The only way to drink water!

dsc00605eI’m keen on exercise and in the past found myself going through bottles of mineral water like nobody’s business. Not only was that expensive, but terrible for the environment. I then moved on to reusable plastic bottles. I found these prone to staining and they usually left an unusual taste in my mouth. Worse, more often than not they fell apart in the dishwasher – not great for this un domestic goddess!! Then two months ago, glass water bottles with silicone sleeves (catchy, I know) walked into my life. I’ve been using this for the gym, exercise classes, at home and at work and I’m converted! This one is by the brand Apana, which appears to be mainly available in the US, but I picked this up in TK Maxx for just a tenner. There are plenty of alternatives available on Amazon too. Read on to find out why I fell in love.

The water really does taste better – honestly it does! Fresher and it also stays cool for longer. I don’t think this is a placebo effect either. If you search BPA and phthalates (commonly found in plastic containers) there is certainly opinion out there that these can change the taste and quality of the water contained in them.

It’s (almost) indestructible – I’ve put this through the dishwasher almost every day and it looks as good as new.

Great for the clumsy ones among us – The silicone sleeve gives it amazing grip meaning even the more accident prone (that’s me!) will find it difficult to drop.

Looks as good as it performs – I don’t think I’ve ever had compliments on a water bottle before! So many people have asked me where I found it before rushing off to TK Maxx to get themselves one!

If I had to offer a down side, the bottles are naturally more heavy than their plastic counter parts so may not be ideal for some types of exercising including road running.

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4 Motivation Tips – to get you to the gym!

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Whether you are going to the gym for weight loss/gain/maintenance, fitness, strength or any other reason the chances are (if you are anything like me) there are times when you really can’t be bothered. For me, on those days I seem to be able to think of 100’s of reasons (or actually excuses) not to get myself to the gym. Having said that I’m pretty impressed with myself as in the past couple of years I have been going consistently so I thought I’d share my motivation tips with you today. I’m not saying a gym membership is the only way to exercise (you can read my post about my favourite at home workouts here) but if you already have a gym membership you are bound to want to get your money’s worth!

1. Timing is everything

I have a 9-5 job (what a way to make a living!) and I find the best way to ensure I get to the gym is to go straight from work. Do not pass go, do not collect £200! I pack a gym bag in the morning (or the night before) and throw it in my car so that I have no need to go home first. If I do, once I’ve kicked off my shoes and sat down that’s it – not much is going to get me off my bum and out the door after that! When I worked shifts, I made sure to go after early shifts or first thing in the morning on days off. Obviously when is best for you will depend on your personal circumstances, but I recommend you find a time that means you are less likely to slack off, and make it part of your routine.

2. Plan meals

I’m one of those people who always seems to be hungry and for me working out when I feel that way is never effective. I know some people like the ‘starved cardio’ technique and to be honest I don’t know much about it but I do know it’s not appealing to me! So as I go to the gym straight from work I now make sure I have a proper breakfast and a more substantial lunch than I used to, or have a healthy snack at work part way through the afternoon. If I leave work without a rumbling tummy I’m definitely more inclined to get in my car and drive to the gym instead of to the nearest shop for food! You can read about my healthier breakfast choices here.

3. Wear ‘feel good’ outfits

I used to wear any old thing to they gym. Usually leggings and baggy t-shirts that I’d had for ages and weren’t ‘good enough’ to wear for anything else any more. I’d heard people say this was a bad idea and you should wear work out clothes that made you feel as good as your other clothes. I dismissed it thinking I’d rather spend money on other things but then I finally realised the error of my ways! I find workout clothes made by proper sports brands not only fit better, feel more comfortable and last longer but actually make me look forward to working out (yes really!). I now put the same effort into selecting my outfits for the gym as I do into any other outfit and I can honestly say this is one of the things that gets me to the gym regularly.

4. Attend classes

Most gyms have a range of classes to chose from. I find taking the plunge and going to my first one is a bit nerve-racking but I have always ended up enjoying them. I find there are a few reasons why going to a class improves my motivation. First of all trying something new and therefore mixing things up at bit definitely spurs me on. The fact that you have to be there at a certain time also means I’m less likely to make excuses or put off going. Finally, once I get to know a few of the regular faces and the instructor I feel guilty for not going so tend to turn up!

If you have any motivation tips to share please comment below 🙂

Favourite YouTube Workouts

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If I’m honest, my dedication to fitness has been flaky in the past. I’ve been a gym member on and off for 12 years and have had tried ‘at home’ workouts with mixed results. But as my 30th birthday approached in 2013 it gave me the proverbial kick up the bum I needed to take my health more seriously. Since then I’m happy to say I have kept up with the regular exercise and been more aware of my eating habits, both with more consistency than ever before (*pats self on back*). I’m a member of a gym now and also regularly attend a Pilates class, but in 2013 I was not in a position to haemorrhage money away on a membership or class fees (I had a 30th birthday trip to Las Vegas to save for!) so this time around I started my fitness journey at home. You Tube fitness videos were an absolute blessing, so I thought I’d share my favourites with you.

The first two videos come from the channel ‘Fitness Blender’. Daniel and Kelli are a husband and wife team, highly qualified in fitness and nutrition. A quick scan through their website and You Tube channel, and it’s easy to see why they have over 2 million subscribers. There is literally something for everyone; cardio, focussed strength and toning, low impact, Pilates, yoga, and (my favourite) High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). They continue to upload really regularly too. There are quite a few videos on the channel that I’ve tried, and many I plan to try in the future, but these are my favourites:

Brutal HIIT Ladder Workout – The clue is in the title. This really is brutal and probably not for beginners. Expect 20 minutes of high intensity repetitions including exercises such as jump squats and burpies (evil things!) It’s difficult, but you can ease yourself into it gradually by taking longer rest periods (well I did!) The advantage of this hard work for me, was seeing improvement in my fitness levels without having to workout for hours on end.

Natural Brazilian Butt Lift – Big toned bums may be en vogue at the moment, but Kelli was clearly ahead of the race as this video was uploaded 4 years ago! This workout lasts 35 minutes and if you are anything like me, your glutes will be burning by the end (or half way through!) Expect lunges, squats, bridges and more. I know this off by heart now so often do it at the gym. I’m still not ready to compete with Kim K, but I’ve definitely seen improvement!

The second two videos can be found on the channel Mike Chang’s ‘Sixpack Shortcuts‘. I will say I’ve seen some criticism online regarding inconsistency in the advice he provides in his videos (there are even spoof videos out there) and his channel seems to be primarily aimed at men. However, there are two workouts on his channel that have really worked for me, and he has over 3 million subscribers so he must be doing something right!

Extreme Six Pack Abs Workout & Intense Cardio and Abs Workout – When I do these videos, I do them together. They are 12-15 minutes long but the actual exercise part is around 5-10 minutes in each (he likes to talk a lot!) Expect rotations of focused abs exercises including toe touches, mountain climbers and half burpies (those evil things again!) Prior to our Vegas holiday my husband and I did these almost every day for 8 weeks and for the first time in my life I actually had the beginnings of a six pack! In other words, if you eat right too, these work!

Leave a comment if you have tried any of these workouts, or if you have any recommendations.