30.1.14

10 Need To Knows For Your First Spin Class

When I got my bike a couple months ago I thought, what's the point of spinning?! Why would I cycle to a studio, cycle on a stationary bike, and then cycle home?!

Then I decided I would like to do a duathlon this year and realised that my casual cycle commute was not really gonna get me quite ready! So it clicked ...that's why I should keep up a spin class or two while cycle commuting.

One of my favourite studios is BOOM! Cycle in Shoreditch; but in all honesty it was just a little out of my way. But now, they opened a new studio on the doorstep of what I like to call my playground (Covent Garden) ...in Holborn!


I went along to their pre opening event a couple of weeks ago and already the studio looked amazing. They opened on 29th January with free classes for two weeks! I went in and got my lunchtime fix on day 1! In the few times recently I have attended a spin class, I've been chatting to friends / acquaintances / fellow fitness fanatics and it's been the first time for some of these seasoned gym bunnies! I wondered...what does this feel like for them?! Why have they never been before?! 

My first spinning experience was pretty daunting. I knew it was hard work and at that time in my life I would usually shy away from really hard work! I was told that you work so hard you can become nauseous! In that class, I did become nauseous...I remember trying to recall the route to the bathroom in my head but I ended up being okay! The instructor was great and her music choice kept me going from start to finish!

So I asked everyone! I asked why they'd never been...I asked how they felt the first time...and I asked what tips they would share with a newbie! This is the summation of all the responses...

1. WHAT TO WEAR

Wear a pair of shorts or 3/4 length leggings so you don't have your pants flapping around! A sports bra is still required; a medium impact one will do. A sweat wicking top would also go down a treat as you will work up a serious sweat!

You also have the option to wear regular trainers or use cleats (the bits that attach to the soles of cycling shoes to allow them to clip onto the pedal). Wearing cleats makes for a more efficient workout but may take some getting used to!

Don't forget the usual gym stuff too - does your studio provide a towel for during class / showering afterwards? Do you need a padlock / coin for the lockers?

2. ARRIVE IN GOOD TIME 

This will allow you to be relaxed at the start of the class, find your bike (most studios these days allow you to prebook a bike) and get your bike set up correctly. The most important adjustment is of the seat height. You can usually also adjust the handlebar height and distance from the seat. The instructor should help you with this!

3. YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT THE SEATS SUCK

No better way to tell you! If you cycle already you know that it takes a few rides before your nether regions acclimatise to the saddle! It might have you walking like a cowboy for a couple days at worse! But there are options available in the form of padded shorts, padded seat covers or you can sit on a towel!

4. PACE YOURSELF 

If you are a runner you'll know all about why you shouldn't bolt out of the starting pen! We learn to pace ourselves so we can sustain a level for the duration. The same should be done for spinning! Don't go full out in the first track...find the balance between pushing yourself and pacing yourself!


5. DON'T GIVE UP - IT TAKES TIME TO ADJUST 

It seems most people don't entirely enjoy their first spin class! But all the feedback I've had has said to keep at it! Most have said it takes 3 - 5 classes to fully adjust and get into the swing of things! THEN, you will LOVE it!

6. HYDRATE BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER CLASS 

It's important to get your fluids in to be able to 'perform' your best. It will help you to sustain your effort through class and then help you to recover! And you don't have to wait for the instructor to say "take a sip of your drink!" ....just drink when you want! Oh and the obvious choice is water, but you can also use hydration tables which replace electrolytes lost through sweating.

7. YOU ARE IN CONTROL 

My friend Tash had this to say: "First session of spinning was an eye opener, not gonna lie I felt a little bit intimidated! I didn't understand how everyone was cycling so fast until I found the little dial that puts the resistance up and down and mine was high! My tip: don't always put your resistance up when the instructor tells you if it's you first session. I kept stopping and that was because the resistance was too high for me. Get to a comfortable resistance; I think it's better to do that and keep going rather then stopping and starting - you will build up your stamina. Oh and beware of jelly legs when you get off the bike to avoid a Bridget Jones moment!"

8. THIS AIN'T A CYCLE IN THE PARK 

You are there to get a great workout right?! You will hill sprint, hill climb, cruise, be seated, standing...you might even do muscle isolations and use weights! Hand positions change too but just keep an eye on your instructor (and the pro next to you) and follow what they do! The music will be akin to a nightclub hopefully so you will be feeling the beat at the same time! Tash says: "Its a tough session, don't go into it thinking you are going for a lovely cycle ride cos you aren't! It's hardcore leg abs and shoulder work. Not forgetting your poor butt (the seats are very uncomfortable!) but once the adrenaline starts pumping you feel great!"


9. IT'S THE INSTRUCTOR THAT MAKES THE CLASS...

Neil from @Velocity_Cycle says - "It's the instructor who makes or breaks a class. Anyone can be a DJ on a bike, not everyone can instruct :)" ...so if one instructor doesn't work for you ...choose a different one!


10. YOU WILL SURVIVE

Seriously, you will! The discomfort of the seat and all that, is only temporary! You will finish the class on a high having forgotten the moments that you felt like you couldn't give any more, but you did! YOU WILL SURVIVE! 

So what's stopping you now?! Scared I won't like it/won't be able to do it?! Take a friend along for moral support! There is nothing quite like having someone to glance at when the going gets tough!

And a huge Thank You to everyone who contributed to this post via your tweets and text messages!

...do you have anymore tips for newbie spinners?! What was your first experience of spinning like?! Do you #LOVE it or #HATE it?!


Elle :) x

p.s all pictures are from the Boom! Cycle launch album on Facebook :) 

29.1.14

Birchbox: Tiny Tweaks

I have changed over the years. Probably in a good way. Some years ago, I was that girl that worked out in all my makeup! I couldn't dab my sweaty face with a towel because my makeup would stain the towel!

I'm not like that anymore. In fact, I've barely worn make up for the past 4 months. I've been in such a whirlwind of cooking, work and classes that I haven't had time! Not even to put on my trusty mascara! 

Then I started the BRITA Boost Challenge and they sent me a lovely hamper of treats including face creams, face mask, vitamins, mascara...and I realised I had lost my way just a little! I used to be the girl that would walk into Boots the Chemist and spend £30 on the newest products for my hair, face and skin! 

My skin seems always seems to tell me how my body is doing internally and although I have been eating well this month, my skin doesn't seem to reflect that. I then worked an exclusive event hosted by Birchbox at the lululemon showroom. They invited some beauty bloggers along to experience an express yoga class with the wonderful Celeste (a lululemon ambassador) followed by a talk entitled 'Tiny Tweaks'.


Birchbox was founded in 2010 to provide a new way for customers to discover beauty and lifestyle products online. You get to try the latest and greatest brands each month through personalised deliveries of deluxe samples. Members can then learn more about each of the brands via exclusive tutorials, interviews, trend round ups and ingredient breakdowns! 





I think I had my jaw open for the entire talk. Celeste told us about her skin woes and how she worked through them. She also spoke about her being vegetarian which was literally food for thought for me. I have barely eaten meat in January and have been enjoying it! She reminded us about the difference that those small changes, tiny tweaks, can make. If you want to change your diet, start off small. Cut down sugar, cut out your 3 a day coffee habit...it's completely up to you where you start! 

One thing that Celeste spoke about that really sparked an interest with me was Live Blood Analysis. I haven't had a chance to research it yet but I'm sure it's something I will be looking into! 

As for yoga! I am singing from the rooftops about the benefits! Especially as I am currently undertaking the 21 day yoga challenge! You don't have to do 90 minutes every day to get the benefits; a 30 min class or home practice will do you just as good when time is limited. 

And remember,  all those tiny tweaks will add up to the bigger change that you desire...

Breathe deeply and appreciate the moment...

Elle :) x

p.s. Birchbox would love to treat you too! If you subscribe, they will send a complimentary extra box for a friend - simply quote BBX2014 at the shopping bag page to redeem. 

27.1.14

School of Life - A Confidence Boost?!

It must be a well known fact that some people need a drink to muster up the confidence to do a number of things. A bit of "dutch courage", right?!


As part of the BRITA Boost Challenge that I am doing this month, they provided this experience to help us be confident without the need for alcohol - an evening workshop at The School of Life. The ironic thing was that when I arrived there was more alcohol (wine) on offer than anything else! I supped on some elderflower cordial and my BRITA Fill&Go bottle. 



It was an interesting evening. Food for thought. This post really is an amalgamation of my notes from the evening and my thoughts...

Question: "What does confidence mean to you?"

I wrote... it means having faith / believe in decisions / skill or attribute? / courage / not caring what others think / self belief. 

boost

Confidence lies on a spectrum ranging from...

Timidity / Anxiety - 
all the way to...
Overconfident 

Confidence = Self Efficacy + Optimism 

Barriers to optimism  - Question: what does your inner critic say to you?! 

Task - Responsibility Chart

your fault or mine?!


Think of a set back you have experienced recently. What proportion of the blame was yours / theirs or the situations?! 

Anxiety - name the thing that is making you anxious?! Learn to sit with your thoughts... i.e meditation. 

Task - if you were to create a 'Treat Kit' for yourself, what 5 things would be in it?! 

I found this task SUPER hard! I came up with 1. reading...As a treat I would allow myself time to read, uninterrupted. 

Think about the people who play a part in your life - who provide support. In which direction does the support go?! Do you support them?! Do they support you?! Is the support reciprocal??

only share your goals with those who will support you

Remember to honour your achievements - cultivate a way of noticing each and every achievement you make. 

Mark something every week that you did / achieved...

"This week was great because I did..." 

It kinda reminds me of Attitude of Gratitude. A reminder to be grateful for what we do have as opposed to focusing on what we don't have. 

Task. Think of a goal that you have set yourself. Imagine it on a graph. 0 is when you set the goal and 10 is when you reach your goal. Where are you now?! At 4?! What got you there?! Those little achievements that got you to a 4 should be celebrated - don't just focus on the fact there are still 6 more steps till you reach goal. What are the next small steps that you could take, tomorrow?! 

simple as?!

It was an interesting evening. One I felt confident at. 

"I'm not perfect yet"...and never will be. How boring would life be?! 

I just think I have learnt to recognise what gives me confidence and ensure I put myself in a situation where I can be confident. I feel confident when I feel knowledgeable; when I am able to defend decisions that I make. It's where the Empowerment ethos in my blog comes from. I want everyone to feel confident in what they choose to eat, what they choose to do as a workout, and what they choose to wear. 

It made me think about my goals again and gave me confidence to chase some big 'uns!

What are your thoughts?! Did you give any of the tasks a go?! 

Do you use alcohol to give you confidence?! 

Elle :) x

p.s for more information you can visit www.brita.co.uk 

23.1.14

What's The Story, Morning Glory?!

If I told you I went to a rave, that started, I repeat, STARTED at 6.30am...would you think I was mad?!


As part of the BRITA Boost Challenge for January, they provided me with an alternative way to get that 'buzz' that we do from alcohol! ...And I can't think of a better way than being at Morning Glory!


I won't lie, when I woke up at 5.30am (having been awake since 4.20am) I was tempted not to venture out into the cold! I texted Alicia (my partner in crime for the morning) and she was awake and eager to go...hmmm...I'm truly grateful for that now though!

We got there quicker than expected arriving just before 7am when the party had already well and truly started! ...With so much going on, we took a few moments to soak up the atmosphere and the tunes being spun by the DJ!

time for some moves...

There were yoga mats and people being bendy...

A Dry January campaign...

A smoothie bar...

Coffee shop....

Masseuse...

Chinese head massage...

Dancing....

Costumes...

After a few minutes bopping, we decided to head over to the yoga mats (I have a 21 days of yoga challenge to complete too!) where we were lucky enough to be guided through some partner yoga / stretching! It felt really, really, really good...got us giggling, and full of energy!

Alicia & I...partner yoga :) 

practising that forearm balance #21daysofyoga 

I opted not to go for a caffeine high (caffeine is dehydrating just like alcohol!) and I just sipped water from my Brita Fill&Go bottle which is always trustily in my handbag!

handy!

Post yoga...we had a little dance...before we had to make a move to head to work!

I was sad to leave all the (extremely) friendly people behind but there may be a next time...Oh and they sent us on our merry way with a lovely little goody bag filled with popcorn, juice and a few lil tidbits!

Words really can't do this event justice so here is a short (Vine) video I took to share with you!



Let me know what you think! 

Is this your kinda thing?! 

Are you going dry in January?! How do you get your 'buzz'?!


Elle :) 

p.s for more information you can visit www.brita.co.uk 

20.1.14

Elle About Town, January 2014

The year is not so new anymore; January has settled in and 2013 is becoming archived in our memories! I'm still getting used to saying "last year" when referring to 2013 though!

...this year however, has been jam packed and eventful! This very weekend gone saw me at 3 different yoga workshops! Partly because I am doing the 21 days of yoga challenge but more so because I am deepening my love of practicing yoga and learning new things.

This is what 2014 and I have been up to so far as well as what's coming up...

Classes: Glow Ballet Tone vs Hot Ballet Sculpt & Tone

A Ballet inspired yoga class...heated up with infrared! ...I definitely got sweaty with all the downward facing dogs and plies...in this particular class though there just wan't enough channelling on Swan lake for me! ...however, I went to Becky's class (I'd done it before in the lululemon showroom) which was also heated and it was in a league of its own! An entire body workout with no time to lose focus! As an ex professional Ballet teacher, Becky doesn't miss any points of alignment. She literally had me screaming for mercy but I felt amazing post workout!

ready?!

I attended Glow Ballet Tone at Good Vibes Covent Garden. I attended Hot Ballet Sculpt & Tone at Yotopia, Covent Garden.

Classes: Dru Yoga 

I booked up for Dru Yoga having no idea what to expect! Lucy started a new class (new time) around the corner from my workplace in Covent Garden so I thought I would show my support. The class was very relaxed and slow moving - just what I needed that evening. We covered maybe 6 poses in total but it meant we had time to really feel them and deepen into them.


Events: Opening of BOOM! Cycle, Holborn

What better way to spend a Monday evening that at a great BOOM! Cycle class in a brand new, much more convenient for me, location! Just 5 - 10 minutes walk from my work and 15 seconds walk from one of my gyms....it's perfect for me, maybe not so perfect for my gym?!

fab new location

I did the BOOM! Body class which I first attended in January 2013 at the special sneak preview for media bods! ...was great to see so many friendly and familiar faces too!

hill climbs anyone?!

BOOM! Cycle Holborn opens at the end of January 2014 and a little bird told me they will have two weeks of free classes to celebrate! See you there?! 

Events: Capoeira Meets Yoga Workshop at Triyoga Soho

Okay, so one of the best workshops I have been to so far! I'd seen some Capoeira before but I had no idea of what was behind it! What better way to learn than mixing it up with some yoga!

cutting some shapes

The evening started with a yoga warm up using poses that were transferable into Capoeira. We then broke down Capoeira moves, practised one by one gradually linking them together to build short sequences. We learnt about the history of this art too as well as some of the songs.

By the end of the evening I was on a high! I'd never done so much handstand practice, nor been in a room full of so much energy. Our teachers for the evening, Celeste and Baris were truly inspirational! ...there is no right or wrong in Capoeira...there is just YOU!

They will be holding quarterly workshops at Triyoga and Baris teaches across London! 

Workout Gear: PROMIXX 

After my Honestly Healthy week, I've taken a delivery of My Protein ready to see what they are made of! I'll be trying out some of the whey (low lactose) shakes and a non whey version. My PROMIXX will be my new best friend for a while to come! ...it works a treat!

my new bff

Coming Up...

BODY by Frame

Frame, one of my favourite studios in London has launched a few new classes! The one that has caught my eye is BODY. taking place in a hot studio, I'm expecting cardio work and some weights! ...Keep an eye out to hear how this goes...I'm booked in for Monday 27th with my friend Katie :)

Nike Training Club

I'll be teaching over at Clapham Common for two consecutive weekends at the end of January / early february! If you are in London, come down and join me! The classes are a great way to start your weekend!

training in winter sunshine

For everywhere I teach take a look at the Train with Elle page

What has been keeping you entertained so far in January?! ...anything interesting coming up you would like to share with us?! 


Elle :) x

17.1.14

Feels Like I'm Floating...

There's no better way I could think of to start a Monday morning. A relaxation experience; one that had been on my radar for a couple of years but was just one of those things that you never get around to.

As part of the BRITA Boost Challenge, I am going dry this January. No alcohol. All month. No problem?! One of the reasons that people say they drink, is to relax. So BRITA found me a new way to relax...

January

Me and my BRITA Fill&Go bottle got up and made our way down to London Bridge to Floatworks on Monday Morning for one hour of pure bliss.

BRITA Fill&Go bottle :) My BFF

I turned up nice and early for my 10am appointment. I had a quick read of the website in the morning so I kinda knew what to expect. I slipped out of my trainers and into some slippers; then shown to my room and given a quick run down of how it all worked.

Me, a private room, one tank, a shower...


the tank

I didn't hesitate and jumped straight into the shower - at which point I realised there were no towels in the room. Hmmmm, I'd sort it out later I told myself. I grabbed some ear plugs and while fiddling with them to see which size would suit me best, I dropped one down the back of what looked like a generator. Decision made there for me!

Check out my short clip of the room...this was at the end of my session so the noise you hear is the water being filtered...


The first ten minutes of your experience is accompanied by relaxing music. I jumped in the egg...I mean tank and remembered what I was told. Button to the left - light. Button to the right - emergency call. Bottle of fresh water - to the right. Lid can be closed or left open.

The scientific bit - floating on the surface of water, buoyed by salts, the logical left side of the brain slows and synchronises with its creative right side.  
You enter a dreamy state, similar to the roaming mental freedom you get just before you nod off. 
escaping gravity, temperature, touch, sight, and sound, your physical and mental energy is conserved and directed into revitalising you.  
The benefits: reset your hormonal and metabolic balance; ease pain; cure jet lag; improve physical performance and most of all, become fantastically relaxed. 

I closed the lid and tried sooooo hard to relax and float. However, I'm not a huge fan of swimming, nor water. Eventually (before the music stopped) I managed to let go and allow myself to float. There was noticeable muscle tension in my core, neck and shoulders so I used my arms to form a support for my neck and bobs yer uncle!

I was now somewhere between awake and asleep. The towel situation did cross my mind a few times but other than that I'm not sure I thought about anything...

Then I got a little itch on my forehead, and next thing I know there is salt water in my eyes. I get the bottle of fresh water and spray it in my eye. But then I got a bit panicky and went to turn the light on - except I had somehow turned around in the tank, and left was now right, right was now left and I pressed the button - the light came on. No biggie. ..."Hello?! ...everything okay?! ....Heeelllloooo?! ...You okay in there?!" ...

Oh me! ...erm, it dawned on me that I actually pressed the emergency button rather than the light! ..."SORRY! ...meant to turn on the light!" ...

Then I had a random point where I felt a bit nauseous. Not sure if this was real or if it was because I read this could happen! ...A quick lift of the lid for some fresh air and then back in. All is well!

lid closed...

When the music comes back on you know you have 5 minutes remaining (after 50 minutes of silence and darkness with the lid closed), plus about 20 minutes to shower and get dressed. The point where I was really glad I chucked a swimming costume in my bag so I could pop my head out to reception and grab a towel!

Somehow, post relaxation...I was unusually thirsty! ...Thinking about it, I should probably have drunk more water in the lead up to my session! ...Who knew it was important to be / stay hydrated for Spa / relaxation experiences?!

...Me & my BRITA Fill&Go bottle then made our way to meet a friend for lunch! 

Have you ever had a flotation tank experience? 

Wanna know more?! ...ask away in the comments! 



Elle :) x

p.s for more information you can visit www.brita.co.uk 

16.1.14

21 Days of Yoga - The Halfway Point

Thursday 16th January is just about halfway through the month of January which makes it the official half way point of the 21 Days of Yoga Challenge set up by Charlie over at The Runner Beans blog.

I agreed to take part as yoga is something that I have grown more and more interested in over the past few years and months especially.

Dolphin Pose

So how is it going?! ...Well I am almost at half way point of the 21 days, having completed 10 days.

I started the year strong with a 2 hour workshop on New Years Day! It was a Jivamukti class based on setting intentions for the New Year. It was tough for me, as I also did a 2 hour workshop on New Years Eve which obviously didn't count towards this challenge!

I've also continued to practice Rocket Yoga (sweaty, fast flowing, advanced class for beginners) on a weekly basis and was over the moon when they added a Rocket class to my gym schedule...that worked with my schedule!

I've mixed things up too with a Ballet & Yoga fusion hot class and my first Dru Yoga class (similar to Yin Yoga in the relaxation sense of things). One particular day when the yoga gods were against me, I ended up using the 15 minute session on the Nike Training Club app which was a great substitution. I can't rely on this or online videos a lot though as I struggle with self motivation hence why I like to book into classes!

So far I’m loving the challenge but realising it is actually is a challenge. Somewhere in the middle...right about here...I'm kinda losing momentum. But I have sessions in my diary; yoga after a meeting with my manager, workshops booked and paid for ...all to ensure I succeed in this challenge.

Last year I wanted to increase my flexibility, work on my core and increase my upper body strength - all of which I could have done with yoga. In the past couple of months I’ve noticed so much progress such as being able to get my heels closer to the ground in downward dog and being able to keep up with all the flows - plank into cobra / upward dog and into downward dog. I'm looking forward to how great I will feel at the end of this challenge! Rest assured I’m determined to succeed and come out the other end of January feeling lengthened, toned, less tight and stronger!

Are you taking part in this challenge?!...How's it going?! Or have you done one similar in the past?! ...what benefits did you see?!

Elle :) x


14.1.14

A Perfect Do...

I'm guessing if you are reading this blog / post you have an interest in being active?! *yup, hands up*

There's then a 50/50 chance you are a female?! ... *yup, still here!* 

Then you might be married, or engaged...or at least dreamt of being married?! ...Read on please! 

2014 is getting interesting and this post explains a little about one project that I'm involved in which will be one of the reasons why! 

I will be working with a group of bloggers for a brand to come up with the ultimate hen do / weekend for women who enjoy being active. 

planning in progress...

I currently sit in the "dreaming of being married crew' but it seems that a hen do comes down to spending quality time with those friends / family members that mean most to you doing something a bit different! ...we can ALL relate to that!

all those special people...

This is where you come in...I would love for you to share your thoughts with me... which will be fed into the project and influence the outcome. A journey which will be documented here on keep it simpElle from beginning (right now) to end (the experience created).

To get us started, I reached out on Twitter to those who were married / engaged to get their thoughts...


Here are the questions I asked them...

1. How would you describe your activity levels and what do you like to do?

2. Thinking about your hen do (gone or coming) would your preference be for it to be filled with active things? If so, do you have any examples? If not, why not? 

3. What are three key things that would make your hen do one to remember??


4. What was the best hen do / weekend you have been on? What made it so great?



the who's who...

Here is some of the feedback I got back...

My perfect idea would be hiring a cottage for a weekend, starting the morning with a 5k run - Leah 

I would love to have a fun/fit wknd, but end on a yoga/spa type note (relax) - Nerissa 

I personally would have liked an active hen do, but as I had to consider what my friends/family would like to do, I couldn't really have an activity based do as none of my friends/family are really in to exercise - Lucy

I like to run, spin, gym, yoga, do classes - Leah 

Doing something fun and a bit different from a normal night out - Lucy 

I went to a Dirty Dancing tribute night with dinner/entertainment. The singers/dancers were really good, and all my friends/family loved it as we are all fans of Dirty Dancing. Everyone got up and danced and we had a laugh, I was glad that everyone came along - Lucy

Good company and trying something new - Nerissa 

I liked that fact that there were several hen parties at the same event, it was fun meeting other brides getting married the same month as me. - Lucy 

A little bit of luxury/ pampering, a good sweat session with my best friends, nothing too tacky - Leah 

tacky or not?!

Here are my thoughts...

I would love to pay a visit to Ibiza...one night on the party side then a couple nights on the quiet side! Maybe we could create our own party?! ...and engage in some yoga...and anything else Ibiza may have to offer! I would definitely want to have an active weekend! 
None of the girls I contacted had been on a hen do (other than their own)...and I have been to three very different ones so far. The last one was a night in a club where we all dressed up! It was a great night, but I was few years younger than I am now, and it wouldn't be my ideal choice to celebrate! ...The other was a Michael Jackson inspired dance class which was great fun and an evening out in London. The final one was a weekend in Bath where we checked out the well known spas and then had an evening out in Bristol. We stayed in an amazing apartment where we could all be together and enjoy the time in between. 
I agree that having all those who mean the world to me there would be amazing! I would also want to keep it low key and have the opportunities to create lasting memories.

This group will be meeting up later in January for our first project meeting to which I would love to take a whole heap of thoughts and feedback...

So please JUMP IN now and share your thoughts with me via the comments below, Facebook or Twitter...

Elle :) x

13.1.14

Smash it, Shake it, Mix it!

January 10th, or thereabouts it seems is the date most people give up on their new year resolutions. One of mine was to have a dry January...

Waking up on a Saturday 11th January, without a hangover, has got to be a bonus after a Cocktail...Mocktail Mixing Masterclass at Mixology.


When I took up the BRITA Boost Challenge to give up alcohol in January, I didn't realise this could be fun! I won't lie though, I was dubious about cocktail making without alcohol. The choices when you go to a bar / club / restaurant of virgin cocktails are usually a strawberry slushy or a mix of orange juice and a red juice.

Cocktail Master, Neil 

I couldn't have been more wrong. Our Cocktail Master for the evening Neil, led us through the ins and outs of juices, syrups, fruits, implements, glasses and more - very, very well! So well that I almost felt like I had found a new calling in the cocktail mixing industry!

During the two hours, we made a variety of Mocktails all with BRITA filtered water. First up was the Hot Toddy (recipe below). On the night we actually used fresh ginger and didn't use a star anise; still left it tasting surprisingly great! ...All the recipes can be found in the 'Mocktail Recipes' Album on the keep it simpElle Facebook page (click here)

Hot Toddy Recipe

Hot Toddy Mocktail
A Lavender Sour, an Elderflower Julep and some Pink Champagne later,  I was feeling refreshingly hydrated yet my head was clear! Neil was great for filling the the gaps in our Cocktail Making history - like how punches came about and what all the different implements were called and used for such as the 'Mexican Elbow' which squeezes the juice out of lemon / lime halves (adds to Amazon Wish List)!

Lavende Sour

Elderflower Julep 

Pink champagne

Pink Champagne served up :) 

The evening ended with a competition to create a Mocktail in teams. My team created the 'Eldernut Slammer'! A concoction of elderflower and coconut in a shot! ...we didn't win, but if I may say so myself, it tasted damn fine!

Eldernut Slammer

Could the evening get any better?! Yup! Because we all got sent home with our very own Cocktail or Mocktail Mixing Kit ready for our Dinner Parties we will be hosting later this month...alcohol free and fuelled by BRITA water of course ;)


Gifted a beautiful Cocktail Mixing Kit 

Who else is going dry for January?! How are you finding it?! 

...fancy a Mocktail?! 


Elle :) x

9.1.14

10 Lessons From An Honestly Healthy Week

I proposed before January came, that I would follow the Honestly Healthy Detox menu week; and that I have been doing!

jan goals 

I came across Honestly Healthy during the summer of 2013 at an event. They provided some delicious food - which I couldn't eat as I was in the middle of my juice cleanse

I did however add their book to my Amazon wish list, and when I had a spare tenner I clicked 'order'. 

There it was - the book - proposing I eat alkaline, and basically turn vegetarian. Over the past couple of months, I've probably eaten more meat than I had all year but I didn't even think twice. 

I created a shopping list, copied and pasted it into Tesco Groceries online and set it to be delivered the first week of January. 

Lesson Number One: Eating 'healthy' is not cheap. 

Lesson Number Two: You shouldn't reeeeeally buy so much fresh produce in one go! 

My bedroom looks like Ian Beale's market stall in Eastenders (a British soap opera). 

Lesson Number Three: Regular supermarkets don't stock certain items which are deemed speciality...

...so a browse on Holland & Barrett online filled in a couple of gaps, as did a trip to Whole Foods Market. 

Lesson Number Four: Flaxseeds are also known as Linseeds

meals this week

Lesson Number Five: Buckewheat groats are more commonly known as buckwheat kernels. Once we get over the hilarity of the word groat...

Lesson Number Six: This being healthy malarky takes a heck of a lot of planning and preparation! Two hours in the kitchen and all I have to show for it is some pancakes and a dip?! 

Lesson Number Seven: Always read a recipe fully before attempting it. This then insures that a) you have all the ingredients b) you have completed all the necessary pre tasks such as soaking almonds for 4 hours... 

...when will I learn! 

Lesson Number Eight: Eating out is not so simple anymore. At the caribbean restaurant with my Mum I decided to have curry goat, rice and peas and oooo maybe a side too! ...then I remembered I'm vegetarian so ended up with plantain and callaloo (a spinach like green vege). One thing I did notice was that my taste buds were excruciatingly sensitive to salt! I had barely used the substance over the past week so it was not surprising...

meals this week

I do think there are some improvements that could be made to the book though:

Nutritional information should be included - anytime I wanted to find out I had to manually create the entire recipe in My Fitness Pal which seemed like a bad use of my time. I wanted to know to ensure I was consuming enough calories for me activity levels...

The recipes jump from making one serving, to 4 servings, to 4 - 6 servings, to 2 servings...it could be more consistent. I made the Butternut Squash Soup one evening for dinner and eat half of what I had made only to read that it was to serve 4 people! I calculated the calories and one of their servings would have been 200kcal! That made my dinner 400kcal which is pretty low! 

Include a shopping list for the menu plans. 

Use product names that are Universal / discuss where to source certain items. I had to go to 3 different suppliers...4 if I had gotten everything...I gave up on the black onion seeds! 

more colourful food!

More lessons.

Lesson Number Nine: Always be willing to try new foods and flavours! Who knew that fennel and pear would make a delicious soup?! ...I've also hated mushrooms up until this week! 

Lesson Number Ten: The satisfaction you get from baking your own bread, or mixing your own granola far outweighs the feeling of popping into the supermarket and buying those items!

...And how do I feel?! 

I feel pretty good! With this and the BRITA Boost Challenge, the year is off to a great start! ...I think my diet wasn't so bad to start with though...I don't drink a lot, I love coffee but can live without it and I only ever really binged on sweet stuff so I could live without that too!

I've still got a few recipes left to try in the detox menu...cooking for one means the food goes further so it lasts longer than a week! Then I will be experimenting with some of the other recipes in the book including the Sweet-Potato Chocolate Brownies!

And if there is one thing you can do to begin with, join me and try starting your day with hot water and fresh lemon juice - read this post to find out why!

So here's to eating clean...

Have you started any eating plans in January? What's been your favourite recipe so far?!


Elle :) x
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