FitBits - fitness for fun and wellbeing: December 2017


Thursday, 28 December 2017

2017: the year I found myself again

2017 year review - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

Ah, that's better. Nice one 2017, you were much better than the total shit storm of 2016 in the world of Tess - thank you.

No broken bones, no bereavements, no losing my total sense of self in a rabbit hole of unrelenting stress and anxiety.  No wishing my life away and living for the weekend.

No Monday dread. No toxicity. No worries.

Here's why 2017 was the year I found myself again...

I got my wellbeing back

FitBits | The Quiraing in Skye - 2017 year review - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

I kept my promise to focus on my wellbeing, and reclaimed my time, my health and fitness. I started realising what's important to me early on last year but it took another 12 months to really do something about it.

So I've been riding a wave of awesome for most of this year and there's really only one main reason for that - a reason that feeds into everything else.

The year I went freelance has been my best year. 

There's only so much daydreaming you can do. Only so much 'on the side' that your side hustle can be before you just have to answer your calling and take the leap.

Every time I reply 'I'm a freelance copywriter' to anyone who asks what I do, my heart expands a little more.

I'm now a published fitness writer, and had my first articles published for The Body Coach (two more blogs coming in the new year), Total Women's Cycling and Bike Radar, with more pitching to do as we head into 2018.

I've used my seven years of digital marketing experience to write blogs for digital agencies, global email marketing companies and again for Google. I've rewritten a whole website in a new tone of voice, and regularly write email marketing copy for various clients, as well as social media posts, reports, straplines, concepts, and more.

To be paid to write is literally my dream and I'm living it right here, right now.

You can view my portfolio here if you fancy a nose, and read more about why I love being freelance on the blog :)

I got my confidence back on the bike

FitBits | Surrey Hills mountain biking with Marmalade MTB - 2017 year review - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

One thing that's really made me happy this year is finding my flow again.

ICYMI, I decided to throw myself off my mountain bike and break my collarbone and wrist last summer. It was pretty shit, and even though I got back on the bike just three months after that fateful day, I was full of the fear and a shell of the rider I used to be.

It's a funny thing, fear. You think you're OK and then suddenly it smacks you between the eyes and puts you right back in your place. Something you found so easy before suddenly becomes the most terrifying thing in the world and you just can't bring yourself to do it.

FitBits | Coed y Brenin mountain biking - 2017 year review - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

And it doesn't even have to be a big scary drop. Although there is still a semi-scary one that I just can't do in the Surrey Hills, but I'll conquer that soon enough.

When I first got back on the bike, I was even scared of the swooping, flowy blue trails and lovely smooth berms that I so loved to ride. I remember shitting myself and clinging on for dear life riding Blue Scar at Afan last Autumn, and having to bail on Y Wal when I couldn't do it. 

This year Blue Scar became a warm up once again, and it felt great.

I rode my first black trail at Afan and came 6th on the Strava women's leaderboard (the 23mile W2 - graded black for its length rather than scary drops and jumps), got comfy on the rockier trails, and found my flow in the Surrey Hills thanks to Sean from Marmalade MTB and his awesome bike fit and coaching.

I feel like I know my bike and can really ride it now. A good bike fit makes such a difference. 

This year's mtb adventures also saw me driving myself and my bike up to Coed y Brenin for the awesome women's weekend (longest solo drive I've done to date!), and me and Chris even took our bikes to Scotland for two weeks of utterly amazing riding that will stay with me forever. 

It was our first trip back to Scotland since our amazing honeymoon in 2014. We basically did the same thing as we did then - one huge road trip taking in the spectacular west coast - only this time in our van, with our mountain bikes.  

A 1700 mile-round trip with my favourite human, from Brighton to the Lake District, Loch Lomond, Skye, the Cairngorms and then Dundee to see family. Bliss. 

FitBits | Glen Coe mountain biking - 2017 year review - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

I've never seen landscape so magnificent. Never breathed air so clean. Never been happiest than when I was riding between those mountains, or sat cooking in the van with my fave after a wet and windy day in the great outdoors. (And it was VERY wet and VERY windy for pretty much the whole time). 

Proper unfiltered food for the soul, and a much-needed break from work.

You can read about that, and other mtb adventures from this year below: 

Mountain biking on Skye - a highland adventure

Not riding the Quiraing on Skye

Coed y Brenin Women's Weekend

Surrey Hills mountain biking with Marmalade MTB

A birthday bike ride on the South Downs Way

I found where I belong

FitBits | Southwick Hockey Club Ladies team - 2017 year review - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

This is a bit of a defining moment for me actually. It's so nice to be part of a team again and it's been awesome learning a new sport.

I used to play rugby as a teenager but haven't been part of a sports team since then and joining the lovely Southwick Hockey Ladies 2nds has reignited a passion inside me.

ICYMI, it's been part of a #WomenInSport campaign with England Hockey and Vitality to celebrate the joys of team sport and encourage more women and girls to join a local hockey, netball, football or rugby team.

I got to meet some of the England womens and mens team, have learnt some great new skills and made a bunch of new friends. I was only supposed to play for six weeks as part of the campaign but I totally love hockey and am carrying it on into 2018.

Read why I love it so much and what I've learned from joining a team in the posts below, and find your local one here.

I remembered how hard marathons are 

FitBits | Brighton Marathon - 2017 year review - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

When you run out of plans - freestyle. That was the name of the game for this year's Brighton Marathon, and a few painful lessons were learnt along the 26.2 mile way.

For me, anyway. Chris smashed his, obvs.

This was my third marathon, the third time doing Brighton, and the hottest, hardest one ever. From about nine miles in I was reminded pretty harshly that you cannot wing a marathon. Looking back I wasn't in the right place elsewhere in my life to dedicate myself to training properly, I was stressed and unhappy, searching for a way out of the hole I'd sunk into.


  • Running in the same race with Chris (his first marathon) that he totally smashed with a 3:40 finish!
  • The hottest day of the year totally didn't help my running but it did bring out the best crowd I've ever experienced in a race.
  • The ice pole given to me by a spectator when I was dying on my arse at mile 14.
  • Finding my friend Sally also struggling at mile 20 and finishing the last six miles with her.

Read mine and Chris' full Brighton Marathon race report here and watch the vlog below

I learnt to value myself 

I've learnt a lot about myself this year, and there are a few lessons I'm taking with me into 2018. 

I now realise what I am and am not capable of, both work-wise, in fitness and in life. Not only what I'm physically and mentally capable of, but what I actually want to do. 

I'm learning to manage my RSI, and listen to my body when it asks me to rest. I'm learning how to meditate and take time out for me. 

But I'm also learning that I am strong (more on this later). 

FitBits | strong not skinny - 2017 year review - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

I'm learning to appreciate the value of time - often over money - you never get your time back, but money can always be made and easily spent. I don't have to take on every work project that comes my way. I can't always focus 100 percent on training if I'm busy with work or have stuff going on in my life. 

There are a few things I do need to make time for, like getting back to GoodGym now that it's started in Brighton (i.e. not letting work get in the way), or carrying on with hockey, and getting outside more. 

Stepping outside of my little bubble to make more time for family and friends. Prioritising self care and wellbeing and never compromising on my own health. 

2018, I'm ready for you!


What have you learnt about yourself this year?

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Sunday, 3 December 2017

Reasons to join a sports team

FitBits | Reasons to join a sports team - Southwick Hockey Club - Tess Agnew fitness blogger 
Find something that you can't wait to go back to.

Something you want to get better at.

Something that inspires you to try.
I think I've found it. 

Those are some of the words I've written previously on how to find the joy in exercise. You can read more of them here in my write up from the Sussex Sport Awards - but do come back, as I want to update you on my new love affair with hockey (again!) 

ICYMI: catch up on why I've joined my local hockey team

Sometimes, when it's cold and dark outside, or you've had a long day at work, or you'd rather just sit about in your pants eating food and watching TV (chill time goals), exercise can feel like a massive chore. 

And let's be honest, it kind of is. 

Beating the winter blues

On Wednesday this week I really couldn't be bothered to go to hockey training. Like actually did not have an ounce of me that wanted to go. It was FREEZING cold, I was tired from two sessions of PT that week, one of them that very morning, and Chris was planning yet another banging dinner from Jamie's new book (will blog that soon btw, we're loving it). 

Getting home from work knowing I had to get changed and turn around to go back out again was grim. 

But I did it, for a few reasons:

1) I'm part of a team now, and don't want to let them down. 

2) We had a match on Saturday and having only started playing hockey a month ago I need all the training I can get!

3) I knew I'd feel better afterwards, like I always do after any sort of exercise.

That last point is something I always remind myself of when the chimp on my shoulder tries to make me sit about in my pants and insert various foody things into my gob instead of getting active. 

I went to training, and it was awesome. Dark, yes, cold AF, yes, but still awesome. I learnt an awesome backhand hit, and a few other tricks, and took them to my second match on Saturday to help my new team bring home a win against Worthing. 

Where I belong

FitBits | Reasons to join a sports team - Southwick Hockey Club - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

I was so excited for the match, there was no dread this time of not knowing what I was doing like the first one. 

(I haven't actually written about that first match, have I. Summary: I had no idea what I was doing and some Benny Hill music in the background would've been a great accompaniment to my gallivanting round the pitch I'm sure). 

With four weeks' training and one match behind me I was excited to see if what I've learned had actually gone in at all and I could pull off some sort of real-life hockey player. I felt like I actually knew some of the rules this time, and understood the job of my position (centre forward), where I needed to be, and how it all works together with the rest of the team. 

Everything flowed, we played really well I thought. I felt like I belonged, everyone on both sides were lovely and it was basically just loads of fun. Now that I know everyone's names I can call for the ball confidently and it's good to actually have a bit of an idea what to do with it (doesn't always happen, but I did score two goals so YAY). 

Southwick 4 - 1 Worthing 😁  

Reasons to join a team 

FitBits | Reasons to join a sports team - Southwick Hockey Club - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

If you're finding it hard to get active in winter, why not join a team and enjoy the host of other benefits that come with it. 

You'll be more motivated 
Having people relying on you turn up for training will make you do just that, even if it's cold and you're tired. 

You'll make new friends
Once you get to your first session you'll realise that everyone was new once, and will welcome you into the team instantly. 

You'll learn new skills
Or brush up on old ones - every time you go to training you'll pick up new tricks and practice set formations to use in a game. A collective weaponry that works brilliantly together with your new team mates. 

It gives you purpose
You'll have a reason to train, a reason to get active. You'll have a job to do within your team and you'll all work towards the same collective goal. 

You get Haribo at half time 
And who doesn't love Haribo?! 

You'll get fitter 
After all of the above, this is just a happy side effect. Getting fitter is easier when you make it fun. 

Sidenote: Read my other post on finding the fun in fitness if you're looking 
for more interesting ways to get active! 

Don't be afraid to be the newest, slowest, least experienced player - everyone has to start somewhere. And anyway, if you start at the bottom, the only way is up! 

Every training session, every game, every third, fourth and fifth slice of swiss roll you pack away at the post-match teas - an automatic PB! 


Get involved

Find out more about Vitality's #WomenInSport campaign and the other fab bloggers taking part, and catch up on my previous posts here and here

Fancy giving team sport a go - Find your local sports team on the Vitality website and find out more about hockey on the England Hockey website.

And come and join us at Southwick - new players always welcome! 


Have you ever played a team sport? 
What would you like to try?

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