GYM & TONEIC

Sleep is life!

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Rest, recovery and sleep are so important when it comes to your health and well-being. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) states that sleep is a basic human need and is just as important for good health as diet and physical activity. It’s a topic that is close to my heart, being a 10 hour girl that bloody loves her sleep, a girl who will happily call it a night and retreat to the land of nod at 9pm given half the chance. I never really have a problem falling asleep and if I do I consider it to be a big problem! I fall into the deepest sleep, so much so I’ve woken up to friends checking my pulse in the middle of the night thinking I’ve slipped into a coma or died – I cannot function without a lot of sleep!

I’m writing this post off the back of a horrific 5 hours broken sleep, after going round to my friend Nicola’s house (Botty, the crazy marathon runner) for a ‘quiet’ girl’s night in with two of my other good friends, Sian and Georgie. I say good friends… they were downing drinks and dancing on tables till 5.30am, I took myself off to bed at 2am and tried to get some shut eye, whilst they caused carnage around her kitchen table (the below picture a snippet of the night), scenes from an American frat party at number 23! I’m tired, grumpy and seriously contemplating un-liking and de-friending them in real life right now…

shots, shots, shots
shots, shots, shots

I bang on to them like a broken record that they need to get more sleep, as they regularly pull all-nighters (on school nights too!). Telling them they’re all going to look 90 by the time they hit 40, to which they hurl abuse back at me too obscene to repeat in public… when the mirror on the wall cracks in front of you at 40 ladies, you’ll wish you’d taken my advice 😉 I only say this because I love you!

The body is set to a 24-hour clock, the internal biological clock being fundamental to the survival of all living organisms (so pretty important!). It influences hormone secretion, urine production, regulates body temperature and blood pressure. A good night’s sleep allows the body to wake up fresh and invigorated, ready to face the coming day’s challenges. Too little sleep causes drowsiness, inability to concentrate, reduced productivity and performance. In the long-term sleep deprivation has been linked to premature aging (Nicola, Sian & Georgie take note!), digestive disturbances, psychological problems, behavioral disturbances and a host of chronic diseases including obesity, diabetes and heart diseases (ref NSF). In short, too little sleep is NOT good!

Sleep scientists generally agree that most adults need 7 to 8 hours sleep a night – I’m an exception to this then! Getting too little sleep will create a ‘sleep debt’ that will eventually catch up with you and need to be repaid. Below are some top tips to get your sleep on…

Top tips for improving sleep

  • Exercise!
  • Set a scheduled time for sleep
  • Take a warm bath
  • Reduce stressful activities
  • Blackout your bedroom
  • Avoid caffeine before bed (up to 6 hours before)
  • Avoid nicotine and alcohol
  • Don’t go to sleep too full or hungry
  • Relax before bed
  • Control room temperature (lower temperature improves sleep)

‘Sleep is the best meditation’
~ Dalai Lama

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First day on the gym floor

the gym fat is burned

Yesterday I worked my first gym shift, back where it all began. Living back in Ramsbottom it seemed only right that the first place I work should be at Ramsbottom Pool and Fitness Centre, where I started out as a lifeguard many (many) moons ago!

To be honest I don’t think I ever fully left the leisure centre… once you work in that setting you’re part of it for life. You become family, with generations, siblings and partners working together, and customers that have been regulars for decades – it’s one big happy family. Both my sisters’ work for Bury Leisure, we all started out as lifeguards after swimming for the local club. I still remember harassing the centre manager (Phil) for casual hours way before I passed my lifeguard exams…

I have to admit I was nervous before my shift, despite knowing the people, set-up, procedures and so on. I helped implement a lot of the processes and membership offerings when I looked after the marketing of all three sports centres. Regardless, the gym floor is new territory for me, and putting theory into practice is where the real learning begins… like passing your driving test. I was eased into the role with just one induction booked in, but it was great to chat to customers, giving training tips and advice, getting used to new surroundings.

Lovely to work with familiar friendly faces and catch-up with so many customers from way back when. I’ve missed working on the front line, face-to-face with customers. I’m more certain that I’ve made the right move, coming out from behind the desk, retracing steps to pave new ones.

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Yesterday was the best day!

I want to inspire people quote

I passed my practical exam! It’s official, I can now say that I am a qualified Personal Trainer… even bigger YAY!

I’m writing this post today, because as soon as I passed my exam yesterday I came home and messaged my friends to see who was around for a much needed celebratory drink – G&T was calling! I had no time to write a post, as priority went on paying myself some long overdue TLC… in the form of dying my hair, shaving my legs and a host of other girlie grooming basics that I’d neglected to do for the last few weeks, having lived like a hermit with my head stuck in the study books… the crazy cavewoman look had to go!

I’m chuffed to bits, pleased as punch; all of the hours of studying and stressing paid off. The first and hardest part of my life changing plans is complete! Next up… put the qualifications to good use and bag myself instructing hours. Lots and lots more learning to do, every day will be learning day from here on in.

I can’t wait to start helping people to achieve their health and fitness goals, and see where this new career and fitness focus leads – exciting times indeed!

Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire. 

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Today is a good day!

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The impossible became possible! I passed my level 3 PT theory exams… YAY!

Chuffed to bits and so relieved, I can breathe again… well until Saturday, when I do my practical.

The pressure I’ve felt in the lead up is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before, as everything in my ‘dream’ future is riding on this… I quit my job for this!

Stress, anxiety, fear, doubt, major doubt; is the toxic cocktail of emotions I’ve been swimming in for the last few weeks and months, since handing my notice in. Questioning my sanity, capabilities, life decisions (all of my life decisions to date for that matter…). I’ve looked like a walking corpse! So much so that my tutor/examiner said as much today, as I stood grey complexion, shaking like a leaf, waiting to go into the exam room.

I’m not a scientific thinker, I was crap at science at school, and the anatomy is bloody complex! So this has been no easy feat, no ‘winging it’ on this occasion. I’ve had to read everything hundreds of times for it to go in and ‘get it’, and I still don’t fully get it. I’m going to be studying and learning constantly from here on in… but I’m excited about that!

So that’s my good news for the day… fingers, toes and anything else that can be crossed, crossed for my practical exam on Saturday.

Everything you want is on the other side of fear!

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Drink more water

H2O Symbol in Water --- Image by © Matthias Kulka/Corbis

About 60% of the human body is made of water. Keeping fluids balanced is vital to ensure it does its job effectively – transporting nutrients, aiding digestion, regulating temperature and so on. Lots of people let themselves get to the point of dehydration and don’t drink enough water, myself included up until late. I’ve now made a conscious effort to drink more, and you should too!

You are not a camel Nicola!
You are not a camel Nicola!

This post is dedicated to my friend Nicola (Botty), who in the 20+ years I’ve known her I could probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen her supping a pint of water… wine and gin on the other hand… Nicola has signed herself up to do a crazy challenge in June (she has a habit of doing this, without thinking/training). She’s taking on a marathon challenge, to run 6 marathons in 3 days! Yep – she’s insane! She’s never done a marathon and she’s not exactly followed a training plan, but she used to be a decent cross country runner back in the day, she’s clinging on to this. Still – 6 marathons, 3 days, it’s going to be brutal! I keep stressing the importance of drinking more water, needs must to complete this latest feat my friend!

Chanting ‘hell no H20’ when you’re out on the lash is all well and good – well it’s not, but we do! But when it comes to everyday life (sober) and exercising, we should be drinking water consistently throughout the day, more so when we train. Getting to the point of dehydration (gasping and glugging) is not good, not good at all.

There’s loads of benefits of drinking water, some of which include:

  • Healthier skin, teeth and bones.
  • Healthier joints – water keeps cartilage around our joints hydrated and supple.
  • Improved digestion – water helps to dissolve fats and soluble fiber, flushing waste products.
  • Increased metabolism – water boosts our bodies’ ability to burn fat.
  • Increased energy – water increases ability to perform and reduces fatigue.

The amount of water we should drink depends on a number of things, like activity level, but it’s recommended that we should be drinking between 2 – 4 litres per day.

Drinking water on its own can be boring, so why not add fruit – lemons, limes, mint, berries and so on. I’ve just ordered a fruit infuser bottle from eBay, can’t wait for it to arrive (sad I know, but it’s the little things).

Put the coffee down and drink more water Nicola!

Hell yeah let’s hydrate!

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Endorphins: the best high you’ll ever have!

Credit: BBC http://bbc.in/1ZkGxrd

Endorphins – the legal high that’s backed and most definitely won’t be getting banned any time soon! Want to get high, euphoric, feel good AMAZING, de-stress, IMPROVE your health, fitness and general wellbeing? EXERCISE is the answer! It’s the miracle drug we’ve always had, but all too often people fail to take the recommended dose, and the effects of that can be fatal.

We know this… it’s not new news. So why is it that so many people are still missing out on this awesome high?

When you exercise your body releases endorphins ‘happy hormones’, morphine-based pain-relievers that are essentially like heroin… but so much BETTER… as an endorphin molecule is a hundred times more powerful! Note: I’ve never tried heroin! But that’s what the health experts say. When you take morphine, you feel dreamy and pain-free, this is what endorphins do too and that’s why people get addicted to exercise.

5 benefits of exercise

  • Relieves stress – healthy body, healthy mind. Exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress, a big motivator for me personally at the minute. It can also reduce risk of depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Reduces risk of major illnesses – such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, some cancers by up to 50% and lowers your risk of early death by up to 30% (ref NHS).
  • Boosts self-esteem – get high on those happy hormones! Exercise boosts self-esteem and confidence, who doesn’t want to look and most importantly FEEL good.
  • Improves sleep – a biggie for me as I LOVE sleep. In my mind there’s nothing worse than a bad night’s sleep, I should be avoided at all costs if sleep deprived.
  • Increases energy levels – increasing your heart rate and working up a sweat will increase your energy levels. Activity fuels more activity!

There’s literally hundreds more!

Laziness fuels more laziness

It’s time to quit with the excuses… lack of time isn’t good enough! Make time, make the effort and you’ll reap the rewards. You are the one holding you back; you will be the one that suffers as a consequence.

Baby steps can lead to big changes!

What benefits do you get from exercise?

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The Naked Truth!

The naked truth

OK, so not quite naked… but baring some of my wobbly bits! This is my ‘before’ pic, as I embark on my transformation. I took these pics a few weeks ago, at the beginning of January in prep for my blog going live, which took a little while longer than intended – if truth be told I was stalling!

My before pic

One word to sum-up how I look and feel in this is – BLOATED! I wouldn’t say that I’m overweight, there’s just more wobble going on than there was a few weeks ago (I can’t suck it in!). I’m far from beach-body ready, despite desperately needing some vitamin sea and colour!

I took two weeks off work over the Christmas period and didn’t go to the gym. I exercised a couple of times, did a few HIIT (high-intensity interval training) sessions at home. But that wasn’t nearly enough to compensate for the food and booze I was shoveling down my neck, without a second thought!

I didn’t weigh myself before Christmas, but recon I put on around half a stone… I can look at food and put on weight. At the time I took these pics my weight and measurements were as follows:

Dress size: 12

Weight: 66kg

Upper arms: 11cm
Chest:
38cm
Waist:
32cm
Stomach: 36cm
Hips:
39cm
Thighs:
50cm  

I don’t weigh myself regularly and I don’t get hung up on what the scales say anymore, as such I don’t have a goal weight in mind! I’m going off look and feel – I want to lose fat and gain muscle (size and definition). So some of the measurements above may go up / may go down, I’ll keep you posted. It’s often said that muscle weighs more than fat, but that’s not strictly true – one pound of fat equals the same in weight as one pound of muscle. Muscle density is different to fat, it takes up less room in your body and changes your body composition – I’m determined to make noticeable changes to mine.

Problem areas…  

  • Love handles; first place I store fat, last place I lose it
  • Face; my cheeks get chubbier, one of the first tell-tale signs I’ve put on a few lbs
  • Stomach; I’ve got a wobbly one pack at the minute


Areas of focus…

  • Booty; I want more junk in my trunk – just a quarter of what Khloé Kardashian’s got will do! Glute exercises will be a big feature in my workouts.
  • Upper arms; I want to put on a good gun show.
  • Stomach and core strength; I want to increase my core strength and define my abs (they are there somewhere). Yoga will greatly improve my strength and flexibility, and as luck would have it classes have just be added to the timetable at my gym.  

There are so many inspirational women, with fantastic physiques in the fitness industry that I’d love to look like. I follow loads of health and fitness blogs and social media accounts – Michelle Lewin, Emily Skye, Kayla Itsines to name a few. But keeping it closer to home, fellow Lancashire lass and Bury girl Gemma Atkinson is a great role model, in fantastic shape. For me, strong looks much better than skinny!

I’ll keep you updated on my progress, all tips, suggestions and words of encouragement welcome…

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2016: Gym, gin and general life goals

goaldigger

Forget gold digger, this year I plan to be a goal digger! Setting goals is a great way to motivate yourself, to give you focus and direction, as well as an aim to train. Whatever your goals may be, make sure they’re realistic, achievable and timely to keep on track. Here’s my 2016 gym, gin and general life goals…

Gym goals…

Shape up. I want to lose fat, build muscle and tone up. I want to be stronger, fitter and sculpted (the buzz word in fitness for defined). I don’t have a goal weight and don’t really get hung up on what the scales say. It’s more about how I look and feel, for me strong is sexy/healthy, skinny isn’t attractive or appealing in the slightest. I’ve noted my weight and measurements at the start of the year, I’ll show and share my progress over the coming weeks and months. Check out The Naked Truth.

Start Yoga. Something I’ve said I’ll do for the last few years. I’ve been to a few classes, but never stuck at it on a regular basis. I’m well aware of the many health benefits, and need to improve my core strength, flexibility and balance – I am going to start and I am going to stick at it!

Enter some challenge events. This is still tbc at the minute, but I’m thinking a distance/open water swim challenge or a triathlon…

Complete Kettlebell and Studio Cycle Instructor qualifications. I’ve already signed myself up for these one day courses in February and March, two of my favourite fitness classes, I’ll let you know how I get on.

Start Gym Instructing. Putting my recent qualification in to practice. I’m going to look to do this on a casual basis initially, around my full-time job and see where it leads.

Gin goals…

Every year I do dry January – borderline necessity after the booze fest that is Deathcember! So the gin jaunts will be from February onwards…

No endorsements intended! All escapades are my own sourcing, links just for info.

Get involved at Manchester Gin Festival. A date that’s already in my diary, I’m going to the Gin Festival in March with a good friend, Dawn, my gin twin and fellow shoeaholic. Taking place at the beautiful Victoria Baths, we’ll be treated to masterclasses, live music, great grub and 100 different gins – sure we can do 50 each Dawn!
ginfestival.com

Pay the Old Bell Inn a visit. Situated in Saddleworth, this hotel, restaurant and bar holds a Guinness World Record title for the most amount of gins commercially stocked – a whopping 600 different gins! I heard about this place just before Christmas. I’ll be booking in for a week… and detoxing for the rest of the year!
theoldbellinn.co.uk

Join the gin journey. A chauffeur driven gin jaunt around Manchester, that takes you to 5 bars, to try 5 gin cocktails, have fun and meet fellow gin lovers along the way. Led by the gin commandos at shakerattleandstir.co.uk.

I’m sure more gin jaunts will be added to the list as the year goes on.

General life goals…

Manage my money better. I have no idea where it goes and what I spend it on most months, but I’m always counting down the hours till payday, AND class my overdraft as part of my salary and credit card as free money. Not good, not good at all!

Read more. I really enjoy reading, but go through phases of reading loads and then not at all. I annoy myself, I’m really impatient and inquisitive by nature, when I start reading something I want to know what happens (yesterday), so I’ll devour a book in a matter of days, reading so much I give myself eye strain. Patience is a virtue, to be learnt!

Meat free Monday. Something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while. There’s not much I won’t eat and I’m an alright cook, but I want to increase my veggie culinary repertoire, improve my health and do a bit to reduce my carbon footprint.
meatfreemondays.com

Writing my goals down and sharing them with the world is like writing them in blood – time to stop talking about them, pull my finger out and start doing! Like starting this blog, something I talked about doing for months, telling friends and family all about my ideas, plans and goals, but not doing the doing.

I’ll update on my progress over the coming months and if I’m slacking feel free to give me a telling. All good read, veggie recipe and gin jaunt suggestions welcome too…

Time for less talk, more action! 

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About

Cover image V2 FINAL

Me

Hi! I’m Kate, a 31 year old Lancashire lass on a mission to shape up; improve my physique and fitness, and develop my knowledge and understanding of the fitness industry. I’ve followed hundreds of exercise programmes, tried countless diets and fluctuated in weight, dress size and shape over the years. However, 2016 is my year! I’m adamant that this is the year I get in the best shape of my life and make big changes to my lifestyle and career.

The blog

Gym & Toneic is an online space to show and share my exercise and social escapades. As the name suggests, I’m a big fan of the gym and of gin, in equal measures. Thus why I don’t look like a buff beauty (yet…). I’m using this blog to document my fitness journey, as a means to motivate myself and hopefully others too, and share my gin drinking jaunts with fellow gin lovers – it’ll be more about lifting weights than cocktails this year though!

Gym love

I’ve been a frequent gym goer since college, and generally workout at least 3 days per week – endorphins make me happy! I’ve worked in various roles in sport and leisure most of my working career, and have a number of instructing qualifications under my belt. I decided to take my passion for the gym to the next level at the back end of 2015, and qualified as a Level 2 Fitness Instructor, and I’ve signed myself up for a few more courses over the coming year. By no means do I know it all… I’m newly qualified and finding my feet, studying to develop my knowledge and broaden my horizons – every day is a learning day!

Gin love

I developed a taste for gin in my late twenties; cider supping on the swings is but a distant (hazy) memory. It’s my drink of choice, refreshing, easy on the palate and waistline! I’ve been to a few gin tasting events in Manchester and have subsequently turned into a bit of a gin snob. Before I order a G&T at a bar, I check out the gin selection and ask what they’ve got to accompany it, and if the reply is simply ‘lemon and lime’, I’m less than impressed…

Bloom gin is my personal favourite, light and fruity, best served in a glass the size of your head with fresh strawberries, and supped in the sun! Over the winter months I took a liking to Opihr, a spiced gin, served with ginger ale and an orange slice. I’m very much looking forward to finding new favourites in 2016… watch this space!

Other loves in life

  • Animal print; leopard, snake, zebra you name it. If it’s tacky and looks like something Kat Slater would wear, I’ll probably love it! Big fan of purple too.
  • Chips, cheese and gravy; a hometown delicacy #Btown. Don’t get me started on gravy, cannot beat good gravy.
  • The beach; sun, sea and a stunning sunset – my idea of heaven!
  • Friends; cheesy I know but I’m a social soul, I love spending time with friends old and new, making memories – good friends are your forever.
  • Laughing; you know when you laugh so hard and loud you can’t breathe, I love that. Life shouldn’t be taken so seriously.
  • Quotes; fitspo, friends, fun times – I do love a good quote. My all-time favourite #fitspo quote has to be, ‘sweat like a pig, to look like a fox’. I plan to sweat a lot this year!
  • Tom Hardy; that guy is too hot for his own good!
  • Shoes; my name is Kate Brooks and I’m a shoeaholic.
  • Tattoos; I’ve got 3 so far, I’m always thinking about my next. The hypnotic buzz of the needle, unknown pain factor, and adrenaline rush that leaves you craving more.
  • Sleep; I’m a 10 hour girl and not much of a morning person – I’ll never be in the early birds exercise club. Approach with caution before 10am!

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