What’s on my desk

I spend more and more time at my desk these days, doing everything from preparing the family taxes to working on this blog. Because of this, my workspace is constantly changing. Holding the clutter at bay is challenging, so I prefer to keep nearby only a few quality items that serve multiple purposes over a stockpile of things I might never need.

My daily planner

My planner is one of those simple ring binder journals you can pick up from any stationery supplies store. White paper. No ruled lines to cage my venturesome handwriting and doodling. I’m an obsessive note-taker and fill pages to the margins with to do lists, rough sketches, and ideas for blog posts. I usually go through one planner every month.

Travel Tips

There are millions of tips out there on how to fly with kids, what to bring on camping vacations, which suitcase to buy, where to go and what to see in just about every corner on Earth. What I want to share today is something a little different – something that we discovered last summer during a family hike in the Appalachians. 

Staying Organized

Who me? Organized? My husband might tell you otherwise, but I do find it hard to keep track of our weekly schedule. You know: school, swimming, grocery shopping, tidying up, paying bills, remembering appointments and so on. Fortunately, in our house we all pitch in. No one person does everything. But we do have a little secret that helps our day run more smoothly.

Imagine popping a pill that eases back pain!

We can all dream of the imaginary pill, but only last week I realised I wasn’t in pain anymore and no pill had been taken!  After years of suffering I made a choice to adjust my movements and lifestyle with the intention of prevention! Thankfully I have reaped the rewards and have made these changes part of my routine.  I want to bring you on this journey with me, sharing my top tips and ideas to a pain free future.

After the first of three car accidents and having tried chiropractors, acupuncturists and massages I started listening to my body. Any twinges here or there I noted, and I would back-track on when the pain began and if I could see any patterns.  I, like most people with back-pain, found getting in and out of the car problematic. I gently altered my movements and positions and realised I needed to sit down in the car seat, as I would a normal chair with my legs together, swinging my legs into the footwell.  Even now, I still use this movement to position myself into the car as I know it works for me and my back.

Fitness is a big deal for my physical and mental wellbeing, but with back pain, running and aerobic exercise does not work for me.  I opted for the gentler, core-based activities like Pilates and Yoga – plus I have real passion for these practices which helps!  Walking has been great for my back and I have set myself challenges with buying a Fitbit and sacking off the bus or car to walk instead which does take some planning. A good rucksack is essential for this and to even out the weight on my back.

Going somewhere new can bring challenges like awkward chairs or standing for too long or sitting on a beach with no support.  I have been suffering with back pain for many years now, which can bring irritability and anger into everyday life, I have realised it is ok to ask for another chair or cushion or a seat.  Yes, back pain may be invisible, but it is still a pain (boom, boom!) and we all have a right to ask.

I have become so much more aware of how technology can really help. I have invested in a ‘robot hoover’ which hoovers independently; they are expensive and not for everyone. If you do invest in a new hoover a cheaper alternative would need to be a light, upright one which is more back-friendly.  Writing has caused me problems, so having an ‘Alexa’ has eased my pain, plus it makes great lists!  Steaming food in my vegetable steamer is super healthy, keeping all the nutrients and flavour in, but is also a great tool to soften vegetables ready for chopping up.  Finally, the best investment I made was a good bed, personally I would recommend a memory foam mattress.

Remember our back and core are the epicentre of movement for our bodies so even the simplest of jobs such as getting in and out of the car or cutting vegetables can impact how our back feels.

I would love to know what changes you have made to your movement and lifestyle to prevent back pain?  Could you let me know so I can share it?  Maybe this is the first time you have thought about it and if so, fear not, you are not alone.  I am here to help with new ideas and can offer you support and encouragement.

Start this journey with me by signing up to my 4 top tips to a pain free back.

Pilates or Yoga?

What are the differences between Pilates and Yoga? There are many different opinions on this and it depends on the teacher too.

My Yoga classes are focussed on increasing flexibility, being mindful, introducing movement and meditation. The classes flow from pose to pose.

My Pilates classes are focussed around strengthening the muscles of the core, stretching out muscles and improving balance. It is more of a structured work out and the  exercises are carried out in repetitions.

Pilates or Yoga mat? Which one should you buy?

Whether you are new to Yoga or Pilates or have been practicing for years there is an exercise mat for you. This post will give you an overview of the differences between Yoga & Pilates mats and help you find the right mat for you. Yoga mats can still be used in Pilates and vice versa. It’s more hygienic to get your own mat.Yoga or Pilates mat

Yoga Mat

Yoga mats are the thinnest usually around 4mm – 6mm thickness and around 180 long and 60cm wide. Usually made of PVC. If you prefer you can find mats made of biodegradable fibres like hemp or cotton.

Benefits:

  • Lots of grip to help your hands and feet stay static and slip free
  • Good for balance as not too thick and you can feel the floor beneath you
  • PVC Mats you can wash in the washing machine
  • More compact when rolled up than a Pilates Mat

Cons

  • Less cushioned than a Pilates mats

Pilates Mat

Thicker than a Yoga Mat. Pilates mats are usually 8-10mm thick and made of foam.

Benefits: –

  • More cushioned than Yoga mats so good if you have any knee injuries (when in kneeling positions) or back injuries (when doing any exercises or final relaxation) lying on your back
  • Sliding surface to allow you to move smoothly in exercises.

Cons: –

  • Bigger
  • More slippery than yoga mat (if using for Yoga poses)
  • More cushioned so more difficult to balance. This can be easily fixed by stepping off your mat for balancing postures.

Where to buy?

  • Ebay
  • Amazon
  • TK Maxx