29.12.17

FREE January 2018 Calendar Download with Angela Chick

Welcome to that awkward time between Christmas and New Years peeps... where some of us have to go back to work, and others aren't quite sure what day it is or what to do with themselves. I'm predicting I will be in the latter. But that just gives me plenty of time to get on top of everything, set some goals and get organised for 2018, right?!

Earlier this year, I used to create desktop calendars and share them on the blog. Although I stopped making them, I have continued to use them, finding a different one each month on the good old internet whenever I get around to it! A few months ago, I was contacted by Angela, a Graphic Designer and small business owner like myself about a different project but when I suggested working together to potentially create some more desktop calendars, she didn't say no and that was the first moment I thought "this gal is cool!". Over the past few months, I've gotten to know Angela through connecting on social media and made a few purchases from her shop, which you can find here.

She shared this awesome post on IG which is perfect for you to get to know a little more about her too...

Hello! It's me! A quick hello and introduction as I've had quite a few new followers recently. My name is Angela Dawn Chick (just as well as I'm up at the crack of dawn every day - this morning I was up at 5 and did a couple hours of work before going for a run, swimming in the sea, coming back home for a shower, breakfast and back at my desk for 8.30am) I studied textiles at university and was always told I drew too much but it was great because it gave me the skills I needed to kickstart my collection of screen printed tees and tote bags. In December 2012 I quit my day job and went full time with my business. Here I am now, almost 5 years later and I'm still going. I must be doing something right! It's me, a one woman show, although I do have help from my mum and dad in certain aspects of the business and I have the odd friend hop in to help me here and there. I like designing cards and things to make people feel nice. I am a sucker for a good routine and when I'm not working I like being outdoors. Riding my bike when the sun is shining, going camping, going to the gym, I love walking and I've recently taken up running. I am currently obsessed with Vanilla Chai tea & hot chocolate. Not at the same time, although I have tried that and it's delicious. I like food and I really like to cook. Pho, ramen and sushi are definitely my favourite foods, but of course, I'm only human, and I have a soft spot for pizza. I love spending a lazy weekend day curled up with a good book. Doing absolutely nothing. Or, going for a really long walk and then eating a roast dinner. Of course in Summer that answer would be totally different. Things I've watched recently: Stranger Things 2, American Horror Story, Broad City, Doc Martin. I was born in England but grew up over in Canada so if you ever hear me speak, don't be so surprised. I've lived back in the UK for 11 years now but can't shake the Canadian accent. That's it from me, if you want to know anything just ask! :)
A post shared by Angela Chick (@angela.chick.illustration) on



Angela went above and beyond and created these wallpapers, one for each month in 2018 featuring prompts to remind you to take care of yourself and enjoy yourself in equal measure, all inspired by her Three Good Things blog series. This post is to share January's download so you can get organised too...

Info about sizing:
There are three different sizes available.

Download 16:9 for screen resolutions:
2560 x 1440
1920 x 1080
1600 x 900
1366 x 768

Download 16:10 for screen resolutions:
1920 x 1200
1680 x 1050
1440 x 900
1280 x 800

Download 4:3 for screen resolutions:
1600 x 1200
1152 x 864
1024 x 768
800 x 600

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Guys, please go show Angela some love and enjoy the first month of her incredible artwork. Here's to a 2018 filled with plenty of good things! 

Elle :) 

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27.12.17

When Life Catches Up With You


“It’s been a long year” is what I’ve laughed and said in the short space of time leading up to Christmas. Because as much as it feels like time has flown, I’m also a little exhausted. The Christmas holidays are my only official time off... when the gyms and studios reduce their timetables and then close for Christmas Day and the Bank Holidays ...and the non self imposed rest couldn’t come at a better time. 

I don’t think I’m alone either when it comes to needing a break, or feeling like life is just a little too much so I figured I would have a think about ways that we could deal with it all and take the pressure off just a little bit.

Tackle The To Do List 
I’ve been keeping a list of things to do while I have some time off and to be honest it’s a little overwhelming! Top of my list is to have a thorough clean of my flat as I’ve done the bare minimum since the pressure of assignment writing and exam deadlines got heavy in November.

Last month, Fantastic Services got in touch offering me the choice of someone coming over and cleaning my oven for the holidays or delivering a real Christmas Tree to my place. I went for the tree (as I’ve never had a real tree before) but I’m sure you can imagine that a small part of me now wishes that I opted for the oven cleaning service.

I think I would definitely consider hiring a cleaner as a great every once in a while treat to help keep on top of things. Fantastic Services also provided me with a discount code for y’all to get £10 off your first booking - SimpElle10 - terms and conditions are at the bottom of the post.

Make Time To Move 
You knew exercise had to come up at some point! But it doesn’t have to be the go hard or go home sweatfest that everyone shares on social media. Get some fresh air and take a walk, dust off the bike, find a yoga class or hit up YouTube for indoor session inspiration.

Do The Things...
...you’ve never had the time to do. Like reading, trying new recipes, redecorating a room, fixing bits and bobs, clearing out your wardrobe. My poor mum had to sit through the whole of Criminal Minds series 13 (that's 22 episodes) over Christmas and Boxing Day but I honestly think she enjoyed it more than me! Ha!

Approaching the New Year is the perfect time for some “spring cleaning” and a fresh start, right?!

Elle :)

Terms and conditions: 10 GBP off first booking. Does not apply for regular domestic cleaning and Christmas services. Cannot be combined with other deals and promotions. Min charges apply. Subject to availability and area coverage. The promo code is valid until 31.05.2018. 

21.12.17

Sweaty Betty Sale Alert!



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What I've shopped: 

I've tried this top on a few times and hoping I will look half decent in it this time round lol ...fingers crossed  https://rstyle.me/n/cvzg8gcckix

Had my eye on this dress... https://rstyle.me/n/cvzha2cckix

Last but not least I love me a tunic... https://rstyle.me/n/cvzhb9cckix    

...I managed to restrain myself for now! When I get them I'll be sure to share some pictures on IG so follow me, link below...



What SALES are you gonna be all over during the holidays?! 

Elle :) 

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20.12.17

Why There's More To A Healthy Lifestyle Than "Getting Fit"

Photo by Donna | Hues of Delahaye

Let's talk. Just last month I wrote about the issues I’ve been going through as a result of being on the pill as well as the side effects I've suffered coming off the pill. I was surprised how many other women had experienced similar situations or had other symptoms, but I guess like most other things we go through as women, we don’t really talk about them all that honestly or openly.

I feel like I've used the quote "you don't know what you don't know" every single day recently, but fact is, it's true. It got me thinking about how we age, and the effects of ageing on our bodies and how we just don't really know what is in store for us. But we can do our best to live a healthy lifestyle as a preventative measure for ageing well... there's definitely more to it than just "getting fit"...

Anti-Ageing Products Should Be Used As Preventative Skin Care
I swear, I didn't really think about this one until it was past the point that I should've started! In my mind, anti-ageing creams were for women who were already "old", whatever old is! But it makes sense to start looking after your skin before it looks like you need to look after it! Check out my post with skincare tips for active women or my post on a challenge I took part in about having younger looking skin.

Fitness Isn’t Reserved Just For Getting Lean Or Running Faster Times
For sure, these are great reasons to workout but the long term benefits are also worth considering. Exercise and movement are great for losing or maintaining weight which in turn reduces your risk of   certain diseases such as diabetes, heart disease etc. These all sound super serious and kind of a world away until you get diagnosed with one of them, eh??

You’ll Never Be As Young As You Are In This Moment Again 
I can’t remember where I heard this quote or even if I’ve remembered it accurately but for me, it’s a good reminder to enjoy every single moment. It can be useful to document some stats such as weight, or measurements like waist, hip, bust, arms or legs in order to keep track... but not too often. Once a month? That seems reasonable. It's important to appreciate that our bodies change with time and age so expecting to have the body you had at 18yo when you've hit your 30's is likely to be unrealistic.

It’s Good To Talk 
As I’ve gotten older, certain life events take place that really are mostly just associated with getting older. Marriages, deaths, illness and babies are just some of them; all common place, all a part of life but mostly unspoken. When it comes to matters of our intimate health especially, being better equipped to make the right health decisions is crucial to increase overall confidence and inspire other women to do the same. Canesten® are all about open and honest discussions and shared with me that Vaginal Dryness is experienced by one in three women; although it is a common symptom for those going through the menopause, younger women may be affected as well so if you're suffering from symptoms of this, or anything else, don't leave it untreated...

And if talking is too much for you, then it’s also good to listen (or read, or write). If you have any questions or just want to share something feel free to reach out to me via my social channels or privately (also via social channels linked below) or by email (details here).

Elle :) 

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p.s this post has been supported by Canesintima®, but you know me, all thoughts as ever, are my very own ;) 

15.12.17

Be The Best You Wanna Be for 2018 with PLT




January is fast approaching and with that will come the usual set of resolutions for the New Year. Did you know that 90% of New Year’s resolutions are based around fitness and a healthier lifestyle? ...I'm sure that comes as no surprise if you've already started thinking about your own goals for 2018.

Personally, I started to have a think about my plans and goals for 2018 a few weeks ago and have been keeping a note in my Bullet Journal ready to transfer to my Passion Planner when I've decided on them for sure. And the funny thing is, none of my goals have been related to a specific fitness regime.

In my head, I always think I know how much I can squeeze into a week and it never ever pans out the way I thought it would in reality. So I learnt a while ago. that it's best (for me) not to plan too far ahead and that seems to be working for me...




I recently posted on the blog about overtraining as there seemed to be a trend of this on social media and over the holidays it seems to have become amplified with many people taking part in challenges to run or exercise every day for an extended period of time. I'm lucky that seeing all this doesn't for one minute make me wanna try the same challenges and I urge you that when you see similar posts to consider what is really right for you... to allow you to be the best version of yourself...

And as Pretty Little Thing put it so nicely, it’s all about finding your own balance. Huge shout out to PLT for the post inspiration; check out their Activewear range.

Do you have any fitness goals in mind for 2018?! How do you keep the balance?!


Elle :) 

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p.s this post was in collaboration with PLT, but you know me, all opinions and thoughts are my own... as ever ;) Oh, and these awesome photos were taken by friend and blogger Donna of Hues of Delahaye. 

13.12.17

Part 3 of the Ultimate Bloggers "Fitmas" Gift Guide

We're back... with more inspiration for fittie gift buying this Christmas. Part's 1 and 2 (which you can catch here ...and here) went down really well, so I have three more ladies who have kindly shared their wish lists with me...

I think Christmas is really on its way and for the first time in what seems like a very, very long time, it might be a White Christmas as it's already been snowing here in London. Everyone seems to be completely enamoured with the snow (I can't blame them) but what makes it annoying is that the entire country seems to grind to a halt... cancelled trains, roads blocked, cancelled flights, power cuts... so the only answer is to indulge in a little gift buying online...

So, first up...

Corey
Hello from Florida! I’m Corey - a Type 1 diabetic adrenaline junkie, loves running, OCR’s, ultras, you name it. Here are some of my Christmas Gift must buys for the runner in your life.
Road ID - you can never be too safe, especially if you run alone a lot like me

Medal Lamp - Talk about a conversation piece!  I want this lamp… 

Stance Socks subscription - A totally customizable plan for sock type, thickness and sport and for just $19/month it’s the perfect motivation to go running. 

Kalenji Running Gloves from Decathlon - I’ve bought every kind of glove for running and these £3.99 pair are the best, a perfect stocking stuffer. 

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Mary
Hi! I'm Mary and over on my blog A Healthier Moo I detail how I go about training for ultramarathons alongside my new role as 'Mum'.

On my Fitmas wish list for this year I've jotted down the following items...
* A parkrun long-sleeved apricot top, customised with my home parkrun 'Northampton'.
        I've become a little addicted to parkrun tourism this year and feel like I should be wearing my home parkrun proudly across my chest when I go on my travels.

* A flipbelt.
        Phones are so big now!  My old running belt no longer holds my phone whilst out on a run.

* A pair of Aftershokz headphones.
        As a lot of my training is completed on my own at the moment I'd feel a little safer knowing that I could hear anybody approaching me whilst I listened to my music on my run.

* A treadmill.
        For those days when I still need to get a run in but my baby has already fallen asleep for the night!

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Anna
My name is Anna and I’m a blogger, fitness coach, trainee Personal Trainer and aspiring bikini athlete. Just like my life, my list to Santa this year has had a fitness takeover so I’d love these in my stocking rather than just a lump of coal this year…
GymShark Fit Leggings and Sports Bra – I can’t help it, I’m your stereotypical bikini girl and I need more GymShark in my life.

Beginner Boxing Course – I used to love boxing at uni and really want to bring it back into my routine for some hardcore cardio. Pretty please, Santa?

Grenade Bars – a stocking filled to the brim of these delicious (and nut-free!) protein treats would be a dream. Nom.

***

...and that concludes part 3 of our ultimate bloggers fitmas gift guide! Make sure you save this post and check out these ladies awesome blogs!

What's on your Christmas wishlist?! 


Elle :) 

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11.12.17

Shot Of Summer: The Ultimate Playlist


This year, as like most, I challenged myself to see how long I could go until I had to turn the heating on. I think I made it to about the 15th November for which I’m very proud (I was born in a tropical climate afterall!). Since then, the days have been getting darker still and we’ve even seen a few flecks of snow here in London. Winter is not coming. Winter is here.

Apparently, 59% of us wish it was summer all year round. Is that you?? ...I’m not too sure, I quite like transitioning seasons but I think in an ideal world I’d definitely reduce the length of the colder spells. E.ON set me the challenge of making life a little more summery this winter and tbh for a while I was really stuck for an idea...

Then it hit me. Nothing changes my mood quite like music does. The tracks I play in my classes are the source of my energy so surely this would work for making me feel a little more summery?!


I’ve basically made my home as winter-proof as possible whilst also trying to monitor my energy usage (I’m actually a stickler for this, you’d never know!). My heating is programmed to come on at certain times each day including just before I wake up so my bedroom is nice and toasty giving me one less reason to not want to get out of bed. I then turn my heating onto the setting that just keeps a low temperature while I am out.

I also try not to whack the heating up every five minutes and ensure that I’m wearing a snuggly jumper and consume copious amounts of tea to help keep me warm! I am actually an E.ON customer too so I keep an eye on their See tool where you can track and compare energy usage; I always aim to use less than the previous year!

Anyway, back to the music! I couldn’t do this on my own, so I reached out to all my friends on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for suggestions and then collated them all in the aptly named Spotify playlist - Shot of Summer. It’s a great mix of songs from 2017, some old school vibes plus a few songs I actually had never heard before. Listening to this playlist comes with that extra fuzzy feeling knowing that each song contributed is special to the person that suggested it too!


You can use the playlist for your workouts, to get groovy while you do your housework (just me?!) or even as background music over dinner or during revision! 

Hop over to the E.ON blog when you get a chance to check out tips they are sharing from Love Island contestant Gabby Allen (fun fact: I worked with Gabby at FRAME before she went into the show). 

How do you deal with the effects of the changing weather?! 

Elle :) 

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p.s this post was written in collaboration with E.ON but you know me, all thoughts and opinions are my very own ;) 

7.12.17

Going Online: How to Start Your Own Fitness-Based Business


Fitness is turning into one of the fastest-growing industries on the market. As health awareness increases, the demand for anything from fitness centres to accessories and supplements grows alongside it. In the previous article, we covered the business of fitness and some of the things that make it so exciting.

The business side of fitness also presents many opportunities for online entrepreneurs. Ecommerce sites specialising in fitness outfits, shoes, accessories, and fitness gadgets are among the most profitable online stores in today’s market. You can capitalise on the rapidly growing demand by starting your own online fitness-based business.

Defining the Business 
Fitness is a very broad industry, which is why the best way to enter the market is by clearly defining a segment you want to focus on. There are several ways you can do this. You can simply base the business on your passion; if you love running, for example, you can build a business around the sport.

You can also use your initial budget as a parameter. It is much easier to start a retail business with a limited number of fitness products when you want to keep the initial investment low. You can take it a step further by working with wholesalers who do drop-shipping.

Alternatively, you can tap into the market that is most accessible to you. Seek demands from the people around you and develop a business around those demands. This approach gives you the best foundation for growth and lets the business operates with minimum risks.

Photo Credit: Lolography
Establishing an Online Storefront 
The next big step to take is setting up an online storefront. Your ecommerce site will dictate the success of your business, which is why it is important to get the site right from the start. It is easier to please new customers with a great site than to win back their attention after a bad user experience.

If you have no experience in developing an ecommerce site before, hire professionals. Top companies such as Eventige have the expertise and experience needed to establish a working, well-designed online store. You also benefit from fast development too; the sooner you can enter the market the better, right?

Aside from getting professional help, it is also a good idea to learn more about the technical side of ecommerce sites, at least on a basic level. Learn from the experts assisting you with the development and browse through online resource centres for more information.

Marketing Your Business 
The last piece of the fitness business equation is marketing. You can’t expect customers to come to your new ecommerce site without doing proper online – and offline – marketing. Fortunately, you now have things such as social media and video sharing platform on your side.

Invest in producing contents that your target customers actually love, and use those contents to bring traffic to your site. Since you already have a well-crafted online storefront, converting visitors into customers should be a walk in the park.

Getting started with an online fitness business is actually very straightforward; simply follow these three steps to establish your online business. For more resources on how to take your fitness business to success, be sure to stay tuned right here on "keep it simpElle".

Adrian 

Author Bio: Adrian is a lifelong thrill seeker and adrenaline junkie. A freelance sports writer, Adrian is passionate about health and fitness and pushing his body to limits. Whether he's rambling in the beautiful Cotswolds or bunjy jumping in New Zealand, Adrian is a fervent believer in making the most of the great outdoors.

4.12.17

Behind The Screen: What Are Affiliate Links? ...And Should You Use Them.

So this post idea was brought to my mind after I posted the below on my personal Facebook page:


One of my good friends responded to say she identifies with the quote so I said “y’all need to contribute to saving my life please”. To which my friend then said “I don’t understand. How do I do that?!”. And I realised that maybe I take it for granted that everyone knows everything and people understand what affiliate links are. So here’s a little story all about how... lol

Basically, we all know how we’d rather get a recommendation for something than listen to a sales person or advertising right?! Since day dot, word of mouth has served as the best promotion tool for brands everywhere. So with the rise of technology it should be no surprise that brands would find a way to take word of mouth to the next level...

These days, we as customers, have so many platforms to voice our opinions. I mean, when I get let down by the central line (again) over 4K people (potentially) will hear about it on Twitter! It’s not necessarily that Twitter is the best way to communicate with a brand but in certain situations I’ve found it to be quicker and having such a transparent conversation is usually great for getting a response. Any brand that values their reputation has members of their team monitoring social media if they don’t have dedicated staff.

Shop this post here: http://liketk.it/2tGgX

So brands created a way to reward customers who share their products etc and generate sales. These “customers” are known as affiliates; we sign up via numerous platforms (I’ve chatted lots about Affiliate Window on the blog and more recently about Reward Style) which allow us to generate links containing a code that links back to us.

Links can come in various formats from long like this: (ASOS homepage) https://www.awin1.com/cread.php?awinmid=5678&awinaffid=206187&clickref=&p= ...to short like this: (ASOS homepage) http://tidd.ly/9f531520  ...Reward style links usually look like this: (ASOS homepage) http://rstyle.me/n/cvcwxxcckix

When you click the link you’ll notice it flicks through a number of other sites before landing at the desired destination; it’s all very quick to be honest. If you click an affiliate link and go on to buy something, the affiliate will normally receive a small payment which I guess is a little “thank you” from the brand for sharing their stuff. Clicking the link usually pops a cookie in the persons browser for up to 30 days so even if a sale isn’t instant it can still be attributed to you within that time period.

Personally, I only become an affiliate for brands I love and use myself. Back in the early days of blogging I probably joined a few irrelevant ones as I had no idea what it was all about. The biggest lesson I’ve learnt is that being an affiliate doesn’t generate any income without a lot of effort and hard work. People don’t just click your link and buy. If only, eh?!! You have to share the hell out of links all whilst maintaining your authenticity. After all I’m a blogger and fitness professional not a sales woman.

Clicking an affiliate link will never cost you anything. And you’ll never pay more. In fact, chances are you will pay less through unique codes that are shared via affiliates. During Black Friday for example, MyProtein had some epic deals; on one particular day they had an extra 20% off their already discounted stuff but if you used the code affiliates were sharing then you could get that to 22% off! Every little % counts right?!

I’ve heard that some people go out of their way not to click affiliate links and I don’t fully understand why. If you’ve read someone’s content and are interested in what they are sharing with you, why would you not wanna especially if people are open and honest about using them? ...cos what we get rewarded with is usually insignificant on its own. Normally a maximum of 10% with “day to day” brands, more frequently around the 2-5% mark.

I have a section in my policies on the blog about affiliate links and if I knowingly use them in a blog post I will add a “contains affiliate links” tag. The money I make from affiliate schemes normally just goes back into running the blog and my goal next year is to move to Wordpress selfhosted which will be an added cost for me but beneficial in the long run so short of putting a donate button in my sidebar (lol) every little bit of affiliate income will go to good use!

Here's a post I wrote about sharing affiliate links: Behind The Screen: 6 Quick Tips For Sharing Affiliate Links

...and if you have any questions about affilIate links or how I use them pop them in the comments below or get in touch via my social media channels linked below...


Elle :)

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1.12.17

In My Skin | Dealing With Post Pill Acne

Photo Credit: Serena Reidy
More than six months ago I went to the doctor to get some help with my skin and blemishes. At my age (if you don’t know then you don’t know), I felt I really shouldn’t still have to be worrying about getting spots. She basically told me that that’s just the way things are these days; people are suffering with bad skin for longer due to the food we consume, pollution and so on. She gave me three options; Roaccutane, antibiotics in topical form or tablet or to go on the contraceptive pill. I’m loathed to ever use Roaccutane, I’d rather not take antibiotics unnecessarily and I had stopped taking the pill about 12-18 months previously so I went for the topical antibiotic option. A clear liquid I would apply to my skin morning and night for about 10-12 weeks.

By the end of the 12 weeks there really had been no difference in my opinion and I didn’t see the point in going back to the doctors. Some weeks later I started to get paranoid that the products I used on my face were too “synthetic” so I popped into Lush and bought a face wash, face cream and spot gel and also took away a few samples of various masks. Now it’s been a few weeks and really, still nothing has changed. I know we have to give these things time but I think I know my skin by now. It then dawned on me the root of my current skin problems; I stopped taking the contraceptive pill around January 2016... about 6-9 months before my skin started to go crazy.

Add to that the fact that over the past few months my periods have been turning up every 18 days; I thought I needed to take back a little control of my life. I actually asked the Doctor if he thought I should take a break from the pill after being on it for 18 years. Yup. In my life, I’d been on the pill for longer than I hadn’t been on the pill. But the doctor just checked my age and said I had “another 4 years left”. I have no idea why there is a cut off mark at 35 but I decided to take a break anyway; I felt like it was a good idea to understand my body, my cycle and my emotions.


What I didn’t understand was the effects of no longer taking the pill, one of them being post pill acne which can begin to surface anytime up to 9 months after you stop and in some cases produces acne far worse than experienced previous to the pill. Well it seems I found this out too late... surely this is the kind of information you should be told before you start taking oral contraceptive??

So now I'm back on the pill and I'm about to quit again. I had planned to see it through for 1-2 months however since taking my first pill on the first day of my period over two weeks ago, I literally haven't stopped bleeding (TMI?! or just the kinda things we really should be talking about?). I rang the Doctor and requested a call with the result being that I should just stop taking it with immediate effect (not before offering me the mini pill though. sigh.) In speaking to the Doctor, it came to light that I also went to the Doctor in November 2016 for my skin which fits with my timeline of coming off the pill. He suggested monitoring my skin for 2-4 weeks and if I am still concerned to book an appointment then maybe I could be referred to a dermatologist.

As this is something happening from the inside, I really want to find a way to deal with it naturally. Based on what I read online, I purchased some zinc tablets and am also considering trying Agnus Cactus (if you've used this before I would be keen to hear your thoughts?) and just keep up a good skincare routine. Not wearing make up is not an option for me right now to be honest due to confidence but I try to keep it to the bare minimum of concealer and sometimes powder / foundation (and obviously lashings of mascara and eyebrow pencil!!). I've also been road testing a few products now I realise that they won't do any harm (cue less panic buying at Lush lol) - Neostrata Clarifying Facial Cleanser and Exuviance Purifying Clay Masque. The cleanser is soap free and perfect for fighting against breakouts. The masque is also for problem prone skin which will help me to fight this acne breakout from the outside too! I then lather on my moisturiser from Lush, followed by the spot gel, my make up and I am good to go.



Having tweeted about this, some other women have gotten in touch thinking that their acne might also be linked to them stopping the pill and quite frankly if me sharing helps even just one other person figure this out and get on with fixing it, then I will be happy!

Do you suffer from acne?! Did you start taking the pill to deal with acne? Or have you suffered from post pill symptoms? 


Elle :) 


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29.11.17

The Business of Fitness: From Precarious to Privileged


Over the past 5 years that I have been blogging, and the 10+ years that I have worked in the fitness industry I've noticed the trend of what feels like everyone, wanting to qualify as a Fitness / Studio Instructor or Personal Trainer. And by all means, if you think this is the career path for you then who am I to rain on your parade?! However, I've always lived by the saying that "a good coach doesn't always make a good player, and a good player doesn't always make a good coach" - which translates to the fact that just because you love working out doesn't mean you will love being on the other side of the transaction.

The Precarious Nature of Working in Fitness 
One of the major points I have wanted to highlight for some time now is the precarious nature of working in the fitness industry. If you don't already know, I'm currently undertaking my Masters in Management with Business Innovation. It's a way for me to gain new skills in an area I am very passionate about. I've taken out (another) student loan to fund my two year part time course because I am currently working Freelance and one of the many downsides to not having a Standard Employment Relationship (SER) is that you do not receive any training. 

When I worked in my Sport Development role some years ago now, training was provided via my employer as well as funding being available to complete external training. I completed a number of diplomas from the Chartered Institute of Management (which is how I came to find out this was a passion) and also completed numerous Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses with YMCAfit that allowed me to progress as a Fitness Professional.

Some of the Realties of Working in Fitness
The industry comes with a lot of uncertainty and instability; I currently work for two different companies in London and just earlier this year, one of my permanent classes was taken away from me with barely two weeks notice. When I contacted Management to discuss what had happened I got no response whatsoever. "Just a part of the job" is what my colleagues told me and I was given a harsh lesson in how not to ever really put my heart and soul into the job. I then spent my entire summer training in the Bests Bootcamp Academy (which you might have read about on the blog here); I taught my trial class just before I went on holiday in September and overall my feedback was good. Speaking to the master trainer before I left, she was keen for me to return, brush up on my areas for improvement and get on the timetable for what would be their two studios by that point. Upon returning from my vacation, I contacted the studio and never got a response. The time I invested into the academy was unpaid and now, unrewarded. So when training is offered in the industry, it is more often than not, unpaid and comes with no guarantees of being given work at the end of your time. 


Training up in new / additional concepts usually involves 2-5 hours of training followed by an audition or test before you are "signed off" to teach the class. At this point you are usually put on a cover list to pick up work when those with permanent classes need cover. Being offered your own permanent classes does not always happen; many a time I have responded to emails looking for a permanent instructor and am yet to have secured the class whilst not provided with a response to say so or to be given any feedback. 

In order to make a decent income, as opposed to "just managing" as Theresa May put it, you'd need to teach multiple classes per day, for the majority of the week (assuming this is your only source of income). Payment for classes can vary massively depending on where you are working; currently my average for a 45-60 minute class is £22 - £50. Teaching so much can also be detrimental to your physical health, leading to burnout or injury. 

Working in a precarious sector such as fitness means that you cannot solely rely on your income from the work you currently have; basically, you can't count your chickens before they have hatched! It means you're unable to plan for the future as you are unable to quantify your income beyond the work you plan to do. You do not receive any of the benefits that are afforded as part of a SER such as holiday pay or sick pay which means that any time off, for a vacation or illness, usually hits you twice as hard. There are however many benefits to this type of work which include, and are not limited to, flexibility which allows individuals to juggle other priorities in their lives such as childcare and caregiving roles in addition to greater levels of autonomy.


Why You Should Diversify Your Income
I recently went to an event hosted by the Health Bloggers Community about freelancing as bloggers and the panel made a really valid point about diversifying your income. And this is where the title of this post comes from, precarious to privileged. ‘Privileged’ sectors include health, IT, consultancy and law which have all seen increases in the number of self employed. This isn't to say that everyone in these sectors (who are self employed) earn enough to feel privileged. But I think it does help to highlight the point that it is very important not to rely on a single income source when you work in an industry of a precarious nature. This is one of the driving factors behind me completing my masters in order to transition into more managerial / consultancy roles in the business of fitness specialising in business innovation and marketing. I'm also keen to learn front end web development to complement my role as a blogger in an industry that is growing and thriving. 

So for anyone wanting to work in fitness, I would suggest teaching or Personal Training alongside your current job in order to build your reputation, build your client base and allow yourself to source enough work for a decent income before packing in your stable job. You could also take up part time work in the industry such as roles in front of house or retail (fitness brands are a good fit) that allow you to have a proportion of your income remaining stable and also allows you to meet people and get to know your community.

I've got a few more Q&A style posts in the pipeline about working in the industry but if you have any specific questions, feel free to leave them in the comments or contact me via my social channels (linked below) or the 'Contact' page here on the blog

Did you transition from an SER to fitness?! What was your experience? Is this something you are thinking about for the future?!

Elle :) 

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27.11.17

Q&A: So you want to be a Personal Trainer? #1


\\ How do I remember every session plan for a client or a class?

So I actually have a post written all about working in the fitness industry that precedes this post, but if it’s good enough for the film industry, it’s good enough for me to put the beginning at the end... or the middle... wherever I feel like!

I’ve been wanting to write a post for ages about working in the industry; I mean, I think I’m experienced enough. As more and more people opt to become trained up as personal trainers it makes me wonder if everyone knows what they’re really in for?? I started a few conversations on social media asking some questions surrounding this and one of the questions that came up was how as a professional, do you remember what you have planned for a client session or class?

And the answer is: you don’t. Well I don’t anyway. I mean bravo to anyone that does; maybe they’re teaching the same thing week in and week out.

I typically write my session plan in notes on my iPhone which is usually hooked up to the music on the “instructors station”. I kinda remember little bits at a time during the session, keep the note open and refer back to it when I need to. I always keep the class informed of the time they have left and the work so that kinda helps me remember in the moment too cos I change my class format every single week.

Sometimes I scribble down a session plan on a record card in case my phone is not accessible but that is rarely the case.


I don’t do that much personal training (by choice) but I get to hang out with a fair few and they all typically have iPads on which they use spreadsheets to plan and record their client sessions. I know there is software out there you can get if personal training is gonna be serious business for you but I would personally start with a spreadsheet to figure out if it works and if it doesn’t, what I would need the software to do for me that a spreadsheet can’t.

The one caveat I have to this are my Lift classes that I teach at Frame. The class is choreographed so every three months we are provided with an update with the expectation that we will learn it off by heart to be tested on it before the launch date. It’s been almost a year now since I started teaching this class and I think it’s gotten a tiny bit easier to learn the choreography each time but I still have to dedicate time to make sure and then I run through it as often as possible in the first few weeks of teaching to help cement it into my brain.

I also sometimes wonder how I would ever remember my class plan for indoor cycling but tbh the times I’ve been in the instructor seat I’ve just had my phone in the handlebars. I guess my plan would be to start simple and as I get more confident and experienced it sure I could remember things better!

So as a studio instructor having to learn choreography is something you might need to factor in when deciding what classes and where to teach. Working to the beat of the music is a skill itself, then add to the fact you will be doing the class (and doing it all with good form) as well as talking / teaching / directing the class and correcting people at the same time. I think it’s an art form.

As a personal trainer, it’s not something you might have to worry so much about. I definitely think an iPad looks a lot more professional than walking around with your client looking at your phone. I guess in the days before technology we’d just use paper and a clipboard (I remember using them in my personal training exams!).

Peeps, if you’re considering training up to become a fitness professional or are new to the industry and have any questions please do leave them in the comments and I will get them answered for you directly or in a post!

If you teach or PT how do you, or do you, memorise your session plans?


Elle :)

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24.11.17

How To Deal With Failure and Rejection


Today I received the result back for my first masters level assignment and my result was a FAIL. The situation isn’t quite as dramatic as it sounds; it’s actually very black and white. The mark received was for a 500 word draft of an essay due in further down the line and I failed on a technicality. I didn’t complete my referencing to a satisfactory level (...my argument being that it was a draft) which meant an automatic fail. I should also point out that this mark has no bearing on anything whatsoever and considering none of my feedback was about the content I provided I’m gonna assume that I’m on the right track!

It got me thinking though, about how we deal with failure or rejection. Because to be honest I’ve not really failed at many things in my life to date and that can be as much a curse as a blessing. Notable failures include my first driving test (I put that down to bad luck as I passed when I retested 6 weeks later) or my Chemistry AS Level; I think I got an E? ...that’ll be down to sitting the exam in the midst of the death of a family member and not writing one single answer. And that’s it really. But the more success you achieve, the greater the fall when failure does come knocking.

So I thought I’d put my strategies in a post to share with you. Having been blogging for over 5 years now and working freelance in what is quite a cut throat industry (fitness) for even longer I’ve had my fair share of ups, downs and knock-backs but I think perception plays a massive part in how you handle each and every situation...


Allow Yourself A Set Amount Of Time To Sulk
I think it’s important not to get caught up in the emotions that you feel after a failure or rejection. It is of course completely reasonable that you might feel upset, angry or just down. But don’t allow it to take over for longer than necessary! That time could be well spent focusing on plan b or figuring out how to come back stronger and well as becoming clear on what you could learn from the situation this time round which leads me nicely into...

Try To Learn From Your Mistakes (providing feedback is provided and it is constructive)
It’s so important that you get feedback and if they don’t automatically provide it, ask for some. Job interviews or big pitches for brand collaborations are perfect situations to find out what areas you need to work on. Sometimes it is just that someone pipped you to the post but if you lost out because, for example, you didn’t sell yourself enough then you need to know so you can work on it for next time.

Open Up About Your Situation
Don’t be afraid to share your failures with friends, family or your support networks. It’s become abundantly clear that social media has become a space where we share just the best parts which actually serves to makes others feel a little less sure about how reality should feel. Y'know when everyone else just seems to have their sh*t together and just winning all the time?! I mean, I’m not saying you have to go and shout the not so great stuff from the rooftops (me failing my assignment did not warrant an Instagram post!) but just be aware of being balanced and use your real life friends or colleagues for a little mutual support. I’m pretty sure more than half my class failed too but it’s obvious some have taken it a bit more personally than others and each person has a different way of dealing with such a situation.

Make A Plan
So now we’ve had our time to feel emotional, what’s the plan? My plan for submitting an essay that will get me the pass mark I desire is to prioritise my time. I’m also not leaving all my referencing till the very end so that’s it’s a little less tedious and I can keep an eye on the amount of references I use (not using enough was some of the feedback). If you’ve found yourself not being successful at an audition or for a pitch, then find out when you can re-audition or pitch again using feedback you will have received. Because, we’re not gonna give up, right?!

Don’t Let It Stop You From Trying Again
Yeeees, don’t give up. Don’t let one rejection mean you’re not good enough. There’s a quote somewhere about when one door closes, build a new door. Or did I just make that up?! Well, either way, you can build a door, try another door, come back to the same door another time... you get the point!

And finally, on rejection...

No Doesn’t Mean Anything.
I learnt this one on a programme I took part in some years ago now. When we are told no, we automatically go into autopilot using our past experiences to make it mean something. We’re not good enough, or we’re not confident enough... y'know all the little things that voice in your head tells you. All the reasons why you got that no. But that no doesn’t mean anything other than “no, not right now”. So it doesn’t mean that you can’t try again. And it doesn’t mean you must give up. So if you approach a brand for a collaboration and they say (for example), “no sorry we don’t have the budget right now”, go back and ask when would be a good time to contact them and pop a reminder on your diary to follow up at the time they have suggested.

Basically, we have to just keep on keeping on. Don’t be afraid to talk to others and be as open as you can to allow others to talk to you openly and honestly. And smile at a stranger today or something, you don’t know their story and you never know, you just might make their day.

Do you have any fail-safe strategies for dealing with failure or rejection?? ...and eating chocolate does not count.


Elle :)


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22.11.17

Another Mother Blogger | Book Review: The G Plan Diet

Peeps, you know how we're all so busy. Wearing that busy badge like some kind of accolade?! Well, during the summer, I thought I was snowed under so when I got the opportunity to review what sounded like a potentially great book all about gut health... I thought "yes!"... then, hmmm can I find time to read it properly and then write the review. So I passed on the task to my Deputy Blog Editor, aka my Mum. Little did I know that my mum would take this role very seriously and take months... and months to send me through her final draft. But, people, behold... we have the review...

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The G Plan Diet - the revolutionary diet for gut-healthy weight loss by Amanda Hamilton and Hannah Ebelthite.

This book is written by Amanda, an experienced Nutritionist and Hannah, a health, fitness and wellbeing writer and consultant. They are therefore both well qualified to discuss the subject covered. The basis of the book is the fact that gut health is inextricably linked to one's physical and mental wellbeing.

The G Plan Diet (available here on Amazon) is comprised of three phrases - the rest phase which is like a detox giving the gut a rest lasting for five days. The "re-wild" phase then repopulates, nourishes and supports the gut with friendly bacteria. This phase lasts nine days. Phase 3 is about rebalance; it lasts for 7 days and is "about getting to the place where you can easily maintain your well deserved results, enjoy more freedom around food and most important of all feel happy". The book is researched / evidence based and the diet is validated by Hannah's lived experience of it which resulted in weight loss and a better mood.


Socks from Stance | shop womens here

Chapter 1 starts by explaining that there are trillions of microbes, mostly bacteria living in and on our bodies and the majority of these are found in our gut (large intestines). These bacteria are known as your microbiota and collectively form our microbiome. It goes on to discuss the origin of the mircobiome and its impact on health, immunity and emotions. Subsequent chapters cover subjects such as - whether or not the diet would be suitable for an individual, gut friendly foods and gut irritants, supplements, frequently asked questions, example menus and shopping lists.

Overall, the book is well written and easy to follow. Rationales are given for the phases of the diet and the information provided pre-empts any questions that may arise. The provision of example menus and shopping lists makes it easy for users particularly as most people lead very busy lives. I have been as objective as possible and tried very hard to find a weakness in the book but to no avail. I recommend this book as a 'must read' for those interested in improving their health and the diet as a 'must try' for health and fitness enthusiasts. Changing ones eating habits can be a challenging journey but because Amanda and Hannah have done the groundwork, all that is needed is to make the decision, go shopping for the ingredients (which are easy to find and relatively inexpensive), prepare meals and start living the rest of your life with a healthy gut and all its benefits.

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To find out a little more about gut health, read this post about looking after yourself this winter from the inside out including the benefits of kefir on your gut.

Are you conscious about looking after your gut health?! 


Elle :)

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17.11.17

The Ultimate Bloggers "Fitmas" Gift Guide, Part 2

We're back... with more inspiration for fittie gift buying this Christmas. Part 1 (which you can catch here) went down really well, so I have three more ladies who have kindly shared their wish lists with me...

But first, I walked into a studio a week or so ago and they were already playing xmas music. I know, I know... here I am sharing all the gift guides but it's more about my love for shopping than the holidays! All of these would make perfect gifts all year round... wouldn't they?! So, you're welcome!

First up...

Sophie
Sophie is a body-positive personal trainer and fitness blogger over at The Fitology Way.
1) Queen of the Mountains - Winter Merino Jersey £130:
I'm normally a bit of a fair-weather cyclist but with a bit of merino wool in my life I'm sure I could be swayed to explore some lines in the winter sunshine

2) Cuddly kettle bells - £15:
As a stocking filler these would be perfect for the fitty in your life

3) Hey Holla 'Good Vibes Only' Sweatshirt £65
There's nothing better than a grey sweatshirt in my opinion and I love the slogan on the front of this one. It's one of my life mantras!

4) A subscription to Romwod $13.95/month (works out about £12/month)
Flexibility, health and muscle maintenance is the greatest gift you can give someone right? A monthly subscription to Romwod will provide your fitty with daily mobility workouts that will compliment any workout passion whether it's strength training, marathon running or triathlons.

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Alice 
Alice is a fashion and lifestyle blogger over at Twenty-Something City. Her fitness passion is weightlifting.
For Christmas I’d love if Santa could put some ankle straps in my stocking - they’re great for attaching to a cable machine to work the glutes but I can never track one down in the gym! I’d also love some Gym Shark workout gear (like this leggings and sports bra combo),  pretty please. All my favourite fitness influencers live in their stuff and I love the way the leggings lift and shape the booty. As a little treat, I am obsessed with MyProtein’s vegan cookies. Their vegan range contains the best dairy-free protein products I’ve come across. And trust me, I’ve tried them all!

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Anna 
I'm Anna from AnnaTheApple and I'm addicted to both running and cake, not sure which comes first! I'm a keen marathoner and my current aim is trying to complete all the Marathon Majors (just Chicago and New York left). I'm basically exploring the planet 26.2 miles at a time. I've done 11 marathons and by the end of 2017 I hope to have completed my 12th.
My Fitmas wishlist:
Hyperice Vibrating Massage Ball
Foam rolling taken to another level. As an injury-prone runner I'm always looking out for the next gadget or research to avoid being side-lined.

Lululemon Totasty Tech Half Zip
I wish I could have my entire wardrobe full of Lulul clothing... but alas bills and food must be paid for.

Garmin Fenix 3 with Integrate HR Monitor
I love that this tracks your steps, sleeps AND your runs while looking like a regular (albeit chunky) watch. The display looks amazing...ALL THE STATS.

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...and that concludes part 2 of our ultimate bloggers fitmas gift guide! Make sure you save this post and check out these ladies awesome blogs!

Whats on your Christmas wishlist?! 


Elle :) 

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