On Tuesday I mentioned that I’ve been challenged to get going with a new midlife health and fitness plan. I have committed to do it until January and today I’m going to tell you more about it. Before I do, I’m just going to cover the reasons why I’m doing it with a quick recap. I have hit an absolute exercise trough. Long term readers know about the car accident I had in December 2014. It wasn’t a serious one but I knew something bad had happened to my shoulder.

I made repeated visits to my GP for 20 months because I was living with constant pain – each time he told me that it needed rest. Eventually he referred me to a specialist hospital that took it more seriously and an MRI scan showed that I had several tears to the tendons in my rotator cuff. Since then I have been trying to rebuild it with physio but exercise has had to be very gentle. The outcome is that I have gone from feeling really fit and toned in December 2014 to feeling flabby and unhealthy now. Recently I have been trying to motivate myself to do more than my Pilates classes but with winter coming, I have really struggled to find a trigger.

As you know, I work at keeping my weight down, mainly because my brothers and sister all have type 2 diabetes so I feel I have a sword of Damocles hanging over me. Since 2013 I have followed the Slimming World way of eating but the one thing that has always bothered me is the absence of healthy fats in the plan. My hair, skin and nails have become very dry which could be an age thing of course – but it can’t be helped by the lack of oily lubrication.

So, when GymCube got in touch and offered me membership, it came just at the right time. I wasn’t sure that I would be the best candidate because I don’t really want to lose much weight. I’m aware that if I do, I’ll start looking gaunt and there’s nothing that bothers Mr MC more than a scrawny looking woman (when I’m reading blogs and magazines he is forever looking over my shoulder and saying “blimey she needs a good bacon sandwich!”).

GymCube offer programmes according to your requirements. The three principal ones are:

There is also a healthy maintenance plan for anyone who just wants to find a way of managing their health and fitness well on a long term basis.

So, I have decided to follow the Slim and Tone. If I really do drop a dress size nothing in my wardrobe will fit – imagine the size of the blogger sale I’ll have to do then! I can’t quite believe that I will reach a size 10, I haven’t worn size 10 clothes since my early twenties. I’m going to be interested to see what happens though and a good long term outcome for me would be that I fit into a size 12 very comfortably – and also have some wriggle room for Christmas and holidays.

About GymCube

GymCube is a very new online community that has been launched by Kevin Foster-Wiltshire who has been a personal trainer for over ten years specialising in weight loss, toning and training. It is a family business and I have spoken to Kevin extensively. One of the things I like most about him is his breadth of his experience. He has worked with Arsenal Football Club, with a number of TV celebrities but also (and most importantly) with hundreds of ordinary women who are clawing their way back to fitness.

He is obsessive about diet and fitness but in a good way. He has forced himself to be overweight three times so that he can empathise with his clients’ weight loss journey. In a similar vein, despite having been a weightlifter since his teens, he decided to lose all of his muscle experimentally so that he could experience just how it feels to start from rock bottom again. He is available online at different times of day to coach you and answer your questions. There are a number of other specialists on the team including Ben Coomber who is a well known nutritionist.

The ethos

I’m going to show you a page from the very interesting Lifestyle Guide that you receive if you take out Black membership or above. For me, this is the best aspect of the GymCube approach.

Midlife health and fitness

Now you see why I think it is an intelligent plan. It accepts that we want to enjoy our lives and that sharing the pleasure of food and wine with friends and family is more important to most of us than being skinny. Although it is delivered from the north of England, in my mind this plan is very French. The svelte French women that I know operate on a subtle but constant calibration level. For example they will tuck into a buttery croissant for breakfast but then calculate their lunch to allow for it. If they eat a huge dinner with rich creamy sauces and  dessert, they will balance it out across the rest of the week. They do it by instinct and after reading GymCube’s Lifestyle Guide, I feel that this is the approach it will help me to develop.

How membership works

You take out membership either on a monthly or annual basis and in return, you have access to the eating plan with lots of recipes as well as the exercise centre and Kevin as your coach. There are different levels of membership and there is also a free seven day weight loss plan which you can trial. If you want access to the best information (particularly the Lifestyle Guide), I would recommend going with the Black membership as a minimum.

I was keen to get going straightaway but Kevin suggested I dedicate a week just to working my way round the information. It was good advice because there are a lot of different ways of approaching the plans and I needed to assess how I was going to integrate everything into my (currently almost unbearably) busy life.

My week of exploring the eating plan

Now, I am pretty happy with the way I eat but Kevin has advised me to record my calories for 14 days just to see if it reveals any pitfalls. I’m starting that on Monday but I already know what it will tell me about the slivers of cheese that I eat when I’m preparing dinner that I never acknowledge. It’s the same with the handful of almonds that I tell myself is a healthy snack – it is but I suspect my snack portions are too big.

If you feel you need a completely new approach to eating, you will find that on GymCube too with quick, easy recipes and seven day menu plans complete with shopping lists. They seem to know how difficult it is to find the headspace for a new diet and they have made it as simple as possible.

I am finding the nutritional information fascinating – there is a lot of it and you can drill down into as much detail as you like. There are also simple trials that you can follow to test your body’s reaction to carbs, fats and protein. This way you can learn which food group helps you to feel at your best and so you can apportion your meal planning that way.

My week of exploring the exercise plan

I’m going to be honest with you as I do this and the exercise section is where I’m already finding it hard. I’m in that pre-hibernation zone where I just want to curl up in a burrow. I have been told by my shoulder consultant that I can go back to Kettlercise which is the one gym class that I really love. So I rolled up today, psyched and ready to go, only to find my gym has stopped doing it. I went round the gym half heartedly – I couldn’t get my new bluetooth headphones to work, I kept having to take my glasses on and off to read the GymCube exercise cards and I discovered how little strength I have left. The scary thing is that Kevin has given me a heart monitor that links to GymCube so he can see how hard I’m trying. I didn’t switch the darned thing on properly so I came back without a single reading.

So, I’m going to have to explore the GymCube site over the weekend and start again. I’ve committed to do this so I have to find a way to make it work for me. Maybe I’ll try some of the live classes that they stream at 6.30am. I’m thinking that I can save the 25 minute round trip to the gym and have a workout done before the boys are even out of bed. There are other alternatives such as recorded classes and workouts to do at home so I’ll tell you where I get to with it next week.

What are my ultimate midlife health and fitness outcomes?

GymCube is very much about looking ahead and setting a series of short term goals that you can aim for. It then encourages you to take a break from the plan for a few days (or even a two week holiday) so that you don’t hit a wall. We are going away at half term so I have a short term four week goal to hit and then I will take a few days off. The next obvious landmark is Christmas so I will aim to follow the plan wholeheartedly until 21st December which is the eldest’s 21st birthday. We always count our twelve days of Christmas from that date and so I will relax and enjoy myself from then. I’ll start back on GymCube on 2nd January. You see making myself accountable on here will force me to do this.

I know that for me this is the most dangerous time of year in terms of health and fitness. If I don’t take action now, I will slither and slide until I hit the new year feeling rubbish about myself. I won’t get boring about it but I will give you a brief weekly update of how I’m finding it. You could always join me – because the plan is based online you can follow it from anywhere in the world. Kevin is a solid Northern chap so you might quite enjoy his chipper North West attitude and accent (I will warn you that the website is freshly launched and it does contain some typos and grammatical errors. They tell me they are busy running through them). Alternatively you could watch and see how I get on with a plan to begin in January but… you know why you shouldn’t put it off.

Isn’t it fortunate that I had these sporty looking pictures from one of my JD Williams campaigns…

Midlife health and fitness

Top; leggings; hoodie (just seen); trainers

Final call for bag orders this month

We have been stunned by the success of Midlifechic Boutique and so has our bag man. When we met up with him in summer, he was despairing because tourism and trade in Turkey is being hit so hard by the ripple effect of the current political regime. I mentioned how shocked I was to see how people were suffering in a post on Instagram – many of them have seen their income completely wiped away over the last three years.

A few followers commented that they were taking a stand against the government’s censorship of the press and justice system by refusing to visit the country or trade with it. I understand what they are trying to achieve. The problem is that the people we know out there are far removed from the political machinations of Ankara and they are the innocent victims of government decisions. Some of them were telling me that if their situations didn’t improve soon, they would be forced to become economic migrants. At least the money that we invest in this project is going directly to the people who are making the goods because there is no complicated supply chain.

Anyway, we have sent them so many orders that they have reached full capacity this month. They have agreed to fulfil any that we send through before Monday 2nd October so if you know that you want to order a bag, please could you do it this weekend. If you’re not quite ready, we will be placing another order on 1st November and these will still be delivered in time for Christmas. So many people have asked for a small crossbody bag that I am working on a design with him and I think we have come up with another perfect piece. I will show you as soon as I am happy with the samples.

Those Hush Jeans

They’ve arrived – the Hush jeans that I’ve been raving about for ages. Actually I don’t think that Hush are showing them to their best advantage in their shots. I understand that they’re merchandising their own chunky ankle boots but in my view the straight boyfriend style is best counterbalanced with pointed heels or flats. You need that contrast of masculine / feminine.

Midlife health and fitness

Hush jeans; velvet top

They also work really well with flat shoes because you’re exposing a little ankle.

Hush jeans review

Hush jeans; jumper; shoes

Midlife lately

I have had one of those crazy weeks that come from nowhere. It started with working on Sunday and Monday at the Business Expo that we organised. I then went down to London to do some brand consultancy sessions with a big FMCG food brand which was fascinating but exhausting. I got home late on Wednesday night to find that the youngest, who had been on a waiting list for his school’s DofE expedition, had been given a place but – he needed to be ready to depart early this morning (Friday). So yesterday I had to catch up with everything I’d missed whilst I was out of the office and sort out his food and packing with him too. Most excitingly my oldest friend is getting married this weekend. She is based down in London so I have been helping with some of the running around, picking up chair covers etc because she is holding the wedding up here.

It’s so exciting to be going to a wedding and this one feels particularly special. Like me, my friend is 50 and so it has taken her a long time to find her Mr Right. We’ve known each other since our early schooldays and since then, we’ve been through all of our life events, large and small, together. I’m really looking forward to sharing her joy. I’m trying to finish early today so that I can go and join her with her mum and sister at the beauty salon so I’m logging off now. Have a lovely weekend, I’ll post my wedding outfit on Instagram tomorrow @Midlifechic and I’ll tell you all about it next week.

Disclosure: ‘Midlife health and fitness’ – thank you to GymCube for my membership, I look forward to working with the plan over the next few months.

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