The pros and cons of setbacks

Just when you think everything is running along too smoothly (literally in my case) suddenly BAM! Something will come along to throw you off-course.

I felt my shoulder blade pop at the weekend when out running and like the stubborn moron that I am, I carried on and thought it’d be okay. I’ve now spent the last couple of days/nights in absolute agony, taking alllllll the ibuprofen and heat patches I can find.

With only six weeks to go until the half marathon, this setback is making me panic even more that I’ll get behind on my training and won’t be able to complete the route. I’ve started doing that thing where I’ve been reading far too many articles on training schedules and do’s & don’ts and have begun to panic whether I’m doing far too little or far too much.

inspirational quote

As annoying and as painful as it is, sometimes we need set-backs to give us a bit of a shake-up, even if we don’t necessarily appreciate it at the time. Things can’t always be smooth-sailing afterall, life would be too easy (and boring) if it was.

I think sometimes your body also has its own way of telling you “Enough is enough,” and as rubbish as aches/pains/colds are, it’s a warning sign to tell you to slooooooooow down.

So from now on, I’m going to stop panicking (ha, easier said than done) and carry on doing what I was doing, after some rest and my umpteenth salt bath…

How do you conquer set-backs? 

Why I love running

This time last year I was preparing for my first ‘running event’- the Canary Wharf jog, a 5k route which seems comparatively laughable to me now.

I never set out to go and do a half marathon ever really. I’ve always watched or gone to see the London Marathon and thought “I’d love to do that,” but didn’t think I’d have the time or stamina. I got into it off the back of swimming because I could no longer make the training after work, once I started working in London again.

We’re lucky enough to have free spit ‘n’ sawdust gym in my building and although it’s not the biggest of places, has all the basics. I’m not into weights (yeah I know I should mix it up but #cardioforever) so a treadmill, a bike and a cross-trainer is good enough for me.

I started running outside just over a year ago when I realised that 1) it’s much more simulating than running stationery, in what feels like a green-house at times and 2) my sense of direction isn’t as rubbish as I thought it was- I’ve only had to climb over a fence once when getting lost!

So yeah…however cliche it is, I have caught the running bug.

Nike Downshifters

My faithful Nike Downshifters

Reasons why I love lacing up my trainers to pound the pavement:

  1. Exercise is therapy for your mind and exercising outside is even better for you- waiting on the heatwave so I can get me some tan!
  2. It makes you feel productive for the rest of the day, especially if you manage to do it first-thing in the morning.
  3. It’s freeeeeee…you just need a half decent pair of trainers (if you’re a beginner) and the road.
  4. It’s precious ‘me’ time, where I can get lost in my own thoughts.
  5. I feel less guilty about having ‘treats.’
  6. I feel a lot more toned and healthier, running won’t give you drastic weight loss but it helps you to maintain a certain weight level.
  7. It helps you to appreciate the outdoors more.
  8. Even when you’re completely KO’d after a run, it gives you this addictive buzz.
  9. I love the achievement I feel after I run a little bit further.
  10. Losing yourself in an awesome playlist (see my latest below) helps make everything a little easier.

 

You can sponsor me for my half marathon challenge here, to help me raise money for Prostate Cancer UK.

Keen runner like me? Leave me your tips/thoughts in the comments below.

Health-Kick 101

I have distinctive haunting memories of being in my second year of uni (4 years ago now!) and trying a little navy blue strapless dress on in the changing rooms of Republic. To my horror, a size 12 just about zipped up and I remember coming out of the shop nearly in tears because I had to get a 14- I desperately needed a dress for a girlie weekend away. My mother consoled me saying that sizing was different in certain stores and although I know that more now (looking at you H&M and Topshop) I knew that I had become a bit more shapely than I usually was.

Before anyone slaps me on the wrist, no I don’t think that size 14 is fat; I’d rather have curves than bones jutting out any day but I knew I’d had the standard puppy-fat that most students end up with when going to uni. The average student gains 2 stone while at uni apparently! I was doing a lot of burning the candle at both ends with studying, going out 3 nights a week and my part-time retail job meant that I worked till 10pm when I did a late shift. Although I’ve never been one to eat in excess or gorge myself on takeaways/junk food, I was still coming home from work late and having a full-on dinner at 11.30pm. The 3-4-1 drink deals probably didn’t help either and I wasn’t in a proper sleeping routine, now I can just about stay awake past 11pm during the week!

It all adds up and even though I felt like I never stopped ‘running around,’ like most students, I probably wasn’t taking care of myself as well as I could and the weight had crept up. I’ve always been around a size 10-12 (my hips don’t lie) and I just felt uncomfortable in my own skin, for someone who’d been a bit of a Tom-boy when I was younger. So I made some small lifestyle changes as much as I could, for example, instead of eating a normal dinner when I came in from work, I’d have a bigger lunch and make some toast when I got in (Brinner is winner) and I started going to the gym.

Image from thedailyconfidential.com via Pinterest

Image from thedailyconfidential.com via Pinterest

I’m not going to say it was a drastic change but people started commenting on how well I looked. When I finished uni, it became easier to get into a routine and once I was working a 9-5 job, I managed to go back to one of my most-loved childhood hobbies- swimming. I think I’ve said before but sometimes a fitness regime for me can become monotonous and if I set myself a challenge, it helps my motivation. That’s why I did the 5K Swimathon last year, the 5K Canary Wharf Jog last month and I’m looking to do the 10K Run To The Beat race in September; if I have a goal, it kicks me up the arse to get my training in.

I found that exercise helps my mind as well as my body and for me, it can be very therapeutic. This time last year I felt very frustrated with where I was in my life and the swimming/running helped me to unwind. Now I fit in a run or I go to the gym during my lunch break, when you get that 3pm slump and need something to wake you up. Rather than reaching for coffee or chocolate, I find that running outside invigorates me and wards off those sweet cravings.

I struggle to diet to be honest because 1) I’m ridiculously fussy 2) I don’t really eat meat and 3) I have to watch my blood sugar. I’m trying to cut down on certain things (biscuuuuuuits) and add more salads/fruit to my meals. I do enjoy the exercise more though!

Here’s some things I’ve been trying lately:

(FYI- I’m no expert so if anyone wants to put their two pence in, please do!)

* Green Tea– I luuuuuurve tea! Name me a Brit who doesn’t! But having sugar in it adds up so now I’ve swapped my PG tips for Twinings Green Tea. If that’s too bland for you, try Green tea with Honey or Peppermint, it only has 2 calories and contains no fat/sugar.

* Water, Water, Water! I’ve always taken a bottle of water to work with me and now that I have my Brita Filter bottle, I fill it up 2 to 3 times a day. Often when you think you’re hungry, its your body crying out for some hydration. They recently launched their #PourOClock campaign to encourage people to reach for a glass of water rather than a sugary snack.

* My Fitness PalThis one is a work-in-progress. I used the app a couple of years ago and have started using it religiously again. I’ve found that it does passively-aggressively guilt-trip you and I’m not sure how I feel about that! I need to start weighing myself on a weekly basis to check if its working!

* Change It Up- Again if I do the same regime every day, it becomes boring and your body gets used to it. Challenge yourself by shaking up your routine every couple of weeks. I’ve somehow not managed to get lost around Canary Wharf when I go on a different route ha! I use sites like Running Routes as well.

* Avoiding PR ‘goodies’- Working in the media, especially alongside magazines, is a hub for treats and goodies that wink at you every time you walk to the printer. I’ve convinced myself that I’m sick of cupcakes and only allow myself to dip my paw in every now and again.

* Dark chocolate- If I do fancy a little treat, dark chocolate is my fave! I mean I’m not saying buy 10 bars of it and gorge yourself silly on it but it contains less fat/sugar than milk chocolate. Pret’s Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt is my guilty pleasure!

Anyways, I feel that this post has been personal enough, I might enlist the help of my fitness pals to create another one with some top tips!

How do you guys keep fit? What handy apps/tricks have you come across? Share below 🙂

Challenge Completed

Last night I’d pretty much lost count after my fourth celebratory “well-earned” drink (cheers guys!) and was surprised to wake up hangover-free this morning; I believe it was the midnight snack of Nutella on toast that saved me. Today has been one of those glorious lazy days where it’s perfectly acceptable to be in your pyjamas until midday and have biscuits with every single cup of tea, just because it’s Sunday. Even more acceptable when you have achy shoulders but a shiny medal to show for it.

Those of you who know me well will know that I get nervous about pretty much anything (new job, a presentation, sometimes even before nights out in a weird kind of nervous-excited way) and so I was pacing up and down my hallway yesterday morning, moving from room to room in the house trying to figure out what I could be doing to whittle away the couple of hours I had before I had to hit the pool. In true OCD style, I decided that doing the housework while listening to Kisstory was about the only thing that was going to calm my nerves in a strange, therapeutic way. As annoying as it is though, nerves give me the adrenaline rush I need in order for me to concentrate on doing something, some would call it unnecessary pressure but I know I care about something if I worry slightly over it. A slight admission there into one of my little habits.

Habit number two- when I’m nervous, I become even more clumsy than usual. In the changing room, I was all fingers and thumbs as I attempted to put my hat and goggles on:

Drop the talcum powder.

Drop the hat.

Goggles…goggles? Where the hell are my goggles?!

One bite of a Nutrigrain bar.

Drop my water bottle on my foot. 

Have a fight with the changing room door and my sports bag.

Hit my arm on the locker door as it closes.

And then almost slip over on the wet tiles as I make my way to my lane with Eye of the Tiger playing in the background gently mocking me. 

During the ten minutes of our warm-up, all I kept thinking about was whether I’d flake out during my 5K and left gasping like a goldfish on the poolside. However, like my own advice that I dish out in pretty much every single one of my blog posts, I decided to take a dose of my own medicine and  as cheesy as it may sound, basically told myself that You. Can. Do. This.

I always wanted to complete the 5K within 2 hours and although I told myself, that I wouldn’t be disappointed if I didn’t manage to do it within that time because of course completing the challenge in itself was an accomplishment, I was absolutely determined to do so.

And so, I completed my 5K Swimathon Challenge in 01:53:02!

Mid-Swimathon...

Mid-Swimathon…

Massive thank you to all of you who wished me luck yesterday, who’ve sponsored and supported me during my training and of course, to all of my friends and family who came out last night to celebrate with me. Thank you especially to my parents who came to spur me on and my brother who was my designated ‘spotter’ and kept me going when I began to feel tired.

At one point, I could feel my hands just smacking the top of the water as it became an effort to put one arm over the other, I could feel my pulse in my head, my throat felt raw through my breathing and one misjudged tumble-turn had resulted in a rope burn from the lane dividers. Hearing my bro shout at me “10 more lengths!” was my last bit of encouragement for me to sprint to the end. Even though my legs felt like jelly, my goggles had left a comedic imprint on my silly, grinning face and MGMT “Kids,” was playing as I finished, it felt awesome to have accomplished my challenge within the time that I’d aimed for while raising money for a worthy cause.

If you fancy getting involved next year whether you want to do the 1.5K, 2.5K or 5K as an individual or in a team, you can register your interest for the 2014 Swimathon on their website. Whether you want to challenge yourself or use it as an incentive for fitness regime, it’s all worth it to raise money for such an amazing charity.

Its already made me think of other challenges that I can take on and although I wouldn’t be able to do anything like the London Marathon within the near foreseeable future, something like that is definitely on my bucket-list but y’know, one step at a time!

Sunday night fear is starting to creep in but it’s been another brilliant weekend and no matter what life throws at you, it’s these brilliant weekends that make the best memories.

Get your Game Face on

Happy Friday at last and Happy Payday weekend for most of you, whether you’re out tonight or saving yourself for tomorrow, have a good one! I’m having a quiet one this evening in preparation for the Swimathon tomorrow so MasterChef is probably about as exciting as it gets and I even declined a chocolate eclair at work today *sob*! Don’t worry, I’ll be making up for it at my local tomorrow night, I’m sure.

After what seemed a never-ending week and my last two practise swims, I’m strangely starting to feel a little bit nervous- the butterflies-in-your-stomach kind of nervous. I started my training for the Swimathon back in September and I’m aiming to complete the 200 lengths within 2 hours but obviously it’s not a race and at the end of the day, completing the challenge itself is an achievement.

The amount of sponsors and support I’ve had has been absolutely amazing and I’m looking forward to spending time with friends and family tomorrow evening. Thank you to everyone who has donated so far (current donations amount to nearly £200 online and offline!) and I know I keep repeating myself (sorrysorrysorry!) but if you wish to sponsor me to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer UK, please click the link below:

http://my.artezglobal.com/personalPage.aspx?registrationID=411798&langPref=en-CA

The deadline for fundraising is the 30th June 2013 so there’s a plenty of time to get involved.

Donations are essential to allow the Marie Curie Nurses to continue the amazing support they provide

Donations are essential to allow the Marie Curie Nurses to continue the amazing support they provide

The work that the nurses do at Marie Curie Cancer Care UK is incredible and with our support, it will help them to provide free hands-on care and emotional support to those with terminal illnesses and their families in their own homes, right until the end.

In order for the service to remain free, donations to the charity are essential; £20 can cover one hour of nursing within a patient’s home while £3,000 covers the cost of Marie Curie’s nursing service nationally for one hour.

For more information about the work that the Marie Curie Nurses do and of course to see how your donations help to make a difference, please visit the website here.

I’m off to get a good night’s sleep, with a mental playlist in my head in readiness for tomorrow (I’m thinking a bit of Daft Punk with some Two Door Cinema Club and Rudimental, I’ll despair if I get Pitbull stuck in my head on a loop!) and I’ll keep you updated via Twitter. Follow me at @daniellestacey1 with the hashtags #swimathon #takeonachallenge and of course, my favourite #justkeepswimming.

Wish me luck!

Just Keep Swimming…

There’s nothing better than sitting down on the sofa at the end of a long day with a nice cup of tea and a biscuit…unless you’ve given up on sugar for Lent of course! I’m quite aware that I sound like a little old lady and I frequently find myself now falling asleep in front of the TV/reading a book/on my laptop at the ridiculous time of 9.30 in  the evening, before I am shook awake and manage to stumble up the stairs in a daze.

I relate to the phrase “Living for the Weekend,” more than ever now and count the days down to Friday in order to cram my weekend full of fun shenanigans before Sunday evening creeps in. Gone are the days of staying up until some unearthly hour frantically tapping away at my laptop on Facebook  trying to finish off an uni assignment or going out mid-week with the rest of the Nation’s students to take advantage of £2.50 Jager bombs. I mean, I’m not saying my social life has gone completely out of the window, I guess things just change.

One of the things that I’m grateful about with my 9-5 life, is the routine that I can plan around it. Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m back swimming with the Masters squad and I’m currently on a training regime for my 5K (200 lengths) Challenge for the Swimathon in April. I’m averaging about 120/130 lengths in my sessions at the moment and don’t worry, I’m well aware that I constantly need to step it up a gear each time because for me, the 5K is definitely a challenge, despite having swum since I was a kid.

An indoor pool is always ideal

An indoor pool is always ideal

It’s like any physical challenge, whether you’re doing a Triathlon, the Marathon or the Tour de France, it can drain you mentally as well as physically. When I get in from work sometimes, I just want to put my feet up and pretty much doze for the evening, especially with the arctic weather we’re experiencing at the moment. However, I think a lot of the time, you have to psyche yourself up for these challenges and train yourself into thinking of only the positives e.g. “When I’m in the water, I don’t have to think about anything and I always feel awesome after a session,” rather than thinking “Oh god, I’ve still got another 50 lengths to go and I’m so tired and hungry.” It helps that swimming is second nature to me and it’s definitely my own of therapy that helps me through the week.

I mean of course any challenge that you do is hard, otherwise it wouldn’t be a challenge! You’ll always have good days and bad days with things but use the bad days as a catalyst to kick arse next time. At last night’s session, I planned on doing 120 lengths and I could have just got out of the pool and be done with it for the evening. However, I had ten minutes left and I was so in the zone when you’ve smashed past the mental barrier that can sometimes set you back, that I ended up doing 10 extra lengths on top of my 120. Sounds cheesy, but I felt so much adrenaline afterwards.

The worst thing you can do with anything is to give up completely. I’ve had times when I can hear my own pulse in my head, my breathing becomes erratic, my eyes are red-raw from the chlorine (even with goggles) and I feel like I can’t lift my arms over my head any further. Obviously never push yourself to the point of causing danger to your health and always stop doing anything that causes you pain e.g. muscle pain, cramps, nausea and dizziness etc. Always allow time to recharge your batteries after a session and re cooperate before getting back into the swing of anything too but once you’re back, live and kicking (excuse the pun) get back on track and give it your best shot. At the end of the day, if you try your best at anything in life, at least you know that you gave it your all.

Despite Olympic gold medalist Rebecca Adlington announcing her retirement from competitive swimming at the age of 23 last week, she said:

“If you really love something that never dies and it never goes away. And that’s what it’s like with swimming…I genuinely love the sport whether I’m competing or not. Whatever I’m doing I’ll still love the sport, it’s such a great thing to be part of.”

 

 

 

If you would like to sponsor me for my 5K challenge at the Swimathon, please see the link below. Thank you!

http://my.artezglobal.com/personalPage.aspx?registrationID=411798&langPref=en-CA

ZUMBA your way to Fitness

Okay, I know a few of you are gonna be like “Zumba is so last year,” and it’s true I guess, in a way, because everyone (well, women) went mad for it. My friends and I started going to our local Zumba Beats classes back in October and we’re addicted! I thought I’d write a post about this in relation to the whole New Year’s Resolution malarky and if you want to exercise more but don’t want to break the bank with unused gym memberships and faddy diets, then this is perfect for you.

Zumba Beats run by the brilliant Maria at YMCA is fun, energetic and will get you burning off those mince pies in no time. There’s no pressure of having a gym instructor shouting at you and you don’t have to be in time or be able to copy the moves step-for-step. It’s all about dancing your butt off and having fun. Maria gives out tips every session and lets you know which muscles you’re working. If you’re someone that doesn’t exercise often, it’s an excellent way to start because you can take it at your pace, if you feel a little out of breath at first, there’s no pressure to dance through the whole session and free water is always provided.

The music is a fusion of latin inspired beats, chart music including Pitbull, Jennifer Lopez, Maroon 5 and Chris Brown etc and indian rhythms. Now that I’ve discovered I don’t have two left feet as previously thought, I can salsa, sashay, wiggle and rumba my way through routines. We all felt like lemons at first, admittedly, but everyone is concentrating on the music and their own moves, so if you find yourself still spinning around while everyone is shimmying to the left, laugh it off!

The best thing is that the hall is full-up of people of all ages, shapes and sizes, even guys too! There’s usually a two-hour themed Zumba party every month held on a Friday at the YMCA in Romford as well. So if you’re saving yourself for a big night out at the end of the month and you want to save some money but don’t want to sit in on a Friday night, aid your fitness regime with a marathon sesh.

Weekday sessions run at the YMCA Romford on a Tuesday at 7pm for an hour and another at 8.10pm. There’s also a new Thursday sesh for beginners starting this week with the first sesh at 6.45pm and the second at 8pm. Classes are £5 and for further details of more classes at other locations, check out the website.