How to Stay Sane When Injured

As you probably know by now, I am injury prone, and just had surgery to fix an ongoing problem in my knee. Throughout my career as a dancer, and now a fitness professional, I’ve faced various amounts of time off due to injures, and have slowly learnt to accept that when my body says stop, I need to listen to it. Being that my job has always been physical, time off often means a lot of time at home on my own, which can have a psychological effect too. Injuries can be so frustrating, but I’ve found some ways to stay sane when I can’t do the thing I love every day.Health, fitness, injury

Don’t Rush It

Hands up, who’s pushed an injury too far and needed to take more time off than was originally necessary. Yep, me too. As frustrating as it is, doctors and physiotherapists usually know what they’re talking about. If they say rest, then rest. By all means, smash out your rehab exercises, but don’t run before you can walk…literally.

Train What You Can

On the flip side of resting when you’re told to rest, do think about what you can do that won’t affect the injured part. For example, if you’ve broken your ankle, you can still do some light upper body work, maybe some core work too. If it’s a dislocated shoulder, then as long as you can keep your balance, get some lunges or squats in or pop into a static bike. Be cautious though, raising your heart rate can increase swelling in the injured area as blood rushes around the whole body. Keep an eye on it, and stop if you experience any throbbing or excessive swelling in the area.

Find a Non-Active Hobby

Take up something new, or dust off your old guitar, paint brushes, or knitting and practise something that doesn’t require physical exertion. You won’t just exercise your brain, but you’ll also find a means of distraction from pain, discomfort or boredom. If you’re really laid up, then something as simple as mindful colouring might be enough to stop the endless Netflix binge, just for an hour or two. If you can stand and cook, then try a new recipe, or bake a cake. You’ll be proud of your achievement, and who knows, you might discover a new talent.

Be Mindful

I don’t just mean be mindful of your injury, but be mindful of the world around you. If you’re forced to walk slowly, instead of being frustrated by this, take it as an opportunity to see the world around you as you walk. Take it all in, use all your senses and you might find a renewed appreciation for your local park, or even your daily commute. Practise meditation as well. If you’re stuck at home, potentially on your own, it’s going to be a time where anxious or negative thoughts are harder to dispel. Take 15 minutes each day to meditate, use an app if you need to, and you’ll find you can approach your injury and recovery in a more positive way.fitness, health, injury

I’m trying to apply all these things to my current knee injury, and it’s not easy! There are days where I’m grumpy, frustrated and bored, but that’s ok too. Life isn’t always calm, serene and blissful, but if you try and roll with the punches, be kind to yourself and accept what’s happening, you’ll come out the other side calmer and able to see the positives.

Photo credit: Elle Linton.

Preparing For Surgery – My Personal Guide

Despite my best efforts, unfortunately I’m no stranger to injury and injury related surgery. In my *almost* 32 years on this planet, I’ve been told my injury list reads like that of a 75 year old and I’ve had, as of yesterday, 6 surgical procedures. All bar one of those operations have been in the last 12 years. Through my own experiences, I’ve found a few things that have really helped me both before and after surgery. Now remember, I’m not a doctor, these are just my personal experiences and how they’ve worked for me.

Find Your Support Network

Firstly, you will usually be required to have a chaperone take you home from hospital, and that’s non-negotiable if you’ve had a full anaesthetic. Arrange this early on with someone you trust and who you are really comfortable with. You are going to be in the dozy post-anaesthetic phase, possibly feeling nauseous, in pain, and wanting to sleep or cry….or both. I’ve always gone to my Mum’s after each of my surgeries, there’s nothing better than Mum time, but whoever you choose, prepare them for a grumpy, soggy, cloudy version of you, possibly high on morphine as well.

Going back to before the surgery, it’s not required but you might want someone in hospital with you beforehand as well. My arrival time for this week’s surgery is an eye-watering 6am, but I know from experience that I won’t be taken into the operating theatre until at least 8am or 9am. Why so early? You might ask. Well there are potentially lots of people on the surgeon’s list that day, they all need their observations, a chat with the anaesthetist, a final check in with the surgeon, after-care explained (remember the post-anaesthetic brain fog), and to generally get comfortable. It can be a long, anxious wait, and unless you’re in a private hospital, you could be in a ward full of other people waiting too. Having someone with you to chat with will pass the time, and calm your nerves. I’m lucky enough to be having this done privately, meaning I have my own room with a TV, but company before the op will still be a welcome distraction.

After surgery, depending on what it is of course, you might need help at home with cooking, cleaning and maybe even showing and dressing. Grab your support network; friends, partner, colleagues, flatmates, those who you’re comfortable with, and ask them to be around in case you need anything. Don’t be afraid, don’t sit in pain, hungry and embarrassed to ask for their help. This is a time where you cannot do everything for yourself, despite being Miss Independent, especially if doing too much might hinder your recovery.

Plan Ahead

Most likely you’ll have planned all the technical things with your surgeon beforehand, but there are a few things I’ve found to be really helpful when I’m not so mobile and not so able to do things for myself.

Bulk cook food – Having a hearty chilli, bolognese, chicken stew or soup in the freezer is such a good idea. For the days when you perhaps can’t call on someone to help you, or you simply haven’t got anything to cook, popping a pre-prepared meal in the microwave is going to be a lifesaver. When your body is healing and recovering you need to be well nourished.

Clean the house – If you’re going to be on crutches, then you can’t be tripping over junk in the hallway or that pile of clothes at the end of your bed. If you can have a good tidy up before the day of the operation, and if your injury prevents you from doing that, then maybe treat yourself to a professional clean. Alternately, remember your support network? Pick the most ‘Monica-like’ and ask them to help.

Do your laundry – Bed sheets, clothes, dressing gown, towels. There’s nothing nicer than clean sheets when you’re not quite feeling yourself, so having all that done for when you return home will be so comforting. The same applies for your favourite pyjamas, and your comfy clothes. You’ll likely be living in these for a few days, if not more, so make sure they’re clean and ready.

Breathe

The thing I’m most worried about is the general anaesthetic. I don’t like being put to sleep, not having control and going into this empty dreamland. I’ve also had bad reactions upon waking before which make me more anxious about the aftermath. On the flip-side of that, having a local anaesthetic isn’t my cup of tea either, so I’m not sure which I’d rather.

I’ve been practising some breathing techniques to help me cope with the nerves before surgery, and at the moment of being put under anaesthetic. Also, my therapist suggest a little mindfulness and visualisation as well, to help calm my head on the morning of.

Take deep breaths – The more anxious we’re feeling, the more shallow our breathing becomes. Taking three deep breaths can help to settle nerves, filling the lungs with oxygen and calming the parasympathetic nervous system. Think of breathing in for 4 counts, and breathing out for 6 or 8.

Visualise your happy place – pick a place where you have always felt calm and happy. That could be your bed, childhood home, a bath, or holiday spot. Mine is my favourite beach near my Dad’s house in Portugal listening to the waves crashing. Just as the anaesthetist starts preparing to send you to sleep, have this image firmly in your head and you’ll be in that happy place for the whole time you’re under.

Don’t Rush Recovery

This is one I really have to pay attention to myself. Listen to the doctors, physiotherapists and specialists when they tell you to rest, and recuperate. Don’t wait until you’re in excruciating pain to take your painkillers, and admit to yourself that you’ll have to rest for a while. The effects of the anaesthetic can be long lasting in some cases, and feeling groggy, emotional and weak comes hand in hand with that. It can feel very frustrating, but know that it’s only temporary.

Now I’m back home with my Mum and enjoying some R&R, I can see how each of the points above helped me through the operation. I’m looking forward to getting back to my flat in a few days because I’ve got lots of food prepped, clean towels and a tidy house all ready and waiting for me. I’ve got lots of friends offering to pop over for company and food, and the cat is always on hand for a hug. My recovery will be slow and steady, but if I am good with my physiotherapy exercises, don’t rush things and look after myself, I’ll be back on my feet in no time!

The Wellness Gift Guide 2017

*Not a sponsored post, apart from being a Sweaty Betty ambassador, I have no connection to any of these brands.

It’s that time of year when your inbox is flooded with gift ideas….Gifts for Her, Gifts for Him, Gifts for Teens, Gifts for Your Loved One etc etc. But what about gifts for the wellness warrior in your life? Be it your yoga bunny bestie, your personal trainer partner, or simply someone you know loves to look after their mind and body, everyone deserves a treat this Christmas.

I’ve actually not started my Christmas shopping yet, which is unlike me, so in order to give myself a little kick up the backside, I’ve compiled a little list of some ideas for you, ranging from stocking fillers to more extravagant surprises. Take a look, and get shopping!

Treats up to £75

Flo 260 Massage Bar – £7.99

gift guide, christmas, massage roller

(tkmaxx.com)

Whether you want to admit it or not, rolling has so many benefits! For those who don’t love a foam roller, these handheld rollers are a great idea to get deep into those sore muscles. They might not thank you immediately (rolling is painful at times) but they will in the long run.

 

Kikki-K Wellbeing Diary – £21

gift guide, kikki-k, diary 2018, wellbeing

(kikki-k.com)

Not just dairy, but full of inspiration and prompts for a happy and healthy 2018.

 

S’well Bottle – from £25

gift guide, christmas, health, wellness

(swellbottle.com)

I am a massive fan of S’well bottles…I have two! Keeping cold drinks cold for 24 hours, and hot drinks hot for 12 hours, I have a traveller one for coffee and a bottle as above for water. They’re also completely leak proof and come in so many gorgeous designs!

 

Lululemon Run It Out Ear & Neck Warmer – £25 each

gift guide, lululemon, running, christmas

(lululemon.co.uk)

No-one likes cold ears, or a chill down their necks, so these Lulu warmers are a great idea for outdoor training. Buy one, or both for the matching set!

 

Sweaty Betty Gym Clutch – £35

sweaty betty, gift guide, gym, christmas

(sweatybetty.com)

If you’re lucky enough to have a gym just a stones throw from where you live or work, you probably don’t need a huge gym bag to fill with unnecessary baggage. This little clutch from Sweaty Betty is perfect for your gym pass, keys, phone, headphones, purse and maybe a little deodorant for a post workout spritz. I love the colour, and if you are gymming it further afield, then you can simply sling this in your main gym bag to make sure you don’t forget your essentials!

 

Sweaty Betty Velvet Padded Bra – £45

sweaty betty, gift guide, christmas, luxe

(sweatybetty.com)

I’m honestly not sure of the usefulness of a plush velvet sports bra, but I love it anyway! In fact, Sweaty Betty doesn’t even name this a ‘sports bra’ so I vote it gets worn underneath a fancy New Years Eve outfit for some comfort! Maybe this can be a treat for the lovely lady in your life?

 

Cowshed Knackered Cow Spa in a Box – £65

gift guide, cowshed, christmas

(cowshedonline.com)

I don’t know any health and fitness person who doesn’t like a night of relaxation and indulgence. In fact, if you want to earn all the partner / sibling / bestie / housemate points, get home early, run them a bath with this gift pack and treat them to a calming pre-Christmas night in…..hmmmm can anyone do that for me?!?!

 

Indulgent gifts over £75

Urbanears Plattan 2 Bluetooth Headphones – £85

gift guide, urbanears, christmas, music

(urbanears.com)

If like me, you’re (ahem, or the person you’re buying for) constantly listening to music or a podcast in the gym or while running, then the new Urbanears wireless headphones are going to be right up their street. Foldable, and with 30 hours of wireless time, they’ll never be stuck with awful gym music again!

 

Fitbit Alta HR – £129.99

gift guide, christmas, fitbit, fitness

(fitbit.com)

If chunky heart rate monitors aren’t your favourite thing, then the Fitbit Alta HR might be the best gift yet. The slimmest fitness tracker with heart rate technology, Fitbit have designed this in a range of attractive colours. Tracking exercise, sleep, heart rate and the usual steps etc. it’s a great gift for someone who’s either a fitness pro or just beginning their healthy journey.

 

Eastpak Stand Holdall – £200

gift guide, yoga, eastpak, christmas

(Emilie James / Eastpak)

Now this is a big indulgence, but since spotting it on the lovely Emilie’s instagram (@lovaine_james) I have been in love. Eastpak are moving with the times with this limited edition range, which also includes a gorgeous back pack. This weekend bag includes a yoga mat sling, making it the perfect gift for the yogi in your life. Not keen on the colour? It comes in a dark grey/black too.

 

The list could be endless, but I’ll stop there for now. Perhaps this will give you some ideas to share with your loved ones, or help you choose the perfect gift for the fitness fanatic in your life. And hey…..don’t forget your LOVELY personal trainer….treats are ALWAYS welcome. As is chocolate.

 

*As I mentioned earlier, no brand has requested these items to be featured in this post. All views my own.

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4 of my Favourite Super Smoothies

I love a good smoothie, and will happily have one for breakfast, as a post-workout refuel, or as a liquid afternoon snack. Smoothies can help you increase your daily intake of fruit or vegetables, allow for a light meal on the go (note: light meal, I don’t use smoothies as a meal replacement apart from breakfast) and also help with hydration levels. Having recently spent an evening with John Lewis Retail, talking all things blender related, I thought I’d share some smoothie facts, and some my favourite recipes, with you all.

smoothies, health, nutrition

Did you know that the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables has increased? It is now advised that adults should consume 2 portions of fruit, and a whopping 7 portions of vegetables per day. If this sounds like a little too much for your dinner plate, then smoothies are the way to go. Increasing the amount of vegetables as opposed to fruits helps to control sugar intake and the effects of acidic fruit on the teeth and stomach acid / gut health. The liquid element of a smoothie also helps with hydration especially if, like me, you’re not so good with drinking plain water. Just a 2% decrease in hydration level can affect performance in work or exercise, and stimulants such as tea or coffee only exacerbate the dehydration in the body.

smoothies, health, nutrition

When Should I Have My Smoothie?

There are many schools of thought as to when the optimum time should be to pre-fuel, or re-fuel before or after exercise. I am going by what I learnt while studying for my nutrition diploma, but there are other feeding methods out there!

Pre-workout: at least an hour before exercise, with essential fatty acids for energy.

Simple Breakfast Smoothie

  • 1 banana
  • 1 tablespoon nut butter
  • 2 tablespoons oats
  • Oat / almond / coconut / dairy milk to desired consistency

 

Green Elixir

  • 1 handful kale
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 1 cup pineapple, cubed
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • Splash honey & superfood powder (optional)
  • Coconut water to desired consistency

 

smoothies, health nutrition

Post-workout: within 30 minutes of a workout, with a form of carbohydrate to replenish the glycogen storage without causing a spike in insulin levels. Depending on the type of exercise, protein can be added however, protein should only be used if the workout was high intensity or strength training!

Banana Boost

  • 1 banana
  • 1 tablespoon nut butter
  • 1 scoop vanilla or chocolate protein powder
  • Oat / almond / coconut / dairy milk to desired consistency

 

Berry Blast

  • 1 banana
  • 1 handful raspberries
  • 1 handful blackberries
  • 1 mango
  • 1 large handful kale
  • Coconut water to desired consistency
  • (1 scoop vanilla protein powder if required)

 

smoothies, health, nutrition

These are my personal favourites, but the choices are endless. A good rule of thumb when experimenting with smoothies is 1/3 fruit, 2/3 vegetables, but it really depends on your personal preference. If I fancy something sweet, I’ll crank up the berries and save the veggies for another day. As long as you’re balanced in your approach (as with life in general), a little extra sugar occasionally won’t be the end of the world.

There are plenty of pre-made smoothie kits available now, my favourites are from Pack’d as they include a little sachet of super food powered to boost your smoothie. New smoothie company, Pure Smoothie Box, can even send you a box of ingredients straight to your door, all portioned out with recipes ready for your week ahead.

smoothies, health, nutrition

Pure Smoothie Box

So why not experiment with some smoothies next time you have the 3pm energy slump….or tell me your current favourite smoothie, and I’ll give it a try myself!

The Hypermobile Yogi – Classes

Inspired by an article on Yoga International (shared by yoga teacher Adam Husler), I’ve decided to take a moment to show how having Joint Hypermobility Syndrome (JHS) affects me as a yogi. It’s been a long while since I shared ‘My Hypermobile Life’ with you all, and I’m going to try to not repeat myself too much, but as each year (and injury) goes by, I get a better understanding of how my complicated body works…or doesn’t as the case may be. I’m going to break my yoga experiences down into 3 posts; Asanas. Classes. Recovery.

yoga, yogabloggers, hypermobility

Don’t lock your elbow. Don’t sink into your hip. Don’t overly twist your neck.

Class Planning

Through chatting to my own clients, most people’s approach to classes and working out is; Sunday night – plan and book classes for the week, go to class, get a sweat on, go home. It may sound ridiculous, but I have to consider a whole lot more before deciding whether to go to class or not.

Firstly, is my body ok? I listen intently to my body and pay close attention to niggles, aches and pains. With JHS, I suffer with chronic pain at times, so I’m used to being in pain, what I have to pay attention to is new pain, and decipher whether that’s something simple like ‘I’ve popped my shoulder out while asleep’ – yep, that happens – or something more sinister. Saying that however, I’d probably still go to class!

yoga, yogabloggers, hypermobility

Don’t turn your elbows backwards. Don’t just drop your chest. Don’t pop your shoulders.

Secondly is what kind of class my body needs. People with JHS suffer with chronic pain, heart palpitations (I also have a heart condition, or two), low blood pressure, fatigue, anxiety, sleep problems and depression. This is due to the body producing more adrenaline to compensate for the extra elasticity in the blood vessels. If I want to go to class, I have to decide whether it’s a fast paced, dynamic practice, a hot yoga session, or a slower, deeper, more technical class. On a day where I simply want to curl up and stay in bed…I’ll book into one of my favourite teachers’ classes and make myself go, regardless of the style, and I’ll just practice cautiously. I never regret going to yoga!

Other Classes

In terms of non-yoga classes, that’s a whole other ball game! High impact classes are almost a no-go for me, and other classes such as boxing, aerial or ballet have to be considered according to what else has been happening that week. Sometimes, I simply opt for a gym session where I can tailor my workout to what I need.

yoga, yogabloggers, hypermobility

Don’t crunch your lower back. Don’t drop your neck back. Don’t pop your shoulders.

During class, other than controlling my joints during each asana, it’s essential to consider the transitions between each posture. Sometimes, if I stand up from the sofa too fast, I get that head rush feeling, imagine how intense that can get in a hot yoga room, returning from a deep backbend. Add to that the likelihood that I might have crunched down on my neck in said backbend, that’s a recipe for passing out. Slow and steady wins the race, and even in super-charged Rocket Yoga, it’s important to take an extra breath of stillness when needed.

Keeping all that in mind, my decision to go to yoga is often made the morning of the class. I’d love to pre-plan my weeks to include classes, as most often I take the same classes each week, but I can’t predict how my body will feel. Quite often in the past, I have been overambitious with my body, and have had to cancel last minute.

yoga, yogabloggers, hypermobiltiy

Breathe!

Once I’ve done class, it becomes about recovery and making sure I don’t hurt the next day. Through nutrition and taking care of myself with adequate rest, it’s time to listen to my body and think about when my next class will be. My next post will focus on A Hypermobile Yogi – The Recovery.

All Images: Will Patrick

My Year – 2016

I love reading everyone’s ‘Year In Review’ posts. They usually highlight the best parts of the year, and look on any negative moments with reflection and resolution. I find myself feeling proud of fellow bloggers for their achievements, and can’t wait to share my own.

So here’s what I got up to in 2016.

1. Turning the Big Three-Oh

Yes folks, I made it to 30 years on this planet! While I didn’t have any life affirming revelations the moment I woke up on my 30th birthday, over the year I did find myself looking sensibly into the future. Inspired by my best friend working super hard to get on the property ladder, I looked into moving house myself, still renting for the time being, and from that started planning a whole new side of my career in the fitness industry. I felt calmer in my own mind, happy to be single, and not settling for something that isn’t good for me (OK, I’m still working on the latter).

new year, 2016, blogger

Credit: Will Patrick

2. My First Yoga Retreat

As part of my 30th birthday, my very generous Dad sent me on my first ever yoga retreat with my favourite teacher; Adam Husler. Having practiced for nearly 3 years, I was super excited to immerse myself in a week of yoga in the Spanish sunshine, improving my technique and my practice. I not only achieved those things, but also made a whole new bunch of friends and had the best week laughing, practicing and being kind to myself.

yofa retreat, 2016, new year, blogger

Credit: Adam Husler

yoga retreat, 2016, new year, blogger

Credit: Adam Husler

3. My Nutrition Qualification

This took longer than I had expected, and required a lot of dedication and hard work on my side, but in the summer I achieved my Advanced Diploma in Nutrition and Weight Management. I learnt that online learning is something that I don’t always find the time to do, and I should have made it more of a priority. In doing so, I became more organised with my time when it came to starting my PT course at the end of the year.

4. Becoming An Ambassador

One huge achievement for me was becoming an ambassador for one of my favourite brands; Sweaty Betty. I used to work for the company many years ago, and it is because of Sweaty Betty that I found my current place in the fitness industry, so I owe a lot to them and the inspiration I found in my colleagues. Check out their #31DaysToFit challenge for January, and join me in making January 2017 your healthiest yet.

sweaty betty, fitness, yoga, 2016, new year

Credit: Will Patrick

5. The Big Holiday

A big 30th treat to me, from me, was an epic trip to New York with my best friend of 28 years (who also turned 30 this year). Although I’ve been before many times, this trip seemed special. I’ve never walked so far, seen so many things, laughed so hard…or wanted to move there so much!  NYC will always have a special place in my heart.

nye, new york, 2016, new year NYC. new york, 2016, new year NYC, new york, 2016, new year

6. Trying Something New

With my Dad living just 10 minutes from Nazaré in Portugal, one of the surfing capitols of the world, it seemed right for me to give it a go! Search Nazaré online, and you’ll see articles about 100ft waves and a Big Wave surf competition. Fear not, I’m not going to have a go on them, but I have been learning to surf with an amazing local surf school Surf4You. With expert 1-to-1 tuition from Miguel, both he and his colleague Henrique have made me fall in love with a new sport. It’s tough, and I ache all over, but I love it, and will be no doubt be popping by for a lesson every time I visit Dad.

surfing, travel, 2016, new year

Credit: Henrique Silva @ Surf4You

surfing, travel, 2016, new year

Credit: Henrique Silva @ Surf4You

surfing, travel, 2016, new year

Credit: Henrique Silva @ Surf4You

7. Moving House

I love my job at barrecore, but I make it no secret that my big plan is to have my own studio one day. Right at the end of 2016, I made a big move towards that. After 7 years in my little 1-bed flat, I decided to move, taking a risk by increasing my rent, to a 2-bedroom place. Why, you ask? Well, that spare room is to become my little PT room, so I can start to see clients in my own space. It’s a tiny step on the road to a fully fledged studio, but a brave one for me, and I’m so excited. Stay tuned for how I’m going to kit it out once I’m a fully qualified PT (because having that qualification is important to me).

new year, 2016, blogger

Credit: Will Patrick

So I’ve had a very lucky 2016, no major injures, lots of travel and achievements in my career. It’s not all been rainbows and unicorns of course, I’m still dealing with the constant pain of hypermobility syndrome, having other ailments investigated and let’s not forget, my major self-esteem slump in the last couple of months.

But I’m writing this post on New Year’s Eve, on a plane home from my Dad’s place in Portugal, with the sun setting on the horizon and looking forward to an awesome NYE night out as soon as the plane touches down. Life is good, and I’m super grateful for every opportunity I’ve been given.

Happy New Year Folks!!