Blogosphere Blog Awards 2017: Fitness Blogger of the year

blogosphere blog awards

Good news everyone! I have been shortlisted in the Blogosphere Blog Awards 2017 and nominated in the Fitness Blogger of the Year category!

The Blogosphere Blog Awards has 10 categories which cover a range of blog niche’s such as lifestyle, fashion, beauty and book bloggers and there is also a category for the ‘Blogosphere Blogger of the Year’ as well, which basically means you’re the best blogger evaaaaa. The winner of each category will be featured in issue 14 of the Blogosphere Magazine and have a photo shoot and interview in London!

I have been nominated in the fitness category along the crem de la crem of fitness bloggers – Carly Rowena, Zana Van Djik, The Runner Beans and Imperfect matter. If I’m honest, I’m really not sure how this has happened! I have looked up to these bloggers, Carly and Zana in particular, before I even started my blog. I’m still quite worried I have been added in as a joke candidate. Imposter syndrome, be gone!

If you enjoy reading my blog, or want to do your good deed for the day, you can vote for me as fitness blogger of the year by clicking here and selecting Hannah Gets Hench in the fitness blogger category. Nominations are open now and they close at the end of May so get voting!

Best of luck to all the amazing bloggers who have been nominated (Not dominated spellcheck…) and I am looking forward to meeting you all at the event in June!

VOTE FOR ME HERE

Thanks, Hannah x

7 body positive reasons to love fitness

Girl sat on mountain

So after a lengthy twitter feud debate, it appears that some people don’t understand how you can be body positive, inclusive and accepting, AND be a fitness blogger.

Contrary to popular belief, being body positive and being passionate about fitness are not mutually exclusive. You can love exercising and at the same time not give a tiny rat’s ass about losing weight or fitting into a certain size. Yes, exercise often does lead to weight loss but that is not the sole purpose or reason that you should aim to get your body moving.

This post is going to be about all the amazing outcomes of fitness and physical activity that have nothing to do with your appearance!

1.Confidence

Joining a gym and pushing myself to run faster, lift heavier and embrace what my body is capable of is one of the most empowering things I have even done. Four years on, even on my most self-deprecating days, a good gym session or a long run can give me the boost of confidence that I need.

2. Endorphins

I may be quoting Elle Woods here, but when you exercise your body produces happy hormones and people that are happy just don’t kill their husbands! The hormones, also called endorphins, help to relieve stress and give you an uplifting sensation. I know some people experience these differently, or even feel down after exercise, but personally I feel euphoric after I finish exercising. I feel light, hopeful and…dare I say excited for life, which for a cantankerous sod like me, is a miracle!

3. Strength

Feeling strong is seriously underrated! The feeling or strutting into the weights room and picking up a heavier weight than I was using last week is awesome. So is being able to carry multiple bags of food shopping home from Aldi AND carrying an entire door through my sister’s house during a day of DIY (just some recent examples, I recommend starting with lighter objects than a door if you’re a newbie to strength).

4. Focus

Work stressful? Relationship fallen apart? Get your trainers on and focus on something else. During that period, there is nothing else to concentrate on apart from your body and what it can do. Working towards a goal such as a 10k distance, or a new strength PB is a wonderful way to challenging yourself and work towards something positive.

5. Functional Movement

Functional movement refers to the types of activities you do as part of daily life such as bending down, twisting, walking upstairs, carrying bags etc. By developing strength and cardiovascular fitness you can perform everyday tasks more efficiently, which makes your life that tiny bit easier

6. Sociable

I’ve made loads of new friends through exercise and I continue to nurture current friendships through it as well. Last weekend I did Parkrun with friends, I met my flatmate at a fitness bootcamp and a lot of people I talk to on social media I found through their passion for fitness.

7. Mental resilience

You that feeling when you’re running and you want to give up? But you keep putting one foot in front of the other until you’ve reached your destination. You hit the wall where you want to give up but you keep on going. These skills that you learn through fitness can be transferred into everyday life. Life is hard, it’s not fair and sometimes it just sucks, but you’ve got to keep going and putting one foot in front of the other. Fitness has given me the tools to get to grips with life’s challenges and come back stronger.

8. Fun

Find an exercise, or activity, that you love doing and you’ll have so much fun. Whether that’s running, rock climbing, hiking, swimming or dancing, do what you enjoy.

Did any of those amazing things include losing weight, fitting into a size 6 skirt or feeling confident on a beach? NO, because exercise is a celebration of what your body can do NOT a punishment for its differences! Also you can visit the beach any damn time and be happy. Got it? Ok thanks.

Finally, I want to write something about concern trolling. This is people jump in on debates under the pretence that they have genuine concerns for people’s health so that gives them a legitimate reason to shame fat people. You may think that you are being helpful by telling people that they need to lose weight, or by informing them that their lifestyle is unhealthy and dangerous, but you’re not helping at all. Fatphobic concern trolling is causing a lot more damage to society than fat people are. Mental health issues and eating disorders are real and being fatphobic contributes to these more than anything else. Plus, it makes you a shit person so just don’t do it people.

How to support someone who has anxiety

girl holding water melon

TW: anxiety, panic attacks.

As it’s mental health awareness month, I wanted to write about a topic that I am very familiar with; my old buddy anxiety.

I’ve suffered from generalised anxiety disorder for most of my teenage and adult life. I take medication to deal with it daily, which generally keeps it at bay, but sometimes it does flare up and cause my to feel very anxious which can even lead to a having a panic attack. Panic attacks are different for everyone but I believe they are universally dreaded by every anxiety suffer, even as I’m writing this I’m worried I am going to trigger one from just thinking about it so I will stop!

Anyway, I digress. The point of this post is not about me, but about being supportive towards others who have anxiety. Many of my friends also have anxiety and there are often times when I need to help them out (just as I’d hope they would do the same for me when I feel anxious) I understand that it can be overwhelming and difficult to discuss anxiety if you don’t suffer from it yourself but the worst thing you can do is to ignore them and pretend it isn’t happening. Anxiety is extremely isolating and scary and you need all the support and help you can get from the people that mean the most to you.

Here are my tips for supporting someone with anxiety, from personal experience and from things my friends have recommended.

Keep communication short and sweet

When I’m anxious I really struggle to reply to things, texts and emails can build up and I’ll feel very overwhelmed. Don’t even get me started on missed calls and voicemails! At the same time, I feel incredibly lonely when I’m at this stage of anxiety, so I need to keep communicating but not allowing it to overwhelm me.

Receiving a short text from a friend saying something simple like “I’m thinking about you” or “You’re going to be ok. Get in touch when you want to” is enough to make me feel loved but not enough to make me fret about replying. I will reply once I get back to myself and my friends know that. Alternatively, if your friend would be more relaxed receiving a phone call then sometimes hearing a loved one’s voice can massively ground you. Find out what works for them.

Don’t search for reasons why

Anxiety doesn’t discriminate, it can affect anyone at any time and there is often no logical reason for feeling that way. If someone feels anxious then you should talk to them about how they feel but don’t ask why they feel like that (unless they want to talk about it). The main thing is not to judge, pressure them to open up, or make them feel guilty for feeling that way.

Learn about anxiety

There is still SO much stigma around talking about mental health conditions, but the more we learn and talk about them, the more helpful we will all be for those who do suffer. When I first told my sister about my anxiety she didn’t really understand it, but she took the time to learn about it and I think that helped her understand what I felt a little bit better. Do as much research as you can about anxiety and read about people’s personal experiences with it. Even though they won’t be the same as your friend’s experiences, it will give you a glimpse of what they might be going through.

Offer to spend time with them 

Groups of people intimidate me, even if its friends I’ve known for years I can still feel anxious about being in a group with them. If your friend is hesitant about social situations like this, offer to meet them before you meet the group and go with them to take some pressure off. If they really don’t want to do anything involving a group, arrange to spend time with them alone so they don’t feel left out.

Don’t pressure people to feel better

While it’s really positive to try and help people take their mind off things, you shouldn’t expect them to instantly feel better. Anxiety can effect people constantly, or only at certain times, it’s totally dependent on the person. Likewise, don’t say things like “Don’t be silly, you shouldn’t be anxious!” or “It will pass soon just forget about it!” because it makes the person feel like their feelings aren’t valid.

Stop mixing up nerves with anxiety

Feeling nervous about things is natural. Situations like going on a date, starting a new job or doing a presentation will generally make most people feel nervous, but this is different from having anxiety. Saying ‘that gives me anxiety’ when you really mean that it makes you feel nervous is so frustrating to someone when their life is controlled by anxiety. Most people don’t mean to offend when they say stuff like this but it’s always something to bear in mind.

Quick list of things friends can do to reduce anxiety

  • Sending/receiving cute letters or cards
  • Providing sweets/chocolates or any delicious food
  • Going on a long walk and talking (sometimes reduced eye contact is good)
  • Having a film night – especially old films you love and find comforting
  • Playing with animals/visiting animals
  • Doing something active together like a run or a swim
  • Doing a project like colouring in, painting, tidying or making something

Hopefully this post helped, as I said this is from my personal experiences with anxiety and things that have helped my friends so they might not be for everyone. Have you got any things that help yourself or a friend when they feel anxious?

What being body positive means to me

neon lighting

The body positive movement aims to end the negative relationship we have with our appearance and accept ourselves for who we are naturally. It is inclusive of everyone, no matter how you look you deserve to be loved and to love yourself.

Body positivity isn’t just about weight, it’s about feeling good in the body you are in. It’s about focusing on yourself as a whole and challenging society’s perceptions of beauty. You are worth more than how you look.

It’s not apologising for having a double chin in a photo. It’s not worrying about how your cellulite looks in natural light. It’s enjoying what your body can do for you, instead of chastising it for not looking a certain way.

Body positivity and me

Body positivity is a relatively new concept for me, having only learned about it over the last 18 months. After years and years of self-hatred and insecurities, the idea of loving my body unconditionally seems like both a breath of fresh air and a rope to hang myself with.

Many of us have been conditioned from an early age to believe that we need to be smaller, symmetrical, perfect versions of ourselves. If we only squeezed into a smaller size our lives would be better. This is not true, and the only reason we are subjected to this kind of thinking is because companies want to make us spend money on products we don’t need and they need to keep feeding our insecure to get us to splash out. As an intelligent woman, I know this is true, but after 25 years of body shaming myself, it’s difficult to kick the habit.

Being body positive can be more challenging than you might think. As with most things, there is a steep learning curve. I have many days where I stare at my reflection in the mirror and tell myself I am fat, ugly or disgusting. Irrational thoughts consume my mind, ‘What if I gain loads of weight and no one likes me anymore?’, ‘I can’t wear that because my legs are too fat’ ‘My nose is so big and ugly’ etc. The fact that I have these thoughts is evidence enough that I need to embrace body positivity and self-love.

Fitness and body positivity?

Some people reading this might be thinking I’m being hypocritical because this is a fitness blog after all.

I hold my hands up and say in the past I was not being body positive, through a lack of education and knowledge. Once you open your eyes to how much body shaming is around it’s quite shocking. Even this year when I decided to embrace the body positive movement I still had a lot of setbacks. In my Grace Fit Guide posts I get carried away with how my body is responding to the guide looks wise and began to feel very critical of myself once again.

I would love to be in a place where I feel 100% happy with my appearance, not because I have achieved unrealistic beauty standards, but because I love and accept myself the way that I am. My goal is to stand naked in front of a mirror and honestly say that I don’t care how my body looks and that I am just so grateful to have it. You can be body positive and into fitness and health, it’s a celebration of what your body can do after all.

Our society is becoming more image obsessed by the day and humans are already hard wired to respond to images. Self-hatred is accelerating; depression and eating disorders are increasing and it’s only going to get worse unless we teach each other to think differently. Nowadays, people are celebrated purely for their looks, while intelligent, funny, kind, courageous and artistic people are valued less.

Thanks for reading this. If you’re interested in more body positive posts my friend Vicky wrote a really interesting guest post for me which you can find here or you can visit her blog which is body positive.

Guess who loves running again?

Girl running in country side

My passion for running has ignited once again. It must be a combination of the lighter evenings, the slightly warmer temperatures and my resentment of crowded gyms, as people pile in to try and obtain a ‘summer body’ (FYI, your body is always ready for summer!) Despite spending the first four months of the year focusing strength training, recently all I want to do is hit the pavement and run!

There’s a problem, I haven’t been regularly running for at least four months. Unlike strength training, where I can maintain my ability level, I have to go back to square one when it comes to running. Although I know if I work hard enough I will get back to where I was, it will be a challenge.

As excepted, my first run back was really hard! I opted for the treadmill so I could monitor my speed and incline. I warmed up by going on the cross-trainer for 10 minutes, as I find it warms my muscles which makes it easier to run, before hopping onto the treadmill. Instead of flat out running (which I found difficult to do) I tried to run for the length of the song I was listening to and then stopping and walking for 30 seconds – a minute until I felt ready to run again.  This was a pretty good technique and I managed to do 20 minutes on the treadmill.

After the success of the treadmill I decided to test my ability outdoors, mainly because I didn’t have time to go to the gym before work and I wanted to run, so I completed a circuit outside. I find outdoor running a lot harder compared to the treadmill as you need to be in control of pacing yourself and you are subject to a variety of inclines and terrains. I did a short run outside that was around 3 miles and lasted 40 minutes. I did stop a few times and I wasn’t aiming to go fast, hence why my time was a bit slow.

I wanted to push myself on my next run. It was a beautiful day so I headed out and ran five miles. Surprisingly, it was very enjoyable and wasn’t as difficult as I found the previous run. Unfortunately, I got a chest infection later in the week so I decided to have break from running until I was better. Yesterday, I went running with my friend and we did five miles (outdoors) and although it was a challenging run as my chest wasn’t 100% better I enjoyed pushing myself and getting outdoors after work.

This post has been a bit rambly, I just wanted to write about fitness again and this is what I’m focusing on. Over the next eight weeks I will be sticking to the running programme I created for myself which incorporates strength training, plyometric exercises and cross training, as well dynamic as distances to run. I will keep you updated with how I get on!

Here are a few of my older running posts if you want to have a read:

Leeds Half Marathon
Half Marathon checklist
How to prepare for a half 
Salford 10k
Winter run 10k 
Safely tips for running
Sweatshop Running Club

It’s ok to feel overwhelmed

beautiful sunrise

As I get older, I’m adding more responsibilities to my ever-growing to-do list and sometimes this can make me feel very anxious and overwhelmed. Let me give you a little peek into my mindset:

Simple tasks suddenly start to pile up and I become very aware of how much I need to do. This awareness turns to full blown anxiety and my defence mechanism kicks in. Instead of calmly completing my tasks in order of priority, I ignore all of them. I completely stop doing anything (apart from scrolling on my phone which has apparently become part of my subconscious) This is fine for a day, maybe even two, but after that I have well and truly fallen behind and made life very difficult for myself.

Because of this I have piles of work to finish on the same day, my flat is a mess and I have no clean clothes or dishes. I haven’t been to the one place that will de-stress me (the gym). I don’t have time to see my friends; but I also haven’t cancelled on them because I didn’t want to let them down, so they will be annoyed when I do cancel because now its last minute. My bills are overdue and I owe friends money because I can’t bear the thought of logging into online banking and seeing my balance. I have no food in the house because I never do a proper shop, so I just buy biscuits instead and feel ill. My blog hasn’t been updated for a week, and anyway all the content I do produce I dislike because it’s never good enough. I need to go to bed earlier because I constantly feel exhausted but I have too much to do at night.

What else?

As you can see, it’s pretty easy to become overwhelmed. None of the things I worry about are ever that difficult to do and I know a lot of them will sound silly, its not like I have a child to care for or anything. But even the smallest things become huge in an anxious mind. When I’m feeling like this I can’t have my phone near me because the idea of people texting me and then having more texts to reply to fills me with so much anxiety it makes me feel sick and I prefer to just pretend it’s not happening, same with checking emails.

I’m not really sure what the point of this post is to be honest, I don’t have any solutions for overcoming anxiety and feeling less overwhelmed. I just wanted to write something about the subject because it’s having a big effect on my life at the moment. It’s quite ironic that it’s happening because I’ve been really happy lately but I guess that’s anxiety/depression in a nutshell – it doesn’t care who you are or what’s happening it just pops up whenever it chooses to!

I just wanted to say that it’s ok if you feel like this, because it will pass eventually. Make sure you talk to people that you love and trust about how you are feeling and get some help if you can.

Hannah x

One trainer fits all: Nike Zoom Air Structure 2.0 Review

nike air zoom trainers in box

I’m what I like to call a ‘pick n mix’ exerciser; some days I go running and others I’m firmly planted in the weights area.

Did you know that the type of trainers you wear affects your performance in the gym? Different trainers are designed to suit specific types of training. This seems straight forward enough, but when you do a variety of styles of training it can be difficult to find a trainer that will support you for a variety of exercises.

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Are these the best protein bars ever?

Multipower protein

Big news: I tried some new protein bars and actually enjoyed them…

Sometimes I think I must be a bad fitness blogger because I hate the taste of protein and I almost never drink protein shakes. The thought of drinking a protein shake with water straight after a workout makes me shudder. Sure, I add a few scoops into my porridge in the morning, but that’s usually as far as my relationship with protein goes. I guess I’m a bit of a protein snob because I stick to the same brands that I know are high in quality (and don’t taste like the bottom of a shoe).

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GraceFit Guide week 5 update: phase 2

GF8WG WEEK 5
GF8WG WEEK 5

Left is week 4, right is week 5

Wooohooo I’ve completed the first phase of GraceFit Guide workouts!

In my last post, I mentioned that I had lost my mojo and had given up with the guide for the week. I would love to say that I’m a completely changed woman and all I needed was a break from it for a week but that’s not strictly true. However, from doing week 5 I have noticed significant progress and that has motivated me to keep going.

Before I jump into the differences in the new guide I want to highlight some things I’ve noticed from doing phase one.

I am stronger – this may not seem like a lot to some people, but I used to only manage to do arm weights using 3kg dumb bells; I can now use 7kg or even 8kg dumbbells! When I started the Gracefit guide, I was leg pressing 50kg both legs and now I am pressing 90kg both legs and single legs has gone from 20kg to 50kg! I am really proud of myself for getting stronger.

My balance and co-ordination has improved – I didn’t realise this would change, but by incorporating moves like single leg lunges and step ups I have improved my balance and co-ordination. I used to wobble all over the place and now I can keep myself balanced. I have also strengthened my core which helps with stability.

I’ve gained weight– I have technically gained a few pounds, but I feel a lot leaner in myself and my clothes are loser so I must be losing fat and gaining muscle.

I’ve fallen in love with HIIT again – On an upper body day, I add in 10 minutes of treadmill sprints and then 10 minutes of incline walking. And on lower body days I do one or the other because my legs are just too tired afterwards. I feel like this has really helped me to get a bit leaner and has made me realise how fun HIIT can be in small doses.

I still need to replace my resistance band – As some lovely person stole my brand new RB, I’ve been doing the exercises without one which I’m sure defeats the point as some of them are specific RB exercises. I need to order another band but I keep forgetting!

What’s different in the new phase?

The workouts are more challenging and contain many new exercises which I haven’t tried before. The rep range is relatively the same and it doesn’t include suggested weights weight (what a mouthful) but you are meant to build upon this from the last phase. I had stopped getting as sore after doing the phase one leg workout, but after completing the phase two leg day I could barely walk down the stairs on the same day, let alone the next couple of days, so it must be a lot more challenging.

Learning new exercises is challenging and I do feel like I’ve gone back to square one in terms of my confidence, simply because I had gotten used to following a set routine. I’m still not sure if I’m performing all the exercises in the new phase and using the equipment correctly but I guess that will happen in time. As this is my first week I have been substituting some of the new exercises for older ones that I’m familiar with while I get my bearings.

Aflete app

I’ve only just learnt about the Aflete app, even though loads of the girls in the Facebook group have been using it from the beginning of the guide. It’s a smartphone app that’s free to download (and use if you have purchased the GraceFit Guide) and it automatically loads the Guide and tracks your progress. It allows you to log how much weight you’ve done and any notes on the exercises so it’s useful to review progress. If you’re just starting the guide I would recommend downloading Aflete, however, if like me, you’ll be missing a whole month it might not be as valuable to you. You can find it here. 

Hope you’re enjoying my updates, if you want to learn more feel free to follow me on twitter where I talk about it quite a lot @hannahgetshench and follow me on Bloglovin so you don’t miss a post 🙂