautiful bikeable city.

July is Women’s Festival of Cycling in the UK, aimed at getting more women cycling.  I personally feel that it’s a shame that not more girls & women take advantage of the freedom that comes with cycling.  Like, seriously….Short on time? Ride. In a bad mood? Ride. Need to wake up? Ride. Full of energy? Ride.  There are many, many reasons to get out on your bike.

They’re not just for men!

If you’d like to learn more about women in cycling:

http://hopetechwomen.com/

https://www.letsride.co.uk/breeze

http://www.cyclinguk.org/womens-festival

https://totalwomenscycling.com/

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Photo from @Liv Cycling

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Bootyful Beginnings….

Well now, it’s been a long time since I even felt the need to blog.  So much has happened since I decided a break away from the gym was needed.  I’m pretty sure I’ve lost all my gains, but whatever.  I got them once,  I can get them again.

Which is the reason for this latest blog instalment.

I’m gonna go back to the gym, cycle to my new work place & keep an eye on my food again.  I’m going intuitive eating this time round, and will macro track from time to time to make sure I’m not on too large a deficit.

Before I left my previous gym (yeah, I’ve moved gyms too!) I was starting New Rules of Lifting for Women,  stage 2 but it wasn’t as enjoyable as stage 1 & I don’t want to be doing something that I don’t enjoy.  I’ve followed Bret Contreras on Instagram for quite some time now & have always been in awe of how much he lifts & how amazing his clients looked, so I’ve signed up to STRONG by Bret; which is a rolling subscription to a programme he makes & sends out once a month along with optional supplemental workouts as well as a powerlifting programme.

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Bret  is known for his incredible devotion to the glutes…maintain eye contact, establish dominance with hip thrusters!  (side note, I can’t do thrusters, I get the most insane hamstring cramp as soon as I try, but he has fixes and suggestions for that)

This post shows one of the workouts from the Strong programme, my new gym is pretty high up with their health & safety, so the hanging leg curls are out – I’ll have to do normal versions. However, I have no qualms in doing normal versions, I’m rather clumsy & hanging versions scream accident to me. Ha!

So yeah, I’ve spent a while reading through various training programmes & Bret was always the clear winner, no matter how many times I read through others.  NROLfW is good, don’t get me wrong.  It’s just not for me.  It’s taught me things, mostly that I can do more than I’d previously thought.  Ice Cream Fitness is a spin off of Starting Strength & the less people sign up to the Misogynist that is Mark Rippetoe  of Starting Strength, the happier I’ll be.  There’s satire & then there’s being an utter prick; he is the latter.

I’m not excited about this programme. I’m not dreading it either, I *know* I have to go back to the gym, it’s gonna help my mental state, my strength & hopefully keep me away from spinal surgery.  I’m glad I took the time off that I did.  I needed to.  People who I’d previously enjoyed talking “gym” to had begun to irritate me, I wanted to smack so many people – preferably with a baseball bat, I was losing my inner filter & got so close to being downright horrible to people, who a few weeks prior, I’d have been proud to call my friend.  I no longer feel this way & I’m glad I didn’t burn any bridges, people still irritate me, but that’s just the way I am & no matter what, it’ll always be the way I am.

Expect future posts about how I’m doing with Strong!

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Let’s do this, Yolandie!


The Goal Posts Have Changed….

No, no.  This is not a post about football or anything else that uses goals to punt a ball through.  This is a reflection of goals from this year & moving to 2016 (Dubbed “lean ’16” by Gem)

Back in January I decided to start this blog – not to gain followers or likes or whatever; I started it to keep a progress log for myself.  It was re-reading back through my posts that I noticed a trend in my energy levels & food – had I not had this blog would I have noticed? Probably however I do believe it’d have taken me longer.

This blog was started so that I didn’t “hound” my facebook friends with my gym pursuits, this way people can read it if they want to & don’t have to hide me (Side note – facebook gym updates irritate me…ironic, right?)

So, let’s reflect on what this year has brought me, I was gonna bullet point it but decided to just write it & see what happens…it may still end up as bullet points but we’ll see how this goes.63

So, the blog is a little less than a year old.  In that year I’ve had nearly 4,000 views (or 330 views per month) & 185 likes on various posts.  My most popular blog post has been my documenting of Intermittent Fasting, followed by my Dear You post.

That’s interesting.  Like I said, I started this as a place to keep my fitness pursuits as separate as possible from my facebook feed.  It’s nice to know how many people have viewed my posts & are hopefully finding answers to the questions they searched on Google via my blog.

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giddy as a kid with lots of tiaras.

So, down to brass tax now I’ve written 300 words as an introduction.  Hahaha.  Whoops.

Continue reading


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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All Aboard The Frustration Train!!

Urgh.  It feels like it wasn’t that long ago I wrote a post similar to this.  Like a perpetual cycle of highs and lows; the highs are amazing & the lows are, frankly, more annoying than an itch on the sole of your foot when you’re wearing boots that have 12 feet of shoe lace & you’re wearing a corset.

A few weeks ago my training programme changed, this one has taken weeks to get used to & I’ve been sticking to weights that I *know* I can handle, not necessarily seeing if I can go higher than before (I like round numbers, doing 5 or 7 of something doesn’t sit right with me & if I can do 8 then I may as well try to do 10)

I had a few days away from the gym last week (for the past few weeks I’ve not had a proper rest day, I’ve always been doing something) so on those days away I spent a fair amount of time reading & trying to find out where I was going wrong.  I’m still a novice with lifting & my PT was away on business so I couldn’t pick his brains.  Anyway, in those days I realised that most of my heavier lifts haven’t changed for MONTHS; I know that training isn’t about consistently getting those PR’s but my thinking was how can I continue to progress & get out of the constant plateau that I’ve been floating on for the last few months (weight loss isn’t a goal, so IDGAF what the scale says)

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last year is that when a plateau hits, you need to figure out why & it’s not a simple task (or it isn’t for me) The easiest way to go through it, is – ironically enough, via my weight.  I lost weight when I started cycling to & from the gym, I lost weight when I changed my eating habits, I lost weight when I switched to intermittent fasting. The scale hasn’t changed since er, July I think.

In my reading mission, I read a great post from Chris Mullen about bulking (something I’ve heard about, but never gave it much thought) towards the end of the post he said:

Remember though, TRACK YOUR MACROS, ok you’re bulking so it’s never going to be perfect but you have to have some idea, how else are you going to grow muscle?! You need to eat in a surplus to build muscle.

The severity of this surplus will determine the ratio of muscle mass to fat mass you gain.
You can only build muscle at a certain rate, so a big surplus will inevitably lead to lots of unwanted fat gain. Conversely, too small a surplus and you might stay lean, but your muscle building will be compromised.

Unfortunately, building muscle just isn’t possible naturally when you aren’t eating enough.

You need to spend time consciously building muscle if you wish to look muscular in any way (hence ‘bodybuilding’).

I’ve underlined the part that resonated through my head.

Andy told me I need to watch my eating when I first started cycling & I’ve been eating to maintenance for a long, long time. Maybe I haven’t.  Maybe I’ve thought I was & in actuality I’ve been under-eating….it’s a possibility. It’s a possibility that I’m now exploring, I’ve changed my macros to suit & am hoping that the extra calories gives me that boost to be able to lift more.

I’ll report back after a few weeks & let you know how it’s going!

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Who Took Away My Goddamned Vitamin D?!

The sun is gone.

I hate this time of year.

March 6th 1997 I moved 13,000 miles.  I grew up in the Southern Hemisphere, spent my entire childhood thinking winter were the months where it didn’t rain & the temperature got to 15 degrees.  That’s celsius by the way, not fahrenheit.  The first thing I said stepping off the plane was “send me back, it’s far too cold here”

The first winter, snow was a novelty but the long, dark evenings threw me.  The need for layers was weird, I grew up not owning a coat, or gloves or even a scarf.  The height of summer in the UK & I was wearing a jacket, 20 degrees was NOT warm.

I’m acclimated to the summer in the UK, more or less.  There are a few days a year where I will admit it’s “quite warm”  but once it hits late October, I’m a different person & it takes me aaaaaaaages to sort my head out.  This year seems to be harder than previous years….I could hazard guesses to why, but after chatting to a few of my peers, I think it may be SAD.

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I’m not diagnosed but a few symptoms are there, but I don’t want to say I have it without a GP & I don’t think it’s at the point where I need medical intervention.  This week and last have been hard, despite eating right & continuing to cycle, getting up to go to the gym was overwhelming; to the point where I had like 4 rest days in a row (not 100% rest, I still cycle every day) My alarm would go off & I’d snooze for an hour & a half, despite knowing rush hour is a ballache to cycle in, I didn’t really care.

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I didn’t really want to leave the confines of my house, I like it in here, it’s safe & comfortable and I don’t have to deal with people.  However, I still got up (albeit too late to train) still cycled & still went to work.  Some cycle journeys have been a massive slog, others have been quite enjoyable, but nevertheless; the changing of the seasons has completely messedup my head.

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Until today.  My lovely husband woke me when my alarm went off as he knew I’d not been to the gym in a few days (me not training means my back pain can return, & no one wants that) I got up, he made me a GLORIOUS pot of fresh coffee & I made it to the gym.

Saturday’s in the gym are a new thing for me as my time is extremely limited due to having to be at work before 9am, so i tend to train intuitively.  Today I opted for lats training as I can’t remember the last time I trained them.  On occasion I’ll film part of my session, today was such an occasion (just getting into the gym made me happier!!)

As you can see, it may still be double digits outside, but I’ve switched from leggings & vest to Adidas ClimaWarm gear (which, BTW is incredible!!)

So, yeah.  I hate the weather, I hate my mind, I hate people in general but today taught me that no matter how much I am feeling gloomy, it’s good to get up, inhale as much coffee as possible, layer up & go and train.  If you’re like me, you’ll feel a fuck ton better for doing so 🙂


Yeah, No. Don’t Put Me Down For Cardio…..

Cardio.

There are die hard fans & avid “would-rather-die” fans.   Some people do it because they have to, some do it as a warm up & others will avoid it like the plague.

I hate cardio.  I’d rather stick pins in my eyes than partake in HIIT training & the thought of using a treadmill makes me all squiddly. I absolutely & unequivocally do not understand those who can run for hours; whether that’s on a treadmill in the gym or those who think that there is nothing better than running a marathon.

My Life’s Motto

That being said, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with those who CHOOSE to do all the cardio because it’s what they enjoy doing – I’ll happily congratulate you on beating your PB or getting a medal at the end of a gruelling race.  Just don’t expect me to go with you the next time you decide to run, I have better things to do…..like sit on the sofa & do nothing.

Once upon a time I did not think this way, I thought anyone who did cardio for longer than a warm up was insane – however (& this is where it may be a little confusing as I already said I hate it) I am a better, “healthier” person because of cardio.  I don’t consider what I do to be cardio though; because I absolutely, undeniably LOVE what I do (those new to the blog, I cycle around 60 miles (95km) a week, every week) It’s not a chore – most days – I don’t class it as cardio because cardio to me insinuates getting all sweaty & jumping around like a lunatic in a warm, stale gym studio; or as previously mentioned *shudder* running.

I genuinely believe that you should find a cardio form that you enjoy, because if you do – you’ll want to do it more than forcing yourself to do something you hate; it’s why I don’t do HIIT, aerobics, P90X, spinning etc – they’re my idea of torture.

Anyway, I have a point.  (I’m sorry if this seems really unstructured & garbled; I have a lot on my mind & trying to isolate my point is proving a little difficult)

  • I cycled everywhere as a child, I thought getting back on a bike would be easy, it wasn’t.
  • For the first few weeks, if not months I had to pace myself; stopping to catch my breath because it felt like my lungs were on fire
  • My water bottle became my best friend
  • The thought of cycling after it’d snowed was the least enthusiastic I’d been about doing anything for at least a decade
  • My legs hurt, my chest hurt, my face hurt.  I seriously questioned my sanity more than once when I started cycling again

You know what?  I could have easily jacked it in & went back to a 5 minute “death sentence” on the cross trainer for every gym session, but I’m glad I didn’t.  I absolutely love being out on the bike.

The human body is a delicate piece of intricate machinery & like a beautiful car, it requires a lot of TLC – Something far too many of us, have all at one point or another not done.  I knew when I first got my bike last year that I was not fit, but was not expecting the ordeal it was to cycle on a daily basis.  My blood pressure has always been pretty steady; sometimes on the lower scale, but my resting heart rate was something else; averaging around 75BPM.  Below is a screenshot from my Fitbit app; my resting heart rate is now anywhere between 48BPM – 53BPM & I owe it to cardio.  Cardio has also been a MASSIVE help in my weight loss & reduction in body fat, I lost 6lb in the first month of cycling to & from work or the gym.

THAT’S AN ATHLETE LEVEL RHR!

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Also, y’know if the zombies ever appear; never, ever forget Rule #1: