How I keep healthy with a full time job

Although I only started working in ‘the real world’ in August, I have been asked time and time again how I’m keeping healthy. As with so many people I have a desk job, I work in a city and I have an almost unlimited supply of food throughout the day. So how do I stay healthy?

Keeping fit and healthy isn’t something that just ‘happens’ for me – it’s something I have consciously worked hard at for the past 8 years of my life, figuring out what works for me. Although I’m still perfecting it all, I’d love to share with you all what I find works for me, as someone who works 8h a day sitting down at a desk!

 

Edit: I have recently started working 25h a week after 8 months of working full time, which allows me a little more space to focus on my blog, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. I think I probably work more than ever now, but the proportion that is spent sitting at a desk has decreased. However these rules still stand as I go to the office 4 days a week still! 

Walk

People looooove to see X workout or Y workout on Instagram, but I never see people talking about the power of the humble walk. I LOVE to walk. It’s my thing, and I’m getting very good at it (I’m known for being a speedy walker). Sure, walking isn’t as hardcore as a boxing session or as glamorous as a weights session, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work wonders. If you think about it, your workout only makes up around 4% of your day. If the other 96% is spent sitting on your ass then that 4% isn’t really going to matter. My advice: get walking. Walk the journey to work if you can – I walk up to an hour to and from work. I also walk for at least 30 minutes in my lunch break. Maybe you don’t have the time to do that much, but make a conscious effort to head out for a walk when you have a minute. It’ll do wonders for your health (and, surprisingly, your endurance in other sports too!).

Tea breaks!

There is something I call tea/pee (like a tee-pee but not). It involves drinking lots of tea and peeing all the time. Doesn’t sound scientific enough for you? You’d be surprised. Drinking herbal tea has a myriad of health benefits, lots of which are to do with the fact that you’re consuming more liquid, which is easy to forget. During winter it’s incredibly warming and year round flavoured teas can be good to see you between mealtimes or snack breaks. The increased liquid in your system will obviously make you wee more often, and this, combined with filling up your tea all day, means more standing up and walking around, which has a bunch of other benefits (see above). If your colleagues make fun of you for having a weak bladder, laugh at them, because they should be sad they don’t know about tea-pee. Toilet/kitchen right next to your office? Head to one on another floor.

30 minute rule

I try not to sit down for more than 30 minutes continuously. It hurts my back, makes me lethargic and makes my Garmin angry (it continuously buzzes at me to ‘MOVE’). Every 30 minutes (if I haven’t moved since the last 30 minutes), I get up and walk somewhere. It doesn’t matter where, but 2 minutes of activity for every 30 minutes of sitting down should really be your minimum when it comes to your desk job. Tea-pee should help with this. Offer to get other people tea too. Either they’ll join (in which case yay you get company), or they’ll give you their mug, which means more trips to the kitchen (aka more steps).

Lunch

Lunch at my work is both amazing and frustrating. We get lunch supplied, which is incredible, and usually it’s pretty good and healthy – that’s the amazing bit. The frustrating bit is that it’s always between 12pm and 1:30pm, which means that even if I’m not hungry in those hours, I have to eat, lest I starve by the afternoon. For most people this isn’t an issue, as you’ll be bringing in your own lunch. Try not to fall into the trap of eating it by 11am and being sad by 12pm when you’re hungry again. I set myself a specific meal time (12:40pm) and don’t eat in the hour before, because I know I’ll regret it when I’m really full by the time we get to lunch. Eat your lunch slowly and for gods sake, NOT AT YOUR DESK. If you insist on eating at your desk, turn your computer off and enjoy your food without work/internet of any kind. Paying attention to what you are eating will increase enjoyment of it, make you feel more satisfied, and allow your brain to have a break, which it will probably need by lunch time.

Snack-attack

The dreaded snack cupboard/shelf/drawer/kitchen is a health killer. It’s continually restocked by well-meaning people and feeders, who probably want to feel better about their snacking habits. Snack-attack is like an avalanche and once snacking starts, it’s sooooo difficult to stop (experienced first hand). My desk is literally 2ft from the snack shelf, and my convenient wheely chair means I don’t even have to get up to get any. HOWEVER, I am aware of the relentless pull of snackaging, and have set some boundaries in place. I try (emphasis on try) to only snack at set times, twice a day max. Considering the amount I eat throughout the day, I am not in need of extra snacks, and know that when I do snack, it’s out of boredom. Be aware of your snacking habits, find your triggers and figure out what you want to do. For some people this is allowing literally NO SNACKS throughout the day. I don’t want to be sad, so I allow myself snacks, but limit them to certain times and distract myself with tea when I am tempted to get more (see tea-pee). In addition I’ve stocked the snack shelf with ‘healthy’ snacks (graze boxes and nakd bars), in the hope that people will see that it’s full and there is no space for their double chocolate cake and doughnuts. Just remember, snack-attack calories are still recognised as calories by your body, even if you don’t count them yourself.

Find time to workout

Let’s be honest, when you’re working 40h+ a week you’re tired quite a lot of the time. Maybe all the time. So struggling to the gym early in the morning or after a long day might not be top on your list of desires, but if you want to be LESS tired, ironically it should be. Working out improves circulation and alertness, which can help you work better too. It can also give you motivation in other areas of life when you start to see progress in the gym, and once you’re in a routine it becomes MUCH easier. I tend to workout after work, but if I can’t fit that in I’ll go before, at around 7:30am. My advice is to find a gym or class that you like, and do that at least 3 times a week. I train around 5-6h a week even when I don’t reeeeeally want to, and 9 times out of 10, I feel 1000x better after the workout. So try to fit in a workout before or after work, or even just 30 minutes hard during your lunch break. Give it a go, you’ve really got nothing to lose!

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Not what I meant by ‘a desk job’

Best workout classes in London

Since two years ago I’ve been somewhat addicted to travelling around London trying new workout classes. Between that and events hosted by various studios, I’ve tried by fair share of fitness classes in London! People often ask what I would recommend for when they visit London so I’ve decided to do a post about it.

In no particular order, these are my favourite classes in London. Of course, what I like and what you might like might be totally different, but recommendations are always useful to get you started in a new city 🙂

 

Barry’s bootcamp

Say what you like about Barry’s, but it’ll always be a class that I love. Granted, I don’t think I could do it everyday, but the combination of endorphin-raising running and strength-building weights, it’s the perfect workout for me. In short, it alternates between treadmill runs and floor workouts, giving you rest from the treadmills whilst you’re working out on the floor, and rest from the floor when you’re on the treadmills. It was one of the first classes I ever did, and never fails to make me feel accomplished. With studios popping up around London (Shoreditch, Euston, Notting Hill and Victoria), there’ll likely be one that’s easy to get to (the Notting Hill is my favourite!).

Barry’s Bootcamp website. (£20 per class)

 

Power of Boxing

This class is hugely underrated, potentially because it’s not smart and swanky like the other gyms. Don’t expect showers and hairdryers. Instead expect a bloody good workout with unpretentious people who love working out. The structure of the class includes floor circuits, punch-bag work and then pad-work in the boxing ring, which no other class I’ve found successfully does. It’s exhausting – expect to be dripping by the end – but leaves you feeling amazing. Every. Single. Time. PoB also works with a local charity to help reintegrate offenders into the community, which I think is amazing. This class is also super affordable, so if you’re not looking to splash out, this is the one for you 🙂

Power of Boxing Website (£12.50 per class)

 

KXU – The Games

This is a relatively recent addition to my list of favourite classes. Think Crossfit/strongman but in swanky gym. But don’t be fooled by the beauty of KXU – this class will KILL you. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who’s relatively fit/strong already and wants a challenge! Unlike a lot of the classes in London, this one makes no attempts at telling girls to ‘lift light’ – the heavier the better! This studio is almost worth visiting purely for the aesthetics too J Would recommend if you want to lift heavy and then enjoy a (somewhat overpriced) shake in one of the most beautiful locations you’ll find in London.

KXU website (£24 per class)

 

BXR – Strength and Conditioning

Another favourite for different reasons to the others. BXR is a boxing gym endorsed by Anthony Joshua. It’s based near Baker Street, which makes it pretty accessibly from most central locations. I put this in the mix because of both the class and location – it’s really smart inside, and contains the nicest changing rooms of any gym I’ve ever been to. The strength and conditioning class is one that focuses on form and strengthening the body in a way most classes don’t. There’s a lot of foam-rolling and resistance band work, which I feel a lot of classes avoid because they don’t burn as many calories as other classes. However, for longevity and injury prevention, there’s nothing like a good S&C class, so I would definitely recommend this to compliment your other training.

BXR website (from £30 for 3 introductory sessions).

 

I hope this helps you try some new workouts and find what works for you! We’re all different and what is amazing for someone often doesn’t work for the next person. Give these a go (there are often introductory deals) and let me know what you think! 🙂

Top vegan cafes in London

I decided to write this post after thinking back to when I first moved back to London after school. 5 years ago vegan options were thought of as hippy, weird and definitely only for vegans. With more choice than ever now, it’s more a decision of where to go, rather than questioning if there’s anything around! I also have to admit that despite taking over a month to write, the research for this post has been most enjoyable. Enjoy!

 

Yorica
I’m a huge fan of dessert, so when I heard about this delicious sounding specifically vegan ice cream shop, I got super excited. Situated on Wardour Street near Oxford Circus, it’s perfect for a quick (or slow) snack. I got the soft serve and Fiann got the ice cream and we were both super happy. Their matcha soft serve is like Mr Whippy, only much healthier and obviously matcha flavoured. You get your choice of toppings too (gluten free), which makes this far superior to most other ice cream places I’ve been to! The staff are also really friendly, which is a bonus. I would definitely recommend popping in if you’re in the area!

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Yorica is must for anyone hanging out near Oxford Circus needing refreshment!

Lu-ma
Visiting this restaurant was well worth the journey to Wimbledon. Having recently won the title of the ‘Best Restaurant in Merton’, I was expecting great things from the food, but what stood out even more was the friendly and passionate atmosphere. I had the privilege of talking to the owner, Maria, over lunch. Lu-ma is a wholefood/vegan/vegetarian café and whilst not purely vegan, it is quite clear that sustainability is at the heart of the business (for example all the takeaway containers/cutlery are vegware, so compostable). This café also caters to other dietary requirements, such as coeliac, but thankfully doesn’t have the snobby, exclusive vibe that a lot of these places have. 10/10 would recommend.

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I’ve not been into such a friendly cafe as Lu-ma in a long time!

Tibits
Tibits is a vegetarian and vegan restaurant serving healthy meals (both eat in and takeaway). You pay by weight so portion sizes can be changed to suit you. The ingredients are locally sourced (where possible) making it pretty ethical. They also do fully vegan Tuesdays too, which I think is a great follow-on from meat free Monday. Come here for a sit down meal or takeaway – it’s all good!

Deliciously Ella
My boyfriend and I visited deliciously Ella for a weekend brunch after a long walk in the park (it’s conveniently situated next to Hyde Park, right next to Marble Arch. We arrived in time for the breakfast menu (they change at midday for lunch) but naturally tried all the snacks as brunch dessert (is this a thing?). My first impression was that everyone in there is French, so obviously the food has to be good! Whilst the range of breakfast options were not vast, from what I tried, EVERYTHING is good. If you’re a fan of healthy vegan (and gluten and refined sugar free) foods, this is the place for you. Whilst not exactly cheap, it’s also not crazily expensive for the quality of ingredients being used. I also 100% recommend it for the variety of the drinks – their homemade cashewnut chocolate milk is a dream.

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Deliciously Ella’s dishes make you realise why she’s so globally successful

EZ & Moss
Ez and Moss, a vegetarian and vegan cafe on Holloway Road, caters for meat lovers and vegans alike, with a regularly changing menu and excellent coffee. Expect vegan burgers and instagrammable brunch items. It’s won a few awards too, making it all the more appealing to those who may be a little apprehensive of having a meal without a centrepiece of meat.

Buhler & Co
Buhler & Co isn’t 100% vegan, but everything is vegetarian with a lot of options for vegans (most of the veggie food can also be made vegan). Ingredients are locally sourced too, which is great for environmentally-focused individuals. Other intolerances are well served here too, with gluten free options available.

Mooshies
The mooshie website says it aims to create ‘healthy fast food’, using real, vegan ingredients to create food that tastes great, but is also a little healthier for both you and the environment. The cafe is in just the location you’d expect to find a vegan burger cafe – Brick Lane of course! I would thoroughly recommend this restaurant if you enjoy unhealthy tasting food that is also environmentally sound. Love love loved it and will 100% be returning to try the other burgers!

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What the Pitta
You know that delicious tasting hangover food? Now imagine it’s good for you. This is sort of along the lines of what the pitta food, serving huge (HUGE) wraps and vegan kebabs. I’ve heard that even advocates of the classic very meaty kebab give this one 5*, so it’s definitely worth a shot. Staff are friendly too – the whole vibe is great.

The Vurger
I went to the Vurger’s popup in Spitalfields market on a cold winter’s day, and helped myself to two of their burgers (I couldn’t decide which I wanted) and some sweet potato fries. This burger tastes healthier than lots of vegan burgers I’ve had before, using the sort of ingredients I would use if I was to make one at home. If you’re a fan of great tasting plant-based food that isn’t actually unhealthy, then this is the one for you. 

Ethos
Situated pretty centrally near Oxford Circus, Ethos is a restaurant that got me interested in vegan food really early. Everything in the restaurant is vegetarian, and most things vegan too. You pay by weight, which can get expensive (a huge plate worth could cost £15 or so, but that’s usually too much for lunch). However, it’s well worth it for the food, with dishes from lots of different cuisines known for having good veggie food. The sit-down part (you can get takeaway) is also supremely instagrammable, so if you’re into that, this one is for you.

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Ethos’ very instagrammable interior ft salad bowls and marble tables

Moorish cafe deli
Tucked away near King’s Cross, Moreish cafe deli is fairly unassuming from the outside, but once you try their food you’ll be converted. It’s not all vegan, but I had to include it because of the homemade vegan ice cream. It tastes just like ‘real’ ice cream, but is made using homemade ingredients without preservatives etc. The enthusiasm of the shop owner (and ice cream maker) for good, healthy, affordable food is so great that you’ll want to keep coming back here when you’re nearby!

 

I hope this helps all of you on Veganuary and especially those of you looking to make this a longer term arrangement. I would love to hear about your favourite vegan and vegetarian restaurants and cafes too! Let me know on my instagram or in the comments below.

St Pancras Renaissance Hotel spa

I first went to the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel when I was 18 – I was actually singing at a Christmas luncheon for charity! It was so nice, then, to be able to head back for the first time since then last week. After a very long week of work and events, it was much needed! I went with my boyfriend, of course, and am excited to share the experience with you.

There’s no doubt that as soon as you walk up to the renaissance hotel, you’ll be awestruck by its beauty and scale. The spa is on a lower level as soon as you walk in, but you still get to experience the beauty of the inside of the hotel. Upon arrival we had a very short wait while we filled in some health questionnaires, and were then shown around the spa. It’s all situated along a corridor (a pretty one at that), with the spa at one end and relaxation room at the other.

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We started our afternoon with a 30 minute Moroccan massage, which is an oily back massage. Having been climbing the day before, my back was stiff enough to be extremely sensitive! I feel like the massage might have been better suited to someone who hadn’t worked out the day before – for me it was not so much relaxing as painful, which when coupled to the (otherwise wonderfully) heated bed, made the massage probably a little less relaxing than it should have been. However, the products used smelled amazing, and  the experience probably would be perfect for other people.

The pool was gorgeous – dark, lovely decor with chairs around the outside for relaxing on. It was the perfect temperature with plenty of bubbles for the full experience. However, I think when I went it had been over-treated, so was a little stingy on the eyes, sadly.

All in all, there’s no doubting that the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel is somewhere you should visit, if only for the decor! The spa is very relaxing, but there were some small improvements to be made. It wasn’t as good as some day spas I’ve been to, but for a hotel spa, it is really lovely and does just the job of relaxing you before your next engagement.

Verdict: if you’re staying at the hotel, the spa and gym are definitely worth a visit. Book a treatment and enjoy! I wouldn’t put it on the top of my list of day spas, but then again, that’s not its job. Let me know what you think when you visit!

Click here to read more about the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel and its spa.

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The decor of the hotel is all part of the experience!

Cowshed spa, Primrose Hill

As you may know, I am a huge fan of spa breaks – scheduled time to relax, rest and recuperate before heading back into the real world. However, sadly it’s not always possible to take off so much time for some R&R. We all need something that will do the trick and fit into your life. This is where day spas and treatment rooms come in. They’re aid out for maximum relaxation, but without demanding a full day to experience everything – and without the price tag of a full weekend away, too.

I headed to the Cowshed spa on a Thursday evening after work, excited by the prospect of a relaxing evening of ‘me time’. Cowshed has spas in Soho, Shoreditch and Primrose Hill, meaning that for Londoners, there’s always something nearby. I would recommend their Primrose Hill branch though, as it’s reported to be the most aesthetic (I can confirm that it was super cosy and pretty this Christmas time!). Upstairs in the spa is a café, and next door was the manicure and pedicure room – although I didn’t use them I imagine they’re perfect for spending time with friends or mother-daughter time over a mani/pedi.

I headed downstairs to the treatment rooms after filling in a short form about my health, and waited a short while on the downstairs sofas. My treatment started a little late, but wasn’t cut short, so I didn’t mind too much. The treatment started by telling the therapist what I wanted from the session – for me, my body was really sore from some heavy training, so I asked for a massage to relax my muscles. I chose my favourite scent from a selection (all of them were nice, but it’s nice to be able to choose your preferred one!).

I’ve had a lot of massages from lots of different places and the massage I got wouldn’t go at the top of my list, although it was still a very relaxing 45 minutes. However, the therapist did something I’ve never had before – she went through some of my pressure points and pushed on them. It wasn’t pleasant, but MY GOD the next day my DOMS had all gone. This has never happened to me before, even with a massage, so whilst this massage wasn’t top of my relaxing list, it was absolutely top of my effectiveness list. It was so good! I also bet that if I had asked for a soft, relaxing massage, the massage would have been much more relaxing than it was.

I would recommend Cowshed as a cute afternoon/evening activity for a catch up with a friend over a mani/pedi, or for some ‘me time’ after a hard week of working/training. You can’t deny the effectiveness of a massage for relaxation, and this one did just the trick 🙂

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Their upstairs cafe is my ideal kind of place for writing blog posts!

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The upstairs manicure and pedicure area – prefect for catching up with friends!

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The treatment room where I had my massage

Autumn – shoot with Kudzai

The post these photos were taken for was written for Gymshark and is featured on their blog. Go and take a read for some advice on how to keep active in winter!

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Cold weather shouldn’t be a problem if you’ve got the right clothes

As the days get shorter and weather less and less predictable, keeping active often seems a lot less appealing.

However in the winter, more than ever, it’s important to keep active to maintain a positive mindset and get some fresh air. Something that annoys me is this attitude that spring and summer are the only months when you should take care of your body, and the rest of the year your health just doesn’t matter.

 

To read the rest of this post head to the Gymshark blog. Or, scroll down to see more pictures.

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How to beat the winter blues

It’s inevitable that as the winter draws in and days get darker (thanks clock change) that lots of us will start to feel a little down and start to get the ‘winter blues’. A lot of people in the UK suffer from S.A.D, also known as seasonal affective disorder, a mood disorder that causes otherwise positive people to have symptoms of depression ranging from mild to severe in the winter. Symptoms include excessive sleep, tiredness, lack of motivation, hopelessness and low moods, although the severity can range widely between people and from day to day. Whilst the exact cause isn’t known, it’s though to be to do with low light levels reducing serotonin (the happy hormone) or increasing melatonin (the hormone that allows us to sleep at night). Whatever the cause, it’s an annoying fact of winter for a lot of people, but thankfully it can be managed and reduced. Even for those without SAD, doing some of these management techniques can help with general low mood found around winter.

In my past I suffered from depression, starting in my pre-teens and drawing out for almost 10 years. Over time it diminished, thanks to the support and help of family, friends and professionals. During my late teens and early twenties it manifested as SAD – thankfully sparing me summer months but returning as the weather got colder and days darker. My experience coping with it has allowed me to spend the last two winters in relative peace from the low moods associated with SAD. So here are some of my top tips to keep happy this winter! I hope you find them as useful as I have 🙂

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Autumn is a beautiful time of year – but for many it just means darker days and feeling blue

Get enough sleep – but don’t overdo it!

In winter all I want to do is sleep sleep sleep – biologically scientists think that’s because there used to be less food around in winter and sleeping more would mean using less energy so you didn’t have to eat as much. But nowadays with tesco just down the road and deliveroo at the other end of a phone, we don’t exactly have any food shortages to worry about! Having a good sleep schedule is important at any time of year, but especially when there is no natural light to wake you up. Set yourself a strict bedtime and wake time and try not to deviate from this. That way you’ll be getting enough sleep without getting too much and feeling lethargic from it. I aim to be in bed by 10pm, asleep by 10:15pm and up by 6:45am everyday. Sleeping more than 9h a night can leave you feeling more tired, and restricting sleep to 8-9h means that when you sleep, you sleep deeper – something we all want and need!

 

Exercise

I cannot stress enough that exercise – although it often feels like the last thing you want to do when you’re down – is some sort of miracle drug when it comes to SAD. Of course, as with everything, this is a balance of getting enough workouts without exhausting yourself. My gage is how much I can manage – I tend to do a similar amount, allowing for 2 rest days a week. I try to workout when it’s dark outside – the pumping music and energetic atmosphere allow me to forget how dark it is and get lost in the endorphins of the workout.

 

Fresh air and LIGHT

With a lack of natural light being one cause of SAD and low moods, it’s not surprising that getting natural light is on my list of ways to improve symptoms. If you work full time you’ll be familiar with the sad reality of arriving at work in the dark and leaving in the dark, leaving you no time for some sunshine or even any light! Artificial light doesn’t have the right wavelengths to suppress melatonin enough so broad spectrum lights and natural light are the only two that will help with moods. I would 100% recommend getting outside for at least 20 minutes at lunchtime to make the most of the natural light and get some fresh air to keep you awake. I also have a sun lamp – a broad spectrum light that helps me to wake up and produce vitamin D in the winter – I turn it on as soon as I wake up and eat breakfast with it shining on me. I swear by it to help keep my body-clock in check when it always seems dark outside. If you really struggle with SAD I would recommend getting one of these and using it for 30 minutes every morning.

 

Food

Whilst the winter can leave you reaching for the quickest pick-me-up, it’s important to remember that relying on unhealthy foods for energy can leave you feeling even more down after you eat them, often caused by a sugar crash. High carb meals, whilst delicious, should be saved for days of heavy exercise, as they cause the release of melatonin, which is often what makes you feel sleepy after a big meal. Avoid carb-heavy meals at your desk to avoid this, and try not to increase refined sugar intake, as the crash after your blood-sugar spikes can also cause low moods, not helping the situation. I try to avoid coffee in the winter because I know that if I start I will end up relying on it to feel normal, but on tired days I have some just after lunch to get through the afternoon. Research has shown that if you’re not a morning person, having coffee in the morning can mess up your body clock, making you feel weird and anxious, rather than alert.

 

Talk!

If you’re struggling don’t be afraid to talk to family and friends – the chances are that they’ve probably felt the same way too. Research suggests that up to 40% of depression is genetic and that SAD affects 1 in 15 of the UK population. Talking through how you’re feeling (or even just talking about anything) can help alleviate symptoms. Having supportive friends and family around can make the difference between letting SAD ruin your whole winter and managing your low moods and coming out the other side with an even stronger support system. Make the most of them – they’re there because they love you and want to support you. Use that!

 

Self-care

Make time for yourself and don’t ignore your feelings. Run a nice hot bath, light some candles and just sit, enjoying your ‘me’ time. I’m definitely guilty of pretending that I don’t need time alone, and will sometimes go for a week without spending an evening by myself. For many people, all they want is to be alone when down, but for others it’s only too easy to ignore thoughts by keeping too busy. There’s a fine line between keeping busy and ignoring your personal needs. Set aside at least one day/evening a week to pamper yourself to show your body (and mind) some love. Do a little yoga, mediation or just read a good book – it’ll do wonders for your inner energy.

 

I really hope these tips help you manage any winter blues you may be feeling – they’re common, everyone has their days but there are lots of things you can do to help minimise the bad days. For me, rather than being 3 months of feeling horrible, winter now comes with only a few bad days here and there, meaning I am left to enjoy the festive season with family and friends as it is meant to be enjoyed.

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Make sure to eat well and get enough vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy in winter

K West Hotel and Spa

This week I was lucky enough to be able to attend the K West Spa and Hotel for an afternoon of relaxation and sister time with Grace. We arrived at 12 and were shown around the spa and gym facilities and shown all the rooms they have on offer. Now I’m a massive fan of spa days, but I’m used to the basic swim, sauna, shower, out. K West is NOT one of those spas! Let me tell you why:

Grace and I were shown the best order to do things in. I wasn’t aware that there WAS an order, because usually you can see everything you want to use in the same room and you sort of just potter about until you’re stressed by being so relaxed and then leave (or at least that’s me). At K West we arrived and were taken down to the spa floor, which is a long corridor of different rooms with different functions.

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Hydrotherapy pool/100% best photo opportunity ever

Our first room was the main spa room, where we sat in the (huge) hot tub/jacuzzi (which I was told was the ‘hydrotherapy pool’), which is heated to body temperature and is gorgeously warm and relaxing (not to mention beautiful, with the starry ceiling). After the spa we had a footbath with salts to ‘cleanse and relax’.

Feeling slightly too relaxed, Grace and I decided to brave the cold and headed to the snow room, which is literally a giant freezer, chilled to -15. However, the benefits are real – moving from hot to cold can increase circulation, decrease respiratory problems and boost your immune system. After all, if the Scandis do it, there must be something to it! After Grace locked me in for a few seconds too long, we escaped and ran to the sauna, for a nice warming lie-down.

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A bright sauna! Most relaxing one I’ve ever been in (no joke)

Most saunas I go to are quite small and dark, making an already hot and slightly uncomfortable experience even hotter and claustrophobic. However, both Grace and I noticed the light glass walls and open feel to the sauna – no uncomfortable feelings of being trapped in a coffin in the desert were felt.

We had been shown to a door down the main corridor at the beginning, and told to arrive there at 2pm for our ‘treatment’. With the enticing name of sun meadow, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but happily arrived at 2pm on the dot. To explain, the sun meadow is a vitamin D therapy room, where you lie on a bed (literally a bed on the floor) and are gently warmed with artificial sunlight (after putting on eye protection of course!). No harmful UV rays are used (which also means no tan) but the light is enough to promote the production of vitamin D in your body and reduce the effects of S.A.D (seasonal affective disorder), which many people in the UK suffer from to a varying degree due to the lack on sunlight over the winter months.

I’ve never seen somewhere that offers such an innovative number of treatments and rooms – although Grace and I stayed for around 3h, we didn’t even visit all the rooms, although we were very impressed with the ones we did see!

With the hustle and bustle of life in London, it’s often hard to take time out to relax, but it is SO important (see my post on how to relax). K west offers a tranquil break from the hectic rush of everyday life. With express treatments such as the nail bar, express facial and back massage, it can also be a short wind down between meetings (or, more likely, after a stressful day sale shopping in the nearby Westfield).

If you’re keen to visit, check out their website

Barry’s Bootcamp

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The central London bootcamp room. Photo taken from website

This. This is where it’s at. I absolutely LOVE Barry’s bootcamp. Last week I attended the bootcamp in Euston, having heard great things about it from multiple people, including Maiken (@maikenf) who I attended it with. There are two bootcamps in London – one right by Euston station, and the other in east London, near Old street. The one in Euston is somewhat smaller than the one in Old Street, but leaves plenty of space for everyone to workout safely without fear of being whacked by their next door neighbour with their medicine ball.

 

Upon arrival at the bootcamp, I signed in, was told to sign a medical questionnaire and offered the chance to order a protein shake for after the session, which I did (blueberry cobbler FYI). I was then told that newbies would have an induction five minutes before the class started, to make sure we knew what was what. Still not entirely sure I knew what was what, at 12:30pm I took my place at bench 12 for the first round of floor. The workout was 1h in total, alternating between floor and treadmill work (although you can choose to stay on the floor for the full time – or treadmill if you’re mental….). The day I attended it was abs day, using 5kg+ medicine balls (I used 6kg which was tough for me) to do minute long exercises, each working abs in a slightly different way. The instructor (@hannahlouiseluck IG) flawlessly instructed both the treadmill and floor group, shouting out instructions to each, which certainly made me at least feel like I was in a personal training session, rather than a group of 30 people.

The floor exercises could easily be made easier or more difficult by using different weights – a minimum weight for men and women was given at the beginning of the class, allowing everyone to work as hard as was comfortable for them. The treadmill section had three levels, denoted by different speeds that Hannah would shout out at each change of speed. This allowed less fit people to decrease the speed in order not to have a heart attack, and those cardio bunnies to jack up the speed to get the most out of the workout. As a very competitive person, I loved the row of treadmills, where if was possible to look at how fast your next-door neighbour was going. This really pushed me to my limits, which was way faster than I would go in my own workouts.

After the class, Maiken and I went to get changed and shower in the small but beautiful changing rooms (but alas, no sauna). Before leaving we went to collect our pre-ordered smoothies from the smoothies counter (and of course took a bunch of photos).

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Maike (@maikenf) and I post class, all sweaty with protein shakes in hand!

Good for:

  • The endorphin buzz was like something I’ve never felt before. I’ve had a ‘runner’s high’ after training before but this was something else!
  • The competitive aspect of this was great for me, and really pushed me
  • Hannah, the instructor knew many people’s names and would congratulate and encourage those who she knew by name and often those who she didn’t as well.
  • All round workout – I was aching all over the next day (in a great way). Although I went for abs day, this worked out my entire body
  • Cardio bunnies who want a little more than just a run

 

Less good:

  • This was TOUGH – good for fitties! Although it is possible to make it easier with lighter weights and slower speeds, so this isn’t really a negative.
  • Cost – this class is not cheap! At £20 per person per class, it’s not really feasible to do this on the regular.
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Almost worth the £5 they cost

Cost: £20 for one class, decreasing down to £15 per class if you book a block of 50 (£750 total).

http://www.barrysbootcamp.com

HIIT – Another Space

Another Space in Covent Garden is designed to provide class-based workouts to those who don’t fancy finding a workout plan and slogging it out in the gym. Gyms are great, but sometimes having someone push you harder than you could push yourself is needed to get the results you want. The ‘gym’ itself is absolutely beautiful – all white walls, clean lines, lots of greenery and a food/smoothie/juice bar. Included in the price of the class is everything you might need for a workout, from towels to shampoo and conditioner (Cowshed, no less), as well as boxing gloves, cycling shoes (cleats and all) and you can even pre-order a smoothies to be waiting for you in the fridge when you get out of the class! Another Space is from the same people as Third Space, which you might remember me reviewing before. It has the same feel, although it is smaller (yet somehow more spacious).

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Another (beautiful) Space entrance, Covent Garden

Another Space provides three types of class: Spinning (called Cycle), HIIT and Yoga. The HIIT class (the one class I have been to there) is described as “toning strength exercises with high-energy punchbag work, firing your metabolism to burn extra calories for hours”. It combines Muay Thai with boxing for the punchbag exercises, and high intensity body weight exercises for most of the floor exercises. The class was split into two, so the floor space wasn’t too cramped, and so that we got a punch-bag each. However, I was told by my friend, (a frequent visitor to the club) that the maximum capacity was around 17. We only had 10 in there, and as the space isn’t huge, this filled out the room – I think 17 would have been difficult to fit in comfortably!

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The HIIT room

The class began with stretches and a quick warm-up, before the class was split between the punch bags and floor area. Each group was given an exercise to do for a minute, before moving on to the next exercise for another minute. Every 5 minutes there was a minute break while the groups switched to the floor/punch bags. The exercises were tough, and probably a bit unfair to those who don’t work out a lot – 180-degree rotation jump squats for a minute aren’t easy for anyone, let alone a fitness newbie! The instructor (@Jayrayfitness IG) was fantastic, encouraging everyone in the class to get the correct form/body stance and to really go at it. The great thing about HIIT is it does give you rests, allowing a bit of recovery between exercises so the next minute can be as intense as the one before.

Good for:

  • Fitness addicts who are bored of the gym/want to mix it up a little
  • Workaholics who don’t want to be taking a huge bag of towels, food etc etc around with them all day – you can get everything there!
  • Anyone who wants a full body workout
  • If you need to workout in the morning/middle of the day and want to leave looking like you’ve just come out of a beauty salon, not a gym (GHD straighteners and hair dryers, cowshed moisturiser/shampoo/ conditioner/body wash and deodorant all free!)

Less good:

  • If you don’t enjoy being shouted at (although I doubt this happens in the Yoga classes). This class is quite bootcamp style in the teaching methods – if you want results, you have to work for it.
  • The cost – these are PAYG classes, and at £20 per class, it’s not something everyone can afford regularly. Recommended for the occasional workout boost.

Cost: PAYG £20 per class – no membership required.

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