LIFE: Fit in London

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Lately I’ve been working on a super exciting project with sportswear designer Charli Cohen and personal trainer Christina Howells. Meet That Girl London – a high-intensity workout for busy women on the go, in GIF format!

Being in Manchester, I work remotely on the project, mainly playing with the social media, blog, and backend of the website; but last week I had the opportunity to go to London to meet with Charli and discuss the project and brand requirements in more detail. I took the chance to try out the super-hyped Psycle class (read my review here, no phones allowed in class so no sweaty selfie!), have a nosy around Kensington’s incredible Equinox gym, and also go to Whole Foods. It’s almost a good thing that we don’t have Whole Foods up North as I would undoubtedly be spending a lot of money there! This time I managed to curb my spending at seven quid, but could have easily bought half the shop.

I also enjoyed a few freshly pressed juices, which are pretty readily available in London. I do love it down there and it certainly suits my lifestyle – but I won’t be moving away from Manchester anytime soon! I can’t cope with the stuffy, claustrophobic tube; if I was a London-dweller it would be a run-commute all the way. For now enjoy my ‘fitness tourist’ photos – I still need to try out the rest of the capital’s fitness frenzies, so I will be visiting again soon for sure!

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How To Get A Good Night’s Sleep | 4 Top Tips

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Sleep is something natural that is absolutely essential and is when our bodies repair and grow, but so many of us struggle to get a decent 8 hours’ worth a night. I used to be one of those irritating people who dismissed sleep problems with “oh, I sleep as soon as my head hits the pillow!” but whether it’s due to recent events, stress, or just getting a little older, I find it harder to drift off at night nowadays. Worse still, before bed I get anxious about getting to sleep, which becomes a vicious circle and obviously doesn’t help the situation.

This month’s Om Yoga Magazine features some tips to get a great night’s sleep, including a dark, cool room, reducing stimulants and a good old glass of warm almond milk before bed. I have my own routine that seems to help, though – I definitely notice the difference when I decide I can’t be bothered to brew the kettle (we humans are so self-destructive!) and having introduced parts of this routine to my mum, it’s helped her, too.

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A nice cup of tea. Decaffeinated, of course. I have two I switch between: Pukka’s Night Time from Sainsbury’s, and Heath & Heather’s Night Time from Holland & Barrett. Both are very relaxing. Pukka’s has a definitely taste of lavender whilst Heath & Heather’s is much more spearminty. I find they are good for actually going to sleep, though my mum tried the Heath & Heather tea and said it helped her sleep through the night. Trying a couple of different brews might help you find the solution to your particular sleep issue.

Essential oil on your pillow. There are some expensive pillow sprays out there, but I’ve found a drop of lavender oil on my pillow works well. As well as the smell being relaxing I find it makes me breathe more consciously and deeply, and also if I have a stuffy nose it helps clear it. Just be careful not to put it too close to your face if you have sensitive skin. Speaking of breathing more consciously..

Get some Headspace. I was introduced to mindful meditation during bereavement counselling, and though traditionally it’s frowned upon just before bed, I find it clears my mind and brings my heartrate down. Besides, your meditation practise is just that – yours – so meditate whenever and wherever you like. I find guided meditation very helpful and frequently use Headspace, which can be downloaded from your platform’s app store.

Non-essential reading. During university I was in the naughty habit of reading textbooks before bed in the hope it would sink in overnight. In reality I wasn’t really concentrating properly and the though of doing assignments was just making me more stressed! Reading something not related to work or anything you are learning about makes a real relaxation time, as there’s no pressure to remember what you’re reading or to read every word – just read what you fancy (NB – I read from Newsstand but beware as blue light from iPads is supposed to be a stimulant. I find it doesn’t bother me too much – I’d be checking Twitter before I went to sleep normally anyway!).

This is what helps me get a better night’s sleep, so I encourage you to try a variety of different things to help you with your shut-eye – my tips are included along with three other bloggers’ tips over at the Tombola Times if you’d like another perspective. Whether it be a banana before bed or reading a chapter of Gone With The Wind, if it works for you, go for it.

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That Time I Bumped Into Sam Briggs… And Completely Fangirled

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Alright, so this is a bit of a sad, fangirly post, but I’m excited so you are getting it anyway:

Walking home from the Om Show on Sunday I bumped right into Sam Briggs along the canal near my flat. Sam Briggs: also known as the fittest woman on the planet, who finished top of the leaderboard of this year’s CrossFit Open, and will most likely batter the competition at the Games this year.

I was definitely a bit of a weird crazy person but she was very cool with it. Let’s just hope that somehow her 125kg max squat weight magically rubbed off on me in passing…

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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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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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LIFE: Favourite Fitness Females

As a blogger myself, it can hardly be a secret that I love to read others’ blogs. But one of the reasons I started this blog is because I struggled to find fitness and health blogs I related to: many were not personal enough, with how-tos and recipes – which are great, but I want to hear about you, too! – and some were way too personal with a constant stream of self-indulgent ab and bicep photos.

I like bloggers who are fit, healthy, and happy; but who also have a life outside fitness and keep it real. I also love to see shiny bright new kit, but that’s the fashionista side of me coming out! Check out my three favourites below…

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1) Blogilates: I won’t patronise you by explaining who Cassey is. Everyone knows she is the Queen of internet fitness, thanks to her chirpy, friendly manner and tough (but manageable!) YouTube workouts. Ever positive, the Blogilates community is growing exponentially and this has caused a few hiccups lately, but they’ve been handled beautifully by Cassey.

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2) Lydia Elise Millen: Lydia has newly integrated her successful fashion blog with fitness content; she is relatively just starting her fitness journey and takes you along with her complete with gorgeous photographs. Despite being an absolute babe and clearly working hard for her body, Lydia is the first to admit it’s been a struggle for her, and inspires others with her honesty.

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3) Fitness On Toast: Faya trains hard, and will happily explain to you how to eat and work out right; always in brightly-coloured, highly enviable workout kit. A personal trainer by trade, you know you can trust in her advice. I’d love to be a client of Faya’s!

Who are your favourite fit bloggers? I’d love to find some new ones so drop links in the comments below.

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My Fitness Progress & Goals | One Month In

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Top: January 4th. Bottom: January 26th. I don’t see a big difference in my body, but have I achieved any non-scale, non-measurement, non-aesthetic victories in that time? Read on..

Throughout my life my health and fitness has been sporadic, at best. I was a very active teenager, and in my late teens and early twenties I was a gym obsessive. Since then I’ve dipped in and out of fitness, never quite reaching the same body of age 21.

Until this time. Something just feels different. Whether it’s my determination to look after my health and body, or whether it’s my well-informed, nutritious diet, I think I am heading for the best shape of my life. I wanted to write this post to look back on whenever I have wobbles in the future, and remember the non-scale victories I have had the past few months.

I’ve been sleeping better.
No more sleep paralysis or pins and needles in my hands, and I sleep all night, provided my cat lets me.

I’ve been less tired.
Whether it’s the good quality of sleep I’m having or otherwise, I’ve definitely been less tired throughout the day, with less caffeine consumed and fewer energy slumps.

My determination has spread into other areas of my life.
I’m incredibly determined when working out, and this is down to my brain knowing full well that my body can do what I am asking it to do. I’ve realised this applies to the rest of my life, too, whether at university, work, or even just socialising (I can definitely suffer from a touch of social anxiety!).

And oh, all right. I’m pretty pleased I’ve gone down a size in yoga pants.
I know I shouldn’t be, and I sort of don’t want to be pleased. But at least it shows eating clean and training mean is working.

Though I’m happy about these victories I still feel I have a long way to go. My fitness goals for this year are, in no particular order:

To go to a CrossFit session.
There’s an amazing box just across the river from me, and it’s owned by Sam Briggs, the fittest woman in the world. I want to be able to go and not only complete a WOD but do it well!

To grow my butt.
This isn’t a very SMART goal I’m sorry, but I will be happy when I see my butt at least starting to fill my yoga pants. Patience and work, patience and work…

To do the Manchester 10K.
This is looking like a fairly easy goal to achieve now, so I am considering aiming for a half marathon in the autumn. It all depends what happens when I graduate – hopefully I will get a tasty graduate job and have more time and freedom at the weekends to train and race.

To do 10 unassisted chin-ups.
I can’t believe how weak my upper body is compared to my lower. I’ve been using the assisted pull-up machine the past couple of weeks building up to this but I still can’t do one unassisted. I’d like to be able to do these before I go to a CrossFit session.

To do an unassisted handstand.
Every night just before bed I have a bit of a mad half hour when I practice my yoga inversions. I am alright at tripod headstands and I’m getting the hang of the crow, but handstands still evade me. My boyfriend helps out when he is feeling amiable, otherwise the wall is my best friend.

Overall, I’d like to be consistent in my eating and workouts, and remember that a few days off working out or eating clean does not mean falling off the wagon. I have to remember the good stuff – the stuff from the beginning of this post – and how fantastic it feels to be fit, strong and happy.

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