Saturday, 28 March 2015

26 things people from Selby will understand and remember

Selby - a sometimes sleepy little market town 15 miles south of York. The town that everyone loves to hate and that everyone wants to leave, but never does. What springs to mind when you think of Selby? The Abbey? The three swans tale? The history? Nah!

Here are 25 things that only people from Selby will understand and remember:

1. The sheer delight when Doubtfires is back outside Wetherells every day.

2. And the heartbreak when you miss the van as it passes your house on a Sunday afternoon.

3. Everyone once went to Selby Fun Day armed with alcohol thinking they were at a mini Leeds Fest.

4. Saturdays and Sundays used to always be about tackling the inflatable obstacle course across Abbey Leisure Centre's pool.

5. Anyone who was anyone went to the Roller Disco on a Friday night.

6. The mad rush to get to Brayton Barff before anyone else as soon as it snows.

7. Going to 'Wick-Kid' at the leisure centre in the school holidays and it being anything but 'wicked'.

8. The excitement when McDonald's and Frankie & Benny's finally opened in Selby.

9. Going to Selby bonfire because the fireworks are always amazing.

10. The wooden nativity scene in the glass box making an appearance every year without fail.

11. Heading to Le Raj weighed down with alcohol of all varieties to make the absolute most of the 'bring your own booze' rule - because everyone does Jaeger bombs with a curry, right?

12. Vowing never to ever end your night in Kans but finding yourself there at the end of the night as they switch the lights on.

13. Being able to go anywhere in the country/continent/world and somehow stumbling across someone from Selby.

14. Pretty much everyone, at some point in their Selby life, has had the pleasure of having their photo taken by the famous Eric Foster.

15. The pain of having to get the 415 to York.

16. And the excruciating last bus back on a Friday/Saturday night.

17. Almost everyone has worked at the outlet at some point.

18. And almost everyone hated it.

19. Everyone had a birthday party at the leisure centre with a bouncy castle and a dinner of chicken nuggets and chips.

20. Then as you grew up you progressed to a disco in the bar area with a buffet.

21. Getting stuck at the train gates near Brayton canal bridge and knowing you'll be sat there for ages.

22. The annoyance of people not pronouncing places right (Gowthorpe and Hemingbrough being just two examples)

23. Not daring to stand in the little pool of water at the top of the slide at the old leisure centre because 'everyone weed in it'.

24. Getting to go to Ryedale with school was the equivalent of being selected for the Olympics.

25. The infamous Thursday night 'student nights' in town where VKs were the answer to any question.

26. Slagging off Selby to high heaven but not letting anyone from outside the town say a bad word about it.



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Thursday, 26 March 2015

Girls, whatever you do, don't #CutForZayn

Poor Zayn Malik - not only has he made the difficult decision to walk away from the biggest, most successful boyband in the world right now; not only is his relationship with Little Mix's Perrie on the line because he was pictured with another girl and the media blew it all out of proportion; and not only is he being hounded from every angle by people wanting to know 'why'; but he is having to see thousands and thousands of young girls cutting themselves in a bid to attract his attention.

The poor guy was always the most reluctant one to be in the band. I remember watching them being formed on X Factor and he didn't want to dance, he didn't want to stand at the front...  Obviously the pressures of worldwide fame and the constant intrusion into his private life got too much for him.

Hashtags such as #CutForZayn are probably the exact reason the 22-year-old wanted to leave the limelight and live a 'normal life' - he doesn't want the pressure of thousands of teenage girls attempting suicide because he walked out of a boyband.  He doesn't want to see these people who are supposed to be fans cutting their wrists because he made the decision to do something that is right for him.

Twitter is a dangerous place for young girls - they get caught up in the whirlwind of things like this and get stuck in situations that are far beyond their years.

Thankfully there was no Twitter of Facebook when Robbie left Take That and when Geri left the Spice Girls - back in those days girls just lined the streets and cried, or sat in their bedrooms listening to the songs on tape and watching old re-runs of Top of The Pops with a box of Kleenex.

'Beliebers', 'Directioners', 'Lovatics' and all the other groups of 'fans' that are out there are sometimes the furthest away from fans you could get.  Those that can't support the decision of someone they're supposed to idolise are not true fans.

To send death threats to one of the member's girlfriends or partners and to hound them on Twitter is not something a fan would do.  To cut yourself because Justin Bieber smoked weed or because Zayn Malik realised he didn't want to be a part of this crazy bubble filled with over the top, crazy young girls is not normal.

Young girls need to remember that their words and actions have consequences, not only for themselves but for those also involved in the situation.  The internet is a dangerous place, no more so than when things like this happen and youngsters get caught up in situations which advocate cutting their wrists just because they see other people doing it.

Without sounding really old, back in my day young girls would be more bothered about reading Sabrina's Secrets or playing outside with friends, rather than sitting in a virtual world tweeting celebrities in a desperate attempt to encourage them to stick at something they clearly no longer want to do.

Confidence or motivation - which is the biggest factor preventing women from exercising in public?

Since my gym has re-opened at a brand new, bigger location I've been determined to try out more classes.  I've done a few spin classes and thought this week I would give body combat a go.  I did a body combat class once (maybe twice) at uni - but this class was nothing like the one at uni.

One of three things could have happened in the three years since I last attempted to combat my body...
1. Body combat has changed the format of the class
2. I didn't do a 'real' body combat class before
3. I've repressed the memory of the last class and don't remember what it was like

It's probably a combination of those three things, but I also think there's a fourth reason and it's a reason that many women are worried about exercising in public and in groups.

Confidence.

I would usually go to the gym with my friend, so I would be much more confident doing the class with someone I know, but yesterday I was flying solo and didn't know a single other person in the class.  That, added to my already low confidence levels when it comes to group exercise, was enough to make me self-conscious about the whole thing.

As the class started yesterday, the instructor asked us if we had any injuries or anything that would prevent our full participation in the class, to which one lady replied: "not unless you count confidence."

When it got underway there was a definite and noticeable difference between those taking part in the class - there were those who were regulars and keen body combat attendants and those, like me and the unconfident lady, who were novices.

About three-quarters of the way through the class, when things got really hard and very sweaty, 80% of the women doing the class whipped off their tops and continued in just their teeny, tiny sports bras - revealing their toned, flat tummies.  No matter how hot it got in there - there was no way on this earth that I was going to be exercising in just my sports bra.  Thankfully, the other lady on my fitness level had the same train of thought and we carried on as we were.

Exercising now isn't about finding motivation, it's about having the confidence to get out there and join in with those super-fit gym bunnies who wouldn't look out of place next to Jessica Ennis.  (Whom I have nothing against by the way, good on them for sticking at it in order to look so good!)

Everyone has to start somewhere - and no doubt once upon a time those toned, fit people were once in the position that myself, and many other women across the country, are in.  But perhaps gyms and fitness centres could do more to help women in this position, and introduce exercise classes for beginners and those with lower confidence levels rather than assuming that we all want to go up against the 'pros' in every class.  Not only does this make us feel uneasy and out of place in the class, but it prevents us wanting to go back and go through the same feelings again.

There was an article on the Daily Mail yesterday which said that women have resorted to exercising in their garden shed because they don't want to be seen by anyone else while working out.

The stigma that is attached to being sweaty and red and out of breath while in the gym needs to be removed.  Women should feel empowered when in the gym working up a sweat, not self-conscious.

Women's only gyms are great for those with a lower level of confidence, but I imagine there will still be people there who you compare yourself to and feel inadequate next to.  The support given to you by the staff at the gym is really important and is key in ensuring that you feel comfortable in yourself while exercising as well as comfortable in what you are doing.

Worrying about what you look like or what other people think of you is futile, at the end of the day, because nine out of ten times people in the gym are so focussed on what they are doing that they don't give a second glance to anyone else.

Maybe it's time that gyms and fitness centres stopped looking at ways to increase people's motivation to go to the gym, but looked at how to boost their confidence instead.

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Sunday, 22 March 2015

Join us to get Pretty Muddy this summer!

Me and two of the girls from work are taking part in a women-only event this summer to raise vital funds for Cancer Research UK.  Calling ourselves the Mud-Donna's, the three of us from Selby Times are getting ready to take on a new spin on the Race for Life and will be running/walking/staggering around a 5km muddy obstacle course.


The Race for Life Pretty Muddy events are taking place up and down the country during the summer months and I would really encourage as many females as possible to take part to raise money for the charity as well as awareness for all the different types of cancer that are out there.


Me, Charlotte and Kezia will be tackling the course at York Racecourse on Saturday, July 4 and are hoping to raise lots of money in the process.  We also want to encourage other women out there to take part - if not in Pretty Muddy then one of the other Race for Life events. 


Each of us have our own, personal reasons for taking part in this muddy challenge and will keep the people we are doing it for close in our hearts throughout the morning.


If getting down and dirty for 5km isn't for you, and running around a 5km/10km course doesn't tickle your fancy, then donating whatever money you can spare will be more than enough.  The work that Cancer Research UK does is vital in finding cures, treatments and ways to make those suffering at the hands of cancer more comfortable.





The #NoMakeUpSelfie campaign last year raised over £8 million in just a week and that was done simply by uploading a photo of yourself with no make-up on (or, in the case of some men, a full face of slap!)


Everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer with the horrible disease not caring who it picks to be its latest victim.  By donating towards the work done by Cancer Research UK, you could be part of the work to find a definitive cure once and for all.


If you want to join a Race for Life event, follow this link to find your nearest event.  If you don't fancy working up a sweat and tackling any of the courses or routes, but still want to help, please donate some money towards our sponsorship (or any else's - it all goes to the same place!)


The link to our Just Giving page is here - Mud-Donna's Just Giving - please donate whatever you can spare.


Together, we can beat cancer.












Scales are like Satan and the BMI calculator is its sidekick

During a recent check-up at the doctors the nurse uttered those five words that no girl ever, ever wants to hear: 'step on the scales please'.  "I'll just take my coat and chunky knit off first.  Shall I take my shoes off too?  And my watch?"  I was trying to remove as much as appropriate before stepping on the scales, knowing that this would keep the number down.


After being weighed and measured I didn't think much of the numbers I was presented with - I knew I'd put on a bit of padding over the winter months but it didn't really bother me.  Until I worked out my BMI...


Using an online BMI calculator I was shocked to discover that, according to my BMI, I am only 0.5 BMI points off being classed as overweight. Overweight.


I knew I'd put on a little bit of winter weight but I didn't think it was enough for me to be classed as overweight - my clothes still fit, I don't feel 'overweight'.  I'm still a size 10, I can still comfortably fit in my skinny jeans and I didn't dread the thought of peeling off the trusty jumpers as we step into spring.


This revelation sent me into a blind panic - the salads were whipped up for lunch, I was swapping roasted veg for raw veg, I was blending every fruit in site and swapping snacking for smoothies, and the George Forman was grilling chicken breasts like they were going out of fashion.  I even went to a spinning class at 7.15am one morning.


I don't own a set of scales at home (purely because the numbers always make me feel like this!) so I haven't been able to see if my two week detox and health kick has made any difference to my BMI status.


As I broke the news to Tom that his fiancée was classed as being very nearly overweight and we would no longer be eating anything other than rabbit food, I realised that all the numbers we are bombarded with regarding our weight, and what is deemed 'normal', are the reason that female morale and body confidence is at an all time low.


If you were to read the glossy women's magazines, you would see a seemingly perfect size 10 celeb on the front cover being branded 'fat' or being shamed for running down the beach in a bikini.  On the flip side, you'll see magazines slate women for being too thin.  Then there are those who are classed as being healthy and showing off 'toned body parts' - but to me look totally gaunt and ill.


There's no such thing as 'normal' because everyone has their own ideas of what is fat and what is thin.


Targeting someone's weight is probably the quickest and easiest way to offend or upset a female - because it's the thing that we all worry about.  Even those with what some see as the 'perfect body'  will have their own hang-ups and insecurities.  Unlike males, most girls can't put away a bacon sandwich everyday, a whole pack of biscuits and a load of cake, and eat five meals a day and still stay the same.  Just thinking about eating that much has probably made me gain two pounds alone!


I've said it before in my posts regarding weight and body shape - scales are the devil.  If you feel comfortable in yourself, if you feel good in your clothes and they still fit, and if you don't squirm when looking in the mirror then that's great.  Who cares what number pops up on the scales and what some online calculator tells you should be normal for someone of your height and age.


With summer just around the corner, I will be carrying on with the plan before the internet nearly saw me suffer a breakdown - eat a healthy, balanced diet and step up the gym attendance (which won't be hard when I've barely been since before Christmas!)


While scales can be a helpful tool if you want to lose a lot of weight to help you track your progress and set yourself targets, they can also play with your mind.  You might have lost a whole load of inches from your body by eating healthy and toning up but because you've turned fat to muscle, the scales won't necessarily reflect the loss of inches.  I've been there!  Exercising loads, eating healthy and gaining weight - it was demoralising and, for a few days, my eating took a massive hit.


My point is, women shouldn't stress about the numbers presented to them on the scale or on a BMI calculator.  Focus on what you see in the mirror, how your clothes fit and, most importantly of all, how you feel.  If you're happy - that's all that matters.  If you want to eat that piece of cake and will only feel miserable later if you don't eat it - eat it!  A healthy, balanced diet filled with the odd treat now and again will do you no wrong.  Add a bit of exercise into the mix and you'll be laughing.


I've realised that this last two weeks (and I still won't be introducing a set of scales anywhere in our house!)


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