The benefits of interval training

In the lead up to my postponed half marathon and 10k races this year, my coach put me on a training plan that involved something I’d never done before off the track – interval training. In fact, two of my three planned running sessions a week were interval sessions, which baffled me at the time. Surely to get better at running longer distances I should be doing just that? But, trusting my coach, I went out and did the sessions (clocking less mileage than I thought I ‘should’ be doing) and the results spoke for themselves. At around the time I was supposed to run my races, I manage to get half marathon and 10k pbs in solo time trials. So it turns out intervals do work.

 

What is interval training?

An interval training workout or run involves periods of high intensity work alternated with periods of low intensity work, the recovery.

 

What are the benefits?

According to the NHS, the benefits gained from interval training are similar to those gained from longer, more moderate runs. These are numerous, and not limited to performance benefits – interval training could be better for your health, too.

  1. Intervals can improve your VO2 max (the amount of oxygen able to be utilised by your body, i.e. aerobic capacity) significantly, improving your efficiency as a runner. This will also mean your body is better at clearing lactic acid buildup – useful in your next race!
  2. Interval training can provide health benefits similar to doing up to twice as much more moderate training. These include lowering the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
  3. Variety builds strength. If you’re used to plodding around your same route at the same pace, incorporating intervals can quickly make you a better runner. It will challenge your cardiovascular system and muscles in new ways, triggering adaptations and improvements.
  4. When you learn how to run fast for extended periods of time through interval training, more moderately paced runs suddenly feel much slower. You’ll likely end up feeling more comfortable at a faster pace, and all your runs will end up faster.
  5. Although interval training is tough on the body, switching out a long run or two for interval training can reduce the risk of injury. Increasing mileage too quickly can lead to a greater risk of injury, so incorporating intervals sessions means you can gain the same benefits of long runs, but doing less overall mileage, thus reducing risk of injury.
  6. Enjoyment! There are several studies that suggest that runners, especially those just starting out, enjoy intervals sessions more than steady state running. If this means you’re more likely to get out and get a session done, this can also lead to greater performance benefits. Win win!
  7. Fat loss. Interval training of any kind can induce the ‘after-burn effect’, or EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). This increases the amount of calories burned by your body after a session, even at rest. This can promote fat loss over time.
  8. Less stress. Long runs can actually increase your cortisol (stress hormone) levels for days afterwards, lowering the immune system temporarily. Interval sessions reduce cortisol levels, reducing the overall load and stress on the body each week. This, coupled with the endorphin hit of a good workout means you’ll likely leave each session smiling!
  9. Mental discipline. Running closer to your maximum pace is tough, both physically and mentally. However, if you’re looking to run faster overall, this mental strength will be needed in races. Training closer to threshold can prepare you for your races mentally as well as physically.
  10. For the benefits you get, interval training can take considerably less time than a steady run. Sure, the whole thing is more painful, but when you only have to endure it for 20 or 30 minutes, how bad can it be? This leaves more time for other things you want to do.

 

How do I do intervals?

There are more types of intervals than I could possibly include in a blog post, and calculating what works best for you will be dependent on your goals, strengths and weaknesses. As someone who isn’t a coach, I am reluctant to give specific advice, but some good advice I found is shared below. You can read the rest of the article here, which discusses how to build your own interval training sessions.

While there’s no across-the-board pace prescription, there are some rough guidelines that can help get you started. For instance, if you’re running 1-mile intervals, try to complete them at your goal 10K pace. For shorter intervals, like 800m, execute those at 5K pace, and 400m intervals should be slightly faster than that. This is where a coach can come in handy, but there are also online resources, such as Rickerman’s calculator, that can help you figure out a pace range.

 

I hope this encourages some of you to try interval training sessions! The benefits are numerous, but for me what I love is that it doesn’t take all day. I love my long runs, but convincing myself to get out for several hours multiple times a week is never going to happen. My interval sessions usually last 30 minutes maximum, rest periods included, so there’s really no excuse not to get out. They’re also super fun and always leave me feeling positive, which after all, is what running’s all about!

Let me know if you give interval training a go, and come and find me on Instagram to share your experience!

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Images by Tamsin Louise

Eco friendly workout mats

As all of us are working out at home more and more, home equipment has become a bit of a hot commodity, with shops selling out of all their weights, resistance bands, treadmills etc. Whether you’re doing more HIIT, yoga or simple stretches after a run, a yoga mat is key for making the whole experience more comfortable. Standard PVC mats are practical and cheap, but often not great quality, and use non-renewable resources to make. When they break, there is no way of disposing of them in an eco-friendly way, with the vast majority making their way to landfill, or being incinerated instead, releasing dangerous toxins when they are.

Thankfully, many brands are taking more care to use natural materials that can decompose, or are made of recycled materials, reducing the need for virgin plastics. Here are some of my favourite!

At the time of writing, all of these are in stock!! 

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Liforme – £95

A well known brand, Liforme offers really grippy mats, etched with lined to help you align your poses in yoga, or know where you are on the mat. The brand supports numerous charities too, including Friends of the Earth (environmental conservation), the RSPCA (animal welfare) and Yoga Gives Back (fighting poverty in India). Currently they are also raising money for the COVID 19 Solidarity Response Fund. Their mats are fully biodegradable and have recyclable plastic-free packaging. Their travel mat is more affordable and transportable than their full-sizes mats.

Form – £79/£50

This UK based, carbon-negative brand produces a plethora of beautiful mats made from recycled tree rubber and recycled plastic bottles. At the end of their life, the mats are fully biodegradable, except parts of some of the mats, which are recyclable. Their circular mats are extremely popular, and you can preorder these for the 18th May. However, their Marble travel mat is both in stock, and gives back – £10 from every sale goes to The Ocean Cleanup

Cork Yogi – £85

This rubber mat topped with cork is both incredibly padded and good for the environment. The cork is sustainably sourced, and its natural properties mean it is anti-microbial and becomes grippier with sweat, perfect for intense workouts and hot yoga. A portion of the profits of CorkYogis goes back to Destiny Reflection Foundation allowing them to train and give work to survivors of human trafficking and slavery. You can buy their Premium Yogi mat here.

Yogi Bare – £68

Yogi Bare produced sustainable rubber mats that are 100% vegan and cruelty free, with 100% recyclable packaging. Although they are created in Hong Kong, they freight by ship rather than air, reducing emissions. You can buy their extreme grip mat here.

 

Manduka – €75

Manduka is a well known brand in the yoga community, but works well for workouts too. Their eKO mats use sustainably sourced rubber and only non-toxic chemicals in the manufacturing process. They have multiple thicknesses, but their 4mm Lite mat gets the best of all worlds. They also have an Almost Perfect collection of reduced mats that were produced with slight imperfections.

EcoYoga – £45

This ecofriedly mat is made of jute and natural rubber, making is biodegradable, compostable and grippy. They’re also designed and handmade in the UK, so you won’t be getting any air-miles if you order this. They’re out of stock in many places but I found one here.

 

Planet Warrior – £50

This natural rubber yoga mat is perfect if you’re looking for a pattered addition to your yoga flow or workout. It’s beautifully painted with water based inks and perfectly grippy thanks to the rubber base. The top is lined with microfibre to make it as soft as possible. When delivered, it comes in recycled and recyclable cardboard and paper, with no plastic tags. You can buy it here.

Daway – £47.90

PVC and made using only non-toxic methods, this mat is perfect if you’re looking for a bargain. Some of the reviews however say that it gets a little slippery in hot weather, and you can expect some curling at the end if left rolled for extended periods of time. However, if you’re looking for a less-expensive thick mat, this one comes in at 6mm, far thicker than the standard 3-4mm you would usually get. You can buy it here.

Good luck with your training or practice, I hope it brings you a lot of happiness in this strange time!

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Keeping happy at home

Everyone is talking about COVID-19 right now, and with the global measures ensuring that people stay at home as much as possible, there’s very little to take our mind off it. Not all the emotions and thoughts we have are helpful though – anxiety above and beyond what we can change (e.g. washing hands, social distancing etc.) is only likely to exacerbate any issues, and cause more harm than good.

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Try not to stay in bed all day, tempting though it may be!

Harvard University has released a document with helpful resources designed to help people struggling with anxiety, especially health-related anxiety. They have some really useful advice on there, so please do share it (or this post) around!

Here are some of my favourite ways to cope with anxiety/stress of any variety:

 

Limit time on media of any form

It can be tempting to spend more time on social media and news sites when you’re stressed. Waiting for validation and dopamine hits through social media, and constantly checking up on evolving situations through news sites won’t help your brain switch off. You are allowed to take time away from the news if it is causing anxiety. I prefer to get my news from friends at times like these, because at least that way we are able to discuss in a productive way, rather than sit and dwell.

Focus on problem solving

With any issue, there will be things you can solve, and things you can’t. The feeling of helplessness is one of the worst feelings, so try to separate out concerns into ‘can fix’ and ‘can’t change’. This way you can work towards fixing what you can (washing hands, staying home, eating healthily, sleeping, social distancing/isolation) and accepting what you can’t (global spread, NHS limitations, general rules of biology).

Keep connected

Mental health struggles love isolation. Concerningly, people struggling from depression and anxiety can often feel like time alone is the only time they feel safe. Maintaining social connections, especially in a time when you can’t meet people face to face, is so important. FaceTime/Skype are great alternatives to face-to-face meeting – why not get in touch with people you haven’t had time to speak to in a while? Try to talk about things other than your concerns if you can.

Form a routine

When I struggled with depression, I found getting out of bed incredibly difficult, but staying in bed would give me a feeling of hopelessness, as if I couldn’t leave bed. Try framing your day around key points. Stick to regular mealtimes, wake at a reasonable hour, and try to fit in some form of movement in your day, whether inside or outside.

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Try to form routine, including meal times!

Gratitude journal

One of the main ways I totally changed my mindset when I was younger from ‘everyone hates me and everything is awful’ to a mindset of positivity was by keeping a gratitude journal. At first I hated it as I could barely find anything good to write in it, but slowly my mind switched from seeing the negatives in everything, to seeing the positives, if just to write it in the journal! At the end of each day, write down 5 things you are grateful for, however small.

Find purpose

At the beginning of the day, write a small list of things you want to achieve, and how you’ll go about achieving them. They don’t have to be complicated, but ticking off things from a to-do list can increase feelings of purpose (thought to be the most important factor in enjoyment of work). These can include doing laundry, loading/unloading the dishwasher, handing/rearranging paintings, watering plants, going for a run, applying for jobs, sending an email etc.

Do something selfless

Helping others is an intrinsically rewarding activity, promoting positive emotions in our own brains. It also can add perspective to problems. Doing good also improves optimism, confidence and gives you a feeling of purpose, without which many people struggle. Consider donating to charity, volunteering or simply helping someone out online.

Move!

Whether you are able to leave the house or not, if you are feeling up to it, get moving! Household chores are often enough to build up a sweat, but if that doesn’t do it for you, check out these Instagram and YouTube accounts that provide awesome home workouts without equipment. Even just 20 minutes a day is enough to get the endorphins going. If you can safely get outside, try going for a brisk walk at least once a day, or head out for a run. Remember, long distance running may suppress your immune system, so try intervals, or short-but-fast sessions instead.

Follow good news sites

If you can’t stop thinking about negatives, try unfollowing people who make you feel worse (this is a good thing to do anyway) and follow accounts that make you feel positive. The Happy Broadcast is posting lots about COVID 19, but they’re positive and proactive news stories. It’s one of my favourite accounts right now. The Daily Kitten and The Dodo are up there too.

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Try heading out for a run if you’re able to!

All images taken by my amazing friend Tamsin Louise.  

If you’re looking for more advice, check out this post on How to survive Blue Monday or How to beat the Winter Blues.

Top people to follow for home workouts

With much of the world’s population recommended to stay at home, and some even on lockdown, I have been asked where I would look for home workouts. Thankfully, in an age where social media is so built up across society and working out is the norm, home workouts are easy to come by.

I asked you guys which you find the best, so here are my findings! Please do share this with your friends and family. Exercise keeps the brain happy and is a great way to structure the day, which is extremely important when all other structure has gone. You could all come out of this fitter than when we went in!

There are loads of paid apps that you can use/subscribe to which have some really great workouts on, but I personally want to support individuals at this time (albeit some pretty famous ones). I may well create another list of apps that you can subscribe to as I know they’re popular! Let me know your faves and if you’d be interested in a separate list of these 🙂

 

Instagram

Thanks to the advent of carousel posts and IGTV, workout videos on Instagram are pretty common. Here are some of my favourite accounts:

Natacha.oceane

Ironman and athlete Natacha Ocean has always been a favourite of mine. With her evidence-based approach to training and nutrition and ‘training’ style workouts, she is definitely one to follow. Check out her IG for workout inspo.

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Shona_vertue

Another athlete, ex-gymnast Shona shares a very balanced approach to training, far removed from the ‘no days off’ crew. As a yoga teacher, a lot of her sessions are already bodyweight based, and perfect for strengthening supporting muscles. Shona will also be hosting live workouts from her YouTube channel so get involved!

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Aliceliveing

Personal Trainer Alice shares gym-based workouts on a regular basis, but also has more conditioning workouts available too. Also, although she doesn’t post there anymore, you can find some home workouts on her YouTube channel.

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Zannavandijk

Zanna has recently been travelling, but regularly shared workouts before that, so scroll back a little for a wide variety! She also has a YouTube but I can’t find regular workout videos on there (but you might want to check it out anyway) 🙂

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Sophjbutler

Sophie became a wheelchair user after injuring herself during a workout, but if anything, she has become more determined. She shares home workouts suitable for all, and is just generally a delight to follow. Check out her (somewhat sassy) twitter too.

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Lillysabri

Lilly shares workouts on her YouTube (over 300 available!) and Instagram, so choose your platform! They’re easy to follow and she does them in a bikini, so you can pretend you, too, are in sunny Dubai.

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Annieopenshaw

Friend, squash player and all-round superb person Annie shares workouts regularly on her Instagram, including many without equipment. She also has a YouTube channel that may provide amusement.

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Hauptstadttrainer

I met Erik on our little Tour de France trip last summer, and have followed his account closely since. He is incredibly friendly, but also (possibly more importantly on IG) incredibly knowledgeable, and shares home workouts suitable for all. Screen Shot 2020-03-17 at 11.01.56

LeenPeet

Not everyone who shares great workouts is instal-famous. Been Peeters is a certified personal trainer who shares home workouts suitable for all on her Instagram. Check it out!

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YouTube

Pamela_rf

I personally think it should be illegal for anyone to have 4.6m IG followers at the age of 23, but looking at Pamela’s Instagram account, she’s clearly doing something right! However, her workouts can primarily be found on her YouTube – she even has a ‘home workouts’ playlist.

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Les Mills

Not technically a person, but well known in the world of accessible workouts. Sometimes a little high-impact, but plenty of options there and all free!

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Lucy Wyndham-Read 

I’m not a huge fan of the aesthetics-based approach of this channel, but for many it’ll be the difference between exercising and not, and benefits are there whether you exercise for mental health, aesthetics or performance!

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Sarah’s Day

Sarah doesn’t strictly do workout videos, but has a wide variety of content. I expect, with the rise of demand, she will be posting more and more home workout content, so stay tuned!

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The Body Coach

If you’re looking for a wide variety of workouts and regular videos, The Body Coach is your guy! My friend loved his ‘7 days of sweat’ workouts, and that was before quarantine. Subscribe to stay sane.

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Madfit

For regular, easy to follow workouts (choreographed to music!), subscribe to Maddie’s channel on YouTube. You won’t get bored with the variety of content on there 🙂

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Sydney Cummings

Personal trainer Sydney shares a multitude of workouts on her channel, arranged by time or category. Want 60 minutes of workout or a no equipment workout? Check her out.

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Heart Alchemy Yoga

Looking for something a little more relaxing? Michelle is catering for those of us with slightly anxious dispositions, sharing yoga and meditations suitable for all abilities.

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Five workout misconceptions

If you don’t hurt, it’s not working

It’s common for muscles to feel sore after a workout (called DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness), but there’s a common misconception that if you don’t feel DOMS after a workout, then you didn’t workout hard enough. Firstly, everyone is different, so a good workout that causes DOMS in one person may not cause it in another. Chasing muscle soreness (essentially inflammation from the repair of microscopic tears in the muscle) can lead to injury. So whilst DOMS is a common side-effect of a hard workout (especially one that is new to your body), it’s not necessary to feel sore afterwards to know that it’s working!

 

Heavier weight = better workout

Strength training in any workout that provides resistance to your muscles. This is great for bone density and muscle growth, but the workouts don’t need to be in the form of heavy weights or resistance machines – smaller weights, kettlebells and medicine balls can be used with similar effect. Not got any weights? Gravity, resistance bands and your own body weight are great alternatives! Read why everyone should lift weights.

 

You can get abs by working your core

This is a bit of a loaded one, because what exactly do we mean by ‘get abs’? We all have core muscles, even when you can’t see them. Most people who want to ‘get abs’ mean ‘see ab definition’, which is a different ball-game. The common misconception is that if someone works out their abs a lot, they will develop a defined stomach area. Since ‘spot fat reduction’ is not a thing (i.e. you can’t lose fat specifically on one part of your body but not the rest), just training your abs won’t ‘give you abs’. The better option is to pair full-body functional training (which uses your core a lot) with a healthy diet. The result? A stronger core and lower overall body fat percentage, which could lead to a defined core (please also bear in mind that due to variation in genetics, some people will find it really difficult to achieve definition).

 

Every workout should leave you a sweaty mess

I absolutely love sweaty workouts. The more out of breath, the better, which is why I sometimes struggle with slower, more functional workouts. However, different workouts have different sweat-factors, i.e. lifting weights might not leave you as sweaty as a boxing session, but that doesn’t mean it was any less valuable to you. In fact, it is important to mix up your training – doing workouts that leave you 100% exhausted and a sweaty mess every time is a great way to lead to burnout and injury. Mix it up and don’t think of sweatiness as a marker of a good workout!

 

More workouts = better results

Obviously consistency is great when it comes to working out, and getting moving regularly is an important part of keeping healthy. However there is such thing as working out too much, and so more is not necessarily better. Recovery is at least as important as your training, and well-placed recovery days can help your muscles repair better, leading to greater improvements in your fitness/muscle strength.

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Image by @alittlepickmeup

How I keep motivated

It’s a question I get asked time and time again – just HOW do I keep motivated? Mostly it’s in reference to fitness, but we require motivation in all walks of life, from work, to household chores, to the gym.

I don’t believe there’s any secret to motivation – it all comes from practise, prioritising and learning to do what you love and love what you do. Regardless, here are my top tips for staying motivated day to day.

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Learn to love what you do

Easy to say, harder to do. But when you love what you do, motivation to do it comes easily, 75% of the time. The reason I didn’t say ‘do what you love’ is because I know it’s not feasible for people to constantly be doing things they enjoy – if we did, no one would have issues with motivation. The trick here is finding things you love about what you do. Finding meaning in your work has been shown to lead to the highest levels of job satisfaction, whether you find meaning in helping other people (customer services, doctors), teaching the next generation or earning money to help support your family. The same goes for exercise – if you don’t particularly enjoy the gym but have no alternative way of exercising at this time, think of the specific benefits of what you are doing. I love doing mobility work because I know it’s going to help me move long into my old age. Find meaning in your workouts, and change your mindset from ‘I have to go to the gym’ to ‘I get to go to the gym’, rather than ‘I haveto go t the gym’. No one has to go to the gym, it’s a choice that’ll make you feel good. If it doesn’t make you feel good, really question why you’re doing it and think about looking for other alternatives.

 

Get into a habit

Habitually doing something means that your brain doesn’t have to make the decision to do it everyday, it’s just habit. That makes it so much easier, because it’s just the status quo. Of course, forming the habit in the first place is harder, but use the other tips on this page to get started. You won’t regret it!

 

Find a friend

You become the average of the closest people to you – a cliché but 100% true. We adopt habits and lifestyles of those closest to us, which is why a toxic friend can be so damaging. Try to surround yourself with people who are also trying to better themselves, whether that’s working hard at work, eating a healthy diet or heading to the gym everyday. In those days you lack motivation, just hearing that your friend is going to the gym after work can be enough to motivate you to head there too, even if just for a short session. Since hanging out with my fitness-focussed friends in London, I’ve taken up several new sports, have been eating healthier and I also now drink less!

 

Rest up

Motivation can be hard to come by when you’re utterly exhausted and/or burned out! You can love something and still not be motivated to do it if you’re too tired, and for that reason I would really recommend incorporating rest into your routine. Whether that’s a mental break from your job or a physical break from exercise, rest is equally as important as working out itself! Realising the difference between being physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted is also of utmost importance. If you’re not going to the gym because you’re too tired after work, chances are you’re mentally drained, not physically drained. Tired from a toxic colleague? You’re probably emotionally exhausted, and no amount of coffee is going to sort that. In these situations, working out can be one of the best things you can do, as it gives your brain a total rest from the day. Realising the difference between these three types of tiredness really helped my motivation to do things. It’s sometimes as simple as realising that you’re actually not tired, you’re just fed up!

 

Discipline

A lot of ‘motivation’ is actually discipline. The above tips help a lot when it comes to actually wanting to do something, but discipline makes up the other proportion of getting things done. People who make real progress are those disciplined enough to get into good habits. I will never say that discipline should come at the expense of enjoyment, but it takes some trial and error to realise that sometimes it takes doing something you don’t want to do now to be happier later. Discipline also makes the rewards of doing boring/painful things so much better! Seeing progress after working hard for something is a feeling far better than lying in bed everyday rather than gymming (obviously there is a time for this too!).

 

Forgiveness

We all lack motivation from time to time. In reality, whatever you see on Instagram, I am not always motivated, and although I find it relatively easy to get myself to the gym, other work (such as writing blog posts and editing YouTubes) requires huge amounts of motivation to get myself to do. I started this post about 6 weeks ago, for example – we’re definitely not all perfect, and forgiving yourself for that is SO important for your long-term happiness.

 

As with everything, motivation is about the fine balance between doing what you want to do now and remembering what you want to happen later. The great thing is that it can be practised and improved, so no need to worry if you feel like you lack motivation! The above tips will hopefully help you find something that it’s easy to be motivated to do, and then progress will come 🙂

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Almyra Hotel – Cyprus

I’d use three words to describe Almyra hotel in Cyprus: friendly, relaxing and refreshing. I had the pleasure of being invited to return to Cyprus (after my trip last year) in order to review the beautiful hotel that is Almyra. With a focus on wellness and a chic, modern interior, I knew that it was exactly where I wanted to spend what was bound to be a rainy April weekend in London.

The great thing about Cyprus actually is that it’s warm so much earlier than the rest of the med, at a warm 26 degrees everyday we were there! 🙂 In my opinion we were there at the best time of year – before everywhere else was warm and before it got too busy! Apparently September/October is perfect too.

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Rooms

We stayed in one of the seaview rooms closest to the spa, away from the hustle and bustle of the main hotel (K18 to be exact). The room looked out onto the sea with a private outdoor area with two extra sunloungers. I was actually amazed at how light and airy it was – the doors onto the outside terrace were floor to ceiling glass, letting in as much light as possible. We didn’t spend much time in the room (there was too much sunbathing and eating going on) but it was nice to come back to a large room big enough for two girls’ clutter.

Food

Almyra has a lot of options when it comes to food. It’s situated along a row of hotels and a little bit away from the main town, so the easiest place to eat is in the hotel, which usually has me a little worried, but I was very pleasantly surprised with the delicious options! The hotel itself has three main restaurants – Notios (Japanese with a Cypriot twist), Eauzone (the main breakfast and dinner buffet) and Ouzeri (a classic Cypriot restaurant on the seafront). For half board guests, breakfast and dinner at the Eauzone were included. The buffet was a fairly standard buffet – nothing special but good quality food and (thankfully) a decent selection of healthy vegetarian and vegan foods. We enjoyed breakfast at the spa one morning too and I was very impressed with the food. We got the set menu (minus pastries and cakes), which contained a pleasing amount of fresh fruit and a smoothie (of your choice). We visited the local-style restaurant, Ouzeri, for a mezze lunch – we were encouraged to get 4 hot and 4 cold dishes and couldn’t finish, so I would give a 10/10 for quantity and everything was absolutely delicious. The Japanese restaurant had to be my favourite – after all, it is my favourite cuisine. The food there was top quality – probably better than any of the other restaurants in the area, and it was a gorgeous place to sit for drinks at sunset!

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Drinks at Notios

Amenities

The hotel has a separate spa complex that is pretty serene and relaxing, with a myriad of rooms I was unable to explore in the time we had. I was told that there were many treatments that could be had, and met multiple people who had travelled from other hotels for use of the spa. The prices were not unreasonable either, and the relaxation factor was just perfect. I can’t speak for the quality of treatment, as I didn’t have any. On the top floor of the spa is a gym – basic by London standards, but with a wide selection of free-weights, a few machines (though no squat rack!), soft mats and cardio equipment. I never saw it so busy that people had to wait. It was also the best view I’ve ever had whilst running on a treadmill! If you have boxing gloves, bring them, as there’s a balcony with a bag for free use. This is also where I filmed lots of my bodyweight workouts.

In the area

Other than sunbathing, eating and gymming, there were plenty of activities to do in the area. The main town is just a short walk away (max 10 minutes) and has lots of cute, as well as touristy shops (and a strip, like any other European city). In the other direction, along the coast lies Suite 48, a fantastic bar and restaurant serving up cocktails and snack, often to live music. I went to Suite 48 last year, and was not disappointed on my return. The staff are so welcoming and many of the drinks are really special, if you pick the right ones (they have a lot of the cheap, sweet strip classics, too). My recommendation if you like G&T would be the ‘Monkey Business’, though plenty of the other gin cocktails are also delicious. A short drive away is Muse restaurant, up a hill and looking out over Paphos and the sea. 100% would recommend this restaurant for sunset – it’s a view you won’t want to miss. Don’t forget to book though – it gets full quickly! At the bottom of Almyra is a watersports shack with a new pier, offering activities such as waterskiing, sailing, jetskiing, parasailing, paddleboarding and, of course, a pedalo with a slide (a childhood favourite). I tried the first two, and got to know men runnin the show pretty well. The man who drove the boat for water/mono-skiing clearly is really passionate about teaching people, which was very helpful for me, as it was only my second session mono-skiing, and improvements were made within our two 10 minute sessions! Would thoroughly recommend if you’re looking for lessons or just a fun trip out.

Visit the website and check out Almyra’s instagram.

 

7 Bad habits ruining your progress

Sitting all day

The majority of us have jobs that require us to sit still for long periods of time. This means that the amount we move throughout the day is minimal, and when combined with taking transport to and from work, this can really take its toll on your body! Studies show that even if you workout regularly, sitting down for extended periods of time can increase your risk of mortality, presumably from accumulating

Eating too fast

Calories are calories, right? Pretty much, yes, but you can eat a lot more calories if you don’t pay attention to what you’re eating. It takes the body around 20 minutes to process the food you’ve just eaten, so eating quickly can allow you to eat way more food before your body even notices you’re eating. Slow down and give your body time to catch up!

Snacking throughout the day

Similar to above, snacking throughout the day can cause you to lose track of the amount of calories you’re consuming. I don’t count calories, but by grazing through the day I end up eating so much more than when I stick to eating only at meal times. I don’t deprive myself of snacks, but if you’re hungry, try to set yourself snack times, rather than nibbling at little bits throughout the day.

Working out too much

This sounds strange but actually there is such thing as working out too much and it might be easier than you think. As you get fitter, you may be able to push yourself harder, but your body still requires time to recover, and the harder you push yourself, the longer that time is. Aiming to fit in intense workouts everyday is unachievable and frankly, dangerous, as it can lead to burnout and/or injuries. In addition, workout out intensely too frequently means that you’re unable to put 100% effort into each session, so you’re better off doing fewer sessions at a higher intensity. to get more progress. Struggle to take a day off? Mix up your workouts to alternate between high intensity and low intensity sessions.

Not getting enough sleep

OK so I swear I bang on about sleep as a cure-all, but IT BASICALLY IS. When your body is well rested it simply functions better, meaning fewer things go wrong. In terms of your progress, this means:

  1. You have more energy to put into workouts, and you’re less likely to miss workouts because you’re too tired.
  2. You don’t reach for snacks throughout the day because a) you don’t get such a bad energy slump and b) motivation is increased when you have more energy, so you’re more likely to stick to any plan you’ve set for yourself.

Eating diet foods

It can seem counterintuitive, but diet foods are anything but good for your diet. I had a pack of low-calorie ‘light’ crisps the other day, and I swear they were made from salted cardboard pulp. I’m sure their main method of helping diets is that no one could finish an entire packet because they were so disgusting. Other diet foods may feel a little bit satisfying but nowhere near as good as the real thing, so you end up eating more of them. OR you think ‘these are low calorie so I can eat more’ and eat more than you would of the original, but feel way worse afterwards. Just ditch the low calorie/fat/carb snacks. Find good food that you enjoy and eat everything in moderation.

Skipping meals

Thinking: If I eat one meal less, I’ll lose weight. Sure, if you don’t compensate, that may be true. However, we’re all human, and we our bodies are much cleverer than we give them credit for. People who skip breakfast are more likely to be overweight than those who don’t, and skipping any other meal can lead to ‘grazing’ throughout the day, which is a healthy diet killer. Instead, try sticking to balanced, nutrient dense meals that won’t leave you hungry.

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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’

FAQs on Instagram DM

These are some of the most commonly asked questions on my Instagram and YouTube. I try to reply to everyone who messages me, but it may be quicker to find the answers in the content I have already produced. Enjoy!

 

Where do you work/what do you do/how can I get into it?

Edit: I now work as a social media consultant, freelance writer and as a blogger 🙂 Left this up in case you would like to go into science comms! It’s an amazing job and I would recommend it to anyone.

I work in science media and PR – in short I act as a go-between between scientists/doctors and journalists, to make sure the journalists understand any important research coming out, and to make sure that exciting new research is getting into the press. I absolutely love my job – I think it’s so important that the public understands scientific and media research, and it empowers people to make their own decisions about how they want to live their lives.

I am currently working at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, which works on women’s health globally, but especially in the UK. I run their twitter account and do a bunch of other stuff too, to do with communicating Obs and Gynae research and news to the general public.

If this sounds like something you’d enjoy (science communications could be to do with anything from environment to medicine to engineering), then I would really recommend getting some work experience, including writing about relevant topics for your student or local newspaper and maybe starting a blog on your favourite topic, if you enjoy writing. Show how keen you are – I did months of unpaid work experience just because I loved it and wanted to show that. I would also recommend joining ABSW and STEMPRA to hear about job opportunities and get the chance to talk to people who have the job you want to get 🙂

 

What are your favourite activewear brands?

I’m not sponsored by any particular brand at the moment, but I love sharing other brands that I use. I have two vlogs on my favourite activewear – for everyday and winter running.

In terms of shoes, I wear a combination of different running shoes. Everyone is different, so I am reluctant to recommend shoes for others, but my favourites are Asics Gel nimbus 20, Adidas Ultraboost, Hoka One One Clifton 6 and for trails Columbia Caldorado II.

If you’re looking for new trainers, give this vlog with my coach a watch before buying and remember, everyone is unique!

 

Are you vegan?

No, not technically. However, I find labels unhelpful – I would call myself ‘plant-based’ if I had to label how I eat. I have been pescetarian since I was 4. I gave up fish in 2017 for environmental reasons (I studied marine and conservation Biology at uni and couldn’t really ignore what I had just learned). Shortly after that I also cut down significantly on dairy and cut out eggs totally. Now I eat a totally plant-based diet, but since I occasionally wear leather I don’t call myself vegan. In my eyes, every small step someone makes to make better decisions is a step in the right direction.

I share a lot of vegan food on my Instagram and my YouTube to show people that there are a lot of vegan options out there, even if you don’t associate with being vegan, or even vegetarian. Read my blog post on the topic here.

 

How can I cure my injury?

I get asked everyday about resolving injuries, especially those from running. I am not a physio, so can’t provide advice except my personal experience of ITBS. If you have niggles, you may find this vlog with my physio helpful, or this blog post on shin splints. Nothing beats visiting a physio though, so if your niggles continue, please do speak to a professional.

 

Do you have a YouTube?

YES! I finally have YouTube after around two years of deliberation. Check it out, watch and subscribe – enjoy!

Check out my twitter, instagram and blog too.

 

How do I lose weight/tone up/look like you?

I’m not a dietitian or a personal trainer, so I don’t like to give out personalised advice. I couldn’t anyway, since I know nothing about your diet, activity levels, metabolism or anything else. My Instagram aims to help you find enjoyment in living a healthy lifestyle – I am not going to give someone a personalised plan to ‘lose weight’.

I look like I do through a combination of working out in a way that I enjoy, eating a diet that I enjoy and genetics. Even if you followed everything I do to the letter, chances are we’d still end up looking pretty different.

 

How often do you workout/how do you train?

I’ve also got plenty of vlogs on my YouTube on my workout split (which changes according to my goals). However, please read above for what I think about copying workouts and expecting the same results – that’s not how it works sadly.

I always like to incorporate a mix of resistance training, HIIT and cardio into each week, whether that’s though boxing, running, weights, physio, classes or anything else. I think everyone should have a baseline fitness in strength training and cardio for all round health and fitness and to avoid injuries.

 

What are your favourite podcasts?

I have a vlog and blog post on my favourite podcasts. These need updating a little but are a great place to start! I love running with podcasts 🙂

 

Can you promote my product?

If you’d like to collaborate, please contact my agent at hannah@wmodel.eu.

 

I hope that helps answer your questions! Follow and DM me on instagram or twitter to find out more 🙂

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