1 September 2014

Living the simpElle life: Sian

Let's welcome in September - the month that we probably say goodbye to summer - with some inspiration from someone I've met on my journey over the past couple of years. 

Continuing this fortnightly mini series - Living the simpElle life - where I talk to someone who has been empowered to change.

I heard a great phrase last year -

"The Universe is made up of stories, not of atoms"

 - so that is what I want to share with you, stories, to open up the Universe to us all!

Each individual we meet embodies what this blog is about. They have dug deep to find motivation, they have sought inspiration and in doing so become inspirational to others. They have been empowered with knowledge to change and I hope that is what their story will do for the rest of us...

Meet: Sian Kneller of www.dashing-divas.com

I met Sian at the Zero Calorie Advent  Calendar event last year; we'd already known of each other via social media. I remember reading Sian's blog and loving her uniques style, amazing pictures and all the running stories! She inspired me to continue on my journey to reach a new personal best for 10km. 

...here's Sian's story...
- {THEN} - 

Elle: What made you decide to start training / running? ...What were your plans / goals?

Sian: I started training properly after I came back from Kilimanjaro in September 2011. At the time, I was overweight and nowhere near the fitness level for taking on such a task, and needless to say, I didn’t reach the summit and was emotionally crushed. The whole experience was so traumatic that I decided to up the anti by getting my eating under control, hiring a personal trainer and running. It was tough to start with because at the time I was naturally lazy, but something clicked inside of me and I knew that if I wanted to change I needed to push myself and get it done.

The weight dropped off such that by January 2012, I had shifted a third of my body weight and had gone from a size 16-18 to a size 8-10. I ran my first half marathon in the February 2012 in a time of 2:10 and summited my first mountain, Toubkal in Morocco. From there on my love of running, travelling and summit bagging started. 

Being fit and strong has opened my eyes to what I can achieve in every aspect of my life – it’s given me confidence, focus and an excellent excuse to travel! 

- {HOW} - 

Elle: What's your favourite way to workout?

Sian: I would probably say boxing because it’s got a combination of strength, power and intense cardio. It’s all about technique too and with proper training you can really see yourself improve. I am also really into cycling at the moment – I love how you can get so far on the bike under your own steam. I’m hoping to start cycling to work over the next week or so (44 mile round trip). 

Elle: What / who has been your inspiration?

Sian: The people I have met through my blog and twitter – there are some amazing people out there constantly pushing themselves. Probably the most inspiring of all is Charlie [http://www.therunnerbeans.co.uk] who is well on her way to achieving a sub 4-hour marathon. 

Elle: What was the first big difference in you, that made you feel proud and excited? 

Sian: Probably when I reached the summit of Toubkal in January 2012. After the disappointment of Kilimanjaro, I realised how far I had come. The 6 hours of vertical ascent were tough both physically and mentally, but I did it and I was so proud of myself. I realised that anything was possible for me after that if I just believed in myself.

Elle: Did you make any changes to your diet once you started training? 

Sian: I stopped eating a loaf of bread a day (it soon adds up: 2 slices of toast, a sandwich, garlic bread!) and a massive bowl of cereal in the morning. That made a huge difference! I also increased the vegetables in my diet, slow release carbs and upped the protein.

 - {NOW} - 

Elle: How do you track your progress?

I guess my blog is the best way of tracking my progress – I look back through old posts every now and again to remember how far I’ve come. I also time myself on my runs using my TomTom multisport and do a lot of races so I can see how fit I am at the time and if I need to up my game training wise.  

Elle: Have your goals changed since you started your journey? 

Sian: My goals are constantly evolving and changing – some people exercise to stay in shape, I exercise to better myself and to see what my body is capable of. A great example of this is that I took up cycling a mere 2 months ago and then cycled 44 miles last Sunday! My next big goals are to climb Kilimanjaro and this time reach the summit, run a half marathon in 1:50, and cycle from London to Paris, but I also have lots of smaller more manageable goals like taking part in my first duathlon and triathlon next month.

Elle: How do you keep yourself motivated?

Sian: I try to make exercise fun – if it is dull, involves standing on a x-trainer for 45 minutes whilst watching loose women, I simply won’t stick to it. I enjoy running and cycling in the fresh air and getting out of the house. Blogging also keeps me motivated because it keeps me accountable – if I say I’m going to run a marathon then that makes it real, and therefore my pride makes me stick with it. My advice to anyone who is thinking of making the move from couch potato to fitness junkie is to announce your intentions to the world! ☺

Elle: If you could go back and give advice to the "before" you...or any other person contemplating changing their lifestyle...what would you say?! 

Sian: I would tell myself to embrace exercise and have fun with it. It shouldn’t feel like a chore and if it does it’s time to shake things up, and try something new. For example, if you hate aerobics classes, why not try boxing or a martial art? Exercise gives you wings – if you are fit and healthy, you can do almost anything you want to do. 

...so what d'ya think?! 

If you'd like to leave Sian a comment below please do!

If you would like to share your own story please get in touch with me: {Contact Elle}

Until then, keep living that simpElle life ;) 

Elle :) 

28 August 2014

More Whole30 - 14 Days Later

It's been 14 days since I finished my first ever Whole30. I didn't include everything in my last post as that mostly covered the final 10 days of the challenge. Now I'm ready to share with you the results in regards to my goals and what life has been like since. 

Here's a recap of why I chose to complete a Whole30:

1.. For Clearer skin

2.. To wake up feeling energised with no need to hit the snooze button 

3.. Reduce cravings for junk food and empty calories

4.. Increased energy levels, reduce anaemia symptoms 

5.. To supplement my workouts, make the most of the training I do, value the training I do by respecting my body and what I put into it, fuelling well for training, improved performance 

And I guess you wanna know if I achieved my goals, huh?! 

Let's start with clearer skin. I can't say I saw a change at all. This was probably the most disappointing thing for me in a sense but what it does show is that my diet is not what is causing my skin issues. Therefore, I will need to investigate other options maybe after speaking to a professional. 

Waking up feeling energised. This definitely did happen! I began waking up naturally around 6am...before my alarm. At some point, I started going to bed a little later as I had more energy and waking up around 7am. More hours mean more time to get things done! I do need to be more strict with myself about the snooze button though! I may go back to putting my alarm on the other side of the room so I have to get out of bed to turn it off! 

Reduce cravings and eliminate empty calories. This happened for sure! I went to just 3 meals a day rather than what had become normal for me - 3 meals a day plus plenty of snacking. I didn't really crave junk food - I had huge cravings for pineapple which I fed! Closer to the end I did start to crave cookies though. I remedied this when the 30 days were complete. 

Reduce anaemia symptoms. It's hard to tell the results of this one as I have been taking iron tablets since I hit a low earlier this year. I forget to take them some days though and haven't felt this has been detrimental. My body isn't showing signs of excess iron so I am happy I am getting just about enough right now. 

Training. I've survived crossfit sessions and even worked hard in them. I've done all this and not had to sleep for the rest of the day. My midriff is more toned since Whole30 and my abs are more visible! Who wouldn't love that?! It's motivated me to continue to train and keep up the good work. 

One massive benefit which I had forgotten about was my stomach issues. Late last year I ended up in hospital with a bleeding stomach after my doctor prescribed me some pills without giving me the medication that would protect my stomach at the same time. Ever since then, my stomach was never the same - anytime I got hungry I would have pain and it felt like my stomach was eating itself. I'm grateful that now, it seems my stomach has had the time to heal and so far I've had no tummy issues. 

Weight and Measurements 

According to the records, I lost 1.7kgs over the 30 days and 0.6% Body Fat. I also lost 1.5cm from my waist but nothing from anywhere else. These changes show that waist measurement is linked to your diet...considering when I used Zaggora Hot Pants I only saw changes in my thighs and hips! Bear in mind though that these results are by no way scientific I've just sharing out of curiosity! 

80/20 Living 

For me, Whole30 has been an eye opener and a lifestyle change. I'm aware that splurging occasionally is not going to have much of an impact on my health in the long term if I have a great diet, which is why I've chosen the 80/20 rule as a guideline to live by post Whole30.

"Be good 80% of the time with your diet, and the other 20% leaves room for those times when you go to parties, when you don’t have your lunch prepared or when you just feel like some homemade chocolate shortbread"

I'm still enjoying myself experimenting with Whole30 compliant recipes and home cooking has got me fully hooked! I'm happy to save a burrito from Benito's Hat for a treat day...I'm even happier to make my own version of a burrito at home!

FYI, I added white potatoes back into my diet on Day 30 at the wedding I attended. They were boiled and for the meal above they were steamed.

I haven't missed calorie counting. In fact, it's been refreshing not to have to think about calories. I started the 30 days eating some giant portions as that's what my body needed to get over the fact I wouldn't be feeding it every 2-3 hours. Over the 30 days, my portions have been reduced a little. Not actively - just by listening to my body. Post Whole30 I went out for dinner at a rib shack where I took home a doggy bag. This may have been the first time ever I didn't finish the entire meal! What I had leftover served me for lunch the next day to the point that I was stuffed all over again. I was surprised that previously I would have eaten every morsel...

All my meals are home cooked but I think I spend less time in the kitchen. A couple hours can see me prepare enough food for  about 3 days. The accompaniments can literally be thrown together - i.e steaming some broccoli, sautéing some courgettes or chopping up a salad - maybe while I make breakfast or am warming up another meal.

I'm not saying Whole30 is for everyone but I tried it and enjoyed it. I'd go as far as saying I found it pretty easy but that's because I had made so many changes to my diet in the months leading up to starting this. I had the amazing support of good friend and housemate, Alicia who did it with me at the same time. Support from my mum who went all out to ensure my needs were met when I visited, and support from friends and bloggers who have done it before! A special Thanks to Leah for sharing her experiences in the first place and answering all my questions at the start! Thanks too to everyone in the Whole30 community especially on IG where I got a lot of inspiration for recipes and motivation!

If you're out there and are thinking about completing a Whole30 or any other diet / lifestyle change, please don't hesitate to get in touch! Making changes is so much easier when there are people there to support you...

Elle :) x 

25 August 2014

Brixton 10km 24th August 2014 #MyMoments

I woke up this Sunday morning, tired with no desire whatsoever to run 10,000m. Nonetheless, I got out of bed, threw some clothes on and cycled just 15 minutes up the road to Brockwell Park. Any enthusiasm I could have mustered was killed by a freezing cold ride to the park, to be greeted with blazing sunshine when I arrived (wearing two long sleeved tops) ...oh and hills for days!

It took a matter of seconds to pick up my race number which I pinned to my top then spent the next twenty minutes wondering if I would look lazy sitting on the ground. I opted for the middle ground and sat on a tree stump until the warm up began - which I just watched.

9.30am on the dot and we set off. The first hill came just 1km into the route. A route which was 3 laps of the outer edges of the park.

I'm not gonna lie, I struggled on the hills, mainly because I have focused so much on cycling that running has taken a backseat in duathlon training. I used this 10km as thinking time though - to get together a list of everything I needed to do before the duathlon...

- order a new cycle helmet 
- set up lock laces in running shoes and have a trial run 
- order in energy supplies for event day 
- trial kit for race day (with various weather options)
- book train tickets to travel on race day 
- practice running without music 
- work out an alternative way to track my distance / speed while running (no phones allowed during the event) 
- practice cycling hills 
- plan my race day breakfast 

picture from runthrough.co.uk

picture from runthrough.co.uk

The good thing is I finished. Not my fastest 10km by far but I was just aiming to finish - as for the London Duathlon, in which I will need to cycle 22km after and then run another 5km.

I ran through the finish line, took a sharp turn, ran to my bike, jumped on and cycled home as fast as I could. This didn't feel too bad...I only cycled 2 miles but I think I could've gone 22km had I needed to! 

Brockwell Park was so beautifully hilly and close that I think I will be back down there with my bike to practice cycling hills. Richmond Park, where the LD is taking place is known for being hilly too! So I want to turn up on race day prepared...and today was a part of that...

What races did you take part in this weekend gone?! Did you come to any realisations while out running?! 

Any kit tips for my duathlon? How do you track your runs without your phone?! 

Elle :) 


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