Interview with Mel from Blind Alive

Today I have something a bit different for you. It’s an audio interview, in which I talk to Mel from Blind Alive about her Eyes Free Fitness programmes.

Mel produces described work-outs so that blind people can take part in them and keep fit.

I first heard about Mel’s work through a comment on my blog post about keeping fit, and I wanted to find out more about what’s on offer, why Mel decided to make the audio exercise materials, and how they have helped people so far.

You can find the interview as episode 27 of the Unseen Beauty podcast, which is available on iTunes or Player FM, or you can listen to it directly here.

I hope you enjoy the interview and that you find Mel’s advice useful.

Have you tried any of the Eyes Free Fitness work-outs or exercises? If so, let me know in the comments.

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March empties

March empties

I enjoy reading other people’s empties posts, so if you’ve written one, you’re welcome to drop the link in the comments. I see them as a way of trying out new things, and unless I really hate or can’t use something, I do try to finish things up. I feel better when more things are leaving as empties than coming in as additions to my collection, but I think there’s also a need for balance – some people seem to get so obsessed with “making progress” on things and finishing them, that I wonder if they even enjoy using them. After all, that’s the point isn’t it? We buy products because we want to enjoy them…

Anyway, these are my empties for March.

Make-up

I finally got round to finishing something in my make-up box! It’s the Make up for ever skin equaliser primer that I got in a beauty subscription box. I didn’t actually repurchase this, firstly because my Debenhams doesn’t have a Make-up Forever counter, and partly because I found a cheaper alternative that I feel does the job just as well, but I really liked using this primer and would definitely recommend it – good coverage, and it feels good when you’re applying it to your face.

Perfume

My Mum got a mini sample of the Estee Lauder Modern Muse le Rouge perfume which she then gave to me to try out. I really didn’t like it when I sprayed it in the shop, but the scent grew on me as I started to wear it. The main notes are sour cherry and rose and by the end of the sample, I was quite enjoying it. Still, if I were going to buy a perfume from Estee Lauder, I would go for the Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia. I was actually surprised that I liked this, because it’s a floral fragrance, with the main notes being the tuberose and gardenia flowers, with orange flowers and jasmin. Maybe it’s because I like the jasmin. No idea, but this is a beautiful scent. Not one of my empties, but I started thinking about it when I was talking about the other Estee Lauder fragrance.

Hair products

Now I wasn’t going to do this review, because I really like a lot of the products from this brand, but I want to be honest. I love all things mango, so I tried the Burt’s Bees shiny mango shampoo, but I really didn’t enjoy it. The product was fine in terms of cleaning my hair, but the scent wasn’t just mango – it had something else with it that overpowered the mango, and I really wasn’t a fan. Still, I don’t think there was anything wrong with the product, it just wasn’t as mango-scented as I had expected.

Another shampoo I got through was the Rainforest shine shampoo from the Body shop. It contains olive oil from Italy, and sugar cane and aloe vera from Paraguay. It’s a lovely natural shampoo, and this one is for normal to dry hair (so check out the others if you have a different hair type). Still, having tried two now from the Body Shop, I think I like the banana one best.

I’ve already liked and reviewed a Garnier hair balm on here. I got another one from a friend and I really liked this one too. It says it’s for dry and damaged hair, which I don’t have, but I don’t see anything wrong with giving your hair a nourishing treatment once in a while, so I was glad to try out the Garnier strength restorer balm with honey. I would buy this again.

Skincare

Now for something lovely – I finished my body lotion from the Korres almond and cherry collection. I’m really becoming a fan of these lighter lotions and milks and wish I hadn’t written them off as ineffective for so long. It absorbs quickly and leaves your skin feeling soft and smelling great! I’m looking forward to trying out more products from Korres.

I had a couple of Charlotte Tilbury samples because I bought one of her cream shadows, which is wonderful by the way. The eye cream was a nice eye cream, although I don’t think I would pay £40 for it because there are products that I think are equally as good at a lower price point. The moisturiser was also nice, but again I wouldn’t pay £70 for this when there are perfectly good products for less than half the price. Still, if you’re a Charlotte Tilbury fan, why not? The only thing I really didn’t like was the night cream. It has some good reviews, and one person said it should be treated as a balm not a cream, so you don’t end up putting too much on and feeling sticky. I didn’t like the scent of this and it did feel sticky for ages. I went around with a shiny face for the rest of the evening and I can’t say my skin felt wonderful the next day. Still, there are people who say that they love it…but for £100, I think there are better products on the market!

I can’t actually find this online to link it, but the image on this post is the anti-aging gel mask from Core Beauty that I got in one of my subscription boxes. I can understand the benefits of masks for hydration, purifying, soothing, cleansing – but anti-ageing? I’m not convinced! I didn’t know quite what to expect, but the texture of the gel was a bit like the slime you can buy for children – I think I’ll stick to the sheet masks!

Another mask I tried was the Masque Bar green tea sheet mask, It is meant to reduce the appearance of dark circles and pigmentation, and give you a more even, radiant complexion. I only had one as it was in a beauty box, whereas the link is to a pack of three. I liked it and would be happy to try other masks from the Masque Bar. The only thing is that the application is slightly more of a faff because it came in two halves – the top and the bottom half of the face, rather than the individual sheets that I’ve used before.

Bath and Shower

The last thing is the Almond and honey bath milk from the Body Shop. I’ve only just discovered Body Shop bubble baths and I like them – good scent, decent amount of bubbles, and this one has moisturising properties too. You can read my review of the whole almond and honey range here.

Over to you

So, what products have you finished up recently? Let me know in the comments.

If you’d like to read my March favourites, you can find them here.

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Keeping fit when you can’t see

Being unable to see doesn’t mean that you can’t stay fit! This is what I do.

Keeping fit when you can’t see
When I worked in London, I got daily exercise without even thinking about it. I had a 30 to 40-minute walk to the station, which I usually power walked with my guide dog – not really to keep fit, but just because we enjoyed it! Then there was a 40-minute train ride followed by a 10 to 15 minute walk to the office – which was much better after I’d discovered a back way to avoid all the tourists. Seriously, if you go on a city break, please spare a thought for the people who actually live and work there! Some people have places to go and they don’t want to have to fight through crowds of people who won’t let them through. Some of the other pedestrians walked in the busy roads to get round them, but I invariably made the tourists move!

Anyway, apart from days when it was pouring with rain, or snowing, I really enjoyed these walks. Still, over 2.5 hours of travel every day is a lot. I was always happy when I negotiated a working from home day – partly because I didn’t have to commute, and partly because I felt I made much faster progress in my quiet cottage than in the noisy open-plan office.

Taking action

When I decided to set up my own business, I still took my dog for a walk, but I didn’t miss the commute. However, as my dog grew older, the walks were usually not as long as the trip to and from the station, and I realised I needed to do something more for my fitness.

I decided to invest in an exercise bike. Something that I could put in my spare room and use whatever the weather to make sure I got my daily exercise. Well, buying the bike was the easy bit. I said I’d use it when I had time, which often meant that the free time never came. Planning to do exercise when you have time is a bad idea!

When I moved in with my boyfriend, I brought the bike with me and he brought his cross-trainer. I decided something needed to change in terms of my exercise routine, so I now put it in the diary, like a meeting that I have to attend. Monday to Friday. Every day. It’s ok if the meeting gets put back a couple of hours, but the meeting has to happen! Only then can I click away the Outlook reminder and know that the job is done! This is important to me, partly because I have a desk-based job and no walk to work, and partly because there are some considerations to do with being blind that mean you sometimes have to be a bit more proactive if you want to stay fit.

I’ve heard some positive experiences about blind people going to the gym, but I’ve also heard of people struggling with staff who are not particularly helpful, or machines that are not accessible.

I would rather make the initial investment in the equipment and have it in my own home, where I know that I’ll use it. I don’t use any of the features on the equipment, but there is nobody who will change settings and make it harder for me to use. I don’t have to queue, work out which machines are available, or take time out of my day to get to and from the gym. Ok and I don’t have to listen to anyone else’s music choices either – I listen to my own music or podcasts to make sure I don’t get bored!

As I can’t use the display on either of the machines, I generally do 20 minutes on the bike and 45 minutes on the cross-trainer and use the step counter on my iPhone to measure the distance. I like to use the app from Withings, which is generally accessible, apart from some buttons that I had to label myself. I don’t use all of the functions, but I can keep track of how far I’ve gone each day, which is what interests me.

For anyone who wants to measure their blood pressure or heart rate, the Withings wireless blood pressure monitor is fully accessible because you use it with the app. I think this is a better alternative than some of the talking blood pressure monitors on offer because you can store your activity and your heart and blood pressure measurements in the same place, whereas some of the so-called accessible talking stand-alone devices say in the instructions that you need sighted assistance for some functions.

I did try a device that you put on your wrist instead, but it annoyed me because it didn’t seem to track all of my steps, and I could only read my progress score when I synchronised the device with my phone, which was a faff. I’d much rather check the total going up in realtime on the app. However, if you can see enough to read the screen of the device, it might be ok for you. Here’s the link for the Withings pulse activity tracker.

Last Christmas, my mum bought us a set of York Fitness cast iron dumbbells. I like this particular set because you can change the weight of the dumbbells by adding or removing the metal discs. They come with a set of exercises, which my boyfriend showed me last week, and I plan to include using the weights in my fitness routine – ok, when my arms have recovered, that is!

I think it’s good to do other activities as well. I enjoy going for walks, I’ve been on tandem and canoeing holidays, and I used to do a lot of horse-riding as a child. However I see these things as additions, whereas I need some kind of plan to make sure I get enough exercise whenever I need it, and by doing activities that don’t rely on someone else being available. For me, the exercise regime with the bike and the cross-trainer is the ideal solution.

I have heard about some audio exercise classes specifically for blind people, which means that the exercises are described. This is something that I would be interested in exploring, because I can’t follow normal fitness videos or Youtube classes. If I decide to try them out, I’ll report back later here.

I know there are many blind people who are interested in sports and who play team games or take part in local activities. I don’t really do this, because I need my fitness plan to fit in with my schedule, and for me it’s about keeping fit rather than finding additional social activities.

I think there are a fair number of blind people who struggle because they haven’t yet found good and accessible ways of keeping fit. However exercise bikes don’t have to be expensive, especially if you’re not looking for features on the electronic display, and when you consider the price of a gym membership, I think they are a good investment. If that is too expensive, finding a friend who can describe exercises and then writing down the exercises is also a good work-around. If I’m away on business and I don’t feel like investigating the hotel gym on my own, I often use these exercises from the NHS fitness pages. However I still think it’s a good idea to get someone to check the first time that what you are doing is in line with the images on the page.

Do you have any tips to add?

Let me know in the comments if you have any tips or resources to add, or share with me what you do to keep fit!

More from Unseen Beauty

If you’d like to get my catch-up emails, usually twice a week, you can sign up using this form.

The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping information that I think my readers might like.

This post contains some affiliate links, but I only promote things that I’ve tried and tested.