31 December 2014


2014 is nearly over, and this year has definitely had a number of highlights. This year I have loved developing my fitness and moving my blog content towards more fitness/lifestyle content. I also participated in a number of races including two half marathons and a 10k. I can't wait to see what 2015 brings for me, it's hopefully going to be a good year!

So here are just a number of the highlights from across a few months this year!

- I had an pretty awesome time celebrating my 20th birthday. I had a fantastic weekend visiting London Zoo, watching my favourite movie and seeing in my birthday at midnight from the top of Center Point in Central London. 
- I also headed down to Somerset house, during London Fashion Week, to film a short documentary about the event. It's still a video I'm very proud of making and hopefully something that people enjoy.

The month of my first half marathon! After a few months of training (although not entirely consistent) I ran the Plymouth Half Marathon and swiftly developed a love for the distance. Next April I'm planning to run the same event and am aiming to shave a bit off my time to achieve a new P.B. on the course. 

- I started a run streak! I nearly forgot to include (how I do not know!). If you don't follow me on Twitter (@afloralcrown) - you may not know that I decided to run at least a mile everyday. After being inspired to start by Amy Lawrenson I set off on my challenge. I've done a couple of updates here and here since I began. I'm still going strong so if you want to stay updated on that check out my Twitter. If I've worked it out correctly, the anniversary of my first half marathon should actually mark 365 days of running - meaning I'll have runstreaked for a whole year!

- I ran my first 10k event - We Own The Night and had an incredible amount of fun doing so. The whole atmosphere was amazing and I'm hopefully going to be heading back for the second year running next year.

- I visited the Harry Potter Studio Tour with my best friend to celebrate her birthday. I would highly recommend the studios if you loved looking behind the scenes at films or if you're an avid Harry Potter fan.

- I got involved with the Great Blogger Bake Offcelebrating all things Bake-Off with weekly challenges tying in with the themes from each week. Although I didn't complete all the weeks, I had a lot of fun and loved checking out everyone else's yummy looking posts!
- I met Charlie for the first time to shoot some images for her blog and it was so lovely to finally meet her. We took lots of photos for her blog and I had SO much fun doing it! She was so lovely and just a great person to be around, definitely a firm highlight of my year. I was lucky enough to take some more photos and meet Charlie twice more after that. Hopefully 2015 will include a couple more chances to take some more photos with her and maybe a spot of brunch or two!

- I ran my second half marathon achieving a new personal best and a great feeling of achievement. It was great to see how my fitness had developed throughout the year and I'm hoping to take a little bit more time off that time and achieve another P.B. next year.

- I had a little bit of a redesign on my blog and I'm really happy with how it turned out. I'm planning to have another redesign in the New Year, but for now I'm planning to keep it how it is.
- Along with the redesign came a spur of blogging inspiration. I decided to blog every other day throughout November in order to get my blogging mojo back. It definitely worked and I'm hugely happy with the amount of posts I published over the month. It also lead we down posting about fitness a whole lot more which is a major passion of mine.
- I also got to meet the lovely Fashercise girls for a spot of lunch and an epic trying on session of some of the fantastic clothing they sell from their site and I got to meet the gorgeous puppy Bailey! Alex and Cam were both incredibly lovely and I big thank you very much goes to them for letting me do that! 

And that brings us to the final month of the year...- I set about with an intention to blog every single day leading up to Christmas and I am so happy that I achieved that. It really gave me a chance to post a lot more about fitness and it's a subject I'm going to carry on posting about in the New Year. To write content about something I've had a lifelong passion for comes incredibly easy to me and allows me to produce a wide variety of content. If you haven't already, check out the full 24 Days of Christmas Fitness.
- I also had the incredible opportunity of meeting Darcey Bussell and being taught a dance class by her, with 5 others. It was a pretty amazing experience to say the least. Another huge thank you to Boots and Charlie who made it all possible and a truly special experience. 

Those were just some of the stand out moments for me this year. I didn't really think I'd done too much but looking back on it now it's been pretty great. I can't wait to see what 2015 brings. I'm hoping to carry on posting a lot more about fitness as it's something I've thoroughly enjoyed writing about this year. 2015 looks set to be a good one fitness and races wise, with a number of events already lined up for next year!

I got a whole lot more involved with the fitness and fitness blogger community on Twitter and have had the chance to speak to SO many amazing people. It's been amazing just how many conversations I've had about a bunch of different topics and chatting to a lovely group of people. Each one has inspired me in their own different way and I really hope I can get the chance to meet more of them in 2015!

Hope you all have a great New Year Eve's and see you in 2015!

30 December 2014


So what will 2015 bring for you? For me I'm hoping it will be a year filled with races, eventsexciting opportunitiesand hopefully a little bit of travel on the side. 

It's my 21st birthday at the very beginning of February. I'm not hugely excited of the fact I'm turning 21, more the fact that I get to spend the time around the day seeing friends and hopefully doing some pretty fun things. The weekend before I'm heading up to London as I'm actually running the Cancer Research Winter Run 10k. It sounds like a pretty cool race (quite literally with snow zones & polar bears) and should be a great chance to have fun whilst running! As for the rest of the week I don't really have many plans as of yet but I'm hoping to just relax with my friends & family and also head out for a meal. 

I know I keep mentioning it but 2015 brings my biggest challenge. You may have already seen me mention it a while back on Twitter, but I just can't quite bring myself to mention it in full, online just yet. Because of the intensity of it and what it is it, it means I've not really got anything planned at all until September. Once my event has happened I'm hoping to make things happen and sort out perhaps a bit of travel, experience or maybe working a new job for a bit.

I want to try and sort my life out. Not as easy as that sounds. I want to try and figure out the career I want to head down and where I want to be job wise. I enjoy the current job I'm in but I can't see myself staying there forever. I love fitness a lot and I'm really hoping to make that part of my job. Photography is also something I highly enjoy as a hobby but I'm nowhere near skilled enough to turn that into a an actual career as a photographer. Finding a career where I can incorporate creating things and fitness would be an ideal scenario but I'm up for giving anything and everything a go. Equally, would be the chance of working with sports brands whether that was in social media or through my blog. 

I'm really hoping 2015 can be the best year. I'm feeling positive as I've already got a couple of good things planned but I really want to look back on 2015 and feel amazing about it. 

Let me know what your plans are for 2015 and what you're looking forward to more. Tweet me @afloralcrown.

28 December 2014


When our glasses are empty and stomachs are full, Christmas time quickly comes and goes. We start looking towards the New Year with many people making resolutions to kick start their fitness routines again or begin a new exercise regime. I've got a big event next year and although it's still the celebratory period before we welcome in the 1st of January, I can't help but carry on exercising. I want to head into the New Year feeling great, feeling prepared, and ready to throw myself into full training. On Christmas Day I definitely treated myself and although I felt slightly guilty in parts (I know I shouldn't really have) I made that an extra special treat day. I gave myself that time to indulge but I still went out for a 7 mile run in the morning. That treat day put me in such great frame of mind to really knuckle down and focus on my training and also to try and improve my diet a bit more. I had an awesome sense of motivation and inspiration to really work myself next year and make my goals happen.

For the space between now and the 31st I'm not having detox, ready for it all to happen again on New Year's Day, I'm having a mini fitness warm up. Mentally and physically gearing myself up for the New Year. On Boxing Day I ran two miles down to the gym, did a short weights session and felt great getting back in the gym again. Saturday was also followed a gym session  where I had a lot of fun workout with kettlebells. Today is swim day and I'm excited to get back in the pool after Christmas.

Making sure that I am drinking enough water each day is something that I am always failing at. Sometimes I will go without drinking for a whole day which I know is 100% not good for me. It's something I try and get into but I end up doing it for a couple of days before reverting back to not drinking much. I am determined now to hydrate and actually get enough water into my system this coming year. So far I'm not doing particularly great at this so from Monday I'm really going to make it my goal.

In terms of eating? There is going to be a fair bit of temptation from all the food left over in the fridge. I've got lots of ideas written down and a huge shopping list of some good wholesome foods to try making (and then eat), but a Christmas treat or two may still come into the equation. I'm hoping to get some more recipes posted on here in the coming months of recipes that I've tried out.

When the clock hits midnight on the 31st December, I never really have many feelings towards heading into a brand new year, it tends to feel like a normal day to me. This time however I feel a bit different heading towards that stroke of the clock. I'm very excited to see what 2015 brings. With events, my 21st birthday, and my big challenge - I hope it's going to be a great year!

What are your New Year's fitness plans or do you prefer not to have make any? Let me know @afloralcrown. Are you planning to start your fitness again now or waiting until the 1st to give yourself a brand new start?

26 December 2014


For the past 24 days leading, up to Christmas Day, I've posted everyday with fitness themed ideas. I've loved writing about fitness, it's something I'm hugely passionate about that I found incredibly naturally to me to write about. I've really loved writing these fitness themed posts and I'm planning to continue heading down this content route into the New Year. Below are the links to all the posts that have gone up this month!

If there's any specific posts you've enjoyed this month, of if there's anything you want to see more of on here in 2015, let me know @afloralcrown.

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and hope you all enjoy the rest of your holidays!

25 December 2014


Wishing you all a very merry Christmas!!

I kick started my morning with a 7 mile run and I'm so happy I went out! It was the perfect way to start the day. Quiet roads and only a couple of people about meant a peaceful long run to begin my day.

I hope you all have an amazing day! Enjoy yourselves and if you get the chance head out for some fresh air in between all of the celebrating!

24 December 2014


Today's recipe is super simple and perfect for Christmas Eve. Remember those bananas I told you to save in the freezer from the ice cream sandwich recipe? And that spare bit of bar I said to leave behind? Well here is what you're going to need them for... a super easy and tasty ice cream with cookie dough balls that taste so good.

Simply whizz up the frozen bananas in a blender, add in a couple of balls that you've created from rolling up the bars and mix that all together. There we have it! The quickest dessert for Christmas Eve perfect to have whilst watching your favourite Christmas film!

Which is the Christmas film you have to watch every year? Let me know what films you watch at this time of year @afloralcrown. I hope you all have a lovely Christmas Eve and a fantastic day tomorrow! My plan is to get up tomorrow morning and head out for Christmas Day run!

I've been posting everyday as part of my 24 days of Christmas Fitness. Make sure to check out all the other posts that have gone up over this month. Also make sure to check back tomorrow for a Christmas Day post!

23 December 2014


I'm currently trying to create and write out a long term training plan for an event I've entered into for September 2015. I'm in the early stages of my training at the moment, building up my strength and hoping to begin a proper training routine in the early months of the New Year. As it's still a very big work in progress I thought I'd share my current experience to both help you if you're in a similar process and also to see if any of you could offer any tips to me!

One of the first things that has really helped me is jotting down each time I do a workout and what it consisted of. This means when it comes to planning future workout it's helps me to keep track of which ones I need to do next. I'm definitely a visual person when it comes to planning, so for me it's helped a lot having everything I've done (and hopefully plan to do) written in front of me. It's also a good idea to have anything you've got planned on a calendar. Things like work, holidays, days outs - all can be written down. This makes it a bunch easier to add in your training sessions. You know when you can or can't do a specific training schedule and also when you may need to move a session if you can't make it. 

Draft, re-draft and draft again. It's a long process but I THINK I'm slowly making some sort of progress towards finalising a somewhat basic plan of action. I'm getting there but sometimes I'm far too indecisive. It's taken me a couple of weeks to get to a point where I'm getting my head around what I need to do and when. It's going to take another couple of weeks to settle into a routine and make sure I'm fitting all my training in but, I'm excited to start doing some harder training sessions and to see my mileage grow! 

At the moment the one thing I'm struggling on is finding a place to put a plan. I've though about a calendar but that spaces aren't bit enough. I've looked at a diary but at the moment it's not visual enough. So I'm really wondering what I should do in terms of finding a way to write down and display my schedule so I know exactly what I'm doing and when.

If you have any suggestions at all on constructing a training plan (long or short term) please send them over of tweet me @afloralcrown.

I'm posting eveyrday as part of my 24 Days of Christmas Fitness. Make sure to check back each day for a new post all the way up until Christmas Day!

22 December 2014


I've written a short post about this book previously (find that here) where I introduced it and now it's a couple of months later I thought I'd do a follow up post. I've slowly been looking through the book and gaining inspiration from all the recipes. I've jotted a couple of my favourites down and I'm hoping to make them over the next couple of weeks. When I do, I'm hoping to share some of the results on here (whether they're a success or failure!).

So far, I've tried out a couple of the recipes and they have all tasted SO good! My friend made the Cranberry Quinoa Breakfast Bites which were seriously super tasty and definitely moreish. The Ginger & Cinnamon Cookies we made (two separate recipes) were really easy and perfect to whip up to have some delicious treats on hand. Finally, we tried out the Baked Broccoli Fritters and I think these have just cinched the top spot as my favourites so far. They were a great snack for lunch and would make a great companion for a salad dish for dinner.

I loved reading through all the information at the front of the books, as well as gaining a lot of inspiration from browsing the recipes. This book supplies some really interesting information the small additions you can make to your cupboard that can offer up healthier choices to your eating. For example, using a small amount of coconut oil in your dishes and frying as it is far less processed and and a more natural alternative.

My current list of things to make and bake grows every time I pick up this book. But for now here are four recipes that are topping that list.
- BB Brownies: because who doesn't love to have a brownie as a treat?!
- Lamb Meatballs & Cauliflower Tabbouleh: this looks so fresh and packed with flavour.
- Blueberry Pancakes: the perfect breakfast to kick start a day or for a late Sunday breakfast.
- Anytime Eggs: a great weekend (or anytime, as the name suggests) breakfast or brunch to try out. Plus it looks incredibly east (and tasty) to make!

The Hemsley & Hemsley - The Art of Eating Well on Amazon for £11.75 (price correct at time of publishing this post - 22nd December 2014) 
What are you favourite cookbooks and which ones would you recommend? Let me know @afloralcrown.

I'm posting everyday as part of my 24 days of Christmas Fitness. Make sure to check back each day for a new post all the way up until Christmas Day !

21 December 2014


A challenge isn't just the physical battle your body goes through, but the mental battle you face as well.

With a number of events and challenges coming up for me in 2015 I've been looking for sources of motivation and inspiration that'll help push me in the right direction. I would say I'm pretty good at motivating myself 8 times out of 10, but there are a number of occasions when I can feel slightly down or lackluster about working out. When you've got big challenges coming up and sometimes things aren't going the way you planned, it can be incredibly hard to keep going and not lose that motivation you had when you started. I've already touched on how to keep training and exercising through the winter, but the mental battle you face to keep going is a whole other story.

Magazines and books
Magazines and books can be a huge source of information and can offer up inspiring stories from both athletes and "ordinary people".
I've recently finished reading Swim Bike Run by Alistair and Jonathon Brownlee. I really enjoyed this book and I'm planning on rereading it again soon. It switches between the two brothers telling their story of how they developed over the years and how their journey led up to them competing in the Summer Olympics in London 2012. I found it really interesting reading about the two different styles of training the brothers have and the changes in their relationships that happened as they dominated the World triathlon scene. As well as the brothers story it also includes tips on all three disciplines and a coaches workouts. I highly recommend this book if you're interested in triathlons or in learning about the Brownlee brothers journey to becoming World and Olympic Champions. Whilst reading this book I just wanted to get on bike and go for a ride. It really made me look at my training and WANT to go for it. In times of doubt I think I'll pick up this book and read the struggles they faced, to help me get through any tough times I may have.

As well as the Brownlee brother's book I've also been reading a number of magazines. Magazines offer some great training tips, stories and pages of fantastic content. They're also great for finding your next race to enter. Training for a specific race can be a huge motivating factor and so it's incredibly useful to have somewhere that details upcoming events. They're filled with articles on a whole range of topics and sports specific magazines are a great place to learn more about sports you're specifically interested in. I find the tips and workouts really useful for both trying out at the gym, outside and mixing up what I do in my current routine. They also offer a host of recipes to try out which are not only great to try out but also offer a bunch of inspiration to be more creative and experimental in the kitchen.

Blogs and the online community
The amount of blogs that are online now is incredible. There are thousands and thousands of pages filled with personal stories, tips, tricks and motivation available - all at the click of a button. Reading another persons journey to a big event can be hugely motivating. Reading about any troubles they've had and how they've overcome them can really push you to keep going. I follow a number of fitness bloggers (I've posted about some of my favourites here and here) but a couple I regularly check back on include Sophie, Charlie and Leah. I love reading all about a persons journey from having that initial idea to enter an event, all the way through the completion and their thoughts and feelings when they've accomplished it. Blogs and videos are a great way to live vicariously through others and it gives you an opportunity to discover a whole variety of events and challenges across the globe. The community, especially on Twitter, is hugely inspiring, supporting and a pretty special place. You can share your journey and people can interact with you sharing ideas, workouts and giving you that extra push.

So that's just a little bit about where the places I'm looking for inspiration and motivation at the moment. Where do you get your inspiration from and how do you stay motivated? Let me know @afloralcrown.

I'm posting everyday as part of my 24 days of Christmas Fitness. Make sure to check back each day for a new post all the way up until Christmas Day !

20 December 2014


Today I bring you another awesome recipe by the lovely Sam Hadadi. If you haven't already make sure to check out Sam's other recipe post as she was kind enough to do not one but two recipe posts for my 24 Days of Christmas! So HUGE thank you again to Sam!

What you'll need:
2 tbsp vitafiber
1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
1.5 tsp ground almonds
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Gently hear the vitafiber in a saucepan. Once it starts bubbling, remove it from the heat and immediately stir in the rest of your ingredients. It needed, mix the 'dough' together with your hands until well combined, then shape into three small balls and stack your snowman. Leave to cool before decorating however you fancy, then devouring!

Another big thanks to Sam for creating not one, but two posts for me this month! If you haven't already, make sure to head over to her blog - I Am Into This - for some brilliant recipe ideas! Also check her out on Twitter and Instagram.

I'm posting everyday as part of my 24 Days of Christmas Fitness. Make sure to check back each day for a new post all the way up until Christmas Day! 

19 December 2014


I struggle to run without music. Swimming, weights, cycling - all 100% I can do without music. But running? That's where I struggle. Quite a bit in fact. As soon as I even think about heading out the door for a run I need to know where my headphones are.

The truth is that I love running to music. It can help me keep pace, know how long I've been running for, and my biggest reason? I find it very motivating for me. Certain songs can really help me keep going, speed up and get me up the tough hills. But, for my big challenge next year I can't use music.  Not even one. tiny. song. (Although I think I may find myself singing at one point)... It'll just be me, my environment and my brain together. A mental battle which I'm preparing myself to dive into.

Not only do I need to get used to running without music due to not being able to race with it but also to learn about my breathing and working on my pace with it. Sometimes running with music can have a negative effect. If you listen to a high tempo song, yes it can increase your pace and motivate you but, it can also affect your heart rate and equally your breathing. This quickened heart rate means your breaths can soon speed up making you breathe quicker and shallower. Sometimes deeper breaths can really help you keep going for longer and also mean you're not panic breathing to bring oxygen in. So getting rid of the upbeat music can help maintain a more balanced and steady pace of breathing. Without the music it also means you have the ability to listen to you breaths and react accordingly, perhaps slowing it down if it's too quick. Much like when I swim I can count my breaths to my strides focusing on my pace.

Personally, I find I have to mix my workout playlists up a lot or change the order around, especially for long runs. Otherwise, halfway through a playlist I suddenly realise how much longer I've got to go and it can either motivated me if I'm having a good run or can also become rapidly demotivating as I think of how much further I have left to go. Turning off the music also makes you more aware of your surroundings. You're awakening your senses with the stimuli that are around you, those of which may have been previously blocked out by the music in your ears.

I'm hoping to get a GPS sports watch in the next couple of months. I've got my eye on a couple of different ones including the TomTom Multisport GPS watch as well as the Suunto Ambit 3 - both of which look great for triathlon training. I think this will definitely help me to just get out the door and run without worrying about my music as the watch records my workout, rather than my phone (which I use both for music & record keeping with the Nike+ Running App). I'm looking forward to simply putting my trainers on and heading out the door with just my watch. And one extra bonus of no music? No tangled headphones or ear buds falling out on me!

If anyone has any recommendations on sports watches or any reviews let me know @afloralcrown on Twitter. Also, what are your thoughts on running/working out without music? Do you find yourself relying on it too much or are you better off working out without that motivation in your ears?

I'm posting everyday as part of my 24 days of Christmas Fitness. Make sure to check back each day for a new post all the way up until Christmas Day !

18 December 2014


Before you continue - this is definitely not an eat everyday treat. Obviously treats are okay in moderation, and the same goes for sweet treats like this. Although they're raw and contain no refined sugars they'll still be high in natural occurring ones due to the dates and banana. This is definitely a snack that should be enjoyed occasionally. I made just the one sandwich whilst making this recipe, which I cut in half and had it on two separate occasions - half is definitely enough! The other discs I made I'm saving for separate snack bars and also save one in the freezer to keep for the recipe going up on Christmas Eve! So... If you're looking for an alternative to an ice cream sandwich that's filled with natural goodness - read on!

These start off life in an incredibly similar way to my homemade snack bars.
For this recipe you'll need:
- 200g pitted dates
- 100g cashews
- 2 tbsp of cocoa powder to make the chocolate sandwich layers

For the ice cream:
- One medium banana (per sandwich)

If you want to eat these sandwiches fairly soon after making them you'll need to pop the banana in the freezer (chopped into thing slices) a couple of hours ahead of making them in order for it to freeze.
For the "sandwich parts"
- Simply whizz the dates and cashews in the blender together. Leave it there for the plain discs or split the mixture in half and add the cocoa powder to make chocolate discs. Compact the mixture into a disc (I've used a poaching ring here), aiming for around centimeter high. Use a wet hand to make it easier to work with this mixture as it can get quite sticky! Repeat this for both flavours until you've used up both mixtures. When you've made a number all your circles place them in the fridge to firm up.

- When you're ready to assemble your sandwich, and your discs have set, blend your frozen banana up until you read a creamy ice cream texture. Place your ice cream in-between two discs and then quickly place back in the freezer for around half an hour until it sets up again.
- Once that's all set you're ready to go! Take out the freezer and enjoy!

Make sure to save a disc and have a spare frozen banana ready in the freezer because I have a super easy recipe coming on Christmas Eve using both! What did you think of this recipe? Let me know on Twitter @afloralcrown your thoughts and if you plan on recreating them.

I'm posting everyday as part of my 24 days of Christmas Fitness. Make sure to check back each day for a new post all the way up until Christmas Day!

17 December 2014


Last Wednesday evening I had a pretty incredible experience. I got to not only meet Darcey Bussell, but I also had the chance to dance with her. There were just six of us and Darcey, together in a studio just off Oxford Street in London. Before I go any further and talk about the experience itself, let me quickly tell you how this all began.

Back in November Charlie tweeted a photo of few of us had finished a Barrecrore class using the Boots #SpecialBecause hastag. The #SpecialBecause campaign runs across social media networks allowing you to share who is special to you and why. We didn't really think anything would come from the tweet but a few weeks later I received a text from Charlie. She asked if I was free to travel to London to attend a special class and that it was in relation to the Special Because campaign and the Barrecore tweet she had sent. At first I was fairly sure I wouldn't have been able to make it due to working on the Thursday, but Charlie said I HAD to be there and that it would definitely be worth it. Luckily, I was able to change my day at work and head up to London on the Wednesday, ready to take part in the class that evening!

I turned up to Danceworks, which is HUGE, and made my way to the studio that we would be dancing in and was met with a cameraman and Christmas tree. I was greeted by a member of the team and waited for the rest of the group. Natasha was next to show and we had a really nice chat before the others arrived. Once everyone was together we began a warm up, led by Natasha. We were told, that our teacher for the class would be arriving shortly. Little did we know Darcey Bussell would be our dance teacher for the evening! I was very shocked to see the former ballerina of the English National Ballet and Strictly judge standing right in front of me. She was incredibly warming and introduced herself to us all whilst talked us through what the class would be like and the sorts of things we could expect from it.

Once we'd taken our positions, me at the back, we began the class. Darcey led us through a series of routines from all different eras and styles of dance. It included 70s, 90s, Egyptian, hand jive, Bollywood and many others, including a Rocky style boxing routine. A couple of us looked nervous before we began, worrying if we would be able to keep up with the dance moves. Darcey was very reassuring to us that it was all about having fun and not take yourself too seriously, if you messed up a move it really didn't matter. The class was SO much fun and I also felt like I was having a good workout without even realising it. Some of the moves I got fairly easily but others really reinforced my thoughts that I am lacking a fair bit with my coordination. The moves in the routine were kept fairly simple but were often repeated a couple of times throughout. The repetition helped a lot with learning the moves and also with what move followed.

Once we'd had a great workout, we got the chance to chat with Darcey before she headed off. She is incredibly approachable and such a pleasure to have a chance to talk to. I couldn't get my head around the fact that I was actually talking to her. We were then treated to a foot massage and a little pamper session after the workout. I had to do a teeny interview to camera, whilst still very red faced and I couldn't quite get into words just how amazing the evening had been. I spoke a little (albeit slightly stuttered and very nervous) about the experience and just how special it had all was. We were very kindly given a couple of gifts by Boots, which was just another very kind gesture that just made this evening even more special.

I headed home on the tube not quite believing what had just happened.

Thank you so much to Boots and everyone who made this evening happen. It was an incredible experience and one I won't be forgetting anytime soon. A big thank you to Darcey for teaching us and making me feel completely at ease, even struggling through moves. I also want to say an extra special thank you to Charlie who is amazing and without her I wouldn't have been able to attend this incredible evening.

You can share who's special to you this Christmas using the #SpecialBecause hastag across social media.


I've used quite a few fitness apps in the past, but recently I've settled on three that I use on a regular basis. I love having apps to track my progress and the exercise I've been doing. I find it really useful to have all my workouts recorded and set out so that I can easily access them again.

Speedo Fit
I really needed an app for swimming and when I saw Speedo had one, I quickly downloaded it. You can add a number of different pools (if you visit more than one), the lengths you have performed, the sets you've completed as well as the duration of your workout. It's a good app that does the job well. The map feature is super useful as it uses your location to find the nearest swimming pools to you. This is incredibly handy if you're away from home and still need a pool to train in. Although I think this a great app dedicated to purely swimming, there are two things I wish they would change. Firstly, I would find it really useful for it to say the average pace of each workout. I'd find improvements to my times a lot easier to measure this way. The other thing is, I wish you could use this app offline. You can't even log a workout without first connecting to the internet. This may not be anything major but it would just be a lot easier to record the swim straight away into the app after a workout, rather than recording it elsewhere and then uploading it later.
If you're looking for an app to record your swims and keep track of your pool workouts, then this is definitely worth a download.
Available free for iOS

You've probably heard of Strava a lot before. It's a brilliant app that has a pretty big following in both the cycling and running communities. It tracks workouts for both sports using the GPS of your device. Not only are the workouts easy to record on the app but as it syncs to an online account it makes it incredibly easy to review your workouts in detail. One super useful thing about Strava is that you can also manually add workouts. If I do a cycle at the gym I can log onto my account online and add it on there, logging it as a stationary trainer. Used a sports watch to record you run?! You can upload your workouts from Timex, Garmin, Suunto & Tom Tom devices - straight to your account. Strava gives a lot of detail including maximum speed and the average speed - both of which I find really useful to have. You can share your workouts using hasthags and join a community of thousands of people. It rewards you with "medals" following each workout, perfect for if you're a competitive person, and if you have a group of people it can put you in a leader board against each other. This is such a fantastic way of motivating you to push yourself each workout and try to beat the others in the community.
If you're looking for a brilliant app that records both running and cycling, I can't recommend Strave enough. .
Available free on iOS & Android (premium update also available)

Nike+ Running
I've mentioned this Nike app a whole while back now (my mini review) and I still use it everyday. I really like it, although I'm not over keen on the new layout change. With the most recent update they've added in a instant run feature, meaning your just hold for 3 seconds and it will automatically start recording, perfect for if you're in a rush or just want to get going. It now tracks the elevation of your route which I know is a feature that a lot of runners will find very handy. Like with Strava, you are manually able to add runs to your account - meaning if you've ran on treadmill, it won't be forgotten about. On the website version it's incredibly easy to share your runs through Facebook and Twitter and the app allows you to connect to a number social media sites to share your runs on.
This is my go to app for running and I'd seriously recommend it for an all round good running app. Download it and give it a go, it's so easy to use that it's worth trying out!
Available free on iOS & Android 

What are your favourite apps or the ones you use the most? Let me know and tweet me @afloralcrown.

I'm posting everyday as part of my 24 days of Christmas Fitness. Make sure to check back each day for a new post all the way up until Christmas Day!

16 December 2014


Why I haven't already written a post about The Meringue Girls before I do not know. I've followed them for a while across various social media sites but I've only just thought about doing a post dedicated to these girls and their amazing creations! Alex Hoffler and Stacey O'Gorman (both trained chefs) met whilst working in a restaurant in Hackney, and since then their sweet empire has been on the rise.

Their 'kisses' are just the tip of that oh-so-sweet tasting iceberg. Cakes, macarons, desserts a plenty, the list just goes on. These girls already have a pretty incredible resume and it's just going to keep on rising. I am very excited to see what lies ahead for them in 2015 and for their second cookery book to be released! The photographer for the girls is David Loftus, who does pretty epic photography. The pictures literally look good enough to eat and are a fantastic companion to the recipes.

I recently had the very great pleasure of meeting the girls in person and they were seriously so lovely to meet, I had a brilliant time. They were both so nice and you can tell that the girls, and everyone they work with, are hugely passionate about what they do. It shows through the products they produce, and the care and attention to detail is not skimmed over one bit.

The kisses above are just part of the girls whole range of super tasty collection. Above is lemongrass & ginger (yellow), green & pink (watermelon), blue (gin & tonic), passionfruit (orange) and pink (raspberry). These are seriously awesome treats to impress someone this Christmas. Not only are they super tasty but how great do they look?! Give someone a pack of these and they will definitely be a winner. These aren't just great for Christmas either, they're lovely treats to surprise someone with all year round or definitely worth keeping to eat for yourself. Due to the fragile nature of these meringues they can only be delivered to addresses in London but you can pick some up, in person, from the Selfridge's Food Hall on Oxford Street. If you fancy making some of these delightful treats yourself, then check out their book as it shows you how to make a ton of recipes including the famous kisses!

If there's one thing you do today, check these girls out on: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook & their website


Today's post is a recipe by the lovely Sam Hadadi from I Am Into This. I contacted Sam back when I was coming up with the ideas for this series and knew I had to include one of her amazing recipes. If you follow her Instagram (beware: everything looks delicious!) you know that Sam creates some super tasty looking dishes. I was very happy when she said yes to creating something for my blog! Like with all her bakes (and her recipes in general) this one does not disappoint. They look seriously awesome and I think I have finally found what to make to use that tin of chickpeas in my cupboard!
So, read on to find out how to make these delicious looking treats created by Sam.

What you'll need:
(Serves 6)
For the 'cookie dough':
- 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and patted dry
- 1 cup nut butter of choice
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Handful dark chocolate chips

For the cups:
- 100g dark chocolate, 85% or higher
- 1 tsp coconut oil, melted

1) Line a muffin tin with silicone cases, then start by making the chocolate cups. Gently melt together the dark chocolate with the coconut oil until smooth, Spoon the chocolate mix into the case, ensure the chocolate goes up the sides. Place in the fridge to set.

2) In the meantime, blitz together the cookie dough ingredients - apart from the chocolate chips - in a high powered blender until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips, then spoon into the set chocolate cases. Eat and devour!

These are SO simple that you seriously need to give these a go! If you do, tweet me @afloralcrown and Sam @samantha_hadadi showing us how they went! Make sure to check out Sam's Instagram, blog and Twitter and a big thank you to Sam for creating this recipe for me!

I'm posting everyday as part of my 24 days of Christmas Fitness. Make sure to check back each day for a new post all the way up until Christmas Day!

15 December 2014


*photo of Charlie taken by me*
I'd say around eight out of ten times I prefer to train alone. At the moment I always train alone. Sometimes that's a good thing and sometimes it isn't. By yourself you can control what you do, where you do, where you go and how long to do it for. You can also cut the session short if you feel like it. You're completely in control, you're just dealing with yourself. All of these things can change when one person becomes two. Instead of dealing with one schedule you're having to juggle different ones.

However training with someone else can be hugely beneficial. Having someone there in itself is a huge motivator. And having that motivation behind you is something is something that can often be overlooked, especially when you're competing in a solo sport.

A partner gives you company. This is probably the most obvious one but, something that is extremely handy whilst on long bike rides or out running. Rather than being a potential chore, training with someone else can be a fun experience and can make even the hardest training session a little easier.
They understand you and what you're going through. If you're training with someone that has a similar event coming up, there's always someone to talk to about training, kit, preparation etc. It can sometimes be a struggle talking to family members or friends that don't get why/what you're training and don't really fancy talking about it 24/7. If you've got a person in the same boat as you it gives you the opportunity to talk to someone with a similar mindset. This is one of the things I also really like about Twitter. Join a community and there are literally hundreds of people across the world willing to talk about anything from to kit to training, to events and offer you tips. Also the blogging community. Fitness blogs are on the increase with some fantastic reads out there (I've done a couple of posts showing you my favourite blogs here and here) and they can offer huge motivators as well as offering tons of tips.

When you train alone it can be far more challenging, especially mentally. This again is a positive thing and a negative. In a race you're not always going to have someone there. You need to be able to get through the long runs/cycles and swims on your own. But initially those long training sessions can be really hard without someone there.

Running clubs - set routes, days and also important during these darker evenings, safety. Plus, there are HUNDREDS about the country now. Not one near you? Grab some friends and set up your own one. Not only is a great opportunity to do set and focused training but it also gives you a great chance to get up and work out.
Exercise classes - great to workout with friends if you don't want to be alone and also someone to be a bit competitive against. Plus if you end up at the front, you're not there alone!

At the end of the day I think it's a bit of both. We enjoy being alone to workout and having that alone time but sometimes we do just need a friend there, whether that's for company or for motivation. For me, at the moment, working out alone works best the majority of the time. I don't really have a set schedule, with each day as my routine can change fairly often. It's useful for me to able to go and train when I can do.

We're all different and I think it's a case of the situations and circumstances we find ourselves in that suit working out solo or working out with a partner. There is no right or wrong and if you feel like training alone sometimes then that's the best option for you.

Let me know what you're thoughts are and when are the sorts of times you find yourself working out with a partner or solo? Tweet me @afloralcrown.

14 December 2014


Okay so here they are. Brownies. When tested they weren't quite the traditional crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside affair, but they still tasted rather delightful. They definitely hit the spot when you're craving a sweet treat and I also find them a great post training reward or a small bar to beat those afternoon cravings. These are fairly easy to make, no bake and can be made nearly 100% raw as well as gluten free depending on the ingredients you use. If you're looking for a sweet treat made from natural ingredients then carry on reading!

So here's what you'll need to make these delicious "brownies" (makes around 8-10 squares)
- A large handful of oats (to make these completely gluten free you can use GF oats)
- One large banana
- 125g pitted dates
- 45ml water
- Around 100g cashews
- 6 tbsp Cocoa powder (you can also use Cacoa powder if you have it to hand)

Begin by blending together, in a food processor, all the dry ingredients. Chop up your banana and add that to the dry mixture. Pulse those altogether. Next, slowly add your dates to the food processor. Pulse these gradually so that it doesn't clog up the machine and use little bits of water to aid the blending. Once you've added all your dates you should get something along the lines of the dough-like mixture above. Place your mixture into a lined tin (a pyrex dish or similar container will also do) and use a wet hand to compact it down to a height of about 3inches. Place in the fridge and leave for around 40 minutes to an hour to set. Once that's done, take it out, slice it up and enjoy. I've been keeping mine in the freezer to help them last longer but if you're planning to keep them for shorter length (they're seriously moreish), then the fridge should be fine. If you do keep them in the freezer take them out and let them defrost slightly for a softer bar.

I will definitely be making another batch of these in the future, they're super handy to have around. Let me know if you give this recipe a go and what you thought of it. Tweet me @afloralcrown.

I'm posting everyday as part of my 24 days of Christmas Fitness. Make sure to check back each day for a new post all the way up until Christmas Day!

13 December 2014


First up let me introduce you to my road bike. It's a men's, around 4/5 years old and second, second hand. It cost me £100 and I've very happy with is at the moment. I'm currently using pedals with cages, which you simply slide your feet into, but I am definitely looking into buying some proper cycling shoes and cleats. My road bike and I have decided to train for two big events I've signed up for next year. One, held in May is a 100 mile bike ride called a Gran Fondo. It'll see me cycling 160 kilometers, climbing 3500m and spending a lot of time training for the day. The second is being held in September and is bigger than the Grand Fondo but a bit more on that in the next couple of months.

So far me and bike are getting along okay but it hasn't been an easy ride at some points in our journey so far...

We didn't get off to the best of starts. To begin with I had zero clue how to change the gears. I'd never ridden a road bike and knew there were a few differences with it compared to a hybrid, but I didn't think I'd get stumped at changing a gear. We could change the gear down to make the resistance great, but we had zero idea how to change the gears back up again. When I say "we" I mean my dad and I. Yes, two of us had trouble changing the gears. For about 10 minutes we were literally pushing everything on this bike to try and change the gears. With not a clue how to change the gears, out came the phone. A quick Google produced the result that you push the brake sideways. Seems incredibly simple and somewhat logical now. Thumb to change one way, sideways push to change back up. Sorted.

With the gears finally sorted we move onto the next stage of the story. I decided to head out for my maiden voyage on the bike. A mile loop where I live was just the place to take it for a spin. about a minute into the ride, and heading up a hill, I changed gears. The wrong way. This resulted in the bike completely disagreeing with me meaning I quickly had to get off before I fell off. Quick stop stop and a struggle to get my feet back into the cages later, I set off again. Lap two went considerably better and I came back home feeling a lot happier with riding. 

We've since then had: the incident with the chain coming off, a couple of wobbles and a few more gear issues. Which brings me to my most recent bike tale of my fall. I've actually written a full post about my first bike fall going into a bike more detail and picking yourself up again after that first fall. It wasn't pleasant, I didn't enjoy it but I learnt to get back up again. 

So that's the story so far of my road bike and I. If you have any recommendations on any kit for road biking or any useful tips please send them my way or tweet me @afloralcrown.

I'm posting everyday as part of my 24 days of Christmas Fitness. Make sure to check back each day for a new post all the way up until Christmas Day!

12 December 2014


So this is my official first made up from scratch recipe! They haven't turned out 100% perfect but I don't think they're too bad! The recipe is extremely simple and perfect for using up those spotty bananas. To make the above banana cupcakes (makes 5) you will need:
-  2 or 3 medium brown spotty bananas
- 1 egg
- 1 heaped tsp baking powder
- 175g ground almonds
- For the chocolate add around 1/2 - 1 full tsp of cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 and line a cupcake tin with cases. Mash up the bananas and then add in all the other ingredients. Give them all a really good mix together before pouring the mixture into the cases. Place in the oven for around 30-35 minutes until a knife is clean when placed in the centre. Once they've cooked transfer to a cooling rack and then enjoy!

Let me know if you give these cakes a go! Also, if you have any tips at all on how to improve this recipe then please send any advice my way @afloralcrown.

I'm posting everyday as part of my 24 days of Christmas Fitness. Make sure to check back each day for a new post all the way up until Christmas Day !