FitBits - fitness for fun and wellbeing: July 2018


Monday, 16 July 2018

7 self care tips you need in your life

FitBits | 7 self care tips  - Tess Agnew fitness blogger
What does self care mean to you? Is it fuelling your body on a healthy diet of vegetables and lean protein, or finding an extra five minutes in your morning to meditate or sit down with a coffee before work? Is it saluting the sun at a beachside yoga class, or treating yourself to a walk to the office in the sunshine?

Or, is it grunting your way through a peanut butter and caramel cupcake after a hot and heady day at the office? So much grunting. That cake was GOOOOOD.

FitBits | 7 self care tips - eat cake - Tess Agnew fitness blogger
Deckchairs and emergency sugar fixes - solves all sorts of bad moods 

For me, self care (or self love, being kind to yourself, whatever you want to call it), is many things. It's waking up early on a weekend to ride my bike, or sweating from my eyes at the gym for a banging lunchtime PT session. It's treating myself to a daily cycle commute on my beautiful road bike instead of lugging my heavy mountain bike round town (with double D-lock protection so this baby doesn't get nicked like the last one). And it's hanging out with the hockey girls on the pitch for another evening summer league match.

Read why being part of a team gives me all the feels

FitBits | 7 self care tips - join a sports team - Tess Agnew fitness blogger
The Southwick Hockey massif

But it's not all about physical activity. Sometimes I do actually slow down too, you know, and do things like booking an emergency floatation when things get a bit hectic, or swapping the Friday night pub visit for an evening round the campfire with my favourite.

Sometimes, just sometimes, I stop talking about how much I need to go to yoga and actually make it to a class or home practice. So for me, conscious self care - the kind where I'm actively aware that I need to do it rather than rushing around training all the time which comes naturally to me - is giving myself the greatest gift of all. Time.

FitBits | 7 self care tips - go camping - Tess Agnew fitness blogger
FACT: Stress is caused by not doing enough camping. 

The busy curse

The problem is I've never been great at doing it. I've always been that 'busy' person, 100 things on the go, with apparently little time to breathe. I live in my calendar, and my phone is my personal organiser for everything from my work schedule and appointments to fitness, fun, family and faffing about. EVERYTHING goes in my calendar, even tiny little reminders to buy milk or call mum or book the dentist. If it's not in there, it gets forgotten, end of, and don't even talk to me about the to do lists I've got going on in different notepads, apps and devices.

This past few weeks have been busy as I've been doing an amazing free Digital Accelerator course to learn the Adobe Suite and Wordpress to make myself a nice shiny new website for my freelance copywriting. The course itself is full time Monday to Thursday 10-5, with a study day on Friday and I've been fitting client work around this along with my usual fitness escapades (hockey, weight training, cycling and not enough yoga I can tell you!)

Whilst I'm loving the course and learning new design skills that will 100% benefit me in the future (and this blog too as I finally migrate to Wordpress), what I'm not loving is being stuck in a stuffy classroom during this heatwave, with 30 hot computers and sweaty bodies. I left the classroom today in a right old stress because I'd not been able to find a good Wordpress theme for my portfolio site (anyone got any tips please let me know!), and had trouble translating the horrific user experience that is the backend of 123-reg to set up my new site.

It's the first time I've been stressed at work in ages, actually, but it got me thinking about self care and how to step out of my funk so as not to let it drag me down for the whole evening.

So with that in mind, here's seven self care techniques you can use to reclaim that sense of calm. 

1. Eat cake

FitBits | 7 self care tips - eat cake - Tess Agnew fitness blogger
I honestly cannot put into words how good that cake was 

Or whatever else is your go-to comfort food. When I left the classroom today - early because I was in such a foul mood - I had the sole intention of locating the most badass, beautiful sugar fix I could find, and I'm glad to say I succeeded, thanks to Cloud 9 on London Road, Brighton. 

I rushed there so hard that when I got to the counter I had no idea what to order and spent 10minutes faffing about before realising the only sensible thing to do was to go for the peanut butter caramel cupcake. I'm not kidding, that was probably the best decision I've made all month. It was DIVINE. And just what I needed. No guilt, no scouring Pinterest for depressing infographics on how much exercise it'd take to work it off - just sit back, slow down and grunt appreciatively to myself for five sensational mouthfuls. 

2. Practice yoga 

FitBits | 7 self care tips - practice yoga - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

Obviously. When your body is tight and your mind is frazzled, yoga is THE ONE and it gets me every time.

Read 10 things I've learnt about yoga

I've been saying I need to do more of it for years, but have I made more time? No. Why? God knows. Probably that 'busy' curse again. Which leads me to the next point...

3. Turn your phone off 

This one's really hard for me, and something I need to work on for sure. I can't remember the last time I turned my phone off, can you?

I used to leave it outside the bedroom at night so at least I would get out of bed before checking my emails in the morning but I've slipped back into putting it under my pillow as I sleep. Mainly to not annoy Chris when my alarm goes off for 6am PT and he's getting up at 7. 

Now it's back to being permanently attached to me like a drip and it's gotta change. I've got better things to do than aimlessly scroll social media. 

4. Read or write something on paper

FitBits | 7 self care tips - read newspapers - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

I've always loved physical print. It must be the writer in me. Since I was a kid I've always had a thing about magazines or kept diaries, but recently I've let myself forget the joy of putting pen to paper and turning a page. The only time I really make time to read a magazine now is when flying, and that's because the Internet isn't available. How sad is that? 

On the weekends I sometimes buy a paper and then promptly sit on my phone next to it, but this Saturday I actually managed to read the whole thing and it was really quite nice. Admittedly, I did get my phone out to take a photo, but for a whole hour I was engrossed, and that's what I miss. 

So I'm gonna stop saying I don't have time to read and make time. Watch this space! 

5. Book a wellbeing day 

FitBits | 7 self care tips - Anahata health clinic - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

A few weeks ago I went to a wellbeing day at Anahata Health Clinic in Brighton, and after a yoga class had an amazing and much-needed deep tissue massage. Why is it we never realise how much tension we carry around with us until someone tries to massage it out? My therapist Raquel did a blinding job for the hour and I floated away all loose and lovely, vowing to never let my shoulders get that tight again.

The Anahata clinic itself is hard to miss, with its bright red and yellow exterior complete with dragons to - in founder Deborah's own words -  'keep the bad stuff away'. The vibe and energy of Anahata is one of a relaxed home and comfort, focused on community and low cost treatments and classes. Like most converted corner terrace houses, it's deceivingly big on the inside and houses five treatment rooms, two movement studios, and 50 therapists offering therapies such as acupuncture, massage, reiki, life coaching and more.

To make wellbeing accessible for all, therapists offer low cost sessions throughout the week, with a 60 minute massage available for just £25 on Wednesdays with Raquel, for example.

Find out more about Anahata their website. 

6. Have a float 

FitBits | 7 self care tips - floatation therapy Float Spa Hove - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

I've been harping on about floatation for over a year now. If you haven't tried it, you really must. It's quite the experience. For me, it's the only way I can truly shut down my body and mind and I always come out of it feeling refreshed and renewed. I don't think there's any other situation where you can fully surrender your entire body like that and just... be. Once the body lets go, it's easier for the mind to follow...
Read about the first time I tried floatation, and what happened when I did the three-day float challenge after injuring myself running. 

7. Eat good food 

FitBits | 7 self care tips - eat good food - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

OK so this kinda contradicts the whole 'eat cake' point, but if you do that one 20% of the time and this one 80% of the time you'll be just fine. When I came out of the F45 Challenge - read about my 8 week transformation here - I was feeling so lean and strong. I'd lost 4kg of weight and 2% body fat. I'm now trying to apply the principles of the plan into every day life but still enjoy some treats, but need to remember that they are just that - treats.

For the rest of my time, I'm fuelling my body with what it needs. Getting my fruit, veg and lean protein fix when sat at my desk, and an energy-filled porridge bowl and flapjack for long cycle rides. (Mine aren't as pretty as the porridge bowls doing the rounds on Insta though, soz).

However you show your body and mind a bit of love, make sure you do it often. We're on the go so much nowadays it can seem really hard to just stop, but all you really have to do is unplug for a little while. The notifications, messages and bombardment of information will all still be there when you get back from your self care sabbatical. 

So go on, take some time to treat yourself. You deserve it. 


What are your self-care tips?

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Monday, 2 July 2018

The F45 Challenge and me - results!

I wore short shorts for only the second or third time in my life on Friday. Do you know how liberating that was?! I actually had to buy a new pair because the high waisted shorts I'd refused to throw out over the past couple of years incase I could get back into them are now too big for me! The other day I went shopping with my mum and bought a crop top to wear with my short shorts. A bloody crop top guys! This is insane.

Check out the cyclist tan on these legs 😂

Fitter, happier, more productive

I'm learning to embrace a fitter, stronger, slightly leaner me, (or as Thom York would say, fitter, happier, more productive...) after finishing the eight week F45 challenge from 23 April to 17 June. I say 'slightly' leaner because I could've been more disciplined, could've followed the plan a bit more to the nose, but I needed it to be sustainable so did it my way.

For me, this was only ever a kickstart to a longterm goal of finding my discipline again with my food habits. I think I've found it - I just need to keep hold of it now. Isn't that the hardest bloody thing? I can train all day long, I love exercising, but I also love eating all the food, all the time, and find it very easy to revert back to my old ways of convenience foods and daily sugar fixes.

The fullest, healthiest fridge there ever was  :)
The best goddamn breakfast of the whole 8 weeks - coconut overnight oats 😍

What this challenge has reminded me is how to nourish my body with what I put into it, and what I can get out of it if I do that bit right. It's all a work in progress but it's taught me a few things:
  • Working out so hard you sweat from your eyes makes you feel AMAZING. 
  • A watched F45 timer never stops (see Insta vid below) 
  • I don't need bread as much as I thought I did. In fact I've practically given it up without realising. 
  • Black americanos are actually quite nice - and my daily one or two flat whites are a thing of the past! 
  • I can keep myself fuller for longer if I eat enough protein (a definite work in progress and room for improvement here...)
  • Cashew nuts and coconut milk in smoothies is AMAZING. 
  • A low GI diet is my friend - my energy levels are so much better and balanced throughout the day. 
  • I need to keep taking my magnesium supplement for muscle recovery and good sleep.
  • I need more yoga in my life. 

Oh, and one more thing: 
  • I bloody love F45!

What is F45 anyway?  

It's bloody brilliant, is what it is. If you've been following me on InstaTwitter or Facebook, you'll have seen my posts about the challenge. It's basically eight weeks of training at the brilliant F45 studio by Brighton station with a full nutrition plan designed to lose fat and build lean muscle. For those not in the know, F45 is a fitness phenomenon hailing from Australia that's taken the UK by storm. It's functional training, for 45 minute sessions (hence F, 45).

There are multiple classes throughout the day, 6, 7 and 9.30am, 12.30pm and three in the evening between 5.30-7.30, and you work through each exercise in the pods in pairs. The sessions are HARRRRD AF and leave you sweating from your eyes and drenched in endorphins and post-workout high fives.

The HIIT sessions are relentless and brilliant and everything I needed in my life after getting nice and strong while weight training with my awesome PT. The F45 strength sessions are great too, but I focused on the HIIT as I was already lifting heavy with Pete.
Read 7 reasons why I love training with a PT here. 

Team training, life changing

I've always been a sucker for group exercise. It's how I got into fitness when I discovered how much fun Zumba and group bootcamp classes could be. The Brighton Central F45 studio has only been open for six months and everyone's achieved so much already. It has the most supportive, progressive family vibe. It's one thing exercising on your own, pushing yourself to do just one more rep, run that little bit further, lift that little bit heavier. But when you've got your tribe right next to you doing exactly the same, pushing their boundaries, sweating from their eyes too, and the PTs walking around helping those struggling, checking form and keeping you motivated, it's just SO MUCH BETTER.

Add to that the banging music (especially on a Saturday when they have a LIVE DJ pumping out the house tunes!!!), and you might just have yourself the best workout set up ever. It's pretty hard not to give your all when everything's in line like that, so you really do get the best from yourself.

The challenge - how did it go?


So the eight week challenge. How did I find it, how did I do? Not gonna lie, I found it difficult. But then if it was easy, it wouldn't be worth doing, right? The first two weeks are meant to be the hardest, the 'detox' weeks (hate that word). No sugar, no caffeine, no alcohol, no starchy carbs - lots of lean meat, vegetables and a fuck ton of water. Once I got over the coffee and sugar hangover I actually felt my best in those first two weeks. I wasn't hungry at all and felt really strong in all of my sessions, including PT when I squatted 65kg for the first time.

It was all going so well until week four when I went mountain biking in Wales and ate ALL THE CARBS to fuel an amazing couple of days' riding (blog and video coming soon btw). When we were back I had three days straight back on the plan and training hard and then went on holiday to Spain for nearly a week, and that's where the wheels fell off a bit, of course. (Show me anyone who follows a healthy eating plan on holiday, 'cause apparently it aint me...)

This is what happens when you order a cappuccino in Spain 😂😂

I did plan to stay active though, but those plans of running and cycling in the hills were reverted to chill time when Chris got pickpocketed on the day we arrived in Barcelona and dislocated his shoulder. Luckily nothing was taken as he noticed and stopped them - although in hindsight we would've rather lost a wallet than sustained an injury.

So instead of an active holiday we spent it sitting about in the sun drinking beer and eating tapas - and to be honest it was a glorious and much-needed break. When we got back I went straight back to training and got right back on the food plan and within a couple of days was feeling fit and strong again. It's about balance, see, and it has to work for your lifestyle. I've swapped meals where it hasn't worked with me adding food to my heavy bags on the cycle commute to Worthing. I've had meals out (but been very mindful of what I've put in my gob and chosen lean meats and lots of veg where possible). I've even had chocolate and a few puddings along the way at family parties (goddamn the summer!), but I've followed the principles and made it sustainable for me.

One thing I'm very proud of is going to a family party and not touching a drop of alcohol, even though there was a FREE BAR all night. Yes, I had the birthday cake and all the food, but no alcohol, which meant no hangover craving shit food and ruining the whole weekend, so YAY me. And one thing I know I definitely need to work on is my protein intake as I actually lost a tiny bit of muscle mass too which I wasn't expecting. It's probably because I've not been refuelling as well as I should've done - er... Tess, that's why you need to follow the food plan properly, duh... - so yeah, a lesson learned there me thinks.


The results of this challenge attempt? I've lost 2% body fat and 4kg of weight, down a dress size, nearly two, depending where you shop, and am comfy in shorts for the first time EVERRRR so I'm happy with that! In case you're wondering, my training during those eight weeks typically looked like this (not including cycle commutes round town and occasionally to Worthing):

MON: F45 HIIT class
TUE: PT weight training AM / occasional hockey summer league match
WED: F45 HIIT class AM / hockey training PM
THU: PT weight training
FRI: rest 
SAT: F45 Hollywood class (1hr hybrid of HIIT / strength training with LIVE DJ - BEST WORKOUT EVERRRRRRRRR!)
SUN: Cycle ride

Not keen on putting my bum on the internet but hey, I'm proud that it's smaller :)
I think if I'd have done more F45 classes, or actually just been more disciplined with the food, who am I kidding, I might've got better results. Some people lost a huge amount of body fat, the female winner lost nearly 9kg and ate only one day off plan instead of my week or two so you can see that it really does work if you put everything you have into it!

But the thing with me (as I'm sure you know, if you read this blog regularly or follow me on social), is I don't just do one thing. I like to dip my fingers in many fitness pies, finding lots of different ways to stay active, challenge myself and have fun along the way. I wouldn't want to give up my hockey, or my cycling, and definitely not my weight training because that's totally my fave at the mo. I don't want to give up the HIIT though either and I definitely want to keep progressing towards my longterm goals of a leaner, fitter, stronger me, so I'm gonna have to look at this calendar of mine and fit it all in somehow... I usually find a way, don't I.  😉

The next challenge starts on 16th July and the lovely lot at F45 Brighton Central are GIVING TWO PLACES AWAY. Find out more and enter on the Facebook page and try it out for yourself with a FREE two week trial! (Warning, you *will* get hooked!)

*Disclaimer: I was invited to take part in the F45 Challenge to share my experience with you. All fat loss, self confidence, fitness and love for the amazing training and family at F45 are my own, promise!


Have you tried F45? 

Do you find staying on track with your food as hard as me?!   

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