All posts by Pollyanna Hale

09Sep/19
starting a blog

Ever thought about starting a blog?

It’s lovely being a Mum but nice to have hobbies too. If you’ve ever thought about starting a blog this interview I did with the Health Bloggers Community will show you a bit about what’s involved in running a business or blog, or being an influencer.

You can read the interview on the HBC site here.

Or here’s the transcript below:

The fit mum formula: behind the content with Pollyanna Hale

Pollyanna Hale helps Mums lose weight, get fit, and have more energy and body confidence with online coaching and programmes, books and a free Facebook community group. A Mum of two young girls, Polly understands how hard it is for us Mums to make ourselves a priority when all our energy and willpower gets drained before we’ve even done the school run! Everything she teaches is designed to be compatible with crazy busy Mum-life, because you matter too, Mum.

If you could share with us who you are and what’s your mission, what would you say?

I’m Pollyanna Hale, weight loss coach to Mums. But what’s unusual about my story to becoming a health coach is that I spent many years very ill with anorexia. Is that ironic? No, because it all stems from the same problem – not loving or respecting yourself or your body enough to care for it. Mums come to me to lose weight but really it’s about deeper issues than that. Why aren’t they eating well in the first place? Why can’t they take time for themselves to exercise?

Once people realise that prioritising your own health makes you not only happier and healthier but importantly a better Mum too, self-care somehow becomes worth the effort.

Would you consider yourself more of a blogger or an Instagrammer?

Blogger, I love writing and have written for several magazines both print and online, published two books (so far!), and really believe I write quite well as well as get what I want to say across in an entertaining and easy to understand way. I came to Instagram quite late in the game so am still building a following, but my followers are more Facebook based anyway.

How do you choose the content that goes into your accounts?

It’s pretty simple – will this really help the person reading or looking at it? Will this make their life somehow easier, healthier, better or happier? If I can do something as simple as bringing a smile to someone’s face then it’s worth it. But sometimes if what I say resonates with someone deeply enough, that one simple post could be the trigger to changing their life for the better for good. That’s really quite special to be in that position.

What is the process behind each post you produce?

I don’t put too much thought into it. I think if you try and ‘curate’ content too much it looks too professional, to polished, too distant from the ‘real’ lives of your followers. That works for some brands but my followers feel like they’re friends with me and vice versa, I’ve built some amazing online relationships and have a real soft spot for some of my more engaged followers, and that comes from being just ‘me’, and saying whatever I want to say at the moment.

What has been a career highlight so far?

Being asked to speak on Sky news twice so far was pretty cool! My first full-page spread in a national newspaper was pretty cool too.

But as soppy as it sounds when I see a Mum go from depressed, unhealthy, lethargic and feeling like there’s no hope for them to being confident, energetic, motivated and loving life, knowing I’ve played a part in that is unbeatable.

Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I didn’t focus on what my followers really wanted and was really vague about what content I put out. I’m a weight-loss coach but by qualification, I’m a personal trainer and nutritionist, so was putting out all sorts from gut health to the best type of dumbbells to buy to where B vitamins are found. No wonder I didn’t get much engagement! I was trying to be too professional. People don’t want science information, they want someone who understands them and their life.

As I’m a real Mum with young kids, we have so much in common. For the record, fish fingers for supper are fine by me!

When it comes to health and wellness, how is the content you are creating helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

I want to empower Mums to be able to take their health and life into their own hands. I pride myself on being able to turn health tips into really easy to understand and implement action steps that don’t seem overwhelming. There’s no point in trying to push people too far or they just do nothing. But if I keep it simple and that person manages to have an extra portion of vegetables with their supper every day, just that one thing can really make a difference and lead to more, bigger changes.

What is the biggest misconception about social media? What was the practice that has helped you with your strategy?

That what you put out gets seen. As much as you need to be authentic, learn what the algorithms want and your content will be seen by more people. Engagement is key. What you think might be a great post, the social platform might disagree and then people won’t get the benefit of seeing that post.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There’s no one person I can pinpoint but I am extremely sociable both on and offline, I’ll chat to anyone and have put myself in situations where I’ve met and learned from some incredible people. There’s no one ‘right’ way to do business so don’t take any one person’s thoughts as gospel. Meet and talk to as many people as possible, ideally people who are doing what you want to do but are a few steps ahead. Then try things and see what works for you.

What do you think is the most important thing about working on collaborations with other influencers and brands?

Integrity with what you believe in. I’d make a lot more money short term if I accepted every sponsored post, guest blog or product review that I was offered. But I just can’t bring myself to showcase things I don’t believe in, like weight loss tea!

Who is your ideal collaboration with?

Someone who has a complementary but not conflicting service or product to the same market as me. Someone who targets Mums! But to be honest if I love a product or service I reach out to them anyway, so I’ve already teamed up with a few companies whose products I absolutely love and can talk about passionately and honestly.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start in the industry now?

Figure out who you are and what you believe in, really nail down what your message is and stick to it. Don’t veer off in other directions just because something seems popular or your message will get diluted.

02Sep/19

Healthy Blog roundup

Last year I became the BritMums health & fitness roundup editor and since then have published loads of healthy blog roundups, tips, recipes and more. Here’s the best for you to enjoy and be inspired from.

BritMums is a parenting website and online community to discuss all things motherhood in a supportive, non-judgemental environment. They also have some fantastic articles, some in house and some from contributors such as myself.

I’ll be updating this blog regularly when new articles and roundup posts get published on the BritMums website, and you can keep up to date with my articles yourself here.

I’ll be talking about all things health and fitness (duh) including recipes, exercise tips, mindset stuff, seasonal topics and more so make sure to check back once a month for the latest article!

Health: 10 podcasts to help you be a happy, healthy mum

 

Healthy Book Reviews: Books to help you glow this summer

 

Health: School holiday ideas to keep the family healthy

 

Health & Fitness: How to nail World Vegan Month

Healthy Christmas drinks you actually want to have at parties

How getting fit could improve your love life

How to spot an eating disorder

Mother’s Day Gift Guide: Healthy ideas for a happy mum

Stress Awareness Month: How to cope as a stressed-out Mum

5 ‘No equipment’ exercises to do in your garden this spring

Health: Healthy Ice Cream

 

11Jul/19

Me, where are you? On finding yourself after Motherhood

It was one dark cosy evening in November when I sobbed and screamed on the sofa while my husband sat there utterly bewildered. Why had this caring selfless wife and mother suddenly changed her mind? 

Let’s go back to 1997, with the body of an 18-year-old. An early developer, put me in a mini skirt, heels and low-cut top, find a random bloke to take me by the arm to walk me in, and that’s how I ended up beginning my clubbing career at 13 years old.

Over the next 10 years I would party until dawn (no my parents couldn’t stop me), I was a groupie to boybands, stalking TV studios and hotels at unearthly hours, pulled all-nighters on beaches on family holidays and fraternised with inappropriate boyfriends including having to visit one in prison 500 miles away from where I lived with no money and not telling anyone where I was going. Needless to say, I’m here to tell the tale. After being accepted to a prestigious stage school I then went on to develop a serious eating disorder and was hospitalised three times before being diagnosed as being on the Bipolar spectrum.

So when I met my future husband in a local pub and we got a house together, I was more than happy to settle down. I’ve done life. I’ve seen things. I’ve experienced and tested and tried and pushed the boundaries and now I was finally ready to make a home and be a Mummy. And I got the two beautiful little girls I’d always dreamed of.

So why was I so hysterical on this night, feeling so frustrated, so tied down, so trapped.

The time of year is not insignificant. My birthday is early December. Another year, another fine line or grey hair found. It started at 29 when at 30 I finally cut off my bum-length hair because I didn’t feel it fitted my age any more. The following year I booked a pole dancing party for my birthday with friends. This time, approaching 35 (half way to 40!) the numbers were looking scary.

And that’s not to say that the number of your age matters at all. It’s just a number, you are the age you choose to be……..they tell us. Well that’s not how I feel however hard I try and reason with myself. Because every year is another year I won’t get back, another year of achieving, what?

The kids are alive and well and happy so yay! But that’s not enough is it Mums?

Don’t get me wrong it’s not like I’ve never gone out in 10 years (my eldest turns double digits in 2019). Having my own fitness business has taken me to events, and I’ve met some cool people, and there’s even been a couple of after parties thrown in and a 2-day trip to America (one time). But that averages about twice a year over 10 years, hardly a social life.

My husband is self-employed with no set schedule or routine, and he’s often back late, either due to work of because he’s popped into a friend’s or the pub on the way home, and I have no issue with this at all, because life is for living and enjoying spontaneous moments. Except, where’s mine?

Getting a babysitter isn’t easy, I’ve never been happy leaving them with someone they don’t know well and I’m well aware being less controlling here would have given me more freedom, so even other parents seemed to stop asking me out to drinks or meals, knowing I’d probably turn it down. And should I stay up past 10pm? It’s me who has to be up the next morning either way. Oh, the days of eating cereal in bed watching the Hollyoaks omnibus until midday…….

We live in a fairly quaint but also sociable village in rural Sussex, so not exactly Soho but there’s a social life to be had if you choose to. Hubby has a handful of good mates he sees but more than that he has freedom. It’s a given that as the children’s primary carer if he wants to ‘pop out’ he just does, with no planning. I on the other in have to schedule in when to pick up milk.

He even took a 6-month trip sailing down the Mediterranean coast with a friend as the trip of a lifetime, something that shocked most other Mums. ‘How could you let him do that?’ ‘How do you cope?’. 1. It’s not a case of ‘let him’, he’s not a dog and can make his own decisions. 2. On a practical level I do everything at home anyway so I ‘cope’ better because I don’t have a third overgrown child to pick up after. 3. Travel is amazing, and I knew it would make him a bigger, better person.

Makes him sound like a selfish pig doesn’t it? That’s not what I want to imply at all. We are the centre of his world and our relationship is utterly amazing, even more so after he went away as we realised how much we needed each other, if not for practical reasons then because we’re soul mates.

But, and I repeat, where’s my time?

And so when I dared to mention he was getting bored living in this little village without the fun that places like Brighton and London (both places we’ve lived before) bring, I snapped.

HE was bored? HE felt trapped? HE doesn’t get out enough? HE has so few friends? I realised my ‘friends’ in the area hadn’t asked me out in…..I can’t remember how long. Because I will always say no. I couldn’t remember the last time I went out just for fun and not something work related. Do I even own a party dress?

But this was just compounding on an already difficult issue. My Step-Mum’s cancer diagnosis was announced terminal, and though we don’t have a time line and she could have many years left, it’s been a shocking realisation for my family that life is too short.

And I wasn’t going to do it anymore. Waiting for the right time. Putting things off. Telling myself I’ve had my fun and it’s time to settle down now. I felt like I was being suppressed into this model Mum and wife who disapproved of sweets on weekdays and thinks a late night isn’t worth the next morning. I felt like I was going to burst and if I didn’t get some release in a controlled way it was going to happen in an uncontrolled way. As someone prone to mental health issues, that’s not a risk you take lightly but equally, why not? Why can’t I go out and have fun? Be irresponsible and flighty and careless and…….just live life for the moment?

Who says we don’t have the money to visit X or go to Y? Why can’t the kids stay at so-and-so’s for a sleepover? They’ll probably enjoy it. Something in the paper look cook? Let’s do it! Do it now, book it now, figure it out later, clean up after.

And so began a new chapter. I booked myself onto weekly pole dancing classes (something I’d wanted to do for ages, but evenings were such a nightmare getting out of the house). I spent birthday vouchers on a couple of party dresses and got my hair highlighted. I went to the pub with hubby, to a bar with friends, to a Christmas meal with my pole-classmates. Boyzone concert with my sisters? Done Magic Mike Live with my high school bestie? Done. Visiting the Lake District (something I’ve always wanted to do)? Tick. Late night? Nothing coffee, dissolvable vitamin C and a big bowl of porridge can’t at least help.

Kids are fed pizza sometimes? Fine. Bathroom didn’t get cleaned? It can wait. Because it’s not just my social life I’ve got back, I’m more relaxed about everything. My Step-Mum came to stay with us on my birthday weekend and I wanted to make sure the house was clean and tidy, especially since her immunity was low from the chemo. She said something that stick with me – ‘Remember I’m coming to see you not your house’. And how right she was. None if us will look back on life in our final days and wish the kitchen floor wasn’t so grubby. That hangover was forgotten a long time ago. The credit card was paid off eventually and the holiday was worth every penny of interest.

If I only ever wanted to achieve one thing in life it was to be a Mummy, and to ideally have a little girl, who I’d call Aurora. As Aurora approaches her 10th birthday party and is growing closer to being an independent teenager every day, and as Mum grits through another chemo session, and as I go through every November realising there’s another number coming up, I’m reminded that life is so, so short.

I love being a Mummy but I love other things too and I need me, and I want the people in my life to live each of their days to the full too. It’s too easy to get consumed by the packed lunches and reading folders and taxying to clubs and giving the cat the flea stuff and occasionally even cleaning the microwave. But there’s more to that than life, much, much more. And I’ve finally got me back at last.

28Jun/19

When Your Child is Suddenly Admitted to Hospital

It was a regular cough-cold followed by a regular tummy bug. But nothing could have prepared me as a parent for the trauma of my child being rushed to hospital with severe but undiagnosable symptoms that left her getting sicker by the minute.

I originally wrote this for parenting website The Motherload here, but it’s something I think could comfort other parents who’ve had a very poorly child, knowing there’s others who understand.

12 hours passed….it’s a tummy bug, no big deal. 24, still a bug, a nasty one. 48…doctor’s appointment booked for later that day. Two hours before the appointment I called 111, six year old Bella was in so much pain I was contemplating A&E there and then. But they reassured us we could hold on to see the GP, who that afternoon decided that even if it was just gastroenteritis, 6-year-old Bella was getting dehydrated and needed some fluids overnight. ‘Cancel your plans for tomorrow’, I told hubby. ‘We’ll be there at least until the morning’. I grabbed a phone charger and pair of clean pants on my way out the door.

But as soon as we got to the children’s ward at our local hospital, she just kept getting worse. The cramps – she was screaming that her belly button was ‘stinging’. The vomit was forest green. She was pale and clammy. They did blood tests and x-rays and scans, and it all showed crazily high levels of inflammation, but not why.

After ruling out appendicitis we were transferred by ambulance to the children’s specialist hospital in Southampton. The pain got worse. She was now screaming for 15 minutes non-stop, still couldn’t keep even a drop of water down (at least the drip was keeping her semi-hydrated now), the vomit was still coming – with no food or fluids it was pure, dark green bile. Doctors came, more tests and scans were done. Nothing was found.

She was weak, scared, delusional with malnutrition and dehydration. What’s wrong with my baby? Why can nobody help her?

Two days passed. The only thing calming my fear was the medical staff’s attention to detail and determination to keep her safe and find out what was wrong. I can’t fault them in any way. But my baby was in pain and I couldn’t help her. I slept on the camp bed next to her but when I say slept, she was up every hour in pain, vomiting, or being woken for tests.

Then the diarrhoea started and we were moved to an isolation ward until it was tested for bacterial infections. They came back normal. And when I say diarrhoea, I mean Bella had absolutely no control of her bowels, and I had to lie that the pull up nappies we put her in were grown up kids’ hospital pants, since she didn’t want to be ‘a baby’. But when I say diarrhoea, she was ejecting blood.

I wanted to scream and cry, someone do something, please somebody help my little girl, what’s wrong with her? But it wouldn’t have helped. The staff were doing everything. They had her under close watch 24/7. But until we knew what was wrong, they couldn’t stop it.

A nasal tube was inserted, but not without a fight. My normally delightful little princess was doing the 6-year-old equivalent of effing and blinding, screaming at us like she was possessed. She’s not eaten or drank for days, she was in pain, by now clinically malnourished, scared and confused.

It was like a scene from The Exorcist; ‘I hate you! Go away! Get off me! Get it [the tube] out of me! Let me go! I want to go home! I hate you all you’re the worse people in the world! This is the worst place ever and I hate you all!’.

I fought back the tears and gritted my teeth to stop myself from screaming as I pinned her arms down to stop her pulling the tube out. I tried bribing her saying she could have any toy she wanted, any family day out, anything…. if she kept the tube in. Out of exhaustion she drifted off to sleep a few times, only to remember the tube and start screaming again and I’d have to hold her down. After 30 minutes she vomited the tube right up and the staff decided not to try again.

Morphine was prescribed, the IV fluids were still going in, she was stable, but not improving in any way. And then the rash came. I spotted it while helping her onto the commode, a few red dots around her knee. Within minutes there was more on her shoulder, then ankles…..and it wasn’t fading. She had no other symptoms of meningitis but what I knew of the condition, time is off the essence and I insisted on testing for it. The nurses responded immediately to my request, but again, it came back normal.

Five days in and I’d gone from scared to distraught to angry and back again, and was now starting to feel nothing more than hopeless and helpless as my sweet little girl who wouldn’t hurt a fly was deteriorating before my eyes. Just find out what’s wrong with her? Please? How long is this going to go on? When will my baby be ok again? Other children in the ward came and went, in for short, planned stays for a minor op or short-term problem. The staff shifts came and went, we got to know the nurses by name, we fell into a routine of medication and observational tests and me grabbing five minutes to go to the café to get myself food while Bella slept (often not until gone 2 pm, by which time I may not have washed or got dressed either) and I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

It’s funny, but if I put to you the prospect of having to stop life at a moment’s notice, cancel all plans, leave home with no possessions and rearrange, well, everything (I also have a 10 year old daughter I am the main carer of….it’s me who gets the school bag ready and takes to dance classes and makes sure teeth are brushed.). But when it happens, everything else seems unimportant. The house will be a mess, so what?

Homework might not be done on time, the washing will pile up, emails will be ignored, bills will be paid late, I’ll miss meetings and cancel social events. None of it matters and it’s all just trivia. Why does it take events like this for us to realise these things?

It was a junior doctor who brought the news that was as heart breaking as it was a relief to finally have an answer. Bella has an autoimmune condition called HSP (Henoch-Schönlein Purpura). Her body is attacking its own blood vessels hence the rash and bloody diarrhoea, and her whole intestinal lining is inflamed. Like all autoimmune conditions, there is no known cause, no cure, and treatment is keeping the person stable while you wait for the episode to be over. Best case scenario some kids are at home on the sofa for a day before going back to school. Our worst outcome? Weeks if not months in hospital, permanent kidney damage, and recurring relapses for years to come.

I should have at least been relieved to know what the diagnosis was, but I wasn’t. I pictured my bright as a button, top of the class daughter missing out on school and her social circle. Going abroad on holiday would always be a fear in case she needed medical attention. She could need round the clock care for weeks at home. What sort of life is that for a little girl? Why can’t she just be normal and be able to do all the things she wants to do, whenever she wants to? Why does life have to be so cruel?

Night times were the worst, as in the peace and darkness among the dim strip lighting and beeping of machines and hushed voices of night staff I had time to think. She lay there skinny, weak, sedated with morphine, strapped to tubes and wires and machines, punctured with dots and bruises from all the blood tests and IVs.

Do you ever wonder who’s in charge of our universe and think, whoever you are, please just tell me why? Two weeks ago she was skipping all the way to school and fighting with her sister. I wish she had the energy to fight now.

The steroids were started. Every urine collected was dip tested. A ‘picc’ line was inserted and she was fed all her daily nutrition through the drip. There was nothing we could do but wait and watch. 10 days into hospital and more than two weeks’ after she’d first been sick at home, I’d resigned myself to this new routine now. I had no idea when we’d be going home and the passive acceptance of that was strangely mellowing. We just went with it, going through the daily routines of hospital life.

The time together was special. The cuddles, the rubbing her back and feet to relax her, reading stories, and when she had more energy, doing the crafts and puzzles in the magazines she was given by friends and family. Never had I had so much uninterrupted time with Bella. It was something I decided to continue back home. Proper Mummy time. The washing can wait.

But turn around she did, and while steroids are a last resort and doctors don’t like to use them, slowly Bella started to be awake more. She started asking for food. And two weeks after we were admitted, she could go home.

I should have been elated and relieved but I was scared. This wasn’t a broken leg. What if she gets worse again? How can I keep my baby safe when I’m not medically trained? How will I know if she’s ready to go back to school? I was given information sheets, checklists, urine dipsticks, medications and prescriptions, and presumably their trust in me that I could do this. It’s the ultimate ‘am I a good enough Mum’ panic when it’s literally their life in your hands.

But West Sussex have an incredible HSP after care service and Bella has a nurse who visits every week. All the tests are done, Bella eats well, has gained weight, and at the time of writing has just started iron since she’s anaemic, so her energy levels improve each day too. Three weeks after discharge she manages a full day at school most days, and while she goes to bed early and doesn’t have as much energy as she used to yet, she’s making slow and steady progress.

While Bella will very likely make a full recovery (her kidneys have so far thankfully been fine) and she may never relapse, it’s a fear that’s not left the back of my mind. Holding your weak and thin child over a pot while she excretes bowls of blood, violently throws up everything her liver produces and screams in pain like she’s being tortured, is not something any parenting book will teach you how to deal with.

Trying to keep calm and sooth her with ‘It’s okay sweetie, Mummy’s here’, when all you want to do is scream and shout and cry at the top of your voice for someone to help your baby.

You must hold it in because letting it out doesn’t help. The medical staff are doing everything they can and me getting upset would only scare Bella more.

I’m not sure I ever really got to release all of those emotions. Nobody apart from other parents in similar situations would ever really understand. So I decided to write about it and maybe give other parents a place where they can respond and relate and know that what they’ve been through – there’s others here who have too.

Nothing in this blog is intended as medical advice or to diagnose. I’m not medically trained. But Mums know when something isn’t right. If you’re worried go to your doctor. If it’s more serious it may well be horrific for both you and your child. But they’re in good hands.

04Jun/19

New Modelling Photos – bikini / lingerie

I’ve had quite a few modelling shoots recently so here’s a selection from my recent work.

Bordering on the risqué side but I’ve never been shy!

You’ll also find me on:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pollyannahale_model_actress/

PurplePort: https://purpleport.com/portfolio/pollyanna/?referrer=pollyanna

MadCow Models: https://www.madcowmodels.co.uk/pollyannahale?referid=1020090

Model Mayhem: https://www.modelmayhem.com/pollyannahale

Minted Models: https://www.mintedmodels.com/pollyannahale/

 

 

 

 

 

02Jun/19

10 Reasons Pole Dancing has made me feel like a woman again

Who has time to feel sexy as a Mum? Stretchmarks, cellulite, jelly belly, greasy hair (where would we be without dry shampoo?!), post-breastfeeding boobs (read; low, saggy), and little people who zap all our energy before we even put our winceyette pyjamas on the right way around.

But I hadn’t forgotten what it was like to feel young, free and frisky. Those Summer parties where balmy nights meant a skirt short enough to bother your mother and a top low enough to impress the boys (your boobs stayed up back then), and who had time for a coat? You probably had a condom in your purse though, because that was responsible.

And then motherhood and homes and bins and washing and cooking and separating squabbles happened. And sexy died.

I met Karen at a networking meeting and even I, with my hedonistic teenage years ticked off raised my eyebrows when she said she ran a pole dancing school. This was a few years ago and pole-fitness was only just kicking off. Was pole dancing actually a sport? Apparently so. It sounded fun.

I booked a pole-birthday party with a few friends a couple of years later and even though some of my pals aren’t quite as ‘adventurous’ as me, we all had a hilarious time and agreed it was so much fun, and way more physically trying than we’d envisaged. But even so, with small children at home and very little childcare I didn’t even consider the possibility of attending regular classes.

Then last year that changed, I made a commitment (and made my husband promise he’d be home in time, not as hard as I’d thought once I showed him what I’d be able to do  ), and now I’m kicking myself with stripper heels I didn’t start years ago. Because what do Mum’s miss most about their ‘old’ life? ‘Me’ time, to be not just a wife, mother, bum wiper, packed lunch maker, but a woman, a real, sexy woman.

Here’s 10 reasons pole dancing is so brilliant for Mums:

  1. It’s brilliant for body confidence.

There is literally no ‘ideal’ pole dancer body, despite what you may have seen in ads for strip clubs. People of all shapes and sizes and ages have attended the classes I go to, from teenagers to women in their 70’s, skinny to much bigger. And what people look like is absolutely no indication of their strength or ability on the pole. You don’t have to look a certain way to be able to do pole dancing and that makes it an incredibly accepting community. Being physically strong is also incredibly empowering. There seems to be this mind-muscle connection where, if you are physically stronger, you are stronger in other emotional ways and feel more able to deal with what life throws at you.

  1. It opens your mind.

Is pole dancing for tarts and strippers? Is wanting to look sexy demeaning and undermining other female values like intelligence? Is performing less important than, say, more conventional sports competitions? Not in the pole world. What we do, what we wear and how we dance has absolutely no reflection on other parts of ourselves. Some people who pole dance have high powered jobs, follow current affairs like politics and climate change, are caring responsible mothers, do charity work, are highly religious or compete in other sports. It’s the most non-judgemental group of people I’ve ever met.

  1. It’s a close friendship community.

And because not everyone understands point 2. and being comfortable with your body (1.) are very ‘heart on your sleeve’ declarations, the people you meet in class you’ll likely bond with and be able to open up to. It’s a fantastic grounding for a good friendship based on trust and honesty.

  1. Pole is fantastic for post-baby non-core strength.

Pole requires you to use your entire core, top to bottom, front to back and round the sides. Every single muscle is needed, making it way more effective than endless sit ups and crunches.

  1. Tone up, get strong, improve your lung & heart fitness, lose weight….all in one class

Pole dancing is a mix of strength and cardio, so you use all our muscles at one point or other depending on the move (including your back – a strong back = way less back ache), and you’ll need stamina and a strong heart and lungs to keep going; you can’t just drop off the pole when you get tired or you could crack your head or land on your neck the wrong way! That being said, you can start at all levels and fitness abilities – even if you turn up completely out of shape, weak, and hot having a clue, by the end of your first class you’ll have learnt something and progressed a little.

  1. You’re forced to focus – mentally and physically.

On note 5, if you don’t concentrate you could slip up. Teachers are there to keep you safe and make sure you only do things when you’re ready to, and there are mats while you’re learning something new, but ultimately messing around is dangerous pole needs to be taken seriously. For that reason it’s great for making you put more effort in when you feel lazy, and for forgetting all the stresses of home while you concentrate on the task at hand.

  1. It’s not always sexy.

Trust me when I say learning a move for the first time is clumsier and more awkward than graceful and sexy! And if you want to just use it as a physical fitness class, feel free to leave all sass behind and just get a good workout in. There are all sorts of competitions for all levels in the pole world, and even a finished routine can have any type of theme such as poetic or arty, not just a ‘classic’ sexy one.

  1. But it can be sexy if you want it to be.

Because sick and sore nipples and fish fingers and tummy holding pants are not sexy. Yet we are sexy (were?), so how did life become so very unsexy?! Well, here’s your chance for a recap. You probably do know how to look, feel and move in a sexy way, you’ve just forgotten, and the last time you pulled out your sass was at a 21st birthday party and you were rather drunk. Pole dancing can bring that goddess back out and trust me you’ll welcome her with open arms. You sex life may well improve and not because you know how to please your partner better, but because you feel more comfortable in your own body, which is a seriously underrated necessity in the bedroom.

  1. Pole dancing is excellent for flexibility and co-ordination.

Struggling in your yoga class or rival ‘Dad-dancing’ in the embarrassing stakes? No one ever said you had to bee good at these things. But if you want to, pole dancing will really help to improve both.

  1. Pole dancing is emotionally healing.

The number of stories I’ve read of women starting pole dancing during a difficult time in their lives is astonishing. Whether it’s their one night out a week, or because they needed to start looking after themselves physically as being healthy makes other areas of life more manageable, or because they were feeling lost and needed to discover who they were as a woman without anyone judging them, everyone I’ve met has a story. And each and every one has felt stronger emotionally by taking this one hour a week to do this for themselves. Sometimes there’s anger, frustration, tears and hugs. Sometimes there’s giggles from start to finish. It all comes out. My own pole journey started at a time when big life decisions (moving home), very sick family members, and my own personal mental health struggles were fighting for first place. Pole dancing gives me a bit of strength to stay standing through it all.

And that’s what it really comes down to as a mother isn’t it? We put so much time, effort, mental and emotional energy into everyone else, we forget that we need these things too. Pole dancing is my time, when I’m not a wife, or a mother, or a homemaker or business owner, I’m just me.

16May/19

Too hot to handle?

The Sun Newspaper’s Fabulous Magazine ran a feature on women who found being good looking actually posed problems in life and asked if I’d contribute since I do modelling.

The full article which features two other women can be found here.

My quotes:

“MODEL and fitness coach Pollyanna Hale lives with her husband and their two daughters, aged ten and six, in Bosham, West Sussex. 

Pollyanna, who believes people assume her looks are the only thing she has going for her, says: “People still think that you can’t have brains and beauty – it’s just assumed that I’m thick. Before I even speak, strangers write me off. They think your looks are your strong point so you have no need to capitalise on anything else like brains or talent.

“I’ve been told the reason for my success is my looks, when actually I reckon it’s skill and hard work. Another thing that annoys me is when people imply I’m so good with clients because I’m attractive.

“I’m a really friendly person – I’ll talk to anyone anywhere – but then people go, ‘Oh, well of course – every guy wants to talk to a pretty girl’. I think, ‘Hang on a second, that’s not fair – I can hold a conversation too’.

“It’s like people are blinded by me being pretty, they just can’t see past it.  It seems incredible to them that I might have other qualities.

“I once worked in a health spa where part of the job was to look presentable – and men would always just assume I was a pretty face without a brain in my head.

“If you’re beautiful, you’ll spend half your life trying to prove you’re more than just your face and body.
“A lot of people think that I’ve got life easy. And when I give people exercise or nutrition advice they just say, ‘Oh well, it’s alright for you to say that – look at you’.

“But actually I work damn hard to look like this. It’s really tiring trying to convince people that I don’t just wake up like this every day.

“I suppose if I was a bit more, shall we say, “normal” and carrying a bit of extra weight, people would relate to me more and think, ‘OK, she knows what it’s like not to be perfect all the time’.

“But because I come out well in photos, I have to make the point that I’m a highly trained expert on nutrition and fitness – not just some bimbo who fell into the job because she looks great naturally every minute of the day.

“It’s tough working for myself, but I think I would have struggled more in a corporate environment.  I’m very confident in my abilities but I’m also aware of what other people will assume about me when I walk into a room.

“It’s frustrating that I always have to try   that little bit harder to be taken seriously.”

Read the full article here.

14May/19

Hope for Portsmouth Eating Disorder Sufferers.

Hope Virgo is campaigning for Eating Disorder services to be available to anyone who needs help and not dependent on weight.

The Portsmouth News asked of my experiences of being treated for anorexia:

“POLLY HALE was originally turned away for treatment because she was not technically underweight.

The 35-year-old said: ‘I was 18 when mum took me to get help but I was not technically underweight so I continued to lose weight rapidly until finally I was admitted to hospital.

‘I only became stable at about 23 after several hospital stays.’

The Bosham resident now works as a personal trainer and uses ‘exercise to enjoy life rather than to stay skinny.’

Polly said the lack of help caused her to lose more weight. ‘When I first saw someone about it I wasn’t considered underweight so I was referred to a counsellor for weekly sessions,’ she said.

‘I kept losing weight  a kilo a week – and a few months later I was diagnosed and given more intensive treatment.

‘I first remember thinking I was fat when I was about eight or nine. I first made myself sick at 12.

‘I am stable now. It’s quite rare that people become completely recovered. I stay well by managing it. It’s more like asthma or diabetes in that when it’s managed I am happy and healthy.’

Polly backed Hope’s movement. She added: ‘Eating disorders are such complex illnesses, so anything that can be done is good.

‘I fully think that what Hope is doing is brilliant.

‘When you’re anorexic the ill part of your brain wants to be thin. Never comment on someone’s weight. If you tell me I look like I’ve lost weight then I will think that’s a great thing even if it’s unhealthy. And if someone says I’ve put on weight – which could be a good thing – I will want to lose it again.’ “

Read the full article here:
https://www.portsmouth.co.uk/health/health-in-mind-survivors-of-anorexia-urge-professionals-to-dumpthescales-1-8927193

08Mar/19

Stress and Exercise – should you take a rest day?

The links between stress and exercise usually refer to working out being stress relieving, but if you’re already stressed, should you be exercising at all?

Exercise, while good for you, is another stress on your body. In fact it’s this stress that make it fitter and stronger, as your body adapts to be able to deal with the same stress (and more) next time you workout.

The flip side is that you also need adequate recovery in the form of sleep, rest, good food and hydration.

Other things which speed up recovery and de-stress are yoga or pilates, meditation, stretching, massage, and some supplements such as tart cherry, curcumin and ginger, though these shouldn’t be relied on in place of adequate rest.

Stress could be psychological such as a bad day at work or the kids playing up, or it could be physical like a cold.

Here’s my quotes from the article I helped with on the Metro Newspaper website:

‘Chronic, ongoing stress will mean your body is taxed, tired, will tire more quickly, and recover more slowly,’ Polly tells Metro.co.uk ‘It doesn’t have to be mental stress like a bad day at work; not enough sleep, catching a cold, and alcohol are all “stressors” on the body, and performance will suffer.’

All these effects of stress sound pretty bad – so what should you do if you’re stressed out but want to work out? Do you really have to avoid exercise?

Polly doesn’t think so, and she’s highlighted some of the benefits of working out when you’re stressed. ‘Acute stress may actually help exercise performance,’ says Polly. ‘The adrenaline of “fight or flight” gives you energy by instructing your liver to release stored sugar into your bloodstream for energy. ‘Also, cortisol is naturally high in the morning to wake us up, making first thing a great time to exercise.’

Read the full article on the Metro website here.

16Jan/19

The Sun Sexy Lingerie Shoot

Is pretty lingerie demeaning to women? Is attributing getting glammed up and sexy to a woman’s worth dismissing everything women have fought for in equality?

Personally I think absolutely not.

It’s perfectly natural for a woman to want to look sexy to attract a mate, it’s how the human race has kept going all these years.

If peacocks do it, why shouldn’t we?!

The Sun Newspaper wrote a story featuring 6 women, myself included, who feel proud and empowered to wear sexy lingerie, and love how it makes us feel.

The story unfortunately never got published but here’s a selection of photos from the shoot…

“POLLY HALE, 34 Following the story about the snowflake who called M&S “sexist” and “vomit-inducing” for displaying “must-have” lingerie in their window, and daring to put them next to men’s suits, we speak to four women who LOVE their sexy underwear. They adore buying pretty sets of lingerie, and say it makes them feel feminine, sexy and empowered. And why shouldn’t women feel that way? It’s not sexist to love pretty underwear.”