Winter has well-and-truly hit in London – brrrr! – and now that Halloween is out of the way, the long run into Christmas is underway! I’m going to be posting plenty of ideas to help you stay on the seasonal ‘straight-and-narrow’, but in the meantime, it’s just about cold enough to get me thinking back to the summer.
In these pictures, I’m wearing another great tennis affair from my friends at Monreal London; I love the simplicity of the block white dress with the subtle blue detailing, and the elasticated rouching at the waist – comfortable, flexible and great for tennis. They were shot on the beach at Pamplonne, and Club 55 St. Tropez; to get there I stepped aboard a gorgeous specimen of a Riva ‘Super Aquarama’, and was motoring towards the restaurant at 55 knots! Once there, fresh grilled sea-bass and some fresh greens.
On this chilly London day, I REALLY miss the toasty sun of holiday, but luckily it’s only c.250 sleeps until the next dose of summercomes along 🙂
Another gorgeous fitness outfit crafted by the talented Caroline Greenslade, founder of British activewear brand Vevie, who I mentioned in my previous post, ‘Vevie La Revolution’. The outfit I’m wearing here, with it’s cute pink polka dots and fitted form, evokes a touch of ‘old world’ glamour. It’s very feminine and fun to wear, even for a bit of a ‘tom boy’ like me 🙂 I couldn’t imagine a more fitting place to go for a morning jog sporting this ‘retro-chic’ look than along the famous Cannes beachfront of La Croisette, where all sorts of timeless & classic ‘movie premiere’ glamour has unfolded at the Film Festival!
After my morning jog, I’d earned a well deserved breakfast at the Carlton Cannes. Breakfast is literally a time to ‘break the fast’ after a long nights sleep, so I always aim for a substantial meal to start the day right! On this occasion? Scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, mushrooms and skinny latte. And to top it off a delicious fruit salad. Bon ap! 🙂 Faya.
Wearing: Vevie’s Hertford Dotty Polka Flash Jacket, the Hertford Dotty Polka Racer top and the Hertford Dotty Polka Flash leggings. I particularly like the functional details of this jacket – the two front zipped pockets, the polka dot thumb loops and the inner dotted collar for a fabric contrast. The fitted leggings have a comfortable waist and two waistband pockets to store keys/phone/snack! All garments are UV protected – 50+ and are made from a breathable, technical fabric. Plus they’re cute 🙂
Click MORE to see all the pictures from the shoot, then maybe go for a run too?!
Just a quick fitness fashion post; you might remember that I promised in my earlier post Unreal Monreal to showcase some more of Monreal London‘s fabulous tennis-wear… Voila! Here are some pictures from a shoot at the Byblos Hotel in St. Tropez wearing their signature short tennis dress (which, according to WWD magazine, Victoria Beckham was the first to pick up!). This is my favourite dress of their collection! It’s all part of the continuing revolution which I think ends with sport and high fashion crossing over & it’s all for the better when it comes to our workouts!
Click MORE below to see the rest of the photos. Faya x
It’s almost 35 degrees out – uncomfortable & sweaty, but I’m not complaining; it serves as a great reminder of just how important it is to stay hydrated especially in heat like this. I normally drink about 2 litres of water a day (we lose 2.5 litres during the average day, regain 1 litre through food, and the remaining 1.5 litres is supposed to be your drinking water… but I like to build in some extra!). In these pictures shot in Saint Tropez, en-route to Pamplonne, it’s more like 3-4 litres a day – I literally got through 8 of these 50cl bottles in the 24 hours. Water must be the most important ingredient we can give our bodies, which are 60% water anyway – it’s critically involved in pretty much every bodily function we humans are capable of. It improves overall well-being and quality of life in so many ways and will certainly improve your ability to achieve your training goals.
Click MORE below to read my 8 reasons for staying optimally hydrated, and a couple of tips to spice up the bland taste 🙂
Time for some Fitness On Toast ‘ethos’ 🙂 … I’ve always believed that there should be very little difference in how men and women train themselves. Women, like most men, hope to achieve the same aesthetic end-point; a lean physique (drop body fat percentage and in so doing, ‘tone’/sculpt the musculature), as well as wanting to build strength, endurance, flexibility etc.
Why is it then, that so often I see women performing simpler, less effective (and perhaps less ‘intimidating’) exercises than men in the gym? Take the deadlift – a phenomenal compound exercise, yet 80%+ of the time men dominate the freeweight area with not a single woman in sight! Women should squat, dead lift, bench press, sweat and work hard! Go heavy and work to the maximum – THAT gets results much faster, which is of course the key reason we seek progress at the gym in the first place – to see results, and preferably quicker!
The popular misconception that ‘wafer-skinny’ is the ultimate reward for sacrificing hours on end at the gym, is misguided and unhealthy. That’s just so ’80s. These days ‘strong is the new sexy’; people want to FEEL strong and BE healthy, not just LOOK thin at the cost of feeling malnourished. That’s not to say we should all end up looking like Muscle Mary’s either, by the way, but it is far tougher for women to gain physical mass than for men.
Muscles constantly burn fat, which combined with a healthy diet, can help to yield the ‘lean’ look. However, female bodies have a different hormonal set-up. Men naturally have higher testosterone levels (a ‘muscle-building’ growth & repair hormone) and because women have significantly less of this, it’s harder for us to gain muscle mass. Those few women you may see in the gym who look huge have most likely worked incredibly long & hard for that look! So stop worrying about ‘bulking up’. You just wont wake up one morning and split your blouse sleeves because you lifted heavy weights the night before!
There are certain muscle groups (& therefore certain exercises) that women should probably de-emphasise, relative to men. The Trapezius (neck & surround) muscle is a good example – something most women don’t care to develop. Likewise, few mademoiselles want comically-pronounced quadriceps – but what woman doesn’t want a perky, round firm ass – which by the way, is the gift you get from almighty squats and thunderous dead lifts! Or toned arms and defined shoulders? So start benching, or keep lifting heavier – I don’t want to come across all feminist, but ‘Go take over the weights area, Bitches !!!‘
(click MORE below to see all the photos from my workout at the very well equipped gym in the Hotel Byblos, Saint Tropez).
As I mentioned in this post a couple of weeks ago, sport and fashion continue to converge. I discovered the next leg of that trend in this Notting Hill-based sportswear brand called Vevie. The two key things that seem to be changing are 1) the use of luxurious fabrics and 2) the attention to super-cute detailing.
Where previously I had to rely on a megabrand like Nike or Adidas for a pair of utilitarian (i.e. plain & boring) rough nylon tracksuit trousers, I can now spoil myself with breathable, moisture wicking fabrics which look and feel like satin. As in these pictures – which I shot in the harbour at the breathtaking ‘Beaulieu sur mer‘ (just by Cap Ferrat, on the Cote D’Azur) – the form of these clothes is perfectly fitted and feels as light as a feather to wear. The light plays wonderfully off the silky material. Also the subtle rouching on the chest, wrists and legs, combined with the elegant silver zip detailing, means I could actually wear it all day long, both for training and NOT for training! It’s a look that’s smart enough to feel good about everywhere, and is cute enough to fit in almost anywhere.
I think there’s plenty more to come from this brand; they make swimwear and more traditional training wear too, with some very unique and quirky design motifs. I’m looking forward to posting some more of Vevie’s finest soon, but in the meantime, you can see all the pics from this shoot by clicking MORE below…
Living in Britain, Wimbledon is of course a bit of an annual ‘religious event’ for me. But successive summers have been spent puzzled, watching Roger Federer strut onto centre court in what I call ‘haute sportswear’ – hyper-tailored lines, luxurious fabrics, exquisite detailing – whilst his female counterparts have sported nothing genuinely worthy to challenge for the Style Grand-slam. Filter that down from superstardom to the drab reality of the high streets, and there is no hint of an elegant sport trend to be found on Oxford Street!
But dressing sporty, and dressing chic are no longer mutually exclusive; I realise now that you can dress for exercise *glamorously*, in the same way you might feel dressing for a night out. The revolution has started with tennis, which has been injected with a vital shot of sport-chic by Monreal London, a high-end apparel brand that you might remember I stumbled across at the Queens Club boutique during the Aegon Championships earlier this year (you can see that post here).
I did some further digging and checked out their collection. Above all else, Monreal seems to worship the beauty of the female form, with materials and shapes that flatter and gently exaggerate our ‘good curves’. And they don’t just fake a token gesture towards fashion – they’ve clearly dedicated every feature to the cause. Before realising they’re a relatively young brand (not a bad thing; read ‘nimble, adaptive, on-trend’), you presume luxury from the outset. The look and feel is expensive, tailored, feminine and conservative whilst still being a bit adventurous and expressive. As you can see from these pictures we shot around Monaco, tennis whites are the base, but I really love the sparing and geometric use of colours and textures to break up the monotone whites (more of Monreal’s dresses to follow in future posts…)
In a world where I want to be able to feel a bit elegant when my sweaty body doesn’t look it, I think Monreal sends the message that ‘it IS possible!’ And given that it’s so aspirational and glamorous, I think it might help motivate people to work that little bit harder, so they fit that little bit better into their stylish sportswear, rather than just lazily shopping the next size shorts from Asda for £5. It all helps to buy into the lifestyle choice that this blog is ALL about. Click More below to see all the pics from the shoot…
It was a gorgeous sunny Saturday in London and I had the pleasure of getting my very own unique nail art painted by the immensely talented Jenny Pasha of 10 Blank Canvases – winner of this year’s Cosmopolitan blog award for ‘best beauty blogger’, and who is currently working with Elegant Touch and Little Mix. I love her art, and ended up basing this entire training ‘look’ on her monochrome nails – a thin black windstop top, monochrome training leggings and black shoes – a look which is always super easy-to-pull-off, flattering, casual and fairly chic in my view! I just added a splash of neon pink for fun!
After a blustery HIIT session (high intensity interval training, as you might remember from my post’hiit me again’, here) on sunny Primrose Hill yesterday, this super lightweight Castelli Leggera jacket proved to be ideal – totally windproof, impossibly lightweight and still comfortably breathable – practically as if I wasn’t wearing anything at all, so to speak! The leggings are from Bershka – quite fun and comfy for running :). Post-run, we went for some yummy lunch at Lemonia for a little protein – grilled swordfish, seared tuna, boiled veggies and steamed spinach!
One of my favourite feelings in the world is collapsing into my bed, physically and mentally exhausted, knowing that I have a long, deep, deserving sleep ahead of me. But that’s not just lazy indulgence, as a good night’s sleep isn’t a passive activity, but rather, I think it’s just as actively valuable as regular exercise and quality nutrition. A good night’s sleep can improve overall health and make every aspect of the following day more productive. This post is my take on why and how sleep matters in your healthy lifestyle.
1) “WHY SHOULD I ???” Getting the right quality and amount of sleep:
– Enhances muscular recovery by speeding-up protein synthesis,
– Restores and maintains mental alertness (by discharging the brain’s accumulated daily Adenosine build-ups),
– Releases Human Growth Hormone – 60% to 70% of daily HGH secretion takes place when you’re in early sleep, following which the deepest sleep cycles often occur! Poor quality sleep can negatively impact human growth hormone levels.
– Restore organs, bones, and tissue; replenishes immune cells; and circulates human growth hormone around the resting body.
– Vastly improves the quality of interaction with other people!
2) MY “SLEEP TIGHT” ETHOS…
‘Get more sleep’ is easily said, but I know a lot people who simply can’t fall asleep, and toss and turn for hours on end. For a while, that was me too, stuck in a catch 22 of feeling too tired during the day, going to bed too late and waking up too early in the morning, only to do it all over again. One way I tackled this was by working out on a regular basis which is proven not only to help you fall asleep, but also to improve the quality of that sleep. Every body is different, so it takes time to figure out what works best for you; I personally prefer a heavy workout early in the morning, a productive day, then a light ‘exercise’ in the late evening (e.g. a power walk which gives my body the final reminder of just how tired it really is!). I wouldn’t recommend doing an intense workout before bed as that energises the body instead of calming it. Afterwards, a relaxing warm bath (I add this lavender bath oil to unwind muscle fatigue) and a mint tea (try to avoid any caffeine or alcohol before sleep, as they’re stimulants). Other things that may help is avoiding oversleeping as it will interrupt your circadian system (‘body clock’), which in turn will set you off later when you need to fall asleep. I’d stay away from sleeping pills as much as possible as they cause the body to develop a dependency, and they don’t get to the root of the real problem anyway, but just mask the symptoms. There are stories of politicians surviving on 4 hours sleep a night, but frankly, that’s unhealthy for anyone in the long run. I’ve always felt 7 hours to be a minimum in order to maximise wellbeing during the day, and I regularly aim for 8 hours. Also a room that’s dark and not too hot helps too. Investing in the largest & highest-quality mattress the room will take can be life-changing, and even fun little apps like the Sleep Cycle alarm clock can help you sleep smarter too!
3) “…AND WHAT IF I DON’T ???” Not getting enough / high-quality sleep:
– Weakens the immune system,
– Renders you less energetic which will lower the quality/intensity of a workout,
– Affects the concentration of sugar levels in your blood – they’re likely to become elevated, which can lead to development of a pre-diabetic condition,
– Slows the metabolism, leaving it harder to maintain or lose weight,
– Induces a sluggish sense,
– Can increase appetite (certainly does with me!),
– Makes you moody and loose the motivation to workout or do anything!
Hope that helps you to rest up, sleep well, and train harder!
Many of my clients aren’t from the UK, and often ask me how to read the food labels here; it’s vitally important to understand the label in order to be in command of what you’re nourishing your body with. Even if you do understand it, far too few take the time to read and digest it – no pun intended! This post will set out some tips and tricks for staying on top of the label.
Questions I ask myself every time; is it high in fat? saturates? salt? carbs? sugar? Knowing the answers is essential to maintaining a balanced, healthy diet. The label should, at a minimum, list the information on energy – calories, protein, carbohydrate, fat and salt. Nutrition information is shown per 100 grams and sometimes per portion of the food. A good deal of supermarket products show a ‘traffic light colour coding’ system where red is a warning, and green is fine – but relying on these without further thought is lazy and won’t help awareness for the diet.
1) WHAT ARE THE GDA’s ???
Some product also list Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs). The GDAs are based on UK government-set figures and are recommendations that give approximate amounts of certain nutrients and calories required for a healthy diet. GDA’s don’t account for your size, age, lifestyle, activity levels etc, so take them with a pinch of salt (literally!). – FAT: Adult GDA is c. 70g, of which ‘saturates’ should be 20g (see ‘Ingredients’ below for more on this). Beware if the product has >20% fat, and I tend to think that <5% is truely ‘low fat’.
– SUGARS: Adult GDA is c. 90g. Sugars are carbs, so look for the ‘Carbohydrates (of which sugars)’ part on the label. You might see it as sucrose, fructose, maltose, honey, corn syrup or starch – but ultimately it’s still sugar. Aim for complex sugars, which are slow release, and sustain your blood sugar levels at a more constant rate through the day. Think whole grains, whole wheat, seeds, nuts and pulses. Too much simple sugar risks diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. – SALT: Adult GDA is c. 6g (one teaspoon!). Also labelled as sodium, it regulates nerves and the overall fluid balance in the body, but too much over time increases blood pressure and can lead to heart disease and/or stroke, plus it can make you look and feel bloated as it retains water. To cut down on salt when cooking use herbs, spices, garlic, ginger, lemon zest or chili (will up your metabolism!) instead, to add flavour. Use low-salt stock. When buying tinned foods get them without the added salt or brine (e.g. tuna in spring water). Avoid microwaved ready meals, and if you must (for some inexplicable reason) get it with reduced salt. Keep an eye on sauces they’re are often high in sodium too. – CALORIES: Adult GDA is 2000 Kcal (calories) a day, though that will clearly vary hugely depending on gender, activity, metabolic levels etc. It’s a measure of energy contained within the food, so if you consume too much food-energy, you’ll store the excess as fat. Basic, but sometimes people forget this. Equally, if you have too little, you’ll lack the nutrients required to function properly! It’s about balance and control, which is the whole point of this post!
2) INGREDIENTS ???
– When reading the ingredients manifest, the nearer the beginning an ingredient is listed, the higher the content, e.g. if honey is the second thing listed on your granola bar, then that bar certainly contains a lot of sugar.
– Avoid transfats, they are usually fish or vegetable oils that have been artificially hardened by hydrogenation, they increase bad LDL cholesterol 🙂 and reduce good HDL cholesterol 🙁 which can contribute to stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, and worse. You can usually find them in biscuits, cakes and pastries – so watch out for any oil that says ‘hydrogenated’ before it.
3) THE LAW ???
– All food products must legally be labelled and not be misleading – great in theory, but unfortunately it’s not like that in practise. You might fancy yourself for having an antioxidant boost when you drink a ‘blueberry milkshake’, but often it won’t contain blueberries – much like ‘cheese & onion crisps’ usually don’t contain onion.
– The word ‘light’ also has no legal definition, and simply means the product might be lighter than another product (which product that is we don’t know), whilst it might only refer to fat, alcohol, sugar or salt. Similarly, with ‘Low fat’, there’s no legal guideline around this, which makes it lazy and misleading to just ‘trust the claim’. Check it. Don’t let the food manufacturer insult your intelligence!
4) HOW TO COMPARE & CONTRAST !!!
– Deciding which product is healthier for you is very easy – don’t over-complicate it, and don’t be intimidated by the numbers.
– Whenever you look at two products, each will show a ‘Per 100g’ or ‘Per 100ml’ column – if you see that product A has 20g fat, that’s 20%. If you see that a similar product B has 10g fat, that’s 10%. If product A happens to weigh 200g, then you’re eating 40g fat out of your c. 70g GDA – that’s clearly way too much! Product B (also weighing 200g) would invariably be a better choice here at 20g fat. There are complexities around types of fat, amount of sugars (as discussed above) etc, but broadly, the process should be that simple.
I really hope this helps not only foreigners like myself, but also encourages more curiosity about what we’re putting in us (think ‘horse’ or ‘beef’). Worth checking the sell-by date too – the fresher the better!