10K… Our Way! Raising Money for Young Minds

Young Minds is a fantastic charity that means alot to me personally; they work hard to provide information and support for children and adolescents with mental health concerns, as well as their families. They also campaign to improve mental health services for young people, which is currently lacking in many areas of the country. Their work is vital for the wellbeing of our young generations.

However, I have delayed posting about my Young Minds 10k charity ‘run’ (I use that term loosely!) despite signing up weeks ago, because I had absolutely no plan as to how I would actually complete it! I am not fit enough to run 10k (yet!) and as a full-time carer, it isn’t always easy to find time to go to the gym.

Given we spend alot of time outdoors anyway, it initially seemed logical that I should be doing this outside too. But the fact is, there is a big difference between everyday walking outdoors and wandering around exploring vs actually finding time to ‘train’ for a run. Plus I find it harder to run outside longer distances, due to different surfaces; I am guessing this is pretty typical.

But that is what I love so much about Young Minds 10k Your Way. There is no ‘should’ and no restrictions; it can be carried out anytime, anywhere. It makes it far more accessible for people like myself to participate. Plus there is no set schedule and no waiting around, no crowds and no pressure. You don’t even have to tell anyone where or when you will complete it beforehand, if you don’t want to. This makes it really inclusive and accessible for anyone to take part, regardless of any challenges and potential barriers, which I really admire; it is a brilliant concept! Just run the 10k and raise some funds for a worthy cause. No frills, no fuss. Simple.

Kind of…

I still need to actually cover the 10k distance somehow though! So I have decided doing it on a treadmill at home will be most achievable. Now, I don’t actually have a treadmill at home yet. But, erm, minor details…

I’ll make it to the moon if I have to crawl…”

By this point, a third of the way through September already, I have those lyrics above from Scar Tissue by Red Hot Chili Peppers playing on a loop in my head. Granted, I am not aiming for the moon, but the crawling part seems apt about now lol! I realise 10k really might not seem like much to a seasoned runner, but I am far from any such thing…

But I don’t care. Whether I run, walk or crawl, I will (attempt to) do this! I don’t mind if it takes me an hour, 3 hours or all day. I won’t be going for speed or checking my time. My aim is simply to complete it. Eventually! 😉 If you would like to sponsor me, I would really appreciate it. I have set my target at £500, so dig deep please! Thank you.

justgiving.com/fundraising/livinglifeourway

You can join me in taking part too – it’s not too late! Sign up here throughout September.

Wish me luck – I’m going to need it!

How To Build a Swimming Pool in Your Back Garden

With summer almost upon us, and the recent spell of hot weather, you might be considering building your own swimming pool in your garden. To many, it might seem like a waste of space and money in a country that doesn’t often reach warm temperatures! However, there are quite a few benefits to having your own pool, and don’t forget it can be heated so once you are in it is fine; I remember having an outdoor pool at my Primary School and it was such a huge asset.

It is relaxing and good for your wellbeing. And of course it is a wonderful luxury to enjoy the peace and privacy of your own pool. But also, there’s nothing more sociable than having a swimming pool in your back garden that you can then invite friends and family to enjoy too.

At this time of year you’re probably already thinking about getting your garden into shape and the thought of having such major excavation work done in your back garden might feel prohibitive; indeed, the process of building a swimming pool does necessitate the need to bring in diggers to excavate a huge hole in the middle of your lawn. In many ways, that’s the trade-off, as the pool is likely to take a huge chunk of your garden lawn out of the equation. That said, if you’ve always dreamed of having a pool in your back garden, here are a few simple steps to help turn your dream into reality…

How To Build a Swimming Pool in Your Back Garden with swimming pool background image

Design

The first factor to consider is size, which will obviously be constrained by how large your garden is, and the next factor to consider is depth. If you are having children use the pool or you’re not a particularly strong swimmer, then it is recommended to keep it under 1.2 metres, which is what most fancy gyms set their pool depth to. You also need to consider what colour you would like the tiles to be – blue is the classic colour, whilst there are many startling designs that embrace deep reds and purples to create more of a design statement.
The next consideration is lighting and shape. Generally speaking, the more complex the design, the higher the cost to create the swimming pool.

Get Permission

In order to build a swimming pool in your back garden, it’s likely that you’ll need to gain planning permission from the council.

Excavate The Area

The first step in terms of building the pool, once you’ve designed it and been granted permission, is to start excavating the area! You could employ a contractor to take care of everything, or if you’re on a budget, you could hire construction equipment yourself, as at this stage all you’re really doing is digging a big hole in the back garden. It is, however, vitally important to have been granted permission before starting to dig, as there may be hidden wires or pipes that you could unearth.

Consider Material To Use

The three main options to choose from are concrete, fibreglass, and vinyl.

Grade the Ground and Frame Walls

The next step is to even out the ground. This will make building the walls and laying the floor much easier. With the hole dug out, and the land flat, the walls can now be built with wood and metal rebar.

Put in Plumbing and Electricity

You’ll want to get an experienced plumber to take care of this specialist task, as you don’t want to have to undertake emergency plumbing should there be an issue down the road. Indeed, it’s important to hire a plumber that is experienced in swimming pools, as an inexperienced plumber could ruin your pool.

You’ll then want to hire an electrician to install the lights. Understandably, bad wiring plus water is not a good combination; so it’s advisable that you read up on how to prevent electrocution before going any further, or attempting to do it yourself.

Pour the Floor, Build Walls and Tile

The next step is to pour the floor and build the walls, then tile them, but remember to add a moisture barrier to stop the water from seeping out.

Fill The Pool

The final step, of course, is to fill the pool with fresh water that is subsequently treated with a cleaning agent such as chlorine.

Lady swimming in a pool

Have you ever considered a pool in your garden? For most it is just a pipe dream… but if it ever becomes your reality, now you know what to do!

*This is a collaborative post.

Why Dancing is Good for Your Body, Health, and Soul

Whether you’re in Canada, Thailand, or South Africa, there’s bound to be a dance floor somewhere. You see, dancing goes past borders; it is an integral part of being human: it’s a way for us to express our individualism, honor our ancestors, showcase art, and just have a good time.

But it’s more than that. There’s a number of physical and emotional benefits associated with dancing, from alleviating anxiety to increasing muscle mass. Even if you aren’t a professional dancer, you can still take advantage of dance’s healing and positive powers, and burn some calories in the process. That being said, read on to learn why dancing is good for your mind, body, and soul…

Why Dancing is Good for Your Body, Health, and Soultitle with image of woman dancing outdoors

It’s a Stress Reliever

According to a study, hip hop not only improves energy and increases mood but is a major stress reliever much the same way aerobic exercise is.

And, when you think about it, it makes sense. When you dance – hip hop, Latin, and other faster-paced styles, in particular – your body is in constant motion. You’re leaping, break dancing, and twirling; movements that increase blood flow and up your heart rate, which are the same benefits you get when doing your morning jog on the treadmill.

Boosting Those Endorphins

As you may know, exercise increases endorphins, hormones that are known for decreasing cortisol (stress hormone) and making you feel better. It’s no wonder then that dance, being a form of both exercise and art, decreases stress.

Man in street jumping with joy/ dancing

It’s a Mood Booster

We alluded to this earlier, but let’s just say it for what it is; dance is great for your mood. And, there’s research to back this up. The study involved 112 teenage girls who suffered from several physical and mental health problems, ranging from back and neck pain to anxiety and depression. Half of the girls participated in a weekly dance class while the other half didn’t. The results showed that the girls who danced weekly felt better.

And, what’s even more exciting, is that these results lasted up to 8 months. Long story short, don’t quit that weekly salsa class – it’s helping you in more ways than just breaking a sweat. (And, to feel even more like the dancer that you are, you may want to get costumes for dancers.)

Room full of people dancing taken from above

Your Social Health Improves

One of the wonderful benefits of dance is that not only can you can dance by yourself but with other people. It’s a great way to break the ice and meet new friends. You automatically have something in common with the person dancing next to you – even before you say hello.

Billy Idol Says It Best

Yes, Billy Idol got it right with one of his hits, “Dancing with Myself.” You don’t have to dance in a club or onstage at a competition representing your team’s colors. Simply dancing in your room by yourself is a great way to get all of dance’s positive benefits, not to mention pretend you’re Cheryl Burke or Whitney Carson.

Woman dancing in a field

It Helps You Lose Weight

Like running, jogging, and soccer, while dance is an art form, it’s also a sport. Which means when you are on the dance floor showing off your moves, you are also getting your heart rate up, blood pumping and, in combination with a healthy diet, losing weight.

Dancing Off the Weight

In fact, a New Zealand school teach did just that. After feeling unhappy with her life, Roni Tarver started to eat healthier and exercise. Eventually, she attended a Zumba class. And, soon after, became addicted to it, taking more and more classes. Not only did Tarver dance off 100 pounds but now is a Zumba instructor herself. So, case in point, don’t miss that weekly Zumba class.

It Deepens Your Self-Awareness

Dance doesn’t just help you physically and emotionally, but can settle your soul. Meditative dance helps to deepen your self-awareness and awaken your consciousness.

According to Elephant Journal, Native Americans used dance as a way to develop a deeper connection with the plants and animals. We also see this today in churches, where worshippers dance to celebrate and connect with God.

It Connects Us With our Heritage

Dance not only is a spiritual but cultural. We can use dance to bring us closer to our ancestors. We see this when Tongan and Samoan rugby teams begin the game with famous traditional war dance, Siva Tau, which used to be danced before going into battle.

Samoa and Tonga aren’t the only countries that use dance to mark special occasions. All around the world, dance celebrates big milestones like weddings and rites of passages. We can see this in the US where traditionally there’s a wedding reception after the wedding ceremony; the now-married couple takes the stage and dances the first dance, with family and friends following after. And, in Mexico and other Latin American countries, family and friends dance at Quincieañeras (celebration of a 15-year-old girl’s birthday and transition to adulthood).

Wedding guests dancing

Final Thoughts: Dance is Powerful

Dance shapes our bodies, minds, and spirits. It connects us with each other, our ancestors, and ourselves. It makes us feel better and increases our moods, which, in fact is the top reason why people dance recreationally.

Long story short, if you were looking for a reason to start or continue dance, this article is for you: go out and enjoy the powers of this beautiful and physical demanding art form.

How is dance good for you? What benefits have you enjoyed from it? Be sure to leave a comment below.

*This is a collaborative guest post.

Fun Ways to Get Active and In Better Shape

Getting in shape is one of those tasks that people feel the need to do, but they don’t really expect to get any enjoyment out of it. However, maybe getting active and improving the health of your body doesn’t need to be a complete headache for you. There are plenty of things you can do to have fun when you’re trying to get in shape! So read on to find out how you can have fun and get fit at the same time…

Fun Ways to Get Active and In Better Shape title on background image of people dancing.

Play Some Ultimate Frisbee

Frisbee isn’t just for kids, so you need to get that notion out of your mind right away. There are so many reasons why you should play ultimate frisbee if you never have before, but the prime reason is the amount of fun you get out of it. As well as that, you’ll find it really works your body out and helps you to get in shape if done consistently.

Take Boxing Lessons

Boxing doesn’t necessarily have to be associated with violence. Boxing lessons and training involve all kinds of things, and you don’t even have to take any punches if you don’t want to. Punching bags, skipping fast and working on your agility are just some of the things you’ll do, and they’ll definitely help you to get in shape. At least give them a try and see how it goes for you.

People practising boxing skills

Invest in a Trampoline and Bounce

Bouncing on a trampoline is never not fun, so it’s something that you should definitely look to do in your own garden. Simple find a rectangle trampoline that fits your garden and leaves you with enough space to do whatever else you plan to do in your garden. Just bouncing on a trampoline works a lot of the muscles in your body and gives you a decent cardiovascular workout.

Learn How to Dance

Dancing is usually viewed as a social activity, but it’s just as valid as a form of exercise. If you learn how to dance, you’ll be getting active a lot. You’ll be in better physical condition in no time at all. And at the same time, you’ll be experiencing all the joy and fun that comes with dancing.

Take Some Swings in a Batting Cage

You don’t have to be a baseball player to understand the joy of getting into a batting cage and take some swings at the ball as it flies towards you. In fact, it’s a great stress relief technique. You use up a lot of energy and burn a lot of calories when you’re taking swing after swing at the ball, so it should definitely help you to get in shape!

Who ever said getting in better shape had to be a drag? As the above ideas demonstrate, there are plenty of fun and entertaining ways for you to get active and get in better shape. When you’re enjoying what you’re doing, you will be more likely to stick at it too.

*This is a collaborative post.