19.6.17

Long Ride Sunday Lessons || Saturday 17.6.17


Apparently, two pan au chocolats and a protein shake is a decent breakfast. Today's shake was 250ml almond milk, a scoop of Vega chocolate Clean Protein, 1 tbsp smooth Pip&Nut peanut butter and a tsp of ground cinnamon.

I can't be on time when leaving the house with a bicycle. Malfunctioning sunglasses, drinking my smoothie from the blender jug, fiddling around trying to get my handlebar bag on, having to move my gps mount (with an allen key), forgetting my gloves... the list goes on.

Said handlebar bag is useful for carrying items like portable charger, keys and extra food. I have *this one* from Decathlon (pictured above) and have taken it on two rides so far. It doesn't change the feel of my bike in any way and allows me to carry a little less in my jersey pockets which feels great. It just about sits nicely under my gps mount and GoPro making it easily accessible when I'm on the move and useful for storing everything off the bike when we stop to refuel.

I count every single revolution of my bicycle wheel including the 1.2km ride to the tube station... and it gets "Strava-ed" too otherwise it didn't happen.

Leaving at 11am on a 29 degree day wasn't the smartest idea. Coming home was a killer when my dehydration headache hit. I've honestly never drunk as much water on any given day than I did on this day. Couldn't have done it without nuun ...it's my failsafe way to replace lost electrolytes. I've just had my supplies topped up with nuun active (tri-berry) and nuun boost (cherry limeade, with added caffeine).

We talked a lot about going commando in our bib shorts. I've never looked back since doing this! I road tested the Boardman Womens Cycle Shorts (also in picture above) on this ride and loved the fit. I'm not sure any Lycra related cycle clothing could be described as flattering but relatively speaking these ones weren't too bad. The length was just right so they sat above the knees and didn't cause too much of a sausage leg situation. They stayed where they are meant to (on the waist and on the leg) so they did their job, huh?!


Wear a cute sports bra 'cos when it gets stupid hot you're gonna wanna lower the zip on your jersey (or whip it off and join the sports bra squad).

When you're hot and hungry a warm pineapple SiS Energy Gel is delicious.

Tan lines from cycling are ridiculous. And yes, black people tan too. Check out my Instagram stories after my rides to see what a mess the sun is making of me!

I still crave a hot shower after a hot sweaty ride even though it's the thought of a cold shower that gets me home.

Never order Chinese food when you're hungry from cycling. You end up with enough to feed 2-3 people ...all for yourself. At least that's lunch and dinner sorted for the next day, eh?!

Elle :) 

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16.6.17

The Realities Of Being A UK Cyclist


While out on a ride a couple weeks ago it dawned on me that I'd unwittingly chosen one of the most expensive sports to become involved in. You know how people say running is free... cos technically you dont need much; with need being the operative word. Well, I guess cycling is kinda the same when you're commuting, using your bike for errands or enjoying active family days once you've made the initial outlay for the bike itself and a few key accessories like a helmet and lock.

On this same ride, I also realised how much of my surroundings I miss. I cycled past the Cathedral in St Albans and didn't even notice as I was so focused on the incline heading past it.

I came across this infographic from Cycle Republic which details the results of a survey they conducted of 500 UK cyclists to gauge the nations perception of a bike ride and so I thought I'd share my own thoughts with you here on the blog.

Card

Why I Ride
As a child I rode because I enjoyed it and because it was a great way to stay active while spending time with friends. As an adult not much has changed; I still enjoy cycling and it's a great form of low impact exercise. These days it can also serve as a way to meet like minded people when you attend organised group rides, join a club or just organise to hang out with people that you know ride too.

When I Took Up Cycling 
I originally started cycling back as a child (I wrote about that in this post about my ride to Paris) but I didn't own a bike for around 15 years. I bought my first bike as an adult back in 2013 in order to commute to work when I lived in london.

Gadgets I Depend On 
I detailed a few things in my Summer Essential Kit for sportives so I'll just write a quick list here of the things I never leave home without:

- Helmet
- Quadlock
- Hiplok cafe lock
- Sunglasses
- GoPro Hero 5 (and handlebar / seatpost mount)
- Saddlebag (with spare inner tube and puncture repair kit)
- Clip-in shoes

...and an awesome Lycra outfit!

Currently I'm loving my Threo Shorts, Anna's Legs capris and my Tour de France jersey.

I've got a few new pieces to test out before Paris including the Rapha Core Shorts, an Altura Jersey, Decathlon jacket and the Skins cycling set. I'll be doing a full post on my chosen kit for Paris and rounding up my thoughts on the pieces I've been testing out so keep an eye out for that.


The Future Of Cycling And Safety 
Personally I'd love to see more women involved in cycling. I've put my name down to train as a Breeze Champion in my area so that will be one of my first steps towards doing my bit. As much as I'd love for the uk to be more like the Netherlands for cycling i realise that realistically it's quite a way away, with attitudes to change and right now I guess we have bigger fish to try especially around safety. I've never felt unsafe cycling but I am aware that people make stupid decisions sometimes so I stay alert and cautious. My number one rule for cycle commuting is to never be in a hurry in order to avoid me making any stupid decisions myself.

There are definitely more and more cycle paths being created but honestly, sometimes the state of them means that not using them is a better idea. And there are definitely rare times I would cycle on the pavement, one of them being that last stretch from the tube station to my house as the road is narrow and the cars are impatient. As for pedestrians being accommodating... this does happen but just a few weeks ago on a shared path along the canals a man refused to move when we rang our bells. His wife informed him that we were behind to which responded "I'm walking on the path". In my most polite tone I said "it doesn't harm to share the path" and I cycled past and carried on with my day. Some people just wake up on the wrong side of bed and it's best to just let them get on with it and not let it affect your day.

Bike Storage and Bike Theft 
Apparently 29% of cyclists (38% in london) have experienced bike theft and sadly I'm one of them. I still hold out hope to this day that one day I'll be reunited with my beloved specialized hybrid. Since then, I only have one rule and that's if my bike can't come in with me, I can't come in. So yes, I've taken my bike into Pizza Express just this weekend in St Albans (thanks guys!) and a ton of cafes when I'm out and about in London Town. So you won't be surprised to know my bike lives in my flat; I'm lucky that my corridor was built extra wide... it's like they knew I'd get a bike one day! ...and I clean my bike in the bath... I saw it on twitter...

Why do you ride?!

Elle :)

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12.6.17

Tough Mudder London 2017: Meet Our Tribe

Back in November of 2014 I took on Men's Health Survival Of The Fittest which was my first and so far my only Obstacle Course Race (OCR). Over those 2.5 years OCR has become more and more popular and although I wanted to do another one, the right location, right time, right event just never came up until now...

Tough Mudder is the leading brand in the new world of outdoor obstacles races with more than 120,000 participants in 2016 in the UK alone.  Of the 19 races across the the UK the biggest are the eight in London which top and tail the season.

What sold it to me was the "Half Mudder" distance; five miles of obstacles ...but no ice or electricity. And 5 miles is a decent distance, just short of 10km and with all the obstacles in our way it won't be a walk in the park! ...oh and then, I won't be doing it alone which is a massive bonus for me!

Our team is being supported by For Goodness Shakes who have become big sponsors of Tough Mudder events. They pretty much invented the ready-to-drink protein/recovery drink category and I've only ever heard good things about their products.

Event Details: Tough Mudder Half London South - Saturday, 23 September 2017

Read on to find out why they've put themselves forwards for a 26.2 miler, and how they're preparing (mentally and physically) for race day.

Our Strong Woman: Hannah Lewin
Find her on Instagram: @hannahlewinfitness


I am a qualified personal trainer, working solely with women- I also teach spinning. Getting to work with lots of amazing women every day is a dream come true after a decade of corporate life. My current is real mix of spinning, HIIT training and resistance work outs- I’m currently working on continue to develop my upper body strength further.

My Motivation: As a PT I often struggle for time to fully concentrate on my own workouts, and this is a fantastic opportunity for me to make sure that I am properly structuring my training to work towards a set goal.

My Biggest Fear: Getting muddy!!! Noooo!

I'm most excited about: Working within a team of lovely ladies! I generally train alone, and I’m looking forward to completing the course as part of a team.

Why I'm running an Obstacle Course Race: I love having a challenge or a goal to work towards, and any opportunity I can find to push myself that little bit harder I am always grateful for. (I may not be saying that afterwards..)

***

So about that team of awesome ladies....

***

Our OCR KingMichael Adeniran
Find him on Instagram: @theurbanchallenger


I'm Michael from London. By day I'm in the fun world of recruitment and most weekends I am rolling around in mud, climbing over walls or wading through rivers being The Urban Challenger. My blog is about me taking on as many challenges as possible whether it's a Run, OCR or endurance event and helping people get into them. I take part in OCR's on a regular basis so have quite a bit of experience in them, but I've got a lot more to complete. My training includes a lot of running and weight training.

My Motivation: My biggest motivation is testing and pushing myself to my limit. I don't like settling and if it doesn't test you then it isn't going to make you better.

My Biggest Fear: My biggest fear is probably failing. I always believe that no matter what you are doing there is a way to get past it. So failure shouldn't be an option.

I'm most excited about: I'm definitely most excited about trying out a new Race; one that everyone knows and says is great but I haven't tried yet. I can't wait to get there with a team and smash the event.

Why OCR is different: Obstacle course races are different because they work every part of your body and take you to a point where you might want to quit but everyone around you is on the same page and pushes you along. The camaraderie is amazing regardless if your a first timer or a seasoned pro!

***

And this was all my bright idea having completed just the one OCR....

***

Team Captain (by default!)Elle Linton
Find me on Instagram: @ellelinton

Photo Credit: The Wellness Collective

Y'all already know me. Blogger, Studio Instructor and everything in between! I'm currently training for a ride to Paris in July but I'm already thinking about my next challenges once that is done. I'm picking carefully though and Tough Mudder is one event I've always had an eye on but never committed to taking part...

My Motivation: The one time I did complete an OCR, I absolutely loved it although I was super slow! I'm keen to give it another go especially getting to share the opportunity with a team.

My Biggest Fear: I've come along leaps and bounds over the years when it comes to being outdoors and getting messy so the only fear I have is getting hurt. I know Tough Mudder have electrocution in their events but our distance doesn't include it so that was a massive plus in my decision to sign up! 

I'm most excited about: I'm planning on laughing my way through the entire event and I know camaraderie is high in OCR anyway but it will be fab to do this with the team I'm introducing you to today! 

***

Last but not least....

***

Our Competitive Chick: Tash Thomas
Find her on Instagram: @tasht.uk


I am a professional Singer/Dancer and have had the privilege of performing on stages all over the world. I also work as a Fitness Instructor for The Tracy Anderson Method, a dance based workout originating from the US. This is my only form of training as The Method is trainer led so I do all the workouts with the clients. I previously ran last years Half Mudder and the training seemed to work well. I also run a blog that focuses on lifestyle, fitness and events with a positive and motivational twist.

My Motivation: My motivation for this years Half Mudder is the sense of achievement when you finish. I love pushing my body to see how strong it is.

My Biggest Fear: My main concern with anything like this is injury. My body is literally my livelihood and so any injury is a serious problem. But I'm not one to let fears stop me from having fun.

I'm most excited about: I'm most excited about running this year with fellow athletes. I previously did it for charity with friends and family, who were content enough to know they had finished. So this year it will be exciting to have a slightly more competitive team.

Why I'm running an Obstacle Course Race: I'm not a huge fan of just running, if this was a straight 5 mile run, I wouldn't be interested, but I do love obstacles. They challenge your body in different ways and break up the monotony of running. Also, who doesn't love going back to their childhood and being covered in mud and dirt.

***

In my head, September is a long way away but we all know that in reality these kinda things juts creep up on us!

Have you done a Tough Mudder before?! Share your experience / tips with me in the comments below!


If you haven't done one before, would you be up for it?! Use the links above to sign up for the event and then join our team! 

Elle :) 


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9.6.17

Elle About Town: SUP Pilates Series at Wake Up Docklands

In the back of my Passion Planner, I have a list for 2017 of things I wanna do, places I wanna go and experiences to have. One of them was SUP (Stand Up Paddleboarding) / SUP Yoga so when the opportunity to try SUP Pilates came up there was no way I could say no!


This summer will see the launch of brand new SUP Pilates classes at Wake Up Docklands in Royal Victoria Dock, London with Ruth Tongue. Ruth has been teaching Pilates for over 8 years in London and is also a qualified nutritionist who has been working in the health and fitness industry for over ten years. As a SUP Yoga fan, Ruth wanted to share an alternative for those who are less downward dog and more core-centric - SUP Pilates being the result!



I started the afternoon with the 45 minute SUP Pilates session with Ruth. It's been quite a while since I've done Pilates but I am well aware of how good a workout it can be. Pilates already has a major focus on core and controlled movement so having to do this on an unstable board floating in water just increases the intensity. Lucky for us the sun was shining in all its glory for the afternoon but being so early in the season the water was still pretty chilly (especially by my standards). I loved that the class progressed our positions and even included some standing exercises leading to "burpees" on the paddleboard!


We took a much needed break after Pilates and refuelled with smoothies and snacks from C Press London before heading back into the water for a 45 minute intro to SUP technique with Jason Bergin of Urban Recovery.


Now this session was the one that really got me nervous as we were now on the boards moving into the main body of water. It's been a very long time since I've been out on open water and although I'm now a "swimmer" it's still nerve wrecking for me to be doing activities on water. We started off in a kneeling position to learn the basics of how to use the paddle to steer the board in the required direction. We then learnt how to stand up on the board in order to use the paddle fully and get the full experience. And this is where I became stuck. The wind was strong making the water a little choppy which obviously made the board more unstable. Although I did manage to stand up for a couple of short periods I definitely felt more confident in the kneeling position! I'm under the impression that the session last for two hours normally so I'm sure that I'd be much more comfortable the next time I go out on the paddleboard knowing what to expect!


If you saw any of the outtake images on Instagram stories you'll know the different faces of fear and excitement I went through during the afternoon but all in all I thoroughly enjoyed the session and would definitely do it again. Maybe even somewhere even warmer, with blue seas...

A girl can dream, right?!

To take part in the SUP Pilates no previous experience needed at all and all you need to take with you is swimwear to go under a wetsuit (provided) if it's not too warm or some crops / leggings and a top you don't mind getting acquainted with the open water if it's a little warmer along with a towel and flip flops.

The venue is easily accessed via the Emirates cable car (which was worth the trip in itself) from North Greenwich, or via DLR to Royal Victoria. It's like a little oasis in the midst of east london!

For information on times, days and prices of the SUP Pilates classes check out Ruth's website - www.ruthtongue.com or book here.

Have you been Stand Up Paddleboarding yet?! ...done yoga or Pilates on a SUP too?! ...would you try it?!


Elle :)


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Photo Credits: (1) (2) (3) @Dave.Barker.5891 || (4) (5) (6) were taken on my GoPro Hero 5

7.6.17

Looking After My Eyes & Updating My Specs with Scrivens


Back in primary school it was literally trendy to wear glasses so when I got diagnosed as short sighted with astigmatism I was over the moon! I clearly remember the Optometrist telling me that I'd just need to wear the glasses for 18months and then everything would be right with my eyes. So I thought this was semipermanent yet here I am, some 25 years later still wearing glasses...

As I entered the world of work I wore my glasses less and less even though I needed them more and more. Then I was told to always wear them for activities like using a computer, watching tv and driving. When I became more active though I ventured into the world of contact lenses however I never like to wear them for more than 3/4 days per week.

One lesson I've learnt with glasses and clothing actually, is that you can't or shouldn't just go for what's fashionable. It's best to choose a pair based on what suits the shape of your face and looks good on you rather than what is the latest trend. So I went along to my consultation at Scrivens Opticians in Enfield with a completely open mind.

Scrivens are currently running a designer frames and sunglasses event (until Saturday 17th June) where they're offering 25% off designer frames (full terms and conditions apply). Alongside this you also get a free consultation to help you pick out a pair that is perfect for you.

I had Jennifer from the store helping me to choose my specs from the large selection available in the store. I tried on some of her suggestions, some classic frames, some way "out-there" styles as well as a few I liked the look of. They also have a nifty little screen / camera set up where you can take pictures of yourself in the frames and then compare the images. I did use this but I also chose to take selfies on my phone and share them on Instagram stories to ask everyone which ones they thought looked best. I shared my favourite two from the selection that I had tried on and was relieved when all the responses I got back on instagram also chose the pair I went with in the end.

I'd forgotten how much there was to consider when choosing glasses including how they sit on the bridge of your nose, whether the arms are the right length to fit behind your ears, if they sit on your cheeks and move too much and a very personal issue of mine, whether they leave enough space for my eyelashes to flutter! ...yes, I'm serious; I have quite long lashes and Maybelline only helps to accentuate them!

I spent around 30 minutes in the consultation and we sat down to take my measurements to ensure my final frames would fit me well and that the lenses would be made to suit where my eyes / pupils are. I get to pick up my new frames in a couple of weeks and I'm genuinely looking forward to rocking them out and about on days I want to rest my eyes from contact lenses.

I guess our eyes might be something we don't consider much when we think about health and wellbeing but having been wearing specs since childhood I definitely consider them an important part of my health!


So please excuse the hat hair in the selfies but, A. or B.?! ...keep an eye out on Instagram stories to find out which ones I chose when I go to pick them up later this month!

Do you go and get your eyes tested regularly?! Do you invest in your glasses?!

Elle :)

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2.6.17

Elle About Town: An Evening at Mango Tree, Belgravia


Thinking about what to title this post, I considered "Dinner at Mango Tree, Belgravia" but I think the word evening captures the time spent in this restaurant perfectly. Three hours to be exact; 7pm till 10pm. With it feeling like only 60 minutes.

Booked in for dinner on a Saturday night, was in hindsight, a really good decision. It basically worked out as carb loading (...I know, I know) but it certainly made sure I slept well (thanks alcohol) and was well fuelled for my Sunday long ride out in Essex.

Now y'all know I love food. So when on the rare occasion, I eat out (I'm not talking about Pret or Leon), I like to enjoy the experience and enjoy my food. The word balance seems to be overused these days especially as it really is a personal thing, what balance means to each of us. But for me, I like to enjoy my food without worrying about macros or calories or how I can "work it off".

If you've not already been to Mango Tree, it's a Thai Restaurant close to Victoria which I was informed do "amazing cocktails" ...and I can confirm this. Say hello to my "Thai Mojito" that kept me occupied while I perused the a la carte menu...


And Marks & Spencers said it so well in their most recent advert...

"Sometimes you just need a knife and fork to travel..."

...onto starters. Between the two of us, we ordered 3 different starters. A mixture of recommendations from the waitress and of what we fancied. Poonim Yum Mamuang (soft shell crab),  Mango Tree Chicken Satay and Por Pia Pak (vegetable spring rolls).




The food came quickly and as you can see from the pictures was immaculately presented. It felt like a  lot of thought had gone into the dishes especially with the dips accompanying them which really brought out the flavours perfectly.

For my main, I had the Pad Ka Pow (stir-fried chicken with fresh chilli, garlic, snake beans and holy basil leaves) with a side of Pad Mee (stir-fried egg noodles with soya sauce, garnished with spring onions).


My main was spicy, but I had been warned and I am a huge fan of spicy food anyway. Alicia, who I dined with, had the Pad Thai Goong Yai (thai rice noodles stir-fried with king prawns, chinese chives, crushed peanuts, bean curd and bean sprouts in a special homemade sauce, topped with our signature egg net) which you can see on the left side of my main course image above. I'm not one to eat prawns when I eat out, but I've genuinely never seen an actual king prawn like this before and the dish certainly did not skimp on the extra prawns stir fried into the noodles.

I ate pretty much all of my main, but I did make sure there was plenty of room left for dessert. We decided to share a few items from the menu and opted for Kow Niew Mamuang (honey mango with sticky rice and coconut milk), Chocolate Sphere With Salted Caramel (chocolate sphere with vanilla-pandan ice cream core served with warm salted caramel sauce) and Ponlamai Ruam Mit (seasonal exotic fruit platter served with mango sauce and chilli-lemongrass sorbet).



The chocolate sphere was chosen based on having seen it being served on another table and deciding I needed it especially for a little Instagram action. When the sauce is poured over the sphere it disintegrates to reveal the ice cream core and all melts into a gooey chocolatey mess! ...you needed to have seen my Instagram stories to check this out in all its glory...



...all washed down with a small glass of plum dessert wine...

I've not been to Thailand yet, but it is firmly on my wishlist. Until I make it, my evening at Mango Tree will hold a special place in my memories... The entire evening was perfect from start to finish; although if I did have to be picky, I'd say the restaurant was in London but the toilets were in Bangkok! ...the service and staff were attentive, and that's a lot coming from me, who is hard to please!

To find out more about Mango Tree, check out their menu or to book a table, visit their website here.

What's your favourite type of cuisine?! Have you been to Mango Tree before?!


Elle :)

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30.5.17

Why I Stopped Sharing Blog Statistics And Income Reports

Photo Credit: Lolography

Back in 2015 and part of 2016 I wrote monthly posts detailing my blog statistics and also income generated via the blog. Those posts were actually some of my most read posts each month and to be honest, I'm not at all surprised. We're all a little curious to know how other bloggers are getting on and how much money they're making, right?!

To this day, I still actually refer to those posts regularly to remind myself how far I've come. I've recently passed the 3k mark on Instagram and although it feels like I've been working towards it forever, it actually wasn't that long ago that I was sharing I'd reached 1k or 2k followers!

My last report post was back in April 2016 and I just came across someone sharing their own on twitter which reminded me about mine so I decided to write a little post about why I stopped sharing all the detail and give a little overview of how things have been going.

Blog Stats & Goals
As much as we know that 3k Instagram followers can be more engaged than the 10 or 20k followers of the next blogger, it seems that brands are still using that as a way of deciding who to work with. Now that Instagram has created business accounts you can actually see how well a post has done and at the end of the day you can't buy engagement or reach especially on Instagram live / stories.

Since my last post, I've worked on a few sponsored posts on IG. I'm keen to keep my Instagram very much a collection of what I get up to so I did ensure that each time the brand was a good fit and the content was created by me. My typical rate for a sponsored Instagram post is approx £45 varying based on the number of posts or the platform through which I secure the collaboration.

I also created a dashboard in google analytics which allows me to see just the stats that are most useful to me on a day to day basis as well as a live view of who's on my blog having a good old read. Some of the stats I check in on regularly include:

- number of sessions per month
- pages per session
- bounce rate
- social media referrals

I've got some pretty Big Hairy Audacious (BHAG) Goals for the blog in 2017 cos if my goals were easy to achieve they'd be pretty boring and uninspiring!

Blog Income Report
Since July 2016, I've been working freelance as a Health & Fitness Professional. People often ask me a) if I blog full time and b) what exactly I do so here is a brief overview.

I work as a Studio Instructor currently teaching at Frame and Gymbox where I have my permanent classes and am also able to cover other instructors when the opportunity arises and if it fits my schedule. I also work at The Altitude Centre every now again with a Personal Training client.

I write for an online magazine and I make a small (insignificant) amount of money from advertising and affiliate links (although it's more than I made 2-3 years ago). I'm currently interning for a marketing agency part time as well as working to get my business, Borrow My Blender, up and running since I officially launched with The Princes Trust in February 2017.

I didn't think it was worthwhile documenting the few quid I made each month through the blog and figured I'd go back to it if it ever became a significant income stream. Don't get me wrong, I've had some decent opportunities through the blog but it's not consistent and when it crosses over into the realm of my "real work", I don't think I'm obliged to share my income on the blog (i.e no one ever has to share how much they make in their day jobs, right?!).

Photo Credit: Lolography

Reviewing Products & Events
As a freelancer, there is no off button for work. I don't get to leave the office behind and not think about it. So every opportunity I'm offered needs to be worth my time (which I value at approx £20ph). So that's meant I can't spend 4 hours reviewing products, taking pictures and writing blog posts for a product that is valued at a fiver (as an example). It just isn't a good use of my time. And the same for instagram... if a sponsored post is valued at £45, unless I share a product because I've bought it or want to share it, I can't just be featuring products when I've only been sent £5 worth.

As for events, I realised a long time ago that it was costing me way more than I realised to attend. Time to travel to the event (usually 2 hours each way), cost of travel (approx £10 return to central London), time at the event (usually 1-3 hours), time to take pictures, edit pictures, write a blog post and social sharing which I total to be worth £150 on average. So I've had to be a lot more savvy about how I spend my time and what I say yes to.

Sometimes, I still end up saying yes to things that I think I shouldn't but as we all know, blogging doesn't come with a manual so it's just one continuous learning curve for us all.

Do you enjoy reading blog stat / income report posts and other Behind The Screen stuff?! ...How do you balance your time on attending blog events?! When do you say no... and how do you decide?!

Elle :) 

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27.5.17

FitKit Wardrobe Update: Performance Wear from Pink Soda



Pink Soda Sport, from JD Sports recently launched a couple of new collections including some performance wear which instantaneously caught my eye of course. The other main attraction was the colour; I love khaki (...and khaki means green over here in the UK).

I ordered myself the Chunky mesh tights £32 (size 10), Chunky mesh bra £20 (size 8) and the Reps tank top £18 (size 10). I've not worn Pink Soda before so was unsure how their sizes came up and I didn't want the trouble of having to send anything back to change the sizes so I played it safe with a size 10 and a smaller bra.

My first thoughts on the kit are that the quality is actually very good. The material is thick and most definitely not see-through which is a great start considering the price points. The tank is a loose fit so size was never really going to be an issue and the bra isn't a high support bra so I was more than happy with the fit of those. I do however think I could have, or should have, gone a size down in the tights. They come up extremely high, which would be amazing if they weren't so loose on the waist. When I'm wearing the tank this isn't an issue but if I want to wear the bra without the tank then I have to fold over the waist to make it a little tighter but this also makes it a lot lower. Im thinking the 8 might've been a squeeze to get into but the fit would make it worthwhile.


My new test of workout gear if how they handle my double session of teaching Lift every Thursday morning. The class involves the use of lifting bars and covers every muscle group and exercise you can think of including squats, lunges and press ups. Even though I don't do the classes at 100% effort (workout wise), it's still a total sweatfest from the minute we get into the first track after the warmup.


I managed to teach my classes and then go about my business for the morning without worrying about visible sweat patches or feeling uncomfortable which is a major win for me.

Will these remain in my fitkit line up... yes for sure to the bra and the tank, and even a yes to the tights. The colours are bang on trend and the bra and tank especially are still perfect for this mini heatwave that has hit London Town!

You can shop the entire Pink Soda Sport Collection on JD Sports.

Have you ever worn Pink Soda before?!


Elle :)

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p.s Thanks to Fran of Healthy Fit Fran for taking these photos for me!

24.5.17

Nike Free Run Commuter 2.0 Shoe Review


Tell me that I'm not the only one with jam packed days; from teaching, to coffee meetings, to my own training, run club and catch ups with friends?!

And tell me I'm not the only one who feels like they need a suitcase to carry everything they need for one day?! ...laptop, charger, phone, portable charger, snacks, make-up, spare clothes... the list goes on, right?!

So when the Nike Free Run Commuter 2.0 womens trainers landed, they sounded like they were right up my street. The USP for these being their "all-day versatility". Taking you from your morning workout to your workplace and then for your run (not that I'm advocating double workout days, aight?!).

I've worn mine to teach in (Lift at Frame, Shoreditch plus my HIIT classes at Gymbox), to hang out in (coffee dates on the weekend) and even with my little black dress out for dinner on a Saturday night / hanging out in the sunshine as pictured at the top of this post.

The shoe upper fits like a sock making it super comfortable to wear all day. If, or when, you decide to workout all you need to do is use the bungee to tighten the laces for increased stability and then loosen when you are done.



The number one comment I've had from people when wearing these is... "oh are they Nike?" ...as they are so discreet with minimal branding which means the shoes just blend into your work wardrobe - you know, no more of the "work dress with running trainers" look.

The sole of the shoe uses the Nike Free technology which came about from the principles of barefoot running. This means the shoe has a low profile (just 8mm), is lightweight and flexible. So perfect for packing in your gymbag if you really, really have to wear actual shoes...

You are gonna love these if... you're a multi-tasking fitness junkie like me

Think twice if you... need a more supportive shoe for running (but they'd be okay for day to day wearing to "exercise" your feet)

The Nike Free Run Commuter 2.0 shoes are available from JD Sports for £90

Elle :) 

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20.5.17

RECIPE: Coconut Coffee Cake with Califia Farms (Vegan)


Some of my blogging friends have been sharing their thoughts recently on "teatoxes" using the hasthtag - tea is for biccies - and I mean, as much as I agree, I'm really more of a coffee girl and am definitely a cake girl (which I'm sure is why I like cycling these days as Sunday rides have obligatory cake stops to refuel). So then it will come as no surprise to you that I have a recipe for you which combines both those things - coffee in cake, and I mean, why not?!

Earlier this month, I shared with you my thoughts on the Califia Farms Cold Brew and their Barista Blend Almondmilk and now I've created my own hashtag - #IfWeCanBakeIt - a spin off of the Borrow my Blender hashtag, #IfWeCanBlendIt to create this recipe which by all means I am not labelling as "healthy" or "guilt free" as I don't associate those words with my food and especially not cake. So without further ado, here is the recipe...

Coconut Coffee Cake with Califia Farms

Dairy Free || Vegan || Easy


Ingredients 

3 1/2 cups spelt flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp group nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt

1 scant cup coconut sugar
1 can coconut milk
1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil
3/4 cup (177ml) Califia Farms Cold Brew
5 - 6 drops of vanilla flavdrops

Method 

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees celsius

Mix together the first 6 dry ingredients in a bowl and the 5 wet ingredients in a larger bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet while stirring gently until well mixed with no dry spots.

Pour the cake batter into the bundt mould (I used this silicon bundt mould from Amazon) and bake in the oven for 45 minutes.

Remove from the oven then gently upside down the mould onto a wire rack to allow the cake to cool.

While the cake cools, mix up the Cold Brew Drizzle (below) by whisking everything together in a bowl and then drizzle / pour / slather it on the cooled cake before slicing and serving with a side of... oh, Cold Brew mixed with Almondmilk and a dash of vanilla?!


Cold Brew Drizzle (optional)
1 scant cup of powdered sugar
1/4 cup (scant / 45-50ml) Califia Farms Cold Brew
1.5 tsp lemon / lime juice
3 drops of vanilla flavdrops

...not much else to say, eh?! Other than, give it a go and enjoy!

...what have you been baking recently?! 

Elle :) 

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Notes: I use this measuring cup set for the imperial measurements. This recipe was made in imperial measurements; any metric measurements are approximate.  

15.5.17

#3PTsToParis - Our London to Paris Ride, July '17


I don't remember learning how to ride a bike. So clearly I was born able to ride. Born to ride?! ...My earliest memories of cycling are riding down the stairs from my first floor home in Barbados on a tricycle. I think that's what hanging around with boys does to a 5 year old girl. From there, my next real memories are of getting a bike for my birthday at some point in secondary school (...now living in Essex, UK). It was purple, I loved it and I treated it the same way an Essex boy treated his Ford Fiesta (...aka a boy racer). Those two wheels were my independence... I hung out with friends and we rode so much that I knew my entire area road for road, turn for turn.

Then at some point, I became too cool for school and ended up giving (...maybe selling?!) my bike to my Uncle who I would often see "pootling" down the road on it in his own little world oblivious to cycling past me in the street.

Fast forward one more time, this time to being just under 30yo and living in zone 2 of London (in comparison to now being back in zone 6) and I decide to purchase a bike to commute to work. By this point in my life, I'm really living the "fit" lifestyle added to the fact that cycling in London is more reliable and sometimes even quicker than public transport. Then I enter a duathlon. Have a go on the Olympic Track. Enter a Sportive and ta-dah... it's 2017. And I decide to ride from London to Paris. Because, why not?!


So on 14th July 2017, myself, Mollie (of PT Mollie) and Sophie (of Fitology) will be setting off from the Olympic Park in Stratford to catch a ferry that evening from Newhaven to Dieppe, France. We'll then have an overnight stay before we continue our journey over the following two days, arriving in Paris on Sunday 16th July. Because I'm me, I'm not cycling all that way to just jump on a Eurostar straight back home so we'll be spending the night (and all day Monday) in Paris no doubt eating our way through all the food we can get our hands on. I'm especially looking forward to fresh croissants, pain au chocolat and champagne...


Our ride to Paris will be unsupported so we'll be carrying everything we need with us in panniers / bike packs. I therefore have a couple of months to brush up my skills on changing inner tubes and other little bits to ensure I can look after my bike. As for training, the goal is to get out on the weekend for long rides in addition to once or twice during the week ...so any invites for rides or indoor cycling classes will be greatly accepted! ...I'll be sharing everything I learn over the next 8 weeks here on the blog... a bit like that time I learnt to swim to take part in a triathlon, yeah?! ...cos maybe, just maybe you might be considering taking on the ride from London to Paris one day...

We'll also be documenting our training and the trip itself on our social media channels using the hashtag #3PTsToParis - all my social links are at the end of this post! Huge shout out to James M (Mollies husband) for the top two photos; James will also be joining us for the ride as (in Mollies words) official #InstagramHusband ...and he's done good so far!

Have you ever ridden from London to Paris?! If you have any tips for us on what to pack please leave them below in the comments or drop me a direct message. (..and by all means if you wanna come along, just get in touch!). Although this trip is very much under our own steam, we'd never turn down support from a brand that shares a similar message, has something to offer that would prove invaluable and / or has the same sense of adventure as us!

I've also got a couple more exciting cycling updates to share with you over the next few weeks which will probably be on Instagram so keep an eye out...

Elle :) 

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10.5.17

Vegan Coconut Blueberry Summer Smoothie Recipe

If you don't already know, I kind think I'm the queen of smoothies. I mean, I even started my own little business - Borrow My Blender - where I cater events with smoothies as well as work with brands / products to create amazing recipes and showcase products that I love and think you'll love too! For the next month, I'll be focusing on protein products over on the BMB social channels and maybe even on the blog so if you have a favourite recipe to share please leave me a link or tag me on Twitter / Instagram / Facebook etc (@borrowmyblender on all channels) and I will feature your posts / ideas!

Until then, I have a recipe to share with you which I lived on last month after trying out the newly launched Vita Coco Coconut Milk Alternative. The recipe was inspired by one from Protein Haus ...I used the ingredients listed on theirs and created with my favourite products and quantities to make a consistency and flavour that I thought was perfect. It tastes divine and I wanted to make sure that everyone came across it so I'm shaken it here on the blog as well as having shared it over on the BMB Instagram account.


Vegan Coconut Blueberry Summer Smoothie

Ingredients

1 cup Vita Coco Coconut Milk Alternative
3/4 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 frozen banana
1.5 tsp Bioglan Maca
Large handful spinach
1 scoop vegan vanilla protein (I'm currently using Vega Clean Protein)

Method: Simple as ever, pop everything into your blender and blitz until smooth!

* * *
I'm not sure if I mentioned it (time just flies) but on Saturday 13th May... this weekend, I'll be taking part in the Balance Festival Urban Tri as part of #TeamVega! ...I announced it on Instagram a while back and am super excited to be part of this squad for this awesome event which will be a mix of HIIT, running and yoga. Vega will also be at Balance Festival blending up smoothies for everyone so if you will be there check them out!

I've been using their Clean Protein (in vanilla) for the past few weeks in preparation for the event on Saturday. I mostly have protein smoothies for my early starts when I wake up with only enough time to blend up a couple smoothies and pop them in my bag ready for when I find my appetite and for after teaching a double Lift class (check out my teaching schedule here and come train with me!). I also pin a post on Facebook each week detailing where I am teaching and training if you wanna join me!

I'll do a little write up of the event in the days after so keep an eye out for that! ...do you have a favourite smoothie recipe or ingredient?!

What's your favourite protein powder if you use one?!


Elle :)

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8.5.17

Kitchen Empties #5: Spring Eats & Drinks

Back at the start of 2016, I started this Kitchen Empties series. I got the idea from the beauty bloggers and make up artists I follow who all do these posts with their "empties" chatting about all the products that have finished in their beauty cabinet. I'm not a beauty blogger, and even so, I don't have enough "smellies" to create such a post ...but what I do, do, is eat a lot of food. A LOT. So I decided to save some my my kitchen empties and share them with you if I especially loved them. Here is #5, a little round up from April / May 2017.

For this post, I have a few items that I've come across, new launches and even an old favourite... but a new spin! So make yourself a cuppa tea (my all time favourite regular tea is Tetley Decaf!) and a bar of chocolate (I'm eating a high protein one from MyProtein which I got in a goody bag at Be:Fit in exchange for my email address!)... and maybe discover something new?!


Califia Farms Cold Brew Coffee and Barista Blend Almondmilk*
So these guys are new to the UK (launched in April '17) but are already a household name state side and being a dairy free household and a huge fan of coffee, I had to give these a try! The cold brew coffee is ready to drink so I literally poured it into a mason jar, and added the same parts of the almond milk to make a chilled morning brew ...(because a couple weeks ago we had weather which resembled Spring / Summer, remember?!). Some mornings I had it unsweetened and other mornings I added sugar free vanilla FlavDrops to make it feel a little more indulgent. I've been a fan of cold brew since it took off last summer (or was it the one before?!) ...it is much less acidic than hot-brewed coffee and offers more antioxidants. Califia Farms uses 100% Arabica beans, sourced from Columbia and Central America, which it steeps in cold water until all the complex flavours are released.

The almond milk got used for tea, baking (keep an eye out for a recipe I'll be sharing soon!), smoothies.... basically everything. It doesn't separate in hot drinks which is a winner for me and the consistency makes for a smooth latte. The almond milk and cold brew coffee are available in WholeFoods but they'll be launching a bigger range of products at the end of May, nationwide.


Oomi Noodles*
Somehow these guys have made high protein noodles out of white fish?! ...yeah they have, and they don't taste half bad. Now I didn't even read what they were made of until I read someone else review (cos you know I'm vegan(ish) but I do eat fish on occasion and sometimes I just need cheese in my life) but by this point I'd already eaten them and enjoyed them. They literally take a couple minutes in a pan or up to a minute in the microwave... which was my default option for 3 out of 4 meals. After microwaving them I'd throw on some sesame seed oil, soy sauce and top with whatever else I was having (...including grilled salmon and heck chicken sausages, because yes, I love them). Obviously the texture isn't 100% like regular noodles but then high protein anything isn't ever the same texture... if you want high protein foods / lower carbs then that is the sacrifice you have to make but these really don't feel like that much of a sacrifice. Check out the Oomi Noodles website for more info!


Aussie Body Bars* 
Apparently these are a big deal in Australia and are also new here in the UK. I got to try out their Crunch and Mini ProteinFX Bar range... and well, I've eaten them all. According to their IG, their bars are designed to keep you going and to stay fuller for longer; I ate them all when I was either in a rush (so hello tube breakfast) or when I needed a snack / post workout snack. None of them went down in my memory as tasting awful so that's a good sign. I do remember particularly liking the Mini ProteinFX Bar in a caramel kinda flavour... salted caramel. I didn't get sent quite as big a stash as Zanna so I'm all out but should I need an emergency snack I'd defo consider them in the line up at Boots, Superdrug and wherever else they are stocked...


Emily Fruit Crisps*
I feel like these are healthy... unless you're me, and you just throw the entire packet into your mouth in one go?! ...I've tried these before - the banana chips - and loved them because they're some of the only ones on the market that don't add sugar to something that is naturally sweet (I'm looking at you Holland & Barrett!). These make the perfect snack as they're actually crunchy... as opposed to just being dried fruit which makes a good porridge topping. The pineapple pictured above is lush too... cos I love pineapple. They recently launched some vegetable crisps which I am currently munching my way through (and I ate half the stand samples at Be:Fit, sorry!) so I'm sure that they will pop up in my next Kitchen Empties...

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


Elle :)

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p.s products with a *, I received complimentary either for review or just by chance (like in a goody bag, which I probably have said!) but as always all opinions are my very own! ...and the biggest testament to these products are that I ate them and finished them! lol ;) x

5.5.17

Would You Rather: At Home Workouts vs Out & About

Apparently Spring is on its way. However, I'm currently laying on my sofa at home wondering why I feel so cold even though the sun is actually shining outside. I think it'll be one of those rare occasions when outdoors might be warmer than indoors.

I watched a video from Chill Insurance (https://www.chill.ie/) which asked the question "Would you rather stay in, or go out?" and it all got me thinking about how that applies to fitness... and then some other related topics came to mind so I thought I'd have a little fun creating a short game of would you rather to help keep it light hearted. Cos it's Friday y'all!

I know quite a few people have shared their thoughts on how expensive fitness is especially when classes at boutique studios average at £20 per session. Personally, I don't indulge in boutique fitness for my own training and I'm lucky enough that my current teaching schedule counts towards my training as well as having interests that lay outside of a studio (i.e. Running, cycling, swimming etc).
So, would you rather:

a) pay £20 a class at a studio, but you can choose any class

or

b) only workout at home but doing the same session each time

Over the Easter Bank Holiday, I did some Spring cleaning and had a massive clear out (which also made me realise I've been in my place for two years so surely my home insurance is due for renewal?!). This included going through all my fit kit, equipment and accessories to see what hasn't been used in a while. Basically, if it's been unused for a year then surely I don't need it so I popped a fair bit of it on eBay. What I do have left is a collection of yoga mats, my pump set and a few kettlebells.
So, would you rather:

a) have all the equipment your heart desires in a home gym

or

b) have running outdoors as your only choice

As a freelancer working at home as much as I'm based in a cafe or studio, I tend to either be found in my pyjamas or slipping myself into the tightest, most sweat-wicking garments I can find. You read about Be:Fit and the fashion catwalk right?!
So then I wondered, would you rather:

a) go to the gym in your pyjamas (like, forever)

or

b) workout at home in your trendiest activewear (like, forever)

Head over to my Twitter account to cast your "Would You Rather" votes now!

But, are you a home body or a gym buddy?!


Elle :)

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4.5.17

What It's Really Like to Be a #Backpacker

Unofficially, I decided that 2017 was gonna be the year of volunteering for me. And I've stayed true to my word. Ive volunteered at Parkrun a couple of times (for the first times ever) and on Sunday 30th April I volunteered at Hackney Half Marathon.

Back in March 2016, I ran what goes down in history as my Personal Worst half marathon time at the North London Half Marathon. I mean, it was so bad (for me) that I don't even think I wrote it in the post but from what I can remember it was around the 2:47 mark... like, worse than my first half marathon where I did around 2:27 having never run more than 10km and not having trained. During that race, I learnt what it was like to be right at the back of the race and I experienced how it felt when people had gone home and no one was there to cheer you on and keep you going. So I chose my volunteer role for Hackney Half based on that experience... I opted to be a Sweep Cyclist... on a bike with the very last runners.

In my head, the very last runners meant just those who were a little slower than the rest but the reality was that they were mostly made up of people who just turned up late... like really late. We didn't set off until 9:36 ...when the race officially started at 9:01. So in the picture below... runners are half way round (the fast ones obvs) and I'm still at the start line...


Anyway, the first few miles weren't too bad. We kept up the pace with the runners who were pretty decent runners (just late) running between 5 and 6 minutes per kilometre. Eventually they'd catch up with slower runners and we'd leave then to it to stick with the slower ones...

Note that there were four sweep cyclists, followed by a BMW mini which was shooting t-shirts out of a bazooka, then a sweep vehicle with medics and then the actual sweep stuff like rubbish trucks and those little vehicle things with the brushes... picking up injured runners and all the rubbish left behind by the race in order to reopen the roads.

By this point, I don't know what speed I'm cycling... I just know that it's slow enough to make me almost fall off my bike a thousand times when clipped in. The runners we cycled with varied in attitudes and energy... from the pair that had never run before... yes, you read that right... they'd never run before but here there were doing a half marathon... to the pair where one friend was suffering from an injury in training... to a lady who was a true backpacker running consistently at her own comfortable pace, the woman who fell and then carried on running catching up and making good headway... then, my final runner who I rode with to the finish line (quite literally) - Silina.

If I shared with you all the things Silina and I chatted about I think it'd need a separate post but just know that we put the world to rights. I did my best, as a fitness professional, to help Silina keep an eye on her running technique, talking through mantras and sharing my own running experiences because running kinda is the same no matter how fast or slow you may be...

As we were coming close to exiting the Olympic Park, the course director informed us that the runner behind Silina would need to move to the pavement as she would not make the cut off, which meant that Silina was now officially the last runner on the course... and the last runner to finish ...IF we could get to the finish line in time.

I filled Silina in on the situation and told her that we just had to keep moving in order to make it to the end. If you wanna see real determination and real motivation, this is where you find it. She ran... and ran... and ran... and eventually we were at the bit where the finish line is just round the corner at the end of the road. There also were still people on the course who I encouraged to cheer, clap which visibly encouraged her to keep going...


Let me just take a moment to go back to mile 10 or 11... wherever Run Dem Crew had their cheer station positioned and say a huge Thank You, firstly for still being there and secondly for still cheering with all the energy I imagine you gave to those at the front... I even remember confetti flying and I seriously smiled so much I can't remember anything else other than the energy!

Right, now back to the finish. Sometimes when you're so close to the end, you just have nothing left until you hear people clapping for you, cheering for you and shouting YOUR name... and seriously, that was enough to give Silina the energy for a sprint finish! Damn... I swear, if you already know you could be proud of someone you barely know, you really haven't felt anything till you've been where I've been...

And people, yes, I recorded every single kilometre on Strava... because, yeah.


There you have it! ...I'm not sure if I've covered everything but I'm sure you'll ask if you have any questions, right?! ...I also wanna say that I have no experience of the event itself as a runner (I didn't go to the "Village") ...and I wanna say that my actual experience as a volunteer was sh*t ...if it wasn't for the amazing runners I met on the route and the rest of the sweep cyclist team I think I would've sacked this off from the minute I arrived at the venue to check in... but that is another (moany) story that I'll save for when I see you...

Have you ever been at the back of the race?! 

Elle :) 

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p.s this time round, my time was gifted to Virgin Sport (730am - 1pm) ...in return for crap food, the feeling that they were doing me a favour and (hopefully) a free race place which I think I will use to enter the British 10km. As usual, all opinions are my own... lol ;) 
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