Keeping Fit for Summer

Hey Sweeties,

Now that the summer evenings are lighter, there is nothing nicer than after a long day in the office, to be able to come home and get out in the fresh air for an hour or so -however long time allows before the sun sets.

Before Ian and I moved house last July, I had the most beautiful scenic route for walks and runs around the back lanes of the village which, from initial appearance of our new location, never imagined it could be matched. I was wrong, a mere mile or so up the road we have the beauty of the Thames overflow river, home to tons of wildlife and perfect for quick evening walks and runs or longer strolls at weekends.

Thames Overflow

River Thames

I can’t remember if I mentioned on here last year about my work’s Step Challenge -a virtual walk from London HQ to our Copenhagen office to raise money for The British Heart Foundation? Although our partnership with the BHF has now come to an end and we have begun working with The Prince’s Trust, the Step Challenge is back on! For one month, in teams of six we have each pledged to complete 10,000 steps a day (or as close as possible), to support our team to reach the final destination first. Rather than London to Copenhagen, this year we’re ‘walking’ Copenhagen to (and around) the rest of the Nordic region; 848 miles/1,790,976 steps!

The fundraising aside, this is a fantastic work-based initiative and raises awareness of how easily it is to sit at your desk all day and not move except for the occasional tea/coffee run. To date I have been extrememley lucky with where I have worked on the basis of location. In my last office we were situated on a little country lane and also had an amazing forest at the end of the road. In my current workplace, a short walk out of the business park and through a housing estate and we have a beautiful canal to walk along so for that lunchtime break there really is no excuse to not get out for a bit… unless it’s raining, that’s a justified excuse I guess.

ISS-Steppers

Last year you’ll also remember (possibly), at this time training was well underway for the X Runner Water Wipeout Challenge (here) and the Yorkshire Three Peaks (here) I had signed up for. This summer, aside from the step challenge that is already in progress, I haven’t yet signed up for anything to provide a focus to my training. Not that I definitely need one, but I think it always helps to have something to work towards so I’ll be keeping an eye out for any local events that might be worth participating in.

Sometimes, the last thing you want to do -despite the health benefits- is go out after you have come in from work and that is where the step challenge has its drawbacks; if you haven’t met the 10,000 daily step target you have to go out, but in equal measure has it’s perks as it forces me to get off my arse and out exercising. I am someone that loves to keep active and fit (as you know) and I am definitely so much happier when I feel fitter but even I have my lazy days and need motivating to move myself! For me, amongst other things, exercising is my number one stress reliever hence why I enjoy playing hockey so much; after a long day I have a good runaround and burn some energy.

What are you guys doing to keep fit and healthy at the moment?

Until next time x

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Lucy Mecklenburgh Body Beautiful Book Review

Be Body Beautiful

Hey Sweeties,

You’ll remember from my post a couple of weeks back (The Fitness Plan) that I had recently purchased Body Beautiful by Lucy Mecklenburgh. I mentioned that although I wouldn’t say that I am a fan of hers, I do admire her success and that she is her own boss creating (and running) two businesses. I also do admire her drive for fitness and healthy living so of all the books of this type out there, I figured hers might be worth a read.

The book is divided into seven chapters: My Journey – Motivate – Nourish – Energize – The Recipes – Transform – A Healthy, Happy New You.

The book I think is a great mixture of Lucy’s story, healthy recipes and exercise plans as well as the right level of motivation to get you up out of your seat and setting out to achieve what Lucy and her team are encouraging readers to do, particularly those that aren’t keen on gyms. As someone that already exercises and eats well or at least, a moderate diet, maybe I am the wrong person to be reviewing the book as to be honest I am not in a postion to need to try out the plans…yet! But, you only have to look at Instagram or Twitter to read and see evidence that Lucy’s advice not only works, people are championing it and openly sharing their love for the book and their new, svelte figures and lifetyles.

Be Body Beautiful

For me, I actually really enjoyed reading about Lucy’s life, particularly where she has come from and how she ended up on The Only Way is Essex (TOWIE). She spoke about her life to provide a context to why she has gone down a path of health and fitness and not be like every other celebrity releasing their autobiography before they have actually really done anything. Lucy’s point of view was actually quite refreshing and although she did on occassion tread thinly on making being a size 12 seem fat, she did well to drive home the point about your body being yours and you know when you’re not at your best. A size 12 isn’t fat but on some petite frames such sizes can appear big so she does have a point… sort of.

Be Body Beautiful

I have yet to try out some of the recipes supplied in the book, particularly the smoothies which for the most part look delicious, but while we’re still in the midst of winter, this is something I’ll come back to and try out once the weather turns warmer and the evenings lighter and my exercise plan adapts and increases. If it didn’t cost the best part of £500 I would also actually be quite keen to attend one of Lucy’s Booty Camps…

The only thing that actually really irritated me throughout the book was the American use of the letter ‘Z’ in replacement of ‘S’ (hense the above chapter ‘Energize’ instead of energise). Really annoying. But as that is really the only fault I can find and feel the need to mention, I think you can be assured that this book recieves my seal of approval and purchasing it yourself certainly wouldn’t be money wasted.

Until next time x

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This Girl Can campaign by Sports England

This Girl Can

Hey Sweeties,

Call me late to the party for waiting until now to mention it (that’s blog scheduling for you!) but how great is the This Girl Can campaign by Sport England?

For those who haven’t seen it, here’s the advert currently crossing the air waves.

 

The most hilarious thing I have heard (on the radio) about this campaign is that this advert is sexist. SEXIST?! How on earth is this campaign sexist? It shows real women getting out there and doing their thing; it’s nothing other than fantastic. If this campaign used skinny framed, big boobed, highly attractive women in full makeup then you might have an argument. But it doesn’t. End of.

Through these Sunday Chat posts, I have spoken about confidence and about the benefits of doing something new amongst other things and I feel that the This Girl Can campaign is only but adding to this group of posts as well as the messages and advice I myself am trying to pass on to you, Sweeties.

(For a bit of context) Sport England following research, identified that there are 2 million fewer women than men doing sport/keeping active for fear of well… essentially not looking their best in front of others and feeling a bit self conscious which is crazy but as a woman who does exercise and keeps active, I can totally relate! Last spring/summer, I started going out for runs/jogs in the evenings  and where Ian and I used to live, I could do a really good circuit that took me round the back of the village; it was beautiful, scenic but more importantly, I could exercise away from the glare of others, it was private and I was alone.

As you all know I play hockey and this involves training once a week with a mixed group of people (men and women) and then a match at the weekends. I don’t worry about wearing no makeup as aside from the unattractiveness of makeup running down your face when you get hot and sweaty, mascara in your eyes owing to said sweating, stings like hell! My ‘fear’ is actually not performing well in front of others. I am better in matches because the adrenaline of the game takes over and you haven’t got time to think about anything except for the game at hand but in training, when it’s perfectly acceptable to make mistakes… that’s when I worry. Truth is, I don’t enjoy the games… well that’s a lie, I do enjoy the games and I love the training sessions, I just do a fantastic job of psyching myself out of them until the hour before. It’s ridiculous but at the moment I am just going through a stage of having an incredible lack of confidence in my abilities. I am also still finding my place within a new group of people and that’s always a factor with these things.

But every woman is different and ‘the fear’ that the campaign is trying to both raise and tackle will be different for everyone. Some may love gyms and don’t worry about sweating, but the thought of exercising alone is unthinkable and vice versa. For me, the thought of never playing hockey again fills me with dread so I put my confidence issues aside and just go for it and I think everyone reading this should do too!

Until next time x

PS.

30.01.2015: I have nothing against Company Magazine as I am sure they mean well but this kind of content from women’s publications drives me mad! It also goes almost completely against the above campaign! Working out is not about looking good while doing it; it’s ok to sweat and look a mess! I love their point regarding wearing waterproof mascara on the off chance you catch the attention of the Personal Trainer… because that is of course why women go to the gym. Man alive!

Company Magazine

Yes I commented back to them…!

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The Fitness Plan

Hey Sweeties,

It’s not really a resolution, but it is certainly up there in my goals this year and that is to keep getting fitter and healthier.

I have always generally been in shape and healthy in my diet and lifestyle but from time to time, as it does with everyone, things slip for a number of reasons. For me, several years ago now I put on a couple of stone while I lived in London after moving out as I found those two years hard and I struggled a bit with depression. But then I split up with my long term then boyfriend not long after moving to University and two stone just disappeared off of me without me even realising and I maintained that for the next 2-3 years or so. It’s only when seeing a photo of myself in 2013 at a wedding did I suddenly realise I had allowed myself to get a little chunky again and with another wedding to attend 6-8 weeks away, I needed to do something about it and fast.

I have never really dieted and to be honest I wouldn’t as I think fundamentally keeping healthy is about eating in moderation and  exercising. I think if you ban yourself from sweet things then that craving is only going to get worse, you need a plan that is sustainable and without too much sacrifice but making it fun and enjoyable where possible.

Usually, I would disapprove of these shake based diets as I just think that once you have finished the course you will just put everything lost back on again once you resume eating three meals a day. However, I think if you are someone like me that needed a jolt and a kick into a new healthier lifestyle and something that would show results quickly, then for 3 months or so, shakes are ok and I learnt this during that summer of 2013. Without sounding like I am being sponsored to say this ( I am not btw), I had a friend on a shakes diet called, Juice Plus and with some light persuading I gave it a go and over the course of 2-3 months following the plan provided, I shifted over a stone and have since lost the rest with my own efforts. So it can work.

Now, following a year of training for two challenges that required a good level of fitness to complete (X-Runner Water Wipeout & the Yorkshire 3 Peaks), playing hockey and eating well amongst other things, I now can be confident in living and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. But I can’t let things slip…

This year I am Maid of Honour at my best friend’s wedding and God forbid I ruin the photos not feeling my best, and in October I am going on the trip of a lifetime –Trek America– of which it’s going to be two weeks spent in shorts and t-shirts while participating in a number of activities and memory making.

The Fitness Plan

Using the left over Tesco vouchers at Christmas I bought myself the Breville Blend Active to start incorporating smoothies into my diet; these will be great particularly over the summer. I will obviously be continuing hockey until the season ends in March-April when I then hope to start running again. I also recently picked up Lucy Mecklenburgh’s Be Body Beautiful. She is not someone I am a particularly big fan of, but I admire her success with her two businesses and I am willing to follow some of her fitness advice. I would also this year like to give Yoga and/or Pilates a try…

What are your health and fitness goals?

Until next time x

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Completing the Yorkshire Three Peaks

Hey Sweeties,

I completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks –yippee!

It was an extremely tough event, both physically but more so mentally and I’ll be honest, despite on reflection being really proud of myself and glad I participated, I didn’t enjoy it on the day as much as I thought I would. The first 10 miles or so were fine and after the first peak we were all like, “this will be easy” but as the ‘walk’ progressed we realised it wasn’t going to be quite the walk in the park like we thought.

Ready to set off!

Ready to set off!

Many years ago now, when I was a wee teen, I completed the Ten Tors –a 35, 45 or 55 mile expedition across Dartmoor covering (you guessed it) 10 tors. Unfortunately when I was training, Foot and Mouth swept across the countryside wiping out practically everything as well as access to the moors therefore the event that year was cancelled. So when I should have been training and completing the 45 mile expedition, I actually in the end did only the 35 but it was honestly one of the best experiences of my life to date! It was so much fun and I met some great people, it was just a totally fab experience. Fast forward 10 years and although I am still as enthusiastic for such events, my body isn’t and it reminded me of this over the 3 Peaks weekend. I haven’t got the best knees and going up and down incredibly steep terrain really wasn’t the most pleasant of times. Come the 3rd peak two of us had kind of had enough and just wanted to go home as we were in a lot of discomfort so limped the last couple of hours to the finish by which point we were so stiff it was agony to do anything.

The first peak loomed but was a mere breeze compared to Peaks 2&3!

The first peak loomed but was a mere breeze compared to Peaks 2&3!

Whernside

Enroute to Whernside (2nd Peak) which is covered by the cloud

But I still did it; I still climbed each of the Yorkshire Three Peaks and all within the 12 hour target. The team set off at 06:33am and crossed the finish line between 5-5:30pm so probably close to just under 11 hours from start to finish which is a long time! We rarely stopped and if we did it was to grab a quick breather for 5 minutes before continuing so it was all in all, a very long day of walking. I thought to be honest we’d be home a lot sooner but I completely did not appreciate the scale of the peaks which are not just big hills, they are in fact small mountains and also I am not quite as spritely in my energy as I was during my Ten Tor days! Would I do the event again? Probably not. My heart still says yes but I have to listen to my body. If I had the moors or the dales on my doorstep then things would be different as I would be used to the terrain but around here in the south east, there is nothing of the sort to train on so even with the best intentions it’s just not a practical event to do again without better preparation.

Yorkshire Dales

Viaduct

On a far happier note, for my efforts I raised an amazing £215 for the British Heart Foundation, a total I never thought I would achieve but I had some fantastic support from friends, family and colleagues that donated generously and if you’re reading this now thank you! I apologise that the experience isn’t something I can be jollier about but on Claireysweetie.com I keep it real and the truth is that the Yorkshire Three Peaks was a very tough challenge!

1st peak

2nd Peak

3rd Peak

That now completes though my two summer challenges that I set for myself earlier this year and have now achieved –go me! Despite the bruising (I am definitely going to lose a toe nail in the near future!), I achieved my goals and got fitter, lost weight and raised a decent amount of money for two great causes –Yateley Hockey Club and the BHF. It just goes to show that if you set your mind to something and you’re dedicated, you can achieve anything! Go for it, Sweeties!!

Until next time x

 

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