Whole 30 Introduction with Leah (Naturally, Leah)

I'm not quite sure when I decided, but at some point I did, decide to complete the Whole 30 challenge! I've followed Leah's blog during the times she has completed it, and read all the stories she has shared. This year, I totally cleaned up my diet but it just doesn't seem to quite give me the results I want. I'm heading closer and closer to my 30th birthday this year so no better time to reset...

...and no better person to fill us in before we (see what I did there!) get started...

Hi! I’m Leah – a Kiwi girl living in London and blogging over at www.naturallyleah.com. I’m a runner, a yogi – and a total Whole 30 convert.

Elle: Do you remember life before Whole 30?

Leah: Do I ever! My whole health was, and had been for a while, a bit of a mess. I’d been trying to clean things up nutritionally and exercise wise for a while, and was making some good progress – but I still wasn’t getting the results I wanted. I regularly suffered from migraines, eczema, irritable bowel syndrome, insomnia and general blah-ness.

Elle: How did you come across Whole 30?

Leah: Through trying to change my diet in different ways, I eventually stumbled across the paleo diet and I started reading. So many of the blogs mentioned a website called Whole 9 Life, and I started reading about Dallas and Melissa Hartwig’s concept “the whole 30”. I was convinced it was for me – but I wasn’t ready to take the plunge. Various reasons held me back – unemployment and lack of money, focusing on other things, travel. I shelved the whole idea for nearly two years, but it was always at the back of my head.

When I heard that Dallas & Melissa were releasing a book, I was on the pre-order list straight away. A few months later, I read It Starts With Food cover to cover in a day. I picked up my diary, circled 1 January 2013, and that was that. My first Whole 30 was coming up!

Elle: And what made you think it was for you?

Leah: Everything that was written on the website and in the book resonated with me. The way your health really does start with food, with what you put IN to your body. I’d seen doctors for my symptoms and they had advised creams for this and pills for that – but to me, that wasn’t fixing the CAUSE, it wasn’t telling me WHY I was having these symptoms in the first place. I didn’t want a bandaid to cover it until next time, I just didn’t want my body feeling like that full stop!

There were case studies and testimonials galore from people who had changed their life by resetting their nutrition this way. People who had fixed ailments and diseases WAY more serious than mine. People that were healthy and glowing and loving life. I wanted to be like those people – so I gave it a try. After all, it was JUST 30 days!

Elle: What’s involved in getting ready for a Whole 30?

Leah: I’d like to say “nothing, just start!” but the reality is, the more prepared you are, the easier it will be. Yes it’s only 30 days – but it can still be tough going. There are a lot of habits you will need to retrain yourself in!

I think reading It Starts With Food and the complete programme guidelines (available free at www.whole30.com) before you get started is an absolute must.

Clear out your cupboards or remove non-compliant foods, and stock them with good compliant ingredients. Sit down and make a week 1 meal plan. It takes all the guessing and questioning out of it.

I’ve got a full list of my tips for starting a Whole 30 here! http://www.naturallyleah.com/food/whole-30/10-tips-for-starting-a-whole-30/

Elle: What was your first Whole 30 like?

Leah: Eye opening. I never knew how much food could affect my body – and I’m not just talking body composition or weight. It affected my moods and emotions, my sleep, my hair, skin and nails, my eyes!

There’s a bit of a cycle that you go through on a Whole 30 – and for sure, the first week is always rough. I had to take 2 days off work with severe migraines….and yet I had thought that “I didn’t eat that bad”! But gradually as the days ticked over I felt better and better and better and suddenly it clicked and I felt AMAZING! I wondered why I had waited so long to get started!

Elle: How does that compare to your most recent Whole 30?

Leah: I’ve just finished my fourth Whole 30. My body went through the same cycle – I felt awful for a week, and then it was all uphill from there! It’s slightly easier because I know what to expect, I’m familiar with the food I can eat, I know what my go-to recipes are, and I know how awesome I will feel (and look) at the end.

Elle: What have been your biggest learnings?

Leah: Definitely I learnt so much about how certain foods affect my body. I never realised that it was grains that left me bloated, sugar that stopped me from sleeping, and dairy that had me running for the bathroom!

Elle: Do you still exercise whilst on a Whole 30?

Leah: Absolutely! During the first week you feel awful (be kind to yourself), and the second week the extreme tiredness sets in – but I continued marathon training with no problems while doing a Whole 30. In fact, I believe my body is better fuelled, performs better and recovers faster on a Whole 30 diet.

Elle: Could you sum up the 30 days in a verbal (para)graph?!

Leah: I can’t say it any better than the Whole 30 timeline – here: http://whole30.com/2013/08/revised-timeline/

Elle: What changes / results did you get from the 30 days?

Leah: So I know I have preached how awesome and amazing I felt, but you guys want to know the real guts of it don’t you? How much weight do you lose?

This is not a weight loss plan. If you are doing it for those reasons, go find something else. This is about body, mind and soul – NOT the scales. But, yes, the weight loss is a nice side effect – every Whole 30 I have averaged a 3-6kg weight loss.

Other results:
-       WAY less bloating – you know how some days you get up and put on your trousers, and then by night time they are so tight? Yeah, none of that!
-       Waking up before the alarm, naturally, refreshed and ready to face the day
-       Falling asleep easily and sleeping right through, deeply and soundly. No more 2am insomnia episodes
-       Clearer skin, shinier hair, longer and stronger nails, and clearer brighter eyes – I get comments that I am “glowing” or “looking healthy” frequently
-       No 3.30pm sugar cravings or energy crashes – my energy levels stay steady throughout the day
-       I’m just HAPPY. My emotions are stable and I can handle stressors easily
-       No IBS symptoms, no migraines, no eczema
-       Better performance in training, faster recovery
-       My body just feels like it’s humming along like it should

Elle: What is / are your favourite Whole 30 compliant recipe(s)?

Leah: Anything from the cookbooks Well Fed and Well Fed 2 by Melissa Joulwan. I am constantly cooking recipes out of these books and haven’t found one I didn’t drool over yet! My absolute favourite is Moroccan Meatballs.

Elle: Do you keep any of the ‘guidelines’ incorporated into your life post Whole30? Which ones?

Leah: Yes – I stay completely dairy free (lactose is NOT my friend) and I realised that I quite like black coffee! I don’t need soy/rice/almond milk in it at all. We also no longer buy or cook bread, pasta or rice. We just don’t need it with our meals now.

Outside of the Whole 30 I relax – life is for living, and of course I enjoy cake as much as the next person – but we try and keep our general weekly meals as compliant as possible. That way, when we do indulge in other foods it’s generally because we are out or socialising or it’s a special occasion – so we savour and really enjoy the food!

I also rarely drink alcohol and don’t keep it in the house – again, only for special occasions!

Elle: What’s next for you and Whole 30?

Leah: I plan to continue with them two or three times a year. I also know that I have the Whole 30 in my toolkit to revisit when I am feeling those blah body feelings creep back in (often after long periods of travelling, or high stress at work). I am a big fan of the January Whole 30 – it really sets you up for a good year ahead, and last year I did one at the end of summer (to reset after the excesses of the summer months!). 

Feel free to contact me should you have any questions on the Whole 30 – or to share your own experience! I share a lot of my meals on Instagram (@naturallyleah), and on my blog www.naturallyleah.com. Connect with me on twitter @leahnaturally or facebook https://www.facebook.com/NaturallyLeah

....Erm, so who's seriously considering joining me now?!

Elle :) 


Vitality Run Hackney 2014 Half Marathon #MyMoments

I get home from running this race and I feel a little indifferent. Part of me is soooo happy but part of me thinks I could have done better. These moments I document here though are the sum of what was a day to remember...

VITALITY RUN HACKNEY HALF MARATHON | London. Heat. East London. Running. Olympic Legacy. 13.1 miles. Goals. 

BEFORE | #MyMoments
In an attempt to be organised, I prepped and packed my kit the night before as well as planning my journey in advance. It was an early 9am race start...on a Sunday so transport options were limited. 

I fuelled up with avocado on toast (bread baked myself the day before!) before heading out the door to get the bus to the tube station. However, when I got to the tube station, it was shut! Sh*t! I power walked down the road and round the corner to the bus stop to hopefully get my journey going! As I turned the corner I saw the bus making moves to leave and started running / waving / looking like a crazy girl in tiny shorts at 7am on a Sunday morning?! Either way, the bus driver stopped for me...for which I am very grateful! 

All's well that ends well and I made it to my destination, via a 20 minute walk to the village from the nearest station. Between a few signs placed by the race organisers and the droves of people looking like an army of ants making their way to the race village, it was pretty easy to find! 

DURING | #MyMoments
9am race start. I arrived at the race village just gone 8am and after finding where I needed to be, depositing my bag and sorting my race number out, it was 8.50am. I didn't receive any safety pins in my race pack and had no time / did not remember to pick any up before race day! Luckily, others came more than prepared so I was sorted! 

I made my way to the race start where there was some confusion about where I could start so I decided to just start in a really fast pen so I could just get going sooner rather than later. That pen was the sub 1:45...I figured I might be able to run this race in 2 hours. I hadn't figured it was going to be so hot though. 

photo courtesy of Run Hackney

Once the wheelchair racer and elites got going, the rest of us were not far behind! I started running with the clock at around 2 minutes! 

ROUTE | Hackney Marshes. Hackney Central. Hackney Empire. Broadway Market. Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. London. 2014. 

photo courtesy of Run Hackney

photo courtesy of Run Hackney

The first km was interesting - I felt like I ran slow but feedback told me it was a 5 min km which is super speedy for me. I attempted to slow down a little, and averaged about 5 min 30 for the next few kms. This all brought me in nicely to a 1 hour 10km, just about the half way point. I was still good to go by this point - I'd seen Nkeiruka and Ogechi marshalling, I'd been taking in the sights as that part of London was pretty new to me and I was feeling good! I worked hard on keeping hydrated all week ready for today, and packed a small bottle of water in my race belt along with my energy chews. I picked up water at the first water station (around the 5km mark) and then again at the 10km mark. It was a little difficult to tell as the signage didn't always match what happened! 

photo courtesy of Run Hackney

The mile markers were dubious ...I didn't see one for a long time at the start...then I remember seeing a sign saying water ahead...but that water was not there?! I was relieved I had brought some along with me so when I picked up the water provided I could drink some and spray the rest on my body to help cool down. 

Post 10km now things started to slow down a little. The heat wasn't letting up, shade was minimal and my lack of training started to show. At 15km, my legs pretty much wanted to give up! The flat as a pancake route (as quoted by race organisers) didn't help in that it wasn't what I would consider flat! There was nothing I could do about this now though...I just had to figure out in my head what I needed to do to finish...with a PB! Somewhere in here though I saw Nkeiruka and Ogechi again, as well as Chi-Chi which really put a spring in my step! I stopped to say hi and shove some energy chews down my throat to get me to the end...then I was off again! 

Photo taken by Ogechi :) 

My Nike+ app was confusing me as the voice feedback only ever gave me an average pace - trying to do maths when running a half marathon is not really a good idea! I think I got confused and thought I had more time to spare but soon realised that around 17.5km (where I had hoped to have reached after 1 hr 45 mins) I was not gonna hit my 2 hour prediction. Then I had to fight for 2 hrs 15 mins. 

photo courtesy of Run Hackney

photo courtesy of Run Hackney

Miles 9 - 12 had to be the most demoralising miles ever. Although they were based in the Olympic Park the route looped back on itself a number of times. The markers were not clear for which direction meaning you passed mile 12 when you were in mile 10 and nowhere close to the 12 mile mark. After the 13 mile marker...marshals were proudly shouting "you're in your last mile!!"...there's me thinking no sh*t sherlock! I wanna know the exact distance I have to go!! That last 0.1 mile though had to be the longest I have ever experienced in my life...

photo courtesy of Run Hackney

Huge shout out to Shameek of Run Dem who I spotted in the "last mile". We had a little chat whilst running and he pepped me up to finish, to get that PB I was aiming for. Two more turns he told me...so...one.... .... ....two... and there was the finish line, full of people cheering everyone in! I mustered up some energy...heard my name being shouted (Thanks Jen!) and powered through to the end!! The clock read 2:24 summit. 

The best outcome of the morning had to be the fact that I achieved a PB! 2:21:16 ...just 6 or 7 mins off my first ever (and only previous) time but considering everything...the heat... not as much training as I should have done... I think I did pretty darned well!! 

What it did do is motivate me to train, to achieve another PB! I feel like I could've pulled this off in 2 hours 10 mins with just a little more endurance training so I'm looking for the next event to sign up to... I'm looking at you Brighton February 2015! ...oh and maybe one half way between?! ...this must be what they call the runners high...

POST | #MyMoments

I took a deep breath...then spotted Alicia at the sideline with a bottle of water ready for me! I hadn't had a chance to confirm with Alicia if she was coming down and spent part of my run wondering if she would! So when I spotted her, I was soooo happy! 

I went on to grab my medal...my goody bag.... then join Alicia's camp to cheer some finishers in! We were there for a while so saw many broken, tired, runners make it to the very end...I spared a thought for those I had seen collapsed at the side of the course but each and every one of them were being well tended to by route marshals and medics. 

NeXt TiMe I wOuLd LiKe To SeE- 
For the first ever Hackney Half, this was an exceptional event. But, nothing or no-one is perfect, right?! So here is my feedback for next time...

*Make the starting pens wider...most of the runners started outside the pens which felt a little unorganised. There was plenty of room to go wider...

*I personally didn't have an issue with hydration but it seems many others did. A good call would be to provide more water on route. 

*Improve the placement / visibility of the mile markers. Maybe include a way of using km markers also?! In addition, use more pacers...I saw one pacer the entire time I ran....at the start and never again! Having 2 -3 pacers per group would mean less crowding and more awareness for those running. 

*Where was the race t-shirt?! Even a non technical one would've been nice...after people paid £40 to enter! I understand closing roads costs money, but people always want things in addition to the medal they can take away to remember the experience... I'm not likely to wear my medal again...

*Did all the money go on putting on the 5km the day before?! Because, those who ran the half basically got the same medal as those who ran the free 5k the day before... Paying £40 warrants a different medal...a bigger medal...a medal that has the distance and date on the front...

*The premium goody bag was interesting. I'd drop the word premium. It was a decent goody bag...it wasn't out of this world. Popcorn, a snack bar, seed snack packet, mini shower gel...

*The Marshals were pretty darned fabulous!! More runners as marshals though... Becca shares why in her blog post about marshalling this event {READ HERE} 

Elle :) 

Those interested in registering for the 2015 Vitality Run Hackney on 21 June 2015 can register their interest at www.runhackney.com .

 www.runhackney.com  |  @RunHackney  |  facebook.com/runhackney


Guest Post: Veg Salad Bowl

Just looking at this recipe makes me feel hungry...since the start of 2014 I have been what I called 'pseudo-vegetarian'vegetarian by choice, when the feeling takes me...but eating non vegetarian products should I wish! ...It's funny, when something is not forbidden you don't crave it all that much! 

Some of the ingredients in this recipe are new to me though...mushrooms for example, have never been included in my diet before! I think I don't like them but have used portobello mushrooms to make a falafel from the Honestly Healthy cookbook! ... But read Kaitlin's information below to check out what else goes into this meal...

Kaitlin says...I love a quick, healthy, filling meal and these days I'm obsessed with veg bowls! I mix up the veg but always have either quinoa or buckwheat for carbs and protein, and layer with healthy fats like coconut oil or avocado and veggies for fibre and loads of vitamins and minerals. 

I like to cook up a big batch of the quinoa and dress it with olive oil and tamari, then keep it in a jar for the week. 

For this bowl, I added to the quinoa; basil tofu, sautéed mushrooms, avocado and crispy kale. But I rotate my veg every week to ensure my body is getting different nutrients all the time. 

This is the perfect healthy meal, and it's  super yummy and easy to make, hope you love it!


For more food inspiration you can follow Kaitlin on Instagram!

If you try the recipe, let us know what you think via the comments section below, Twitter / Facebook and share with your friends! 

Elle :) 


Living the simpElle life: Sharon

As we continue completing the steps towards achieving our individual goals, it's always great to hear about the journeys of others. What struggles have they faced? How have they felt? Where have they surpassed their own expectations?! 

No better way to find out the answers than to ask the questions in the form of this mini series - Living the simpElle life - where I talk to someone who has inspired me with their story.

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 that is what their story will do for the rest of us...

Meet: Sharon Tsang 

I met Sharon a few years ago through teaching Nike Training Club sessions in London. I don't remember the first time we met, I just remember her being a part of my world as if she had always been there! Bubbly, fun to be around and always game for the next challenge...that's the Sharon I came to know and love! Here, she shares with us the journey that got her to where she is today...

...here's Sharon's story...
- {THEN} - 

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

Sharon: I started getting into running in 2009 because like everyone else I wanted to lose a few pounds. My brother in law suggested running as it was cheap. I started with everyone's favourite Race for Life 5k in the July of 2009. Then signed up for the Bupa 10k, Bluewater 10k and Great North Run (half marathon); as you can see I don't do things by halves!

I felt amazing after finishing the races and wanted to do more...that's my addictive personality coming out (you'll hear about that later on). I trained and pushed myself so much my knees started to hurt and I had to rest, as I was in so much pain. After 3 months of no running I was fine and decided to reward myself with the Reading Half Marathon in March 2011. But for some reason I not only rewarded myself with that race I also rewarded myself with a trip to Hong Kong, India, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Peru, Croatia and Barcelona! (Addictive personality strikes again) ...Yes all of that in the first 7 months of the year! And with all these trips I didn't take my training seriously so I crammed in as much training as I could in just a couple of weeks.

So, guess what?! I had to pull out of the Reading Half because of my knees, no surprise there. I was gutted by this and thought ok it's fine I wasn't ready. I still had my trip to Buenos Aires and Peru to look forward to. I did the Inca trail and during that time I damaged my knees even more. So all running activity was out, in fact all exercise activity was out!

As I mentioned earlier about my addictive personality; well I'm a party girl and loved partying every single weekend. Loved going to festivals. I loved going out after work on a Friday night and not going home until Sunday evening. Then do it all again the following weekend or mid week. I loved the buzz of going out seeing friends, meeting new people, going clubbing, listening to amazing music, drinking (until I was actually sober and drinking some more to get drunk again) smoking, the lot! I looked forward to it each and every week; I was chasing the high that partying was giving me. I'd been doing this for a long time. Partying all week then going to work in a stressful environment on no sleep. It was inevitable that it would take it's toll on me one day!

That one day came...Tuesday 13 September 2011. I woke up and I felt a huge weight on my face pulling my usual upward turning mouth downwards. A huge dark cloud was over me. I thought my life was falling apart. I hated my work, I hated London, I hated life! I wanted to hide away from everyone, I wanted to leave London, the UK in fact. I wanted to leave and move abroad and start all over again. I turned my phone off as I didn't want to speak to anyone or see anyone. I ignored my friends and just wanted to be alone. I only spoke to my 2 housemates, housemate's girlfriend and my dear friend who I met on the Inca trail a few months previous. I just wanted my family.

I knew I was having a breakdown, I was having panic and anxiety attacks too. The highs of life had finally grabbed me by the throat and threw me into that dark dungeon of doom! I was like this for a couple of months; my parents wanted me to see a councillor or doctor but I refused because I was scared they would give me tablets and I didn't want to rely on the tablets and get addicted to them. So I was dealing with it the way I thought best. Going for walks, visiting museums, art galleries, spending quality time on my own with my music. Then my housemates girlfriend told me about this free training session at the Nike Store (Nike Training Club - NTC) in the newly opened Westfield Stratford Shopping Centre and asked me to go along with her. So I was like err ok I'll give it ago but she would have to pretend to be me when signing up. You had to book via Facebook and I'd taken myself off there. It was the second ever NTC and I didn't know what to expect.

I was introduced to this hot looking female trainer called Tana. Both myself and my friend were like...we want to look like her she is amazing! We were in awe until Tana started the warm up, then the drills! At the end we didn't love her anymore! hahaha! (Tana if your reading this, I was joking I still love you). The class was hard, nothing like I've done before and I loved it so as soon as I got home I got my friend to sign up for me again. I was attending these classes every Monday and Thursday and I loved it! I was getting the same highs I was getting when I was going out. So I kept on going then started to go to not just to the ones in Stratford but to Nike Town and White city. I was feeling a lot happier but I still wasn't ready to face my friends. By the April of 2012 I was slowly getting back in touch with my friends and still going to the NTC classes. I felt better and even went out with friends.

During this time I found out some horrible news about my uncle, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. That news floored me and I was slowly falling back into that dungeon again...But this time my friends were around so I was able to deal with it a bit better. Also I had NTC as well to take out all the stresses I've had each day. I was so dedicated I even went to the 7am classes at Stratford during the Olympics! I even shocked myself because getting up at 6am was unheard of especially on a Saturday morning! I was used to coming out of a club at 6am and going off to an after party...how life had changed. I even signed up to do the very first Ealing Half marathon.

But every high has to have a low...during August my old knee injury started playing up again during a NTC class and that was it, I was out of training for 3 months AGAIN and had to pull out of yet another half marathon. I was not happy at all. I was frustrated and annoyed with myself. So I went back into being a bit of a hermit again. January 2013 came and I was still feeling the same. But a miracle happened - I along with 4 other girls were chosen to have this amazing opportunity of having a personal trainer for 10 weeks to get race ready for Nikes first ever We Own The Night 10k race. When I heard the news I was chosen I was so happy. I felt so lucky to be chosen by my favourite brand, get a personal trainer and also free Nike gear!!!

The training started in March, this is where I met these amazing females who will become my friends for life - Rachel, Nkeiruka, Leah, Laura and Joslyn (our Supersonic coach). Every Wednesday we would meet up for an hours training session and we were like sisters. We trained together every week up until the night of the event in May. Finishing the race was emotional as the first person I saw after crossing the line was Jos and then Rachel and Nkeiruka. The whole WOTN training experience was something I will cherish forever.

At the same time, my uncles illness was getting worse so I dedicated myself to do one race for the next 6 months that was leading up to Christmas and to raise money for a cancer charity. Friends started teasing me by I saying "do you ever stop running?" I found that really funny and I don't think I will stop running because it actually keeps me sane and it's when I can spend quality with myself to set the world right in my own head.

I feel so blessed that I met a group of really amazing girls ( the above plus Chi Chi, Nneka, Ogechi, Abby, Elle, Krystle, Susannah, Sue and some others) through the love of exercise who I enjoy spending time with, without me going out and getting smashed out of my face!

I found a new high in life through running and high intensity training. It's helped me with my depression. I'm not sure if I'm 100% over it, I'm not sure if you do get over it. But I feel 100% more positive and happier than I did from Tuesday 13 September 2011! I will alway remember that day, not only was it Westfield Stratford City's grand opening but the day I do not ever want to go back to again! I've given up smoking, am drinking less and my new addiction is chasing down that next runner bling! That frown has finally turned into a huge smile again :)

- {HOW} - 

Elle: What's your favourite way to workout?

Sharon: Running and when I was in London - NTC training. Now that I've moved away from London I have a got myself a PT and started to do strength training on the TRX and weights. Also going to try out Hot yoga. I'm turning myself into a lean mean buff ting machine!! Hahaha.

Elle: What's your typical weekly schedule?

Sharon: With me working all over the place I don't have a typical weekly training plan. And also I have a few races coming up until the end of July so after that will be a bit different.

This is what I did last week:

Monday - rest day (half marathon on the Sunday) and foam roll foam roll foam roll
Tuesday - Gentle 5k jog
Wednesday - PT session with kettle bells and TRX
Thursday - rest day (aching after the weds training) ...foam roll
Friday - rest day (lots of work to finish off and too tired by the time I have finish)
Saturday - 10k run with a friend (with sprints, hills and stairs)
Sunday - rest day ...stretching, foam roll

Elle: What / who has been your inspiration?

Sharon: This section is for me big up and give props to people around me: My friends and family who have been through difficult times but still manage to pull themselves out of the dark place and come out the other side better and stronger. My sister and brother in law. Watching them train and supporting them on race day, brings a tear to my eye (in a good way) and makes me want to do what they do. My NTC sisters, we motivated each other every single week. We will always be there to support each other as it's always lovely to see a familiar face in the crowd. Even now that I've moved away from London they continue to support and inspire me. My NTC trainers. Each week with out fail they will all be there come rain or shine to whip us and push us further and until our bodies cry! Making us stronger and fitter. Basically anyone that doesn't give up on any situation in life is my inspiration.

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

Sharon: Mentally I felt more happy and positive. Physically I dropped a dress size and I was gaining more definition on my legs. I felt great!

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

Sharon: Yes, I started eating more - changing from white to brown (rice, pasta) and more veg and protein. Fruit smoothies, green juices and I swapped regular milk to almond milk. I still treat myself to a juicy burger, fried chicken, chips etc! I have a 80 / 20 attitude, because if I deprive myself of food I will end up gorging! And that's the last thing I want!

 - {NOW} - 

Elle: How do you track your progress?
Sharon: I used to track my progress on the scales and using my Nike+ running app. Now I've ditched the scales but kept my app and I track my progress through how I feel after a workout and also how my clothes fit and how heavy the next kettle bell or weight I can lift is.

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

Sharon: Now that I've done a few races I would like to beat my 10k and half marathon times. This I have already done, I managed to get a PB in my last half marathon woo! I would like to do the biggie next year...a marathon! Complete a triathlon sometime in the next couple of years and remain positive and do not fall back into the dark place! Oh and I've finally given up smoking..10 weeks and counting!

Elle: How do you keep yourself motivated?

Sharon: I sign up for races and make sure I can either beat my times from last year or at least equal it. Love a bit of competition against myself. Plus I know how I felt like last year when I was a lot fitter and I want to feel like that again. Oh and my Nike Fuel band!

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?!

 "You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them." Maya Angelou
"Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live." Jim Rohn
..so what d'ya think?! 
If you'd like to leave Sharon a comment below please do so or you can connect with her via Twitter - @shazzabo

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 :) 


Elle About Town, May & June 2014

Almost at the mid point of 2014 already...I'm not even sure how this happened! 4 months left till my 30th birthday but right now I am focusing on having a summer to remember! That involves feeling good both inside and out, in addition to generally doing things that make me happy!

Here's a little bit of what's gone down the last couple of months worth reading about!

Classes: Yoga with Infinite Beings 

I made it back to Victors Lab again in Peckham for yoga with Adrianna...at 7am! It was a short 10 minute cycle so I didn't have to get up too early. Practice that morning was just what I needed...and was even to a song track of Peckham bird song!

Adrianna has also recently launched classes in the park at Clapham Common - check out her FB page for more information!

Classes: Crossfit Level 1

I finally found a box that suited my life and fit into my schedule. In order to take part in the workout session though, you need to complete the foundation level classes where you master and go over the basic movements used in crossfit such as deadlift, snatch, ring dips...

I have just two more level 1 classes to complete before I can move onto level 2...that's when sh*t starts getting serious...

Classes: Nike Training Club at Gymbox Holborn

I've just added a new class to my teaching schedule at my favourite gym currently in the world! It's probably been a long time coming but nothing happens before it's time...

Fridays 6pm - 6.45pm ...members only but guest passes are available for purchase.

My full schedule can be found on the 'Train with Elle' page here on keep it simpElle.

Classes: Voga 

I hit up a Voga class one friday afternoon in Covent Garden in between work...and teaching! Hosted by Yotopia who are based in Covent Garden also! It was a fusion of Yoga and Vogueing (various poses). It was an interesting concept to be fair...maybe not for me, but I am glad I had the opportunity to try it out! There was just not enough yoga for my liking...it was like a choreographed routine to a soundtrack from times past! 

Yotopia are offering more than just Voga though...

Notice: We’re hosting 3 FREE classes in St Martin’s Courtyard every Friday in June (13, 20 and 27th): 1-2pm Rocket Yoga with Marcus Veda; 4-5pm: Voga with Juliet Murrell; 6-7pm Dynamic Yoga with Becky Farbstein. No need to book in advance, just turn up at the studio or the courtyard. Some mats available at reception.

Eats: Evolve 

I picked this breakfast pot up at an event recently. It came in handy as I was running behind time one morning. I poured some soya milk into the pot and headed out the door. For what seemed like such a little pot, it actually kept me full for longer than expected. I have little idea about the paleo concept of eating but this was a great tasting breakfast! 

Coming Up....

It Starts With Food... 
is actually a book which comes highly recommend by blogger and runner Leah of Naturally, Leah. I've been a little stressed this year with work, moving, upping the ante on the exercise front etc. In January I began eating the Honestly Healthy way and have thoroughly enjoyed it. Something hasn't gone quite so right though so after seeing Leah complete numerous Whole 30 programmes and be successful I decided it's time I gave it a go! Step 1 is to find out what I am letting myself in for so i ordered a copy of this book which won't be delivered for a few weeks! Until then, I will read everything I can find and prepare myself mentally. Currently I am thinking I will start this a couple weeks after the book has arrived so stay posted for my updates...

Have you done a Whole 30 before?! Any tips for me?!

Turn Your World Upside Down
Somewhere, I think I decided I really like doing inversions in yoga so I am attending this workshop led by lululemon ambassador Emily-Clare Hill at Yotopia, Covent Garden. Happening on June 29th, 2pm - 4pm this should catapult me back into yoga post half marathon.

Specialized Women's Only Cycle Event 
 I missed the event in June that I had planned on attending but luckily there are more :) I'll now be at the Covent Garden event ready with all my questions on July 3rd just before the...

luluelmon Big City Cycle
...taking place on July 6th! For all the information, check out my blog post {here}

Run Hackney Half Marathon

Last, and certainly not least! In just a few days I will be running the first ever Hackney Half marathon! In the time I have left I will be planning my journey, choosing my kit, resting, planning my nutrition / hydration and shaking out my legs ready to run a PB!

I will hopefully be tracking my run on Nike+ so you should be able to cheer me on via my personal FB page and Twitter. Every cheer puts a smile on my face and keeps me going strong so thank you in advance to everyone who is supporting me! The arc begins at 9am (UK time)! I will most likely be live updating via twitter / Instagram but I may possibly be too focused during the event to do so!

Got anything interesting coming up in the next month you would like to share?! 

Elle :) x


Powerplates with Elle - Part 3

I'm back with Part 3 of 'Powerplates with Elle' - the third and final video in the series created exclusively for 'keep it simpElle'.

After writing the 'Power Plate EssentElle's' post, I realised how little this machine was used! There is usually one tucked away in the corner of your gym which is always free as no one really knows what to do with it!

I utilised one of my weekly session plans and broke it down into a series of 3 short workouts which can now be added together to make a full 15 - 45 minute session!

Check out Part 1 {here}.
Check out Part 2 {here}.

You can also repeat each section individually 3 times to make a 15 minute workout on its own which can be done alone or added onto your regular gym workout! To complete workout...

What you will need:

1 pair of dumbbells (I'm using just 2kg in this video)
1 medicine ball (3 - 6kg)

Here is the workout - you can pin this for later too!

Check out these posts for tips on technique: 

90 degree abs: Drill Pack 1 - Core

Russian twists: Grab a medicine ball (or a dumbbell, younger brother?! water bottle) and sit on the powerplate with your hips and knees bent. Hold the medicine ball straight out in front of you and keep your back straight. Twist your torso as far as you can to the left, and then reverse, twisting as far as you can to the right. Repeat for time (1 min in this workout).

Tricep dips: 
  1. Position your hands to the sides of your hips on the powerplate
  2. Slide your butt off the edge of the powerplate with your knees bent or legs extended out in front of you.
  3. Straighten your arms, keeping a little bend in your elbows to keep tension on your triceps and off your elbow joints.
  4. Slowly bend your elbows to lower your hips toward the floor until your elbows are at about a 90-degree angle. Be sure to keep your hips and back close to the bench and send your elbows backwards.
  5. Once you reach the bottom of the movement, press down into the powerplate to straighten your elbows, returning to the starting position. 
Squats: Perfect Form: Squats

Plank: Perfect Form: Plank

Tips to make your power plate session more enjoyable: 

1. Always keep a micro bend in your knees; this helps to reduce the vibrations that make it up to your head and give you a funny feeling 
2. Place your tongue to the roof of your mouth to help with head vibrations too! 
3. Here is a short {video} showing you how to set up your Powerplate so it vibrates continually for 9 minutes

Last but not least, here is the video...

Give it a go and let me know what you think! Leave your thoughts and comments below or share them with me via Facebook / Twitter! It's because of your comments that I created this workout video...

Elle :) x

P.S Safety always comes first. If you are new to exercise ensure you seek advice from your GP. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids, wear appropriate clothing and carry out drills in a suitable space. Technique is paramount, and nothing should hurt. Should you experience pain, discomfort, nausea, dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath etc, STOP and consult your GP. 


Save The Date: Big City Cycle & Yoga

What would you call cycling and yoga?! ...Cyga?!...Yogling?!

For this event, the two are being kept separate and will flow from one to the other rather gracefully...

Sunday 6th July 2014. Save the date. 

I've been helping to organise a city cycle for lululemon london after the success of the previous event which took place in November 2013 which you can read about {here}.

This time, we will be celebrating the Tour de France hitting the streets of London by doing so ourselves. The event will again be lead by Adrian, a very experienced triathlete. Last time, I gained a lot of confidence from cycling with him - learning how to navigate the streets and command my space.

We will also be joined by Ali (Personal Trainer Extraordinaire), one of the lululemon Covent Garden Store ambassadors. It's a cheeky chance to ask any questions you may have too! With a duathlon on the horizon for me I know I will have quite a few questions for both Adrian and Ali!

We will then be able to get our down dog on post cycle at the community class held in the store. This will stretch out the whole body and rest your mind.

Meet: 9.30am at the Covent Garden Store on Long Acre
Depart: 9.45am
Return: 10.45am

Yoga (optional): 11am - 12midday

Click {here} to join the event on Facebook :)

So grab your bike (or rent a Boris Bike), your camera, your questions and come join us! ...any questions, fire away here, on Facebook or Twitter!

Elle :) 

p.s some unconfirmed gossip - but I have a sneaky feeling there is a cycling capsule landing in the lululemon store about the time of this cycle event! I tweeted lululemon (the north american side) to ask...they didn't say no! so let's see! 


Hackney Half - One Week Out

One week to go and it's time to get organised! I'm not going to reinvent the wheel though...I have been here (just) once before!

I wrote some {survival tips} which are proving valuable to me right now!

Here's a quick recap: 
1. Fail to prepare - prepare to fail 
2. Pack your race bag before the morning of the race 
3. Choose a tried and tested outfit 
4. Rest your feet as much as possible the day before 
5. Get a good breakfast down ya! 
6. Hydrate 
7. Take throwaway cover ups for cold days
8. Focus on your race as smaller chunks - e.g 4 x 5km for my half marathon 
9. Snack right post race
10. ENJOY your race! 

This added together with the {5 Tips For A Positive Mental Attitude}...and I should be good to go...

me, pre half in 2012!!

Here is what I have left to do...

*I need to sort out a way to hydrate whilst running, I did once own a hydration belt but I have moved a few times since and don't have a danny (la rue - clue) where it is now!

*buy the gels that I need - I will be sticking to the shotbloks for sure as they worked well for me last time

*ensure I have everything in the kitchen I need to be prepared for race morning breakfast and post run snacks

*keep an eye on the weather to decide what kit to wear. Some things are gonna be with me regardless - my yurbuds, my race belt / bag, iPhone to track via Nike+, Adidas Energy Boost II trainers for sure!

WhAt I kNoW nOW tHaT i DiDn'T kNoW tHeN...

*I'm now a stronger runner...not because I run a lot but because I have run many a 10km since last time being in this position. I can't physically remember what it feels like to run for two hours but I'm looking forward to it...to see what I can do...push myself outside my comfort zone and surpass my expectations...

*I would love for my recovery to be faster this time around, I couldn't walk properly for a week last time!

Sunday 22nd June 2014...Race Day

ThE pLaN...

...is to run like Elle! and do my best that day. Finishing a half marathon will always be an achievement in my eyes. Deep down though, I would love to finish faster than I did last time.


Any tips you have, please share them with me via Facebook / Twitter or in the comments below! 

Stayed tuned for #MyMoments from raceday...

Elle :) 
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