Tag Archives: swimming

What’s your arms only rope climb equivalent?



Fitness is a funny thing. We might get injured or distracted. Things we’d previously worked up to and got to the point of doing with, if not ease, then less struggle, suddenly feel impossible again.

This might be lifting a particular weight, a speed you’ve not matched, a yoga pose you’ve not done for a while… Just as getting stronger, fitter, more flexible and powerful has a positive impact on our confidence and mood, getting out of the habit can have a detrimental effect.

I often wonder how Simone Biles is doing.

After her phenomenal performances at last year’s Olympics, the image that stayed with me was of her daily workout’s inclusion of climbing a rope ladder using only her arms.

She made it look – like her gymnastics – like FUN.

You can see her brief pre-Olympic interview with Ellen DeGeneres, including some gymnastics clips and the infamous rope climb HERE.

‘It’s very easy,’ she tells Ellen as if she means it. ‘I do one rope a day like that.’

Every so often, when psyching myself up to cycle to the pool, I wonder. Does she still do it? What would happen if she had a week off?

I’m not an athlete (although, when I had a whole lane to myself at the Olympic pool in Stratford when it opened to the public, I did imagine – for a few seconds – being an Olympic swimmer).

Even so, I notice that if I don’t cycle for a few days, I feel the effort more when I do again. My 3 or 4 swims each week (sometimes I only manage two) are almost always for an hour but I notice that when I’m more on top of things and going more often, I’ll swim faster. Some of them – many of them – are pretty leisurely. I’m no Olympian but I love being in the water.

Injury means that for almost a year, my yoga practice has been lighter on the upper body work. I crave certain poses but know I’d be foolish to try them again before I fully heal (I have delayed the healing by not being so patient in the past). I’m also aware that I might not be able to do them again and that saddens me.

And this is another key, when recovering after injury or getting back into any kind of training: Being friendly to our bodies and appreciating what they can do today. Not beating ourselves up remembering through rose tinted glasses how we could do more in the past.

What do you do quite effortlessly? How often do you test yourself to keep it going?

What’s your arms only rope climb equivalent?

How’s your self-talk when you’re in that zone?

What are you building up to?

What helps you be kinder to yourself when illness, injury or other obstacles mean you can’t reach your fitness goals?

I am regularly awed at how quickly I start to feel like an amoeba if I don’t swim enough and then, it’s like magic how much better it makes me feel when I get back into the pool and sea.

Do you notice an impact on your mood when you’re working out well and when, for whatever reason, you’re not?

Feel free to comment below.





Working with our changing energy levels

What helps you feel most strong, fit and healthy-

When I’m on fire (feeling strong, fit and healthy), I think practically nothing of cycling the four mile round trip to get to the gym, do a (yoga, Pilates or Body Balance) class, swim for an hour and head home.

When I’m at my strongest, I do this three or four times a week. I feel like ‘Yaaaaayyyyy! Am really getting somewhere. I can feel myself getting stronger, more toned, more flexible and even [often right before I fall over] more co-ordinated!’

And then, maybe I get my period or a cold or injure myself or simply fill my schedule with too much work and I lose that momentum.

Three or even two times a week then feels more like hard work. And yet, I know myself – If I don’t get my two or three swims a week, I start feeling more amoeba than human. Swimming for me is more yogic than yoga. Even so, I do at least a little yoga every morning after my meditation.

Again, this varies a lot. Sometimes it’s a ‘proper’ practice, other times, just a few gentle poses. And (when feeling more amoeba than human) sometimes, maybe just Child pose. The important thing is that I do some yoga every day.

On other days, I’m generally walking a fair bit or cycling to run errands and go back and forth from work. Yet it feels as if I regularly cycle between feeling like I’ve got this routine down as habit and meh.

While I’m more at ease with the ‘on top of the world’, ‘getting stuff done’ part of my cycle, I’ve learned to honour all parts. That’s not to say that when I’m feeling ‘meh’, I don’t wish I could snap myself out of it.

Sometimes, self-care means pushing myself and doing more (like going for that swim I’m planning during a break between sessions today) and other times, letting myself off the hook.

How do you manage your energy cycles and fitness routines? 

What helps you be kind to yourself wherever you are in your cycle?

What is your ‘ideal’ exercise schedule for a strong week?

What about when you’re feeling much more ‘meh’?

Feel free to share below.




Plus sized yoga video showing yoga is for every body*

A friend just shared this video with me.


You can click here to see it.

Great timing for me – I’ve just started blogging a different yoga pose / tool each week and felt exceedingly self-conscious asking a friend to take the pics and putting them out there.

I will continue to feel that way, in all likelihood, but had decided that I wanted to embody the ‘Yoga is a way of becoming friendlier with your own body and mind’ definition of Trauma Sensitive Yoga creator, Dave Emerson as much as possible.

While totally believing the words when I say them to students and clients, I was shocked at some of my own self-talk, triggered by these pictures. I love Instagram and all the contortionist yoga pics but, to often, it’s like looking at a picture of a seal or monkey** and recognising that my body just doesn’t work that way – we might as well be different species.

And yet, however deeply we move into any pose, we’re getting benefits. And, of course, my focus is on the mental and emotional health benefits.

So I got over myself (I’m strong, fit and healthy – incredibly lucky. I’m also lucky to enjoy donuts and yum yums. And Wotsits and…) and decided to go ahead with my plan to share as many benefits of the tools as possible. You can see some here.

But in a world where ‘plus size’ means models of size 12 and over (US size 8, that’s just one size bigger than the Wakefield twins’ ‘perfect size 6’ in Sweet Valley High), it’s natural to sometimes fall into old traps of self-loathing. Thanks to tools including yoga, I am glad that these are just occasional blips rather than the default setting of my childhood, teens and early 20s.

*If you’re not into yoga (I often find swimming more yogic than yoga, personally), dance, run, walk, find other ways that you enjoy moving in and enjoy being in your own skin. Just because every body IS a beach body or yoga body or whatever body doesn’t mean you have to go to the beach or do yoga or whatever if you don’t WANT to – YOU know yourself best. Do what feels best for YOUR body.

What kind of movement / exercise do you enjoy the most?

What would you like to experiment with but have been delaying because of self-consciousness?

What might you do to challenge yourself to take a step in that direction today?

Feel free to comment below.


Eve x

** I temporarily forgot I wasn’t a monkey when high hopes took me to an ariel hoop class last year – could barely lift a toothbrush for days but did get to hang upside down briefly


Are you, generally, happy in your own skin?

Image courtesy of Alan Cunningham, 2014
Image courtesy of Alan Cunningham, 2014

I often reassure students and clients with arthritis and other painful conditions that it’s easier for us to be more embodied when we’re feeling strong, well, healthy, flexible and so on.

When we’re in pain, it makes sense that we might try to mentally escape our own bodies. But while it’s more challenging, the benefits make it worthwhile. Research shows that mindfulness helps reduce the symptoms of chronic pain conditions including headaches, fibromyalgia, back and neck pain (as well as stress, anxiety and depression). Best of all, when followed up four years later, participants were still reaping the benefits.

I was reminded of this recently when a chronic pain condition flared up for me. While aware of it (I upped my self-care, ate better, got more sleep and generally was a bit kinder to myself), the fact that I’d been doing lots of swimming, yoga and cycling in the run up meant a few painkillers (spread out appropriately) were all I needed.

The last time this had flared up, for the first time in years the painkillers hadn’t even dented the pain. I’d been back wanting to simply lie face down on the ground until it all went away. Standing upright took an enormous amount of effort.

Coming after years of managing it so well that I can teach yoga (albeit less dynamic) even with flare ups, it was a little disheartening but my mindfulness practice helped me understand that my self-care hadn’t been adequate in the run up and my body basically screamed at me as a way to remind me that I need to be more disciplined about my own self-care.

Because I’ve become friendlier with my own body through yoga and so on, I am better at quickly pausing to say, ‘OK, Body, what do you want from me? What do you need?’ Usually, it doesn’t need to scream at me because I’m mindful enough to heed the whispers and regular voice warnings.

I knew that a cold had meant I hadn’t been having my usual swims and this meant I hadn’t been cycling as much. It was actually great (with hindsight. It sucked at the time) to get the reminder about exercise being so healing and preventing pain.

During that bad flare up, I felt so sorry for myself, even though I was mindful of it not helping, I amped up my sugar and crisp intake (I’ll never give up chocolate and crisps but I feel better when they’re treats rather than meal replacements).

So lesson (for now, I’m human. Bound to forget and relearn again when I get complacent about it) learned.

What are your warning signs? 

Maybe you have a chronic pain condition with clear warning bells?

Maybe you’ve got to know your body’s stress signals? (An estimated 90% of GP visits are due to stress and stress symptoms exacerbating existing conditions) What tells you you need to amp up your self care?

Do you listen to your body’s whispers to guide you back on course or do you sometimes make it scream for attention?

What have you learned about your body that will help you put supports in place for the next time you feel vulnerable and less happily embodied?

What’s a nourishing, gentle and easy to implement treat you can soothe yourself with even on your most amoeba like days? (I genuinely start feeling like an amoeba if I don’t get my swims in.)

Feel free to comment below.

Trust your body.

Make friends with it.

Bionic medical advances aside, it’s the only one we get.


Eve x




Create some light at the end of your stress tunnel (and put as much support in place to help you get there)

I usually end my working day by looking ahead to the next day in my desk diary. When things are very busy, I use a different colour pen to number each item in order of priority. And when things are exceedingly busy, I estimate how much time each task will take, too.

Last night, after working several long days and nights and weekends, my conservative estimate showed today’s tasks as taking 15 hours (sob – another long working day. Luckily, I love my work but still, I know the importance of balance).

Normally, I’d do my best to postpone things but I know that this current spate of extreme busyness will come to an end (or at least calm down a little) after October 14th. I can manage it.

And in the meantime, I need to be extra vigilant about putting supports in place. For me, these include:

  • Getting enough sleep no matter what – sleep is when our whole systems repair and recharge. It’s why we look older and worn when tired and why it’s considered as dangerous to drive sleepy as to drive drunk
  • Making time for at least two swims a week (plus the 4 mile round trip cycle to the pool) – a wonderful way to burn off stress hormones
  • Daily yoga and meditation (not just a course requirement but sanity saving, too)
  • Eating well (last week’s food poisoning memories will ensure I stick to this one for the rest of my life, I think)
  • Enough time at least chatting with loved ones by phone to hang in there until I can put more balance into my life
  • Getting outside daily (even if it’s just a 10 minute walk to the river (that’s the River Brain, Witham, pictured at the top of my blog :)) and back) – and hopefully, there’ll be enough sunshine to boost mood and bone boosting vitamin d levels naturally

These are my basics. Think about yours and feel free to borrow or adapt what I’ve suggested.

It’s especially easy to feel that things are out of your control when your stresses are caused by external factors but research has found that taking even a little control over your working environment reduces the ill effects.

Remember, whenever you’re going through a stressful period, that there are things, no matter how little, to support you.

You can also boost your dopamine levels (a feel good neurotransmitter which is associated with feeling good and rewards) by giving yourself lots of small rewards throughout your stressful period and anticipating the much bigger reward (and following through) on completion.

Find out more at http://www.wellbeing-at-work.co.uk/id17.html