Functional fitness means to me being able to handle real-life physically, be that digging the garden, changing the bed sheets or walking the dog or whatever your regular activities are.
As we get older it’s easy to get less mobile as joints stiffen up, aches & pains manifest themselves and moving gets more difficult. BUT it is for these reasons that it is really important to keep moving, to ensure you can get up off the floor or lift your grandchildren (or children) out of the highchair or car seat.
Whatever age you are, are you functionally fit?
Can you climb the stairs without gasping for breath? Can you get yourself in and out of a chair? Can you get into the bath? Or carry your shopping into the house? The list goes on ………
If the answer to any of these questions is NO, then its time to take some action. It’s not too late to address your functional fitness – start slowly; walk a little every day, join a class – Pilates is great. Get advice at your Doctors and have a look here at the NHS website for lots of health and fitness advice.
You may be attending a gym and able to lift weights or pull weights but does that translate to functional fitness? The gym machine workout isolates muscle groups, it doesn’t teach muscle groups to work together as they are required to do in real life activities. A good starting point might not be the gym machines but doing exercises in which you have to control and balance your own body weight.
Workout at home – no-one can see you or judge you.
You can gain confidence, mobility and doing bodyweight exercises will help your functional fitness. Join an online gym, I have been working out at home with this great online gym for a few years now, it is second to none. There are many FREE workouts but for only £6.50 per month you can access 4 and 12 week training programmes, over 200.workouts and a supportive online community. Bargain!
Being fitter will result in so many health benefits, you may be surprised to hear that your mental health and sleep are very likely to improve. What’s not to love about doing some physical exercise on a daily basis?
Functional fitness is important for your independence and long term health. Regular strengthening exercises and using the right technique can make the world of difference and give you the freedom you deserve, so take action NOW.
This time last year my life had been thrown upside down. When the man of my dreams decided it was over – no negotiating! I now feel I can share a little more.
Over 10 years ago I lost the love of my life and was heartbroken, after 5 years alone I thought I’d found the man of my dreams. He loved the countryside, was caring, loving, respectful and honest about the big things but not about broccoli!
I let this man dictate the pace of our relationship and (perhaps) I made a mistake. But we had fun and adventures; some fabulous achievements walking the Coast to Coast, the Cotswold Way, doing a Wolf Run, renovating and extending a house, rearing chickens……
Only to find 5 years on he doesn’t like broccoli and won’t compromise. I think I’d been incredibly supportive, amenable, compliant and giving but at the 11th hour felt it wasn’t reciprocated. We had an opportunity to move nearer to my family and business, this turned out to be “out of the question” and “there is no way I’m moving in that direction” and that brought us to breaking point.
This time I was not heartbroken (I had no tears left after the last time) but I was disappointed and sad. We had begun to build an idyllic home and life together, which is not always easy to come by in your 50s with all that life has already given you, and we were comfortable together.
The situation was hard and a little bizarre when there was no building up of little niggles to a big fallout. It appeared to come from nowhere. With hindsight I guess it was the right thing to move out and on. As I now reflect on it I’m angry, mainly with myself. My lack of strength to be in control of my own destiny when we were in the early days of the relationship. As I said in my Celebrating 2017 blog I don’t function well in relationships!
My family are very important to me – my Dad was 90 last year and won’t be around forever, although I am expecting a good 5 – 10 years more! My daughters are in their mid twenties and perhaps will have families of their own one day. I’m in no hurry to be a Grandma tho’, and when they do I’m sure it will be fantastic to be near them. In the meantime it’s brilliant to pop over for a cuppa rather than having to plan an expedition to see them.
Life goes on and the next chapter is underway. I’m not looking for the “man of my dreams” or the “love of my life” but enjoying life to the full. Stay tuned further musings of this 50 something fitness lover.
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I’ve always admired my Dad, his steady love of his family, his hard and unrelenting work and his stoical attitude. My Dad was a dairy farmer on a small tenanted farm, he loved his work, this life and community I believe. I have learnt such a lot from my Dad, I’m sure his approach to life has really shaped who I am today.
This week my Dad reaches his 90th Birthday! He lives alone, my Mum died 9 years ago having had Alzheimer’s through which he steadfastly cared for her, often shielding my sisters and I from what this dreadful disease was doing to their life. He is in good health, cooks a meal everyday from scratch and is still an inspiration to us all.
My Dad has a great garden, he even dug up a lawn to extend his vegetable plot! He grows lots of fruit and veg.: potatoes, carrots, parsnips, beetroot, cabbage, chard, purple sprouting broccoli, runner beans, french beans, courgettes/marrow, lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes (in his greenhouse), gooseberries, strawberries, blackcurrants, raspberries and rhubarb! This may not be an exhaustive list!
Dad then busies himself freezing or preserving (jam’s, chutney’s, pickles) his fresh produce, thus being self sufficient in this and having gifts for others.
In the last year he has asked us to help dig the garden at the start and end of the season, but he pretty much does everything else himself. He also has some beautiful fuchsia’s, that he and my Mum collected and cultivated. Along with some fabulous Bishop red dahlias.
Recently my sister defrosted Dad’s chest freezer, its contents along with the aforesaid fruit and veg was meat (he buys half a lamb from a local farmer) and game birds (a neighbour beats at shoots and brings Dad game birds…in full feather). The only supermarket products were oven chips and ice cream.
Dad’s social life
When the weather is clement he’ll go for a daily walk and I often find his social life is better than mine! One week in the autumn he was out for coffee on three mornings, lunch with friends one day, a wedding anniversary party (60 years, Dad had been Best Man) and then I was cooking a family Sunday lunch. Pretty good eh? Dad cooks a full Sunday lunch for my younger sister and her husband most weeks!
Celebrating 90 year of age!
So this weekend we celebrate Dad’s 90th Birthday with over 50 family and friends. Please raise your glass and toast my Dad this weekend!
Who inspires you?
Read my tips on having a healthy later life here, it’s not too late!
I am not a medical expert, this post is my thoughts and beliefs on a happy, healthy later life, and not expert opinion or advice. I have included links to professional bodies which may help you.
“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending” Carl Bard
How are you approaching old age?
I believe it is important and indeed our responsibility to look after our bodies and stay healthy. I appreciate that for some genetics may play a part in your health and mobility, you can still affect your health outcomes to some extent. Our mental health will impact our physical health and I appreciate this can be a huge hurdle for some. The MIND website has some great information and support for mental health problems.
It is not too late if you are in midlife or even old age, don’t accept illness or dis-ease, choose a fit, happy and healthy later life. The choice is yours. I believe your mind plays an enormous part here. It is important to learn to love yourself (read my blog on self esteem), be proud and you’ll find this makes it easier to look after yourself.
Healthy later life – Start today!
However old you are – THINK “It doesn’t matter about yesterday” – whether you ate a pack of doughnuts or sat around all day – everyday is a new day and a time to make a change or do something differently. Take a walk, consider what you are eating, and take 5 minutes to contemplate the day/year or anything really.
Choose a good balance in your diet, lifestyle and activity and your body will reward you with less illness and dis-ease. The NHS Choices website may help.
It’s important to look after yourself, and heading out for a short walk is an easy way to do it:
Women will experience hormonal changes during the menopause which can sometimes have very debilitating effects and a knock on to your overall health and self esteem. I believe it is important to recognise the signs and take expert advice to help reduce any associated risks such as heart disease or osteoporosis – this post has lots of good ideas for a healthy later life. Take a look at this great website from The Menopause Doctor a GP and Menopause Expert www.menopausedoctor.co.uk.
My Dad is 90 next month
His garden is full of fruit and veg that make their way either to his table, his freezer or a jam or chutney. His freezer also boasts cuts of meat and game; he buys half a lamb from the butcher and is gifted pheasants. The only quick or “ready” food in the freezer is oven chips and ice cream. He cooks his meals from scratch and bakes cakes or tarts regularly. As well as tending his garden he will try to take a daily walk, weather and knee permitting. He is certainly an inspiration or is that an aspiration!
Food for thought
I hope this post has given you something to think about, perhaps even inspired to choose to start to make a new ending. I hope so.
As I live in South Leicestershire Birmingham is “on my doorstep” and with no other plans for Sunday 3rd September I booked an early bird ticket. Only £5 with a goodie bag thrown in! What was not to love.
The Thrive Festival promised to be;
“A one day food & wellness festival carefully curated with LOVE to celebrate the very best of wellbeing where you can meet & learn from some of the biggest and most respected names in the wellness industry. Bringing nutritious and delicious fun to the heart of Birmingham.”
The format was a great idea, with a modest entry price and then paying for any speaker sessions you wished to attend, also reasonably priced. An all-in ticket was available too.
The speakers were;
“An exciting and inspirational speaker line up of some of the UK’s foremost influencers in the food, fitness and wellness scene”.
There were indeed a couple of people I really wanted to listen to The Doctors Kitchen GP Dr Rupi (see above) and Laura Thomas – a Registered Nutritionist who I’d know of through her Don’t Salt My Game podcast , a great listen if you interested nutrition, food, eating and wellness. Laura was speaking along with Plant Based Pixie, a plant-based veggie food and lifestyle blogger, scientist and nutritionist (MSc). I booked on to these two sessions.
Other speakers there including Dr Megan Rossi (gut health), Hollie Grant ( Functional Fitness “Strong not Skinny), Mary Lynch (sustainable food policy), Lauren Ames (Business Mentor) and Daniela Lawler (Children’s nutrition). So lots on offer.
Fitness tasters & Wellbeing Markets
In addition to the speakers there was fitness taster sessions including HiiT, hooping, yoga flow, hot pod yoga, physiolates…. There was a great indoor market with local and national wellness brands including handmade chocolate, clothing, cereals, seeds, cake and much, much more. The courtyard street food market was offering coffee, juice bars, matcha lattes and some great foods. A full list and links to contributors can be found here http://thrivefestival.co.uk/
My youngest daughter accompanied me and we arrived as the event opened, sadly it was a bit of cold, damp day but that didn’t spoil the event’s spirit. Although I could have done with an bigger sweatshirt!
Plant Based Pixie and Laura Thomas
At 11.15 we listened to the Plant Based Pixie and Laura Thomas who questioned whether; Has Wellness Made us Healthier? The presentation analysed some of the wellness industry claims and debunked some of the myths. This slide showed why this matters:
Here are some things I took away from this session, most of which I knew but you may not and they stand as a good reminder;
Products claiming detox benefits – don’t fall for the marketing blurb/scams our kidneys and liver are designed to detox our bodies and do a perfectly good job! Read more here .
Your body doesn’t know your foods! It doesn’t know if you’re eating a burger or bircher muesli, a doughnut or kale, What you body does know is the chemicals you have nourished it with and how it will process them, some foods being harder to process and having a more taxing effect on the body. Biochemistry!!.
Following this session we had a browse around the Thrive Festival market sampling things like porridge, chocolate, brownies and kombucha. We then headed for the street food for a coffee and some peanut butter on toast with delicious toppings. We only wanted a snack as we had booked on to a yoga session at 13.15.
We joined a Yoga Flow session led by the lovely Sara from www.barefootbirmingham.com it was a great session. My daughter is a complete beginner and I am a regular Yoga with Adriene participant. We both found the session challenging and relaxing in equal measure. My daughter found the benefits of yoga lasting for several days!
The Doctors Kitchen
From the yoga session we were straight into The Doctors Kitchen session with Dr Rupi, a GP with a mission to bring positive food intervention to medicine, aiming to teach GPs more on nutrition, elevate their knowledge and enable their conversations with patients.
Dr Rupi advocates evidence based food and lifestyle medicine (whole foods), here are some of the things I noted;
Nutrition – Mediterranean style diet with whole foods could be more effective than medication for some conditions. Read some of Rupi’s blogs here
Inflammation- driving diabetes, depression, chronic illness looking at your lifestyle in terms of food, mindset, sleep and movement could help.
DNA / genes -research shows that micro nutrient deficiencies (in some cases) will improve assisting the switching on and off of how the genes manifest themselves.
Lifestyle changes can help reverse chronic disease like type 2 diabetes.
Dr Rupi recommends high fibre, nutrient dense foods and to eat colourful with a plant focused diet. This is not an expensive option – be pragmatic. Shop wisely and use markets.
He also highlighted that sleep is important to good health, in the evening switch the blue light on your phone, have a digital detox 2 hours before you go to bed. Tune in with your circadian rhythm, it works best when you are sleeping well.
Sleep and food are the “winning formula” along with mindfulness and exercise. With the latter Dr Rupi says you need to challenge your body in different ways and there are many different portals to access a variety of exercise options.
The final point made by the Dr Rupi was that although the World is hyper-connected it is also disconnected (not eating around table) not to mention the effect of plastics on our planet and sourcing food more locally. The Doctors Kitchen concluded that science is complex, but the solution is simple: back to basics!
End of the day
We ended our day at the Thrive Festival after this session. We had thoroughly enjoyed our day, would highly recommend the Festival and we will return next year!
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Have you read my blog about the 4 pillars I belief you need to consider to improve your health.
I believe there are four pillars for good health. We all know that regular exercise will help us to have a healthier heart, reduce health risks and help our mobility (have a read of my Functional Fitness blog) but doing it is another matter. However there are three other things which are equally important, in my opinion, to good health and a happier life. They are what we eat, what we think and quality sleep.
Good Health Pillar 1 – Let’s start with what we eat.
You may be better placed spending your time looking in to this than paying out for something like Slimming World, Weight Watchers, Aloe C9 Cleanse, Joe Wicks (The Body Coach), Lighter Life or the like. These may help with support and motivation (see my thoughts on mindset below) but really developing your understanding of the basics of a good diet will give you lifelong sustainable skills not short term restrictive plans.
You have to look at what you are nourishing your body with as a long term life change; rebel against the modern society of quick fixes – they don’t exist and only send you into a spiral of despair when the results don’t come or are not sustained. Only YOU can lift yourself out of this cycle and YOU CAN. Take responsibility. Take control.
You need to develop a new and good relationship with food, it is not a crutch for your emotional state (if anything it fuels that cycle). Food is the fuel that makes our brilliant bodies work properly. It is the petrol for our car, and our car is the very top model, the very best, most exquisite, a fantastic feat of engineering – we should and will be very proud of it. But we need to look after it, putting the right fuel in will go a long way to getting it to run in Formula 1 condition.
Discovering what good food is and beginning to understand the detrimental effects foods can have on your body. Like thosecontaining too much sugar or processed foods containing many additives (chemicals) to make them taste good or keep longer. You can then change the balance and variety of foods you consume, this will have amazing results on your well-being. Just give it a go!
I know it is a “chicken & egg” situation, I believe having the right mindset is imperative to getting your head around eating well. You will find that as your body adjusts to this new fuel you will feel energised and motivated perhaps to tweak your foods even more or get out for a walk, swim or cycle. One will support the other and you will gradually feel happier, healthier and motivated to carry on this journey.
You need to be committed to make changes – whatever your motivation
health scares; breathlessness, racing heart, joint pains
aesthetic reason “nothing fits” , I’m not going to buy the next size up
social reasons; you want to join friends on that hiking/cycling/beach holiday
family reasons; I can’t play with the grandchildren or help my ageing parents
The reason will be personal to you, the solution will be personal to you and the resolution yours alone.
Good Health Pillars
I have written blogs previously on mindset and sleep, and often write about fitness and will be writing more about these pillars of health shortly, so sign up to get notified of my new blog posts – pop your email address in the box at the top right of the page. I promise I won’t be sending spam or selling my email list!
Osteoporosis is the condition whereby you are more likely to break bones, from falls or bumps, as the bones have weakened. Bones lose strength as the bone cell renewal is outweighed by the cell loss.
To explain that further, bones are living tissue and like all cells repair and renew continually to maintain healthy bone tissue. Until we are in our 30s the repair and renew is in balance. Then as we get older the balance shifts …..less renewal. There is a point at which this bone mass decline results in osteoporosis. Your Doctor can make an assessment and has diagnostic tools for the condition.
In the UK Osteoporosis affects 3m people. 1 in 3 women have broken a bone due to osteoporosis in her lifetime (wrists, hips, spine most common). For females besides ageing the “thinning” of bones is also impacted by genes, body weight, smoking, drinking and the menopause.
In the menopause with the oestrogen levels dropping, this leads to greater bone mass reduction making bones less strong. During the first 5 years of the menopause a woman will lose 10% of her bone mass and so increase their risk of developing osteoporosis. Read my experience of the menopause here.
A balanced diet! Calcium is important for maintaining strong bones. Sources of calcium are
Milk, cheese and yoghurt
Calcium-enriched milks such as soya, rice or oats
Fish that are eaten with the bones in, like tinned sardines.
Leafy green vegetables – cabbage, broccoli, watercress, kale
Beans and chick peas
Some nuts and seeds
Vitamin D (sunshine) is important for bone health as it helps to absorb calcium (see above). Our bodies create vitamin D from direct sunlight on our skin. In the spring and summer if you go outside for at least 20 minutes, three times a week, every week most people will get enough vitamin D from the sun. You can’t get adequate vitamin D from the occasional sunshine holiday!
Foods rich in Vitamin D such as fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel and salmon, cheese, egg yolks, red meat, liver and foods fortified with Vitamin D (some cereals and dairy products) will also help boost the correct levels of Vitamin D.
Stay mobile! Regular exercise is important for all adults. Weight bearing exercise and resistance exercises are great for bone health, improving bone intensity, bone strength and preventing osteoporosis. As we get older it is important to maintain balance and strength,
keep functionally fit!
Weight bearing exercises;
Running, dancing, skipping
And resistance exercises;
Press ups, bodyweight moves
If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis you must take advice from your Doctor before undertaking a new exercise regime. I belong to a great online gym which offers these sorts of training, take a look here
Also quit smoking and reduce you alcohol intake! For more information and advice check here
And finally consider Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) – Many studies have shown that HRT can help improve bone density and reduce the risk of fractures. The best resource to read more on this is here.
Diet, sleep, physical activity, relaxation (see my 4 Pillars of Health blog) are all so important for the best health outcomes…………….so let this be your badge of honour ” BE less busy”.
Last week my daughters and I traveled to London to Be:Fit Health and Fitness Festival at the Business Design Centre, Islington. My eldest and I had been to a previous incarnation of this event 5 or 6 years ago, at Earls Court, and had really enjoyed it. At that time she was getting into running, really interested in food and losing some weight. I’ve always loved to be fit and have achieved this in many ways over the years (previous blog post).
Be:Fit 2017 – work research!
Both my daughters and I are currently doing combinations of weight training, HiiT and cardio work. They regularly go to the local gym and I workout at home with Julia Buckleys online gym. We are all interested in real food, good nutrition and home cooking. With all this in mind here are my thoughts on Be:Fit.
In the last 5 or 6 years the fitness industry has exploded with the 20-something year olds social media phenomena, particularly You Tube and Instagram reaching so many people and colouring the market. This means this Festival was dominated by these “influencers” * and a predominantly young attendance.
Be:Fit Health & Fitness Festival for Women
This is no bad thing. I LOVE the message these ladies are sending out. They speak of empowerment, respect for your body, working out because you love yourself not as a punishment, eating to fuel your body and happiness.
We listened to Carly Rowena and really enjoyed her straightforward message. Carly acknowledged it is not “one size fits all”, you have to do what works for you and your body. Carly offered clear, sensible and sound advice with lots of options and alternative ideas for you to individually tailor. Similar messages were echoed throughout the day by the other social media fitness stars!
#girlgains preparing for their Be:Fit slot
I think the Health and Fitness industry is currently lacking some basic nutrition and cooking advice. Many people are ill-informed in this area and the current trend seems to be over complicating our food and nutrition requirements. This leaves Joe Public in a confused state. The Festival trade stands did nothing to help address this. Perhaps there is a gap in the Market for some simplification or basic nutritional advice.
The Fitness Studio, Functional Studio and Yoga Studio provided an opportunity to get your workout fix during the day. However the queuing and lack of clear ticketing arrangements (unless you’d purchased a VIP entry) was frustrating. Perhaps a deli counter ticketing mechanism would work for the Walk Up only events .We did manage to get into the #girlgains workout which was good fun.
Be:Fit Trade stands
One of the disappointing elements of the day was the trade stands, they were a bit “samey” . Too many “healthy” snacks, protein supplements, post workout drinks and not enough real food ( sorry Heck sausages https://www.heckfood.co.uk/) but two food/recipe subscription services! Not enough good offers to tempt you to purchase but lots of tiny tasters for you to try. The presentation was often dull, more variety and fun needed to be injected here.
KIND bars did have a great offer on!
Also in relation to the stands, more variety was needed. Where were the purveyors of weights? Resistance bands? Gym Balls? Also a more comprehensive range of active wear in terms of price range would be good. Fitness wear is very expensive and much of the merchandise at the Festival was prohibitive to the average girl (earning less that £20k pa). Particularly if they are on a weight loss journey and their body is changing shape continually! Not to mention – not everyone wears fitness gear 24/7 and they need other clothes in their wardrobe! The clothing needed to cover more than the workout crowd, and the footwear more than runners.What about crossfit, cyclists, swimmers, tennis players, yoga ….?
My Be:Fit Festival purchase – no special deals from Reebok
Finally I think the Festival and the Fitness Industry should wake up to the growing interest in health and fitness from the over 40s and 50+, a huge market with possibly a greater disposable income. Everyone needs to take responsibility for their health and fitness, and this sort of event is a fantastic showcase for empowering women and giving them the right tools.
In conclusion, this Festival was possibly marginally better than the one I went to a few years ago. I think the trade stands and the food/nutrition offerings were much better despite my misgivings. However on reflection some sort of hybrid of the two events would have nailed it!