Stories of 2019 #45

Wasn’t pancake day good! I mean, I and my mum did not even bother to attempt to make them, we chose the sensible choice and decided to head out for elevenses pancakes. We are not just pretty faces, we knew somewhere else would make them better than we ever could!

Already in the area, we went to my absolute favourite cafe – Chia Naturally Healthy. A cozy plant-based health cafe in the center of Hitchin. So aka, we had healthy pancakes…

Every time I have visited this cafe I have had the most delish food so it is no wonder they have been voted top three of The Sunday Times best plant-based cafes.

For pancake day they were also offering not only 10% off pancakes but also had two exclusive flavour toppings. Pancakes on offer were…

Coconut sugar and lemon

Banana, pecan and maple syrup

Cinnamon and blueberries

Thankfully the words, “shall we get two different and share” come out of my mum’s mouth and I was at the counter ordering one maple and pecan, one blueberry and cinnamon. Coconut sugar and lemon sounded lovely too but I mean if I am going for pancakes, I want all the toppings! We also had an English breakfast tea with oat milk and a matcha latte with coconut milk.

My excitement was building when they arrived and we tucked straight into the three-stack, heavily (thank god) topped pancakes. I was in almond butter heaven and we were switching forks trying to decide which ones we preferred. Both equally as good I reckon and thinking to myself what a great idea this was whilst trying to savour every last bite.

Eyes bigger than my belly, I also ordered a slice of their ginger cake to-go… I mean by the time I am writing this blog post (2:30pm) I have had a sneaky spoonful and I mean it is safe to say the cake will not be there for long!

Once again, Chia Naturally Healthy has wowed my tastebuds and I am itching to go back already!

Not only do they do pancakes but they do a whole range of tasty, wholesome food from burgers to smoothie bowls, to beetroot lattes to protein smoothies.

I am beyond happy that this gem is in Hertfordshire and I highly recommend a visit if you are nearby, even if you are not plant-based.

What did you top your pancakes with?

Stories of 2019 #44

Monday. Another week has passed and a new one has begun, all set for new goals!

I have started my Monday with fresh bed sheets, a good gym session, and a complete clean-out. Very productive morning I think, for now sitting down at 1pm to write this blog post.

Personally, Monday is my favourite day of the week. I love the weekend but more often than not I find myself on a Sunday night feeling rubbish (normally about what I have eaten) and slightly bored. Followed up by an early night, Monday comes around and you are full of energy – ready to take on the fresh week.

Maybe because I do not currently have a full-time job is the reason why I love a Monday because I do not get the dreaded back to work feeling but even within a full-time job there are ways to improve your Monday.

My Monday rituals;

Change my bed sheets – This little thing can leave you looking forward to getting home and snuggling down surrounded by sweet smelling sheets! A pain at the time, who knew it was such a work-out to fight your duvet into its cover. Nevertheless, I am excited already now I’ve tackled the actual chore of changing the sheets.

Make a yummy breakfast – Pretty much every day, including Saturday and Sunday, I have 40g porridge oats, 10g vegan protein powder, banana, and 10g peanut butter. I am literally obsessed and as sad as it sounds, look forward to breakfast every night before I go to bed…

Write my aims for the week – Just a few things that you would like the week to achieve. Whether that is sticking to healthier meals, go to the gym, see a family member or take time for yourself – write it down and make it happen. This week for me my aims are to apply for jobs (as per) and get back to my blogging.

And be sure, not to forget the previous week. Last week was pretty busy for me with lots of shifts at work and gym sessions in the evening, for the more mundane aspects. But, I also became obsessed with coconut lattes, celebrated my mums birthday, cooked an amazing pie, saw various family members, ate baklava whilst sitting in the gym carpark (all about balance right) and had a lovely hour-long phone call with my bestie. I am so grateful for all the experiences, even if they were not big, life-changing things. They made me happy.

The week ahead is full of more plans with Shrove Tuesday being tomorrow, I and my mum are planning to go out for a coffee. I am on dog duty on Wednesday, Thursday I am meeting up with my cousin and her little one, Friday I am a double shift at the bakery and pub and Saturday I am off out on the town to celebrate my mum’s birthday! And who knows what else will be in between!

So, love Mondays and be excited for what life is bringing you this week.

Do you love Mondays? Or, am I the only strange one?!

Stories of 2019 #26

For those needing a new workout or fancy shaking their gym routine up a little bit here is what I did in workouts this week…

P.S. some of these are an absolute KILLER!

Monday (cardio – do this workout with a partner and whilst they are running, you do the other exercise until they are finished)

400 meter run x mountain climbers / 400 meter run x burpees / 400 meter run x wall balls (I did 6kg) / 400 meter run x leg raises / 400 meter run x russion twists (I used an 8kg kettlebell)

1 minute plank x 10 push ups – repeat 3 times

Tuesday (Iron class, focusing on heavy weights)

Barbell chest press on floor 5 x 10 / body weight rows 5 x 12 (super set so do one after the other with no pause)

Kettle bell push press 3 x 8 per arm / kettle bell single-arm row 3 x 8 per arm (super set this again)

Plated push ups 3 x 10 (weighted plate on your back)

Wednesday (Rest day. Woooo!)

Thursday (Cardio class again. This one was especially hard so good luck ha ha. I struggled!)

400 meter run / 50 (yes, I repeat 50) jump squats – have 8 minutes to complete twice

400 meter run / 15 burpees / 300 meter row – have 10 minutes to complete twice

800 meter run / 10 pull-ups – have 12 minutes to complete twice

Friday (Weighted, Olympic lifting session)

Floor to overhead press with barbell 5 x 5

Hanging clean and press 4 x 4

EMOM (each minute, on the minute)… minute 1: 10 kettlebell swings on left arm / minute 2: 10 kettle bell catches on left / minute 3: kettle bell swings on right arm / minute 4: 10 kettle bell snatches on right / minute 5: rest / REPEAT TWICE

Saturday (My fav – squat Saturday)

Wall balls (6kg ball) 3 x 15 / back squats (I went up to 95kg, my personal best) increase weight as descrease reps for 10,10,3,3,3 / barbell hip thrusters 3 x 10 / leg extensions 3 x 12 / leg press 3 x 20 (10 wide, 10 narrow)

Sunday… I was going to go but a late night at work meant I did not make the class. But, oh well, I am off to the airport so no time now to try and get my bikini bod!

Stories of 2019 #24

The food of the Gods… Hummus!

Roasted red pepper, Moroccan, sun-dried tomato, caramelised onion, avocado, the list goes on. I am a lover of hummus. I even went to a hummus restaurant over the other side of the world. The Hummus Club in Northbridge, Perth if you live that way!

Hummus is soooo easy to make, with only two ingredients for a basic hummus – chickpeas and tahini. But for this hummus, I have mixed it up. Instead of chickpeas, I have used butterbeans. In my opinion, it actually tasted much nicer than using chickpeas as it was smoother and not so thick.

I added in garlic granules and a pinch of salt with my 250 grams of butter beans and 20 grams of tahini before blitzing it all with my hand-held blender.

Would you believe it is that easy to make and much cheaper than shop bought.

It passed the taste test by me and my rice cakes anyway and that is all that matters haha.

Stories of 2019 #23

On Instagram, I follow and see these amazing women running outside and they look like they are just feeling amazing. And I know, Instagram can sometimes just be someone putting up their best selves and I know that it is only a snippet of someone on a random day but I have been following these women for a long time and I listen to plenty of podcasts about how running makes you feel mentally, amazing.

I used to run two summers ago and I remember doing it often but struggling. I had to keep stopping and I was huffing and puffing but I was out there doing it. When I was doing my Master’s degree, I also signed up to do a 10k in London and even in the cold mornings of February I was doing Park Run around Forest Fields in Nottingham. So, it is not like I have no experience with running but for some reason I was petrified of going back outside and doing it.

Running is simple. One foot in front of the other. It does not matter how fast you are going or if you have to stop and walk or if you even only run for five minutes then turn back. You are out there, running and building strength, doing something good for yourself! I wanted to be that person. But something was holding me back. I even kept Googling, ‘How to start running?’ Like I did not know it was as simple as going out and doing it. I just feared people would look at me funny or I would not be able to manage the route I had planned. However, with over 5 billion results, it looks like I am not the only one. I wonder why running, outside in particular, feels us with such lack of confidence and fear?

But on Monday, 21st January, I made the decision today I was going to run and I set the run time at 10am.

9:50am… The thoughts start to go around in my head… Doubts that I should not go.

10:05am… Still at my house.

10:15am… I stepped out the door, headphones on and the Nike Running Club man motivating me in my ears just to go! If you have not tried this app, it is so good. It is full of guided runs from one minute to a 75 minute run to runs on the treadmill. It is free and I found very helpful when I was out.

10:30am… I was doing it! I was running, OUTSIDE! I was already smiling at the fact I was out and actually running, let alone how far I was running. I did the route I used to do two summers ago and I did not stop once. An achievement I never thought I would be able to do. And, I felt like my favourite Instagram stars, Food Fitness Flora and Adrienne and Bryony Gordon.

When I got home I was beaming so proud that I had done it. I did not even notice the cars going past funnily enough. I was as simple as going out there and putting one foot in front of the other. It was only a short run 3.5k but it was a run and I will be doing it again.

21st January 2019 // My first run

So, if you are nervous to start running my advice is, instead of being like me and Googling how to’s – just do it. In the wise words of Nike! Even if it is to the end of the road. Trust me you will feel great just because you went.

Stories of 2019 #22

Exercise is a big part of my life. It always has been. From a teenager I was in a competitive gymnastics squad and then at this time I started to go to the gym. More for fun with my friends Jessamyn and Mollie but nevertheless we still went. Since then I have always gone to the gym. The only time I did not go to the gym was the time between finishing my A-Levels and starting university (probably because I found alcohol and going-out far too much fun). From university to now I have been a consistent gym goer (which is good for seeing results… as the saying goes consistency is key) but I have also tried my hand at running, yoga and now boxing.

Now I am home in Hertfordshire and settled back in, I have gone back to the gym and really enjoying it. The gym I am signed up to (Renegade) is probably the best gym I have been too. The classes are mixed and really push you. We run, lift weights, row and do pull-ups – stuff I would not do if I was on my own.

I really enjoying exercising so I tend to aim to between 4-5 times a week but I also listen to my body and if I have little energy or I feel my body cannot work-out or more importantly I am off out with friends or family instead, I will include another rest day.

Anyway, here is a typical week of work outs!

Monday // Cardio (6-7pm). Start the week off with a burn to blow away the cobwebs of the weekend. This class is a mix. Sometimes it will be a non-stop circuit with bodyweight or sometimes it will be heavier weights with cardio included. For example a class we did last week…

10 barbell deadlifts / 10 burpees / 500 meter run outside – x 5

20 seconds kettle bell swings / 10 seconds off / 20 seconds push-ups – x6

Tuesday // Weights (6-6:45pm). Build them muscles! Adding weights into your work-out routine has many benefits. And if you fear the ‘bulk’, weight training really will not make you bulky. It adds such a different element to a work-out and also is a great way to burn fat also and you will begin to develop muscle tone. The weight classes at Renegade at short, often consisting of only 4-5 exercises but you always wake up the next day feeling it! An example weight class is…

Strict overhead press 5 x 5 / 12 twisting lateral raises x 4 / 12 a-frame push ups x 4 / 1 minute straight arm plank x 4

Wednesday // Rest day. Just as important as getting a work-out in!

Thursday // Cardio (6-7pm). Same as Mondays class. Another example of the cardio class is…

200 meter run / 20 bodyweight squats / 10 push-ups – x 4

400 meter run / 10 calorie row – x 3

800 meter run / 30 kettle bell swings / 20 kettle bell snatches / 10 goblet squats – x 2

Friday // Weights (5:45-6:30pm). Again, same as a Tuesday class. More weights to finish off the working week. However, sometimes I do go to the morning class, depending what I am doing in the evening, and that is a cardio class but more often than not I am at the evening session. An example work-out includes…

12 chest press / 12 push ups / 20 tricep dips – x 4

24 bicep curls 6 half, 6 half, 6 full – x 4

Saturday // Squat Saturday (8:30-9:30). A bright and breezy 8:30am class! When my alarm goes at 7am, it is often a battle in my head as to whether to go or not. But once I am up and out, it is fine. I must admit I am excited for lighter mornings. As the class goes, it is in the name. It is based around squats and focused on your legs and glutes. We normally start off with barbell back squats, starting of with lighter weights and increased reps then as you build the weight, you decrease the rep. This is followed by lunges, step-ups, leg press, goblet squats and many more leg burning moves! You are normally left leaving with jelly legs. Example squat Saturday…

20, 15, 10, 5, 3 Barbell back squats / 12 step-ups x 3 / 10 leg extensions x 3 holding last rep for as long as possible / 12 leg press machines x 3 on last set drop set and do 20 reps / 15 wall balls x 2 / x 2 wall sits

Sunday // Boxing (10-11:30am). For two weeks now I have been going to the ladies boxing class at my gym. I am really enjoying it so far! The class starts off with some running and stretching to warm up, followed by a conditioning circuit to help build our muscles to help build our skills. The rest of the session is practicing on the bags (my favourite part) and then sparring in the ring. Daunting but we only do 1 minute at a time (thank god for me at the moment). Boxing is so different to something I have done before and does not even feel like I am doing a work-out.

I have also upped my cardio by trying my hand at outdoors running again. I did my first run yesterday and while it was only a small 20 minute run, I loved it! So keep your eyes out for any running updates.

If you want to know more about what I do health and fitness wise, comment below!

Stories of 2019 #17

I confess. I am a smoothie bowl addict. I do not care if they contain hundreds of hidden calories, they look and they taste bloody delicious! Pink, purple, blue, Halloween themed, topped with heaps of peanut butter, fruit, granola (best part), flowers, who knows you may even find a mermaid in the depths of a smoothie bowl. I mean there are even Instagram accounts dedicated to the smoothie bowl… How can you resist when they look THAT good.

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Yummy Blue Smoothie Bowl by @isiaaak

A post shared by Smoothie Bowl Recipes (@smoothiebowls) on

You do have to go out and source a smoothie bowl if you want them to look good, unless you are just a domestic goddess and can blend up something as good as this. I know I can’t, so I go on the global smoothie bowl hunt.

They became popular in 2016 and was a huge Instagram trend due to their drool-worthy look. But what really is a smoothie bowl I hear you ask? Well, it is a mix of frozen fruit, vegetables and other so-called superfoods such as yogurt, avocado and oats. This forms a ice-cream like texture, so instead of putting your smoothie in a cup and drinking with a straw, you pour it into a bowl and eat it with a spoon. Then it is time for the crown jewels – the beautiful toppings that are carefully placed sometimes in lines on top of your smoothie, which can be pretty much anything. The aim of the smoothie bowl is supposedly to make you eat more mindfully as you cannot gulp it down – unless you want brain freeze…

However, they are said to be very high in sugar so maybe consume in moderation.

I have to say, not to blow my own trumpet, but I like to now call myself the global smoothie bowl connoisseur. Ubud, Canguu, Byron Bay, London, Townsville, Hitchin, I mean do I need to convince your further? Joking, when I am making smoothie bowls good enough to go on the smoothie bowl accounts, I know then I am the connoisseur.

Anyway, here are where I have had the delicious smoothie bowl.

The Avocado Factory, Canguu // Avo Island Smoothie Bowl
Watercress, Ubud // Acai Superfood Smoothie Bowl
Puri Garden Hotel and Hostel, Ubud // Smoothie Bowl
NUUT Nutrition Bar, Fremantel WA // Nourishing Glow Bowl
Acai Brother, Byron Bay // Ain’t Nothin’ Butter Bowl
The Beet Bar, Townsville // Peanut Butter Swirl
Pluk, Amsterdam // Unicorn Acai Bowl
Feya, London // Pastel Rainbow Smoothie Bowl
Chia Cafe, Hitchin // Acai Smoothie Bowl

By the looks of things I need to take my own advice and think about moderation ha ha. Now make sure you share your smoothie bowls with me and I can go and try too!