Elliptical Bike – ElliptoGo

I am always looking for new and interesting ways to stay fit and keep my motivation up.  Since my right total hip replacement in February 2007 at the age of 36 my health and fitness have improved immeasurably.  I went from needing crutches if I was going to be on my feet for any extended length of time to walking 100 miles a month in 2012, you can read my story on previous posts.

The problem with walking is it can get a bit boring!  Even in the lovely local forest here by where I live, and in order to keep moving and keep my motivation up I’m always keen to look for new things to do.  I did do 2 triathlons in 2013, but running is not great for a person with a hip replacement, it could shorten the lifespan of my titanium and ceramic hip, and I definitely don’t want to do that.

I do also love riding my bike, but I find the seating position leaning towards the handle bars can cause problems with my neck, and my hands and wrists ache if I’m on my bike for any longer than half an hour.

So when I was on a hip replacement support forum on facebook and saw an elliptical bike mentioned I was intrigued to find out if this might be a suitable alternative to a traditional bicycle, as it was mentioned as something great for people with joint replacements or who couldn’t run due to injury, as there is no impact, and you are in a more upright position which would be better for my neck.

So I looked up elliptical bikes and found the ElliptiGO website, and arranged a test drive locally here in Milton Keynes.  When you first see the bike and go on it, especially in a limited space where you need to keep cornering, it certainly is an odd experience, and I wasn’t sure I was going to take to it, so we thought long and hard before making our mind up.

Choosing my model

After a 2nd test drive in April to compare the new ElliptiGO ARC with the ElliptiGO 8C, we decided that my knees and hips would be most comfortable with the 8C, we finally placed our order, and I took delivery on Friday 6th May.  It all looked rather large and a little bit scary – you can tell by the look on my face!

Elliptigo (3)

Progress

I am writing this blog 2 weeks on, and after initially being worried about feeling slight discomfort in my shoulder whilst on the bike, I think that may have been me clinging onto the handlebars for dear life, and now I am getting more confident my grip is relaxing and I’m feeling less tension through my arms.

I went on a few short half hour rides to start with, coasting for a breather on the downhills and using the 8 gears to great effect on the uphill stretches.   This weekend I took a longer trip out, choosing a route with several options to turn for home if I felt the need, but I was very pleased to manager to stay out for over an hour and cover over 12 miles (20km) in total with no lingering aches and pains in my arthritic joints.  As a comparison on my mountain bike I can’t go out any longer than an hour without getting problems in my wrists and hands.

The point of getting the bike is so I can get out and about in our beautiful Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire countryside without aggravating my joints, and early indications are that the Elliptigo 8C is doing just that.  I’m also having fun linking with other riders through Strava and I’m quite chuffed to say I seem to be keeping up with the other riders quite well.  I was even faster on my Elliptigo on an uphill stretch today that I used to be on my traditional bike.

First Ride

Here is a short video of my first ride.  Thanks to Idai Makaya for the test drives and support in choosing my new toy!

 

Keeping Moving – Testing a Fitbit

So I have to admit, since my post about the Blacklight Run I have become a lapsed exerciser again.  Not totally, I still love my high energy classes with Red Squirrels Zumba twice a week, and go to a local Pilates class with Nikki from Move Better Fitness which I love, but the running has ground to a halt.

I think this is because I am not entirely happy when I am running. I don’t enjoy it but I also worry as I run.  The main reason being my total right hip replacement, which was carried out when I was 36 in 2007.  In the back of my mind I know my hip has a limited lifespan, and running just feels like too high impact.  Basically I don’t want to wear out my lovely titanium and ceramic hip.

My day job is very sedentary.  I basically sit in front of a computer all day either bookkeeping, training or promoting my business.  I need some kind of motivation to keep moving between my fitness classes.

Fitbit Review

So I am trialling a Fitbit Flex which a friend of mine is wanting to sell.  I’m going to see if this piece of tech is the kick up the backside I need to get moving again, and watch my food intake more closely. I am a user of Endomondo and My Fitness Pal, and with both these apps they were very motivational when I first started to use them.  I walked a huge 1300 miles in 2012 by following the 100 miles a month challenge on Endomondo, a fact I am very proud of. But the novelty has warn off and I need something new.

Setting up the Fitbit Flex

Once I realised the app wouldn’t work with my Nexus 10 tablet, it was really quick and easy to set up my Fitbit on my Nexus 4.  I was able to set up my profile with ease and the first thing I did was log my first nights sleep.

You do have to remember via the app to say when you are going to sleep and when you wake up, then the fitbit tracks your restlessness and gives you a great graph to see how well you slept.  Not enough is the answer at the moment!

Linking Fitbit to MyFitness Pal and Endomondo

How the apps fitted together got me scratching my head at first, but with trial end error I soon sorted it out. I had to log into my individual accounts for My Fitness Pal and Endomondo on my PC in order to set up the new link to the Fitbit.

In Settings -> Connect you can link Endomondo to your Fitbit

In Settings -> Connect you can link Endomondo to your Fitbit

Historically I logged my exercise on Endomondo which then fed into My Fitness Pal to ‘buy’ me extra calories   I have now had to switch off this link as Endomondo feeds into the Fitbit app with my exercise, then the Fitbit app feeds this information into My Fitness Pal in the form of a Fitbit Calories Adjustment.  If Endomondo also feeds the exercise into My Fitness Pal then the exercise is double counted.  It makes your stats look great but won’t help much with my weight loss target!  The exercise from Endomondo in My Fitness Pal was also fed back into the Fitbit double counting there too – are you still with me?

Fitbit Calorie Adjustment in My Fitness Pal

Fitbit Calorie Adjustment in My Fitness Pal

I do however love the fact that I can still log my food in My Fitness Pal and this then gets automatically fed into the Fitbit App in the form of a calorie value per meal.  I’ve used My Fitness Pal for years now and I have a database of favourite meals already set up, I am a creature of habit, so I dreaded having to recreate all this in the Fitbit app.  Now I don’t have to.

Early Signs

So early signs that having this new Fitbit will hep me get back on track with being more active are good, as I am itching to get out and increase my step count (currently at 4000 steps at 2pm in the afternoon) , I’ve drunk more water today, and I’m not snacking as I’m back to logging all my food.

Let’s see how long this new inspiration lasts.

Outside influences: the women in my family by Sandy Millin

This is a fabulous post from my Niece, Sandy Millin, about the influences the women in our family (including me as her Aunt) have had on her growth and development.

Sandy is passionate about languages and is an EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teacher. She is very well respected in her field.  Sandy has worked for International House in a number of different countries and is a member of IATEFL and presents at their conferences.  I would strongly recommend following Sandy on Twitter if you have an interest in language teaching. (@sandymillin)

I am very proud of my Neice – she is a strong independent and caring lady and I am so happy I have been able to be a positive influence on her life.  To read more click on this link to her post……..

Outside influences: the women in my family.

Blacklight Run – we did it!

Following on from my post in February ‘Couch to 5k…..again’, I thought it would be a great idea to do a short review of the Northampton Blacklight Run and how we got on.

Blacklight Run Northampton – 7th March 2015

First, what is a Blacklight Run?  From the website it is a ‘unique 5k fun run focused on less speed and more on UV Neon Glowing fun with friends and family.’  This was definitely the case in Northampton, with more selfies than you can shake a stick at going on under the UV lights.

We arrived at 5pm (having pre paid for our parking) and joined the party near the main  stage, where they were playing music and throwing glowsticks out to the audience and starting to throw the UV power out.  There were 3 colours of powder.  Pink, Orange and luminous green – the green being the best to show up.

Before the start.

Before the start.

As 6pm approached we were directed into a huge holding area with barriers around, but the start time came and went from our perspective with little fanfair. Having never been to such a huge event before we were a bit confused about the start, but with almost 6000 people there we should have realised that it was a staggered start with a few going at a time – as we neared our turn the atmosphere ramped up – then it was our turn to go.

The Run

The route took us along a back road near the Northampton Saints Rugby ground, down a little way into a country park and then looping round Sixfields Stadium where Northampton Town Football club play.  It felt like quite a long way to the first ‘colour’ station which I ‘ran’ to in my usual bouncy slow way!  We had arranged with our group, my husband, daughter and best mate, that we would wait for each other at each colour station to go through together if we got separated.

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Hubby is covered!

 

At the colour station there were a few volunteers throwing powder at us as we slowed to a standstill in order to be covered, and UV lights for the 1000’s of selfies being taken too.  I did get a hand full of powder right up my nose -and we were meant to be wearing eye protection but most people hadn’t bothered.

In all there were 3 colour stations, one for each colour, and most people seemed to be walking the course.  The last colour station had a corridor of bright lights to go through and a friend of ours was throwing the powder – so we really got covered there.

Finish Line

Finish Line

Conclusion

The course distance was a little under 5k in the end, and you could only run between the colour stations if you wanted to join in and get coated with powder, so I would say it’s a great event for a novice runner as there is no pressure to keep running, I’d say 80% of the participants walked the whole course.

The only criticism of the event was there should have been more volunteers throwing powder at the colour stations, but apart from that I thought it was a great event.  Well organised with so many attending and a lot of fun.

Messing about at the end!

Messing about at the end!

And my final tip if you are going to one of the events later this year in Portsmouth, London, Cheltenham, Edinburgh or Norwich.  Take towels and something to put on the car seats for your trip home, unless you want a multi coloured car!

 

My beautiful daughter.

My beautiful daughter.

Archie and Isaac’s fight for their future

I have asked my good friend Anna to do a guest post for me, to tell you the story of her two brave boys who suffer from a rare genetic disorder.  We have been friends with Dave and Anna for over 20 years, and have enjoyed many fabulous summer parties at their home in Gloucestershire, and watched Archie and Isaac grow to be great boys, just another two kids in our group running riot at parties.  But they need our help – over to Anna….

Continue reading

Couch to 5k …. again!

So just over 2 years ago after my year of walking 1300 miles I decided that walking just took too long and I needed to find an exercise which burned the calories quicker.  I followed a couch to 5k program back in 2013 and was surprised and pleased to be able to build up to running in a couple of 5k races, and also did 2 triathlons that year too, which has it’s own unique challenge.  Have you ever tried getting off a bike and going straight into a run ?  You get a very weird wobbly leg syndrome!

Super Sprint Triathlon Medals

Super Sprint Triathlon Medals

Unfortunately in 2014 life took an unexpected turn with my father getting ill and passing away all in the space of 2 months.  We have a strong and supportive family, but Dad was a huge part of my life, and losing him so quickly, and seeing him suffer for those 2 months, has affected me far harder than I expected.  For most of last year just getting up each day and keeping going was an effort, many other things in my life were put on hold.

When we were doing lots of events in 2013 we really fancied doing a Colour Run, where you get covered in coloured powder as you run, so last year on the spur of the moment we signed up for the Northamtpon Black Light Run in March this year.  It felt like it was ages away!

Fast forward to February 2015, and an email hit our in boxes with the details of the run, and lo and behold it wasn’t in late March as I thought, but the first weekend in March, giving us 4 weeks to get trained up.  I was rather panicked into action, and rather than doing the nice organised couch to 5k program again, I just got my running shoes on and headed out into Salcey Forest.

I have to admit that despite not having run for so long, after one 2 mile run – walk – run session, I have been able to run 5k on each of my bi-weekly training runs since.  I am very pleased with how my training is going.  One thing I have noticed is that if I remember to take my Forever ARGI+ then I feel much less breahless on my run.  ARGI+ is a powder you mix with water and drink before you exercise,  and provides five grams of L-Arginine per serving, as well as synergistic vitamins. Running never feels easy for me, I say jokingly I am not a runner but a bouncy walker, but I feel a noticeable difference when I drink ARGI+ just before going on my run.

Argi_

So now it is 10 days to go before our Black Light Run, and I can’t say I am enjoying the running, but I am getting our there and doing it, and I enjoy the feeling I get after the run.  Maybe one day if I can stay motivated I might actually enjoy the running part too.