Friday, 17 July 2015

How to overcome fear of the gym

How to overcome fear of the gym

The gym can be a daunting place for anyone, especially those who are new to fitness.  My gym in particular is quite intimidating.  Full of super toned health freaks and muscly body builders, I can at times feel completely out of place, however I do not let this deter me from going as it is home to such fantastic facilities I would be foolish now to utilise them.  Therefore I have decided to compile a helpful list of ways in which fear of the gym can be combatted and you can focus on getting fit, healthy and finding a form of exercise you truly enjoy.

1)       Familiarise yourself with your gym, even with the greatest fitness plan, if you are unsure of where the specific equipment is you will spend more time looking for various machines then working out, so know what it is you plan on using and identify where it is before you start to work out.


2)      If you are worried about looking a fool on the weights machines then devise a plan using just free weights as these can be just as effective, if not more.  I like to find a nice quiet corner, get all the weights I plan to use during my workout and not have to mither about walking round finding machines and figuring out how to use them. 



3)      Perhaps the most important thing is to have a routine. If you go to the gym with no idea what you plan to do you can end up wasting time and energy.  Set aside days to train different muscle groups: legs, abs, back and biceps etc. and focus solely on that group.   Look online for different exercises and make sure you continue to up the difficulty every couple of weeks and be sure to warm up and cool down.


4)      Hate weights? Can’t stand the idea of running mindlessly on a treadmill?  Then get a programme of the different classes your gym has to offer and give them a chance.  Yes you may find a class you utterly hate but persist and I am fairly confident you will find a class to suit you.  Mine is spinning, I adore it and don’t even regard it as exercise, I go solely because I thoroughly enjoy it and the calorie burning is a bonus.  Aim to have that feeling and you will find yourself looking forward to your workouts.



5)      It is so easy to worry about what people think, looking around any gym and you will see people oozing with confidence, strutting their stuff with not a care in the world.  However the key thing to remember is that everyone starts somewhere.  Everyone at the gym was once a novice and for all you know these people could feel exactly the same as you so stand tall put on your music and ignore others.  Even if you feel terrified inside, just by acting confident will help you on your way to conquering your fears.


6)      Get in the zone.  Find yourself an area of the gym you feel relaxed and happy in and have this as your spot each time you go, this might be a particular corner or a specific rowing machine. 



7)      Start by going at quiet times.  Most gyms are at the busiest when people finish work, so from about 5-8, so get there early in the morning or midday of a weekend.  If you find yourself with some time off work use this opportunity to hit the gym and get your workout done and dusted while everyone is still in the office. 


8)      If you are still worried, or not sure what it is you should be doing then you might wish to consider getting yourself a trainer.  Most gyms have resident PT’s who do sessions from just half an hour upwards.  You only need one or two sessions to familiarise yourself how to use equipment properly or devise a routine tailored to suit you.  If you opt for this then make it clear what you want to achieve and don’t let yourself be drawn into signing up for an expensive package if this was not your plan.


Follow these tips and make the gym somewhere that you enjoy going.  Everyone is into different things so find something you enjoy.

Remember that there are actually more likely to be far less gym snobs then people just like you.  Most people don’t even notice others around the gym and are more concerned about their own workouts and whatever you chose to do in terms of fitness you are lapping up those sat on the couch. 

Best of luck J

Please let me know if these tips have helped you.  Do you have any of your own tips or experiences? 

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Banana, rasberry and blueberry simple summer juice

Simple summer juice

While trying to get my body in the healthiest state as I possibly can in the short time window I have before my holiday I found myself missing that something sweet of an evening.  The other night I was rather thirsty and craving the good stuff when I decided to make a juice.  Not expecting much from it I shoved what I had in my fridge in my blender and devoured the finished article, and the result? Surprisingly good!  In fact so good I can see this becoming a firm favourite go to.  It reminds me of a cocktail (alcohol free of course) which, at this time of year is just what I need of a warm summer evening.  So here it is:


©       One medium banana

©       Large handful of blueberries

©       Handful of raspberry’s

©       One glass of coconut milk



©       Chop banana

©       Add ingredients to blender and wiz until smooth

Add more / less liquid to change consistency.

Sit back and enjoy, all you need now is a nice beach ;)

Feel free to send me emails / comments of your finished articles and any other delicious juice recipes you may have, I am always open to try something new.


two week beach body challenge

Two week body transformation challenge

With no waiting for the months to pass by, last minute holidays are great.  However once the initial excitement dies down, the thoughts of bearing all on the beach kick in.  With no time to prepare even the most confident of people can feel a little overwhelmed.

Earlier this year I lost a substantial amount of weight, which I had built up as a result of moving house/birthday/Chiristmas, and about any other excuse for being greedy and inactive as I could find.  I decided enough was enough and  with my nutritional knowledge and a little help from a personal trainer I lost 9% body fat in 8 weeks.  Thinking I was all summer ready I let my unhealthy habits creep back in and I have now come to find that my clothes are starting to get a little tight once again, and unlike in the winter cannot cover up the results with a baggy jumper and black leggings.  On top of that I have booked myself a spur of the moment holiday. 

Now, the internet is swarming with unrealistic and downright dangerous quick fix diets.  I cannot tell you how much I despise the weight loss industry; I feel as though it preys on the vulnerable and by no means adheres to its promises to make you thin.  If it was that easy there would be no weight loss industry would there? Think about it…

While looking for summer inspiration I found some pretty shocking stuff, one website claimed to help you lose 20lb in a week, the key, to survive on a mere 400 calories a day and cut out exercise.  The mind boggles.  Yes, by doing this the weight on the scales will drop of and yes you may hit your ‘goal weight’ in no time at all but as soon as you drag your weak self onto that plane and binge on as many Cadbury fingers and Pringles as you can, you will find yourself getting to your destination heavier then when you started and at the very least extremely bloated which is never a good look, you see, your body is not designed to lose that amount of weight so quickly.

This got me thinking.  Now, I don’t advocate fad diets or quick fixes.  My philosophy is; maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly, avoid processed food as much as possible and drink water. However I know for many of you, myself included at this time of year do not find this information helpful.  So I have decided to see exactly how realistic it can be to transform your body in just two weeks.  I say transform because I hate using the term lose weight.  Losing weight as many of you know is not necessarily a good thing, in fact in the past two months I have lost 3lb yet my clothes are tighter and my stomach and thighs much more wobbly.  This is due to a loss in muscle mass and an increase in fat.  So over the next two weeks I will be adhering to a strict plan while maintaining a balanced diet and exercise as I want to show that it can be done without resorting to drastic measures and is more likely to be sustainable in the long term.  I have no intention of counting calories and for the purpose of this will not be counting my macros as I know that for others this is not possible so I will be undertaking a realistic lifestyle.  I want to make it as simple as possible.  I cannot predict the results but I know that regardless of any weight loss of muscle tone that I will at the very least go away feeling better in myself and with a healthy gut, however I am fairly confident that I will see a difference.

I will keep this blog updated with pictures, meals and exercises that I undertake.  Now it is pretty strict and, due to the narrow time window there is no room for any cheat meals unfortunately.  However if this was to be done more long term then, along with regular exercise this could be incorporated.  The important things to remember are the following:

Always have breakfast

Drink plenty of water and steer clear of fruit juices

Avoid processed foods (a good way to think of this is if it has a barcode be vary wary of its content)

Stay clear of refined sugar and dairy

Eat white meat or fish with both lunch and dinner (or a vegetarian/vegan alternative).

Eat at least two types of veg with both lunch and dinner (this provides plenty of fibre, vitamins, and minerals and keeps you nice and full).

Try to avoid snacking, if you feel like you need to then have some berries/ nuts / seeds or a protein shake. 

Most importantly: Don’t get hungry! If you’re feeling hungry you are not eating enough at meal times!

And last of all, here I am on day one.  

How do you plan to get fit for holiday? I would love to hear about your progress and about your healthy tips for feeling fabulous when away :)


Saturday, 27 June 2015

Healthy homemade guacamole

One thing I do not have much of, is time; another thing I have even less of is avocados.  I am aware of the many health benefits that they possess however cannot seem to get on with them.  I have tried them in many forms and still find myself throwing away at least half.  My main issue is with the consistency, it reminds me far too much of bananas but minus the delicious sweet flavour that I expect when I bite into one.

So the other day when thinking of something quick, easy and nutritious to have to dinner I began to think of guacamole.  I used to love buying packets of this and dipping in warm pitta breads, but since trying to avoid processed food of this kind I completely forgot about the enjoyment I got out of it. I then remembered the key ingredient used in this dip, avocado!  So in true ness style I looked into other favourable additions to accompany the avocado and got to whipping up my own version.

Now this took all in all about five minute to prepare and make, which is fantastic because as much as I love to eat, I am less happy about the preparation that is involved in cooking, especially when I am still struggling to get out the mindset of just cutting open a packet and turning the microwave dial.

I had mine with basic sweet potato wedges, which I made by chopping the sweet potato into chunks, drizzling some olive oil on top with some seasoning and putting in the oven for about 20 minutes. However it would go well with any kind of chopped veg, or as a butter alternative to spread on bread. 

I am still not convinced I have got over my aversion to avocados, but I am on the right track to getting their healthy fats into my diet.


This recipe makes two fairly large portions.

Two soft avocados (I used large organic ones)

Two limes (one if you are not a great fan of lime)

Five cherry tomatoes (more if preferred).

One tablespoon of olive oil

Salt (I use Himalayan pink mountain salt for the mineral benefits)

Chilli flakes (or you could chop fresh chilli if you aren’t as lazy as myself)




Cut the avocados in half, remove the stone and scoop out the middle

Mash the avocados with a fork to form a paste (the riper the avocado, the easier this is).

Chop the cherry tomatoes into tiny chunks

Add the juice of the limes to your avocados

Stir in the remaining ingredients

Separate into two bowls and enjoy!

I would suggest that this will only keep for a couple of days in the fridge and make sure it’s covered.


I would love you to share with me any other recipes using avocados that I could use.  Next up chocolate avocado mousse ©


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Couch to 10K

I have always admired people who run, not just because of their sheer motivation after what is often a hard day’s work but also their apparent ability to jog to the end of the street without their lungs closing up, something which I have always found issue with.

I have, during several phases in my life tried to take up the activity, both on the street and in the gym.  However never got past the three minute mark, despite encouragement from friends and personal trainers I found it near impossible mainly due to breathing difficulties.

Why am I writing this?

I am currently ‘training’ (I use this term loosely) for my first 10k race, in actual fact it is my first ever Race.  I understand the frustration of people who struggle with this hobby and who have convinced themselves that they will never get further then the garden gate without gasping for air, I too was in this category and still worry that I may not make it to the finish line.  Now I am no runner, and by no means make myself out to be one , which makes this challenge I set myself all the more surprising, especially as I have been trying, unsuccessfully for almost 10 years to get somewhere, all be it very slowly.  At times I think I would get to my destination much quicker had I walked however for the first time ever I feel like I am making progress.  Over the past 5 months I have developed my own formula for success as opposed to following more experienced runners.   Have put together my own list of points to follow to help people to find their own level and work towards a goal personal to them, whether it is to get the ¼ mile around the local park to competing in a half marathon or more!

1)      Set goals

To begin with, make your goals smart, something realistic and achievable in a time span that doesn’t feel too far-fetched.  It is all well and good planning to run a marathon in 3 months but when you can’t get further then 2 laps of the playing field by the end of the week it is very easy to give up.  If you are a complete beginner, aim for 1k a month to minimise pressure.

2)      Dress to impress

You don’t need to go out and spend £100’s on the latest funning gear but you need to be comfortable.  I have seen people running in jeans and work style shoes and I feel sweaty just looking at them.  I wear Lycra leggings and a breathable top with a zip up jacket in cooler weather, although tracksuit bottoms or shorts are fine.  Make sure the waist band does not slide down, the last thing you want to do is have to keep stopping to pull them up.  If you’re looking to treat yourself I like the choices in H&M although the supermarkets have some good options. 

In terms of trainers you don’t need to fork out £200 on design your own running shoes but make sure they are comfortable and suit your foot shape, which you can have assessed in most sport shops.  Optional extras I find help me is my Velcro IPhone strap, good clip on headphones (there’s nothing worse than them falling out my ears!) and an elasticated hairband to keep my fringe out the way.

3)      Slowly and surely.

The best piece of advice I ever received regarding running was to go slow! Sounds easy enough but until this I had no idea just how much I was pushing myself unnecessarily to go fast.  It’s very easy, especially when running outdoors to worry that people will judge your speed but forget them, focus on yourself and remember everyone started somewhere.  Start so slow you feel you may stop then when you feel yourself lagging, slow down again, try not to stop unless you really need to and if you do walk at a quick pace.  This is much better at reaching your goal then running full tilt for a minute before collapsing and feeling like a failure.

4)      Remember this – everyone looks stupid running!

Look through your local sport events pictures and you will see that even the most experienced athletes pull the most ridiculous facial expressions when running.  Stop worrying about others and focus on yourself, your health and achieving your goals.  If you are still concerned, find a quiet place to start even if it requires a short drive to get to.   I started by going round my block in the evening and now I run down the duel carriageway without a care.  I find listening to my favourite music loudly helps me focus.

5)      Set aside a time

It’s so easy to get distracted with the hustle and bustle of daily life so that is why it is important to set aside a time to complete your run.  Start with two times a week.  Don’t get caught up in going all out five days in a row then giving up when the reality kicks in.

A quote I saw the other day that I liked was ‘someone busier then you is running right now’

6)      Food for fuel.

I’m not saying go on a special diet but one thing you should take into account in the lead to up a run, be it a race in a week or a jog later in the day is what you eat.  I speak from experience when I say running on a belly full of biscuits is not a good idea, nor is it good to go for a run when you haven’t eaten all day.  Make sure you eat good quality carbohydrates that you can digest with ease.  I eat my main meal for lunch which usually consists of white meat with either a potato (sweet or white) or cauliflower rice,  I  sometimes have a Medjool date brownie for an afternoon snack which I find gives me enough fuel to go for an evening run.  Ideally run prior to your last meal as time needs to be given to digest beforehand and you are more likely to find an excuse not to go if you are lethargic after a meal.

Finally just go with it, run at a pace that’s good for you and think it of some you time to let go of the stress of the day.  

       I would love to hear about your experiences and any tips and to anyone looking to start running,  best of luck :)


Monday, 22 June 2015

Spicy cauliflower rice

I adore rice, I could happily have it with every meal and after seeing my portion size gradually increase daily I decided that an alternative is needed.

I had heard of various cauliflower recipes however never bothered to try one out, partially because I don't advocate cutting out carbs drastically and partially because, well, I don't like cauliflower and have never felt the need to include it in my diet.
However after hearing so many good reviews and being assured that the rice does not taste like veg I decided to give it a go.

Once again I pulled up some ideas online and in books and failed to adhere to any of them, opting for my own version of a spicy rice.

I understand there are different methods of cooking, I found that drizzling on some olive oil and putting it in the ovan works a treat.
Here is what I did.

Makes about 4 portions, although its so nutritious that you could opt for double portions completely guilt free.

One cauliflower
One pepper
About 7 mushrooms
Two cloves of garlic
Chili flakes (as much or as little as you like)

Begin by removing the leaves from the cauliflower and cutting off the florets. Try not to use the stalks.
Add to a food processor and pulse until it forms rice like pieces before removing and adding to a bowl.
Chop the pepper and mushrooms and do the same.
Add chili flakes, paprika, finely chopped garlic and any other spices you like before stirring.
When you want to cook use a spoon to add the desired portion to a small baking tray.
Spread thinly and evenly
Drizzle on some olive oil and combine.
Place in oven for 10 mins (200 degrees) stirring once half way through.

If you don't own a food processor then grating the cauliflower works just as well, just aim to chop any extras into small pieces.

I would love to know if you try this recipe and what you think.  Have you got any delicious recopies to share? Enjoy :)


Simple breakfast- overnight oats

Since discovering this quick and easy recipe a couple of weeks ago, I am hooked. I struggle to find nutritious meals that don't require 1000 ingredients and several hours of preparation, so when I tried these and made some adjustments to suit my taste its become a firm favourite breakfast of mine.
There are lots of different recipes online for this but here is mine, change it to suit.

75g oats
150ml liquid (I love coconut milk as it makes it taste like a sweet pudding)
Fruit (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and chopped banana work well)
Sprinkle of cinnamon

A good ratio to use is one part oats to two parts liquid.
I use rolled oats although you can use gluten free

Mix the oats and liquid well, it is best to use an air tight container such as a jar.

Most online recipes tell you to add the fruit in the morning, however I find that mixing it in with the oats and milk the night before gives it time to blend nicely.

Place in the fridge and enjoy the next day with an optional dollop of greek yoghurt.

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