Sunday 31 January 2016

January Activewear Favourites

I've had a bit of splurge on the active wear front. I can't seem to help it, recently the brights and lycra have stolen my heart and I'm instantly drawn to the sports section of any clothes shop.

This little haul includes some all time classic gym staples as well as some key pieces I'll be sweating in this spring.

Top left is a classic neon coral long sleeve top from Adidas- this is perfect for the outdoor bootcamp circuits I do, where multiple layers are abso-bloody-lutely essential in the (hideous) Manchester elements.

The top to the right of this is Adidas again, this time though it's a really cute mesh racer back top - and how nice is the pattern on the front? I love the design and can't wait till it's warm enough to wear this running on it's own.

Speaking of racerbacks, I spotted the bright lime green top in TK Maxx, and was all over it. I loove the scooped mesh back detail, and the rest of the material has a cool ribbed effect texture. It's made by Roxy, a brand I wouldn't usually associate with gym wear, but this top is a nice surprise!

The pink t-shirt next to the white Adidas top (and photographed more clearly below) is, again, another TK bargain; just a simple, comfy tee for yoga, and the orange long sleeved top next to it is essentially identical to the long-sleeved Adidas one but this one's from H&M.

H&M are one of my all time favourite activewear highstreet brands, I think their stuff is fantastically priced and the designs are gorgeous. My favourite thing about the orange long sleeved top is the material, it's soo soft and smooth against my skin. 

By far my number 1 piece from this haul is the WKND jumper above... It's from Sweaty Betty, and is an ideal top to lounge in on Saturday and Sunday. It's boxy, oversized and slightly cropped, so it goes perfectly with the mint green leggings (also SB). These leggings are amazingly soft and extremely comfortable. I've been wearing these to yoga and they're great because they don't cut in on your hips - they're also reversible too (black on the other side), but I like the mint green pattern too much to swap it about.

I'm in the market for a new gym bag and I reeeally want some This Girl Can 'merch'; could you recommend any good kit bags that can be lugged around to work etc all day?


Saturday 30 January 2016

My favourite way to make a Matcha Latte

It really grinds my gears when people talk about trying matcha lattes for the first time and being bitterly disappointed with the taste. First up, it's a green drink, so expecting the same taste as a creamy, caramel latte will get you nowhere. Second of all, yes, I would agree that matcha is an acquired taste, but, last but not least, there are umpteen ways to sweeten it and make it deliciously comforting and energising.

The team at Eat Clean Tea (they specialise in matcha tea, not bullshit diet tea don't worry!) sent me some powder to make my own lattes, so I wanted to share my personal fave matcha latte recipe with you - it's a sweet, smooth variation that's destined to get your day off to an energised start.

Why matcha?

  • Slow release energy and caffeine boost
  • Made from really high quality green tea leaves (the leaves are shaded whilst growing to increase the chlorophyll, hence the really green colour)
  • 137x more antioxidants of normal green tea
  • High in vitamins A and E
  • Contains antioxidants (and really high in antioxidant EGCG, an amazing antioxidant - more info here.)
  • Contains amino acids
  • Can help burn calories faster (you could burn up to 25% more fat if you drink it before exercise, say studies from University of Geneva and American Journal of Clinical Nutrition - more evidence here.)

So, my method is really simple. You'll need:

  • 1/2 teaspoon matcha powder
  • Unsweetened almond milk (as much as you like in your coffee)
  • 1 teaspoon 100% pure maple syrup 
  • Cinnamon for sprinkling

Boil your water, get your cup and put your 1/2 teaspoon matcha powder in the bottom. Pour in half of your water, and slowly froth for 10 seconds. Add in your almond milk (I like it quite milky), the rest of the water and maple syrup and froth again. Sprinkle your cinnamon on top and sip away!

It's smooth, sweet and bloody delicious!!

Saturday 23 January 2016

What I'm Doing Wrong On Rest Days

Whilst I pride myself on (and genuinely enjoy!) doing some form of exercise most days, I'm well aware that I don't use my rest days as effectively as I could do, and I really want to do something about it.

On a typical week, my workout schedule looks something like;

Monday - Gym
Tuesday - Bootcamp circuits
Wednesday - Yoga & or gym
Thursday - Bootcamp circuits
Friday - Gym
Saturday - Bootcamp circuits and / or a decent run
Sunday - Rest day

By the same token, my social schedule usually looks something like;

Monday - nothing. at. all. zzzzz.
Tuesday - nothing, don't be silly
Wednesday - still nothing, don't be silly
Thursday - cheeky glass of red with friends?
Friday - chilled night in
Saturday - usually travelling to some other part of the country after bootcamp to see friends or family, most usually a night out or a meal out... 
Sunday - hangover / seeing friends / seeing family / travelling / eating out

Another thing I do is track macros every weekday, usually on a Saturday but most likely never on a Sunday. Which is coincidentally the day I'm really lax about my diet, more likely to be hungover and eat crap *and* it's the day I choose to not do any exercise - WINNER, not...

Of course, some Sundays I'll just fancy blasting out a run, or a big walk will be planned in, but as a general rule Sundays are my day off.

Why are rest days important? 

I've been doing a bit of research into using rest days more effectively; why we need them and the benefits they have so I can try and get the most out of them!

We need rest days for muscle repair, for the body to repair, to prevent injury and to help with sleep, but as well as physiological benefits there are psychological ones too, like preventing burnout and boredom, as well as helping to keep a healthy balance (good article on 6 reasons that we need rest days here).

Rest days help the body cope with the stress of exercise, to replace energy stores and help repair tissues. There's a really useful, comprehensive article that goes into more detail on this on, which has strict verification from a medical review policy. The article also highlights the need for sleep in aiding rest day effectiveness, which is also something I know I need to work on...

All in all, the fact I eat more and move less on my rest day probably isn't the best. I'm all for cheat days and 'refeeds' but when this is consistently happening on a rest day, it ain't gooood..

With this in mind, I'm trying to be better. Committing to them most importantly, but also learning how to use them effectively.

My rest day goals:
  • Try to incorporate rest days into a day of the week where I'm not eating out / drinking / out of a routine.
  • Track macros on rest days.
  • Improve my sleep pattern (blog post to come)
Do you have any rest day tips I can incorporate?


Friday 22 January 2016

Madeleine Shaw launches #GlowGuides App

You might remember me "fangirling" back in May when I went to Maddy's Supper Club at Harvey Nics, and ended up sitting on her table..?! The whole evening was great; spent sampling dishes from her 'Get the Glow' cookbook and getting to know loads more about Maddy herself.

Maddy's book is one of my favourite (potentially in the top 3?!) cook books I've bought over the past year; I really appreciate her ethos on eating and I like how all-encompassing her recipes are - vegans and meat-eaters alike can find loads of incredible dishes to make. Madeleine herself is also really sweet, lovely to talk to and very humble.

Get The Glow is full of lush, wholesome dishes like this green goddess bowl (made for her supper club)
As a big Mad-vocate (sorry), I was so pleased for her when I found out she was launching her own app - 'Glow Guides'.

What is Glow Guides?

Glow Guides is an 8-week holistic transformational programme in an app. The idea behind it is that you have a PT, nutritionist and life coach in your pocket, offering you workouts, recipes, life hacks and meditation tips, to get healthier and happier (in mind, body and spirit) in eight weeks.

How does it work? 

The basis of the app is video, PDF and audio content, broken up into three categories: 'Move', 'Munch' and 'Meditate'. Each week the app will include;

  • A video outlining your target goals for the week
  • A meal plan for the week ahead
  • Strength and cardio based workout vids (by PT Shona Vertue) with printable PDFs
  • Vinyasa yoga and restorative yoga videos 
  • Meditation audio
  • Live stream function - Madeleine can speak directly to anyone participating

iOS or Android? 

Both. Yay.

What does Madeleine say?

“I was tired of transformational programmes focusing on how you look rather than how well and happy you are. For me, real transformation needs to go beyond the superficial if it's to have a lasting and positive affect.

The Glow Guides’ approach is completely holistic but I also hope it feels like your best friend, providing inspiration and words of encouragement...”

What do I say?

Like I've said before I really like how all-encompassing Madeleine's approach to diet and exercise is, and I think the holistic element of this app (combining mind, body and food) captures this perfectly. I looove the inclusion of the live stream function, I think it brings the whole app alive and gives it a solid, real time feel. Which is great because at £49.99, it's not cheap. Still a hell of a lot cheaper than a PT, plus you're getting meal plans, yoga & cardio & strength workouts, as well as meditation advice included too. The longevity of the app is a winner too - yes it's initially designed for an 8 week transformation, but you could easily repeat the programme and continue on your journey to optimum wellness.

To give you a taster of what to expect in the app, I've included a workout below...

If you want more info, go to


Saturday 16 January 2016

Busaba Eathai opens in Manchester

I went to see the Book of Mormon back in August (if you haven't seen it yet get it on your to-do list!), and afterwards James and I needed food. We happened to stumble across Busaba Eathai in Leicester Square - with bi-fold style doors spilling out onto the pavement, our open window seat was perfect and the food was delicious...

I had no idea it was a chain until they got in touch and asked if I wanted to come to the preview of the Manchester restaurant launch, and naturally I was all over it.

I've spoken before about my favourite Thai dishes so I was looking forward to checking Busaba out again, as well as enjoying a good cocktail or two.

We kicked off with a Thai taste session with Busaba's executive chef, Jude Sangsida. He talked us through the three dominant flavours found in Thai food (sweet, salty and spicy), offering round various sauces and things to dip in so we could choose our favourite. Mine was spicy, quelle surprise. He also made us Som Tam salad - an amazingly light, zingy papaya salad sprinkled with nuts and chilli.

It was then onto cocktails. Before we had our cocktail masterclass, we had a round of drinks to limber up - I went for the Thai Martini and my god it was amazing:

Gin, basil, lemongrass & elderflower served in a basil-sugar rimmed glass.

Then it was our turn to mix the drinks - we each made a Coconut Collins (described to us as a more mature pina colada).  Jamaican coconut rum, crushed ginger and lemongrass, pineapple juice and lime juice, ice.

Ho ho ho and a bottle of rum...

Delicious, but I definitely preferred the Martini.

Now on to foooooood. Naturally, I went for my faves - chicken satay starter and pad thai for the main. James went for calamari followed by, hands down, one of the best red Thai curries I've ever had (the Songkhla red curry). Maybe even the best. The beef was so tender and soft, falling apart in your mouth it had been cooked that long, and mixed with a creamy, spicy sauce and coconut rice, it was safe to say I had food envy. The calamari was great and had a popcorny taste to it (which sounds odd, I know, but just worked). I'm annoyed because I didn't take a picture of the red beef curry!! But take my word, it was the absolute dogs b.

The satay didn't disappoint; the sauce was spicy and rich, and I loved the way the chicken was cooked, barbecued with a definite smoky taste.

My classic pad thai (first picture) was everything I could've asked for; rice noodles, chicken, tofu, peanuts, dried shrimp, egg, beansprout and lime. Great portion size too.

We didn't notice at the time, but both our mains were gluten free which is handy to note for all you GF's.

After *another* Thai Martini (that sugared basil rim though) and chatting to some lovely, likeminded (read, tipsy) people, we headed home. But we'll be back! It's an absolute winner in my eyes.

Busaba Eathai is open from Monday 18th January and can be found in the Printworks. 


Thursday 14 January 2016

Salted Caramel Nicecream

If you're anything like me then having something sweet after a meal is mandatory (regardless of how full I am) - I just crave it! This salted caramel banana icecream is a beauty - sweet, salty, soft icecream peppered with cacao nibs.

It takes minutes to make (provided you've got frozen banana) so it's perfect for a quick weeknight sweet tooth fix.

For one person, you'll need:

1 - 2 frozen bananas (chopped)
2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon maple syrup (I use Buckwud)
1 tablespoon cacao nibs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Place the banana, almond milk, vanilla extract, maple syrup and sea salt in the blender and mix for a couple of minutes until a smooth, icecream like consistency has formed. Scoop out into a bowl and top with cacao nibs.

ENJOY, it's bloody delicious.

The beauty with this is how easy it is to swap flavours in and out - I did another 'nicecream' blog post here, about a year ago..

Saturday 9 January 2016

Current Favourite HIIT Workouts

Over Christmas, like many I didn't have access to a gym, but still wanted to keep fairly active over the festive period - mainly to offset the barrage of wine and Stilton I planned on enjoying!

To get the smugness out of the way quickly, I impressed myself by getting a few 7 / 8 mile runs, a couple of 10ks and a cheeky Parkrun in, and it was really nice to be able to get out so much. Normally in Winter I'm restricted to running on weekends, so it was good to have the freedom during the day to pound about.

Running 10k over the holidays
In true British style, the rain over Christmas was sometimes too much to bear, so I used HIIT training to mix things up.

I'm a massive fan of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), and incorporate it into my regime at least three times a week. More on the benefits of HIIT here and here.

I thought I'd note down a few of my fave workouts at the moment, in case you fancied some inspiration over the coming weeks. The workouts below include both home and gym based workouts. Obvs, I'm not a PT, I'm just sharing what I've been doing for the past couple of weeks. If you're not already, get on and follow the bloody gorgeous Joe Wicks on Insta etc, as all his HIIT workouts are great. He got me into it in the first place, especially the first workout..

Workout 1
Equipment: treadmill
This is my absolute go-to for a 'killa' workout if you're pushed for time.

Naturally, you'll need to adapt the sprint speed to suit you, I usually set this to between 17 - 18kph (18 being really challenging for me).

  • 1 min walk warm up
  • 2 mins run 11kph
  • 45 secs sprint at desired speed level (17 - 18kph)
  • 30 secs rest
  • 45 secs sprint
  • 30 secs rest

.. repeat until you hit 20 minutes. Trust me, it's an absolute beast. I love it.

If you've not done sprints before, or don't feel comfortable hopping on and off the treadmill edges, speak to someone in the gym - I did this when I first started because I wasn't confident with the speed, and getting someone to walk me through it really helped.

Workout 2 
It has two parts to it, A & B, and takes me around 40-45 mins.
Equipment: treadmill, weighted barbell, kettlebell, bench
I do these sprints with the treadmill turned off, to make it really tough. I grab the front handles of the treadmill, and push until the belt moves, then run as fast as I can (with my hands still gripped) for 20 seconds.


  • Treadmill (turned off) sprint for 20 secs
  • Rest 30 secs
  • Treadmill (turned off) sprint for 20 secs
  • Rest 30 secs
  • 10 barbell weighted squats (I'd probably use a 20kg barbell) - pulse up and down 5 times at end
  • 10 Burpees
Repeat 5 times

  • 10 dips on a bench / chair
  • 10 kettlebell swings
  • 10 deadlifts (use the barbell for this, adjust the weights as necessary for you, I'll increase the weight here)
  • Upper body get ups (sometimes called moving planks)
Repeat 5 times

Workout 3
This one's adapted from one of Joe's, it's a ladder workout and great to do at home as all exercises are bodyweight based. 

The method for this one is easy.

10 secs on, 10 secs off (each exercise).
20 secs on, 20 secs off,
30 secs on, 30 secs off,
40 secs on, 40 secs off,
30 secs on, 30 secs off,
20 secs on, 30 secs off,
10 secs on, 10 secs off.

You do as many of the below in the time available. Once you've completed all the exercises, you adjust the time. 
  • Burpee tuck jumps
  • Mountain climbers
  • High knees
  • Press ups
  • Squat jumps
  • Lunge jumps
  • Plank
So, you'd do each of the above exercises for 10 seconds, resting for 10 seconds in between each exercise, then move on to 20 secs and so on. 

This one's sneaky; you're doing burpees for ten seconds thinking what the hell is all the fuss about, but just you wait until you're on 30 / 40 seconds. I had to remind myself not to get cocky!

If you have any favourite HIIT workouts, send 'em my way!


Sunday 3 January 2016

British Military Fitness Cookbook

It might not be an Amazon best seller, but I'm in a book! A recipe book, to be precise, crafted and made possible by British Military Fitness. They asked a handful of foodie, fitness and healthy lifestyle bloggers to share a recipe for either breakfast, lunch or tea as part of their #FitFoodBMF campaign.

I do circuits outdoors three times a week, and the bootcamp element to British Military Fitness classes has always (weirdly perhaps) appealed to me, so I was honoured to be asked to take part in this..

I chose to make a slow cooked lamb dish; to me it's something I look forward to tucking into after having battled with the elements (and kettlebells) at circuits, and it seemed a good fit given that we're in the middle of winter.

The recipe for this slow cooked paprika lamb with pomegranate quinoa can be found below, and if you want to download the e-book, the link is here!

You can't really make lamb stew look too pretty, so sorry about the picture...!

Slow cooked paprika lamb with pomegranate quinoa

Serves 4

400g lamb shoulder
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 can chopped tomatoes
2 celery sticks, chopped
4 carrots, diced
1 sprig fresh rosemary (or 1 tbsp dried)
2 tbsp hot paprika
1 tbsp cumin
3 garlic gloves, chopped
1 onion, diced
Salt and pepper to season

For the quinoa:

100g quinoa
Seeds from one large pomegranate

I served mine with Greek yoghurt and a couple of handfuls of spinach.

I always remove the majority of excess fat from the lamb before putting in the slow cooker. Once I've done this, I throw it all in the slow cooker and let it do its thing for around eight hours. If you don't have a slow cooker, you can do this in a large, deep pan, and keep things cooking on a really low heat - just make sure you keep your eye on it every hour or so.

As well as being one of my fave comfort meals, BMF also asked nutritionist Ben Coomber to look at each recipe from a nutritional perspective to sound them out. Ben reckons the dish is a great recovery option as it's full of proteins and carbs, which is good enough for me! Personally, I like using quinoa rather than rice in this - it's lighter and contains more protein. Plus, the dish as a whole is so easy to make - chuck everything in the slow cooker and voila. Freeze what you don't need and whip it out when you're stuck for making time to cook.

One of the best things about the campaign was discovering a load of new like-minded bloggers, as well as featuring along side my good pal Vicki :)

The variety of recipes everyone created in the book is diverse, and as well as sounding really tasty, none of them look too complicated to make! Each one has a nutritionally sound profile too so ideal if you're looking for a bit of healthy cuisine inspiration.

As a thank you, British Military Fitness have given me a free pass at one of their classes, so if I give it a whirl I'll be sure to let you know how it is..!

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