E+E Column: Getting Moving

Over the last two years, I’ve been on a bit of a journey of discovery…into the wonderful world of fitness. Before you stop reading, give me a chance! I promise it’s worth getting into (fitness that is, not my somewhat random musings). For the previous 26 years of my life I had only a fleeting interest in fitness; I found pleasure in swimming, I liked the usefulness of cycling and I occasionally went through phases of running but nothing stuck. To be honest, once a roomate at university broke the news to me that running regularly wouldn’t cancel out my habit of eating 400g of mature cheese a week, I wasn’t particularly interested. I carried more weight than my body ought to and had a slightly unhealthy sugar (and cheese) addiction.

So what happened? I bought Dan a set of dumbbells and the equivalent of ‘weightlifting for dummies’ for Christmas 2014 and after seeing him get into it, thought I’d give it a try. Before I knew it, I had found a ‘sport’ that I really liked! I loved the feeling of lifting weights and increasing them week on week, getting a little bit heavier at a time. I felt strong and powerful. I started to add in some cardio in the form of running and HIIT (high intensity interval training) and it just seemed to follow that I adjust my diet to suit. I stopped eating all the reduced cakes from the coop that I could get my hands on and started thinking more about our dinners. I even kept lifting (safely) whilst pregnant with Elijah before the SPD stopped me at 7 months. If the me from a few years ago could see me now, I think she genuinely wouldn’t be able to believe it. I’ve never thought of myself as someone who’s really into fitness but apparently have become one!

And it is most definitely, for me at least, not a vanity centred thing. I’m not going to lie, I do like the way I look more now. But if that was the only positive effect I’d have stopped months ago. No, I like the way it makes me feel. I have more energy, my moods are consistently better and more stable, I sleep better (when the baby lets me!), I’m actually able to eat MORE food to fuel myself and I just feel all round healthier. I don’t even mind not eating cake so much (mostly), finding that I savour it more when I do have it. The biggest challenge has been fitting it into life with three small people in tow. But we seem to manage to do it mostly in the evenings and at the weekend take it in turns to watch the kids for an hour whilst the other one works out. I also love that the kids are seeing us look after our bodies and stay healthy, they are already keen to follow suit and that is probably one of the biggest gifts we can give them – modelling the importance of looking after our bodies, the bodies that carry us and keep us alive. The bodies we need for all our adventures. So, (and you can have a sharp word with me if this comes across as preachy – it’s honestly not my intention!), why not get out this week and find something that gets you moving that you enjoy. I promise you’ll feel better for it!

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Trusty runners seeing a bit more action these days…

E+E Column: Here Comes The Sun…

…and with it, my favourite kind of parenting – outdoors parenting! Everything seems easier when you’re doing it outside; the kids can be louder, they can be messier, they can run around without breaking things until the cows come home, they even seem to fight less. Sunshine and warmer days are nothing short of miraculous and the season of spending hours in the park, at the beach and in the garden is definitely upon us, at least if my kids are anything to go by. Even our shoddy little surburan garden has been transformed into a playground every evening this week with them only reluctantly coming in from the fading sun when it’s time for dinner or bed. There’s basically a patch of lawn possibly 8 ft by 2 ft, a similar sized bed of gravel, a range of plant pots, two sun loungers, some wooden planks and a water table. It hardly seems inspiring from an adults perspective but somehow, my big two have been managing to eek out hours worth of play from it all this week. And the tiny has been beside himself with happiness, toddling around and soaking himself at the water table three times before midday.

It’s not just the children that are happier though; all the adults and especially parents that I’ve seen this last week or two, seem to be as well. Our winter wasn’t particularly cold but it was very wet and very windy, hampering even the bravest of souls attempting to get outside. Cabin fever was rife and now, finally, we have all been let out, like a bird out of a cage. I even found myself optimistically (and possibly foolishly) organising a beach trip for this weekend with a friend and was pondering the potential for a barbeque. We’ll see how that one pans out…

And with the sun comes a fresh appreciation for the county we live in. With the moors and beaches aplenty within stones throw, I don’t think any of us need encouragment to make the most of our surroundings this coming summer, most families I know are chomping at the bit to get out, have some adventures and make some memories. On top of all this, it’s at this time of year that I especially find myself content with our decision to home educate. All children are different but mine (and a lot that I know) definitely aren’t designed to be inside, sat down, for hours each day. They thrive on being outside, on exploring and learning through seeing, touching and doing. So I will be absolutely jumping on any excuse to take our learning outdoors this summer. Whether that’s just workbooks in the garden or a trip out like today’s visit to Torre Abbey, we’ll be outside every minute we can. (And of course, if the weather now turns and we get another two weeks of gales and driving rain, it is most definitely my fault for jinxing it by writing this and I apologise profusely….)

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Eli embracing the muddier side of nature...