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Wednesday, 22 February 2017

apricot activewear, not just for working out

Apricot activewear

Apricot activewear

With more and more people interested in health and fitness these days, it seems like every brand and their sister are launching active wear collections, with the likes of Oasis and Ted Baker some of the latest to join the club.  The beauty of fashion brands launching these ranges is that they're so damn pretty, and it makes it even more acceptable to wear lycra all day long.

Having never thought I'd become someone who works out regularly, it was even more unlikely I'd rock gym leggings outside of the gym, in fact I didn't even own a pair until a few weeks after my first class...yes, I was that person that rocked up in cotton joggers and my converse. Another brand that's jumped on the activewear bandwagon is Apricot, I've always known them for their pretty printed dresses, so was excited to see what they had to offer.

Apricot activewear
Leggings* - Apricot, Jumper* - Apricot, Trainers - Nike, Jacket - New Look

With a small and simple collection made up of pinks, blacks and greys I knew these would quickly become my new favourite additions to my wardrobe, most notably because I could get away with wearing them from the moment I got up, even if my class wasn't until 6pm...let's admit it, we all want to get away with it if we can.

So as a Sunday afternoon stroll is quickly becoming a tradition of mine and the mr's, and still sporting (see what I did there) my new Apricot goodies from a morning class, I headed out lycra clad for a wander down to the river.  But as I was looking so super stylish, and having worked up a thirst, a quick pit stop at Starbucks seemed fitting, and I picked a fruity ice tea that matched my new pink outfit.

Apricot activewear
Apricot activewear

I think it's fair to say that Apricot have achieved what we're all looking for, the perfect gym kit that you're happy to be seen in, in fact, I've barely taken off the pink jumper, and if the leggings weren't needing a wash, and I didn't have to be vaguely formal for work, then I'm pretty sure I'd still be wearing these too.  

And if that doesn't have you heading over to their site straight away, what if I told you the both items were less than £50 all in? Yep, I thought that would have you interested.  Now I'm just trying to justify buying the grey cowl jumper...  
Apricot Activewear

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

runnin' runnin' runnin' runnin'

running

It's been 10 months since I last ran 10k, and it's been a long slog to get here.  I've got a funny relationship with running, I've talked endlessly on this spot about how much I dislike it, and yet, here I am, over a year since I started, and I'm still sticking with it.

It's been a rollercoaster, there's been good runs and bad runs, weeks of no running, and then weeks with three runs.  I've set myself goals and targets, some I've met, and some I haven't, and here I am once again blogging about it.

I don't need to share my story about why I started running, (but if you are interested, you can check it out here), and why I'm still sticking with it, I'm not entirely sure.  However, there is something really satisfying about running, knowing that whatever time of day it is, whatever that weather (ok, I wish that was the case, I'm a fair-weather runner) and wherever you are, all you need to do is don your trainers and hit the pavements, and that's your workout in the bag.

For various reasons, losing my dad and being unemployed to name a couple, I've upped my running over the last couple of months and I've seem to have found myself enjoying it more, and hating it less.  Before Christmas, I aimed to run 5k in under 30 mins, I did it, and with a whole 12 seconds to spare..I know to many, that's pretty slow, but it's good enough for me.  I then set myself the target of running 10k before I started working again.

On Monday, I started my new job.  On Friday, I ran 10k.  I think setting myself that challenge, and knowing that if I didn't complete it on Friday it was unlikely that I would, gave me the motivation I needed to keep going.  Now, I should I probably admit that I tried to complete the whole 6 miles avoiding hills, it's not easy when you live at the top of a hill, but I knew if I came face to face with one 7/8k in, I wouldn't make it, so at the end of each road, I weighed up my options and always took the flatter route.  

10k strava


Now that I am working again, I know my running is going to suffer.  Going out for a quick jog after work, when it's cold and dark requires a lot more motivation than a mid-morning, protein porridge fuelled, bright and fresh run. 

So, my next challenge? Well, it's just to stick with it.  If I can manage one run a week, then that would be good.  If I can keep my 5k's around the 30 minute mark, I'd be happy, and if I don't run 10k again for another 10 months, then it's not the end of the world.  But, who knows what may happen, with the mr in training for the Paris Marathon, maybe I'll catch the bug, or maybe I'll remember that slow, relaxing yoga classes are much more my bag than a sweaty 26 mile run. 

Running

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

lean in 15 - book 3 - first impressions

chocolate banana overnight oats

I'm a big fan of the Lean in 15 meals, and apparently so is the rest of the world, Joe Wicks (author/creator) is now a multi-millionaire, so a quick google search tells me, and his books have sold over 1 million...that's pretty epic in diet plan book sales (so google also tells me!).

Of course, I love a good craze, especially one that promises weight loss results, so I jumped right on this bandwagon.  I'm now the proud owner of all three of the Lean in 15 books, and I regularly cook from each of them, a few from cookbook number one still remaining firm favourites.

I don't follow the plan properly, in fact, I don't follow it at all.  I don't eat carb-reduced meals twice or three times a day, or ensure my meals are carb heavy following exercise, and I don't follow the twenty minute HIIT routines but that doesn't stop me being a big fan of the books.  I'm too lazy to meal prep, but usually manage to plan on a Sunday which evening meals I'll cook from the books during the week.

bacon, leek and pea frittata 


Most of the meals genuinely take 15 minutes to make, which is perfect for me when I'm coming home late from a class post work, and when you've  made them once, they're even quicker to whip up as you don't need to endlessly refer to the recipe.  Also, the majority of the recipes serve 1 or 2 people, because the mr works away during the week, I'm usually cooking for just myself 2 or 3 times a week.  I've got a shelf full of cookbooks that I rarely use partly because the meals often feed 6 to 8 people, as much as I love a home-cooked meal, I don't fancy eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner three days in a row.

I exercise a lot, and know I should follow a high protein diet, which is why I cook so many meals from these books, just because I don't follow the plan properly doesn't mean I can't make them work for me.  I got book 3 for Christmas so I thought I'd share with you some of the meals I've made so far. 

Oh, and just to add, I have a habit of not following recipes exactly to plan... let's just say I get carried away: 

1. Chocolate banana overnight oats - (see picture at the top of this post) these are incredible, if you're an oats fan, then you have to give them a go.  I've made this multiple times now and had as both cold overnight oats and as warm porridge. There's something that feels so indulgent about these because they're so chocolate-y, so they're great for breakfast or a post-workout snack (ok, 'meal' if you're following plan!).

blueberry and coconut smoothie

2. Blueberry and coconut smoothie - So I don't make this exactly to recipe, I use 100% coconut milk, rather than a mix of almond and coconut, as I don't do almond milk.  I also just guess the amount of blueberries and yoghurt...it's morning, and I don't have time for getting scales out the cupboard.  This is another beauty,  having the protein powder in it means it genuinely does keep me full to lunch time, and it tastes a dream.  It's one I'll definitely be cracking out over Summer a lot...but for now, these cold mornings need hot porridge!

3.  Quinoa Porridge Oats - the third of the 'breakfast' meals I've made and another thumbs up.  Ok, so again I didn't quite follow the recipe to plan, hence why my picture below looks considerably water-y than the image in the book. And I didn't put any quinoa in, yeah so I missed a vital ingredient, but I was making this up at 11pm quickly before heading to bed and I didn't fancy waiting 15 minutes for quinoa to cook, but I imagine it tasted pretty similar...and I do plan to make it properly soon.  

quinoa overnight oats

4.  Bacon, leek and pea frittata - (see picture further above) - this is ideal for cooking up for your evening meal, then taking the other half for lunch the next day.  It's really easy to make, and tastes good too, is there any greater combo than bacon, leek and cheese? It's also really satisfying so served with a light salad it'll keep you going till, well, until you raid the biscuit tin.

5.  Sea bass with pak choi and cashew nuts - ok so that's what the book suggests, but we made ours with trout, purely because it was significantly cheaper but I'm sure any piece of fish would work for this dish.  This was one dish me and the mr ate together, and while we really enjoyed it, fish and pak choi isn't quite enough food for us so be warned, and maybe pad it out with more veg, or a good chunk of bread if you're more carb-inclined like yours truly.

sea bass with pak choi

6.  Baked gnocchi with minced beef - this is very definitely a favourite, really substantial, so great for post workout, and super satisfying.  I love all meals made with mince, and gnocchi makes a nice change from pasta, oh and  of course we added some mozzarella because it just had to be done.  This is a longer recipe to make, but I cooked it up before heading to a circuits class then baked it in the oven when I got home, and I am sure this one will be made multiple times over.

baked gnocchi with minced beef

8. Courgette with miso steak - (see picture further above) - sooooo anybody know where to find white miso paste? I found brown miso paste, and that's what we used, but, the recipe says mix with water to make it spreadable, but this was already pretty spreadable so not really convinced I had the right thing...not off to a good start.  And yeh, that courgette shortage that's taken over the world at the moment? 3 supermarkets later and I still couldn't find any, so made do with the one we had lurking at the back of the fridge and bought some sweet potato-getti (?) to go with it.  This was nice, but didn't blow me away, you couldn't really taste the miso (but that might be because I bought the wrong thing) and without that, it is just steak and veg.

9.  Chicken carbonara -in usual circumstances, I'm not a carbonara fan, it's too creamy for me, and if I was picking a pasta dish, I'd always rather go for a spicy tomato sauce.  But, because this was sans cream, I decided to give it a go, and I'm glad I did, because it was goooood.  Another really satisfying dish so perfect for post workout, and full of flavour from the bacon.  I added kale, because I like to add some greens and it worked a treat, would definitely recommend giving this one a go.

chicken carbonara

 10.  Cauliflower rice with coconut prawns - it feels like forever since I made this as it was the first recipe from the book I tried, so I just had to check back to my instagram post to see what I thought of it.  Turns out it was a winner, I just went a bit heavy on the chilli.  Cauliflower rice is definitely a bit of a faff to make (I only have a handheld food processor though) but it's a great low carb alternative.

So there we go, a bit of a summary (and lengthy blog post) of some of the book three meals I've made so far.  I'm still working my way through the book as there's loads I've got my eye on, chicken kiev, massaman curry and sausage stew to name a few, and there's others I've made, but haven't got a decent photo to share on here...probably because I ate it too quickly.  But, 10 recipes in with still a lot more I want to cook, I'm impressed, Joe Wicks has done it again.

cauliflower rice with coconut prawns
Let me know if you cook from these books at all, I'd love to know what your favourite recipes are...or, if like me, you're creating your own versions, and if so, let me know what you recommend.  

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

latest #fitspo - actively rees, the clean eating guide and cat meffan

It's been forever since I last did a #fitspo post, in fact the last one was way back in May when I declared my love for Steffy White, if you don't know who she is then seriously go check her out...although be warned, you'll decide you want to become a complete yogi after seeing some of her lycra-clad posts.

Instagram is my go-to place for inspiration, yes there are hundreds of thousands of posts of girls in skimpy bikinis and perfect peachy bums surrounded by white sand, and clear blue seas.  Yes they're nice to look at, and completely enviable, but we all know those people don't really exist (tell me they don 't really exist!) and those pictures are airbrushed to within an inch of their life. What I like to see is real people, who admit that sometimes they don't want to workout, sometimes they sit and eat a whole bar of Dairy Milk, and despite all the hard work they might even still have cellulite.  Girls, women, ladies who you can resonate with, who work hard to look like they do, but have to live a normal life too, they are the inspirational ones for me.

So I thought I'd pop below a few of my faves that I'm following on Instagram right now.

Actively Rees


I LOVE this girl, and so it seems, does the rest of the world, with a whopping 205,000 followers.  Nikki is a serious inspiration, she's a stay at home mum who started doing Kayla Itsines BBG Guide to lose the baby weight. And she looks hot! Posting regular photos of herself to show how she's coming along, but with hilarious instagram stories usually recounting her lack of enthusiasm to workout.  If I looked like that after two kids, I'd be happy bunny.  Actually, if I looked like that now, I'd be a happy bunny, check out that body!

The Clean Eating Guide

The Clean Eating Guide

I mean you'd expect Courtney to have a killer body, she's a personal trainer and a dancer and is a total advocate of 'clean', healthy eating.  I've been following Courtney for about 6 months, and I'm seriously considering booking in a PT session with her next time I'm in London.  She's got abs I could only dream about, her Instagram feed is full of protein filled but healthy and substantial meals and she's got a workout wardrobe I'd love to raid (if I was 2 sizes smaller!).  And if that's not enough, she's just launching into the world of youtube where you get to see the real behind the scenes stuff and all I can say is, this girl can eat!!!

Cat Meffan

Cat Meffan

I'm pretty sure I discovered Cat through Carly (and you all know how much I love Carly!) so it was likely that I was immediately going to be a fan! Another yogi for me to add to my list of girl crushes, this ex gymnast is a total babe.  With a dancer's physique, an impressive collection of crazy leggings and simple, easy-to-follow yoga tutorials, she may just be becoming my new favourite.

I'm always on the hunt for new inspiration and people to follow to attempt to keep my feet in the gym, and my hands out the biscuit box so if you've got any favourites you think I should be following then do let me know! Ideally those with toned abs, but confirm it's ok to live on a diet of prosseco and chocolate would be my first choice.


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