With winter weather here to let us know, it’s going to be a cold one. Plus the cost of living & multiple strikes, including the NHS. Can provide a presidence in motivating individuals to review your own situation in ways to improve you &/or family/friends health, fitness & wellbeing within your means. Starting from a realistic viewpoint, even if it’s small steps. Because that theory of go big or go home is not applicable to everyone running the risk of burnout or unrealistic expectations if you haven’t factored in the how, when & what is my goal.
With many life situations that can change your route to a goal, you may have started. Be it financially, physically & or emotionally. There are always ways to give yourself that boost without hurting those purse strings or compromising on those initial goals & or aims.
Those like myself who have Raynaud’s (circulation condition) have that added element of keeping warm to reduce the occurrence of joint pain, stiffness, chilblains, muscle cramps (can be very painful for a sustained amount of time). With heating costs rising as with most of the general public, keeping the heating on all day & night is not a realistic option. But what we can all do is start our stretching within the bed. What better place to get started. No having to get up, get dressed & wash before doing any exercise. Some simple stretches whilst laying down (supine position) pointing & flexing the feet. Raising the arms & rotating the wrists. Also, what I like to call the grab & let go technique. When you close (make a fist) & open the hands out with finger’s spread out (jazz hands👐🏾).
Also, it is an opportunity to be comfortable & take a moment to just be either in a yoga pose seated position or a comfortable upright position where you can channel your breathing & relax your mind. Before you switch on that phone, tv & or off to work/study daily routines, etc.
Creating those small changes to an everyday way of living can create good habits that will become a natural action instead of feeling like a chore or getting bored with it. It will be equivalent to brushing your teeth every day because it’s good for you & serves a purpose for your general health.
Planning your exercise time within the time you switch the heating on. So you have a timeline schedule. Whether that is doing your daily chores or watching your favourite program, etc. Utilise an everyday activity to incorporate an exercise that may be part of a fitness goal & or for maintenance. I do this thing if I want to watch a film. I’ll do my exercise before it, eat etc. So I can relax & enjoy the film without any thoughts of oh no but I didn’t exercise & the film is 2 hours long blah blah blah 😂.
Routine is not a dirty word. On the contrary, it is so important. As there are two levels of routines. 1. The most widely used version of routine thrown about is you must have this perfectly laid out routine & if you don’t follow it 100%, you will not succeed. For example, you missed the gym class & then left feeling like you let yourself down. Which is pressure you don’t need & is not beneficial. 2. The version of routine I adhere to is having a plan/goal, but with adaptions or alternatives in place, which would allow for changes should they need to be changed but the main objectives of the routine is still the same & implemented daily. So motivation levels don’t fade away & help maintain the consistency in reaching the goals I had set myself.
I’m aware we do live in a social media obsessed world. So, it’s important to figure out for yourself if it is the primary focus of how you precieve your self to what you want for yourself. Do you want to lose weight (health/fitness) because that’s your goal or to lose weight because in your mind, according to social media & TV, etc. This is the standard of who you should be & or look like. Which is not realistic & a false narrative to create any goals or appreciate/improve/grow your own mind & body individually. To begin with, it’s about the doing & not wanting. You can want a toned stomach, but if you’re not doing anything to achieve it. Then it’s really your responsibility to make that happen. But with realistic expectations & strategies in place to work towards it.
But there are great free exercise challenges & active charity events online that you can be part of. This can allow you to join a group & belong to a community that includes your same interests & can provide extra motivation when needed. Also, if you have a fitness goal combining it with doing something for charity. Can give you that extra push/motivation to achieve that goal.
Like myself, years of Lupus SLE & chronic kidney disease (retaining fluid, kidney failures, medication) had taken its toll on my body. Where I have loose skin in areas such as my stomach & arm’s where the skin was stretched to the point of detaching from the muscles. So, no amount of exercise will produce the aesthetic look of a tight six-pack or tight buffed arms. But underneath it’s there & I’m okay with that even if everyone else can’t see it. As the main aim is, it’s still an improvement physically in strengthening my core & upper body, which was a goal. As I started off with very weak upper body strength & a flat back. Limiting the range of exercises I wanted to do (Yoga + Fitness) & general health (posture). The added benefits of having your own goals are that you gain confidence, not just because you’re feeling stronger but also because the physical change that comes as a byproduct of doing the exercise is you see & feel the change.
Seeing your life through your own lenses is very important. I’m not immune to once upon a time, not liking myself, how I felt & looked. Taking the words of others & media as gospel. But what I didn’t acknowledge at that time was it correlated with my changes in my unexpected health, sickness, medical diagnosis/symptoms that I wasn’t prepared for. I lacked the knowledge of how important my mental well-being was. It was all about the physical. Learning that the physical goes hand in hand with your mental state. Each either way has an impact on the other. Starting with my mindset. What do I think about myself. Do I love myself at this moment. Appreciating the positives about myself. What changes would I make (improvements in health, physical + mindset). Once I embraced that part of me. It vibrated & energised me, which extended into my external world. You could say it created a protective shell that couldn’t be penetratrated by any out of my control negativity. Be it words or circumstances.
Yoga & fitness, especially in winter month’s is so good for your general health. The opportunity to create/do exercises at home, which you can always transfer those skills/proper technique in a gym, work & or outdoor space, etc. For example, squats/yoga squats. Doesn’t require equipment or a large space. But it does require using the correct technique. Years of doing exercises wrong can cause more damage than not doing that exercise at all. As most can think, just looking at an exercise, you can do it, but no one can do it correctly if they haven’t been shown how to do it properly by a qualified fitness & or yoga trainer (trained in body mechanics + exercises + anatomy & physiology) with the knowledge also to apply adaptations/alternations. Plus, different types of squats require different applied techniques. The same as lunges. A particular yoga lunge has a back leg extended (straight) & arms raised. In fitness, your general lunge is both legs bend. With front knee up & back knee down. Both at 90° angles. Hands on hips for balance. (Upperbody upright centre). With many exercises using the squat formation/technique/principles within it. For example,’The Chair’ yoga pose, you are essentially moving into a squat position as you raise your arms + hands up on both sides in synchronicity. Also, the goddess pose + garland pose (variations). Use the same body mechanics + downward movement as in a general squat.
But with variations, the target muscle groups will be worked in different capacities. A big lesson I was taught when I learnt how to do a squat (correct form) was that when the legs are closer together (knees) face forward, you’re working primarily on the glute mucles (buttocks). When the legs are in a wider stance, you’re primarily working the thigh muscles. But the essence of squats is building that strength, which is beneficial in improving stability (posture) & mobility. For all ages & not limited in your approach or needs. Whether that’s using a chair, seat, or edge of the bed as a practice tool, a perquisite to building the strength (confidence) to do squats without any aids &/or using the already mentioned items to do your exercise because of a limited range of motion which could be for example age or illness related. As I have an issue with my knees (Lupus related joint issues), it’s far more comfortable to do wide legged squats. But if I’m in a park or at a class where there is a bar, I will utilise that opportunity to hold them & do a set of deep standard squats. It all comes down to what will work for you in what your aims (goals) are.
Be flexible mentally. Using myself in this example. My chronic kidney disease has progressed (due to natural deteriation). I’m at the end stage (stage 4) before complete failure. To maintain my GFR at 19-21%, it did mean reconsidering the amount of martial arts contact sports I loved doing as a self-confessed martial arts fan. I have been able to indulge in a fitness art form & learn new skills as a win-win for me. But to aid the maintenance of my kidney, it was essential to prevent the chance of injury. So not been an experienced martial artist or master my chances of blocking every move or submitting my partner, let’s be honest, was pretty low 😆.
Did It upset me initially? Yes. But the bigger picture was delaying the more serious implications of not taking responsibility to help myself maintain my kidney function for as long I could before ultimately having to be on dialysis & have a kidney transplant which comes with it another life transformation overhaul (changes). It did increase my interest in using my yoga for therapeutic uses as well as for fitness + health purposes. The word yoga has many different meanings I’ve found in wider society. For example, I advised my mother to do some yoga poses, which could help her with digestion. Her response was that I couldn’t do yoga because I’m a Christian. So the word yoga to her meant it was a religious practice that was not of her religion seen a betrayal. Yet if I had just advised these exercises could help with digestion, then there would’ve been no reason or thought to try it. So, explaining to my mother that the use of the word yoga in this context is poses, which are forms of exercises that have health benefits associated with them. I was naively shocked it wasn’t just my mother who was aligned with a particular religious group who had this view.
It’s the same as looking at a bodybuilder & assuming they are fitter than you, so prescribe to their method of training based on that. Without the consideration that bodybuilders aim (it’s in the title), it is to build the bodies (muscles + mass). So would they be stronger. Yes, but fitter or more healthy, probably not. Cardio (heart health) would be low on their list as this would encourage weight loss, which defeats the purpose of bulking up. There is an extreme process bodybuilders go through to achieve those physiques, which is not designed for sustainability if you’re exercising or using weights for fitness & health improvement reasons. So, while it’s nice to have visual aspirations or appreciation. It’s not a good idea to put that individual, method, etc, on a pedestal as your only source of information to apply to your goals. Which is common among people taking on diets that are not sustainable & could actually do more harm than good because a celebrity lost weight doing it. It does come down to the most important word, which I say a lot is taking responsibility & being realistic. Sound’s boring, but we can all say that a particular exercise didn’t work for me even thou it said get a bigger butt in two weeks. But did you consider where you’re starting from. If you’ve never done a butt exercise before starting it. Would it be realistic to have that toned perky bigger butt you were expecting 🤔. Like everything, it takes time. Put the time in & the results will come.
With chronic kidney disease as well as Lupus related illnesses, including aneamia. Aneamia, in general, causes fatigue. But with aneamia in circumstances where it has to be treated with epo injections because illness & or medication has meant your blood cells don’t have the ability to reproduce in time. So it’s not a simple solution to fix by eating more vegetables or taking supplements, which I must say been lectured by numerous people who have no medical knowledge of the type of aneamia I do have & medication which can conflict with a high intake in certain vegetables such as warfarin tablets. I have to limit my consumption of spinach & cranberries as they can raise my INR (clotting ability) beyond my range, 2 – 3. Above 3 can cause continuous bleeding, for example, if I cut myself because my blood has no blood clotting ability. It can be quite amusing.
Which is Lupus SLE as your prime diagnosis & not a medically induced lupus, which can be temporary once they source the trauma & medication used to treat that trauma is identified, which caused the symptoms that belong to Lupus SLE such as rashes which can be painful (typically on the face in a butterfly type formation), Joint pain & fatigue. But with Lupus SLE, it involves the whole immune system no longer working the way it does in others who do not have SLE. Because your immune system is attacking your body 24/7, not knowing the difference between healthy & unhealthy cells. So, fighting infections is that harder. Such as regular colds have the ability to progress into something more serious, quicker & easier. Also, the opportunity to attack organs is higher. There is no one way to predict which organ Lupus SLE will attack as, in my case, it was my kidneys (back in the good old days of having two kidneys 😆) I can laugh about it now but not so much back then. Some patients are their heart & some their brains. My lungs took a hit as the result of the puemononia, which I had so many times previous to it collapsing. But take into consideration all the medications that had to be taken to treat Lupus SLE & the subsequent illnesses that were diagnosed not just as a result of the illness itself but the long-term use of medications that technically kept you alive. It’s easy to see why Lupus SLE is a complicated illness to understand as symptoms are a shared experience. But how it can affect an individual can differ. Forgive me, I digressed (I’m passionate about this subject). Back to CKD (chronic kidney disease), fatigue is a symptom of kidney function (filtration) operating at a lower rate. So exercises that take low effort & preparation time to start are great to incorporate into your daily activities. The simplest form of exercise is walking around. Even if it’s just at home. Do minute walks. If you’ve got a garden, take a walk outside & or alternatively outside of the home to a park or other spaces outside of the home.
I would always have a set of exercises that consist of each exercise that exercises different parts of the body from head to toe. This not only benefits those with illnesses but also the general public. For overall health & fitness benefits, it’s important to exercise the whole body rather than isolated parts, for example, doing just stomach crunches alone to tone that part of your body is not as effective as doing stomach crunches along with a core exercise & or yoga pose that works that midriff area. A plank is a great exercise that can not only work on your core but also arms & glutes. Incorporating alternative plank exercises such as arm lift / plank pushup (very intense) you’re working out the upperbody. Drop your knees & can do yoga Cat/Cow. Then (yoga pose) extended puppy, child pose & to exercise the lower body downward dog/dolphin. You can actually exercise your whole body in one place & or area without having to adjust your surroundings. As with the plank position, you can turn up the energy volume to do a set of cardio knee to chest (jog), be it timed, or a set number of reps.
The main message is that even if you just want that perky toned bottom, as an example. Doing leg/thigh exercises as well as exercising your hip flexors & lower back will not only add positive benefits physically but also aesthetically because the glute muscles start at the top of the thighs, attached to the hips (sides) & ends at the tailbone of the back. So, toning the thighs will contribute to perking up that under butt. Toning up the lower back will create the illusion of a deeper arch, which makes your bottom look bigger when it’s only the lower back portion that has been toned (tightened) up. To give you a visual example. Have you done that pose taking a picture or in the mirror when you put your hand on your hip, push your chest forward & tilt your hips/buttocks backwards, which does make your butt look rounder than it does at regular times🤫🤭. I’m guilty of that. It’s not that deep. Everyone adjusts their posture when taking a picture to some degree. The point is that exercises work in the same way in toning, sculpting those areas to have the appearance naturally rather than just for those few minutes posing.
Let’s address workout attire & equipment since we are in the midst of a cost of living crisis. Of course, specific sporting & or fitness activities would require buying sport’s wear & or equipment that is needed for that particular activity. Such as ballet, boxing & weight lifting (resistance machine + large weight mass). These are just a few examples of activities where it’s a requirement (including safety).
But in general, there is no reason you can’t do yoga, fitness & resistance training if you can’t afford the latest running trainers, outfits & equipment. How many people have run out & bought a piece of fitness equipment that was used a few times & then discarded. Some because the novelty had worn off & others because it was more beneficial to do the exercise as a bodyweight exercise. With the equipment restricting the full potential of the exercise intended. Like the one for the abs. (abdominiser) turned out it did nothing to tone your abs. any better than doing bodyweight sit-ups, which was more beneficial in toning that area because you’re exercising the many abdominal muscles that make up the abs. Not just one type of ab. muscles, which the machine neglects, such as the deep ab. muscles (transverse abdominal muscles) because they require a certain amount of effort to contract those muscles. The equipment removes/dispenses some of that effort to the arms & laying your head on the head rest removes the effort from raising off of the ground.
Household items can replace light weights. Your average can of baked beans, for example, can substitute light dumbbells. Resistance stretchbands can be bought for cheap with the benefits outweighing the initial small purchase price. They are so multifunctional & can be stored or carried on your person without taking up storage room. Can be used for strength, stretching & as an exercise aid for the lower + upperbody. Towels can substitute exercise mats if buying an exercise mat is an extra expense. You’re not ready to spend on.
With clothing attire, comfortable casual clothing such as any t-shirt, sweat pants, leggings, etc. Is suitable to exercise in. One thing you shouldn’t compromise on is your trainer’s. Having the correct type of trainer’s or footwear is essential for your foot health & or preventing injury. So if you run, jog & or walk a lot, it’s worth your while to purchase trainers that support your feet (arch). The temptation to have the best-looking trainers, which are worn for fashion. These are not designed to support your feet. If the front of the shoe is narrow. It means your toes are squashed together. No padding in the shoes means your feet have no cushion to absorb any impact from any surfaces. With the many joints in our feet, it’s worth having the right footwear on. Outside, cover your ankles with socks/leggings, etc. Because allowing that part to be exposed, just let’s all the heat out when staying warm. Your ankles have vital joints that you want to keep warm, preventing cramps & stiffness.
We can’t forget the nutrition side of things when we talk about health, fitness & your well-being. But let’s not confuse nutrition with oh, I’ll go on a diet, take supplements, protein shakes etc. It’s always best to speak to your doctor or a professional health practitioner when making any dramatic changes concerning your food source intake. Asking them for advice can help with combining that with your exercise. Because if you start to exercise more than what you did previously before. Your water intake will have to increase. So, having a professional advise you on the correct amount means you have that knowledge.
Nutrition we can all be responsible for is our daily intake. So that being our breakfast, lunch & dinner. Also snack & treats, including liquids. Are you eating a range of foods throughout the day, such as fruit, vegetables, protein sources, etc. Is it balanced with any refined sugary goods, processed & or fast food (meals/snacks).
It’s not about feeling bad because you ate an extra slice of chocolate cake. But acknowledging yes, I ate that extra slice, so I will reduce my refined sugar intake today. For permanent changes. It’s doing those subtle changes. For example, if you had 2 sugars in your tea & or hot drink. Drop it down to 1 sugar. Then, drop it down to 0 once your taste buds have gotten used to not needing that sweetness. It’s conscious thinking when we eat something. For example, if you’ve reduced your salt intake. Your mind will trigger you into recognising something that is too salty due to you training it via your taste buds, so your requirements for the amount of salt you need are reduced. As many food sources already have salt & sugar added to them. It is worth looking at if you use food as your source of comfort. We all have that food that brings us joy or nostalgia. Maybe a sponge pudding with custard (yum yum), which is fine every so often. But if it’s the choice which you eat, when you’re sad, angry, happy & or disappointed. Then you can end up eating it more than 5 times in that week. It’s dissociating food from having an emotion that you deal with by eating & or drinking. The same as for example, I had a hard day at work, so I’ll have a glass of wine. But what if you have a hard week at work? If applying that same principle, you’ll be having a glass of wine every day. It’s evaluating what was hard about that day at work. What can I do to relax whether that is go for a walk etc. Before reaching for a food or drink source, it reduces any bad habits.
Are you eating foods good for your gut health. Porridge is cheap & can be bought in its natural state. This means it’s just 100% oats, no added sugar, salt & or preservatives. So, a small bowl a day can help provide that fibre needed for your digestive system to produce a healthy poo 💩.
With fruit & veg. Most supermarkets now have cheaper options. For example, I buy the Wonky range from Morrisons, so I’m having a third more of a product than just a pack of 1 or 2. Many supermarkets do their special promotions on fruit & veg. Some stalls will have great offers such as a bowl of bananas for £1. Potatoes are great. Because you can mash them, make chips, wedges, boil & or bake. There are so many different options from one bag.
I hope you found something useful in this piece that you can take with you or share. I’d be happy to hear your thoughts & ideas on anything I have mentioned.
For any exercise ideas, please check out https://www.facebook.com/G.ElliottServices All is welcome to follow/like/Join/share/book. I’m also on instagram: georgia_einstein. Twitter GeorgiaEinstein.
Professional qualified yoga, fitness & wellbeing trainer, instructor + sports coach.