It’s Time For A Spring Clean

The 1st of March is technically spring although I don’t believe it because it’s still FREEZING. But the crocuses are coming out in the parks and it’s now light by about 6:30am which makes those early morning training sessions all the more bearable. 

My brain has start to motor forward to summer and those lovely warm mornings when we can run with the sun on our backs and lazy evening swim sessions. Remember that summer bodies are made in winter, it’s not a quick fix that you can do when you realise that you’ve got to be in a bikini in 3 weeks. Put in the work now and you’ll reap the benefits when you look fit as f*ck in summer. 

Start with your mind, it’s time to blow out the cobwebs of winter:

– Go out for a walk or if you’re not fortunate enough to live in the countryside then jump on a train until it looks green out of the window. Take a load of snacks and water, plot a route that sounds manageable and off you go. It’s great exercise for the brain as well as the body

– Try reading a new book that you might not have picked up before, it’ll wake your brain up if you’ve spent the winter hibernating with Game of Thrones or Mad Men. Try Us by David Nicholls, The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins or Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese, all books that I’ve enjoyed recently

– Sign up for a challenge, physical or otherwise. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn Spanish or learn to roller skate? Now’s your time to push yourself with the longer days and promise of sunshine!

Now for the body:

– Try and cut out refined sugar for 30 days. I know, it’s a toughie but you’ll feel the benefits very quickly. Things like biscuits, chocolate and cake are out but if you start looking into it there are healthier alternatives. There’s still some sugar in things like agave nectar, coconut sugar or raw honey but they go through less of a process than white or brown sugar so there’s less chemicals hitting your system. Give it a go!

– If you’re a caffeine fiend now is the time to start cutting down. By removing stimulants you’ll learn to listen to your body more and read your ups and downs. After a few days any headaches and cravings will disappear, especially when you realise how much more balanced and level you feel

– Step up your high intensity cardio (alongside your weight sessions) to torch any hibernation body fat, now is the time to start ‘leaning out’ before bikini season. By starting early and slowly your summer body will be much easier to maintain throughout the season of BBQs and ice cream

Who else is doing some spring-cleaning? 

Quick and easy dinners

The last thing I want to do in the evenings during the week is spend hours chopping and then cooking food, especially if I’ve just worked out. My rule is, if it can’t be on the table within 25 minutes then it’s a weekend dish. 

So here are my top 3 quick ‘n’ healthy dinner recipes..

1) Asian spiced salmon with vegetable stir fry

1 x fillet of organic salmon (approx 200g)

Spices (five spice, cumin, garlic)

Assortment of vegetables (aubergine, onion, pak choi, mushrooms etc.)

Gluten free soy sauce

1 x teaspoon Thai green curry paste

1 x tablespoon coconut oil

Melt the coconut oil in a wok and add in the curry paste. Fry the paste until it smells amazing. Chop all of the vegetables (you can be fancy and julienne them or just cut them into cubes all roughly the same size) and throw them into the pan. In the meantime, season your salmon fillet and roast in the oven at 180 celcius for 10-15 minutes. It should still be pink and flakey. Serve in a bowl with a splash of soy sauce.

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2) Simple salad

1 x handful of lettuce leaves

4 x cherry tomatoes

8 x slices of cucumber

1 x spring onion

½ x sweet pepper

1 x cooked beetroot

150g of protein of your choice

Dressing (2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, squeeze of lemon juice, 1 tsp wholegrain mustard, pinch each of salt/pepper/sugar – shake up in a jar and keep in fridge)

Chop and combine all ingredients. Dress with 1 x tablespoon of dressing

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3) Quick Tuna Stew

1 x tbsp olive oil

Assortment of vegetables (onion, aubergine, courgette, peppers)

1 x tin of tomatoes

1 x tin of pole & line caught tuna

Spices (cumin, garlic, chilli flakes, paprika)

1 x handful of green beans

5 x brussel sprouts

Chop up the assorted vegetables and cook gently until soft. Add in tin of tomatoes and tin of tuna with spices. Allow to bubble for 15 minutes. Steam the beans and brussel sprouts (I use a bamboo steamer, it’s brilliant…) and serve everything in a big bowl. This is like a big tummy hug in a bowl!

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The truth about running

Running and I have a turbulent past but we’re mending old issues and becoming friends again. Here’s how…

Way back when, in my school days, I was very sporty. I represented the school at lacrosse, tennis and athletics but as I got older the puppy fat started to appear and I lagged behind everyone else. The final straw was not making it into the top 30 of the cross-country run and therefore being dropped from the lacrosse team when I was 15. After that I pretty much gave up.

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I played football for my university and struggled through every single fitness session, only ever coming on at half time as I wasn’t fit enough to play a whole game. I half-heartedly tried to improve my fitness by going on a few runs but together with the prodigious amounts of alcohol I was drinking and my weakness for Chinese takeaways, I didn’t get very far.

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Jump forward to mid-2013 and I’d been working at a desk job for 4 years. It had taken its toll on my fitness to the point that walking a couple of miles felt tough. It was time to get in shape…

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I started going to classes at the brilliant London Fields Fitness Studio, doing Pilates and yoga to strengthen my muscles and eating properly (most of the time). But running was still a pretty major mind block for me.

I started small and slow, 10 minute runs down the road followed by 20 minutes of walking. Everything hurt, I sweated and swore but vowed that I would get better.

Gradually, I started running the short route home from work (1.75 miles) at a crawlingly slow pace but eventually I could do it without having to stop and walk.

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Fitness and eating clean began to be a major part of my life. I was exercising 6 days a week and eating healthy and nutritious food. As boring as it sounds, the difference it’s made has been amazing.

I can now run 4km without stopping which is a major achievement for me and my little short legs. My goal is to run 5km in 30 minutes or less this summer and I’m working up to this by doing some steady runs combined with interval and strength training at various different classes. It’s a big challenge but I’m determined to do it.

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And the strange thing is that I’m actually starting to enjoy running!

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