Learning new Skills

Although personally up until now (is it week 5 or week 6 ??  who knows) in my lockdown I have been quite busy with my ‘day’ job, helping people understand the furlough grants and supporting my clients with their bookkeeping, I know there are many who are finding the time to learn new skills or try new hobbies.

So what have you tried out since lockdown?  What have you learned?  Can you share resources in the comments here that others might find interesting or useful?  If you fancy writing a blog post about something you have enjoyed, found useful or want to share then do get in touch as I’m always happy to feature guest bloggers here if I feel my audience would appreciate the information.

So what have I learned that’s new?

I have been following a Keto (low carb low sugar) lifestyle for over a year now and my health is so much better for it.  So even though I have been busy working I’ve been cooking from scratch from home every day, and so I don’t get bored and tempted to dive on my old favourites of highly processed sugary foods I have been trying different recipes.

The reason I have been able to stick to this way of eating for so long, and not drifted back to bad habits sooner, is that I have fallen in love with this food, and I have the support of my friends at the Keto Fitness Club, run by Mark Brereton and his family, who keep me engaged, amused and motivated in equal measure.

This week I mastered the Megga Bread recipe, which you can get from the free recipe library on the Keto Fitness Club link I have posted – I am so happy to have a decent slice of low carb bread to eat now that I am going to be using this one a lot.  Initially, I was short of yeast but I managed to get a delivery from BuyWHoleFoodsOnline.co.uk , and they supply the vital wheat gluten you need too – and I have plenty of the Oat Fibre but this can be replaced by ground Chia seeds which are more commonly available in supermarkets if needed.

Here is a little montage with a few of my favourite recipes like the Toad in the Hole, , Chicken Pizza, Haloumi Fries, Scotch Egg, Berry Bake, Megga Bread, Cauliflower and Broccoli Bake and my absolute favourite crumble and custard! IMG_20200422_110354-COLLAGE

If you want to try some of these recipes then you can download them for free at their free online recipe library, then if you like them as much as I do you can then support Mark and his family by buying their recipe books also available on the site.

And the other bonus is some of the recipes use protein shakes in them to up the protein levels of the recipes, and I can use my Forever Lite Ultra Vanilla or Chocolate shakes in those recipes too.  Double Bonus!

Aloe Aly x

 

How is your mood?

We are now 4 weeks into this lockdown and how is your mood?

It all started as a bit of a novelty 4 weeks ago, and with the review in 3 weeks some thought we might only be shut in for a short while – but now the news seems to say we could be locked down a lot longer than we originally thought.  Nobody really knows and the uncertainty can definitely play a part in damaging your mental health.

How are you keeping positive in these uncertain times?

I am following a few simple tips in order to keep my sanity :

  • Keep a regular routine – I am getting up and go to bed at the same time every night and keep regular meal times. Also, there’s a Virtual Pub Quiz I do weekly and exercise classes which all help me keep an element of normality and regularity in my life.
  • Keep in touch with people – I’m having regular chats with family, clients, and also people I am meeting on networking meetings.  Just to keep connected and avoid that feeling of isolation.
  • Have a divide between work and leisure – with working from home it’s really easy to just keep working into the evening, so we are dividing our working day from our relaxing evenings with a dog walk that divides the day and means I leave my desk at a sensible time.
  • Be Patient if isolating with others –  you are probably spending a lot more time with your close family than you normally would, and if you are not sleeping well due to the worry you may find tempers can flare more than usual. Stop, breathe and think before raising voices and walk away for some space if you really feel you are going to snap.
  • Be Kind – I am seeing lots of arguments on social media as the regulations we have been told are being read in different ways by different people.  Sometimes rather than posting something negative it’s better to just walk away and leave it as no-one has ever had their mind changed by a negative post on social media in my experience.
  • Remember those isolating alone – if you haven’t heard from a friend or neighbour for a while- drop them a message to see how they are.  I bet they will really appreciate it.
  • Exercise – I am going out every day as I said to take my dog Daisy for a walk – but I’m also still doing my pilates class online once a week.  there are loads of people online helping with exercise ideas – find the one that most appeals to you and do it regularly.

I love this graphic I saw on a friend’s Facebook post this week – it covers my points above plus more.

Coronavirus poster

If you feel you need more support then my friend Duncan Price from Mind Affinity has produced a coronavirus survival guide which you can download from the Mind Affinity Website for free.

If you feel you need to connect with someone during this lockdown period then please reach out and get in touch with me, even if it’s just for a chat,

Aloe Aly x

Week 3 – is anyone buying?

Right now we are just entering the 3rd week in the UK of our social isolation and distancing, for those who can work from home.  There are many people who have lost their income totally, and many others who may be on Furlough or shielding themselves or family members, or looking after the children, so they can’t go to work.

In my other business, my ‘day’ job with Silicon Bullet Ltd, I train bookkeepers and I have been super busy as everyone struggles to work out what they are entitled to from the daily government announcements, writing blog posts with practical tips on processing payroll and how to manage the grants and allowances when you claim them.  But for many people, it’s still a waiting game to know what they will be entitled to, if anything, and when they might get it.Aly Zoom Background

Remember though that in a couple of weeks time there will be people who are earning their 80% pay but they have greatly reduced their outgoings.  No daily commute to pay for, no take out coffees, no meals out or trips to the pub.  Also, the novelty of staying home will be wearing off and boredom will be setting in.  I know my daughter, at 20 , is starting to look at online shopping sites so when she gets her furlough wages from her part-time pub job she can buy a nice outfit for when she can go and see her friends again.

So don’t think that there is no-one around to buy your Forever Living products, or your home crafted items, or whatever it is that you sell.  Now is the time to use your enforced lockdown to be your most creative, learn how to use TikTok, learn what to post on Instagram and how to connect with people on LinkedIn, learn how to promote your business and build your connections with online networking on zoom. Whatever tasks you have been putting off because you never had time, now is the time to get on with them.

Weds bob 2 Hats day

Do your ‘homework’ now so you can grow your business, whatever it is, in the future when you are once again free to go out and socialise. Personally, I am also advocating the self-employed getting your tax return done and submitted now while you have admin and downtime, so when you are free to get out again you know a) how much tax you are needing to save up and b) you can concentrate on income-producing activities when you have more freedom.

So that’s one of the reasons I have returned to blogging here when I’ve not had time to love the last year, and I’m talking about how the wonderful Forever products are so kind to the skin when you need to wash your hands so often.  What ‘homework’ can you do ?

Aloe Aly

 

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.

11050938_10205916497608742_760915095_n (1)

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.