Monday, 28 March 2016

Fitness: Exercise, Why do we start?

Everyone has their own reasons why they start something. When it comes to fitness some people find it harder than other to start. I work with young people, middle aged people and even the older generation who all at some point decided that they wanted to get into exercise for their own reasons. Some reasons are more serious than others but they all have one thing in common and that is that they took the first step and did something. Some people far really fit when they're younger and then life gets in the way and it isn’t the main priority of their life but then something clicks and it then because more of a priority.

This post is to show that everyone has their own reasons for starting and that it isn’t straight forward but if you keep trying you’ll get there eventually.

I thought I would start by telling you about how I got into exercise. I started doing sport at a young age I was involved in every sport at school but when I was at university I couldn’t handle juggling doing exercise, having a job and assignments. That was when I stopped doing exercise but unlike most students I lost a lot of weight and my confidence wasn’t what it used to be. I was so underweight that a lot of people got very concerned about my health. I decided that was when I needed to get back into exercise and found tennis. Tennis was my stress release and soon become the sport I would coach as my main sport. I wanted to get fit again because while at university I lost any fitness I had, I had signed up for the Great North Run in 2015 and started running and strength training at the gym. Now I’m slowly putting on weight and my fitness is definitely better.

Some people find the hardest part of getting involved in exercise is the starting point. I’ve run 2 beginners running programs for the past 6 months with over 20 people starting each one. Every one of them starts wanting to make to make it through the 10 weeks but for some that doesn’t happen but it doesn’t stop them trying again just like Shivani and Laura who I’ll talk about that later.

Most people have to try more than one type of exercise to find the one that’s best for them; Helen from Nelly's Cupcakes told me she wanted to get fit so she could keep up with her toddler and be a good/healthy role model for her which is a perfect reason to get fit. She first tried out Zumba which she did enjoy but because of class politics, she started to not enjoy it anymore and decided to try running. She started running and she started alone doing the Couch to 5K and a year later she is still going. If you’re like Helen and find that you’re not enjoying what you’re doing mix it up and try something new you never know you might fall in love with it.

Helen wasn’t the only person I spoke to that wanted to get fit because of their kids Pixie from Fashion Voyeur wanted to get fit because she has a severely autistic son and wanted to get fit so she could give him the best life but also so that she could handle anything that he threw at her. She first started with Barre but now does a large range of exercises including boxing and roller derby. Pixie went on to tell me that exercise has become a coping mechanism for her as for her ‘its pure escapism.’ Pixie has become to love exercise so much she became an This Girl Can ambassador in 2015 along with 100’s of other women across the country.

From talking to a people I work with a lot of them get involved in exercise because they want to lose weight. Shivani Malhorta from Cloud in a Teacup told me how she had always been an overweight adult and after trying to get fit on a number of occasions decided that last year was the year to get serious and started the gym in June. At first, she hated it but she kept going, she started off cycling, walking on a treadmill and doing a few minutes on a cross trainer, she started off really slow but she’s kept going and now she is doing HIIT workouts and weights. For her, it’s not about being skinny it about feeling healthy and strong. Shivani has lost 4.5 stone (give her a round applause because that’s amazing) in weight but she has seen a huge change in her body shape because of the exercise she is doing and that has given her a lot more confidence. 

Laura Dawson from Elle Blonde was another amazing lady that started off being a big lady and decided she wanted to change that, she took herself to the gym and for her, that was when it clicked. She lost 4 stones in a matter of months (I’ve seen her in person and she looks amazing) and that was where her healthy obsession began. Laura had horrendous depression two years ago and refused to go on medication and one night after a few too many drinks signed up to do the biggest half marathon in the North East. After training and running further, she discovered that her depression got better.

After I left university I really got into research about how exercise could have a good effect on people’s mental health. I know myself that when I feel low that going out and doing some sort of exercise I feel always feel good after.

So when Kayleigh Lindstedt from I Dream of Coco told me how she suffered from mild anxiety and she started running as a way to clear her head as well as keep herself fit. She has even signed up to do the Great North Run which is a half marathon (Good Luck Kayleigh). Holly Olivia Stephenson from Bisous, Holly Olivia ( was another lady that started exercising to help reduce anxiety and depression. Holly decided that she wanted to work on her upper body which now she doesn’t have to cover up in warmer weather and has helped to improve her confidence. Like many other people, she tried swimming, running and cycling but fell in love with body weight exercises and hula hooping.

When Andy Hooper from Here Come the Hoopers told me how he got involved in exercise because he wanted to use it as a way of socialising. Alan recruited the dads from his estate after his wife Catherine had decided to recruit the mams from the estate to do a couch to 5K together. After running for a few weeks Alan decided to do the Disneyland Half Marathon in September.

I’ve used these stories with a hope that these might inspire someone to want to exercise or keep some people already exercising motivated. Writing this post is making me want to go out and go for a run and I hope it has inspired you.

I hope you like this post I have. I have loved writing this and can’t thank the bloggers in this post enough for telling me their stories. If you like these types of post please leave me a comment below.

Why not tell me your reasons for getting involved in exercise?

I hope to see you soon
See you soon
Love Melissa  xx  


Monday, 21 March 2016

Lifestyle: Mineral House Review

I was recently very lucky to be invited to the new spa, The Mineral House which is situated in the brand new Crowne Plaza Stephenson Quarter. I’ve never been the kind of girl that loves going to a spa resort, as I find it quite hard to relax in general. I was given a voucher to go to The Mineral House by my colleagues as a Thank you gift for the work I had done for the This Girl Can awards recently. I thought this would be a good chance to try and get in the spa mood to see if I could actually relax.

  In case you don’t know or haven’t seen it. The Crowne Plaza is right behind Central Station, when you head round you can’t miss it, as it is huge. The Crowne Plaza is part of a huge regeneration that is happening at Stephenson Quarter, with lots of new exciting things happening in the area. Which i'm looking forward to seeing.

The Mineral House is part of the hotel and is based in the basement of the hotel. I had already seen the spa before, as I had gone down to see it with a colleague when we were looking for raffle prizes for an award evening we were doing. As soon as you walk out of the lift you come in to that relaxing spa environment, you feel calm as soon as you walk out the lift. Once you’re out of the lift, you head down to the reception, which you can’t miss, which is great as I’ve been to facilities in the past where, just finding the reception is a mission in itself. The staff there were lovely and very helpful as I had to ask for my treatment to be changed as I had been recommended by my doctor to not have a back message. They were happy to change it and I decided to get my nails done instead (another new thing for me).

The staff changed my appointment for 1:30pm and we were allowed to use the facilities for 2 hours before hand. The facilities include a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, steam room and gym. I got there early and wanted to try and get full use of everything. The staff showed me to a relaxation area which was small but cosy. I filled in a form and was given my robe and slippers and I was ready to go, the changing rooms were a decent size which large lockers and good size showers which were filled with White Company product (always a winner in my book).

Anyone that knows me knows I hate swimming it is one sport/exercise that I just hate. Water is something I try and stay away from but I’ve been trying to change that since I injured my back and it put me out of using the gym for the last month. After getting changed and taken the typical spa selfie, I made my way to the pool area. The swimming pool was a good size for the amount of people that were there and the Jacuzzi was your normal size Jacuzzi. I spent most of my time in the Jacuzzi, which was great as I do like Jacuzzis but what I didn’t like was the timer, it must have been set for like a minute as I always had to turn it back on which is a little bit annoying. The Jacuzzi was great for my back and I actually started to relax, like a said at the beginning I’m not good at relaxing and being in my own company for too long as I get bored but I did well.

I decided the next thing to try out was the steam room which I did absolutely love. It was small but as long as too many people aren’t in there then you’re good. I spent a good amount of time in there as well.

When I did eventually get in the pool, it was ok like I said I’m not a fan of water and swimming pools. I did a few laps of the pool it’s not massive but big enough to do a decent swim. The temperature of the pool for me was just too cold so I didn’t stay in too long.

A few other bloggers had started coming in and were in the relaxation area and I heard that there was mocktails and nibbles so I was straight there. A met a few people that I hadn’t met before which was great as I love meeting new people and it’s always good to see old faces as well. We chatted for a while before people started heading to there treatments or to use the facilities.

The part I was excited about trying out was the gym, I love going to the gym and after being out for a month and a half decided that it was time to try and get back into it. I had been given a few exercises that I could do with my back and thought I would try out The Mineral Houses gym as they had quite a bit in there. I’ve not used many hotel gyms but the ones I have, have always been really small. The Mineral House’s gym isn’t massive but it bigger than your average hotel gym. It has everything you need including all cardio machines a good amount of weight machines but my favourite part was the wide seclection of dumbbell, bars and medicine balls. I did a quick 15 minutes HITT workout using dumbbells and the medicine balls (I’m hoping to get this workout up on my blog next week) before heading for my treatment. 

After doing 20 minutes in the gym it was time for my treatment, I quickly got changed and grabbed my stuff before heading to the reception area to get my nails done. I have only ever had my nails done once and that was 4 years ago for a girl’s holiday. The lady that did my nail used the brand Orly which I’m going to talk about in a smaller post.  I don’t look after my nails so she had a hard job making them look good but she did a great job. I went for a dark red/berry colour which is a colour I use a lot on my lips so I knew I would love it. She also told me darker colour always look better on short nails which is great for me as I have really small nails. The treatment took about 20 minutes. I was really impressed with the finish she told me the polish should last up to double the time of normal nail polish. She told me my nails would be touch dry in 8 minutes which they were which was good as I had a busy afternoon planned. There was other treatments you could get including facials and back treatments.

Overall I really enjoyed the day, for someone who isn’t really bothered by spa I really enjoyed it. I’ve booked up to go again in May with my partner we are having a similar thing but I’m hoping to have a back massage and we will be having afternoon tea at Hawthorns so I should have a little review of that up after that. I would definitely recommend The Mineral House; it’s in a great location and you can get some great packages for the spa and for the restaurants and bars upstairs. We were given a goodie bag at the end and it was full of products that I'm excited to try out, maybe not the tanning stuff as I don't use tan but the other stuff I'll keep you updated on.  

I actually left the spa feeling great and kind of understand why people go to spa, I don’t think it will become a regular thing but I definitely will try and go more than once a year. 

If you would like to try out the Mineral House I'll leave all the links below.

Mineral House Website / Facebook / Twitter

What's your favourite treatment to have at a spa?

Hope you enjoyed reading,
see you soon,
Love Melissa

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Lifestyle: The Songs That Just Keep You Going.

Photo Taken by Nicole Marshall

It was International Women's Day on Tuesday and last saturday Active Newcastle held there first This Girl Can Awards evening which was all about inspiring and making women feel empowered by other women. For the event I had to put together a list of songs together that women got empowered by or that motivated them to take part in exercise. I thought that the playlist would make a great blog post and here it is. The list below is full of different songs that a lot of women will related to for different reasons and some of these are my favourite songs to listen to.  

Heather Small - Proud
Alicia Keys - Girl on fire
Alicia Keys - A woman's worth
Lady Gaga - Born this way
Ellie Goulding - Army
Chaka Khan - I'm every woman
Jordin Sparks - I am women
Britney Spears - Stronger
Little Mix - Salute
Sara Bareilles - Brave
Kelly Clarkson - Stronger
Florence and The Machine - Dog days are over
Florence and The Machine - Shake it out
Colbie Caillat - Try
Selena Gomez - Who says
Katy Perry - Love Me
Aretha Franklin & Annie Lennox - Sisters are doing it for themselves
Demi Lovato - Confident
Jessie J - Flashlight
Rachel Platten - Fight song
Calvin Harris - Let's Go (ft Ne-Yo)
Katy Perry - Roar
David Guetta - Titanium (ft. Sia)
Taylor Swift - Shake it off
Leona Lewis - Fire under my feet

This is becoming one of my favourite playlists to listen to while pretty much doing everything.  In the gym its motivates me to keep going and even walking to work it get my head ready for the day. 

Why not tell me what your favourite motivationals are or what songs make you feel empowered?

I hope you enjoyed this post. 
Speak to you soon
Love Melissa xx

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Guest Post: Achieve Your Fitness Goals For 2016

Whatever you want to achieve in terms of fitness for 2016, there is still plenty of time left for you to put some realistic goals together to assist your quest for self-improvement and general fitness. Perhaps you are currently looking into a variety of different charity runs and are considering running your very first marathon, or you are simply just wanting to look fabulous just before we move into dress season this spring.
No matter how challenging your goals are, the only person who is responsible as to whether you achieve them or not, is you. It goes without saying that you can always count on the support and love of your loved ones, but you really need to remember that on those dark mornings when it is just you and the empty street, that you are doing this for you- a better you.
If you have decided to embark on a healthy regime following the start of the New Year but are finding yourself in need of support or motivation, or even if you are currently considering building up your levels of fitness, these top tips will certainly give you more than a helping to achieve your dreams.

Be Kind to Yourself: Accept There Will Be Setbacks
We all know just how disheartening and discouraging setbacks can be, but something that I have learnt is that they are perfectly normal and a natural path on the quest to fitness. It is part of discovering yourself, to breaking down those barriers that may in some way, be holding you back.
If you are really struggling, then perhaps try to visualise how you would like to look and feel and then try to picture the path that you need to take to get there. As I am sure you can imagine, it is going to be far from easy and you will need to prepare yourself. The most important thing is not that you fail but how you respond; treat yourself kindly and your body will respond accordingly.

Make Sure That You Enjoy Yourself 
While I am sure that a lot us would prefer to perhaps sit on the sofa reading of our favourite books or swapping style tips with our friends, sadly it isn’t always possible! If no one has told you before, exercise is supposed to be fun; obviously it is going to be more than a challenge but anything that is worth obtaining has never been simple and easy to grasp with two hands.

Exercise and getting yourself in shape don’t have to be a chore and should instead be something that you look forward to and can’t live without. If you are someone who prefers to exercise outdoors, then why not make sure that you run along a route that has a special place in your hear and that you love seeing? It really can make such a difference; perhaps it is running up a hill you went walking on as a child? Imagine reaching the top of that hill just in time for sunrise each morning- what a lovely way to start your day!

Make Sure You Have A Plan
While many of us certainly have the desire and motivation to lose the pounds and fit into that dress we have been trying to squeeze ourselves into for the last few months, it is no good unless you have a firm plan to achieve your goals.

If you are something of a relative newbie to fitness then it is a good idea to invest as much time as possible in trying to read up on the latest fitness trends, dietary recommendations and workout routines.  Alternatively, you could even find yourself a personal trainer and have them create you a workout regime to follow.

Keep Track of Your Progress
This one is particularly important and will be your saviour during those dark days when you are finding it a challenge to get yourself to the gym or out running. It is really important that you clearly record your progress as you go along; this can either be in the form of keeping a note of your improvements as you go along, as well as taking photos of yourself to ensure that your progress really can be documented. 
Many people fail to notice just how much progress they have made as they embark on a fitness regime, this is due to the fact that you get so used to seeing your own body every day and therefore are unable to actually see how much progress you have made. 
However, if you are one of those people who seem to live an incredibly busy life and genuinely seem to struggle to find time to even think to yourself, then there are a variety of devices out there that will help you record just how much exercise you have done and calories burnt!

Make Sure That You Get Enough Sleep
As you are probably aware, your body requires rest in order to improve its fitness, this is particularly the case if you are looking to increase the amount of muscle you have or tone up. Sadly with all the trappings of modern life, this can be more than a little difficult!
Take the time to look at your sleeping space and try to ensure that it is as minimalistic as possible, devoid of any distractions that would likely keep you awake at night; you are looking to create your own little haven in your home where you can relax and be assured of a good night’s sleep. There are numerous apps you can invest in to record exactly how much sleep you are getting, or alternatively, you could invest in a good quality sleep tracking watch and let it do its thing while you actually manage to get some sleep.

I hope you have enjoyed this post and it's made you think more about them goals you set in January. 

Hope to see you soon 
Love Melissa xx

This post was by ThoughtShift

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