Be The Best You Wanna Be (with Pretty Little Thing)

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Over the last couple of months I've been thinking a lot about my relationship with exercise, and crucially what I need to do to achieve my goals. Right now I'm working hard on building solid foundations for some big challenges next year and getting lots of rest. It isn't a particularly glam time, but it works for me, and crucially it's helping me get where I want to be. However, it's not been an easy road getting to a place where I have the confidence to do my own thing. We live in a world full of noise about 'pushing your limits' and the obsessive rhetoric around fitness can be stifling. With all that going on it can be easy to slip in to habits where you start overlooking your own goals and doing things because you think you should, not because they're helping you to get where you want to be! Or worse, you feeling guilty because you don't feel like you match up to those around you. So how do you avoid getting sucked into that vacuum and focus on being the best that you wanna be? 

1. Get Support - I would be lost without support, and I am lucky enough to have a coach who keeps me focused on my own goals and encourages me to make choices that serve them. I appreciate coaching isn't an option for everyone, but finding someone you trust who can remind you of the bigger picture right when you need it most can be invaluable, whether it's your partner, best mate or even your Mum. 

2. spring clean social media - I love Instagram, but I also make sure that I'm only following positive, realistic accounts that don't distract me from what I need to be doing for myself. Think about who you follow, does their approach to exercise align with your own? If it doesn't stop following them, and save yourself the risk of feeling guilty if you don't perceive you match up. 

3. you do you - grab a notebook and a pen and write down not just your goals, but also why they are your goals. I remember ages ago I was at goal setting workshop where one of the facilitators said that the first time she wrote goals herself she put down 'run a half marathon'. Now she had no interest in running, she just wrote it down because she felt like she should, it was what everyone else was doing. Unsurprisingly she never achieved this goal! The process of achieving a goal should make you feel good, so challenge yourself and ask why you're saying you want to achieve what you've said you'll do. If you can't answer the question honestly, and with passion, bets are it shouldn't be your goal. 

4. change your perception of rest - I remember listening to Chrissie Wellington talk about her transition to pro triathlete and her shock that much of her time was spent watching box sets when she wasn't training. However, when you think about it, it makes sense! Your body needs time to adapt to the changes it's going to, and to stay injury free you need to work slowly and allow lots of time to recover. While this can be harder than it sounds, I've found that by reframing rest as part of my training (and investing in a few good box sets to keep me busy) I've become much more comfortable with taking time out.

5. know the science - do you know why you're doing the exercises that you're doing? Learning about the theory behind the workout can be a great way to put your training into context, and stop the temptation of slipping off to do something that seems more exciting, glamorous or Instagram-able. Take the time to do your research, speak to your trainer or coach and understand how each move fits into the bigger picture. 

Finally, choose not to feel guilty. Yeah you might miss a session. Yes you may not be drenched in sweat after a gym session. Heck, people may even question what it is exactly you are doing. But if you're true to yourself and your goals in the long run you'll achieve more than you could ever imagine. 

** This post is in partnership with Pretty Little Thing and they provided me with this great outfit, but all opinions are my own

Active Date: Rock Climbing

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One of the things that Mike and I agreed when we moved in with each other was that we'd continue to make time for date night. However much the term 'date night' makes me cringe, it's become a bit of an institution in our relationship. When I was studying, and with Mike working weekends, we had to make the effort to spend time together. Now we live together it would be pretty easy to fall into a routine where we mostly talk about whether the bins need to be taken out. So date night is the solution. Time to hangout together, chat about things that aren't garbage...ok, well some of it is garbage. To keep the garbage conversation to a minimum we like dates where we do stuff, yep sometimes that means drinks and dinner, but we also like to get a bit more creative. A couple of weeks ago Mike and I were invited down to WestWay climbing centre for a 90 minute introduction in climbing session and we decided to make a date night of it. 

Turns out climbing is the ideal date. Learning a new skill together is a great way to bond with someone, especially if neither of you are sure what you're doing! Although I have climbed before it's been awhile, and what Mike lacked in experience he made up for in knowledge of knots, so we were on a pretty even footing - because of course these things are a competition. 

Our session started with a safety briefing and before we knew it we were climbing our first wall. The first one is the scary one, and it's a test of trust - Mike was my belay, and while I knew there were safety mechanisms in place, I also had to trust him. If that's not good for a relationship I don't know what is.  A few walls down and we both found our groove, while Mike surprised himself and scurried up some of the high walls, I was more into the bouldering walls where you navigate lower walls free from ropes. What can I say, I trust my body more than I trust ropes! 

WestWay is huge, around every corner there was to be a different wall to explore and the place was buzzing. A crucial element of date night is a good atmosphere, you don't want anything killing your vibe, and WestWay delivered. Plus the music was banging. That's also an important part of a good date night! Walking home I had the biggest smile, I'd spent the evening doing something fun with with the person I like the best, and that is what the perfect date night should be. 

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** Thanks to Everyone Active for inviting Mike and I to climb at WestWay, all opinion my own. 

How to Have a Healthyish Christmas

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Is it just me, or does life right now feel like one big party?! Last weekend we went to two Christmas get togethers, and next weekend we'll be hitting another two. Then there are work festive parties, family gatherings and impromptu trips to the pub (and Fortnum's champagne bar!) - this time of year is a marathon, not a sprint! So how do you get a little balance at a time when excess is very much the norm? Last week I caught up with the dynamic duo that is Wellness Ed and Wellness Ted at Lululemon Regent Street to hear their thoughts on having a healthy-ish Christmas - because if anyone knows balance it's these two. 

Fitness

Exercise at Christmas is all about listening to your body and feeling good - if you're mega hungover a HITT workout probably isn't the best idea, just think about all the things that could go wrong when you shake up a dodgy stomach! Instead switch it up and go for some nice low intensity, steady state movement instead (aka mindless podcast pace). In fact, if you're drowning in a hangover it's probably best just to stay home and rest up, alcohol slows down muscle growth and recovery, so you could end up doing yourself more harm than good. 

No time to train? Work more movement in to every day life - get off the tube early and walk to work, take the stairs, dance your ass off at the work Christmas party - every little helps. Oh and you could always run home from your night out...

Drinking

We've all done it, gone on a night out promising ourselves we'd alternate drinks being sure to glug down a pint of water between every shot and it never ever happens. The solution? Don't try. Well ok, drink in moderation, but try vodka lime and soda (alcohol and hydration in one!), skip the shots and sugary cocktails (all of the empty calories), and get expensive taste in wine (if you order a nice drink you'll make it last longer, maybe). 

Ok, so it's not really about drinking, but socialising is good for your mental health, and you will definitely regret the nights you stay in nursing a green juice rather than heading out to hangout with your crew. It's also worth remembering drinking is optional, there are some fab soft options (Fentiman's Rose Lemonade is amazing) if you feel like having a night off. 

Have a hangover? Coffee and asprine are your friends, and Ted advocates staying in bed as long as possible, willing it to end. And an egg McMuffin if you get up early enough (a double cheese burger if you don't).

Eating

Oh Christmas, the season of eating all of the food! Bottom line, if over indulgence makes you feel bad, then don't do it, but if you want to fill your boots then why not! After all, Christmas is all about Christmas dinner. Plus if you put on a bit of weight then you've got a year of Transformation Tuesday pictures ready to go (kidding!!). 

If you are after some balance (particularly when you feel a little delicate) there are a few things you can do. Try your best to listen to your body and give it a fighting chance by prepping food in advance when you know the day is going to be a struggle (stash breakfast and lunch in the work fridge - not only will you have something good to eat, you also won't have to go far to get it! Be sure to lick it before you shove it in there). Really fancy a takeaway, but already had a few treats, try a fake-away for the junk food hit without the junk food - the Food Medic's fish and parsnip chips were raved about, Joe Wick's apparently does an excellent breaded chicken and home made pizza for the win! 

Bottom line, wellness is not just about green juice and veggies, it's about doing what makes you feel good. Christmas is a a special time, it's a celebration and an event, the get togethers around Christmas are what make us feel good and it would be a shame to miss out just because mince pies aren't exactly nutritionally dense, they will make you super happy! 

What are your tips for having a healthy-ish Christmas?