Weekend shenanigans!!

Hi friends 🙂

So sorry I’ve been MIA since Saturday but things have been so crazy around here the past few days… I hope you are all having a great  week so far!

Well, a few things have happen around these part of the woods the past few days 😀 First of, my lovely (future) mother in law @M&M_taleoftworuns is here visiting for a few days (you can read all about her name here)!

I have to admit it is so good to have a mum around… All the things that we struggle to do everyday like housework or cooking she is doing them so quickly and efficiently, that it almost looks like magic! Also who could argue when I say that “mum’s cooking” tastes different than any other type of cooking?!?!? We are both very happy to have her around and I think she is very happy to be here as well 🙂

On a another note, I had a great 10 mile run on Sunday.b A little slower than what i’d like but we are getting there…

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The weather wasn’t very good but for London standards was acceptable. Not suny but not raining either – I ‘ll take it!! Afterwards I met with @mymamus and @M&M_taleoftworuns for breakfast, which was a great motivation during my run. I remember very clearly (and with no shame at al 😛 ) repeating to myself “You will be eating eggs and toast soon” a couple of times during my run!

Here are a few snapshots after our breakfast 🙂 This little quaint coffee shop in the park at Tooting Bec park is the perfect place for a post-long run breakfast.

Another awesome thing that happening from this weekend…. I got a spin bike!!! Well, didn’t exactly buy it but “freecycle” is more like what happened. This is an amazing new-ish trend where people will register things they don’t need in a database and then give them away for free instead of throwing them out. So this is how my (not-so brand new) bike happened.

Here is me spinning to my hearts delight!! (apologies if some of the photos are blurry but I really REALLY didn’t want to stop for @mymamus to snap them.)

It is a little old and some of the functions like distance meter and rpm are not working but the resistance and pulse meter are O.K. and that is more than enough for a great sweat session! It is also very very compact and fits perfect in our very small living room. New decor you say?!?! But of course LOL! So any cool resistance based spin workouts to share with me friends?!?!?!

Now, a few random bits and bobs from the rest of the weekend…

  • I am officially in love with my new hat!!! 😀 (thank you @M&M_taleoftworuns )!
  • My favourite Mexican spices arrived from NYC this weekend and I couldn’t wait to make our favourite chilli and enchiladas recipes 😀 I will be posting them real soon – Promise!

Thanks for reading! Have an awesome day and stay tuned!

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21 Day Fix Extreme Review

“Disclaimer: This is NOT an affiliated post, I am not a Beachbody coach or in any way affiliated with the company, this is my personal opinion.”

Hi Friends 😀

I hope everyone is having an amazing weekend!

When we first moved to London back in September I was in a huge fitness downfall. Moving countries and trying to find a new apartment and starting a PhD program was taking away all my energy and my motivation was floored. Our lunch and dinner options had to be fast and not always healthy… So after we finally moved in our apartment and we got settled I felt like I needed a push, something to seriously pull me out of this non – healthy rabbit hole.

A few months ago I read about this new exciting exercise training and weight loss program called “21 day fix extreme” from BeachBody’s Autumn Calabrese. I had looked into it at the time but unfortunately i couldn’t afford it neither had the space/equipment needed for it. Looking into it again I thought it might be a good idea to try and maybe that was the push i needed. So I ordered it.

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Now before I go on, I really want to say that this is just my opinion and an honest review. I am NOT trying to bash or badmouth the program at all! Please know that even with my fitness downhill I was still a very active person (also a runner) and definitely not a beginner when it comes to exercising.

The basic outlay of the program is; 30′ minutes daily workouts and portion colour coded containers for the eating plan which lasts 21 days. Also though some basic calculations you are being allocated in a calorie bracket which corresponds to how many containers of each colour are you allowed in a day.

Here is what I (personally) think of the program:

Pros:

  • 30 minutes/day is not very long and most people can do
  • the workouts are fun for the first couple of times
  • depending on where you live it is cheaper than a gym membership
  • you can work out at home
  • very suitable for parents since it doesn’t take long and you can work out at home

Cons:

  • if you really want to stick to the eating plan you need to food prep four at least a few hours in the weekend
  • there aren’t many recipes included (unless you buy the cook book) and things get to be boring food wise real fast
  • (for UK costumers) they do sell the program in the UK but their costumer service is really (REALLY) bad! I don’t know about the US costumer sevice
  • if you are a runner, even if you go up a calorie bracket bracket, you ‘ll still be hungry and feeling tired.
  • if you don’t have a lot (more than 20-30 lbs) of weight to loose this is not the program for you.
  • you need to have some basic equipment at home to complete the workouts, such as dumbbells, resistance bands and a yoga mat (optional).

To sum it all up, I think it depends on what you are looking for. If you have a lot of weight to loose and you are new to a healthy life style it is a great program for you. But if you are someone who is already quite fit and lives a healthy lifestyle I ‘ d say don’t bother and don’t waste your money or your time with this program. As for their success pictures on their website, please know that these people did try extremely hard but also even though they were on the same eating plan it was a very restrictive form of it with only certain foods allowed – they call it “competition plan” and it’s totally carb depleted. They also used most of the company’s supplements (which cost more $$$) and food replacements to get shredded.

My personal experience with their UK costumer service is also what completely put me off this program. The first set of DVD’s they sent me weren’t working, the second set they send me it never got to me cause they used someone else’s address and i finally got a working set 2 months after my initial order. Also they claim that if you buy the program you ll have access to it online which actually never happened to me since even though they do stream in the UK they require a US address and bank account!

All and all even thought I do agree with the programs mentality and i like the fact that Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 14.30.03they make it easier for beginners to exercise and follow a healthy lifestyle I would never recommended to anyone especially if you are anywhere but the USA. I don’t believ this program is suitable for people that already have a healthy life style and also I think that it is quite expensive for what they are really offering – which in reality is 1 week worth of workout and a portion control containers for ~$60 or $72 if you are based outside the US (~ £42 – £50).

Now that being, said for all of you fitness nuts out there, if you are looking for at home work outs I would recommend Fitness Blender! They have all shorts of workouts for any type of exercise and level and the best part is that 90% of them are FREE!! They also have a youtube channel if you don’t want to create an account with them. I am currently using FB a lot and I really like most of their workouts!

So how did I finally get out of my fitness rabbit hole?!?! I signed up for a marathon!!! Well that did the trick for me! Even though i am still figuring things out I have to say I am in a much better state right now than I was back in September 😉

Have a great weekend everybody.

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Best strenth training moves for runners

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Hi friends 🙂

As I was running the other day i realized how much I ‘ve missed strength training. We were quite busy around here last week, so even though i put in my planned milage for the week cross-training did suffer a little. So yesterday evening since my training plan called for an active rest day it was the perfect opportunity to drop down and get some reps of my favourite strength training exercises in 😀

I like to mix it up so i will not get bored and these exercises are the perfect mix for me!

– Russian twists and holds

  • 4 twist and then hold both legs off the floor for 20-30 seconds (repeat 5 times)

– Squat on the toes

Do a regular squat (use a kettle-bell for a more challenging workout) and then when coming up stay on your toes for about 5 seconds. This is an awesome strength exercise for glute and calf muscles. Repeat 15-20 times.

– Curl lunges

I really enjoy lunges (said no one ever 😀 LOL!!!). So here is a way to get a little bit more out of them;

  • Do a forward lunge and then 5 reps of tricep curls.
  • Step back.
  • Do a forward lunge with other leg and 5 reps of tricep curls with other arm.
  • Repeat sequence 5 times.

– Raised leg bridges

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  • This is a normal bridge but only one leg is on the floor. The other is raised in a straight line. Do 10-15 repeats on each leg. Rest for 20 – 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.

– Plank & Side plank

Planks are a runner’s best friend!! During a plank you simultaneously work your arms, core, butt and legs!!

  • Do a side plank for ~20-30 seconds on its side
  • Finish strong by holding a normal plank for as long as you can!!!

You can repeat the whole work out from 3-5 times depending on how much time you have and your level of endurance.

Finally, don’t forget to have fun and enjoy it!! Exercising is all about being healthy and working towards a better you! Never compare yourself to anyone else but the you from yesterday. Here is me rocking my “sweaty silly smiley face” and “superman – look at those biceps” looks 😛 after a really cool workout!!

Enjoy!

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Disclaimer: I am not a licensed personal trainer neither a sports specialist. Consult your physician if you are unsure as per your ability to undertake these exercises. I am JUST a fitness-nut that likes to share my workouts. 

 

 

Half Marathon: a week of training

Hi Friends 🙂

February is here and it is also Monday. Am I the only one who really loves that feeling of Monday and even better the first of the month? It gives me this sense that I could start fresh and that it is a small new beginning with new exciting adventures.

So as many of you already know i will be running my first half marathon on March 20th and I ‘m already knee deep in training for it. I though I’ ll share a week of my training so you guys can see what i have been up to lately. My plan is a combination of the F.I.R.S.T marathon training plan and some modifications that I ‘ve learn through the years that work for me.

So this is how a typical week looks like for me:

Monday – Track work outs. This week is; 10-20 minute warm-up 1 mile (400m RI), 2 miles (800m RI), 2 x 800 (400m RI) 10 minute cool-down

Tuesday – Run home from work for ~6 miles

Wednesday – Active Rest

Thursday – Run home from work for ~5 miles

Friday – Core strength workout

Saturday – Long run. This week i have 11 miles in store 😀

Sunday – Rest

Since I am not very good at running in the morning (no matter how many times I have tried to change this) I have decided to run-commute back home from work at least two afternoons a week. This incorporates nicely into my training plan. Also I try to do a 30′ yoga session every morning, the stretching and focus feels wonderful for the rest of the day. For my “active rest” days i still have a yoga session in the morning and the some short of low impact activity such as walking.

My long run this week was 10 miles, that i was suppose to break into 3 1/2 loops in my favourite park. Of course that never happened 😉 The weather being amazing and sunny and warm made me feel a little adventurous so I decided that I should explore around our new neighbourhood. It was such a beautiful run!

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I know it is not a very common training plan but it works for me and my lifestyle for now and also it seems that i am sticking to it 😀 Huge win!!

Have an awesome week everyone and we will catch up soon!

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High Five Friday

Linking up to Angela’s from Happy Fit Mama awesome High Five Friday idea today, and i am so very excited about it!!! 🙂

So 5 GOOD things that happened this week and I loved each one of them!

  1. Last night’s run home from work felt amazing (even though i was a little stiif physically) I loved how into to it I was mentally!
  2. Our visit to the science museum! Oh the joy of feeling like a 5 year old again…
  3. This INCREDIBLE yummy chocolate salted caramel tart – no more words necessary…
  4. My first 10 mile long run after a while and I was still standing – AND SMILING – afterwards! Huge win!
  5. Impromptu lunch run with a friend by the Thames river on a beautiful – freezing but – sunny day. These are always the best and since we don’t get much sun around here it was such an amazing run.

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So these were my 5 highlights from the week! Thank you so much Happy Fit Mama for this amazing link up idea! Have an awesome weekend every one!

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Beginner’s Yoga 7 Day Kickoff

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Hello friends,

Happy Friday! 😀 The weekend will be here shortly and i can already feel the excitement!

So I have a little back story to share before I dive into my post for the day. For the past two months every once in a while I have felt the need to just drop whatever I was doing and stay still for a few minutes. Kind of like a “reboot” or “refocus”. I have also been feeling pretty stiff lately. No matter how many days I cross-train or how many miles I run. And also i feel disconnected. All these little feelings here and there – truth be told – weren’t having a huge impact on my day-to-day life, till now… When these feelings/physical states start to occur more often, and they don’t feel like a phase or a momentary lapse any more, this is when I realised that I had to take action. Being an athlete for a long time i have become hard wired to listening to my body – it’s the best injury prevention method to my opinion – and trusting my instincts. So in this case my body and my mind have been yelling at me for a while to do something in order to get my old “me” back. After trying many different things, from changing my cross and weight training routines – thinking it might just be boredom – to drastically fluctuating my milage, the situation didn’t improve.

This was the point where the problem solving scientist in me took over and research began. So after putting two and two together (like how much i had enjoyed my last longish stretching session and how good it felt to just breath for a few moments before my run) the verdict was YOGA.

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Now, i need to confess that not only i am a totally clueless individual when it comes to yoga, but i am also one of those people that have always said “Yoga is not for me. I couldn’t never sit still for that long!” – said the clueless person thinking that that’s what yogis do…

Ha! Only if ‘ve known better…

So after reading – a lot – and looking into a million free source material about yoga, I have decided to start small and try to incorporate it into my morning routine for 7 days and see how i feel by the end of the week.

What is the plan?

  • change my morning high impact routine into a series of beginner’s yoga poses (using one of those printable guides here and here)
  • this will last about 20 to 25 minutes
  • give myself 5 minutes to relax, focus and work on my breathing after the session
  • write a few bullet points every night about how (if) this change in my routine had an impact on my day

Hopefully I will make it through the week, it will make a difference and I will enjoy it! Speaking about things I enjoy, @brother_taleoftworuns who is a far more experienced yogi than I am, happily agreed to have a Skype yogi session together this weekend 🙂 So excited to get to spent some quality time with my big bro who I don’t really get to see that often anymore! .

My big brother and I at Nafpaktos town, Greece – summer 2013

And I also plan to thoroughly enjoy having a laugh with him while i fall on the floor face first ..- Oh right, positive thinking  “I wont be falling on my face…I wont be falling on my face…”

I will keep you guys posted about my new adventurous endeavour and definitely give a full review of it by the end of next week. Feel free to join me to this endeavour! I will be starting this coming Monday.

Any newbie yogis out there? Or advice for more experienced ones?

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Indian classical dance & wonderful memories

Hi friends,

It’s almost the weekend 😀  and  I am pretty sure everyone is as excited as i am for it! So what is in stock for you this weekend?

For now we don’t have anything fancy planned -even though you never know… I have a nice 11 mile long run in store for me on Saturday morning and then maybe try my luck with some yoga – with out falling on my face which seems to be the latest occurrence around these parts of the woods.

Speaking of yoga and other types of exercise, this incredible invitation popped up on my FB feed a few days ago and if any of my friends are in NYC at the time i totally recommend it. Indian classical dance is a very –very– old traditional type of dancing (and trust me when i tell you it requires an excellent physique!!). And of course the scientist inside me started doing cartwheels when i saw that it is paired with some good ol’ physics! I so wish i could be there!

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“Sunday, Feb 07 – 6:00PM
ENTERTAINING SCIENCE: THE DANCE OF MOLECULES
Roald Hoffmann, Dave Soldier, hosts. Venue: The Cornelia street cafe
Latha Venkataraman , applied physicist; Neela Zareen, Indian classical dancer
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Our program brings together a leading experimental physicist, who traps nanometer-scaled molecules and measures how their current-carrying capabilities are shaped by their microscopic form, and a wonderful dancer, who utilizes structure, representational and abstract, to convey meaning to her audience. Latha Venkataraman from Columbia University will show how one creates circuits where the active element is a single-molecule, an inherently quantum mechanical piece of this world. Neela Zareen will present a repertoire in Indian classical dance, one of the oldest and comprehensive styles of dance, where she will show how elements, such as intricate footwork, expressions and sculpturesque poses can be structured to weave complex events, ideas and emotions to tell a story. Join us in our annual victory over the Superbowl!”

Neela Zareen is an amazing, mesmerizing dancer.She has been training in Kathak and Kuchipudi styles of Indian classical dance and dance theory as presented in the Natya Shastra for the last 15 years with ardent dedication and she considers herself extremely fortunate to have trained with some of the very best exponents of Indian classical dance.

 

Neela is also a very close friend of mine from NYC that i miss dearly! A free spirited, kind hearted and beautiful person with the most loving and amazing family.

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Seeing this it reminded me of some of the most amazing times i ‘ve had while living in NYC. I got to help Neela, in two of her performances and had the opportunity to get a taste of this incredible culture and to be a part of a very warm and accepting community of people. It was an amazing journey to an old civilization through its traditions. Also a tiny opportunity to become a little famous in another part of the world 😉 – the fact that i have no clue what it says it is just a minor, tiny detail!

Neela and I after her amazing performance in Queens last year.

At the same time @mamma_taleoftworuns  and @grandma_taleoftworuns happened to be visiting from Greece and they also had the opportunity to see an incredible performance as well! They were amazed and ecstatic!

This post is also a way to show how NYC is a melting pot of different people, cultures and traditions and how there are no boundaries for friendship no matter who you are or where you are from! It also makes me think, how there are so many ways to keep active and healthy, so many different and intriguing forms of exercise, that all have one common denominator, they are all ways of expressing yourself!

And last, this is my way of supporting my dear friend Neela since i can’t be there to enjoy her – once again –  awesome performance.

Break a leg, Neela 😀 I am sure you will be amazing!!

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F.I.R.S.T. marathon training program

Hi friends!

I hope everybody had a great start on their week 🙂

A few months ago i decided to run my first marathon which would be the Greater Manchester marathon on April 2016. I was so very excited and of course started researching and developing a training plan that could fit my schedule and running level. Unfortunatelly because of work i will not be able to race in this marathon since i will have to be in the USA at this time 😦 Despite the unscheduled turn of events though i had already found a pretty suitable for me training program which i still continue to follow -in a modified fashion – to train for all my other racing commitments (post and announcement – hint hint hint – are coming soon!)

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 11.27.13So down to business, I always like to see running through a scientific perspective. Everything makes better sense to me this way – occupational hazard you could call it… Form form and kinesiology to speed work and intervals. So it was only natural that i would look in the literature and see what i could find on marathon training. From the “Furman institute of running and scientific training” I give you the FIRST Marathon Training program.

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 11.34.54.pngThis program is designed especially for – intermediate to proficient – runners that they want to complete their first marathon. According to their philosophy you can “run less, run faster” with the type of training they suggest. Previous marathon training results have shown that runners are able to run a complete marathon on only 3 days/week  running and 2 days/week cross training, and achieve their time goal.

According to these scientists PACE is the most crucial component of this short of training program. They suggest that training intensity is an essential factor for improving the physiological processes that will help a runner have an increased performance. All of the paces in this program, are based on the individuals BEST 10K race pace.

The program consists of 3 Key runs.

Key Run #1

  • INTERVAL training
  • faster pace than current 10K
  • 45 seconds per mile faster
  • the amount of rest/recovery is indicated by the program

Key Run #2

  • this is a TEMPO run
  • slightly slower than 10K pace BUT faster than average training pace
  • 15 to 30 seconds slower than 10K race pace

Key Run #3

  • Long run
  • determined by PMP (Planned Marathon Pace) pace
  • this run would be on a PMP pace + 45 seconds

This is how a Training program “sample” week would look like;

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And here,marathon training FIRST, is where you can find the PDF complete 18 week program for free from the Furman Institute. If a beginner runner wants to follow the program experts suggest that they add a 4 to 6 weeks pre-training in order to be sure that they can tackle the first 8 mile long run.

Of course, like any other program it has its pros and cons and it all depends on what the runner is looking for.

Pros:

  • helps with running burn out
  • great alternative for people who enjoy cross training
  • training less times a week makes a marathon training accessible even to busy people who want to race
  • you get an extra rest day

Cons:

  • the work outs are fewer but tougher
  • people susceptible to injury might struggle to add speed instead of miles to their workouts
  • high intensity training can be challenging for non-well trained runner

So, the bottom line is that a training program is a very PERSONAL choice and every runner needs to thoroughly research every option before deciding, and to find something that first of fits their running level and also their way of life. I hope all fellow runners find this review useful!

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Morning Workouts? 5 Steps to rock them!

Hello 🙂

If about 4 months ago you’ve told me that i ‘d be excited to get my booty of bed at 6am to work out i ‘d call you certifiably crazy and call it a day…

What changed? Well we moved to London and things are a little different know. Around these parts of the woods dark comes pretty early in the winter aka its dark at around 4:40pm …. and is quite cold as well. Also since now i live about 40 minutes away from the lab (good ol’ days when i was 15′ walking away in NYC) i need to include commute time to my day as well. I promise i tried to get back after work and do my cross-training but… just couldn’t make it happen, EVER!

Only solution, try before work! I won’t lie the first week was brutal! Not so much the wake up part, waking up 30mins earlier wasn’t a big deal. But the get motivated and get moving was a HUGE deal.

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These 5 steps helped me out a great deal and maybe you find them useful too:

1. Hit the sack!

Go to bed… I mean it! Put your phone/laptop aside (says me LOL – i know i m trying!) and go to bed and sleep. The more you get into the routine your body will become accustom to it. And then it might like it (no promises there… but at least it’ll do it!)

2. Have your outfit ready

Trying to find a sock or sports bra in the dark? Hmm i don’t think this will work! What will probably happen is either you ‘ll bump on to stuff/ get frustrated and give up and/or you’ll wake up everyone else in the house and i m quite sure they won’t appreciate it (LOL)!

What i do? I put my outfit and sneakers by the couch and put them on the moment i step out of bed.

3. Look forward to breakfast afterwards

I don’t know about you but as much as I wanted to be able to get a bite in before my work out i am not, i repeat i am NOT willing to wake up half an hour early to make that happen (without me throwing up that is…).

What i do? I have some water and just go for it. Now before every healthnutt (like myself here) tries to bite my head of about it just know that the human body can happily perform tasks aka cardio, weight lifting etc without any short of energy for about half an hour.

So what keeps me pushing through this 6am cross-training  sessions? The thought of breakfast! Yummy fruit and protein smothie for the take 😀 Or if i have the time, usually on the weekend its always scrambled eggs and avocado toast!

4. Short & sweet

KEEP. IT. SHORT.

That is the best advice i was given. 30 minutes is a good time frame for any kind of cardio/weights routine. My current favourite is Fitness Blender, their 30 minutes workouts are challenging, fun and fast paced the way i love it! Best part?? it is absolutely FREE to use all their videos.

5. Enjoy the aftermath

Come on now? Who could tell me that the feeling you get when you know that by 7:30am you have your workout done, all showered and ready to tackle the day isn’t AWESOME! I love this feeling. It gets addictive and that is another reason why you won’t even consider pressing snooze again in the morning 🙂