Improve Your Fitness In 4 Steps

Happy Friday! I have a great article today about improving your fitness and how to stay motivated. Enjoy!

Pic – CCO License

Anyone who wants to have a better approach to fitness will need to know about some of the major ways you can achieve this. The truth is that it is always possible to improve your fitness, and just appreciating that possibility is an important first step for a lot of people. However, if you are keen to really get to the bottom of how you can improve your fitness, there are a lot of things you might want to bear in mind. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the things you can do to ensure that you are keeping your fitness in tact as best as you can.

Sign Up For Classes

One of the best ways to improve your fitness is to work on your commitment to it, and a good way of doing that is to sign up for some classes. If you have a few fitness classes to look forward to, then you are going to be much more likely to keep on with your fitness regime, and that will mean that you get much better results from it on the whole. Signature fitness classes could be a good place to start, as you are likely to get a lot out of them each and every time.

Keep A Routine

Routine is very much what this is all about. If you are capable of sticking to a routine, you are going to notice huge improvements in your fitness in no time, and it’s the kind of thing that you will be able to build on more and more as time goes on. Keeping a routine in this way is really important because you are showing yourself that you really care, and that it is important you are going to keep on with it. So make sure that you develop a routine you can enjoy and make full use of.

Set Goals

It might sound like something of a cliche, but you are going to want to set yourself some goals so that you are more likely to keep on track with regard to your fitness. Having some clear goals that you are happy to follow can really make a world of difference, and it’s the kind of thing that you will need to work on as well, because some goals are better than others in this regard. So, make sure that you set yourself some goals, and that you are doing all you can to follow them as best as possible. That is going to help you a lot.

Find The Joy

Finally, you need to make sure that you are finding the joy in whatever you want to do. As long as you are enjoying it, that is all that matters. This means that you should therefore seek out fitness regimes and exercises which you really love, and make a point of following them as clearly as possible. If you can do that, you are going to find that your fitness is a lot better on the whole.

What do you do to keep fit?

Do you you enjoy keeping fit?

Our experience with reusable nappies

Before Isaac was born I decided that I was going to use reusable nappies rather than disposable ones. I’m not sure when or where this decision initially germinated from, but it became something I was very passionate about.

I want to preface this blog post with a quick note. I have zero judgement to other people for what nappies they decide to use. This is purely my own story and hopefully will give advice to anyone who wants to know a bit more about reusable nappies.

I hate the idea of creating too much waste and try to be as eco-friendly as I can where possible. I remember seeing several rubbish bags of nappies outside someone’s house and it was astonishing. When I looked into things further I found that newborn babies could be using 10 nappies a day, sometimes less, sometimes more. So in a week that’s 70 or so nappies, all heading to landfill where it would take 500 years or more for them to degrade down. It made me feel sick.

I researched into things a bit further (knowing vaguely that reusable nappies existed but only a in a very ‘hippy dippy’ land). I found a great resource from the Nappy Lady’s website.

This website is a fantastic knowledge base – lots of helpful guides, Q&A’s, videos as well as the products themselves. Well worth a look if you’re interested. I also watched several YouTube videos.

This was all while I was pregnant. Yes, it was quite overwhelming and confusing at first. There are so many different types of nappies you can buy… pocket nappies, two-parters, all in ones, etc. And then there were boosters and liners. Bamboo or synthetic materials. How do you wash them? How many do you need? What do you do when you’re out and about?

But I literally immersed myself into that world, watched real-life mums and tutorials on YouTube and got my head round it. Up front, reusable nappies are a big expense. To use the nappies every day you really need 20-30 nappies depending on the baby – so you can be washing yesterday’s nappies while your baby is wearing today’s nappies. Each nappy is £10-20 depending on the brand and style – not even considering any extra accessories you’ll need (more on that later). That’s a lot of money upfront to get you ready.

To combat this a little, we asked that if family or friends who wanted to give us a present (at the baby shower for instance) then to please give us a nappy. That way we could reduce the hit to us and people would know what to buy us if they weren’t sure (and indeed wanted to buy us anything!).

I also had a lovely friend who sent us some of her old reusables for us to use, which massively helped. Preloved reusable nappies work just as well!

Upfront costs aside though, using reusable nappies in the long run are actually cheaper than disposables. (Of course though up front costs straight away compared to incremental over time).

https://www.cheekywipes.com/blog/cloth-nappies-vs-disposable-nappies-money-saving.html

So let’s get into the nitty gritty. Because we were gifted a lot of nappies, we didn’t get to choose the exact ones. This meant we got a mixed bag of the different types.

Nappy Types

Reusable nappies generally fall into these types:

  • All in ones: the most simple and easy to use. Everything is self-contained in one nappy. No wrap required.
  • Pocket nappies: basically similar to the all in ones but the absorbency bit is tucked inside the nappy in a pocket. So it dries a bit easier because you can take the bit out of the pocket separately.
  • Two parters: these are made up of a fluffy nappy bit that is the absorbent layer, then you have a separate waterproof wrap that goes over that.

During the day we just use a mix of the above. We have boosters and liners that we add. Boosters increase the absorbency by adding another layer to keep the nappy going for longer so it doesn’t leak. We also use a liner (we use thin fleece ones rather than deposable ones). The liner catches the poo so you can flick the poo down the loo a bit easier and it helps preserve the nappy itself in terms of lifespan (reduces the stains in the nappy which unfortunately do happen over time).

They grow with the baby as they last for so long

We have what we call the “Super Nappy” for the night which is a two parter as it’s the most absorbent of all our nappies and we need it to last 12 hours. These don’t tend to leak. We love the Bamboozle brand for this.

Washing and care

In terms of washing, when we change Isaac we put the dirty nappy in a material bag and then the next morning we put those nappies in the wash. We first do a rinse (not a pre-rinse but an actual rinse cycle, which for our machine is about 30 mins). Then we put the nappies on a 40C cycle (if nappies are just wet) or a 60C cycle (if the nappies are soiled) which is usually around 2 hours or so.

Then we hang them out to dry or put them on a drying horse (or if we need to be quick, put them in a tumble dryer but this does wear them down eventually).

Nappy Accessories

Like I said, we use boosters and liners (which go through the same washing process). We also have a wet bag for the nappy bag. This is for when we’re out and about and we change him. Instead of binning the nappy as you would a disposable, we just pop it into the wet bag and take it home with us ready to be washed.

We also use reusable wipes. We keep these in a plastic tub with a lid and we just add water to it and then they’re ready to go whenever we need them throughout the day. We take dry ones with us when we’re out and about so we can dampen them with the tap and use them when changing him.

When Isaac goes to the Nana’s we give them several nappies and then they send back the dirty ones (or sometimes if they get a chance they wash them for us, which is lovely). At nursery they use reusable nappies too so we just send him there in one and they have everything they need there.

Our experience

I love using reusable nappies. It’s just part of our life and feels completely normal. We used disposables for a short period when Isaac was born as we only had two newborn nappies, but as soon as he was big enough (which wasn’t long) we went full reusable.

I have such a system now of washing and getting them sorted that it’s just part of the day really. The nappies are perfect for Isaac as well. We’ve never had any serious nappy rash and we rarely have any poo explosions or leakages. And the patterns and designs are just adorable. And because the costs are all done, it’s absolutely free. We don’t need to buy anything else.

I would heartily recommend using reusables. Even if it’s just one or two a day or week. That’s one or two disposable nappies you’re stopping ending up on landfill. You don’t have to go the full hog to make a difference!

Have you ever considered reusable nappies?

What things do you do to be eco-friendly?

A year of Isaac

I cannot believe that over a year ago I gave birth to Isaac.

It has been the fastest but longest year of my life. Nothing has remained the same. Every month is different. Every day we’re learning something new, or Isaac is showing us something new that he can do or understand. It’s such a steep learning curve for us all!

I won’t lie, it has been a hard year. Though I will stress we’ve definitely had it easier than a lot of people because we have such a solid support network around us. Both our parents are so willing and eager to look after Isaac for us and give us a break or just come round and give advice.

We’re very lucky that Kyle’s mum and my mum can look after Isaac one day a week so that he only goes to nursery twice a week as I only work four days. The cost savings alone are so helpful to us, obviously. And as we’re working from home still, it means things are a lot less stressful.

Anyway, a whole year has gone by and Isaac is no longer a baby but almost a toddler now! He’s crawling, he’s pulling himself to standing and managing to hold himself independently for about 15-20 seconds. So we assume it won’t be long before he’s walking.

He’s eating so much food as well. Using his hands to feed himself and generally eating everything we give him. Though he wasn’t fussed when we tried him on a Mr Whippy ice cream! We haven’t given him lots of sweet or processed things to be honest. We’ve kept to plain yogurt, no chocolate and trying to make most of his meals rather than buy baby food. Not that I judge anyone who does, but for now while he’s so young I just want him to get to grips with more nutritious and “real” food before he fully understands the wonder of cake and chocolate 😉

In terms of breastfeeding, I’m still going. When he’s at nursery or with the Nanas he doesn’t really have any milk unless he’s upset or struggling to nap. But when he’s with me we tend to feed throughout the day. He will always feed before bed and in the morning though. I’m still enjoying it and will be led by him for when to stop. Though I imagine at two years that’ll probably be my max if he hasn’t stopped before.

I have to say, I am loving this stage in general. Obviously I’ve loved Isaac his entire life but I’m much more enjoying this period of time compared to when he was a helpless baby. Of course he was adorable as a baby and so squishy but I love that I can fully interact with him and play with him. Watching how his mind works and his personality so strong coming through.

I definitely find playing with him easier now that he can move himself about. Hanging things above his head while he was immobile on the floor wasn’t the most exciting time I must say. But now passing him toys or showing him different things and watching him try to replicate is just lovely.

Sleep is still tough though. We had one week where he was sleeping through until 4am, I would then feed him and he’d fall back asleep to 6-7am. It was glorious. I felt like a new woman. But now he’s waking at 5am and not going back to sleep. It could well be that we’ve been going through a heatwave and the brighter mornings (though we do use blackout blinds). It’s tough and I desperately want more sleep but I go to bed early enough to not be too much of a zombie.

Sleep aside, it’s such a lovely period for us and Kyle and I are so in love with this little whirlwind of a boy. He’s full of beans and makes us laugh so much. I can’t wait for the coming months as he starts to speak (he’s not quite there yet). So much to look forward to!

parkrun Smackdown – Kyle vs. Anna

Bit late on the recap, but the weekend before last Kyle and I decided to have a ‘parkrun smackdown’. (I will quickly preface this by saying I know parkrun is not actually a race, this is just a bit of fun between Kyle and me).

This basically meant we were going to race each other at Southsea parkrun. We had often wondered who would win over a 5k between us. I train a bit more in general than Kyle and have been running longer, but Kyle is far better at sprinting and running shorter distances than me. So it would be interesting.

I ran down to Southsea parkrun (almost 3 miles) as I knew I’d need a bit of a warmup beforehand, especially for a 5k. I struggle to go from 0 to 100 that quickly. Kyle drove down with Isaac and I met him, his mum, sister and my dad there. We were all going to go for breakfast afterwards. Something to look forward to after all that pain!

It was fairly windy, annoyingly, and very warm. Southsea parkrun is an out and back and so you run 1.5ish miles out along the prom and then back again. The wind was coming from the West so the first half of the run would be lovely with a tail wind, but then heading back would be dreadful.

There had been some fun banter all week between Kyle and me. Some good old fashioned trash talk. But in reality I had a sneaky suspicion that Kyle would beat me. He would straight away run ahead and I didn’t think I had enough mileage to catch him up. We would see…

As parkrun begun I was ahead for, oh, all of 5 seconds before Kyle zoomed past me. Then it was basically me desperately trying to keep him in my sights. I looked at my watch and saw low 6 minute miles and thought “oh wow this isn’t going to stay like this!”. But I knew I needed to make as much gains as I could while the wind was in a favourable direction. It would all change when we get to the turn around point.

I managed to keep Kyle in my line of vision but I wasn’t gaining on him. I hoped that maybe after the turnaround he would start to lose his energy but it was a longshot. We got to the turnaround and straight away the wind hit us in the face. Now it was going to get tough!

I never did manage to gain any closer to Kyle but I didn’t manage to lose too much distance either. As I hit 2 miles I started to do the maths in my head… with the pace I’d been running so far could I be in chance of a sub-20?

Ooof it would be a hard ask. I was putting everything into it and my legs and lungs were burning. Sadly, as I hit 3 miles I realised this would be impossible. I wasn’t running fast enough. I crossed the line (behind Kyle) at 20:23. Kyle finished in a fantastic 20:11.

The winner!

We were both really pleased with our times. I mean, this is the fastest I’ve run in MONTHS for a 5k.

However there was a little bit of a disappointment lingering for both Kyle and I that we hadn’t managed to get a sub-20. More so for Kyle as he was so close, whereas I guess for me I’d really need to get my skates on! I reckon though Kyle would have smashed the 20 minute mark had the wind not been so strong.

The disappointment didn’t last long tho as we were then off to the Parade Tearooms for some breakfast. I say breakfast but my meal of choice from there will always be their gigantic Jayne Salad. It’s epic and I always order it, regardless of the time.

Calling it a salad is somewhat of a push considering it doesn’t contain that much salad compared to the piles of bacon, potato, chicken and cheese (which is why it’s so divine).

Anyway, a lovely morning! Family, parkrunning and breakfast 🙂

Have you ever raced someone at parkrun?

Would you eat a salad for breakfast?

Romsey Beer Race 2022

The Romsey Beer Race – my favourite race of the year. And due to COVID, a race that hasn’t been held since June 2019. So it’s been a while.

I’ve done this race five times before. I just love it! The course is undulating but is in such a beautiful, picturesque location and the weather is usually pretty good, albeit sometimes a bit too hot. This year however it was very cool and cloudy. The perfect race conditions.

Though I usually hate to actually race as running fast isn’t really my thing. I prefer a long slow run (or a marathon!). But there’s something about this race that gets me going. Every time I’ve done it I’ve given it a good go.

Kyle had floated the idea of running together and pushing each other on earlier in the week but I said I wasn’t sure because I didn’t know if I wanted to race or not. But as Kyle and I drove into the area I started to get the buzz and asked him if he still wanted to. He (semi jokingly) said that maybe we should run our own race as he didn’t want me to “hold him back”. Trash talk, I see. He was joking but in reality we both knew we’d rather run separately than run together. I was happy with that!

The night before my parents had looked after Isaac so we were both feeling pretty good with our solid night’s sleep (something of a rarity these days!). We met my parents and Isaac there, as well as Kyle’s mum and her partner, Tony. Kyle’s brother and his girlfriend also turned up to support too. A lovely support group!

We positioned ourselves fairly near the front. With less than 400 runners this wasn’t too scary but still scary enough. The front runners are VERY fast and I definitely don’t measure up to them but we wanted to give ourselves a good chance to get going quickly.

This worked well as the front runners sped off (as did Kyle) and I didn’t have to wind past anyone and people didn’t have to wind past me. Straight away I felt like I was good to give it my best, whatever that would look like. I had the buzz and my legs were feeling good.

We ran round the cricket pitch, then we ran up the road to where the bulk of the supporters were, including our family. I’ve done this race so many times, as have my parents in supporting it, so they knew exactly where to stand for a great spot.

They cheered us on and up we went to our first grinding hill. It’s a fairly long incline, pretty much the entire first mile. Kyle was ahead – I used him as motivation to keep on grinding and try to get faster.

I knew I’d have the advantage on the downhills as Kyle tends to slow down whereas I have a bit more of an “run with abandon” approach to downhills. Though Kyle is stronger on the uphills.

I caught up with him using that downhill and slowly, slowly overtook him. I jokingly said “well done” as I ran past. The banter between us was very friendly, I want this to be clear. I wasn’t rubbing it in, and he wasn’t annoyed. We both agreed it was good that we were racing each other as it pushed us both on.

I spent the rest of the race knowing Kyle was right on my tail. It was definitely a motivator. I didn’t want him to overtake me! And it pushed him on because he obviously did want to catch up.

Anyway, the race continued with a few more undulations. I was at a huge advantage having run this race five times before to know roughly how long these would last – not as long as the first one, but some steeper. Because I knew the course so well I could judge my speed to know if I could maintain my pace. I felt quite comfortable, as comfortable as you can be trying your hardest. What I mean is, that while I was definitely on the pain train and my legs were burning, I knew I could maintain it.

It also felt incredible short because I’ve only really been running marathons over the last few years! Five miles of pain was a lot different to 26.2 miles of tough sustained exertion (and only painful in the last few minutes). I felt confident.

And then my shoelace came undone. I had a new pair of Brook Adrenalines on and the laces are a bit short and shiny, so don’t tie together that well. Urghh what an utter pain! I stopped on the side and tried to tie it up as quickly as I could. Kyle was just far enough behind that he didn’t get a chance to overtake as I was off again quickly.

It probably took 5-10 seconds and then I was motivated to make up for lost time so realistically it didn’t affect things at all, I don’t think. It merely stopped the memento, which I was able to regain again quickly.

I got to the final stretch, before you head into the field to do the lap around it before finishing.

I still felt like Kyle was just behind me so used that to keep pushing but I was fading. I barely had a sprint finish in me.

If Kyle was on my shoulder he definitely could have out-sprinted me as he has such a good sprint finish.

My finishing time was 33:49 (my PB is still 33:43). Kyle finished 34:48. We were both really happy with our times. We had some banter at the end, as you do, but it was all in good fun. We’ve actually decided to go head-to-head in our next parkrun (tomorrow) to see what will happen.

Kyle is much better at shorter distances. I’m much better at longer, slower distances. Over a 5k will be very interesting. My prediction is that Kyle will speed ahead straight away and be ahead of me for most of the race. Then it’s up to me to try and overtake, which will be such a big ask considering how fast I think Kyle will go. If I’m honest, I don’t think I’ll be able to beat Kyle. He’s been running some solid 5ks and he has that power in his legs which I don’t.

We will see 😉 The trash talk in the house this week has been amusing. But as long as we both put some welly into it, we’re both going to come away with solid times I think (I HOPE!) so in my eyes it’s a win win.

But anyway, back to this race. I fed Isaac after I finished which took quite a while, bless him. I sat there just desperate to get some cake but he was not letting me go anytime soon haha!

I actually came second female which was lovely because I’ve managed to place a few times at this race. I’ve now been second twice, first once and third once. Not too shabby! (I will stress again that this is a small race and previous times another local 10k has happened on the same day which a lot of the speedy club runners were more drawn to).

Finally I was able to grab a cake (a blondie) and a beer (for my dad) and we waited around to get my prize.

The weather was warm enough to not be uncomfortable but not need a coat. The after bit is one of my favourite parts of this race as it’s just so friendly and you can chat to different people while enjoying a lovely cake and drink.

I then collected my “medal” – a beer glass, love it! (Oh by the way, the first place female was INCREDIBLE. I didn’t have a chance in hell of even being remotely her competition, she smashed it!)

And then we headed off to one of our favourite pubs, the Osborne View, for a roast. It was such a lovely day. I’ll definitely be signing up again next year. It’s such a well run, friendly and fun event.

Now on to the smackdown with Kyle… 😉