Author: Hannah

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3 Ways to become more Holy

If it weren’t for all the fluorescent trainers, patterned running pants and fitness apps on my phone, I’d think I was unfit.  These are clearly markers of my physical health – therefore, I’m doing well. I don’t know about you, but I often live in an envy/failure/guilt/repeat cycle. I see someone with a figure I want, strength I want, ability I want (usually on social media). I try to achieve this, fail spectacularly, feel horrifically useless as a human being, before even broaching the negative emotions toward my body that got me in this place. Then I start all over again, as I see another stunning figure I want. Sound familiar? Unfortunately, we are a culture that claims the outward body is the sum of our identity. Although as Christians it’s probably a good idea to not root our identity in anything other than being fully loved and known by Jesus, we unfortunately do it. A lot. ‘The body’ within Christianity’s history has been pulled apart so much that it’s difficult to know where we stand. …

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Peers

Peers are my nemesis, slightly awkward being a single 30 something in London… I know. Who doesn’t have a few social faux pas in their closet right?! Or awkward social tendencies?! Socially awkward tendencies can potentially be hilarious, however they are more likely to be hilariously painful.  Along with that goes the pain of not being able to take our place at the table (metaphorically and physically).  Approaching an environment, pulling up a pew, embracing the community around the table can be difficult if we view the world in stereotypes, if we try to fit ourselves into that mould and if we, ultimately, view ourselves as different. We long to belong, we long to be loved and known, to have friends and companions around us who know us fully, and we feel fully alive with them.  Yet, why doesn’t my life look like this? Why can’t I reach this idillic image I have?  One problem is trying to fit in, as opposed to belonging. Brene Brown puts it like this, “Fitting in is assessing situations …

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Easy like Sunday morning

If you’ve been hanging around this blog for any amount if time, I’m sure you’re aware that I’ve had chronic fatigue for 7 years.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know we all get tired, but it’s a different kind of tired (check this out to know more).  I’ve been doing pretty well for a little while now, which can lead to an over excitement and a slippery slope into doing too much.  I thought I’d been balancing everything pretty well until yesterday. I’d woken up, at a good hour for me, had breakfast and was heading on a walk with my house mate.  Immediately I felt tired, and I know this kind of tired.  We arrived home from the walk and I instantly needed a nap.  I tried to fight it but within an hour I was out.  This proceeded two more times throughout the day.  What had gone wrong? Why was this happening? I’d been doing so well and now three naps in one day. The answer is, I don’t really know what happened.  There …

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Believe. Belong. Become.

Over the last few years, as I’ve been recovering, my thinking has really shifted in terms of how I viewed my illness and my recovery.  At first I focused a lot on the physical side.  Being a trainer and general movement outdoor freak, this clearly was the answer. I was fortunate enough to have some incredible people come along side me at certain times of my recovery, who would just listen and gently suggest things, but I know overall were simply praying and waiting to see me come through it all.  Part of this, “coming through it” was to change the way I saw myself and treated myself – after all you don’t just get CFS/AF, it happens due to stress, life circumstances and more importantly the way you handle them and yourself.  I came to realise that my choices and actions had great consequences and it wasn’t that God wasn’t there with me in them, as actually he meets us where we are at and takes us to where we should be.  He wanted …

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How social issues affect your wellness more than you think

You can’t have helped but seen the utter madness ensuing around the world recently.  The Syrian civil war, subsequent refugee crisis, mass shootings, terror attacks, the great divide not only between the UK and Europe, but within UK borders, knife crime and increased racism. Go home 2016, you’re drunk!  All of this, however, probably affects you more than you think.  The one thing I haven’t been able to shake recently is how our health connects to social issues. Why? Because it all stems from the heart, it’s all about the heart. The heart is where health and wellness starts and ends, and it is where events like the former mentioned start and end. Maybe you think this is a big leap; maybe you’re offended by this… good! If we’re not offended by what is happening in the world around us and moved to a point of compassion then nothing will change. A heart that is full of pain needs healing, but this can only happen in the time said heart needs.  A heart full of pain …

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You can never take my…

.. so I’ve never seen ‘Braveheart’ (yep, I know, sorry!) but I hear there’s a quote about freedom in it. Over 18 months ago, during an early evening doze these words came to me; “Freedom is larger than anything you could ever imagine, yet more fragile than anything you’ve ever known” “Great”, I thought, “now that explains freedom to me”. So I pondered about freedom for a while. Freedom is something we all long for and desire deep down. Freedom from, well quite frankly everything. We want to feel like we can live in a way that we want to, to be able to choose what we want when we want, to be able to go anywhere at anytime, say what we want when we want and do what we want to… “if I want to hit that snooze button all day, then sit in bed and eat chocolate spread on toast I should flipping well be able to. Freedom!!! Yes!! Finally!” Is that freedom though? Would that really make me feel free? And actually …

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That’s not your identity

I wish when I was growing up someone had told me my identity was not in my floral patterned denim jacket (although to this day every time I walk into a charity shop, I have misty dream like visions of having an encounter with it), or that my identity wasn’t in the fact that I could eat and eat and not put weight on (I really wish someone had told me that, slight backfire – in more ways than one), or that my identity was not in the fact that I could run for miles and be ok with it. Identity, where do you get yours from? For years I placed my identity in my athleticism, in fact I even remember at school getting annoyed at a friend who also did particularly well in P.E.  “You’re too good at everything else, at least let me have this”. I should have realised that the end of lesson bell didn’t just signify home time. I’m all or nothing so when I started competing in triathlons and doing …

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We are our Choices

Jean-Paul Sartre had it it right when he said “We are our choices”. One of the greatest problems I come across in my job is people choosing to exercise and eat well.  It just doesnt come naturally to some people and a lot of us want all of the benefit but with no effort.  We are either a slave or a master to our choices.  You either have them under control or you don’t.  For the past 5-6 years I have not always had my choices under control and that’s no ones fault but mine.  I felt pushed and pulled to make decisions which ultimately were not healthy for me, I lived out of a place where choices had the potential to cripple me and really I was the only one stopping my choices from being healthy.  The thing with choices is that whatever we decide, we need to live with that and realise that our choices create actions which create consequences.  Sure, sometimes the consequences really can’t be seen but on the whole the …

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How’s your love muscle?

Phew! I just got done an interval and weights training session which I haven’t done in a very, very long time. It felt so good to get the old love muscle working, to get that blood pumping through my veins.  It also happened to be the start of Lent last week.  You know, that time of year when it seems that everyone gives up chocolate or cake, or chocolate cake, or alcohol – depending on how dry January went – for 40 days but no one knows why.  It also happened to be Valentines Day on Sunday.  It seems to me that last week was love muscle week.  That’s right, your old ticker, the old ‘strawberry’, the old “your heart is the size of a fist so fight with it”. Our hearts are muscles which need to be tested in many different ways to grow.  Just like any other muscle your heart needs working, perhaps even more so than others. Hearts are synonymous with love but how many of us actually look after and take note …

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HIIT for beginners

HIIT is a term which has recently been flying around the fitness industry like a kid in a sweet store (which is interesting as HIIT is supposed to shift the sweets – the effect of them that is). HIIT stands for ‘high intensity interval training’.  It means putting in all your effort, a harder amount of work, everything you’ve got for a short interval followed by a rest period or a low intensity interval.  This type of training burns fat and in a shorter amount of time – so no lack of time excuses here – and if that weren’t enough it also produces ‘afterburn’ in your muscles.  Once your workout is through your muscles will still keep burning calories.  So not only do you burn more fat, and in less time, you then continue to burn fat afterwards.  Essentially HIIT gives you the best bang for your buck. Give these HIIT sessions a go:                                         …

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I’ve got my Tight Pants on

In my room I’ve got my favourite pair of jeans hanging up, nope not in the cupboard, but hanging from a shelf. They don’t fit me anymore. Sure I haven’t tried them on in a while but the last I did I couldn’t pull them over my legs. I distinctly remember when I thought the washing machine was shrinking them, turns out it was just my legs growing, in the wrong direction. I’ve kept them as a reminder, and goal, of where I used to be and where I’d like to get back to. One fitness tip which people always suggest for weight loss is keeping old clothes. If you get rid of all your old clothes you won’t remember, or realise, how much weight you have put on. Makes sense right?! In a way it’s like a frog in boiling water, if a frog is placed in boiling water it jumps out. If I try and put these old jeans on I just won’t fit. If a frog is placed in cold water which …

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Sugar: The good, the bad and the ugly

As a kid there was no downside, nothing negative about sugar; it was only good in my eyes. I was the ‘Candy Queen’ (for those non-Brits the ‘Candy King’ is a pick ‘n’ mix sweet station at the cinema. Now I’ve explained you can see the level of humour we’ll reach). I could comfortably finish the biggest bag of pick ‘n’ mix during a film, or otherwise, with seemingly zero consequences. A bag of marshmallows – annihilated. A giant Toblerone – not a problem. Re-sealable chocolate bags – why would you do that?! A dessert, or anything sweet, was obviously to be consumed. Sugar to me was a friend; a warm comforting friend. I stayed active, running a lot, cycling, playing football and competing in athletics, so all that sugar got burned off. That was, until the teenage years, when hormones kicked in and I was less active – this was when ‘the sugar hit the fan’. I had multiple diabetes tests and episodes of passing out (all linked, I now believe, to too much …

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Today I punched my health choices in the face

Exercise and I have had a tumultuous relationship, one which started young and continues to this day. It’s like a bad relationship or phone contract you just can’t let go off. You know what I mean, we’ve all been there. This, for me, is exercise. “Exercise if you kick my butt one more time I’m out, it’s over. No more jumping HIIT sessions, or weights which I can’t even hold, no more moves which should only be done on a twister mat and if I hear one more thing about crossfit and its acronyms I’ll take its AMRAP and show it what I really think” Why is it that something which is so good for us causes us to go through pain? It’s so much effort and quite frankly I’d rather have Netflix judge me again for how I spend my time than have exercise make me throw up again, physically or metaphorically. Why is it then that exercise can create so many benefits and happiness for us, in the long run (no pun intended), …

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How to help minimise stress and fatigue at Christmas

Christmas is always a mixed bag. Most people are never quite sure what Christmas will bring. It brings excitement and joy, traditions, sugar filled coffees, lights, festivities, friends, family, gifts, and parties as well as too much food, alcohol and just too much of everything that comes with the season. The mere thought of Christmas can quickly elevate our stress levels. The holidays are filled with extra activities which we feel bound to take part in, not only so we don’t let other people down but so we don’t let ourselves down and we can say we had a ‘fun-filled’ Christmas.  By the time the Christmas break comes, most people are already tired, stressed, juggling overloaded schedules and finding little time for themselves. Add the holiday extras and there seems no space to breathe. Here are some small steps to help minimise stress and fatigue. 1. Go easy on yourself Part of the stress and fatigue at Christmas comes from high expectations. There are people to see, places to go, gifts to buy and parties …

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Opening your heart…. with a crowbar

Sometimes opening your heart looks like a flower blossoming in the golden sunlight of a crisp spring day.  Sometimes opening your heart looks like acknowledging that person who smiles at you, even if there is an awkward tension between you and their situation.  Sometimes it looks like a hug from a friend, a cup of tea or dancing round the kitchen. Sometimes it means keeping  your gaze on that person who is speaking into your life, or letting the pain of losing a loved one flood in. Sometimes it’s continuing to love even when you have different connection goals within a relationship. Sometimes it looks like forcibly, and consciously keeping your heart open with a crowbar and letting the love and pain pour in even if all you want to do is drop the curtain. This has been my experience the past few months.  I’ve generally worn my heart on my sleeve, but I’ve also known how to keep my heart closed, at a distance and protected.  However, over this past year I’ve made a …

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Simple Raw Chocolate recipe

I’ve finally perfected my simple raw chocolate recipe.  After lots of trial and error (welcomed by me and friends) I think I have it. Ingredients: 70g of cocoa or cacao powder (no added sugar) 6 tbsp of melted coconut oil (I prefer Vitacoco Coconut Oil) Agave syrup/honey to taste ( I usually use less as I love dark chocolate) Method: Melt the coconut oil and mix with a little sweetener. Add in the cocoa, taste and add more sweetener if desired. Place some baking paper on a tray (depending on how chunky you want the chocolate will determine how big your tray is) Pour out your mixture and sprinkle on desired toppings.  Such as goji berries, cherries, raspberries, raw caramel sauce, desiccated coconut, almond flakes, bee pollen if you’re brave and fancy a digestive and immune system boost with a kick of protein. Place the tray in the freezer and leave for about 30 minutes.  If you can’t wait that long just leave it in the bowl, stir in the toppings and grab a spoon! …

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Mood Foods

It’s true.  I get in moods.  There I said it.  I’m not always happy go lucky, smiley smiley, loving life, keeping to my routine or schedule.  I get angry, down, frustrated, irritable.  It happens to the best of us.  Lets be honest. What is interesting is the ongoing research linking our brains and gut .  What you eat really can affect your brain and subsequently emotions, feelings, thoughts and behaviour.  There is a lot bigger connection between our brain and our gut than we first thought and our gut is often referred to as “the second brain”. What you eat can cause reactions in your gut, for example; inflammation, ‘leaky gut syndrome’, ‘IBS’, abdominal pain, bloating, nausea.  Not only that, but psychological factors like stress, burn out, anxiety, worry, disappointment can also cause cramping and digestive pain, which in turn can affect the brain.  If then these physical and psychological factors can have a negative affect on the brain, then surely then can be a positive outcome as well.  Learning to manage stress, anxiety and …

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Compound vs Isolation Exercises

Weight lifting exercises are categorised into isolation and compound exercises.  Isolation exercises use a single joint for the action to take place and it puts stress on one major muscle, for example, bicep curl (elbow joint), leg extension (knee joint).  Compound exercises are multi-joint exercises, using multiple muscles and incorporating the whole body for stabilisation during the move, for example, squat (ankle, knee, hip joint), chest press (elbow, shoulder and scapulothoracic joint).  The most powerful athletes train with compound exercises, yet bodybuilders will use a lot of isolation muscles.  They both have their place so which do we use? Compound Compound exercises have a lot of correlation to everyday function.  Compound training, as a whole, is a great approach to training as it not only strengthens and stresses your muscles, but your ligaments, tendons and joints.  You need to have a strong frame to place muscles on, and I’m not talking bulking I just mean general toning, you want to be strong all over.  These types of exercises require significant amounts of body stabilisation.  Due …

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Way Back When…

If you have read the my story page then you will know where I am currently at in life, and if you’ve read the  about page then you know what this site is about. How, though, did I get to this point in life at wanting to help people be healthy in every area of their life and not just be physically fit. I grew up enjoying being outside, I broke my arm at the age of 5 falling out of a tree and hitting it on a brick, I came off my bike at 6 as apparently the brakes didn’t work (I’ve hence learned a little bit of bike maintenance, common sense.. Oh and forgiven my parents) and I fell down a huge gravel hill at about 7 as the fence and ‘Do Not Enter’ sign intrigued me.  I loved cycling and grew up playing football. I dabbled at athletics but stopped after pretty much always coming last and never being able to clear the hurdles. I tried my hand at judo, as a kid, until …

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80/20 Rule

Why is it that sometimes a seemingly easy task can become so difficult and complicated? This has become the case with food and nutrition.  Sure, nutrition can get really complicated if you want it to but it can also be pretty simple.  The most common question I encounter as a PT is “My body has plateaued, why can’t I shift anymore weight?” As long as their workouts are effective we’ll then look at their eating habits.  Two problems I often seen are, clients either not eating clean enough or they’re being extremely strict then bingeing.  One effective way to get round this is the 80/20 rule. The Pareto Principle states that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.  This theory has application in more than economics and business, it plays out in our general lives. In this context, it affects the way we train. When people who work out frequently and mix between hard and active recovery still can’t seem to shift the weight they want to, the problem is often …

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CFS…. So what is it?

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome noun – a medical condition of unknown cause, with fever, aching, and prolonged tiredness and depression, typically occurring after a viral infection -a viral disease of the immune system, usually characterised by debilitating fatigue and flu-like symptoms Hopefully you will have read my previous post on CFS and are now asking yourself ‘So what is CFS?’.  Well, after much controversy and research,  what CFS is can’t fully be known.  How you get it and how it is cured is also not fully known.  There has however been significant progress recently and CFS is now recognised as a disease (read about that in this NPR article).  Some people have argued that it stems from physical conditions, others physiological and still others psychological.  However,current opinion is now moving towards the likelihood of CFS resulting from an interplay of all of these and is very likely a made up of many of symptoms and conditions. It is estimated that around 25,000 people in the UK suffer with CFS and not all cases are the same …

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How super are “Superfoods”?

In recent years the promotion of the “Superfood” has been evident not only in health circles but in wider spheres, reaching the general population. “Superfoods” are essentially foods which are deemed highly nutrient dense and they have recently become much more widely available.  The spotlight has turned suddenly to them and they’ve been paraded out in all their glory  to trample on the mere, less ‘superior’, everyday foods in a multi coloured display of anti-oxidants, vitamins, omega-3s and other bioactive compounds.  One might think they’d been hiding out together in an underground “super food” convention waiting to reveal themselves to the world.  Also of note is that most of them came emerged from some far off country which makes them even more “super”.  However, what wasn’t thought through before they emerged from this underground meeting was what really any of that means and why have they just become so prevalent?! There’s been a lot of controversy over said food group with many people stating that it is simply a marketing tool.  The effects of these …

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I need your help….

As far as I see it, if you’re on this site and have been looking around, then you are now part of the rawroots community which means you get to input.  Although a lot of this comes from my story and experiences, and ongoing story and experiences and although I have a lot of ideas for posts I would love to hear if there is anything specific you would like to know.  It can be related to any aspect of your health, whether it be a workout theory, nutrition tips, to how our brain and digestive system have so much affect on our bodies, to can my emotions make me sick, does my spiritual life really affect me physically and emotionally, or simply what is spiritual health.  Then please drop me a line and I will do my best to post about these issues and thoughts and I look forward to the conversations that may begin.

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12 Character Muscles // Social Awareness May

This month called on my social awareness muscle to get strengthened.  I’ll be honest, I’ve never really been on top of the news – watching it daily or reading the papers.  I haven’t been completely lost in my own world and unaware of events around me but I could definitely look outside of myself and my life a bit more.  I have, obviously, been aware of some things going on around me in my community, my country and the world but I’ve never particularly followed through on certain issues and I guess never really thought that I could make much of a difference.  That, I think is what Social Awareness May has taught me. It got me thinking again about a friend of mine who, with his wife and a team of people, runs a charity that tackles anti-trafficking and modern slavery.  I had the opportunity to visit them last year and was in absolute shock at some of the statistics and stories I heard.  This was all before actually meeting some of the girls …

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12 Character Muscles // Self – Control April

When I was about two years old, my mum thought she’d lost me.  She ran all around the house, up and down the stairs before finally coming outside.  There at the end of the garden she spotted the top of my head poking out above a bush.  She walked to the end of the garden and as she rounded the corner, there I was standing by the raspberry cane stuffing as many into my mouth as possible.  She looked at me and asked, “Hannah, are you eating the raspberries?”.  I responded with a shake of the head and a murmured “no”.  Not only did this response illustrate my courage at a young age, it also showed nerve and stupidity and some of these qualities may have persisted.  At this point I was covered in raspberry juice and looked like I was playing a much safer (and healthier) version of chubby bunnies, all by myself.  Yes, just keep shaking your head, she’ll never know. Self-control hasn’t always been a strong point for me.  It has definitely …

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12 Character Muscles // Self – Awareness March

March I’ve always been fairly self-aware.  At 16 I took myself along to counselling because, well, isn’t that what any 16 year old does?! I’ve always been a thinker, I’ve pondered and reflected, sometimes to my own detriment.   But what this month has made me question is what I am doing with all this self-awareness?  Having found flaws, characteristics and deep rooted issues, what am I doing about them?  I have a tendency to self-obsess over my faults and issues and to remain stuck there.  What March has taught me is how to start moving forward out of these and actually make progress with my self-discovery.  Unsurprisingly a lot of these character muscles work together and so forgiveness and gratitude have helped climb out of my self-made mires.  Forgiveness towards myself and past situations and thankfulness for what I’ve come through, what I’ve learned and where I’m going. Joy, hobbies and friends have also a key factor in growing in this area.  These traits work together to build health and all can be cultivated.  …

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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome… it’s a real thing people.

“I think a lot about chronic fatigue syndrome.  It’s symptoms sound awful, like a flu that will never ever end, that drains you and makes you an exhausting burden on your family and friends until you finally are just an idea of a person” Not That Kind of Girl, Lena Dunham Out of all the definitions of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) that I’ve read this has to be the most accurate, and humourous.   It beautifully explains how you physically feel in relation to yourself mentally and emotionally. You do get physical symptoms of flu, colds, feeling run down and drained.  No amount of sleep helps, or food.  You’re consistently tired and always want to sleep but I, personally, could not always sleep due to my hormones being flat out.  This is what’s known as “tired and wired”.   It’s not a tired that most people know, it’s a dull mind, bleary eyed, achy bones and joints, sore muscles, restless mind, feeling jittery, deadened emotions, confusion driven, always buzzing tired. It’s these physical symptoms which lead to …

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12 Character Muscles // Gratitude February

February “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity;  an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston Churchill I’ve always thought that I was a pretty grateful person, especially towards others.  However, it’s safe to say that from these first three weeks of gratitude I’ve come to realise how negative I can be and also how forgetful I am.  My default is not to wake up and be thankful for life and breath, but instead be annoyed that yet again (like clockwork) my alarm has gone off.  Although I (usually) feel grateful towards others I’ve seen that towards myself I’m pretty unforgiving and so not grateful at all.  One thing I’ve learned from my healing process is that giving yourself self-love, appreciation and worth is so important.   As gratitude and optimism have both been shown to improve not only physical health, but mental and emotional, giving gratitude a go sounded like a good idea. Like most characteristics gratitude is to be practiced and learned, it needs to be cultivated.  Sure, we all have …

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12 character muscles // Forgiveness January

As a Personal Trainer, and general fitness freak I’ve focused a lot on my physical health and bodily muscles.  But long before this I was interested in my character, in fact at 22 I proudly declared to my 38 year old coworker that I was more interested in my character than my career.  I’m pretty certain she thought I was the strangest 22 year old she’d ever met and proceeded to call me “Young Jedi”.  Anyway.  A friend of mine leads a fitness and leadership program called PayanX.  In his leadership program he talks about 12 character muscles: Forgiveness; Gratitude; Self-awareness; Self-control; Social-awareness; Passion; Curiosity; Ingenuity; Love; Resilience; Optimism and Heroism. So this year I’m joining him, and many others, to focus on one muscle a month.  Unfortunately I only just started so I missed forgiveness January, but thankfully I’m about to start gratitude February so I am grateful that there will be another January (or sooner) to work on forgiveness.  However, what I have learned about forgiveness, from either ignoring it or swallowing my …