Having seen the photo of Whistles’ latest recruit to their mannequin gang do the rounds, I have a couple of thoughts.

The majority of comments have been in the same vain as my own thoughts, those thoughts being “what the shit” with a side of pure disbelief. I have also seen quite a few comments suggesting that objecting to the mannequin is “skinny shaming” and that this is just as damaging as berating someone for being overweight.

I do agree that skinny shaming is bad. There is no right or wrong size and there is beauty in every body shape. Any argument suggesting that somehow one body type is better than another is both absurd and dangerous and I entirely agree that there’s no place for it.

Having said that, I entirely disagree that objecting to the mannequin is skinny shaming and the reason is this. Yes, the mannequin is thin. Generally, all mannequin are thin. What Whistles have done that is particularly shocking is to make a particular effort to give the mannequin a hallmark of being underweight (and whilst I appreciate that people of a healthy weight can have protruding chest bones, there is no denying that they are generally much more prevalent amongst the super thin). By doing so, Whistles have made a statement that super thin is “in”. They have chosen to promulgate the notoriety of the underweight ideal and re-enforce the message to every day women that the less you weigh the more you are.

This is not a “stylised” design (as was argued by Topshop in defence of their models with match stick thin sky high legs) as Whistles have insisted in their statement. This is a brand bothering to go to the effort of giving their mannequin a protruding a chest bone when it doesn’t even bother giving it a head. If it isn’t meant to be a direct representation of the female form, why have they bothered with this particular detail? It’s indefensible.

Objecting to the use of the mannequin isn’t skinny shaming. It’s objecting to the promotion of a starved body ideal that’s been sold to women long enough.

I haven’t included a photo of the mannequin because I didn’t want to risk triggering any of my readers, but if you haven’t already seen it and would like to, you can find it over at Huffpost (or anywhere on google).

Follow:

Last year I spent a month driving through America with Dayve. We started in San Francisco and ended up in Austin, via all sorts of amazing places. It was honestly one of the best times of my life. We put together a video of our trip and have finally bothered to upload it, so I wanted to share it. We did get up to lots of fitness things (such as SUP in Capitola, running at the Grand Canyon and hill reps over the Enchanted Rock) but my main reason for sharing it is just that it really makes me smile.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7TxqeRegY0&w=560&h=315]
Follow:

After over three months of weekly sessions I have now sadly finished my programme with SIX3NINE. In my initial consultation with Dan I spoke about how broken I felt, bogged down with various historic injuries and lacking motivation. The brief was to fix this broken body and get me back up to full strength to start running long distances again. After three months I have achieved this and so much more.

Training with Jen was a brilliant experience. She is friendly, knowledgable, motivating and a genuinely lovely person. She listened to my feedback and I felt as if she was personally invested in my progress, which was a total dream for someone like me feeling totally disillusioned with their fitness journey. Each session focussed on my specific weak points (knee and shoulder) as well covering whole body fitness and CVS development. We also worked on mobility and I’ve learnt that a few hip openers can go along way!

Screen Shot 2015-02-21 at 12.11.25

Now at the end of my time with SIX3NINE I can safely run 10km or so without any knee pain at all. I’m pretty confident that I can take on all 13.1 miles of Hackney Half this May in pretty good shape. The everyday pain in my neck and shoulder has practically disappeared and my shoulder can bear a lot more weight than it could previously. I also feel a lot more confident in using my shoulder in every day situations, and have even (cautiously!) reached in to a few overhead cupboards with my right arm (if you know regular dislocations, you know). This has had not just a huge impact on my fitness but my life as a whole and I had completely underestimated the effect that professional help would have on my rehabilitation.

As a side bonus I have also lost 5% body fat, which I am not going to complain about as I was a little soft around the edges after coming back from my month in America!

Jen coached me on my lifting technique and I now feel confident enough to tackle a deadlift on my own, so I am excited to take my progress to the gym and continue getting stronger and fitter.

I owe the biggest thank you to SIX3NINE for coaching me and also to Jen Peglar for being an amazing trainer over the past few months. If you’re looking for a PT I cannot recommend her highly enough – check out her Secret Fit Club seminar series and you’ll see what I mean.

Follow:

I can work pretty long hours and something I really struggle with is making sure that I eat healthily while I am at it. I try my hardest, I really do. I stock up on fruit and healthy snacks from Holland and Barrett so that I have healthy snacks to hand, I try and batch cook my meals at home and, if I can’t do that, I make sure I go to Pod or Itsu to pick up something healthy. Sometimes though, it all goes to pot.

I’ll end up being so busy that I can’t get out to get anything (this happened on Friday) and then I end up so hungry that I make bad choices, or I’ll go for meals with work and sometimes end up just choosing what everyone else chooses rather than going for the healthy option for fear of ridicule (peer pressure is real). I know these things are completely within my control but I am human and, when there’s a whole load of stress in my life, I find my discipline slipping with my eating.

What I do know is that a lot of this can be combatted with preparation. This week I had the pleasure of trying out the Chop’d “Healthy Balance” daily meal plan, which gives you all your daily meals for a set price. Healthy Balance includes a breakfast, lunch and dinner from Chop’d, plus a coffee and two bottles of water. It costs £12 a day, or £55 for a 5 day week (or £11 a day). I thought this was a super awesome idea; all the perks of being prepared without any of the preparation. A busy girl’s dream.

Picking up a big bag of food first thing in the morning is beyond satisfying.

Picking up a big bag of food first thing in the morning is beyond satisfying.

Picking up your Healthy Balance is a pretty satisfying experience. I chose to pick mine up all at once, but you can choose to collect your meals at each meal time too if you prefer. You pick out everything you want and walk out with a big bag of healthy food, which made me probably happier than it should have done.

For breakfast I chose the Mango and Banana pot, with oats, mango puree, raisins, coconut, mixed seeds and orange juice. It was absolutely delicious and really filling. I also went for a white coffee which was surprisingly good.

Mango and Banana oat pot, 252 calories

Mango and Banana oat pot, 252 calories (plus white coffee – 50 calories or so?)

Lunch was a jerk chicken salad, which had a generous portion of chicken, slow roasted red peppers and roasted sweet potato. I also chose a mango dressing, which was recommended and went with it really well. Delicious and also pretty filling, which is important when you’re working long days!

Jerk Chicken Salad - 269 calories (plus mango dressing - 176 calories)

Jerk Chicken Salad – 269 calories (plus mango dressing – 176 calories)

I chose a thai red prawn curry with coconut rice for dinner. I had a week of working late and it was great to have something that felt like a proper hot meal; I threw it in the microwave for five minutes or so and it was delightful.

Thai red prawn curry with coconut rice - 415 calories

Thai red prawn curry with coconut rice – 415 calories. Yes I sometimes have a horrible life where I eat all of my meals at my desk *plays small violin* 

I did need a few snacks to get me through the day (total calories from the food I got was 1165, way below my BMR of 1400 and recommended calories target of 1800) – I usually have granny smith apples, bananas, nakd bars, rice cakes and bounce balls to hand on any given day! I think on this day I had an apple and a nakd bar (strawberry crunch FTW).

Having fresh food all packaged up and ready to eat was great, and everything I had from Chop’d was super tasty and felt really healthy. I think £12 for all three meals (plus the coffee and two bottles of water) is a bargain too. When I buy food out I typically spend £4 on breakfast (Pod’s Superfood Scrambled Eggs forever), plus £2 on coffee, then around £6 on lunch, so that’s £12 before I’ve even got to dinner. I think that Healthy Balance is a cost effective convenient way to make sure you have healthy, fresh meals on hand and I will definitely be doing this again – the busy girl’s best friend!

Thank you to Chop’d for inviting me to try out your Healthy Balance meal plan without charge. All opinions are my own! 

Follow:

It’s around this time of year that you generally start feeling a bit groggy and look to all the changes you’ll make in the new year. I know there’s a collective eye rolling in January at the new gym goers but I think the new year is a perfect time to pick new goals and work towards them. The trick is to keep them going all year round. Attempting to establish a regular gym routine in January is fine, but no good if you do it every year and every year it’s fallen by the wayside by February.

I have partnered with John Lewis as part of a campaign to live a fit and healthy life year round. Given the timing, I have decided to do so by giving you my top tips to turn your new years resolutions in to your new lifestyle.

1. Keep it realistic. 

If you’re currently not exercising at all, don’t set yourself a goal of working out 6 days a week. If you want to train for a marathon or ultra, don’t go out and run 20+ miles on January 2nd. The key to forming a new habit is keeping it manageable. That way you won’t become overwhelmed and easily discouraged when things don’t work out instantly.

2. Don’t be discouraged easily 

There will always be set backs. Work might get busy, or there could be a whole load of events keeping you from your routine, or you may pick up a niggle in your knee. This will always happen. The key is not letting it stop you; keep focussed on your goals and remember that every step, no matter how small or infrequent, is a step in the right direction.

I can tend to be quite defeatist and can be very easily discouraged – I fall in to the “I’ve missed my hours planned run, no point doing 15 minutes instead” and “I ate one bad thing, so the whole day is ruined” camp and it’s a mindset I am really trying to change. One setback (or a series of them!) won’t stop you if you are otherwise consistent and dedicated. Stay positive.

3. Be prepared!

It can be particularly difficult to start and maintain any kind of exercise or healthy eating routine in winter because it’s so damn cold and miserable. The best way to tackle this is by being prepared for what winter throws at you; identify the challenges and pre-empt the ways they could prevent or discourage you from hitting your goals.

If you know the cold weather makes you crave stodgy or unhealthy food, stock up on filling, warming healthy alternatives. I like chunky soups and the odd options hot chocolate.

Personally, I can find the cold grey weather very discouraging and know that having good cold weather kit can encourage me to head out when I would rather stay inside. John Lewis very kindly offered me so kit to help me stick to my healthy lifestyle, and knowing that the cold weather can keep me stuck indoors I decided to opt for some winter kit to see me through until spring.

First up, a down jacket has been on my wish list for a little while now. I really feel the cold and need to wrap up warm for the journey from an after work run, pre-work class or weekend swimming session. I particularly like that this Patagonia one makes me look a bit like a spaceman! It’s soft and warm yet light and packs up pretty small, so is great for packing without feeling like you’re dragging loads around. I packed it for an after work run yesterday and was so happy to have it to wear home!

DSCF2110

DSCF2118

My second choice was a piece of Nike hyperwarm kit, because I am obsessed with Nike hyperwarm! I am slowly building a collection and it’s my favourite. The fabrics are light and sweat wicked but they’re soft and fleecy on the inside, so feel really cosy.

Getting sassy with Dayve while taking this photo...

Getting sassy with Dayve while taking this photo…

I took this bad boy for a run yesterday, wearing it on its own with just a sports bra underneath, and felt warm but not too hot – the perfect balance for winter running! As well as being ridiculously soft this top has a seasonal nordic print, thumb holes and a gold Nike swoosh. Excellent.

all gold everything

all gold everything

4. Find support

I can’t recommend social media enough for those in need of support and motivation. Twitter is full of like minded fitness folks looking to chat running/swimming/cycling/lifting/climbing and the benefits of being part of a community (even a virtual one) cannot be understated.  Even better, join a local club or group. There are so many now that you should be able to find one to suit your ability level pretty easily, especially in London. For running I’d recommend Good Gym, Sweatshop’s Running Community, Nike+ Run Clubs and parkrun as great ways to engage with like minded people. Making new friends while getting fitter and healthier? A win-win.

In 2015 I plan to try and go back to Run Dem Crew. I used to adore going and made amazing friends for life (as someone who finds it incredibly difficult to make friends, this is a huge deal for me) and improved my running beyond what I ever thought I was capable of. If I’m honest, I stopped going because the numbers expanded rapidly and all those new people frightened me, but I miss it too much to stay away any longer. Time to be brave!

5. Keep it positive 

Aim for something positive rather than something negative. Don’t think in terms of “I need to lose weight”, “I need to stop being so slow at running” or “stop eating junk” – these will only reinforce negative messages in your head and this is just too depressing to maintain. Think in terms of self-improvement and hitting goals; that way you have positive thoughts to drive you when things get tougher or your motivation wavers!

My resolutions? Improve my swimming, get a new half marathon PB, get a new 10k PB, get back on a scary road bike (last time I rode one I fell off and broke my elbow – I need to move past that!).

So there, my top tips for turning your new years resolution in to a lifestyle change. Do you have any more you would add? Any goals for the new year?

John Lewis sent me free kit and asked me to write on the topic of maintaining healthy lifestyle. All opinions, thoughts and messages are my own. Thank you to John Lewis for the partnership opportunity! 

Follow: