The Yes Woman

10 years ago my best friend and I embarked on a ‘life-changing’ trip to Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii. I say ‘life-changing’ because it was in a way, but not in an ‘I lived off air and good vibes in an ashram and now I know my soul’ kind of way. We basically partied and had fun for 6 months and learnt to say ‘yes’ (within reason) to lots of cool things. We were inspired by reading The Yes Man by Danny Wallace who said yes to everything in his life and even ended up getting his book about the experience made into a film. A lot of the crazy and memorable experiences we had were down to that book, thanks Danny Wallace.

Apparently underground tubing and caving requires some fetching balaclavas in New Zealand… 

Anyway, I was inspired to do this again recently as a way of keeping myself busy and man, has it worked… 

I’ve got a couple of incredible opportunities coming up in the next few months that I would never have been a part of had I not taken a deep breath and said ‘yes’. I can’t tell you what they are yet but I think it’s fair to say that they will take me hugely out of my comfort zone but also give me a massive boost. 

This isn’t meant to be an overly-emotional post but I just wanted to share the excitement that can come with taking a chance and having the confidence to put yourself out there. I’ve spent long enough closing myself off and not having the balls to give things a go so from now on I’m saying yes. 

Give it a go.

Fitness Trends for 2015

2014 was the year that fitness became mainstream. 

No longer is it strange to hear people say ‘oh, I can’t go for dinner, I’ve got Pilates’ or ‘let’s catch up at spinning’. Juicing, whether at home or bought, is more acceptable and quinoa is now a staple of a lot of people’s diets. AND they know how to pronounce it correctly. 

So what does 2015 hold for us then? 

1) CrossFit-style workouts

While not everyone feels brave enough to step into a Box (yep, that’s what CrossFit gyms are actually called), the high intensity circuit-style workouts are finding their way into ‘normal’ gyms. Anything that combines explosive movement, weightlifting and a lot of reps (read: sweat) will have you building muscle and burning fat like a pro. Embrace it but make sure you pay lots of attention to technique especially with the weightlifting. Oh, and don’t become a CrossFit douchebag… 

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2) One-stop shop gyms

A gym or fitness studio is no longer just a sweaty room that smells a bit like that time you left your PE kit at school over the Easter holidays and had to put it on again afterwards… Gyms now have spas, like Equinox so you can get a facial after boxing, and plenty more are offering pre and post-workout nutrition like 1Rebel, a new gym in Liverpool Street, London, that provides a complimentary cold pressed juice or healthy salad with lunchtime classes. As fitness is becoming a part of our busy lives, gyms that can offer something extra have that edge.

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3) Cross-training

No, I don’t mean that weird ski-type machine in the gym. I mean training in ways that aren’t necessarily directly connected to your chosen discipline. More and more runners are getting into yoga and strength training to improve their technique and keep their muscles in optimum shape. For sports players it’s no longer about spending hours kicking or hitting a ball, they now might be as familiar with a cadillac in the Pilates studio as they are with a footwork drill. Unless you’re an Olympic athlete then cross-training WILL be beneficial, step out of your comfort zone and give something else a go this year.

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 4) Fitness trackers

Athletes have been using heart rate monitors to track their intensity levels for years but the mainstream market is catching on. A lot of fitness trackers were introduced to the market in 2014 but 2015 is going to be the year that they go mainstream. There’s plenty out there on the market (eg. the Misfit Flash, the Fitbit Charge and various watches like the Samsung Gear and the Withings Activité) so do your research and find out which would suit your needs best. It could help to motivate you through the rest of the winter for that summer body!

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5) Fitness is for life, not just for beach season

Fitness isn’t just about being skinny or having that 6-pack any more, it’s about long-term health and strength, inner and outer. You’ll hear more and more people talking about wanting to be strong not skinny (myself included) and feeling ‘better’ rather than ‘thinner’. It’s about finding a sustainable diet and level of exercise that isn’t restrictive or obsessive, something you can enjoy with friends and family and that compliments your life but doesn’t take it over. Sounds pretty good right?

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2015 Race Calendar

The atmosphere, buzz and sense of achievement connected with any organised sports event is scarily addictive… And this is why I keep signing up for more and more! 

This year you can find me at:

February 1st – Winter Run 10k – COMPLETED 73:16

May 23rd – Eton Dorney Sprint Triathlon (750m swim, 20km cycle, 5k run)

June 7th – Finsbury Park Women’s Running Series 10k

June 21st – Nike Women’s 10k (Victoria Park)

August 8th – London Triathlon Olympic (1,500m swim, 40km cycle, 10k run)

Who’s with me?  

The power of alone time

While Simon (my fiancé) is in India for 2.5 weeks, I’ve had to fight the urge to book arrangements in for every night due to not wanting to be alone all of the time and not wanting to spend loads of money! 

So today I did something that I haven’t done in a couple of years by myself, I took myself off on my bike and had a cheap little adventure. 

I’ve lived very close to the Olympic Park for nearly 2 years now and can you believe it, I’ve never been! It’s an easy 5km cycle there which only took 15 minutes and then once you’re into the park there’s lots of wide and smooth cycle routes that take you around the whole area. 

My first triathlon is coming up in May so with that in mind I headed to the Aquatics Centre for a swim (cue swimming selfie…). 

It was busy in there but once you’re in the water there’s actually plenty of room for swimming! I swam sets of 250m for 1km, alternating breaststroke and freestyle trying to concentrate on my technique. For triathlons you really want to swim hard with the arms to save your legs for the cycling and running to come, so I focused on them. Jelly arms now… 

Afterwards I basked in a bit of February sun overlooking the canal and took some time just to relax and enjoy not having to rush anywhere. Also, hello Vitamin D top up!

I cycled the long route home through a very busy Victoria Park and I’ve spent the afternoon doing chores, writing up plans for a PT client and pampering myself. 

The point of this rather rambling post is to remind myself (and you) how important it is to do things for yourself every now and then. Our lives are always so busy and rushed, there’s never enough time for ANYTHING. So make time, indulge yourself in whatever it is you enjoy and luxuriate in the alone time. That’s all there is to it.  

Race Report: Winter Run 10k

‘Guys, we need to sign up to this race! It’s through central London and there’s fake snow and polar bears and everything!’

Skip forward a few months and our team had dwindled right down for plenty of very valid reasons. However, despite an awful race prep and freezing cold weather, this race was momentous for me and here’s why….

The Training

There was no cardio training to be seen in the month leading up to the race. In fact, my last run had been a slow 4k on New Year’s Eve in Nice that felt really rather tough. 

I’ve been doing lots of strength training and because I’m bulking I’ve not been using calories up on cardio. So while I’m definitely stronger I had serious doubts as to my cardio fitness which has never been a strong point of mine. 

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The Race

I’d spent all day before the race in bed with a migraine so the immediate prep was going really well. Not. 

I managed to get some sleep the night before, after cramming in some rice and woke up feeling quite fresh which was a nice surprise. The morning was grey and cold, just right for running… We got down to the welcome area nice and early and I warmed up outside Downing Street before I felt remotely comfortable taking off my coat to leave with Simon. 

The start line was a little bit chaotic as although we’d all been given wave times there didn’t seem to be any checking or order to how people were starting. Everyone was crammed into the start area and they were just letting 2,500 people go in each wave. It meant that I ended up doing the warm-up 3 times before I even got to the start line!

Anyway, off I went feeling pretty sceptical about how it was going to go. However, I surprised myself by feeling really quite comfortable all the way up until 5k. 

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At that point though the problems hit. My hip flexors tightened up first, followed by my back and finally my left ankle. By the time i hit 8km it had become a mental battle. 

I didn’t even notice the fake snow zones or cow bells along the route although I do remember being a little underwhelmed by the novelty of the race. Just being able to run on closed roads along the Thames was enough of a novelty for me.

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I could hear my normal pace running away from me through my headphones so I just concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other and ticking off the ½ km markers. This was one race that I was going to finish running, whether my muscles wanted to or not. 

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With 200m to go, I normally step up a gear and go for a big finish but this has to be the slowest sprint finish I’ve ever done. But I did it. I proved to myself that not only can my base fitness carry me through a 10k without walking but I can also run by myself and self-motivate. It was a good feeling to cross that finish line and hold my head high. 

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The Results

1st km: 07:10

2nd km: 06:50

3rd km: 06:54

4th km: 06:47

5th km: 07:16

6th km: 06:21

7th km: 07:19

8th km: 07:21

9th km: 07:04

10th km: 07:30

TOTAL TIME: 01:13:12

Now that I’ve got the bug back, I’m itching to sign up to EVERYTHING. But while I fight the urge, I’ve got a sprint triathlon in May to get training for so watch this space for training updates.

The Problem With Bulking

Lift more weights, eat more food, do less cardio. 

Sounds pretty easy right? 

Well, I guess it is physically but it’s not so easy mentally.

To put it into context, I’m coming to the end of the first month of a 6 month plan in which I’m spending 3 months building muscle and then the last 3 months will be spent trying to strip body fat to increase definition and get that ‘toned’ look that I’m after. 

To build muscle, you need fuel. And that fuel is being supplied by nearly 2,000 calories each day of unprocessed food. That’s an awful lot of food, especially given that to meet this I’m having to eat mountains of vegetables, lean protein and lots of carbs squeezed into 3 main meals and 2 snacks each day.

The workouts are focused around lifting increasingly heavy weights and doing very little cardio training (apart from my daily commute and occasional cycles to see friends) which is very different to the high intensity stuff that I normally do. 

The result is that although I feel stronger (I’m PBing all over the place on squats, presses and basically everything), I also feel ‘bigger’. You’re probably thinking ‘well obviously, you’re building muscle’ but for someone who has spent their entire life trying to be smaller, this feeling is alien and not entirely comfortable. 

Watching my abs disappear day by day, the scales creep up slightly and my legs getting bigger is actually bloody difficult. It goes against the grain and it makes me feel out of shape bizarrely. It’s having an effect on my willpower too as I’ve never had to eat more to hit calorie goals before, so I’m thinking ‘well I might as well have 3 biscuits, it’ll help me hit my calories’. 

As I keep telling myself (and my friends and clients), you have to trust the process and getting control over your willpower and brain is part of this process. So I’m making sure that I eat plenty of ‘clean’ foods and hitting the gym to try and avoid the dips in willpower. 

Most of all, I’m accepting the fact that I’m struggling and that is ok. Not everything is easy and I know that I will appreciate the results a lot more because of the battles that I’ve been through. 

The Clean Eating Revolution

You might have heard people talking about ‘clean eating’ but what does it actually mean? Well, there’s different levels of clean eating. 

For example, you could go hardcore and do a Whole30 which cuts out all sugar, dairy, legumes and grains or you can do a slightly more lifestyle-friendly version, which is what I’m doing.

The rules are very simple. If it came out of a packet and has been processed far beyond its natural state, don’t eat it. So that means trying to steer clear of:

Bread (especially white or over-processed types)

Pasta

Cakes/biscuits and anything sweet or dessert like

Most dairy (minus a bit of feta or greek yogurt here and there)

‘But what is there left?’ I hear you cry. Plenty is the easy answer. You can eat all vegetables (although try to stay away from canned veg and beans as they often have stabilisers and other chemicals in them), meat, fish, brown/basmati rice, sweet potatoes, fruit, dark chocolate (with 3 ingredients or less), nuts etc. 

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A typical day of clean eating:

Breakfast – green smoothie (½ banana, handful of berries, 10 pieces of cucumber, a big handful of spinach or kale, 1 stick of celery, juice of ½ lemon, 2 tsp flaxseed, 1 tsp chia seeds)

Morning snack – a few almonds or macadamia nuts

Lunch – baked chicken breast with spices, baked sweet potato, steamed green vegetables, raw spinach, tomatoes, cucumber, ½ avocado, drizzle of olive oil

Afternoon snack – 100g greek yogurt with a chopped apple or berries

Dinner – 2 egg omelette with mushrooms, pepper, spinach and a side salad (spinach, cucumber, spring onion, cucumber, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, lemon juice)

Evening snack – 1 square of 90% dark chocolate

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When I’m focusing on eating ‘clean’ foods 80-90% of the time, I feel less bloated, my energy levels throughout the day stay much more constant rather than peaks and troughs and I feel stronger and more focused in the gym. It’s also really good for building lean muscle without increasing body fat whilst doing the right sorts of workouts. 

I eat out at least once a week with friends and the key to sticking to your clean way of life is to pick things off the menu that are as unprocessed as possible, preferably without sauces which are often loaded with salt or sugar. If you do want to indulge yourself then go for it but try to limit it to once a week if possible. 

Let me know how you get on! 

Let’s get moving

It’s now halfway through January and I’m kicking ass so far. I’m committing to my diet, eating ‘clean’ (ie. unprocessed) food 90% of the time and working out HARD. I’m focusing more on strength training than cardio at the moment to try and build some muscles before I start upping the cardio again in a few weeks to bring down my body fat and increase the definition. 

Can anyone say… fit bride? 

Anyway, here’s 2 things that are inspiring me this week:

1) This Girl Can campaign 

One of the things that really got into my head when I first started getting fit was not looking fit. I was overweight, overly sweaty and self-conscious of everything that was jiggling. I so desperately wanted to be one of those women who bounds through the park like a lithe deer, rather than the baby elephant that I was resembling. 

However, once I got stuck into the process of getting fit and noticing the tiny steps that I was making it became about me and my progress, no one else’s. 

This campaign from This Girl Can is designed to encourage more British women to get into sport and exercise, I hope it works and gives women that boost of confidence that so many of us need. 

2) Taking small steps

If, like the women in the video above, you’re struggling to get moving then why not come along to a FREE taster day at Love Your Body Health Hub in Clapton, East London. 

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I’ll be there all day with Kate from Form Fitness and Carly from Project Hot Bitch doing free fitness assessments and helping you to set realistic and achievable goals (yes, having a bum like Beyonce is doable as long as you are committed and have rather a lot of time…). 

There will also be free classes throughout the day and a photo competition with the chance to win fitness goodies including fruity protein drinks from the lovely people at Everything But The Cow and personal training sessions.

Get your beautiful selves down there, details below:

Where: Love Your Body Health Hub, 150-152 Cassland Road, London, E9 5DA

When: Saturday 7th February, 11am – 3pm

What: Free fitness assessments, free classes, competitions & goodies

How to book: Email info@loveyourbodyhealthhub.co.uk or call 0207 998 8181  

2015 is going to be a awesome year

2015. How did that happen?! Last year was a year of big ups and downs for me, including a redundancy, 2 part-time jobs, a whole-lot of soul searching, a new career direction and a marriage proposal! I said yes, obviously…. 

So I’m starting 2015 with a big smile on my face and a lot of exciting goals:

1) Set up my PT business – watch this space for updates on names, logos and websites…

2) Gain experience as a PT and build a client base

3) Plan a wedding (any ideas would be gratefully received, I’m not really sure where to start!)

4) Get lean – I’ve started a clean bulk (increasing muscle mass) before embarking on a cut to drop some body fat, this bride is going to be FIT

5) Do an Olympic triathlon – I’ve already signed up for one in August. Gulp. 

There’s some pretty big ones in there already so I’m going to leave it there and crack on. See you in the gym! 

Top 10 Gym Fails

Most people join the gym to lose a bit of weight and they think that because they’ve watched a few episodes of The Biggest Loser they know what they’re doing. WRONG. The gym can be a dangerous place is you don’t know what you’re doing. Oh, and chances are you’re going to look ridiculous while you’re doing it…

However, if you get it right (with the help of Personal Trainer like me!) the gym can be a magical place that will help you to hit your short and long-term goals. It can encourage a healthier lifestyle by changing your attitude towards your body. And if you lose a bit of body fat and gain a bit of muscle in the process that can’t be a bad thing!

1)   Not reading instructions

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Most resistance machines will have instructions on the side, look at them. Not only can it be dangerous to use them incorrectly but they also won’t be effective. If there are no instructions, ask someone. Don’t look like a noob…

2)   Going too heavy too quick

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As funny as it can be when someone fails, it’s also really dangerous and you’re just putting yourself at risk of serious injury. Be patient, work up to the heavy weights.

3)   Getting bro’d out

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Just because your bro is pumping iron, doesn’t mean you can or should. Listen to your body, work up to where they are and take it slowly

4)   Not having a good spotter

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When you’re lifting heavy make sure you have someone that knows how to spot you and that you trust. You’re putting your life (and your face) in their hands…

5)   Getting ‘creative’

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Only start making things up if you really know what you’re doing or if an experienced trainer is there. Oh, and NEVER PUT EXERCISE BALLS NEAR TREADMILLS.

6)   Not checking your technique

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Incorrect technique can be dangerous and totally ineffective. And it can make you look like an ass.

7)   Ignoring health and safety

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Lift with your knees, not your back. Wear safe footwear. Use the machines correctly, don’t try to outsmart them.

8)   Showing off

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It will hurt and you will look ridiculous. Also, the type of people that find that impressive might not be the type of people you want in your life.

9)   Not checking the equipment

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 Although the gym will check their equipment every day, it should still be your responsibility to not use a machine or any equipment that doesn’t look right. Use your brain yeah?

10)   Not sharing space

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Everyone pays their gym membership equally so don’t act like you own the place. Share nicely, don’t sit on machines during sets and be nice to newbies, you were one once! 

I’m finally at the halfway point

Someone around here passed their Level 2 Gym Instructor course today. I’ll give you 2 guesses as to who it was… Oh yes! IT WAS ME!! 

I’m a bit pleased with myself, can you tell? As someone whose strength really lies in written exams and essays, practical assessments scare me like nothing else. I couldn’t sleep or eat before the assessment day and I panicked the entire way there and while I was waiting. 

And then I stepped onto the gym floor and felt invincible. Suddenly everything felt natural and like I’d been doing it for years. What was I worrying about?! 

I take it for granted now what I can do, from running a 10k race to even just walking 3-4 hours across the countryside without breaking a sweat. So sometimes I like to remind myself of how far I’ve come, mentally and physically. 

The next part of my course starts in 10 days and I’m excited to get stuck in and finally qualify as a Personal Trainer by January. Watch this space…. 

Goals for the rest of 2014

How the hell did it get to November and how is it only 7 weeks until Christmas?! This is scary. This woman has got stuff to achieve before 2015 sneaks its way into reality. 

Before Christmas I am aiming to:

1) Lose 5lbs of fat without losing any muscle or strength – it’s all about the definition… 

2) Run 50km – I’ve let my cardio slip somewhat in the last few weeks so it’s time to get moving again

3) Try to hit my macros perfectly at least 5 times – I’m still trying to get my head around the quantities of each food that I need to be eating to do this and it’s taking a while to figure it out!

4) Tri-swimming training once a week – I’ve signed up to the London Fields Triathlon Club, mostly for the swimming training so I can get used to swimming in my wetsuit and work on my breathing and technique

5) Get my road bike back on the road – it’s been in mum and dad’s garage since my last triathlon 2 years ago. The feelings of guilt are HUGE. I’m sorry my little Trek baby… 

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Now, who’s going to join me for one or all of these goals so we can keep each other accountable? 

Perfect Flour Free Pancakes

Everyone’s going mad for pancakes at the moment and quite rightly. They’re delicious with sweet or savoury toppings and they make the best brunch ever. But they’re not always the healthiest choice on the menu, especially if you’re trying to eat gluten free or dairy free. 

So here’s my never-fail recipe for healthy and nutritious pancakes, I promise that once you try these you won’t miss the ‘normal’ ones!

Ingredients (makes one serving = 3 pancakes)

2 x medium eggs

1 x large ripe banana

½ scoop of your preferred protein powder (optional)

½ cup of raspberries/blueberries/strawberries (optional)

1 tsp organic coconut oil 

Method

Peel and mash the banana with the 2 whole eggs until the mixture is batter-like. At this point you can add in your half scoop of protein powder (I find that vanilla works best) and your berries (I used raspberries). Mix the batter again to make sure all of the protein powder is mixed in thoroughly. 

Just like with normal batter, leave it to thicken for 5-10 minutes in the fridge. In the meantime melt the coconut oil in a small frying pan but watch out, coconut oil gets smoking hot very quickly! 

Pour a 3rd of the mixture into the pan and swirl the pan to make sure you’ve got a nice even spread. 

Once the mixture starts to bubble slightly on top flip the pancake with a spatula and then it should only need 45-60 seconds on the other side.

The pancakes are perfectly delicious as they are or you could add some extras. Some suggestions are:

– dairy-free coconut yogurt or goats milk yogurt

– turkey bacon and agave syrup for that American feel

– fresh fruit (mango goes particularly well)

– chopped nuts and fruit compote

These were mine the other morning simply with some added blueberries.

Amazingly, this photo has gained the most likes out of any of my posts on Instagram… Just goes to show the power of pancakes! 

Nutrition (for recipe listed above including blueberries on top)

Calories: 420

Carbs: 45g

Protein: 23g

Fat:17g

Let me know if you try them and what you think x

Lining Up Challenges for 2015

My first 6 months of 2015 are sorted in terms of challenges because I like to have things to aim for in terms of my fitness (plus I want to add to my growing medal collection…). 

As it stands I’ll be taking on:

Winter Run 10K – February 1st 2015

Eton Dorney Sprint Triathlon – May 9th 2015

London Triathlon Olympic – August 8th 2015

I entered the London Triathlon 2 years ago as a challenge to myself to get fit and while I had a brilliant experience on the day it didn’t really kickstart me into getting fit. However, now that I’m much fitter I’ve decided to work towards the Olympic distance one and challenge myself further. 

That means:

1.5km swim

40km cycle

10km run

Oh god, this is going to hurt…

Watch this space for training updates!

Autumnal Vegan Spiced Pumpkin Soup

I know, I know, I eat a lot of soup! But it’s quick, easy, super healthy and it’s pretty much all I want for dinner when it’s cold outside and I’m hungry. 

This is my new favourite soup, inspired by my boyfriend’s dad who made a delicious version and gave me the basic recipe. I’ve tweaked it here and there but so can you! Add in more chilli if you like it hot and some extra root vegetables if you happen to have them available. 

Ingredients (makes 6 portions)

1 tbsp organic coconut oil

1 red onion

2 stalks celery

3 cloves of garlic

Thumb-sized piece of ginger

750g pumpkin

1 medium sweet potato

1 tbsp organic vegetable bouillon 

½ litre water

1 can low-fat coconut milk

1 tsp turmeric

1 tbsp cumin

1 tbsp garam masala

2 tbsp curry powder

Method

Chop the pumpkin and sweet potato into chunks (peel the sweet potato but you can leave the skin on the pumpkin, it’s easier to peel once it’s cooked). Place on trays and put in the oven at around 180 degrees for 30-40 minutes until soft (I know my sweet potato is white but it was very sweet).

While the pumpkin and sweet potato are cooking, finely chop the onion, garlic, celery and ginger and fry gently in the coconut oil for 15-20 minutes until soft

Remove the skin from the pumpkin and add it to the pan with the sweet potato. Add the spices in and cook gently for another 10 minutes to let the spices cook out, you don’t want the bitter taste of raw spices in the finished soup.

At this point add in the vegetable stock and coconut milk and let the soup come to the boil. Turn it down and simmer for 15-20 minutes to let all of the flavours combine. Blend the soup using a hand blender or a jug blender, whatever you have to hand.

It’s ready to serve so portion up into bowls and you can add a garnish of a swirl of coconut cream and a few toasted pumpkin seeds if you want to be fancy. I tend to just serve and shovel it in because it’s so tasty!

I keep a couple of portions in the fridge and freeze the rest so that there’s always a warming and delicious dinner for cold nights. Enjoy fitties! 

The Importance of Relaxation

When life is getting a bit much it’s important to just stop. A bit of ‘me’ time will never go amiss. 

I’m struggling with my energy levels at the moment. Working 4 days a week, doing homework, planning for assessments and spending the entire weekend studying and doing practical workshops for my PT course means that I have very little time to rest and relax. 

I’ve had to cut down on exercise to 2-3 times a week rather than 5 and I’m making sure that I’m in bed by 10pm every night. I’m also struggling to stick to my food plans because my body is craving sugar and processed carbs for instant energy. I’m trying to allow myself a little bit more flexibility with food at the moment, eating some healthier sweet treats and adding in a few more calories each day to maintain some semblance of energy.

When I do get time to relax, here are my favourite ways:

1) Run a bubble bath, light some candles and settle in with a good book. There’s nothing better for soothing the soul than a good soak

2) Make some hot chocolate using raw cocoa, almond or coconut milk and agave nectar

3) Go out for a walk by yourself and just appreciate the beauty of where you are 

4) Pamper yourself. Go for a manicure or massage or even set up a home-spa for a facial, manicure and pedicure to save some money

5) Spend some time with loved ones, remind yourself of all of the great things in your life

6) Cook! I love to cook and the process of experimenting really calms me. It also means that the fridge and freezer are full of healthy quick meals

What do you do to relax? 

Healthy Comfort Food

It’s like I jinxed the weather! All of a sudden winter has arrived in London and it’s bloody freezing… And when it gets cold all I want to eat is comfort food while sitting under a blanket with the heating on. But comfort eating doesn’t have to mean letting your clean eating plan go, here’s my hints and tips on how to ‘healthify’ some of my favourite recipes. 

Healthy and comforting dinners

Minced meat is one of the most comforting dinners in my opinion, you can make it into so many things! Lasagna, shepherd’s pie, bolognese, chilli, the list is endless. 

Shepherd’s pie:

Shepherd’s pie has got to be made with lamb mince so why not lighten up the topping by using a mixture of sweet potato and carrot rather than white potatoes? Simply boil 2 large sweet potatoes with 1 large carrot and mash with a tablespoon of coconut oil (to give it that creaminess) and some salt and pepper. Top your cooked mince with the sweet potato/carrot mixture and bake for 45 minutes until bubbling and delicious.

Chilli:

For a start, try lean turkey mince rather than beef to make your chilli, you won’t be able to tell the difference, I promise! It’s still high in protein but it’s naturally lower in fat. Then, once it’s ready, serve it with some roasted sweet potato wedges and a big pile of steamed greens rather than white rice. 

Healthy snacks

Sometimes you just need a snack but an apple or some celery sticks just won’t cut it (pretty much every afternoon right?) and as snack time is one of the easiest places to slip up, make sure you’re prepared. Here’s a couple of ideas… 

Popcorn:

Corn kernels are very cheap to buy in the supermarket and so ridiculously easy to make that you’ll wonder why you ever spent money buying any other popcorn! Put a handful of corn kernels (it makes more than you think!) in a microwave-safe container, cover loosely with a plastic lid and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Take out the popped kernels and put the remaining unpopped kernels back in for another 2 minutes, continue this process until they’re all popped. You can then sprinkle with salt, coconut sugar or a teaspoon of butter and cinnamon, basically whatever you want! But keep the toppings light otherwise you’ll undo all the good work you’re doing by making your own popcorn. 

Frozen yogurt:

This one is so simple! Buy some yogurt (I prefer full fat goats milk yogurt) and freeze it. See, I told you. Just remember to stir it every 20-30 minutes so that it stays creamy, or use an ice cream maker if you’re lucky enough to have one. Again, you can flavour it with anything. I like a scoop of chocolate or vanilla protein powder, some crushed raspberries or if you’re feeling posh you could make a syrup of agave infused with basil and lemongrass to mix in. 

So there you go! Although we all struggle with staying on the straight and narrow when there’s biscuits and cakes in the office, or the allure of the takeaway menus in the drawer, you can eat comfort food to soothe your soul and still stay healthy. 

What recipes would you like to see made healthy? 

Winter Warmer Soup Recipes

Although London seems to be basking in very late Indian Summer, my mind is starting to zoom ahead to some winter warmers that will be perfect for cold nights. 

My favourite quick and easy go to dinner is soup. You can tweak the recipes each time, throw in whatever you have in the fridge and make it in huge portions which will fill your freezer. 

Basic soup base:

1 x white or red onion (finely chopped)

2 x cloves of garlic (finely chopped)

2 x sticks of celery (chopped)

1 x carrot (chopped)

Sautee all of the above in 1 tbsp of olive or coconut oil and then add in 1 litre of vegetable or chicken stock, bring to the boil and then simmer for 15-20 minutes. This makes a delicious and light broth that you can customise in thousands of different ways. Here are some of my top picks…

Carrot and coriander

– Basic soup base including a thumb size piece of ginger + a whole bag of carrots (chopped) + a large bunch of coriander

– Simmer with plenty of black pepper and half a can of coconut milk

– Blend until nearly smoothish, I like a few chunks in it! 

Tomato

– Basic soup base + 1 can of chopped tomatoes + 1 tsp agave nectar + 2 tbsp tomato puree

– Simmer and blend if you want it smooth

– Serve with a swirl of homemade pesto or a dollop of greek yogurt

Green Goddess

– Basic soup base (minus the carrot) + 1 chopped courgette + 1 bag of spinach/watercress/kale + small handful of chopped mint + 2 handfuls of peas

– Simmer until everything is cooked through and blend until smooth

I’m going to do a series of these quick and easy Winter Warmer recipes, are there any that you’d like to see on here? 

Race Report: Women’s Running Series 10k Finsbury Park

In a moment of endorphin-induced madness, the day after my first ever 10k, I signed up for my second ever 10k only two weeks later. Well, no pain no gain as they say… 

The Training

After taking a few days to recover from Run To The Beat, I managed to pack in two short but speedy runs, one 8.5k run in the glorious French sunshine, two extreme spin bootcamps, a quick 30 minute PT session and a #PumpSweatandBurn class. No way was I going to let my fitness disappear from my first run… 

I managed to taper on the Thursday and Friday before the run and spend two days sitting around eating huge quantities of food to celebrate the Jewish New Year. 

All in all, not bad preparation but not great… 

The Race

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Having slept awfully the night before the race and eaten far too much for dinner, I dragged myself up and forced down a Nakd berry bar. My enthusiasm levels for this race were distinctly lower than the last one… 

We arrive at Finsbury Park in plenty of time to have a nose around the little tents that were set up and have a good stretch and sit down. It was only a small event, the smallest that I’ve done but there was a great tent run by the Scouts that was serving tea, cake and biscuits. 

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After an energetic and useful warm up we were ushered to the start line and Heron and I tucked ourselves in behind the 70-minute pacer. That’s what we were aiming for at Run To The Beat and as the course here was much hillier, we were just aiming to stick with the pacer and not go much faster. 

The hills hit pretty quickly, at around 1.5k but we plodded up and down until we realised that the course was taking us back round for a second loop. I’m not a fan of laps on courses because generally I lack motivation to do the second lap, something that kicked in here as I knew all of the hills that I would have to tackle again. 

However, there’s no excuse to stop. So I didn’t. At around 6k I started struggling up the hills and Heron kicked away from me. I fixed my eyes on her back and promised myself not to lose sight of her. 

Helped by that and by the brilliant pacer, the hills on the second lap seemed to be easier as I overtook some walkers and powered through. By 8k I was ahead of the pacer (but not by far) and so when I came to the 9k marker and heard my last pace update through my headphones I put the accelerator down and flew the final kilometre. 

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Coming round the final corner the clock read 01:08:29 which surprisingly gave me 34 seconds to get home to beat my RTTB time. I legged it. As you can see from the photo… 

It was only when I crossed the finish line and received my chip time that I realised I’d come in at 01:07:59, knocking a whopping 01:03 off my previous PB. 

Chuffed faces all round. 

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The Results

1st km: 06:56

2nd km: 06:58

3rd km: 06:44

4th km: 06:40

5th km: 06:57

6th km: 06:41

7th km: 07:03 (this is where I struggled)

8th km: 06:46

9th km: 06:48

10th km: 06:20 (this is where I legged it!)

5k split: 34:15

10k split: 33:44 (woohoo for negative 5k splits!)

TOTAL TIME: 01:07:59

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I’m pretty booked up with library and classroom sessions for my Personal Trainer course from now until January but my next race is booked in for 1st February, the Winter Run 10k along the Thames. 

If anyone fancies some cold-weather running in the meantime, let me know! 

Je Vais Faire Un Jogging

Having signed up for my second ever 10k race only 2 weeks after my first ever 10k race, I should have spent the weekend in between relaxing, doing some light exercise and chilling out.

Instead, I went to France and ate my bodyweight in roquefort, camembert, baguette, soup de poisson and coffee eclairs. Because that’s what going on holiday is all about. 

However, I did head out on the Sunday morning for a run (fuelled by camembert) and managed a delightfully pleasant and hilly 8.5kms in the glorious sunshine. 

I had to run on the roads for most of the run (don’t worry mum, I ran into the traffic) but the French drivers were very courteous and gave me lots of space in my luminous yellow leggings. 

The blue skies were endless and I felt on top of the world as I powered up and down the hills. The only downside is that it was so hot in the sun I was sweating a bucketload (*sweaty selfie alert*)…. 

Once I made it into the town there were a few more people around and it felt much more like running in London so I stopped shortly after the bridge below. 

It was one of the best runs I’ve had so far, I felt strong and steady in my rhythm and didn’t struggle too much with the hills. I feel in the perfect position to take on the Women’s 10k in Finsbury Park on Saturday, bring it on!