Guest Post: What a nutritionist can offer

Monday, April 30, 2012

Hi, my name is Ayshabibi Hafesji and I am a qualified public health nutritionist, registered with the Association for Nutrition. I successfully completed my degree in BSc (Hons) Human Nutrition at London Metropolitan University in 2010 and a year later I became self-employed. I offer a range of nutrition services to women and children to promote healthy well-being through 1:1 consultations, group workshops/seminars, school workshops and kitchen clear-outs. I am based in East London but travel around London to deliver nutrition services. 

I did some voluntary work first to get a feel of the work and what it entails. I undertook school workshops and loved it. I loved working with adults as well as children conveying the knowledge that I learnt over the years (and am still learning about) in a fun and creative way. Inspiring other people to lead healthy lives and knowing that it will benefit someone made me want to pursue this career path even more, making me more motivated and enthusiastic.

I am known to be friendly, helpful and enthusiastic, which allows me to work with my clients effectively. Being sensitive and a good listener also helps me to see what barriers my clients may be facing when opting for a healthy lifestyle, which enables me to provide realistic goals for them to reach.

Making small changes and adapting them into your lifestyle step-by-step allows my clients to make a difference in the long term. It is all about retraining ourselves and breaking or changing the bad unhealthy habits and replacing them with healthy ones. 

I have delivered group workshops at a few events, I like to make it interactive and practical allowing my clients to see how easy it is to be healthy, in a way they can implement it into their own lives. Having group discussions in an informal and friendly environment allows people to open up more as well, as they usually have similar goals. 

School workshops are an effective way to introduce children and their parents to healthy eating. I believe that it is important to build a healthy foundation from a young age, and educating children on the benefits and importance of leading a healthy lifestyle will make them more aware and will hopefully make it easier to live a healthy adult life. I have always enjoyed working with children and having discussions with them is always enlightening. 

I also offer a kitchen clear-out for those clients who want a healthy change or to refresh the food in their kitchen. This is a very effective way to kick start not only one person’s diet but for the whole family as well.
I recently did a walk leader training course, which has allowed me to organise weekly group walks in my local park, in East London. Having this support group has helped my clients to keep active in a fun and easy way. 

I feel that I have come a long way since starting up; I have met lots of friendly and like-minded people on Facebook and Twitter, which is where I met Mollie. Of course, it is not only essential to eat the right foods, but to keep fit and active my keeping a good healthy fitness regime which Mollie does a great job of. 

Find me on Facebook: A H Nutritionist
Follow me on Twitter: @AHNutritionist

Quickie Workout #9

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Today's workout is all about the fabulous number 30.  Try to complete the 30 repetitions of each exercise without a break, but listen to your body too.  Record how long it takes you to do one round and then challenge a friend to up the ante!

If you are unclear what the exercise is I am describing, please look for a video or arrange for an in-person tutorial.

Please consult your doctor before engaging on any fitness regime.

Remember to go for QUALITY over quantity.  Incorrect form will not allow the exercise to be effective. Breath on the excursion (i.e., exhale when pushing yourself up on the push up, inhale as you return to the ground). Keep your abs in as if there is a string from your belly button pulling through to your spine.

Warm up- 1 min jumping rope (You can pretend to jump rope if one isn't handy. Get those feet off the ground!)
and 1 min speed bag (Pretend you are repeatedly hitting a speed bag with alternating hands and bouncing back and forth on feet)

30 reps- Squats with the objective of going low by getting your thighs parallel to the ground

30 reps- Jumping jacks/star jumps

30 reps- Push/press ups (can be "regular," on knees, or against the wall)

30 reps of the following exercises on each leg, starting with the right leg then the left.-  I call this the "fire hydrant set." Get on your hands and knees.   #1  Lift the right knee up and out to the side with the knee at a 90 degree angle.  Return to the ground. Repeat 30 reps on the same side.  #2 Elevate right knee behind you so thigh is in line with the back.  Foot should be flexed.  Raise foot by pushing heel up to the ceiling, repeating 30 times.  #3 Still with the right leg, extend leg straight behind you and then bring knee into to chest.

30 reps- Abdominal crunches. You choose the style.  Be sure to look up and behind you to avoid pulling with the neck.

30 reps- Reverse crunches. Lying on the back, lift your hips up off the ground using your abdominal muscles.  Don't rely on momentum for this one.

30 sec- Side plank. Keep your tummy tight!

30 sec- Side plank on the other side. Tummy tight!

You have now completed 300 repetitions/seconds.  Well done!  Do it again please.

Weekend Challenge: Up the ante

Friday, April 27, 2012

For the most part, I hope this website encourages you to get active and make healthier lifestyle choices.  I don't want to leave out those seasoned athletes, however, or those that have been with me since day one.  This weekend's challenge is going to step it up a notch.

From now until Sunday night, I challenge you to go for one 30 minute walk or run. But wait... there's more!

Every time you pass a bench, please do 10 tricep dips and 10 push ups (easy = hands on back of bench, med = on bench seat, hard = feet on bench and hands on ground).

Every time you have to stop at a light, do jumping jacks/star jumps until you can safely cross the road.

Every time you pass a fire hydrant or mail box, do 10 squats.  Go low! Get the thigh parallel to the ground if you can.

This adventure should be mildly entertaining to you and your neighbors.  If you want to up the ante even more, do it three times this weekend.  Have fun with it!

Photo courtesy of

Product Review: Pussy Energy Drinks (yes, really)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

While walking around the Vitality Show, I had to do a double take when I walked by a vintage Fiat decorated with pink flowers and giant signs that say "pussy." Yes, pussy. With a confused look on my face, I slowly approached the booth.  Turns out the product for sale was Pussy energy drink, "a 100% natural drink." According to the website, "It is made with a blend of fresh white grape juice from Southern Italy, pressed Mexican limes and lightly carbonated water. These are then mixed with Grenadilla and Lychee flavours, infused with six selected botanical herbs." I was lucky enough to score 2 cans to try out for myself.  The cans are white and sized like the energy drink that gives you wings.

My office mate is an energy drink king.  He has at least one Monster or Red Bull a day, along with a can of Coke and a tea (maybe he should sleep more?).  Of course he laughed out loud when I asked him to share my Pussy to give me his opinion (Note the advertising slogan: 'The drink is pure, it's you mind that is the problem.').  We divided up the can and gave it a go.

I think the drink tastes like sparkling grape juice and leaves my stomach feeling fine.  Other energy drinks make my tummy hurt a bit (maybe because they are too acidic?).  My office mate called it refreshing and agreed the taste was pleasant.  Even though I drank a half a can, I felt a pick-me-up within a half hour.

The second can I had on a Saturday morning on my way to work.  It is a 45 minute commute at 8am and I always feel a little sleepy.  It is my job to motivate and instruct my clients at the gym, and I can use all the help I can get that early on a weekend morning.  Considering the time of day (some soft drinks don't go down so well first thing in the morning), the drink was just as delicious as it was at work.  It energized me at work without a big crash at the end of my shift.

Overall, I say give Pussy energy drinks a try for a clean, crisp lift.  The drink is now available at Tesco, Selfridges, and Itsu, making it much more accessible to me in London.  I think I am ready to switch!

Pussy Drinks did not pay me for this review. They graciously gave me two cans and all opinions are honest and my own (and my office mate's). If you have a product you would like me to review, please contact me

Weight Watchers Fish & Chips Recipe

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Since I live in England now, it seems only fitting to offer up a healthy version of fish and chips (although curry is the national dish here).  I found this Weight Watchers recipe online.  You don't have to be a member to access some of the recipes, so take some time to have a look.

In case you use Weight Watchers, here is a break down of the points:
ProPoints® Value: 8
Servings: 4
Preparation Time: 18 min
Cooking Time: 35 min
Level of Difficulty: Easy

And for those who know me, I am sure you are not surprised as I get up on my soap box here.  Please research the sustainability of your fish when thinking up meal plans.  I checked out haddock and it gets the thumbs up!  It would be best to skip cod.


10 spray(s) of Cooking Spray, Calorie Controlled
2 portion(s) (large) Potatoes, Old, Raw, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
1/2 teaspoons Salt
1/2 teaspoons (ground) Pepper, Black (Whole, Cracked or Ground)
2 tablespoons Vinegar, All Types, white or red wine
100 g Polenta, Raw, instant, plus 2 tbsp
120 ml Milk, Skimmed
1 medium Egg, Whole, beaten
1 teaspoons Lemon, zest
1 teaspoons Mixed Herbs, Dried
600 g Fish, Cod, Raw, uncooked, or haddock fillets (4 x 150g pieces)


1.  Preheat oven to Gas Mark 6/200ºC/400ºF. Coat two large baking trays with cooking spray.

2.  Place potatoes in a large bowl and add vinegar, salt and pepper; toss to coat. Arrange them on one prepared baking tray.

3.  Transfer potatoes to oven and bake for 20 minutes.

3.  Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, combine 100g polenta, beaten egg, milk, zest, herbs and a little more salt and pepper; mix well to make a thick batter.

4.  Dust fish with additional 2 tbsp polenta; add fish to batter and turn to coat both sides.

5.  Place fish on second prepared baking tray and spoon over any remaining batter, patting over fish to make an even coating.

6.  Transfer to oven to bake with potatoes for a further 18-20 minutes, until potatoes and fish are fork tender and polenta batter just starts to crack.

Guest Post: What goes around comes back around- Like a hula hoop!

Monday, April 23, 2012

As a child, I could never get to grips with hula hooping.  I was always envious of the other girls and boys who made it look so simple. I tried and tried until I eventually gave up....

That was until I attended a fitness weekender.  Hula fit was on the agenda and finally after 20 years I had the courage to try again. 
I was completely amazed when I picked up the skill instantly.  It felt so good getting into a rhythm with the hoop.  We tried walking, turning and some basic tricks.  The class was full of giggles.  We looked like chickens trying to walk and hoop! I knew from that moment that I was completely addicted. 
As a personal trainer, I am always looking at new ways to encourage people to get active.  I have realised that for a significant proportion of people they are more like to stick to exercise if they perceive it to be fun.  So I bought a hula hoop and a month later I started Hula Honeys  -  a hula hoop fitness group in Brighton.
Initially, people were nervous about whether they would be able to keep the hoop up.  But the hoops used are larger and heavier than children’s plastic ones.  This means they rotate slower around your waist making it easy to get going.  Just like me, after one class the ladies became hooked and I started more classes across Brighton.
As well as the classes, I bring hoops to health and well-being events, to festivals, hen do’s and parties.  We recently had 20 Hula Honeys hooping the Sport Relief Mile.  It was such a fantastic day raising money for Sport Relief!
Sometimes I just bring the hoops to the park.  Within minutes people come over to play with me. Hooping appeals to all ages from babies mesmerised in a pram to super seniors who love to give it a whirl.
Hula hooping builds self confidence and brings out that fun, sassy and sexy side of us ladies. The rhythmic motion of the hoop is said to remind us of being rocked as a baby.  The hoop massages your body as it loops around you.  It also is said to create new connections in your brain as you learn new tricks.  This is meant to help improve memory and prevent Alzheimer’s. 
More importantly, hooping is a good cardiovascular workout.   You can burn around 500kcals in a session.  It tones legs, arms, abs and back.  It improves balance, flexibility and coordination.   It is also quite meditative.  When I hoop by myself, I forget everything else and just focus on the moment.
If you haven’t tried it yet... what are you waiting for?

Thirty year old Kim Sibbald is a personal trainer & hula hoop class instructor for Hula Honeys, a Brighton-based company that is soon moving to Edinburgh.  She is passionate about improving people's physical, emotional and mental health through exercise!

Quickie Workout #8

Sunday, April 22, 2012

You can use a kitchen timer to keep track of your intervals. If you are unclear what the exercise is I am describing, please look for a video or arrange for an in-person tutorial.

Please consult your doctor before engaging on any fitness regime.

Remember to go for QUALITY over quantity. Breath on the excursion (ie, exhale when pushing yourself up on the push up, inhale as you return to the ground). Keep your abs in as if there is a string from your belly button pulling through to your spine.

Warm up- Side squats facing the same way. 30 steps left and then 30 steps to the right. Repeat 3x. Stay low with bum sticking out.

1 min-Stationary squat with a leg lift (alternating legs). Only raise your leg as high up that is in a comfortable range of motion for you. Keep your posture tall and torso upright. You can hold on to the back of a chair for balance if you need to.

30 sec- Calf raise (preferably on low step).

1 min- Holding medium weights (or a soup can or filled water bottle) keep elbows next to your side (but don’t dig elbows in). Keep palms facing away from body. Keep wrists locked. Exhale as you bring your hands up towards your body. Inhale as you straighten your arms. Use only your muscle to flex and extend the elbow. Keep upper body still to avoid using momentum to assist you with the lift.

1 min- Keeping the weights in your hands, perform a lateral raise. Holding weights by your sides with the palms facing the body. Raise arms out to side to make your body shaped like a letter ‘T.’ Be sure to only lift arms to shoulder height. Raising your arms higher puts you at risk for damaging your shoulders.

30 sec- Calf raise (preferably on low step). Hold weights for extra resistance.

1 min- Overhead press. Squat with feet shoulder-width apart. Sit back with weight in heels. Have weights held at shoulder height with palms facing away from you. As you stand up from the squat, exhale and straighten your arms above your head.

30 sec- Run in place with high knees.

30 sec- Speed skater jump. You do not need to hold a weight. (video)

1 min- Prisoner squats (similar to overhead press without weights). Squat down and explode out of the squat into a jump straight up in the air. For extra difficulty raise hands up in the air as you jump.

Repeat the workout if you can. Good luck!

Weekend Challenge: Walk this way!

Friday, April 20, 2012

I have been visiting my family in America over the last week. It makes me appreciate the public transportation system in the UK and my bicycle. We have to drive everywhere here because things are spread out and there isn't always a sidewalk (pavement) available on the side of the road.

For this weekend's challenge, I encourage you to WALK, BIKE, or take PUBLIC TRANSPORT somewhere you wouldn't usually. Options include getting off the Tube a stop or two early and walking home the rest of the way. Cycle to the corner store rather than drive for 5 minutes. As always, the goal is to get you active and moving.

Please let me know here, on Twitter, or Facebook what you did differently to sneak in the extra bit of exercise. I look forward to hearing how it went!

Product Review: Penny Badger Botanicals

Thursday, April 19, 2012

At the Vitality Show, I was lucky to meet so many women entrepreneurs. Penny Badger was one of them. She has sensitive skin and found the chemical-filled products available in stores aggravated her skin. She set out to develop her own line of natural and organic products using natural botanicals.

Remember- I have skin allergies and have turned to natural and organic brands to help nourish my skin.

Penny graciously gave me three samples to try out- facial serum, natural combined skin lotion and Rosacea moisturizer. (You can get free samples from Penny too by clicking here)

My friend who has Rosacea is going to test out the Rosacea lotion after she gives birth to her baby this summer. Her hormones have been clearing up her skin and she wants to give an accurate review. Check back in the late summer for her story.

I set up a regime of using the serum at night on my face before I went to bed and the moisturizer on my face in the morning. Believe it or not, I have never used a 'serum' before and was worried I would break out from the oil. It went on smoothly (a little went a long way so I just dipped my finger tip in the pot) and the serum didn't cause a break out at all. Also, my pillow case never looked oily or stained. My husband said the very faint smell of the serum reminded him of cricket bats and linseed oil. Personally, the fragrance reminded me of almonds.

In the mornings, the lotion went on smoothly and was very light. The lotion I normally use is formaldehyde-free but feels heavier and almost greasy compared to Penny's. I did need to reapply the lotion in a few spots after the first application. I think this was due to applying a minimal amount in the first instance. My skin never broke out with the lotion. At the end of the day, my face wasn't too shiny.

Overall, I loved Penny's facial serum and combo skin moisturizer. In person, she is lovely and believes 100% in the products she has created. Think of these as an investment in high quality products that will make you radiate and age gracefully. She also treads lightly on the Earth, using recycled packaging products and renewable resources.

You can see all the products Penny has to offer but visiting her website:

Penny Badger Botanicals did not pay me for this review. They graciously gave me these products and all opinions are honest and my own. If you have a product you would like me to review, please contact me

Toasted Chia Ginger Pear Cereal

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My step-mom just sent me a few books that I will be adding to the PT Mollie library. One of them is called Thrive Foods by Brendan Brazier. It offers 200 plant-based recipes for peak health.


After thumbing through, I found a recipe for breakfast cereal. It sounds so good I might have it as an after work snack too. It makes 4 cups (~5 servings).

1/2 pear, diced
1 cup oats (or cooked or sprouted quinoa, to make cereal gluten free)
1/2 cup diced almonds
1/2 cup hemp protein
1/2 cup unhulled sesame seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 tsp ground stevia leaf
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup hemp oil
1/2 cup molasses
2 tbsp apple juice
1 tbsp grated ginger root
Coconut oil


1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl, combine pear, oats, almonds, chia seeds, hemp protein, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, stevia, and sea salt.

3. In a small bowl, blend together hemp oil, molasses, apple juice, and ginger root.

4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well.

5. Lightly oil a baking tray. Spread mix onto tray.

6. Bake for one hour. Let cool and break into pieces.

7. Keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

8. Enjoy with milk. (The recipe then links to Sunflower Seed Hemp Milk and Sacha Inchi Milk)

Let me know if you make any variations to the recipe. Yum!

Health Your Way Online article

My contributing article to Health Your Way Online is now live.

Find out about starting strength training at home by clicking here.

Guest Post: NLP with Feel Good Coach

Monday, April 16, 2012

There are so many different definitions of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) around, the formal one being that it’s a Study of Human Excellence. My favourite, and I think the most meaningful, is that its like having ‘an instruction manual for the mind’. NLP is such a complex and comprehensive subject that I couldn't begin to even cover off a fraction of it here. I just want to give an insight into it, and how powerful it can be. Our mind is so powerful and yet many of us use it to a negative end rather than a positive one a lot of the time – for example, the way we talk to ourselves: ‘oh god, why did I do that I must be stupid’ ‘I’m as fat as a pig’ ‘ I can't stop eating’ ‘I’m so unlucky’ ….I’m sure you know the kind of thing. The issue is that our unconscious mind takes everything we say literally, and so it thinks we really are stupid / fat / unable to stop eating / always unlucky and so we begin to act in that way. And because our unconscious mind is like a small child who always wants to be right, it will seek out things to confirm what we have now started to believe about ourselves. And so the cycle goes on. Linked to this is the mind / body connection, which means that every thought creates a physical reaction and whether that’s an empowering thought such as ‘I can do this’ or a limiting one such as ‘I cant do this’ our body will react accordingly.

We can’t change the actual events of the past however with NLP it is possible to change the way you react to the memory by rearranging some of the elements you store. For example, you can go back to the toe-curling moment when you fluffed your presentation and by changing the structure of the memory, you can stop being negatively affected by it.

I chose to specialise in NLP and Hypnotherapy after spending a lot of my life being unhappy and unfulfilled despite ‘having’ lots of things including a successful career, money, shoes (endless shoes!), a great partner and loving family. When I was younger, I was treated for depression with CBT (Cognitive Based Therapy) however I felt that that kept me immersed in the problems whereas when I discovered NLP, I found it gave me the tools to move forward. Suddenly I was able to view myself, life and other people, in a different way: a positive way! It taught me that I am responsible for what I end up with, a concept which was scary to begin with and now is incredibly empowering. It’s a great way of moving people from ‘effect’ to ‘cause’ and helping them to take control of their lives. This is so massively powerful for clients and extremely rewarding for me as the coach too.
Please note that whilst CBT didn’t work for me, I fully support its efficacy as a treatment for depression as well as other issues.

Hi, my name is Sarah and I am the Feel Good Coach. As a certified master practitioner of NLP and Hypnotherapy and soon to be Level 3 Personal Trainer; I help people to achieve their physical and emotional goals and Feel Good!
I blog about every day things in practical terms and hope to reach beyond my clients to as many people I can help as possible.

I practice in and around Oxfordshire, please give me a call on 07900 268300 if you would like to chat about how I can work with you to empower you to live the life you want and deserve :) Twitter @sarahkennard Blog:

Quickie Workout #7

Sunday, April 15, 2012

If you have a jump rope handy, you can use it in the workout. You can also pretend to jump rope by jumping up and down and circling your wrists.

You can use a kitchen timer to keep track of your intervals. If you are unclear what the exercise is I am describing, please look for a video or arrange for an in-person tutorial.

Please consult your doctor before engaging on any fitness regime.

Remember to go for QUALITY over quantity. Breath on the excursion (ie, exhale when pushing yourself up on the push up, inhale as you return to the ground). Keep your abs in as if there is a string from your belly button pulling through to your spine.

Warm up- Jump rope for 2 minutes (you can skip or hop with both feet off the ground).

1 min- Reverse lunge by stepping back with alternating left and right foot. Think about dropping the back knee to the ground.

1 min- Jumping jacks/star jumps

1 min- Wall sit – Sit with back against wall and knees at 90 degrees. If this is easy, hold a weight in your hand.

Shake your legs out to get rid of the lactic acid. Good job!

1 min- Push ups/press ups on the ground (either on your knees or ‘regular’)

30 sec- Plank on forearms with bum in alignment with head. Keep abs tight!

1 min- Push ups/press ups

45 sec- Plank

1 min- Hip raise lying on your back, lift your hips up in the air so there is a straight line from the shoulders to the knees. Drop hips ~3 inches and squeeze bum to bring hips back up.

1 min- Superman by flipping over onto your tummy. With arms extended above your head, gently lift opposite arm and opposite leg ~2 inches off the floor. If you are more athletic, raise all 4 limbs up. For this you only need to feel your lower back working a bit to be effective. If you feel sharp pain, stop.

30 sec- Kneel on a towel or the carpet. Raise your bum so it is just off of your feet. Do small hip circles to the left. Try to stay just above your heels. The pain means it is working! Focus on breathing.

30 sec- Hip circles to the right. Keep breathing.

Shake out those legs!

1 min- Jump over the rope. Lay it straight on the ground and stand so your feet are parallel to the rope. Hop side to side over the rope.

Give the routine another go if you can!

Weekend Challenge

Friday, April 13, 2012

This weekend (Friday-Sunday) please do 10 jumping jacks/star jumps every time you send or receive a text message (either on your cell phone or in an online chat).

I hope this encourages you to talk to people in person rather than be isolated by technology. I also hope it gets you moving and your heart rate up.

Have fun!

Baked Apples with Lemon Recipe from Fitness Republic

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Today I am sharing a fantastic recipe from Fitness Republic. Bookmark them as the site is a fantastic resource for health, nutrition, and fitness (kinda like me!).

Click here for Baked Apples with Lemon by Michael Charles.

Not convinced? They are only 174.02 calories (kcal).

Guest Post: Hypnotherapy

Monday, April 9, 2012

The only exposure I have had to hypnotherapy is the X-rated hypnotherapist who visited campus for a laugh in college. Here, I hope Claire Benson can shed some light on what it is really about.

Hypnotherapy makes the unconscious, conscious. Because of this it’s particularly useful in helping people take control of habitual behavioural problems like overeating, smoking or nail biting.

Its benefits don’t stop there though, it’s also extremely effective at changing outdated beliefs, for example fears and phobias that started in childhood or lack of self-confidence that inhibits living life to the full.

A typical hypnotherapy session will normally start with you and your therapist discussing the issue that you are seeking help with. Your hypnotherapist will ask you lots of questions designed to help you start to see things differently in a conscious way.

When the time is right and with your permission your therapist will guide you into a state of deep relaxation, this is called hypnosis or trance. Being in trance feels different for everyone, you might feel hot or you might feel cold, you may have the sensation that you are floating or you could feel heavy, you may even get the sense that the only thing you can hear is your therapist’s voice. Most people love being in the trance and many describe it as being as blissfully relaxed as you are during a massage. Whatever sensations you may feel you, the client, will always be fully in control.

While in the trance state your therapist will use a variety of techniques to communicate with your unconscious mind to help you achieve your desired outcomes. These may include simple positive suggestions, guided visualisations to release unconscious blocks or regression to revisit, learn from and heal past experiences. As each person and their issues are unique so is each and every hypnotherapy session.

It’s really important that you feel totally relaxed with your hypnotherapist before you start working together. I recommend that you have at least a phone consultation before you commit to anything.

For more information about hypnotherapy please visit If you would like to download a free session there are some on my site.

Claire Benson is an empathetic hypnotherapist who specialises in weight reduction and confidence building. Claire's passion is the mind/body connection; she believes that when they work together it's possible to create powerful change - as a result Claire created the Hypnogogo series of downloads to use when you're running. You can reach her by phone (07961 317 251), email ( or one of her websites ( and

Quickie Workout #6: Stairs Required

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Today's quickie is based on using a set of stairs. For this you will need to have some balance and coordination. When choosing your set of stairs, be sure to choose one that has a handrail. The exercises listed are only for going UP the stairs. Be slow and controlled walking down the stairs because there is a lot of force on your knees.

You can use a kitchen timer to keep track of your intervals. If you are unclear what the exercise is I am describing, please look for a video or arrange for an in-person tutorial.

Please consult your doctor before engaging on any fitness regime.

Remember to go for QUALITY over quantity. Breath on the excursion (ie, exhale when pushing yourself up on the push up, inhale as you return to the ground). Keep your abs in as if there is a string from your belly button pulling through to your spine.

2 min- Warm up walking up and down the stairs.
1 min- Two steps at a time leading with the right leg. Hold on to the railing if you need to.
1 min- Two steps at a time leading with the left leg.
20-30 reps- Calf raise on the bottom step. Place the ball of your foot on the edge of the step and lift up and down for a full range of motion.
1 min- Side squat with left foot on 2nd step and right foot on floor.
1 min- Side squat with right foot on 2nd step and left foot on floor.
1 min- Push/press ups incline (hands on steps) for beginners. Decline (feet on steps) if you are more fit.
20-30 reps- Calf raise on the bottom step.
5x- Run up steps for beginners. OR 3x- Hop up the steps if you are more fit.
1 min- triceps dips on bottom step.

Repeat for more heart-pounding fun.

Weekend Challenge

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good form is key to any exercise being effective. This weekend, I would like you to try a 30-60 second plank, depending on your fitness level. Please perform one everyday.


Keep your shoulders over your elbows.

Keep core/abs tight by imagining there is a string pulling your belly button up to your spine (or someone is about to punch you in the stomach).

Unclench hands as the rest of your body is tense enough.

Breathe in your nose and out of your mouth.

Here is a video for some more tips.

ADDITIONAL CHALLENGE for the ladies out there!

Please do a self-breast check this weekend. Two people I know how been diagnosed with breast cancer in the last 2 weeks. Take control of your body and your health.

Coppafeel is a fantastic charity to help you remember to do self-checks. Please have a look!

Product Review: Workplay's Fleetfoot II

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I am a recreational runner, meaning I only run when I have to (lack of available equipment, amazing weather, about to miss a bus, etc). Running was used as punishment at sport practices in the States, which didn't reinforce the action much. If I am going to incorporate running into my weekly workout plan, I need to be registered for a race of some sort to find motivation.

When I am about to go for a run, the pressure to get dressed appropriately feels like choosing an outfit for a job interview. I need to figure out where to put keys, I-pod, tissues, ID, and Oyster card. If I am wearing gloves, do I have a pocket to stash them in? Will I be too hot or too cold? Do I need to bring water with me or will I be able to survive 30 minutes of activity without a sip? Will my shorts be long enough to avoid chaffing and will my top cover my tummy as I bound along? Are my clothes bright enough so cars will see me?

Since Christmas, I have keeping an eye out for a low profile bum bag (aka fanny pack in the USA). Pictured in my head was a neoprene contraption that didn't bump up and down on my bum as I sped along the Thames shore. I wasn't having much luck though. Runner's World UK tweeted a giveaway for a bum bag a few weeks ago and I was thrilled to discover Workplay's Fleetfoot II. It almost looked too good to be true as it seemed to be everything I was looking for.

I entered the contest, but unfortunately didn't win. Instead, I found myself on the phone with Guy Mathiot, the founder and lead designer of Workplay. We have many similar goals for our brands, including finding fun, functional ways to assist others to partake in sport. We arranged a meeting at the Vitality Show at Earl's Court London where he would show me his amazing his line of bags and I would pick up a Fleetfoot II to test out.

Guy gave me the entire 'it splices and dices' spiel on the Fleetfoot II.* He even had me try it on and take a short jog along the row of vendors. I found out then it is designed to fit a woman's hips and rests quite nicely.

I decided to break the #1 rule of running (never try anything new on race day) and sported the Fleetfoot II on a 5K that weekend. Being unaccustomed to running with a bum bag on, I didn't have high hopes for my time or how comfortable the bag would be. The only things I carried in the bag were tissues and business cards, making it rather light. I hardly noticed it during the run! It sat just above my hips. There isn't much excess fabric so it wasn't very floppy either. I almost beat my PR too, but I am still figuring out if the bag had anything to do with that.

At the Stroke Association 5K in Regent's Park

The next test drive was on a Tuesday night, when I lead Boutique Sports' Beginner Run Club session. It was a bit chilly and I was in charge of six ladies of varying ability. I packed my Fleetfoot II with my phone, Oyster card, directions for our route, and business cards. I also added in my base layer in case I became chilly. The base layer hung between the elastic and pouch, which I was told is also a great places for gloves or a water bottle. The run was 4km long, and I walked most of the way with one of the newbie runners. Once again, I was surprised not to notice the bag at all while out on the route. It was handy to carry all my stuff and reflective to ward off traffic too.

Overall I am extremely pleased with the Fleetfoot II and would recommend it to all runners, even though it is designed for women (it also comes in black). My husband just tried it on in the living room and did a 5 step jog. He said it felt comfortable. You can purchase the bags online in Workplay's online shop. Based in Swindon, you are supporting a UK small business with your purchase.

When you go out on a run, it is important to be mindful and safe. Always carry an ID, money to catch public transport home in case you become injured, your keys, and if you can, your phone. The Fleetfoot II can help you do this without affecting your training.

*Note it does not really splice nor dice. 

Workplay Bags did not pay me for this review. They graciously sent me this product and all opinions are honest and my own. If you have a product you would like me to review, please contact me

Gluten-Free Cookies, courtesy of the Little Leaf Guest House

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

125g ground almonds
50g melted butter (left to cool down a little bit)
56g caster sugar
1 egg
85g (or more) of dried fruit / chopped apricots / chocolate chips / glacier cherries (use what you like, I use dried fruit)
1tsp vanilla extract
A pinch of salt (optional if using salted butter)


1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees (150 degrees for fan assisted ovens).

2. Grease baking tray / cover oven tray with greaseproof paper.

3. Mix together all ingredients except fruit or chocolate.

4. Fold in fruit or chocolate.

5. Using a heaped teaspoon of batter 'splodge' out batter onto baking tray. This amount of batter should make 12 cookies.

6. Mould into cookie shape with fingers if you want, or just leave it for a more natural looking cookie.

7. Bake in oven for 15 - 20 minutes, take out when sides start to brown.

8. Leave to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Many thanks to Lee at the Little Leaf Guest House for sharing!

The Little Leaf Guest House- Fresh, modern, comfortable guest house in stunnning St Ives. Close to town, the beach, the Tate and the Coastal Path - homemade cookies and interesting breakfasts are a speciality.

Guest Post: Zumba®

Monday, April 2, 2012

It probably feels like it's been pretty hard to miss lately, with TV ads, news items, and classes springing up just about everywhere. So what is all the fuss about?

Zumba® is a Latin dance-inspired fitness program created in the 1990s by Colombian fitness instructor "Beto" Perez. Classes are attended by millions of participants in over 125 countries, and it continues to grow in popularity, with new variations including ‘Toning’, ‘Aqua’, ‘Gold’ (for older and less active participants) and ‘Zumbatomic’ (for kids). Millions more experience Zumba® in their own homes, through DVDs and chart-topping games versions including X-Box, Wii and Playstation.

Zumba® is a fun and exciting form of exercise, providing a really effective workout for people of all ages and fitnesses, as each participant can work at the level that suits them. A wide variety of different dance styles (no prior dance knowledge or skills required!) – including salsa, cha cha, merengue, belly dance, reggaeton, hip hop, flamenco and bollywood – are used, combining great music with a proper fitness workout (classes always include warm-up, cool down and stretch sections), based on slow and fast interval training. So Zumba® provides a total body toning routine along with a heart-pumping cardio aerobic workout - a great way to get toned, benefit the heart, and burn calories all at the same time. But most importantly ... IT’S FUN!

I started attending weekly Zumba® classes in October 2010 and fell in love with it straight away. I’ve always loved dancing of all sorts, and very quickly knew that Zumba® was for me, and decided I wanted to run my own classes, even though I’d never done anything like that before. I found out I needed to complete “Zumba® Basic 1” instructor training before being certified to teach, and it took a while to find a course that wasn’t either fully booked within days, or being held at the other end of the country!

I’ve been teaching Zumba® since January (and have lost 7kgs in the process!) and now teach four times a week; twice in London where I still have my ‘day job’ (as a University Manager) and twice where I live in Huntingdon. In April I am training in Zumba Gold®, which gives a slightly gentler level of workout (but without losing any of the fun!), aimed at older participants or those less used to exercising, so I’m really looking forward to teaching Zumba Gold® too.

I try to make sure all my classes are fun, and encourage everyone, even complete beginners, to throw themselves into all the different routines. With Zumba® it really doesn’t matter if you don’t get all the steps right, or go in a different direction … so long as you’re moving about it’ll be doing you good, and as I always tell my students … if you’re laughing while you’re moving, it’s doing you even more good! :)

So if you’re still wondering “What’s the fuss about?” I say, “Find a class and see for yourself.” Try it once … what have you got to lose? Apart from maybe the odd kilo or two!!

For more information or to book for one of Debra’s Zumba® or Zumba Gold® classes, phone or text 07891375954, email, or via Facebook page “Debs Zumba Huntingdon”.

ZUMBA® and the Zumba Fitness logos are trademarks of Zumba Fitness, LLC, used under license.

Quickie Workout #5

Sunday, April 1, 2012

You can use a kitchen timer to keep track of your intervals. If you are unclear what the exercise is I am describing, please look for a video or arrange for an in-person tutorial.

Please consult your doctor before engaging on any fitness regime.

Remember to go for QUALITY over quantity. Breath on the excursion (ie, exhale when pushing yourself up on the push up, inhale as you return to the ground). Keep your abs in as if there is a string from your belly button pulling through to your spine.

1 minute- Walk in place
30 seconds- Jog in place with high knees
1 minute- While standing with feet should-width apart, touch your hand to the opposite toe (or as close as you can without bending the knees). Come back to standing up with arms out to side (180 degree from each other). Alternate and repeat.
1 minute- Push/press ups against a desk, counter, or wall
1 minute- Sumo squats (feet wide apart and toes at 45 degrees) with heel lift. Start with one heel up off ground. Every time you come to bottom of squat change which heel is up. This works your inner thighs.
1 minute- Triceps dip on a stable/sturdy (aka not rolling) chair or bench. Elbows point straight back. Only your arms move you up and down.
1 minute- Split squat by assuming lunge position with right foot in front. Drop left knee almost to ground and stand up again. Feet stay where they are. Keep front knee over the ankle. Repeat.
1 minute- Split squat with left foot in front.
As long as it takes- Leg lifts. 12 reps in each position. Start by laying down on your back. Lift one leg (other leg bent) at a time for lifts- easy. For the next 10 lifts come up to resting on your elbows with a strong back. Then for the last set of twelve, sit straight up and using hands for support, placed slightly behind body with elbows straight. Repeat with other leg.

Repeat as many times as you would like. Get it done!