Newhaverin Leith and life


Leith pilots The Good Gym

I learned about The Good Gym from my friend James and I was immediately very excited about the idea and was convinced it would blow up in Edinburgh. So, after writing to The Good Gym to find out when and how they might expand (with the intention of trying to convince them expansion should start in Edinburgh) they wrote back with a guide to organising a group run in order to get a feel for the interest in Edinburgh for regular Good Gym events.

The original Good Gym model pairs people in communities who like to run or jog with less mobile and isolated people so the runner can deliver something nice to the less mobile person, have a chat then jog away. Not only does this help give support and companionship to the isolated person but it also gives the runner the motivation to keep a regular running schedule. As our initial go in Leith is just a pilot we can't get into the work of carrying out criminal record checks and pairing strangers so a group run pilot, as per Good Gym guidance, is just the ticket.

So, after a little while thinking about how all this might go down I got in touch with local personal trainer Tracy Griffen and local green champion and hyperlocal journalist Ally Tibbitt to kick things off. Ally has helped us by organising a community activity to which the group will run and sourcing some soup for after and Tracy has set out a short running route around Leith Links that is suitable for all skill levels. Tracy will lead the run with more experienced runners and I'll be bringing up the rear keeping a slower pace for those who would rather have a brisk walk or light jog. All the details you need to join are below but don't hesitate to get in touch with me here if you have any questions. Please spread the word!!

This is what is happening

We are piloting The Good Gym in Leith. This means we gather as a group and go for a short run/jog and the destination is to something that benefits our community. It's keeping fit and doing good all in one go. The run is for all abilities, even for folk who would rather just have a brisk walk. After the run you can take part in either a tree pruning session led by professional gardener Ben Dell as part of the Botanic Garden's Edible Gardening Project or helping to move trees, plant bulbs and pick up litter in the Children's Orchard. There are limited spaces on the tree pruning session so please register your interest on the Greener Leith Social.

Where and when to meet

We are meeting at the Leith Franklin Cricket Club clubouse on Leith Links at 10am on Saturday February 11th. The clubhouse is at the Seafield end of Leith Links near the bowling club and the allotments. Bring warm and waterproof or water resistant gear and water. I'll have a backpack so if you don't want to wear, carry or leave your gear on the ground I'll schlep it around for you!

There's soup!

Out of the Blue cafe is generously providing soup to those of us who last until about noon. How cool is that?

Spread the word and get in touch with me if you need anything. If the pilot is popular we will look at how we can organise regular Good Gym events. It would be great to get your ideas of how future events could be run and what they could feature.



Project Hot Body- the end… the beginning. Following an exclusion diet for four weeks has been incredible. I'm smaller, my fitness has improved, my priorities have changed and I've happened upon some long term positive changes. It's common sense stuff- eat clean, treat yourself right and get perspective- but it helped me to work to a plan and in a group to get over the threshhold. The rest is up to me and I will meet my goals. Kenyan style half marathon time in May?

If you want some support, training and good advice about living clean and getting fit and stronger get in touch with Mel at Healthy Ambitions. She'll get you sorted out.

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Project hot body week three- introspection

Introspection has always been a throw away word to me owned by religious freaks and self help obsessives but now I own it too. The experience of cutting out food and drink that I'm used to indulging in has been difficult at times but facing that difficulty means I've had to be introspective, examine why I'm feeling defiant or frustrated and challenge myself. It's allowed me to revisit breathing and meditation skills I've learned through biofeedback, ChiRunning and a Samye Ling retreat (at which I think my body went into shock resulting in one of the worst migraines I've had to date- it was probably too much for a beginner) and it's rekindled the fire in me to practice mindfulness in running and in life. It's hard work, this meditation and mindfulness business, especially for a recovering neurotic like me, but the benefits are great. There are small things that have been cropping up in my life that I'm taking as cosmic confirmation my decisions to build on my meditation practice and keeping up the challenge of excluding foods are right like the emergence of buddhify in my world and that today's This American Life podcast (I listen religiously every Monday morning) centered around people's stories of living without. It's small signs of solidarity, of support and motivation and I'll take all that I can get.

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Project Hot Body week two- virtue

I'm just past the two week mark in Project Hot Body, a project to slim down, change my attitude to food and drink and how I spend my time. While week one saw me nervously approaching a life of no caffeine or alcohol I'm now basking in the glow of virtue. Smelling wasted or hungover folk on my bus, watching as colleagues get yet another coffee to 'keep them going' and seeing someone tackle a meal of chips reminds me how good I feel for not doing those things. Smug much? Yes, yes I am.

It's only after cutting caffeine that I realise what an anxious person it made me and how unpleasant it was going into work pumped full of something akin to crack. I feel like I'm able to deal with stress in a much better way because I'm not on edge with a coffee high. Cutting booze has also made a world of difference to the way I feel and cutting it hasn't been difficult, definitely not as difficult as I had imagined. Getting the most out of this programme and improving my health and fitness far outweighs drinking loads of wine for no real reason. Missing out the many bottles of wine that would have littered two weeks of my life just goes to show how a goal and focus can make changing bad habits very easy.

There are a few things that I've noticed since the beginning of Project Hot Body that I hope will pass- clumsiness, decreased stamina during endurance sessions and cravings for sweet things which is really unusual for me. I know my body is going through all sorts of adjustments so I'll tell you next week how it's all going. I shouldn't be weighing myself right now but I did. 71.3 kilos this afternoon. You'll notice that's a drop.

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Project Hot Body week one- the weaning

I'm taking part in a programme of intensive Pilates, serious cardio and an exclusionary diet this month. No starchy carbs, caffeine, sugar, alcohol, wheat or gluten. I'm doing it so you don't have to- I'm taking one for the team. My motivations are to change my body composition, maintain motivation through taking part in this with a group, lighten up ahead of half marathon training (I registered yesterday- no backing out now) and to change my eating habits and keep the change.

The programme is an offering from Healthy Ambitions, an independent Pilates, health and fitness organisation in Leith. Headed by Mel, a legendary powerhouse of strength, tough instruction and enthusiasm, the Healthy Ambitions Pilates Fat Loss Detox Plan will probably kick my ass- I know Mel will anyway.

My first Pilates session with Mel is Tuesday morning but she's sent through information and a food diary to get me started. I've stocked up on beautiful whole food and I can't wait to get stuck in cooking recipes from Mel's cookbook she created just for this programme.

I started a week early in what I call the weaning week. Cutting caffeine and alcohol will be the most difficult parts for me while the food part is a cinch so I've taken the past week to really cut back on the coffee and booze. I've done really well this week and have already lost about four pounds with less booze and no starchy carbs or gluten and spinning and running.  Keep up here with a weekly update of the highs, the lows and maybe a mental breakdown. Watch me melt away before your very eyes....

At 31 August:

Weight 73 kilos

In inches: chest 38.5, waist 32, hips 41.5, thighs (R) 23 (L) 23.5, calves 14.5 and biceps 11.5

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I’m faster than my couch

I call it my 'childbirth experience'. During it I was in pain, hot, irritated and I wondered why I made the decision to go through it in the first place but when it was all over I thought I might do it again. Yes, it's the half-marathon and for the non-competitive non-athlete it can be hellish- it was for me this April- but I've decided to do it all again in May 2012. The rush came to me last night while I was investigating the toenails that disappeared after the race in April and I can't ignore my gut feelings. I want to beat my time, I want to focus and I need to steel myself for training during the winter. There are lots of things I didn't do during my last training period that I will do this time round like the weekly Edinburgh Parkrun and the Sweatshop's weekly social running club in Newhaven. I trained alone last time and for me it was a mistake. I felt lonely and easily unmotivated in training and so I probably didn't do my best. I felt lonely on the day of the race and that definitely affected my performance. This time I'm getting social and I'm not going to talk myself out of joining a group because I'm not Flo Jo- I'm faster than my couch and I have solid motivations. Bring it on!

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Spinning- it’s not just for athletes. Trust me.

Scotland's only Spinning gym, LifesCycle, is in Newhaven and it's the place to be for anyone who wants to get something new into their fitness regime.

Spinning is pretty intense indoor cycling but it's not just for athletes, competitive cyclists or very thin people and I know this because I spin and I'm none of those things. You can burn a massive amount of calories in an hour (800-1000) and, although you're in a room with lots of other people, you are working alone and can keep your workout at your own level.

If you're interested in trying Spinning you can book classes with LifesCycle through their website. First timers should check out a special event they are having June 4th where sessions won't be to recorded music but to percussionist Pepe Santamaria. What? Wild.

If you want to check out Spinning but you're feeling a little apprehensive about it get in touch with me and we can go together.

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