Infinity, Rock Bottom and Beyond: Review of 2018

Over the last 6 months I have been taking a mental break from my business. I didn’t realise this is what I was doing…it just happened. Of course, I was physically present but my heart and soul had taken a step away.

There has been no social events, no challenges, no blog posts, no newsletters, no coffee, no awards, no celebrations, nothing new.

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Surviving the Christmas Binge

Christmas...the time for eating, drinking and being merry. Have you had your first mince pie yet? Most of us over-indulge over the Christmas period and then make resolutions to do something about it in January. But why wait until next year? What about making goals now so you go into the New Year feeling fighting fit and ready to have your best year yet? Here are my top 10 tips for surviving the Christmas binge...

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#solidaritea

If you follow me, then you are probably very like me. If you follow me, then you are probably a mum. If you follow me then you are probably a girl who likes her food. If you follow me then you probably enjoy the odd glass of wine. Basically you are likely to be just a girl doing her best to remain fit, healthy and sane, as a full-time mum in a part time job...or something along those lines anyway.

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Review of the Year 2016

That's it. I just got back from teaching my last class of the year, Metafit, in the fog and ice, 1°C my car told me as I was driving there. 7 participants in total, far better than I would ever expect for the the week in between Christmas and New Year and more than double than this time last year...200% more, that's good growth right?? What a year. And I'm exhausted, more than I realised. I'm often the butt of many jokes at class, mainly aimed at my laziness, that I spend the whole time bossing them about and never really doing anything myself. Personally I prefer to call it instructing, i.e. my job. The truth is I never really stop working - always planning, plotting, designing, administrating - and I did truly need a rest.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not moaning, I have loved every minute and I can't wait for the New Year to begin so we can do it all over again.

If I had to sum up this year in three words these would be: Metafit, Gold Stars, Mud.

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January

The "new year new you" syndrome was in full force in January of course, busy classes, everyone working hard. At the end of the month we took Team Hope on a road trip to London to complete the Winter 10k, a now annual event on the Hope calendar.

February
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The first themed workout of year fell in February - as Valentine's Day was on a Sunday - and I treated the class to a special kind of Hope Fitness love...and lots of burpees!

Three years on and it was time to renew my Freestyle Fitness Yoga certification. I passed with flying  colours and became an Elite Freestyle Fitness Yoga Instructor. I'm still not a "proper" yoga teacher but that will do for now. I've been promising new material ever since, which hasn't quite happened but is definitely top of the ToDo list for 2017.

The first of the next batch of Hope Juniors arrived this month; baby Marnie. Mum Kirsty is one of my longest standing members. In fact Kirsty arrived at Hope Fitness (Buggy Workout at the time) when her first child, Alyssa, was 6 weeks old back in 2014.

April

In April, we had the first "active"social of the year. The choice this time was ringos at the local dry ski slope. Despite chickening out myself it was great fun watching everyone let loose with their blood-curling screams. Lots of fun had by all.

May

Although there are running events going on all year, the choice of events is much more prolific in the Spring and Summer. We had our biggest ever team out for the Kesgrave 5k, what is fast becoming a very important date in the Kesgravian calendar, and on our (my) doorstep. It's the 10 year anniversary next year and the organisers have promised bigger and better, possibly including a 10k.

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We also took a big team to the stinky mud of Insane Terrain, great seeing the purple Team Hope tops out in force. We were all undecided prior to the event whether we would do the 5k or 10k (you can decide as late as the end of your first loop) but I think all-bar-one everyone did the 10k.

May also saw our first Hope Juniors event with the EACH colour dash in Christchurch Park. We'll do anything for a medal!

Midway through the year I was in desperate need of a kickstart and I took the opportunity to relaunch my fitness and nutrition plan; the Better Body Plan. Twenty of us embarked on the 21 day clean-eating plan and collectively we lost a fair few inches between us (the actual numbers are eluding me right now).

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I was pleased to announce the purchase of a laminator, which revolutionised not only my life but also my workouts. The other big purchase was a snazzy new yoga mat - so pretentious that I have to spray it with water (filtered of course) to make it non-slip.

June

Just like the Queen, 2016 was a big year for Hope Fitness zero birthdays: Ali, Kirsty, Bridget, Rachel and Sarah all reaching one of the decade milestones (my apologies if I missed anyone - they are all so secretive). We helped Kesgrave celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday by putting on a Hope Fitness display at the Millennium Fields. I'm not so sure anyone noticed we were there but it was good to be part of a community event and something I hope we will be a part of again in the future (although next year we will have to miss out due my own big birthday celebrations).

July

Spring and Autumn are the time for the "active" socials, whereas Summer and Christmas socials are  there for us to let our hair down a bit. The Farmhouse was chosen as the venue, mainly because most of us are within walking distance (and honestly, the drinks are really cheap). A fun and interesting night out, highlights including a perfect headstand in the middle of the conservatory room and a hysterical bike ride home....

The second Hope Junior of the year was born, baby Ezmay, to the lovely Sam.

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The #hopefitnesssummerchallenge was back, tougher and stricter than the previous year. Bridget was well and truly knocked off her "most competitive" perch this summer by newcomer Gemma, an unstoppable force having practically secured the title in week 1, rippling with muscles by the end of her challenge.

And this was the month that Debbie nearly got her mojo back (#shehadherkitonaswell).

August

We completed the Ipswich Twilight 10k for the second year in a row. A road run around the centre of Ipswich starting at 7.30pm where the idea is to beat the sunset. I love this event but for some reason, this event always seems to be my nemesis. A stunningly pathetic performance by myself left me announcing my imminent retirement from running if things don't improve by May 2017....as of right now, my running career is teetering on the edge.

Debbie still hadn't found her mojo and the weather wasn't helping (#shestillhadherkiton).

September

A gaggle of us had an impromptu night out at the cinema to see Bad Moms, to celebrate the end of the school holidays. This was an utterly hilarious film that hit the mark with all of us, all sitting there with tears rolling down our faces throughout most of the film.

September was the big launch of Metafit - a 30 minute HIIT workout  - and probably the revelation of the year. It was just what HF needed to give it a much needed boost. Every month a slightly different workout with a random name and some new tracks. We started with Ape Shapes (all is forgiven Ape Shapes), then Big Buff (way too much jumping), Beach Bum (a firm favourite) and Levante Power. Now we're all looking forward to Undisputed in the New Year.

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Team Hope went on tour (I wish), a couple of them anyway, to New York no less. Look where these two bumped into each other!!

I also held my now annual "Free From" coffee morning, or Joyless baking party as it is now know, raising £50 MacMillan. The competition hotted up this year, with Carina taking first place. I have even higher hopes for next year now everyone's getting into the swing of sugar-free baking.

I'm still not sure if Debbie had found her mojo or weather Facebook was stuck in a loop (#itsatest).

October

The Autumn brought another "active" social night, this time we headed to Flux Freestyle, the new trampoline park in Ipswich. A good test of the pelvic floor muscles and I realised I'm actually completely rubbish at trampolining - those kids make it look so easy. Another one of Gemma's forte's!!

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One of the highlights of the year was the Whole Hog. My third year in row but this year was the biggest team I have taken there. Lots of newbies to obstacle races too. The weather was completely rubbish but we had so much fun. I personally was relieved to find that the most undignified of obstacles that requires you to haul yourself up and over a very steep slope, had been moved away from the spectators at the end and we completed the course with dignity very much intact.

Debbie - have you found your mojo yet???? (#stillnotsure)

November

This was the month of #toiletpapergate. Of all the Facebook posts I write this was the one that got the most engagement!! Over or under? What are your thoughts?

December
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It's no secret, I'm not a big fan of the Christmas period, or the C word as I prefer to call it. But this year with HF it has been pretty fab. We kicked off the festivities with a 5k Inflatable Santa run. Just to explain, the obstacles were inflatable not the Santas! And this event saw me adorn a red tutu and a Santa hat - that's a lot of embracing for me.

We went all out with our Christmas party this year; Moulin Rouge at Trinity Park. At what a fab night we had  - you girls know how to party!! Jen's performance in the Can Can was a particular highlight.

But that wasn't the festivities over just yet. We didn't have just one Christmas party but two! We finished off the year with our awards evening at the Black Tiles. This year I asked members to vote for their winners. The results were as follows:

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So that's it, what a year. I've probably missed loads out but as usual with my end of year post, I actually left it until the end of the year!

I promised more this year and I think that exactly what happened. The social aspect of Hope Fitness has really cemented the team and friendships within the team.

Next year will be more again, focusing on achieving goals and pushing outside of comfort zones.

Do I have any big plans?

Not right at this moment...I think I'm going to wing it!

Thank you to all of you for your support of Hope Fitness, and I wish you a happy and prosperous 2017.

Angela x

Healthy Snacking

I get asked, ALOT, about healthy snacks and I do believe that snacks can play an important part in a healthy style, keeping blood sugar levels up between main meals and curb over-eating at your main meals. However, get it wrong and you can quickly consume excess calories throughout the day. Here are some tips to healthy snacking:

Avoid sugary items at all costs. This includes sweet drinks, biscuits, cakes, sweets.

Snacks should never contain enough calories that constitutes a meal. 200 calories  or less is about right.

Have no more than two snacks per day; one mid morning, one mid afternoon. Snacking quickly becomes a habit rather than a necessity. If you are regularly grabbing snacks many times a day, perhaps you need to review when and what you are eating at mealtimes. Your aim should be to eat enough at mealtimes to keep you going until the next meal, rather than snacking.

Snacks should be a good balance of lean protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fat - too make you feel fuller for longer. Aim to add to your overall nutrition intake that you may be missing from other meals.

The simplest method to cut unhealthy snacking is to avoid having these types of snacks in the house. This is not always easy when you have a family but the best option for everyone is to encourage your family to have healthier snacks too.

If you're feeling peckish then have a glass of water first. Wait 10 minutes and if you still feel hungry then maybe you are. Sometimes the feelings of thirst can be mistaken for hunger pangs.

Be mindful of what you are eating rather than mindlessly grazing. Fill a small bowl or plate with your snack and walk away. Once it is eaten, snack time is over. Never take the whole packet with the intention of stopping when you've had enough - before you know it you've eaten the whole lot.

Don't snack in front of the TV or at your desk. Avoid all distraction so that you can focus on eating and enjoying your food.

Plan your snacks as you would your main meals and if necessary prepare your snacks in small containers so you can grab them on the run.

Need some healthy snack ideas?....

Healthy Snack Ideas

  • Chopped crudités (pepper, carrot, celery, cucumber) with guacamole, hummus or tzatziki
  • Oatcakes/Rice cakes with nut butter or slice of avocado & smoked salmon
  • Handful of mixed nuts or seeds and some dried fruit
  • Fruit with natural bio yoghurt
  • Dates and walnuts
  • Fruit juice ice lolly
  • Hard boiled egg
  • Plain self-popped popcorn
  • Small natural liquorice bar
  • Two squares of dark chocolate
  • Homemade vegetable crisps

A to Z of Clean Eating

A is for Alcohol

Quite simply alcohol adds fat all over your body, especially over your stomach, waist, thighs and bottom. It is the simplest and most fattening sugar of all. It makes your body store fat, stresses your liver so it can’t burn calories properly and makes your face look old and wrinkled!

B is for Berries

Berries are low in calories, high in fibre and they contain vitamins and minerals your body needs to function normally. They are packed with antioxidants and a highly beneficial compound called proanthocyanidins, which protects you against degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

C is for Caffeine

Excess caffeine stimulates your nervous system, causing your body to produce cortisol, a fat-storing hormone which helps the body respond to stress. Caffeine disrupts your sleep and lack of sleep encourages your body to store fat. On the plus side, Caffeine can help the body to burn fat and it’s great for digestion. Limit yourself to one cup a day of good quality, organic coffee.

D is for Dairy

Dairy is ok if you're ok with it. Many people find the lactose in cow's milk hard to digest, making you bloated and uncomfortably full. If you find this then you may be intolerant. Goat's milk is a good alternative as it is better for you and easier to digest. Other options include; unsweetened almond, oat, rice or hazelnut milk. Wherever possible buy organic. Organic milk contains more nutrients than non-organic and also contains more omega-3 fatty acids.

E is for Epsom Salts

Try taking an Epsom salts bath for 20 minutes, 2-3 times per week. The salts are full of magnesium and encourage the body to shed toxins quickly. Epsom salts are also good for boosting digestion and reducing cellulite.

F is for Fat

Eating fat is good for you as long as it is a good fat. Good fat prevents you from over-eating, burns fat and gives you a flat tummy. Bad fats include; anything with a crust, pizza, ready meals, shop-bought cakes, anything deep-fried, sautéed or breaded, fat on meat and salad dressings. Good fats include; nuts, seeds, oils, meat, fish, seafood and avocados. You should aim to have some good fat with every single meal or snack.

G is for Gluten

Gluten is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grain species, including barley and rye. Gluten is very hard to digest for most people and can cause indigestion, candida, allergies and coeliac disease, the side effects of which are bloating, diarrhoea, constipation and fatigue.

H is for Honey

A better for you sweetener than processed sugar as it is packed with calcium, iron, B vitamins, potassium and antioxidants. Moderation is the key here and honey should only form a small part of your diet. The best types to have are raw honey or Manuka honey.

I is for Insulin

Eating sugar causes a sharp increase in your blood-sugar levels. This increases the production of insulin, preventing you from burning fat and encouraging your body to store fat instead.

J is for Junk Food

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A 'junk' or processed food is one that has been altered from its natural state to make it cheaper, more convenient, more attractive or to extend its shelf life. This type of food is usually made in factories, stripped of its natural goodness and mixed with man-made additives and preservatives.

K is for 'breakfast like a King'

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it determines what you are likely to eat for the rest of the day. Changing the habit of a lifetime and avoiding high-sugar cereals and bread for breakfast will be one of the best things you ever do for your health.

L is for Lemons

Start your day by enjoying a glass of water with a slice of lemon. This is a great start to the day because it aids the removal of toxins, kickstarts your metabolism, reduces cravings for sugar and salt at breakfast and refreshes you after a long sleep.

M is for Massage

A regular massage helps to reduce cellulite by improving blood flow to the area and softening fatty tissues underneath the skin. Cellulite is created by fat cells that have bulged into the skin's middle layer, where they pull on connective tissue to create a dimpled skin surface. Try having a massage twice a month to really improve the appearance of your skin.

N is for Nuts

Raw nuts are great for snacking as they are packed with protein, fibre and essential fats. Have a handful of mixed nuts per day to get a wide range of vitamins and minerals.

O is for Organic

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Eat organic food wherever possible. Many people feel that it is too expensive to eat organic but it is best to do what you can afford and remember it is an investment in you longterm health. Organic food contains fewer toxins and additives and more health-boosting minerals and vitamins, which can help to make you healthier, stronger and slimmer.

P is for Positive Thinking

Feeling fat can make you feel fat and a negative body image can lead to weight gain. Think fabulous - celebrate your positive bits, eat healthy and exercise regularly. The rest will just fall into place.

Q is for Quinoa

Quinoa is considered a superfood because it contains all eight essential amino acids making it one of the most protein-rich foods available. It's rich in fibre, magnesium, iron and is gluten-free which makes it easily digestible.

R is for Reward

If you achieve a goal, don't reward yourself with food. As children, we are brought up with sugary foods being used as a reward for good behaviour, or to cheer us up when we felt sad. Teaching us that our relationship with food is an emotional one. Instead try other ways of yourself such as; a relaxing massage, a new pair of shoes you've had your eye on or a simple manicure.

S is for Sugar

Sugar is a highly processed, emotionally addictive substance that causes spikes in your blood sugar levels, giving you an instant energy boost followed by a big energy slump. Once eaten, your body finds it difficult to process sugar so it is converted into fat and stored. Eat too much and you will have high reserves of unwanted fat around the waistline in no time.

T is for Green Tea

Try switching to Green tea, which has a lot less caffeine than ordinary tea and coffee. Drinking four to five cups of green tea daily, combined with exercise, can accelerate the loss of fat around your waist. Green tea is rich in antioxidants, that can raise your metabolic rate, making it easier to burn fat. It also helps to regulate blood sugar levels, which means you'll be able to combat those sugar cravings more easily.

U is for yoU

Modern stress in a relentlessly busy lifestyle is bad for you. When we are stressed our body produces cortisol, a fat-storing hormone, which prepares your muscles for the "flight or fight" response. It also helps the body to release sugar into the bloodstream for instant energy. All these hormones and excess sugar eventually end up as fat around your waist.

V is for Vegetables

Forget five-a-day, eat as many vegetables as you can during a day, they are the healthiest food that you can eat.

A diet rich in vegetables contains beneficial antioxidants that help reduce your risk of cancer, stroke, and heart disease. When eating vegetables have as much variety in colour and texture as possible, think rainbow.

Try to eat local and in-season wherever possible.  It's better for you, it's better for the environments and it's more natural.

W is for Water

Water is the one thing that we can not live without. Keeping well-hydrated is one of the most, THE MOST, important things you should be doing for yourself. Two litres of plain, fresh water per day should be your aim (preferably filtered or bottled). It is difficult at first, you will probably find it a struggle to drink that much water during the day, however, it does get easier as it becomes a habit.

X is for Xylitol

If you are having a tough time giving up sugar then there are a couple of alternatives. Xylitol is a sweet-tasting crystalline alcohol derived from xylose, present in some plant tissues and used as an artificial sweetener in foods. Stevia is a herb that is 200 times sweeter than sugar, which you can buy in granulated form.

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Y is for Yoghurt

Eating live natural yoghurt every day helps restore balance in the digestive tract, critical for supporting your immune system. It is rich in calcium so great for your bone health and by eating more calcium-rich foods helps you to lose that excess weight, particularly around your tummy. Try a bowl with a few mixed seeds and a drizzle of honey.

Z is for ZZZ's

The quality of your sleep has a huge impact on your weight, appetite and food choices that you make. After a good night's sleep your body will crave clean, fresh foods. But after a bad night's sleep your body will crave sugar, fat and caffeine for a quick energy fix. The result of this is crashing blood sugar levels, sugar addiction and extra fat being stored. Take time to wind down before bed and aim to get 8 hours sleep per night.

10 Day No Sugar Challenge - Distract Yourself To Survive

When the cravings arrive, which they inevitably will, it's good to distract yourself with an alternative sweetness. Often sugar is simply a treat or a reward, so plan out activities that can take the place of the comfort you draw from sugar. If you're at work and feel like a snack, get up, make a cup of green tea, stretch your legs and get a breath of fresh air.

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10 Day No Sugar Challenge - Eat More Fat

You what? Did I hear you right? Are you kidding me? Not at all! Once you stop eating sugar, the best thing you can do is replace it with fat and some protein. Unprocessed fats and quality protein of course such as, eggs, cheese, nuts and coconuts.

There are two reasons for this...

1) Fat takes care of the craving for a 'treat' - which is part of the sugar addiction. If you replace your afternoon sweet treat for a fatty, protein-rich food you won't feel like you are denying yourself.

2) Fat and protein fill you up. They curb the cravings. Fat, proteins and carbs have corresponding appetite hormones that act as messengers to the brain to control your appetite. YOU DON'T GET FAT FROM EATING FAT AND PROTEIN, our bodies ensure this. We get full.

Some examples of good fats - coconut oil, organic butter, olive oil, walnut oil, animal fat and full fat dairy.

Fat activates your metabolism by synthesising several important vitamins, including Vitamin D. Eating (good) fat can help you lose weight...FACT!