Health And Fitness

Over the past few months I have shared an occasional photo either before or after I've been running (yes, I've become one of those people). Recently I feel as though I'm mentioning my "Couch To 5K" (C25K) running group a lot but it's changed the way I think about my own health and fitness. I joined a community Group Run programme in Blackburn not long after I started my journey with Slimming World as part of my conscious effort to shed some pounds and ultimately become more active.

To be perfectly honest with you, I've never been a "runner". I was always a sprinter. Even the warm-up laps at the track used to knacker me out at training sessions.  And after I had my accident, I didn't really run any more...

I find it hard to explain in words what the Blackburn Group Run C25K programme is like. I tried to complete the process on my own on a couple of occasions but always gave up by week two. The community spirit and the encouragement from others is the main reason it's such a success. I completed my own 9-week C25K programme in August last year. I felt a huge sense of achievement because in week one I couldn't run for sixty seconds without thinking my heart was going to jump out of my chest and collapsing in a puddle of my own sweat after each session.  Afterwards, I decided to 'pay back' by volunteering to lead one of the small groups in the next (and subsequent) programmes.

One of my 'Things To Achieve In 2015' is to complete a 5K run in 30 minutes.  At the moment I'm not sure that's possible BUT on Saturday, I managed to run a personal best. It's a small achievement; the bigger achievement is seeing many of the people I've been mentoring through the C25K programme over the past 8 weeks run better and faster than me. I worry that I'm holding them back - that they should be in a group that will motivate them to run faster and stronger. They have that option but they keep coming back.

The Gallery : Health And Fitness - Foggy day on Witton Park, BlackburnThe Gallery : Health And Fitness - Sunset over BlackburnThe Gallery : Health And Fitness - Frosty morning on Witton Park, Blackburn

(click 'em to big 'em)

The main thing is that I am seeing the world through new eyes; I snap a quick pic of my favourite tree on the park coated in fog, a glorious sunset as I join my running group in the park in the evening, frost on the ground on an early Saturday morning, an amazing moon-and-cloudscape (never captured on camera - but I will one day). And, of course, the obligatory picture of my trainers before I set off - the trainers that I adore seeing filthy and lived in rather than in pristine condition because they are being used for their purpose.

The Gallery : Health And Fitness - Ready to go running

As an aside, all this health and fitness and motivation stuff has made me think more about how other people fit exercise into their daily lives so I run a weekly podcast called FitBitches.  You can subscribe on iTunes or on your podcast capture app or even listen in on MixCloud.

PS... I toyed with sharing this last picture but I'm very proud of it. You may have noticed that I hardly ever share photos of myself but six months or so down the line, I'm starting to see the changes that I wanted in my body shape.  There's still a way to go but there's shape and there's tone and it's a new me.

For more Health & Fitness pictures and stories hop, skip and jump 


Couch To 5K Update (plus win Adidas Trainers!!)

I keep meaning to update you all on my "Couch To 5K" volunteering. I am now leading my second group through the programme (we're currently on week 7) and I'm absolutely LOVING it.  I'd campaign for a C25K group in every single town in the UK if I could. The NHS-supported plan is brilliant for solo or group training, however, for me, it's more the motivation and community aspect of our running club that spurs me on. 

I also want to buy ALL THE SPORTS CLOTHES (now, there's a sentence that I never thought I'd write...) and have recently treated myself to some new running leggings. I like to think that they make me more streamline *wink*  Next on the list is some new trainers - my current ones are OK at the moment - so I've started to save up. 

In the meantime, Mainline Menswear told me about their competition to win some adidas Original Trainers so I entered for my husband, passed it on to both my sons and I'm sharing with you too. Good luck and let me know if you're a winner! 

I am sharing this competition on behalf of Mainline Menswear. 
View my disclosure policy here.

[Book Review] Coming Up Roses by Rachael Lucas

Coming Up Roses by Rachael Lucas
Moving away from the Scottish scenery of her last two novels, Rachael Lucas has set Coming Up Roses in rural Buckinghamshire but it feels like it could be set in any traditional village anywhere in the UK (observed by one who comes from a very small village in Lancashire) with its large houses, beautiful gardens, the village fete, various committees and obligatory cricket pitch.

Coming Up Roses is what I call a 'comfortable' (or 'comforting') read. You quickly find out the role of the main character, Daisy, and sympathise with her plight. You also are introduced gently to the other main players and their presence feels just right; not written to pad out a story line and not overpowering from the main thread of storytelling. 

I do feel as though sections of the story could have been expanded on. For instance, the story is set over a period of a few months and the blossoming friendship between Daisy and her two new female friends, Elaine and Jo, seems to take a leap from them just getting to know each other to them being very comfortable in each other's company.  But maybe there's a whole other novella waiting to be written...  Also, there are various love interests dotted around the book which I feel could have been explored more but at almost 400 pages, this book is long enough and more I do feel that more tangled webs would have detracted from the end point. And sometimes we just want a happy ending, don't we?

Coming Up Roses is a perfect bath time, "snuggled up on the settee with a hot chocolate" or holiday read with a couple of genuine laugh-out-loud moments (especially the predictive text moment where Daisy sends 'fud odd, you absolute arsenal') which rarely happens in books for me.  I think there's definitely a few more retrospective stories to explore from some of the characters in the book (Thomas and Flora, for example). Rachael Lucas has firmly and comfortably placed herself in the middle of the chick lit and romantic novel market and her latest book, Coming Up Roses, absolutely confirms that.

Coming Up Roses is available for pre-order on Amazon now and is due for general release on 21st May 2015.

Rachael and myself have been writer/blogging friends for five long years now and it's been wonderful to see her writing career really take off.  I mention this more in Rachael's Soundtrack To My Life article from last year.  In the very near future, myself and Rachael are going to grab a coffee together and have a video chat about her rise to 'Kindle Top Ten Bestseller' so if you have a burning question for Rachael or want any top tips about self-publishing or how she secured her publishing deal let me know in the comments, on Twitter or by email and we'll cover those in our video.


Grand National Opening Day

One day, I'm going to attend the Grand Opening Day at Aintree so I can get dressed up and wear a big hat. I understand it's an atmosphere that has to be experienced in person because of the live music and entertainment alongside the actual racing. In the meantime, I've been enjoying these weird and wonderful facts

1.  The first race was held in 1839 but started two hours late. The winning horse was called "Lottery"

2.  The fastest winning time is 8 minutes 47 seconds, run by "Mr Frisk" in 1990 (the slowest ever time was the previously mentioned first race in a time of 14 minutes, 53 seconds)

3.  Red Rum is the most successful horse. He won in 1973, 1974 and 1977.
4.  Charlotte Brew was the first female jockey and she raced in 1977. Since then, female jockeys have participated in 18 Grand Nationals
5.  In 2011, the then owner of Blackpool Tower, Trevor Hemmings, owned the winning horse "Ballagriggs". This was his second win as he also owned the 2005 winner "Hedgehunter"

It's a family tradition here to "pick a horse" for the Grand National but we very much select based on name and colour rather than performance (something that I'm guilty of in real life too!). 

I've actually won money in the past using this method - I think the maximum amount was £12 though. The thrill of the win was worth more than that, for sure.  If you want to plan ahead for the 168th Grand National you can check out the Grand Opening Day betting odds at William Hill. You HAVE to let me know your method though - is it the same as mine or do you actually study form? Can you give me any tips?

This is a featured post. Please see my disclosure policy for more details. 
Image provided by and is licensed under a 

Spicing Up Your 2015!

Spicing Up Your 2015!
It can be easy to get bogged down in the drudgery and tedium of everyday life. Bills popping through the letterbox like clockwork; the same commute day in, day out to a job that elicits the same degree of excitement and interest as a damp dishcloth; then upon returning home simply watching TV or surfing the net. Life can be rather boring at times, and ruts can appear almost magically out of the ether. What should you do, though, when your life is in need of a little rejuvenation?

Art Attack

The problem many of us have nowadays is that we don't follow enough hobbies or interests. After getting home from work have a cup of coffee, shun the television and head out to broaden your horizons! If you're a creative soul. think about heading to an art class or photography workshop; you'd be surprised how inexpensive these are (especially compared to nights out) and if you end up showcasing a talent for it, enjoying painting at home could be a real relaxation device after a long day of work.

Take to the Stage

For the more gregarious among us, perhaps try your hand at the performing arts- drama, music, theatre etc- where your naturally outward character will be able to express itself. Joining these types of societies rarely has a negative impact on one's work-life balance, and can be a wonderful means for meeting new people.

Get Your Game On

These days adrenaline is a hormone we rarely experience coursing through our veins, this often being an issue that can lead many of us to feel our lives are boring or devoid of excitement. If you need a quick fix of the neurotransmitter, try playing online games. Poker, slots, blackjack, roulette; the internet has a host of sites nowadays that offer these types of games, plus the opportunity to win big bucks whilst playing!

Enjoy the Great Outdoors

It's a pretty widespread phenomenon nowadays: people simply don't get enough fresh air and exercise, this leading to them feeling low, slow and lacking energy. This one's quite easy to temper- get outdoors! Hop on a train to some rural clime, go for a walk or have a picnic with friends. The world is your oyster!

Self Improvement

If you've been putting off that career move, jump in education or learning of a skill, 2015 is the time to finally bite the bullet and make waves! It may seem painful at first, but do your research, find out your options and, above all, do it! You'll be patting yourself on the back when everything falls into place!

This post was written by Isabel Brewin.  Please see my disclosure policy for more details.

#WeWillUnite - World Cancer Day

Cancer Research UK - World Cancer Day - #WeWillUnite
Today is World Cancer Day and I'm taking part in a social media campaign to raise awareness.  

Will you join me?

Cancer has no prejudice
Cancer does not care about race or religion
Cancer does not discriminate by age or gender

I am uniting with Cancer Research UK to help beat cancer sooner.


Related: There are only so many perfect heads in the word, the rest are covered with hair : This is about how we discovered my 14 month old daughter had Neuroblastoma - cancer of the adrenal gland.

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