LIFE: Instafitness

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Type in #fitspo on Instagram and you will be faced with in excess of 7 million insta posts. There are lots of selfies, lots of pictures of peoples’ dogs, and a hell of a lot of pseudo-inspirational memes designed to get you off the off the couch and into the gym. So how do you sort the whey from the curds? You can stop wasting calories scrolling down your Insta feed and save them for heavy lifting days, because I’ve taken the hard work out of it for you and picked my five favourite fitness Instagram accounts.

First up, we have the girls of Roco Runs. Always in amazing kit, and running long distance in far-flung places (32km is a casual Saturday run for them) approaching the Paris Marathon, their main goal. Their fun poses are definitely their USP.

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Food and lycra: basically what it says on the tin. Delicious food and cool new workouts, based in London so the F&L girls really get the cream of the crop when it comes to innovative gym classes.

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I love the Fit Outfit concept. Based on the popular stylist’s flat lay, it shows different users’ workout outfits, usually in bright colours with snazzy trainers – and you know how I feel about a neon lycra and shoe combo. Recognise that kit from the top left, maybe..?

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The Fashercise girls are London-based fashion lovers, and are totally hot on the heels of anything new in the fitness world. I learn about designer collaborations and new lustworthy pieces of kit here before anywhere else.

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I really look forward to Massy’s Instagram posts – her energy knows no bounds and is totally infectious, whilst her fun approach to fitness is a refreshing change. Watch out for the signature dance moves at the end of each video!

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Extra bonus Insta: MINE! You can’t include an Instagram roundup without including yourself, right? Riiight?! Alright, blatant self-promotion here. I actually want to follow a load more fitness, food, health and progress accounts though so if your Instagram fits the bill please hit me up and I will follow you!

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Two Days With Myprotein | Sports Nutrition Review

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Post-spinning, work canteen selfie

Last week I lost 3lbs. Great news, right? Well.. No. Not to me, as I’d been using MyFitnessPal to maintain weight exactly. Worryingly I don’t measure my body fat percentage often enough to know whether that 3lbs was made up of fat, or whether it was muscle, organ tissue, or any of the other stuff necessary to make my body function. So – as someone who doesn’t own a heart rate monitor or FitBit – I’ve bitten the bullet and increased my food intake.

It’s tough. One: because society dictates that women should always be eating less, and despite detesting this outdated viewpoint, there is still a small part of my being screaming we can’t eat more! We’ll get fat! And two: it is surprisingly hard to figure out enough different meals and snacks that fit my macros throughout the day to both hit my calorie target and also inspire my palate.

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In step Myprotein. After receiving a pack of goodies, I decided to use them to bulk out my diet in as many interesting ways as I could over two days. On Thursday I began my day with my usual breakfast, muesli and Greek yoghurt, but with half a scoop of strawberry Impact whey protein mixed in. This stuff comes in a huge variety of flavours including unflavoured, useful for adding to all sorts; the strawberry taste made it feel like a real treat and I found myself less hungry throughout the day. Pre-evening workout I made a shake with the strawberry whey, a banana, peanut butter and almond milk, which tasted incredible but made my HIIT workout harder from sloshing around in my stomach too much! Definitely my mistake – it’s perfect for chilling out after the gym, though.

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Friday morning, pre-spinning. I attempted to make pancakes using the MyProtein mix, and it was an absolute disaster with pancakes in bits, leaving the house eating them half cooked..! I’m not the best at using the frying pan at the best of times (seriously, even my omelettes end up in pieces) so maybe 6am wasn’t the best opportunity to test these out for the first time – I cheated on my own challenge and made them again Sunday morning. This time they turned out delicious, and even my mum enjoyed them, although when completely plain they are a touch eggy they’re the perfect vessel to add berries, peanut butter or dessicated coconut to.

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Obviously the much more civilised Sunday morning attempt.

Post-spinning I had an Oats & Whey Flapjack, which again surprised me how full I felt for the rest of the morning. Over the two days I added in Chocolate Smooth whey protein shakes which taste like advent calendar chocolate; on Friday night I had a warm one which was deliciously comforting after a long week.

Okay, so I wouldn’t eat like this every day – I’d be missing out on nutrients you can only get from whole, fresh food. However, the MyProtein products certainly filled me up which is no mean feat considering my usual appetite, and I really enjoyed thinking of new ideas to add to my diet! By the end of the second day protein was 40% of my intake, so I should have benefited from some muscle growth over the two days. Usually I’d pick one of these options to add in every day to supplement my diet, and have it post-workout.

With thanks to MyProtein for providing the samples for this post – you can shop their products here and until April 30th new customers can enter code NEW10 for 10% off your order.

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What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

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This morning out on my run I had A Moment: I was suddenly overwhelmed and bewildered by the fact that my legs, heart and lungs, despite being weary and confused about the fact that I’ve dragged them about of bed to put them through THIS, could work that hard, for that long, just for me. You simply start your run, then you stop running only when it’s over.

It reminded me of Haruki Murakami’s words in What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, which attempts to explain what goes through Murakami’s mind when he runs. It’s hard to explain to a non-runner that when you’re getting in the miles you somehow think of everything but also nothing. Sometimes for a few seconds I wonder about the twinge in my leg which is promptly forgotten about; sometimes I imagine situations, like what would happen if that bird there flew into me? But most of the time I think of nothing more than my breath and putting one foot in front of the other.

The thoughts that occur to me while running are like clouds in the sky. Clouds of all different sizes. They come and they go, while the sky remains the same sky as always. The clouds are mere guests in the sky that pass away and vanish, leaving behind the sky. The sky both exists and doesn’t exist. It has substance and at the same time doesn’t. And we merely accept that vast expanse and drink it it.

Murakami, What I Talk About When
I Talk About Running 
(2008)

Then when I ran past Old Trafford, and with it being a game day and all, its fried-onion smells and chanting fan sounds. Then the moment was lost. But still. A Moment.

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A well-deserved post-workout shake; that was a really decent pace for me.

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YOGA: Win Om Show Manchester tickets!

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As a new subscriber to Om Yoga Magazine I was pretty excited to hear their yoga show is returning to Manchester this year. The show has free classes and workshops, and an exhibition showcasing everything from mats to relaxing retreats; no doubt I will be on the search for a new pair of patterned leggings! I’m looking forward to the handstand workshop – which promises that by the end of the class everyone will have been upside down in some way or other – and the Saturday night yoga disco, which has yoga choreography but you are free to dance pretty much however you like.

I’m pleased to say I have the honour of giving away two pairs of weekend passes (yep, you can go both days) to the Om Yoga Show on the 10th & 11th May at Manchester Central.

To win one pair, just leave a comment below with a way of contacting you if you win! For the other pair I am going to do a RT giveaway on my Twitter, @sjharradine.

This is to win one of two pairs of tickets to the Om Yoga Show Manchester and there is no cash alternative. Please make sure you can get to Manchester 10/11 May – there are no travel costs provided. The giveaway closes on the 13th April so you have a full month to enter.

Namaste, and good luck!

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Why I Want To Work In Sportswear

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Images L-R: Charli Cohen, Alexander Wang AW14, Pinterest (no source), Sweaty Betty.

As a third year student, I’m often asked what I want to do when I graduate from my fashion marketing degree. And my reply?

I want to work in sportswear.

People are often surprised at not only how definite my answer is but the area I want to go into. Surely if I’ve studied fashion, I’d want to work in fashion, and ladieswear at that?

Let me explain. In my degree I’ve studied marketing, financial management, international business, product design, corporate strategy, and business simulation. Throughout, we had to relate the theory back to fashion practice, but it’s basically prepared me for a career within any business and marketing sphere, with knowledge thrown in about fibres, threads, quality control, and garment construction. In that respect clothes are the same as underwear, the same as kidswear, the same as underwear, the same as bedding, and so on.

I admit, at one point I dreamt of working for the luxurious Chanel, or the ever-youthful, fast-moving Topshop. Over time, though, I have become jaded with the passing fashion seasons. They seem to pass quicker each year – and indeed they do, with the new fashion seasons, cruise and pre-fall, being pushed on customers, encouraging them to spend even more money. And on what? The same stuff they were pushed into buying last year but were then told was out of fashion, hence the clothes being stuffed into bags and sent to the charity shop, or worse – forgotten about in the back of a wardrobe.

Now, I’m not saying sportswear is perfect, not by a long stretch. Normally, though, much-hyped new releases are because of new technologies and developments in fabric that complement your existing workout kit. It’s a slower-moving industry, that allows more time on quality control, product development, and consequently marketing. That’s why you will find that, cared for well, your gym stuff will last longer than similarly-priced fast fashion. And, normally when you buy performance gear, it’s because you want or need it – and not because a celebrity has been spotted wearing it. How novel!

Sportswear is not so far away from fashion nowadays, anyway. Thanks to runway designers like Alexander Wang and Philip Lim showcasing sports luxe trends, with mesh, lycra and sleek cuts trickling down to Topshop and Zara; on the flipside, brands like Nike, Sweaty Betty and Charli Cohen creating street-ready looks just as at home at Fashion Week as in the gym.

So where will I get with my desire to work in sportswear? Watch this space – only time and hard work will tell.

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The Importance Of Active Rest | Chill Time in Harrogate

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A “rest day” may sound like an excuse to lay on the sofa eating chocolate, but the best way for your muscles to recover is to gently use them – to get the restorative blood and nutrients flowing to them, and also get rid of any lingering toxins like lactic acid.

Last week I went away to Harrogate and I used this as an excuse to take a couple of active rest days (granted, on the middle day I hit the hotel gym. But it was still leg day, whether I was on holiday or not!). The hotel I stayed at, Nidd Hall, is set in 40 acres of land and within there is an outdoor fitness circuit you can follow. These were very low impact exercises, like a gravity walker, bodyweight leg press and hip swinger thing, and it was lovely to get outside in the fresh air and have a chat with my boyfriend as we tackled what was basically an outdoor playground.

I kept my food as clean and tasty as possible, and factored in a couple of cheats, such as a trip to the unmissable Betty’s Tea Rooms in Harrogate centre, and a nightly half bottle of wine. Breakfast was a particular favourite of mine – how beautiful is the yoghurt and granola in a martini glass?

I also got a chance to do a little of my favourite active rest day cardio, shopping. And at my favourite store Sweaty Betty too! My purchase will be revealed in a later post.

Harrogate is also the start of the 2014 Tour de France – so this is an ideal opportunity to visit if you’ve been thinking of a Yorkshire trip! The town is lovely and it’s so easy to get to the Yorkshire Dales, York, and Ripon.

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Hearty, Healthy Ginger, Chilli & Garlic Turkey Recipe

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You go to work, it’s dark; you come home, it’s dark. You’re tired, and the last thing you want to do is stand over a stove cooking for hours. I get it.. it’s actually chopping veg that gets to me. So I’ve figured out a super easy way to get a hearty, healthy meal down you in less than half an hour. Turkey is an awesome source of protein, is relatively quick to cook, is full of B vitamins, and also contains tryptophan, a substance that will help you drift off to sleep. That’s why the basis of a lot of my meals is turkey – not least because of its excellent price.

I whizz up two cloves of garlic, some ginger, a chilli and some vegetable stock in a blender with a splash of hot water, cover some turkey with the mixture (whether it’s breast, mince, breast chunks or meatballs) then put it in a tagine in the oven. A tagine isn’t necessary – even in a baking tray covered with some tinfoil would be good, or it could go straight in the pan, but the meat wouldn’t stay quite as moist. You just want the turkey to soak up as much of the mixture as possible. While that’s cooking I throw a tin of chopped tomatoes and whichever vegetables I fancy into a pan to cook, and get the brown rice/pasta/noodles on the go too.

This garlic, ginger, chilli, stock and chopped tomatoes combo is the basis for most of my meals. I use whatever vegetables are in my fridge (for an even easier ride, just throw in frozen veg – normally it’s small so doesn’t even need chopping), plus paprika, kidney beans and sweetcorn with lean turkey mince for chilli; breast pieces with noodles; spiced turkey meatballs with pasta. The beauty is you just mix and match whatever you feel like – or whatever you have in your cupboard! – and it feels like you’re eating a different meal each time.

And there you have it. Varied, easy, and most of all healthy meals, that I promise will leave you more satisfied than bung-in-the-microwave ready meals.

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