The North Face Moutain Athletics range

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Motivation Quarter Zip on the Nile
The North Face (TNF) has long been a favourite brand of mine. I have 3/4 zip shirts that are 5+ years old and they don't show much wear. I also prefer TNF backpacks for my daily commute as they have great internal organisation and are once again, built to last.

In the spring, Blacks gave me a few pieces from the new TNF Mountain Athletics line.  As I wrote previously (link) I practically lived in the Motivation Quarter zip while I was in Cairo and Instanbul. The fabric was light enough to carry in my purse but also kept me warm on the warm and once the sun went down.  It didn't even start to smell after a few wears.  We recently spent a love weekend in ache Alsacian region of France for a wedding, where the top was a staple in the misty weather during the day and the chilly evenings at night.

Love these pretty leggings!
The warm spring and summer meant that I haven't been able to wear the Pulse leggings very much to exercise in.  They are very comfortable and the print is flattering on my body type (although I would like a thicker elastic waistband but that is my personal preference). The only thing missing is a pocket to keep a few essentials in.  Perhaps if you were running up a mountain, you'd have a bag with you anyways.

The Play Hard vest (aka tank top in America) is soft material with a loose cut, which I prefer as opposed to skin tight kit. I wore the tank in Fierce Grace yYoga and completely soaked it through. I also wore it on a photo shoot with Will Patrick and am quite happy with the results.  I love the bold design too which inspires me to be bold when out training in the mountains.

These pieces are really versatile and can be used in the gym, out for a run, at yoga, and of course when you are exploring the great outdoors. Check out the full Mountain Athletics women's range offered at Black's here (and here for the men's).  These pieces are perfect for autumnal training as the leggings and layers will help you tackle a rang of temps throughout the day.

Photo by Will Patrick

Black's kindly gifted me these pieces. All opinions are honest and my own.

What to wear on your ski holiday #totheslopes

Saturday, October 22, 2016

During my childhood, I was lucky enough to spend many winter weekends skiing at a small private club in Upstate New York.  As I grew up, I was lucky enough to be able to explore the slopes in New England, the Rocky Mountains, and most recently, the Swiss Alps.  My husband and I even got engaged on the way home from a ski trip to British Columbia.  It has been a few years since we have been to Verbier, but I am always looking for the next opportuntity to follow the snow.

Red Mountain, BC
No matter where in the world I am going to ski, I will always have to pack up kit as the mountains are unfortunately not on my doorstep.  Having the right kit will make your time on the slopes much more enjoyable.  Here are my suggestions on what to have to survive the elements:

1.  Merino base layers and socks-  Merino wool helps keep regulate body temperatures by wicking moisture away from your body and doesn't smell even when you sweat.  Cotton will keep wet fabric near your skin and that will get cold quick.  The Techwool 190 Zip allows for some ventilation if you heat up riding down the hill but get chilly on the chair lift on the way up.

2.  Waterproof trousers-  I love these pink Slide 500 Women's ski trousers that are fitted, stretchy and waterproof. My ski jacket is bright blue and would lovely pairs with them. Believe me, no one likes a wet bum from sitting on the chair lift when it is dumping powder.

3.  Sunscreen-  The snow can reflect the sun and the cold wind can make your cheeks turn red too.  Keep your skin fresh by applying sunscreen before you head out in the morning.  (Although having a 'ski google tan' when you arrive back at the office is priceless).

First trip to Verbier
4.  Helmet-  It is important to play it safe these days.  When selecting a helmet, be sure to get one that observes the CSN EN 1077 European Standard.  Also, find one that has enough ventilation holes for you if you tend to overheat when you exercise.  As you know, I have a thing for pink and really like this Uvex Gamma WL Titanium helmet.

5.  An action camera-  Document all the slopes you shred by mounting a camera to your helmet or board.  The Garmin VIRB X is an affordable alternative to a GoPro, and it is currently on sale at

6.  Gloves- This is another piece of kit that you want to be waterproof.  Consider it an investment into your long-term happiness out on the slopes all day.  It also needs to be breathable so your hands don't sweat.  You may need to treat your gloves each year with Nikwax, or something similar to keep the waterproof quality.  Kids will spend a lot of time falling down and making snowballs, so these Chill Heat Jr Ski Gloves, would be a perfect fit.

7.  Friends- After getting first tracks, my favorite part of the day is apr├Ęs ski.  Relaxing with friends in sunshine, surrounded by gorgeous views, is not a bad way to end the day.

The Chalet gang
These are just a few suggestions from my personal experience out in winter conditions around the world.   What can I say?  I like to be warm and dry. What essentials would you suggest to someone going to ski or snowboard for the first time? Let me know today during a Twitter chat at 6pm to talk about what it takes to get #totheslopes.

This post was in collaboration with Decathlon, who have a laarge range of afforable ski and snowbaord wear available on their website to get you ready for your winter holiday.  All views and opinions are my own.

Getting back my pearly whites

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

My American style teeth often get comments. Every time I go to a new dentist, the hygienist is confused as to why so many of my teeth are missing (small jaw + big teeth = 4 tooth extractions on top of my wisdom teeth). I had a palette expander, two sets of braces, and a retainer when growing up.  The braces left small stains on my teeth but since I don't drink coffe or tea (just a lot of Diet Coke) my teeth are fairly white. But not as white as people who get their teeth whitened, which sometimes seems a bit unnatural in appearance.  As my smile is one of the first impressions, I was keen to see if I could improve it,

In the past, I have tried the home whitening kits that are a little piece of film you leave on your teeth but I never stuck with it long enough to see any results. I have longingly looked at Groupon deals for laser teeth whitening but they all seem too good to be true.  When I saw CB 12 White Mouthwash though, I was intrigued. Could a mouthwash give me whiter teeth in less than 2 weeks? It also claim to boost fresh breath.  I have always had bad breath, so this aspect of the mouthwash also appeaped to me. In 5th grade, I used to carry around breathspray because gum wasn't allowed at school.  But then they banned the breathspray because it had alcohol in it, so I was back to square one.

Here is a photo of my smile from 2 August 2016,  before I started using CB 12 mouthwash:

I used a piece of paper to have standard of reference for white.
And here is my after photo from 17 August 2016, after using CB12 mouthwash twice a day:

My husband agreed that after a week my teeth looked whiter (and I am pretty sure he didn't know I was testing a product).  When I woke up each morning, my mouth didn't have a icky taste (but don't worry- I still brushed my teeth before I set off to work).  Luckily people in London are too polite to tell me when my breath is bad so I don't know if anyone else noticed a change in my breath.  It was easy to incorporate CB 12 mouthwash into my morning and evening routines. I took it on holiday to Ireland with me too.  I just decanted how much I needed into a smaller bottle to bring in my carry on bag.

The one thing I would suggest is that it would be great if the bottle cap could also be used to measure out the suggested 5ml portion.  I guess-timated with the cap, but it seemed like I loss some liquid down the side every time I used it.

Overall, I am really pleased with CB 12 mouthwash. My husband was impressed too and wants to buy some for his British teeth.  If he does, I will follow up with more before and after photos as he is a coffee and tea drinker.

CB 12 kindly gifted me a bottle of CB 12 mouthwash.  All views are honest and my own.

The dreaded BEFORE photo

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Today was my first EVER Julia Buckley workout.  She recomends starting with 5 days of bootcamp sessions, so that is the plan for this week. I have to teach spinning Monday and Tuesday night, which means double sessions for me.  The moves were simple and Julia gave exellent verbal instructions, along with options to make the moves more or less intense.  It is up to the viewer to decide what level they are at and to work towards a positive progression over time.

One of the reasons I signed up to be a #FitnessRockstar was for the accountability.  Strength training is something I never make time for, but always wish I had when I line up at the start line.  Working with Julia means I have no excuses.  Everything I need is available at my fingertips as all her workouts are available online.  Luckily, I have some weights and mats at home which means I just need to take over the living room for an hour each  night.  Oldland isn't too keen that he can't see me when the door is shut but he will get over it.

To make this experience with Julia as real as possible, I am posting my 'before' photos.  Note they were after 2 bottles of Diet Coke, a posh kebab, and small popcorn at the cinema.  I am an apple-shape and am finding that the stress from work and lack of sleep make my stomach the place for even more fat to hang out.  To combat this, I know I need to work on my food choices.  For this first month though, I am going to work on sticking to my exercise schedule and then work on healthy food selection in November.  It is important not to change too much too fast or too drastically because it can be overwhelming and cause you to quit.  I am not about to become a quitter!

Drumroll please......

Julia thought it would be fun for all the Rockstars to share a bit about themselves and what fitness means to them,  Here is the quickfire  #JuliaBFit Fitness Rockstar Spotlight Interview with,errr, me:

1. For me, fitness is all about: Feeling healthy and hanging out with like-minded people who are always up for new adventures.  I pride myself on being a capable person and being fit helps me be independent too.

2. I get most excited to do my workout when: I know the tunes are going to be awesome.  Good music makes everything more enjoyable.

3. When a workout really pushes me to my limit, I think to myself:  'Come on, Tubbs!' which is my maiden name and what my husband shouts at me when I am finishing my parkrun.

4. I’m most likely to skip my workout if:  I am super-tired, have to work late, or it is raining, hence why I need my community to hold me accountable with this project!

5. In a group fitness session I’ll be the one who: Is up-front so I can see what the movements are.  I am also watching the other participants to see how they are doing.  As a fellow instructor, I can also be a bit critical of the instructor if I feel they are being unsafe.

6. The item of exercise equipment I’d most hate to go without is:  A sports bra, my running shoes or my GPS watch.  Soon to be dumbbells?

7. The last thing I usually do before starting my workout is: Take a sip of water

8. My top 5 workout music tracks are:  Well, I haven't downloaded new songs on my iPod in several years, so 'Put Your Hands Up For Detroit', 'Dog Days Are Over', 'Womanizer', 'Insomnia', and anything 80s.

9. If I start feeling meh about fitness I give myself a boost by: Signing up for a race or setting up a meet up with some blogging friends at a new fitness class, follwed by coffee or drinks.

10. The most important thing I’ve learned about fitness in the last year is:  Everybody struggles and nobody  is perfect.  But if you consistently work hard, you can achieve anything you put your mind to.

If you want to join me, Julia, and the other Rockstars, click here to sign up today.  Online access is much cheaper than a gym membership.  Plus you can do it at home, on your own schedule.

This post contains afflitiate links, which cost you nothing but help me maintain the blog.  All opinions are honest and my own.

I'm a Fitness Rockstar! Come sweat with me

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Hello there! So much has been going on behind-the-scenes here- marathons, international challenges, extra hours at the day job, and something that I can't wait to tell you about.  I will be posting details on it all but let's get to the exciting news first.

I have been selected to be a Julia's Buckley Fitness Rockstar.  I have known Julia virtually for a few years now.  My friend, Becca, of From Strength to Strength, introduced me to Julia back in the days of the Zero Calorie Advent Calendar.  Julia's workouts are simple, effective and accessible to everyone.  She started off with a book, Fat Burn Revolution, and now has a huge online gym.

Julia was looking for Fitness Rockstars to help spread the word about her offerings (so affordable and accessible) and I was keen to get involved.  As a fellow fitness professional, I am happy to support and promote Julia.  Her programs work (several of my friends have had tremendous success) and I am ready to be her next success story.

Julai's Fitness Rockstars are a collective of people with a mission to make the world a healthier, happier place (it is like we are all curt from the same cloth!).  We’re not professional athletes, or even what many would consider typical “fitness people,” but we all appreciate the privilege of having the ability to move our bodies and we’ve all experienced having our worlds rocked by the astounding difference fitness and health has made to our lives.  You may think that personal trainers are always motivated to workout, but I can tell you that it isn't true.  We have struggles just like our clients.

Neither are we celebrities, or in a position to spread our message to millions of people, but if something we post can help light the fuse that helps anyone to discover myriad of amazing benefits of doing what takes to be fit and strong which ripple out into all areas of life, then we’ll feel like stars for sure.  Together, we think we can shine enough light to make a difference.  If I can get even one of my readers to start moving their body in a positive way towards a healthy lifestyle, I will feel like I have won.

From now until January, I am going to focus on strength training.  It is something I always say I need to do and now is the time.   The plan is to start with the 5 day bootcamp, as these videos have more instructions and will give me a solid knowledge base to proceed.  The plan is to mix Ignite sessions (which are 30 minutes and require no equipment) with Rebellion Stength sessions.  The Ignite sessions I can do at work on my tea break and Rebellion I can fit in in my free evenings.

Here is a rough idea of my training schedule:

Monday nights- I teach spinning at Forest Fitness
Tuesday nights in October- I teach spinning at the Velodrome
Wednesdays- Ignite at work
Thursdays- Rebellion workout at home
Friday morning- Adidas Runners session at King's Cross
Saturdays- Rebellion workout at home
Sunday- Rest

I will soon share from 'before' photos and take body measurements.  Each week, I will aim to post a quick update on how things are going for me.  This public declaration should hold me accountable so I will stick to it!

How about you join me?  Click Here! To pick up Julia' Ignite program as an E-Book. This is a new updated version that what was sold on Amazon's Kindle site (which got great reviews).  Or you can join Julia's online gym.    

So, what do you think?  Leave a comment below and let me know what your fitness plans are for the rest of the year.

Please note, this post includes affiliate links.  There is no extra cost for you and help pay to maintain this blog.