BEING A DAWNBREAKER & TRYING PARKOUR

Every so often I get the opportunity to try something new that fills me with excitement (and just a tiny bit of nerves) and last weekend was one of them. I was invited by Up&Go UK to the start of their dawn breakers series to celebrate what you can do when you can grab your breakfast to go.

I’ve never done parkour before so when I saw that we’d be trying it I was far too excited, I’ve always wanted to give it a go. We went to the Chainstore Gym which is in a little wharf directly over the river from the O2 arena (or Millennium Dome if you remember when it was called that). With lovely views over the river and a cute little cafe it was a gem in a confusing area of dual carriageways.

After an introduction to Up&Go and parkour we got stuck into a warm-up consisting of stretches, movement and learning how to jump with soft landings on the balls of our feet. We then moved into some of the fundamental moves of parkour such as how to vault over and through boxes and rails in all sorts of different ways.

All of these moves got strung together at the end for a ‘route’ or ‘flow’ which was totally exhilarating! You almost forget that it’s a workout until you’re dripping in sweat because you’re constantly looking for the next obstacle. The hardest thing for me to get into my brain was not to put my knees down on any surface. Apparently the secret to Parkour is to use areas of your body that have plenty of padding and shock-absorption i.e. your feet, hands, bum and back if needed.

We then headed outside to try some wall runs (yes, literally trying to run up a 9 foot wall) and learn some new vaults over some raised railings.  After a good stretch and some photo opps I headed for lunch with Carly (Project Hot B*tch) and we compared our bruises, scrapes and scratches whilst absolutely buzzing about what we’d just learnt.

The idea of Up&Go is that it’s a carbohydrate-filled (from wholegrain oat flour) breakfast drink to fuel your morning workout if you don’t have time to make something. With just over 200 calories per 330ml carton it’s definitely a pre-breakfast snack to keep you going until after a workout but with 28.5g of carbs it’s perfect to fuel your muscles. The 12.8g of protein from skimmed milk is also a useful boost for your muscles to help maintain them during your workout. It comes in 3 flavours, banana & honey, chocolate and vanilla (my fave because it tastes like custard) so there’s something for everyone. You can try them at Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsburys, Asda, Co-op, WH Smith, One Stop and Ocado.

 

Disclaimer: I was invited to this event for free but all opinions are my own as always

27 THOUGHTS EVERY WOMAN HAS WHILE EXERCISING ON HER PERIOD

No one talks about periods in relation to fitness so when professionals mention it the press seems to be shocked and it becomes front-page news. But what about the hundreds of thousands of women who take a local fitness class when they’re on their periods? This post is for me, you and all of the thoughts that fly through your head during a class, because it’s an amazing biological process and we should all talk about it more

  1. A tampon and a pad is enough isn’t it?
  2. Maybe I should have put 2 pads in
  3. I’m going to wear the black leggings because then if there is a leak no one will be able to tell
  4. But the Nike ones or the Gap ones? The Nike ones can sometimes go see-through and I don’t want anyone to see the wings through my leggings
  5. Ok, the Gap ones it is
  6. Time to warm up. Ugh, star jumps, I think everything is about to fall out
  7. Every time she tells me to brace my core it squeezes a bit more blood out
  8. Squats? Really?!
  9. Oh god, am I leaking? Or was that just sweat?
  10. Come on, focus. You’re 29, you’ve had a period pretty much every month since you were 14
  11. How many times have you actually leaked? Maybe twice when they first started but not for years!
  12. Ooooo is that a cramp in my uterus or is it just my core switching on?
  13. Uterus, definitely uterus
  14. Time to take a breather, pretend you’ve got a stitch and wait for the cramp to pass
  15. Hang on, why am I pretending it’s a stitch? My womb is shedding its lining. ITS LINING
  16. Actual flesh
  17. Right, back in. Burpees
  18. It doesn’t matter how much you clench or engage your pelvic floor, that blood is coming out
  19. Ugh, that felt like a lot
  20. Phew, time for the cool down
  21. Please don’t ask me to split my legs to stretch. I’m convinced I’ve leaked
  22. Just take a quick surreptitious look in the mirror. It’s ok, there’s nothing there, must have been sweat
  23. And breathe. You did it
  24. Don’t mind me legging it out of the class, I need to get home and shower
  25. But you know what, I feel a hell of a lot better
  26. In fact I feel on top of the world!
  27. Now get me home and get a hot water bottle on my womb

GOING FOR A DIP

It’s been a funny one with my attitude towards swimming recently because I’ve always been a water baby but I’ve been psyching myself out with how much work I’ve got to do before my triathlon in the summer.

I learnt to swim when I was really young and I’ve always loved being in swimming pools although deep open water has proved tricky. Two summers ago a week of triathlon training in the South of France helped kick that fear to the kerb and I’ve since learned to scuba dive which has helped even more. So the fear has nothing to do with being in the water, it’s all about how much work I’ve got to do on my technique and how I need to work on my cardio fitness, my least favourite thing to do.

Last week I took all of the pressure off and just took myself for a swim. The aim was to complete 20 lengths (1,000 metres) at a leisurely pace, all at breast stroke. Once I actually got into the water and out of the freezing air it was simple. One stroke at a time, count down the lengths and before I knew it I was done. I could have carried on but I decided to quit while I was ahead and still feeling fresh.

IMG_7774

Normally when I get out of the water I have to jump around on one foot to get all the water out of my ears, a problem I’ve always had. Family holidays used to end with me screaming in pain from ear infections after spending every day underwater perfecting my handstands and dolphin impression.

However, this time I tried SwimSeal, a product that protects the ear canal with a waterproof coating. It acts like the natural earwax that protects our ears on an everyday basis. After exposure to water that earwax can be washed away, which leaves the ear open for water to get in. SwimSeal stays put for 2-3 hours unlike the earwax so the protection is long-lasting.

I put a few drops in each ear before I got in the pool and although a bit leaked out down onto my neck my ears didn’t feel greasy at all after the swim. It contains tea tree oil, which makes it smell lovely as well as giving it an antiseptic quality to make sure no bacteria get into the ears. I didn’t have to do any one-footed jumping this time and my ears feel as good as always.

I’m going to keep using Swim Seal throughout my triathlon training because ear infections? I ain’t got time for that.

Disclaimer: I was sent a bottle of Swim Seal to try out but as always all opinions are my own

 

 

WHY I HIRED A PERSONAL TRAINER

I know, the question you want to ask is ‘why would a personal trainer need a personal trainer?’. Well you lucky people, I’m about to tell you!

Since I qualified as a personal trainer just over 2 years ago I’ve had quite a few different focuses for my training including working towards my first 10k, triathlon training, boxing and bodybuilding. When I have something to focus on and someone to be accountable to, my sense of purpose is increased and my brain feels happier.

My focus at the moment is getting my cardiovascular fitness back to the point where I can start a 4 month triathlon training programme. The problem is that I’m not a fan of cardio. Also, having never thought about it before, my lack of mobility and flexibility is making itself known through a series of niggles in my knees, ankles and back.

I decided it was time to get serious about my body, health and training and for me that means that I need to be accountable to someone. That someone is Stu at Fieldworks Gym in Hackney. I went to one of his strength and conditioning classes and was really impressed by his straightforward coaching, no-nonsense approach and his focus on kettle bells, mobility and core strength.

We’ve had a couple of sessions so far and I’m loving how we’re waking up muscles that haven’t worked in a long time (if ever – I’m looking at you posterior chain). I can’t wait to see where I am in another few weeks!

Back to the post, here are my top reasons for getting a personal trainer:

1) Motivation

There’s nothing like someone not taking any excuses to keep you sweating and pushing yourself as far as you can. When I work out by myself I find it easier to push myself when I’m lifting weights and not so easy to push myself when it comes to cardio or mobility. As soon as it’s someone else calling the shots I’m all over it and beyond it (whatever it is)

 

2) Accountability

I can make all of the excuses in the world to myself about why I couldn’t go for that run (trainers were tied wrong), why I couldn’t go swimming (my legs were stubbly) or why I couldn’t possibly do a circuits workout (Tuesday is a bad day for circuit training) but when there’s someone checking in with you each week about whether you’ve actually done what’s on your plan then it’s not so easy to wriggle out of it.

 

3) Knowledge

Knowledge sharing is one of my favourite things about working in the fitness industry because everyone has different opinions on pretty much everything. For me the key was finding a personal trainer with similar ideas to me but that would challenge me on a few things (like my squat position)

 

4) Perfection

As in, I’m not it. No one will ever know everything and as a trainer I still have a lot to learn. That includes learning about my own body and what I need to do to keep it healthy and strong for everyday life.

 

5) Objectivity

Have you ever tried to evaluate your own technique and movement? It’s tough, especially when you’re the one doing the movements and you can’t watch yourself easily. Having someone who is watching your every move and giving you clear pointers on technique is invaluable.

 

Have you hired a personal trainer? What were your reasons for hiring them?

WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A WOMAN

With all of the panic around a certain tanned president’s attitude towards women and the global women’s marches in response to it I’ve been thinking for a few weeks about what it means to be a woman. This post has gone through various iterations while I’ve wrestled with my own brain to figure out what I want to say.

Growing up I was a tomboy to the point that I refused to wear the girls’ uniform at school and insisted on wearing the boys’ one. I screamed and threw epic tantrums if it was suggested that I had to wear a dress for a special occasion. I was happiest in my oldest, softest jeans with holes in them and a ratty t-shirt. I went through a phase of actually wanting to be a boy because they seemed to have all the fun and got to play football while the girls had to do boring stuff like play with dolls and learn dance routines.

As a side note I do wonder if my life would have turned out the same if I was growing up now and if my desire to be a boy had been taking a sign that I had gender dysphoria. I never felt like I was in the wrong body, I just wanted to be a boy because boys’ lives seemed more fun.

Anyway, that tomboy streak has never left me and even now I love to chill out at home in men’s pyjama bottoms, I often pinch my husband’s jumpers and my default fashion setting is ‘comfort’. Don’t get me wrong, I love to dress up now for special occasions with all the make up and hair but on an everyday level I just don’t want to. For me there are more important things to do each day than stand in front of a mirror and apply a full face of makeup or do my hair. I don’t even own a hairbrush. 

IMG_7265

So when someone makes a comment about women being ‘womanly’ or not it makes my blood boil. Firstly, part of me wishes (despite my love for who I am) that I could be effortlessly elegant and look like I just threw together a stylish and classy outfit. Unfortunately, that’s just not me, I don’t know how to do that and I don’t have the inclination to learn. If that’s you and your definition of being a woman then great!

Secondly, and most importantly, what does it even matter how ‘womanly’ I am and who gets to decide what’s womanly or not? If it’s womanly to be demure, giggly and agree with whatever anyone says then I don’t want to be a part of that. If it’s womanly to always be sexy, dress to attract other people and only think about my outward appearance then I also don’t want anything to do with that. Again however, if that’s what being a woman means to you then you go for it.

Being ‘womanly’ to me means only one thing; being the woman that you want to be. I don’t care if you were born physically a woman, if you identify as female, if you’re now a woman having been born in the wrong body or anything in between, the only kind of woman you need to be is the woman that you want to be. Do not let anyone, loved ones, the media, society or anyone else tell you what it means to be a woman. 

I’ve spent years apologising for not being girly, delicate and elegant but I’m not going to do that anymore. I am me, love it or hate it. 

IMG_7536

MY WINTER FIT KIT WISHLIST

Since I got back from South America the weather has been arctic and I’m not going to lie, it’s been a pretty unpleasant transition. So how, as a personal trainer who works outside and sometimes works out before the sun rises, do I keep warm?

This is my ultimate list of winter fitness kit to keep you warm and keep you moving. It’s easy to spend a fortune on fitness kit, especially in the winter with all of the ‘heat tech’ but I don’t have a fortune so everything I buy has to be good value and affordable.  Some of these items I own and use on a regular basis, the others I just want in my wardrobe!

 

Untitled

 

1) H&M fleece headband £6.99

I get way too hot if I wear a full-on hat so this headband has been the perfect compromise. It keeps my ears warm but I don’t overheat. It also fits nicely under my bike helmet which is a massive win for me in this weather

 

2) Reebok base layer £21.95

This thin long-sleeved top is the best I’ve found to use as a base layer because it’s super soft and comfy and keeps me warm without the sweat-fest that I often find comes with wearing an insulating base layer. It layers well underneath most other tops and the thumb-holes are great to keep my hands warm but my thumbs available to use my phone

 

3) H&M sweatshirt £24.99

I’m a sucker for a grey sweatshirt and this is a good one. I don’t have this but I love the high neck as it looks a bit like the Nike tech fleece but for a fraction of the price.

 

4) Gap PrimaLoft puffa jacket £48.99 (in sale)

When I’m teaching outside I don’t like to be too bulked up with a big jacket so this light puffa jacket is the perfect layer. It still allows me to demonstrate exercises to my clients so they can see what my body is doing while keeping me warm. It’s currently on sale, get it before it goes!

 

5) Gymshark Flex leggings £32

If I’m outside early in the morning I like to layer my leggings because my legs and bum get so unbelievably cold. These new Gymshark leggings have been a lifesaver this week because they’re thin, stretchy and warm underneath my trackies. They’re also super flattering for indoors workouts and comfy enough to lounge around in all day. They’ve just been restocked so watch out for them

 

6) New Look tracksuit bottoms £9.99

A basic pair of trackies worn over a pair of workout leggings seem to do the trick at keeping out the worst of the cold so while I don’t actually own these I do have a similar pair. My trousers tend to get filthy when I’m working outside so something cheap and dark is best.

 

7) Sealskinz all weather cycling gloves £20 (in sale)

The worst bit about cycling or exercising outside is your hands getting so cold that you can’t actually grip anything. These gloves, although expensive out of the sale, are the best gloves I’ve ever had. I got them as a present (thanks Mum!) and they keep my hands warm even when I’m cycling into icy rain.

 

8) Saucony Omni 15 £115

The one bit of kit that I think it’s a good idea to spend money on is trainers. So many issues can be caused by ill-fitting or unsuitable trainers so if you’re an over-pronator like me then I would highly recommend the Saucony Omnis. I’ve worn them for the last 4 years and nothing else supports my ankles as well as these. I don’t have this updated model, I’m still using the Omni 14s but once these go into the sale I might be tempted by the colours

 

 

 

This isn’t a sponsored post by any of these brands, these are all products that I either bought myself and love or would like to have in my fit kit wardrobe.

HOW TO EAT ON HOLIDAY

Why did I want to write this post? Well, holidays for me from the age of about 11 have been surrounded by weeks of worrying on either side. Before the holiday there’s all the stress about being on a diet so you look good in your swimwear (or as a kid so I didn’t feel as fat as I thought I was in front of the other kids) and then after the holiday you feel like a beach ball and want to diet back down to how you looked when you started the holiday.

With all that stress it’s a wonder why holidays used to be a fun thing at all. Now that my relationship with food and my body has changed so has my attitude towards holidays. In the weeks leading up to this trip, my honeymoon, I’ve been catching up with lots of friends and eating plenty of delicious food. With the mouthfuls of the tastiest morsels I’ve been declaring that ‘I’m on my beach body diet’ because my beach body is my body on a beach, nothing more, nothing less.

Holidays for me are about experiencing everything that place has to offer, especially once in a lifetime trips like this one. That means that we’re doing lots of sightseeing, lots of walking, lots of watching the world go by and lots of eating and drinking.

IMG_6860

My biggest tip I can give you on how to eat on holiday is to eat according to your goals. For example, if you have a bikini competition 3 weeks after you get back from holiday then you’re going to need to stick strictly to your nutrition plan while you’re away (which begs the question why you’d be going on holiday at that particular time). Alternatively, if you’re in training for a strongman or strongwoman competition and you need to be in a calorie surplus to continue gaining strength while you train then you’re going to need to eat plenty of food but track it too to make sure you’re hitting your macros.

However, I am not currently in training for anything so my goal while I’m on holiday is to enjoy everything edible that Argentina and Mexico have to offer. I don’t want to come back having missed out on the dish of the trip because I thought I should probably eat the chicken salad with the dressing on the side.

So far, eating for this goal has meant that I’ve enjoyed the most incredible steak I’ve ever had in a local meat market, I’ve drunk far too much of the Argentinian Malbec and sampled plenty of empanadas with a variety of fillings. Then in Mexico I’ve eaten my fill of tacos, ceviche and sampled every guacamole I can get my hands on. Oh and the ice cream but don’t get me started on the ice cream.

Most of the hotels we’re staying in include breakfast so we’ve been eating a big breakfast each day of cereal, scrambled eggs, meat, cheese and pastries (with dulce de leche, obviously). Lunch has generally just been a small snack as we’re still full from breakfast and then dinner each night has created a lengthy debate about which of the amazing restaurants we should sample in each town.

We’ve also been quite active with some total relaxation days thrown in because #balance. We’ve been hiking through the jungle, bike riding to Mayan ruins, scuba diving, SUP yoga, horse-riding, kayaking and I’ve even managed to squeeze in a couple of gym sessions. For me the key to enjoying a holiday is to sample everything there is to offer, stay active and eliminate the feelings of guilt. Just enjoy it.

IMG_7077

When I get home I’ll be starting a 6-month training plan to get my fitness back up so that I can take on the Olympic distance at the London Triathlon at the end of July, 5 days after my 30th birthday. My body composition will very likely change with the increase in cardiovascular workouts but this will be a by-product of my training, not the main goal. My goals for 2017 are about performance, not aesthetics and I can’t wait to get started. Right after I finish this margarita…

 

 

14 THINGS I’VE LEARNT BEING A PT

Well, that has crept up on me! 2 years ago, at the beginning of 2015, I qualified as a Personal Trainer through YMCAfit after questioning my career in advertising. Whilst I enjoyed most of the jobs I had over the 5 years I’d worked in advertising I had a definite sense of unease that I was encouraging people to spend money that they didn’t have on things that they didn’t need. I know that this is a cynical view of advertising because there are plenty of companies to work for that focus more on charity and humanitarian campaigns rather than flogging yet another mobile phone, but it just wasn’t the right world for me to focus all of my efforts on. It was also sapping who I was as a person, I needed more control over my days and my career progression. In the past 2 years I’ve set up a PT business, under the umbrella of which I also take on paid social media management work for clients that mean something to me, currently a global anti-rabies charity and a London-based gym chain.

Seeing as my life has changed so much after the last couple of years I thought I’d round up some of the stats and what I’ve learnt.

img_6307

Number of PT clients trained: 34

Longest standing client: 2 years

Parks trained in: London Fields, Victoria Park, Millfields Park, Finsbury Park, Clissold Park, Stoke Newington Common, Laycock Open Space, Highbury Fields

Classes taught: 183

Types of classes taught: boxing, hiit, circuits, tabata, mum’s and babies, over-50’s cardio

Earliest session: 5:30am

Favourite exercise for clients: lunges (and all the varieties and progressions)

Most said phrase: ‘Just 2 more, I promise’

Most heard phrase: ‘I hate you’

Number of sessions done in the rain: 7 (surprisingly few!)

Number of sessions done in the snow: 2

img_3715

Now, what have I learnt?

I’ve learnt that I am more efficient in the afternoons and evenings than I am in the mornings. I’ve learnt that I really am an early bird and that going to bed at 9pm is necessary when you’re getting up at 6am or earlier every morning. I’ve learnt that the more you believe in your clients the more they will believe in themselves and what they can achieve. I’ve learnt that not everyone is ready to make the changes in their life to get the results that they want. I’ve learnt that you can have a work/life balance that allows you to have some time to yourself during the day and still make the same money that you would doing a 9-5 job. I’ve learnt that some clients require the stick and others require the carrot to get them going. I’ve learnt that clients’ goals change as they change (and normally when they discover weight lifting). I’ve learnt that teaching a good exercise class has everything to do with your own energy and a little bit to do with the music that you choose. I’ve learnt that it never gets old seeing clients hit their goals and stand that little bit taller because of their achievement. I’ve learnt that it’s ok to discuss people paying you when you’re providing a service. I’ve learnt the importance of tracking my accounts as I go, not just at the end of the year. I’ve learnt that people will always look you up and down and judge your physique when you tell them you’re a PT, whether they mean to or not. I’ve learnt that being honest and real with my clients will put them at ease and give them confidence to be honest and open with me. I’ve learnt the value of my time and not to undersell myself.

img_5987

Looking back 2 years ago I couldn’t have imagined that I’d be where I am today and I am so excited to see where the next 2, 5 or 10 years takes me. Bring it on I say, bring it on.

CLASS REVIEW: ROCK CYCLE, BUENOS AIRES

What’s the first thing you think of when going on holiday, especially when you’re going on your honeymoon? Bikinis, suncream, local food, spinning…. Ok, so maybe you’re not quite like me but when I travel I like to sample the fitness scene, mostly to try and make more room for all of the delicious food that I know I’ll be eating.

The only spin studio in Buenos Aires I could find (and incidentally, it seemed, the only spin studio in Buenos Aires) was Rock Cycle so I booked in for a class on our second morning in Argentina and hoped for the best.

It’s situated in Palermo Hollywood, a delightfully sunny 8 minute walk from where we were staying so off I trotted, leaving long-suffering new-husband in bed. The studio is bright and inviting and very much reminiscent of the Soul Cycle studio I visited in New York. The welcome was friendly and between us we spoke just enough English and Spanish to get me set up.

The studio itself was dark with about 40 bikes in, all facing the instructor who was raised up on a stage. Along the front of the stage were candles similar to those you might find in Boom Cycle in London. The facilities were lovely and clean with lockers to live all of your valuables in. They also sell a cool range of clothing and I might have fallen in love with a vest that found its way into my already full suitcase.

The instructor spoke no English (nor did I expect her to) but from the moment the lights went down in the studio it didn’t matter. Her energy and demonstrations went through any language barrier and I found myself swept along with the music.

The style of class was very much like Soul Cycle or Psycle in London so there was a lot of moving around on the bike including plenty of press ups which meant my triceps were suitable sore the next day. Over the course of 45 minutes we went through a number of Latin-inspired tracks with banging beats so even though I didn’t know the music the energy was infectious. We did a lot of sprints and double time cycling with only a couple of heavy resistance tracks which was a bit of a shame because I do like to crank the resistance up and let my legs burn in a spin class.

The penultimate track was one with hand weights to work out our shoulders, backs, biceps and triceps and a Latin remix of the Pink Panther theme tune did wonders to take my mind off the crazy muscle burn that I had going on.

As the class ended there was much whooping and deep breathing going on as we all caught our breath and stretched out. All in all, it was a really good class and if you’re used to spinning studios such as the few that I’ve mentioned above then you won’t have any problems not speaking Spanish as it’s very similar to those. Definitely go and try it if you’re in that part of the world!

 

*Disclaimer: I was offered a free class in return for a review. As always, views are my own and I was not paid for this review*

 

REDISCOVERING MY MOJO

Personal trainers, just like everyone else, go through phases of motivation and at the moment I’m coming out of a long stint of a lack of it. I always want to be honest on this blog and for me it’s important that I explain how I lost my mojo and how I’m rediscovering it.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, this year has been all about organising my wedding and then enjoying being married so without a fitness goal my motivation for training has suffered. As everyone knows, once you get out of the habit of something it’s tricky to get back into it, especially for me if I don’t have a structure to stick to.

Therefore my training this year has been a bit aimless and sporadic which in turn has made my nutrition a bit aimless and sporadic.

However, my mojo is on its way back into my life and those habits are slowly reforming. As it’s been a while since I had to form new healthy habits I thought it might be useful to share how I’ve been going about it.

img_6187

1) Find a goal – This needs to have a time limit on it and be something achievable and tangible. For example, my goal for 2017 is to complete the Olympic distance triathlon at the London Tri on 23rd July in under 4 hours, giving me a 7.5 minute PB

2) Find something you love – Whilst I love lifting weights in the gym there’s nothing more motivating for me than a tough class that engages my brain as well as my body, which is why classes at Moreno Boxing have been key in getting me back in the swing and will form an integral part of my triathlon training

3) Remember why you do it – Everyone has their own reasons for working out so stay true to yours. I’d lost sight of just how good working really hard in a class made me feel and rediscovering that has made me hungry for more

4) Tune into your body – Listen to how your body feels after you eat and give it the right fuel for the activity you’re doing. With triathlon training coming up next year I’m working on keeping my protein-intake high with high carb/low fat on workout days and low carb/high fat on rest days because that’s what seems to work for me

5) Take the pressure off – Whatever it is you want to do doesn’t concern anyone else and shouldn’t be compared to anyone else’s achievements. Your body is yours and their body is theirs so you can’t eat, exercise and live in exactly the same way as them

What are your top tips for regaining and keeping your fitness motivation?

FINDING FOCUS

2016 for me was all about that little thing called my wedding, which happened at the end of June and was one of the most incredible days of my life (so far!).

 
img_4600

 

It’s been the first year for a few years that I haven’t had a physical performance goal, like a triathlon or distance race. I’ve really noticed the difference in my motivation and my focus (or lack of it) on nutrition and fuelling my body. Without an event or race to target my efforts on my training has been sporadic and a bit random. Some weeks I’ve smashed out four weight-training sessions and eaten like a bodybuilder. Other weeks I’ve spent hours walking my dog across the marshes or cycling in circles round the road track at the Olympic velodrome.

 

img_5804

 

Since the wedding I haven’t been tracking my nutrition closely after spending months logging all my food to keep an eye on my intake. I’d bought my dress a year before my wedding as it was an ex-sample dress and it meant that apart from a few adjustments the dress had to stay the size that it was. I therefore couldn’t lose or gain much weight or size otherwise my dress wouldn’t have fitted!

 

By not tracking my nutrition and without having any performance goals I’ve seen my bodyweight creep up over the last couple of months which normally would freak me out but actually I’m learning to love my body whatever it looks like. I can still get on my bike and bash out 20 miles without much thought and my strength in the gym doesn’t seem to have dropped drastically.

 

What’s interesting though is that my body doesn’t quite feel like it’s performing at its best. I feel sluggish, I’m lacking motivation and I’m lacking a focus. I love my body but I know it’s not in performance condition. Performance condition for me means that I feel strong, fast and efficient in my digestion (sorry for the overshare but if that isn’t working then nothing is…).

 

I’m learning that it’s ok to have periods where you lack motivation and focus but it’s now time to get some goals in place and get out of this rut. Thanks to a Black Friday discount my major goal for 2017 has been locked in, the Olympic distance race at the London Triathlon. It’s a distance that I did in 2015 and the sense of achievement to just get round the course was huge.

IMG_8141-2

However, this time I mean business. When I’m back from my honeymoon in January my life will be triathlon, triathlon, triathlon (amongst other fun things) and I can’t wait to improve my technique in all 3 phases.

A VERVERIDER+ WIRELESS LIFE

With all of this discussion about the headphone jack being removed from the latest iPhone there’s been a big surge on wireless audio technology so when I was contacted to see if I wanted to try out some wireless headphones I jumped at the chance.

The VerveRider+ is a somewhat sci-fi looking rig that promises comfort, stability and amazing sound that you can wear out in the rain, on the treadmill or during a hiit workout.

img_4536

I’ve got to admit, I’m not much of a music listener because I like to be aware of the world around me but when the mood takes me I can get lost in a podcast or playlist as much as the next person, especially when I’m on public transport or on a long walk/run.

I first tried out the headphones on a long cycle on the closed road track at the Lee Valley Velodrome which was semi-successful. I was out on the bike for 90 minutes and the joy of that track is that there’s no traffic. There were only 2 other bikes on the mile-long circuit, meaning I could plug in and just cycle.

It was semi-successful because when the ear buds stayed in the sound quality was great, any outdoor noise was blocked and you couldn’t feel the ‘collar’ at all. However, I’ve always struggled with this type of in-ear bud earphones because I have tiny ears and they usually don’t fit. They fall out, they let a lot of other noise in and they often hurt. The same happened with these buds although to be honest, it was my fault for not trying them before I got on my bike. I switched the buds to the smaller size for my next trial.

img_4780

I next tried them during a session of lifting followed by some boxing-style hiit and they performed amazingly. It was a revelation being able to lift and listen to music without having my phone in my bra and getting tangled between the barbell and headphone cord. With the smaller buds the fit was so much better and they didn’t fall out at all. The seal between the buds and my ear meant that no other noise got in and I found myself much more focused, smashing through my sets. I finished the session with some tabata-style sets of boxing and roundhouse kicks on the bag which got me super-sweaty and there was a lot of moving around and impact. The buds didn’t move an inch and I didn’t even notice the collar. The best bit is that I got a phone call during this that with a press of one button I could answer and then continue working out as I spoke (or more like panted). The noise quality on the call was crystal clear, much better than talking on the phone.

I then tried them out on a day when I was on and off public transport all day and again, they performed really well although I did get a few odd looks from commuters for the collar. It was here that I really noticed the magnets in the buds because before I’ve definitely had the fear of buds falling out and dangling on the floor. This time, the buds stick directly to the collar using magnets so to get them back in your ears is a really easy job. I only charged them for a few hours when I took them out of the box for the first time and didn’t have to recharge them as apparently they have 12 hours of battery life from a single charge.

Trying to take sneaky headphone selfies whilst on a busy train platform

Trying to take sneaky headphone selfies whilst on a busy train platform

For me, they’re still not as comfortable as over ear headphones but I do have freakishly small ear holes. The wireless features are brilliant and have benefits even if I do still have a headphone jack in my phone.

The RRP is £79.99 so they’re not cheap but the quality is good, the sound is brilliant and the wireless factor is a big bonus. You can find out more about them here

I was given the headphones for free in return for a review, all views are my own.

CLASS REVIEW: BEST’S BOOTCAMP

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to try out the new Best’s Cycle studio and loved it so I wanted to try out the Bootcamp class too. The studio, down next to Embankment station, is beautiful with very smart changing rooms including a cold air vent for after the sweaty classes and l’Occitane toiletries. I’m such a sucker for posh toiletries…

The Bootcamp studio is huge with three sections of treadmills and custom floor benches. In the middle of the studio are long shelves with lots of different weights of kettlebells, dumbbells and medicine balls so there’s always an option to suit everyone.

img_5534

Now, I’ve got to be honest. I’m not a fan of this format of class. I hate running on treadmills and I dread each interval but to progress and get better you’ve got to put yourself out of your comfort zone. This was so far outside of my comfort zone.

img_5548

The instructor showed me and a few other newbies around the studio and explained what was coming up and we got started. In the hour we did three 6 minute sections on the treadmills incorporating sprints on the flat, uphill and downhill. Yep, downhill. On a treadmill.

We also did three sections on the floor covering our whole bodies with exercises like weighted overhead lunges, step ups, Russian twists and burpees. By the time the class ended I was very sweaty, my muscles were sore and I was a bit shell-shocked
img_5536

So here’s the good:

– The equipment is beautiful, clean and hi-tech (I mean, downhill treadmills?! Mind blown)

– The studio is lovely, especially the showers, and there’s a smoothie bar that makes delicious drinks

– The class will challenge you and targets the whole body so you can get a brilliant workout in 50 minutes

– My glutes, abs, shoulders and legs felt sore the day after which is a sure sign of an effective workout

 

And here’s the not so good:

– I personally don’t like being called out by my name over the mic if I’m running slower because even running on a treadmill for 6 minutes at a speed of 10 is an achievement for me at the moment

– I was having a few issues with my lower back during the class caused by a tweak in the gym the other day and despite having to stop and stretch it out I wasn’t given any modifications, I was just told I need to work on my core

 

Overall I would recommend the class if you like a challenge and you want an effective whole-body and cardio workout in under an hour. Just make sure you know what you’re letting yourself in for and tell the instructor before the class if you have any injuries, even if they don’t ask.

ME IN TLC

Since becoming a personal trainer it’s very rare that I’m ever wearing something that isn’t activewear, especially Monday to Friday so I’m having to beef up my collection of lycra (well that’s my excuse anyway). When TLC Sport got in touch to see if I wanted to review some of the luxury activewear I jumped at the chance.

I picked out the 360 Reflective Print Running Leggings and the Yoga Long Knitted Sleeve Panel Top because of the neon yellow and I love the reflective print on the leggings for early mornings and dark evenings.

The fabric on both the leggings and top is soft and light and feels gorgeous which made me a little bit nervous for the warmth potential because through autumn and winter I tend to go for thicker fabrics, especially on the bottom as I get very cold thighs and bum.

img_6320

The fit is snug so I went for a medium in the top and bottoms whereas I would normally go for a S/M in Nike (for example) on the bottom and an S on the top. Getting the leggings on they felt a bit tight but once they’re on there’s no chance that they’d fall down and they don’t feel uncomfortable. The top is also a bit tighter than I would normally wear, especially as on the site it’s described as ‘slightly loose-fitting’. I’d have to go up at least one more size to get it loose-fitting but the fit is fine for me to wear as a base-layer. The neck line on the top is little bit too high for me and I felt a bit constricted round the throat but the knitted panels feel great down the back of the top and the long sleeves with thumb holes are perfect for keeping my hands warm.

img_6330

 

During a weights and hiit session the leggings passed the all-important squat test and there was no thinning of the fabric over my bottom. I felt supported but definitely not hindered by the fabric and the sweat was wicked away instantly. As predicted when I wore them out for an early morning session with a client in the park they didn’t keep my legs warm but to be fair, they’re not designed to to perform that function! I would wear them underneath another pair of leggings in future for outdoor sessions but as long as you’re working out then they’ll keep you warm enough.

img_5453

My only other observation on the leggings is that for my relatively short legs, they’re not the most flattering leggings I’ve tried on because of where the mesh and yellow panels cut, just above the knee. Single colour leggings or an all-over print tend to work best for me but everyone’s legs are different.

img_5439

The top, although designed for yoga, works well as a base layer and feels lovely on. It would be great for a running top in winter as although it’s not reflective like the panel on the leggings the colour is bright enough to be seen.

TLC Sport have got a huge range of activewear on their website so get on there and have a look. The best bit is that there’s currently a sale on!

 

Disclaimer: I was provided with a pair of leggings and a top in return for a review but all views are my own.

THE EAST LONDON JUICE CO

As part of (one of) my real-world jobs I manage social media accounts and websites for a few different companies and one of the brands that I was lucky enough to come across during one of these jobs was The East London Juice Co. I’d tried their delicious juices before when they had a pop-up shop in Boxpark in Shoreditch but hadn’t been by since they moved to their permanent home in the Ace Hotel, just down the road from Boxpark.

They’re not just another organic cold-pressed juice company, they look to offer more of a holistic approach to health to offset the stresses of life in a big city, have a read about their philosophy on their website. I can personally vouch for the mango jerky (careful, it’s spicy!), the cinnamon bananas (these taste like banana chai tea), the Immunity smoothie (think melted strawberry nice cream) and the stunning bath salts.

img_5782

img_5781

img_5784

img_5776

img_5778

img_5793

img_5795

img_5802

img_5810

img_5807

img_5815

GETTING SOME ALONE TIME

Can you believe that I’ve reached the age of 29 and I’ve never been on holiday by myself? I’ve travelled by myself to meet people or had people meet me within a few hours but I’ve never done a trip by myself.

I love being by myself, or so I thought. I love being at home watching tv, chatting away to my puppy, mucking about on my laptop or chatting to people on the phone and then I realised that actually, I love being alone as long as there’s things to keep me occupied and/or people within easy reach.

So what happens when that isn’t the case? Last weekend I went back to Nice, France for 36 hours with the main purpose of completing my PADI Open Water diving qualification because inflammation in both my ears prevented me completing the course when I was there in September.

img_5243

After a slightly stressful journey that I spent cramming in all the diving theory which I’d put off to the last minute, I crashed into bed, woke up while it was still dark and toddled off to complete my final dive and do my test. Once that was all done a big weight was lifted off my shoulders and I realised that I had the rest of the day and night to myself before my flight home early the next morning.

I’m not going to lie, it was an exciting and terrifying prospect to entertain myself. Our (my in-laws’) flat has no wifi or television and we don’t want to change that so after a leisurely lunch where I rather self-consciously tried to look like I dined alone all the time I headed back, watched a film on my iPad and had a nap. The 3G signal is patchy to say the least so it limits the amount of time I can spend on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter etc. which in this case is definitely a good thing.

img_5242

That night I went down to the beach to watch the sunset and then went out for dinner where I indulged in an enormous plate of pasta and some delicious red wine and then a scoop of ice cream from my favourite ice cream shop in Nice.

Oh yes, all this pasta was mine

Oh yes, all this pasta was mine

I had to be very deliberate about putting down my phone because I live a lot of my life online including working in social media and it’s always my fall back when I find myself alone. But I did it. I put my phone down. And I just spent some time thinking about whatever popped into my head.

As scary as it was at the beginning it started to feel very liberating. I didn’t have to think about anyone else, I could eat and drink when I wanted and I could be selfish. I came home feeling refreshed and full of excitement to tell my husband about everything I’d done and seen while I was away.

img_5241

Now while holidays alone aren’t really something that I want to make a habit, I do want to take some of these things into my everyday life.

I want to:

– make time each week to spend a few hours alone doing something to look after myself mentally

– put my phone down and look up

– be still without a purpose

– let my brain wander to whatever thoughts it wants to explore

 

THE THING ABOUT BODY CONFIDENCE

If you’ve been a reader of my blog for a while you’ll know that one of the things that I blog about and sometimes struggle with is body confidence. Having suffered from a lack of it nearly all my life why then now can I wake up (nearly) every day and feel positive things towards my body?

img_4341

Well, it’s taken a while and it’s one hell of a journey. Here are my top tips towards loving your body:

1) Realise that it just doesn’t happen over night

No, I’m not just talking about gaining muscle or fat loss, I’m talking about loving yourself. Like anything else you have to form a habit and that can take a while. Be patient, do your homework and don’t give up

2) It starts in the mornings

Try and wake up every morning and think something positive about your body rather than negative. I know it’s so cheesy but honestly if you can wake up and instantly think ‘today is going to be a good day in my brilliant body’ then that positivity will see you through the day

3) It’s not about only being happy when you reach your goal

True body confidence means that you love your body whatever size or shape it is. I’ll admit, I like the effects of weight lifting on my body but if I can’t do it for a while then it doesn’t mean that I hate my body. Love it when you’re lean, love it when you jiggle, love it when you’re anything in between

4) It’s about function, not aesthetics

Love your body for what it enables you to do, not for what it looks like. Learn a new weightlifting move, run a race, swim across that river, walk all day with your friends, live a healthy life, you can’t do any of that without your body so say thank you to it every day for enabling you to find happiness

5) Stop comparing yourself to others

Your body is your body and their body is their body, they’re never going to be the same. Once you stop looking at other people as ‘body goals’ and only at your own goals you will lose some of that resentment that sometimes comes with a lack of confidence in your own body and how ‘unfair’ it is that they ate that burger and they still have abs

6) Talk about other people’s bodies in a positive way

If you’re constantly bitching about other people and their bodies how can you hope to be positive towards your own? Bodies should be talked about in positive terms and remember, it’s their body, not yours. You don’t know their story, you don’t know what their goals are and quite frankly it’s irrelevant to you and your own confidence

7) Surround yourself with confidence

Not everyone feels body confident every single day but if you can surround yourself with positivity then you stand a better chance of not being negative towards your body. Speak to those in your life that are creating negative feelings and find a way to deal with them so they don’t affect you mentally

8) If you need the bigger size then buy the bigger size

Don’t have those ‘goal jeans’, they’ll just bum you out. Buy clothes that fit you and make you feel fantastic, whatever size you are. There’s nothing wrong with needing a bigger size because guess what? Our bodies change shape as we get older so the chances of you fitting into the same tiny dress that you wore as a 16 year old are pretty slim

img_4970

WALKING THE SHINE WALK

11 years ago I decided that it would a be a good idea to walk 13.1 miles through London at night with my best friend, her sister, her mum and her mum’s friends. In our bras. With no training. Having got back from 6 months of travelling 5 days earlier.

207930_1003871749780_2371_n

In hindsight the no training thing was a bit of an issue because the next day I was totally incapacitated. I was so sore that I could hardly walk. It also didn’t help that the toilets around the route were out of order and I was busting from about 1.5 hours in.

When Sole got in touch to see if I’d be interested in taking on the half or full marathon course of this year’s Shine Walk to raise money for Cancer Research UK I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to see if my legs might fare better now that I’m ‘into fitness’.

Sole sent me over some socks, Response footbeds and sports flip flops to get me going with my training. The socks are my favourite pair of socks I’ve ever worn and I know how weird that sounds but seriously, they’re so silky smooth and light that you hardly feel like you have them on at all. I’ve been wearing the flip flops around the house and to take the dog out for short walks although they’re not the sexiest of footwear so I’m not sure I’d wear them out. However they are great for supporting the feet after a hard training session especially as they start to mould to your feet the more you wear them.

img_3833

 

The Response footbeds were interesting because for most exercise I like to wear my Saucony Omni’s to support my over-pronating feet but I do have a couple of pairs of Nike Free’s for when I need to dress up but I secretly just still want to be in sports gear. If I wear these for too long I do get pain in my knees and feet from over-pronating so I fitted the footbeds into a pair of these. You simply heat them up in the oven and then stand on them in your shoes so that they can mould to your feet. They take a little bit of getting used to but once they’re moulded they make the shoes really comfortable.

The event itself was brilliant and much easier than last time thank goodness! We set off from Southwark Park after a hype-up by none other than Anthea Turner (love a bit of Anth) and the group split up pretty quickly into similar walking paces. A couple of the early mile-markers seemed a little bit odd with mile 2 feeling like it took forever before we passed the marker on Tower Bridge.

img_4899

The key to these kind of long-distance events is keeping the brain occupied and I had that in the delightful company of Becca (From Strength To Strength). We talked all things nutrition, weightlifting, fitness, travelling, James Bond and countless other things while we ticked off the miles.

Before we knew it we had passed through the final pit-stop (which were incredible with different chocolate biscuits at each one) and marched the final 2.5 miles to the finish. There was a fair bit of pain in my feet and hips at the end but walking on concrete for 4 hours will do that to you.

img_4902

The organisation of the event, the route, the marshals and the medal at the end were brilliant and it was great to see people of all shapes, sizes and ages taking part in what is not just a stroll down the river. The best part is that as a team we raised nearly £2000 for Cancer Research UK.

CLASS REVIEW: BEST’S CYCLE

You know those workouts when sweat is dripping off your eyelashes, off the ends of your hair, off your elbows and you’re still pushing hard and smiling? Well I had one of those recently at Best’s Cycle, the new spin studio at Best’s Bootcamp in Embankment.

launch-event-121-1mb

I unfortunately couldn’t make it to the launch of the bootcamp classes so hopefully I’ll try one out soon but in the meantime here’s what I thought of the studio and the Cycle class.

The studio is right next to Embankment station, perfect for those city-slickers and they have classes scheduled from 06:30 – 18:15. The early classes are great but 18:15 might be a bit too early for the after-work crew.

The reception is bright and you’re definitely welcomed with a smile by the reception staff. We were given cleats and sent down to the changing rooms. The space isn’t large but it’s spotless with posh toiletries which is always a winner with me (I know, I’m easily swayed).

launch-event-8-1mb

The spin studio itself isn’t huge but there’s enough space for everyone to squeeze in and I quite like a small spin studio because you really feel like a team, all sweating together. Abi warmed us up after the bikes were set up and the vibe started instantly. Abi’s energy was high from the beginning and her flying legs and dancing helped hype everyone up.

launch-event-36-1mb

The structure of the class was exactly how I like it with a combination of hill climbs, sprints, upper body work with small hand-weights, intervals and what I call ‘bike dancing’ (basically moving your body through the different positions on the bike to the beat of the music). I hate classes where you have to stand the whole time and when the beat that you’re trying to keep your legs to is impossibly fast.

launch-event-117-1mb

Speaking of the beat, Abi’s music was spot on for me because I’m such a pop princess. Anything I can sing along to while I’m sweating helps to distract my brain from the pain. The energy in the room really helped me to push myself when I was starting to get tired and I walked out on a huge high. The 45 minute cycle home felt like a delight with such warm legs and on such a big endorphin high.

img_4867

The only thing that wasn’t great was that the bikes are still a bit new and I really struggled to adjust the seat and handlebars until they decided to suddenly drop in the middle of a track and everything I had on the handlebars went flying. It also happened to someone else’s bike so I know it wasn’t just me! The air-con wasn’t working although we were promised that within the next few days it would be fixed. Without the air-con the room was a total sweat-fest to the point that even the photographer’s lens was steaming up. It was like bikram spin!

If spinning is your thing I’d highly recommend Best’s Cycle but just be prepared to sweat. A lot.

Check out the timetable here and your first class is only £10, bargain!

HEALTHY CHICKEN NUGGETS RECIPE

When we were kids Saturday nights for us consisted of all the fun stuff that we didn’t normally have for dinner, like cereal or scrambled eggs on toast or ‘oven food’ ie stuff cooked from frozen like oven chips, fish fingers or chicken nuggets with spaghetti hoops.

Now that I’m grown up (allegedly) comfort food has taken a slightly different turn with things like warming Thai soups, aubergines smothered in miso and sesame and spicy chilli con carne. The one thing that I miss though is chicken nuggets and chips. Very (very) occasionally I will give in to the lure of those golden arches and eat the horribly processed, deep-fried fast food nuggets but we’ve been thinking recently about healthy food for kids (nope, I’m not pregnant, just forward planning) and so this recipe was formed.

They’re high in protein, gluten-free, dairy-free and grain-free so suitable for coeliacs, those with dairy allergies and anyone following a paleo or low FODMAP diet. I don’t actually follow any of these diets but the recipe turned out this way and the more people that can eat delicious food the better!

img_4772

Serves: 2 people

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

 

Ingredients:

2 x chicken breasts

1 egg

200g ground almonds

100g sesame seeds

good pinch each of salt & pepper

1 tsp oil of your choice (I like olive oil)

img_4766

Method:

Chop the chicken breasts into nugget-sized chunks

Combine the ground almonds, sesame seeds, salt and pepper in a shallow dish

Cover chicken with beaten egg, allow to soak for 5 minutes

Remove individual pieces of chicken from the egg mixture and turn in the ground almond mixture, coating all sides

img_4768

Lay nuggets in a single layer on a greased baking tray and drizzle the remaining oil over the top

Bake at 180 degrees C for 15-20 minutes until golden brown on top

img_4771

Serve with homemade white or sweet potato chips, salad and a big spoonful of creamy homemade guacamole for the full experience or just salad for a lighter meal.

img_4609

The best thing is that you can set up an assembly line and cook loads of these nuggets then freeze them into portions to be defrosted and reheated whenever you want some comfort. Long live oven food!