Tag Archives: Exercise

What I learned today while I was doing the Ironing…

I hate ironing.  I leave it until there is an enormous pile of it or my husband is muttering about having nothing to wear to work.  I really, really dislike it.


In the past couple of months I have tried to keep on top of Mount Ironmore by making the occasion something to look forward to.  I have been catching up on the TV that I never seem to have time to watch, or those programmes that I fancy watching, and my husband really doesn’t.  Today, technology did not make my life easy.   Something crashed and it wouldn’t let me stream the TV show I wanted to watch on my laptop while getting hot over the steam iron.

I tried to listen to the radio, but that wasn’t going to cut it today.  Then… I had the idea… what about watching a couple of TED Talks?  Okay.., more than a couple of them… the ironing pile was HUGE.

TED talks

Do you know about TED Talks?  Basically they are lectures given by inspirational people which teach you something… What is not to like?  I get to take my mind off the fact I am doing the worst chore in the house and I learn stuff.  Great deal.  Plus, I actually know someone who did a TED talk (Mortgage Free in Three) and it was AWESOME.

So, the first thing I learnt was about how your frame of mind and your perspective can actually make exercise easier and better.  That talk was 14 minutes and some seconds long.


The second thing  I learned was why keeping biodiverse habitats is so important, and actually really clarified why I am so passionate about herbalism.  This is the talk I want to share with you.  This is about 14 minutes long as well.

Humble Plants that hide surprising secrets

The third talk was about emotion and how it motivates people.  It was one of TED’s top 20 best talks ever and it was amazing.  Goosebumpy in fact.  I need to process it before I tell you all about it… but I am sure I will.  What a fabulous talk.

completed ironing

And even better – in just over 1 hour… I have ironed 9 work shirts, 2 French cuff shirts, 2 dresses, 1 skirt and a pair of trousers.  Oh and a short sleeved shirt.  Yay!  Mount Ironmore is no more… Hubby will have work shirts for the next couple of weeks… and I got topped up on motivation and inspiration.  Fabulous, fabulous mornings work.


Those nights when counting sheep is just not cutting it…

I have suffered from insomnia for most of my life.  Possibly for all of my life actually, but since the first time I can remember, there are some nights when I wake up at a silly hour of the night/early morning and that is it for sleeping.  It doesn’t seem to matter when I go to bed either… I will ALWAYS wake up at 3am.  Sometimes I am lucky enough to go right back to sleep, and other times… ummm… not so much.


I have tried all the remedies.  Every single one of them.  Valerian, Lavendar, Ylang Ylang and variations of those in oils, sprays, embrocations and even pills.  I have stopped drinking caffeine in the afternoon.  I have had a bath, a milky drink, a cold bedroom to sleep in… all sorts of things.  They tend to work for a week and then we are back into the old ways of sleeping and waking and not sleeping again.

So, what can my “Home Remedies from a Country Doctor” recommend?  Some of their advice is really good common sense.  For example, if you to bed and haven’t fallen asleep in 20 minutes, then get up and go and do something else.   Read a book, have a wander around the house, watch some TV, do some knitting or whatever it is that relaxes you.  When you feel sleepy again, head back to bed.  If you just lie in bed waiting for sleep to arrive, it reinforces the insomnia patterns in the brain, and that is no good for anyone.

If you have had really bad sleep the night before, how do you manage it?  I tend to keep to my routine, get up at the normal time and then self medicate with caffeine for the rest of the day. Apparently, this is the right course of action (though perhaps with less caffeine involved!).  Staying in bed to try and “make up” the lost sleep will just train your body to go to sleep late and to get up late.

clock watching

Another tip is to remove all the clocks from the bedroom, especially those glowing ones that you can see across the room.  If you are lying awake, it is tempting to clock watch and clock watching leads to anxiety and anxiety leads to lack of sleep.  It is a vicious circle.  So, put the alarm clock in the Hall.  It will also have the benefit that you will guarantee that you HAVE to get up when the alarm goes and there won’t be much chance of using the snooze button.

Getting up and at them is supposed to be a good cure for insomnia – exercise is good for sleeping, but make sure you do it at least 3 hours BEFORE bed.  A great work out will give you an adrenalin buzz and that won’t help with going to dreamland.  Another great tip is to do something boring before bed.  Don’t study, or pay bills – do a jigsaw, read a book, listen to wind down music.  It will get you into the sleeping vibe.

a wee dram

If you thought that having a wee dram of something alcoholic was the key to a sleep filled night… ummm… sorry.  It’s not.  It will actually disrupt your sleep.  And the same with Nicotine – give up on the e-cigs or cigarettes before bed.  It is a stimulant and will disrupt the sleep patterns not help it.  But, you can eat some turkey or have a glass of milk before bed.  Both turkey and milk contain tryptophan which is a chemical that causes drowsiness.  Which might explain all the snores after Christmas Dinner!

When your knee is needy…

Frankly, there is nothing worse.  Your only consolation is that HUGE number of other people also have achy and painful knees and we can all feel miserable together.  No, I know, that doesn’t really help you when it is sore, does it?  They say misery loves company.  Yeah, I never thought that either!

sore knee

As we talked about yesterday, there are usually 3 ways you get joint pain, and knees are no exception.  There is sudden injury, inflammation and wear and tear.  The knee is particularly prone to pain and trouble, because a sudden slip or a fall over can cause or contribute to all of the above, and lets face it, it is a joint which is heavily worked, day in and day out.  Skiers and joggers are both very susceptible to injuries.  Skiers, if they hit a bump at the wrong angle, can sometimes get knees which pop out.  Ouch.  Joggers can get something called chondromalacia patella – which is the wearing down of the cartilage behind the kneecap.  Basically this happens if their running mileage has increased dramatically in a short period of time.  This pain tends to be worse when you stand, climb stairs, or bend to pick something up from the floor.

But knees are fickle things.  Occasionally pain can result purely because of the way you walk.  If you walk out of alignment, or your ankle twists, then walking with your toes turned inward or outward can cause undue wear on the knee and make the tendons and the ligaments to get inflamed and hurt.  A lot.


So how can you stop the pain?  Ice packs are great on knees.  If you don’t have an ice pack, then a bag of frozen peas in a tea towel also works.  Elevate the knee, put it on for 10 minutes and then take it off.  Do this 4 times a day and the swelling (and therefore some of the pain) will come down.

As we said yesterday, do not be a hero.  Take Ibuprofen for the inflammation.  If the over-the-counter stuff is not doing the trick, go to the doctor and get prescription strength.  Just make sure you don’t take Ibuprofen on an empty stomach.  The side effects of that can be really horrible.

if the knee feels a little wobbly, then getting a knee brace from the pharmacy or sports shop might help matters.  They can help for three reasons – 1) the brace keeps the knee where it should be, which means the brain can adjust for any twists or unexpected movements; 2) a brace compresses a swollen knee and helps distribute the weight that the joint bears and 3) the brace keeps the muscles around the knee warm, which prevents further injury.


A clue to some unexplained knee pain might lie in the wear on your shoes.  If the soles of your shoes wear unevenly, then it could mean that there is stress being placed on your knee and that could mean it will begin to hurt for no apparent reason.  Get some arch support insoles in your shoes.  Dr Scholl is a good place to start, as they are not exorbitantly expensive and work a treat.  If your kneed pain still doesn’t disappear, then maybe you need to go to the Doctor and get it looked out.

What if a little person hurts their knee?  My reference book of choice this month, “Home Remedies from a Country Doctor” suggests that you wrap it up in a bulky bandage.  This will restrict the movement of the joint, helping it to heal as little ones can be awfully restless, even with a poorly joint, and the bulk of a bandage will enforce rest.


Another good tip is to make sure you have operational thigh muscles.  Apparently, well developed thighs mean that the knees will stay where they should do.  Doing squats is a good way of developing sturdy thighs, though in my experience they usually highlight painful knees rather effectively as well!

Oh Crumbs… something I ate does not agree with me…

Everyone has been in this situation.  It is Christmas (or Thanksgiving, or a Wedding Reception, or a Birthday dinner out).  You get a feeling that something you have eaten does not agree with you.  It might be nausea you feel, or a highly flavoured something repeats on you, or you get the delightful acid reflux.  It usually happens at a very important point.  Like in an important business meeting.  Or in a quiet bit when you are at Church.  Or when you are on a date.  It is horrible.  But it doesn’t have to happen regularly.

Indigestion is no joke.  Not funny at all.  I know people who have had to severely curtail their life because their indigestion is a little out of control.  It is a catch all title for any discomfort experienced in the upper abdomen and whatever causes it, I know it is miserable for the person on the sharp end.  If the indigestion is chronic, then you should definitely see a medical professional.  If it comes on when you exercise, then it is even more important to see someone.  It could be heart and not stomach trouble.

So what can you do to stop it?  You need to cut out the stimulants.  Say goodbye to coffee, tea, nicotine, chocolate.  All of these have a chemical that relaxes the lower oesophageal sphincter which contributes to indigestion.  It is a good job that I don’t get indigestion very often, because I would find it very hard to give up coffee and tea.  The other two, no problem, but you will have to prise the caffienated beverages from my cold, dead hands.

The second piece of advice from the Country Doctor book is not to be a hog at a trough come feeding time.  Overeating will send the stomach into a tailspin.  Basically, if you eat a huge meal, then your stomach produces too much acid to help digest that meal and then it keeps on going  producing a lot of acid, even if you only eat what you normally would.  You end up in a hyperacidity vicious circle.  Cut down on the portion sizes might help, if you think it could be overindulgence causing the problem.

What about trying a calmative tea?  Catnip and Chamomile make good digestive additions, although I might have to battle with the cats for the catnip.  Liquorice and mint is a really tasty and fabulous mixture for calming the digestive system, and so is Fennel Tea.  You can pick up tea bags of these flavours (except the catnip!) in most supermarkets these days.

Also, if you find that your indigestion happens after you have eaten rich, fatty foods, or after you have eaten highly spiced foods, then perhaps your eating patterns needs a bit of an overhaul.  Taking away fat and cream does not mean that you lose taste or flavour and if it calms your digestion, then it has to be worth a try.

From my research, one of the thing that many people are unaware of is that sometimes indigestion is caused by too little stomach acid as well as too much.  If you try all of the above remedies and you are still feeling horrible, then try drinking a little apple cider vinegar in a glass of water before you eat.  If you don’t get indigestion, then bingo – you had hypoacidity issues.

One method of Life Coaching…

I have been doing a lot of research about Life Coaching.  I must admit that when I first started studying, I was not at all sure about this aspect of my qualification.  I thought it was going to be a lot of bluster and faff and really rather useless.  To my surprise, I have absolutely loved it, gained a great deal from reading around the topic and in fact, I can quite see it becoming most of my work when Viridian Herbalist goes live.


While I have been doing my research online, I have found various methodologies of coaching to think about, and I want to share one with you today, because it makes so much sense to me.


The essence of life coaching is to help people achieve their goals.  There is every likelihood that the client will have issues in one area of their life which is putting up some kind of obstacle between where they are and where they want to be.  Sometimes the client will have a clear understanding of where that obstacle might be (and it might not just be one… it could be a whole obstacle course!) but on other occasions, they might not even know what they want out of life at all.  So, Life coaches tend to have their own differing ways of assessing their clients requirements and getting to a solution.

cart wheel

One such methodology I have found is that of a cart’s wheel.  I love this analogy.  If you have a wonky wheel, then moving forward is going to be incredibly difficult.  Each part of the wheel looks at a different aspect of life.  It has 12 spokes, and each of these spokes correspond to something different.  On the chart I found we have nutrition, exercise, stress mastery, relationships, finances, work, play, health care, environment, life purpose, self esteem and finally spirituality.  And right at the centre is the hub of it all, self care.


If you think about it, all of those areas mentioned above need to be balanced and addressed to have a happy and healthy life.  If any of them are out of balance, then you are going to feel a little off and you won’t be able to achieve whatever it is you want to.  The most important of these though, is the centre of the wheel, the self care.  It is like being on an air plane where they say in the safety talk to put your own oxygen mask on before helping others to do the same.  You need to take care of yourself to make sure you can take care of anyone who depends on you.


As a life coach, I would see my role as to initially see where my client is in terms of balance on this wheel.  I would suspect that most people will be higher in some areas than in others.  Getting that balance right is going to be key to the happiness of the client and the eventual achievement of their goals.  But I suspect, more often that not, I will be providing blinding glimpses of the obvious.  Sometimes you need a person outside of your life to show you a direction and what you need to do.


I can not think of anything more rewarding than that!

Going back. Again.

Today, I start back at the gym.  I gave up going to the gym back in November when I got ill, with that we think was glandular fever.  I am heading back to the gym, like lots of other people, after the post-Christmas New Year’s Resolution rush to get fit.  My plan is to use the combination of exercise and portion control to get fighting fit in preparation for becoming a Mum via adoption.

50 reasons

On the basis that if you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got, I am searching for Motivation to help me when I get the inevitable attack of the CBAs (Can’t be Asked).  Where do I go for short sharp inspiration?  My favourite Pinterest of course!  It came up with the goods.  50 reasons to exercise.  I won’t trail through the whole 50, because otherwise I will spend all my day at the computer, and not go to the gym!  Here, instead, are the edited highlights.


Exercise makes you feel happier through the release of endorphins.  It improves your self esteem, because you are achieving something as well as making yourself look better.  If you are studying and want to boost you learning, then get with your books and get on the stationary bike!  Exercise lifts your mood, keeps your brain fit, reduces stress and boosts your immune system.

exercise advice

It also apparently has anti-ageing effects and boosts your creative thinking.  It improves sleeping patterns, helps to control addictions, improves your eating habits and improves your posture.  Exercise can also keep you focussed in life and strengthens your bones.


If you exercise regularly, your cholesterol levels improve, you lower your risk of certain cancers, you can lower high blood pressure without resorting to drugs, it reduces your risk of diabetes, can fight the onset of dementia, eases back pain and decreases the risk of osteoporosis.


Some obvious ones now.  Exercise increases your energy and endurance, improves sport performance, improves pain resistance and lessens fatigue.  Also, aerobic exercise improves oxygen supply to blood cells.


Do I think that these reasons will help motivate me?  Well, hopefully.  I also need to keep my eye on the prize;  I want to feel like I have the energy to keep up with a small person (or people) when they come into my life.  I also want to feel better about myself.  But the main thing I have to remember is to break the habit of a lifetime and not do too much, too soon and burn up or burn out.


So, on that note, I am off to try out the exercise bikes (slowly), maybe the treadmills (for some walking) and get in the pool and do some lengths.  After all that, I am going to treat myself to a sit in the steam room!




10 Rules for Better Health – Part Two

I hope you enjoyed yesterday’s blog, and here is today’s, picking up where we left off.

10 rules


So, we did the first five yesterday and today we are tackling the last five.


Less words, More Action.  You can take this in two different ways.  Yes, it could mean getting your bahookie off the couch and doing some exercise, not matter how little or how short a time you can manage.  I think it could also mean keeping your word as well.  If you actually live up to what you have promised others, how good does that make you feel?  The endorphin kick you receive from both gives you a similar feeling.  So, lets do this!


Less Greed, More Giving.   That Movie in the 80’s with the line “Greed is good” was soooo wrong.  Greed is NOT good.  It is not good for the community, the world or the individual.  I might be swimming against the tide here, but if we all just gave a little of ourselves, time or companionship not necessarily money, our world would be a much better place.


Less Worry, More Sleep.  Did you know that more than 75% of the conditions which General Practitioners treat regularly, are due to stress?   Although humans do need some stress/worry to motivate them to do something, having the body’s flight or flight response on the go 24/7 is not healthy.  I have seen (and experienced) the damage it can do, and it is just not worth it.   Sleep is a great remedy.  There really is very little better than a good, deep, restorative sleep.  It is when the body repairs itself.  Sadly, I don’t get much of it myself due to insomnia and a very odd cicadian rhythm.  But I try, every night to sleep soundly and for at least 8 hours.

from the Guardian

from the Guardian

Less Driving, More Walking.   Not only will the environment benefit from less exhaust fumes, you will also benefit.  Not just from the exercise, but also from being in nature/out of a confined space.  It gives your brain a bit of space.  I often come back from a brisk walk with the dog having had a great idea for a blog post, or an idea for what to cook for dinner.  Breathing fresh air is a great stress reliever as well.



Less Anger, More Laughter.  Anger is corrosive and can cause so much damage to the body.  Often, holistic healers find that the blockages to people getting better are down to repressed anger or down to people being angry about things in other areas of their lives. Anger is not good.  Getting cross also represses your immune system.  Laughter however, truly is the best medicine.  it boosts your immune system, bathes your brain in Oxytocin and other feel good hormones.  Who hasn’t felt good after watching that hilarious comedy, or laughing hysterically at something someone said?  Its obvious.


So, today, my prescription is for you to go and either take a walk in some fresh air, find something you can give away to someone who really needs it, have a fabulous afternoon nap, and watch the film which never fails to make you laugh.  Or, better yet, do all of them!