Sunday Workout: Full Body and HIIT

Croatia Gym Selfie

Do you ever feel like you live your life in gym clothes? I do! On the plus side, that means I’m always ready for a workout!

Weekends are not for resting! Unless you’ve smashed gym sessions from Monday to Friday, in which case rest those muscles and reset yourself for the next week. During the week, I find my workouts are at half or two-thirds capacity and I always find myself wishing I just had one more hour or a little more energy. But when you live and work in a city like London, you essentially live your life from one alarm/reminder/calendar event to the next and spend on average an hour each day commuting. As a result, I find that Saturday and Sunday are perfect days to get some ‘Train Insane’ sessions in. After a lie-in and some extra sleep on Friday night, my body is ready to hit the gym hard. This weekend, I decided to stay booze-free and give my body a break. I caught up on sleep, had a few rich Americanos and had two fantastic training sessions at Puregym in Piccadilly and Victoria.

My early morning weekday sessions are typically 45-60 minute HIIT sessions with light to medium weight and a lot of cardio. Think: burpees, sprints, lunges, press-ups, and lots of short bursts with short rests. My pre-workout is black coffee so my body simply doesn’t have enough “fuel” to lift heavy. On Saturday and Sunday, I have an Americano and 20-30g of oats with protein about 45 minutes prior to my workout. This gives me the fuel I need to lift heavier weight. Recently, I’ve been making a formula of Green Tea, Water and BCAAs to fuel me through my workout, which means I can do longer sessions of 90-120 minutes.

If you have been following me a while, you will know that I LOVE sharing recipes. But healthy eating is only half of my weight loss story. The other half of my story is all about the hours I have dedicated to working out, lifting weight, running and staying fit. Over time, I have seen the physical and mental benefits of exercise and it has had a hugely positive impact on my life. For anyone who is not a regular gym-goer or who spends their life on the cross-trainer (that was me a few years ago…), it is hard to know where to start! I hope that through sharing some of my workouts, I will give you a little bit of inspiration to try something new in the gym, challenge yourself and get more creative with your exercise. And if you aren’t sure what an exercise is, YouTube it! If you try the workout below, please let me know how it went. You can find me on Facebook and Instagram. Happy Sunday Health and Fitness Lovers!

Full Body and HIIT:

90 seconds running 12.0Km/h

20 burpees

REPEAT X6

 

27, 21, 15, 9 cals on Rower

27, 21, 15, 9 Thrusters 15kg

 

20 Reps 39Kg Hip Abductor

(20 second rests inbetween)

REPEAT X5

 

Rope pull-downs 12Kg X15

TRX Inverted Rows X15

60 second plank

REPEAT X3

 

Kettlebell Swings 16Kg

Ball Roll-ins X10

Ball Hip Thrust X10

REPEAT X3

 

40 Russian Twists 6Kg

15 Leg Raises

20 Sit Ups 6Kg

50 Crunches

20 Bicycle Crunches

REPEAT X3

 

15 Minutes Crosstrainer

Stretch! 

Saturday Workout: Legs and HIIT

Gym Selfie

Checking out my progress in the mirror at Puregym following an upper body session. Shout out to all the ladies who lift!

There is nothing I love more than waking up on a Saturday morning hangover-free, having an Americano with Calorie-free Walden Farms caramel syrup and hitting the gym for a huge training session. Many of my commutes, lunchtimes or evenings are spent scanning personal trainers and fitness models on Instagram for ‘Fitspiration‘ and ideas for new exercises and workouts. Why not take #inspo from the best?

While I am on my way to the gym in the morning, I plan my workout in my head or on the Notes app on my iPhone. One of the joys of living in London is that the Puregyms in Zone 1 are virtually empty at the weekend because everyone who lives in Zone 1 probably has their own gym! For this reason, the weekends are when I typically get some of my best sessions in. No queuing for machines and more space to do explosive exercise and to create my own circuits.

More on the benefits of Weekend Workouts next Sunday, but for now, below is my Saturday Session. Remember to adjust the weight to your own fitness goals and always prioritise form over reps. Rest when you need it but try and keep your heart rate up. If you cool down, smash out 20 burpees to get warmed back up! Let me know if you try it and what you think. You can reach me on Facebook and Instagram. Happy Sunday Fun-day!

Legs and HIIT:

90 seconds Running 13.5 Km/h
15 Kettle bell swings 14Kg
10 push-ups
60 second plank
REPEAT X3

15 Reps Leg extension 45Kg
30 jumping jacks
REPEAT X3

15 (each leg) Split Squat 10kg (20Kg total)
15 Jumping squats
REPEAT X3

15 Full Clean and Press 20Kg
30 seconds Mountain Climbers
15 (each leg) Curtsey Squats 20Kg

REPEAT X3

12 Smith Machine Squats 60Kg
REPEAT X3
6-8 Reps @ 70Kg

90 seconds running 12Km/h
15 Burpees
REPEAT X5

Stretch! 😊

How to Train for an Endurance Event

 

For the longest time, I was running 5Ks and going to the same circuits classes at the gym. I would work up a sweat but after a few months of training, I plateaued. Training was fun but I reached a point where I no longer felt challenged. It was time to shake things up.

I am a Type A personality. I f***ing thrive on achievement and my favourite person to compete with is myself. In July 2012, my sister introduced me to endurance events when she persuaded me to sign up for the Tough Mudder. For those of you unfamiliar with this event, it is 12 miles of running interspersed with mud pits, lakes, rivers, electric wires, ice water, fire, gravel tunnels and other obstacles designed by the military. It took us over three hours to complete and as we crossed the finish line, I burst into tears out of sheer pride (that I actually finished it) and relief (that I didn’t die). We were fed a protein shot, water, a burger and a beer. That evening, we continued re-feeding ourselves with an indian meal and some cocktails. The next day, I could barely walk. My body felt broken! But I was hooked.

The Tough Mudder was fantastic but I wanted to try something new. In 2013, I signed up for the Belfast Half Marathon. This was new to me. I had never run more than 10-15 Km so I had to educate myself about training and supplementation. Thankfully, I worked with a girl who was an avid, competitive runner and she gave me some great advice. The training was great and I love running so it was really fun trying new routes and incorporating uphill runs to build my strength. I completed it in 1:48 and crossed the finish line with a rush of adrenaline and emotion.

This spring, I completed the Clapham Common Half Marathon in London and it was a very special event. Shortly after signing up for this event I tore a muscle in my lower back and I wasn’t sure that I would be able to participate. I didn’t run for 4-5 weeks and stuck to the cross trainer and some strength training. With the help and advice of a physiotherapist, I managed to recover and rebuild my strength. Things happening in my personal life messed with my emotions and I had gained a bit of weight, which made me even more nervous about running. Nobody wants to feel heavy when they run! You want to feel light and speedy! I focused on strengthening my muscles. This was all I knew how to do. I decided I would strengthen my hamstrings, glutes, hip abductors, core and just run 5-10K a couple of times a week during the weeks prior to the event. It worked. I ran the half marathon in 1:42 and finished 2nd. And I may have collapsed on the grass afterwards and cried (or sobbed) happy tears before phoning my mum to tell her the news.

My preparation for each event was entirely different. Each time, I was armed with more knowledge and experience. I had done my research, spoken to other athletes and tried and tested my own methods. After this most recent event, I felt fantastic. Of course my body was fatigued but I had zero pain, I still went for a long walk afterwards and I didn’t feel ravenously hungry during the hours following. I was tired but not exhausted. This is how I knew I had found a strategy that worked for me. And I want to share it!

One Week Prior:

During the week prior to the Clapham Common Half Marathon, I ran two 10Ks, two 5Ks, did two full-body strength sessions and two days of rest with plenty of walking. My eating was low to medium carb but with lots of protein. I wanted to feed my muscles and make sure they were fighting fit for the run.

One Day Before: 

On the day before the Clapham Common Half Marathon, I ran approximately 5-6 kilometres on the treadmill (easy on the knees) and did some core and upper body work. I took BCAAs for recovery and that night, I CARBED UP. I had chicken with tons of colourful veggies and some rice for dinner. I had a lot of pic n’ mix (mostly chocolate) at the movie theatre. Oops! And before I went to bed, I ate 4 rice cakes with some peanut butter and apple sauce. It was A LOT of food! I was stuffed.

The Morning Of: 

Prior to the Tough Mudder, I snacked on trail mix slowly and steadily until 30 minutes before the event. Banana, peanut butter, nuts, seeds, m&ms and raisins. It was pure energy food and the mixture of sugars and fats meant it would slow-release. Halfway through the event, they handed out half-bananas to us. This worked really well and I didn’t lack energy during the event at all. During the first half marathon, I took the advice of a nutritionist friend and had a paleo breakfast (avocado, bacon, egg, butter, black coffee). It was the WORST decision ever! Zero carbs meant zero energy. And I had an upset stomach prior to the event, which meant I was extremely dehydrated before even starting the run. As a result, I had a cramp in my side for the first 8km. This time, for the Clapham Common Half Marathon, I knew exactly what to have. Porridge! All you need before a run is carbs. I had already fuelled up the night before so I didn’t need a huge breakfast. Two cups of green tea, lemon water, a swig of BCAAs and 40g of oats with a scoop of Diet Whey protein, and I was ready to go.

30 minutes Post-Event:

Immediately after the event, I swigged some water and grabbed a tall black Americano. I ate some dried mango and headed home to get a hot shower. After my shower, I had another cup of green tea. Caffeine = energy. I also ate a small granola bar. I was feeling peckish at this point.

60-120 minutes Post-Event:

By this time, I was ready for a meal. I had begun to feel tired and knew that I needed a good feed! I went to a lovely restaurant called Brasserie Zedel and had a salmon filet with a small portion of wild rice, two small slices of crusty baguette with real butter and a huge portion of sautéed spinach. Then, a cup of black tea for a perk-me-up. This hit THE spot and filled me with nutrients, starches and omega-3s.

Please know that I am not an expert! I have never done an Iron Man or a Triathlon or a Marathon. But I have done a LOT of running, a lot of strength training and I am a bit of a “fitness freak”. I spend a lot of time doing it, reading about it, researching it and constantly learning so that I can try new things and share my experiences and knowledge with other fitness-lovers. I hope you have enjoyed reading this post and if you have anything you’d like to add, please leave it in the comments! You can see photos from these events on my Facebook and Instagram pages. Happy Exercising!

Meal Prepping: Staying on Track

 

Meal-prepping is the best way to get started with a new diet or eating plan. After a couple of weeks, you will become a pro and will be delighted at the time and money it saves. If you are a food-lover, sugar-addict, snack-muncher like me then you will know that staying on track with your diet and healthy eating is VERY difficult if you do not have a packed lunch or pre-prepared meals and snacks ready to go. It is a very simple concept. When you are hungry, you think with your stomach rather than your brain. When you meal prep, you are putting more thought into the food that you are preparing and the nutrients that you need to feel great and keep your energy levels up. It may take a couple of hours on a Sunday evening or a Monday night but you will thank yourself for it during the week when you save money and time during those weekday lunches. Just make sure you have snacks prepared too and don’t make the same mistake I have in the past, which is buying $10 worth of snacks on the way home because you haven’t eaten since lunch! Oops!

Meals:

My meals are usually very simple. Tuna with brown rice, butternut squash and broccoli. Chicken with sweet potato and sprouts. Turkey breast with boiled carrots, asparagus and kale. Lean meats, eggs and plenty of veggies. Choose a green vegetable (broccoli, sprouts, kale, spinach, asparagus) and pair it with a starch (sweet potato, butternut squash, carrots, brown rice, plantains) and a protein (turkey, chicken, lean beef, egg). For goodness sake, don’t eat Tofu. It’s a soy product and nutritionists are screaming out about the dangers of soy. It’s not digestion-friendly and in my opinion, you’d be better off eating something like chickpeas, quinoa, beans or another comparable high-protein carbohydrate. Also, in the colder seasons, my favourite thing to make is stew. Just throw in some stock, chopped tomatoes, a whole ton of veggies and some meat or fish. As for seasoning, cumin, coriander, paprika and chipotle chills for a Mexican flavour OR maybe ginger, garlic, coriander, lemongrass and lime for a Thai flavour. Bulk-cooking requires less time than cooking different meals every night. If you get bored easily, just pair your main course with a different side dish or use different sauces and seasonings. I am salivating at the thought of this right now…

Snacks:

Forget carrot sticks and hummus… this is such a boring snack and it’s been overdone. We are all bored of it! What about making your own granola out of oats, coconut oil, flaked almonds, peanut butter and chia seeds? What about taking a little pot of apple, blueberries, pumpkin seeds, cashew nuts and coconut strips? Make your own “cookies” using banana, oats, almond flour, butter and cacao nibs. Make a PBJ sandwich using Meridian peanut or almond butter, smashed berries and wholegrain rice cakes. Steam some edamame or sugar-snap peas and sprinkle them with salt. If you snack on chocolate, try to make sure it’s 70% dark or higher (major challenge for an addict like me…). When it comes to yoghurt, try and always buy Total 0% greek yoghurt since it’s one of the only brands which contains live bacteria. If you love picking at popcorn, try to pick the brand with the lowest sugar. If you fancy snacking on fruit, go for berries since they are lower in sugar. There are so many other options besides carrot sticks! Just get creative, check out Instagram and try to make healthy versions of your favourite snacks.

Tips:

  1. Invest in good tupperware.
  2. Meal-prep 3-4 days in advance so that food stays fresh.
  3. Plan your meals before you do your grocery shopping.
  4. Don’t meal-prep when you are hungry.
  5. Search for inspiration on Instagram!

To anyone who calls this behaviour obsessive, I say this: I would rather spend the rest of my life obsessively meal-prepping and macros-counting than going back to my old ways of eating shitty food and feeling shitty as a result of my diet. If you haven’t read my story before, at the age of nineteen I was in a place where I was smoking, eating junk food, drinking sugary soft drinks, consuming too much alcohol and as a result, feeling sluggish, getting headaches, having regular stomach issues, and feeling breathless after climbing a small hill. I was an overweight mess of a human being! Today, I feel strong and fit and I have healthier skin, hair, nails and never suffer from headaches or diarrhoea anymore (TMI). My health isn’t perfect but I am a million times better than I was before and I am constantly trying to make better choices whilst achieving balance in my life. I thrive with a little touch of routine and organisation; it’s part of my nature and something I have always found comfort in. Meal-prepping helps me stay on track and saves me a lot of time and energy during the week when I am busy working and living my life. Try it for a week and see how much time and money you save!

Fitness Struggles: Coping with an Injury (Part II)

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Since my injury, I have been focusing on building my strength and flexibility. This will hopefully make the recovery process easier as I strengthen the muscles in my legs, arms and core rather than losing muscle mass.

If you haven’t read my previous post ‘Coping with an Injury: Part I‘ then I recommend that you start there before reading this post. 🙂 In summary, I tore my Psoas muscle on the left side of my lower back/hip flexor approximately five weeks ago and it was a very difficult injury to recover from.

Stage 6: Assessing the Damage

As a person who is naturally impatient, it was very challenging to take a step back from my normal workout routine. I had to try certain exercises, assess the pain, and then figure out if I could continue or if it was too much. In week one, I could not walk without being in excruciating pain and discomfort. I even had to take paracetamol to sleep. I began with the cross trainer in week two. In week three, I began doing burpees, rowing, jumping jacks and body weight lunges. In week four, I began doing a lot of upper body weights, core work, and squats and lunges with a 10kg and 15kg bar. In week five, I increased to a 17.5kg bar and built up to the weights I was using before the injury. I added in leg extensions, jumping lunges, courtesy lunges, hip thrusters, dead lifts and then before I knew it, I was back to my normal routine with a little less of the explosive moves, but the normal weight. The best feeling was not having any pain. I felt strong again!

Stage 7: Helping Myself Heal

Thankfully, my medical insurance covered me for a consultation and six sessions with a physiotherapist. She has helped me cope with the injury both physically and mentally. She completely understood what I was going through and I trusted her more than I have ever trusted a medical professional in my life. She understood my fear of never being able to run again, my fear of gaining weight, my worries of not being able to exercise, and all of the emotional turmoil that came with such a complicated injury. From doing a lot of reading and research about nutrition and exercise as part of my own personal weight loss journey, I knew a few things could help speed up the healing process. First and foremost, a high-protein diet which wasn’t hard as I eat a lot of protein as it is! I also bought BCAAs and L-glutamine, which I took 3-4 times a week pre and post-workout to help my muscles heal and grow. Branched chain amino acids have been shown to help muscles repair. I figured it could only help, so why not? I took my regular supplements, which are: Omega-3 fish oil, Vitamin B complex, multi-vitamins, cranberry and a probiotic in the evening. Basically, filling myself with nutrients to try and heal as quickly as possible.

Stage 8: Unpleasant Side Effects

The worst side effect was the hormonal imbalances that I experienced during the few days following the injury. Going from vigorous workouts and exercise every morning to virtually zero exercise and constant pain wreaked havoc on my hormones. I felt deeply depressed. My stress levels sky-rocketed and I wasn’t sleeping well. My diet was horrendous. I binged on sweets, chocolate and all sorts of rubbish and did a lot of comfort eating. The guilt and depression following these binges was very hard to cope with. After doing some research, I bought a probiotic to try and help reduce the hormonal imbalance. Thankfully, my body is well on its way to getting re-balanced. However, the side effects of eating so much junk are- a lot of fat gain and a few lbs of weight gain. A frustrating set-back. This will take at least 2-4 weeks to fix, but it can be done. With a lot of commitment, motivation, and focus of course!

Stage 9: Baby Steps

Last weekend, I ran a 5K and only with mild discomfort. On Friday, I ran 8Km and felt absolutely fine. Yesterday, I ran 7.5Km and felt great! Today, I walked 16.5 Miles in total (all over London) and my hamstrings and calves are pretty fatigued, but mentally, I feel fantastic! I am starting to feel like myself again. This week, my goal is to work out for at least 30 minutes every day. I am not going to run every day because I know that this could risk irritating the injury or causing another injury. Although I feel like I “could” run a 10K every day, it doesn’t mean that I should. I need to take this one day at a time and really listen to my body rather than pushing it over its limits. But I feel like I am finally getting back to normal and I am so thankful that my injury is healing so well. I am so thankful that I can run again. I feel so thankful for my health. This experience has made me very aware of how important my health is to me. In fact, it’s probably the single most important thing in my life!

Stage 10: Moving Forward and Key Lessons

Moving forward, I am so much more focused on strength and flexibility rather than absolutely hammering my body in the gym until it is completely fatigued. I am making a promise to myself that I will stretch after every workout and use the steam room at my gym as often as I can. I will push my body and challenge myself but not punish it. And when I do push it to its limits, I will reward it with a massage or a spa treatment or something nice to show it some love! I will make sure to balance weight training with cardio, not doing too much of one or the other but equal amounts of both.

In the past twelve months, I have completed a Masters degree, been through a break-up, moved to a new city, started a new job, and I would truly say that this injury has been the most difficult thing I have had to deal with this year. It has been a physical and mental battle but I feel that I have learned a lot throughout the process. To my friends and family, if you are reading this, thank you for putting up with my constant moaning and my (virtually menopausal) emotional rollercoaster. I am hoping that it is onward and upward from here.

 

 

 

RECIPE: Banging Cilantro Turkey Burgers

There is nothing like a good burger, especially when it’s homemade. I like to know what ingredients are in my food and I like my meat nice and lean. There is nothing more repulsive that a grisly steak or a chewy fatty sausage. Please don’t misunderstand me- I LOVE beef mince and duck and bacon, but not if it is dripping with fat. Have you ever felt like you are wearing vaseline after eating meat? That is gross. Turkey mince is a great substitute for beef and it’s extremely lean. You don’t have to sacrifice flavour when munching on these juicy patties. They are packed with flavour from fragrant coriander, hot red chilli, and a few other herbs and spices. This week, I served mine with some low-sugar slaw because I was feeling lazy. But I would highly recommend serving these with avocado and a homemade mango pico de gallo or some cumin sweet potato fries. Wow, I’m salivating as I write this! Happy cooking and happy hump day.

Ingredients:

  • 500g lean Turkey Breast Mince
  • a handful of chopped coriander
  • 1 tbsp of ground Cumin
  • 1 tbsp of ground Coriander
  • 1 tbsp of Cajun Seasoning
  • 1 Red Chilli (diced)
  • 1 medium Egg
  • 1/2 a Red Onion (diced)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Coconut Oil (for cooking)

Method (makes approximately 6-7 small patties):

  1. Place the turkey mince in a bowl.
  2. Add the egg, onion, chilli and coriander and mix it up with a fork!
  3. Add the spices and stir it up until the mixture is covered.
  4. Heat up the coconut oil in a frying pan or griddle on a medium heat.
  5. Get your hands dirty and form approximately six or seven patties from the mixture.
  6. Cook those burgers for approximately 5-7 minutes on each side or until cooked all the way through.
  7. Serve with whatever topping your heart desires!

 

*I recognise that the photos in this post are not high quality! Please rest assured that future recipe photos will be a lot better. Thanks!

Why I Wrote a Letter to Myself

 

Me

A Photo of me from a recent holiday in Gran Canaria. Happy with my body for the first time in a long time.

I wrote this letter to myself to remind myself the importance of self-love. No, not masturbation. But rather self-acceptance, self-reassurance and self-confidence! It is so easy to be critical of ourselves and to focus on our shortcomings. But sometimes we need to be proud of the positive things we have achieved and show ourselves a little more kindness.

9 February 2016

Somewhere in London.

greenfoodandrunningshoes@gmail.com

Dear Emma,

You have always been insecure and have struggled with body image issues and a lack of self-confidence.

This has affected your perception of yourself and somewhere along the way, you stopped loving yourself and began to bully yourself and beat yourself up about not being thin and “perfect” (there is no such thing). You stopped focusing on the inside, and started focusing on perfecting your body and your physical self.

From the age of fourteen, you were cutting photographs of Victoria’s Secret models out of magazines and sticking them into your diary with captions such as, “this is what I want to look like,” and “this is what I should look like.” You talked to girls at middle and high school and compared your weight and what size clothes you wore. When you found out that you were bigger and heavier than the other girls, you started to feel insecure about your differences and began to feel anxious about your size. Size and numbers began to matter. This continued into your university/college years.

At the age of nineteen, you weighed in at 210 lbs. This shocked you and you felt frustrated and unhappy about how much you had stopped caring about yourself and your health. You were disgusted with yourself and you began your weight loss journey. It has been a rollercoaster of ups and downs, and it was only in January 2015 that you finally began to gain control and gradually make improvements. But mentally, the battle has been tough and you have been left with scars.

You have come a long way and you now have a wealth of knowledge about food, nutrients, calories, and physical fitness. You are the slimmest you have ever been and finally, you feel more “normal” (again, there is no such thing). But you must not focus on being perfect. You must focus on being healthy, both in the physical sense and the mental sense. There is no perfect size or number. All bodies are different, and all women are different. You must try and be the best version of yourself rather than comparing yourself to somebody else. Beauty is not just physical, it is spiritual and you must not lose yours.

How can you help motivate and inspire others if you don’t love yourself and live by the same advice you give on your blog? Weight loss is a transformational journey. It is not simply about losing the pounds; it is about a change of attitude towards food and exercise, a change in the perception of one’s self and learning to nourish your body, mind and soul.

You are just as important as the people who follow you, and you need to prioritise your health or everything else will fall apart. The people who care about you describe you as a kind, hard-working, compassionate individual and it’s time that you started believing it.

Don’t forget to celebrate your successes rather than focusing on your failures. A failure is not the end; it is a lesson learned. You are strong and you have overcome many obstacles in your life so far. You will continue to grow and flourish.

Take time for yourself and don’t forget to have fun. Smile. Find the positives in each day, even if there are set-backs. Remember the concept of ‘balance’ and think about what it really means. Be grateful for those around you who support you and live a life filled with love and learning.

Sincerely yours,

Emma.

5 Key Benefits of Group Fitness

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This was a fun session in the park with Karen from Good Clean Chow!

Staying fit is a lot more fun if you have someone else to keep you company and you will find yourself substantially more motivated when you engage in group fitness activities.

  1. Running Faster: Running clubs. What better way to run than with someone who can pace you? The running clubs I have run with divide their runners into three groups: beginner, intermediate and advanced. The three groups either run at different paces, different distances, or in some cases- both. The pacer encourages his/her group to keep up and ensures that nobody gets left behind. If you want to push yourself, join the intermediate or advanced group and you will have no choice but to keep up or get left behind! Or in my most recent case, get lost in the middle of London, which I was certainly not willing to do. There is a great website called MeetUp where you can find running clubs in your area but try searching on Google or contact any local sporting retailers such as Nike, Lulu Lemon, Sweaty Betty or Asics.
  2. Meeting People: New City? New Social Life? What better way to meet people than to join a fitness-related class or club. The best thing about these clubs is that the people who join them are typically a like-minded bunch of people. Runners and fitness fanatics are social, high-energy, optimistic, enthusiastic, positive people! And when you are all high on endorphins after your run, you can go for coffee or cake together and chit chat away about how much you love running (and cake). Use sites such as MeetUp and Facebook to finds clubs near you!
  3. Low Cost, High Fun: Since moving to London, I have ran with a running club in Mile End, the Chelsea Running Club, and on Saturday morning I am going to a British Military Fitness session in Hyde Park. How much did all of this cost me? £0. I walked or jogged to every meeting, the running clubs are free, and the BMF give you the first session for free. Joining a gym is essential if you want to do weight training and have access to shiny, fancy, state of the art exercise equipment. But why not copy me? Join a budget gym (hello Puregym £35 per month membership with access to ALL gyms in the UK) and use the extra money on classes and clubs. If you compare Puregym to Gymbox, you are saving £50 a month on membership fees. That’s at least 3-4 classes, which is one a week!
  4. Accountability: If you join a club and miss a week, you are going to have a whole club of people asking you, “where were you last week?” Committing to a regular club or class ensures that you have a whole team of people rallying behind you, encouraging you, and rooting for you to succeed. You have a network of support and a bunch of coaches who will hold you accountable if you fail to show up or try to give up. It’s a wonderful, wonderful thing and it’s extremely motivating. Be thankful for it.
  5. Healthy Competition: A little healthy competition never hurt anybody! Unless you are a complete Dwayne Rock Johnson Machine, you are unlikely to have the kind of motivation it takes to compete with yourself on a daily basis. So, why not gently compete with the people in your running club or class? Did Tess move up from beginner to intermediate this week? Well then you bet your ass that you are going to do the same. Did John just squat 100kg? Well then you better get working on your PB. Did Alison run 5K in 25 minutes? Well then you are going to do it in 24. Don’t be hostile or alienate yourself and don’t be brash, but if competition is what motivates you, then do it cautiously and make it fun.

Recipe: Moroccan-Style Chicken

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Moroccan-Style Chicken with Sweet Potato, Coriander and Almonds.

This dish happened by accident. As I was browsing the web for foodspiration, I stumbled across a couple of clean recipes for Tagine. After moving into a new apartment with minimal cooking equipment, I realised that I had to get creative. Also, I’m not a huge fan of raisins so I thought I would tailor the recipe to my own preferences. Little did I know that I would finish with one of THE best dinners I have ever cooked. Taste buds were delighted and I cannot wait to make this again. You can serve it with wholegrain rice if you want some extra carbs, or a spinach leaf salad if you don’t want any more starch.

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 2″ of Ginger
  • 4 Garlic Cloves
  • 2 Large Sweet Potatoes
  • 1/2 cup of Almonds
  • 1/2 cup of chopped Dates
  • a small bunch of fresh Coriander
  • 1 tbsp ground Ginger
  • 2 tbsp ground Cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp ground Coriander
  • 1 tbsp ground Cumin
  • 500ml of Chicken Stock
  • 1 tbsp of Organic Honey
  • 1 large tbsp of Coconut Oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Method:

  1. Chop up the chicken breast into small bite-size chunks.
  2. Heat up the oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  3. Divide the coconut oil between two medium-sized casserole dishes.
  4. Peel and chop the sweet potatoes into small bite-size chunks.
  5. Finely chop the ginger, garlic and fresh coriander.
  6. Add the chicken, potatoes, ginger, garlic, and fresh coriander to the casserole dishes.
  7. Add the dry spices and herbs.
  8. Toss the mixture around with a fork so that the spices and herbs cover the chicken and potatoes.
  9. Gently pour the stock over the dishes.
  10. Drizzle the honey over the top and sprinkle on the almonds and dates.
  11. Season and cook in the oven for 20 minutes.
  12. Take the dishes out of the oven and toss the mixture around with a spatula or fork.
  13. Place the dishes back in the oven and cook for a further 20 minutes.
  14. Serve and enjoy!

The Green Food Girl in London

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Avocado on Kallo balsamic rice cakes with a pinch of sea salt. A delightful snack.

Just over a week ago, I moved to London and I have found myself in a city where everyone is extremely well-dressed, well-connected, well-paid (or so it seems) and well-fed. Last week, I visited four different grocery stores: Waitress, M&S Food, Sainsbury’s and Wholefoods. In the span of five days, I had eaten at Itsu, Wasabi, Pho, Wholefoods Market, and an American-style grill that I cannot remember the name of because I had reached a level of “hangry” that propelled me into another parallel universe. So far, I have resisted the temptations of Krispy Kreme and Froyo but recently fell victim to the Hotel Chocolat near my hotel. The famous American chains- Five Guys and Chipotle- are both right around the corner from where I work. However, not too far from the office, I have found a smatter of Paleo and Raw-food restaurants. This excites me! If you’re going to eat raw, clean food, where better to eat it than London or LA where the menus will most certainly reflect whatever is “hot” right now on the health-food scene. Raw cashew cheesecake? Dehydrated coconut wraps? Cauliflower rice? Sign me up!

Although the large supermarket chains appear to offer “healthy” offerings, it is all a facade. I spent a lot of my evenings scouring the aisles for healthy guilt-free treats only to find that the majority of any “gluten-free”, “health-conscious”, or “paleo-friendly” snacks were laden with hidden sugars in the form of apple juice, dates, raisins and other high-sugar foods. What a disappointment. So, I defaulted to 85% cacao chocolate (which is beginning to bore me) and berries. Yes, of course it is better to eat dates than refined sugar, but sugar and sweeteners are still things I am trying to avoid or at least keep to a minimum. My Christmas was spent devouring chocolates and cakes and more chocolates! I am feeling fluffier than ever, my skin is breaking out, and I feel very down; it is time to get back on track with my low-sugar lifestyle.

At the moment, I am living in a hotel until I move into an apartment on the 24th. My hotel has a little kitchenette but it isn’t practical for doing any heavy-duty cooking. So, I’ve been buying bags of mixed vegetables (peas, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, kale, spinach and more) and steaming them in the microwave. I’ve been pairing these veggies with tinned fish, which retains its omega-3s, and the least-shitty pre-cooked chicken that I could find (i.e. the one with the fewest ingredients and no added sugar or weird unnatural ingredients). This can be quite expensive but today, I struck gold and arrived at Waitrose just as they were marking down a ton of vegetables that were approaching their sell-by date. Now, remember that “sell-by” and “best before” are two different things. Supermarkets have an extra window of three days for most of the items they sell. These three days after the “sell-by” date are usually still fine to consume the food. The “best before” date is a guideline. It’s based on science but it is still “best before” not “not OK after” if you get what I am saying! I never ever get sick from food (touch wood) and I eat things that are past their “best before” date all the time. Smell it, look at it, touch it, and examine it. If it looks OK, it is probably OK to eat.

What’s on the menu tonight? A bit of rest after two big workouts in Puregym Holborn over the weekend and a couple of big runs. Oh, and for dinner I’m having grilled chicken with a colourful mixture of peas, sweetcorn, cabbage and leeks. This is off-topic but I have been watching Making a Murderer along with the rest of the world, and I have been looking forward to the next episode all day, so that is what I will be doing this evening!

As I have more food and fitness adventures in the hugely exciting city of London, I will share them with you on my Instagram page, Facebook page, and of course, on the blog. I am looking forward to tasting the fermented drinks, raw desserts, superfood smoothies, and the strange-smelling herbal teas. A twerking class? Trampolining? A run through a park filled with deer? I will try anything once so bring it on London; I am ready.