29.12.16

7 Must Have Accessories To Personalise Your Olympus PEN EPL7 / EPL8


You guuuuys, it's been so long since I've even mentioned my favourite blogging tool - The Olympus PEN EPL-7; after I had to send it away in the summer for more than a month, I kinda lost my passion. Well, just a little bit! I don't think it helps that we're now in the depths of Winter and the light is bad which makes taking a good photo that much harder. I'm also not a huge fan of the "standing there" after a workout shot so since my Narrative Clip bit the dust (that's a story in itself!) I've not had too many action shots from sweating to share in IG.

Anyway, 2017 is a new year and I'm pretty sure a few of you got the PEN from Santa after months of lusting after it right?! I've had mine for over a year now so I'm familiar with what accessories work really well with your new (or not so new) piece of kit...

Here are a few of my must haves...

Start Top Left (clockwise) 

Fish Eye Lens ||  I got to have a little play around with this at an Olympus Bloggers workshop in the summer (I think!). I added it straight to my wishlist on amazon. This particular model is the 9mm f8 - it can capture a whole room in one image without having to lodge yourself in the corner of the room on the highest possible surface! The quality is decent enough however in low light conditions it may not work so well. The lens also doubles up as a lens cap with it's own closing mechanism which is an added bonus.

Tripod Adaptor || If you're gonna jump on the video bandwagon for 2017 (it's set to get even bigger) then this is worth getting. At less than a fiver from Amazon, it allows you to use a tripod and be able to view your screen flipped down / yourself talking for recording your vlogs.

The 45mm Lens || Now, I made this purchase just a couple months after buying the camera itself and for a long time I loved it. The reason I loved it was because it was just so easy to take a good photo. As time went on and I learnt a little more about photography I came to be able to also take good photos with the 17-42mm kit lens so the usage split is now a lot more even. You can pick it up in black from John Lewis or silver from Amazon.

Camera & Lens Pouches || ...now if you're lucky enough to have a £300 - 400 camera and maybe a £180 lens you might want to look after them right?! Mine are usually at the bottom of my handbag and have been subject to abuse from water bottles (and the actual water in them), food and pens. I absolutely loved the handbags come camera bags but generally I need a bag that holds a lot more than the camera itself. So I opted for a pouch for my camera body itself as it's padded and protects it from dirt, along with one for any lenses I will carry at the same time. They look super stylish and aren't priced too badly - check them out from the Olympus Store.

Leather Wrist Strap || For at least the first year of having the PEN, I used the shoulder strap that came with it. I found it got in the way a lot so not too long ago I purchased the leather wrist strap which works a lot better for me. There are a range of colours you can get it in (check it out on John Lewis website here) or you can get pink like I did from Amazon!

Jody Hybrid Tripod || This is the most recent accessory purchase I have made and one of my favourites! I have a regular tripod (check out this post on my blogging toolkit) but it's just a little too big and conspicuous to carry around on a daily basis. The Joby Hybrid Tripod is perfect for the size and weight of the PEN (I know from experience as I had the original version and it would just fall over when I tried to use my PEN with it!) and is so quick and simple to set up and use. I recently used it to take some shots while I attended my session at The Running School (check out my IG post) - I used the custom settings to put it on a 10 second delay, to take 4 shots at 3 second intervals.

So hands up who got the PEN for xmas?! ...any other must have accessories you would recommend for the PEN or photography in general?! 

Elle :) 

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24.12.16

5 More Ways To Stay On Track With Your Fitness Over The Holidays

The big day is right around the corner now and I dunno about you, but I've not been holding back! I've eaten anything I've wanted, anytime I fancied it but I found solace in the fact that I have actually still been training regularly! ...every cloud and all that!

Before I fell down the abyss of holiday eating, I had reached out to some friends to find out what their strategies were for staying on track with their fitness over the holidays. Then I went way off track with blogging (I blame my shoulder injury; did I tell you I tore my rotator cuff?! ...and then a horrid head cold for almost two weeks). Anyway, I'm back, and just in time to share what they told me with you...

Here are five more ways to stay on track with your fitness over the holidays...

***

Photo Credit: Lolography

Make It Fun; Don't Put Too Much Pressure On Yourself
Sometimes we can become a little too focused on "eating clean" and avoid treats etc.  As Tess, of FitBits told me, "It's Christmas, and Christmas is for indulging! Just be consistent as you can and get outside for a run, walk or ride when you can. I *LOVE* my Christmas day run, it's always a bitterly cold, crisp winter's day - and the post-run reward of Christmas dinner, chocolate and booze is more than worth it!". 

Earn Your Dinner
Helen (HelsBels) suggests that we "Go to Christmas day parkrun! It's free, it's fun and it'll give you loads of energy for the rest of the day plus you'll really enjoy that Christmas dinner after" ...Personally, I don't have a car so access to park run is limited for me but I may lace up and do a mile or two at least in celebration of the big day. A couple years ago, I was lucky enough to be staying in the centre of London enabling me to run along the River Thames on Christmas Day which was simply glorious (barely any traffic, and barely any people!); this doesn't happen often, if ever in London.

Photo Credit: Lolography

Drink Plenty Of Water To Stay Fuller For Longer
"It'll help you feel fuller so you're not as tempted to eat lots of holiday treats!" Laura of Fat 2 Fit told me. "And if you do want to have a treat just be mindful... eat because you're hungry and not just because it's there!". Now this is good advice! I start every day with a glass of water before breakfast; it was a small change I introduced in the hope of it becoming a good habit (which it now is). As well as aiding with hunger, it's also crucial for hydration as we can often forget about consuming water in the colder months. 

Get Social / Workout With Friends / Commit To A Challenge
Johanna told me... "In terms of workout I schedule sessions with a partner as they are less likely to be cancelled". This was the main reason for me starting Winter Run Club; it serves as a chance to socialise and also ensures I show up once per week and actually run! Having the London Winter Run in juts 6 weeks is also a great motivator as I'm looking to get back into 10km shape (run a sub 60 minute race) or even PB but I have a whole post coming about that!

Bex (The Art of Healthy Living) suggested that we "Get the family involved! Hikes in the countryside, geocaching - sooo good, especially for kids, treasure hunts, fun runs with kids. The key is to make it fun so it doesn't feel like you're forcing yourself into exercise. Fresh air is proven to increase those feel good endorphins and when you're happy you're far less likely to emotionally eat or to grab all that naughty stuff."

Hayley (Break The Loop) said "I always join in with a virtual challenge, something like strava's Festive 500... You bike 500km between Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve... It has to be outside so it can be a bit brutal but I certainly don't feel guilty about over indulging over Christmas AND I know I'm starting the New Year with loads of miles in my legs!"

Mona (The Heavy Blog) shared.... "My friend is having a massive engagement party in January so I've bought a dress for it and the goal is to fit into it comfortably by then!"

I've been creating a little (well, rather long now) list of things I wanna do in 2017 and the Rapha500 Challenge that Hayley mentioned may well be something I aim to tackle this time next year! I'm hoping by then I will have plenty of winter cycling gear so I can keep my bike from hibernating when the sun decides to duck out on us!

Photo Credit: Lolography

Keep your workouts short and sweet / get it done at the start of your day
"The Christmas holidays are usually quite busy for most of us socially speaking, so it can be really tricky to fit in a proper workout/run. So my key advice is to do streaks - short but intense workouts that really get your heart pumping. 15-20 minutes a day could help people keep their fitness levels up! Doing a little but frequently is easily manageable and is more than doing nothing at all- every little helps. It could be a dash around the block or a HIIT style home workout whilst the turkey is cooking." Timea (of Train Strong, Live Strong)

Ellen (of Tale of Two Runs) suggested to "Get your workout/run in at the beginning of the day! Best thing I ever did was to convert to a morning runner/workout person.It runs my whole day and sets a very productive pace for me."

I'm still working on being a morning person but the few times I have gotten my work out in before anything else, it feels kinda epic!

Do you have any other tips for staying on track with your fitness over the holidays and into the New Year?! 

Elle :) 

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23.12.16

And Relax... The Luxe Side of Loungewear


You guys. I swear I've spent the whole of December reading about active advents, and merry fitmas when all I've wanted to do is reeeeeeelax! 

When you live, breathe and sleep fitness maybe at this time of year you just wanna let go and chill out! Now I'm not saying to do nothing cos we all know where nothing gets us, but it certainly is a good time to lessen our sweat schedules, catch up with friends and attend all the social events! 

So when this email from Topshop landed in my inbox about luxe loungewear, I just envisioned me wearing it all on Christmas day (and all the days up till January 3rd approx) and wanted to share that with you! 


Hope you're enjoying a well earned break too! 

Elle :)

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Image Credits: Topshop

21.12.16

(C)HECK Chicken Italia Sausages (& Recipe)

Image Source
So I'm a little behind schedule with this post as we are firmly in December, but you know what? Just cos 'Movember' is over doesn't mean the message isn't still applicable, right?!

Last month (November 2016) HECK renamed their Chicken Italia sausages as CHECK to help raise funds and awareness for the Movember Foundation. And it was about time I finally got to try the sausages I've been hearing everyone talking about...

Firstly, I should clarify (correct myself) and state that these are chipolatas so there are 10 in each packet and I ate 5 at a time (just 72kcal per 2). At the time I tried these, I was not eating red meat so I was a little over the moon to have a sausage even if chicken sausages are notorious for being dry and flavourless. But these one's are well seasoned with basil, tomatoes and mozzarella and when cooked right, they aren't too dry.

All I have left for the sausages are the packets... which I kept out of guilt for not taking a single picture and also to remind myself that I needed to share this with you! ...When I was feeling a little under the weather they were perfect to just throw on the grill and one particular day I whipped up some sweet potato mash to go with them and the rest is as they say, history... or even, it's below...

***

HECK Chicken Italia Sausages with Sweet Potato Mash & Caramelised Onions 

Image Source

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 125ml coconut milk 
  • 4 tablespoons ghee / clarified butter
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 

Method: Boil the sweet potato until tender (approx 10-15 mins) then drain them and return to the pan. Add the coconut milk and 1 tablespoon ghee / butter. Mash or blend to desired consistency. Heat the remaining ghee / butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Once the ghee is hot, add the onion and cook for 15 minutes, stirring periodically as they begin to brown and caramelise.

I use my Tefal OptiGrill to cook the sausages to perfection! Check out my review here.

Serve your sausages on a bed of mash and topped with the caramelised onions. Season with salt and pepper (if desired).

***

So, erm, sorry if you missed the special edition packages but you can get HECK sausages all year round!

Have you tried HECK sausages before?! What's your favourite side to go with them?! 

Oh and boys! Don't forget to CHECK ;) 


Elle :) 

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p.s this recipe was adapted from a whole30 recipe. The sausages were sent to me for review, but you know me, all opinions are my very own! ;) 

20.12.16

3 Ways Marathon Training Makes You More Successful in Life

Marathon training is not something you just pick up and do on a whim. It takes planning. It takes hard work. It takes dedication. And you learn a lot along the way. About more than just running.


Training for and completing a marathon - whether it’s your first or your fiftieth - is something you will never forget. And the effort you put into running all 26.2 miles will make you more successful in life.

How? Here are just three of the many ways.

1 - Set and Achieve Long Term Goals

You are constantly being pushed towards instant gratification. Every alert from your phone or update on social media pulls you in. Do it now!

Still, some of the most important things in life require a slower approach. Long term goal setting is becoming a lost art. But marathon training will help you get it back.

It takes months of training to prepare for a marathon. You can’t just decide you want to go and run one tomorrow. You have to visualize your goal, create a plan, and follow through to achieve success.

That applies to many areas of life - like business, finances, family, and personal relationships. Learning to set goals and revel in their achievement will help you succeed everyday.

2 - Compete Against Yourself, Not Others

When you get into a marathon starting corral, you’re surrounded by other runners. But they’re not your competitors. Instead, each runner is just like you: a focused, driven individual who has struggled to get to this point. And you all share a common goal: push yourself to do your personal best, not to crush others.

This is a valuable lesson that extends to many aspects of life. Even in the cut-throat business world, learning to compete against yourself is extremely valuable.

Comparing yourself to others leads to frustration, jealousy, and other negative reactions. Striving for your own personal best will help you get ahead with positive vibes - just like you crossed the finish line proud of your hard work.


3 - Face Challenges, Don’t Run from Them

The long months of marathon training are sure to be full of challenges. Many runners face:

Injury: From runner’s knee to plantar fasciitis, there are lots of ways to get hurt. But if you’re going to stick it out and keep training, you’ve got to learn to take care of yourself, adjust your runs, and listen to your body.

Time: Getting in those long runs is never easy. You have work, family, and other responsibilities to balance. But as you learn to juggle your schedule and include your training runs, you also learn how much you are capable of. And just how efficient you can become when you’re focused on a goal.

Motivation: Sure, you want to run a marathon. But it’s easy to forget that when your alarm goes off on a cold morning at 5am for a 20 mile run. When you push yourself to get up and go, you discover personal motivation. That’s the same drive that helps you stay successful at any endeavor, big or small.

Stay Successful

Running a marathon is a big deal. But those 26.2 miles on race day are just the culmination of months of hard work and training. Every run and every workout push you to be a better runner… and a more successful person.

What has marathon training taught you? How has it benefitted you and made you more successful?


David 

Author Byline: David Porter is a runner and Marketing Director for Glacier Nutrition,  offering nutritional supplements for men and women made from all-natural ingredients. 

Image 1 Source: Unsplash 
Image 2 Source: PicJumbo

17.12.16

When To Start Introducing Vitamin Supplements Into Your Workout Regimes

Although nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet, sometimes it’s a good idea to supplement your diet with a good multivitamin to make sure that you’re getting everything you need. However, if you’ve embarked on a workout plan to make you fitter and healthier, you may need to take additional measures to help your exercise regime give you the best results. In terms of when, there’s no time like the present.


The most important thing is to get a good diet in place, and to consider it to be a full part of your exercise plan. You will need to eat enough protein to help your body build lean muscle mass, and to give you enough energy to pound the treadmill! Once you’re limiting your treats to once or twice a week, it’s worth taking a look at what’s on offer in terms of vitamin and mineral supplements that will give your workouts an extra boost – the combination of a healthy diet plus a little help can have a remarkable effect.

Don’t think that using supplements is in any way unnatural or constitutes ‘failure’, and don’t expect any sudden miracles either – you won’t lose fat or grow huge muscles just by taking a vitamin pill every day. You might also believe that as you aren’t a professional athlete, that you somehow don’t need or even deserve to supplement your diet to improve your workouts – don’t forget that professional athletes have coaches and nutrition experts on hand all the time to fine-tune their regime. You’re just making sure you’re working out at your best too.

Knowing which supplements to take can be a minefield, and it’s also dangerous to overdose on some vitamins and minerals. You might wish to consult your GP for advice, and also have a blood test before you start taking supplements that could do you more harm than good. It can be harmful, for example, to take larger doses of iron or Vitamin B if you don’t need them.

One good place to start for everyone, and in particular if you’re approaching middle-age, is to introduce a protein powder to help muscle repair. These often include concentrated levels of amino acids, essential for the growth and repair of tissue. Caffeine supplements can also help with a boost to your workout, increasing the time you can exercise before you become fatigued. However, you would probably enjoy a strong cup of coffee more!

If you have anaemia, or other disorders where your iron levels are either low or abnormally high, you may wish to work out your supplements to your diet with a specialist, especially if the depletion is due to serious illness or medical treatment. At Harley Street at UCH, you will not only receive advice and treatment, but full bloodwork, enabling you to make safe decisions on which supplements you take to be your very best.

Do you take any supplements in addition to your training?!  

Elle :) 

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14.12.16

Guest Post: Why Health Checks Are Important Even As A Fitness Fanatic

If exercise and healthy eating are a habit for you, then that’s a great start in ensuring that you stay well and active throughout your life, not only preventing major health concerns, but even warding off mild ailments such as colds. However, being in tip-top condition doesn’t mean that you won’t develop illnesses or injuries, and unless you listen to your body, even a small drop in fitness or stamina could be an indication that something is wrong.

Photo Credit: Lolography

For those of us that are newly-enthusiastic about exercise, keeping an eye on warning signs is even more important. A GP appointment in which we discover that we have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or are at risk of diabetes can send us frantically down a route of sudden strenuous exercise in an attempt to ward off heart attacks, strokes, and other serious illnesses. Although a health wake-up call can be a good thing, building up exercise slowly is crucial, so as not to put too much strain on the body.

However, even the fittest bodies would have limits, it would seem, and vigorous exercise isn’t quite the health saviour it might appear to be if our bodies are pushed to excess. Recent studies suggest that there are limits even for fitness fanatics, and that going beyond these can have serious consequences, especially for heart health.

Photo Credit: Lolography

A study by the American Academy of Family Physicians highlighted the dangers for middle-aged marathon runners, particularly men – it found that they are at a significantly increased risk of heart attack, even if they are super-fit. In many cases, this is because their fitness level is masking underlying symptoms of middle-age onset heart disease. As we age, the heart becomes less efficient, and has to work harder to pump blood around our body. Additionally, the way our muscles – including our heart – uses oxygen in our blood changes too. However fit and healthy we are, our arteries start to narrow and fur – no joke for the middle-aged marathon runner.

So what is a safe level of exercise as we start to age? The good news is, those of us that enjoy running and staying healthy can still do so – just so long as we’re not running more than around 20 miles per week, and don’t exercise for more than around an hour at a time. People who take exercise are still likely to live longer than those who don’t, as long as they listen to how their body is changing as they age.

Better still, visit a private hospital in Chelsea to have a full health check every few years, especially if you start to notice aches and pains that weren’t there before, or want advice on how to adjust your exercise regime to meet your personal needs as you get older. As with so many other things in life, moderation is key.

Do you have regular health checks?! 

12.12.16

Finding The The Right Support For Your Sport with Brooks Moving Comfort

So, apparently, your sports bra is important. I mean, I've seen quite a few brands banging on about it over the past twelve months, so there must be something in this, right?! I do however agree and think think that sports bras are one of the most underrepresented pieces of kit for us ladies. Not many people talk about them and maybe that's because most of the time they stay hidden underneath the rest of our very stylish looking workout attire. I mean, I even went to a gym a few months back when summer was here, where they asked us to put our tops back on as sports bras were not appropriate attire. Well, excuse me, but I thought we were in 2016?!

The fact that I even was wearing a sports bra (in general lol) seems to be a miracle as research shows that more than 40% of women don't even wear one to work out! Personally, my sports bra journey up to this point has been basic. I've worn what I was given. I've never been measured for a regular bra so it never occurred to me that you could get measured for a sports bra (even though I once worked for a brand who trained me up to specialise in sports bra fittings! Yeah I know! The fittings were for other people though, not for me!).

Fast forward to 2016, and I get invited to a trampolining event with Brooks Moving Comfort to test out a newly launched (at the time) bra. To see if it did what it was supposed to do and reduce bounce. I learnt a fair bit more about bras that day, about what styles I find comfortable and what I should wear and when.  So when I was offered the chance to have a box of bras personalised for my specific activities I thought there was no better time to have a clear out and share my findings through testing these bras with you!


Why Are Sports Bras Important? 

Sports bras are important because they minimise movement of the breasts during vigorous activities. It has been estimated that during high-energy, high-impact sports women’s breasts can move up to ten or more centimetres which means that anatomically there is not much natural support. Sports bras can provide this support as well as allow sweat to be wicked away and reduce chaffing of sensitive skin or nipples. For women who consistently run or jump these factors can go a long way towards avoiding or alleviating breast pain as well as fighting the sagging of the breasts. (www.breastadvice.co.uk)

When asked what types of activities I take part in, I listed HIIT / Interval training, Group Exercise, Cycling, Running and Yoga / Pilates. I stated that I like a mix of bright and bold as well as subtle colours and I prefer a racerback. Here is what I got and my thoughts: 
FINEFORM || this bra was the first one out of the box to be tested based purely on the fact it was the prettiest! It's perfect for low impact activities like yoga, pilates or just to hit up the gym. It's now my go to bra when I am craving pure comfort as it's so soft and I can basically forget I'm even wearing it!  If you want it, you can get a touch more support from this bra by wearing it as a traceback rather than an open back! 

I tested out the Fineform in spin, when teaching (HIIT) and when cycling. It also almost made it into my kit bag for L'Etape London in September but as it was fairly new I couldn't risk it (y'know, no new kit on race day!). 
UPRISE || When I checked out the bras in the box, this one was the one that seemed most "like me". I liked the shape, the colour and the print. It looked like a medium support bra which is typically what I opt for based on comfort.

I've worn this bra for everything now; spinning, HIIT, strength training... okay that's actually all I do right now! It has perfectly moulded cups built into the design which feature perforations for increased breathability. And I think the racerback is what makes it into a medium support bra.

It's also what I would class as medium coverage based on how low it is at the front - it's just the cut I like. It's a really versatile bra for those of us who like to keep our workout types fresh!
REBOUND RACER || the third and final bra in my box to try. I'd left it till last for various reasons: I wasn't too sure I liked the colour, the print or the shape and it also just looked so "serious" but eventually I chucked it on to test it properly.

I chose a day that I was going to be up to all sorts; teaching a HIIT class, running and then attending a strength based class totalling a long day which would also need a bra that was comfortable.

My first impressions were pretty good; although there is minimal padding, the bra still offers good coverage and actually provides a nice shape underneath your mid-layers. It was a little trickier than other bras to get on because although it has a back clasp, it still is a racerback and needs to go on overhead (unless you undo the straps at the front). The front facing adjustable straps also make it quick and easy to get it feeling comfortable quickly.


Would I wear it on its own? Yes (it even made it onto IG... see above!)

***

Keep an eye out on the blog and Instagram for some more sports bra info and if you have any questions that I could answer / get answered for you just reach out to me on social or leave a comment below!

Tell me you already wear a sports bra, right?! Have you been measured?! Any tips / nuggets of your own to share?! 

Elle :) 

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11.12.16

How to Avoid Major Setbacks In Your Goals Over Christmas

Christmas is a time to splurge on all the rich foods and alcohol, right?! The diet goes out of the window and any resolutions you made not to eat chocolate are forgotten in a haze of sweet treats and socialising. The festive season is also a time when we get super busy studying, putting in overtime, buying gifts and hitting the party scene that going to the gym is pushed way down on the ‘to-do’ list. Sticking to your fitness program is really the only way to offset the effects of a few lapses in your diet diet, so here are some tips to help you avoid any major setbacks in your goals this Christmas.

Photo Credit: Lolography

Be Organised
It is not always easy to stay organised over the Christmas holidays, as you are likely to be rushing around with a mad schedule, especially if you are trying to combine work and studying for an MBA in healthcare management from The George Washington University. In order to make time to eat healthy meals and exercise, you have to be organised. Plan your meals for the week ahead and buy fresh ingredients accordingly. If your schedule includes eating out or attending a party, eat light meals in the days preceding the engagement, so you don’t exceed your calorie count overall.

Make Time for Exercise
Exercise is crucial, but with dark nights and miserable weather, it isn’t easy to find the motivation for an early morning jog or a late evening trip to a Zumba class. To counter the inevitable sense of lethargy you will feel at this time of year, buy a gorgeous figure-hugging party dress and resolve that you are going to wear it over Christmas. This should give you sufficient motivation for sticking to your exercise routine. If you are still struggling for time and a trip to the gym is simply impossible, make a point of exercising whenever and wherever you can. Walk instead of drive, or hit the dancefloor when you attend a Christmas party. Every little helps!

Photo Credit: Lolography

Have a New Year Target
Having a target is a good way to keep you on the straight and narrow over Christmas. If you are reasonably athletic, target a half marathon around March, so you have no choice but to start training over Christmas. If you are not so athletic, look at doing a beginner friendly 5k and download a couch  to 5K training plan. Most are 8-12 weeks in duration. If you agree to raise money for charity, you will have more motivation to eat sensibly, train, and hit your target.

Don’t Restrict Yourself From A Treat
It is unreasonable to stay clear of everything naughty and nice over Christmas. The more you try to be good, the more likely you are to fall off the wagon. Use “everything in moderation” as your mantra. For every calorific treat or glass of wine you consume, resolve to do some extra exercise as a counter balance. That way you should stay within your target weight zone, despite having fun over the festive holiday.

Do you have any tips for avoiding setting yourself back over the holidays?! 


Elle :) 

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10.12.16

Keeping Motivated And Fit During Illness

If you are doing your best to get exercise whilst recovering from surgery, when dealing with a long-term or chronic illness nor even just suffering from the winter bugs which have been going around, it can be difficult to stay motivated, especially during setbacks in your recovery,  when you have a flare-up of symptoms or you just don't recover as quickly as hoped. It can almost seem like you should give up and get back on the treadmill – literally – when you feel better, but little and often will not only leave you in a better position when you’re back to your best, it will help you recover faster too.

Photo Credit: Lolography

With chronic illness, especially auto-immune conditions that carry symptoms like muscle pain or arthritis, keeping moving is key, and tailoring your workout to what you can do at any given time. Some days, gentle stretches will be all you can manage, but that’s still keeping your body flexible, and your muscles moving – talk to a fitness instructor or to your hospital specialist for ideas on what you can do to fit in a little movement even on a bad day.

You might find it useful to have a plan in place – timetables and goals might not be useful to you if you have an illness where your pain and energy levels may fluctuate from day to day, but your plan might have suggested activities and duration for days when you are at your best, right through to stretches and breathing exercises for when you are unable to exercise. It’s also worth scheduling moderate or low activity days after those where you have managed to do more, especially where physical or mental over-exertion can bring on a flare of symptoms. If you are familiar with ‘spoon theory’ you will already know that overdoing it costs!

Photo Credit: Lolography

With long-term illness comes depression; it’s not a given, but it is harder to keep a positive outlook if you know that recovery is some way away, and it’s going to be a while before you are back to your best. Exercise has shown itself to be very helpful as an additional therapy for mild to moderate depression, as it releases endorphins which help to lift mood; a positive mindset is in itself helpful in aiding recovery.

Although wearable fitness technology might seem to be more the preserve of the more serious exerciser, it can be very useful for monitoring your heartrate, logging your exercise, and even keeping track of how well you are sleeping – if you’re noticing an improvement in all these things over a period of a few weeks, it can not only encourage you to keep going when you’re able, but also help you monitor your recovery. Talking to your specialist at a private hospital in Essex will give you more ideas about what is suitable for you to in terms of a fitness and exercise plan which will help to get you back to your best as quickly as possible.

How do you keep motivated during bouts of illness?! 

Elle :) 

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9.12.16

How to Keep Fit When You’re Too Busy for The Gym

We live in an increasingly busy world. We’re always on the go: rushing to work, or school, maybe even studying an online MBA degree and working at the same time, getting the kids ready for school, cooking dinner, doing housework, finishing assignments. One of the main excuses people give for not working out is that they just don’t have time. Don’t let this stop you! Even the busiest of people can make a few small changes to fit in some exercise. When you lead a busy active lifestyle, a little exercise a few days a week can be all you need.

Photo Credit: Lolography

Walk

Walking instead of using public transport will not only help you keep fit, it’ll also save you a lot of money. Try to walk as often as you can, but if the distance is too great, park further away than you usually would, or get off the bus a few stops early to get a bit of walking in; it’s even better if it’s uphill.

Run
Running is a great way to burn calories, lose weight and tone your muscles, but it’s also great for your mind. Running helps us relax, think things through and feel great about ourselves. Running is also great because aside from a pair of trainers, it can be free. If you haven’t run before try something like a couch to 5k program to help you get started.

Photo Credit: Lolography

Online Videos

If you’re short on time, or maybe can’t get out because you’ve got kids, online workouts are great. YouTube has millions of videos, with many different styles and lengths. Even if you only have 10 minutes spare, there’s something on there for you. Just make sure you make the time that you have got count. Consider going to a class run by a professional trainer to get some tips you can then incorporate in to your home workouts.

Take the Stairs
Don’t get in that lift; brave the stairs instead. Climbing stairs is great for burning calories and toning your legs. This is a super easy way to add a little exercise to your daily routine.

Stand Up
Where ever you can, stand instead of sitting. If you study online, such as an AACSB online MBA, and find you spend long periods of time in front of a computer, get up and take a walk, or do some stretches every hour to get your blood pumping. This will also help your concentration levels massively.

Swimming
Even a short swim is a great all over body work out. Swimming is a great option if you’ve had an injury or are particularly unfit, as the water helps take pressure off your joints without losing the quality of the exercise. There are many simple ways to add cardio to your daily routine. Stretching can also be great for your muscles. Basically, keep moving! A great tip is to find something you enjoy, that might be running, swimming, yoga, anything to work your body. You are much more likely to stick to it, and make time to do it, if it’s something you enjoy. This may take some time, but try new things until you find the exercise you love.

What tips do you have to share for fitting in the gym when you get busy?!


Maggie

This post was written by Maggie Hammond; She is a retired nurse and freelance writer, exploring and writing in the U.S. in retirement. An advocate for public health and nursing qualifications, she feels passionate about raising awareness of the current strain on public health organisations.

6.12.16

5 Tips for Training Hard with a Busy Study Schedule

This time next year, I will be in the middle of my Masters levels studies so it got me thinking; I already know quite a few friends who openly share the difficulties of training when you are studying so I figured I would start thinking about it now. If you are in the middle of earning your online degree then your life probably consists of a lot of studying and assignments. Earning your degree through Villanova University, for example, will set you up for a successful career, but in the process it’s important to keep a healthy school and personal life balance. If you’re the type who enjoys training at the gym there is no reason to put it on the backburner, as you can still work on your studies while training hard.

Photo Credit: Lolography

To help you find that balance we’ve put together five tips that you can use to help you train hard and leave enough time for studying:

Create a Schedule
The very first tip that we can offer is to create a realistic schedule that you can stick with. Without a schedule it can feel like you are just bouncing from one thing to the next with no clear plan in place. You may want to lay out a full one-week schedule so you can get a better look at your available time. Include any appointments you may have that week, your class schedule, assignment due dates, and your work schedule if it applies. Next, you can start to allot study time through the week, whether it is on a daily basis or less frequent. By now you should have a very clear picture of how your week will go, which then allows you to figure out when you can get to the gym to train. Be sure to write your gym time on the schedule, so that if anything else pops up you’ll be able to tell if it will conflict with training.

Always be Prepared
Another tip is to always be prepared to go to the gym at the last minute. You can do this by keeping your gym bag in the car, ready to go. Should something clear up in your schedule and you’ve suddenly got free time, you can head to the gym.

Join a Sports Team
It can be hard to get motivated when it comes to training at the gym, especially when you've got a busy schedule. You may find it easier if you join a sports team/league. Taking part in a sport with others can act as motivation to get you out there because you know they are depending on you.

Choose the Gym Based on Location
Another tip is to choose a gym based on its proximity to school. If your school happens to have a gym on campus that you can join, even better! By choosing a location close to the school you’ll make it easy to go from studying to training and vice versa.

Something Is Better Than Nothing
While it may be impossible to fit in as much training time as you like, keep in mind that something is always better than nothing. Any time you can spend training will benefit you physically and mentally, so even if you can only fit in a bit of time at the moment, it’s still worth it.

There’s No Need to Give Up Training
By using these tips you’ll discover that you can find that balance between school and training, and be healthier and happier in the process.

This post was written by Maggie Hammond; She is a retired nurse and freelance writer, exploring and writing in the U.S. in retirement. An advocate for public health and nursing qualifications, she feels passionate about raising awareness of the current strain on public health organisations.

29.11.16

How to Keep Fit Over Christmas

Christmas, for many people, is a chance for a well earned break. You may be working full time, and looking forward to a few days with family, be home for the holidays after a tough semester at university or college, or just allowing yourself a break from your online studies, perhaps an online MBA. Every year, Christmas shopping seems to start a little earlier too. We also sometimes see this as an excuse to start the Christmas eating, drinking and partying a little earlier too, eh?! While it’s perfectly acceptable to pig out a little over Christmas, trying to keep as fit and healthy as you can will make it much easier to get back into your normal routine come January. This is especially important if you are training for an event. You’ll be amazed at how much your fitness levels can drop after only a few weeks.


Watch What You Drink
People are always surprised when they find out how many calories and how much sugar there is in their favorite alcoholic drinks. Sure, we’ve all heard of the dreaded beer belly, but that’s just beer, right? Unfortunately not. A glass of red wine can have up to 200 calories. Have the odd glass of wine, or beer, but try to drink spirits with a slimline tonic, and drink a glass of water between each alcoholic drink.

Eat Before You Go Out
Don’t be tempted to skip meals, thinking this will save calories. It’ll just make you more likely to eat bigger meals when you do, or make you want to snack later in the night. Instead try to eat smaller meals more often, so you aren’t tempted to over indulge.

Exercise
Now I’m not saying you need to go for a 10km run on Christmas morning (but I have been known to do this!), a few days off is fine, as is doing shorter workouts, or reduced intensity for the whole period. Just try not to stop completely for more than a few days. You will start to lose fitness, and the longer you leave it, the harder it will be to get back to where you were.

Get the Family Outside
You might not want to exercise for a few days, but why not get your whole family doing some outdoor activities. Ice skating is a great, festive family activity. Or you could just take a nice country walk, together as a family. Take the kids out on their new bikes if you can. Have some fun.

Smaller Portions
Have a little of everything. Don’t deny yourself any treats that you want. Just don’t go crazy. Have a chocolate every now and then,  but try to resist eating the whole box. The same goes for those mince pies.

Get Stuck in to the Sprouts
Sprouts are in fact a Christmas superfood. So, eat as many as you want. They are full of vitamins and minerals which will give your immune system a boost, and help keep you from getting any bugs over the holidays.

You can easily enjoy all Christmas has to offer, without losing your fitness levels and gaining a little extra weight. Maybe, try to limit any Christmas indulgence to Christmas week only, but don’t feel guilty for any diet slips. You’ll be back to your online studies, or the hard days at the office in no time (gah!)

Give yourself a little break. It is Christmas after all.


Elle :)

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25.11.16

4 Ways To Stick To Your Fitness Goals In The Winter Months


As the days grow shorter and the weather gets colder, it's difficult to maintain your workout routine. The winter blues may seem to hinder your fitness aspirations, but there are strategic ways of staying on track. Adjust your routine to accommodate this time of year and set yourself up for success by joining a gym, tracking your meals, enlisting in fitness programs and setting recreational goals. Here are four ways you can stay motivated and focused on your fitness goals during winter.

Join a Gym
Escape from the outdoor chill and utilise the indoor workout facilities of your local gym. A gym is the perfect environment for you to explore new workouts and keep active during the dark, cold winter months. Many gyms also have equipment and features that let you engage in workouts that you’d usually enjoy in the warmer months. For example, if you’re an avid swimmer, find a gym with an indoor pool. You can stay cozy and still keep up on your personal records for the 100 meter. Many gyms also offer group classes, which are a great way to boost your energy and also increase your social network. Choose classes that are fun and re-energising — like an energetic dance class, indoor cycling classes or yoga — so you can go out and combat the winter world!

Food Tracking
Comfort food tends to sneak into your diet during the winter months, as there are so many wonderful warm foods and holiday treats to enjoy. Stay aware of what you’re putting into your body so you have the proper nutrients for your workouts. You can start a food journal in which you log all your meals and plan out your food schedule. You can also find a digital food tracker, or diet app, that seamlessly logs your meals and provides statistics of your calorie and nutrient intake. The MyPlate and Lose It! apps are helpful tools that will keep you aware of your daily food consumption.

Fitness Programs
If you struggle to stay consistent with your workouts, sign up to a fitness program that will guide you toward your goals. You can choose an app that will keep you on track and give you daily exercises and circuits, which will build your strength and stamina. The Sweat With Kayla app provides you with a six-day workout plan that includes three sessions of resistance training and three sessions of cardio. Each session lasts around 30-40 minutes and provides step-by-step instructions so you aren’t overwhelmed. The program is designed to gradually increase in difficulty, so you don’t start the first few weeks huffing and puffing trying to keep up. You can post your progress pics onto the app, so you can have a visual record of your journey. Make sure you have a phone with a good camera like the iPhone 7 Plus so you can take high-quality progress photos, anytime and anywhere. Other helpful fitness apps include My Fitness Pal, PEAR Personal Coach and ActiveX.

Set Goals
Set lofty goals for yourself, that will keep you accountable. For example, if you enjoy running, sign up for a long distance run — either a 10K, a half-marathon or a marathon. Make sure you only sign up for a race that you have time to prepare for, as injuries may occur when there hasn’t been sufficient training. You could also sign up to a sports tournament, for an individual sport like swimming or for an organised sports team you’re a part of. Having an event to work towards will inspire dedication to regularly workout and will be a great source of motivation for your personal fitness and health.

Any strategies that you use yourself?! 

Elle :) 

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17.11.16

Run With Us: Essential Warm-Up Tips For Winter Running

Run With Us is a new series I've started to coincide with the launch of the newest run club on the block - #WinterRunClub - each and every Thursday evening in the lead up to the London Winter Run (full details for each week can always be found on my Facebook Page or on Eventbrite. It's completely free to get involved and if you choose to join us for the London Winter Run you can get a few pounds off your entry with code SIMPELLE3.

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

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Warming up before your run is essential for avoiding injury in the Winter months. Fortunately just 30 seconds of each of the following exercises will switch on the muscles used for running and activate your nervous system. Stretching cold muscles (particularly in static stretches) can lead to injury and stepping out in the cold Winter air can have a similarly negative effect.

The cool air shocks the muscles, reducing blood flow causing them to feel tighter and leaving them prone to injury. By doing a few minutes of active, or dynamic stretching before you head off you can improve your running and reduce the risk of injury.

HIP TWISTS



Here is the first exercise to open up your hips and to prevent tight hip flexors (very common with runners!). Start in a seated position on the floor or on a mat with your knees at 90 degrees. Flip just the knees over to the other side and rotate your torso as you do so, following the direction of the knees. Keep repeating this movement, holding the rotation for a couple of seconds each time.

KNEE CIRCLES




This is a great mobility exercise to open up the hips and prevent any lower back pain or muscle ache. Starting in box position on your hands and knees, with your shoulders tracking over your wrists and your hips tracking over your knees. Make sure your feet are also hip-width apart. Imagining that you have a pen attached to your knee cap, draw knee circles with one leg. Perform 10 rotations in one direction and then change direction of the circle. Repeat on the other leg.

DEEP SQUAT HOLD AND FROG SQUAT


This is the king of the hip-openers and also will alleviate any tight lower back muscles. You can either hold the deep squat position, with your elbow fixed on the inside of the knees (effectively opening up the hips more). Or for the frog squat, whilst maintaining a straight back and open chest, lift the hips up and down in a rocking motion. Perform either exercise for 30 seconds.

SCAPULA SLIDES



Although this warm-up for the upper back and shoulders is best done when lined up with your back against a wall, you can still do this from standing. Taking a deep breath in with your arms above your head, breathe out and draw the elbows down by the sides of your waist as you squeeze the shoulder blades together. You want to imagine a walnut stuck in between your shoulder blades and you’re trying to crack that walnut! Make sure you relax your shoulders whilst performing this exercise.

ACHILLES AND CALF MUSCLES STRETCH


Your calf muscles and Achilles tendon are crucial to running. By giving them a good warm up your running will feel easier and you’ll reduce your chance of major injury. Bring one foot about an inch away from a wall, with the other foot placed behind about a foot length’s away. With both feet facing forward and pressing against the wall with both hands, draw your front knee towards the wall so it reaches it. It is important here to keep the heel of the back foot glued to the ground. Hold for about 15 seconds on one side and then switch legs.

Do you warm up before you go out to run?! 

Yasmine


Yasmine is a West London based Personal Trainer, Running Coach and founder of Say Fitness Personal Training. Having worked as a Graphic Designer and Brand Manager for 10 years, including a stint as a University Lecturer at a private University in California, she decided to pack away the desk job and combine her talents in teaching and fitness with her love of marketing and branding to qualify as a Personal Trainer. Now as a dedicated and passionate Personal Trainer with a diverse skill set, Yasmine aims to help you change your lifestyle habits and set realistic goals for a happier and healthier mind and body!

14.11.16

4 Skincare Tips For Active Women

What happens when you put together a Personal Trainer and a Make Up Artist?! ...well, it isn't a bad joke but it did produce this post! My very good friend from University, Elaine Lynskey sat down with me one wet and chilly afternoon to chat all things skincare when it comes to being active and I wanted to share everything she told me with you here!


Take Extra Care In Colder Weather

There’s the unfounded myth that when the weather gets colder, moisturising your skin isn’t as important but we know that this isn’t quite the case. The harshness of the colder temperatures plus the added windchill are very drying on your skin and your face doesn’t get the luxury of being wrapped up underneath cosy winter jumpers.

Elaine suggested adding a little beauty oil (2-3 drops) to your moisturiser especially when the colder months arrive. The benefits are plentiful but include hydration of your skin, rebalancing and it’s also anti ageing. Don’t be afraid of using oil on your skin even if your skin is classified as oily as you can actually fight oily skin with oil. The key is to look for the right ingredients in the products you chose; Look for something with either jojoba or rosehip oil which are healing, help to reduce scars, sun damage and lines. If you’l l be running or working out outdoors apply your moisturiser plus oil before you head out. Otherwise, simply just add it to your morning or evening routine.

How You Clean Your Skin Is More Important Than When 

So the focus here is on cleaning your skin properly rather than stressing about cleaning straight after exercise. Elaine suggested that we avoid wipes to clean our skin as they contain a lot of alcohol which strips your skin of it’s natural oils. If you deprive your skin of oil, it goes into overdrive producing excess oil which can lead to breakouts.

A good place to start with your skin cleansing routine is with a micelle solution such as Bioderma Sensibio H20; it works to remove makeup, soothes irritated skin and minimises redness. It also doesn't disrupt the natural pH levels of your skin yet can remove the most stubborn waterproof mascara.

The perfect product for the next part of your routine is an old favourite of mine, Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser. When you use the product which has a cream base with the cloth and warm water it opens up the pores and cleans your skin more effectively whilst providing gentle exfoliation.


Keep That Sun Protection In Your Moisturiser

I know. It’s cold, and you’re even sure the sun exists any more. But the fact of the matter is if there is daylight, the sun is there somewhere. It certainly can’t do any harm to keep using a moisturiser with added sun protection especially if you will be spending time outdoors (cos, damn, on the London Underground, we can barely get fresh air let alone daylight!). Elaine recommends a minimum of factor 20 when trying to decide which product to use. You can obviously just use a separate sun cream to your regular moisturiser if your favourite doesn’t already have it added. This summer, I tried and loved the P20 Once A Day range as it’s sweatproof, safe for use on your face and very water resistant.

Manage Your Imperfections 

Personally, this is a massive area for me when it comes to skincare; I’m 32yo and still suffering from blemishes which then leave me with uneven skin tone. I’ve also been informed that although my skin is blemish prone, it’s actually dehydrated (can we ever win?!)

Imperfections include, but are not limited to spots / blemishes, dryness and chapped lips when it comes to being active. Elaine recommended Weleda Skin Food in winter months which is good for dry skin. She also recommended Lucas Papaw Ointment for dry, chapped lips.

To reduce the risk of further breakouts, avoid using heavy foundations as they don’t allow your skin to breathe. Elaine suggested that if a base is a must have, use a concealer stick on the areas that you want to cover such as under eyes, on blemishes and around nose. Also don’t forget to keep your brushes clean by washing them once a week (okay every couple weeks in reality!) with hot water and soap before letting them dry naturally to avoid contamination and added germs.

We then heard that spots on the hairline caused by sweating is an issue some of you have to deal with. For this, you can try products containing Argan Oil both pre- and post workout as it protects skin from environmental damage, is great for oily skin to as it controls oil production and is also great for those of us with sensitive skin. As an added bonus It can also be used as an overnight treatment!

***

You can check out what Elaine gets up to via her website or on Instagram.

If you have any other skincare concerns or amazing tips that you'd like to share then please leave us a comment below! 


Elle :)  

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