Wednesday, 16 April 2014

How Good Is Your Back?

The long dark nights of winter are over and many of us will have been busy getting out of hibernation mode especially as here in the UK we have had some very nice sunny mild weather.

There is nothing quite like a bit of sunshine to get us into spring cleaning mode - we love to sweep away the cobwebs and cold and damp to make way for the freshness of springtime and summer.

We also often look to ourselves to do a bit of internal spring cleaning - some people may decide to go on a diet, others may just decide to do a fast for a few days, others will maybe decide to just clean up their diet.  However we decide to tackle this the fact that we have made a decision to focus on ourselves is always a good thing.

Traditionally spring is a time we clean our homes too and this sometimes brings with it a few problems depending on how vigorously we tackle the job.

I know people who spend hours taking down curtains, scrubbing carpets, painting walls etc.  Hmmm, bit too much for me really but each to their own.

I also know a therapist who always says that people who do spring cleaning make very good business for him.  You see he is a physiotherapist and he gets to sort out all the muscular strains and sprains that result from too much stretching and not enough warm up.

So here are just a few tips to help to make you focus on cleaning like a maniac but to keep your back in good shape for the summer to come.
  • If you have the desire to be taking down curtains then do not do this alone.  By having help to hold and lift heavy curtains you are less likely to damage yourself in the process.
  •  Just as you might warm up before hitting the gym, warm up before getting yourself into full stretch mode - cold muscles will damage far more easily than warmed up ones.
  • Do not stretch beyond your capacity - do not over do it or you will live to regret it.
  • When lifting heavy objects remember to keep your knees bent and back straight.  Hold the object close into your body and get help if it really is too heavy for 1.
  • Make sure you eat well and drink plenty of good clean water to keep your body healthy and fit.
  • If you do cause a sprain or strain then make sure you do something about it and do not ignore it.  It might just be a slight injury which means it will get better by its self in a few days.  On the other hand it might take a bit longer and be rather painful in which case seeing a physio or massage therapist might be what is needed.
  • One important consideration is to make sure that your furniture is good and supportive especially your bed - just remember that we spend about a third of our lives in bed and so being comfortable in bed makes very good sense for a number of reasons. Not many people change their bed or mattress as regularly as they should do - tut tut.  We recommend those wonderfully comfortable electric adjustable beds where not matter what aches and pains you have you will always find a setting that works for you.  Our favourite supplier is The Electric Bed Co where they have the wonderful Prestige Ambience which starts at just £349 - the trouble is with this bed is that you do just wish you could hibernate all year long.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

New Year Resolutions

I know that New Year has been and gone over a month ago - but some people are still feeling that the new year is a new start and they are still sticking to their New Year Resolutions.  I know that there are possibly even more people who started out on January 1st with all good intentions and by now those good intentions have been well and truly lost by the wayside and they are long forgotten a 'foolish drunken ideas'.

For those who are still on track - I salute you!

As I have been a therapist for 18 years I have seen hundreds of well meaning new year resolutions come and go and to be perfectly honest I see less than half stick it out to become a permanent change in their lives.

Also as a therapist I know how silly this is particularly when this is dealing with your long term health and wellbeing.  there are far too many people in the western world who do not regard looking after themselves in body, mind and spirit as an important priority.  Many people incredibly see going out socialising and getting their hair coloured as important and when the body starts going wrong and falling apart are all too happy to give responsibility for fixing it to someone else ie their Dr.

Such is the sad sate of the western world today - although it can be argued that as we have been 'nannied' by the governments for so long that many have forgotten how it should be to look after yourself and their is a generation or 2 of younger people who have never done this so they would not know how to if they had to.

So, you can imagine how delighted I am when I hear about young people wanting to learn ancient and old healing arts such as accupuncture, reiki, reflexology and more and more dowsing
Using dowsing to discover and explore the unseen energy world around us is a skill that is becoming more and more popular and to be honest one of my favourites.

Massage tends to be the most popular favourite, but often is only called for once there is a problem.  Instead of keeping the muscles in a good state of health and having a regular treatment most people tend to go into fire fighting mode and expect a fast fix when something has gone painfully wrong.  A regular back massage and learning how best to look after your spine is one of the best things you can do for good health.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Well, I Never Knew That .....

Well, I learned something new today - although not having needed this particular thing before I could be forgiven for not knowing about something I have never needed.

You see a friend of mine has got a great new job where she will be working abroad for the very first time.  To say she is excited is just the understatement of the year.

She is ecstatic not least because it means she will be working in a country that is hot (by hot I mean HOT) all year round - so no more horrible english winters with colds and flu and all that the cold and damp bring with it.  No more freezing mornings scraping an inch of ice off her windscreen before she can drive out of her driveway.

Nope, just sun and heat all year long.

Anyway, to come back to the point of this post.

You see to complete all the paperwork and formalities she has to produce her legal documents such as her passport, birth certificate etc. but what I did not know was that just because she has got a UK birth certificate does not mean to say that as it stands the new country will accept it.  Oh no it has to be legalized by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Oh dear - how on earth do you find out what to do about this?

Well, lucky her as she found out about a great company called Vital Certificates who actually specialize in getting all legal certificates such as birth, marriage, death, adoption, decree absolute etc. legalized and not only that if you should happen to have 'lost' one of these they can quickly and professionally get you a legal replacement certificate.

So, I learned something new which will be very useful to me should I decide to seek employment abroad in a warmer place than cold and damp blighty.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Warm For Winter


The weather has changed with a vengeance - everything I hate about living in the UK.

It is cold, wet, dark and only October :(

Just the time of year where you decide it is time to switch on your heating to discover that the boiler is broken and the radiators leak.

Which is why we should be more like boy (and girl) scouts and 'be prepared'!

How many people can put their hands in the air and admit to testing all of these things whilst the weather is still ok? (not going to say good here as it is not often that here).

I know, it seems to be a bit of a waste to turn on the heating when the weather is mild especially as the cost of gas and electricity is so high these days.  But surely it is better to do this for a few hours than to discover on a cold dark wet Sunday night that things are not working quite as you hoped?

So, lecture over - what else can we do to make sure that we stay warm and dry this winter and for the minimum cost?

  • Make sure that all our warm winter jumpers are clean and ready - layer up and add more clothes.
  • Buy a second duvet to put on top of the one you already have to save you needing to put heating on in the bedroom.  Not healthy anyway having a warm stuffy bedroom.
  •  Make sure that your loft insulation is as thick as it can be - no point heating your roof and the sky above is there?
  • Are you windows and doors all draft proofed?
  • Have you got double glazing?  No point losing precious energy through single paned windows doors and conservatories.
  • Have you got a good recipe book for soups and stews?  Take time to learn new recipes and to use new ingredients.
  • Have you got a good pair of walking boots to go out for a nice brisk walk to get the blood pumping round your body?
  • Make sure to get a regular hot stones massage - nothing quite like it for warming you to the core. 
  • Make sure that you make a conscious decision to work from home in the coming new year.  You can become a virtual online assistant or provide online marketing services or something similar then you can work from your bed enjoying the view from your window.
Just a few suggestions to help to keep you warm and healthy and to help to keep your heating bills down to a minimum as they continue to rocket skywards ever more.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Ways To Stay Healthy In Winter

Here we go again - no sooner have I packed my holiday suitcase with beach and holiday clothes back on the top of the wardrobe than the weather takes a turn.  Not that it needed to turn too much after the summer (or lack of it) we have had this year here in the UK.
Blimey, I think I wore my cropped trousers 3 times and my jumper or a fleece most days.

However, at least the weather was mild enough to be outside to get some fresh air and exercise.  We went for some really great walks (actually the weather was perfect for walking - not too hot and not too wet and cold - just right).  We went out on our bikes and again the weather was just right.  We went to the gym and to the pool - so all in all despite the lack of lounging in the sun type weather we had a good summer.

But, back to the autumn.  The season of settling in and hibernation, the season for getting those last few outside jobs done and the season for getting those nice warm socks out and hats and gloves ready for the ice and frost to come.  I actually love autumn - I love all the seasons for very different reasons but if I had to pick a favourite I reckon it would be autumn.

I love to smell that woody, damp smell where the leaves have fallen and bonfires been lit.  I love to go for walks on a chilly afternoon with my warm coat and hat and gloves on and I especially love to walk along kicking at piles of yellow, orange browny leaves that crackle and crunch underfoot.

But, the colder weather also brings it's own hazards and one of these is the run of winer bugs that seem to plague millions as the weather turns in.  We get sniffles and coughs and winter vomiting.  Yet much of this could be easily avoided or make far less severe if we were a bit more proactive in looking after ourselves and in particular in boosting our immune system.

So, what are some good ways of protecting ourselves over winter?

Well, one of the best ways is by keeping fit and active and resisting the temptation to just trow in the towel and hibernate in the warmth of your home.  Get out and about in the cold sharp fresh air and get the blood pumping round your veins.  Get out your warm hat and gloves and even take a thermos of hot tea.
Get into the gym for a warm up and workout and feel all invigorated and alive when you hit the cold air when you get back outside.
Or….. if going outside is really not your thing then how about investing in a portable step machine so that you can work out at home?

Portable step machines today can be small and discreet so no one need to know your guilty little secret.  They can deliver a workout with a real punch.  If you look at the elliptical trainers - these not only do the up and down of conventional steppers but they also do the side to side motion you get from say skiing or cycling.  You get a really deep workout using muscles you either did not now you had or forgot you had years ago.

With a portable step machine workout you get the muscle exhausting workout you need combined with the card vascular pump workout your heart needs to stay strong and healthy.

So, stop revelling in being unhealthy this winter - you do not need to leave the comfort of your own front room to get fit and strong and the best thing is that no one else need know your little secret of healthy success.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Step Machine Review - Sunny Health & Fitness Twister Stepper

I do not know about you but I for one have noticed over the last 2 weeks how the nights have begun to draw in.  Just 2 weeks ago we enjoyed the last barbecue of the year where we were able to enjoy sitting out in the garden until well after dark and not be chilly at all.

Now just 2 short weeks down the line autumn has arrived.  The mornings are albeit bright and sunny for the most part but chilly, the nights are getting darker earlier and earlier.

Time to begin to draw in and hibernate for the long process of winter.

This is the time of year where leaving the house after teatime holds no appeal for many people whatsoever.  What may have seemed like a good idea at one time no longer seems that when it is cold and dark and often raining.  No more going out for a run in the warm balmy air of the english early evening.

So, this brings me to the subject of still being able to keep fit and healthy over the winter months.

I have recently been looking at portable step machines as a method of getting a good regular workout for both muscles and my cardiovascular system.  In particular I have been drawn to several models that look to have the best of all worlds ......   

Sunny Health & Fitness Twister Stepper

Now the reason this one caught my eye is that it is a double whammy - it is an elliptical trainer which means not only do you get an up/down step workout but also a side to side skiing/cycling one.  It has got variable resistance settings so as you get fitter your workout gets harder and will make you aware of muscle groups you never imagined you had :)

This means that you get a much better and deeper workout.  I am all for getting more value out of the same effort. I particularly loved this one too as it simply stashes away under the bed or in a cupboard and no one need be any the wiser about your little secret need they?

This really does seem to be a Rolls Royce of step machines and being priced round about the $50 mark is extremely good value for a very sturdy heavy duty piece of home gym equipment. 
Not only that it even has an integrated computer with an LCD display so that you can monitor your workout and keep track of previous ones.

You can even work out with your arms and upper body as there are also some exercise bands for the upper body.  This really can be a whole body workout in the comfort of your sitting room.

Another reason I am drawn to portable step machines is that you can be doing other things whilst working out - I am a great advocate in multi tasking and working out is a chore to me so the fact that I can be listening to my Ipod or watching TV makes it slightly more tolerable to do.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Getting Fit Over Winter

I have got a friend who always does the same thing - she eats for comfort all winter then come spring she has a massive panic over how she is going to look on the beach and all of a sudden she crash diets like a maniac.

She totally resents the diet, cheats her way through it then sighs and moans how bad she looks in her bikini.

Now, you can argue that I have been born lucky - rake thin.

However, what I will say in my own defence is that if I want to achieve something badly enough i somehow find the necessary will power to get me to where I want to be and if (god forbid) I needed to lose a pound or three in weight then if I wanted to do this that badly I would do whatever it took.

So, back to Jo (or that's what we call her here ) - you see all through winter I have observed that whilst she increases her calorie intake her exercise intake goes down.  In summer she goes out for a run and swims twice a week but winter she hibernates eating her way along.

If she were to simply continue with her exercise regime and cut down on her food a bit this would make a huge difference to her.  I suggested this once and she replied that the weather here in the UK is far too cold, dark and wet to even contemplate it.

That was until she discovered the joys of a step machine.

You see having a step machine in her home (not only that but a portable step machine so no one else knew her little secret) means that she can exercise like being at the gym or out for a run in the privacy of her home.  She can watch the TV whilst she breaks into a sweat and then hide the evidence away for later.  Not as bad as hiding your chocolate wrappers is it?

The cost of buying her stepper worked out less than gym fees over winter and she has got it for next year too.  She recently learned about the new style stepper the elliptical trainer and is now talking of her next purchase with great excitement

She now reports that she loves to exercise in winter and no longer feels bad about eating comfort food as she has a way to easily work off any excess and keep herself trim and fit whilst it rains, snows and does it's best as only english weather knows how.