Fitness is a form of self-love: a confession 

Guys, this has been a really hard blog post to write, so please be gentle with me…

Last summer, I told you I was taking a long hard look at myself following a fairly bleak period in my life. Depression, self-destruction and self-neglect were unfortunate side effects of a death in the family – which had already been preceded by two more over the space of a few years, all just before or just after Christmas. I don’t often get too personal on my blog, but it’s really confession time here: I’ve let myself go.

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10,000 Reasons You Should Download Pokémon Go

Okay, so I’m officially behind the times here in posting about Pokemon Go, but sometimes you have a great idea for a post, and you just don’t get around to posting it at the exact, right moment…

But if you’ve not downloaded Pokemon Go quite yet, I’d definitely urge you to download it and have a go! If you don’t know what it’s all about, it’s basically a map-based game that sees you walking around the real world, collecting Pokemon, and visiting PokeStops to grab items, or PokeGyms to challenge other players.

Really, though, for me, it’s been a fantastic opportunity to spend the summer out and about, exploring new areas in my local vicinity, and rediscovering places I already know and love all over again.

Having recently started the Louise Parker Lean for Life plan (don’t call it a diet – she’ll come and beat you up), I was eager to find a way to fit in my required 10,000 steps a day somehow. 10,000 steps a day is a definite challenge for me. I work from home and I live in a fairly small place (no stairs!), so building up steps without going out and doing it purposefully is nearly impossible.

Luckily, having Pokemon Go as an excuse has genuinely helped me to check out a load of nearby places, racking up tens of thousands of steps every week in the pursuit of virtual monsters. I’ve visited beaches, abbeys, city centres, wharfs, parks and graveyards, and along the way, over the past couple of months, I’ve walked 460km – around 7-8km a day!

Truth be told, the Pokemon Go craze has started to wane, even for me – but using it as an excuse to start a healthy habit has been a fantastic way to trick my brain into getting on my trainers every day and heading out the door.

You can see from the chart below just how sedentary I’ve been for the last few months. My daily average walking distance is now 4 miles for the past month, compared to a dismal 1-2 miles previously.

Getting outside, enjoying nature, enjoying healthy activity – this is definitely exactly what I’ve been needing. Without going into too many details, I have to confess I’ve been feeling incredibly low and self-destructive for most of the year following a death in the family – something which I haven’t been quick to share on the blog. Weight-gain has been an embarrassing side-effect of my struggles, but I’ve reached a point now where I’m taking a long, hard look at my life, and making sure I make my health and my happiness a priority.

I don’t expect you thought you’d be going quite so deep in a blog post about Pokemon Go, did you…?

You can follow me for more updates on my journey on the blog, interspersed with plenty of fun, food and fashion, of course!

Hythe to Bucklers’ Hard

A lot of my friends have bicycles. In fact, if it wasn’t for Rachel, owner of a delightful Trek mountain bike, I don’t think I would have had anything more than a passing interest in biking at all. Once she bought her bike, it wasn’t long before her twin sister Lorraine, picked one up, and now I have four friends who have bikes. So they decided to plan a trip from Hythe (using the ferry) to Buckler’s Hard and back, a round trip of about ten miles or so (I think it wound up being more like eight in the end!).

After rediscovering my love of cycling last year at the Sky Ride, I wanted to join in, and so I arranged to hire a bike from a shop near the ferry terminal (and a good job I phoned in advance, because they weren’t open on a Sunday, the day I needed it, and the guy had to come in especially for me – what a sport!). He asked me where I was going and I explained the trip – then he asked me if I was cycle fit, because I guess that’s a ways to go if you’re not.. I had no idea if I was, but told him that I cycled on my exercise bike quite a lot and was pretty confident. I think the longest I’ve ever cycled on that thing was 100 minutes, because the counter goes up to 99 and I wanted to see what happened when it ticked over… Anyway, that’s a different story!

I have to say, cycling after a long break feels really intimidating. Even more so if you need to cycle in traffic. Even if you’re a confident driver, as soon as you get on that saddle the roads become roaring death-traps, full of cars ready to mince you into pieces. Luckily, the trip was down relatively quiet country roads, and the only time I got slightly nervous was when I cycled past a foal (giving it wide berth, I have to add!), which got startled by the group and started to gallop along the verge right beside us. I was concerned that it would run in front or bash into one of us, which could have turned into a nasty accident, but luckily it slowed down and stopped after a little bit. Hopefully it learned not to be scared of bikes in the future!

If there’s anything that’s going to get you enthusiastic about cycling, it’s a leisurely trip in the sunshine through some beautiful parts of the countryside near you. You get to see so much more than you would in a car, and have the added bonus of actually exercising whilst doing so – therefore more than earning yourself a slap-up pub meal halfway through. (But maybe not the two servings of ice cream I had both to and from the pub… sigh.)

I was also pleasantly surprised at how fit I was from all my cycling on the exercise bike. Turns out I must have had the resistance turned way up, because cycling up a hill was a pretty familiar feeling for me! Cycling on the flat was like heaven. A couple of my friends were struggling, but I guess the more we go out for trips, the fitter they’ll get – and the more ice cream we can eat! Right?

So, it was this trip that convinced me I really needed to buy a bicycle. The only question was really – which one?