My current happy lifestyles

Hello world. I’m sorry I’ve been so out of touch with this blog of recent. Last year I was working on and achieved my Look Wider & Commonwealth Challenges through Girlguiding, and due to the amount of time it took this blog took a backseat. Unfortunately, as a result I haven’t picked it up again as regular as I would like. So I thought I would check in today with a life update and how well things are going at the moment.

I was inspired to write this post as I was watching a lot of journal advice videos on YouTube. I wanted to start my own, but felt very strange about it. That led me to think I should just input all my feelings right now onto here instead! This post may be more of interest to future me than those of you who aren’t me that read this, but maybe you’ll find something of interest here.

Since February of this year I have been running regularly, which has been fantastic for me. I know now that I NEED exercise to live a happy existence. It is very noticeable when I don’t exercise how rubbish I become. I really started working on my fitness when I checked my BMI and I was 1 pound away from being considered overweight. And now, since May, I have lost over a stone. I’m loving running (hatching Pokemon eggs is an additional motivation) and I had an awesome run this morning! Smashing PBs.

I also realised a few months ago that overeating bad food is another thing that triggers me being rubbish. I had a huge pizza takeaway (I’m talking stuffed crusts, mozzarella dippers, wedges and all sorts of dips) and the next day was very difficult. It actually put me off my favourite takeaway for a while, and last time we had pizza we were both very careful with what we ordered. I also started eating salads for lunch at work, which I think has had a major impact considering I used to eat cheese sandwiches everyday. Our bread goes mouldy every week now. (Put it in the freezer!)

Another positive impact in my life is using a Bullet Journal. I started one in May as I felt my current day to view diary wasn’t working for me. I love my bullet journal. If you don’t know what that is please Google it, there is so much info online I’m not going to go into details here (but plan a post about how I use it in the future). I write daily lists of what I need to get done, check my daily intake of water, everyone’s birthday and special dates are there, and I use it to show gratitude, log my planking and make sure I keep up with my comic drafting. It takes a little time each week to draw up my weekly log but it is good to review where I’m at and ensure I’m not missing things.

I’ve also been meditating. I love to meditate for 5 minutes after exercising. I think it is having a positive effect on my outlook. I do struggle to find 5 minutes (yeah I know, right) on the few days I don’t exercise, but this is what I’m hoping to improve on. Then I can extend some sessions to 10 minutes. Just need to avoid being late for work!

In the last week or so I am starting to draw more. I am in the process if drafting my graphic novel, something I started in January, and I upped the number of pages I’m drafting per week from 6 to 12 and it is pushing me to draw more regularly. Some days I am just drawing very rough outlines but it is getting me closer to drawing the final pages. My other motivation is to post on Instagram every other day, so I need quality drawings for that.

I’m loving collecting and reading graphic novels. I picked up two today, Andre the Giant (I loved WWF as a kid) and Paper Girls. The first was something I wanted to buy earlier and didn’t, the second was an impulse buy following watching the awesome Stranger Things. I’m in the middle of reading Maus (I know, it has gone unread on my bookshelf for years) and it is an intense read but I’m breathing in anything comic right now. (That includes my 1996 Rugrats comics my Mum found in the loft.)

Brownies starts back this week. We had an awesome trip to the Science Museum this summer. Perhaps something I should’ve written about. And I’m going into this term determined to run a better programme. The plan is to run this term around taster activities from interest badges that the Brownies are interested in (while following You, Community, World and Promise activities) but I’m starting with a discussion on badges to get all questions answered, and then some pulse raising Healthy Heart activities for the first week back.

James and I have some adventures in the pipeline, both Paris and Reykjavik before Christmas so I should have some more inspired posts over the next few months. Plus my bullet journal and camp blanket are other topics to cover. I want to post about my favourite graphic novels too.

So there we have it. My September check in and everything is currently running smoothly, who knows what tomorrow will bring though!

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Coach to 5K plus – still a negative

The NHS Couch to 5k program is brilliant and I always recommend it to new runners. When I take a break from running I use it to slowly build up stamina again and right now I’m running 30 minutes three times a week. My pace has been getting noticeably quicker too. I’m roughly around the 4.5k mark at 30 minutes now. So this morning I got up and ready for my Wednesday morning run and saw myself flick through my ipod to the Couch to 5k plus podcasts.

5k+

Why do that? Why?

I remember this was a disappointment last time, but that was years ago and right now I was only running 30 minutes for a few weeks previous. Maybe this would help my speed.

No.

The Couch to 5k plus programme may be great for some people, but I was already too fast for this. The podcast voice-over talks about getting faster, and keeping up with the pace. But I found the same problems I have in December 2013 (a blog post I just re-read to see my thoughts back then). The same issue of the pace being too slow, the timings being confusing and the beat being over complicated for the musically challenged like myself.

I hate writing this, it feels like I’m saying I’m too good for this podcast, but it doesn’t come with any warnings about who it is aimed at – just 5k graduates looking to get faster.

Just a reminder to myself when I have these little ideas to try this again, please don’t. You will have a weak workout and feel you wasted the effort. Just DON’T do it!

April Highlights!

So I’m not updating the blog regularly, I wish I could but I also really wish I had time for a lot of things! I’m spending more time writing and drawing; even running Brownies has taken a hit the last 6 months. I will continue updating everything I did to complete Look Wider.

I opened up this new blog post though to discuss the month we’ve just finished. I’ve recently been following the work of Frannerd: http://frannerdsblog.blogspot.co.uk/ and I enjoy her monthly favourite things.

I like the idea of recapping the month, in the future I can look back on what I was up to at a certain time in my life. It is also a great opportunity to draw different things.

So no more introduction, here is my monthly highlights:

AprilHighlights

  1. Finally read The Walking Dead book twelve. James bought me this for Christmas (along with a volume every preceding Christmas for about 6 years). We didn’t realise 2 books came out last year so this was the wrong one! We waiting until we had the money then bought book eleven, and now I’ve read them both I’m so excited for the next one. The story is just so unexpected at times!
  2. I received my Commonwealth Award and Chief Guide Challenge badges! We had a district fun day this month and the county commissioner presented me with my sparkly badges. I’m so proud to wear them on my badge tab. (I know I should only wear one as an adult member, but I’ve never had the opportunity to wear both).
  3. I discovered a secret. One of the motivational speakers I listen to one YouTube suggested listening to motivational audio books in the car, I spend at least an hour and a half on the road on my commute so thought it was a good idea. This Secret though, it works wonders for me. Please check it out.
  4. I saw the Jungle Book this month, I really loved it. I love going to the cinema, it makes watching a film an event, and we spend a lot more time discussing it afterwards. I liked the hint of Bare Necessities but I didn’t think I Want To Be Like You fitted with the way King Louie was portrayed (and I LOVE that song!)
  5. I met a brand new human this month, baby Aaron! My friend Amy had a little boy and we went to meet him, he is such a cute little baby with so much awesome hair.
  6. I’m running again on a regular basis, it feels great. I hate myself when I stop, it is a struggle in the morning but 3 times a week is fair.

So that is my April in a nutshell (the good stuff at least!) I hope to create one of these posts once a month with the fun things going on with my life. The next one should include some Thorpe Park and Comic Con!

Fit for Life – Phase 3

Phase 3 of an octant is a long-term commitment and should take at least 30 hours, can include gaining a qualification or teaching something to others. My Phase 3 is something I spent ten months training for…

Phase 3: Train for and complete a 10k run

With all the training I had done with ‘Couch 2 5k’ I was looking for a new challenge to keep my motivation for running. I thought it would be a good aim to look at doubling the distance I could run.

I took up my training for the 10k run in September 2014, with an aim to run Race for Life in July 2015. This gave me plenty of time to train for my goal. I signed up for the race in January 2015 and was sent information on how to fundraise, what to expect on the day and my race number. At this point I set up a training programme, a mixture of strength and stretch workouts and gradually increasing distances. Over the winter it was difficult to keep up motivation for going out in the dark to exercise so I started including weight training indoors into the schedule to improve the strength of my legs.

As the mornings became lighter I started a new training programme using my Garmin Forerunner 10 watch to time and check the distance of my running. My aim was to run 5k three times a week, with a longer run on a Sunday to build up to my 10k target.

Before the race I only completed 10k on one occasion, on Sunday 28th June. I completed this in 1 hour and 9 minutes. This was confidence building for the day as I knew I could complete it.

On the day of the 10k run I attended Chelmsford Hylands Park for the start at 1100am. Starting the race was quite daunting as I didn’t know what to expect. I’d only ever run on pavement and hadn’t run on grass before. I found the first 5k quite easy, and I seemed to be ahead of time. The race became difficult between 7km – 9km and I struggled with the hills around this section of the course. However, when I reached the sign for 500m left to go I felt a boost of energy and ran at a steady pace to the finish line.

running

I completed the race in 1 hour, 1 minute and 29 seconds. I was very happy to finish in a time so close to the hour, and was surprised I must’ve held a very steady pace.

Through sponsorship money I raised £195 for Cancer Research UK. I covered at least 30 hours in my training for this event, running or working out at least an hour a week over ten months.

Fit For Life – Phase 2

Phase 2 of an octant should take at least 12 hours to complete, it can be a continuation of Phase 1 or something new. For my Phase 2 I tried something new, the running which I have previously written so much about!

Phase 2: Complete Couch 2 5k (NHS running podcast series)

I took up running in July 2013. I decided to start exercising to help relieve stress. However I began to notice my level of fitness changing, and I began losing weight too. These were extra benefits, but not my reason for starting this.

My first couple of runs did not go very well. I barely ran up the road and back. I decided to investigate online training plans to hep new runners. I quickly discovered the NHS ‘Couch 2 5k’ plan. This is a series of podcasts that can help anyone starting running for 30 minutes (approximately 5k) within 3 months.

Couch25k

Immediately this series worked for me. The first week consisted of a 5 minute warm up walk, then 1 minute run, 1.5 minute walk (in total 8 times) then a 5 minute warm down walk. This was a lot more manageable. The podcasts advice to take a day’s rest in between runs and to complete the podcast 3 times a week.

Completing week 2 I decided to buy some specialist running trainers, which were noticeably bouncier.

I started writing a blog about some of my runs, and this helped motivate me to continue. I have attached some of these blogs as further evidence of my progress through the programme.

A significant moment in the training was on week 5. The final run of this week was a 20 minute run without any breaks for walking. I was very proud the first time I completed this. I can remember thinking in the final 2 minutes that I wouldn’t make it, but just told myself to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

It was another 3 weeks before I hit 30 minutes, but this was also a big achievement for me when I finally completed the programme.

I will continue my training, using the three additional NHS ‘5k plus’ podcasts as help but also using my own music playlists.

5k+

Another challenge I have set myself alongside running is to attend an outdoor gym once a week to work on my arm strength. For these sessions I run 10 minutes to the park. Work out for 10 minutes in the outdoor gym, and then run another 10 minutes home. (Plus a 5 minute warm up and warm down walk).

I think the ‘Couch 2 5k’ programme is exceptional, and always recommend it to anyone who mentions they wish to start running.

 

First Yoga Practice

So for my Commonwealth Award (International Phase 3) I am learning about Yoga. I chose this form of exercise to help compliment my running, and also to improve mental health as well as physical.

I started my journey by researching the foundations of Yoga. Firstly, I didn’t realise Yoga was made of six branches, six different paths to pursue including Karma Yoga (acts of kindness that will eventually lead to a happy life). The form of Yoga I plan to look into is called Hatha Yoga and uses poses, breathing and meditation to aid a happy life.

This post really though is to track my progress following the first physical session. (All my previous learning was held within the missing USB, so I’ll come back to the theory later).

I came across an online resource for practising yoga, a website: http://yogawithadriene.com/

The first session I have completed was the video called ‘Yoga for Complete Beginners’. This is my very first step into practising Yoga, and this video was a calm and not threatening at all. The session starts in the sukhasana pose (or simply, with your legs crossed) this leads to twists and stretches from all parts of the upper body. Then poses such as table, cat and cow, which are done on all fours.

Other poses included are the mountain pose, downward dog, warrior pose 1 and warrior pose 2.

I liked this session as it was easy, the time went quickly, and it was a good mixture of simple poses to learn the basics, but also included some recognised poses like warrior to get straight into the asanas that Yoga is known for.

Reflecting on the session, I enjoyed stretching, the feeling in my body of stretching body parts that are often neglecting through day to day desk work, and even running. I also like the strength you feel by holding some of the bigger poses, and also the quiet of sitting in the simpler poses. Health wise, I don’t know how much effect that one session would have – but like any exercise I will need to keep it up to notice a difference.

8k in one hour

So I officially start my 10k training program on Wednesday and for my final run before I get started I went out and ran a slow hour. This was actually my second time running an hour, this time I used the 5 minute warm up as a slow run as part of the hour, opposed to my first time when I used it as a five minute walk before I got started. However, I ran a longer distance this time even though last time I walked 10 minutes on top of my hour run so it must’ve been some sort of improvement.

The first 10 minutes was fine, but from minute 10-30 was the hardest part. After passing the half way point the time seemed to fly by.

I’m also hoping this was my last run without a GPS watch. I’d been interested in getting one for a while but hadn’t really looked into a reasonable priced one. Yesterday, when looking for a Tumble Dryer, I accidently cam across a very well priced watch, but it was out of stock! But there was one in stock in a nearby store – but it had been set aside for someone else. It is out of stock online so I’m hoping this person didn’t pick it up yesterday so I can reserve it and buy it! Just waiting until 11am to find out.