Sept/Oct Update

I have no idea where this year is going, we’ve just got back from an ultra chilled week in Fuerteventura and it’s apparently mid-winter, I’m usually pretty good with the cold, but I am really suffering with going from high 20’s, to it being not many degrees above 0. Brrrr. I love winter training, but my body is just not ready for it yet!

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Sweatbox holiday gym

I thought I’d just do a little round up of the last few weeks, as I didn’t get round to doing a September or October update. I continued with the heavy weight training, and saw some really good progress in the last few weeks, I can see a difference in my back and shoulders, and more importantly I managed to do my first unassisted chin ups, which is something I’ve been working on for the last few months. I’ve continued to increase the weights I’m using, and have noticed big strength differences between May when I turned my focus to weights from running and now. The only issue I’m having is I am massively in love with weight training, and my love for running seems to have died a sad death! I’m going to change my focus now, and start to increase my running and decrease my weight sessions, hopefully I will still be able to maintain my strength though, I just need to somehow rediscover the love for it.

I’m not following a plan with running yet, which is probably why I’m struggling to get out the door. I am trying to get back into running 4-5 times a week, and running 20+ miles a week, as I’ve pretty much taken the last 6 months off, so I’m going to need to gradually build back up to where I want to be before starting my training plan for 2017. Running was fairly non-existent in the last few months, weekly mileage has fluctuated from 2 miles to 20 last week, but mostly has been closer to the lower end of that spectrum. I’ve found running a real grind over the last few months, I think due to the heavy weight sessions which have left me drained and sore and unable to feel comfortable when running, hopefully once I tip the balance in favour of running this will sort it self out. I’ve taken a week completely off the gym this week- probably not the best timing, as I’ve felt a bit down and angry with all that’s been going on in the world this week and should of channeled that in the gym, instead of moping round the house! I’m going to start dropping my sessions down now, and probably only training 3-4 times a week in the gym for the next few months.

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I took a trip back to Wales with Baxter early in October, and it was nice to have some absolute chill time, and spend time with my family. Nick was in San Fran again for another work trip, and he treated us to another whole foods Vegan junk haul- guess the theme?! The Clif nut butter filled bars are amazing.

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The second holiday of the month, was Fuerteventura, it was a much needed holiday, as I felt really drained and run down for a few weeks before this and needed a recharge. We did a lot of walking, and running along the beautiful beaches there, and it was so nice to get some winter sun, I think holidays are wasted in summer time, this is totally the time of year when we need the sun. I was totally spoilt for Vegan options there, as well as a number of solely Vegan restaurants and cafes, there was also loads of Vegan friendly places, so we ate really well over the course of the week.

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Oh we also had an amazing time at London Vegfest, checking out lots of the booths, and cool new Vegan products, we ate a lot of chocolate and cake, and bought even more Vegan treats, plus some peanut butter doggy treats, Baxter is as obsessed with it as I am.

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Now that holidays are over, it’s time to settle back into my regular routine, and I am looking forward to lots of warming soups, stews and curries, because it’s just too damn cold for smoothies right now!

I’ve finally got my diploma in nutritional therapy, I handed in my portfolio in September, but had to wait a while for it to be marked and everything else to be signed off. I will spend the next few months working on my nutrition business, so busy times ahead, I’m not sure whether I will keep this blog going, or set up a new one that’s solely nutrition focused via my business website, something to think about for future, as I’m not really that motivated to blog here of late, but we shall see what happens.

 

August Update

That month flew by- and it actually feels like we have had a proper summer for the first time in years, I can only remember it raining maybe once all month- amazing, although not so much when it’s 32 degrees and you have to commute on the tube. Ugh.

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Time for a little training, food and life update from the last 4 weeks. I’m really enjoying training at the moment, I am training 6 days a week, with 5 weight sessions push, pull, legs, and 3-4 short runs also. My runs are pretty hard right now, I can’t remember the last time I had fresh legs, I feel like when you weight train so frequently your legs pretty much never feel good on a run. I wanted to start doing some more speed work, but honestly my legs just feel like death on every run, and it’s more than enough work to lace up and get out there right now. So I’m just taking things nice and steadily, doing 2-4 mile runs with the other half, I’ve signed up for the NDW50 next year, so I have all winter for longer stuff. Bizarrely I realised that I haven’t run a marathon in well over 2 years now- it doesn’t seem like it’s been that long, I’ve done 2 ultras since then, but it’s been a long long time since I’ve run 26.2- in a race situation that is, I’ve done plenty of them in training. I’m excited to get back into longer stuff, and put the hard work in over the winter, but right now, getting strong is my aim.

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I’ve really noticed a good improvement in my strength over the last 4 weeks, I try to up my weights each week if I can, to continue to challenge and stimulate my muscles. It’s slow progress, but I think I’m a pretty hard gainer, so not matter how hard I work in the gym, how much I eat, how much protein I eat, my body just finds it difficult to build muscle- but it’s challenging and it’s encouraging to see small progress week on week, and keeps me motivated to keep going on this journey.

My goal for the rest of the year, as well as getting my body as strong as possible for winter endurance running, is to get my first unassisted chin-up, I’m regularly practicing negatives and using the assisted pull-up machine, I’m using the lightest possible assist weight now, so hopefully heading in the right direction. All my workouts focus on rep ranges of 10-12 at the moment, though I will change this up to keep challenging myself and keep things fresh over the next few months. I am so in love with lifting right now, running has taken a backseat for a while and I’m totally cool with that.

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August was definitely a step in the right direction food wise, although we still had loads of visitors across the month, and did eat out quite a lot, I feel like the last couple of weeks things have settled down and we have been able to cook a lot simpler, fresher and healthier meals, it’s been fun getting back into the kitchen, and I’m kind of excited to cook again after having a bit of a break all summer.

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We’ve just booked a holiday to Fuerteventura in very late October/November, and I can’t wait for some winter sun, we went to New York in April for a few days, but other than that we haven’t had a break, so it will nice to just have a chilled week in the sunshine, and also there seems to loads of Vegan/Veg-friendly restaurants there which will be amazing.

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I feel like we’ve spent loads of time outdoors this month, and really made the most of the weather with loads of picnics, BBQ’s, and outdoorsy stuff, which has been lovely. We’ve also done lots of cool stuff in London, which we don’t always get the chance to do, sometimes it’s nice to be a bit of a tourist in your own city.  Although we did pretty much spend 2 entire weeks watching the Olympics non-stop so that kind of balanced it out. Nick was in San Fran last week with work and he brought me back an epic Whole Foods haul, the ginger coconut chips are utterly amazing!

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I have just over a week left to hand in my final case studies, and portfolio for my nutrition course, I completely underestimated how much work I had to do for it over the last few months and it’s been pretty draining, but everything is on track to get finished on time, and once I get my diploma through I can finally start setting up my own business and practicing. I can’t believe it’s been 3 years of studying, and I am really excited to see what lies ahead.

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For September, it’s just going to be more of the same on the nutrition and exercise front, hopefully I might be a little closer to that unassisted chin-up, and trying to keep the good balance between home cooked foods and eating out/Vegan treats!

elete Holistic Hydrate

When I first started running, I didn’t really understand the importance of hydration, or the fact that we not only need to replace water lost when exercising, but those all important electrolytes too. When I did my first marathon, I relied on coconut water to hydrate during and after the race, and after the race I had the most severe headache I have ever had in my life- I couldn’t sleep and I couldn’t move my head. Little did I realise I had got my hydration strategy very wrong, and although rich in potassium, coconut water is not a very good source of sodium which is mainly what we are losing in sweat. Since that incident, I have been using electrolytes and have never had the same issue, no matter the conditions, or race distance.

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elete Holistic Hydrate contacted me a couple of weeks ago and asked if I would like to try out their electrolyte solution, I am always keen to try out the highest quality, and most natural products, so was keen to hear more about elete and utilize it in my training.

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Firstly let’s talk electrolytes. Basically every time muscles move, or your heart beats it is electrical impulses that make this happen, each nerve impulse is dependent on an electrical charge, and a number of minerals in electrolyte form are vital for these functions to take place, these include Magnesium, Sodium, Potassium and Chloride. The charge these electrolytes carry is key for regulating fluid balance and pH balance, and when electrolyte levels are low or out of balance, it can cause muscle cramping and spasms- quite a common issue in endurance sports, particularly as there is an increased need for electrolytes. Unless these minerals are ionically charged, they are not electrolytes, and will not have the beneficial properties such as hydration and cramp prevention.

Key electrolytes:
Magnesium: Essential for all energy conversion, muscle function, nerve conduction, and more than 300 different enzymatic reactions, and it is depleted from the body under times of physical and emotional stress.

Potassium: Should be the most abundant electrolyte inside the cells, and is vital for muscle function, nerve conduction and water balance.

Sodium: Commonly found in modern diets. It’s also key for heat tolerance, muscle contraction and nerve conduction.

Chloride: Most abundant negatively charged electrolyte, essential for oxygen exchange, digestion, water and pH balance.

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elete make 100% natural ionically charged electrolyte products, organically derived from solar evaporation of the great salt lake in Utah. It contains all four key electrolytes mentioned above, in an ionically charged form together with other beneficial naturally occurring trace elements, vital for maintaining hydration, sustaining energy and enhancing mental focus, both during training and events.

Unlike most sports drinks on the markets, elete contains no sugar, no sweeteners, preservatives, flavourings or colourings. It comes in a concentrated form, which is really handy as it can be tailored to your individual needs. Most common sports drinks contain only one or two electrolytes in an non-ionic form which are not well assimilated by the body.

elete can be added to water, juices, smoothies and soups. I have been using the 25ml bottles, which make up to 10litres of electrolyte solution, so would be ideal for multi stage races, or traveling, as they are extremely light and handy to pack. elete also sell refill bottles. It’s ideal for adding to your hydration pack for long training runs or races, as it doesn’t leave any residues and is simple to clean after.

I’m not doing any endurance stuff at the minute, but I’ve been using elete daily just for general well-being. Most people tend to be low in magnesium, so it can be taken for general health anyway. I’ve been taking it alongside my lemon water first thing in the morning, to replenish after waking up, and do feel better hydrated throughout the day. I will be keen to see it’s benefits when I start doing more endurance training again.

You can purchase elete products from their website. They have also kindly given me a 10% discount code to offer to you guys, just type BLOGGER DISCOUNT into the coupon box at the checkout.

Coming Full Circle with Food

When I first started to study nutritional therapy, I was a tiny bit concerned that it might flare up some tendencies and habits around food that I had worked hard to move away from. I think it’s difficult when you study nutrition to not become slightly obsessed with food, and to create food rules, depending on what you have read/seen/been taught. I know from having talked to other students along the way, how hard it is to not get caught up in all of this and all of a sudden to find yourself developing some unhealthy habits and an unhealthy relationship with food.

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I’ve certainly been through ups and downs while studying, and there have been times where maybe I’ve had a lecture, done some research after, and decided I needed to avoid X/Y/Z. However, I can happily say that after 3 years of studying nutrition, I think I’m in a place where I’ve probably felt more freedom around food than I have at any other point over the course of the last 10 years.

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What I’ve discovered from seeing clients and observing cases, is there is no one size fits all case with nutrition, we are all unique, and thus what is going to work for us and suit us personally is going to be totally different from the next person. I think it can be trial and error, and you have to really be in touch with your body, and discover what does and doesn’t work for you.

What really really frustrates me, is when I see so called “wellness gurus” demonizing certain foods or food groups, and suggesting a blanket removal for everyone. Yes, certain foods might not suit some people, but I don’t believe that suggesting removing gluten/dairy etc is something that should be applied as a first port of call for every single person regardless of their symptoms or health issues. We want to create sustainable changes long term and creating restrictive rules around food is not the way to put that in place.

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Studying nutrition could have made me obsessive and restrictive, but it’s actually left me freer than I have ever been. I’ve reintroduced foods that I previously had avoided for a long time, and though it doesn’t mean I eat them all the time, I don’t feel guilty for having them when I want them. Let’s be honest being Vegan in certain places can be restrictive enough, without declaring that you don’t eat gluten/sugar/fruit/grains or whatever else is on trend. It’s not sustainable and I think it alienates us even more. It’s about embracing each and everything that is Vegan, whether that be a delicious raw cake, indulgent smoothie or massive pizza. Of course just because something is Vegan, doesn’t mean it’s automatically healthy, but at the same time, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t enjoy things that can nourish us and be healthy in other ways.

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So I guess my journey from here on out, is about how I can show how easy, balanced and accessible a Vegan diet is, and can be. Veganism is not something I see as restrictive. or a way of cutting things out of my diet. It’s a lifestyle, it’s how I define myself, and it’s about so much more than my food choices, and actually it’s about being part of something much bigger than myself. I could never eat animal products again, and that’s my choice, but it doesn’t mean that it would work for everybody, and I respect that too.

Definitely not paleo.

I think I’ve totally over-complicated health and my relationship to food over the last few years, so it feels so good, to actually eat in a really simple, affordable and nourishing way. Health to me has become about listening to my body, eating what I crave, eating food that’s not only good for my body but good for my soul. I’ve found my wellness, and it was actually in the place I least expected to discover it.

Change of Routine

It’s been a long while since I posted, so I thought I would do a little update on all things fitness, food and life, and try to get myself back into the swing of blogging a little more regularly and putting a little more time and effort into the blog.

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Running

Running has been fairly non-existent of late. I’ve taken a really long break after the SDW50 in April, there was a few weeks with no running whatsoever and some weeks where my mileage has been around 6-9 miles. I’ve been going out with the other half for some shorter jogs here and there, and doing a bit of interval sprints on the treadmill too, but mostly my legs have just been recovering. I didn’t want to rush back and force myself to train for something and I wanted to wait until I felt ready to get back into it. As of now I have no races on the calendar for the rest of the year and it might well stay that way. Until last week I hadn’t run over 3 miles since April, and it has been hard to get back into it, but with a few short runs over the last few weeks I can slowly but surely feel a little bit of fitness coming back, and a little bit of the love for running creeping back in. I don’t think I’ve ever been at a point in the last few years where I don’t have any events planned and I’m not doing any long distance stuff, but I’m enjoying changing things up, and I know when the time is right, I will be ready to get back into it.

Strength

What I have been doing quite a lot of is strength training, it’s something that I’ve always had a big passion and interest in, but I’ve never quite be able to strike the right balance between running and lifting. I tend to do it as more of an injury prevention during endurance training, but over the last few months I’ve really got back into it, and I can feel such a big difference in my strength since I started training more regularly. I’m hoping to carry on training hard in the gym for the rest of the year and seeing where that gets me, hopefully it will stand me in good stead for any running events in 2017.

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Food

Nutrition has been up and down, we have had a super busy few months, with what seems like visitors all the time, so we’ve been eating out a lot. I think there was a 2 week period where I literally cooked one meal, we were just constantly eating out. Hopefully we will have a quieter few weeks ahead, so we can get back to some simple eats, and focus on wholefoods, with the occasional, rather than frequent Vegan treats. I really would like to drop some weight over the next few months, as I’m just carrying too much for me right now- probably should have stopped eating like an ultra runner when I stopped running in April!!

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Life

Other than that, Baxter now is one! I can’t believe how time has flown, and I am absolutely smitten, I can’t imagine being without him! I have nearly finished my nutrition course, just got one more client to finish with, and a load of work to write up and sort out so hopefully in the next few weeks once I qualify, I can get focused on starting up my nutritional therapy business. I’ve started a new job working for a wholefood supplement company, which I am really enjoying. The highlight of my summer was going to the Wimbledon men’s final with my mum, I’ve been pretty much every year over the last 8 or 9 years, and had good tickets before from the ballot for semi’s/quarters etc but never a final, so when my mum got tickets in the ballot we knew it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity so had to go. We were incredibly lucky to see Murray lift the title, and it was an amazing day.

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That’s about all from me, I’m going to try and update here more regularly so we shall see how that goes!