Variety is the spice of life: getting my groove back

I’m not the kind of person who does very well with the same thing, over and over. I like routine, but I hate monotony. I love playing computer games, but if I have to do the same level more than three times, it’s literally game over.

Exercise can often be a dull task, let’s face it. I’ve tried plenty of things in the past, but it’s never stuck. Judo, kickboxing, running, yoga, belly-dancing, going to the gym… I love all of these things and I’d do them again tomorrow, but not every day, every week, for years and years and years.


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Fitness is a form of self-love: a confession 

Guys, this has been a really hard blog post to write, so please be gentle with me…

Last summer, I told you I was taking a long hard look at myself following a fairly bleak period in my life. Depression, self-destruction and self-neglect were unfortunate side effects of a death in the family – which had already been preceded by two more over the space of a few years, all just before or just after Christmas. I don’t often get too personal on my blog, but it’s really confession time here: I’ve let myself go.

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Sky Ride Southampton 2016

June saw the return of GoSkyRide to Southampton, and despite the dodgy looking weather, it turned out to be another glorious day!

I decided to ride into town from my house, about four miles away – pretty much downhill but I forgot about the few uphill parts and roadworks which made things a little more difficult. Also had the customary beeping from one car – it seems like there’s always at least one person who can’t quite believe their eyes when they see a person cycling or jogging or even walking along the side of the road and they have to beep just to check they’re still awake and not dreaming… (And no, I wasn’t running a red light or cycling in their way, they weren’t even in the same lane as me!)

By the time I arrived I was already pretty knackered, but the fairly flat course was good fun and I got my wind back pretty quickly! The route was fairly congested and it took around 45 minutes to do a complete circuit, which included the Civic Centre, up to the Common, back down again and then through the parks in town to the Bargate (sadly covered in scaffolding at the moment) and back.

There were loads of cool riders, including plenty of people riding with music, and even an entire five piece percussion band who managed to cycle and play all the way around! There were also a few people in fancy dress as well – I don’t know how they do it! I was sweating in my thin cotton top as it was!

I was also sweating it slightly because I hadn’t serviced my bike since last summer, and wasn’t sure if it was up to scratch – luckily, it was still in great condition, and with a little bit of tyre pumping, I was ready to go!

Of course, after a hard day on the bike, the only way to recover on a summer’s evening was with a cool glass of Pimm’s, garnished with some gorgeous Alpine strawberries and mint from the garden!

Have you been to a Skyride in your local area? Let me know! Or, tell me about your favourite cycling route or location!



Stepping On Kate’s Toes: Adidas Pure Boost X Review


If there’s one thing I love doing, it’s buying workout clothes. There are so many gorgeous outfits and beautiful trainers that whenever I feel like my motivation to work out is waning, I can be sure to revitalise it with a new T-shirt or even a pair of trainers. So when the Duchess of Cambridge appeared in Portsmouth wearing a new pair of Adidas Pure Boost Xs, I knew it was time to make a purchase. I’ve never bought a pair of Kate’s trainers before (although I do have a pair of New Balance x Heidi Klum trainers that Pippa Middleton later wore!) so that helped tip them into my basket – and the fact that I could nab them from Next helped too!


When they arrived, the first thing I noticed was their rather eccentric construction. The shoe is only attached to the sole at the toes and heel, and the arch of the foot is suspended above the base. This is probably the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen in a running shoe, although it does provide better ventilation for your foot. As I often run on trails, this rang alarm bells immediately, as this shoe is certainly not suitable for running on mud or through puddles. (Can you imagine getting a twig or a stone caught under your arch and on the top of the sole? Ouch!)

The technical term for this construction, according to Adidas, is a floating arch. The idea is that this creates more support by encasing your arch (I called it a foot hammock and I stick by the description), but personally I didn’t feel like this actually worked for my foot in the short time I’ve been wearing it.


The other thing I noticed was how cool these look in person. It doesn’t really come across in the pictures (and I have to admit, the first pics I saw of Kate wearing made me think this was a pretty boring shoe), but these have some serious style. It was the second batch of pictures released of Kate in her black Ralph Lauren jumper and skinny jeans that made me rethink them as a serious purchase. They’re just so sleek!


Anyway, after I’d finished mucking around and sticking my hand through the bottom of them, I decided to take them on a run to put them through their paces. I already suspected they wouldn’t be great on trails so I decided to put that to the test and do a normal circuit through the woods. First, though, I tried them out on the pavements – and as  I thought, they’re a decent road runner, nice and light on my feet.


On my usual, stony, woodland trails, the shoes do fairly well. There’s very little in the way of grip on the sole, but the stones in the soil here help the shoe to stick. Even at this stage, it was becoming apparent that the Pure Boost’s strength was running on concrete, though…


Things started to get a little bit worse on the narrower, rooty pathways – not having the arch of the foot attached to the sole really started to ache my arches after a while, and if there’s any movement on impact when you put your foot down on something (large stone, tree root, whatever), there’s a lot of sliding inside the shoe as your foot isn’t supported all the way across.


Here’s a prime example of a situation where the Pure Boosts are completely out of their element. No, I wasn’t drunk when I took this pic – the ground really is that slanted in places. When you’re running on a surface like this your foot will naturally slant to the side, but when wearing the Pure Boosts, the lack of attachment allows the foot to slide inside the shoe quite a lot. At one point, because my foot wasn’t anchored in the centre of the shoe, the toes and heel went sideways with the ground while my arch when downwards with the force of my stride. A little difficult to explain, but suffice to say there was a bit of mid-run foot-in-shoe adjustments going on after this section. I would not run in these shoes on a trail like this again! It also worried me to think of road running in an actual race with these on – if you found yourself running on a street with a steep camber this would be very uncomfortable after a while.


With all the negatives out of the way, I have to say I’m still glad I bought these. Any runner who goes on a variety of different surfaces will tell you there’s no such thing as an all-purpose shoe. The all in one base on the shoe means there are fewer spots to rub and cause chafing and blisters. You can theoretically wear these without socks, although as you can see I chickened out and wore mine! The shoe does fit quite snugly and all the recommendations I’ve seen are to take a half size up from your normal size (I can’t be the only one who finds this infuriating, can I? Why don’t they just label them a half size differently if that’s the case?). Personally, I would recommend these for short bouts of road running, casual wear, gym wear or doing sports like sailing! (I have no idea on the last front, but Kate seemed to think they were suitable!)


Reading reviews of the shoe online shows me that I’m not alone in thinking these aren’t the best for running, despite them being advertised by Adidas for that purpose. Most of the feedback recommends these for short runs or gym visits, and I’d agree. If you’re going further than five miles and you’re going off the pavement at any point, this is probably not the shoe to wear. But if you’re looking for a lifestyle/casual pair of trainers that you can also wear for the odd treadmill run or fitness class, this is a great choice.


The Adidas Pure Boost X is available direct from Adidas, or via Next. This model is the  Pure Boost X Shoes Core Black AQ6681, and they’re priced at £90.(The Pure Boost X also comes in a large range of other gorgeous colourways!)

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Yoga at home

When it comes to yoga, I’m lucky enough to have a local teacher who is brilliant and teaches a class very close to me – but if you don’t live near a teacher or you want to take multiple classes in a week and the cost is starting to mount up, how can you practice at home? I’ve got a few resources I want to share with you!

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The London Color Run: Hints, Tips and Advice for the Happiest 5k on the Planet!

You know that advert where there’s some kind of amazing festival with everyone throwing coloured dye on each other, and it’s supposed to make you want to buy a car or a camera or something, but actually it just makes you want to run outside in a spray of yellow, purple and red, dancing around like a toddler hopped up on too much Haribo? Of course you do – how could you forget? Well, if you’re anything like me, once you have a dream in mind, you set about to find a way to make it happen. And, funnily enough, where there’s a dream, there’s usually someone ready to make that dream come true if you give them some money. To cut a long story short, earlier this month I went on the Color Run in Wembley, London. That’s basically what I’m trying to tell you.


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Go Ape: Training Goalposts!

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As I may have oh so briefly mentioned, I’m going to be doing a fairly intense (I had no idea how intense…) obstacle run at the end of March, which I’ve been training for by using a 5K running app (see here, I LOVE it!). However, there’s more to an obstacle run than running. You may have caught that obstacle part, there. YES! There are obstacles! Now, thanks to a variety of fallen trees and other hazards in the local woods, I’ve been getting quite a lot of obstacle training into my runs, but none of them compare to the challenges that lay ahead… So, there was only one thing for it – another challenge, part training, part confidence boost, and all over good fun – Go Ape!

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I knew this would be the perfect chance to get a little workout in, see how well we were all doing, and catch up with my team mates at the same time. I’ve been to Go Ape four times now (that’s me above back in 2010!) and I’ve loved every visit, so I knew it would be awesome! So, last Sunday, enjoying the first day of spring weather, we headed to Alice Holt.

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The course is very lively, and beautiful in the sunshine, consisting of five sections, four of which are accessed by climbing a rope ladder. You start off with a safety demo (and I was picked on to be the volunteer this time when it turned out I had a PR pass!) and learn the ways of Go Ape, in which safety is paramount.

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Swinging from a tree is serious business, but there are so many safety procedures involved it’s very safe – if you follow instructions. You have a variety of clips and attachments to make sure you’re always anchored in multiple places, which is very reassuring when you’re hanging from a tree in the middle of the forest. I have no idea how high these platforms are, but I have to tell you, they do make your knees go funny when you stand on the edge!

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Once you’ve done your safety demo, which involves the first of five zip wires (how else would you get down from such a great height? Zip wire, of course!), you get to start on the first ‘big’ set of crossings. First of all, you need to climb a rope ladder (can I overcome the obstacle of a rope ladder? YES!), and then you’ll face the first of the two Tarzan swing / cargo net combos. This is the part I look forward to the most – weightlessly flying through the trees, before a quick scramble up a net – which is one of the obstacles we face at the run at the end of the month!

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The swing is daunting, and the cargo net is tough, but that’s what makes it so much fun! Unfortunately, we had a young girl in front of us at my visit who completely freaked out at the Tarzan swing, and despite careful, patient and professional coaching from one of the Go Ape team, she eventually had to back out and come off the course. The first Tarzan swing is the test of your courage – if you can’t make it across, it’s unlikely you can do the rest of the course. But we’re all made of stern stuff, right? Of course!

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The first cargo net is tougher than the second – I think it’s slightly looser – but we were really pleased with how well we managed to haul ourselves up them. Can we overcome the obstacle of the cargo net? YES!

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The rest of the course is made up of various methods of getting from one tree to another – there’s always a metal cord that you stay clipped to as you go along, so you cannot – cannot – fall off of anything as long as you’re attached. The challenges vary from easy (wooden blocks to step on) to bloody difficult (stirrups), but if you ever have enough and just cannot take the strain, all you need do is relax into your harness and pull yourself along to the next tree platform.

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Sometimes the course handily splits in two so that you can follow an easier path if you wish. Did we do that? Of course not, we were doing a very important training session! However, there was one challenge I could not complete…

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Walking across the beam with noooo hands! Rachel actually pulled this off twice – incredible! I just couldn’t get my balance and held onto the safety cords which are attached to the wire – you can see them to the right of her head in this photo. That’s the nice thing about Go Ape – it’s tough, but if it gets too tough, you can sort of cheat. Unfortunately for me, balance beams are one of the obstacles I face at the end of the month. Can we overcome the obstacle of the balance beam? Well, only one of us…

After each treetop section is complete, you get on your zipline and speed off into the distance…

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…and it’s seriously the best fun you can have in the woods when you’re stuck up a tree. Amazing!

When you’ve finished your course, you even get a certificate and can pose with the Go Ape ape for a photo (if you bring a camera, natch), just to prove how awesome you are!

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All in all, Go Ape is fantastic experience, whether you’re testing your strength, training for an obstacle race, or just want to have some fun! You do need to be in reasonable shape to complete the course, but it’s certainly not incredibly physically challenging. Plus, it gives you amazing bragging rights after, and the chance to eat some ham, egg and chips for lunch completely guilt free afterwards… Which may or may not be what I did at Alice Holt…

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Book your own tree top adventure with Go Ape at They even have segway courses (and you know how much I love segways!) and loads of locations all the way across the country (find out here). Tickets cost between £30-32 for adults, £24 for 10-17 year olds, and they even have special courses for tiny ones at £17 per child! I was given two tickets for the purposes of review for this post, although the fact that it was my fourth trip is a pretty good indication of how much fun I think Go Ape is!

So, let me know – have you Gone Ape before? Are you planning to? And how do you train for obstacle runs like Tough Mudder or X-Runner?

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Fitness Trackers: SlimKicker

One of the easiest ways to stay in shape, or lose weight to begin with, is to use an internet based fitness tracker. I’ve had great success using MyFitnessPal (and have also tried Spark People and but I was recently contacted about, so I decided to check it out.
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Unlike MyFitnessPal, which encourages a minimum of social interaction, really tries to get you involved in the online community, and uses a point reward system to get you to give your fitness and nutrition a boost. Apart from the obvious bump in motivation, this is a brilliant idea because it encourages you to switch up your routine, and try new things. Turning fitness into a game is a sneaky way to get you to work out without realising it! Today, I decided to take on the wall squat challenge, which asks you to do ten wall squats a day for seven days in order to earn 500 points.
There is even info on the correct form for these squats, and recommendations for how to make it harder – if needed! It might seem simple in the grand scheme of things, but starting off small is the best way to go – how many of us have started ambitious fitness regimes only to see them crumble in the first week? The challenges are divided up into types – willpower, emotional, nutrition, fitness, giveaway and user created. They also have difficulty levels, ranging from 1 all the way up to 20!

You may well ask what the purpose of collecting points is – that’s where the reward system comes in. You post a picture for yourself of your reward, which you give yourself when you reach a certain level. I haven’t quite picked my reward yet, but the website offers suggestions such as a girls’ night out, a cheat meal, a massage, etc.


One of the handiest things about MyFitnessPal was always the app, which meant I could add things easily as I went through the day. Luckily, SlimKicker also has an iPhone app, so I downloaded that right away!


Through the app you can check your profile, log your food, record exercise and weight, and check your progress, as well as manage your challenges and interact with your friends.


As I’ve been lacking a little in the motivation department recently, I’m going to try out this new app for a week and see if it helps me keep on track!

What fitness trackers do you guys use? Do you find they help you keep to your plans?

(Psst, don’t forget, UK readers can enter my competition to win 12 share bags of Popchips here!)

Body Revolution comes to the UK!

Great news for Jillian fans here in the UK – the fitness guru has finally launched her amazing 90 programme here! You can purchase the entire thing here: for £99.99, which is a great price considering what’s included. You get (and I’m quoting from the site here) “15 all-new DVDs, Resistance Cable, Fitness Guide, customizable 90-day Fat-Burning Meal Plan complete with grocery lists, delicious recipes, and daily menus, 90-Day Journal. PLUS, a bonus 7 day Kick Start Your Metabolism diet plan to detox your body and help you curb your food addictions.”

As for me, I’m not able to purchase one of these programmes, but I’m currently working on a variety of Jillian DVDs and a calorie restriction of 1200 daily. I recently purchased Extreme Shed and Shred, so expect a review of that soon!

Anyone out there getting the Body Revolution? Let me know what you think! Or, if you’ve already got one, how did you get on?


Well, after having so much fun at the SkyRide in Southampton last month, but feeling like I wanted more of a challenge, I thought I’d take the plunge and sign up for the women-only 40km ride, Cycletta. I’ll be doing the South ride, which involves starting and ending near Whipsnade Zoo, and I’m looking forward to it. I have no idea how well I’ll do, but I’m not really interested in speed (and let’s face it, my bike’s not exactly built for it, either), just completing the distance and having a fun day out with my husband at the zoo. I’m also very much looking forward to the goody bag!

My bike: not exactly built for speed!

However, one thing I’m not looking forward to is having to get up extremely early to make the trip, nor carting my bike on the back of the car. I hate using the bike rack! I always think we’re either going to hit everyone with our bikes, or they’re going to fall off and possibly explode everywhere… So, in a couple of week’s time, please think of me, getting up at 5am to strap my bike onto my car!

If you’re taking part in Cycletta South, leave me a message, I’d love to know who else is going! Also, check out the final preparation details here.