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Suffer from post exercise blues?

Here’s what happens during a brilliant workout: You shake your butt, push out some miles, drip sweat (elegantly) on the floor, you squeeze out a few more repetitions, move your feet, lift another kilo, pound another mile, jump to the beat, hold that challenging pose a few seconds longer and you breathe deeeeeeeply.

And afterwards, you feel full of life, high on happy hormones and ready to take on the world.


You bonk.

Yes, you read that right. You’re guilty of bonking. Probably in public too! Gulp.

Bonking is the “technical” term for a low sugar period (the medical term is hypoglycaemia) and for healthy people, it’s usually caused by exercising without the right fuelling. It feels like you just want to crawl back to bed, you lose your appetite, your limbs are heavy and your mind feels foggy.

At the start of your workout, your body relies on the food you’ve eaten and stored energy, such as fat and glycogen in muscles. In extreme cases, it looks for a “last resort” source, but this is super hard work – to use proteins (ie body tissue), you first need to process it to break it down. Extreme bonking comes with some unpleasant friends, dehydration, physical overheating of the body and worst, brain.

Early morning sessions on a light or zero breakfast or later in the day on an empty stomach are likely to create the ideal situation for a little bonk.

Whilst the other type of bonking could be considered good cardio exercise too, here’s some tips to avoid an inappropriate bonk!

1. Make sure you eat properly

This applies both before and for longer sessions, during. Try to eat something including carbs in the hours prior to exercising. So, some cereal with yoghurt and fruit or toast with eggs with avocado for breakfast ahead of a morning short session. For longer morning workouts, think about your previous night’s dinner – no need to go crazy on carb-loading for most of us with moderate physical demands.

Later afternoon or evening routines means you’re good to go on the afternoon snacks. Think a sensible lunch, including proteins and carbs plus a handful of nuts and raisins, oat cakes with cottage cheese, celery with almond butter. Not chocolate or buns – you didn’t earn it yet 😉

Also for longer sessions, add a banana or energy bar.

2. Stay rehydrated

During exercise, you might want to consider an electrolyte or energy drink instead of your usual bottle of water – these come ready made or in tablet form to pop into your bottle. They replenish the body’s mineral balance and keep your available energy high. Don’t forget, the brain uses 25% of our oxygen intake and has a high water content – drop both and you’ll see your performance drop off and that tiredness creep in.

3. Check your temperature

Dress the part – over heating or being chilly affect your water and energy consumption rates. Layers are key to outdoor training and can be helpful indoors too. Better to peel off than start cold, risking muscle injury or finish too warm, risking dehydration or worse.

What do I use? Here’s my favourite products.

Vita Coco – I’m currently a big fan of the lemonade one, gets your mouth watering just smelling it!

Nakd Bars – great for those of us with gluten or dairy allergies and super yummy

Mulebar – for long rides, this is my preferred bar as I’m not a fan of gels – too gooey for me. Mango Tango and Apple Strudel for that top of the hill reward!

Sweaty Betty – UK designed, well made, last for ages sportswear

Velovixen – cos women want to look good cycling too! #nottoomuchpink

Gore – for rainy days and comfortable bottoms!

What do you use to stay energised post exercising? Share the product or technique in the comments – I’m always on the look out for something new and tasty to push me on a few more miles on the bike!


  • kate

    No more bonking for me! Thanks Sarae – been adding BCAAs to my 0600 pre training regime and feel so much better for it. Inspired by you!

    • Sarae

      Hurrah! Glad to hear I’ve been of help and that early in the morning, I think we’re all a bit on autopilot! (Says the girl who leaves home at 0620 to teach at 0700 in Crystal Palace! Oh but it feels so gooooood for the rest of the day!)

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reJUNEviate your 2014 plans – body

(Missed the workbook or part 1? Download them here and here)

This week, I want to share some ideas on how to reJUNEviate your health and fitness through a few tweaks to your day to day. Plus there’s another little visual reminder to add to your notebook, noticeboard or pin on Pinterest boards.

Let’s start simple.

1. Improve your posture – stand or sit tall

I have to admit to having a cheeky internal smile when I complete a first Pilates class with a client, showing them what better posture looks like in the mirror and they say….

[Tweet “”Wow I look somehow taller and slimmer” – yep, that’s what Pilates can do for you.”]

Imagine you have a string coming from the crown of your head and you’re being gently pulled upwards – you’ll raise up out of your slouchy spinal position, be able to breath more deeply and your core will be mildly engaged. Doing this regularly can have a long term impact on your back – putting off future troubles – and on your self image.

2. Check your food groups – eat the rainbow

I’m not about to promote a particular diet fad. I simply don’t believe in them having a long term impact. I do encourage you to keep a food diary – a simple page in a book, a memo on your smartphone or a quick email to yourself and check the balance you’ve got between the major food groups (carbs, proteins and fats) and the balance between fresh and ready made products. For example, too many processed foods will tip you over your daily salt and sugar intake, as well as high levels of fats and carbs with poor protein, vitamins and mineral sources.

Think of the rainbow colours – brown and white aren’t there. Add more red berries, juicy plums, green leaves, bluey purple aubergines and sunshiny citrus fruits. You get the idea!

3. Move it or lose it – mind/body connection

Not some woo-woo mumbo jumbo. Hardcore fact. You can improve your muscle strength (the force it can output) with just one exercise session. Yep that’s how great your brain and muscle connection is. Keep using it and you’ll develop longer, bulky muscles with reduced fat as well as better heart health.

Start slow – if you’re anxious, seek out a professional, for example, your doctor, a physio, a REPS registered trainer. Then keep going. This is way easier if you build exercise in with others and by doing something fun.

Personally, I hate running (scarred by school cross country in the rain wearing giant green knickers!), but love a dance based class like Zumba.

4. Get more sleep – recovery is smart

Whilst you’re dreaming of wonderful things, your body is repairing the day’s damage and restoring its balance by flushing out toxins and replacing them with good stuff, like glycogen. It’s also a chance for your body to remove the pressure on your joints, including your spine. Make sure your mattress is firm, you don’t get too hot or too cold and that your head is properly supported.

Try to build a regular bedtime routine – tricky with a busy life, I know – what works for you? A long bath, reading a book or listening to a play on the radio. Maybe lavender oil on your pillow or a hot cocoa. Just 30 minutes extra sleep will deliver real benefits.

5. Invest in professional care – head to toe

Visit a sports massage therapist, physiotherapist or osteopath to get your skeleton and muscles checked out, even if you’re not a budding Olympian. Checking your feet with a podiatrist, getting your annual optician’s appointment or seeing your dentist are all wise long term investments in your body and wellbeing. They can all pick up direct and indirect health concerns – for example, podiatrists can spot circulation issues and opticians detect blood pressure issues.

6. Dress the part – look good, feel good

This is key especially if you work from home or are the “visual aid” to your job (think receptionist, teacher, movie icon…). Get out of old, over washed clothes and into ones that make you feel good. Switch blacks and greys for bright colours – be bold, or start with your accessories – a tie or scarf, socks and shoes can all add a little more oomph to you. For big occasions, if you’re not 100% sure of the dress code, ask or hire a stylist. (I love Dean St Society’s Hilary Rushford’s great advice on blending the high street with key expensive pieces with a twist of individuality)

And take those compliments on the chin – you look gorgeous!

Now download this little reminder and start the reJUNEviation of your body and health! (Don’t forget to pin me!)

reJUNEvenate - body SM image

Add any extra ways you find valuable in the comments – I’d love to learn some new ones!

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fear – move with it (part 2)

Last week’s b-mail looked at doing with your fears and leaving them behind you. That’s an ok strategy if they are holding you back, but what if they are driving you forward?

When looking at what future “you” is doing, enjoying and living, you could be driven by a fear that pushes you out of your comfort zone and motivates your actions. And can help you create new habits – ways of being and doing.

A real tangible example is when you begin to change the way you look after your body. Completing workouts with energy left over for more fun with your family and friends, then “falling off the wagon”.

You miss a few sessions and your hard work starts to come undone, but you’ve had a taste of the good stuff (endorphins, the happy hormone) followed by those old feelings – you sleep less well, the wobbly bits get a bit more wobbly again and your energy drops. You love those new feelings and the results you see. Fear that you’ll return to your old ways keep you accountable.

Or perhaps, you’re studying a programme that will enable you to switch jobs or career paths. It’s a gate keeper – no certificate, no go. But it’s haaaaaard. Fitting in study around your hectic diary and the many demands on your time. Plus you know that you are gonna rock that new job, take your new field up to a whole new benchmark. Fear that you’ll never see those new highs, because of a few missed hours study, makes you shift your priorities and build support from those around you to maximise your time.

To help you understand and harness your changes, I’ve created a little worksheet for you to download and keep handy. It seeks to help you understand your change or stretch in more depth and give you the drivers to help you move with your fear.

Download your copy here.

What fear is driving you on to you goal? How do you harness its power? Share your fear moving tactics in the comments.

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fear – no place to hide (part 1)

Recently, I watched Monsters University – yep I know, late comer to that party! Mike, the loveable green eyeball, identifies his life ambition is to be a scarer. The monster that jumps out of your cupboard, creeps up from under your bed or creates those weird shadows on the wall. All this monitored and measured by the amount of screams generated.

Each of us has our own crew of monsters. They really enjoy the status quo and what it offers them but pop-up and surprise us, when we’re trying to add some stretch in our lives.

These monsters create a place to hide and stop you achieving by generating fear. They remove the certainty that nothing unexpected is going to happen. They prevent the risk of failure. They ensure no-one points their fingers and judges your decisions or direction.

They want to paralyse you. They want to keep you firmly in your current patterns of behaviour, performing your habitual tasks and routines.

Why? They’re comfortable and allowing you to change, grow and develop means them getting uncomfortable and ultimately, reduced to being memories.

Fear is a complex beast – if only it were as simple as making sure the curtains are properly closed and that final check under the bed before switching off the light. Some fears require counselling to release them, others can be transformed through positive coaching and some by investing your time and efforts in seeking solutions.

Here’s 4 strategies that I deploy when the monsters sneak up:

1. Practice, Practice, Practice

The first time for anything is scary. The second time is a bit more predictable and by the third it’s starting to come more naturally. How?

  • repeat the skills: a talented musician undertakes their show piece in its totality AND in its smaller components, whether a tricky phrase or a difficult fingering.
  • get an audience: ok, you can’t necessarily get in front of the actual people, but I’m sure you can find a friend or peer who will “sit” in and play your audience for you. They can do it nicely or they can play it mean, moody or emotional – whatever helps you build your best performance.

Experiencing something helps build your confidence, answer any concerns and can grow your motivation.

2. Worse possible outcome

Our imaginations are powerful tools, when they work for us. When they work against us, they can create not just monsters, but terrible disasters. We picture ourselves caught out, making fools of ourselves, laughter or screams ringing in our ears. You need to change the film genre. How?

  • make it a comedy: in this new version, you get to dress the characters in costume, change the scenery and location, add a twist with a rainstorm, add some new actors. Importantly, you get to make the outcome side-achingly funny.
  • make it a kid’s movie: this time the plot gets simplified. Strip out complexity by seeing it with a child’s eyes and knowledge. Words spoken are easier to understand, body language hides nothing and our perspective is altered – solutions appear and helpers drop in resulting in a happy ending.

Or pick your favourite genre, what ploys and story lines norms shift your rotten tomato reviewed film into a blockbuster?

3. Small steps

Fear sometimes comes from a sense of overwhelm – the change or stretch you want being just toooooo much for you. Imagine your goal and all it requires of you as a giant buffet. There’s dips and chips, there’s all sorts of colourful salads, then further along come the pastas and the fill ’em up items – fish, meat and carb-alicious potatoes and breads. Next up are the bakes. Then cakes, trifles, fruits all accomplished by juices, smoothies, waters, teas and more.

No-one can eat it all in one sitting or on their own – yep not even you, Ms or Mr Superhero! Take a plate and plan your first portion – pick something you know. Eat and digest. Pick a bowl, use your chopsticks, fingers or a fork. Be brave – go spicy!

Apply this principle to your goal. What are the different elements? What are you familiar with? What requires a little more effort or skill to complete? Where do you need to be a bit braver?

4. Recognise your progress

The best fear killer I know. Celebrate your successes. Big ones. Small ones. Let me share a personal and current example I’m working on.

In June, I’m launching an afternoon co-working event. My fear? That it will be a giant flop. No-one will come and those who do will hate each other, never to attend again!

Over the weekend, I found my venue. It’s perfect. High speed wifi, easy to get to, amazing menu and a quirky, upbeat vibe. What did I do? I had a little celebration on Facebook – check out those cakes!

Several people wrote me messages about attending. Others said how great the place looked. And my fears got squished – maybe not totally gone, but already smaller and less powerful.

What’s your fear and how are you going to bring it out of hiding this week? Share your fear killers, new movies and successes in the comments.

PS Interested in joining me in June? Watch out for more updates on Facebook by liking my page.

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nourish me – 60 self-care activities

Are you driven? Busy all the time? Squeezing in the last email or a quick clear up before bed. Multitasking is your way of life. Listening to your other half or kids, whilst eating your breakfast and drying your hair. Catching up on your TV viewing whilst ironing or doing your filing. Reading 3 books at once and hardly taking any of them in. Groceries arriving by delivery from a favourites list each week.

Sound familiar? Hmmmm how’s that working out for you? Do you find yourself brimming full of energy, bouncing out of bed ready and raring to get going with you day? Or perhaps you struggle to find the motivation and effort necessary to keep juggling all your tasks, responsibilities and your change actions.

Training programmes for elite sportspeople incorporate variety, focus AND recovery days, which include treats, relaxation and restorative activities. Bankers, hedge fund managers and city professionals are fitting in mindfulness practice into their hours at desks. Yoga pods and corporate fitness classes are popping up at workplaces near you……actually, what are you doing to build in some self-care into your life?

Nourishing yourself – body and mind – is key to achieving your life goals, building a career you love and relationships that count as well as maintaining your health and fitness.

I certainly notice when my self-care goes out the window. I’m grouchy and snappy due to a lack of proper sleep. My tummy bloats out ridiculously as I eat badly. My body feels heavy and doesn’t enjoy Pilates classes. I struggle to make decisions and easily distract myself from the task in hand.

So this week I’m pledging to add more self care into my life and nourish me. I’ve brainstormed a giant list of possible ways and challenge you to pick a few to add to your week.

  1. Take a walk or bike ride (fancy a challenge? Do it for charity – we’ve signed up here)
  2. Visit the beach
  3. A looooong bath at the end of the day
  4. Big green smoothies to start the day
  5. Finding overgrown grass and putting my bare feet in it
  6. Lying outside and staring up at the sky
  7. Cooking my favourite meal (tom kha soup with extra tofu a la Rosa’s)
  8. Get up early and watch the sunrise
  9. Read an inspirational book
  10. Re-read an old favourite
  11. Write a gratitude diary
  12. Play with my dogs (ok this one is future tense!)
  13. Snuggle up with someone dear
  14. Go somewhere new
  15. Try new things in general – food, activity, workspace
  16. Meditate
  17. Play music and do the kitchen dance (or invent your own family dance moves)
  18. Meet a friend
  19. Eat your 5 a day in fruit and veggies
  20. Be super present in the moment
  21. Get more sleep
  22. Stop multitasking
  23. Schedule me time everyday
  24. Do some sports – Pilates, yoga, gym class, run (Fancy these at your workplace? Arrange them with Sally at Stretching the City)
  25. Visit the hairdressers
  26. Paint your toes
  27. Get a really good sports massage (I recommend Physio in the City’s brilliant team)
  28. Bake a cake
  29. Paint or knit or sew
  30. Learn something new – do a class (try entheos)
  31. Set new personal limits for myself
  32. Indulge in a little retail therapy
  33. Enjoy my morning coffee or afternoon tea break
  34. Take a multivitamin and probiotic
  35. Ditch the lightbulbs and use candles for mood lighting
  36. Ditch the alarm clock
  37. Do a crossword or sudoku puzzle
  38. Buy a small box of expensive handmade chocolate
  39. See a movie
  40. Breath deeply
  41. Pick or buy some bright blooms
  42. Write a postcard or letter to your nan
  43. Plant herbs outside your windows
  44. Practice mindfulness
  45. Order a posh cocktail
  46. Let the wind blow through your hair
  47. Download eclectic playlists from Spotify
  48. See a band or orchestra play live
  49. Join a bookclub
  50. Dress up (inspiration – #StylemeMay via Dean Street Society)
  51. Laugh out loud
  52. Cry until your nose runs
  53. Take a hot shower
  54. Volunteer at a local charity
  55. Play being a tourist in your town, village or city
  56. Turn off all laptops, phones and ipads at least 60 minutes before bedtime
  57. Read the Sunday papers from cover to cover in bed
  58. See play or musical
  59. Download and display an inspirational poem, quote or image.
  60. Reading blogs from people who are honest and care about you (i.e. mine 🙂 )

Crikey – Think that gives me and you plenty to choose from and show ourselves more self-care.

Pick just a few and let me know in the comments what difference it makes to your life, your  head, your heart and your body this week. Or have you got another nourishment to add to the list? Pop it in the comments too.

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