“Pole dancing has really improved my confidence!”

by Leigh Morley

If you’re bored of the gym and need a change in routine, then pole dancing could be the fitness regime that’s perfect for you. 21 year old Becky Field explains how this new craze can build your confidence and keep you fit as well, whilst breaking the stereotype that pole dancing is just for strippers.

abeckypole

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to try, ever since I saw that White Stripes video  with Kate Moss pole dancing in it,” the Sheffield Hallam student explains. “I just thought it looked like so much fun.”

Becky immediately looked into starting pole, but the nearest studio was 20 miles away from her home town and she doesn’t drive. Luckily, other students at Sheffield Hallam had set up a society to teach beginners, and Becky jumped at the chance. “It was perfect, because I was really intimidated at the thought of going into a regular class with other scared people and being completely hopeless.”

Becky, who is also president of the Psychology Society, started classes every other week and soon became addicted. Every other week became a weekly activity, and before she knew it, she was scheduling pole lessons in between classes. Becky explains that she hasn’t been lately due to exams, but confesses that she’s suffering withdrawal symptoms and cannot wait to get back to it.

“It’s such a good laugh, nobody takes themselves too seriously and we can all get on well together and have a good joke in our lessons,” she explains. “It’s helped me make so many friends that I wouldn’t have otherwise spoken to.”

Since starting a few months ago, Becky has improved her strength and learned tonnes of complicated moves, her instructor building up her confidence and coordination at the same time. “I’m not hitting myself on the pole every time now, and my strength has definitely improved,” she adds. Because of pole, Becky explains how she’s found muscles in places she’s never imagined and finally has the strength and confidence to do moves she would never have dreamt of in her first lesson. “The only problem is that now my arms don’t fit in some of my more girly shirts,” she laughs.

Unfortunately, not many people would think that pole dancing comes with such benefits, as the stigma attached to it is quite a negative one. Often associated with the seedy side of stripping, pole fitness is anything but. An article was recently published earlier this year by the NUS Women’s Officer, which had an incredibly pessimistic view of pole dancing, calling for university societies across the UK to ban classes. The pole community caused a huge uproar and eventually the article was retracted.

“There is so much stigma attached to pole it’s unreal,” Becky says. “People need to see past the stereotypical stripper view and see it as a brilliant, fun way to exercise. People like that should even try classes themselves.”

Becky even talks about how her parents were slightly wary of her new hobby at first, when she arrived home one weekend with bruises on her legs. “They weren’t too thrilled at first,” she says. “But I showed them one of my favourite videos online of a performance at a pole dancing competition. It showed the strength and dedication that it requires and they came around. This is why more people need to see things like this, they need to realise how amazing pole fitness can actually be.”

Becky’s experience with pole dancing has been nothing but positive. Since she started, her confidence and health has significantly improved, and she’s been having a lot more fun than she does at the gym.

“I’ve loved every second of this, and I can’t wait to get back to classes and improve over Summer!”

Find more posts by Leigh Morley here

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Annabel Boys; ‘Abseil raised £1,300 for Verity to help PCOS sufferers.’

by Railah Iqbal

Annabel Boys abseiled down a 400-foot tower to raise over £1,000 for Verity, a charity helping 6,000 Polycystic Ovaries Syndrome sufferers every year.

courtesy of Annabel Boys

courtesy of Annabel Boys

Annabel, Health Coach, said; “I saw the abseil in a newspaper. At the time my sister had a list of things she wanted to do before she turned 30 so I recommended this to her.”

As Annabel was struggling to commit herself to the challenge, she made it into a ‘public’ statement and decided to turn it into a fundraising event. “I realised that it was a mental challenge above all and I felt Verity deserved the money because their work is very important to women suffering with PCOS.”

At 25 years olf, Annabel was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. She was advised that she would have fertility problems but she no idea of the sorts of health problems attached to the condition. At the time, there not much available in terms of advice for PCOS sufferers.  Annabel said; “After several years of fertility treatments we were very lucky to conceive after our first round of IVF about 10 years ago, sadly my marriage didn’t survive the stress of the treatments and  my husband left shortly before my daughter was born.”

Verity website- screen shot

Verity website- screen shot

She added; “Verity provides vital information and support for women with PCOS. I just wish they had been around when I was first diagnosed with it because it could have made all the difference. At the time I had no idea that my diet and lifestyle was affecting my hormonal health and I had no idea there were alternatives to the fertility drugs.”

Unlock My Health website- screen shot

Unlock My Health website- screen shot

With a background in health and a PhD in psychology, Annabel is looking to focus her health coaching practice on  helping women with PCOS  to examine their diet and health choices.
Annabel explains; “I feel so strongly that young women in particular should have access to advice and support about all the options available to them. Small changes to diet and lifestyle can massively improve PCOS symptoms which could mean that less opt for the route of medication.”

To hear more from Annabel , check out her page

Read more stories from Railah

1 in 10 young women have PCOS and 75% of us don’t even know it

by Railah Iqbal

1 in 10 young women suffer from Polycystic ovary syndrome, however, as PCOS Awareness’s survey shows; 3 out 4 sufferers are unaware of it.

PCOS is a hormone imbalance that can cause irregular periods, unwanted hair growth, acne, fertility problems, sudden mood changes and weight gain. PCOS starts as early as during a girl’s teenage years.

café press- press shot

café press- press shot

Many of my friends suggested that I showed symptoms of PCOS because I have always struggled with maintaining my weight and I have unexpected mood swings. I did not take it too seriously because I thought that I would not delve into until I was considering having children.
The doubts increased when a course of laser treatments to reduce my excessive facial hair had proved ineffective. I took to the internet to look for explanations for the failed treatment and 80% of the sites linked the issues to PCOS. I went for the PCOS test which proved the suspicions right.

press shot

press shot

My discovery of PCOS was encouraged by Verity; a UK-based charity who supports and advises 6,000 women directly suffering from PCOS related issues.

The relief I feel now is unbelievable because I no longer have to go through umpteen fad diets or pay hundreds of pounds for hair reduction treatment because there is an explanation behind my struggles and Verity have shown me ways of dealing with them.

Rachel Hawkes, Verity’s chairperson, explained that Verity was set up in 1997 as a support network for women suffering from PCOS and it now aims to educate women on PCOS-related issues especially those which people would not generally link  to the disorder such as; type two diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol levels, increased risk of heart attacks and unexpected pregnancies.

Rachel Hawkes- Verity press shot

Rachel Hawkes- Verity press shot

Rachel said; “It is hugely important that young women understand the importance of PCOS because it is not just fertility condition. Like many of them think they can’t have children because of irregular periods, so don’t use contraception and end up with surprise pregnancies.”

Verity has a team of volunteers running 10 local groups whom give direct advice to sufferers and  its webpage has a discussion board where sufferers can advise and relate to one another.  There are also yearly conferences, as part of PCOS UK, where medical experts attend to advise people on how to deal with PCOS and the treatments available.

Rachel also unexpectedly discovered she was suffering from the condition. She visited the doctor to discuss her menstrual problems. “I found it so strange when he was asking me about having excessive facial hair and whether I was putting on weight. I thought I have a few on my chin but what is that got to do with my periods?”

When Rachel found out she had PCOS, she was oblivious to what it exactly was. Rachel said; “Not very many people knew about this issue because popular magazines for women like Cosmopolitan had never wrote about it even though a lot of us have it.”

As Rachel has a background in marketing, she joined Verity to help raise awareness about PCOS. Rachel added; “Raising awareness of the related issues will help us make young women medical advocates armed to support one another when dealing with PCOS.”

What causes PCOS?

The disorder, caused by elevated levels of the male hormone testosterone, leads to the ovaries being covered in tiny fluid-filled cysts which causes hormonal imbalance.

What signs do I look for?

  • Acne.
  • Weight gain and trouble losing weight.
  • Extra hair on the face and body. Often women get thicker and darker facial hair and more hair on the chest, belly, and back.
  • Thinning hair on the scalp.
  • Irregular periods. Often women with PCOS have fewer than nine periods a year. Some women have no periods. Others have very heavy bleeding.
  • Fertility problems. Many women who have PCOS have trouble getting pregnant (infertility).
  • Depression or mood swings.

What do I do if I think I am suffering from PCOS?

  • Go to your doctor right away.
  • Look to Verity for advice and support.
  • Don’t panic because there is a cure for everybody.

Read more stories from Railah

Breast Cancer Rates in Under 50’s Reach Record Figures

Photo Credit: Breast Cancer UK

by Bridget Owen

It was today announced that according to the latest figures from Breast Cancer UK, more women than ever under the age of 50 are being diagnosed with the disease.

Breast Cancer is the most common cancer to affect women, accounting for around one third of all new cancer cases.

Figures from Breast Cancer UK showed “10,068 women under the age of 50 in the UK were diagnosed with the disease in 2010 – 2,356 more than in 1995.”

It is thought that the rise is due to hormonal factors, such as the use of the contraceptive pill, alcohol consumption, and women having children at an older age.

Despite the rise in women being diagnosed with Breast Cancer, figures also showed that survival rates have also improved, a positive sign for the treatment and care of those affected by the disease.

‘The death rate fell from nine per 100,000 women under 50 in 1993-1995 to five per 100,000 in 2008-2010 in the UK’

Claire White, 24, a third year Sociology Student from Hull was diagnosed with the disease a few days before her 21st Birthday.

“I couldn’t quite believe I’d be celebrating my 21st birthday knowing I had a life threatening disease.”

Claire has since beaten Cancer and is now in remission.

“My family have been really supportive. Everyone was so shocked that I’ve been affected by breast cancer so early in my life. I also had to have one of my breasts removed which has really affected my confidence. It’s important to be cautious of cancer no matter what age you are.”

Sara Hiom, Breast Cancer UK “The number of cases in women under 50 diagnosed with breast cancer is increasing slowly but, thanks to research, awareness and improved care, more women than ever before are surviving the disease.”

Chris Askew, Breakthrough Breast Cancer: “Although breast cancer is more common in older women, it’s worrying to see an increase in the number of younger women diagnosed with the disease. We must invest in vital research for new treatments and disease prevention.”

It’s possible that you will know someone in your lifetime that will be affected by Cancer. You can help fund-raise for Cancer Research through taking part in Race for Life, a sponsored 5K run which happens every year at locations across the UK. (Or Race for Life Twilight if you’re more of a night owl!)

Race for Life – Remembering those lost to Breast Cancer Credit: Cancer Research UK

“Since Race for Life started in 1994, an incredible six million women have come together and raised more than £493 million for Cancer Research UK’s life-saving work, making it the UK’s largest women-only fundraising event.”

Other large Cancer Research UK events include Shine, a night time walking marathon, Relay for Life, a 24 hour community event and the Bupa Great North and Great South Runs, the biggest races in the country.

For more information about Breast Cancer, fundraising or how to donate to Cancer Research please visit: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/

Photo Credit: NHS

Being Breast Aware: Tips from the NHS

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) advises that being breast aware means:

  • knowing what’s normal for you
  • looking at your breasts and and feeling them
  • knowing what changes to look for
  • reporting any changes without delay
  • attending routine breast screening if you’re 50 or over

Changes in the breast

Be aware of the following changes in your breasts:

  • changes in the outline or shape of the breast, especially those caused by arm movements or by lifting the breast
  • changes in the look or feel of the skin, such as puckering or dimpling
  • discomfort or pain in one breast that is unusual, particularly if it is new and persistent
  • any new lumps, thickening or bumpy areas in one breast or armpit, which differs from the same part of the other breast and armpit
  • nipple discharge that’s new for you and not milky
  • bleeding from the nipple
  • moist, red areas on the nipple that don’t heal easily
  • any change in nipple position, such as pulled up or pointing differently
  • a rash on or around the nipple

If you notice any of these changes, see your GP – even if you have previously attended a breast screening.

Sara Hiom, Cancer Research UK “It’s more likely not to be cancer but if it is, detecting it early gives the best chance of successful treatment.”

Visit http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Breastcancer/Pages/Breastcancersymptoms.aspx for more information on prevention, screening and treatment.

More from Bridget Owen

Slimming World Chilli Recipe

Slimming World Chilli Con Carne

Slimming World Chilli Con Carne

If you are watching your weight or just eating healthily, Slimming World Chilli Con Carne is a great, wholesome and tasty meal to make. Even better, if you are following the extra easy plan it is ‘Syn’ free!

Follow our easy instructions below and take a look at our video demonstration from Slimming World member, Lesley Howell.

Ingredients

Ingredients

Ingredients

Fry Light spray oil

1 finely chopped onion

2 level tsp chopped garlic

2 level tsp chopped chilli

500g venison mince (or lean meat of your choice)

1 tin tomatoes

Small carton of pasata

1 tin red kidney beans

1 tsp paprika

Serves 3-4

62g rice per person

Directions

Take one large onion take off the top and bottom and the skin. Cut in half. Finely chop or use food processor

Turn on pan, spray with Fry Light. Once heated, add onion. Brown gently until soft (add lid to pan to sweat onions)

Add the garlic and chilli. Fry off for a minute

Add 500g of mince. Stir until brown

Add tin of tomatoes, Pasata and kidney beans and stir

Add paprika

If you want your chilli more spicy, you can add chilli powder/paste

Cook for 20 minutes on a low heat

Cook rice for 10-12 minutes

Serve

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