The gorgeous weather saw my bikini get a rare trip out from the back of my wardrobe last weekend for a dip in the paddling pool, watch the vlog here. Just a few years ago the thought of spending the day in a bikini would have raised a multitude of worries inside my head. But when I put my cute flowery little two piece on the other day I didn’t dread it, in fact I was excited to put it on and just embrace the moment. It is such a liberating feeling to finally accept my body and see it for everything that it is: its bumps, beauty and flaws. So as I typed the title of this blog post thinking it might sound a little over dramatic I reminded myself that it is not. Lifting weights has changed my body physically but most importantly its changed my mentality for the better.

It has taken me years of blood, sweat and tears to finally be at a stage where I can say I am happy in the body I am in and am content in the healthy balanced life I now lead. Two years ago I ditched a high cardio based workout routine which literally took up HOURS out of every week. I went cold turkey virtually overnight and switched to a strength training routine.

For a start I realised that this type of training suits me so much better and I love the fact I dont have to run and jump around like a blue arsed fly doing burpees and god knows what else. Lifting weights that challenge my muscles in a controlled manner and seeing how strong my body can be is so much more satisfying, or at least it is in my opinion. Back in the day I would spend anywhere between 5-7 hours a week working out whereas now the very maximum of time I spend working out is probably 3 hours a week. Bonus! Less hours working out more hours enjoying life!

A couple of years ago I would have thought ‘less hours working out equals less results.’ Nope. If anything my body is in better shape than when I was putting all those hours in, and its certainly stronger! Getting to the stage where I am at now has almost been like a full circle progress: physically my muscles are stronger, I’ve lost a bit of weight and the shape of my body is a bit more evenly distributed. Causing a knock on effect whereby I have become more relaxed with my diet and routine.I’m kinder to myself, more accepting of exactly the way I am and how I look is not a reflection of who I am. This has generally made my balance of life and fitness so much healthier.

I never imagined myself feeling good in a bikini. But I’ve come to realise that life is too short to always be worrying about wobbly bits or cellulite, because I have finally learnt in the last few years that being happy does not come from the outside it comes from the inside.

Last Spring I purchased a Fitbit Alta (review here) because I wanted a slim fitness tracker and watch for my gym workouts. It didn’t take long for me to be somewhat underwhelmed by the Alta as it wasn’t exactly the fitness watch I had expected. My mum decided she wanted a Fitbit just to start tracking her steps so she purchased the Fitbit Alta HR and we did a swap and ever since I’ve been using the Alta HR so I thought I’d do a comparison and review on the products having tested both.

What does the Fitbit Alta HR do?

Fundamentally the Alta HR is virtually exactly the same as the Alta minus the fact it has a heart rate tracker.

  • Tracks your steps. If you wear it from morning to night it will accurately track every single step you make in that day.
  • Displays time /date. Simply move your wrist towards you or tap screen once.
  • Tells you the distance you’ve been in miles/km. Tap twice.
  • Sends you alerts to move. Detects periods of inactivity and vibrates along with a message to get you taking some steps.
  • Smartphone call/message alerts. Sync your phone to the device and your Alta will notify you of new calls messages on the screen.
  • Monitors your sleep. Keep it on at nighttime and supposedly this monitors your sleeping patterns.
  • Detects your heart rate. At the back of the wristband is a small device that displays your heart rate.

A year on I still stand by my original opinion that these devices are glorified pedometers as they really don’t DO that much at all. The wristband is paired up to your smartphone and you download a free app that stores in a lot of the data such as your resting heart rate and so on and so forth, however the actual Fitbit itself does very little really. In my original review I breakdown some of the Pros and Cons so I won’t repeat myself again as they remain the same for the Alta HR.

Do I recommend the Fitbit Alta HR?

So the question is, do I think this thing is any good? And the answer is actually yes I do. I wear my Fitbit almost seven days a week and have been for the last ten months and I love it for the fact it simply gets me moving. Even if I’m having a lazy day if I’m wearing this I usually always end up doing a lot more steps than you would imagine! The number on the screen really encourages me to get up and move, throughout the course of the day I think ‘just do some steps’ and surprisingly it all adds up. Particularly since I have stopped doing such high cardio based workouts instead opting for strength training, I think the consistent low impact walking has really complemented my current fitness routine well.

As I mentioned in the first review of the Alta, if you’re looking for an all singing all dancing fitness tracker this watch certainly isn’t for you. It simply doesn’t do that much, but what it does for me happens to work. If you are looking for a fitness tracker to help you on a daily basis to keep active this could be what you are after. However I think they would be even better if they were slightly less expensive – the money doesn’t exactly justify what the product does.

Have you tried the Fitbit Alta HR? Do you wear a fitness tracker? 

For almost a decade now I have had an interest in health and fitness. Back in the early days it was only sparked by a desire to lose some weight, I never realised just how involved I would become over the years. Although my intentions were only ever good, when I look back now my patterns of exercise fueled by a warped relationship with body image over the years haven’t really been all that healthy. Fast forward to 2018, and I couldn’t be happier with my current fitness habits and my approach to health and well being. It didn’t happen over night but one liberating way to start this process was to ditch the before and after pictures.

We’re living in a world where ‘before and after’ pictures are thrown at us on an almost daily rate. But in reality our bodies are never really in a state of ‘after’ because most normal healthy human’s bodies fluctuate up and down constantly. We are taught to strive for this perfectly polished and finished body that doesn’t exist in real life. The before image is viewed as wrong while the after image is seen as accepted and the message behind this is not teaching us to be kind on our bodies at all.

Its also worth stepping back for a moment to understand that behind all those ‘before and after’ shots is a story. I remember feeling so proud of mine, it was like my body was finally acceptable. Yet even after I lost the weight I wanted, I still had a tricky time of accepting my body because I was striving for a perfect version of myself that didn’t exist. The tale of my ‘after’ picture was hours of obsessively exercising, stressing out if I missed one session, denying myself food and constantly feeling hungry then consequently being irritable or unpleasant to be around. It wasn’t a happy cycle.

So last year I stripped things back to basics and took myself straight back to the gym where it all began. I think one day the penny just dropped.

I needed a sustainable routine that didn’t revolve on achieving results.

For the first time ever, I began focusing purely on strength training and low intensity workouts. I enjoy the challenge of simply lifting weights which in turn made me begin feeling like I was in control. It was an empowering revelation. I wasn’t jumping about slogging my guts off putting my body through a hard time for hours on end. The game changed for me BIG time.  A workout is no longer a method of getting my body to look better, its a challenge to myself to see what I can do and what I’m capable of achieving.

I love my strong, curvy little body and feel truly content in it for the first time in my life.

Even better I no longer see my body in terms of ‘before’ or ‘after’ its just my body as it is right now.

*And for the record the images I’ve used in this post were taken in 2014 when I wasn’t happy with how I looked. When I see these images four years on I wonder why. There is nothing wrong with my body, then or now. The world we live in totally destroys the way we looked at our bodies.

I’m kinder to myself now I’ve come to understand this. Let’s remold the way we look at our bodies. And instead of striving for perfection lets strive to lead happy and healthy lives.

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A few weeks ago I finally stepped into the world of fitness trackers with the Fitbit Alta. I wanted a fitness watch for my gym and home workouts with the ability to set a timer or use as a stopwatch. The fear of keep taking my phone into the weights section at my gym and getting it damaged was becoming increasingly worse. So I told myself this was the opportunity to get myself a fitness tracker type device. Before deciding to purchase the Fitbit Alta, I admit little research went into it – the Fitbit website offered very little information on the product. And so I didn’t exactly know what to expect.

What does the Fitbit Alta Do?

Not a huge amount in my opinion. Here’s my breakdown of exactly what the device does:

  • Tracks your steps. If you wear it from morning to night it will track every single step you make in that day. Pretty neat but nothing out this world lets be honest.
  • Displays time /date. Simply move your wrist towards you or tap screen once.
  • Tells you the distance you’ve been in miles/km. Tap twice.
  • Sends you alerts to move. Detects periods of inactivity and vibrates along with a message to get you taking some steps.
  • Smartphone call/message alerts. Sync your phone to the device and your Alta will notify you of new calls messages on the screen.
  • Monitors your sleep. Keep it on at nighttime and supposedly this monitors your sleeping patterns.

And that really is about it. The free app you download on your phone allows you to ‘add’ in extra bits of information such as your workout activities, water and food consumption etc plus with your details like height and weight it gives you an approximate calorie burn for the day. But none of that information comes from the Alta device, thats just information you manually put in to the app. The only thing that really syncs up are your steps/distance. The Alta is essentially just a very pimped up pedometer.

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Pros:

  • Slim and lightweight.  Too many fitness trackers out there are obnoxiously fitness trackers and because I wear a watch on my left wrist I really don’t want anything else too big or bulky sat on my other arm.
  • Doesn’t interfere with your regular outfits too much. The thin black strap and display screen could easily just be passed off as a wrist band, which I like as I think it means I will get more wear from it.
  • Doubles up as a watch. Use it to keep an eye on the time while you’re out and about.
  • It encourages you to get moving. The best thing about the Fitbit Alta, in my opinion is that it motivates you to move, either by sending you alerts when it knows you’ve been inactive for a while or just for the fact that you want to see those steps adding up and the mileage increase! Anything that encourages you to be a bit more active, even in our day to day lives is a positive in my eyes. I have definitely noticed I feel more motivated to simply move more since wearing the Alta Fitbit.
  • Decent battery life. I got a good five days of wear before it needed a charge.
  • Suitable for beginners. New to fitness? This could be a great tool. New to tech or to these types of devices? Again this could be an option for you.
  • Simple to use. Put the strap on and tap the screen. It truly is as easy as that.

Cons:

  • Possibly too simple.. All this really does is track your steps, I’ll admit that its a very smart pedometer but its not a very smart fitness device. I feel like this just needs to DO more things, you know? No way is this worth the £90.00+ price tag it currently retails for.
  • NO stopwatch facility.  I  personally was hugely disappointed by the fact the Fitbit Alta doesn’t even have the ability to set a timer or act as a stopwatch!
  • NOT waterproof. I had to google this to find it out as the tiny little information booklet was useless. In outdoor circumstances I’m not entirely sure how this fella would hold up if you got caught in a sudden unexpected downpour? Again I would expect something like this to perhaps be waterproof at least for outdoor use as weather tends to be unpredictable at times.

All in all I do like the device for daily use and for encouraging day to day activity, but this essentially is a pedometer dressed up as a fitness device. I wouldn’t even put this in a fitness category. Nethertheless I’m not unhappy with it and I’m enjoying using it to keep me motivated to move and walk more frequently! In hindsight I think I would have maybe been more suited to the Alta HR.

Have you tried the Fitbit Alta? Do you use a fitness tracker?

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There comes a point where life moves forward and things around us begin to naturally evolve. For me recently a lot of exciting things happened all at once. It was the first time in a very long while where I focused purely on living my life. As a result I struggled to balance a new relationship with fitness. And for the first time ever, I put working out at the bottom of my list of priorities.

I have been consistently exercising now for 7 years, during a big chunk of that time I also happened to be single. Keeping fit therefore took up quite a big part of my life in those years: because I enjoyed it but mostly as I had a lot of time to put aside for it. It gave me something to spend my evenings doing, something to take my mind off things and eventually it even became something of a social activity when I started taking classes.

Fitness and working out kept me sane in those years. It kept me busy and gave me purpose. Exercise filled a big gap in my life.

However it kind of took over in the end – not in the obsessive ‘I need to exercise’ way though, just because I didn’t really have anything else. I religiously attended classes and would plan the rest of my week around that timetable. That became my life. My healthy habit had become something I unhealthily depended on.

Only when taking a step back did I realise all of this though.It allowed me to set a healthier perspective for myself. Naturally I wanted to put all of my effort and time into my new relationship. So I started exactly how I intended to go on, which was to put my relationship first.

It felt so liberating to have a switch in my priorities for a change, and it finally felt like I had things in the right place. My lifestyle changed and with that so did my mindset. While I was busy putting enjoying my life at number one,  I had to learn where exercise would fit into that! But, my goodness did I need that reality check.

There isn’t a void in my life like there was before. There isn’t something missing. Nowadays, I can plan going to the gym around my life, whereas before it would have been the opposite way round. My approach to fitness is far healthier now and I love it more than ever before.

For as long as I am enjoying it, fitness will always remain a part of my lifestyle. Its just much more of a balanced part of my life these days, and that I believe is how it should be.