Fitness v uni balance

University – one of the best times of our lives, sometimes the busiest and often not the healthiest. I have been into fitness throughout my time at university, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been times when I’d rather be in bed, or at the pub, or just cooking dinner. Everyone struggles with motivation, but there are some things you can do to make it that much easier to get to the gym consistently enough to see progress. And as we all know, consistency is key!

Here are 6 points that I find really useful in keeping fit at university.

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1. Find your time

Some people are morning people. They spring out of bed bright and early ready to start the day. I am not one of those people, so going to the gym in the morning sounds a little bit like torture. Figuring out what time of day works for you allows it to become a habit. If you have a long day and end it totally exhausted, going in the morning may set you up for the day. If you have a hectic day morning to evening but get 1-1.5h for lunch, try going then to break up your work. I go in the evening, as I’m already in university so it’s not difficult to go!

2. Make it a habit

If you have to find time everyday to go to the gym, it’ll be really easy not to go. I always stop work at 5-6 and go straight to the gym, meaning I don’t have to think about when I can fit it in. A routine is absolutely key for keeping fit, and this includes having certain days for certain routines. This means you’re not left at the gym with no inspiration of what to do, and also means you workout every muscle group evenly over time.

3. Sign up for classes

I find that sometimes I’m at a loss of what to do at the gym, and it’s at times like this that I sign up for classes. Having someone shouting at me for 45 minutes to an hour means that I don’t have to think about what I do but still get the endorphin kick – win win! Classes definitely have their time and place, but tired, unmotivated days are definitely one of those times.

4. Find a friend

…. with similar goals. Having someone waiting for you at the gym is a sure-fire way to feel guilty if you don’t go. I go most days, dragged along by either my boyfriend or housemate. It also means that I have to stay for a certain amount of time which means I’m not tempted to skimp out after a 10 minute run and a roll around in the mats section. Having said this, don’t be tempted to talk to your friends for the entire session – I see too many girls and guys in huge groups sitting on the floor and doing no work for about 40 minutes. Arrive with a friend, stick your headphones in and get on with your workout.

5. Buy new workout clothes

I. LOVE. ACTIVEWEAR. – you know that ‘doing shopping in my activewear’ video? That’s me. But seriously, buying new activewear that makes you feel confident and comfortable in the gym is going to make it more likely that you head to the gym. Sometimes all you need is that little bit of excitement. But beware: the addiction is real.

6. Make an amazing playlist

If you create/find a banging playlist, you can forget that you’re working out. I listen to Muse, which I know not everyone is a fan of but every time I listen to it now, it gets me in the zone, makes me forget the day I’ve just had, and allows me to focus on working out for the hour I’m there. Find what works for you, plug it in and get going!

 

I hope they’re useful to you! What keeps you motivated when you’re busy with work?

 

I’ve also written a bunch of workouts for busy gyms on my Instagram – ideal for the uni gym!

How to relax – Mount Somerset Hotel

This post was done in collaboration with the Mount Somerset Hotel, but as always all views are my own. 

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I do try to relax sometimes (taken at the Mount Somerset hotel and spa)

The world today is amazing. So many things are instant, exciting and fleeting, meaning that we feel we have to always be switched on. Flash sales, competitions, programmes– it’s amazing and it’s exhausting. I know full well that I am drawn into the fast paced life of social media as much as the next person, maybe even more so. I absolutely love it and thrive off it, but sometimes it gets too much. However, I have learned (and am still learning) that sometimes you can’t do everything, and you have to take steps to slow down. Sometimes, going at snails pace can refuel your race pace.

 

I have compiled some steps that I find useful to relax in the hope that you too might stop and think. When was the last time you weren’t doing something productive? I, for one, struggle to spend time doing unproductive things – even my relaxation time is usually in the gym. Whilst this can be an amazing way to be productive, productivity addiction is a real thing, and I think a lot of us suffer.

Signs you’re a productivity addict:

  • Guilt when not doing something productive
  • Reliant on stress and deadlines to get things done
  • Constantly checking emails (and for me, social media) in case you’ve missed something important
  • Always seen as ‘crazily busy’ by your friends (and yourself)

I 100% accept that I do all of the above, and whilst it’s sort of a laughable side-effect of the modern world, studies have shown that chronic stress has a plethora of negative effects on the body (and yes, even doing ‘fun’ things can make you stressed). So what can you do? Treat it like a real addiction and take steps to wean yourself off.

 

  1. Put down your phone

The world online can often be a source of anxiety, whether it’s through replying to emails, feeling inadequate next to perfect instagram girls or being reminded of all the amazing things your friends are (apparently) doing. I know all too well the temptation to wake up every morning and scroll through your instagram, facebook, twitter, email and snapchat, but try to disconnect your arm from your phone. Put it away for a few hours and see how you feel. On a weekend put it away for a day – nothing terrible happens, and it can allow your mind to focus more on the present, something far more fulfilling than living your life through other peoples’.

 

  1. Get away from the places that remind you of work

I try not to work at home, because I need a space to relax. It’s good to have a place where you can get into the mind-set of work, but equally good to have a place where you never work and never would. Sometimes, it’s good to get away altogether – my boyfriend and I recently went to the Mount Somerset Hotel and Spa for two days of relaxation. We spent the time in the spa, walking the grounds, eating food and relaxing. It doesn’t get much better. When you’re in a place purpose built for relaxing it’s difficult not to! Put your phone away and enjoy it! Visit a spa, or if you can’t afford the time or cost, a salon or even just a go on a walk – just get away from where you work and don’t think of anything except clearing your head.

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Walking the grounds of the mount somerset hotel – fresh air clears head

  1. Start saying no

I am terrible at this. I live for events, meeting people and doing things for people. However, even when I have too much to do to feasibly manage everything, I still say yes. Why? Because it’s a habit that’s hard to get out of. I want all the experiences I can, and I feel saying yes all the time will push me further in life. Whilst this is true to an extent, if you start to do everything not very well because you’re stretched too thinly, the benefit disappears. Start saying no, and value your time more.

 

  1. Embrace doing ‘nothing’ and boredom.

This is something I think a lot of people (especially my generation) struggle with. I found myself alone with nothing to do the other day and I had no idea what to do with my time. However, studies show that boredom can lead to new ways of problem solving and increased creativity. I struggle to even sit in the bath because I get bored, but recently I’ve tried to let me mind wander – you might be surprised with what yours can do if you let it.

 

  1. Set yourself limits.

I know SO many uni students who procrastinate all day and then panic work all night, ending up ‘working’ for 13 hours a day. How much work do they get done? Seemingly very little, especially considering the hours put in. When given a deadline, most people are far more productive than when no deadline is set. Parkinson in 1995 said “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. Set yourself deadlines in the working day ie. 1) I will give myself one hour to write this post and then will do something else, and 2) My working day is from 9-6. After 6pm I will stop work and not think of it again until tomorrow. That gives you an entire evening to relax and do other things, rather than letting your work leak well into the evening because you have no set time to stop.

 

I am well aware that these pieces of advice aren’t always possible to implement in the modern world. After all, so many people rely on phones and emails for communication about important things. Sadly, it seems to be the case that we have to actually schedule in relaxation time to be able to enjoy it. But if that is the case, so be it – book your weekend away, or a walk with a friend or even a holiday and enjoy it in the moment. I truly believe allowing yourself to switch off from everything regularly increases your real productivity when you actually have to work.

 

Give it a go, there’s nothing to lose and so much to gain!

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The great outdoors (without phone!) can be great for relaxation

easyGym 12w programme launch

The time has finally come! EasyGym has released its ‘Set to Sweat’ programme, a 12 week guide aimed at making women stronger, leaner and fitter. As you might remember, I took part in a four day shoot with easyGym in December (which you can read about here). The guide is weights based, but also includes body weight exercises and cardio, so there’s something for everyone, helping to increase overall strength and fitness.

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Oh hey there

It was amazing to be able to take part in the shooting for easyGym’s ‘Set to Sweat’ programme. After hearing that it included a lot of weights, both free weights and weight machines, I was very keen to be a part of the shooting and putting together of the programme. As many of you may know, I’m a huge advocate of getting women into the weights sections of the gym and lifting weights, small and big! The benefits of weight lifting as so extensive (read this!), and I believe not enough accessible programmes include weights.

The Set to Sweat programme will be available and free to download for both easyGym members and non-members, meaning that no one is excluded from getting stronger and fitter. I believe no one should have to pay extortionate amounts of money to be healthy, and whilst no doubt there are many good programmes out there that cost money and are amazing, not everyone can afford those, and fitness shouldn’t solely be for the elite!

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Do let me know if you get the Set to Sweat programme, or are inspired to use some of the exercises next time you’re in the gym. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone can significantly speed up physical progress in other areas of fitness and physique. I know how awkward it can be in the gym when you’re trying to master a new exercise but have no idea how to do it, and you feel self-conscious that people are looking and judging. I get it all the time! But luckily, with this programme, every exercise is photographed step by step to make the exercises easy to understand, especially if you’re not used to free weights or weight machines.

Enjoy!

 

You can download the programme at: www.easygym.co.uk/set-to-sweat 

Nutty granola

This recipe is easy enough to make on a weekly basis when you will inevitably have run out of the last batch. What is so good about it is that you can just chuck in whatever nuts or seeds you have around – as long as you have the base ingredients, everything else is optional!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups oats (or substitute 1 cup oats for sugar-free muesli)
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil
  • Dash of almond milk
  • 3 tbsp unrefined sugar (rapidura or muscavado)
  • 2 cups nuts or seeds (any mix of nuts and seeds works)
  • Cinnamon
  • Optional: 1 Scoop vanilla Huel (adds vanilla flavouring)*
  • Optional: 1 egg white (to replace this you can use a little more almond milk and/or almond butter)

nb/ You can add raisins or other dried fruit, but do this AFTER the granola is cooked (they don’t enjoy the oven very much).

*Vanilla Huel is one of my favourite favours, and even just the smallest amount can add a lot of flavour to this granola. If you don’t have any, feel free to add any vanilla protein powder instead.

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Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees
  2. Mix the dry ingredients in a big bowl
  3. Melt the coconut oil in a saucepan, take off the heat and add cold almond milk. Mix.
  4. Add the egg white, if using, and beat into the coconut oil (make sure the pan isn’t too hot so you don’t cook it)
  5. Pour the wet mixture onto the dry mixture and mix well
  6. Spread mixture out onto a large baking tray and put in the oven for 20 minutes, or until browning at the edges. Mix with a wooden spoon once or twice when in the oven.

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