Happy New Year, if I may still be permitted to say; but for those who chose to extend the festive break, today is the first working day of 2018, and thus, the most tragic day of the year. January statistically correlates with a high volume of re-joiners to the gym again, resolving to be more active and live healthier. Preach alert; the choice I made years ago was to be relatively healthy as an all-year-round lifestyle approach, (not a seasonal one), and it’s broadly been an enjoyable one at that! But for those taking up gym membership today and mobilizing those resolutions (quite literally), remember that so much ground is “made in the kitchen”. So, to help you not only eat healthily but also eat delicious and adventurous fare in 2018, here’s my top curated list of old and new healthy restaurant discoveries to check out around London. MORE… (more…)
It’s October in New York and this day was a scorcher – 27 degrees! Since there are a few fantastic jogging routes around the gorgeous Central Park, I thought I’d go for a little explore; my ‘fitness curiosity’ got the better of me, and that turned into a 40 minute jog, after which I decided I wanted to finish off with some legs!! This post documents that leg routine, and be warned, it’s pretty gruelling, targeting all major muscles – hamstrings, quads and glutes – to tone, firm and strengthen thighs and bum! Unlike some of my previous leg posts, having just been jogging for the last 40 minutes this workout included no weights, just a park bench and some steps! That extra bit of added cardio should get you sweating and avoid shivering in the chilly ‘autumn’ weather! Really challenge yourself by keeping the rest period to a minimum – Weights not required, the combination of leg exercises is utterly exhausting!
Whilst we’re on the topic, if you’re thinking about taking up running I think it’s worth keeping a log book. By recording your performance you will be able to see how you’re improving and to potentially help avoid injuries, typically sustained when you try to go all-out for no reason. Analysing patterns can help you learn how your body responds to different intensities. Are you pushing your body too hard too soon, or may the opposite be the case? Are you letting your body recover properly? There are lots of apps to help you with logging your runs – so many that I plan to write a post about them! If you’re thinking you don’t take your running that seriously – try to at least record the distance, time and pace. Getting into the habit might just inspire and motivate you to run that extra mile, when the incremental exertion is the greatest 🙂 My favourite thing about it? You get to set yourself / your friends challenges and to enjoy the fresh air whilst getting to know the city & countryside – sounds perfect! 🙂
Click below to see the full routine, shot in Central Park, New York.
I am a little bit too excited about my custom-designed trainers that have just arrived from Nike ! I love trainers, so to be able to nuance my very own pair is a bit of a treat 🙂 I went for patriotic Swedish blue and neon ‘Volt’ yellow, and on the tongues it has the F.O.T. (Fitness On Toast) abbreviation and my name monogrammed on. It’s a bit of fun, and a nice way to put some personality on your shoe for a pretty small premium!
The technical name of this pair is ‘Nike Free 5.0 iD Women’s Running Shoe‘. I’ve owned a few pairs of the previous versions, and I find the shoe ideally comfy – it has a similar feel to barefoot running, but with some subtle cushioning, and it’s practically weightless – a very ‘free’ experience for my feet, which matters because I’m in them all day. The sole has deep cuts along the length and width of it which ‘enhances the natural range of motion, encouraging a smooth, efficient stride whilst helping maintain stability’.
If, like me you wear trainers alot it’s worth having a few pairs to swap between (depending on your sport of choice), as well as considering that a shoe’s useful life is only c. 6months before it’s time to pick up a new pair. I’ve teamed my shoes with a pair of dual layer socks, to maximise that ‘new shoe’ comfy feel 🙂
Click MORE below to see extra pictures. Faya x
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…
Faya 🙂 x
Since I gave up coffee last year, Green Tea has become my caffeinated new-best-friend! I probably drink 2 cups a day, on average – it warms me up, has plenty of flavour (especially with a sprinkle of cinnamon) and most importantly gives me that extra boost to keep me going throughout the day! I wouldn’t recommend drinking much more than that though, as too much caffeine can increase blood pressure, cause you to shake, induce headaches as well as stain the teeth – so perhaps don’t start your day with a triple shot of green tea!
This ancient wonder-brew has its origins in China and has been consumed (and used medicinally) for thousands of years. It’s said to have several health benefits including potentially lowering the risk of developing heart disease and certain types of cancer as well as lowering cholesterol. However, for me, the main plus is that green tea contains not only caffeine to wake me up (!), but also plant extracts called polyphenols which have been shown to stimulate thermogenesis and fat oxidation, & therefore increase metabolic rate. That’s short-hand for ‘burn more calories, quicker’.
This green tea that I had earlier today weighs in at a featherweight 1 calorie/200ml, with no saturated fat, no sodium, no cholesterol etc. and only 0.2g of total carbs! So it’s a pretty safe pick me up, whilst simulating the sensation of being full, and ultimately hydrating! So instead of starting your day with a vanilla latte (c. 250 calories, 12g sugar and too much fat) make it a far healthier caffeine choice!
Drink up 🙂 Faya x
(P.s. If you’re wondering why black tea isn’t as healthy as green tea, it’s down to the production process. Making black tea involves fermentation, however green tea skips this part and therefore retains maximum polyphenols and antioxidants!)
Introducing the runner up to ‘champion superfood’ Quinoa… it’s Spelt, a weird cross between emmer wheat and goat’s grass. I picked some up the other day at the lovely Daylesford Organic in Notting Hill (there’s one in Selfridges too). The spelt is easier to digest than many other wheats, because of its brittle gluten structure. It can be an aleternative for some people with a wheat intolerance though it’s not gluten free (unlike quinoa). But just like quinoa it’s high in protein (10g per 100g vs 15g in quinoa), low in sugar (1.3g per 110g vs trace in quinoa), has plenty of fibre (7.4g per 100g vs a mere 3g in quinoa) and is mercifully low in fat (1.1g per 100g, of which saturates 0.2g, vs quinoa at 2g). As a tasting note, it’s quite nutty, mildly chewy, pretty neutral in taste, but decent for adding texture to a dish.
SO I put it into practise, with my high-protein, high-fibre, low-fat, low-sugar vegetable dish – pictured above! Aside from spelt, I’ve added:
– broccoli (full of vitamin C and antioxidants for immune health, dietary fibre to aid digestion, and vitamin A for healthy vision, as well as other minerals like manganese, calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium, zinc and phosphorus)
– carrots (rich in dietary fibre to aid digestion, vitamin A as above, and to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease)
– leeks (rich in antioxidants to promote immune health, and calcium to condition muscles and strengthen bones)
– pine nuts (contains plenty of vitamin E to maintain skin by protecting it from free radicals – whilst its fairly high caloric content is mostly from fat, (hence why I only used half a 100g bag) it’s rich in mono-unsaturated fatty which also helps to lower cholesterol in the blood)
– chilli powder (for a metabolic boost, and a flavoursome kick!)
If you find you want even more flavour try adding a vegetable stock to the boiling water. However try to pick a stock that’s relatively low in salt. I made it for friends and they loved it thankfully. The below recipe serves c. 4 people.