International Yoga Day 2018 | What My Yoga Practice Means To Me

international yoga day 2018

Picture the scene: it’s 2003. You’re in the pinkest teenagers’ bedroom you’ve ever seen (seriously, there are pink walls, a pink carpet, and pink bedlinen), the only colour variation being the bright yellow TV/VHS combination, upon which a crackly yoga class is playing. View Post

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How To Train Early When You’re Just Not A Morning Person

Let’s be real here – I am not a morning person. I don’t leap out of bed as soon as my alarm goes off to meditate and drink a green juice, though I know many people do this and they love it. I say, “that’s just not me!”. They say, “you can train yourself to do it!” But you know what? I like my sleep, I like my bed, and I’m perfectly OK that the extra hour in bed means sacrificing seeing the sun come up.

However, sometimes a girl has gotta do what she’s gotta do – sometimes I’ll have a busy day of meetings or travel (or sometimes I’ll have to be on a Navy boat to train at 6am, like in the above photo!), so the only way I can get my workout in is going first thing in the morning. Gulp. This is only going to increase in the run-up to my first individual CrossFit competition as I ramp up my training and look to get two sessions in some days.

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KIT: Fashercise Is Go!

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Written by runners and best pals Alex and Camille, Fashercise was one of my must-visit blogs for workout wear inspiration. The site was hot on all the latest health and fitness trends, whether it be juice cleanses or patterned lycra, and their Fit Fashion editorial-style features were far beyond that of any other blog – so it seemed natural progression for Fashercise to open their own online store, selling the brands they so loved and modelled so well on their blog!

Launching today, Fashercise is for real girls living real lives (that’s us!) and mixes “can I have this for my birthday?” Monreal London jackets with “oh, go on then!” Dear Kate sporty knickers. The site still has its magazine element, but now instead of drooling over the brands from afar, you can BUY them too.

With more brands to come I can quickly see this my go-to site when in need of some retail therapy. The site reads of a who’s who in the activewear scene right now: Charli Cohen, Lexiesport, and Hey Jo all feature. The pineapple print Been By D’Heygere – incidentally a brand I first heard of from the Fashercise blog – is first up on my wishlist! The Fashercise campaign images are below – I promise you will be rethinking your gymkit after a peek at these photos.

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TRAIN: That Squat Bot.. Or Not

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It’s now been eight months since I started working hard on my diet and fitness, and I have seen results. My body fat percentage has dropped, I’ve gone down two dress sizes, and I’ve gained all sorts of muscle, most notably on my back. I run far and fast; I do pull-ups and handstands; I can do pretty much everything I set out to do back in January (time for new goals, yes? Yes!).

But there is one thing that still evades me. A bum. A juicy, meaty, round squat butt. Given everything I’ve achieved I’m ashamed to admit it, but I still really, really want a bigger bum – although it’s not quite as pancake-flat as it once was, I don’t think it reflects the amount of effort I put in. I am comforted by the fact that your glutes are some of the biggest muscles on your body so it does take longer to see results, but I have really seen so little progress I figured it was time to shake up my routine a little!

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The biggest problem, I feel, is that I didn’t really have a bum routine like I did for the other parts of my body. As I mentioned I have seen gains in my back muscles, largely thanks to a routine given to me by my personal trainer though I’ve never had a programme for my glutes. This realisation came at around the same time as reading about the ‘butt wink’ (not what you think!) combined with lack of gluteal activation due to sedentary lifestyles and the penny finally dropped. It was time to switch it up! Here’s my new, and hopefully improved, routine:

With 12kg kettlebell
10 goblet squats
10 swings

With 16kg kettlebell
10 sumo squats stood on 2 steps, touching kettlebell to floor
With 15kg bar
10 hip thrusters raised on step
All x 5 to warm up hips and activate glutes

On functional trainer with heel cup
10 kickbacks
10 lateral lifts each leg

x 5

Down to weights room, cycle weeks:
Week 1 squats 12×45 8×55 8×60 8×65
Week 2 deadlifts 8×45 6×65 1x4x70 1x4x75

Finish off with 10 minutes slow on the stair climber with 10kg core bag on back

Let the top image be my new ‘before’ image; not before I started working hard on my body, but before I started on my new glutes programme. I’ve already seen better flexibility in my hips and deeper squats with better form! What do you more seasoned lifters think of this routine? Check back in another few months for my progress!

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YOGA: Win With Kismet

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Who wants to win some super soft, ethically produced yoga gear? I DO! Unfortunately though, I am not allowed to enter, as it is I running the giveaway. I knew I wanted to share Kismet Yoga after founder Sylvia contacted me with her inspirational story – from stressful job to running her own yoga business, it’s every rat-race-runners’ dream – and she has kindly agreed to let me run a Kismet giveaway for my readers.

Relaxing is hard whether you’re in a high-pressure job or not, so Sylvia started practising yoga to cope better with life’s pressures. “Right from the beginning I felt I would like to learn more. So I went several times to India, spent time in Mysore and did various retreats around the world, learning yoga philosophy and anatomy”. Combining this knowledge with a love of fashion and canny business sense, the idea of Kismet Yoga was born.

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“I quit my job, went travelling, wrote the business plan, met the right people and made it happen. It was lots of work but as well some things happen magically and fall into place” – like I always say, trust in the process!

Sylvia says that hitting 40 was the catalyst to make her just “go for it”, but I think whatever age we are we can implement a little of Sylvia’s ethos into our own lives; she is proof that if you know your stuff, work hard and hobnob with the right people, what you want will happen.

Take a look below and tell me which top you would like to win – from left it’s Sita, Ria and Umasimply by commenting on this post. Please leave a method of contacting you should you win. Winner will be drawn out of a proverbial hat on the 4th of August.

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Good luck, yogis!

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Vivofit Activity Tracker Review

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Remember the disaster I had with my Jawbone UP? Yeah, that kinda put me off activity trackers for a little while. Recently though I was approached by Health-on-Line about their Body Fuel campaign, offering a Vivofit – the one band I felt I could put my trust in, with it being made by sport watch powerhouses Garmin – so I decided to give it a go. And I’m glad I did!

I’ve been wearing it for a week now and overall I really like it. Whilst generally I think activity bands are good for encouraging mainly sedentary people to hit movement targets, I really enjoy having this gadget on my wrist and it’s actually shown me how my maintenance calorie target and step count differs from day to day.

Cons:

    As with all activity bands, it just records the calories you burn whilst generally moving around. Calories burned weight lifting, cycling, swimming and so on must be recorded manually. In isolation this doesn’t seem so great but this is the same across all fitness bands, and most don’t work as seamlessly as the Vivofit does.
    I created my Garmin Connect account using Twitter; trying to log in to the website version it just takes me on a loop and I can’t access the page. I’ve been using the app anyway so no big deal for me, just something to consider if your phone or tablet doesn’t have Bluetooth (sidenote: the pack comes with a dongle to plug into your USB port, which is useful and a cool addition).
    There’s a slight discrepancy between MyFitnessPal and the Garmin Connect information, though I’m sure I must just be missing something here. If you were using the band and app on its own it would obviously not be a problem. The only third-party app available to connect is MFP, incidentally, which is the tracking app I use anyway.

Pros:

    There’s potential for heart rate monitor integration – this means you get the full picture of how many calories you burn each day, rather than the calories you’ve burned by just walking. I feel this is what sets the band apart from the rest on the market; normally you’d have to wear the activity band plus a heart rate monitor, then delete the activity from your band for the given time period, making it all rather complicated!
    The battery lifetime is around a year, so you’re not missing any activity while it’s being charged. The display does not light up and there is no alarm facility to wake you up in the morning, though this is a small price to pay for such a long battery life.
    Connecting to the app is very easy via Bluetooth, and if you don’t have Bluetooth a USB dongle is included to sync with your PC. Garmin seem to have thought about this process to make it as simple as possible.
    The app made for the band is great. It syncs easily (it kept failing once and I just re-paired the devices), the information is clear, it appears to be accurate, and it’s well-designed.

Ease of use: 10/10
Ability to improve workout: 2/10 (but with the heart rate monitor attached probably 10/10!)
Value for money: 8/10

Overall, a great little band at a really decent price of £79. Activity bands are basically glorified pedometers and are not a necessity to everyday life – but what really makes the Vivofit stand out is the potential for integration with a heart rate monitor, giving you a true view of your calories burned throughout the day rather than just using the amount of steps you take. It also works perfectly with no bugs at all I could find, and having something attached to my wrist recording activity really appeals to my inner geek. Overall I’d give this band 9/10 – with the potential for top marks when I try the heart rate feature. Thanks for the gadget and opportunity, Health-on-Line!

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RUN: I Beat Ron Hill

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Well, technically I ran a faster 5K time than Ron Hill. But I did hear a rumour he started later than the rest of us… Maybe I shouldn’t mention that bit.

Last weekend saw my Parkrun’s 5th birthday, which meant we had a special guest of Dr Ron Hill OBE! He’s a quiet sort of chap, whose only real words to me were that his trainers weighed less than a pound each. He’s also quite little so was probably quite overwhelmed with the crowds of Parkrunners wanting to get a photo with him!

It was unfortunately a rather wet day but that didn’t seem to dampen runners’ spirits. There was a field of 436 which included international middle distance runner James McIlroy, who came second. So I most definitely did not beat him with my time of 24:09, 10 seconds off my previous PB.

I haven’t improved my time since early May, though I’m still very much enjoying being a part of Parkrun. I volunteered Saturday just gone and am running this Saturday – but Friday night I’m off out to Jamie’s Italian Manchester for carbs, cheese and wine, so very unlikely to get a new PB then. Stranger things have happened I suppose!

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