Buddy Box Review

Earlier this month I received the September Buddy Box in the post.

Buddy Box is one of those subscription boxes a product which has grown in popularity recently often boxes filled with the latest beauty products – that you get in the post once a month, filled with products you don’t know you’re getting until they arrive.  The appeal here coming from not knowing what you will receive ahead of time, and getting to try new and different products you may not otherwise.

These boxes have a different purpose however.  They are designed to promote self-care, with each months box having a theme related to looking after yourself and taking some time out for you.  You can buy the boxes on a subscription basis or as a one-off box.

I first came across the company, Blurt, a couple of years ago when I was going through a period of severe depression and a friend gave me a subscription to these boxes – now every now and then I buy one and it gives me a little push to look after myself a bit more than normal.

Blurt, in their own words “exists to make a difference to anyone affected by depression. Being diagnosed can be overwhelming – there’s a lot to learn and plenty of prejudice to battle. Telling people is tough, and not everyone will understand. That’s why we’re here for you, whenever you need us, for anything at all.”  One of the ways they do this is by their subscription self-care boxes.

https://www.blurtitout.org/

This is what I got in the September box:

https://www.blurtitout.org/product/grotty-times-buddybox/

  • Bath bomb for the shower – I’ve not tried this yet but the Lavender smell is designed to help you sleep – something which can help you feel better when you’re stressed and down. I’m not a huge fan of baths so I like he idea of  a bomb for the shower.  I’m saving it for the next time I want a chilled early night – possibly this weekend.

  • 54 Self Care Idea Cards – A set of 54 cards- each with a self-care idea on them. The idea is when you need to take a moment for yourself you can pull out a card at random and try the idea on the card.  I’m not sure how well this will work if your already feeling unmotivated but I like th idea of small actions creating self care and it does take away the need to have to think of what to do away from you- which during low periods can help in iself.  These might live on my bookcase so I can grab them as and when.

  • How To Grow Your No map – A map guide of how to learn to Say No! Not sure how I’ll use this but it’s an interesting little guide into how you can build up slowly to saying no when you really don’t want to do something – a great tool for those who suffer from anxiety and find themselves saying yes a lot.

  • Peopled Out Door Hanger. Pretty self-explanatory but a cute little door hanger to brighten up a room.

  • 365 Days Self Care Journal – This is Blurt’s second book. A journal which you can use in any way you wish with the idea that every day you jot down how you feel to help you work through any low periods. I’ve not started using it yet but plan to get into the habit in spending a few minutes each day jotting to see what impact it has.

  • Magazine and Postcards – little extras to read / use as you wish.

If you’re looking for a little pick me up, or even a nice gift for someone else who could do with a bit of a mental pamper these make a great buy – whether it be a subscription or one-off purchase.

A Key Skill We Could All Do With Brushing Up On

Integrity – the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.

Fitness instructors (be that Gym instructors, PTs or Group Exercise instructors) are encouraged to demonstrate integrity towards our clients.

If you do not show a genuine care towards your client(s) and provide clear, honest advice – from goal setting through to working towards those goals you will lose those clients.

Sometimes this will mean saying things they do not want to hear- you will not get a six pack in 2 weeks just from doing some sit ups, lifting weights will not turn you into Arnie.  To do otherwise and suggest that you can help someone achieve unrealistic goals in unrealistic timeframes would show a lack of integrity.  But you also need to phrase this in a way that the client will understand and mean they still want to be your client (as opposed to a way that makes them think ‘well they can’t help me I’ll go and find someone who can’).

Equally – hearing what we think the client is saying rather than what they are actually saying, because we are caught up in our own misconceptions or too busy trying to defend our own beliefs, will in turn cause distrust between customer and service provider.

Therefore, demonstrating integrity – a key skill for fitness professional – essentially comes down to communicating effectively. 

To be an effective fitness professional you need to be an effective communicator.

Or the flip side – A brilliant product can be undermined by poor communication. 

Because if you mis-communicate your message people can lose faith in what you say – then even when your message is brilliant people will still question and doubt you – put simply the trust has gone.

As fitness professionals there are many skills we need to develop and always areas where we can expand and improve our knowledge – CPD is a wonderful thing.  I do think our skills need to go beyond pure fitness knowledge and we need to work on our communication and listening skills just as much as our squat technique in order to be successful.

I believe at school they called them transferable skills.

No matter where you work, in what industry, and even in our personal lives developing these skills can be massively useful in not creating unnecessary conflict – which is always a good thing.   

Twenty MORE things that you will know if you are a Les Mills Instructor…

  1. At some point you will have mimed out choreography in a bar. And your non Les Mills friends thought it was H.I.L.A.R.I.O.U.S. … Honest…
  2. This is where fellow instructor friends come into their own – because they will think it’s hilarious – and join in.
  3. Turning up to events in the same outfit as others is less of a fashion faux pas in Les Mills land compared to the rest of the world – in fact it’s expected.
  4. You will always find us in Nandos pre or post events.
  5. The shame of turning up at Quarterlies in Nike.
  6. You can practice an entire release of Pump choreography with your little finger.
  7. If you want to build the biggest back catalogue possible you should probably buy the oldest release on the portal first. But don’t take my word for it – if you ask Facebook at least twenty people will confirm this – the rest will tell you that release 12 was amazing despite the fact you can only buy as far back as release 72 on the portal thus rendering their advice pointless.
  8. Song lyrics are more controversial than you would think.
  9. The number for the office is 020 7264 0200
  10. Training biceps makes a lot of people suddenly need a wee (weirdly if you’re doing a 45-minute class clean and presses have the same effect).
  11. Body Balance is NOT a nice little stretching class. It hurts your legs… and abs… The people who tell you to go for a nice stretch are sadistic and probably the type of people who can do a headstand in yoga.
  12. A sprawl is a sneaky way of making people do burpees.
  13. You must be able to whoop and clap in tandem in order to pass Body Attack.
  14. You have to be slightly sadistic to actually enjoy GRIT.
  15. Body Combat instructors would be great to have around in the event of a fight as long as that fight was carried out to a eight-count beat with modified martial arts moves.
  16. You probably don’t want to be back late from lunch on a module unless you like push-ups or burpees.
  17. Can someone cover my Body Step class. TIA? I’m not going to say when or where the class is because that would be too easy…
  18. If you’re me you possibly though TIA was some kind of weird greeting like Kia Ora – took me about 6 months to realise….
  19. Same with FOMO…
  20. Touching noses with strangers is a thing.

The Art of Doing Nothing

On Saturday, I took a friend for a spa afternoon (hi Jane!).  We swam (well she swam I paddled), had a steam, chilled in the Jacuzzi and then had a Mud Chamber experience.

This involved using exfoliating salts and then coating ourselves in mud before chilling in a little chamber for 45 minutes as the temperature and steam increased.  There were no clocks – the whole thing was automatically timed for the showers to come on after 45 minutes of heat (they didn’t as it happens but that’s not the point of the story).

So, we were pretty chilled out after a lie in, leisurely breakfast and an hour by the pool and as we hadn’t seen each other since Christmas we had plenty to catch up on as we sat in the chamber.

But, you know what, 45 minutes (which eventually due to a malfunction turned into 75 minutes) is a really long time to just sit.  As time went on we both found ourselves remarking how strange it felt to be so cut off – we were chatting away but quite simply neither of us were used to just sitting still and doing nothing for an hour.

Of course both of us can sit on the sofa for an hour doing not very much of anything productive with the best of them.

But, we are almost always on our phones mindlessly scrolling, chatting online or maybe making a to do list or watching TV as we sit.

Put simply neither of us every really just sit, with just our thoughts, or even without our thoughts.  We constantly feel the need to fill time or occupy our mind.

I think it’ got a lot to do with Social Media- having a constant stream of information available.  Even if I’m doing something else I’m often multi tasking.  I fill my journeys, runs, time cleaning the flat with listening to podcasts, talks I’ve saved and want to hear, music that I need to learn choreography to for classes.

Whilst that might make me productive it also makes me very bad at switching off and stopping my brain from overloading – no wonder I frequently stress myself out.

Taking some time out when possible to sit and relax- be that via meditating or going for a walk and focusing on your surroundings or going for a massage and just focusing on the feeling etc. is actually a skill which I need to learn to be better at, because being able to take time out will ultimately be better for both my metal and physical health.

One for the Ladies

Solidly aimed at 50% of the population this one.  Sorry.

When I’m on my period I literally crave fatty, sugary, salty foods.  When you spend a lot of time trying to eat well this is pretty annoying so I’ve spent a reasonable amount of time looking into why and what I can do to try and make myself feel better (because I suffer from horrible cramps most months and bloat enough to feel like I may actually be pregnant with a baby Elephant) without giving into eating 10,000 calories of pure fat and sugar a day.

Just before and during our periods our Serotonin levels lower (less feel good hormones), our stress hormones spike (not helping in the feeling good department) and our bodies use more calories making us feel hungry more often.  It’s therefore not hugely surprising we want to comfort eat- but apart from eating too much of the crap stuff affecting your body shape aims (I won’t say weight!) eating too much sugar will also cause a spike followed by a crash and burn which also doesn’t make you feel good in the long run.

I’ve therefore been making an effort to read up on what foods will help make me feel better without having a negative affect on looking after myself in general to try and implement them more into my diet .

Foods To Eat:

  1. Water – Not really food but hydrating well helps keep skin clear, prevent bloating (the better hydrated you are the les likely you will retain water) and reduce cramps.
  2. Almonds – also sesame seeds / flax seeds- these have calcium in them and calcium (but not dairy) can help reduce cramps.
  3. Dark chocolate – A little dark chocolate can help relax muscles and so reduce cramps, it will also help release some happy hormones.
  4. Celery – Full of water but not full of calories so a good option if you feel the need to constantly graze!
  5. Hummus- This one may be a bit controversial. I have read that chickpea’s can help you sleep better and also help improve mood. I have also read however that they can be classed as a Legume and cause bloating so perhaps eat in moderation.
  6. Pineapple – Help relax muscles (less cramps) and reduce bloating
  7. Bananas – Helps relax muscles (reduce cramping) also contains Vitamin B6 which can help improve your mood. Banana’s are also good at helping to regulate the digestive system, which some women can have problems with during this time.
  8. Tea – Yes it has caffeine in it, but it’s apparently better for you than coffee (which can increase anxiety levels and cause you to and retain water). Other types of tea can also help: Green tea for instance provides a little caffine still, peppermint tea can help soothe an upset stomach, Chamomile tea is relaxing and can help reduce anxiety.
  9. Spinach / Kale- These Superfoods have Calcium in them which assists in alleviating cramps. They are also Iron rich (our iron levels can drop whilst we are on our period hence why we crave iron rich foods).
  10. Salmon – This is full of omega 3 and Vitamin D. If you can eat it the week before you are due on it can have an anti – inflammatory effect.
  11. Oranges – Provide Calcium which can help relax cramping muscles and Vitamin D (can help regulate your mood).
  12. Brocolli – Full of Magnesium, potassium, Calcium, Vitamins A, C, B6, E – Good for improving your general mood and fighting fatigue.

Foods To Avoid:

  1. Fizzy drnks – Can cause bloating, plus sugary.
  2. Processed foods – Tend to be high sodium – sodium boats. Making food from scratch can reduces salt intake).
  3. Fried foods – Can elevate estrogen levels.
  4. Legumes( – I mentioned this before – some things I’ve read say hummus can help, others say avoid Kidney beans, blackbeans et.c due to their bloating effect.
  5. Refined grains (- refined foods can interfere with blood sugar levels and regular control of appetite, so whole grains are a better option than cookies, white bread etc.
  6. High fat foods – Can affect hormone activity and contribute to inflammation (and cramps)
  7. Coffee – Can increase anxiety / stress levels and contribute to water retention.

Really, this list is not too different to the type of foods I’d want to eat more of / avoid at any other time of the month but if you tend to feel a bit rubbish at certain points in your cycle knowing how you can help manage those symptoms (painkillers and hot water bottles aside) thinking about your diet isn’t a bad starting point.

Note- I’m not a trained nutritionists this is simply based on my own research about something that affects me- I would always recommend you see a qualified dietitian should you need advice!

My Personal 10 Commandments for a Healthy Life

  1. Aim to hit a 20% calorie deficit across the week. Find a system for doing this and stick to it- don’t be swayed by new fads. My system is to eat to Paleo principles (not strict Paleo) 4 days a week and then allow myself three days where I can enjoy treats (read cake).
  2. Start your calorie week on a Friday. You are more likely to have a calorie surpluss at the weekend – this allows you Monday to Thursday to pull back and still hit that 20% weekly calorie deficit if that does happen and stops you feeeling like you are being overly restricted.
  3. Eat at least 2g protein per kg body weight every day (for me 160g). This will make you feel full, help your body recover from training and means Carbs and Fat will look after themselves.
  4. Drink 3.5 litres water a day (this is based on based on 30ml water per kg of body weight plus 500 ml for every hour of exercise – I just average out based on my normal training week).
  5. Drink a max of 3 coffees per day.
  6. Take a multi vitamin and fish oil supplement every day.
  7. Have a little bit of dark chocolate each day when on your period if you suffer with cramps (magnesium can help relax muscles reducing cramps, and sugar can boost your serotonin levels which can drop – hence feeling like you want to cry). I believe Kale can also help reduce cramping but for some reason doesn’t hold the same appeal as chocolate!
  8. Train in a way that suits your life and your week. I don’t lift as heavy as many and my sessions are shorter than most people I know – but they fit into my working life allowing me to stay consistent enough to see results. If it’s going to be tough one week to fit in your training – adjust your plans to feel successful.
  9. Stretch every day.
  10. Get up 30 minutes early and develop a morning routine that helps set you up for the day. I like to get some day light, drink a large glass of water and read a chapter of a book (as I don’t get much ‘me’ time during the rest of he day).

Credit – Ricky Long, who bullied me into most of these things – but they work!

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How to Guess the Season by your Group Exercise Class

I have two jobs so quite often do not see much day light / weather as I go from gym to office to gym day by day.  If like me you lose track of the seasons worry not – your classes can provide handy hints as to where you are in the year, rendering the need for a calendar unnecessary.

January – Every class will be fully booked with a waiting list of one million. You will spend 50% of the class taking the register and persuading people to share the kit around fairly.  You will not recognise half the room and everyone will be wearing brand new kit bought half price in the sales.  The air con will break but it won’t bother anyone too much because it feels like it might snow,

February – Class numbers start to settle and will be busy apart from one particular day when you will see a dramatic drop in numbers as lots of people go out for hideously overpriced set menu meals instead of coming to the gym.  The day after this happens make sure you pop to Tesco as there will be lots of half priced heart shaped chocolate available for purchase.

March – There will probably be about two inches of snow and your classes will be cancelled as the country grinds to a halt.

April – It starts to get lighter outside so numbers creep up a little, especially around Easter when everyone wants to burn off the 400 easter eggs and 500 units of alcohol they consumed over a 4 day period.

May – The start of the summer months.  You will know when it’s sunny because class numbers will drop dramatically and the air con will break.  If your gym is near a university people will start heading home for the summer.

June – The number of attendees will continue to indicate the quality of the British weather without you ever needing to step outside.

July – Is the air con working? Yes = It’s probably chilly today.  No = We are definitely in the middle of a heat wave.

August – You will still know whether it is raining or sunny outside by how busy your classes are.

September – The summer is over and familiar faces will start to return after months of spending evenings having BBQs and other outdoor activities.  If you are near a university a flurry of fresh faced people will start to arrive – and you will swear they look even younger than last years intake of students (they are not – you are just getting older) .  Every class will be full with a waiting list of one million.  You will spend 50% of the class taking the register and persuading people to share the kit around fairly.  You may be a bit confused at this point that January has come around so quickly then will notice that the air con is broken and it’s far to warm to be January.

October –It’s getting dark now and some people will start to hibernate. Numbers will start to settle.  It’s getting colder so the air con will definietly definietly work.

November – Numbers will continue to remain stable.If you have windows in your studio there will be no natural light – at any point of the day.

December – The ‘Sod it, it’s Christmas’ phenonomen means class sizes will start to half the day you open the first door on your advent calender.  Everyone who does attend classes will mutter things about needing to burn off all the mince pies as they enter and leave the studio.  You will start to see novelty gym kit as the big day gets closer.

World Cup – During the group stages you will know when England are playing because there will be a 50% reduction in attendance.  If England progress the number of people in attendance during any England game will drop dramatically until finally when the semi finals come around you can be relatively confident you will be spending an hour in a studio alone.  We will not even tempt fate by mentioning the possibility of England reaching the final!