Introducing my Sponsors: Stuart Aitken Fitness

I have been blown away by the generosity of Dundee’s small businesses in supporting me to reach the Marathon des Sables in order to raise money for local mental health charity , DAMH (Dundee Assocition for Mental Health).

As these become available to me, I will pop up small blogs where the businesses can highlight who they are and what they do, for example.  Please do pop over to thheir website and/ or facebook page.

First up is Stuart Aitken Fitness,  I have actually known Stuart for some time, we both attended Abertay University. I work alongside Stuart but also asked Stuart to help keep me honest with my own training a little while ago, yep even trainers need trainers, for my OCR (Obstacle Course Racing) so I am thrilled that Stuart has gotten involved in my new venture.

Stuarts take on the matter . . .

”When Louise asked me to be involved with her attempts to run the Marathon Des Sables (from now on this will be referred to as MDS), I could not have been happier. Louise is one of the most inspirational people I’ve encountered in the fitness industry. Through her consistent fundraising events, and community get-togethers she organises, she’s always been someone who I’ve enjoyed working alongside. This however, is a whole other ball game (which I know she knows!) so my reason for writing this is to let you in on some of the things I’ll be advising Louise with throughout her time in training for the MDS.

 

Training

Firstly we have to take into account her training. Now I won’t be involved with the running side, as this isn’t where I specialise or have enough knowledge to be of practical help, but I do have experience in helping athletes become stronger and faster from the weight room.

Louise is going to need a consistent weight-training plan, which may come as a surprise to some of you as she isn’t doing an event that requires lifting weights or being visually strong. This is a common myth with weight training, that it is only used to improve strength and muscle tone, it has so many more benefits to any individual who takes it up, especially endurance athletes who commonly miss it out for fear of getting to muscular.

The weight training Louise will be focussed upon doing will be mainly to ensure we give her current muscles a good reason to stick around. We know from plenty of research that a big muscle is a strong, more robust muscle. This means that doing weight training will help her stay injury free and keep her current muscle at a reasonable level, so she is still strong enough to endure what her body will go through during the MBS.

Although her primary focus will be upon getting the miles in and ensuring her body is ready from an endurance perspective, training in the gym will play a big role in providing her with the best platform to have an amazing race.

 

Nutrition

Nutrition is another thing that is quite often disregarded for endurance events, at least right up until the day before the event (carb-loading for example!).

This is going to be absolutely essential for Louise, as she will need to ensure her body recovers optimally every time she trains. Nutrition plays a huge role in this and ensuring she gets enough calories in to keep up the volume of training she’ll be doing, while also providing enough nutrients to keep her immune system in tact so she can keep on top of illnesses.

We’ll need to ensure she gets a good amount of calories into her body, which will have a large focus on getting plenty of protein (for muscle recovery and building) as well as carbohydrate (for fuel during her training bouts) and fat (so her hormonal profile stays at a high level).

 

Mindset

Lastly, and I think most importantly, we’ll need to ensure her mindset is excellent throughout the whole event, and leading up to it. I don’t think this will be something Louise will struggle with too much as she is already strong-willed, but the MDS is completely new animal, and one that will need preparation from her mind. We’ll need to ensure we’ve ran over possible problems that will arise, as well as getting her head into a position of belief and confidence with everything she does. It will also be important for her to visualise and put herself into positions she didn’t think her body could cope with as this will help through the toughest parts of the race.

Overall I really can’t wait to start seeing how Louise progresses through her training, and ultimately when she actually completes the MDS. I know she’ll set herself up right and raise an incredible amount of money for the Dundee Mental Health Association, and I can’t wait to be part of something as special as this.”

Thank you Stuart!  Here are the links to Stuart’s site:

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/StuartAitkenFitness

If you would like to become a corporate sponsor please do get in touch, I am still aiming to raise the final amount by early January.  My contact email is louisept4u@yahoo.co.uk.

Stuart Aitken Fitness

 

Challenging you, Challenging Me: Mental Health

I contemplated many a time how to write this blog post and many will go to town on it for their own reasons, but thats okay because that is them and this is me, but as a word of warning, I will take down any negative comments in any shape or form.  This is not the place for them.  (I do like to be clear! 😉 )thinking-1471454-639x432

I also wondered which of my blog sites to write it under, this one, my personal blog post journaling most of my training and racing experiences OR my business blog under Louise’s PT 4 U (https://louisept4u.wordpress.com/2015/05/05/ladies-i-apologise-for-raising-the-embarrassing/).  But you know, there is no realm where it is not applicable, therefore I will share across the board and if you feel this blog will help anyone please feel free to also share.  Sometimes we must choose to do whats right, or at least I like to help others and hope that in sharing this it will help someone.

Its a big scary world oot there, to expose yourself for all to see is ridiculously scary, but I am also not known for being put off doing what I believe to be the right and honest thing, BUT and this is a big but to put out your worries and fears where others may or may not support you leaves you with a sinking pit where your stomach used to be.

So with that, you are probably wondering exactly what is this post about, get around to it woooman for gawds sake!

Within the scope of my business I have been supporting the month of May #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth by posting tips every few days on both twitter and facebook, primarily to give people some ideas or suggestions that they may or may not decide to use.  I profusely support mental health issues in Dundee and have raised money for the local charity, DAMH (Dundee Association for Mental Health – http://damh.org.uk/ ), I have detailed these efforts in some of my blogs.  My conviction to do this comes from my own experiences within mental health.  Those who have known me for a long time may know of parts of my journey, or maybe you have guessed at some point.  .  .  .  .

I have suffered from mental health difficulties for much of my life, depression, anxiety, stress, panic attacks, they have all reared their heads at varying points throughout my life and to varying degrees.  The depth of which I will not go into within this blog, I am actually a very private person but so many times I see the blogs I write helping others and as I write more blogs for the area I specialise in within my work role – ‘women through the passage of life, at any age’ I see how letting others see that we all go through very similar experiences at varying points and for differing reasons within our lives but nevertheless the similarities are there.

priority-mental-health-1546123-638x477Depression is a dark cloud that masks every part of life when it emerges, we can sometimes feel a shadow in the background of our lives, growing like a dark cloud over the bright sun-lit sky and it comes to nothing because we pick up on the tell-tale signals and use strategies to subvert.  At other times its almost like it appears from nowhere and I haven’t even been aware of what is emerging, I have not been aware on any level that something is amiss, friends may enquire but denial is the initial reaction to any query about anything we are not happy with or feel strong enough to admit.  I have been rejected by family and ‘shushed’, that happened a number of times both by friends, family and those professionals, that is all it takes.  I also listen to those around me, how they view mental health and you know, anyone reading this who has suffered mental health issues will understand what I mean when I say, we gauge who is safe and who is not within our group of friends.  But it is also not all that we are, I am more than my mental health difficulties, I attribute alot of my strength to the journey I have had and the challenges I have had to overcome throughout my life. Let me also add, I have some of THE most fantastic friends!hand-in-hand-1310453-640x480

Words often used to describe me include, strong, independent, adventurous, determined, an encourager, ambitious and hahaha bonkers (now don’t go off on one, they simply refer to my challenges and my funny nature 😉 ) and vulnerable (this one surprised me), not words that the stereotypical view of depression or mental health issue sufferers are associated with.  Common misconceptions that are held about those with depression include: those that are happy on the outside dont get depressed, depression is only related to life events, those with depression are weak, fragile, can’t cope with any stress, you must take medication when depressed.  These are simply a few of the misconceptions, which are half-truths for want of a better description.

It amazes me that despite the statistics, 350 million individuals suffer from depression across the globe (WHO, 2015), with a quarter of the British population suffering from depression and anxiety (Mental Health Foundation), this remains a taboo topic in the 21st century.  It really does pain and anger me that people feel worried and have difficulty in talking about it, not because sufferers feel it is not right to talk but because we, as a society have created and continue to endorse this feeling by NOT talking, by not making it acceptable to discuss our mental health situation.  If you broke a leg, cut your leg open or in my case damaged a nerve (can not be seen) you would seek out the physical help of a doctor, we are more sympathetic to the implications and what it means practically for our lives.  This will only change when we really do become brave, when we are willing to be be supportive, empathetic, respectful of those who suffer from mental health difficulties.

No matter the position you hold, no matter what your job is, how old you are, we can all be susceptaible to mental health difficulties, be that person that reaches out.  People, on the whole, your friends, want to help, they want to know, let them.  In these words I do not mean it is easy, Isimply mean reach out, as its written, no underlying meaning.

How do I cope?  I strive to reach higher physical challenges, I strive to be the best that I can and to really see what I can do within the capabilities of my physical self.  I take on challenges for me, to be a better me and to help others, because you know what, if I can do it, so can you.  I am very much linked to my physical strength, I believe I am a testament to what physical activity and health can do to help relieve the symptoms of depression and mental health issues and I am hugely passionate to share with others its possibilities.

Currently, racing in obstacle races is what I do, I am very priviledged to be sponsored by some fantastic sponsors and friends, my chosen family.  This is where I leave it all out there, bettering me.  SO when I step up to the start line, I am racing no-one but myself!

In the past Ihave written poetry, trained, spoken with friends and learnt when to take timeout.  We must each work out what it is we need to do for ourselves.  We each have a unique story to tell that is our lives, our past, please do not judge unless you walked in those very shoes I wore.

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Thank you for reading folks, I appreciate you taking the time!

(Picture top right (1) by Ed Garcia from http://www.freeimages.com/photo/thinking-1471454; picture 3 by Siewlian from http://www.freeimages.com/photo/hand-in-hand-1310453)