A 19 year old girl, fitness enthusiast and dedicated Olympic style weightlifter, Level 2 Weightlifting coach, Powerlifter, and non-competitive Irish dancer. I'm determined to live a healthier lifestyle and take care of my body whilst influencing other young people to do so. I never doubt my ability to achieve something; I just change what I'm doing until I succeed.
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Perhaps you’ve heard of so called “facts” about health and aren’t actually sure whether they’re true or not. Often people will say these “facts” to convince a person not to or to do something. Here are some health myths and their actual facts.
Myth: Sweat is fat crying
Many people may have been told after becoming overly sweaty from working out that it means that they are burning more calories. Don’t worry if you do sweat whilst working out or afterwards, this simply proves that you are working hard and pushing yourself to exercise.
Fact: Sweat is well… water
Sweat is not “fat crying” or proves you have burnt more calories the more you’ve sweated. It is really a natural reaction of the body which helps you to cool down your body temperature. How much you sweat can depend on how hard you are working, what the weather is like and whether it’s hot or cold where you are exercising.
Myth: If I lift weights, I’ll get bulky
Mainly women have this idea that they may get bulky if they lift weights and not resemble a “lady-like” figure. Lifting weights will help you to gain muscle which could eventually become noticeably large after many years.
Fact: You’ll gain muscle and improve your figure!
By lifting weights, you won’t receive results of a body builder but similar to a long distance runner. If you look at a person who takes supplements or steroids, don’t become hesitant to start lifting if you fear you will develop an unnatural looking body. Weight lifting is good for you and can help you get the results you want. Also, if you’re a women you don’t produce the same hormones as men, and the male hormone (testosterone) enables men to develop muscle mass more easily than women.
Myth: "No pain, no gain"
It is said often that without any pain whilst exercising, you will not gain muscle or the results you want. This doesn’t apply to sports which often involve pain (boxing or other fighting sports).
Fact: Stop if you’re in pain
If you’re exercising and begin to feel pain in your body, I suggest you stop immediately as the chances are you are creating an injury or have already got one. Injuries whilst working out can be caused by training too hard and often, working the same muscles continuously or performing the exercise incorrectly.
Myth: You need a gym membership to get fit
Gym memberships are commonly used by people who are active or want to get fitter; having a membership to a certain place may benefit people who need motivation by getting up and going somewhere.
Fact: Work out wherever you are
In order to get fit, you don’t need to have a gym membership. In fact, working out at home can be just as good and there is plenty of free content online and in books which can help you to develop a routine. As long as you’re working out, it doesn’t matter where you are. So don't fret if you can't afford to pay for a gym membership, they are completely optional. I personally prefer working out at home than at the gym anyways, it means you control all the decisions surrounding your work out.
Myth: Crunches are the best ab exercise
Crunches are placed quite highly as one of the “best” exercises, but that depends on how you perform the exercise (e.g. with weights or on a hard surface).
Fact: Crunches can sometimes increase injuries
Crunches can sometimes put a lot of pressure on your spine if done continuously and often on a hard surface. They also won’t give you ab muscles any quicker and different core activities such as planking, leg ups and bicycle crunches can actually benefit you more. I’m not saying never to try crunches again, but do stop doing the exercise if you experience lower back pain.
So those were a few examples of myths which are often assumed to be factual. I hope that these new facts have helped you to realise the importance surrounding what you believe about health assumptions and myths.
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Before I began Olympic Weightlifting, I wasn’t really told the complete truth about the sport and the people participating in it. But over the years, I’ve began to understand a lot more about lifting involving things that help me and don’t help me. If you’re interested in my honest preferences and thoughts about Olympic Weightlifting, please continue reading.
Many people think that Weightlifting revolves around how strong you are and how much weight you can lift. Partially, this is not the case. When you start Olympic Weightlifting, you can’t simply just pick up the bar. You will have to learn the technique for the two Olympic lifts, these are called the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk. Many lifters have different techniques, some which are excellent and some which are not so good. The idea of a good technique can increase the amount of weight you’re lifting quicker and can help prevent a fail in a competition. Technique is especially important for youths as without good technique, injuries and failed lifts can occur. If you are under the age of 13 years old and competing in a Weightlifting competition, your lifts will be based upon technique and scored with points rather than your Sinclair score or the biggest lift totalled together (note this may not apply to all Weightlifting rules in all countries). This is good because it gives young children a chance to improve their technique before beginning to lift heavier weights and can decrease the amount of pressure to lift a large amount for a child’s body which is constantly growing.
When you’re training and not competing, working out much weight goes on the bar matters. Learning how to count up kilograms and the weight of the bar is a useful skill in Weightlifting. For children who are starting the sport, encouraging them to check the correct weights is useful and can help prevent any injuries. A barbell should be loaded evenly with the same weights and collars on the end, if the bar is loaded incorrectly (the weight is uneven or missing a collar) the bar may tip when lifted. Whereas, if you’re competing there will be loaders who work out the maths for you on the platform but if you’re in the warmup room you or your coach may have to do the maths. I still like to check the weight on the bar before lifting on the platform just incase someone has made a mistake.
What you wear on your feet is very important when Olympic Weightlifting and your technique can often improve by wearing the correct footwear. It’s not that it’s a crime to wear trainers when Olympic lifting, however Weightlifting shoes are more appropriate for competing in. Some Weightlifting shoes can range from £45 to £160 and sometimes can take a little while to get used to. Weightlifting shoes are beneficial for the sport as the larger heel can help you to keep your balance whilst squatting. I purchased my Weightlifting shoes for £60 from a brand called Modifit, many people buy Adidas shoes but I wasn’t keen on the price. As long as your Weightlifting shoes have a heel, Velcro or buckle strap and a comfy sole I’m sure you’ll be fine.
Everyone is different
Whether you’re entering competitions or not, you must remember that everyone is different. You’ll meet people who are in different body weight categories, different ages, all with different body types, different goals, different experiences, different techniques and different abilities. When Weightlifting, it is uncommon that everyone will have the same ability and weaknesses. Hence why there are different body weight categories for Men and Women. When you’re entering your first competition, do not feel disheartened if there is someone who can lift a lot more than you or if you are a heavier/lighter body weight than most people. You may all be different, but you all have one thing in common which is your love for lifting.
In Weightlifting you will be over the moon one point and then next really disappointed, failure will always happen but you will learn from your mistakes. Whether you fail when attempting your personal best or mainly your technique wasn’t right, failure doesn’t summarise how good you are at lifting. If you fail, keep on trying and don’t give up as someday you’ll be able conquer that Pb or fix that technique mistake. Everyone fails at some point but its just a sign that you're getting close to where you want to be, lifting will never be straight up great and the road will be bumpy.
These are some things which I wish I’d been told before Weightlifting. Have a good think about my reasons and it will give you an honest grasp of what to expect when starting the sport.
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If you want to go out and start running there is no reason why you can’t. Running is an excellent and relaxing sport which can be suitable for almost everyone as long as they are prepared. You may think, but how exactly do I start running? I don’t feel I’m fit enough to start! Before you decide that you want to start trying to run often, there are some things you should think about beforehand to ensure that you aren’t going to get hurt and what your goals are involving the sport. Carry on reading to find out my tips for beginner runners and how you can be prepared to start.
The most important thing to think about before starting your new hobby is purchasing a good pair of running shoes. Many sports shops will advertise running shoes online to be suitable to run in, but names can be misleading and can cause injuries. For example when I first started getting serious with running, I searched the internet quickly for ‘running shoes’ and found a nice pair of Nike Roshe runs. Personally, for running these shoes were not suitable for me and I soon stopped wearing them after developing shin splints. So my advice would be to visit sports shops which specialise in running shoes or a trustworthy cheaper shop which sells running shoe brands (sports direct is a good example). If you are running through the woods or not on a flat surface, trail running shoes are excellent and often come with the benefit of no-tie laces. Some of the brands I recommend are Salomon, Karrimor, ASICS and Under Armour. If you can’t, there’s no need to make yourself broke by buying a pair of shoes unless you know you’re willing to use them often. I don’t recommend wearing canvas style sneakers to run in as you could become more prone to injuries when tackling trails.
If you’ve not ran for a while, you may not have any suitable clothing to run in. My advice would be to purchase a small amount of clothing for a cheap price (sports direct again is excellent for this). If you’re starting off running in cold conditions, buying a warm pair of tracksuit bottoms or leggings would be appropriate. On top, I suggest a long-sleeved base layer, running t-shirt and a thermal over layer / hoodie. Some cheap brands I recommend are Karrimor, Nevica, Adidas, Puma, New look and Primark. If you are a busy person and often have to squeeze in a run before school/work, I advise buying a watch, nothing too expensive in case it gets broken. Some watches/ fitbits offer a benefit of measuring your heart rate and other health aspects; these can be useful to track your improvement if you’ve got the cash to buy one.
Before you begin to start running frequently, you will want to decide on which days are most appropriate for you to schedule your runs on. Perhaps, if you don’t want to bump into people you know you could try going at times when most people are at home, e.g. lunchtime, dinnertime, and early mornings. Try to stick to this day and time as much as you can, this will help you to soon develop a routine. You should also consider where you’re going to run and how often you will alternate your running routes. If you don’t want to bump into people you may know, running in unpopulated parks and woodland areas are great. But if you don’t mind, sticking to the pavements can be just as fun. When you start running, don’t expect to be able to run miles straight away. By setting yourself monthly goals by slowly increasing the miles you’re running each week, you’ll find yourself making progress in no time!
Before you go out for your first run, make sure you have a snack 1-2 hours before you go out. I also like to lay out some food for when I get home and I’m ready to collapse on the sofa. You might want to check out the weather as well, this can help you to decide which clothes are most suitable to wear. The last thing I like to do before leaving my house is check that I’m comfortable in my attire. Often I’ve found after buying a new accessory to perhaps hold my phone, that the item has been annoying whilst I’ve been running, therefore resulting in my run not feeling as relaxed.
I hope that my tips have encouraged you to take up running or even to give it a try once in a while, running is excellent and can help you to improve in many different sports. It is certainly something I look forward to and plan to continue improving my mileage and speed throughout the year.
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If you're like me and only have cheat days on a certain day or whether you don't have a routine for when you have cheats, sometimes you may want an unhealthy snack instead of a full meal. I find that baking something can help you gain knowledge about food and is a good way to distract yourself from binging out on unhealthy food. Remember to wash your hands and tie your hair back before starting to make the recipe. Heres my favourite recipe for chocolate chip cookies which I often eat on my cheat days. Enjoy!
Equipment you'll need
You will need:
I hope you enjoyed my recipe (if you tried it out) and I hope you feel encouraged to bake more often on your cheat days. In the end, they taste fantastic and are honestly better than store bought cookies. There are many different ways you can make alternative treats if you have any allergies or want a more healthier option as the sugar content isn't exactly the image of health. Even if you don't wish to eat them yourself, perhaps baking for other people could become a great distraction for you from unhealthy snacks.
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In every sport you are going to get people who criticise and assume things about people who participate in that sport. Usually every hobby comes with stereotypes, it shouldn’t but it happens and sometimes people can become bombarded by stereotypes and lies. Often stereotypes aren’t true, but sometimes people don’t understand this. Whether you’ve tried Olympic Weightlifting before or are completely new to the sport, I’m going to break some Weightlifting stereotypes.
Once you tell someone you’re an Olympic Weightlifter, you can sometimes be overestimated or underestimated. Many people assume because you must be strong that you are excellent at fighting, for me this is not the case. Having strength does not mean you have the skill to be able to win a fight; fighting and Weightlifting are very different things. Being underestimated can often apply to women Weightlifters. For example if a woman is asked to complete a task which could involve heavy lifting, sometimes men may step in and ask if they need help. Unless the man is underestimating the woman by making sly comments; this is pure politeness. Usually men who lift do not have issues with being underestimated, but they could be expected to know how to fight; just because they lift weights. Both genders can face both kinds of expectations often; they shouldn’t have to put up with any pressure involving what other people expect.
With some sports, people may assume that a group of people or an individual is a specific sexuality. I find that especially in Weightlifting, Women can be assumed to be bisexual, lesbian or “not straight”. Just because women are partaking in a sport which is usually more popular for men, their sexuality is associated. Whether a female Weightlifter is straight or not, since when did building muscle as a women automatically mean you like other women. With men I’ve not heard that their sexuality is assumed because of Weightlifting unless they are assumed to be straight, perhaps this could be an issue for men in sports more popular for females than males.
People tend to associate men and women with masculine and feminine sports, but really any gender can participate in any sports. For Weightlifting, many people would assume that only men are Weightlifters or should be Weightlifters. They also may assume that if you are a female Weightlifter, you might not be very strong because of your gender and since you aren’t male, that you may never be very good at the sport. This could be the same for men if they are participating in a so-called “feminine” sport such as ballet dance. Just because they are male, many people would assume they are nowhere near as great as women at ballet.
Another stereotype for weightlifting is that you have to have a certain appearance to prove you’re good at the sport. People may assume that if a woman or man isn’t bulky or “looks the part” that they mustn’t be any good at the sport. In fact, you don’t need to have a certain body type to be able to participate or be good at any sports; you could be muscular, skinny or fat. Weightlifting definitely helps you to grow muscle mass, but it isn’t going to arrive overnight. This is exactly the same with other sports; you aren’t going to see major results in a day. So if you think you’re going to become bulky just by trying Weightlifting once, sadly you won’t.
If you are bombarded by stereotypes and sometimes can be put down by what other people think of you by participating in certain sports, don’t give up what you are doing unless you no longer enjoy it. Stereotypes are nothing but words and assumptions made by people who have very little knowledge in what you’re passionate about. In no way, shape or form should someone’s sexuality, gender or appearances have an impact on how other people view their sporting ability. No matter which of these factors relate to you, do not feel discouraged and continue breaking those sport stereotypes.
Please note that the stereotypes mentioned are just from personal experience and may not always be relatable for all individuals.
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Before I started working out daily and living a healthy lifestyle, there was only one thing I had on my mind whilst working out. This thought was basically “Just get it over and done with”, I didn’t have any real passion for working out at first. Carry on reading to find out things I began to love about working out and some of my favourites now. If you don’t workout daily or aren’t feeling motivated, perhaps my reasons can help you to develop a passion for getting fit.
I’ve noticed several times that certain exercises can be quite challenging, depending on how strong the muscle I’m using is. When I find an exercise is challenging, I won’t stop doing the exercise or simply avoid the hard work I’d have to put in, in order to achieve the amount of reps I want to do. However, I keep on working at it and gradually increase the reps as the exercise becomes easier over a period of time. This is truly one of the many things I love about working out as not only am I building muscle, but I get to think to myself “wow, a month ago I couldn’t physically do this”. This makes me feel incredibly proud of what I have achieved, even if it may be a simple different push-up variation. At the end of the month when I’m taking photos of my hard work, I can see how much I have improved and how the exercise has benefitted me.
When I first started to work out, I owned a few pairs of sports shorts and maybe 2 tank tops which I’d alternate between when working out. Now I’m not saying you need a lot of fitness clothes or the latest gear in order to workout, unless that’s what you want to do. I must admit, I do find myself over buying fitness clothes sometimes. I find that I can’t ever have enough when it comes to buying sports clothes and that at least 60% of my closet are outfits to wear when exercising. I think the plus side to working out is getting to buy nice and comfortable workout gear, colourful clothes with motivational phrases always seems to catch my eye whenever I walk into any shop. I’ve certainly enjoyed buying and of course wearing different outfits when working out and deciding what I prefer brand and style wise. The only downside is if you gain so much muscle that the clothes become too small!
I don’t always need music when I’m working out, but it definitely helps me to stay on track and continue going when exercises become difficult. If you have a good playlist of music which is motivational, upbeat and of course something you can dance to, you may have found or created an excellent ‘workout playlist’. Before working out, my taste in music was very chilled and calm but now that I’ve gather different songs from other people’s playlists, I’ve managed to create something which I’m happy to work out to. Many different people have different tastes though; someone may prefer to work out to Eminem whereas instead someone may prefer Beyoncé. I’ll link my Spotify playlist in case you want to listen to what I workout to.
Ever since I first started working out, I was never awfully keen on following someone else’s workout routine. I didn’t see the point of not working out the way you want to, it’s your body therefore you should choose how you keep it healthy. The first workout I created I can proudly say could now be my warmup, as I have improved so much. However, I can honestly say that I have had to learn from mistakes I’ve made, but then I’ve benefitted from these mistakes too. If I’m getting too bored of my workout, sometimes I change it round a bit until I’m happy with it, this is the same if I’m recovering from an injury or I have sore muscles. Some people may not want to create workouts as it seems like a lot of extra effort, but the way I see it is that you are more responsible for the way you're gaining muscle. Not saying there is anything wrong at all with following workout plans online as it’s just my own preference.
If you didn’t know by now, the internet is an amazing place to find resources, information, tips and motivation. I’ve found that online resources on the likes of Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter have been an amazing help when I’ve needed help involving my lifestyle. There are many people out there all with many different opinions and sometimes in order to find your own, you have to read through things you’ll agree and disagree on. The best thing I have found so far on Pinterest is the amount of workouts and exercises people have created. Now I’m not about to completely contradict what I just mentioned above, but I admit I do pinch other people’s exercise ideas and mix them into my own plan. It’s very easy to find information on how to workout for beginners or to create your own workout; here's a link to my pinterest if you'd like to check out some of the information that I find useful.
Those are some of my favourite things about working out and I’ve found I enjoy whilst exercising. Exercise doesn’t always have to be repetitious; you can change anything you don’t like about whatever you’re doing. If you aren’t enjoying yourself, will you feel as happy consistently working out? Or will you even consistently workout?
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Do you ever find yourself struggling to maintain your healthy diet when eating out with your not so healthy friends? Sometimes after a good week you may just feel like giving up and eating that mouth-watering pepperoni pizza or those crispy fries. Find out how you can resist unhealthy temptations and continue to eat a nutritional meal.
What is a healthy meal?
Healthy eating for me is eating a meal which doesn’t include unhealthy sugars, processed food, lots of trans and saturated fats and food which is fried. How you view a healthy meal can depend on whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian or your on a specific diet.
I’m convinced that a healthy meal should include some of the following:
Being faced with difficult food decisions
I’ve been in plenty of situations before when eating out which have made me hesitant about what I’m going to eat. Often the decision of whether you’re going to eat healthy is difficult and sometimes you can be faced with the choice of eating what you’re craving or sticking to your plan. Whether you’re eating breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack; try to think beforehand what type of foods you are going to eat and which ones you’re going to avoid. It’s a good idea to look at the menu before arriving, if you know where you’re going to be eating.
Once you’ve arrived at where you’re eating, try to remember the list of what you want to eat and don’t want to eat. Think to yourself, that you want to be different from your unhealthy friends. Also by eating the unhealthy food the taste will only last for a few minutes so afterwards when it’s gone, you’ll be left with the feeling of regret and defeat. If there is no decision of a healthy option, perhaps eating before you go out or afterwards would be better. If you really need to eat, you could ask who you’re with if there’s a possibility you could eat somewhere different. If you don’t like any of those options, you could just eat a large amount of healthy sides or ask if the chef can make you something else (I doubt you’ll be faced with this option).
If you're feeling pressured by the people you're with to eat a certain type of food, which you know is unhealthy and they're trying to convince you by saying ‘just one can’t do any harm’, stand your ground by explaining that you want to stay healthy. If you don’t fancy giving your friends a long winded speech about why, you could just say you’re allergic to the food.
Things you can think about
When I’m eating out with my friends or family, I like to think of things which will help me to think positively when choosing what I’m going to eat. For example:
Just remember that if you do choose to eat unhealthily that sometimes it can become difficult to stick to your plan and not to get worked up about the decision you made. Once you’ve eaten unhealthy, there is no use continuing to eat unhealthy throughout the day/week. Restart and work even harder on resisting your temptations. Thinking “there’s no point in eating healthy for the rest of the day, because I just ate some fries” is the equivalent to thinking “I just dropped my phone on the floor, I’ll just keep dropping it until it smashes”.
I hope that my tips and advice have helped you to reconsider what you eat when eating out in future and can help you to stop making unwise decisions and start making the healthy choices which you won’t regret.
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If you’re one of those people who isn't naturally good at many sports but want to be, may I suggest you try Olympic Weightlifting. Olympic Weightlifting is a sport which is good for all body types and ages to try and can be used to help improve performance in other sports and activities. Continue reading to find out the benefits Olympic Weightlifting can have on your body.
What Weightlifting improves
Olympic Weightlifting helps improve the development of almost all the components of fitness! This means Weightlifting can help improve development in other sports which require these components.
For example, balance and flexibility can be improved when squatting during both lifts, particularly an overhead squat during the Snatch is the best for maintaining that low position before driving upwards.
In lifting, coordination is also improved when the elbows are moved and you jump into the squatted position during both lifts. Also in the Clean and Jerk when the legs are split and the bar is raised above your head.
Strength is developed by lifting regularly, increasing the weight on the bar and having a good technique. Lifting heavy weights at a quick pace using the two main Olympic lifts (Clean and Jerk and the Snatch) requires all your muscles to work together to produce the power your body needs. This improves your overall speed and coordination.
Weightlifting can improve Cardiovascular Endurance if the lifter attempts a tough 5 set of 5 Snatches. This can result in you breathing hard, sweating like a pig, and your heart pounding. This is great if you don’t feel like running track, but want to improve your endurance.
It is also great if you want to increase your muscle mass whilst decreasing your fat mass (body composition). Unless you are taking supplements, lifting won’t make you look bulky and will in fact help you to develop more of a physique that a sprinter has.
Who Weightlifting is suitable for
Weightlifting is suitable for anyone who wants to improve their overall fitness and perhaps improve at other sports. Weightlifting is good for all body types, whether you’re an:
Don’t worry if you don’t fit into these categories, they’re just a brief description of general body types, it doesn’t matter what size you are or how fit you are when learning to lift weights. Lifting is excellent for those who don’t enjoy participating in team sports and don’t want to become competitive. Since Weightlifting is an individual sport, it is just you against yourself unless you are competitng against others of the same bodyweight. If you’re looking to not pursue Weightlifting as a career or compete, it is still beneficial to learn how to correctly Olympic lift and watch how your body develops muscle mass in no time.
Not only does Weightlifting strengthen our muscles and help reduce fat, it can also help strengthen your bone density too. So whether you’re 8 years old or 80 years old, I can guarantee Weightlifting will benefit you in some way and you'll soon start noticing your improvement in other sports.