Thursday, 20 August 2015

The Wanderer Returns

I can't believe how long it's been since I have been able to sit down and physically write a blog post for you guys! The past few months have been a whirlwind of finishing my degree, working in America, moving house and starting a new job - so as you can imagine it's been pretty full on! So much of my life has changed in such a small amount of time and I cannot wait to be able to share my new life with you all. So! You'll be glad to hear however that I am now back for good with a gazillion post ideas as well as an actual laptop to write them all down on. So thank you all from the bottom of my heart for baring with me.

So let me know if there's anything that you've seen me get up to on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram that you'd love to hear more on, and I'll get some posts out to you lovely lot within the next couple of days! :)

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Tuesday, 19 May 2015

3 Reasons Why I Cancelled My Gym Membership

1. Because I do too much

Now I'm NEVER one to say that you can be too busy to exercise, but I AM one to say that it doesn't have to be in the form of slogging it out at the gym. Me and my local PureGym have had some wonderful times and since cancelling there have been times when I've missed that fitness environment and being surrounded by others who are all trying to better themselves. But even with cheerleading practice 5 times a week (if not more!) plus ramping up my swimming hours in a bid to pass the American Lifeguard test at the end of May, I would still end the day feeling guilty that I hadn't been to the gym despite doing 6 hours of exercise some days. There was no real reason for me to feel guilty so why was I?!
A massive weight has been lifted since cancelling in regards to this. I feel a lot happier in what I am doing, and I'm still making fantastic progress! :)

2. Because summer is around the corner!

Now some may hear their words and go running for their gym bag to get some extra hours in for their beach bod this year, but for me summer means running outdoors without my ears and chest exploding from the cold, and lots of fun outdoor and adventures in the sun. I'm a massive sun lover so the thought of exercising inside when I could be out in the big wide world running the streets or doing circuits in the park is just so unappealing to me. I always feel so revitalised from being in the fresh air so now that it's getting warmer I can't wait for morning jogs and (attempting) some yoga in my garden.

3. Because I needed a change

I've preached lifting weights over being a cardio bunny for pretty much three years now, since I first began my fitness journey. I lived seeing the weights increase as my body got stronger and relished the post-workout DOMS signalling a tough workout. The past couple of months though I've found a real love for more body-weight based workouts, and have been inspired by the likes of the SBC workouts and other more high intensity-based regimes. With my stint in America just around the corner I haven't forked out for the SBC workouts yet, but as soon as I'm back in August I fully intend to take the plunge and put myself at it's mercy!

So there we have it. Boy a weight has been lifted from my shoulders (and not one from the gym for once!). I still get querying looks from friends and those who know me when I tell them that I am no longer a literal gym-bunny, but sometimes you need a change of scenery and I already feel so much better for it! 

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Giveaway | Reebok Spartan Race UK!

I can't even tell you how long I have wanted to do a Spartan Race for. But I can tell you that it's a LONG time. I've always loved the type of exercise that really pushes me to my absolute limits and the idea of races such as these really sum up everything which I could possibly want in a challenge. Your body is capable of so much more than most people could ever imagine - certainly far more than many ever get to use it for during their day-to-day life, but I am - and forever will be - fascinated with seeing just what my body is capable of!

At the beginning of 2015 I had told myself that I would do a Spartan Race this year, but final year of university, and heading to Texas for the summer has meant that I've had to put it on the back-burner. That said, if you've been itching to give one a go for a while but haven't got around to registering - or if you'd never heard of it before but are a little bit intrigued! - I have the perfect opportunity for you.

Thanks to the lovely folks at Spartan Race Inc., I have one free race entry code to give away to one lucky reader! As usual, entries can be gained using the Rafflecopter widget below, and the winner will be selected at random also using Rafflecopter on Friday 22nd May 2015 - so not long to get your entries in! The more parts of giveaway widget you complete the more chances you have of winning - simple! :)
There are races happening up and down the country including Manchester, South Wales and Scotland (and many more!) so there's plenty of opportunity to get your Spartan-on and show yourself and the rest of the world what you're made of!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Want to get pumped in the mean time? Spartan Race UK are also holding a couple of free workout classes as part of their Spartan Workout Tour with the last two being in Oxford & Manchester - so get yourself down there for a killer workout! Just make sure that you register here beforehand.
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Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Healthy Revision Snacking

My final year of university has now finally come to an end meaning that I've now been left with this strange mixture of immense relief, and a heap of excitement of what the next few months will bring including working on a children's camp in America and starting my job!

Whilst I was lucky to be one of the fortunate few who's exam timetable meant that I've finished already, I know there are a lot of you who are still suffering with exam revision and assignment deadlines. Boredom eating was (and occasionally still is) a pretty major vice for me, and getting on a role with whichever topic I am studying means that meal times can often go out of the window as I tend to graze throughout the day instead. This means that I had to make sure that I had plenty of healthy snacks around me to limit the damage from craving snacks as well as ensuring that I still get all the nutrients that I need.
The biggest thing that I learnt was to make sure that I would measure out portions at the beginning of the day. I'm not going to lie to you guys, at the end of March/beginning of April I did start to put a fair bit of weight back on. I would put a bag of nuts or a whole punnet of grapes or whatever on the table with me when I started revising, and within two or so hours the entire thing would be gone without me even realising! So I started putting grapes into a bowl, buying small pots of houmous instead of big ones and basically making sure I only take what I actually want to eat.

So what have been my go-to snacks to get me through those long days of staring at screens and scrawling notes?

Fruit & Veg has been a big one. Celery or carrot with different flavoured houmous dips to spice things up a little, grapes and slices of apple with a serving of peanut butter - HEAVEN.
I've also been stocking up on healthy snack bars such as Nature Valley's new protein bars which have been an absolute saviour for when I've needed a slightly sweeter treat without jeopardising my healthy eating. Packed with nuts, seeds and wholegrain oats, I've been munching on the Peanut & Chocolate and Roasted Peanuts with Pumpkin & Sunflower Seeds to get a boost of protein and keep
my hunger pangs at bay and to satisfy my sweet tooth!
If I need a slightly bigger protein hit or don't feel like eating I've also been reaching for protein shakes - especially MyProtein's Pineapple-flavoured Impact Whey which is literally like drinking a Pina Colada. Yum!

What snacks have you been munching on to get you through these last few weeks of school or university? Post them in the comments below! :)

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Sunday, 8 March 2015

Spring Spirit

Ever since I got injured a couple of months a go, I have found it incredibly hard to get back into the gym. Despite being a daily visitor to my gym,  I've been craving a different form of fitness away from my usual haunt since coming back from injury.
Cheer & dance training and the odd bit of yoga remain ever-present, and I am now trialling the Les Mills GRIT programme to see if I just need to try a different form of workout at. Other than that I have swapping my dumbbells for swimming goggles and the treadmill for the great outdoors. I'm finding that I'm really enjoying the change in exercise routine! Has anyone else ever felt the same?

In the spirit of Spring I've been making great use of my reversible Sweaty Betty leggings but have swapped my standard gym vest top for a slightly thicker Nike technical t-shirt, to help protect from the nippiness that's left in the air. There is no love lost between me and the winter, so it's been lovely to be able to get exercising in the fresh air. It's also making me super excited for summer when I can get all my exercise in the great outdoors!

I have some super awesome news that I will be spending two months working on a children's camp in Texas as part of the Camp America programme! I am so excited - it's going to be an amazing experience! Being away from May-August may mess with my fitness blogging a little, but I am planning on documenting it all here on The Barbelle. If you have any ideas of what you'd like to see (whether videos, specific blog posts etc.) please let me know!

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Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Dealing with an Injury

Injuries are something that can happen to everyone, although until recently I've never really had anything which has set me back for any length of time. After a particularly bad cough however, I have managed to give myself a fairly bad tear in one of my chest muscles which has put me out of my usual gym and training schedule completely. I can't lie - I've been totally miserable because of it. Anyone else ever felt the same?

It can be super demoralising not being able to do what you love. With a weekend of competitions just around the corner for me I've still had to attend all of the training sessions for both of my cheerleading teams to make sure that I don't fall behind with choreography, and am aware of any changes. Sitting out and watching everyone work their skills and progress has been really hard, and I felt like I was letting my stunt group down as they can't train properly with one person down!

If you're in the same position right now where you're feeling down-in-the-dumps and need a little pick-me-up, here are a few things to keep in mind.

It's not your fault!

I mean, yes it happened to you and maybe you pushed yourself too hard or something, but testing your limits is part of human nature! Nothing ventured nothing gained. We learn from our mistakes, and things like this only teach us more about ourselves.
Simply put, I guess you'll know not to do it again - or will at least know how not to do something! ;)


When I first got injured it didn't feel too bad - more of a strong ache every now and then. So me being stubborn and not wanting to fall behind in training didn't rest fully and whilst I stopped doing weights, I still went to training as normal. Please for the life of me don't do this! I know it sucks to not be able to keep up for fear of losing process etc., but if you don't rest up then you could end up being out of action for at longer if you don't rest and it gets worse... Plus, it also means that you can focus on other areas of your health and wellness! *pat self on back for nice segway to...*

Use your time out to focus on other things

The first few days of my injury, I sat moping around feeling sorry for myself and eating too many carbs. But soon I realised that actually, me not spending 15 hours a week either at cheer training or at the gym meant that I had a lot more time on my hands to focus on other important areas that will help me to be as healthy as possible.
For me, I used the extra hours in my day to plan my meals better, try out a few new recipes and focus on getting ahead of the game with university work. Giving myself other areas to improve on is an amazing way of creating new habits that I can keep up when I get back to the gym and cheer, and was the perfect solution for getting me out of the little pity-hole I'd dug for myself. So give it a try! :)

Have you ever had to take time out because of an injury? Share your tips and advice below! 

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Sunday, 1 February 2015

Your New, Super Simple Immunity Booster

For me, colds are something which tend to creep up on me slowly, tickling my throat and giving me the odd sniffle - just so that I know that they're there, waiting to pounce. Then a week or so later BAM. Full blown coughing, sneezing and spluttering for a week or two until my immune system battles it off.

I'm not a fan of reaching for cold and flu tablets or any other sort of medication when I'm poorly because I'm aware that taking paracetamol, ibuprofen etc. when it's not neccesary will only lessen it's effectiveness when I really do need it. After flicking through an old Paleo magazine I saw a recipe for a Immunity-Boosting Tonic, and whilst I haven't followed the directions exactly I have managed to create a super simple way to fire up your immune system at the start of the day, with as little effort as possible being required.

  • Juice of quarter of a lemon
  • Small piece of fresh ginger
  • Warm water

Simply boil the kettle and pour 250ml into a mug or heat-safe glass, before squeezing in your lemon and grating in some ginger! I have a ginger grater but it's perfectly fine to use a normal grater if you don't have one to hand. I prefer to let the mixture infuse for a little while I make the rest of my breakfast before straining it as I'm not a huge fan of the ginger pulp, but if it doesn't bother you then gulp it down straight from the mug!

It's such a refreshing way to start the day. The lemon and ginger combined with the warm water really kick-starts your metabolism by aiding with digestion and cleansing your system, as well as giving your immune system a helping hand. It's also a great replacement if you're trying to cut down on caffeine as it gives a super natural energy boost!

I've been sipping on this every morning before food and I genuinely believe it's been a big contributor for my skin getting better, keeping my diet on-track and getting rid of that insufferable cold.

Do you have any go-to recipes for when you're feeling rough? Leave them in the comments below!

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Wednesday, 28 January 2015

The Rise of High Street Activewear

It's no longer big corporate sportswear companies and boutique performance brands that are fighting for market share in the female exercise apparel industry - high street and online fashion retailers are also taking the plunge and trying to grab a slice of the fitness trend pie that is now sweeping the nation. New Look, Missguided and Boohoo among others have all now added activewear lines to their product offerings, with many more to follow I'm sure! As a fitness blogger that loves her gym wear just as much as the exercise itself, I should have a browse through the virtual clothing rails and take a sneak-peak at what's around.

Missguided is the newest to the crew, with it's Missguided Active range having only launched on the 20th January, combining bright blue, pink and purple prints and motifs with burn-out greys and blacks to act as balance to the outfits. Crop tops, sports bras and leggings feature highly, with the odd hoody, vest and trackies thrown in for good measure.
My personal favourites from the range are these Navy Croc leggings which look stunning and are something a little different to what I've seen before! These two vests are also super cute - I'm a sucker for slogans and I love the back on the grey.

Another addition is boohoo, with their boohoo FIT range. Although a little more purse-friendly than Missguided's range with a sports bra setting you back just a tenner or less, I just can't seem to get that excited about the range as whilst I'm all for colour, theirs are just a little too garish for me personally, and are a little too "fashiony" to be truely practical exercise-wise! I mean, outside of power-lifting are jumpsuits REALLY necessary? And even if they are, the frills around the ankle just seem a little OTT for me!
That said, I do absolutely LOVE the Ava Print Plunge bra - even if I'm not entirely sure how practical it would be for even the mildest form of cardio. I could always use it for weights and yoga right???

New Look have also jumped on the activewear bandwagon with New Look Sport, opting to follow the likes of H&M, but aside from a sports bra that looks pretty cute, out of all of the fashion retailers I still believe that H&M do offer great value for money with their clothing at least having some sort of sports-specific fabric which is more than some of the other high street retailers have to offer, whether online OR offline.

Have you come across any other online retailers who have dipped their toes in the sportswear scene? What do you think of the latest ranges? 

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Wednesday, 7 January 2015

2015: Let's Do This!

A little late, I know - but for those of you with exams this January I'm sure you'll understand. ;)

2015 is going to be a huge year. Like, ginormous. This is the year that I will graduate from university, land my dream job (if my next assessment centres go well!), and continue last year's goals of getting myself into the best possible version of me. It's also meant to be my last year of competitive cheerleading - (although I'm pretty sure I said that last year) - so I'm making sure that I go out with a bang. Exciting news on that front will be coming soon!

I've been conscious for a long time that I have been super absent from The Barbelle, but now that I'm a lot more settled into university and have gotten back into a regular routine I really think that I am now in a position to give my little corner of the Internet the attention it deserves. I'm not one to go into something half hearted, so when I found myself lacking the time to dedicate to making this blog the best it could be, I decided that it would be better to take a step back for a while instead of producing mediocre content! Hope you guys understand. :)

Blog posts are filling my timeline of New Year's Resolutions, and I had been contemplating doing the same, but then I thought that actually, come the beginning of May I could be doing anything and be anywhere! So the goals that I make for the year now may not be relevant come the second half of the year - who knows?!

So once my exams and assessment centres are out of the way I will be making my goals for the rest of January, and maybe make bi-monthly ones after that so that I still have things to aim for, but ones that are a lot more relevant for where I will be at various points in the year. That said I'd love to hear if you are making Resolutions this year, and what they are! So leave me a comment either way. :)

General areas of goaly-ness are to:

  • Continue the gains and lose the fat!
  • Get my blogging mojo back and produce some amazing content for you guys. :)
  • Get my cheer on!
Have you set goals? Let me know below!

Thank you for hanging around for me - I love you all! <3

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