FitBits - fitness for fun and wellbeing: April 2016


Thursday, 28 April 2016

Where it all began: How I got into fitness

Facebook reminded me of something great yesterday.

On 27th April 2011, I tentatively walked through the door of a popular Zumba class near my house with a friend. I'd heard about Zumba before but assumed it was basically a bunch of old ladies side-stepping to salsa music.

It was the very first exercise class in all of my 25 years' existence, and I spent the whole class three steps behind everyone else, with the grace of a charging elephant, but a grin plastered across my face. Zumba taught me not to give a shit about what I looked like when exercising.

I met some amazing people (like Linda, below), and realised that fitness could actually be fun.

Linda showing us why Zumba's so much fun - and me facing the wrong way AGAIN

It was the beginning of the end. Of the old me, that is - the lazy, podgy smoker whose idea of a healthy breakfast was three cigarettes and a cheese toastie. (Man, I want a cheese toastie now...)

Don't get me wrong - I was by no means unhappy before that Zumba class - I lived in Brighton (still do), had a wonderful boyfriend who I'd loved forever (now husband), and after a couple of years' faffing about in civil service admin jobs had just landed a new job in digital marketing. (I'm now a freelance copywriter and content marketer).

But I was nowhere near as happy as I am now. In life, or in myself.

Learning to breathe again

In the January of 2011, four months before that first Zumba class, I did the best thing I have ever done for myself and finally stopped smoking. Once I did that, I knew I had the will power to stick to a lifestyle change, so I joined Weight Watchers, lost nearly two stone, and when it stopped working (because it always does, why do you think they're still in business?) I started exercising.

Pissed in Prague at 18 with my hubs :) 

It was a bumpy road to start with - I *LOVED* the Zumba classes as they were so much fun (best Zumba classes in the world, no side-stepping, I promise!), but it took a bit longer for me to learn to love the three-month early morning Brighton bootcamp classes I bought to go alongside them. I signed up to lose more weight - to achieve the 'perfect' slim body I'd always wanted. I was gonna stop when I reached my goal.

You can read more of my thoughts on body confidence here, and read my response to being told to put my thighs away

I actually never found that 'perfect' body, and still don't have it now, but somewhere in the middle of all the 7am outdoor kettlebell swings and boxing drills, I signed up to more bootcamp classes with bfit, and fell in love with exercise.

My first ever rainy bootcamp 

It's given me so much more than weight loss. It's taught me to believe in myself, that I can push myself and achieve things I never thought possible - running marathons, becoming a triathlete, stepping into the boxing ring.

It's made me more focused and given me more energy, even when I'm tired and really can't be arsed. It's made me part of a huge, thriving community of runners, triathletes, boxers and fitness addicts in Brighton and beyond.

It's inspired this blog and my career in sports, fitness writing and digital marketing, and given me so many opportunities along the way.

It's literally changed my life. (And I'm not the only one).

Birthday Miles, Birthday Smiles

Let me just set one thing straight though - I'm ALL about balance.

Yes, I love keeping fit and eating healthily, but I also love cake. And chocolate. And chips. And massive roast dinners, and flapjacks, and pudding, and did I say cake?I love sitting on my arse doing nothing sometimes and at the moment cannot for the life of me get up early for a pre-work run.

I'll never have abs because I just can't be bothered with the discipline required in the kitchen. But I'll always be active, for as long as I can be.

I turned 30 last week, and celebrated the only way I knew how - by booking the day off and cycling 30+ hilly miles to see my best friend in Bexhill.

Last night was the first BTRS duathlon of the Midweek Tri Series and on Tuesday I finally went back to boxing after a month off. I can safely say that my arse was well and truly handed to me on both occasions.

Last night in particular, I felt like I'd never exercised before in my whole life - to console myself once I crossed the line I took two Bounty bars, a Snickers and a token banana from the BTRS bucket for my efforts, and reminded myself that the first workout back is always the hardest.

Just like the first one ever. 

Brighton Triathlon Race Series - duathlon no.1 of the 2016 Midweek Tri Series

If you're starting your journey into a fitter, happier you - don't give up when your legs and lungs are screaming at you. Push through it for one more rep, run to one more lamp post, cycle to the top of that hill on the bike. Rest at the top. And take a selfie to tell everyone about it.

If you can push through when you want to give up, you really can do anything.

Even if it makes your face do this:


How did you get into fitness?

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Thursday, 21 April 2016

On the road to the London Revolution

London Marathon might be on everyone's agenda right now but I've got a few more miles than 26.2 on my mind. 158.8 more miles, to be exact.

The London Revolution is the UK's largest multi-day sportive, a 185 mile loop around the capital, taking place 14/15 May. Promising to be more than just another sportive, it's as much about competition as it is community, apparently catering for cyclists of all abilities - from the leg-shaving racers to the endorphin-hunting bike fiends like me.

Although, I have been known to shave my legs, you know, just once or twice...

The thing that got me most excited about this event isn't the cycling, but the camping. Anyone who knows me will know I'm a sucker for going back to basics, surrendering all mod cons (bar my iPhone for the camera) and immersing myself in the great outdoors.

After 100 miles of hard riding on the first day, we'll return to a fully functioning basecamp with complete with a two-course meal, hot showers, overnight bike security and access to a cool chill out area. A sea of tents pre-loaded with sleeping bags will be ready and waiting for the throng of tired cyclists to rest their achey legs.

Then on the Sunday we'll get up and do it all again, for 85 miles.

The fully signposted route starts at Lee Valley White Water Centre (flashback) and takes in the city via Tower Bridge and HMS Belfast, before snaking out to the beasty climbs and descents of the North Downs and beyond. Chaperone riders and mechanical support is on hand, and there are pit stops with food, drink and toilets.

Basically it's one big JOLLY. And I'm well excited.

If a little bit unprepared.

Organisers very helpfully provided a 16-week training plan a while ago but I had my head in the boxing and then had to take a month off all training.

That means on paper I'm pretty behind where I need to be right now, but as I cycle to work every day and have been getting out for hilly 30 milers on the road or long, slow chugs across the Downs on the weekends I'm hoping the quads will know what to do.

We've done a couple of duathlons and triathlons but this will be our first standalone cycling event, and probably the very first event that me and Chris will actually complete together. 

We've done lots of races at the same time, but Mr Speedypants tends to leave me for dust so it'll be nice to experience the whole ride together.

We won't be doing it on the hardtails though!

I just hope we can actually do the distance - I also got into Ride London on the ballot and this is making that seem like a training ride.

We could've of course signed up to just one of the days, but then we would only get half the experience, and as you might've guessed, I'm not really one for doing things by halves.

With just over three weeks to go, I can't do anything about the time lost after the boxing so just gonna have to get on with it.

Stay tuned for some wheely adventures!

*Disclaimer: Two places for the London Revolution were provided to me and Chris. All undertraining and impending bum-ache my own. 

Find out more about the London Revolution on the website (and enter - there are still tickets available!)

Any tips for an optimistic (and quite possibly naive) multi-day sportive virgin?

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Thursday, 14 April 2016

What's important to you?

FitBits | Think Less Do More

The first three lines are always the hardest.

When I was at school, college and uni I used to sit and stare at an empty sheet of paper or blank screen and type/delete/retype the opening sentence of an essay or article over and over again.

I'd spend ages, reading, researching and scribbling reams and reams of notes in different coloured pens in an attempt to organise the thoughts that spilled freely from my mind. And it was only once I'd got past the magic three lines that I was able to find my flow and keep writing.

For me, writing is something I just have to do to stay sane.

I need to sit and get it all down. I remember writing stories from a very young age. Sometimes I'd scrawl pages and pages until my hands hurt, only stopping when I physically couldn't write any more.

It was engrained into me.

Just like exercise is now. I never used to be active, but I can't be anything else any more. I need to move. I have to get outside. I must sweat. And breathe. And run, and ride.

I don't do very well with being told I can't do the things I love. I want to do it all. That's why being told I couldn't fight last month after training so hard for it cut me real deep.

After a few weeks' break to chill, sort some stuff out and reassess my priorities, I'm back in the game and am glad to be feeling myself again, but have made a few realisations along the way.

I've realised what's important to me. 

FitBits | Brighton beach West Pier Hove

Health and wellbeing comes first. Getting outside to run and ride.

Taking time out to reflect, and write. Snatching an hour or two each week to shut down, switch off and practice yoga. Spending time with loved ones - proper time - not just sit-infront-of-the-telly time. Calling people more.

Doing things together - exploring, going on mini adventures, making memories.

Valuing experiences, not things. Unless those things give you experiences and create memories. (Hello, bikes).

Working to live, and never living to work.

We spend so much time worrying about what we should or shouldn't be doing. We must work hard to build a career; we have to save money for a house; when are we having children, we've been married two years? We shouldn't eat out so much.

Must cut down on coffee.

Don't leave the washing up.

Stop sucking your thumb. (NEVER). 

I'm 30 next week and to be quite frank I don't want kids yet because I'm still a kid myself. I heard on the radio today that by 2020, first time buyers will need to earn more than £64,000 to afford a mortgage - with an eye-watering £46,000 deposit.

Now if that doesn't make you dip into the savings for a shiny new mountain bike instead I dunno what will.

Kit the van out for a summer of camping trips. Buy a new skateboard with a bank of adult lessons. Get matching kit to go with each bike. Book luxurious spa days to recover from overpriced city marathons, and collect a suite of overpriced Apple products to capture it all on.

Rehome a cat and spoil it rotten. Get outside more.

Put what you can away into your savings, but don't forget to live for now. Go play.

The 'should do's' and obscenely unaffordable property ladder will still be there when (and if) you can be arsed.

*This post was inspired by another sensible 30 year old I know :)

What's important to you?

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