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How to Have a Temptation-Free Lent

How to Have a Temptation-Free Lent

*Featured photograph courtesy © Staci West

The first time I gave up something for lent I was about 9 years old. A big group of friends and I decided that we would all be giving up chocolate.

I’m not religious, and never really have been. For me, this mutual group decision was nothing to do with Shrove Tuesday, which we were inadvertently celebrating. Instead it was entirely based around fun, camaraderie and a little bit of healthy competition. I’ve always loved a challenge.

The silly thing is that my 9 year old self didn’t really care about chocolate – or the subsequent lack thereof. I was more of a sweeties girl, so the idea of sacrificing the handful of chocolate raisins that I’d have every now and then didn’t really phase me.

This is also why I didn’t really care when, one day, one of my closest friends and I swore a solemn pact to break our big-group-lent together. We went down to the local co-op for some chocolate buttons, under the firm understanding that no one but us two would ever know about it. (Sorry Claire, I think I’ve just broken that).

I really remember that trip to the co-op, and I’m pretty sure Claire does too.

Despite my less than successful first attempt at lent (I believe the chocolate button incident occurred around 10 days in) – it is something that I still enjoying taking part in.

I was trying to explain this to a client a few weeks ago, who simply could not get her head around the idea that someone who isn’t religious could genuinely want to take part in this form of abstinence

Lent for me is more of a fun challenge. Less pressure than the dreaded New Year’s Resolutions, but still with potential to go far. It’s good to test yourself every now and then, practice self-control and see what you truly can or can’t live without.

Here’s just a few top tips to have a successful lent.

How to Have a Temptation-Free Lent

1) ‘Lent’ doesn’t have to equate to ‘Abstinence’

A lot of the negative connotations of lent stem from the “giving something up” sentiment that most people equate it to. But sometimes it can be just as rewarding setting yourself a ‘doing’ challenge for the 40 days and 40 nights. Boost your fitness regime by adding a new class to your schedule every week, or become a better person and do one selfless act every day. Challenges like this are often much more fun- and much more proactive!

2) Find the reason why

If you don’t know why you’re doing something, why bother doing it in the first place? Think about the ultimate aim or purpose of your lent challenge. Write it down on a piece of paper, and use it to spur yourself on in the struggle-some moments. Are you cutting out coffee so that you sleep better, or to stop yourself spending money on those to-go starbucks? Are you quitting facebook so that you stop procrastinating, or so that you can spend more time with friends and family in person? Having the answers to little questions like these will help increase your motivation because you’ll know why this whole thing started in the first place.

3) Go Hard or Go Home

If you decide to give up alcohol, then give up alcohol! Every day. For the whole thing. Not “I’ll give up alcohol except every other Saturday and if we go out to dinner then it’s okay”. It’s much more difficult to stick to something if you do it half-arsed because there’s no clear boundaries between what is or isn’t acceptable. Plus, it won’t be as satisfying afterwards.

4) Don’t give up absolutely everything all at once

It’s equally important to find some balance. If you decide to give up alcohol, facebook, chocolate, crisps, cakes, meat and clothes-shopping all at once…well, something is bound to slip! Zone in on just one thing- two max- and really focus your energy on it.

5) Make it your own

Don’t make the same mistake as my younger self and go along with it for the bants because that’s what all your friends are doing. Choose a challenge that you actually care about and it will be so much more rewarding when you reach your goals! That’s not to say that the mutual support isn’t encouraging- but if you do something you care about then you’re less likely to find yourself in a clandestine trip to the co-op for chocolate buttons.


Are you doing anything for lent this year?

Introducing the Fit Bride Bootcamp

Introducing the Fit Bride Bootcamp

in collaboration with Lattes & Lipstick.

The last few months of planning for the FBB series have passed in a blur of snapchats and skype meetings. Of course, the wonderful thing about conference calls with one of your best friends is that they tend to be held in bed, with a cup of tea and surrounded by pretty notebooks.

Before I go on, I should probably introduce you.

Staci West of Lattes & Lipstick is one of my best friends. We lived in the same halls at university whilst Staci was studying abroad and immediately clicked. Over the years our friendship blossomed out of a mutual love for tea, stationary and to-do lists. We travelled together during my own study abroad stint in the US, and when Staci officially moved to London to complete her MA we met up regularly to shop, have brunch and chat about our blogs.

The West/Swoboda engagement is one of those brilliant occasions because I happen to be great friends with both sides of the party. Rich and I worked together at the Uni student bar (and I sometimes like to think I’m responsible for getting them together in the first place).

Still, I was surprised and delighted when Staci asked me to be a Bridesmaid. At the time I was just completing my Personal Training qualifications, which is pretty much how this series came about.

To be honest, it probably started out as a joke. A flippant comment, made in passing – something along the lines of “oh, haha, I should PT you for your wedding”. Not the funniest or most original statement in the world, but somehow one thing led to another and here we are.

So here’s what we came up with. In preparation for Staci’s wedding in August 2017, I’ve designed her a Personal Training programme to help whip her into shape.

Along the way we’ll be discussing Staci’s goals & sharing our workouts, along with a range of health tips and fitness tricks. Each month we’ll post about what we’ve been up to, focusing on a specific theme for that month.

If you’re interested in seeing variations and new exercises be sure to follow us on Instagram as we share InstaStories into the ‘Behind the Scenes’ of our training sessions.

And,  because we love our readers, each month we’re going to be hosting a giveaway – the details of which will be given at the end of each post. We’ve already got an exciting range of health and fitness related goodies to be offering to our readers, making this whole series so much more special awesome.

Fit Bride Bootcamp - Collage

Month 1: The Workout

Planning any project is difficult enough when your partner is a few thousand miles plus 5 hours time difference away. Multiply that by ten when your project involves regular one-to-one PT sessions! What with Staci being busy making her big move back to London this month, I needed to create some easy to follow, versatile workouts that I could send via video, or explain simply in an email.

That’s why this month’s training focused heavily on HiiT – High Intensity Interval Training. I teach regular HiiT classes around London, so it was easy enough for me to put together some sessions that Staci could add to her normal routine of cardio and yoga.

The beauty of HiiT is that sessions don’t need to be long. The point is that during your short burst, high intensity periods (usually between 10-40 seconds) you give the exercise your absolute max. Rest periods are filled with active recovery, allowing you to get your breath back whilst keeping the body moving.

Although you can do a full 45 minute session, HiiT workouts are just as easily split up into 15-20 minute chunks. You don’t necessarily need a lot of equipment, so they are perfect for fitting into a busy schedule. Exactly what we needed.

The video below is just an example of some of the exercises that were included in this month’s HiiT sessions. As you’ll see, it is split into three sections. All three at once make for a 45 minute workout- including a decent warm up and cool down. Alternatively, do one section at a time for a quick 15-minute workout blast.

Each section is a different circuit, each of which should be repeated for 4 rounds with 30 seconds per exercise. Take no rest in between exercises, but one 30 second rest in between rounds.

Now that Staci has gone through a couple of these HiiT workouts with me, I’m encouraging her to do two or three sessions weekly on her own, at home. This will help to keep up her cardiovascular fitness and shed some body fat, meanwhile allowing me to focus future sessions on other things – such as strength and technique.

See below the video for Staci’s reaction to our first session!

Month 1: Commentary

In the spirit of full disclosure here’s a little background into my fitness level…

Wanna know the last time I was in a gym – like properly in a gym to work out and actually break a sweat? Me too.

I’m gonna go with at least 5 years (and that’s me being generous) – I am NOT a gym person, never have been. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy exercise – in those five years I’ve been to thousands of yoga, pilates and even barre classes. I’ve done at home exercises like Insanity, Brazilian Butt Lift, 21 Day Fix and the current trend of Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide. But all of these have been fads to say the least; a way for me to keep my slim figure – something built by playing softball competitively for 10+ years – without putting in nearly enough effort. While yoga, pilates, and eating right have helped me keep my size I’ve decided it’s time for change. I’m ready to push my body like when I was a teenager and hit the gym to get some muscle tone back. I mean who doesn’t want to look their best on their wedding day?

Fit Bride Bootcamp - Collage

Now for a little insight into how our first session went…
Roslyn: we’re gonna do this exercise for 45 seconds
Me: blank stare
Roslyn: 3,2,1 go
Me (10 seconds later): ahhh I’m gonna be sick
Roslyn: you got this keep going
Me: ugghhh

…5 minutes and a few exercises later….

“I’m gonna faint”
“My heart rate is insane” (thanks FitBit, ha!)
“What is happening”
“My poor body”
“I’m gonna faint”
“Water break”
“I’m gonna be sick”
“I miss yoga”
“What time is it”

… I think you get the picture, this was not an easy going jump right in and smash it kind of thing. So if you’re looking for something easy, this is not for you, but if you’re looking for something new to push and challenge yourself then join us over the next six months for new exercises and follow us on Instagram for special behind the scenes clips.

** Side Note: apparently when you undergo personal training you’re meant to be eating a lot more than I normally do (about 2000ish calories), hence the nearly fainting things – obviously not great – so with the pressure of Rich and Roslyn I’ve upled my intake and prepped meals full of healthy fats and protein **

March Giveaway

Fit Bride Bootcamp - March Planner Giveaway

So to get you in the mood and on the right track we’re giving away a planner bundle!! This fitness themed bundle includes the following:

  • 2017 MINI Happy Planner – Fitness
  • 1400+ Fitness & Motivational Stickers
  • Pre-punched note paper to add to your planner
  • Planner “basics” to add creative and colourful notes to self

A over £50 value could be yours for free – we’re offering worldwide shipping to kick it off so everyone can enter.
Giveaway details will be announced on Instagram FRIDAY 3rd March and the winner will be announced on SUNDAY 19th March – so keep your eyes peeled and get to entering!!

Fit Bride Bootcamp: Month 1
Fit Bride Bootcamp Instagram Giveaway Month 1
Introduction to the Fit Bride Bootcamp
Tempting Twosomes: The Ultimate Pancake Topping Combinations

Tempting Twosomes: The Ultimate Pancake Topping Combinations

Pancake day is hands down one of my favourite days of the year. It’s right up there with Christmas and Birthdays, and far superior to Easter. Don’t even get me started on Valentine’s Day! What could be better than a whole day devoted to celebrating and eating as many pancakes as you possibly can?!

I do realise that that’s not exactly the point…

My Instagram feed is constantly full of pictures of pancakes, after all, they’re the perfect post work out meal (or snack!). The beauty of the Pancake, of course, is that it’s simple, versatile and adaptable to suit almost any tastes.

I feel like I wouldn’t be able to call myself a true fitness blogger if I didn’t have at least one post dedicated to some form of pancake recipe. The trouble is, I couldn’t decide on just one. After all, you can’t have just one pancake on pancake day, right?

So whether you like your pancakes protein-packed, light and fluffy, short and scotch or melt-in-the-mouth thin, here are some stunning 2-ingrediant combinations that will completely transform your Pancake day.

Simple & Delicious Pancake Toppings

Tempting Twosomes: The Ultimate Pancake Topping Combinations


1) Lemon & Sugar:

It’s a classic and it’s my personal favourite. I couldn’t not kick start this list with the tangily perfect citrus/sugar combination.

The Health Stuff: Fresh lemon juice is packed full of vitamins and minerals. Great for boosting the immune system, aiding digestion and improving energy levels.

2) Ginger & Honey:

Not as common as it’s lemon/sugar sibling, but if you like that spicy heat of ginger then this is an absolute winner. Grate some fresh ginger and stir it into some honey in a saucepan, over a low heat. Pour over your pancakes and enjoy!

The Health Stuff: Ginger helps to soothe sore tummies and is an effective nausea relief. It also contains anti-inflammatory properties, making it excellent for joint and muscle pain.

3) Nutella & Banana:

Need I say more? This is a classic combination, although that Nutella can sometimes be replaced with dark, milk or white chocolate for anyone who isn’t a fan of hazelnuts.

The Health Stuff: Nutella may seem like a luxurious treat, but taken in moderation it isn’t too bad for you! There is a decent amount of protein, calcium and iron per serving, which is good for muscle growth and bone strength. Paired with the potassium from the banana and you have yourself a pretty high energy breakfast!

4) PB & J:

Again, as a registered fitness professional, I could hardly write this post without including some sort of homage to Peanut Butter! It’s a classic and it works.

The Health Stuff: Peanut Butter is everywhere nowadays and there are plenty of options available without any added salt, sugar or palm oil. It’s full of your “good fats” (yes, fats can be good!) therefore it’s good for maintaining balanced cholesterol levels. I always replace the Jam in this combo with some fresh berries. The tartness of raspberries goes particularly well and the fructose from the fruit is natural, rather than processed like in many store-bought jams.

Simple & Delicious Pancake Toppings

5) Cheddar & Apple:

This one may sound completely random, unless you’ve had this combination before. I was introduced to the melted cheese/apple combination by an American friend in a toasty. It works because of that whole sweet/salty thing – so if you’re into that then definitely give it a go!

The Health Stuff: Much as cheese is often blindly categorised into the ‘bad’ category, it also contains plenty of calcium, protein and even potassium. Everything in moderation, as my Grandma used to say. Apples, of course, contain plenty of vitamins, as well as a lot of fibre.

6) Greek Yoghurt & Blueberry:

This is the ideal breakfast pancake topping. Delicious and refreshing with that perfect contrast of tart yoghurt with sweet berries. If you can push it to 3 ingredients, add some flaked almonds or sunflower seeds for added crunch!

The Health Stuff: Greek Yoghurt is full of protein and calcium, and therefore is a great pre or post workout meal. Blueberries are your everyday superfood, full of antioxidants. Manganese, zinc and vitamin K are essential for bone growth, whilst potassium and magnesium can help to lower blood pressure.

7) Pineapple & Coconut:

Pina Colada in a pancake? Why not? This tropical duo is super refreshing and will take you right back to your beach holiday, instead of flipping pancakes in a cold, grey England. You can use desiccated, grated or chunks of coconut, whichever you prefer.

The Health Stuff: Try to opt for fresh pineapple, rather than the tinned stuff which is full of sugar. Pineapple is also full of vitamins and antioxidants. It’s been shown to help boost the immune system, digestion and is an effective anti-inflammatory. See my coconut water post for some of the benefits of coconut.

8) Pomegranate & Feta:

Without a doubt, one of the best things I have ever created. This is a winning combination every time and is no lessened with the addition of a good pancake. Crumbled, salty feta with bursts of fresh, sweet pomegranate kernels…honestly delicious.

The Health Stuff: Pomegranate is your original superfood. Copious amounts of Vitamin C, A and E, folic acid and antioxidants are all crammed into these tiny pink seeds. They’re anti-inflammatory, they lower blood pressure, boost the immune system. It seems that there is little that they can’t do! Meanwhile, Feta is  a lower-calorie option than other cheeses (if that’s your thing) containing about 4 grams of protein for every 70 calories.

9) Spinach & Ricotta:

This is throwing it right back to the classics and is a staple Italian combination. Wilt the spinach before folding it into your crepe with a couple of dollops of Ricotta cheese. Absolute YUM. I like to throw in a few fresh leaves as well for an added crispness.

The Health Stuff: Like feta, Ricotta is a good cheese-option, containing fewer calories and more protein than other cheeses. Where to start with spinach? There are few minerals that it doesn’t contain, with zinc, iron, magnesium and copper being just a few. Cue immune system boosts, higher energy levels, better digestion, metabolism, the whole parade.

10) Avocado & Chilli:

There is so much that you could add to this if you wanted to, think baby tomatoes, spring onions, coriander, or a squeeze of lime. The fact of the matter is though, that even if you just slice an avo half and smash it into your pancake with a pinch of chilli flakes, it’s still super tasty.

The Health Stuff: Just like peanut butter, avocado is an excellent source of good fats, which help to lower that bad cholesterol. They’re also full of fibre and have more potassium than bananas! Chilli’s contain plenty of antioxidants and minerals that have been suggested to have disease preventing properties. They are also rich in B-vitamins which helps the body to replenish itself.

Simple & Delicious Pancake Toppings

Simple & Delicious Pancake Toppings

Simple & Delicious Pancake Toppings

What’s going to be your pancake topping this Shrove Tuesday? Do you mix it up or always go back to the classics?