FitBits - fitness for fun and wellbeing: January 2016


Sunday, 24 January 2016

Boobs, body image and barriers to exercise

When I was growing up I hated my body. 

I, like lots of other girls, carried a few extra pounds (still do now), and used to hide under baggy jeans and t shirts. I was a tomboy. Backwards caps, BMXing and big baggy clothes were the norm (not much has changed actually, apart from swapping BMXing for mountain biking). 

I avoided PE like the plague and only wore skirts and dresses when made to by my mum. I hated having my photo taken, so used to pull stupid faces - which of course made me look far worse than I ever could had I just smiled. 

I lived in hoodies and jeans, even in the height of summer. If I took my hoodie or coat off, I'd sit with it laid across my legs, hiding my tummy, because I couldn't let anyone see my belly. I didn't ever wear flipflops or sandals until I was in my mid 20s because I hated my feet. 

Basically, me and my body weren't mates.

Reading Festival 2002: we got the train up straight after picking up our GCSE results. You will never know how hot I was sat there in a fucking hoodie and jeans in that heat. 

Every now and then I'd get angry with myself and embark on a new 'fat plan' - often setting myself really unrealistic fitness goals and daily exercises, only to fail after a couple of days.

Click here to see one of the many 'fat plans' I  
scrawled in an old diary...

Before I carry on - don't get me wrong - I'm not telling you any of this for sympathy - I had a brilliant childhood and great teenage years. I had lots of fun, made loads of friends and did well at school.

I just had massive hangups with my body, as I'm sure lots of women and girls still do right now, and if we can talk about them openly and try to help those going through the same thing that can only be a good thing, right?

The big issue: B( . )( . )BS

It's still going on, too.

New research completed by the University of Portsmouth has found that almost half of teenage girls are avoiding exercise because of body worries and ill-fitting bras that cause pain and embarrassment. 

More than 2,000 school girls aged 11 to 17 years took part in the study, which found that over half of them never wore a sports bra and were embarrassed about getting changed for sport, breast bounce during exercise and breast pain.  

I totally get this - I used to hate getting changed for PE at school - 
so I stopped going. 

Professor Joanna Scurr, who leads the research group, said: "Previous studies of adult women have shown time and again that the same concerns are directly responsible for women no longer taking part in sport or exercise."

With 90% of 14-year old girls in the UK not doing enough exercise to meet government recommended guidelines, it's time to start talking about our bodies, getting the right kit and education into breast health, and encouraging more young women into sport.

We need sports bra fittings and more education on the correct kit to exercise in - like a gait analysis for breasts. Never underestimate the power of feeling comfortable in your own skin.

Because, really:

True story...

Live on BBC Sussex Breakfast

On Friday morning I was invited onto BBC Sussex to discuss the issue and share my own personal experiences.

As This Girl Can Ambassador for Sussex, it's something I feel really strongly about as I know that if only I saw my body then like I do now - a machine to do the things I love to do - run, cycle, swim, box - rather than be so preoccupied with how I looked, I might've got into running and sport a lot younger. 

You can find out more about the research here and listen again to my interview on BBC Sussex for the next 27 days by clicking the radio player below - skip to 2hr43

I'd really love to know your thoughts and experiences on this so please come back and share in the comments!


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Saturday, 16 January 2016

When only a run will do


It doesn't happen the same with anything else.

When I'm swimming, I don't suddenly feel amazing half way through. When I'm boxing I'm the most knackered I've ever been, but the rush doesn't come until I'm done.

When I'm cycling it kind of happens, but it has to be a long challenging ride on some proper beautiful roads or trails. 

With running, it's different.

It takes me about 20minutes to really warm up but once I do and if all goes to plan, there comes a point when everything just works. 

FitBits | Why I love running

Do you know that feeling? 


When your body is like an engine and it just keeps turning. 

You look down at your watch and see that your 'comfy' pace is faster than usual. 

Your legs and breathing are in perfect sync and your mind can wander effortlessly.  

You soak up the endorphins and smile to passersby, stopping to take photos because it's all just too beautiful. 

Until you get a fucking blister and it shits all over your flow. 


I was gonna go swimming today, then I looked outside. There are some days when only a run will do, and this was one of them. I've been doing lots of shorter, faster, harder runs recently, and whilst they've been great sessions, I can't say I've been excited about getting up or out for them. 

But, I think it's starting to pay off. 

FitBits | Brighton sunrise behind West Pier

This week I did the Sweatshop hills session taking on some of Brighton's finest beasts. It was the first time I've ran hills in a long time, and it was as hard and brilliant as it needed to be. Friday was another 6:30am 10k of intervals, and it was freezing, and epic and awesome, with the most beautiful sunrise reward I've EVER seen. 

I stood there for 20 minutes after my run with no gloves on just to watch it happen and capture it on camera. It took me two hours to warm up again, but who cares. Got this cool timelapse video on my Instagram. 

Today I was meant to rest the legs, but I couldn't wait to get out the door, and it's those feelings that make running so special. I see the most beautiful things when I'm running. Feel all sorts of happy and content. Meet so many new people on lots of mini adventures. 

Nothing compares. Running's the one.

FitBits | Starling murmuration over Brighton beach

Although just to put a shitter on it right now my legs are screaming for the foam roller as my body gets used to running regularly again. 

It's good to be back though, I knew a few weeks of consistency would be rewarded in the end. 

This week's playtime looked like this: 

MON Rest day
TUE Boxing 
WED Sweatshop run club - hills
THU Skateboarding 
FRI 6:30am intervals & the most beautiful sunrise I have EVER seen
SAT 8 miles LSR
SUN Probably chill or evening swim* 

What do you love about running? 


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Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Taking on the 2016 Swimathon 5k

FitBits | Brighton sea swimming - Swimathon 2016

With a year of triathlon ahead, what better way to kick it off than 
to take part in the 2016 Sport Relief Swimathon. 

Taking place 18-20 March in pools across the country, the Swimathon is a great event for all abilities, ages and levels of fitness, with the Individual 1.5k, 2.5k or 5k challenges, Team 1.5k and 5k, and SimplySwim for those wanting to spread the distance out over a number of days. I'm excited to be part of this year's Swimathon #BlogSquad along with a few other great bloggers.

Regular readers of this little blog of mine will know that I only learnt to swim in the tail end of 2014, and promptly forgot about it until I signed up for my first triathlon last September. You'll be glad to know I survived to tell the tale and signed up for another one the week after.

I originally wanted to sign up for the Swimathon 1.5k or 2.5k Individual challenge at the iconic London Aquatics Centre, but it's the same weekend as my Ultra White Collar boxing fight so I'll be completing 5k between 9-13 March. SimplySwim is open to competitors between 9-20 March but I want the week before my fight nice and free to prepare.

Thanking the Lord for dry land after my first sea swim/flap last summer


Old dog, new tricks

The latest report from the ASA states that one in three children leave primary school as non-swimmers, and one in four adults today cannot swim either. I was one of those children - and it didn't bother me until I got to adulthood and realised there was a whole world of stuff I couldn't do - including triathlon.

A set of nine weekly beginner lessons at my local pool and lots of flapping about got me to one full length front crawl - have a break - swim another. Repeat. I didn't realise how hard it would be to learn to swim as an adult, and I certainly didn't envisage having to put my triathlon plans on hold another year until I'd got strong enough to swim 400m without stopping.

I did eventually get to 400m, last summer, just in time for the Diamond Tri (race report here). The swim was in open water at Dorney Lake, and I was terrified - but I did it, and once in the water I LOVED it. Falmer Tri was the week after (race report here), with a pool swim and a challenging hilly bike and run. That put me back in my place after a nice, flat course at Dorney.

I want a PB at Falmer this year and in September I'm racing the new
Brighton & Hove Triathlon Sprint distance, with a 750m sea swim.

She says... 

Training for Swimathon will give me a great base to start my weekly sea swims with Brighton Triathlon Race Series and get me strong enough for September.

Best get training - stay tuned for updates!

Sign up for the Sport Relief Swimathon as an individual or part of a team, and find out more about the other bloggers in the #BlogSquad on the 
Swimathon website! 


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Sunday, 10 January 2016

Finding my fit after Christmas

FitBits | Eating healthily in January

I'm on a roll this week. 

After a shaky start going back to work, with tired, watery eyes and relentless caffeine and sugar withdrawal headaches for two days, my body and mind settled back into routine and I'm pleased to say we're both out the other side.

I wanted to go back to work alert, productive and full of energy, and the only way to do that was to get off the coffee and pull the plug on the Fererro Rocher breakfasts and red wine afternoons I'd gotten so used to. (Tell me not to indulge at Christmas at your peril).

It wasn't just the caffeine and chocolate dependency that had to go this week. Chez Agnew is hereby an alcohol free zone, and has been since New Year's Day. We went out for dinner last night without wine and survived to tell the tale. Who knew.  

It's been a week of cleansing, healthy meals (i.e. real food, none of that juice detox BS), and full on fun and escapades getting back on the exercise wagon, ticking off multiple To Do lists along the way.

FitBits | Ladies Ultra White Collar Boxing Brighton


Learning to adult

I've made a start on some of my goals for 2016, having spent all of last Sunday clearing out the bedroom  - yes, it took all day - because apparently I am a MASSIVE HOARDER.

It's amazing the kind of crap I've been keeping hold of 'just in case'. We took a huge laundry bag of clothes and stuff, as well as a box of books to Age UK, and have started on the living room this weekend.

I realised this week that we've lived in Brighton for seven years and in all that time have never had a proper clear out.

That's a whole lotta junk, kids. Most of it mine. Don't tell Chris.   

We also finally went to the bank and opened a Help To Buy ISA (ADULT ALERT), and even bought a new file to sort through our many piles of paperwork cluttering up the flat in an attempt to organise the beautiful mess that we live in.

It's happening - we're both 30 this year. Time to adult.

Or try to ollie, whatever...    


Do all the things :) 

Training-wise, it's been a great week. I love indulging as much as the next person but there's only so much of it I can take. I wrote only three weeks ago about how I was struggling to make running comfortable again but took my own advice and after a week of sucking it up and getting back on it I feel good again.

My body's remembering how to run and my fitness is beginning to fight its way back to the surface from underneath a layer of two months' mostly chill time.

Behold the updated event calendar (added to since the last post as I've confirmed a few more adventures):


As you can probably see I got greedy and have given myself four separate spring events to train for simultaneously, which, for all my sins, could go either way.

I was meant to be going for sub-2 at the half, but I'll see how the next few weeks pan out with the other stuff. I can focus on the running and boxing from now until the fight, picking up cycling and swimming in between as nice cross training in time for the Swimathon SimplySwim to spread out the distance over a few days.

Training for the London Revolution can then ramp up after the fight, and then it's all about sea swimming over the summer to get strong for the tri's. And summer = skateboarding heaven, of course. With the lighter evenings and dryer weather I'll be able to skate more than once a week indoors at the brilliant She Shredders Brighton sessions.

FitBits | Deadmill intervals - Brighton gym
That's not a typo - deadmills - intervals without turning the treadmill on!

THIS is why I didn't wanna do a marathon this year - so I can do ALL THE THINGS :) 

This week's fun and games went a bit like...

MON - Rest day / caffeine headache
TUE - First boxing class since the summer. (Educational to say the least)
WED - 40min progression run
THU - AM: Deadmills and weighted squats at the gym
           PM: Skateboarding
FRI - 10k platform intervals
SAT - parkrun
SUN - Rest / work / blog day :)

Stay tuned to see if my greed and taste for multitasking gets the better of me! 


How's your first week back after Christmas been? 
Are you back in the game yet or still in denial?

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