Saturday, 3 December 2016

Vegan Food Travelling In Europe

I went on my first few trips this year since I went vegan, and I didn't end up just eating chips!

The first were short breaks to London and Dublin. There was plenty of choice and being English speaking places I could ask for what I needed, and I knew the chain restaurants I could go to if I had to.

Then the big one, we drove around Europe for 2 weeks.

Hm, that's a lot of different languages, cities, countries and cuisines. Didn't pick an easy one to start with! There is always chips, and I knew I could just go and buy some fruit etc if I really struggled, but it would be nice not to have to. As it turns out the only time I had to just have a plate of chips was in a random service station in the middle of nowhere in Germany so I think I did quite well.

Anyone visiting Brugge, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Switzerland or Luxembourg...here's what I found! Click on restaurant names for links to their websites. We stayed in most places 2 nights, so didn't eat in lots of places just dinner when we arrived, one full day then breakfast (usually just in the hotel) before we left for the next place. 

Bruges
We arrived pretty late into Bruges as we drove there from home and had the ferry crossing (FYI there was nothing much on the ferry, take food) so once we checked into the hotel we wanted some food. We found a place literally down the road from our hotel (the Ibis budget by the train station) called De Stoepa that did a few things. I had the quinoa salad (or it was maybe cous cous) and it was lovely, really large portions and the garlicky sundried tomatoes were amazing!

Second day we were up early as we had been to bed quite early due to being knackered from travelling, so we walked through the Minnewater park into the town - I would recommend an early start if you are staying here as once the day trips arrive it gets busier. We had a really lovely few hours in the morning wandering around the quiet scenic streets. We had lunch at Le Pain Quotidien which did really good brunch and lunch options. Be aware though the menu was a bit confusing and the "botanical" items weren't actually all vegan, I'm not 100% sure what it was meant to mean (organic?) but some had cheese and butter. The staff all spoke English (everyone we spoke to in Bruges spoke perfect English it was a bit odd) so could advise me and were really helpful. They also did soy milk so I could have a cup of tea and not black coffee - always a plus point!

For dinner we went to a Greek restaurant just off the main square called the Olive Tree because we happened to walk past and see they had a clearly marked vegan option in their menu, always a bonus when abroad if it is clearly specified on the menu. The food was good, although not that cheap but Bruges is generally not cheap so comparably it is probably not expensive.

I bought some nice dark chocolate here too that kept me in car snacks for the next few journeys :)

Amsterdam
We arrived in the early afternoon after driving from Bruges, so we decided to have a late lunch then a small dinner. We got caught in a downpour of rain so ducked into a bar/restaurant called Venus & Adonis while walking through the De Jordaan area, they didn't have anything marked vegan on their menu but the waitress confirmed that they could do me the pumpkin soup without cream and that the bread was vegan. That with a side of fries was perfect. 

In the evening we just had some takeaway food (I'll be honest I can't remember what I had, I'd had a few shandys) from the plethora of pizza and burger joints in the city centre.

The next day we had lunch at wok to walk as we were passing at lunch time (having been to a vegan restaurant that was fully booked), I love places like this as it's so easy, just choose your options and no fussing around about whether stuff is vegan or asking for things to be taken off (which in a foreign country isn't always easy). 

We had dinner at De Bolhoed  as we had just been to Anne Frank house and it's nearby, the food was good although the wait for it was a bit long. There is a resident cat which is always a bonus for me. This was the first actual vegetarian/vegan restaurant we had been to - my husband is not vegan so we try to find places that accommodate us both if we can, although he doesn't mind going to veggie places at all.

Berlin
Ah Berlin. You don't need a vegan food guide for Berlin. I was spoiled for choice. I don't know what it is, it's a pretty liberal city so maybe that's it, but the vegan choice is the best I have ever seen. Most places we went past had vegan options clearly marked on their menu, and if once place didn't the next place did.

The drive from Amsterdam was loooong so when we got there we didn't want to venture too far for dinner from the hotel (the Ibis in Friedrichshain). A quick google search showed there were about 3 Vegan or Vegetarian restaurants within walking distance of the hotel, but wait look a street food area literally over the road from our hotel with 5 or 6 vegan options. Hotel breakfast had vegan options, for lunch the second day we had Mexican. They had a vegan page on their standard menu (no asking for the allergy list here) and after that I didn't want a lot of dinner.

We stopped at Veganz vegan supermarket the way out of Berlin so I could get some things as we would be self catering later in our trip. I've already informed Tom we are going back again soon with more time so I can just eat, and eat, and eat, and bring back a suitcase of food.

Prague
The language barrier in Prague was a minor issue, but we managed. Our hotel was a bit out of the city (we had the car and not many city centre hotels in our budget had parking) so I was a bit concerned I would end up with chips on the first night as when we arrived from Berlin we didn't really want to get the tram into the city just for dinner, but the hotel restaurant had a pasta dish that was suitable (after an amazing effort by the waitress who said her English was not good but managed to get what I was on about and check for me).

The next day we had lunch at a vegan restaurant on the walk up to the castle called Vegans Prague, I had the vegan feast and a raw cake and it was gorgeous. There was a raw vegan place a few doors down and a cafe downstairs of you only wanted a lighter bite. We walked 16km that day around the city so I was glad to get a good meal! 

Prague is the only place I kind of struggled and we actually ended up eating at veggie places for all our meals here, as not many places had vegan options on their menu in fact some didn't even have vegetarian. Although vegetarian places were quite easy to find so it worked out OK.

We had dinner at Country Life which is a pay by the wight of your plate style canteen. Perfect as we had such a large lunch so just wanted a bite to eat before we had a few drinks in the evening! There was lots of choice, although I played it safe as I couldn't read the labels of what things were.

Salzburg
The drive to Salzburg wasn't so long, and we were entering the less city break part of the holiday so we were getting into smaller towns and more rural areas. We stopped for lunch on the way for a picnic with the stuff I got from Veganz (ham and cheese sandwiches with garlic mayo). When we arrived into Salzburg we walked along the river into the old town and had dinner at a small Italian restaurant. Austria seems to have good rules about allergies, most menus were clearly marked with a little key of what had different allergens in. This made it really easy to ascertain what I could eat, I had a pasta dish with tomato and basil.

The next day we had lunch at BioBurger Meister. The burgers were AMAZING, not too expensive either and definitely worth a try. They serve meaty burgers too if you have meat eaters in your group (I know unless you are travelling alone or your partner is vegan to can be difficult to please everyone).

We had dinner at Spicy Spices, a vegetarian Indian restaurant with lots of vegan options. The chef/host/waiter (as far as I could tell it was just him!) was really friendly and helpful. The food was really good, my husband likes Indian food more than me and he was impressed. He also bought some of the spicy chutney to bring home from the little shop portion of the restaurant. This was also good value we had drinks, both had starters and mains, and I had dessert and the bill was very reasonable.

Innsbruck
The drive from Salzburg to Innsbruck was beautiful, but we struggled to find any food as we didn't realise it was a national holiday and everything was shut! In the end we stopped at a garage and cobbled some breakfast together with some bread, a pretzel and some of the stuff I bought from Veganz!

We were self catering here so I don't have many food recommendations, but generally the old town was very nice and there were plenty of restaurants. Food seemed expensive in the supermarkets (although at this time the pound was worth naff all against the euro so it could have just been the exchange rate), especially certain fruit and veg so this is something to bear in mind. Tom also said certain meat was quite pricey too. Just something to bear in mind if you are self catering.

Switzerland
Again we were self catering, we stayed in Alt Sankt Johann in an AirB&B and it was beautiful, lots of walking and lovely scenery right outside the door. The kitchen was also very well equipped (I could have done Christmas dinner in there if I felt like it!) which was great, we made pizzas and pasta and nice breakfasts.

Luxembourg
We only stayed here one night to break up the drive home as Switzerland to the UK is along drive. We ate at a bar called Snooze, originally we just went in for a drink but we noticed they had a good range of veggie burgers. This was the only place we ate in Luxembourg as we arrived late in the afternoon and left early in the morning.

So that's the trip, I'll do a post on general tips on eating while travelling soon :)

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

The Minimalist Challenge - Week 2

I recently started the "Mins Game" or Minimalist Challenge, the idea is that you get rid of one thing on day one, two things on day two and so on increasing by 1 item every day until a month has passed...by the end you will get rid of over 400 items!

You can read how week 1 went here, week 2 was actually pretty much a breeze! I started to actually delve into drawers and shelves and the clutter to get rid of was plentiful.

I have been posting pictures on instagram, if you feel the need to see pictures, but this week I got rid of:

  • What seemed like about 50 glasses cases (I get a new one each time I get new glasses and never use them!)
  • Cleaning products I have bought, used once, did not get on with and for some reason have kept.
  • Pet things that we/they don't use/eat/play with
  • CD's and DVD's galore!
I actually had enough CD's and DVD's to take me into week 3, I post dated the days (on day 11 I counted and I had enough to go up to day 18!) and stacked them up ready to go, and had a little break! 

I actually used the time to send all the good disks off to Music Magpie for some money (not a lot but every little helps right!) and to advertise some other things on Freegle.

Freegle or Freecycle is a really great resource for all those things you think nobody would want to buy (hence not worth donating to a charity shop either) but it seems a shame to throw in the bin. You advertise it and people collect it, so it is also great for getting rid of old furniture without having to take it to the tip or pay to have it removed. The aim is to keep as much out of landfill as possible and it's always nice to see things go to use rather than to waste. I got rid of some pet bits and bobs and a bag of shells for arts and crafts.

Onto week 3, I have 4 days of it sorted already so I'm hoping this will be an easy one too! Next on the list is the kitchen, we have too many glasses and random utensils that we don't use, and I want a slow cooker for Christmas so I'm motivated to make room! I'm starting to think I'm maybe going to make it to the end of the month but we are getting to over 20 items a day soon and that is a lot to get rid of although I haven't even started on under the bed or the hall cupboard yet...

Friday, 25 November 2016

The Minimalist Challenge

I recently started the "Mins Game" or Minimalist Challenge, the idea is that you get rid of one thing on day one, two things on day two and so on until a month has passed...by the end you will get rid of over 400 items! I started it with the aim that I would get as far I could but probably wouldn't make it for the full 30 days. I am now thinking I'll make it at least past 20 days, maybe even to the end!

It's helpful to break it down day by day and it makes it seem like so much less work, this week I've gotten rid of 28 items already and I hardly even noticed doing it! 10 minutes a day after work at most so far, this will get more time consuming as it goes on I imagine but if you have too much stuff (who doesn't) I would recommend giving it a go even only for a week or two. If you follow me on Instagram you can see some pictures of all my rubbish (if you really want to) but here's how it's been going...

Week one actually took 2 weeks as after day 5 I had to take a little break due to a nasty cold but other than that it was a breeze to find things!

I started out just picking things up that were out in the flat, clutter from surfaces and floors. I got rid of so much stuff without even opening a drawer or cupboard it's kind of embarrassing! You know those things that just hang around, and never really have a home because you keep meaning to do something with them. Yeah those things, just bin or donate them.

So far I have gotten rid of things like a broken air bed, a load of old prescription glasses and some random gifts and wedding favours that we just don't use. I haven't even started on any of our "problem areas" for clutter yet and I have already put so much stuff in the bin, and Tom took a box full of stuff to the charity shop at the end of the week. This is the easiest week so I am anticipating it will get harder, but I am already seeing a difference in the flat that it just looks a little cleaner and less cluttered! This is my motivation to keep going!

I have also learned a few things already:
  1. I keep packaging for WAY too long and for stuff we don't need it for. Next time I buy something the box goes in the bin right away!
  2. I do not get rid of gifts because I feel bad for not keeping them. I am trying to change this to see it as donating them so other people can have them who will use them! Sometimes I feel like I should keep something because objectively I agree it is a nice/useful/pretty thing and I would buy it for someone else, but it just doesn't fit in with my lifestyle or our flat etc so doesn't get used. I'm trying to treat gifts the same as if I bought them.
  3. Most of the clutter so far is mine, or stuff I have bought for "us" or "the flat" but really it's all stuff I wanted. Tom actually has very little in the way of clutter other than his man drawer and probably in his wardrobe. I should do something with this information like STOP COLLECTING SO MUCH CRAP.
  4. I have also found it has spread into other areas of my life, I am generally getting more stuff sorted like returning things to people, getting films developed, replacing old furniture. I am trying to pare down and reevaluate my bills a little. I will do a separate post on how it works out but so far I've changed pet insurance supplier to save £30 a month!

On to week 2! I'm going to try and get into some of our more cluttered areas like under the bed, our CD's/DVD's and the storage cupboard in the hall...

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Thinking of trying Crossfit?

I have been doing Crossfit about a year now, I get a lot of interest in real life about why I started it and what it is.

It's often seen as an extreme or hard option, or something that only super fit people do. As with a lot of things though it's not as scary as you think!

I always share the free taster sessions on my Facebook page and get comments like 'Oh no I could never do that' or 'I'm not fit enough' or 'that's too hard'.

Here's why you should give it a chance though guys:

'I don't even know what half of it is! Let alone know how to do it!'
This was me after looking up the first WOD (workout of the day) I went to before I left home (It involved squat cleans and I had never touched a barbell), I googled what I didn't know and was a bit apprehensive when I saw the results. Just ask the coach, they won't just say "right today we are doing this" and leave you to get on with it. If you are unsure or struggling or have never heard of what you are meant to be doing then just say. I think at most of my classes for at least 2 months or even more I hadn't done at least one of the things included in the workout before. I think the thing about cross fit is that it takes away the need to plan your own workouts to some extent, you turn up and the work is on the board. If you don't know how to do something or need help then you ask and you learn. If your coaches are the same as at the box (gym) I go to they will know you are new and give you some extra help anyway.
The woman who had never picked up a barbell until a year ago getting a new 1RM in a competition. Photo credit CM Photography
Everything is scaleable
The reasons a lot of my friends give as to why they can't try Crossfit is that they can't do a lot of the things on the session, well neither can I, or a lot of people who have been going longer! Everything is scaled to your ability, so if the workout asks for you to do something you can't do because it is a skill you don't have yet like double unders, or the weight is too heavy, or you have an injury or are just not fit enough yet? Then do any skipping you can, or a lighter weight, or run a shorter distance. Or just talk with the coach about what you can do. I can count on one hand (maybe 2 hands, I honestly can't remember how many) the amount of workouts I have done to Rx (as it is written on the board with no scaling) and I have been going on average 3-4 times a week for a year.

I've heard it can be dangerous
Scaling also ties in with what some people (In my experience people who have not actually ever done a WOD) say about the workouts being dangerous, they could be if you turned up on your second week and tried to do the Rx workout. Be sensible and realistic about your ability and don't try to be a hero. The coaches I have met would never let anyone do this anyway and they will make sure everyone knows what they are going to do in the WOD beforehand and that it is suitable for their abilities. With any form of exercise there is a risk you might get injured or have an accident but in my experience I am not any more likely to hurt myself at Crossfit than I am out running (I regularly trip over running at night!) or at another type of gym. The workouts and the atmosphere do push you to do more, but I have never felt like I couldn't say "actually no, I really can't do that" and I have had times where coaches have helped me to change to lighter wights mid WOD, or said to me to scale to less burpees during a long WOD where it became apparent that I was not going to finish it if I stubbornly kept trying to do the 5 burpees involved every minute.

You will progress.
Nobody will be mean or judge you for not being able to do things right away, and you will look back in a few months and not be able to get over what you can do now. I had literally never picked up a barbell before starting Crossfit. I had been doing some assisted pull ups because of climbing, but was nowhere near being able to do one unassisted. I couldn't do push ups, handstands, double unders (still can't) and many more things I can now do or I can do a scaled version of. However, I am progressing (faster at some things than others) and getting better. I was a bit embarrassed at the start about how many bands I needed for pull ups, or that I had no idea how to clean or snatch (still struggle with that one tbh!). A lot of it is things you have probably never tried before, especially women in some ways. In PE we did netball and hockey, nobody will have taught you to climb a rope or do olympic lifts unless you sought that out. Just turn up, do the best you can do, learn good form and build strength, and you can't go wrong!

This is me, still not doing double unders. Photo credit CM Photography
Everyone looks so fit I feel so out of shape
Someone I persuaded to a taster session said this to me. Yes a lot of people there are in good shape, they are the people who have probably been going for ages. You will also get people who are not in such good shape, or who have just joined too. It's not just for people who are already super fit, you will soon get sucked into worrying more about what your own progress is than whether you have a bit more tummy fat than others. Also if you stick with it you could look like some of them in a couple of years!

The attitude is so different and refreshing
For me the focus being on what you can do rather than how you look is such a relief. I personally am not motivated by a trainer telling me a certain exercise it good for my muffin top, I'm more motivated by an actual challenge. You are more focused on learning all the new things in the first month or so you don't even notice the weight coming off, and once you do you notice you are more concerned about getting better than getting slimmer. The atmosphere is also so different to other gyms, there is a social and friendly vibe which comes from all doing the same WOD. Whether it's the second or millionth time you've been you all do the same, and while some scale and some don't everyone supports each other. I have made friends through Crossfit and there are socials and competitions regularly, it's actually more than just a gym in a lot of ways.
High fives after we finish the workout! Photo credit CM Photography
I always urge anyone to try it out, the taster sessions are always friendly and not scary at all. I really wish I had started sooner!

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Vegan festival food

After my first festival season as a vegan, I thought I'd share my tips. Most of these translate to vegetarian or other diets too.

Tips for eating vegan at festivals:
  • Prepare - If you have a food allergy or restricted diet you are likely used to taking food places with you anyway. I plan to take at least - granola/cereal bars, instant porridge pots (just ask vendors for hot water if you aren't taking a camping stove and kettle, sometimes it's free too although sometimes they charge), a few bananas and oranges, a couple of packs of sweets and some uht portions of soy milk (I got mine off ebay) for cups of tea.
  • If you are not taking food then at any festival (even smaller ones) there are always going to be chips, jacket potatoes, some form of potato wedges/waffle/hash brown, some falafel type wrap and if you're lucky a veggie burger that's vegan. Also look out for mexican food as often that can be altered by asking for no cheese and sour cream. If you're going to a large festival there may be more choices like a vegan or vegetarian food vendor (at download this year there were 3 I went to!), some decent salad, vegan cakes or baked goods, pizza you can have without cheese or lots of healthy food vendors which will include some options for us. 
  • Some festivals release their food vendor list prior so you can research and know whether you need to take food or not.
  • Some festivals allow camping stoves or BBQ's, some do not, you can usually find out on their website. If you can take one this will of course broaden your food options and you can take some tins of beans, bread, veggie sausages or burgers. It depends how much time you want to spend cooking at the tent and whether you want to carry it all in (I do not)
  • Alcohol - I know what UK brands are vegan in cider and most festivals will be sponsored by certain brands so it's easy to find out what's going to be available (It is likely plastered all over the website). If you rely a lot on researching what to drink at the bar, then maybe look a few up before or ensure you will have phone battery the whole time by taking something to charge your phone with like a solar charger or battery pack. If in doubt go for spirits!
Basically you won't starve, and the festival food options have come on a lot more than the greasy burger van, but it's always worth taking a few snacks in case!

Also some of my general festival tips:
  • Take more bin liners than you think you will ever use, they are a godsend for putting wet muddy clothes in, keeping your camp litter free, and in a pinch double as a fetching waterproof coat.
  • Take wellies and a waterproof coat even if it's not meant to rain. It will probably still rain at some point. I have a cheap pac a mac that has been a godsend as I can just pop it in my bag even if I don't think I'll need it.
  • Take a tent that is easy to put up (not a massive 4 room one with 500 poles) but that is waterproof and sturdy, we have a dome tent we borrow from my mum for festivals. It goes up quickly but is a good tent and doesn't collapse at the first sign of wind. We have a big tent for proper camping but for festivals it's just too big and takes ages to put up. 
  • Take more socks and pants than you would usually use, if you get soaked through dry socks and pants will sort your life out!
  • Take something to sleep in, nothing worse than trying to get dressed hurriedly in a tent when you need a wee in the night! I am not usually a PJ wearer so have been caught out by this before.
  • Get a good camping spot, not on a slope and not at the bottom of a hill. You do not want to be flooded or sleep on an incline, you might have to walk up a hill to get back to your tent every time but it's worth it to be dry and not in the run off from the tents above you.
Have fun! Let me know if you have any vegan eating or festival going tips :) xx

Monday, 11 April 2016

Training for Kilimanjaro

I touched briefly on my fitness build up and initial goals back hereThis post is a more in depth training guidance for anyone planning to climb Kilimanjaro. Obviously you may have a different fitness level than I did and you should take into account any health conditions or injuries etc. before taking on such a challenge – so this plan assumes you are reasonably healthy with no injuries, and you haven’t done anything like this before.

Basically my thoughts on the challenge are that you do not need to be running ultra-marathons or be mega fit to make the summit, but the fitter you are the better time you will have and you need to be in good shape. Having had time to think about my training and what I did right and what I could have done more of it’s good to write it all down, hopefully it will help someone!

The top things I did to train were:

Walking

In the year or more leading up to the trek you should go on at least a few challenging hikes (at least 10 miles, and involving rugged terrain and steep ascents), and generally walk as much as possible. Once a week, or a few times a month. Running or walking on a treadmill is fine for some of it but you also need to get used to uneven terrain, unpredictable weather, doing it in boots with a heavy bag etc.
The Malverns

Walking is what you will be doing on the mountain and lots of it, get your boots as early as you can and walk in them. Also get used to carrying your backpack on long walks with 2L at least of water inside it as well as waterproofs, layers, food and suncream etc. We did a night summit of Snowdon to try to simulate summit night, nothing actually does simulate summit night but it was worth it to have at least some experience what walking in the dark for hours is like. We also got in the habit of walking everywhere via the hills nearby, BBQ at dad’s…lets walk there (12 miles)! Sunday dinner at mum’s…walk there (14 miles)! Food festival in a nearby village…let’s walk it (10 miles)! I did a walk as often as I could mostly on a Sunday, sometimes with Tom sometimes on my own. We joined some organised walks too at a local walking festival.

Forest of Dean
We are lucky to be in a city area but with nearby access to countryside, I found some walks nearby that I could do in a few hours so could squeeze them in if I didn't have all day. I made sure these all included some steep hills to go up, one day I just went to one nearby hill and walked up and down it as many times as I could in the time I had available. However if you aren't able to access walks easily then you will need to set aside some time to go on trips to places where you can. I drove out to some areas like the Malverns (the walk from Herefordshire Beacon to Worcestershire Beacon and back again along the spines of the hills is a nice one, easy to follow path and parking available, with lots of hills) and we went to the Peak District and Wales - Brecon Beacons and Snowdon. The Snowdon night summit was an organised trip with Action Challenge who we did the climb with, they had other options for training walks and other companies we looked at did similar. It was actually really nice to get out and about in the countryside and made me appreciate our local area and the UK countryside.

Local Hillside
Cardio

Improve your general fitness and cardiovascular health. When I wasn't walking I did a bit of running, climbing and lots of gym classes. The best one for kili training I think was circuits once a week, lots of burpees, lunges, kettlebell swings etc. I also did gym circuits on a Saturday which used more of the machines, a tabata class (short bursts of body weight or cardio exercises) on a Friday and another class on a Wednesday/Thursday which changed every so often like boxing, TRX, running club, circuits again…to be honest I can’t remember all of them but it was basically classes mon, weds, fri and Sat. I usually did 3 classes a week out of those 4, then the rest of the days were either climbing or running. When we stopped climbing so much as Tom sprained his ankle I picked up the Saturday morning gym circuits and did 4 classes a week.

Running

You want to improve your general fitness, my personal goal was to get to running 5k reasonably often. I wasn't a runner before I started training so it was a benchmark for me on how my fitness had improved as to how easily I could run 5K. If you are already a runner then maybe work in some interval training and hills too. I found the kili trek to be a lot of epically hard parts interspersed between not so hard parts, so some interval runs and hill running will help build your endurance and power.

Legs

Basically I spent 2014 doing leg day over and over. Your legs are the main part that you will use, so I did loads of squats, lunges, leg presses, walking, running, cross trainer and stepper. Have a leg day at least once a week - If not more!

Conditioning

Get outside! We spent just under a week climbing in Stanage Edge following a night summit of Snowdon, which was great for testing our kit. The conditions are the hard part really of the trek, being outside for a week straight (or more depending on your route) is hard, getting wet, hot, cold, bitten by bugs, sun burn, wind chill and exhausted...in the space of a day. Go camping a few times if you aren't outdoorsy already, practice packing up your tent every day and check if you can sleep well in a tent, do you need ear plugs? Is your sleeping mat comfortable enough? See my post here on kit. 

Snowdon night summit - watching the sun rise
Other than that you can do altitude training to get used to the altitude effects, we didn't and I don’t regret that. My thoughts were that if I was going to be affected by the altitude I’d deal with it when it happened, we read enough to know what to expect if we did get altitude sickness and had experienced guides and a team doctor, if I knew before that I was going to get bad altitude effects what would that change for me other than make me anxious about it? 

What could I have done more of? Well we made it so it seems our training was enough, but I felt that I could have done a little more training generally. I basically did no exercise until about 10 months before we went, so I think just having longer to prepare would have been helpful as I was starting from unfit. Other than that maybe some more strength training or weights, as I feel MUCH stronger now than I did when we went. However I'm unsure if this would have made a huge difference in how well I managed the trek other than in my mindset!

You can read about my Kili experience on my old blog, and I will copy them over to here at some point. Any questions please comment and I'll do my best to answer or direct you to someone who can!

Monday, 25 January 2016

5:20...AM?!

Honestly who gets up at that time to exercise? Apparently me...

In my post here on having a break over Christmas I talked about being back to crossfit more in the new year, and also about finding a better schedule and going more when I could use the car. So the first week back to work in January I tried out going in the morning before work.

Sounds a bit counter-intuitive to get up earlier so that I get more rest, I reasoned that if I went to the 6am class I could be home in time for Tom to take the car to leave for work, and enough time for me to then shower and get to work.Then my day goes on as usual but I've already done a solid hour of exercise.

Now I can't say I ever thought I would want to go to the gym in the morning, I love my sleep, I love my bed, and I hate getting up early for work as it is. I never thought I would be volunteering to get up earlier!

So how did it go?
First the obvious drawbacks, I won't lie getting up at 5:20am when it is dark and -5 outside is not high on my list of enjoyable things to do, and it is just as bleak as it sounds. However putting my clothes out on the radiator to warm and having a nice breakfast ready helps. Also I repeat to myself 'If you don't go this morning in the car you'll only have to cycle there this evening' over and over and over...

The only other negative is having to go to bed earlier the night before, but we rarely do a lot on week nights anyway as we both work full time.

The benefits?
Time wise it's a win win trade off for me, I have to get up earlier but it means I have my evenings free, which means my weekends aren't taken up by all the chores I didn't do in the week. Which means I can go and see family and friends, or go on a long run, or even have a nice rest day, maybe even relax and read a book. I actually found the first weekend free a struggle to remember what to do when I have nothing to do!

I can go more often, because I'm not having to sacrifice my after work or weekend time any more I can go as many times a week as I feel like. It's also sometimes like your workouts happen as if by magic, hard to explain but it's like you go so early it's a bit surreal sometimes and you forget you went this morning...but you are still making progress and getting fitter!

I actually go every time I plan to, with going after work there is always the risk that something comes up and I end up having to rearrange my session. I also haven't had a chance yet to have a horrible day and be tired by the time I get there!

I don't have to cycle there every time. This was really the main reason for me!

I find I get to work feeling more awake and motivated, and I don't need to stress about rushing off to get to my evening class on time. You know that high after a great workout? I get to take that into the rest of my day!

There's also a certain sense of satisfaction, or smugness maybe haha, that I've already killed (or erm completed) a hard workout before work, before most people have had breakfast.

If you are thinking about it, give it a try! Preparation is key for an early morning start though, I get my breakfast ready the night before (overnight oats), as well as my lunch for taking to work. I also get all my gym clothes out as well as my work clothes for when I get back. Down to socks and underwear even. I even fill my water bottle and put my car keys, cross fit notebook and protein bites in my coat pockets. This means I can literally roll out of bed into my gym stuff, brush teeth and hair, and go. Then get back and just shower, eat quick breakfast and go back out. No flapping around looking for my keys or trying to find a clean sports bra. All means an extra 10 minutes in bed too!

All in all I'm finding it a lot better, and it is working out for both my training plan and my new years resolution to make life a bit easier for myself.

Anyone else an early morning exercise convert? I'd love to hear any tips x