MOVE WELL

LIVE WELL

I have called this section Live Well as we owe it to ourselves to live our lives as well as we possibly can.  I know what I have been through is at the extreme end of most people’s challenges in life, but whatever life throws at us, taking a positive decision to look after yourself is key to coping with anything, for our physical and mental health.  The only medication I have been on since the accident, are painkillers and sleeping pills at the very beginning.  I honestly believe that I have avoided anti depressants because I have taken control of my health and nourished my body.  I have kept my emotional battery topped up so whatever the day throws at me, whatever mood I wake up in, I am in the best possible position to cope with it.  I drink very little as I learnt early on, that a hangover and grief are not a good combination. 

Of course some days are very painful and I feel incredibly low, missing Emily and Nicko terribly or getting frustrated with my leg.  These feelings are completely normal after what I have been through and I now know that I will come through those days and feel better again.  I also know that my ‘down’ days would be worse and more frequent if I wasn’t being so compassionate with myself and trying to live as well as I can.  When you strip everything back the only thing we have is our body and mind and we need to look after them.  We all spend so much time looking after other people - children, our other halves, relatives and friends, we often come last in the line of priorities.  We need to put ourselves first as if we don’t then we are of no use to anyone else.

Move Well

Exercise has always been an important part of my life and has kept me fit, and in good shape both physically and mentally.  As a personal trainer I focus on functional and strength training exercise and move my body as much as I can throughout the day, whether this is walking or cycling.  This has been invaluable since I lost my leg as my body is strong, particularly my core, which has helped hugely with learning to walk on a prosthetic leg.  Losing a leg shocked me into realizing how reliant I was on my own mobility.  To suddenly not have it and have to rely on others was incredibly hard, all my independence was taken away and I had to rely on everyone else for even the smallest task.  A big lesson to me was when I fell down the stairs quite early on in my rehab (probably trying to run before I could walk!), opening up the wound on my stump and setting me back a month in learning to walk.  That fall made me realize that I had to make myself the priority, a strange concept for a mother, or I would struggle to take care of my children.

As we get older our muscle wastage increases, making it even more important to take up some kind of strength training exercise.  We have all seen older people struggle to push themselves out of a chair due to muscle wastage or finding it hard to walk up the stairs.  We have all been given this incredible body and we need to look after it as much as we can.

Exercise also makes us feel amazing.  When we exercise we release our own feel good hormones.  Often we may not feel like exercise but we never feel worse afterwards, only better, we are doing something positive for ourselves, we are helping our body but also our mind.  It is so important for us all to make time to move our bodies, even if it is just for 30 minutes a day.  It doesn’t matter what our fitness levels are, our bodies are made to move so take every opportunity to do just that.  You don’t always have to find that elusive hour to go to the gym, get dressed up in lycra, you can just go for a walk, climb some stairs, walk or cycle to work for example.  Simple changes make big differences, we all just need to move our bodies more.

Another great help is to find a workout buddy, then if you fail to turn up you are not only letting yourself down but a friend too.  Working out with someone else, is so much more fun too.  Some of my girls’ exercise classes I take turn into real therapy sessions as we chat between sets of burpees!

Exercises

I will be posting regular videos of new workouts as it is important to keep shaking it up.  Above is an Express Workout of 4 fantastic full body exercises.


With spring arriving, it is so good to get outdoors to exercise.  Most parks have a workout trail to follow which is fun to do with a friend or kids.  Here are some other ideas for a park workout.

Warm up

Always take time to warm up your muscles properly, you will avoid injury and get more from your workout. 

Pick two lampposts on a path and go between them twice with the following exercises.

  1. Fast walking, with arms swinging
  2. Jogging
  3. Lunges – lunge forward landing with your left leg bent at 90 degrees to the ground and the same with the right leg behind you.  Step the right one through and repeat.
  4. Side stepping – step apart then together with arms lifting as you step your leg out.  You can make this dynamic by jumping between steps.  Face the same way as you return so you work both sides of your body. 

Now find a patch of grass:

  1. Roll downs and out – find some grass and from a standing position with feet hip distance apart, roll your body down until your hands touch your feet depending on flexibility.  Then walk your hands out away from you with legs as straight as possible until you are in a press up position.  From here step your left foot to the outside of your left hand and hold to feel a deep stretch in your inner thigh.  If you are very flexible, you may need to bend your elbow a little.  Repeat on the right side x 5

  2. Roll downs with down and ups  - Roll down and walk hands out as before, then from your press up position, with your body in a straight line and navel pulled in tight, lower your right arm onto your forearm then your left onto your forearm, then push back up onto your right hand and then your left hand.  Walk your hands back to your feet, repeat x 5

Cardio

Interval training is great for fitness levels and burning calories.  This is easy to do along a path with a length of lampposts or a few landmarks along it.  You are going to jog for 2 lampposts then sprint for 2, jog for 2, sprint for 2, etc.  Have a breather at the end of the path then repeat 5 times.  This should feel hard, you must push yourself out of your comfort zone, but build it up slowly  - beginners can walk for two, jog for two, or walk for two jog for one, the more advanced can jog for, one sprint for two etc, adapt it to your fitness level.

Circuit

  1. Squat Jumps – standing with feet hip distance apart, squat down keeping your heels on the floor, until your thighs are parallel or more with the ground.  You want to keep your chest forward and your knees bent, do not just bend from the hips, pretend you are sitting back into a chair, or even better have a bench behind you to touch your bottom down onto. Press through your heels and squeeze your glutes to stand up from this position, if you want a more dynamic workout, jump up and then straight back down into a squat, as low as you can go. Repeat x 15
  2. Press ups – on a patch of grass get into a press up position with your knees on or off the ground, depending on strength.  Hands should be just wider than shoulders, shoulders above your wrists, pull your navel into your spine, squeeze your glutes and lower your chest down towards the ground, looking slightly in front of your hands.  Repeat for 10, sit back on your heels, then 8, sit back on your heels, 6, 4 then 2, making the last 2 super slow.
  3. Burpees – good for getting the heart rate up, from a standing position, squat down to the floor with your hands just in front of your feet, jump or step your feet back so you are in a press up position (remember to pull your navel into your spine as you jump back to protect your back), jump your feet forward again, landing them hip distance apart, then jump up into the air.  Repeat 15 times
  4. Reverse lunge and kick – from a standing position, lunge your right leg back so the knee is nearly touching the ground, step it forward and kick it up as high as you can, then lunge it straight back again.  Really think about using your core to bring the leg through and up, keeping the leg striaght.  20 kicks on each side.
  5. Bench squats – sit on the edge of a bench, squeeze your glutes and stand up, sit back down with your bottom just touching and stand again.  The lower the bench the harder this is an, don’t sit - for a real challenge stand up on one leg, sit back to touch and repeat keeping the other leg lifted all the time.  Repeat for 15 each side or 20 if doing both legs.
  6. Plank – Form a press up position, lower yourself down onto your forearms, pull your navel into your spine, pull your shoulders back, squeeze your glutes and hold the position for 30 secs to 60 secs depending on strength.  If this feels too easy, there are variations to make it harder.  The first is alternate lifting of the hands - pretend you are having to keep a balloon in the air by alternately lifting left arm then right arm off the ground.  Or try lifting the left foot off the ground for a count of three, whilst keeping your hips parallel to the ground, place it back down, then repeat with the right foot.  These variations add extra challenge to the core.

Repeat the circuit once or twice

I’ll change this workout regularly adding in some extra exercises and changing the circuit.  Our bodies adapt to exercise quickly so it is important to keep changing it up and pushing ourselves all the time.  If you did 10 repetitions last week, try 12 this week, don’t ever get comfortable!