Episode Highlights

00:05:22 How running can  help you  stop smoking
00:08:11 Exercise can help make you mentally well
00:16:29 How important is vitamin D
00:24:55 Why we don’t need motivation
00:26:41 Yoga help our mental state
00:31:57 The proper way of running exercise
00:35:52 Hydrate before you caffeinated.
00:37:14 Process of meditation
00:39:46 Insight Timer app for free meditation
00:46:16 5 key points to improve mental health


Fitness Guide




Welcome to the Fitter Healthier Dad Podcast, where you can learn how to improve your diet, lose fat and get fitter in a sustainable and fun way without spending hours in the gym is your host Darren Kirby.

Darren:  Welcome back to the podcast, guys. This is the number one podcast for dads in their 40s who want to improve their health and fitness. This is episode 74. And today we’re going to be talking about how exercise a movement can be medicine with Natalie from The Popular Not Another Runner podcast. Following her own challenges with mental health, Natalie will give us an insight on just how effective getting fit and healthy has helped her overcome her own challenges. Hi, Natalie. Thanks very much for joining me on the podcast today. How are you?

Natalie: I’m very well, thank you. And thank you very much for inviting me. It’s really exciting to be on the other side as opposed to interviewing. I’m feeling relaxed actually. Relax and unwind.

Darren: Yeah, no, that’s good. That’s good. And yeah, I mean, obviously, you know, I appeared on your show and I wanted you to come on to the Fitter Healthier Dad Podcast because I think you your message and your approach is really, really strong and very, very important for the situation that we’re in right now with locked down to 2.0 and just the crazy world that is 2020, unfortunately. But yeah, you’ve got some great approaches. Your podcast is fantastic. And so I thought the audience is going to get a huge amount of benefit for having you on the show. So, yeah. So for the people that haven’t heard of Natalie and your podcast, can you give us a brief kind of background on how you’ve got to where you are today?

Natalie: Yeah, thank you firstly for those kind words as well. Podcast. I really appreciate that. And so I’m Natalie and otherwise known as not only that online, but yet Natalie and from Wales Pembrokeshire. I’m twenty nine years old and I work full time as a civil servant. And then alongside that I host my own podcast, Not Another Runner podcast and everything on Social as well. So Instagram and that all came about after I started running and trying to lead a fitter, healthier lifestyle, fell in love with running and all the benefits that it brought to my life. Yeah. And soon I found myself setting up a page online just to stay motivated, remain accountable and share some good tips and actually combined with mental health and managing that. And then just to give back really to the running community, because it gave me so much. 

And then before I knew it, six months down the line, I was setting up my own podcast and interviewing guests and people that I’ve looked up to for a very long time. And so, yeah, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind, really. This all started, I think it was two years ago I started writing online, so. Yeah, but quite new. Still to see everything online in the podcast. Still learning.

Darren: Yeah. No, I think we all are all always learning. And I think, you know, for me podcasting is such a great medium to, you know, to either get your message out there or to connect with other people so you can share a message for those which need to hear it. And I think, you know, the touch on their accountability and I’m always talking about this in our community accountability because, you know, information and knowledge is one thing and that’s great. And, you know, I read a statistic fairly recently that you can get one hundred people to look at something or to read something, but less than seven percent of them will actually take that and do anything with it. 

And so accountability, I think, is really, really important that either you have, like you did, put something online or you have a buddy that can help you out or a colleague or family member to really because as humans, I think we we allow things to get in our way or we are very good at putting obstacles in our own way. Whereas if you have someone externally or something externally to you kind of challenging you or pushing you and stuff like that, it really does make you make that difference, so to speak.

Natalie: Definitely. So what I was just thinking, as you were saying about Buddy and having something external to keep you accountable to that, to whatever it may be, it could be a goal of yours. That’s exactly why training plans are so useful for girls or a diet plant or whatever it may be, because you’ve got that schedule, that routine, that external object, whether that is a physical one, abstract is there to help you remain comfortable.

Darren: Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah, so coming back to your kind of moment, Natalie, when you took up running, was it a life event or something happened in your life which kind of put you in the kind of running community or was it a desire that you’d had for a while and then you had a trigger and you just went for it? What happened?

Natalie: And it’s quite a long story, but I don’t want to bore everyone with the length of my journey. But I’ll back up just a little bit and just say that I’ve never been very fit. Like I always got by with school teams and sports, but never been that fit. And I was a lot heavier when I was younger. So after it was a pinnacle moment after my brother had passed away. So I was only 14. At this point, me and my mum started a healthy journey and we started losing weight and we were going to coach the women’s only gym in front of us and all stemmed from there and skip forward a few years. I was up and down with my mental health, good periods, bad periods, and always, always wanted to get treated. But I could never get myself out the door, get myself going, because I was just too mentally unwell. So I’d signed up for a race and that will motivate me. I’ll finally get up and get going, but it just never did. So three years later, I’m still in the same position, still look at myself out there and then it’s taken up a bad habit of smoking. And finally I was like, this is just this has got to stop. 

So I decided to give up smoking for lunch. And then instead of just giving up a bad habit, I thought, right this year I’m going to take up a good habit. So I’m going to take up running and then running allows me to continue abstaining from smoking. And then before I knew it, I obviously fell in love and it just went from then. I have a look back over this last year when I’ve been injured and fortunately so I haven’t been running much at all. So that’s been difficult. But that’s how it all started, really. Twenty, seventeen. It was a moment of I need to be healthy, I need to be happier. So let’s quit smoking and start running and yes, put lots and lots of positive changes to me in my life since.

Darren: Yeah, I mean, that just sounds fantastic. And it sounds slightly kind of similar to my story, insomuch as you know, when you find something that you really connect with, it becomes a kind of almost switch on its head from the point of, you know, you may have had bad, unhealthy habits, but now you’ve got good, healthy habits. Right. And once you’re on this kind of you get this momentum, you don’t want to stop. And a lot of people talk about the runner’s high because of what happens when you fire up your metabolism, your endorphins, the serotonin, all those kinds of good chemicals that get released when you run that, you know, is what keeps some people going. And is that what keeps you going the high that you get from running?

Natalie: My God, massively. So I know this even more so since being injured. So I haven’t really been able to do much cardiovascular exercise in the last year. And I honestly cannot express how vital it is for me in managing my mental health. So if I’ve had a cold or flu and I hadn’t exercised, run or done some form of high cardiovascular exercise, I would be pleading with a doctor to try and give me something in order to make myself better so that I could exercise to make myself mentally well. I would be quiet for three days without exercise. I could, you know, I would be tearing the walls. So to manage my mental health this last it’s been eleven, twelve months now. Very, very little running, very little cardiovascular exercise has been so difficult. And it made me realize even more how crucial exercise is in managing all sorts of and combinations of your mental health and wellbeing. So I’ve had to be quite inventive and find lots. And that’s been really hard. It’s been so difficult and it got to a point where I thought, I can’t keep being patient like the implication of being injured and not being able to run because it’s getting boring now. But yeah, it’s so crucial, honestly so crucial.

I mean, yeah, I can completely relate to that. And particularly and I think this is really important to kind of point out really often, there are times when it might be middle of the week, it might be dark, it might be cold, it might be wet. And the last thing that you want to do is actually. Go outside or do any exercise, and I actually did a Facebook live on this one Sunday morning when I was going to go out for my morning run. It was a long run and it was six o’clock in the morning. It was dark and it was hammering down with rain. And, you know, years gone by, I would have just shut the door and gone back to bed. But what I do now is I play that forward in my mind and I say to myself. What am I going to feel like when I come back from that run? 

And the answer always is I will feel amazing, but you have to I is such a mind game thing with I believe with fitness because you like as you said, you know, you can quite easily suck it off, go back to bed and then get up and just all lethargic all day or you can go out, get soaking wet, get cold, have a run and come back and feel amazing. And I can’t emphasize and you’ve done a good job of this, of how important or not necessary, but how effective it is. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you feel tired, if you feel lethargic and if it’s wet and if it’s cold, do it anyway, because I can guarantee you will feel better as a result of doing it. But I think for a lot of people that perhaps listen to this who are not consistently exercising, they might find that hard to comprehend. So what can you say? What can you say around that, Natalie?

Natalie: It’s interesting you were saying that about feeling better after not wanting to do it. And because that just brings back so many memories. And I only say on the podcast to get up and get going because you’ll never go in, but you’ll always regret not going in. So I always used to say this to friends and family about when they ask me, oh God, I’m going to the gym again, and I’m like, well, I never go and always regret not going because it would always put me in a better frame of mind in general. Even if your exercise is ten minutes long, like some days, mine might be ten minutes of stretching or yoga because of this injury, but I always feel better for that and prioritize. And that time for me to switch off from the stresses of everyday life worries, anxiety, feeling low, and just move in your body and allow yourself to tune into how you’re feeling and how you’ll do it. And it’s so beneficial for so many reasons. And I think if you could just remind me of that question again, because I feel like I’m going off on a tangent, know about exercise and movement.

Darren: It was more around when you really don’t feel like it. Yes. How do you manage it? You know, I still get it now and I will get it this Sunday when I’m due to go out to do my long run. It’s the same scenario, raining cold and wet. I won’t feel like doing it. And you know what? You want to share this with listeners, because recently over the last few weeks, this has not happened to me for probably nearly a year now. And it must be the time of year. Very rarely do I feel like not doing fitness or not doing any kind of exercise, but it is coming to this part of the year. Like the last couple of weeks. I felt like it, even though I’ve just started my 2021 training program. I felt like, you know, I really, I really don’t feel like it. And the thing with this is and I’m not sure whether or not you can relate to this, you can very quickly spiral to the point where you missed one session, you missed another session, you missed another. And it just can end up like that to the point where you just don’t do anything anymore. And, you know, like you say for your mindset, mental clarity, you know, that type of thing, you can have such an impact.

Natalie: Yeah, I think when someone is perhaps not motivated or perhaps even if they are a bit low, like I if I’m having a low period in my mental health and I’m having like a very low depressive phase, it’s so hard to get out the door like so incredibly hard, especially if I’m on my own. I don’t know what it is, but just leaving that door just fills me with anxiety because I don’t want anyone to see my face because I know my face is painted a picture of total depression. And if someone asked me how I am, I might just break. So to leave the house, I feel really vulnerable. So in that instance, I think the best tool that I’ve used is a buddy buddy system. So texting a friend or family member or a loved one, not texting because you probably live with them, but scheduling a time with a person that you trust to be able to go for a walk. And it does not matter what your exercise is going to be, just getting outside fresh air.

If the sun is shining, then you’ve got vitamin D, which allows the neurotransmitters to do their work. Helping us to produce more serotonin, which helps lift mood and fresh air just instantly makes you feel good anyway. And if you are walking or you have raised your heart rate slightly more than you would be if you were sat on the couch, then that is going to help your endorphins kick in, which will give you a feel good, so if you need to then just reach out to someone that you trust and just say, let’s go for one o’clock. And you know what? It could be a 10 minute walk to the park and watching the kids play, that will still help you feel a little bit better so that the next day you might feel more inclined then to get up and go in and get some exercise and just having these little life hacks that will help you get up and get going.

Darren: Yeah. And I think, you know, sometimes people can overlook this and they can think that this sounds way too complicated to kind of add that into an already busy and stressful life. But it doesn’t really, it’s just, you know, it’s like anything when you change your routine or you try to change a habit, you try and put a new habit a little bit tougher initially. But once again, once it becomes a habit, it’s quite easy. But I think it’s really key, you know, particularly when we come into the end of potentially locking down 2.0 that, you know, people are who are listening to this. You know what? When I think what we’re not saying is you don’t necessarily need to go out and train for a marathon, but you do need to get outside and move, get fresh air like you say, get that vitamin D because, you know, studies and science is starting to prove that vitamin D is one of the key factors to having a good, strong immune system. And if you have that, you’re going to lessen the likelihood of getting something covered in the rest of it.

Natalie: Yes, definitely. And, you know, I was thinking all day, I need to get a new sort of seasonal affective disorder because it’s so dark and mornings now. I’m so yes, I’m finding it really difficult to get up and do some exercise before work, whereas in the summer it was not a problem. And I know it’s because they see how they say it’s circadian rhythm is being messed with because we’re in darkness. The Mediterranean is still being produced. I still feel really tired, lethargic. I do not want to get out of bed. And so I’m saying to myself, I must get that lamp. And you were saying about how it can be hard not to spiral. And I think that’s really important to touch on as well for myself and managing mental health with the power of movement and everything else. Yep, gratitude plays a huge role when exercising and on a daily basis, even when we’re not exercising, I think and I recognize it massively in myself. If I’m having a low phase, I have a negative thought and instantly it multiplies into two and then it’s ten minutes. Twenty.

Before I knew it, hours had passed. I’ve not spoken to anyone. I’ve left the house, I’m crying, I’m in a mess. So I think when we notice that we are spiraling off, we’ve got negative. So it’s trying to remember or at least lock it and think, right, listen to that negative thought and then try and replace or at least offer yourself to positive thoughts to try and break that cycle, because unfortunately, it’s these things automatic negative thoughts are repeated and that can really, really affect the mood on your ability to exercise, which is going to help you come out of that place.

And when in that place, when I’ve got those negative thoughts, they’ve already happened for hours and I’ve not noticed it. And I’ve been thinking very negatively. And this is really detrimental to me right now. So I’m going to stop, I’m going to sit down and I’m going to consciously list three things that I am grateful for today. I’m being specific is so important because if you say you’re grateful for your family, it’s so automatic and so obvious because you aren’t grounding yourself in the moment and your surroundings. You’re too. It’s too subconscious. You need to be very specific on that day. And you might be grateful for your cup of coffee, your favorite mug that makes you smile all the grass or the view of the birds that are flying outside in your garden. So be specific with the gratitude to try and bring yourself back in and try and clear out with that spiraling negative mindset.

Darren: Yeah, and I want to add to this as well, because I think for guys, for men, for dads, we think a lot of that well, I can speak from experience. I think a lot of that was Google. But if you add the science behind it, I think it makes it a little bit more relatable. So how we internally talk to ourselves affects ourselves externally, our actions, the way we behave and everything else. And you, by being self aware and being aware that everybody has negative thoughts and being in that conscious awareness where you can snap out of that and the action of physically writing it down will mean that you. Switch your mindset, and psychologically it’s been proven with the neural pathways in our brains. OK, so it’s not google it’s science. It absolutely works. And I have a morning routine where I write three things out every day. Now, I don’t know, I might miss it sometimes on the weekends, but pretty much in the week I am on it three times every single day.

And like you say, Natalie is not thank you for my amazing life or thank you for my amazing little small things. You might be laughing with your kids. It might be that little moment and having that thing. And you then realize when you perceive because it is all about perception, when you perceive that things are not going right. If you have the ability to flick back into a positive for your perception of what’s not going right actually gets reframed to the point where you think, actually, it’s not that bad. It’s just a moment in time which is happening. And my perception of it is worse than actually what it is. And you can just reframe it. And it is very, very important. And again, you know, the times that we’re in at the moment, I think it’s so, so key and so valuable. So I guess what I’m saying is it’s not google you know, it absolutely does work.

Natalie: And many people think, as we will and it is crazy that we still have people who are oblivious to, you know, the psychology and the power of the mind and benefits of these things. Yeah, it baffles me.

Darren: Yeah, absolutely. So obviously, you’ve got an extremely kind of busy schedule. You know, you’ve got a full time job running club when running clubs are available. You’ve got your own podcast. So how do you make time to fit in? Because this is the biggest thing with parents and dads. Right? And this is one of the things that I get all the time. We thought we didn’t have time. We’ve got something more important. So how do you fit it into your day?

Natalie: That’s a really good question. And I can imagine, as you say, a lot of listeners will find it difficult to find the time, especially in dads and having kids, family, family life. And I’ll be honest, it is hard and I don’t have children. And I’m saying that from an aspect that I haven’t got a family, I haven’t got people that are dependent on me. I have my outer family that obviously do depend on me. And I prioritize them and their time. But I think the main thing is what’s important to remember in your way. And if your goal or your intention or your measure is big enough and it is meaningful enough to you, then you will always find time. Whether that is that you sacrifice two hours of TV in the evening to exercise after the kids have gone to bed or that you go to bed earlier the same time as the kids do. So then you get up early whilst they still sleep and you’ve got the treadmill, or you can go out for a walk. If you’ve got if you’re lucky, they’ve got another house that’s at home with the children. And yeah, I think Harmison and zoning in on your reason, you’ll go your measured what it is you want to do.

That is essential to being able to set up that routine and hold yourself accountable. I think when you’re out of sync with your. Your goal and your mission and everything else can fall to pieces. I’ve witnessed that in my own routine and schedule. At the moment I’m not running, so I schedule that on the weekend. The walk runs that I do. The weekdays are just so dark. Yet I’m not finding the time to be able to do that in the morning or evening. Yeah, I probably do one walk a week after work and one long one on the weekend and then yoga in the morning. That’s my priority at the moment because that’s my goal to switch off and to do stress. But yeah, I think that the important thing is to remember what your why is, what your goal is, and then you can think, right, where am I going to prioritize this? What events or pastimes are less important to me that I’ll do less frequently and in order to achieve that goal?

Darren: Yeah. And I think, again, the whole why scenario can be seen as a bit woo. But I think that once you understand what that is, it then makes everything else become so much easier because there’s no motivation needed. And this is a big thing for me at the moment because everybody’s talking about motivation. Got no motivation. When you understand the reason why you’re doing what you’re doing, you don’t need motivation because you intrinsically want to do it. You will prioritize that above everything else. And that’s the same. The same thing goes for me. And I say to a lot of people, you know, they say, oh, I should go to the gym or I should do this. No, you shouldn’t do anything that you don’t want to do. And that’s why you don’t say it’s consistent on it, because it’s something you don’t really want to do. So find your way, find something that really lights you up. And then there’s no need for motivation because it will be intrinsically something that you want to do without being forced to do it. 

But you mentioned yoga there. And I’m probably doing the dads a disservice, but, you know, yoga is not a naturally, not naturally a guys kind of practice, shall we say. But I’ve learned through injury just how beneficial and valuable yoga is. And there are so many ex rugby players now who do yoga practice and everything else. So what type of yoga do you do? First off, you know, how is that kind of help to running and just you just kind of mental state in general.

Natalie: So I started yoga quite a few years ago. On and off I’d go to gym class. I’ve always been interested in going to gym class. And so a lot of that involves parties and yoga and yoga classes. So I had some form of background which was helpful so that when I did start doing home workouts in 2017, when I started running and I realized just how important mobility, flexibility and range of motion was for running, I thought, well, I need to combine this with my old practice of yoga. So I started doing at home and yoga with Adrianne is a really good one. She’s on YouTube as you used to have.

Yeah, I think she’s amazing and I think she’s so down to earth. She doesn’t care and she’s just graceful and I find it funny. And so yeah, a lot of the running community use comes out and I think she’s brilliant and she deserves all the success in the world in my eyes. So most of the time it’s her videos. There are a few others. Lululemon does a lot for them in the U.K. They’ve got a lot of run ambassadors and yoga ambassadors, some men, too. So, yeah, they’ve got some good, good videos on their channel. And then just running yoga for runners on YouTube. Yeah, I’m such a YouTube geek that I find myself down the rabbit hole of videos and always find material that I’m looking for. So that’s what I tend to do at home.

And normally in the morning I find practicing in the morning is most beneficial for myself because you wake up and you stretch and you feel like to afterwards you’ve switched off before you’ve switched on, which I think is really important and is good to move your body first thing before you get in the car, before you get to wake and you feel that stress on top of you, because I can feel it now, like if I go to Rush in in the morning, the stress is in my shoulders. My shoulders start rising like this. And that’s half the problem. Where I’ve got this injury already was from stress. So doing that in the morning followed up with some meditation.

And again, it doesn’t have to be woo woo. You can just put a song on a timer on your phone and just put a song with no no lyrics and just sit there and concentrate on your breathwork, which I find helps me distress and also gives me the benefits, helps your digestion, helps prevent irritable bowel syndrome and helps prevent anxiety and promote calmness. So yeah, I tend to do that in the morning, follow up with meditation and then I’ll have a herbal tea before I go to work. I just feel like that for me is if I’ve done that and even if it’s 20 minutes or 50 minutes is not strenuous exercise, I still feel like I’m winded.

Darren:  Yeah, I agree with that. Absolutely. And we’ll get on to kind of morning routines and daily routines in a minute. But I think. As we age and I’ve known this, you know, I’m forty seven, so, you know, you kind of evolve as you age, you get into a certain position type. So, you know, if you are an office person, for example, and you commute, you know, you’re sitting in this position where you’re sitting in the car, you do a slight walk and you go to sit at the same position in a desk and then you get up. You might have a little walk throughout the day. You get back, get back in the car, go home and then sit on the sofa. You know, over the period of time, you start to lose mobility. And if there’s any time when we want mobility as we age, not go the other way. 

So, you know, for people that haven’t done yoga, just consider that factor. You know, you see so many people when they get in their 60s and 70s that they’ve become so immobile because their movement patterns have been, you know, in a certain type for the large part of their life that as they age, that just magnifies. And I’m really big into kind of movement and functional movement at the moment because I just think it’s so key. And I think that even if listening to this, you decide that you’re not a runner, but you you want to be healthier, like just doing a yoga practice, just doing movement, making sure you or your joint health is there and everything else will just serve you so well as you go later on in life.

And yet you see so many people, Natalie, I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, particularly guys. You know, the kind of common mindset is right. I want to lose a bit of weight. So I’m going to go running because running is so accessible, I just put on a pair of trainers and they go out and you can just see that they’re so stiff and they hardly know they’re not able to kind of get that movement for running properly. Whereas if they just didn’t bother running and actually took on like a movement practice or yoga practice, it would serve them much better.

Natalie: Yeah, definitely. I just popped into my mind. I was thinking that. And if you do, that’s what people have to head out for a run straight away. Yeah. It’s remembering that running it’s such a beneficial sport. But if you’re running the wrong way or running the same tempo, same threshold all the time, it is you’re doing yourself a disservice. You actually may sometimes do more harm than is good, because if your heart rate is too high, you know, frequently while still running on everyone that you’ll do it, you’re actually going to impact your immune system. You’re going to put too much stress on it, which can then cause sickness and injury as well. 

So it’s it’s balancing your high impact exercising, such as running or cycling, whatever it is you choose to do, whether it’s hiit workouts with something and a little bit more less impactful, it’s a little bit more work and a lower heart rate, I find balances everything out because I remember when I was training for a marathon that season, my gosh, I’ve never been so poor in all my life. I had two flings and two bouts of colds, all within a six month period. I just ran into the ground because I was just training too much. Yeah, too much. Not good.

Darren: And that’s overtraining is a common thing, particularly when you’ve got, you know, what it is you enjoy to do dialed in. And I suffered with this a few years ago, like I would. I would get really anxious if I didn’t train like twice a day. If I didn’t break out into a sweat, I would. And the results of that, like you say, you end up with illness and injury.

So there’s you know, there’s a fine line. It’s not a simple case of you just go hard and it’s like everything in life, really. You have to, you know, take it in and do it in moderation. Anything too much of one thing is never is never a good thing, is it? So I think that’s that’s yeah. That’s really important that you point out. But let’s just step back to what you said earlier on about your routine and your morning routine. So, yeah, I’ve got something fairly similar. So you say you’re getting up in the morning. Do you do meditation first? Yoga you yoga first. How does your morning routine work?

Natalie: So I get up and the first thing I’ll do is get the yoga mat out, practice yoga first. Yeah. And you know, when you say how do you, how do you motivate yourself accountability. So even this is a simple, simple hack. I’ve time lapse my yoga practices when I’ve been lacking motivation. So for me it was like, I’ll post my story, add some music, and people tend to say, oh, that. Me up and go and all that made me go, oh, I must get back to yoga and it’s not just a show, oh hey, this is what I’m doing. It’s because. I’ve been struggling, so, hey, I’m going to be holding myself accountable by showing you I’m still doing this or I’m doing this, and it’s not for anyone else’s. I have no one else but myself.

So, yeah, I’ll go up to the yoga first. I found and I shared this the other day and it comes back to the whole woo woo method as well. And if people are struggling with meditation or they found that it’s never worked for them. Yes, I have said before and then try it again after combining it with an exercise you enjoy. So for me, I found practice in meditation after yoga was so powerful because this thing in the morning and doing some yoga haven’t eaten any breakfast at this point. And some of these workers are quite hard and holding these poses. And I’m like, oh my gosh, I’m starving. I feel like I’ve got no energy and this is really difficult, but it’s worth it.

And so you come out of all of that and when you finish your practice and like everyone’s talking to you or whoever is you’re following and you go into each of us where you’re lying flat on the floor on your back, you’re all you’re all done with your yoga routine and you feel, oh, this just feels amazing just to stop and just to relax, because I’ve just hit anybody really hard first thing with no with no breakfast at all. And at that point then I put on a meditation track because I’m relaxed. And that for me has been the most powerful time to practice meditation because I do really switch off. So I listen to my own music and I do it myself, or if I feel like my mind is really busy and I’m not going to be able to switch off, then I’ll listen to a guided one because I’m more inclined to follow the instructions and continue with that meditative track than I am on my own with with music. Sometimes we need a little bit of guidance if we’re feeling a little bit lost or a bit murky. So that’s the general routine. And I’ll always finish it with a drink and some water without someone water or herbal tea. Yeah, I try to remember who I need this from. It was on another podcast. Hydrate before caffeinated hydrate for you. Caffeinated. Yeah, I just think that’s really important.

Darren: Yeah, well I use that phrase actually in my community a few weeks ago and I loved it. I jumped on that and I really loved it. But I think around the meditation side of things I struggled with calming down my mind and I tried it for a long, long period of time to try and just sit and meditate without any guidance. And I have to do with guidance, because if I find that, if I don’t, my mind just races. And I just want what you’ve got to do that day, what you’ve got to get down, what you haven’t done and all the rest of it. So for me, guided meditation is the best. And you I think you have to go through a process with meditation. Don’t expect to sit down tomorrow, for example, and nail it, because it took me, I’d say probably took me about six months to really get into rhythm. And I only do it for ten minutes, really. And I find that that is enough. But yeah, I think for people listening to this are going to try, you have to stick with it.

It’s like anything really. You have to build a habit with it. And once you can go, you know, going to go into that introspective state where you’re focusing on how you’re feeling, what your body’s doing, the rest of it, it will give you that sense of real kind of relaxed, calm to go into the day with, particularly if you then have to go from meditation to getting the kids up, getting them ready for school and all the rest of it, you will definitely find that you’re in a much more calm state, you know, in a kind of anxious state or getting very irate with the kids when they don’t get dressed because they don’t get dressed. However, when you ask them to and yeah, I think meditation really, really helps with that.

Yeah, I think it’s yeah, I think it’s a great practice. And I think, you know, it is becoming more widespread. I think if you spoke to somebody five years ago that said that they did meditation and what we’ve just spoken about, you’d probably get a funny look in. I guess you probably would still get a really funny look now. But it is so beneficial now there’s hundreds of billions of dollars being spent in this industry now. But an app that I use, Natalie, is calm, daily calm. I find that pretty good. I’ve got some ten minute meditations on YouTube so you can subscribe to them. But yeah, it’s pretty good.

Natalie: I was going to say I’ve heard a lot about daily calm. The when I used and I was going to suggest or mention for your listeners is the. Insight’s timer, so I saw this online somewhere in the Insight Timer app has thousands of free meditations, probably similar to staying calm. And I like that you can go in and select a time. So if you’ve got 20 minutes free, you can go in 20 minutes and then they’ll be there for meditation. If you did subscribe annually, which is fifty pound, which I did accidentally, and which is a nightmare, isn’t it? When that happens and they’ve got courses that you can do like self developmental courses and so they’re really good, you don’t have to subscribe and they are good because you go in, you can even search via keywords if you put stress, anxiety or calm, happy, happy meditations or gratitude. So yeah, that’s what I use. And 

I’m going back to what you were saying that you find guided to the best and it took you six months. It does take a long time to get into it. And recently I did a 30 day free? Five days of meditation daily in the morning. And the way I felt after it was amazing. Like the injury that I sustained on the pain I’d had daily had decreased considerably since I was in a lot less pain. I was less so, less anxious, less stressed in work. I drive to work smiling, feeling happy and anything that arose. And I felt like I could handle it, like because I’m already in that frame of mind. And then I keep saying I’m going to go back and do that 30 day just to get it back. So I’m doing it every single day because some days we missed it. I must do that because I want to see if it helps the pain again.

Darren: Yeah, definitely. I think that’s a whole other podcast’s around mindset and illness and stuff like that. And it’s been proven time and time again that, you know, your state of mind can and will affect, you know, illnesses, injuries and things like that. So, yeah, I’m a huge, big believer in that, to be honest. But you’ve also got this ethos that you live by. Get up and get going. So where did that come from?

Natalie: To do what? I think that came to me. I think it just spun off from the. I go in, but you always will not go in, so I kept saying to myself, if I was having, you know, a lack of motivation or I was thinking, I don’t really want to go out, I tell myself, you know, you’ll never go. And we always go in about ninety nine point nine percent. I want to say, unless you know, if you go out and then you sustain an injury, then obviously I regret it that you might still have gratitude from that day. Had you not gone up, they wouldn’t have surfaced. So it came from that. And I think it was a mantra to myself to get up and get go in like they’ve been so many periods in my life where I wasn’t able to get up and get going. I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t leave the house awfully, awfully depressed. And I just so much of my time is being wasted almost or missed because of low periods that, yeah, I try my hardest not to just always get up and go in. 

And it doesn’t matter what that is. I used to apply it to exercise and write specifically. So I get up and get out of the house, go get the fresh air, get your vitamin D serotonin, your endorphins, go to your store. And then I started realizing that actually I found it useful for other activities so I might be too anxious to go food shopping if I was feeling unwell. And then I would remember actually I feel good for doing this. I feel accomplished. And now I might see someone on my way out that might say, you know, it’s just some list of things or go by your favorite dish that you’re going to make. So then you cook for yourself. It’s all a process. Yeah. So I realized that it applied to so many other aspects in my life and sometimes social events as well being very, very difficult. And I really have to motivate myself to get dressed, made up, go and see people because I didn’t feel I had the energy. Yeah, I always felt better after it. And my mind and my mind set, my mood would be lifted because of myself making myself to get up and go in and do that activity or the chore that was at hand.

Darren: Yeah, definitely. I think for me, you know, in that scenario, when you don’t feel like doing it often, more often than not is when I will have my best training sessions, when I don’t feel like doing it and I go out and force myself to do it. And then I sometimes have this kind of rule with myself. And it happened to me that last Saturday or Sunday I went out for a run and I don’t know what happened, but it was like within the first five hundred meters, I don’t want to do this. I’m going to stop. And then I kind of and this is why I say it’s just a big mental game, you know, then I have to deal with myself. Is that right? If I still feel like this after the first two K, then I’m going to just stop and go back.

And you never do because that kind of everything kicks in and your breathing starts to kind of regulate. You’ve got enough oxygen in your blood and everything else and you feel good and say it never happens. But it’s this constant kind of battle. Right? It’s almost like you’re doing a deal with yourself. It’s like. Right. You can stop if you want, but you need to do X and it’s almost like you’re talking to a child in many ways, like you bargain with children and say to them, well, if you do this and you can have this and these guys kind of that type of thing. So I guess what I’m saying is to point out to people that we all have this, we all have downs, we all have bouts of low periods and not feeling like doing stuff.

And it’s in those moments, if you are aware that you can kind of coach yourself and talk to yourself, that you can, you can quite easily overcome these things. You know, they’re not insurmountable. So, yeah, I think that’s just something I wanted to point out. But, Natalie, before I let you go, I would like to know if there’s five key points you could recommend to the dads listening that they could take away today to help improve their movement and their mental physical health.

Natalie: Five key points, OK? Yes. So one would be get up and get go and say you have that as a staple in your week, even if you’ve only got time for two workouts that week, whatever it is, whatever you’ve got for that week, just schedule it and know that that’s your time for you so that when you have your time, you turn up and you show up for your family in a better frame of mind of that person. So get up, get going. Number two, I would say, is your gratitudes. Yeah. So like we discussed it. So just. If you’ve got a few moments when you’re just thinking like a motivational, you notice a negative thing pop up in your head, just say three things that you’re grateful for that day, that really helps. Number three, I find it really good. And if you’re feeling anxious or you’re really, really stressed from work or it’s been a really stressful day, the family, whatever is number three, is remembering to list three things you can see. 

Smell here and touch so that you’re using your senses and it’s just so powerful, I can’t tell you how powerful this is because you switch off from all the stresses, all the anxieties that you had. You actually forget what you were thinking about. It’s really good. I’ll have to link you an article to that. Yeah. And number four, hydrate before you. Caffeine. Yes. Sounds so simple, but you know what? That can really, really make a difference to your day and really energize you in the morning. Number five, prioritize sleep. Sleep is so, so important. I can’t say we didn’t talk about that today. And I know we had someone recently, didn’t you say in about sleep. But I want to say sleep for me is crucial. It’s like medicine when you go to sleep. We are recovering. We are rehabilitated and we’re getting ourselves ready for the next day.

Darren: Yeah. One hundred percent. Yes. The thing with as you are talking there came to my mind was that, you know, people listening to this might think that what we’re talking about is. All right. Really simple and basic and it is. But you will be amazed as to how many people will dismiss this information that we’re sharing. And we believe this is kind of humans. We love to overcomplicate stuff. And if somebody tells us something that’s really simple, like, well, that’s not going to work, surely they’ve got to be a magic pill I need to take in order to get the outcome that I know there is so much around your health, which is really simple, basic and straightforward. You just need to do it and it will yield like huge results. And like you said, nicely, nicely, you just said sleep. And there will be people listening to this podcast who will be thinking, what are they talking about? Sleep. Of course we sleep, but no, there is an element to sleep which is wholly underestimated. And that’s the quality of your sleep. You know, the REM sleep, the deep sleep, the temperature of your room, the darkness of your room will all dictate how good your sleep quality is. And then that just rolls forward into your day because just a very basic level.

If you are sleep deprived, you will naturally gravitate towards stimulants and stimulants being sugar, caffeine, all that like bad fatty foods to kind of get that energy level up. And that’s not where you want to be, because all that happens with that is it just snowballs. It would just carry on and carry on and carry on. And so, yeah, I think that’s a fantastic final point to finish on Natalie. And, you know, I really appreciate you coming on today that we sometimes listen to this thinking, hang on a minute. She’s not a dad well, that’s very well observed. She’s not. But you’ve shared great information with us. And like I said, I appreciate you coming on so far for people that are listening, how can they connect with you? What’s the podcast? All that kind of good stuff.

Natalie: So you can connect online via Instagram and Facebook @notanotherrunner. And then there’s the podcast, also the same title. So that’s available on all podcast platforms, Not Another Runner. And that’s a health and wellbeing related podcast aiming to inspire others to get up and get going and to live happier, healthier lifestyles. And I tend to interview other runners and triathletes or exercise enthusiasts and those who share tips on health and wellbeing.

Darren: Yeah, awesome. Well, it’s been an absolute pleasure having you on the podcast today. I really appreciate your time. Again, go and check it out, guys. Not another Runner podcast is a great, great podcast. And yeah, I look forward to catching up with you again soon.

Natalie: Thank you. Thank you for having me. It’s been a pleasure.

Darren: Thanks for listening to the Fitter Healthier Dad Podcast. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please subscribe and I would really appreciate it if you could leave a review on iTunes or the things mentioned in the episode will be in the show notes and a full transcription is over at fitterhealthierdad.com