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How Your Umbrella Company Can Change Your Life

Umbrella Company

On the surface, it may appear strange that an umbrella company would offer health and fitness advice. However, our Fitness and Wellbeing service is extremely popular, so it’s clear that our contractor employees have a genuine need for this kind of help. That’s why we decided to write this article, explaining our two main lifestyle-focused services, Your Health, and Fitness and Wellbeing.  
Orange Genie Edge is free to all our umbrella employees. Download our free guide!

Like so much of Orange Genie Edge, the power of these services isn’t in what we’re giving you, but in what you can do with it. With that in mind, we decided the best way to really explain was to share the story of someone who has used Orange Genie Edge to improve their health and fitness.

By an astonishing coincidence, our friendly neighbourhood content writer finds himself in just that position so, in a departure from our usual format, he’d like to tell you a story.

Once upon a time…

As a content writer for Orange Genie, I spent a lot of time with all the Orange Genie Edge services so I could write content to help you get the most out of them. Your Health was one of the services I “got to know”. It contains a health risk assessment, which is a series of in-depth questions about your lifestyle, with results presented in the form of a detailed risk assessment and a number for your “health age”.

Going through the assessment and looking over the results forced me to face some things that I’d been working hard to ignore. A series of injuries had seen the active pursuits gradually fade out of my life, my diet wasn’t as good as it could be, and while my job is awesome, it doesn’t exactly involve much heavy lifting. The main problem, though, was that I’d got so good at ignoring the effects.

It was a bit harsh, to have my head firmly wrenched from the metaphorical sand, to be suddenly forced to see the fat man in the mirror, and to accept the real reason I was always out of breath after climbing the stairs. But taking the long view, it was exactly what I needed, and it gave me the chance to do something about it.

Learn from my experience:

If you have access to Orange Genie Edge, and you haven’t yet completed the Health Risk Assessment, set some time aside today and do it. Even if you’re sure that you’re relatively fit and healthy, it’s worth confirming and you might just be able to head off a risk before it gets too bad.

Research and planning

Having accepted that I had to do something, my next task was to come up with a plan. I’d had some injury issues in the past, and as a former martial artist I naturally lean towards the “break it until it doesn’t break” school of exercise, which is great for the young and indestructible, but not so clever for a fat man in his forties. I had a delicate balance to strike, between the urgent need to make progress and the danger of getting injured again. It was very important that I started with a sensible and properly researched program, so I could work out safely and still improve.

Researching health and fitness online is a minefield, especially for someone who only really knows they want to “lose weight and get fitter”. As might be expected from an industry where so many are desperately searching for an easy way to do something difficult, I found myself reading a lot of pseudo-science, and being offered a lot of snake-oil. Everyone, it seemed, had a book, or an app, or a range of supplements to sell. Everyone had the best, most effective, quickest route to success, along with a range of plausible arguments about why everyone else was getting it wrong.

Without ever really deciding to, I found myself getting most of my information from the Your Health database, and from articles in the Fitness and Wellbeing section of Orang Genie Edge, mostly because the information I found there was reliably checking out as accurate and sensible. It took me a few weeks, but eventually I narrowed down my goals and designed a program to achieve them, mostly using information I found in Orange Genie Edge.

Learn from my experience:

Whatever exercise you do, it’s obviously more effective than the perfect plan that you didn’t follow. Don’t worry so much about what the internet says you should be doing, and find something that works for you. Where you need data to base your planning on, try to find a source who doesn’t have a financial stake in what you choose to do. As well as Orange Genie Edge, NHS online has a load of useful information, though it can be a little “behind the times”. 

The gym discount

One of the things my plan called for was a program of resistance work; I was going to lift heavy weights, as an effective way to drive my weight loss and stave off my historical injury problems. The safest and most affordable way to do this was to join a gym, as this would get me access to the equipment I needed, as well as basic instruction on how to lift safely. Because I knew it was there, my first port of call was the gym discounts section of Fitness and Wellbeing. As it turned out there was quite a choice, and I ended up with a 20% discount at a gym I had to drive past on my way home from work.

Learn from my experience:

If you’re not used to them, gyms can be intimidating places. If you’re feeling this way, there are two things to remember:

  • Everyone at the gym is concentrating on their own training, and they’re unlikely to notice you or care about what you’re doing.
  • Everyone at the gym started as a beginner with a problem to solve. Whatever level you’re at, anyone who does notice you will be on your side, rooting for you to succeed.

The exercise videos

Aside from the amount of body fat I was carrying, my biggest issue was my cardio fitness, and I had in mind that I wanted to return to martial arts training, which meant my flexibility and balance would need to be tackled at some point too. When I initially wrote my program, I intended to use a combination of running and yoga to hit these problems, and I expected them to feed into each other, with improved core strength and flexibility supporting the running, and improved fitness making the yoga easier and more effective. However, I quickly ran into another snag.

The yoga class at my gym was not reliable. It was often cancelled, and when it was running it was different every time, meaning it could be weeks before I saw the same movements again. I was discovering that exercise classes were not my thing, and I wasn’t learning what I needed to take control of my own training. So, once again, I found my way back to Orange Genie Edge looking for a solution.

In Fitness and Wellbeing, there are four sections; Move, Munch, Money and Mind. The Move section contains a range of videos, organised by difficulty and goal, and there’s a whole section on Yoga and Pilates. These can be accessed at any time, from any device, as long as you have an internet connection. This was ideal, as I didn’t have a suitable space at home. Instead, I found a beginner yoga video on Orange Genie Edge, and followed it on my phone using the matted area at the gym.

Learn from my experience:

Your carefully written plan may not survive contact with the real world – but don’t let that stop you. There will be a way to make it work, you just have to find it.  

Diet and Nutrition

Exercise alone was not going to get me where I wanted to be, and like it or not I was going to have to overcome my terrible eating habits if I was going to fix my health. I was asking a lot of my body, so it was vital that I eat enough of the right things, but on the other hand my main risk factor was my weight, so I had to control the amount of energy I shovelled into my face. It was clear that simply “eating better” in an abstract, ad-hoc way was not going to work.

From an article on Orange Genie Edge I learned the amount of protein I needed to support my weights program, and on the same article’s advice I used a free website to calculate the number of calories needed to maintain my goal weight. That gave me two simple rules to follow – a maximum number of calories, and a minimum amount of protein. I also decided to use vitamin and creatine supplements, again acting on information I’d found on Orange Genie Edge.

The Munch section of Fitness and Wellbeing has proved invaluable, giving me a clear number of calories per serving, and a list of ingredients and quantities. Not only does it make it easier to plan meals and fit them into my program, but my diet is much more varied and much more satisfying than anything I could have come up with on my own.

Learn from my experience:

Nutrition is usually the most important part of any fitness program, and it’s also the bit that can be hardest to stick to. To make matters worse, it suffers a great deal from the “snake-oil” effect, so you’ll find a lot of competing nonsense online. The main thing to remember is that you have to live with your program, and it’s very important that you enjoy your food or sooner or later you’ll go back to your old eating habits. Make your plan as flexible and interesting as possible, while remaining focussed on your goals.

Getting started

However much planning and research they do, sooner or later anyone who wants to change their shape with diet and exercise will come up against an unassailable truth; it’s really hard.

Exercise is tough for people who aren’t used to it. Changing those bad eating habits takes willpower, even if you replace the junk with loads of delicious food. I was no exception, and the first few weeks were rough. I can’t pretend that I stuck perfectly to the program, or in fact that I enjoyed it very much at all. For a while, I fought a daily battle to drag my aching body out of bed in time to go running, eat breakfast and prepare my lunch, and I didn’t always win.

But what I did do was keep going. The Health Risk Assessment, with its stark prophecy of a short and difficult future, drove me forward, while all the careful research I’d done gave me faith that my work would pay off. Gradually, little by little, the junk food cravings faded away, and I began to remember why I used to love training.

Learn from my experience:

Just keep going. It’s going to be hard and at some point, you’re going to want to give up. In those moments when you wonder if it’s worth the trouble, remind yourself why you started in the first place. Even if you’ve missed a week of training and eaten loads of junk, you haven’t really failed until you quit. Just. Keep. Going.

Is there a happy ending?

Any writer will tell you that by the end of the story, the hero should reach his goal and the villain of the piece, that fat man in the mirror, should be marched off stage, never to be seen again.

But this isn’t just a story, and in the real-world things are not usually that simple. I haven’t failed, far from it, but I gave myself an enormous task and it just isn’t complete yet. Even when I do reach my goals, the work doesn’t stop or I’ll end up back where I started. I’ll need another goal to shoot for, another mountain to climb, possibly involving other action-based clichés as well. If I’m honest, I’m really looking forward to that part.

But, while I’m not yet where I set out to get to, my life has changed. I’ve lost a lot of weight, and I’m much more mobile, much stronger, and less prone to getting hurt. Physically, almost everything is easier now there’s not quite so much of me to haul around. Exercise is now a part of my daily life again; I look forward to it and I feel awesome after it, at least most of the time. I’ve rediscovered the joy of doing something I couldn’t have done a few weeks ago, the thrill of physical competition, and the pleasure of eating great food when I’m actually hungry.

I didn’t set out, when I started this journey, to promote Orange Genie Edge. Often, it wasn’t my first choice of tool; it just proved to be the most effective one available, over and over again. I like to think I would have got here on my own, but I certainly wouldn’t have started when I did, and it would have been a lot harder.

Learn from my experience:

Orange Genie Edge’s lifestyle tools really are worth checking out, even if you don’t use every part of them there will be something there that will be of use. If you use protein or nutritional supplements, or if you need to buy exercise equipment or clothing it’s well worth searching in the Discount Outlet too.

If you have any questions or if we can help in any way, please contact our expert team on 01296 468 483 or email info@orangegenie.com.

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