Thursday 4 April 2013

Easter Bunny vs. Gym Bunny

This is not a post about chocolate and over doing it. Far from it. I couldn't give a rat's ass about eating or not eating chocolate. Or bunnies. I don't care what anyone did for Easter. Most of you had a couple of days off work and feel good for it. I've had close to four months off work and feel shit for it... so another couple days only rubs it in, so to speak.

See... I am trying to find some way of explaining my absence... And the best I can come up with is to just plain tell you the truth and see if that cuts it. I hope so because despite a lack of posts the stats are still climbing and I am so grateful there are readers out there still popping by and browsing through....

So what's up with me?

Life turned to poop quite frankly!! I'll tell you the short version, for the sake of my dignity and to avoid too much over-sharing on a skincare blog. But I am going somewhere with this so stay with me folks.

Pretty much right back at the very start of the year my six-year relationship came to an end. With it, I not only lost in him my best friend but subsequently, a whole load of other friends too; my life as I knew it. And my house. I had to move which has almost bankrupted me and what with only working about five days in three months I have little more than tuppence to rub together (can you tell I have also aged about forty years - tuppence?!)

So stress kind of became my best friend for a while and I felt a little weird carrying on as I intended back at the start of the year, writing about moisturiser, when all I really wanted to do, nay - all I was really qualified to do, was write about waterproof mascara. And we all know there aren't many natural versions of that. (In fact, are there any? If you know - do comment!) So I didn't write anything at all... I wallowed instead.

Actually. That isn't quite true. I have certainly done a lot of wallowing.  And staring at the ceiling. And panicking. And I needed to. It's part of the process after all. But something else has dragged me along, just enough for me to bother even tell you about any of this.

You see, at the beginning of the year, at the same time as all this happened, I started what I affectionately called 'Daily Gym Challenge'. If you follow me on Twitter you might have seen a few tweets about it. It was born out of shock and shame after realising that for the past year I had averaged a £200 spend per gym session attended (I went three times, if you were curious). Did I cancel my membership, defeated and broke having learnt a hard lesson? No!! Pigheadedness prevailed and I decided the only way that this was acceptable was to continue paying fifty quid a month and this time claw back some value by attending every day during January. Every, single, god-given day. Amen. 

I basically did it - with a few adaptations to the rules. I went six days out of seven (minus a few as I was out of town ... I let those pass.) And it felt good. And not just because I had proven a point - to myself if no one else... it turned out... I loved going! I carried on going! Extending the challenge beyond the original thirty days formed a solid routine and I, dear ladies and gentlemen, have become a proper little gym bunny! 

And the upshot of all of this - well blow me down - exercise is good for you! 

It occurred to me this week, after having 5 days off over Easter and having slightly slacked the week before due to a hectic social calendar (one must try to keep up) how different I feel when I go. And how cruddy I feel when I can't go. And I did feel really cruddy over Easter. This made me realise something: how much worse would I have felt if I hadn't been doing my daily training sessions at all? How much more would I have wallowed? And going by past experience my propensity to wallow can reach professional standards.

But there's more to this. Oh yes. The skincare bit. Stress was giving me breakouts, irritable, itchy, dry skin. Reactive skin. Couple that with a winter that just won't leave and my complexion looked like it needed to be taken outside and shook good, like an old rug.

Maybe this was me actually getting off lightly. How much lousier would my skin have been? I should look like yesterday's trampled old newspaper that's been dragged into the gutter by a mangey fox at two in the morning. And then maybe peed on. By a poor, drunk tramp. Because that is what stress and panic attacks can do to one's skin. Other stressful and crazybusy times have brought on pesky little eczema patches in the past and although I haven't exactly been glowing through these times of late, working out at least four or five times a week now might just have calmed my irritable skin, cleared up those breakouts and avoided a whole fox newspaper tramp eczema debacle. Thank god!

If you're doing it right, exercise increases blood flow and it's blood that carries the sweetest of all the gases around your body. Flooding your hard-working cells with oxygen brings more nutrients with it and this just means everything functions more efficiently. Stuff gets done. Awesome.

Exercise also stimulates your lymph system. Movement and breathing march those toxins right on outta town, right on down to Chinatown (aka the liver and the kidneys). There is no organ to pump lymph fluid around the body. If we sat still all day (which can happen, let me tell you) nothing inside would move either. We'd turn into a toxic mush (that isn't a scientifically verified statement). Moving and massage and proper breathing keeps everything motoring along.

And of course whilst all this added oxygen and extra lymph-loving helps to get our skin cleaned up on the inside, sweating gets it cleaned up on the outside. Sweating also helps to eliminate toxins from the body - the skin is the largest organ for detoxification after all. It helps clear away excess oil and dirt sitting around inside the pores which, with the help of a good shower afterwards, can really get your skin glowing.

This is all wonderful of course, but perhaps most importantly of all, exercise releases endorphins. We all know that, I know. But it really, actually does. And when you haven't got much else going on in your life, like me, every little endorphin counts.

I like to think of exercise just as moving. Repetitive fidgeting maybe. With weights. Simply moving more has totally effected my mindset and really made me take back (some) of those hours I handed over so freely to This Morning/Loose Women. It's given me so much more than I would have ever gained from watching yet another Michael Ball interview or Phil Vickery cookery segment (somehow I've still managed to witness far more than my fair share) When you add to all of that the muscle-toning and the heart-strengthening side of things, it really does make you wonder why more people don't do it!??

Seriously though, if you feel good, you look good and if you look good, you feel good. If you've been feeling poop like me, get up and get out. It can change everything.

(Thanks to for the awesome image... what a cool website. Check it out)