News for the ‘Health’ Category


From one fitness regime to another.. I’ve started 2012 with a brand new way to keep fit and, hopefully, lose a bit more weight and start toning up. This is the complete opposite to what I had previously been doing with Dean Callis, when one-on-one work outs consisted of an hour in a field. This time, I’ve joined the Sexy in the City bootcamp at Fitness First for half an hour, twice-weekly classes.

This women-only bootcamp has recently launched at a number of London-based Fitness First gyms. Developed by trainers Phil Hawksworth and Tim Drummond, the classes use ‘warrior work outs’ and Phil and Tim’s keen eyes to deliver results; after four weeks they assess where and why the body is storing fat – e.g. if you store fat around your knees you don’t get enough sleep, while fat around the tummy suggests high cortisol levels, meaning you should avoid foods with caffeine. I can’t wait to get my assessment to discover what long-term changes I should be making to my diet and lifestyle! I feel like armed with more knowledge about my body’s habits and weaknesses it should be straightforward to make changes that benefit it.

So far I’ve attended three classes (it was supposed to be four, but I’ve been struck down by the lurgy that’s going around) over two weeks. You wouldn’t think that a mere 30 minutes would make much of a difference but these exercises are intense. After a quick warm-up, the members of the class pair up and do a circuit of exercises that work the abdominals, thighs, arms and bum. We go round three times, typically, then warm down, sometimes after doing my fave, the plank.

Because the work out is so quick it really does slot easily into the day. My main beef is that the class I’m attending is 8-8.30am which means I have to get up at 6.30am. By the time I’m out of the gym I feel like I’ve already done a day’s work! (- no doubt a side effect of being more of a night owl..) But I’m now adjusting and thoroughly enjoy the smug feeling I get from going to the gym when I would normally only just be waking up. But what I really like is the fact that our measurements are taken so that we can really track progress, plus nutritional advice and optional work out ideas come pinging into my inbox every week, if only for the reminder to be good!

In terms of diet Tim and Phil’s philosophy is to eat unprocessed foods – so good fats (nothing ‘fat-free’), butter rather than margarine, and so on. In addition, the diet is supposed to be, essentially, carb-free, which has been quite tricky for me. But I figure even if I have halved the amount of carbs I normally eat, I’m doing well. As a long-term diet plan, I don’t see that this could be easy to stick to, but for the four weeks that I’m taking part in the bootcamp I guess I should stand an ok chance!

Wish me luck.. and tune in in a couple of weeks for an update on how I’ve done!

Posted: January 20th, 2012
Categories: Health
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12 weeks later..

Working out outside has never been my idea of a good time. That said, being a gym bunny just wasn’t working – I wasn’t going often enough or working hard enough once I got there.  As a busy, career-focused woman with a hearty appetite it’s important that I get a good work out, otherwise I balloon.

This maxim has never been clearer in my mind than now. Having worked with Dean Callis for 12 weeks (prior to Christmas) I have seen how big a difference training can make, and I swear this is only the tip of the iceberg. We trained together in Highbury Fields weekly for an hour at a time. Dean made me promise I wouldn’t mess up the benefits of training by eating crap and although I don’t ever generally binge on biscuits etc. I didn’t really change that much about my diet. And yet during those 12 weeks I managed to lose 14 lbs.

Even after Christmas (I relaxed and had a few treats, though it wasn’t the gluttonous overload of earlier years) I’m delighted to see that my weight loss is still noticeable and I’m stronger than ever before. On top of that, I’m much more enthusiastic about continuing – not only toning up, but gaining strength, confidence and a natural boost that gorging on chocs or splurging at the shops just can’t equal.

I’m delighted that I’ve not only seen such a difference in myself but I’ve had fun too.

If you want to read more, chart my progress working out with Dean here and here

Posted: January 10th, 2012
Categories: Health
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After a hugely successful Pfeffer PR press day getting tipsy on a specially-made cocktail [I had the Body Editions cocktail I seem to recall - an Hourglass: Vodka + pear juice with a hint of fragrant rosemary and a twist of lime! Delish] I got chatting to PR Emma, Andrea Pfeffer’s right-hand girl. We got talking about fitness and I mentioned how great it’s been working with Dean Callis. Well, one thing lead to another and before I knew it Emma was booking me in for a trial session at Frame in Shoreditch. If you haven’t heard of it yet, you soon will – of all the gyms and fitness studios in London this has got to be the hippest one.

Alongside dance, yoga, pilates and Bend It Like Barbie classes (love the sound of that one!) they have developed the Frame signature classes. I had a go at Frame Method, the latest of the three signature classes. Combining the best bits from cult classes in NY and LA like Physique 57, Core Fusion and Bar Method, this class encompasses pilates, yoga and general fitness. It’s a non-impact workout with an upbeat soundtrack; this was more about strengthening muscle groups through squeezes, lunges and lifts than getting out of breath. The worst/best was holding the pilates ball between upper thighs and then, using the barre for support, squatting on tiptoes. Ouch! I definitely felt that for the next couple of days.

This is a fast-paced, upbeat class – the hour whizzes by because of the variety of exercises. Although some of the moves are tricky, no one said that looking good was going to be easy.

Posted: November 18th, 2011
Categories: Health
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Charlotte & Co.

When you’re ill there’s no greater comfort than snuggling down with a lemsip and/or a hot water bottle while struggling through the mass of emails. So that’s what I did all of last week when I was too ill to waddle outside but not too poorly to not want to open the laptop.. While whinging on Twitter (natch) I was approached by the lovely Charlotte Semler-West.

After founding the hugely successful Myla back in 2000 she decided 5 years ago to found Charlotte & Co. And since she sent me such a beautiful pair of cotton flannel pyjamas to cheer me up and warm my cockles how could I not thank her by sharing her with all you lovely people?

Charlotte explained to me:

The Charlotte & Co. brand is about making beautiful clothes that you feel at home in.  When I left Myla I moved to the Cotswolds with my husband and young twins and a change of wardrobe was required!  So I started the label with luxe but comfortable nightwear but over the last few years the range has grown to encompass the fashion, coats, boots and even bedding. Put simply – I make things that I really like and clothes that I want to wear.  That means simple styles in luxurious natural fibers from cashmere and cotton to silk and sheepskin.

I’m absolutely delighted with my new PJs – I’m much warmer at night now and love the comfortable fit and cute butterfly print. They are £39 each, though with the code LUXE25 you can get 25% off. There is also 3 for 2 on a range of Christmas gifts so now’s a great time to check out the brand!

Posted: November 17th, 2011
Categories: Fashion, Health
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Dean Callis puts me through my paces

For anyone who knows me, you’ll know that childhood puppy fat and years of weight fluctuation have stayed with me into my early twenties. Quite literally. Despite two good years of gym enthusiasm (I was the exception to the rule – slimming down in my first years of university as everyone else piled on the lbs due to too much booze) things took a turn for the worse after a year in Berlin (forget the booze, I’m all about the Brot and Bratwurst). So when I was approached by Dean Callis, a former professional rugby player turned personal trainer, a few weeks back I was more than intrigued by his offer of training.

I’ve found it increasingly difficult to stick to a gym routine recently as I will always prioritise work. But the joy of having a personal trainer is knowing that you’ll make an appointment and then you have to stick to it. I may be lazy, but I’m not rude – making an appointment to train means someone is there waiting for you, someone else is invested in your health and fitness.

As decadent and indulged as I feel having a trainer, for the kind of girl who got on with academia rather than P.E. this is exactly what I needed. That much was clear from our first session yesterday morning. ….

Taking place in a central London park, I started off with a warm up which gradually progressed to circuits. A combination of *delightful* exercises such as running around cones, squatting and jumping, I have to say – this was hard. Dean was great though, reminding me to breathe through my nose/out through my mouth, counting down the seconds until I could rest, and encouraging me to push myself when I was starting to flail.

When those cones went away I was so happy! And I was even happier to see that the next item Dean was pulling out of his bag of tricks was a pair of boxing gloves. I’ve always wanted to have a go at boxing and I often forget that my arms also need working to avoid, as my flatmate E. says, ‘noodle arms’. Punching in a rhythmic series was very therapeutic and a much easier work out inasmuch as I didn’t feel like I might faint at any moment as I had with the circuits (I am not a morning person!)

Winding down the session, we ended with sit ups in which I lifted a 3kg medicine ball towards Dean who stood on my toes to keep me steady. I thought I was alright with abs work until I realised lifting myself that extra bit higher using only my stomach muscles was not something I’ve ever really done. It felt like until that moment these muscles had laid dormant, unbeknownst to me beneath the flab. I have to admit, I was – and am – ashamed!

Finally I did some squats, the last of which I held for about 30secs until Dean told me the hour was up. It really didn’t feel like I’d been working out for a whole 60minutes as we’d changed exercises plenty of times to keep things interesting. I bounced out of the park with a new energy – one that was annoyingly absent during the first 20mins of the session, excitement to be investing in my health (and of course a better, stronger body) and a complete confidence in Dean’s capabilities. It’s like he says – “No rest is worth anything, except the rest that is earned”.

Posted: October 7th, 2011
Categories: Health, People
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