Fitness Rockstars: Exercise at home!

Lately I have found it quite hard to find time to exercise. I try to cycle to work but with the weather getting worse and the nights drawing in, I have not been doing it as much. I have also hardly run for the last 2 months.

I don’t really get on with going to the gym. I get bored of the machines and I just find it hard to motivate myself in order to enjoy my workout or want to go back.
I have always enjoyed running and cycling outside and somehow I don’t get bored doing that.

When Lyndsey told me we were getting a membership to JuliaBfit online gym I didn’t really know what I thought initially. It would be nice to have a resource to help me exercise at home but again, it is indoor exercise which usually bores me.

I decided I didn’t want an audience for my first workout so I waited for a night when Lyndsey was at work! I cleared  a space in the living room and I shut the dog in the kitchen, I got the site up on the laptop and set about trying to choose a workout

As I just wanted to try it out this first time I wanted to find something that would be an all over body workout and not too long to do. I settled on a programme called Ignite that offered 30 minute extreme fat burning workouts. I won’t lie – I was probably attracted by the beautiful blond fitness instructor who I now know is Julia Buckley who runs the online gym. She is insane (and evil – I will get to that soon).

So I changed into my fitness gear, put my trainers on, the baby was soundly asleep upstairs. Time to give this a go. I turned on the video and was surprised by the lack of an introduction. We were straight in. (There is actually an intro but I only figured this out afterwards).

The workout is pretty extreme from the beginning. There is a 5 to 7 minute warmup that involves high knee jogging, star jumps, squats, lunges and some floor work.  I was knackered before the warmup even finished!

It only got harder from there. There were 2 sets of exercises and I had to do each set 3 times.

Set 1:
Floor mountain Climber
Upright mountain climber
Sl Sprinter – both sides
Side to side pressup

Set 2:
Mat jumps
Switch kicks
Knee smash – both sides
Burpee Tuck Jump

The side to side pressup and the mat jumps and burpee tuck jump was definitely the hardest.  I couldn’t really keep up with those.

Julia was extremely good at keeping me motivated with all of her encouraging and enthusiasm for getting fit. She was like some sort of sadistic, smiley, energiser bunny!

Ignite

Despite only being a 30 minute workout I definitely felt it and don’t think I could have done much more. I could hardly walk the next day either. I am glad I did it it though and I certainly intend to try many more workouts!

You can also follow our journey with Julia, and the other Rockstars on social media by searching #FitnessRockstars

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. 

Fitness for Fatherhood: What does it mean?

Ever since I decided to start a segment on the blog dedicated to fitness related issues, and decided to call it ‘Fitness for Fatherhood’, I have been wondering whether I really ought to define what exactly that means to me.

fitness-for-fatherhood

To me, Fitness for Fatherhood is really just fitness for life. The ability to lead an extremely active and healthy lifestyle so that I can get the most out of being a father, and so that I can give the most to Erin to help her grow and develop and so that she, and I, can be all the happier for it.

However, I have also given some thought as to what areas I believe a father ought to focus on in order to be, you guessed it, fit for fatherhood.

Area 1 – Cardiovascular fitness
This I believe is the most important area of any fitness plan. Cardio keeps the weight off, it keeps the heart and lungs working properly and can also keep you alive if zombies come (Thank you very much Columbus). In terms of being a dad it means I will be able to run around with Erin at the park for hours, or take part in her school sports days. Luckily I cycle a lot and run a lot so my Cardio fitness is already pretty good. Massive room for improvement that I will hopefully see as I start to drop the weight.

Area 2 – Physical strength
Any parent will know that when you have kids you end up lugging, or pushing, a lot of heavy stuff around with you. Physical strength is obviously going to be important. I am lucky in that I am already pretty strong and my arms tend to gain definition quite quickly through dumbbell work at home. I believe you can be strong without hefting huge weights or looking like Johnny Bravo. It is important to give equal time to the whole body when it comes to resistance work for all over body strength.

Area 3.- Mental health and sleep
This is an area that is easy to overlook amidst the daily grind but is probably as important as the physical side. As a father I know I will need vast amounts of energy to cope with a little bundle of craziness that is a toddler and then later. I want to be the sort of dad who bounces out of bed to take his daughter to the park on a Saturday morning.- not one who tells his daughter no because I am too tired. I therefore need to try to take a good amount of sleep every night so that I am raring to go the next day.

These are just my thoughts about what Fitness for Fatherhood actually means. Stay tuned to hear about some of the exercise I have been doing and my short term and long term goals.

JuliaBFit Fitness Rockstars – Spotlight Interview

Recently we had the opportunity to become a part of the Julia Buckley Fitness Rockstars collective. If you haven’t heard of this before then this is what it’s all about:

‘The Fitness Rockstars are a collective of people with a mission to make the world a healthier, happier place.

We’re not professional athletes, or even what many would consider typical “fitness people”, but we all appreciate the privilege of having the ability to move our bodies and we’ve all experienced having our worlds rocked by the astounding difference fitness and health has made to our lives.’

I’ve never really liked working out in the gym but if you’ve read my Fitness for Fatherhood posts then you’ll know I really want to get fit again. Julia’s Online Gym is the perfect thing for me as I don’t have to feel self conscious about working out!

fitness rockstars

So, in order to get to know some of the other members better, Julia asked us to answer some questions for a bit of fun!

1. For me, fitness is all about: Staying healthy in order to prolong my life, and to maintain the ability to live as active a life as possible for as long as possible. It is also about having fun.

2. I get most excited to do my workout when: The weather is nice if I am training outside, or if I am training towards a specific purpose and I can see that I am making progress.

3. When a workout really pushes me to my limit, I think to myself: I couldn’t do this a year ago, I am going to do this again tomorrow and push that little bit harder.

4. I’m most likely to skip my workout if: I am feeling down for whatever reason, or if I don’t feel I am making progress.

5. In a group fitness session I’ll be the one who: Stays quiet but works hardest, in my own way.

6. The item of exercise equipment I’d most hate to go without is: My dumbbells as they are the only equipment I own.

7. The last thing I usually do before starting my workout is: Have a stretch out.

8. My top 5 workout music tracks are: Insomnia by Faithless, Wretches and Kings by Linkin Park, Till I collapse by Eminem, Any Dubstep, Coming Undone by Korn

9. If I start feeling meh about fitness I give myself a boost by: Signing up to a running race or cycling event. Find someone I can workout with.

10. The most important thing I’ve learned about fitness in the last year is: How hard it is to gain and how easy it is to lose.

If, like me, you want to do something a bit different, be sure to check out the JuliaBFit online gym for yourself and see what’s on offer! 

You can also follow our journey with Julia, and the other Rockstars on social media by searching #FitnessRockstars

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. 

Fitness for Fatherhood: No Magic Formula

It is fairly easy for most people to think about what they need to do to lose weight or to improve their fitness level. In theory, or on paper, the process of losing weight is a simple mathematical calculation – burn more energy than you consume. Many diets try to make it seem more complicated than that but it really isn’t – at least not to me.

fitness-for-fatherhood

Of course, I am no expert but I think if you stick to this basic premise – and try to limit your intake of saturated fat and sugar, try to have at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day, drink plenty of water, then fitness doesn’t need to be more complicated than that.

I think it is important not to cut out all of the things you like. There is nothing worse than feeling like you are on prison rations. There is no need to punish yourself. You will know where the balance is. A little of what you like can be what motivates you to be good the rest of the time.

Exercise is the hard bit for most people. Depending on your physical capability you may or may not be able to do heavily aerobic or cardiovascular exercise that is going to burn the calories and, more importantly, shift the fat. Running is really the best exercise followed closely by swimming as both use all of your body at once. Swimming has the benefit of toning as you go but I still think running is a better calorie burner.

Although I am rather on the heavy side, I have never completely lost my ability to run. So I will be able to really attack this thing, both with the eating and the exercise.

Now, the talk is over. Time to get fit for Fatherhood!!

(All views expressed here are my own opinions).

The Husband Files: A certain set of skills

During the course of Erin’s life, I can count on one hand the amount of full days I have spent completely alone with her. I talked about the reasons for this and my utter admiration for stay at home mums in my earlier post My Wife the Supermum. I now realise that it takes a certain set of skills to do what my wife, and plenty of other parents do.

Skills

When I wrote that post I had been feeling fears that I hardly dared speak about. I was scared about the damage being done to my relationship with my daughter due to my almost complete absence from her life during the working week. I no longer have this fear. Erin and I have a great relationship now. She seems to know the routine about when I should be home and what happens next (playtime, bath time, bedtime all with me) better than I do. She certainly gets mad if I am late home!

I wanted to write this post to talk about another aspect of parenting which I wasn’t really aware of until recently. The social side of parenting is scary as hell!

Lyndsey recently returned to work and her first day was an induction day 9.00 to 6.00.
I booked the day off work to be with Erin. We had a baby sensory class on that day and it would mark the first time I had taken her to a class without Lyndsey. I was quite looking forward to the class because Erin loves it. There is lots of singing and games and I love playing with her. There are also a couple of our friends who go.

As the class went on though I couldn’t help but feel that Erin would have got a lot more out of the class if Lyndsey had been there instead. When it came to taking part in the activities I found I was nervous about Erin getting too close to older kids in case she got hurt. I stayed back with her and didn’t really engage. Even when it came time to interacting with the other parents I found I was nervous. I was self conscious about how I must seem as a parent – scared that I would look a novice or have people judging me. This feeling is ridiculous because the people in that baby sensory class are all lovely. It is just a feeling within me.

It just adds to the admiration I feel for Lyndsey for everything she does. She takes Erin to 4 classes a week, every week.

I am sure that the more classes I took her to, the more comfortable I would feel. For Erin’s sake, I am glad that Lyndsey takes her and not me. I much prefer playtime at home.

Fitness for Fatherhood: An Introduction

As a new father, it is so important to me that my daughter Erin leads an active and healthy life. Lyndsey has been amazing at making sure Erin eats a wide selection of foods. However, I have always thought that the physical side will fall to me. That isn’t to say that Lyndsey doesn’t do anything active with Erin though. She does. They go swimming together and to yoga every week!

Fitness

As soon as I found out I was going to be a dad one of the first thoughts that crossed my mind was ‘Right, now I need to get fit. I want to win the parent races when Erin has sports days’. I want my daughter to think I am a superhero. Most of all, I want Erin to be proud of me, as I will always be of her.

Fitness

The trouble is that my weight and fitness has been a life long battle. As an adult, I have been extremely heavy and extremely slim. I have been everything in between as well.
At my fittest I ran the Edinburgh and Paris Marathons. I have also completed the National and Yorkshire 3 peaks challenges and the Cambridge to Norwich bike ride.

Currently, I am pretty close to my heaviest in terms of weight but I am reasonably fit. I can run about 5 miles without any problems, albeit a lot slower than I used to.
I cycle to and from work regularly which is 10 miles each way. I’m not really a serious cyclist but I do love cycling. There is no spandex wearing going on though!

Fitness

My biggest problem is food. I have always been a chocoholic and the food we tend to eat is not the healthiest most of the time.  We tend to be lazy when it comes to ourselves because we have little times in the evenings for cooking.

This Fitness for Fatherhood segment of the blog is going to be my chance to talk about fitness and health related issues. I will talk about the exercise I am doing, challenges I have planned and the food I am eating.

This is all about being fit as a father so I am capable of being as active as Erin needs me to be. Let me put it this way, no father will ever taken the egg and spoon race as seriously as I will!

Storytime Saturday: The New Teacher

Storytime Saturday a weekly blog feature showcasing any new books we’ve been reading with Erin, reviewing picture books and talking about our monthly library haul! Basically, Storytime Saturday is all about books! This week is all about The New Teacher by Dominique Demers and is reviewed by the husband!

Storytime Saturday

The New Teacher, originally a French novel, was published in English by Alma Books this year.
The book is written by Dominique Demers and beautifully illustrated by Tony Ross.

The New Teacher is the first in a series, called ‘Mademoiselle Charlotte’, the English series being called ‘The Adventures of Miss Charlotte’.

The New Teacher

The New Teacher tells the story of a class of children who are assigned a substitute teacher when their normal teacher goes on maternity leave.  It is told through the first person perspective of a girl in  the class. However, you never learn her name. The new teacher, Miss Charlotte, is noticeably odd and the class even suspects she could be an alien!
She is very old and very thin and dresses a bit like a witch, except that her hat is round, not pointed. Miss Charlotte talks to a pebble she carries around with her and is just very, very odd.  After the first day the whole class agrees that she is quite mad.

As the story progresses though you realise that Miss Charlotte is exactly what the class needs. Her unorthodox style is actually very effective. She manages to get the best out every member of the class and also makes school seem fun.  She even manages to get them to stop having fights, which had happened frequently before Miss Charlotte arrived.

The New Teacher is really funny throughout. I laughed out loud a couple of times, especially as the headteacher tries to find out what Miss Charlotte is up to. It actually turns quite touching when the truth about Miss Charlotte is revealed and the headteacher tries to have her fired. The class, in particular our protagonist, really steps up to save their teacher.

The illustrations really add to the enjoyment as you read. They are very reminiscent of Quentin Blake.

All in all this is a quick, clean and fun read for children but adults can enjoy it too.  Highly recommended.

The Husband Files: A puree virgin

Erin is now 7 months old and has been weaning since she was 4 months old. We were advised that early weaning may help the reflux that she was experiencing from bottle feeding. Up until the last week or so I was a puree virgin.

Puree Virgin

Lyndsey has been amazing when it comes to sorting our Erin’s food. Ever since we decided to start weaning, Lyndsey is constantly researching what Erin can and can’t eat and how to cook things. She has now literally filled both of our under counter freezers with blended fruit and veg. Such a selection too!

I, to my shame, had had no real involvement in it, other than to feed her occasionally. It’s not very often that I am home at Erin’s meal times because of work. I had certainly never been involved in the blending or freezing process (I know something happens with ice cubes but not sure what).

The other week I had my first go at pureeing, with Lyndsey’s guidance. First I peeled and steamed what felt like 300 pears. After blending the million pears I then had to squeeze it all into what I’m told are food pouches. This last bit was done using some sort of medieval torture device that we own. I have absolutely no idea what this thing was or where it came from. You will notice I am not exactly down with what things are called. We then peeled and blended some kiwi to mix with the pear. I

I will be honest. I enjoyed doing but was slightly disappointed by how little output we got from all those pears. In total we made 7 pouches and it looked like nothing. Lyndsey tells me that this is about 14 meals though at the moment.

I am glad that I am no longer a puree virgin. I half feel like I could do it again on my own.However, my pureeing experience made me very glad I can eat fruit in its whole, solid form. Blended fruit looks quite disgusting.

The Husband Files: My Wife The Supermum

As I sit down to write this, it is 7am and I am downstairs with my daughter Erin. She has been awake since 4am and has only just relented and gone to sleep. My wife is upstairs enjoying a well deserved lie in. It has come to my attention that she is, in fact, Supermum! I wish I could get her a cape.

supermum

To say this is a rarity is an understatement. As I work full time, often 6 days a week, I usually leave the house at 7am and don’t return until gone 6pm some days.  If Erin is awake before I leave I usually only get the chance to give her a quick nappy change, perhaps a bottle before going to work.  When I get home it is nearly Erin’s bedtime so the routine is that I do her bath and then put her to bed with a bottle and sometimes a story, if she stays alert enough.

The rest of the time the care of our daughter falls squarely on Lyndsey’s shoulders. This has not worried me up until now because both Lyndsey and Erin always seem so happy. Erin was ill recently and I saw Lyndsey struggle. I realised that she may be doing too much.

On a normal day Lyndsey looks after Erin while I’m at work. Most days they go out and do something. That might be Baby Yoga, Swimming, Baby Sensory or something else fun. When I get home dinner is normally ready or cooking away. Somehow Lyndsey cleans during the day. When Erin has gone to bed, Lyndsey starts work on other things. The blog is a big part of what Lyndsey does on an evening but she also writes reviews. Then there is the planning for Erin. Lyndsey makes sure that Erin tries new foods, has a well-balanced diet and purees the hell out of everything!

Flying at Baby Yoga!

Flying at Baby Yoga!

I hadn’t really realised what looking after Erin all day, every day really involves. During my week off work I really wanted Lyndsey to relax or to catch up on things I knew she wanted to get done. God, it was hard to start with.  Over the 7 days I was at home she woke up at 3am most nights. One magical morning she stayed asleep until 5.  Whenever she woke up my routine was the same . I would go downstairs as quietly as possible, give her a bottle, go to sleep on the sofa with her.  It seemed to work well.

Nap time!

Nap time!

I then had Erin with me for most of the day. She eats a lot! I didn’t realise that she eats or has a bottle every couple of hours. In between these times she wants to play… ALL THE TIME! I didn’t realise that Lyndsey and Erin do this every day when they are at home. Sometimes Erin would cry and I didn’t know why. That little girl makes no sense sometimes! Erin is also so used to having naps when it is just Lyndsey at home. She didn’t want to fall asleep on me. There was a lot of crying! Singing helped a bit thankfully.

The force is strong in this one!

The force is strong with this one!

I have so much respect for any stay at home parent and what they have to do.  It is so much harder than going to work. This week off really made me realise that Lyndsey is a Supermum. I’m not sure that I could do what she does all day. I have unwittingly been guilty of not doing my bit when it comes to my daughter or supporting Lyndsey with things at home.  I was so focused on working hard to try to improve our situation that I took my eye off the ball.  Not any more!

The Husband Files: Erin’s zoo adventure

Yesterday we took Erin on a zoo adventure.

2016-07-06 13.19.23

Due to my work schedule I don’t get to go on fun days out with Erin so I was really excited. I was able to take a half day off from work to go and meet Lyndsey, Erin and Lyndsey’s mum at Amazona Zoo in Cromer. It’s only a mile away from where I work so I was able to get there quite quickly!

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Erin has never been to a zoo before now so we weren’t sure if she would even like it. However, although Amazona Zoo is not the biggest there are some cool animals for a 6 month old to look at. To begin with, Erin wasn’t interested in animals as she just wanted to stare at trees! She seems to like the greenness.

Erin is teething at the moment and also the time we arrived at the zoo was her lunch time so she wasn’t best pleased.  Luckily we were all hungry so as soon as we arrived we headed to the cafe for lunch. Erin had a pre-prepared two course baby meal. Lyndsey’s mum had a cheeseburger. The food for the adults was great and the portions were very generous for the price. For three adult meals and a drink each it only cost £16.50.

Unfortunately, Erin is very predictable and we knew it was only a matter of time before she was snoring away.

It then became a bit of a case of speed zoo to try to show her as many of the animals as possible. She saw ducks, flamingos, warthogs, monkeys, spiders, snakes, and a few birds and others I can’t remember.

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She wasn’t all that interested until she saw the crocodiles, which she was fascinated by. That is my girl – interested in the nice, gentle creatures. Honestly, who likes crocodiles over everything else?!

Once Erin was asleep we went round the rest of the zoo and saw some pumas, cheetahs and parrots. Erin eventually woke up while we were in the gift shop, smiling away having slept through her first trip to the zoo.

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Lyndsey’s mum was extremely generous and bought us yearly passes as a gift. At least now we can take her back when she’s a bit more alert and will enjoy it more. Hopefully she can stay awake next time.