5 Summer Perks: The Great Outdoors

Pow! A little circuit in my garden with a flash of Perk!er pink!

Pow! A little circuit in my garden with a flash of Perk!er pink!

It’s been a little over 5 years since I was diagnosed with coeliac disease. Last year, I celebrated my 4th ‘coeliaciversary’ by baking 4 indulgent gluten free treats; but this year I’m embarking on a bit of a lifestyle change.

After becoming a parent for the first time in December, I’ve relied heavily on everything sugary and starchy to alleviate the soul-squashing levels of exhaustion that come with a newborn. I’ve particularly over indulged in gluten free bread, biscuits, cakes & treats. As the eye bags shrink, it’s time to say goodbye to some saddlebags too, and get back to my old approach to fitness and diet!

As if by magic (it’s like they knew!) my friends at Perk!er foods sent me a healthy coeliac-birthday present, inviting me to celebrate the ‘perks of summer’ with them. For me, summer is the perfect time to make some adjustments to my diet and lifestyle – I naturally find myself craving bright seasonal produce, colourful salads and the sun on my skin. So for 5 years gluten free, and to mark a new, healthier focus, I’ll be sharing my 5 healthier perks of summer over the next few weeks. As the rain breaks, I’m going to start with some lovely fresh air. My first perk of summer is…

Getting fit in the great outdoors!

I already lugged myself to the gym, you want me to do more weights?!

37 weeks pregnant: I already lugged myself to the gym, you want me to do more weights?!

I managed to keep exercising regularly (and safely!) throughout my pregnancy with the help of a trainer, but on those cold winter evenings, the thought of dragging myself to the gym in the dark after work wasn’t a good motivator!

The sunny weather is a great opportunity to re inject some ‘perkiness’ to my exercise routine. Here’s how I’m doing it:

Going back to something I love

I wasn’t able to go for a run for most of my pregnancy due to pelvic girdle pain, which I found really tough as it really helps me to manage stress and also feel good about myself, so by the time I was back to my normal size, even a short jog had me puffing and panting! I’ve found following the free Couch to 5k training plans and podcasts have helped rebuild my confidence (and distance). Nothing beats a morning jog in an almost-empty park, smiling and waving to the other early risers, to make you feel perky all day!

If running’s not your thing, in the wake of the Olympics, there are lots of initiatives run by local councils to help you rediscover your old outdoor favourites like back to netball.

Just me, my trainers and the Long Walk. Oh, and some Annie Lennox at full volume!

Just me, my trainers and the Long Walk. Oh, and some Annie Lennox at full volume!

Setting a goal

I’m only really motivated if I’m working towards something. I’ve been very happy with my fitness levels twice in my life – once when training for the British 10k, and once when getting ready for my wedding! This year I’m racking up some miles in the Windsor Great Park ahead of cycling the Palace to Palace ride in October. It’s been lots of fun exploring the local area at the same time. And I wouldn’t be a good management consultant if I didn’t track progress against my goals – fitness trackers and most smartphones will let you track your kilometres and calories. I particularly like Polar Beat, Jawbone Up and My Fitness Pal.

Training with like-minded people, or at least with other people!

If you’re lacking the will to spring out of bed for a pre-work gym visit, the simple answer is: go with a friend! You’re much less likely to cancel the date if someone else is waiting for you. Similarly, I find my competitive self working a lot harder in group exercise classes or with a trainer than I would on my own. Whereas I’ve been enjoying the great outdoors with buggy fit and outdoor mum & baby pilates classes in the week, my gluten eating husband gets his weekly dose of fresh air on his mountain bike with a group of friends.

Exploring outdoors on my bike

Exploring outdoors on my bike

Little and often

No time for an hour in the gym? A little bit is better than none. If baby’s napping and Hurricane Bertha holds off, I might fit in a mini circuit in our little garden, or try and improve with my new skipping rope! (Thanks, Perk!er!).

Walk, walk, walk!

Whilst fitness trackers, pedometers and apps can be accused of making us think we are doing exercise, when really we are just living normal life, they are good for making you think of ways to take more steps to hit the target. Walking is my stalwart – feeling tired? Go for a walk. Baby bored? Take her for a walk. Feeling super guilty about over-indulging last night? Walk (to the coffee shop!). For ideas of how to fit more steps into your day, check out this blog from Dietitian Without Borders.

Thanks to Perk!er for the inspiration for this piece. Look out soon for my other ‘Summer Perks’ including how I’m cutting down on those starchy carbs & sugars; plus some healthier gluten free summer treats.

What are your tips for making the most of nature’s playground? How do you motivate yourself to keep fit? I’d love to hear (and unashamedly steal) your ideas!



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