Recently, someone asked me why I thought I was qualified in training people with mental health issues? Well, here’s the thing.  Besides the fact that I am seven months into a year-long Mental Health Exercise coaching course, I live with the big black hairy dog every single day of my life. I think that alone qualifies me in dealing with issues, especially as I have survived over 40 plus years of it.

Recently, my mental health has taken a dive and apart from using exercise and routine to manage my health, I have taken up drawing since the New Year. This drawing I did of Carnage represents how I feel about my inner gremlin or black dog, call it whatever you will!

A lot of the time I suffer in silence as I don’t like to burden others with my stuff and to be honest, I don’t have many people in my life that understand this BS. That is one of the reasons I jumped at the chance of doing the course I am on, the need to be there for others that need a safe place to train and talk, to provide some sort of empowerment.

Back to the point though, shit happens.  Recently my life had felt quite calm, and the dog left me (it’s such a relief when its gone) and I have felt like I have so much to look forward to, especially with a grandchild on the way (me a granddad – I was sure I was going to be dead by the time I was 23)!

Last week though the first signs of it coming back hit me.  I went through all my usual routines to manage my mind and my mood lifted.  It helped that I went to see Russell Brand in the week and being with other like-minded people and having a good laugh lifted me right back up there.

Then this week happened.  I was tired and run down.  Clients were messing me around dropping out of sessions, so my routine went by the wayside. During my own training session, I suddenly had the feeling of wanting to just curl up and die, to end it all.  I felt sick and tired of dealing with the dog and being in the pit of despair. I have no idea why it hit me then, but I put pen to paper and wrote down whatever came out of my head (which one of the many voices was it speaking today, what a nutter), put it down and went back to training.

After finishing what I was doing, I wrote again and this time I flipped it over and spat out positive self-affirmations. It didn’t go away but I felt better for it. I carried on with my day until my evening clients arrived for group PT, I put the mask on and did what I do best and acted as if.  Phew I got away with it again.  No one knew I was in pain. When I finished I was exhausted. Next day was a 5am and I felt like a different person; happy, confident and on top of it.

I have no idea why I am writing this other than to say we all suffer; even successful business people and athletes go through negative thoughts and depression and there is no magic cure (I wish there was). For me exercise, meditation, writing and gratitude have helped. I was always a functioning alcoholic and the same with regards my depression. I still show up and put the work in be that working for my clients, my family, or my own self-care. I have my non negotiables that I refuse to move for anyone, they keep me sane (I use this term lightly of course).

I am a million miles from ever being cured from this BS, but I manage it to the best of my ability. Some things work for me others do not, but I keep trying to improve myself and learn each day. The feeling of loneliness never goes away even when I am with the people I love and that hurts but I know they are there.

Don’t be alone, find someone to talk to find a routine to help you manage. If nothing else get out of your bed, make it, and take it from there, small things lead to greater things.

Love and peace


My arthritis and me …

I was diagnosed with arthritis just after my 30th birthday.

I had been involved in a couple of minor car crashes in my early 20’s which had resulted in whiplash and had suffered subsequent episodes of lower back pain and torticollis (a very stiff neck, where it gets stuck in one position)!

At the time, the recommendation was bed rest – usually two weeks bed rest accompanied by strong painkillers.  At the end of the two weeks, I was still in a lot of pain, felt depressed, had lost two weeks of pay and had no further understanding of how to prevent this occurring again.

Over the following years, I have flare ups of lower back or neck pain, again resulting in more time off work and having to rely on family and friends to help with daily chores and childcare. Then it was confirmed that I had Osteoarthritis just after my 30th birthday.

I was so worried about further flare-ups that I avoided activities which I thought might make it worse including exercise and I even changed career as I couldn’t manage some of the physical demands.

Lower back pain was my daily norm and frequent periods of my neck muscles spasming requiring strong painkillers and anti-spasmodic medication.  Again, my GP kept suggesting daily painkillers and sleeping tablets to manage the condition.

I realised that I had to take more responsibility for myself and find things that worked for me.  So, I tried a variety of different complementary therapies.  Some worked better than others but the trick seems to be regular monthly maintenance treatments to keep flare-ups at bay.

I lost some excess weight I had been carrying to take the pressure off my joints and try to limit foods which can cause inflammation.

However, the biggest change I made was to start exercising regularly!

Research was starting to suggest that weight-bearing exercise was beneficial and maintaining full range of motion of movements.

So, I tried various exercises and gyms but still didn’t stick with anything consistently.  Until I found ‘bootcamp’.

Despite being really unfit and inflexible to begin with, I persevered.  I would watch the clock intently and will it to get to the finish time, but I kept turning up.  Why?  What was so different that I kept coming back regularly?  The answer was I was having fun despite myself!

It was obvious there was people of all ages and abilities, but they all encouraged each other, and we had a laugh every session.  Everyone had exercises they found easier or harder.  Every session, I didn’t know what to expect because such a variety of exercises were used.  This meant, I couldn’t get anxious about it beforehand and just turned up.  With my various physical issues, I was given different options for each of the exercises so on a good day I could push myself but if the arthritis was flaring up, I could opt for a more manageable option.

Attending the sessions regularly, gave me the confidence to try other things.  I started a 0-5km running course, then moved onto entering 5km and 10km races.  Even entering a couple of Half-marathons and one Full Marathon.  I have also taken part in obstacle courses and proudly showed off my bruises to anyone and everyone the following day!  To me, this is my equivalent of a gold medal!

I still don’t look athletic or super-fit but my day-to-day life has improved dramatically.  Due to the increased core strength, I do not experience the debilitating back pain I used to.  The bodyweight exercises have helped me build up strength in my leg muscles which in turn mean I don’t have the knee problems I used to.

As I have a desk-bound job, attending the FUNctional Fitness sessions means I get to exercise outdoors whilst having a laugh with other like-minded people.

As I am getting older it is really important to me that I can keep taking part in all the activities I enjoy now and all the adventures we haven’t yet had including more world-wide travel and playing with our grand-children.

 

 

  1. Arthritis is painful.
  2. It may affect your spine, neck, hips, knees, hands and feet and even adversely affect your internal organs.
  3. It is a complex condition, with over 100 forms, which affects people differently.
  4. There is no cure but there are things you can do to manage the condition.
  5. There are a number of factors which can affect the condition eg the weather, your job, being over-weight or your daily routine to name but a few.
  6. Relief can be found using either hot or cold compresses or a combination of both.
  7. Although arthritis commonly occurs in the over 40’s, it can affect people of all ages including children.
  8. Arthritis accounts for one in three of all GP visits and every year millions of working hours are lost resulting in forced retirements.
  9. Injuries can aggravate the condition so ensure you have an appropriate exercise programme, for YOU, to reduce the risk of aggravating the condition.
  10. Movement can help … studies show staying physically active is THE most important thing YOU can do to help your arthritis.

 

According to NHS.UK, Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis in the UK, affecting over nine million people.

It often develops in people in their mid-40s, most commonly in women and where there is a family history of the condition. However, it can occur in any age group and be associated with other joint conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis or Gout.

Osteoarthritis affects the smooth, cartilage lining of the joint, making movement more difficult and leading to pain and stiffness. As the cartilage lining degenerates, the tendons and ligaments have to work harder. This can cause swelling and create bony spurs called osteophytes.

Severe loss of cartilage can lead to bone rubbing on bone which may alter the shape of the bones.

The most commonly affected joints are the spine, hips, hands and knees.

The weekly recommendation for aerobic exercise is 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity or an equivalent combination. Ideally this should consist of 30 minutes exercise daily, which increases your heart rate, preferably with at least three 25-minute sessions at a higher intensity rate.

“Exercise is good. But exercise intelligently,” says Bashir Zikria, MD, an assistant professor of sports medicine at Johns Hopkins University Medical Center in Baltimore. “Low-impact exercises, are smart choices … if you do high-impact activities, avoid hard surfaces and don’t do it every day.”

Multiple studies show that mild to moderate exercise is beneficial for people with arthritis. However, everyone’s circumstances are different, so it is vital to so an individually designed exercise programme, following a thorough assessment is vital.

For arthritis sufferers it is also important to get the right balance of activities which help maintain flexibility without aggravating the condition .  An area which is often overlooked, is range-of-motion exercises.

Range of motion refers to the ability to move your joints through the full motion they were designed to achieve. These exercises include gentle stretching and movements that take joints through their full span. Doing these exercises regularly can help maintain and improve the flexibility in the joints.

For anyone over 50, regular exercise, combined with a daily regime of range of motion exercises is vital to maintain body functioning to allow you to live life to the full.

Ring Paul on 0780 0780 039 to discuss an individual exercise plan for your needs.

I hope you had a fantastic Christmas and enjoyed some well-earned time off over the holidays.

We are now approaching that traditional time where many people start to reflect on the past 12 months and begin putting plans in place for what they’d like to achieve in the year ahead.

Have you started to think about some goals you would like to achieve in 2017 or some changes you’d like to make in your life?

If you have (or haven’t) then I want to share some advice with you… think SMART …

Make your goals as SPECIFIC as possible.

Make sure they are MEASUREABLE and TIME-ORIENTED.

Make sure they are ACHIEVABLE and REALISTIC.

Once you have done this I want you to ask yourself WHY?

Why is this important to you?

What would be different about you if you were able to accomplish them?

What is going to happen in your life if you don’t accomplish them?

Asking yourself these questions will help give you clarity and understanding on some of the sacrifices you are likely to have to endure to make these goals happen.

Feel free to share them with me, if you need any help in doing this then just reach out.

Best regards for 2017 and hope this will be your best year ever!

Paul Collins Fitness at Tuff Enuff 260915 start

When it comes to getting ready for race day or an event you need to be topping up Glycogen and hydration levels so as not to end up hitting the wall or getting cramps.

I tend to drink fluids throughout the day aiming for 2-3 litres of water (herbal/green teas included) if you are a coffee drinker then no more than 2 cups. You are aiming to have your pee a straw colour or clear.

My preference is to eat carbohydrates that are low GI so sweet potatoes are good and porridge or brown rice. Try to avoid fatty foods and alcohol (which acts as a diuretic). If you can tolerate it then look at eating wholemeal pasta with the addition of fish or beans, brown rice with chicken or tofu or Jacket potato with tuna or cottage cheese. Essential mix of protein and carbohydrates.

The day before a race my eating pan might be a little like this; porridge and berries made with rice and almond milk followed by scrambled eggs, mushrooms and spinach. My snacks will be rice cakes and peanut butter or oatcakes and hummus or nut butter. A baked sweet potato for lunch with some form of protein and plenty of salad or greens. Mid afternoon snack a protein shake or homemade energy/protein bar. Dinner might be risotto. You could eat pasta with a tomato based sauces or rice dishes (not a greasy fried rice, Indian or Chinese dish).

Come race day the focus again is on topping up the glycogen level, maintaining blood sugar and staying hydrated.

Through trial and error I prefer to have my main pre-race meal 2-4 hours before, keeping it simple with porridge and fruit made with low fat, rice or almond milk. Toast/bread with honey or jam or low fat yoghurt and fruit. For those of you that tend to get a little too nervous and feel that solid food is not going float your boat then maybe try having a meal replacement drink. Do not under any circumstances turn up with an empty stomach or you will not finish.

Two hours before try and drink 500ml fluid, not an energy drink (by which I mean the sort that give you wings etc.) but you could have a sports drink or make your own version. 15-30 minutes before take on board between 125 and 250ml of liquid. If you intend to have a coffee drink at least 30-60 minutes before hand.

One hour before the event have a smoothie, yoghurt drink, fruit, an energy bar, dried apricots or rice pudding.

At the end of the race be sure to take on board a recovery food/drink, can be a sports drink or protein shake. You could have flapjacks, granola or energy bars (try and make your own), fresh fruit, a sandwich roll or bagel with meat, fish, egg or cheese, or dried fruits and nuts.

To summarise for race day;

Low GI carbs, low fat, low protein, low to moderate fibre, not too bulky or filling, not salty or spicy, easy to digest. Keep it wholesome and real.

Fuel up well and you will have a good race. Neglect this and you will be cold and miserable and want to give up before you have even started.

protein, oats, pancake

This is a nice, easy pancake recipe for whenever you want a little treat or as a high-protein option for pancake day.

Protein pancakes

3 whole eggs

2 egg whites

1 scoop whey protein powder

1 ripe banana

1/3 cup oats

½ tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup buckwheat flour

1 tsp baking powder

Simply put all ingredients into a blender and mix. You may need to add a little water if the consistency is too thick (this will depend on your protein powder).

Ladle into a warm pan with a little coconut oil.

Cook on one side until bubbles start to appear then flip over and continue cooking, you want a golden brown colour to the pancake.

Serve and eat straight away with fresh berries and Greek yoghurt or sliced banana and a drizzle of melted dark chocolate or maple syrup.

The training has started in earnest but how best to fuel for the endurance season?

Most people think of endurance as just doing an exercise over a long time/distance. This is true but it is the effect on the body and how it copes with these extremes that can make the difference.

In essence there are two types of endurance muscular and cardiorespiratory.

Muscular endurance is the work of either one muscle or a group of muscles and their ability to maintain a continued force of movement without fatigue.

Cardiorespiratory endurance is based around its ability to pump blood and oxygen to working muscles therefore reducing muscular fatigue whilst allowing for continued performance.

To perform well we need to feed the body large amounts of wholesome nutrients, not only to help with continued performance but also to ensure recovery and good health. Imagine putting diesel into your petrol tank and driving off, it won’t be long before the car splutters and chokes to a standstill (yep I have tried it), the human body is the same. Feed it a low nutrient diet full of processed foods, then push it to the extreme and it’s going to get sick, performance levels will drop, fatigue will set in and recovery will take longer.

We all know that a well-balanced diet consisting of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fat is essential to keep our bodies in shape and to fuel us through daily life. When it comes to athletic performance, we need to take it to the next level.

Endurance athletes, be they weekend warriors or full time athletes need a much higher calorific intake than the average person to cope with the extra energy demands placed upon the body , the main fuel source of which is going to be carbohydrates to ensure glycogen levels are kept at a premium both during training and when competing.

As stated carbs are the main energy sources during endurance events and should not be under estimated. That said, the body can only store a limited supply, therefore the amount of glycogen stored in both the liver and muscles will dictate when fatigue sets in, we all know the term “hitting the wall” when it feels like you just cannot move any further and the body just wants to shut down.

As a general rule carb intake for endurance athletes works out at 5–12 g/per kg bodyweight depending on the amount of time spent training/competing. So carb intake should be 50–65% of their calorie consumption.

It is also essential to consume good quality protein to enhance recovery and maintain muscle. Protein is an essential building block for the body. Intake levels will vary for each individual but as a guideline the recommendation is 1.2–1.4g/ per kg bodyweight although in some cases up to 2g can be of benefit. Again this should be based around the training regime and daily calorific intake of the individual.

This is only a brief look at endurance nutrition, there is so much more that can be said about the role of protein and fats, as for carbohydrates which one is best before, during and after training/event day? What are the different types and how do the affect the body? Way too much for one blog.

If you want to know more or get help training, find me at

www.PaulCollinsFitness.co.uk

 

Why not try this delicious detox smoothie?

2 cups of spinach

½ bunch parsley

1 cucumber

2 sticks celery

1 apple

½” fresh ginger

½ lime, juice of

½ lemon,  juice of

Add water as needed to the juices and blend with ingredients to desired consistency.

If you like this smoothie, more healthy smoothies are included in all our Fitness and Tai Chi weekend breaks and feature in our Weight Management programmes – all available from Paul Collins Fitness.

 

detox smoothie ingredientsdetox smoothie

Many people will try a home detox in January, which is all well and good if you know what you are doing, but be aware that an un-monitored detox can be dangerous.

Here are a few natural remedies to the common side-effects:

Headaches

  • Honey and Water
  • Acupressure (use GB20, a point at the base of the skull in the hollow between the front and back neck muscles, located behind the bony prominence just behind the ear – you will know when you have found the spot as there is one either side of the head – and massage gently with your thumbs)
  • Peppermint oil – rub on externally. (Never consume essential oils!)

Constipation

  • Drink more water between meals

Nausea

  • Acupressure (turn your palm upwards and measure two thumb-widths up your arm from the base of your wrist, press here for 30-60 seconds between the two string-like tendons –do this whenever you need to)
  • Herbal ginger tea

Diarrhoea

  • Drink more water between meals

If you are going to go it alone, try to self-detox go for no more than one day, stay well hydrated and be very gentle on yourself.

Alternatively please give me a ring on 0780 0780 039 to discuss supported detox or weight management programmes.