A Little Life Update / March '17

Well, I have the conversation more and more about how times goes faster as you get older. It's obvious, y'know. A month when you are 32 years old is a lot shorter than a month when you are say, only one year old! Anyway, my last life update post was in November, so no better time than now to check in and share a few bits of news which don't really warrant a blog post all of their own!

Photo Credit: lolography

I've added new classes to my schedule! ...Back in November I shared with you that I successfully auditioned at FRAME  for their Frame Lift class. Since then I also got trained up in their BoxFit concept and am slowly but surely learning the ropes of some more of their classes so I am able to not just take on cover but potentially be offered permanent classes. But there is no more potential about it as this week, I start teaching my first permanent Lift classes at Frame Shoreditch! Now I hope you're more of the early bird type than me as classes start at 645am and 715am (both 45 minutes) but I figured I could handle this once a week with a little organisation (pack my bag the night before) and getting to bed at a decent time! If you have any more tips to help me feel fabulous with a 5am alarm please do share them with me!

Did you see my feature in Women's Running magazine?! ...you can see more about this on my Instagram post (below) but if you haven't already, I think you still have a short amount of time to pick up the April issue and read my Contributors interview as well as my London Winter Run Race Report.

Amidst everything, I managed to take my business to launch successfully! ...you remember Borrow My Blender right?! I've been busy working on that business plan throughout 2016 and finally got the go ahead to go to launch group (kinda like Dragons Den) with The Princes Trust. I wasn't applying for a loan so the process was a little more straightforward but I still had to complete financial projections and such. So now, I think all the serious work begins and I know how powerful word of mouth is so please do give me a shout if you think we could work together or hear of an opportunity that you think would be a good fit! ...Keep an eye out on Facebook, Instagram and the website too to see where we will be popping up next (pssst, we'll be at lululemon Covent Garden for Mothers Day weekend and London Marathon weekend so pop by and see me for a complimentary smoothie...).

Photo Credit: Adidas Runners

I've managed to keep running even though my usual M.O is to stop after a race! ...the picture above is from International Women's Day at the new Adidas Studio on Brick Lane. I've been attending the Wednesday evening sessions whenever my schedule allows me and IWD happened to fall on a run club day... If I can't make the Wednesday evening sessions, I try to make it along to the Monday Adidas Runners South London sessions (mixed) which are usually a push in pace for me (boys clearly make the group run faster!). In my last life update, Winter Run Club had just smashed session number one and already we spent 14 weeks running together, ran our race (see update above) and have dissolved! I love being a part of a community when it comes to running and hope to get more involved with Adidas Runners if / when the opportunity arises!

I was also lucky enough to be invited along to a shoot with Adidas Runners with other members of the community so keep an eye out for when the campaign drops...

Last but not least, I've managed to rope myself into another audition, this time at Best's Bootcamp. I attended the launch of the studio back in May 2016. Now I didn't plan this, but I saw the audition notification on Instagram and figured I would enquire. I plan on attending even if just for the experience.... but who knows, eh?!

...and breathe!! ...I do have so much more coming up to share too, but I will save that for next month when it's all confirmed.

What's going on with you?! 

Elle :) 

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Capturing The Trails with Stance Europe

Photo Credit: James Carnegie on behalf of Stance Europe

That little smudge in the photo, just to the right of the very centre, is me, setting off on what was my first ever trail running experience. It was the closest I've been to being "new" to running in a long time... and I loved every single minute of it. 

There's not many events that could get me to set a 6am alarm on a Saturday morning. I sometimes can't even roll out of bed gone 8am to make it to Parkrun, but this weekend was different. I'd be heading to Surrey, Devils Punchbowl to be exact, with a coach load of people probably (well, I can confirm, most definitely) more experienced than me. But that didn't bother me because we all have to start somewhere and quite frankly I couldn't think of a better group of people to enjoy this day with...

The group was made up of a group of Outdoor Bloggers from Freestak, Runners Need staff, Runners Need customers (competition winers) and the team from Stance Europe themselves. The aim of the day? To conquer the trails and nail the art of creative photography while we were at it, being taught the basics by photographer, James Carnegie. 

Rookie Mistake No. 1: Not planning ahead and thinking breakfast was provided, therefore ending up having a coffee, two bananas and an orange for breakfast, some 5 hours after waking up

We started the day with our first workshop with James on how to get the most out of our smartphones  when it comes to photographs. Personally, I've never been a fan of using my iPhone for photos but I think thats mostly down to the fact I haven't been bothered to figure out how to do it properly. I'd pretty much thought I'd nailed the running selfie but it seems that James has some very high standards!

The main points we covered in this first workshop were the rule of thirds, leading lines and the rule of space. We also covered angleometry (think, the angle you take the photo from, framing and panning (to create movement in your photo). As I'm writing this I realise how much it is to convey in a blog post... I highly recommend if you're interested in photography you go take a little course (I took one back in 2015 I think which covered the basics and helped me to use my camera settings rather than relying on auto mode).

Photo Credit: IG @mrrichiep   

Armed with my iPhone 6s and a Joby GripTight GorillaPod Stand for Smartphones it was time to hit the trails...

Rookie Mistake No.2: Is it just me or does your iPhone never have enough memory?! I'm gonna have to delete every app on it so I can actually have some fun with it!

I had no idea what to wear and I did freak out a little that I didn't have trail shoes but then I was advised to just wear trainers that I didn't mind getting muddy / dirty and that had good grip. I wore my Skins KPropium tights as my hip was feeling a little dodgy and I figured the tights basically working a bit like kinesiology tape would be a huge benefit. We were super lucky with the weather being bright, dry and quite sunny while we were out and about. 

Photo Credit: James Carnegie on behalf of Stance Europe

Our goal as a small team of 6 was to run to a point in the park, stopping to take in the views and capture our best photos. The terrain was muddy, uneven and the worse case of undulating I could ever have imagined! With plenty of stops I had time to take in the views, get to grips with what James had shared with us as well as recover! I can't even explain how much time flies when you're running along verges, jumping over puddles, running up and down hills and capturing it all on camera. Before we knew it (well, my stomach informed me anyway), it was time to head back to base for the second workshop on editing and a spot of lunch.

My biggest takeaway from the editing workshop was the workflow that James suggested for editing photos:

Exposure / Brightness > Contrast > Highlights / Shadows > Saturation > Sharpening

I had literally been using a similar workflow, just the exact opposite way round! He also recommended Snapseed and VSCO apps as editing tools (I used to used Snapseed back in the day! ...and although I have VSCO on my phone I haven't had a chance to get my head around it!). I loaded up on carbs at lunch, oh, and cider then ended this adventure the only way I know how... with a nap on the coach headed back to London Town...

To see a sh*t ton of photos from the day, hop over to Instagram and check out #CaptureTrails and #StanceRun

Are you an avid trail runner?! Do you enjoy taking photos when you're out clocking up miles?! 

Elle :)

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5 Reasons To Hit The Slopes The Next Chance You Get

I just realised recently that it's been just over 5 years since my last real ski holiday in 2012 when I went to Levi in Finland. I mean, I've been skiing since then as I ended up living in Finland for a while, but my last real holiday... like 7 full days straight of skiing was that trip.

Me circa February 2012

I've had a ski trip on my "list" for the last couple years too but you know how life is... I even applied for a campaign which involved a ski trip a couple months ago but wasn't lucky enough to get selected. So until I make it on my next adventure, theres no harm in reminiscing about why I love when the mountains do call...

It's one of the few vacations that you actually could do with getting fit for...
It takes a fair bit of fitness to be able to spend hours and hours on the slopes. it won't do any harm to hit the gym before your trip to strengthen your legs, core and arms especially. Get your body used to the moves and positions you'll be using and also the level of endurance involved. During the season, some gyms even put on skit fitness classes so you don't have to do it on your own!

It can be an amazing combination of sunshine and snow...
My first ski trip to France was amazing... we took breaks at the top of the mountains, sitting in the sunshine. Wearing a base layer and a gilet was enough for most of the time too! When I came back to the UK my face was so sun kissed I didn't need to wear foundation for weeks! ...Finland was the very opposite, with temperatures of -40 so if you do want sunshine you need to pick your time and place appropriately!

Late night sun n Lapland, 2012

It's another opportunity to curate a fab wardrobe...
I'm sure I'm not the only one who loves the feel of new kit! I love shopping for everything about skiing; a standout jacket, cute socks, pyjamas to hang out in your Chalet, a warm hat, base layers with a pop of colour...

Check out my Pinterest 'Hit The Slopes' Board for outfit inspiration and more! 

You don't have to go too far to find slopes...
These days, with it almost being cheaper to fly to Europe than to travel across the UK, it means it's easier than ever to get to an awesome ski resort. Check out this post from Cheapflights for 5 European ski resorts with really fast airport transfers too!

Apr├Ęs Ski life is the one...
All I remember is afternoon tea with a fresh baked caked, 3 course dinners, and if we could stay up long enough, trips down to the pub to hang out with new friends made each day. When I went to Les Deux Alpes, there was even a heated outdoor swimming pool which you could take a dip in while it was actually snowing!

Evening Reindeer Sledge Ride, 2012

There are also so many other activities that you can get involved in, from cross country skiing (read about my experience here) to snow shoeing, husky rides and tours to see if you can spot the Northern Lights (if you've chosen to ski that far north)

When was the last time you hit the slopes?! Which is your favourite resort?!

Elle :)

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Kitchen Empties #3 - The Holland & Barrett Edition

Back at the start of 2016, I started this Kitchen Empties series. I got the idea from the beauty bloggers and make up artists I follow who all do these posts with their "empties" chatting about all the products that have finished in their beauty cabinet. I'm not a beauty blogger, and even so, I don't have enough "smellies" to create such a post ...but what I do, do, is eat a lot of food. A LOT. So I decided to save some my my kitchen empties and share them with you if I especially loved them. Here is #3, picking up from all the way back in January 2016 (yikes)... and is a special edition 'haul post' from Holland & Barrett.

Back in January, I popped along to the Holland & Barrett store in Marble Arch to celebrate their opening. This particular store is actually their biggest in the UK including a vegan nail bar, an olive bar, a body composition experience and so much more! I spent almost an hour wandering around checking out all the amazing products that they stock and picked a few to test out and share with you here...

Ecodenta Extra Black Whitening Toothpaste 
So this product was new to me - basically black toothpaste! I've been using in now for about 6 weeks and love it. I mostly use it at night, as it keeps my mouth pretty fresh all night. It's ironic that it has whitening properties when it actually is as black as coal! It's also currently on offer for £1.99 (from £4.49) || Shop Here

Choccy Peckish Peanuts
I'm a huge fan of snacking and sometimes I want something that doesn't taste like its been dug out of the ground and can be classed as a little treat. I think chocolate covered peanuts do this for me technically being a good source of protein and fat then smothered in chocolate. I have no idea how many servings this bag is suggested to be but for me I can eat the whole lot in one go... 

Nature's Garden Turmeric 400mg 
Turmeric has more recently found itself a place on the superfood list being renowned for its anti inflammatory properties. I've tried it in smoothies and it's not bad. I've tried cooking with it and its great... bar the fact it turns everything yellow which it comes into contact with! In capsule form though, its perfect. The dosage is to take one, twice per day which I try to do especially on days where I have been excising or feel my body just needs a little extra help with recovery.

Yogi Tea Organic Choco
Who doesn't love a good cuppa?! ...I try not to drink too much coffee at home so I like to have a range of herbal teas in my cupboards to help with my hydration levels. If you're expecting this to taste like chocolate though, think again. Think more spicy and warming perfect for a chilly afternoon (...maybe with a slice of banana bread?!).

{ Link }

Pulsin Maple and Peanut Protein 50g bar 
These have been a firm favourite of mine for years now, but as with most things I go through phases. They're perfect right now seeing as I am basically vegan(ish), they contain no dairy or soya too which are things I try to avoid. They are also the perfect portion for your handbag to save you in those emergencies between meals or when you are 'on the go'.

{ Link }

What have been your favourite "finds and finished" products recently?!

Elle :)

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p.s I was gifted these products in a goody bag but as always all opinions are my very own! ...and the biggest testament to these products are that firstly, I chose them, then I ate them and finished them! lol ;)


How To Build Your Perfect Post-Workout Smoothie

A couple weeks ago I attended an event on the South Bank hosted by John Lewis for their #MyWellbeing campaign. On the evening itself, we took part in a nutrition talk before heading to the kitchen to try out some smoothie recipes. With it being so cold the past few months I'd really fallen off the bandwagon with smoothies and business wise (Borrow My Blender) my head had been stuck in finishing my business plan so more writing about smoothies rather than making them.

Hayley Pedrick from The Nutrition Coach talked us through pre-workout smoothies and the benefits, post-gym/workout smoothies and what to include but I wasn't a huge fan of the recipes we tried out on the night - I personally like to use between 4-6 ingredients maximum and also things you'd find in your cupboard everyday (if you're like me anyway). So I thought I'd share with you my simple fail safe guide for putting together the perfect smoothie using whatever you have on hand...

Choose Your Base
Almond milk / Coconut water  - I use 1 cup (approx 250 - 260ml)
Banana (1/2 frozen) or avocado is a good alternative

Add a Protein Powder (optional)
I've been using vegan Chocolate & Vanilla protein powders

Throw In Some Fruit & Veg (1/2 fruit, large handful of veg)
Mixed berries

Pimp It With Superfoods 
Cacao nibs (1 tbsp)
Bee pollen (1 tbsp)
Cinnamon (1/2 tbsp)
Flax (1 tbsp)

What Else?
Almond butter (1 tbsp)
Agave (if you need it sweeter, to taste)
Oats (2-3 tbsp)
Natural yogurt (2-3 tbsp)

Recipe Suggestions: 

1. Almond milk, banana, chocolate protein, cacao nibs, blueberries, oats, almond butter

2. Almond milk, banana, vanilla protein, cinnamon, almond butter, oats

After exercise, we have 30min recovery window which is when your body is best prepared to receive & store carbs (uptake is 2-3 times more rapid than at any other point in the day). This is best received as a liquid rather than solid for absorption and hydration so smoothies are the perfect option.

We also got to test out a selection of blenders available from John Lewis; working with Beki (of Miss Wheezy), we used a Kenwood model which took a little getting used to even just to get the lid off! It made me super happy with investment in a Vitamix at home!

Before we tucked into our smoothies on the evening, we took part in a mat Pilates class led by Lottie Murphy. Lottie says that "Pilates is great for anyone and it doesn’t matter what level of fitness you are or how flexible you are, it’s a fabulous form or mind and body conditioning. It’s amazing for your core and we focused a lot on that during the class as it’s an area a lot of us neglect but it’s also amazing for strengthening and mobilising your spine and joints.

The key with Pilates is precision of movement and alignment, so it’s important to really focus on this during each exercise to get the most benefits."

What's your go to post workout smoothie / snack?! 

Elle :) 

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