Tuesday, 4 March 2014
I had the best spa experience I've ever had (and, lucky me, I've had a few!!) last Wednesday evening at Ragdale Hall, Leicestershire.
An evening with a great friend, having a massage, an hour and a half of yoga and a fantastic meal - really what could be better??
The spa itself oozed luxury - it wasn't crowded or tacky like so many are. It really is a special and relaxing place to be.... highly recommended.
Friday, 21 February 2014
What AM I doing wrong?
For once you’re sticking to your pledge – you’re actually working out regularly. So why (oh why, oh why) aren’t you seeing results? Phoebe Doyle asks the experts.
When Ali dusted off her gym kit and vowed to stick to a 3 day a week commitment, her goals were clear: “I wanted to get fit, and lose weight. I was fed up of feeling older than my age and I wanted to fit into the clothes I used to wear”. For Ali the weight had crept on when she’d had her second child Ciara; crept on and stayed on.
Many of us reach the point Ali had, a turning point when we’re all, “enough’s enough” and, “this time I’m going to stick to it”. Some of us honour our self- promise, others wane after a short time and, whilst we understand the benefits of regular gym-going, we succumb to the appeal of our warm homes, with cold wine and a sumptuous sofa. But for those of us who do stick martyr-like to our regime, we want some result for our effort.
“I expected it to basically drop off”, Ali confesses. “My friend had lost heaps of weight, and it’d inspired me to do the same.” But Ali’s tale, an all too familiar one, didn’t seem to unfold in the same way; “I stayed the same weight! I felt fitter, sure, but nothing I did seemed to change my weight.”
So, what do the fitness experts have to say on this most frustrating of phenomena?
What are you doing wrong? You’re eating more…
So, you’ve been to the gym, you deserve that cake, right? Perhaps not…
The expert says: “People new to exercise often feel hungry post-workout”, says Papillon Luck, of Liberte Fitness (www.libertefitness.com) “But stick to food in it’s natural form, if it hasn’t grown, walked or flown on the earth or swum in the sea, don’t eat it. The cleaner the food, the fuller you’ll feel, preventing over eating, even after training.”
The advice: Papillon says the trick is getting organised: “Instead of eating convenience food after exercising that prevents you losing weight, plan your snack knowing it will actually enhance your training.”
What are you doing wrong? You’re only looking at weight…
The scales don’t lie, that’s what they say. But it’s not altogether true when it comes to looking better.
The expert says: “Factors like water retention can mean your weight can fluctuate drastically from day to day”, says Cardiff-based Personal Trainer Luke Grahame (www.toughlovecardiff.co.uk), adding: “A resistance training program may not produce drastic change on the scales, but methods like body fat testing and taking physical measurements will tell a different story, as you get smaller and leaner. ”
The advice: Luke says it’s time to have other goals: “An often neglected way of recording progression is how exercise actually makes you feel. After all, most of us start exercising to improve our health and our psychological health is equally as important as that of our body. Feeling more energised and confident can be a an instantly achieved goal scored through exercise.”
What are you doing wrong? You’re only doing cardio…
Women often focus almost exclusively on cardio exercises, at the expense of any weight training, and professionals agree this is the wrong strategy.
The expert says: “You need to balance cardio with interval weight training to get really noticeable results”, weight loss expert Elaine Taylor tells us (www.porridgeontuesday.com). “It doesn't actually need to be weights, the best option is our own body weight to get started.”
The advice: “15 minutes a day of short bursts of exercises would be best, and introducing press-ups, squats, lunges, and planks, all help build muscle (without bulking up) which in turn supports a healthier body and better weight loss,” advises Elaine, assuring us: “It really is the biggest game-changer for women, and so easy to introduce.”
What are you doing wrong? You’re losing commitment…
So the goal was 3 times a week after work, but then there was that film to see, and that friend to meet for coffee, and that time you needed to…
The expert says: “Sometimes we all feel like missing a session at the gym”, says Director of Fitness for Herbalife, Samantha Clayton, “But if we give ourselves a break from working out, too often we’re in danger of getting out of the habit of regular exercise. If you can’t squeeze in your usual full session, remember a little exercise is better than none.”
The advice: Samantha says the key is to keep goals realistic: “Try to aim for just 20 or 30 minutes of exercise a day when you first start out and work out at a comfortable intensity. As you progress, either increase your intensity or add 10 more minutes onto each session. If you add time progressively you’re less likely to give in completely.”
What are you doing wrong? You’re doing the same old thing…
You’ve been going to the gym for a year now, you like to stick to what you know and avoid what you don’t…
The expert says: The problem that most individuals encounter is that they never a) vary the program they are on and b) never vary the intensity”, says Personal Trainer, Scott Marsh from Xcelerate Fitness. Scott tells us he’s shocked to find that people have been on the same program, at the same level for months if not years, yet wonder why they aren’t seeing results.
The advice: Scott says intensity can be about how much you do when there, but also about matching the intensity to your other lifestyle needs: “When we speak of intensity in a programming sense we are often referring to the total load lifted, or the total resistance used. However, in a more general sense, it can refer to the fact that in busier times in our lives we have to accept that we just can’t do quite as much. Allowing you to skip a session or two without guilt is realistic and not something to feel bad about.”
Top 5 tried and tested ways to kick-start your metabolism
1. Add intervals to your training: The next time you run, swim or cycle, ramp up the intensity for 30 second intervals every minute.
2. Eat Omega 3: It balances blood sugar and reduce inflammation, helping to regulate metabolism. So choose oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines. If you don’t eat fish, consider a supplement.
3. Lift weights: Muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue, so increasing your muscle mass will help you lose weight. Stick to lots of reps of lighter weights and you’ll tone, rather than bulk, up. Aim to do muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).
4. Drink green tea: This antioxidant calorie-free super-drink has many health benefits and is now also proven to boost metabolic rate. Drink one before mealtimes to reap the rewards!
5. Get more sleep: Not only does a better night’s sleep help us function more fully in terms of brain-power, researchers have discovered that less sleep can equal slower metabolism.
Small box out
ü Change your goal
ü Try something new
ü Step up your game
ü Shock your body
ü Snack… but on the good stuff
ASICS GEL-FUJI TRABUCO Running Shoes www.asics.ie sizes 5-12 RRP Euro 135
Freya Moulded Sports Bra RRP Euro 55 http://www.freyalingerie.com
Adidas Women's Response 3-Stripes Three-Quarter Tights Euro 33 www.adidas.ie
Adidas Women's Supernova Support Tank Euro 37 www.adidas.ie
Family life can be expensive at times, making it difficult to save for something special. The good news is that you don't have to change jobs or withhold the children's pocket money to make this happen.
Making changes to the smaller things around the home can be a hugely effective way of saving up some funds. Whether you're looking to whisk the family away on holiday or simply open up your options when it's time to hit the shops, here we look at several home-based tips which will help you save.
1. Go meat-free
There's no denying that the cost of meat is disproportionately high. While it's particularly simple to base a meal around a few portions of meat, if you're willing to put a little time and thought into preparing your dinner, a vegetarian meal can be far more cost-effective.
Consider going meat-free for just one or two nights a week. Not only is this sure to save you a chunk of money over the year, but it will also encourage you to get more creative in the kitchen.
2. Check your fuel prices
Energy is a regular, unavoidable expense. Heating our homes and running various appliances are essential parts of life. While we may not have a great deal of control over the amount of energy that we use in the home, there are a few things we can do to bring bills down slightly – after all, every little helps.
Try using an electricity calculator to determine how much you're paying at present. By understanding your energy use and looking into different tariffs from your provider, you could save some money on your basic utilities.
3. Use energy wisely
Saving money on energy is not only a question of looking for the best deal. It can also help to take steps towards reducing your overall consumption. In many households, it's possible to do this without compromising on any necessities or luxuries.
The key to saving energy without making compromises lies in reducing waste. You might like to get the kids involved in ensuring that appliances are turned off when they're not in use. In addition to this, it can really pay to pick up energy efficient devices or even to consider fitting insulation in the walls and loft. In many cases it is possible to receive a government grant to help meet the costs of insulating your home.
Thursday, 30 January 2014
Read on the tescoliving site
10 alternatives to the TV
Need just 10 minutes to yourself? You don’t need to always look for the remote when you’re pushed for time… blogger Phoebe Doyle offers 10 good reasons why!
We’ve all used cBeebies as a baby-sitter whilst we hoover or take that call; there’s no harm in it of course, but it’s great to have a few other weapons in your armoury when you need some fast- to-organise ‘time out’! Here are our top 10 ideas…
The tiny babies
Song time! Research has found that singing rhymes and songs to your young baby can not only help with bonding but also improve their future speech and language skills. When you’re just too busy for this one to one time find a CD that they love. Remember babies don’t necessarily want to hear lots and lots of different music, they actually love repetition!
Get creative with collage! Children love to make pictures from tissue and scraps of paper. Indulge them by presenting them with a selection of fabrics and papers, some safety scissors and a stick glue and they’ll be away!
Painting with water. Plonk them in the garden with a bucket of water and a decorator’s paint brush and they’ll be truly happy, trust me I’ve done this plenty of times! If they’ve got a waterproof apron this is a truly mess-free activity, but one which involves creativity and heaps of fun and satisfaction.
Playdough. This malleable material helps children to get creative and the possibilities are endless so they can really let their imagination flow. Invest in plenty of tools for them to use; rolling pins, biscuit cutters, plastic knives and forks are all amongst the most popular. Make your own to save money, there are loads of recipes online to choose from (like here http://www.playdoughrecipe.com/salt-playdough-recipe/ ) and it’s really simple and fun to make – this way you can get creative with colours, smells (e.g. try adding almond or orange oil) and textures (e.g. add in some glitter or sequins).
Construction kits. Toys like Lego have been a firm favourite for generations, but did you know that using them can actually help your child to develop their fine motor skills? Fine motor skills are what’s needed when they start to learn to write.
Cornflour and water. If you haven’t ever done this before prepare to be amazed! Mix a little water into some cornflour (you’ll need at least twice as much cornflour as water), perhaps some food colouring too. Then using your finger and note the texture. It turns into a magical paste that they won’t be able to resist playing and experimenting with.
The over 5s
Reading. Just 10 minutes reading a day can really help to significantly improve their reading skills. As their reading capabilities develop, continue to give them time to read aloud, practising expressing and having fun with words. In addition to this make sure you still read stories to them, even when they themselves can read. This will have the effect of encouraging them to actually want to read during their own independent time.
Beads. Putting beads on a string can help fine motor skills and also with patterning which is great for early numeracy development. You can do this activity in the guise of ‘making a necklace’… they’ll love it!
Perfect Pizza. You may as well put your offspring to good use! Buy some pizza bases and teach them how to top a pizza, with plenty of fresh ingredients like vegetables and cheeses. You’ll need to assist the first time but after a while they’ll be able to do this un-supported.
Let’s get outside! Fresh air and sunshine really are essential for children to grow, learn and develop well. As is being active: Experts say that children should get at least 30 minutes off exercise each day, be it kicking a football around, riding a bike or walking to school – combining exercise with the big outdoors is one of the best ways to ensure your child is fit and healthy. Now they’re a little older you can allow them more independence to play in the garden alone, teach them safety skills now (e.g. doing the zip on the trampoline, coming to ask you if unsure of anything) and they’ll be set up for accident-minimised play for the rest of their child-hood.
Friday, 20 December 2013
Wednesday, 4 December 2013
Friday, 15 November 2013
With their dedication to providing positive outdoor experiences and their commitment to ecology and sustainability Phoebe Doyle is keen to go deeper into the world of Forest Schools.
Pioneered by Bridgwater College in Somerset in 1994, the Forest School ethos is founded on an innovative way of teaching individuals, using the outdoors as a "classroom" to enrich their learning experience. Interest from mainstream schools and nurseries into Forest Schools has grown considerably in recent years. They seem to offer a welcome relief from the target driven focus of many initiatives; in woodland areas children can just be children; exploring, playing and learning in abundance about the plants and animals of their planet which they need to take care of.
Paul Moseley the Forest Schools Training Manager says their aim is clear; “it’s to provide long term, regular opportunities in woodland for children and adults to connect and develop a relationship with nature.” The Forest School ethos and ambition is truly holistic as the programme concerns itself with each area of learning; “we aim to develop the personal, social and emotional skills of the learners. This is achieved through experiencing nature through play, woodland skills, tracking and learning about flora and fauna”, explains Paul.
Programmes are meticulously planned, designed and run by qualified Forest School Practitioners. A large part of their role is to teach about the interactive relationship between the woodland and people, and the potential for both positive and negative controls from humans. Paul says; “the practitioners assess not only how the woodland can influence on the learners, but how they could impact on it and put in place an Environmental Impact Assessment as well as identify (or work with stakeholders to put in place if there is not one present) the management. Recognising where they can work most constructively with the long term goals that particular place must have.”
While the concept relies on teaching children outdoors, the educational focus can relate very well to all areas of the curriculum; many schools use the forests to teach number skills and as a starting point for literacy or artwork. Enthusiasts will tell you – the opportunities are endless.
Forest School Sessions
The sessions are all about bringing children (and adults) into contact with the outdoors and letting them have a go at activities they might not ordinarily do - or be allowed to do in our ‘health and safety’ led era. Whilst once all children climbed trees, jumped off branches and got a fair amount of bruises to show off for their efforts, now nurseries and schools are understandably cautious about letting children engage in much physical, boisterous play at all, due partly to litigation and fear of blame.
Regulations and guidelines often mean children are prohibited from certain activities these days, and activities that were classed as 'normal childhood activities' in previous generations, are no longer permitted. The Forest School environment can serve to instil confidence in such activities and therefore serve to promote safety.
For many, especially children living in the inner-cities, being out of town let alone in the midst of a forested area can actually be quite overwhelming. “Initially sessions are planned to allow the learners to feel comfortable and confident in this new surrounding as for some this opportunity may have never arisen before.” Pauls tells us. Even the journey to the schools can be a source of education and excitement; for these children to look out and see the roads become more windy and the villages increasingly rural may be a new and stimulating experience in itself.
“The aim is to develop a learning community whereby all follow the physical and behavioural boundaries set out (with the practitioners lead but where possible, the learner’s sense of ownership intact). It’s also to show them the beginnings of all the possibilities available to them in the woodland. The reason it is Forest School rather than “corner of a playground with 4 trees school” is that there is such a wealth of natural resources to allow the learners to explore and express themselves. This natural environment is dynamic, ever changing and can indeed be the inspiration of those explorations.” Indeed the woodland, with all it’s complexities, would be impossible to replicate elsewhere.
Why Forest Schools Matter
When asked about the importance of Forest Schools Paul is keen not to preach but clearly is sure in his beliefs; “We can lecture, teach and educate until we have exhausted every idea and to a great extent I think that has been done many times. Depending on your politics and outlook, we could be responsible for global warming, or it may be a natural cycle, I am not going to tell anyone which to believe. But do consider this; we are the only industrialised primates on the planet, so the pollution problem is our fault, in my view this is case closed.”
Forest Schools can play a pivotal role in changing how the next generation think about and treat our planet, Paul says; “if we allow children to grow up being a part of nature, for it to have a relevance to them because they have a relationship with it, they are much more likely to look after it in the future.
“The long term, regular nature of Forest School programmes inherently allows learners to become just as at home in nature as in the house. Their attitudes can change dramatically because of this familiarity.” Paul believes it effects how they view themselves, nature and crucially their potential bearing on nature. This can spark discussions on recycling, energy use and conservation at large.
Paul says; “We aim for personal, social and emotional development in the learners themselves, but what they also realise is that they have a personal as well as a social need to respect the planet on which we live. The key difference that this approach fosters more than many others is that the learner develops an emotional need to care and to act also; they develop a genuine and authentic desire to protect.”
Cuts and the economic climate
Most working in education right now feel concerned to a degree about how the cuts in public spending may impact their setting. Paul remains optimistic and confident in their achievements; “In many respects the current economic climate has meant that additional provisions attached to mainstream education is being looked at more carefully and when it’s seen that Forest Schools contribute to the building blocks of learning so directly, and in turn to academic success, to numerous initiatives (Every Child Matters, Learning Outside the Classroom, Obesity, SEN, Local Area Agreements, Sustainable Community Strategies etc), as well as to a change in thinking with regards to sustainable living, I hope it will be recognised for the valuable educational opportunity that it is.”
Dame Clare Tickell’s review delighted many in the early years with it’s focussing on reducing the number of goals of the EYFS, making it more cohesive, sound and workable. Most early years practitioners are child-centred to the core and so instinctively understand that what children need is experiences and not targets. And in our world, where urbanisation and fears for safety are both on the increase, parents and teachers are reluctant to allow children to roam freely outdoors. We have become terrified as a profession of anything that’s potentially hazardous. Perhaps then Forest Schools are a way to bring children back in touch with experiences that are age-old and important to overall development.
The Forest School experience is one which can help children understand nature and help adults to pass this on too; all whilst developing a raft of curriculum skills without even really knowing it. Just nurtuing a more risk-taking attitude, required in Forest School sessions can help children when back in their setting; reading and writing alone require a great degree of risk for young children at the cusp of acquiring such skills. If the cuts are to force a reduction of Forest School practitioners and impact this powerful tool they will do so to the peril of the enrichment of education and subsequently the environment too.
So if you do go down to the woods today you might have to prepare yourself for a lesson in how children learn through nature, how they benefit from taking risks and how it’s young children who need most to learn about our integral dependent relationship with our world.
Becoming a forest school practitioner
Paul explains how it all started for him….
My background has been in countryside management, forestry, social forestry and bushcraft. I attended the Forest Schools course while a countryside ranger for a wonderfully fascinating site in Leicestershire called Beacon Hill Country Park. It was here that I began to run programmes for a range of different learners, which is something which they have carried on to this day.
Once I was qualified and had been running Forest Schools for a while, Sarah Blackwell the trainer and owner of the largest Forest School training company in the world, asked me if I would like to help teach the course. Over a couple of years I learnt the craft and eventually become a trainer myself. A year later I was appointed Lead Trainer and a year following that I was asked to take responsibility for all training, including the trainer training itself.
At a Forest School you might…
Learn to use tools
Be encouraged to take risks (climb, jump etc)
Make a camp fire
Build a den
Be asked to think about your environmental footprint
Experience being outdoors whatever the weather
Learn about the properties of woodland
Learn about sustainability issues
Find out more:
Labels: Education Features