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Tag Archives: Health & wellbeing

Feb
24
2018

Nicolle Smith, 49, powerlifter

I started weightlifting three years ago at the age of 46. Id done competitive athletics in my 20 s and wanted to find a physical activity that would challenge me. I loved the movie Rocky, and the classic train sequence from it, so I decided to join a boxing club. Non-competitive boxing became my second love for 10 years. But eventually it started to take a toll on my body, and I cease just after my 40 th birthday.

If youre not a runner( and I never enjoyed operating ), the options for fitness in the middle years really narrow down to a handful of activities. Many play tennis( which yields a high chronic injury rate in the over-4 0s ), take up yoga( which is fine, but doesnt genuinely get the heart rate up ), or try golf( which isnt my thing ).

I tried British Military Fitness for a year, but you need the staman of a younger athlete. I considered CrossFit, but there was no way I was going to manage the dynamic moves. I was intrigued by the strength-based exercises and set out to find a qualified strength and conditioning trainer. Will Davis at Performance Pro started me off with body weight workouts, and at first, when he asked me to pick up a bar buzzer, I told him I didnt want to lift heavy weights; I worried that I would get big. He insured I would not. I thought about the women Ive watched lifting weights who appear lean, and changed my mind.

Powerlifting consists of three lifts: the squat, the bench press and the deadlift. Lifting weights is technological, but thats what I love about it. You make improvements every week. It has a huge health impact for women as they age. I had a bone density scan last year and the technician told me mine was off the charts. I have also dropped a dress sizing as fat has gradually become muscle.

Lifting provides a challenge for me, and I love the training environment. My gym is full of athletes of all ages, each with their own aims. No one is there to show off. It really is empowering.

My weekend workout

Sessions per week ? Three.
Best pre-workout meal ? Peanut butter on toast.
Most exhausting move ? My maximum deadlift of 92.5 kg; one and a half times my body weight.

Five ways to get started

1 Go to the Global or UK Strength and Conditioning website( nsca.com; uksca.org) to find a trainer with qualifications near you: its about the trainer , not the gym. Finding someone who will teach you proper technique and sort will build injuries less likely.

2 Be patient. Powerlifting takes time. You might spend weeks learning the basics, but once you have mastered them, youll be thrilled when your weights get heavier.

3 Start with a simple squatting. Stand with your feet merely wider than shoulder-width apart, pull your shoulders back and keep your back straight. With your arms above your head slowly push your hobo back as you lower it to the floor. Pause and come back up.

4 Get a gym educate buddy; you can watch each others kind and help move the plates on and off the barbell, which can be tiring on your own.

5 Mark Rippetoe is an expert lifter and former Olympic coach. Watch his video explainers or find his book, Starting Strength. Many lifters call it the bible of Powerlifting.

Essential kit

Powerlifting

Powerlifting shoes, 74.95, adidas.com; York padded leather weight lifting belt, 12.88, sweatband.com; wrist supports, 2.99, amazon.co.uk

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Dec
30
2017

My foot looked like a giants. I was shocked. I was 31 and very fit. Id never been ailment in my life

I am a professional bodybuilder and was on my way to the gym, around midday, in November 2016, in my home city of Stoke-on-Trent. I typically work out for five or six hours a day, and can bench-press 180 kg. As I approached my vehicle, I ensure there were lots of ladybirds on the door and roof. I picked one up to take a closer appear. As a kid, I always loved ladybirds, but these didnt look like normal ones; they were a different shape, almost twice as big and black with orange dots. I let them walk over my hand, then brushed them off, get in the car and didnt think anything more about it.

Not long after, I felt a sharp pain on my left-hand side, around my neck. At the gym I told my mate that something didnt feel right. The ache had spread to my left foot and it felt as if it was burning. He told me to get a grip and stop moaning. I did my normal workout and then drove for a couple of hours to Milton Keynes, where I was due to present trophies to wins of a bodybuilding competition the next day.

I arrived around 7pm and checked into a hotel. My foot was still hurting, but I thought it might be from all the driving. Later, I couldnt sleep. In the early hours, I looked at my foot: it was very badly swollen and looked like a giants. I was shocked. I believed maybe Id dropped something on it or knocked it at the gym. I knew I had to get to a hospital, but I couldnt walk.

I called reception and the concierge helped me out of the room and took me downstairs in a luggage streetcar. I got a taxi to the hospital, where they took an x-ray and did a blood exam. They werent sure what was wrong, but advised me to take antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, as they believed I might be having an allergic reaction. I left the hospital around 7am, with a crutch, made a quick appearance at the bodybuilding competition, then managed to drive home, still in a lot of pain.

By the evening my foot was black and a friend rushed me to the Royal Stoke University hospital. After more blood tests and more disarray, a consultant from another hospital was called. He arrived and told me to strip off, so he could examine every part of my body. He noticed that the left side of my groin was swollen. He said my body was trying to fight an infection. I was 31 and very fit. Id never been ailment in my life.

He asked if Id touched anything unusual or cut myself lately. I said no. He asked if Id been near any chemicals. No. Had I been near any bugs? Thats when I recollected. I supposed mentioning the ladybirds would voice stupid, but I told him anyway. He asked me what kind of ladybirds they were did they appear different? I explained the colouring and the size. He said they voiced like harlequin ladybirds, an invasive species. Id never heard of them and was shocked to learn they carry a fungal cancer in their saliva.

The doctor diagnosed severe sepsis, caused by a ladybird bite. I didnt even know ladybirds could bite. He told me the saliva had got under my scalp and into my system, and I needed to take very strong antibiotics and morphine. There were a lot of nasty side-effects, but I was lucky: one out of three people die from the severity of the sepsis I had. There was a chance theyd have had to amputate my leg, which terrified me. It would have ruined my life.

Afterwards, I couldnt walk properly for a long time and was in a lot of ache. I couldnt eat my weight fell from 100 kg to 75 kg, which for a bodybuilder is a really bad thing. It really messed me up and it took me a long time to recover.

Since then, Ive had a phobia of ladybirds. I dont mind serpents or spiders or wasps, and Im not scared of any other kinds of insect, but ladybirds I merely dont want to be near them. I know Im so much bigger than they are, but it was such a terrible experience. Before this happened, I used to think they were cute and harmless; I used to play with them as a child. Now, if I find a ladybird, I run.

As say to Sophie Haydock

Do you have an experience to share? Email experience @theguardian. com

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Nov
16
2017

Nicolle Smith, 49, powerlifter

I started weightlifting three years ago at the age of 46. Id done competitive athletics in my 20 s and wanted to find a physical activity that would challenge me. I loved the movie Rocky, and the classic develop sequence from it, so I decided to join a boxing club. Non-competitive boxing became my second love for 10 years. But eventually it started to take a toll on my body, and I cease just after my 40 th birthday.

If youre not a runner( and I never enjoyed operating ), the options for fitness in the middle years really narrow down to a handful of activities. Many play tennis( which yields a high chronic injury rate in the over-4 0s ), take up yoga( which is fine, but doesnt truly get the heart rate up ), or try golf( which isnt my thing ).

I tried British Military Fitness for a year, but you need the staman of a younger athlete. I considered CrossFit, but there was no way I was going to manage the dynamic moves. I was intrigued by the strength-based exercises and set out to find a qualified strength and conditioning trainer. Will Davis at Performance Pro started me off with body weight workouts, and at first, where reference is asked me to pick up a bar buzzer, I told him I didnt want to lift heavy weights; I worried that I would get big. He insured I would not. I thought about the women Ive considered lifting weights who seem lean, and changed my mind.

Powerlifting consists of three lifts: the squatting, the bench press and the deadlift. Lifting weights is technological, but thats what I love about it. You make improvements each week. It has a huge health impact for women as they age. I had a bone density scan last year and the technician told me mine was off the following chart. I have also fell a dress size as fat has gradually become muscle.

Lifting offer a challenge for me, and I love the training environment. My gym is full of athletes of all ages, each with their own objectives. No one is there to show off. It really is empowering.

My weekend workout

Sessions per week ? Three.
Best pre-workout meal ? Peanut butter on toast.
Most exhausting move ? My maximum deadlift of 92.5 kg; one and a half days my body weight.

Five ways to get started

1 Go to the Global or UK Strength and Conditioning website( nsca.com; uksca.org) to find a trainer with qualifications near you: its about the trainer , not the gym. Finding someone who will teach you proper technique and form will make traumata less likely.

2 Be patient. Powerlifting takes time. You might expend weeks learning the basics, but once you have mastered them, youll be thrilled when your weights get heavier.

3 Start with a simple squatting. Stand with your feet just wider than shoulder-width apart, pull your shoulders back and keep your back straight. With your limbs above your head slowly push your bum back as you lower it to the floor. Pause and come back up.

4 Get a gym develop buddy; you can watch each others form and help move the plates on and off the barbell, which can be tiring on your own.

5 Mark Rippetoe is an expert lifter and former Olympic coach. Watch his video explainers or find his volume, Starting Strength. Many lifters call it the bible of Powerlifting.

Essential kit

Powerlifting

Powerlifting shoes, 74.95, adidas.com; York padded leather weight lifting belt, 12.88, sweatband.com; wrist supportings, 2.99, amazon.co.uk

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Mar
08
2017

A baby changes everything. So how does it feel when theyre all grown and run? Photographer Dona Schwartz gratifies expectant parents and empty-nesters

My wifes labour began in earnest one December evening in 1994, in the middle of EastEnders. Our flat was full of baby stuff marriage never utilized, all carefully arranged and stacked, the way you might lay out your skydiving gear on the night before a big jump. We decided to watch the rest of EastEnders before we drove to hospital. It was an outward indicate of calmness who for, I dont know and a chance to set our old life on pause in the face of a leap into the unknown.

Twenty-one years later, we find ourselves in possession of what can only be described as a spare room. Technically, its still our oldest sons bedroom, but hes been at university for the last three years, along with most of his stuff. The room is sparse and needs painting. Half a poster hangs on one wall. It appears as if the previous tenant left in a hurry.

Hes merely the first to go. The middle one is presently fielding offers from universities; the youngest is only a year behind him. Children arrive, they take over your life and then, one day, they walk off with it.

This series of photo captures parenting at either objective, including all the trappings of both states. Expectant parents pose alongside equipment they do not yet know how to operate. Some of it they will never need. Empty-nesters are caught in the blasted nests left behind by departing progeny, surrounded by the shiny detritus of adolescence. Either that, or theyre posing in a newly feathered workout room. This latter group appears, if anything, even more bewildered. Nobody genuinely tells you about that bit.

Thats not to say there is no alerting. For me, weekends are a kind of dress rehearsal for emptynest disorder: the children sleep all day, and disappear in the evenings. If they didnt steal fund from my pockets, I wouldnt know they still lived here. I am brimming with unsolicited advice, but most days there is no one to heap it on.

If you were to look at these paintings from the perspective of a parent-to-be, youd likely dwell on the mysterious, unrecorded period in between: that fabled stretch of grinding days, sleepless nights and tearful birthday parties. It will seem both daunting and unimaginable.

Looking at it from the other objective, the thing that strikes me is how short that stretch actually is. Its meant to be your whole life, this 20 -odd-year interval called parenting, but it seems, in retrospect, shockingly brief. I have no idea how big the resulting hole in my life will come to seem, but already I know its nothing a treadmill is going to fill.

Andrea and Colin, 11 days until her due date

Andrea,

Andrea : My excitement has grown over the last few months as I see how happy and impatient my husband has become. Hes been asking lots of questions and practising reading kids books to me every night. Im also excited for her to fulfill our families and friends, and to have a tiny combination of my husband and me. Colin : The prospect that she will have health problems builds me anxious, especially autism. From what I have ensure, that can really be difficult to maintain family relationships through. Until she is born and begins life, that feels like a huge unknown into which all sorts of worst-case scenarios can seep.

Susan and Chris, empty-nesters for seven months

Parents

Susan( left ): There is peace and soothe in our home. There is no hip-hop playing and the TV is off unless we are actually watching it. Other blessings: no dirty socks on the furniture , no dirty pans on the stove , no strange young person going up the back stairs.

I miss the children energy they bring life and action into this old lady home. They have adventures, rubs and a changing parade of girlfriends: some nice, some crazy. Other downers: no helpers to shovel snow , no big muscles to do the heavy lifting.

There is less turmoil and chaos. This filters down to our relations: we get along better and have less conflict. And its fun to welcome them home for vacations, to know the adults they have become, and are becoming.

Kathryn and Michael, 18 days until her due date

Kathryn,

Kathryn : We were married in March 2008 and knew we didnt want to wait very long, both because of our ages and because we believe that openness to life is essential to living out our vocation of matrimony to its fullest.

I cant wait to discover who this little person is that we have been given charge of, and to help him discover his talents and weaknesses, his passions and his mission in life.

I worry about how my own flaws and imperfections may harm him, by teaching him bad habits or lessons about the world that are wrong.

But someone other than ourselves is about to become the centre of our world. My hope is that it will change me by helping me to become less selfish.

Lu and Bruce, empty-nesters for two years

Parents

Bruce: I like the time for unmediated and unrushed dinners with Lu. I also like enjoying the accomplishments of our children and seeing them grow in freedom; they are all quite remarkable, in my opinion. And, as a bonus, my IQ doubled in their eyes once they went off to college. But now the animals all want to sleep with us.

Andrea and Brad, 16 days until her due date

Andrea,

Andrea : We didnt plan this baby. I had recently returned from Iraq, and a baby was something that didnt fit into my adjusting to home supposes. But I always planned on having a family. Brad : Im most excited about playing and spending time with my son or daughter, and watching them grow up. Teaching them how to play ball, fish and hunting. But being in the service and having a family is tough.

Leola, empty-nester of 3 months

Parent

What is it about being an empty nester that I like least? Nothing.

Kathy and Lyonel, empty-nesters for 18 months

Parents

Kathy: I miss the energy and vibrancy that kids bring to a home, to a life that teen spirit. I also miss the role of Mom in my job description.

Lyonel : I like the silence. Children fill up space that you dont know exists. But I miss the daily injection of youth and life. The wonder that kids exhibit at the simplest things, the most banal of experiences. The music and chatter. I miss them awfully.

Bobby and Kevin, waiting to adopt

Bobby

Bobby( left ): It was part of our plan to raise a family two years after our commitment rite. We had to establish stability first in terms of housing and finance. Im excited to have a big influence in shaping someones life at the outset. Instilling our values, or just watching them grow up in good health. But I believe most prospective parents would be anxious not to make any mistakes I dread that, if our children turn to adults and have insurmountable problems, theyll blame us for being bad at parenting. That would break my heart.

Kevin: We have a great support system in our family and friends. We both have secure employment and can provide for children. Our flexible work schedules will allow us to focus on our childs requires. Im excited about helping small children grow, but Im anxious about whether he or she will accept us as their fathers.

Kathleen and Mark, empty-nesters for one year

Parents

Kathleen: I dont always have to wear pyjamas any more and theres more juice in the fridge. Im also not subject to the daily drama that sometimes upset me. But I miss her so much sometimes I merely feel empty. Its really tough because we are the same person, pretty much. So I lost my other half.

Makesha, 13 days until her due date

Makesha,

My baby wasnt planned, but I rejected an abortion or adoption. I knew I was mature enough to raise small children. Im excited about comforting her when she needs me to, or is just simply wanting my attention. The thought of putting her through school builds me anxious, inducing sure she is treated fairly, along with getting quality education.

Lori and Scott, five days until her due date

Lori,

Lori: We had been trying for over three years and realised it is not something we could control. Now were having twins – Im excited being able to raise these newborns in a caring and gentle home and family. I can only imagine how it feels to bringing these newborns into the world and provide all aspects of care for them.

Scott: We had been married for over three years and decided it was time to start a family. Three year later, after many infertility procedures and one miscarriage, we are finally close to starting that family, with twins. Our peaceful, quiet home will soon be gone but replaced with laughter and the audios of happy children.

Kate and Phillip, empty-nesters for four years

Parents

Kate : My children are some of my favorite people and I miss having time to talk and share my life with them. We still have relatively frequent contact with our youngest. The older children have partners and demanding lives, and I find our relations fading in importance.

It is interesting that I continue to fret when they are sick or face difficulties. Our mantra these days is, Theyll figure it out, but in reality it is hard not to want to fix things or butt in.

Phillip : I have much more time to spend with Kate and to do other things I like to do. The liberty from family responsibilities allows me to enjoy the moment. I certainly miss spend some time with each of my children, but I genuinely miss our family unit of five. There was something magical about our little family doing things together that cannot be recaptured.

Dona Schwartzs On The Nest is published by Kehrer Verlag.

Read more: www.theguardian.com