After taking my Winter break from yoga; I naively thought I could just rejoin my regular class with no problem whatsoever come Spring - little did I know that my regular class would no longer exist on my return! Some light research later led me to find that there were no other yoga studios in the area offering lessons in the price range that I was willing to pay. So with that in mind, I had to rethink my approach to how I was going to achieve my 'low impact, high repetition' strategy of exercising. I attempted to keep up with my jogging but that too had slowed down over the cooler months and I had also hurt myself - I really was feeling sorry for myself, truth be told. The straw that broke the camel's back - so to speak - was when I started having to pull my tummy in a bit to squeeze into some of my pants. I was like, 'ok, let's get ourselves into gear!' This is when I decided to bite the bullet and join a pilates class - I enquired at a few studios and found one literally down the road from us, so I weighed up the traveling costs vs fees asked and thought it made financial sense
I then had to ask myself what is the difference between these two forms of exercise and here's what I have found out on this particular subject. Bearing in mind that there are so many different forms of yoga and pilates, it does make it difficult to determine definitive distinctions between the two forms of exercise. True, they are similar but there are some differences. Also, I'm no expert on the subject - so this is how I understand it and I'll try explain it the best I can.
The purpose of yoga is to unify the mind, body and spirit - it can be used as a way to help heal the body and to find mental wellbeing. It also gives your body more flexibility and promotes relaxation, even in stressful times - this is the reason why I have always enjoyed practicing yoga - to reduce stress and help me focus. In yoga, all movements are performed on a mat, with the weight of your body used as resistance for the exercise - this takes a fair amount of concentration and focus, with the flow in and out of each pose being fluid in the sense that one movement leads into the next sequence. There's no stopping for any length of time - which is also another reason why I enjoy yoga - there's no time to dwell on that particular day's worries; you're simply too focused on the set to worry otherwise! Each pose focuses on specific target areas and needs, they are not what you'd call 'workout moves'.
On the other hand, pilates - which has many of the same goals as yoga in mind - bar a major difference. In addition to mat work, there are different exercise 'tools' that are used too; in the class I happily attend, we use a combination of the following; an elastic stretching strap, a mini exercise and a balancing ball, a resistance ring and some light weights. In pilates, the entire body gets a workout! The focus of pilates is on the core, so that the rest of the body can move freely - making your body stronger both in and outside. This balance between flexibility and strength results in stronger and leaner muscles.
Listed below are a few points on how the two differ from one another:-
Origin: The practice of yoga originated in India more than 5,000 years ago. It has evolved over the centuries and cultures into many different types: Ashtanga, Bikram and Vinyasa to name just a few. Pilates, on the other hand, is a much younger practice (early-20th century) and was started by an athlete named Joseph Pilates - he created the exercise as a form of rehabilitation and strengthening.
Mind, Body and Spirit: Both yoga and pilates bring an understanding that the mind and body are connected. However, yoga adds an additional element to the mix, the spirit. Exploring spirituality is a part of yoga practice, especially through meditation. Whilst pilates focuses on creating an understanding that the mind and body are connected and how this can help in everyday life.
The Class: There are some styles of yoga that have more of a set plan, such as Ashtanga and Bikram. Essentially the poses, sequences and variations can be combined into a myriad of routines to create a class - so it will be up to the style of yoga you practice and / or the teacher guiding you - another element that is not always brought into a yoga class is meditation; some classes may use a chant or meditation to bring in the focus and dedication at the beginning of the class and to seal in and appreciate the benefits of the practice at the end of class. Pilates classes are a little more structured - because of this - you will more likely know what to expect from class to class but again, it's all dependent on the methods used and your instructor.
The Workout: With both yoga and pilates practices, you will gain strength and flexibility. Pilates classes offer a total body workout but it focuses on aligning the spine and strengthening the core. The exercises done in pilates classes almost always involve regimented movements to gain core and spine strength. Some classes may use machines to gain strength, while others will keep you on the mat and use your body's resistance to gain results. In a yoga class, you will work every muscle in your body equally - each posture is accompanied by a counter-posture to ensure you create balance in your body - while core strength is definitely an important part of yoga, it is more a by-product of it rather than it's entire focus.
Breathing Techniques: Breathing and concentration techniques are important to both yoga and pilates. However, yoga uses breath work on a very deep level; one breathes in and out through the nose, matching these deep breaths to the movements and poses - often, in yoga classes, there will be segments dedicated to breath work. In pilates, you inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth.
I have practiced yoga on and off for years; so when I started pilates, I was definitely a little insecure about whether or not I could do it but I am now over a month into my practice and am thoroughly enjoying. It does help having an awesome instructor and fellow classmates - always a laugh to be had, which also makes it fun. Who could ask for more? Exercise and a laugh - perfect!
If you're thinking of giving yoga or pilates a go but can't decide which practice would suit you best? Ask yourself if you want your practice to be spiritual and de-stressing, if so, yoga may be the better option. If your priority is to focus on your core, pilates may be a better fit.
If you don't know where to start, try them both! You will soon know which practice will benefit you most.
Until next time,
Are you one of those people who think knowing your blood type is only important in the event of a transfusion?If so, perhaps you should rethink that as research indicates that your blood type can be a a key genetic factor that influences many areas of one's health and well-being.
When it comes to following a diet - and by that I mean how and what you eat - rather than following a set of prescribed rules a la Atkins, Banting, any random 'soup diet' (as examples) - to maintain and / or lose weight. I am of the thought that a little bit of everything, in moderation, will probably do you no harm; combined with some form of exercise that suits your lifestyle, then you're winning in my books.
I like to think I am doing my best in trying to put healthy, home prepared and cooked meals on the table for myself and Chris at the end of each day - there are and will always be a sneaky takeout ordered - but that's an exception, not a rule. I also have a soft spot for woolies chuckles and digestive biscuits. Chris loves his wine gums and potato chips. So invariably these, in some form or another, will always be in the house but I won't deprive ourselves of our little indulgences - what's the point of exercising and eating as healthily as is possible if you can't treat yourself? It makes no sense to me but then again that's just me.
I know I may sound like a stuck record but I am and will always be a strong proponent for trying to exercise on a regular basis - you can follow the strictest diet but if you're not burning more calories than you're consuming - you're never going to lose weight (if that's your goal). Mine is to maintain my weight and yes, I would never have had to lose the - roughly - 35kg's that I put on over the 2 1/2 years after the accident if I had not been in a self-induced funk and pity party of sorts; but for the almost 3 years since I started my first walking session I can proudly say I have managed to keep it at bay. I am certainly not as toned as I used to be, but I will never be that person again, nor do I want to be. I am as happy as I can possible be - right now.
I found walking enjoyable and eventually I returned to yoga. My yoga journey started almost 10 years back - yes, there was an almost 4 year gap in the centre where I didn't practice it - but the accident left my collar bone rather damaged and after the weight gain that followed, I felt really insecure about whether or not I could do it again. Also, if my arm could handle it without hurting myself. I have become so self-aware of my ever recovering injury and how it effects my day-to-day life. At my peak, prior to the accident, I was super toned and had rather good core strength. I had finally found a form of exercise that I loved and that felt right for me. At the time most people were like, 'yoga as exercise? that's so out there, how esoteric of you, that's so new-age, how can bending and stretching - coupled with measured breath - be considered an exercise'? It had me thinking.
I digress though.
Me, doing the hands to feet pose back in the day!
Whilst I was injured and indulging myself, the Atkins and Banting diets started gaining traction and it seems everyone and their dog is either following one or the other. Truth be told, I can't be bothered to weigh out this amount for veg, that amount for protein, etc. I won't lie, and fully admit that I haven't delved too much into the respective theories behind each diet. In the interests of enquiry, I have done some light research - nothing annoys me more than someone who has an opinion on a topic they haven't even read up on - and the one thing I have noticed though is that they tend to focus only on what you eat and how it affects you, as opposed to taking a holistic approach to it. I like looking at things as a whole, instead of in isolation.
I don't believe a one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition can work.
Over the last year or so I have started developing an interest in the living - note: not just eating - according to your blood type theory - again, it's just a theoretical approach to a certain lifestyle. I am not saying the one is better than the other - my choice does not necessarily suit yours, but what I do like about living according to your blood type is that it is centred around you as a person and not just around watching what you eat as most other diets do.
Here are a few interesting facts that I have come to learn.
Your blood type may predict your susceptibility for certain diseases.
Various research has indicated that individuals of certain blood types may be at higher risk for certain diseases; studies have found that people with blood type O may have a lower risk for heart disease but have a higher risk of developing stomach ulcers. People who are blood type A may have a higher risk of microbial infections and those with blood types AB and B may have a higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
Your blood type may indicate how you react to stress.
People with blood type A naturally have higher levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in their bodies and produce even more in response to stressful situations. Whilst people with blood type O have a 'fight or flight' reaction to stress - which in turn results in them overproducing adrenaline - which then extends their recovery period from said stress as it is more difficult to clear the extra adrenaline coursing through their bodies.
Your blood type antigens (molecules capable of inducing an immune response) are not just in your blood.
They happen to be everywhere in your body - particularly in the surfaces that interact with the environment - think of your digestive tract, your nasal passages and lungs, not to forget your mouth through to your intestines. These blood type antigens are everywhere and they influence how your body reacts to the food you eat through several factors. As an example, the lectins (a type of protein that can bind to cell membranes) in certain foods adheres to your blood type antigen and can cause your blood to agglutinate (just a fancy word to say that your blood cells clump together) which can result in feelings of fatigue, headaches, digestive issues and skin problems - to name a few.
Gut bacteria is related to blood type.
People with different blood types have different gut bacteria and this originated from our ancestors whose digestive tracts developed to accommodate one type of diet over the other. As an example, in blood type A individuals the micro-organisms developed to break down carbohydrates much more efficiently than people with blood type O, who tend to store carbs as fat.
I could go on for a while describing everything - but this isn't a dissertation, it's merely an introduction - below is a quick summary of the different blood types and what best suits them.
Type O: People with type O blood benefit best with intense physical exercise - ideally aerobics, running and contact sports - and on a diet of animal protein. They don't do so well on dairy products and grains, with their leading weight gain factor being the gluten found in wheat products.
Type A: People with type A blood are more naturally suited to a vegetarian diet and tend to be predisposed to heart disease, cancer and diabetes. They also derive significant benefits from calming, centering exercise such as yoga.
Type B: People with type B blood have a generally robust immune and a tolerant digestive system and tend to resist most of the severe chronic illnesses - or, at the very least, survive them better than the other blood types. They fair best with moderate physical exercise requiring mental balance, namely: hiking, cycling, tennis and swimming.
Type AB: People with type AB blood - the most recent blood group in terms of evolution - is the most biologically complex. People in this group fair best a with combination of exercise and dietary habits taken from blood types A and B.
I am type A and Chris is type O, so on paper we are on the opposite ends of the dietary and exercise model for living according to your blood type. I'm suited to a vegetarian diet whilst Chris can handle animal protein better than I can; with exercise I'm more suited to yoga and walking whilst Chris benefits more from a plan that includes physical activities like running. We try and meet someplace in the middle; some meals may be more veggie packed than others and we team up to do our jogging at Parkrun every Saturday and try walking with the hounds at least twice a week - I slot my yoga in and around this schedule.
That's the thing, for us as a couple, it's not about religiously following a diet it's about working one around us - as individuals - to suit our needs and that works for us.
In closing, and totally off topic: I achieved my personal best time at Parkrun this past Saturday, it took me 24min 53sec to complete the 5km course! Well done me!
Until next time,
About 11 days (or so) back both myself and Chris went for our annual health assessment, flu vaccination, etc. at Dischem's Pharmacy - we have been doing it for years now - and apart from the obvious benefits of knowing your health status, we also do it because we earn points towards our wellness programme status. So, essentially, the more points we earn the sooner we climb the various tiers - in other words, the higher one works themselves up the various levels, the more benefits in the form of discounts and preferential rates are offered through the various health, wellness and rewards partners.
We moved over to Discovery's Medical Aid on 1 January 2016 - so we had to start at the bottom (after spending years on Chris' previous employer's top tier) but through our persistent perseverance of reaching certain daily and weekly targets and going for our necessary check-ups and taking part in events like Parkrun we are comfortably on Silver, almost Gold - moving up and forward as we go. It does help that we are both competitive - which makes Discovery's Vitality even more exciting as it's so interactive and with the correct apps on your phone and distance-walked monitors (I wear a FitBit) - one gets to see how far you have to go to achieve your daily and weekly targets - I usually overachieve but like I said, we're both competitive! All one has to do is meet certain fitness and wellness targets - if anything, it helps to motivate one to stay or at the very least try and get fit. Which, ultimately, benefits you as a person. Nothing like having a carrot dangled in front of your face to get you moving!
It's not only fitness that Discovery monitor, Discovery Insure monitors your driving skills too, namely: acceleration, braking, cornering, cellphone motion and speeding. So if you drive with care, you are rewarded, that's not much of a trade-off if you ask me.
Even though we had made an appointment, there was only one Sister on duty, so we had to wait for over an hour! #Grumpy-face
I know some people who have medical aids but don't use these benefits at all, which is just silly in my opinion - if you're lucky enough to be able to afford medical aid or have a policy or two - why not? Medical aids do cost money (what doesn't these days...) but if you follow the system systematically, you can make the perks - in the form of their rewards partners - work for you and in the process recoup some of your money spent.
Just finding out that my cholesterol and glucose levels are well within the ideal range! #Happy-face
One of said perks of Vitality and Insure (if you reach your health and / or driving targets) is that you're eligible for a free drink from the menu of one of two coffee outlets found in most centres around South Africa., a week. If you have two or more friends linked to your 'team' and they achieve their targets, this perk is doubled. I have lost count of the number of free iced-coffees and cappuccinos I have had from Vida e Caffe - at around R32 a pop for an iced-coffee and say R20 a cappuccino (if not more?) for free - and all for driving with care (well mostly!) and keeping fit and active. It's a no-brainer really.
Another two perks we take full advantage of is that we subscribe to a number of magazines at a reduced fee - I love my home, travel and decor magazines - and accommodation (at certain hotels and lodges) again with a reduction in the cost. Not to mention HealthyFood at Woolworths, flights (both local and international) - in fact the list is endless!
Chris is loving his Apple Watch, which costs nothing as Discovery pay the instalments on it if he reaches his daily and weekly targets - so proud to see him monitoring his activity levels and getting fit at the same time. In fact I have just said to Chris as I type this that as a whole we are working more cohesively as a team to reach our individual and family targets than ever before - which makes it fun as opposed to a schlep - which is also always a good thing!
I started wearing my FitBit on 13 January 2016 - prior to that I used a pedometer - and according to my FitBit App, I have achieved the following in a few categories from that date up until now:
Steps taken: 1 199 945 - that is over a million steps!
Distance: 923,51 Km's - okay, even I am a little shocked at these stats!
Active Minutes (10mins or more of continuous moderate-intense activity): 6136 minutes
Calories burned: 297 295
Wow! Now that I am looking at the above, I am quite proud of myself! Are my legs looking the best they ever have, definitely! Will I need a knee or hip replacement in the next 20 years or so? Maybe!
But enough about medical aid's and their rewards partner's - there are so many options out there to help get you fit, I just adore Parkrun - it costs nothing to join and you get to spend some time in the sun exercising. That's the thing about exercising, it can be a battle to start but once you have a routine in place, it becomes easier to follow - I'm not saying that I stick to it religiously, life happens and sometimes one needs to prioritise but it's about being consistent - if you fall off the horse today, just get back on it tomorrow.
My exercise motto is: Low Impact, High Repetition.
My only two forms of exercise is walking (I attempt jogging at Parkrun) and yoga - both essentially low impact activities but I try do either one of these 7 days a week, so if I walk today, yoga tomorrow, etc. Some days if I walk in the morning and practice yoga in the evening - I may skip a day - it works for me, all depends on time permitting.
Find something that works for you - and run with it, so to speak - and if you spend a lot of time in the sun, remember your sunscreen!
Until next time,
After spending 2 nights in the kennels whilst the tree fellers were sorting the trees out, Juzzie spending some quality time with me - in the last few months we have both noticed that he has suddenly become an old little man
I know it’s been almost 10 weeks since I last posted a blog or have done a general update on my site but for the first 5 weeks or so that was totally out of my control - as we waited for Telkom to set up our telephone line and ADSL. The next 5 weeks was totally my fault because as soon as they had connected us - I ripped out the line… but wait, before you shout at me and ask why did I do that - let me explain myself.
The lady whom we bought the house from (and her late husband) had, in all their wisdom, decided that almost every room - including the garage downstairs and our outbuilding at the top of the property needed to have a telephone connection. Don’t ask me why, perhaps it was because her husband was suffering from Alzheimer’s and they felt the need to have a phone in every room - in case he forgot where he was? Not sure that would have helped though but still…
So in my haste to clear the excess cords - and going against Chris’ wish to let him help me (I thought, I can do this…) well I was wrong - by the time I had cut all the cords, boom - no telephone connection, so some more money and another Telkom call out and another few weeks later and tah-dah, we’re up and running. Moral of the story? If you have someone like Chris in your life, accept their offered help and never forget, ‘haste makes waste’!
Truth be told though, I haven’t really been forthcoming with anything I felt needed to be said on my blog - the huge gap in waiting for our ADSL didn’t help much but I have felt the last few months have been taxing on my mental well-being. We had just unpacked our rental in Gordon Road, then packed it up again. I was so sick towards the end of the last year and then we moved into a smaller than what we’re accustomed to home - so figuring out what to keep, donate and store has been an ongoing process - I in fact made our first donation to the SPCA yesterday.
I also had visions of painting every room and unpacking as we go but I am slowly starting to realise that it can’t all be done in one go (nor on your own) and that these things will take time - patience, a virtue I am trying to adopt - the tree fellers have just finished removing 3 1/2 trees, one of which put the one side of our house in complete darkness for most of the day, and clearing the gutters - it’s such a pleasure not having to switch a light on to see whats going on inside the house during the middle of the day. I wasn’t too happy about removing trees but it had to be done, next on the agenda is to start my veggie patch where the massive Mango Tree had been. Trees removed, tick box.
Our former kitchen that will eventually become our scullery, laundry and pantry is almost all stripped out - just need a plumber to come in and connect our new sink and sort connections out for our washing machine and dishwasher - so we are getting there. Slowly but methodically.
Do I mind that the house is half painted, some boxes are still packed and that most of our art is still bubble wrapped and scattered around - I did at first but now I don’t mind so much. It’s slowly starting to feel like home. Durban is starting to feel like home again too. Chris has been hard at work with the business and I’d prefer that that is where most of our energy needs to be focused on or else there’d be no home! Some days are better than others but we are finding our rhythm and going for it.
In the ensuing Telkom limbo, I started yoga again - which is helping both body and soul. I am certainly feeling more calm and relaxed, sometimes sore too!
We also treated both sets of folks to a new Weber over the Easter Weekend - yes, that meant two consecutive braai’s on as many days but we didn’t mind as the weather was perfect in both Pietermaritzburg and Durban - plus it felt nice treating four special people in our lives.
So in a flurry of creativity, I posted a few blogs, some recipes, media and vintage finds - I know to be a blogger one has to constantly be posting but sometimes things happen that are out of your control and if your internet connection is down at home, it’s ok (I know I could’ve gone to a cafe or such and used the free wifi on offer - but the thought of sitting there with my laptop and sipping coffee whilst surfing the web has just never appealed to me).
So some weeks and months you may hear from me more so than others - I need to realise there is no pressure to put something out for you to read - but persevere I shall or else I will slip into my reclusive little comfort zone (which is always beckoning me with open arms).
I am off to the beachfront later to treat myself to a walk along the promenade - from Ushaka to Blue Lagoon and back - a nice 11km or so and then to meet up with my dearest Nush for drinks this afternoon.
Until next time,
November used to be the month that I'd reflect on my scooter accident that took place on 3 November 2010 - it may have been the 4th of the month for all I know - it was a blur of Morphine, hospitals, operations, Tramacet, anti-anxiety medication, having my arm in a sling for almost the entire following year and - of course - the associated weight gain that took place.
Last November, the 6th (I think - again, another blur) added another 'I'm going to learn a big life lesson moment' when I was attacked, stabbed and robbed, whilst on my daily exercise walk - all the while in broad daylight with people driving by. Not really caring. Not offering any help whatsoever - I will never forget how I ran all the way home straddling the white, dotted centre line of the road in my socks, sans stolen shoes - it wasn't until Chris pointed out that I was bleeding, did I realise that in the mayhem that was the ambush and attack, I must have put my hand out to block the knife and was stabbed (superficially luckily, but still). Traumatised.
Above is my Big Boy scooter - we still have him - admittedly he hasn't been driven in a while, but he is safely parked and covered and will always be my first mode of transport. He has become a part of the family really.
Prior to the accident, I honestly was under, underweight - at my skinniest, I weighed about 65kg (for someone who is over 6ft tall) - I recall a friend of mine saying once that one could see my hip bones sticking out on my back. I did a lot of yoga - on top of - three times a week, I would go to gym, set the cycling machine on it's highest tension setting and cycle 10km but every time I would try and improve my own 'record', think I managed at my peak just over 10 minutes - not too bad considering I survived on coffee and cigarettes, well mostly.
Then I was involved in the accident, all activities came to a halt - in fact - I had no choice but to just stop. At the time, some people would ask why my collar bone was taking such a long time to heal - I had crushed (think bone disintegrating) it, not the usual snap - so essentially I had a 3cm gap in the centre that was missing. Never underestimate losing the ability to use a limb for a year. Also, just my luck that I'd crush my bone as opposed to a simple break that would've healed in six weeks!
The Titanium plate and seven screws holding it in place - note the gap between the 4th and 5th screw - that's where my collar bone disintegrated - the first operation, my surgeon attempted to bridge the gap with synthetic bone material in the hopes that my collar bone would regenerate - think along the lines of a grit of sand getting lodged inside an oyster and forming a pearl - that in theory - was what my surgeon thought would happen but alas.
Me, shortly after the accident.
The December after the accident, Chris thought it would be a good idea to get away for a few days - so we road tripped down from Durban, ending up at Oudtshoorn. One night, whilst on the trip I woke up in agonising pain - a screw had started to work itself out of my collar bone. Pain. Pain.
After a second opinion, because I was not convinced that my first surgeon knew what he was doing, it turned out that the synthetic material had been rejected by my body and so after 6 months with my arm in a sling - I had to have surgery again but this time bone was removed from my hip to build up my collar bone. All the while, I was being less active, as at this stage I had my arm in a sling, was walking with a crutch and on very heavy painkillers and anti-anxiety meds - which left me no other choice but to turn to the one thing I found (and still do find) comfort in. Food.
The bruising after they removed roughly 3cm of my left hip. The body weight gain was considerable - hell, I was so skinny people would've noticed an extra 5kg but as I don't do things half-measure - I gained over 30kg in that year.
It's sort of surreal looking back at these photos, to think that I had allowed myself to balloon to - at my heaviest - roughly 112kg. What compounded it was the fact that I was originally on the opposite side of the weight spectrum but as I mentioned earlier, all or nothing for me.
I am the first to admit that I allowed it, like I had an excuse - a valid reason - naturally this was distorted in my own mind as I obviously had and still do have self-image issues, as I'd never have been so skinny to start off with in the first place but I reached a turning point - I needed to lose the weight - my 'fat years' were coming to an end.
So after many km's walked - I also eventually found an awesome Yoga Ashram in Johannesburg, which I relished for the last few months of us staying upcountry - the weight started to melt off.
The two photos above represent my 'after photos' - I have managed to keep the weight off (give or take a kg here or there).
Before starting this post, I even climbed onto our scale to see what I weigh. I can gladly say that I am currently 80kg - that means I have lost over 31kg - or 62 blocks of 500g butter.
Yet, the odd thing thing is, if you're underweight you worry about picking up weight, and if you're overweight you worry about losing the extra kg's. It really is a fine line and I empathise with both sides - as I have been both thin and fat.
I like how I look now, I will never be skinny again - nor do I ever want to be but I will never be borderline obese again. Never. Promise. Hopefully!
It is about finding that balance, which is never easy.
Until next time,
PS: Can anyone in Durban town recommend a good Yoga school?