Collaboration With The Pilates Studio

Pilates is often stereotyped as a form of exercise which is substantially less vigorous than the majority of other workout options. In terms of how you feel during the session; fairly relaxed and not too out of breath, it definitely feels less strenuous than say a high intensity session. However, because you are repeatedly engaging your muscles and paying attention to specific areas of your body, Pilates can often be a more beneficial workout.

There are a few variations of the workout including mat, barre and reformer machines. The most popular is a mat pilates session, upon where you work through a process of strengthening and toning exercises in order target different muscle groups. Even though the tempo is fairly moderate, the results you can get from continuous sessions of this format is incredible. Within a few weeks you feel stronger, more toned and eager to try more difficult moves.

Having only ever experienced this form of pilates, I was incredibly excited to have the opportunity to try more variations of this ancient exercise at The Pilates Studio in Norwich. Nestled down a scenic side street, The Pilates Studio boasts a wide range of machines in the most aesthetically pleasing and relaxing studio. The owner of the studio and experienced teacher, Lauren, tentatively went through each exercise by informing me and my friend, Lorna, the science behind the effects it was having on our bodies and how it would help our posture and flexibility. After only an hour’s session, both me and Lorna agreed that we had learnt more from our time with Lauren than we had with any other fitness instructor.

A real eye-opening moment for me during the session was Lauren’s comments on how both me and Lorna naturally do not sit with correct posture. We both appeared to hold our spine at an angle, most likely due to our prominent lifestyle of spending hours on end sitting at a desk studying. Alongside this reason, which will affect a large majority of the student population, another factor to our improper posture are exercises which me and my friend regularly partake in. As fans of Les Milles Body Pump class, there are frequent elements of fast paced deadlifting, which appears to helped in forcing mine and Lorna’s spine to naturally fall into an incorrect position. Lauren aided us in helping to focus on correcting this error and by the end of the session my back felt sufficiently stretched and less tense. When I go to deadlift now I make a conscious effort to make sure my back is set in the correct position, and I have subsequently noticed a big difference in terms of my upper body flexibility and ability to perform more reps.

A lot of people associate pilates as being an exercise for the older generation. However, with young people spending more time than ever at a desk, or slouched over their phone, it is just as important for our generation to practise pilates in order to assess and prevent issues within our bodies which may occur later in life. At her studio, Lauren offers both group and private sessions. For your first time I would highly recommend a private session, so Lauren can figure out your strengths and weaknesses in order to tailor your sessions in a way which will benefit you the most.

I cannot thank Lauren enough for the patient and methodical approach she took for our session. I learnt so much about my body and, due to implementing the tips given to us, I feel as though my posture has greatly improved after only a week on. To book a session at The Pilates Studio, simply contact Lauren by email on info@thepilatesstudionorwich.com or ring 07891 987055. It’s also worthwhile checking out her Instagram, @thepilatesstudio_norwich, which is full of mindful quotes and amazing progress pictures. If you want to see the session in action, then click here to watch the video we filmed on the day.

 

How To Effectively Utilise Time Off

For those who are blessed, (or cursed), with having OCD over their daily routine, the thought of time off can be fairly daunting. The idea of relaxing and simply doing nothing is blissful in your mind, yet when it comes down to it you’re on edge, you feel unproductive and you cannot settle. I find that this situation is largely mind over matter, and over the years I have found a few ways to effectively use time off, yet still get the benefits of a well needed break.

Make a list of your goals

A great thing to do on your time off is to make a list of your goals which you want to pursue within the following weeks, months or even years. With your brain out of its usual routine this gives you more space to be able to think about what you ultimately want for yourself. Whether it’s an improvement in your health and fitness, progress in your career or simply to take up a new hobby.

Read, Read, Read

One of the most therapeutic, and beneficial, exercises you can possibly do for your brain is to spend an hour reading somewhere quiet. A novel, a blog, a magazine- it doesn’t matter what you choose as long as you are completely engaged with the text and have no room in your head to concern yourself with anything else.

Try something new

I’m not talking skydiving or becoming a vegan overnight, but something as simple as trying a new fitness class, testing out a new recipe or finding a new band or singer you love are all little ways to ensure you’re still feeling productive, but in a more relaxed way.

Revive an old interest

As well as trying something different to your usual routine, spending your time off delving back to something that you previously loved is also a great way to relax. With the stress of working, keeping fit and maintaining a social life there is often little room for anything else. Hunt down your old art supplies, guitar, camera, recipe books, tennis racket and have fun.

Try new products

With the limited timeframe in which you have to get ready on a day to day basis, time off can be a great way to discover and try some amazing new products. Buy some magazines, stalk Instagram, go to a department store and find the items which you have been telling yourself for the past six months that you ‘need to pick up’.

Treat yourself

Above all, the greatest indulgence with having time off is the ability to treat yourself without feeling guilty. You worked hard for this and you deserve it. However, for some this can be a hard task. If you struggle with your weight and you are wary to have a cheat meal or a night out because you might succumb to old habits, then treat yourself another way. Book a massage, buy yourself the staple handbag you’ve always wanted or arrange a weekend away. As long as you’re doing something to make yourself feel good, it doesn’t matter what it is.

Easter Themed Cupcakes

When it feels like chocolate is suddenly taking over your house around Easter, a great way of using a lot of it up is to make some equally tasty cupcakes. Taking only twenty minutes to bake, and a similar amount of time to decorate, this is a perfect and easy recipe to make for friends, family or yourself (no judgement) in a short amount of time over the Easter holidays.

Ingredients

  • 4oz Margarine or Butter
  • 4oz Caster Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 4oz Self-Raising Flour
  • 1 tsp Milk
  • 1 Packet of Chocolate Chips
  • Icing Sugar or Icing Product
  • Creme Eggs
  • Mini Eggs
  • Decorations

Recipe (18 Cupcakes)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and place cupcake cases on a baking tray
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until smooth
  3. Beat in the eggs and the flour alternately and add in the vanilla extract
  4. Add the milk and stir the mixture until it’s completely smooth
  5. Pour the mixture into the cases until they are around half way full
  6. Cook for 20 minutes and then check. If more time is needed then check every five minutes until done
  7. Either make the icing with icing sugar or use a pre-made product. I used Dr Oetker Easy Swirl Cupcake Icing and Dr Oetker Vanilla Frosting
  8. Halve the Cream Eggs and place the Mini Eggs on top of the icing
  9. DECORATE!

Perspective, Perspective, Perspective

On THAT day when everything that could possibly go wrong, goes wrong, it’s important to think and consider that ever important P word. Pessimist? Pointless? Powerless? Paige? (Alas, no). It is in fact, perspective.

I have recently been involved in a variety of situations in which I’ve forced myself to gain perspective. From nearly suffering heart failure after discovering a dessert I had just eaten contained 60g of sugar, to lying motionless in bed after binge-watching yet another Netflix series, which successfully took over my life. These are small, unimportant things which should never have needed perspective in the first place, but we all have those days.

Aside from these shameful confessions, there is one situation which urgently required me to re-think my perspective, and I think it’s an important one to share. Over the past few months, I have been training for the London Half Marathon in order to raise money for the Institute of Cancer Research. For all the hard core, experienced marathon runners this is, quite literally, a walk (well, run) in the park. But, for a girl whose passion for weight training consequently results in absolutely 0 cardio ability, a 13 mile run is a big deal.

At times, training has been a struggle, but I counteracted this negativity by reminding myself that the pain I was suffering was entirely my choice. So, every time that I’ve felt like my ankle was going to give way, I’ve been tempted to snooze my alarm or the cold temperatures have tried their best to deter me, I’ve forced my mind to gain perspective. I’m choosing to suffer the pain which comes with training but, unlike me, cancer patients do not have a choice in the pain that they endure. This is the thought which I will be carrying throughout the run next weekend.

Whether you need to gain perspective in terms of your fitness, your health, your work ethic or your relationships, it is important to consider it as a whole, rather than individual aspects. If it’s your physical fitness which you want to improve, don’t let this overshadow your relationships, your work ethic or your mental health. I’ve learnt this the hard way, upon where I’ve been so obsessive over my fitness and healthy eating in the past, that my relationships have suffered because I wasn’t letting myself have any down time, cheat days or quite frankly, any fun. Therefore, the perfect word that I’d choose to go with perspective is balance.

Why Variety Is Key To A Healthy Lifestyle

Boredom can be one of the main reasons why people swiftly abandon their mission of getting fit and living a healthier lifestyle. Thought of eating salad every day? Boring. Thought of running aimlessly on a treadmill? Boring. Same ‘motivational’ playlist on Spotify? Boring? Unless you find a type of exercise, or a particular diet, which well and truly motivates you, it’s going to be extremely hard to stick to a regime. These are the tips I use throughout the week, in terms of diet, exercise & general wellbeing in order to ensure enough variety.

 

Diet

This is perhaps the most important aspect of a healthy lifestyle to constantly switch up. There is nothing worse than being disappointed at the thought of an upcoming meal, as more often than not the temptation to then replace this meal with something a lot less healthier suddenly becomes very high.  My main tip for avoiding this scenario is to meal plan. It takes 10 minutes, you have no excuse not to fill it with healthy, yet enjoyable food and it also hinders snacking (not on the meal plan? then don’t eat it).

There is a rather large misconception when it comes to dieting or keeping fit; in that you can only eat rabbit food, otherwise you won’t lose an ounce. If you’re exercising daily, or multiple days a week, this can often be more dangerous than beneficial. You need enough protein, healthy fats, fruit/veg and carbohydrates in your diet in order to assist any bodily changes. The exact macros vary, depending on what your goal is, (gaining muscle mass, carb-cycling, cutting etc.), but if you just want to ensure a healthy, balanced diet then aim for one item of carbohydrate, two portions of fruit or veg and a source of protein in every meal. Drinking enough water is also crucial, especially on day’s where you’re exercising, as it’s very easy to become dehydrated and fatigued.

 

Exercise 

Finding the right type of exercise which suits both your ability, time frame and will also ensure you meet your personal goals is KEY. There is no point deciding on a Sunday night that you’re going to go to the gym every day of the week for two hours because a) it’s fairly unlikely you’ll be able to fit that in to your weekly schedule b) you’re certain to get bored of the same routine and c) you’ll end up feeling negative and disappointed in yourself. Set more practical aims such as 3 days a week in the gym, coupled with an exercise class or a long walk, to ensure you have enough variety.

Finding the right type of exercise for you is also crucial; you want to be eager to go and workout, not counting down the minutes until it’s over. If you really detest the gym, then exercise classes such as the Les Mills series of Body Pump, Body Combat and Body Attack provide just as good a workout in a fun, relaxed environment. Swimming and outdoor running / cycling are also great additions to a cardio workout, with the added benefit of a change of scenery.

 

Wellbeing 

In terms of general wellbeing, it’s important not to get too obsessive. Yes, exercising and healthy eating are key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and for many people they feel better in themselves for doing it. However, everyone needs a treat or something to look forward to, and if you deny yourself these things then even though your body may be healthy, your mind won’t be.

Try and eat/drink/do one thing per week which you know you will look forward to, and consequently motivate you. For me, it’s usually a chocolate desert or a night out, something which makes a particularly hard session worth it. Yoga and Pilates are also a great way to de-stress, perhaps during the end of a busy week in work. There are plenty of mobile phone apps which offer routines which you can follow in the comfort of your own home.

How to make your uni room feel like home

As going to uni is such a big and often, daunting step in your life it’s important to make your room feel as much like home as possible. There are so many ways to change your scarce, often not ideally coloured, room into somewhere where you’re happy to spend a lot of your time.

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Colour Scheme

Choosing a colour scheme is a great way to tie your whole room together. On the majority of uni websites you will be able to preview the type of accommodation you’ll be living in, therefore you’ll be able to get a feel towards what the core colours of the carpet, curtains and walls are. If there are limited pictures of your accommodation, it’s always worth searching for videos on You Tube where many first year students have uploaded room tours from a variety of universities. Opting towards a fairly neutral core colour scheme can be beneficial, so you have plenty of leeway in accessorising and personalising your room.

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Accessories 

Once you’ve purchased all the boring, stable kitchen utensils it’s time to shop for more personal items which will really bring your room to life. From cute jewellery stands to fairy lights to motivational plaques, all these items go a long way in making you feel at home, as well as helping to keep your room organised. Most first year rooms have a limited number of drawers and storage space so my number one recommendation is plenty of storage baskets. Many different retailers offer a wide variety of baskets, drawers and make-up holders but I would personally recommend both Home Sense and The Range purely for their aesthetic aspect, not just their functional one.

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Photographs

One of the hardest parts of moving away from home is the sudden distance between you and your family and friends. Although you can’t see them everyday, putting up pictures all around your room of some of your favourite memories is a really effective way in battling home sickness. There are a number of different apps which print and send you your chosen pictures in less than a week, I chose Photo Box as I wanted mine to have a polaroid effect.

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Lights 

Seeing as first years start their term in either September or October the season’s are already starting to change, and depending on where you are in the country, they can change pretty quickly. There is nothing worse than moving somewhere new for the first time and being confronted by long, dark nights, so including fairy lights or light-up photo frames around your room can make a big difference in your overall mood.

When does it become obsession?

As you develop a hobby or interest over a long period of time it is quite easy to become obsessed with it. For some, it’s something they will think about throughout the day and perhaps discuss with friends and family. But for others, it can start to take over many aspects of day to day life, to the point where you plan everything else to fit around it. It is perhaps at this stage where you would consider it a lot more than a simple passion.

The word ‘obsessed’ is often linked with negative connotations. Obsessive partners, obsessive disorders and even self-obsession. But, the definition of this intricate word is simply to “preoccupy or fill the mind of (someone)” so, does it merely depend on the subject of the obsession?

With the continuous rise in social media sites, such as Instagram, it is easy to become transfixed with wanting to look like, or have the same body as someone on your newsfeed. Celebrities such as Kylie Jenner have come under great scrutiny for presenting an image over social media which is simply unrealistic, and even dangerous, for her young followers. However, it is argued by many experts that the majority of people only show the better aspects of their life on social media; they want to present a 24/7 illusion that their life is exactly how they want it to be. Which is where things can become complicated.

This idea of illusion on social media was further highlighted by the former ‘Instagram Famous’ Essena O’Neill, who racked up over 600K followers on Instagram and was able to make up to $2000AUD per post from respective clothing, bikini and nutrition companies. In November last year she issued a statement saying she was quitting social media because “it is a contrived perfection made to get attention”. For me, this highlights the fine line between healthy and unhealthy obsession. If your passion or interest consumes you, to the point where everything you do is geared towards that one thing, then it’s important to find ways to gain perspective.

Some might say that I’m obsessed with keeping fit and eating healthy, because more often than not I’m starting my day at 6am to go to the gym before lectures, and I’d rather cook a macro-friendly meal over a pizza. But, this lifestyle doesn’t consume me, I still drink on nights out with my friends, still look forward to Prezzo’s honeycomb cheesecake and still spend plenty of time studying for my degree. There have been points in the past, when I first started getting serious about fitness, where I used to feel down if I missed a session or ate something I shouldn’t of, but as I’ve grown up and realised that everything in life has to have balance, I am much happier, healthier and motivated.

Keeping fit, I imagine, will always be a passion of mine but that’s because I enjoy the way healthy feels to me- my heads clearer, I can concentrate for longer and I have more energy. But there are so many other important things to incorporate into life, therefore, so what if you fancy an hour extra in bed on a cold, November morning? Just work even harder the next time you exercise, balance it out with a smoothie and you’ll feel better than ever.