Fitness overhaul: A year of focusing on health


This time last year I was fresh from doing the Body Coach Shift, Shape and Sustain plan. I was, as he says you should be after following the diet and workouts, lean. In fact, I was probably too lean, and looked the thinnest I had been in a long time. My body struggles to build muscle due to a connective tissue disorder, so it would have taken a lot longer for me to start feeling like a Bay Watch extra. I also admit to getting tired of 6am gym sessions.

They DO make you feel good, they are a good start to the day, they do set you up well and improve concentration, but I just love sleep and I love to snooze and I like my groggy morning routine. The only morning exercise I do now are Sunday runs, and they rarely begin before 9:30. I don’t look the same as I did a year ago, but I can’t say I’m not fussed by it. This whole year of overhauling my health and fitness was about more than a flat stomach and strong looking thighs.

I wanted to turn my health around. Of all the goals you can have, I felt like this was a good one. I’ve been documenting it all on here along the way and looking back it’s been quite an achievement. I wanted to get on top of my Ehlers Danlos symptoms, I wanted to maintain my new found fitness, try out different kinds of exercise and feel generally better about my myself. It’s December this week, so the year is almost up (bye 2016 please don’t come again) and it feels like a good time to, shall we say, take stock.

Needless to say, some of my endeavours have failed. I won’t be ending the year by drinking a kale smoothie and examining my abs in front of the mirror come NYE. I might not be a fitness model, but I’ve been so much healthier this year. I’ve had less colds, I’ve had less bad pain days with sore joints, I’ve not had any issues with asthma, I’ve not spent weeks with a lingering cough and I’ve not been hammering down the door of my GP every other week. I’ve made some positive changes, some unsuccessful changes and some unexpected changes.

I gave up coffee for a while, but now I’m back on it. I’m drinking it now in fact, enjoying every last drop of it’s frothy goodness. I can’t give up caffeine, it didn’t work for me, and I don’t think I drink enough for it to be a problem these days. BUT I have succeeded in massively cutting down my sweet intake (apart from one mishap last week where I ate a whole bag of Haribo starmix after a really stressful few days) and that’s got to be a good thing. I’ve never been a chocolate person. I’m a very serious sweet eater. Pick and mix, Haribo, fizzy laces- if it’s sour and coated in sugar, I’m on board with it, but this year my teeth have had a welcome break.

In the summer I ran my first 10k, which for some may sound like a walk in the park, but for me it’s a big deal. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to run due to hip problems, but I built up some strength, worked hard on the weekends and made it all the way round the central London course as part of the Vitality London 10K. I’ve also spent the year experimenting with different gym classes- some definitely NOT for me because I cannot deal with being shouted at while I try to hoist a bar weight above my head in a squat position, and some which I’ve loved. Spinning, circuit training and step aerobics have been the winners. I do have to alter some of the stuff to suit my joints, but I’ve learnt to not be shy in the gym when in the gym.

I’ve changed up my diet, replacing even more meat with pulses and veg-based meals and I eat fruit every single day. I’ve started having a proper breakfast at work, usually just porridge, and I’ve tried (though not always succeeded at) not eating rubbish while my dinner cooks because I’m hungry and impatient. I’ve also upped my intake of all the green stuff we get told is so good for us, and I can how say that I genuinely like broccoli. Last year I merely tolerated it, crazy times.

The best thing for me though, has been the absence of illness. Anyone who knows me well knows how much I battle bad health. I have bad joints, limp a lot, get inured easily, get a lot of colds, have issues with my kidneys and I am the UTI queen (not something I want to be queen of even remotely), so this year, with less illness, less antibiotics, better health and happier insides has been so welcome.

The one thing I need to work on for next year is getting my stress levels sorted. I wrote about this last week and got quite a few tweets from people who suffer the same. If I can keep up this years health journey, or even improve on it, and make myself less stressed, I think I might actually have made it. Maybe I’ll even buy a juicer and go on a detox. (Just kidding- NEVER.)


Raw gluten-free Nutella brownies


I’ve become a bit addicted to ‘raw food’ lately. Since Wholefoods opened in Fulham all I want to do is eat things infused with chia seeds or buy organic freshly made soups everyday. BUT since I’m not a millionaire and Wholefoods products are not cheap, this is a compromise. I absolutely love Nakd bars, particularly the plain cocoa one, so this is a sort of take on that using dates, which creep me out to look out but I love.

It’s unbelievably quick and easy, you just need a blender and a fridge.


460g of dates (medjool are the best as they’re the stickiest, but they’re pricey. Standard dates work too)


200g pecan nuts

2 tablespoons Nutella

1 tablespoon honey if you want them extra sweet


Blend the pecans for about a minute and half until they resemble breadcrumbs


Add in dates and blend until the mixture becomes thick and sticky, usually 2 minutes will do it

Separate the mixture in your hands and put the Nutella in the middle, blend again for about 40 seconds

If you want to add honey, drizzle it in with the Nutella. I personally find them sweet enough as they are.

Once you have your mixture, take it out (it should come out in one big lump) and roll it out until it’s about an inch thick. Cut into shapes. I try to make them square to look more brownies, but I cut them with a round cutter this time and it was much easier, despite making them look like little burgers.



Delicious. Eat them straight away or whack them in the fridge to keep them fresh. They’re definitely not calorie free, because of the dates and nuts, but they are a healthy brownie. They are also fantastic fuel for exercise or a particularly busy day, or just for doing this:

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