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17.9.14

Teach me how to be a fitness nut


The 'teach me' series is all about learning how to do things I can't from clever clog wearers who can. I'm learning so much as we go and I hope you are too! This week I bring you the hot, sculpted wonder that is Karla Gilbert from Ironmum Karla. Karla is a savvy, sassy fitness expert who cuts to the chase while she cuts those abs. I just love her sensible, sensitive approach to health and wellbeing. Plus, she's startlingly fit.  If anyone can teach us how to turn into a fitness nut, it's Karla...

So, I get it.  I know we all have different priorities and totally understand if maintaining a level of fitness just isn't your thing BUT and I say but, I have a feeling that deep down (like Bron!) you would like to be one of these people (otherwise you wouldn't be reading this).

So let’s try and turn hating the thought of exercise into you hating the thought of not being able to exercise!
For starter's let me fill you in on a little secret: most of us just can't rely on willpower and motivation to work out. Nope, this usually won't cut it and more than likely you've tried this already without much success. Right?

There are not many people that get super excited day in day out with the thought of getting huffy and puffy. What they do love is the exercise afterglow, the endorphin rush and fit-bod feeling that comes as a consequence of working out. It’s one of those things you don’t know your missing out on until you try it.

We need to create something stronger which is where ‘habits’ enter the equation.  Habits make tasks a lot easier, like you’re on automatic pilot.  They take away the daily battle of trying to psyche yourself up into something you don’t give a second thought to. Sometimes our minds are our own worst enemies.

6 ways to (hopefully) turn yourself into a fitness nut

1. Commit to a month
That’s it, mark it on your calendar and see it through. This is usually how long it takes for habits to form and become part of your lifestyle.  One month out of your life isn’t much but it could change so much of your lifestyle!

2. Turn exercise into a positive
Feeling stressed? Don’t open the pantry door or grab a wine glass, strap on your shoes, grab a yoga mat or complete a simple 10 mins YouTube abdominal set. You’ll be surprised by the new perspective exercise brings and the powers it gives to clearing your head.

3. Visualise it
Nothing good happens without a little planning. Even I can’t expect to just jump out of bed in the mornings or trot out in the evening without prior thought. Think about what you will do, get a plan, put out what you will wear and music you’ll listen to so all you have to do is set out the door when the time comes. Do this with each workout.

4. Expect imperfection
Life pops up but that still shouldn’t be enough of an excuse to stop you.  Change the way you approach roadblocks and enough of the defeatist attitude.  You know the saying, “do what you’ve always done, get what you’ve always got” which is very relevant to you wanting to find a way to make exercise fit into your busy life.

5. Same, same
For the first month make it same time, same place, same weekly schedule. We are simple beings and sometimes trying to get tricky can work against us. Trying to create repetition first up is the main thing. Group fitness classes are a great example of this as all you have to do is turn up and leave the rest to your trainer.  You can worry about swapping up your routine after there is a little love happening.

6. What drives you... really?
Most importantly ask yourself why you want to workout? What do you want to change in your life?  Is it stress relief, is it to create a stronger self-acceptance? Perhaps for other health reasons? For whatever it is, write it down and then below this write down issues that come up if you were to stay the same. Do the positives outweigh the negatives? Place this somewhere you will see it often!

Owe it to yourself to stop putting off fitness and make it a part of ‘you’.  Humans are geared towards leading a healthy a balanced life through exercise and nutrition. There are many options out there to suit nearly every personality so make it your duty to find something you love doing and make your life sparkle (with sweat).

What drives you to keep fit?


16.9.14

Spring through life | The stationery caddy


I suggest that before we can get springy with the big bits, we need to get the little bits sorted. The little bits get in the way. Like, before I got myself a stationery caddy, I could spend ages looking for a pair of scissors, a thumb tack, a rubber band, a life.

"Who has the scissors?" I would bellow at the kids. "Who used them and didn't put them away in the... where they go... wherever that is..."

Then I bought a cheap plastic caddy from Howards Storage World (well, I bought a caddy - nothing is cheap at HSW) and I stocked it with all the things I need for an organised life. Not stuff the kids need, not things for homework, things for me.

Staionery caddy

Staionery caddy

Staionery caddy


A small notebook for shopping lists, a larger one for writing notes to teachers (so many notes), pens, pencils, glue, paperclips, rubber bands, twist top ties, thumb tacks, scissors, washi tape, stapler, ruler, pencil sharpener, tape measure, batteries, permanent markers, blue tac, name stickers, a couple of random pegs (pegs are so handy, don't you think?), sticky tape - it's all in the caddy, ready to go wherever I want it to go.

A stationery caddy could well change your life it's that darn handy. Can the kids use the stuff in there? Not on your life.

So, round up all the random bits you need on a day to day basis and put them all in a caddy (or a box or even a drawer, you may not need yours to be as mobile as mine) and forget all about the lot of it... until you need it. Then it will be right where you left it, ready to go.

Can you find a working pen right now? Scissors? Rubber band? Paperclip?

15.9.14

Photography for beginners | Getting composition right


Which brings us to composition. Oh, I’m sorry, if that seems and abrupt beginning, we have some catching up to do. So far we’ve looked at DSLR versus point-n-shoot. Then we talked about the importance of keeping a visual journal before getting to grips with the three faces of exposure using my free exposure cheat sheet. We organised our images so we could find them again before deciding to get them off our computers and into our lives. Then we edited our images using some whizz-bang software and online offerings.
Which bring us to composition.
Now, you can shelve your special effects and your well-crafted exposure techniques because to me composition is the soul in the art of photography. As in all art forms, there will be  natural Picassos or Capas or Levitts out there – those that just ‘get it’ and elevate a simple photograph to something more akin to a lifelong journey – and then there are… the rest of us. For us there are rules of composition that when mastered will help us develop images that balance interest with harmony, colour and craft. Images that rise above the mere ‘snapshot’ and then plunge us into depths that only art can fathom.
That’s the importance of elegant composition for you and here are three of the rules that I think will most help us get there.

The rule of thirds

This is the first rule in ever photographic manual and for good reason. The rule of thirds is the quickest way to move new photographers away from the head-on, look-me-in-the-eye, ants-go-marching-two-by-two balancing that is the natural starting point for many of us. From that, to thinking a little off centre, in threes, thinking oddly, unevenly, interestingly.
The rule of thirds says that you should divide an image into a grid of nine equal segments (three by three, hence the ‘thirds’) and position your subject or points of interest along the lines of the grid or where the lines intersect. Doing this immediately forces you off the ‘front and centre’ mentality that a lot of new photographers have – if you’re true to the rule, your subject is not positioned in the centre of the shot at all. Great for removing the mug shot factor from portraits and keeping landscapes from becoming too matchy-matchy.
Take this shot I took in Italy last year. It’s a nice shot – it’s hard to take any photo of Lake Como that isn’t rather lovely – but it’s not particularly special and at first it’s hard to say why.
If I crop the shot, getting rid of some of the water and bringing the tall tower and trees in the background closer into the shot, things start to look more interesting.
When we see the two shots with the ‘rule of third’ grids we can see straightaway why the second shot is the more successful.
See how the horizontal lines in the houses in the foreground line up with the bottom grid line? And the ledge of the tower does likewise at the back, with the tall aspens running exactly along the vertical grid as well. This is a good example how how even if the ‘rule of thirds’ doesn’t come naturally to you in the ‘field’, you can play around and work it out later in post-production. 

Viewpoint

The best shot isn’t necessarily found right in front of your nose, conveniently at eye level. It might be up, it might be down, to the left, the right, close up, over there, up a ladder, lying on the ground, flying through the air on a trapeze. Watch a professional photographer and you will see that they are never, ever still. It all depends on which viewpoint is the most creative and intriguing and they will take shots of every single one of them before deciding which they like the best. For interesting, memorable shots, view the world in your own unique way.

Background

The best subject can be ruined by what’s behind it. When shooting your image, consider the whole picture, not just what’s in focus.
Find a plain background to give your subject the lead, or an interesting one that contrasts well within the shot. Ensure that the background isn’t ‘bitsy’ or untidy, distracting the eye from your subject for no good reason. Be aware of the whole image (especially photo bombers, especially when they are you!)
A lovely background can make or break an image. If you can’t adjust your background, you may need to adjust your aperture to decrease the depth of field to ‘fade out’ anything less than ideal.
So, there you have the ‘big three’ of composition as far as I’m concerned. Bear in mind that I’m not even rank enough to be considered an amateur (just a very good researcher and king of mucking around with my camera for not good reason), so make sure you read far and wide for the opinions of people who really know their stuff.
 What do you think really ‘makes’ an image?
:: Next time: Snapping awesome portraits ::