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I have a love hate relationship with running. I love running at my leisure, with no set pace and length in mind, but I hate despise running during a Crossfit WOD or race. I love running when the sun is shining (and even in the summer rain) but I hate running in the cold and the dark. I love running outside but I hate running on the treadmill. 

At the start of 2017, I set the goal to mix up my workouts a bit more and try something new every month. Now running isn’t new to me but it is something I don’t work on enough, so when John Lewis got in touch to send me some trainers for their website I jumped at the chance.

What better motivation right?

 

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I’m in no way a beginner runner and can easily run 5K, but I’m not a seasoned runner either – so I thought I would bring you my top running tips for beginners and things that have helped me in the past.

Set yourself a goal

Goal setting is important in everything we do, especially fitness. 

Reaching larger goals can seem pretty daunting. A marathon may feel impossible right now but after 6months of setting and achieving smaller goals it will seem a lot more doable. You may start with the goal to just getting your trainers on and getting outside – even if it’s just a run around the block, it’s much less overwhelming and much more achievable that a marathon, right?

You may want to tackle a 5k next, then a 10k etc. etc. before eventually you’ll be at that starting line looking your marathon goals square in the face!

Run with friends

Everything is better with a friend – even running. For a start you’re less likely to cancel on a friend than you are on yourself, you’ll be able to motivate each other through those tough runs and you’ll have much more fun. Plus, there’s nothing like a bit of friendly rivalry!

Or better still join a club. You’ll get all the benefits of running with a friend and more. There’ll be more conversation to help pass the time on longer runs; they’ll be different pacesetters with both faster, and even slower, members of the club and it’s much safer on the streets especially in the dark winter months.

Treat yourself to some new gear

I was kindly sent some new trainers from John Lewis and it reminded me of the importance of keeping your gear fresh, not only for the feel good factor but to ensure your feet are being well looked after too. 

Whether you’re pounding the payments or tearing up the treadmill, you’ll be putting your feet under a lot of pressure – so investing in a good pair of shoes is a must (Be prepared to spend a little bit more on a good pair of trainers, around £80-100).

Just as a running shoe should be these Nike trainers are super comfortable, light and flexible on the feet, great for absorbing the shock of your foot striking the pavement. John Lewis even offer a gait analysis service in their Peter Jones, High Wycombe, Cheadle and Birmingham shops

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Make running a habit 

Studies show it takes 66 days to form a habit, so get our your diary and mark the days you’ll go running over the next 10 weeks and DON’T GIVE UP. If you’re a morning runner prep your kit the night before and set a recurring alarm, and if you’re an evening runner, put your kit by the front door so it’s the first thing you see (and do) after work. 

Get a plan and stick to it

It’s not as simple as sticking on a pair of trainings and heading out the door. If you’ve been pretty inactive until now, it’s worth finding a good plan. Not only will it help keep you accountable, it’s also paramount in building up your activity levels. You’ll want to be mixing up longer and shorter runs, sprints and jogs and everything in between.

There are some great plans out there such as the Couch to 5K. You can also find a plan on most running websites (this Asics one is great) or from your local run club.

Switch it up

Pounding the pavements every night can get boring and is definitely the number one motivation killer for me. So switch it up and find somewhere new to run, it may be local park or further afield out in the country side. I love finding a run with an obstacle course in the middle for a bit of mid-run fun, or a nice country pub at the end for the ultimate weekend motivation.

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Rest 

Remember – rest is just as important as training.

I know you want to hit that 5k as soon as possible but trust me, you’ll get there quicker if you rest. As with all types of training, when you run you create tiny tears in your muscle tissue; your body will then try to repair these tears which will help to build muscle. So if you don’t get adequate rest then the body won’t get time to repair itself properly.

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Are you a runner or planning on getting started? I’d love to hear if my tips have helped you below or if you have any to add to the pot…

 

Disclaimer: I was kindly sent the trainers featured in this post but as always I only work with brands I believe in and all views and opinions are my own.

Just Bee Drinks Review - Blueberry - My Big Fit Diary

Bee-You

Now I’m not big on reviewing products for my blog, especially dedicating a whole post to them, but sometimes I just have to make an exception. 

I was first introduced to Just Bee at a LuluLemon event in Manchester and got to try out one of the flavours post workout. I was instantly intrigued by the brand firstly on the packaging, secondly on the simplistic, natural product inside the packaging and thirdly on the people behind the product.


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Who are Just Bee?

Just Bee grew out of a family’s love for Bee’s and honey. With a beekeeper in the family for at least the last two generations it was no wonder that Just Bee was born. And not only do Just Bee sell their bee-utiful drinks, they also have a passion for saving the bees too. 

A very wise man once said,

“If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth then man would only have 4 years left to live. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man!”

– Albert Einstein

(and for those of you who are fans of Black Mirror – then you know what could happen if the bees die out!!)

A simple way to help save the bee’s is by planting more ‘bee friendly’ wildflower seeds, and Just Bee are helping you do just that. All you have to do is head to their website, fill in a short form and they will send you a packet of seeds to sow in your very own garden (or a neighbours if you’re terrified at the prospect of inviting bees into your garden!!!).

Just Bee Drinks Review - Seeds - My Big Fit Diary

It’s funny, I’ve always been pretty calm when around bee’s (despite being scared of just about everything else!). I remember sitting in a classroom at primary school during snack time when a bee flew into the room, whilst everyone ran round like nutters I sat still, and when the bee landed on my hand I continued to sit still and eventually it flew away. Remember, bees are our friends and only sting when they feel threatened. So if one lands on your arm don’t run around waving them in the air, just stay calm and still and eventually the bee will leave you alone.

Now to the drinks

A Just Bee Drinks review wouldn’t be a review now without a cheeky taste test, so Just Bee kindly sent me one of each flavour to try! At first glance I was drawn to the Apple & Ginger flavour and it didn’t disappoint. I absolutely love ginger and although it didn’t knock my socks off (I like my ginger strong) it was super refreshing and I downed the carton in 10 seconds flat (note to Just Bee, make big bottles please so I can drink even more!).

Just Bee drinks are best served chilled and when poured over ice make the perfect alcohol free alternative when all your friends around you are getting drunk… great for anyone giving up alcohol for lent, and beyond!

After trying all three my favourite has to be the Lemon and Green tea, closely followed by the Blueberry.

Just Bee Drinks Review - flavours - My Big Fit Diary

Again the flavours aren’t very strong but are still tasty and if you struggle to drink enough water in your day then consider trying Just Bee as an alternative. At less than 50 calories per carton, more than 90% spring water and just a touch of honey and fruit juice they’re much more diet friendly than your shop bought cordial!

Just Bee Drinks Review - lemon & Green Tea - Apple & Ginger - My Big Fit Diary

So if I’ve got your ears pricked and your tastebuds tingling then head over to the Just Bee site now. Or you can pick one up for yourself from Selfridges, Boots, Holland & Barrett and Waitrose to name just a few.

As always let me know in the comments below if you try Just Bee and what you think? And we’d love to see your pics too! 

Dairy Free Spiced Rice Pudding - Mid - My Big Fit Diary

I’ve always been the biggest foodie, ever since I was little I loved trying new things and always ate a rainbow of foods; from broccoli to strawberries, and fish to salad. But I’ve also always been a bit of a junkie (food junkie that is!). I remember that I’d often get obsessed with the same types of foods, wanting to eat them over and over and over again – especially when it came to ‘naughty’ foods! 

Two of these things, and the ones that remind me of growing up the most, are Jaffa cakes (which I mentioned here) and rice pudding.

I must have eaten rice pudding at least twice a week in my early years, eating it hot with jam or melted chocolate, always leaving a little bit in the tin to eat cold whilst the rest was cooking… yum! Although, I was a tad obsessed with rice pudding I only ever thought that it came in a tin (or at least that I could never make a version as delicious). But as I got older and my taste buds changed I realised this was definitely doable… if a little different.

Now this isn’t to say that I don’t (occasionally) eat rice pudding out of a tin still (I definitely do!), but I also love a good homemade, less creamy yet still just as satisfying version. However now instead of the chocolate or the jam I like it packed with cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and raisins… how very adult of me!

The version I’m sharing with you today is my dairy free spiced rice pudding recipes and it’s not only super delicious, it’s also healthy enough to enjoy at any time of the day – even for a post workout breakfast. It’s also dairy free for anyone who can’t have the pleasure of experiencing ambrosia rice pudding (I feel for you, I really do) or is looking to cut down on dairy like myself, and just a small bowl will satisfy you no end.

Dairy Free Rice Pudding - Close Up - My Big Fit Diary

 

Dairy Free Spiced Rice Pudding - Above - My Big Fit Diary

So what are we waiting for.

How to make my Dairy Free Spiced Rice Pudding 

Ingredients:

  • 125g Arborio rice
  • 700ml Almond Milk (or other dairy free)
  • 3 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • Pinch Pink Salt

How to:

  1. Preheat oven to 140°C
  2. Grease baking dish with some coconut oil
  3. Mix all ingredients above except for the nutmeg & raisins
  4. Add to the baking dish and sprinkle with the nutmeg
  5. Put in the oven and cook for 30mins
  6. After 30mins, stir and add the raisins
  7. Pop back in the oven for another hour
  8. Remove, top with more raisins and pumpkin seeds
  9. Enjoy!

 

As always if you make this, or any of my recipes, then let me know below or tag me in the pics on Instagram or Twitter.

feature-image-mbfdAre you up for a challenge?

2016’s New Years resolution was to learn how to love my body (which you can read here), and even though I’m still not 100% there I can definitely say that I have learnt to embrace, and love, my body shape more than this time last year. I think this partly comes with age, having spent the last 30 years in my body I’m only just realising that the time I spent fighting against my natural body shape and genetics, is time I’ll never get back. And although I don’t regret those years (what use are regrets anyway) I know that I’ll never again have the body of my early 20’s – but that’s okay. The other part comes with training for goals rather than aesthetics.. I admire my body more for being strong than I do for looking good naked. And the best thing, the more functional my body, the better it looks! 

So this year I thought I would go down a different route when setting my New Year’s resolution. Instead of resolving to have a better body, get rock hard abs and hit a certain weight, I’m resolving to have more fun with my workouts by mixing it up a little and trying something new each month.

I’ll still be Crossfitting several times a week but at least once a month I will take on a new challenge. I’ve always wanted to try boxing, aerial silks, stand up paddle boarding, reformer Pilates and pole, and 2017 is the year I plan to make this happen.

So where do I start?

A couple of months back I heard about a brand new company, MagnaPass, through which you can book on to various classes across Manchester without having to be signed up to a membership. Now those of you in London are probably already familiar with the concept with the popular class pass but this is something brand new up North and has opened my eyes to a world of fitness classes and motivation that I never knew existed.

I caught up with founder Adam to find out more…

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What is MagnaPass?

MagnaPass allows you to discover new and exciting active experiences near you, for a more boutique and better quality way to be fit and healthy! We are the central platform for everything our wonderful partners have to offer, whether it’s yoga, rock climbing, HIIT or water sports, a MagnaPass will allow you access to it in your city.

What inspired you to start the business?

Me and my co-founder Sean were frustrated with our experiences in budget, chain gyms, and always thought there must be an alternative to them. The level of training is pretty poor with the majority of budget style chain gyms instructors, we knew there must be better quality elsewhere. You see on social media all these weird and wonderful ways of being active and fit that we’d love to try, but thought there wasn’t anything like it close by.

The fact is, there is plenty of cool activities going on around you that you’re just unaware of! Unless you do extensive searches and a lot of deep digging, you won’t find any of them! So we thought, let’s partner up with the hosts and get more people along to their sessions, and help people get access to better quality fitness experiences to reach their goals!

How does it all work?

We try and be as flexible as possible with our members. First you sign up as a member (completely free), and you get the option to just pay-as-you-go for classes or for block bookings, or purchase a MagnaPass that can be used for over 200 classes at a better rate, which can be redeemed at any time. Classes range from £8-10 on PAYG, but with a MagnaPass, you’re able to get a rate of less than £5 per session.

Why choose a MagnaPass over a regular membership?

Well, with a regular membership, you get access to cold warehouses with no guidance, and nothing motivating you to actually go. Chain gyms make their money by people purchasing a membership, and tying you into contracts without you actually turning up. They advertise classes but over 90% of them are just videos on a wall. There’s so many things wrong, and you won’t reach your goals in the process.

With us, you get guaranteed access to all the sessions we host, covering a wide range of activities and experiences. We have a much more flexible membership structure which can work out cheaper for you, and essentially gets you what you want. Plus, the range of activities on offer is insane! All from better quality teachers and studios that are all in your area – we didn’t know that there is that many quality studios and facilities in Manchester until we got them to Partner with us, and we’re adding to this list weekly!

We’re much more geared towards independent and boutique, quality offerings over poor quality budget locations. I mean, would you much rather go to a session where you’re pushed to your limit and people high-fiving you after, or sit on a machine feeling demotivated, and wondering why you’re there?

What type of classes do you offer?

We feel there is such a great mix of classes and sessions that anyone can find something that they’d enjoy. We’ve got a wide range of good quality sessions in yoga, HIIT, strength and conditioning, to more adventurous activities such as rock climbing, water sports, animal movements – there’s a lot of diversity we want to incorporate into our MagnaPass and hopefully shock people across the country to realise that these activities actually occur nearby!

Your website also has a great blog, what inspires and motivates the team to write this?

I actually chain them to the laptop until they write something good….

… I’m kidding – I think we all have a passion for the vision we’re trying to create. We’re all about quality, healthy and boutique offerings that are going on nearby. Whether it is healthy eating joints, events, new classes and Partners, we want to let the world know!

What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into fitness for 2017?

My advice for 2017 is to make the experience enjoyable. No one really enjoys going to the gym on their own, so try new activities and get fit in alternative ways; you don’t have to follow the status quo which we know leads to nowhere. Your body and mind will thank you for experimenting and finding something new to achieve.

I’d also say persistence is key, it doesn’t happen overnight, and surround yourself with like-minded people who will push you to your goals! This time next year you’ll be thanking yourself for allowing you to try new experiences too.

If you could only do one MagnaPass class for the rest of the year, what would it be?

You’ve caught me off guard, this is a tough one! I enjoy a number of different things, last year I really got into my water sports, kayaking in particular at the Helly Hansen Centre, but I also like deep stretching at yoga with any number of our Partners. But, to choose one in particular, I’d have to go with some HIIT with the Lean Fitness guys, they know how to make you put a shift in!

Finally, what more can we expect to see from MagnaPass in 2017?

2017 is where things will really start to take off. You can expect plenty more features on our site, mobile apps loaded with more ways to break a sweat and engage your lifestyle with the fitness community. You can expect plenty more activities we can give you access to that will leave you with no doubt that you’ll leave that cheap gym membership to rest. We’re also throwing plenty of events with our Partners throughout the year, across the country – it’s going to be a hell of a ride and we’d love you to be involved!

2016 was our warm up, 2017 is our cup final!

If you’re based in Manchester and would love to find out more about MagnaPass you can visit their site here. Plus exclusively to My Big Fit Diary readers we have a special offer code. Simply use ‘MYBIGFIT20’ in the MagnaPass store for 20% off – and maybe I’ll see you there!

healthy-christmas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

It’s also the most indulgent time of the year with an estimated 6,000 calories being consumed by the average person on the 25th December alone*. So it’s no wonder we all look forward to Christmas day when, as I like to say, ‘calories don’t count’; but the difficult part is not letting this run into the New Year and ruining your progress from 2016.

To give you a helping hand I’ve listed my Top Tips below for keeping healthy over the Christmas holidays.

Be Mindful

Now nobody wants to be a bore around Christmas time saying no to each and every treat that is quite literally thrust into our face, and to be honest, who would want to. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be mindful of what we are consuming. Yes, allow yourself that mince pie or that glass bottle of champagne but make sure it’s what you really want to indulge in and you’re not just eating for eating sake. Set proper meal times where you sit down as a family, and take the time to focus and really enjoy what’s going into your mouth – you’ll feel far less guilty for it!

Keep Hydrated

Whether we intend to or not, Christmas is definitely a time for over indulgence. But that doesn’t mean we should forget the basics. Overeating and drinking alcohol can leave the body dehydrated leading to dry mouth, headaches and tiredness. In order to help your body flush out toxins aim to drink at least 2 litres of water throughout the day; and if you’re drinking alcohol, think about matching one glass of water for every alcoholic drink – trust me, your head will thank you for it in the morning.

Check out my top tips for staying hydrated this winter here

The morning after

You’ve had one two many wines the night before and wake up feeling more than a little bit groggy. Do you A) Head straight for the leftover pizza you started eating on your way home, B) skip breakfast, you can’t face eating, or C) Make a healthy brunch and down a pint of water? If you answered A or B then it’s time to rethink your hangover routine. Getting in a well balanced meal will help your body to recover and stop you craving sugar all day, try a 3 egg omelette with a side of veggies for a protein and fat boost which will perk you up in no time.  

Sleep Is King

If there’s one thing that should be non negotiable it’s sleep. We’ve spoken many times on the blog about sleep, and I believe it really is the key to keeping your mind and body healthy. Try and keep some sort of resemblance of a routine going over the festive period; and if you’ve been up all night partying it’s definitely worth skipping the gym and hitting the sack, otherwise you’ll probably feel worse for it the next day. 

Check out my top tips for a good nights sleep here

Stay Active

It’s important to keep your body moving over Christmas – and no, I don’t mean multiple trips to the kitchen for another mince pie – I mean raising your heart rate a little and getting a bit of a sweat on. If you struggle to get to the gym, even a 10 minute at home HIIT session will keep you feeling fit. Likewise, if you’ve worked hard all year long and are in need of a little rest period then don’t feel like you have to go to the gym, instead go for a stroll on Christmas morning with the family before you tuck into that box of quality street, or wake up and hit the yoga mat on boxing day morning for a few sun salutations.  

 

 

Be Kind to Yourself

At the end of the day, you only live once! If you do over indulge just make sure your next meal is healthy and well balanced and forget about the previous one. You’ll feel far less guilty and stressed if you just learn to forgive yourself.

So go eat, drink, be merry and enjoy this special time of year with your loved ones. And if your plan to stay healthy(ish) over Christmas goes horribly wrong – there’s always next year!

*Metro