Saturday, 22 June 2013

Flash Fitness! Workout "game"?!

I've made a new game...
...I hear you say. Well, let me explain...
I bought a set of weights from Fitness Superstore last year (which you can find here) so I could workout from home, because sometimes facing lots of people in the gym and driving into town etc is a bother, especially if I've already been out all day. And now my brother has moved out, I have a proper space to use as a gym.
Having a personal trainer, I have a multitude of workouts to choose from, but occasionally I just don't feel like doing anything. So I thought of this game for the days I just don't know what to do with myself, but know I need to move ma body...
The Game
1) Get some of these - colours preferably, so you either mix them up for a full-body workout or focus on one body part in particular.

2) On the appropriate colour, write an exercise with the number of reps and the weight. To be eco-friendly, I'm not using one card for each move, but cutting them into strips. I've also left space to increase my reps and weight when appropriate.
Obviously we all have our favourite moves, but below are a selection of the exercises I've included. I will add to these, once I've had a look online and in my fitness magazines for more ideas.
For lower body:
Squat, 15 reps, 10kg each hand (I usually use a 20kg barbell at the gym)
Bulgarian split squat, 10 reps each leg, body weight (for this you will also need a chair)
Kneeling glute press, 10 reps each leg, n/a
Walking lunge, 20 reps, 8kg each hand
Side lunge, 10 reps each side, 8kg
For upper body:
Bicep curl with twist, 10 reps each side, 4kg
Alternative dumbbell row, 10 each side, 8kg
Chest fly on stability ball, 15 reps, 5kg
Chest press on stability ball, 15 reps, 6kg
Overhead triceps extension, 10 reps, 3kg (haha wussy)
For abs:
Sit ups, 20 reps
Plank, 30 seconds
Side plank with reach under, 10 reps each side
V-ups, 20 reps
Reverse curl, 20 reps

3) Clip the groups together, and when you want to use them, make sure you shuffle the cards so you don't get the same exercises in the same order all the time. Remember, when you shuffle, turn the cards over so you can't see the writing.
4) Pick 5 from each side if doing a full-body workout, or 10 from one specific colour. Choose fewer cards if you are doing a shorter workout. Turn them over and get moving!
This is what I got for my first workout:
Alternate dumbbell row
Kneeling glute press
Side lunge
Reverse curl
Hammer curl
Overhead triceps extension
Side plank with reach under

I also have a stationary bike (I know, quelle surprise, but I did use it a lot in my first year of University when doing all my reading for classes or watching films with my housemates), which I will use for 10 minutes as a warm up. Alternatively, you could run up and down your stairs, go for a short run outside, dance furiously, do jumping jacks or skip.
And, perhaps most importantly, remember to streeeeetch at the end!!
I hope you enjoy this game. Recommend me your favourite moves!
Also, I'm sure I didn't invent this...

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

A Midsummer Night's Dream

So this is a little late, but on the 8th I went to see A Midsummer Night's Dream with my mum and friend; it was a really nice day, breezy walking along the Thames, but oh WOW did it get hot inside.
I've only been to the Globe once before when I was at school, to see Much Ado About Nothing; Mark Rylance played the king (he was in The Other Boleyn Girl and lots of other interesting things - he's kind of a big deal. People know him) and it was really exciting and fun to see real live acting in such an iconic theatre.
I was super excited to go again, and whilst I knew this play was a comedy, I hadn't studied it or even read it for pleasure before, so I was eager to find out what the story was. The website has a good, and brief, synopsis:
Verdict: 5/5
Light-hearted, raucous, fun.
This play was so funny. I know the 'language barrier' often makes people think they will misunderstand the humour of Shakespeare's plays, but this was hilarious. The interplay between the characters was really engaging, particularly between Oberon/Theseus and Titania/Hippolyta, and the story was very easy to understand.
I can't decide whether my favourite character was Bottom, played by Pearce Quigley, or Puck, played by Matthew Tennyson. Bottom was eccentric and oblivious, whereas Puck was eccentric and mischievous. Bottom, a member of the acting troupe "The Mechanicals", was a main source of humour because of his desire to play all the roles of their chosen play and his constant interrupting of other characters. During the final performance (a play within a play, clever!), Bottom's foot goes through the floorboard of their make-shift stage, so he has to sit on another character's back while it is mended. The awkwardness of the actors balancing on a tiny stage space was very amusing, and I'm not sure if it was part of the play or not but the other characters, who were watching the play (within a play) were laughing as much as the audience!
Puck was a very curious character, partly because Matthew Tennyson was so slight and looked so young I was trying to guess how old he is! Puck is the naughty servant of Oberon, who enchants both the right and the wrong people. Tennyson was amazing, he pranced around onstage like a ballet dancer and spoke so convincingly like he was in a fantasy world I really felt like I was there too.  
I particularly enjoyed how they created the forest, using branches and twigs, and the costumes and make-up were beautiful; feathery head adornments and animal masks, all earthy colours. I couldn't take any photos, but if you Google "Midsummer Night's Dream Shakespeare's Globe 2013", some good pictures come up.
It really was an experience to see this play, and although I wasn't standing in the pit, I enjoyed how the actors ran, or were chased, through the audience members. I would definitely recommend going to see this play specifically, but any Shakespeare play at the Globe is bound to be exciting and memorable for both the acting and environment. My next "want" is to see Macbeth.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Flash Fitness! First run since March.

As the title suggests, on the 6th I went for my first run since The Festival of Running in March. It was rather more of a mini run, and although I was exhausted, I had planned Thursday to be run-day this week so I would rather have done a short run than nothing at all.

I ran for 15 minutes and 19 seconds, so that would only have been around 1.5 miles, and cooled down by walking the greyhounds with my mum around the route I'd just run (or ran?).

Here is a picture tour of my run, featuring Princess the greyhound, Claus the greyhound, and my mum.

This was the start.^^ It's a nice long straight path, popular with Princess and Claus because of the many interesting sniffs.

The second part of my run is also fairly straight, where I run alongside a stream until I reach the end, where I have to cross a road.

This is my favourite part of running around my area. I go past a skate park and down a path which runs through a field; as the second picture shows, there is also a stream and a little bridge to run over. Annoyingly, there were quite a few midges as it was warm, and I'm sure I got one in the eye. Princess and Claus also love this area as they can bury themselves in the long grass...

This section is my favourite part of the 3-mile route that I usually do. It's very flat so was a nice introduction back into running, but I'm looking forward to the challenge of training for the Basingstoke Half Marathon in October. My time last year was 2 hours 7 minutes, but I'd like to be in under 2 hours.


Alert ears.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Flourless Chocolate Whey Cookies

This recipe comes from Oxygen magazine's May edition. As soon as I saw them I thought, "they look super yum", and I was right!
You need:
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 scoops chocolate whey protein powder
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/4 cup natural almond butter
5 pitted dates
1/4 cup warm water
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp ground flaxseed * I couldn't find this anywhere in Tesco's, so I didn't include it.
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup egg whites
1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
Preheat the oven to 350F, which is about 180C. Put baking paper over a baking tray.
Blend everything. The recipe recommends blending all but the coconut, because you toast  it lightly before adding it, but it was getting late when I made these so I didn't bother. I just added the coconut with everything.
Spoon the batter into 14 heaps.
Bake for 25 minutes, then allow to cool.
These were really tasty, cooked and uncooked (yes I tried some of the batter). My mum, best friend and I agreed the chickpeas made them taste like chestnuts. You really do taste the coconut, so if you're not a fan just leave it out; I'm going to experiment with different additions, such as cherries and raisins.
The nutritional breakdown is 47% carbs, 16% protein and 37% fat, however this is when ground flaxseed is included. The fat level seems high, but as will be shown below, the saturated fat level is low.
Nutrients per serving (again this is with the flaxseed included, but I doubt it would change the numbers that much):
180 calories
22g carbs
8g protein
8g fats, 2g sat fat
14g sugar
3g fibre.
My grandma and mum are both on a gluten-free diet, and I'm back on the clean eating (accept maybe a piece of cheesecake yesterday and Tuesday), so the flourless recipe is perfect. Also, although these aren't too sweet, they are a nice treat if you are craving something naughty.
I'm not sure why the pictures have come up so weeny, but hopefully you get the idea of what the batter looks like and what the cookies look like after their nap in the oven.

Recipe by Amy Layne.