2015 was a seriously mixed bag. While some parts of my life reached lifetime highs, other areas sank or got discarded. I felt like I went through immense change, as did some of my family and close friends, and it’s made me feel elated and excited but also occasionally sad and usually out of control. I haven’t really blogged much recently but, in an attempt to reconnect with my blog and in the spirit of the January fresh start, here’s a round-up of 2015 (good and bad) by way of catch up.

The Good

I got engaged!

My number one top highlight of 2015 was when my boyfriend of thirteen years asked me to marry him. He proposed on our thirteen year anniversary in the most amazing way and I am super pumped to be marrying him! I’ve been umming and aahing about doing an engagement post, because it isn’t really fitness related, but I might do one anyway because I love telling the story. 

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We bought a flat!

Close second in “amazing things that happened in 2015” was buying our first home. We’ve been living in Bow Quarter for four years now and I’ve always dreamed of owning a flat there, and this year that dream came true! We bought a top floor one bedroom flat in the converted warehouse building and I love it. I am so grateful to everyone who helped us (especially Dayve’s family and their amazing generosity) buy a home. I thought we’d never be able to have our own place and here we are! It’s definitely a fixer-upper but I’m enjoying the renovation process so far.

I got a new Nephew! 

I was already an auntie of six (three nieces, three nephews!) when, at the beginning of the year, my sister found out that she was expecting a baby. In September we welcomed little baby Arthur in to the world and I am really in love with him (obsessed). Now we have seven little bear cubs running around and they are all amazing. I am so lucky to have such a big beautiful family!

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I haven’t been fired!

I survived my first year as a qualified solicitor and now have 1 years PQE under my belt. I love my job (despite the very occasionally gruelling hours) and love being challenged every day. Sometimes it feels like I’m hanging on for dear life, but I am definitely enjoying the ride.

I survived an expedition!

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“Looking away” is the best pose to disguise the fact you haven’t showered for a week

I was lucky enough to go on a once in a lifetime trip to Ethiopia with my work to trek the Simien Mountains. This was physically and emotionally challenging for me but an absolutely incredible experience. You can read all about it in my write up.

The Bad

My Running 

I’ll explain more about this in another post but my running (and, to be honest, fitness in general) went massively downhill in 2015. I had so much going on that it’s always taken a back seat, but my mental health has definitely suffered as a result of moving less. Having to drop out of Berlin was the final straw really – I felt so heartbroken and humiliated and I never want to feel like it again. I’m hoping I can find a way in 2016 to get a little more balance.

My Health

As I mentioned, my mental health took a bit of a beating this year, mainly in the latter half of the year. I sought some help from my doctor but it has been a bit of a turbulent time. I’m pretty confident that getting back in to a regular exercise routine will really help, and that’s my main motive to get back to it really. That and my ever expanding arse.

This Blog

I have been terrible at blogging! When you don’t exercise as much, you don’t have so much to write about. When you’re not really digging yourself, you doubt anyone else would be digging you either so you don’t write anything, or you write it and then delete it for being boring/stupid/a failure/a fraud. When you’re working a lot, you don’t really feel like sitting at your computer after that’s what you’ve been doing all day, so you don’t write a lot. For all of these reasons (and many others) I have no written very much. I love blogging as a way of connecting with like-minded people and I’m hoping I can get back to writing more regularly going forward.

That said, the blog has given me some amazing opportunities this year (Berlin with adidas, going to Bestival, swimming my furthest ever distance, filming the campaign video with adidas, getting chased by David Coulthard at the Red Bull Wings for Life, having a ball doing the Nike #werunlondon run with my best bi***es, etc) and I am incredibly grateful. I’m hoping I can be a better blogger in 2016!

The Ugly

To be entirely honest, the ugly parts of 2015 have happened to those around me and not to me, so they’re not for me to share on the blog in any detail. However, seeing friends and family go through awful things is heartbreaking and I’m hoping that there are better days ahead.

I hope you all had a wonderful 2015 and that your 2016 is even better! x

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“Do you want to come and do a running treasure hunt around London Zoo?” – you don’t say no to this question. Cut to a rainy Saturday morning in Mornington Crescent, gathering in a cute little cafe with all my blogging faves chatting to Brooks about their new Urban Jungle Pack. The Urban Jungle Pack reimagines classic Brooks shoes (Ravenna 6 and Ghost 8) in cheetah and zebra prints and the results are pretty cool indeed.

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After the debrief we headed to London Zoo to start a treasure hunt. The prize? A pair of trainers from the Brooks Jungle Pack to give away to my followers! These shoes are awesome and everyone in our team (Charlie, Emma and Jen!) was keen to win so that we could host our own giveaways! We had to find five things in the zoo..

(1) Take a selfie with an animal smaller than you

Easy peasy with this little guy! smaller animal(2) Share a photo of the scariest thing in the zoo

This was a close call between the SPIDER ROOM (spiders roaming free in the wild)…

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…and this red-eyed demon fish.

demon fish(3) Show us some stripes

It took a lot of time to get this photo.

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I also apparently really love fish

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(4) Take a video of a noisy animal

It just so happened that it was really really rainy that day so all of the animals stayed inside, quietly snoozing away. This was very sensible, but it did mean that we couldn’t get a video of noisy animals! We noticed that, what with us running around all excited, we were probably the noisiest animals in the zoo that morning! We got a video of us running wild in a tunnel…

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(5) Show us the comparison; which animal looks most like you? 

I actually only got down to do this impression of a gorilla because I thought it would be funny, but turns out my pose is pretty accurate.

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The good news is that all our efforts were rewarded – we won! This means I get to offer a pair of these shoes for free to one of my lovely readers. All the details below!

IMPORTANT INFO:

The shoes are selling like hot cakes so the competition will be open for 48 hours only.

It’s open to residents of the UK only.

Both men and women are welcome to enter!

To enter you just have to copy on this post telling me your favourite jungle animal (Spoiler: mine is an elephant! They’re not very speedy though so not featured by Brooks in their Urban Jungle Pack…).

You can also earn an extra entry by spreading the love to your own followers and tweeting a link to the competition.

The competition closes at midnight on Tuesday 17 November and a winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter!

Please note that the shoes need to be ordered by Brooks on Wednesday 18 November, so please standby and be ready to email me with your preferred model (Ghost 8 or Ravenna 6!) and shoe size on Wednesday if you are the lucky winner!

GOOD LUCK!!

You can enter through this Rafflecopter page HERE! #WidgetWoes

A huge thank you to Brooks for inviting me for the funnest morning ever at London Zoo and for giving me a pair of Brooks Jungle Pack Trainers to giveaway! 

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I’ve been meaning to write a post about Instagram and #fitspiration for a while now, and getting featured in The Telegraph yesterday as one of their top inspiring runners on instagram gave me the kick to finally get some thoughts down.

Firstly – I was pretty stoked to be featured. I am really inconsistent with instagram and never have time to take nice photos, so I thought it was pretty cool that I got included. I am by far the smallest blogger on there too, so I thought it was cool that I was still deemed worthy of inclusion. Thanks Jess Salter!

Secondly – some thoughts on instagram in the fitness world. If I am completely honest, I find the world of instagram #fitspiration pretty demoralising and disheartening. So many shiny professional photos, honed abs, perfect dinners, beautiful yoga poses and people who ostensibly live in shiny white houses. I’ve found myself posting on instagram less and less because I just feel like I can’t keep up. My life is terrible in comparison! Obviously each to their own; I know that a lot of people find these images aspirational, rather than demoralising. However, I have decided that enough if enough. I’ve unfollowed the ‘big’ instagram accounts that I used to follow and the ones that only post professional photos (or, even worse, random photos they’ve found on pinterest – why would I care about a nice beach you haven’t even been to…?) so that I’m back to just following people I find inspiring, interesting or funny. If you’re also sick of instagram #fitspiration, I would recommend you do the same.

With this in mind, I thought I’d concoct my own list of accounts to follow on instagram. Let me know if you have any other recommendations!

1. Charlie Watson, aka The Runnerbeans (@therunnerbeans)

I love following Charlie because she works really hard at her running and I find watching her progress really inspiring. She’s currently training for the Chicago marathon and has been really putting in the time with her training. She has set out to improve her running and reading about her sessions makes me want to do the same

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2. Susie Chan (@susie_chan_)

I love following Susie because, not only is she a phenomenal runner, but she absolutely loves running. Her enthusiasm for running (and joy while running) permeate all of her posts and you can’t help but feel her happiness too. Susie is also an amazing runner but really humble about her achievements, which makes her all the more inspiring!

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3. Sarah aka Squatbot (@squatbot)

I love Sarah’s posts because they’re fun. She trains hard, eats well and always seems to have fun doing it. I love the way she is clearly serious about her training but never takes herself too seriously – my kind of girl.

4. Sophie Kay aka Fitology (@fitology_uk)

Sophie is all about body confidence. I love her honesty about her body and her appreciation for its abilities, not just its aesthetics. She’s a personal trainer who practises what she preaches and encourages everyone to love their bodies, which is a message I can definitely get on board with. She’s also called Sophie and everyone knows Sophies are ace.

5. Hot Dudes Reading (@hotdudesreading)

It won’t inspire you to get any fitter but it’s still excellent. No explanation needed. You’re probably already following it.

6. Zoe Meskell aka Miles Fitter (@milesfitter)

Zoe is lovely and is always up to something fun and fitnessy. She always seems to fit things in around her life – I particularly admire her ability to make it to early morning classes, something I fail at nine times out of ten. She has just moved to New York and I am really enjoying following her adventures there.

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7. Volt Women (@voltwomen)

A bunch of amazing ladies from the Bridge the Gap community, Volt Women are always featuring inspiring women from all over the world. I love the way this account tells stories along with the pictures, and I love that they’re always told openly and honestly.

8. Pink Helmet Posse (@pinkhelmetposse)

Little babes skateboarding. These little girls are fearless and awesome and I wish someone had thought of it when I was little. They’re amazing as well as adorable! JUST LOOK AT HER!

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9. Juliet Elliott (@julietelliott)

When I grow up I want to be Juliet. Ex pro-snowboarder and now bike babe extraordinaire, I love following her amazing adventures (from mountain biking to competing in the Red Hook Crit to training in a velodrome). Juliet does everything I am too scared to do and I am in awe of her talent and fearless attitude. She also has rad tats that I wish I could have and a beautiful relationship with her husband.

10. Amanda Bisk (@amandabisk)

The only big account I still follow. Amanda Bisk has an incredible body, but it’s hard earned. I love following Amanda because she is an incredible athlete. She used to compete as a pole vaulter for Australia is now an elite athletics coach, an exercise physiologist and a qualified yoga teacher. She is a ball of energy and is always posting videos with cool ideas for workouts. I feel that she genuinely takes pride in the community she has created and I find her attitude really inspiring.

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Who are your top instagram accounts to follow? What inspires you?

You can follow me on instagram at @sophiechristabel!

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I love leggings, and I love supporting local businesses, so finding an awesome local business that makes rad leggings is a pretty dreamy discovery. Ginger Orange are a brand born and raised right here in East London and they make some pretty ace leggings.

When I first perused the Ginger Orange shop I instantly fell in love with the Dreamboat Duchess leggings. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I am a sucker for anything nautical, and the duchess is a dream!

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They arrived in a beautiful package and I was super excited when they arrived! In real life they’re absolutely gorgeous – the colours are amazing. The top blue is more of a purple blue, and the blue at the bottom is a vibrant sky blue.

The leggings are a good snug fit and have a lovely thick waistband (all leggings should have thick waistbands!), with a pocket tucked in to the front. They’re soft and comfortable to wear, especially for yoga or gym work. For running I prefer a tie waistband which these don’t have, so I think they’re better suited to studio work.

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The leggings are a little long in the leg for me, but I do have really short legs (26 inch inside leg!) so that isn’t really a surprise. My one major complaint is that they’re cold wash only – the recommended washing temperature is 30 degrees, which isn’t hot enough for truly sweaty gear – another reason I would say they’re more for yoga or pilates! (You could also use a sports specific wash, like Halo).

On the whole I really like these leggings. They’re clearly really high quality, beautifully made and totally different from anything else on the (increasingly crowded) sportswear market!

Ginger Orange do other gorgeous designs (especially these La Reina Mora ones!) as well as some plain leggings in the same high quality materials. If you fancy trying them for yourself (and supporting a cool local business) then you can use this discount code, exclusively for my readers! Use code ‘BPF10OFF’ for 10% off!

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I’m going on an adventure. A big scary adventure, completely different from anything I’ve ever done before. I’m pretty excited, but also quite scared. I think this is a good mix of emotions to have when you’re embarking on something life changing. In October I’m going to Ethiopia to trek the Simien Mountain Range. The trek will take place over five days and the aim is to scale the highest peak in the mountain range – Ras Dashen at 4620m! We’ll be camping out on the mountain and trekking 6-8 hours a day. I love an adventure but, I won’t lie, I am a little scared. It’s such a big challenge with scary obstacles like sheer drops, changeable weather and amazing wild animals before you even get the obvious risk of altitude acclimatisation. It is beautiful though… Semien_Mountains_13 I’ll be trekking with a group of my colleagues in order to raise money for UNICEF. Not only are UNICEF an amazing charity, they’re also the global charity partner of my law firm. As a firm we do a whole bunch of sweet pro bono work in the name of achieving justice for children worldwide, but that isn’t all. We also undertake year round fundraising activities (an inter-office spin competition and dragon boat racing are the two that come to mind first!) with the aim of raising $1.5 million for UNICEF too. unicef_facebook_200x382 This trek is just one of those fundraising activities. My personal target for the fundraising trek is £3,000 and I would absolutely love it if you would sponsor me. No matter how big or small the contribution, it all makes a massive difference and it would mean the world to me to be able to raise this amazing amount of money for an amazing charity. As part of my non-fundraising contribution to our partnership I’ve contributed the UK section to a worldwide report on juvenile justice systems in order to petition a change in the juvenile justice system in Albania, and I’m also just starting work on a child marriage project protecting young girls in the UK. I’m also hoping to organise some charity classes as well as an amazing fitness babe raffle – keep your eyes peeled for updates on the blog! In the meantime, if you’d like to contribute to my fundraising you can do so over on my Justgiving page!

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