Month: March 2014

Let’s Nip This Bikini Body Bullsh*t in the Bud, Shall We?

Let’s Nip This Bikini Body Bullsh*t in the Bud, Shall We?

Urgh. So, January came and went – and with it, the usual ‘New Year, New You’ tripe that tends to do the rounds in our annual carnival of self-loathing and despair. And I watched, shouting crazed anti-diet one-liners into the abyss (and running 30 Days […]

Review: Misfit Shine Activity Tracker

Review: Misfit Shine Activity Tracker

I’ve wanted to try out an activity tracker since way back – when Matt and I used to lament over the fact the Jawbone UP was inclined to crash, and that neither of us could afford one even if they weren’t. I mean – the […]

Review: Adidas Supernova Glide 6

Review: Adidas Supernova Glide 6

I’ll admit, I’ve never been all that into the idea of running shoes. It’s seemed to me that they’re a pretty expensive outlay for something like running – when, really, running’s just about getting out there and getting moving.

So my first few attempts at running were a little abortive – not least because, as I’ve mentioned, my ol’ knees aren’t exactly in the best shape after a whole bunch of major surgeries a few years ago. They hurt. Really hurt.

But being a skeptic – and also, being poor – I’d never really thought about buying ‘proper running shoes.’

However, once I started getting into the idea of running – having cancelled my gym membership to save some much-needed funds – I figured if there was ever a time to think about getting some better shoes, this would be it. Don’t get me wrong – my trusty ol’ Nike Air Max will always hold a place in my heart, but they’re a hefty shoe that’s far more suited to the weights area than the pavement, and they didn’t seem to be doing me any favours in my first attempts at getting out and about.

In other words – it was time.

And well-timed it was, too. As part of their Fashionably Fit campaign, the folks over at Sportshoes.com kindly offered to kit me out with some snazzy sneakers to get me on my way – and in a decision made in the exact mid-point between research and random guessing, I plumped for the impressively named Adidas Supernova Glide 6.

I’ll admit, it was partly because the description said ‘comparable to the functionality of an airplane’s landing gear.’ Sue me, but if I’m going to have bionic knees, I might as well attempt flight, too.

Adidas Supernova Glide 6 Review 2

Anyway, I had a feeling I’d made the right decision when they arrived at the promotional staffing agency I work for, only for a visiting Brand Ambassador to say ‘I worked on a campaign for those last year, and they are amazing’ and talk me through the benefits of ‘Boost technology’ – which means these shoes are designed to help you bounce back off the ground when you hit it.

Pretty cool, huh?

Still, it wasn’t until I got them home and tentatively lifted them out of the box that I found myself realising quite how different these shoes were going to be. For a start – they’re ridiculously light, weighing in at about half the weight of my usual kickers (despite being half a size bigger.) Even the laces seem to be designed with that in mind, and to the untrained eye (ie., mine) you’d imagine they were made of polystyrene, judging by their weight.

After all those years of knee braces and immobilisers, it’s sort of ingrained in me that to offer any kind of support, running shoes would have to be built out of solid rubber to actually do anything – so I’ll admit, I had my doubts over whether something that light could offer any real barrier between my lolloping self and concrete.

But the real surprise came on putting them on.

Man, these shoes are like walking on clouds. I’m not kidding – they’re the single most comfortable shoe I’ve ever owned. Although I’ll admit – I had to walk around my house wearing them for a few hours first, just to get to grips with how my legs would respond to them, because that Boost technology thing is no joke. You spring, in a way that really does take a bit of getting used to.

Turns out running shoes aren’t like regular shoes at all.

The next day, I hit the pavement – and, as I’ve said, it all started coming together. Rather than feeling like I was dragging myself along, bouncing forward felt more organic, and less like a form of torture – and the strain on my ol’ joints was definitely reduced. For all their ‘springiness,’ they also felt supportive and firm on my feet, which – to me – is a great combination.

As an addenda to all the practicalities, they also look cute. I live in the city, so if I’m running somewhere, chances are I’ll have to journey on home in them afterwards – like yesterday, after the Sport Relief Games. And if that’s the case, I like my trainers to fit in with the rest of my outfit – and these do that pretty damn well.

In short, these trainers are one of the best things I’ve ever reviewed – they’re comfortable, practical and they look damn fine (in keeping with the rest of me, of course.) I’m a convert to the way of the running shoe – and I think these Glides are a great first pair.

Tiny Miracles; or, I’m Not Sure Exactly What Just Happened

Tiny Miracles; or, I’m Not Sure Exactly What Just Happened

Be warned, right off the bat: if you’re not into slightly emotional, flashback-tastic posts, this one probably ain’t for you. But hell – I’m feeling a bit ‘mosh today, after running a 3-miler for Sport Relief – so you’ll have to excuse me, but it’s […]

Baby Steps; or, Holy Moly I’m Starting to Like Running

Baby Steps; or, Holy Moly I’m Starting to Like Running

As part of my year of trying new things, I’ve been making my first attempts at running. Like I said, I’m a girl who doesn’t run – and never has. Even before those four knee surgeries, I was the fat girl who’d go out of […]

Apparently, My Relationship Status is Super Interesting; or, Go Forth and Love Thyself

Apparently, My Relationship Status is Super Interesting; or, Go Forth and Love Thyself

I know some awesome women.

I really, really do.

I know women who fit and defy every definition. I know women who make their personal life choices from every which way. My phone book is a directory of awesomeness, and my Twitter feed is a spectrum of joy and wonder.

And I keep being asked whether I’m single.

Man.

Let me answer this simply, and for (hopefully) the last time for a while: yes.

Yes, I am single. And no, it’s not because I haven’t met the right person yet. It’s not because I’m not looking in the right places. It’s not because I work too hard, and I don’t plan for it to ‘happen when I least expect it,’ and frankly – it  just ain’t a thing.

Except, y’know – as soon as you say it’s not a thing, people think… it’s a thing. Apparently more so than ever, at the moment, when I’ve had a few (very kind, but maybe a tiny bit misguided) emails from people asking me to review their dating companies on here.

I know.

Now, there are two reasons I haven’t written about my relationship status around these parts previously. First up, I write here as the chronic oversharer – the girl who strips to her pants and gets a bit sweary to make a point about a douche canoe on the telly that she’s never met. So, y’know, there’s a point at which my business is mine – and I figured keeping my single-or-not-ness in the realms of the ol’ private life counteracts the naked-on-the-internet part.

But secondly – it just hasn’t really occurred to me that it’d be a question.

It’s not something I ask people, and I don’t tend to wonder about it until they bring it up – because I go about taking people as I find ’em. Just them.

So it’s been a bit of a surprise to me, as I’ve been doing more press, and getting a bit more ‘out there’ that it’s suddenly a thing.

Now, don’t get me wrong. A couple of people have asked just out of curiosity, mostly in response to me bitching about my rent – as a ‘maybe if you’re attached, that’s a potential solution’ kinda deal. That’s fine. That’s a practical thing.

But more and more frequently, I’m asked it as a Big Question. A personality profiling exercise that’s asked to ‘figure me out.’

And that’s got me wondering about two things.

First up – is the logical ending to the ‘weight loss transformation’ story the ‘happily ever after’?

The short answer, from where I see it, is no.

I’m good. Not just good, in fact, but awesome – and my own journey to this whole ‘healthy’ affair has been purely for me. Sure, the catalyst – or at least one of ’em – was the end of a bad relationship that made me realise I’d been leaning on someone else in search of my own personal happiness – but it was never the case that I wanted to get healthy to ‘find someone else.’

I got healthy, and – more importantly, learned to love myself – and the person I found was me. Me, happier, and more secure in my own ability to create my own lil’ patch of joy.

And I think that’s really, really important whenever you’re thinking about making any kind of change. If you’re aiming to lose weight, get fit, shave your head or get a nose job for anyone else – anyone at all – you’re not going to reap the happiness you ought to out of it. It just doesn’t work like that.

The only person you should ever be aiming to make happy with any kind of physical change… Is you.

And also – why would I be a better candidate for a relationship now I’m thinner?

…I’m just going to let that one hang there a rhetorical question. Because it’s bullshit.

So that’s the first question answered.

But the other one bothers me slightly more, and it’s this: do we ask the relationship question so we can get people figured out? And in that case… Why?

Now, I refer you once again to my awesome homegirls mentioned at the top o’the page.  Some of them are awesome single women. Some of them are equally awesome and married. Some are attached (and awesome), some are in kinda-casual-let’s-figure-out-a-definition-later kinda situations (awesome), and some of them I genuinely do not know, because I haven’t asked. You guessed it: they’re still awesome. And as for their sexual preferences: their business.

The thing about all these awesome women, though, is that there’s one thing that unites each and every one of them.

They’re all complete in themselves, just the way they are – with that whole relationship question being a lifestyle choice, not a definition. If they’re coupled up, it’s because they happen to know a person they’d like to hang out with some of the time, or all of the time, or just occasionally after a few beers. And if they’re single, it’s ’cause they’re just not all that fussed. That’s all.

It strikes me – more so, these days, when apparently the impending still-a-few-years-away-but-people-keep-bringing-it-up-Big Three-O means I’m the target of The Relationship Question – that it’s another box to check. Another set of rules to follow, and another set of conventions to be lumped in with – a trap that’s all too easy to fall into, if you’re so inclined.

But it doesn’t have to be like that.

Regardless of your relationship status, sexuality, gender or whatever – the most important thing in the world is still how you feel about you. It’s a matter of being complete in your own self, and knowing you’re capable of any form of happiness you choose to style out – in short, it’s about loving yourself, everything else be damned.

It seems to me, in fact that right there, in that zen place of ‘I got this’ – that’s the intersection at which positive body image, feminism, and a healthy attitude to the good life meet.

And it’s got precisely diddly squat to do with anyone else.

I have no doubt that this won’t be the last time I answer the question, and I can’t predict what the answer will be at different times in my life – because hell, sometimes I might want to hang out with someone. Sometimes I might not. But it doesn’t matter, and it won’t – because I got this. I’m me. I’m good.

And dammit, if you’re reading this – I’d bet’cha you’re pretty awesome too. So go out into the world, and represent – not for the singles, or the marrieds, or whatever else – but for you, as a person.

Go forth, and love thyself.

Hot Stuff: Adventures in Hot Pilates

Hot Stuff: Adventures in Hot Pilates

As part of my ‘trying new things’ kick, I was invited to attend a Hot Pilates class, courtesy of the lovely folks over at simplyhealth. I’ve never really been one for Pilates, being more of a yogini myself – but spending 40 hours a week […]

Trust No-One; or, That Time I Was Offered Money To Flog Diet Pills

Trust No-One; or, That Time I Was Offered Money To Flog Diet Pills

I hate diet pills. Hate ’em. And recently, I was approached by a certain diet pill manufacturer offering me a pretty hefty amount of money to plug them on here.  By hefty, I mean more than my salary. Considerably more. Enough to give this perpetually-poor […]

The Year of Trying New Things

The Year of Trying New Things

It’s been over a year since I made my big move to the big smoke – and what a year it’s been. I’ve been really lucky to have landed on my feet – ending up with a job I love, a house that I’m glad to come home to (even if it is a little worse for wear), and most importantly – I’ve made some incredible friends. Including one I’ve just been to visit, living in the manor pictured above.

I know, right?

Needless to say I’ve come back – after a nine mile country walk, I might add – feeling very zen, and a lil’ bit philosophical.

I’m grateful to finally feel properly settled here in my new home – which is starting to really feel like that, rather than ‘some place I live for work’ – because for various reasons, it’s not exactly been an easy year. A lot of things going on beyond my control means I’ve been living pretty intensely over the last twelve months, so this sense of normality is a genuine relief – and I intend to enjoy it.

…Sort of.

See, being the kind of frustrating person that I am, I’ve reached this settled point – and now I’m itching to change it up.  Not in the big ‘full life overhaul’ way – mostly ’cause all those big things like my job, and my house, have fallen nicely into place. But having been a bit under the weather recently, and feeling a lil’ settled… I’m ready to make some changes.

So I’ve decided: 2014 is going to be the year I try new things.

See, I’ve got this fitness thing pretty much figured out – but having been doing variations on a weights ‘n’ walkin’ theme for the best part of four years, I’m kinda ready for… Well, new stuff.

So last week, I made my first step towards it. I made an attempt – drum roll please – to run.

To help you understand that for the big ass freakin’ deal it is, let me give y’all a bit of backstory on my history with running.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I’ve always been a fat girl. So when people say ‘you could run as a child, it’s just a matter of re-learning it,’ strictly speaking… That ain’t true. I was more at home in front of a book, and the only time I recall attempting to run when I wasn’t actually being forced to, I tripped on a paving slab and hit the deck with such force I broke both my front teeth.

So I didn’t run. And in PE class, I’d go out of my way to escape it. I’d fake a stitch, perform an impressive pratfall, or just get a sicknote for ‘period pains,’ and thus never actually run. I may not be Usain Bolt, but nobody, nowhere, gets to argue with the fact that I can be resourceful in getting outta exercise.

Then, I broke my knees, gained ten stone, and found myself unable to walk for three years – only to re-learn, slowly, lose the weight, and find myself where I am now: fit, healthy, a lil’ bit fat by stupid-ass magazine standards, and still definitely not a runner.

But damn. I don’t know if it’s the city, or the fact that I’ve not had the internet for a few weeks, or whether it’s just some kind of weird primal urge – but I’ve been fantasising about running. I’ve had a couple of dreams about it; I’ve been scoping out routes; I’ve just been thinking about how nice it’d be to feel my heart pounding in the crisp spring air.

It’s bloody weird, and it’s kinda freaking me out – but the way I see it, I’ve got no other option. I’ve got to give it a try.

Now, it just so happens, too, that my gym membership expired yesterday – and being six runs into the ‘couch to 5k’ programme, I’m feeling pretty optimistic. Nothing’s broken – yet – and my knees seem to be holdin’ up. Not only that, but I’m in a better mood on the days I’ve been out and about – so that’s a boost, and one I’m really lovin’.

And it’s not just running I’m trying out. I’ve recently been sent a couple of awesome things to review – which is amazing, because my bank account is feeling a lil’ tender after Christmas (yes, still) so anything that saves a girl having to hustle is a-ok by me.

So I’m trying out something called a MisFit Shine – a snazzy lil’ tracker that measures your activity over the course of a day – and last night, I made my first attempt at creating a green juice after the folks at John Lewis very kindly furnished me with a juicer to play with. So far, so delicious:

Juice

And next week, I’m hitting up a hot pilates class for the first time – so my horizons are going to be well and truly broadened over the next month, I can tell you.

I want to try new things, and gain new experiences, because there are a million ways to get active out there – all of which will appeal to different people. There are so many diet brands and so-called gurus out there who’ll tell you there’s only one way to get healthy – which just so happens to be their way, retailing at £99 – that it’s easy to overlook the joy of just doing healthy things for the heck of it.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person who – at this time of year, when it starts to be lighter in the mornings, and the air seems fresher with something like potential – gets the urge to do something different. You don’t have to be thin, or perfect, or even all-that-fit to try new things, fitness-wise – you’ve just got to be an optimist, and up for a challenge.

In other words, you’ve got to be prepared to fall on your ass, and ready to pick yourself up when you do.

So join me. Try new things. Do more good stuff. And love every minute – ’cause when you get out there with a positive attitude, I’m pretty sure you’ll be amazed at what you can do.