22.2.17

Review: The 12 Week Health, Fitness & Wellness Planner

Photo Credit: Karen Oliver

In the weeks leading up to the whole holiday season last year (doesn't that sound strange?!) I tried a few things to help me along with my lifestyle choices and fitness goals. One of the tools I utilised was the 12 Week Health, Fitness & Wellness Planner by Karen Oliver of Beyond The Bathroom Scale. The USP of this planner being that it's compatible with all our favourite food tracking apps and fitness trackers; great for me who at the time was using two fitness trackers (don't ask!).

Karen makes a good point about the fact that it's so easy to track everything yet maybe we don't even really stop to look at the results of all this data to see any emerging patterns for example. And I'm in total agreement with her that good old pen and paper is the best way to do so. We're all much more likely to succeed if we are accountable for our actions and goals, right?! And writing them down is one way to be more accountable as well as to feel more committed.

Photo Credit: Karen Oliver

Each day, there is space to record how much sleep you got, your mood, how much water you drank, your nutrition stats, your fitness stats, net calories calculation and space to reflect on the entire day. It's the perfect way to end your evening with less distraction from your phone (after you've maybe collected your data) and to get prepared for the following day.

Photo Credit: Karen Oliver

For each week, there is space for your weekly weigh in stats, a progress check, weekly meal planner, weekly workout plan, your health & wellness goals and a challenge!

At the front of the planner is a page called "The Starting Line" where you write down all your starting stats and include a before photo of yourself (I never got around to printing one, and I probably could've printed it at home but I didn't think of that!). This page was useful to refer back to; I think it would be amazing if it had a space to write the start date too for your reference.

My goals for the twelve weeks I used the planner were:

Nutritional:
1. Regain my appetite and motivation
2. Get back on track with meal prep
3. Start each day with a glass of water

Fitness:
1. Find a new routine
2. 10km training
3. Reach below 65kg
4. "Tone up"

One of my favourite aspects of the planner was the weekly workout plan. I have a tendency of booking in workouts / events without ever thinking about when I have planned to do other sweaty stuff which then means I end up with 4 consecutive days of workouts and I have to cancel one or more of them to ensure I get adequate rest. When I started the planner I was aiming to give Kayla Itsine's BBG another go... but surprise surprise, I failed spectacularly again! ...I always have so much else going on that I can rarely fit in her workouts unless it's the LISS or stretching!

The planner was super useful for tracking all my goals and helped me massively to get back on track with everything to start the New Year.

Photo Credit: Karen Oliver

The 12 Week Health, Fitness & Wellness Planner by Karen Oliver launched on Amazon in October 2016, and there is also a Facebook Group you can join in addition to Karen's blog which hosts recipes, product reviews and advice from guest health bloggers, personal trainers and nutritionists!

Do you use a planner to track your health, fitness and wellness goals?! 

Elle :) 

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20.2.17

Why running slowly isn’t actually a bad thing at all…

Hi Folks,
The lovely Elle has allowed me a little space on her blog to talk about how much I love cake. Just kidding, I’m sharing my thoughts about running, slowly, whatever ‘slow’ means to you…


After running for several years, covering a few half marathon’s, countless 6am run’s and falling in love with 5km distance, I started to wonder at what point I’d become entirely obsessed with pace? I think it was last year, I’d trained relentlessly for a new half marathon PB and it wasn’t meant to be. The track was tiny and we ended up walking most of the first 1.5miles due to congestion, the temperature soared and I finished the race with bleeding chaffing thighs and a face like thunder.

I wanted to stick my middle finger up at running. I cursed my body and failed to celebrate the fact I’d completed a trail half marathon and I felt like my best choice was to take a break…

Last month I attended a small female only trail running session, I was consistently last and was being lapped by everyone. You may think ‘that must have been awful and so demoralising?’ Not at all actually; because I’d changed my mindset, I loved running on steeper ground than ever before, I was happy with my pace and delighted just to be part of the event…

Let me explain what changed, I stopped apologising for being slow, I started being kinder to my body and as a result, I started really enjoying running again.


My running journey started when I was 25, I gently eased into run/walking and ran my first ‘Race For Life’ in 42 minutes. The following year I managed 34 minutes and felt completely elated, I wasn’t in the slightest bit bothered about my time, mostly I’d  run a 12minute mile and revel in the delight of being able to run.

Gradually I became a little faster, I started chasing a 30 minute 5km and after 10 months of training and the help of a pacer, I hit 30.48 and I nearly cried with delight when I saw that time. Fast forward a few more years, I was spending more time on social media, I was in a bad place with my body and I felt like I was constantly being judged on my times.

I then hit a 25.10 5km at my local park run, I stared at my watch with a strange mix of joy and anger. Part of me questioned why I hadn’t pushed more? I had to beat that time, it wasn’t good enough, and I’d forgotten why I started running. I’d forgotten that running was meant to be fun, that it was a way to see the world and chase the incredible runners high that we all should believe in.

I think it’s easy to forget that sometimes it takes a little courage and effort for some of us to enter a race, or even attend park run. We are so quick to praise the top 10, why do we forget about the last 10? They ran the same distance, it might have taken even more effort and it might even have been a personal best. For me, running is freedom, it’s my own personal time, it’s about embracing the simple fact my body is able to run and feeling good in every step, no matter how fast or slow. Pace simply cannot define the enjoyment of running or the way it should make you feel. I revel in moments when I complete a run and feel all uplifted and not downtrodden because of the time on my watch.

I stopped posting my running times and distances so frequently on social media, mainly due to the fact I felt that I was constantly comparing myself and losing what running meant to me. One run I wish I shouted about was the fact that my friend and set off into the darkness at 5.50am and ran 7.1 miles in 1.30 (12.40mm). What was so important about this run? I’ve never felt 90 minutes pass by so fast on a run, I didn’t check my watch, I didn’t feel like I would crash and burn, I just felt invigorated.


If you’re based in London and looking for a running group with a max pace of 10mm, I noticed that Lululemon is hosting a weekly run club from their Regents Street Store. This delighted me due to the fact many people I know dread turning up for group runs only to find the minimum pace is a ‘steady 9mm’. As strange as this may sound, when I’m relaxed and focused I can run this pace, put me under pressure or in a situation that involves conversation? No thanks! I just want to tell you about my new trainers and my cat whilst we run and that requires a slow, social pace.

I think we need to champion slow runners the same way we do fast runners, I lost my love for running due to the fact I let comparison steal my joy – Don’t make my mistake, own your pace, own your PB, own every mile, if you run, then that makes you a ‘runner’ and your pace does not come into it.

Now I’ve said that, pop on your trainers and go run, it doesn’t matter is it’s a 14-minute mile or a 9-minute mile and if you’ve set a new personal best for running happily? Let me know so I can give you a virtual high five!

Katie
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Katie is a 31 year old food, fitness and lifestyle blogger from Northampton. When she’s not eating, she’s working out, stalking Instagram, talking to her cat and/or planning her next meal. She likes to run, hates staring at her Garmin and enjoys buying new trainers. 

17.2.17

Review: WingLights Turn Signals for Bicycles

Time to take to two wheels to test out WingLights, £26.99 from cycle brand CYCL (available from Amazon); direction indicators for bicycles that fit easily onto the handlebars and are activated with a simple tap.

Except it wasn't me that got to road test them, cos I forgot my road bike wouldn't be able to accommodate them (insert crying emoji here!). But, Beki of Miss Wheezy, was happy to step in for me!

Photo Credit: Miss Wheezy

Product Description: WingLights Fixed are our brand new, non-magnetic turn signals, built to the same high specification as our original WingLights. However, unlike WingLights Mag, WingLights Fixed are permenantly attached to the mounting units and screw directly into your handlebar ends. Rather than clipping off to form a keyring, they stay on the bike until they are unscrewed.

Photo Credit: CYCL

The Set Up: It's supposed to be as easy as, 1, 2, 3! With WingLights Fixed, the pods make one with the mounters. This means you only need to screw them into your handlebars and you’re good to go. The mounters are compatible with all handlebars with an inner diameter from 14.7mm to 23mm.

Beki did have a few issues with the set up ...she said "I felt that the fitting wasn't quite ideal. Maybe I didn't follow the instructions properly or my bike isn't one they're designed for; On my bike they feel a little wobbly, and don't go in very far - maybe I need to try and screw them in further!"

The Road Test: Every year, there are approximately 19,000 accidents involving bicycles on the UK’s roads, with 75% of them occurring at junctions and major turns. CYCL aims to reduce this figure by helping to improve cyclists’ visibility in these dangerous areas and scenarios. When using WingLights as a supporting visual aid, you increase the likelihood of being seen by drivers and other cyclists. This ultimately lowers the chances of potential collisions and also helps to increase your confidence when riding.

Beki said "Really cool product, and the lights work really well. They're bright, easy to see and the button is simple to press." 

Verdict: Super useful for keeping you safe on the streets; I don't think you can ever have to many lights when you're on two wheels especially if you're out in the dark! There's also a pair which are magnetic meaning you can remove them (if you have to lock your bike up outside) and then they stick together, help together on a keyring. Money well spent to stay safe I'd say...


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13.2.17

London Winter Run 2017 - The Wrap Up Post

Back in October 2016, I came up with the idea of launching a Winter Run Club. I'm pretty sure a few people wondered what was in it for me, right?! ...and I think I've been honest the whole time. One of the biggest motivations behind starting the weekly meet up was to make sure I ran consistently. I was bored of doing what I normally do, not training for a race and I was curious to find out if I could run a sub 60 minute 10k again.

But each and every time I met someone new at Run Club, I had another reason behind dragging myself out of my warm flat to head in to Shoreditch and run...

...and these are just some of the amazing crew that came along with me for the journey over these past 14 weeks! A huge Well Done to everyone for smashing it on race day.... I've literally never been prouder!

My biggest Thanks goes to the team at TinyTY in Boxpark Shoreditch, who I couldn't have done this without! ...I loved that they loved my idea about the run club as much as I did and were fully supportive and welcoming each and every week we rocked up! ...The TinyTY branch is only a temporary space (you have to check them out in Covent Garden & Soho) and I know big things are on the cards for this amazing company which I hope to stay involved with!

I've run the London Winter Run every year since it started back in 2015 and featured my race reviews here (for 2015) and here (for 2016) ...but this year, my review will be in print in the April issue of Women's Running Magazine hitting shelves on the 23rd February 2017.


And I have some more Thank You's to share quickly before I go...

Firstly, to Pete aka Spree, who agreed to pace me on the day and did the best job keeping an eye on our pace, keeping me informed of the route and keeping me going. Cos y'all be pleased to know (if you don't already) that not only did I get a sub 60 minute 10km, I got a brand spanking new Personal Best of (official race time) 57:03 which replaces my long standing PB from all the way back in 2013!

Then, I have a huge Thank You for Nick and Jo at The Running School who worked with me on my running technique for weeks and instilled some confidence in me (they even got me thinking I can run faster than my new PB already!).

Thank You to Helen, Alana and Beki who co-lead Winter Run Club with me from beginning to end.

Thanks of course to Human Race who without a doubt, organised yet another great event! Along with recruiting an amazing set of Volunteers on the day without whom the race couldn't happen!


Winter Run Blog Posts you should check out... 
Miss Wheezy by Beki (#WinterRunClub co lead)
- A Pretty Place To Play by Bethan
- Adventures of Gemma by Gemma
- The Larns by Alana (#WinterRunClub co lead)
- 1 Vision 2 Girls by Helen (#WinterRunClub co lead)
- Rosh etc. by Rosh
- Laura: Fat 2 Fit by Laura
- Paddle Pedal Pace by Lucy
- Pixels Journey by Sandrine

...if you've written a post, please leave me a link in the comments or send via social media and I will add it to the list above!

The London Winter Run is gonna be back in 2018 on Sunday 4th February, so put the date in your diary now! ...I'm already excited although I don't wanna think about it being a whole new year!

Did you run this years race?! How did you get on?!


Elle :) 

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6.2.17

Run With Us || Running – How To Get Going

Run With Us is a series I started to coincide with the launch of #WinterRunClub back in October 2016. We're just about to wrap up our training for the London Winter Run (which was on Sunday 5th February 2017) but running is still very much going to be a focus moving forward!

The aim of the posts are to inspire you to keep pounding the pavements throughout the colder weather, to share knowledge with you and of course, to inspire you to Run With Us!

***

I’d done a bit of running in my day, mainly in the early ‘90s when my daughters were small, as a means to regain my fitness. More recently swimming had become my “go to” cardio. You can read more about all that here. I then bought a dog and began taking him on two good walks a day. At this time my eldest daughter had returned from University carrying much more weight than she’d gone with and she decided to take up running to rectify this. A good first step is to set a goal.

Armed with her Couch 2 5k app she began to accompany me on the dog walks and I soon found I was learning to run again too! (Team up with a friend) These apps are brilliant for advice and motivation along with the progressive increase in time, distance and pace. Don’t worry about the time it takes you to run any distance but keep increasing the distance, the rest will follow. These days’ things like Parkrun offer a regular, free, timed run for you to measure your improvement should you wish to and joining a running club might be a great way for you to improve.

You can start to run with nothing more than a pair of trainers, and, at least initially, I wouldn’t be concerned about their price tag or quality. This refinement can come as mileage and continued enthusiasm kick in!


Be sure to warm up, take rest days, stretch and mix in some strength training. This rounded approach will improve your running and help to keep you injury free. A regular massage is a great way to lessen muscle tension and improve range of motion.

My daughter progressed and has completed 5 half marathons and raised over £2,500 for the Alzheimer’s Society after she got a ballot place and ran the 2014 London Marathon on her 25th birthday. Oh and having done all the training with her for her first half marathon I did it too in 2 hours 4 minutes – not bad for a 50 something with dodgy knees!


Here are my 5 tips to get your running career started;

  1. Set a goal
  2. Use C25k – lots of apps available here is the link to the NHS one  
  3. Team up with a friend/join a club
  4. Listen to your body – warm up, rest, stretch, do some strength training (particularly glut work)
  5. Have fun!

How did you get started on your running journey?! Any other tips to share?! 

Jennifer Allen 

www.jenallenmassagetherapy.com || Facebook ||  Twitter @jenallenmassage || Instagram jenallenmassage
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