It can be pretty difficult to come up with the perfect Christmas gift ideas, but even more so when the person you want to spoil lives out of a suitcase. When your life is reduced to baggage allowance, you're forced to give up a life filed with material possessions and instead focus on experiences. It's a beautiful way to live your life, focusing on what is really important, but that's also why female travelers are some of the people it is hardest to buy for. If you want to treat that special friend or loved one in your life, you need to take a step back and look at she really values. Don't get distracted by shiny rubbish or fast fashion, instead take inspiration from her sustainable life choices and choose a Christmas gift she will treasure and use all the time. Here are my gift ideas for the female traveler in your life - if she's anything like me, she'll love these thoughtful presents.
This is one of my favourite gifts to give - the gift of creating beautiful memories together. I always love getting people experience gifts, and I love receiving them too. It's always such a great way to surprise people, whether it's with tickets to a gig or dining out at a favourite restaurant. Another great idea is to plan a day trip for the two of you, after all, if she's traveling a lot of the time, it's a great way to make time to really catch up. I love taking my mum or my besties out for afternoon tea or cocktails and an afternoon of chatting about all the things we've missed. If you have a bigger budget to work with, why not go all out and book a surprise trip for the two of you? It could be a great way to share an experience to remember, and to share her traveling experiences. Struggling for ideas? You could look on Red Letter Days or Groupon for ideas and deals.
Us traveling gals love anything that makes our lives easier and our bags lighter. Why not give her a really useful gift that she'll use all the time, and every time she picks it up, she'll think of you and smile. It could be anything from noise-cancelling headphones to help her sleep on the plane, to an iPod or MP3 filled with all her favourite songs, to a Kindle filled with new books to keep her entertained on long travel days. Don't have much money? You could go for a thoughtful Christmas gift and create a memory stick filled with movies, music and more to keep her entertained on long journeys. Flush with cash? Why not splash out on a iPad or somewhere she can store all of her travel photos and edit them, or a new camera for capturing every moment? I really recommend the Olympus Pen - not only is it travel-sized but it takes DSLR-quality pics, I never leave home without it!
If you really want to spoil her and show how thoughtful you can be, why not purchase a luxury fragrance for her? I always make space in my suitcase for perfume and it's a great way to transport her back to her travels even when she's at home. Pay attention to her travel stories and listen out for a place that has really meant a lot to her, a place that has touched her heart. For me, it's Thailand and the scent of frangipani and jasmine and spices mixed with coconut. You could have a perfume mixed especially for her, with all her favourite scent memories and amaze her with your Christmas gift buying prowess. Small budget? Look for a fragrance that already has some of her favourite scents in it and buy her that one. For those with a bit more money to spend, look for luxury perfumes for women for a special fragrance that will make her feel like she's just stepped off the plane on her latest adventure.
When your wardrobe is as big as your suitcase, you're very limited and cut-throat on what takes up your baggage allowance. Female travelers are much more likely to invest in useful clothing items they know will last them for years to avoid wasting money on replacing items when they wear out. Clothes want to be stylish, but also functional and easy to style in a range of looks. Think a great pair of sandals or walking shoes depending on whether she's more of an active or luxury traveler. Think of her comfort, long bus rides and fights can get draughty with chilly air conditioning, why not pick her up a cashmere scarf or jumper to throw on? If she's quite the active and practical gal, you could find her a good travel jacket with plenty of pockets, or a bag that will do the job for a carry-on. There are so many great options, but it all comes down to her personal style.
This is such a great gift, instead of giving a thing, why not use that money to book flights to spend time together? Whether that means paying for her to fly home and visit family and friends, or you buying a flight out to visit her in her latest home. My sister and I are doing this for Christmas, I'm spending her Christmas gift money on buying a flight to go and visit her at home, while she books flights to come and visit me in Hamburg. With other friends, I have plans to buy flights to meet them halfway and explore a new place together as a mutual gift this year.
If you're looking for a Christmas gift for that special gal in your life, I hope these ideas help! Now is the time to get shopping and beat the festive rush to find something to show the female traveler in your life how much you love, and value her friendship this Christmas.
What's the best gift you've ever received? Do you prefer experiences or things as gifts? What's the worst gift you've ever received?
I don't know about you guys, but I like travelling at any time of year and I'm not one to let the winter stand in my way. If you're anything like me, January always gets me thinking about hopping on a plane and jetting off on an adventure. This year I'm spending my first January in the UK in three years, using the time to reminisce about my favourite trips and to plan my next exciting move. Over the years I've spent my summers and winters travelling all over the world, regardless of seasons and unworried by the weather. Some of my favourite trips have been Christmas spent in New York or on the beach in Mauritius, or those winter jaunts around Europe exploring a new city, and road tripping around Australia. My motto has always been "travel smart" because by doing so, you can avoid some of the most common problems associated with winter travel. By preparing and spending some time on your planning, it really can make all the difference to your trip and ensuring you have the best possible time. I've teamed up with Slater & Gordon to talk all about some of the most common issues travellers face during the winter months, and how best to avoid them.
The bane of every traveller's life, but sometimes unavoidable if the weather is just too bad as it was recently with snow storms in New York for some people to make it home. Now if the weather is unsafe, it is totally understandable to cancel flights - but the best thing as a traveller is to be prepared. My best advice, always try and book an early morning flight as your aircraft will usually have arrived the night before and won't be delayed, also, the weather is normally much clearer in the morning and gets worse throughout the day. You may well just miss the worst of any storms and still make it home for dinner. It's always a good idea to have a good travel insurance that will cover any weather-related cancellations in extreme circumstances, and I would recommend just having a little money set aside in case there are any problems. I understand there were a lot of problems with people who couldn't afford to stay longer in New York being stuck there in the airport for a few days - sometimes the airlines will put you up in a hotel or provide some support but it's always helpful to have a bit of cash for emergencies. Remember it is not the fault of the airline, they are trying to keep you safe. Be flexible and work with them, communication is key. Be open to different travel options if your route is just not available.
I have always wanted to go on a skiing or snowboarding holiday, winter sports always look amazing, and while I'm sad I haven't yet had the opportunity they are definitely staying on my bucket list. I have friends who have always been sworn beach bums until they die, until they went on a skiing holiday and now they head for snow over sea every single year and love every second. But what if things don't go to plan? Winter sports are physically very challenging and when you introduce ice and snow to the equation, accidents can happen. It's awful if you are hurt while travelling, after spending so long planning your trip it is the ultimate disappointment to be struck down. I had a similar thing happen to me when I was in a bus crash in Cambodia just days before a long-awaited yoga retreat - I was devastated. The most important thing to do is to ensure you have a good travel insurance that is comprehensive and covers you for all your activities. There is no point getting insurance for a skiing holiday if it doesn't actually cover you for winter sports! Plan ahead and make sure you are covered for all medical treatment - you never realise how important it is until you don't have it.
I love road trips. They are one of my favourite ways to travel - check out my guide to planning the ultimate road trip here. I don't see why you shouldn't be able to indulge in a road trip at any time of year. Canada is fantastic to road trip, or if you want something closer to home why not head to Europe to drive from city to city, or head up to Scandinavia. Absolutely gorgeous, but don't forget to take into account the weather beforehand - all of these come with their own harsh conditions, from icy roads to heavy snowfall and it's best to be prepared to prevent your trip from being ruined. Make sure your vehicle is weatherproof - whether you are taking your own van to camp in, or you're hiring a car - you need to make sure the tyres are appropriate for the conditions. Pack a box with warm clothing, a torch, gloves, jumper cables, a windscreen scraper and lots of de-icer – just in case. Take the roads slow and plan your route according to weather warnings so you can avoid the worst of it. If the weather is too bad, find a hotel or somewhere to sleep for the night and start afresh in the morning when it is safer.
Recently there were huge snow storms in New York and weather warnings to stay inside and to avoid getting caught out in it – when you travel during winter there is always a chance you may face weather like this. The best way to deal with it? Accept it and plan ahead as best you can. You can't fight Mother Nature, so don't let it ruin your trip, just adapt. Plan ahead by keeping an eye on weather alerts for the area, if the weather starts getting worse then make a decision on whether to rearrange your trip (if you have this option) or to go ahead. If you're already there, you need to make sure you restrict your activities to ensure your own safety. If it's snowstorms you face then you need to be sensible and to stay warm, sudden floods can be dangerous - stay inside and follow advice. Icy conditions can be slippery and unpredictable - make sure you have shoes with good grip and that you only go as far as you feel safe - a fall on the ice can leave you in hospital and that's the last thing you want on holiday. Overall message? Be smart, be safe and don't be too stubborn to admit defeat.
How else can you avoid winter travel dangers this season? Have you faced any winter travel nightmares?
I'm just days away from my one year travelling anniversary and I'm not going to lie, I've missed some pretty important things in that time. From birthdays and anniversaries, to my sister's graduation, and my best friends making huge life changing decisions about their careers and love lives that force them to move across the country. The world doesn't stand still when you jet off to the other side of the world, it's easy to forget that life as you knew it carries on and the people you leave behind continue to grow and change. And it's okay, most of the time, because we're so damn distracted by the beauty and epic nature of the travelling life we have chosen, we kind of forget about what's going on at home. We have our moments when we get a rush of homesickness as we sit in a hostel hallway on the phone to mum and dad, or catching up with our best friends over FaceTime - and we do, we really do feel it. But then, more often than not, that fleeting feeling is gone, dancing away on a warm breeze like it was never there. You see, it's not that we don't care, it's just that our life as a backpacker is all about living in the present, and pining for what once was just doesn't have much of a place here. Yes we all have days where we wallow and we miss home, but you'll notice those were the days when we didn't have much on, when we were a bit bored and allowed ourselves the time to think of home uninterrupted.
There will always be certain times that bring up a wave of emotions for backpackers - perhaps it's the birthday or the anniversary of the death of a loved one, perhaps it's a certain holiday or something happens at home. For others it can be as simple as the first time they spend Christmas away from their families on the other side of the world. I've seen countless articles posted on backpacker Facebook groups lately about all the awesome things about spending Christmas in Australia but I wanted to talk about the other side of this experience. It's not rosy and lovely for everyone who is away, and I think it is important for backpackers to realise that it's okay if they don't have an amazing time. Everyone at home always thinks we're out here having the most incredible time 24 hours a day, and most of the time that is true, but there are rubbish bits as well. There are times when it rains, we feel like crap, get ill, break down and have rubbish moments just like we would at home - and when we have to spend the holiday that is all about family half a world away from everyone we love most, it can be a bit pants. Every moment is what you make it and while some people will have the time of their life celebrating this Christmas away from home, others will find it a little harder.I had no idea where I would be spending my first Christmas away from my family, I didn't know who I would be with or what I would be doing. For all I knew it could have been anything from a BBQ on the beach to a homemade roast with friends - the reality will be a little different. You see, I'm still living and working in the outback to get my second year visa. I took this job knowing full well it would mean spending Christmas and New Year away from my friends, mainly because I was so desperate to make sure I had my visa days sorted early and could really relax for the final five months of my first year. I don't regret that decision because I only have six weeks left to work out here and then I will be reunited with all of my amazing Darwin and East Coast pals, and we will more than make up for lost time. But in the meantime that does mean I'm feeling a bit lonely this Christmas and because I'm not surrounded by all my closest friends it's making me think of what I'm missing out on at home. I'm pretty close with my family and between them and all my friends at home, we have a mountain of Christmas traditions that I know I'm missing out on. But don't worry, there's no chance I'm going to let it ruin my Christmas in the outback because when on earth will I ever get the chance to experience this again?
10 things I really missed about a UK Christmas:
1. The build-up: from the UK's Christmas adverts to Christmas shopping and finding the perfect present for someone special. From hearing festive songs played in the supermarket, to planning the food for Christmas Day and the countdown to finishing work.
2. The weather - it's rubbish, cold, wet and miserable outside. It's dark at 3pm and much as we all complain about it, that's part of Christmas. It gives us an excuse to wear extra sparkle when it's dark outside and that chill in the air gives all the more reason to get all snuggled up inside.
3. Nights spent drinking and laughing with friends in boiling hot pubs with steamed up windows, not thinking about work the next day or how cold it is outside.
4. Family traditions - putting up the Christmas tree and decorations with my dad while we blast the Christmas songs, festive baking with mum, a trip to Winter Wonderland with my sister, the Royals on Christmas day.
5. Family gatherings - when family from all over the country get together for a day of food, wine and fun at their annual Christmas party. A chance to catch up and have everyone together.
6. Festive food - the mince pies and puddings, the roast lamb and beef, Yorkshire puds and roasties, and cheeseboards, oh god, the cheeseboards. It's too hot out here to really gorge like we do at home and the stuff they sell just isn't the same.
7. Christmas TV in the UK is great - from soap specials to period dramas like Call the Midwife, comedy shows like Gavin and Stacey and The Royle Family, classics like The Snowman and all those great movies from Elf to Home Alone and Cool Runnings.
8. Christmas jumpers! What is Christmas without wearing the worst jumper you can find, or a snuggly onesie that makes you look like a reindeer, or great big wooly socks? It's just not the same on a bikini.
9. The actual day - getting drunk with your family, seeing the surprise on someone special's face when they open their gift, the aftermath when you can't move because you ate so much...
10. The bit when your head feels like it's going to explode - too many people, too many parties, too much food, too many hangovers - you're almost glad to see the back of the holiday season.
I do have to just add to this post that I did still have a pretty fun Christmas thanks to some really good friends I've made here in Charleville and a huge thanks to them for not leaving me alone. I ended up having a turkey roast at a friend's house with her family, spent the day enjoying drinks followed by two Christmas parties. Boxing Day followed with more drinks with friends and a party at the Bowls Club with everyone in town and a lot of fun was had. It was better than I could ever have expected and that's all down to the wonderful people in this town who have made me feel so welcome.
What's your favourite thing about a UK Christmas? Have you had a lovely Christmas? What was your first Christmas away from your family like?
Now that December is in full swing and the elves are hard at work, I can't help but find myself really jealous of all the travellers who are going home for Christmas. I know that for me it would be impossible - I don't want to spend a fortune on going home when I have been working and saving so hard for my next adventures, and I'm slap bang in the middle of completing my regional work for my second year visa. Short term pleasure vs long term gain, it's just not worth it when I know I will be seeing everyone at home in just six months. I'm not actually homesick, just gutted I'm missing out on all the festive fun - the advent calendars, the decorating the house and tree, finding amazing presents and wrapping them up, Michel Buble on the radio, cheeseboards every night because why not? And all of the mince pies. I love Christmas, I go all out decorating and making everything special for the people I love. Everyone is always so happy even when the weather is rubbish, there's Christmas drinks with friends, nights in front of the TV watching Christmas specials, days of baking and preparing the festive feast and so much more. So yeah, I'm pretty gutted I'm missing out on all of that. I am intrigued by what an outback Christmas will be like, but it doesn't outweigh missing a traditional English Christmas - it's just not a big enough deal here!
But keeping in the festive spirit, I thought I would write my letter to Santa, to let him know that the greatest gift I could have this Christmas would be to spend it at home getting drunk with my mum and eating all the cheese, watching Frozen with my sister and decorating the Christmas tree with my dad. I know that this year it just won't be possible, so if I can't have that, the only thing that would make me happy is the opportunity to travel. In this case, the Santa I am writing to is Travelex, a travel money exchange company who have asked me to participate in their festive bloggers competition to win your dream holiday. They asked me to write all about my dream holiday, which naturally got me all excited thinking about all the amazing destinations I have on my bucket list - so many stood out to me as ones that I never stop thinking or talking about. There was my daydreams about going to Sziget Festival in the centre of Budapest, Hungary, and after dancing my heart out to amazing acts, having the opportunity to explore a city that has been at the centre of my thoughts for a long time. The stunning buildings and amazing history, combined with great food is always a winner for me. But then, there was the trip to Morocco that edged it's way into my subconscious - I went years ago and hated my experience of the country but reading more about it over the years has made me eager to return and to try and change my feelings. The vibrancy and spice of the culture and the amazing shopping just seems to good to miss out on. Plus I would love to experience the desert after seeing what the Australian outback is like - why not take it one step further and check out the African desert?But there is one place that has really captured my imagination for several years now - since long before I became a blogger or decided to travel the world solo. I have always travelled a lot with my family, friends and partners, but I have never been on a cold weather holiday and it is something I have always wanted to try. I'll be honest and say I'm definitely a warm weather gal - I'm made for the heat, the humidity and the beach. Asia and Australia have been my heaven, but there is so much I have yet to experience in the opposite climate. The one cold weather destination that really gets me excited, and it seems to have a similar effect on other travellers as it has become something of the destination of the year, is Iceland. This stunning country offers everything I could want from a cold weather break and much, much more. Here I would have the incredible opportunity to see amazing landscapes with geysers, mountains, snow and ice; there's something so raw and exposed about such a harsh landscape and I love it. And don't even get me started on the Northern Lights - this absolute phenomenon is something I simply have to see with my own eyes after spending years looking at photos and videos that have captured their essence. Being down in the Southern Hemisphere, it really would be a dream of mine to see both the Northern and the Southern lights - which I didn't realise even existed until I read an article a few months ago!
I'm crazy about the night skies and it is amazing being out in the outback where there is a lot less artificial light to block out the starlight - I'm actually really lucky to have a great friend out here who has his own telescope and is taking me stargazing this week. So for someone who visits space centres wherever she can, and who is always outside waiting to see super moons or any other unusual fluctuations in our skies, imagine how amazing it would feel to have seen one of the most well known and incredible sights with my own eyes. I have friends who have been and say it was just magical, and they've also had time to squeeze on amazing trips to the Blue Lagoon, pony trekking in the mountains, skiing, whale watching and to the Golden Circle. There is just so much to do that it is overwhelming, I would have so much to squeeze into my trip! I feel like a trip like this would open me up to a whole new world of travelling, perhaps leaving behind some of the hot destinations for cooler climates instead - I know so many people who have been on one skiing holiday and have now given up beach holidays because they loved the experience so much. Now I know I would never go that far, but it would be fun to mix it up a bit and experience something different. Especially when you're living in the Australian outback where it is 40 degrees most days!
What would your dream holiday be? What have you got planned for Christmas? Do you prefer hot or cold weather holidays?
It may have been over 2000 years ago that Jesus' mama and papa rocked up to that little stable in Bethlehem right before she popped him out and those Three Wise Men turned up, but I still haven't managed to figure it all out. I'm talking about religion and spirituality - I always loved studying the different religions at school and particularly identified with Buddhism and Hinduism. Not entirely, I must add, and this has been my problem with religion ever since. I just find that I don't completely agree with any of them, and yet, I can't class myself as an atheist because I do believe there is something out there bigger than all of us. What exactly that is, I can't say.
I've found over the years it's helped me to pick out certain parts of different religions and almost mix-and-match to form my own belief system - to be honest, I think this is what many people do as taking the Bible literally word-for-word would be a bit silly if you ask me... (Burning Bush anyone?) This may seem a bit flighty to some, but I actually feel that it really works for me and that it keeps me open-minded. I love the parts of religion that don't centre around the gods but more around human behaviour and morals. I like the bits that focus less on trying to convince you of this higher force and more on how the universe works and the idea that we are all interlinked somehow. Because, Burning Bush aside, I've always believed the real magic is what happens between people - the way we interact and the choices we make.
This year I've been faced with a couple of moral dilemmas, challenges to my own belief system thanks to the behaviour of other people. I'm talking about situations where I have been asked to keep secrets that I didn't think were right, when I was expected to lie on behalf of someone else. I'm also talking about situations when I was called on to forgive people for horrible behaviour - we've all faced those. I've faced them all and come out with a clean conscience, but it wasn't easy. Sometimes we're faced with making a decision between a friendship and doing the right thing, but I guess we have to question whether the friendship had any real value if we were asked to push our morals to one side. I'm not saying that right and wrong are black and white, I know full well there is always a grey area, but we all have that gut instinct. And I always say, if something doesn't sit right, you know you shouldn't be doing it.
Two things I've always loved are the concepts of luck and karma. I really identify with the idea of karma, I feel that I have to because so often bad deeds seem to go unpunished and the good ones go unrewarded. But I have come to accept that perhaps they are, just much later on and by the time this happens perhaps we have moved on. I've always felt that we make our own luck in this world - that what we experience is a direct result of what we put out into the universe. Promise not to get too hippy on you all but it really does make a difference when you put good vibes out to those around you, and they really do come back to you. I wrote a post back in February about the Power of Positivity after I went through a rough patch at the start of the year, when I suddenly noticed that my awful mood really was bringing down the mood of the whole office. I hated that I could have had such a negative effect on those around me and it made me realise that I could never hope to be positive if I didn't make the first move.
Being kind, loving & generous is a perfect addition to any outfit - wear it well.
Since then, it certainly helps that I couldn't be happier at the moment, I have been dedicating myself to working hard and being the best I can be. And it really has made a difference. Not only is everyone around me happy and full of plans and excitement for the future, but that luck and happiness seems to be coming back to me. I don't know if it is just coincidence (I don't really believe in coincidences) but I seem to be on a bit of a lucky streak at the moment! Don't believe me? Well, in the last two months I have won cake tapas, tickets to see Bombay Bicycle Club and a signed picture, and a mulled winter cider kit. I have also been given the amazing opportunity to review a lovely London restaurant and have been shortlisted in the UK Blog Awards. Now I can't say that this is all down to good karma - but it definitely all seems to have come at once. My point is, work hard, be good and kind, and stick to your morals, and good things will come of it all. It seems to be working for me so far and, let's be honest, who wants to live with the guilt and unease of acting like a dickhead - especially at Christmas?
Have you been faced with a situation that has tested your moral code? Tell me about your lucky streaks!
It's been a while since I wrote a fitness post and to be honest, although I've still being going to the gym - it's been a while since I felt very enthusiastic about it. I go through serious phases when it comes to working out, for a while I'll be really into it and working towards a goal, almost to the point that I'm overdoing it. Then suddenly I'll lose all motivation and barely be able to muster up the energy to bother. I always push myself to carry on, but when you can't be bothered, you sort of wonder what is even the point. My last phase like this happened after the summer, I had a busy couple of months of trips all over the place (including my visit to Ireland for a wedding) which meant my routine was all over the place and I couldn't get there as much as I would like. Plus the fact that I was spending a lot of time eating rich foods and drinking meant I really didn't have the energy to work out.
After a few months of going through the motions rather than enjoying my workouts, I seem to be back on top of my game and raring for action. I think perhaps my fitness lull was caused by the weather - when things started getting autumnal, I instantly wanted to spend all my time in bed with a hot chocolate and watching Netflix. Now the weather actually seems to have warmed up again and I'm finding I have more energy to do stuff - either I've got used to winter or I'm more affected by the weather than I think! For some, December is all about letting the flab spread and digging into the mince pies. I won't lie - I love Christmas food. I love mince pies, Christmas cake, turkey sandwiches, loads of gravy and Yorkshire puds - and don't get me started on the cheese! (hyperventilates) So as you can tell - I'm not the sort of girl to give up these delicious foods and I don't see the point in diet versions to be honest. But I do believe in upping your fitness game to match what you are eating.
If you want to eat twice as much as usual - which, let's face it is VERY likely at this time of year - then you need to get to the gym a bit more and build more exercise into your daily routine if you want to fit into that dress for the Christmas party. There's absolutely nothing wrong with putting on a few extra pounds at Christmas time, and I know I certainly will. But my main goal is reducing how bloated and sluggish I feel after eating so much. I hate that feeling when you've done nothing but eat for a week without working up a real appetite - so I make sure I work out, walk, dance, jog and exercise along the way as well. I'm usually not too concerned with how big my belly is over Christmas because quite frankly I love jumpers and scarves so it's never on show. But bear in mind, I will be spending January on a beach in my bikini in 2015 so having a huge bloated belly is not high on my Christmas list this year. After a request from a reader, I thought it was about time I shared my latest fitness routine!
So what is my latest workout?
I like variety so I'm enjoying mixing up my cardio workout, but most importantly I've managed to get my mojo back with running. Now I'm trying to run for around 30 minutes, or do interval stints of a minute walking and four minutes of sprinting for the same length of time. I alternate this with half an hour on the crosstrainer using different programmes which target different areas of my body - either the interval or the gluteal ones are my favourites.
Once I've completed one of these, I tend to add on a bit of cycling or rowing - usually around 15 minutes. I like to go until I have jelly legs.
A weights workout is very individual and I use a personalised programme courtesy of my friend who is a personal trainer. As I have improved and moved up weight groups I have changed it accordingly. I start my leg workout doing two reps of 12 on the Leg Adductor followed by the same again on the Leg Abductor. This is followed by the Leg Press on which I either do two reps of 12 where I stack the entire weight (proud of that I am) or I do pyramid training. Plus a few squats thrown in for good measure - I like to use a weight when doing mine.
My arms workout is made up of two reps of 12 each on the chest press, bicep curl, shoulder press, tricep dip and lat pull-down. All of these are on various weights but yours will depend entirely on what you can lift. I do also sometimes swap these for free weights to change it up a bit.
My abs workout is my favourite. I start with side crunches off an exercise ball - doing 25-50 on each side depending on how much time I have. This is followed by long arm crunches off the ball using a 10 weight, plus 40 Russian Twists on the ball using the same weight. After that, I move to a mat on the floor where I start by doing around 20 long arm crunches with the same weight, 20 regular crunches, 20 crunches where I reach for my knees and 20 where I reach through my legs. After this, I do 40 twist crunches (not sure of the name for these but each elbow reaches to the opposite knee) followed by 20 crunches with a leg extension for the lower stomach. This is all finished off with another 40 Russian Twists using the weight, but this time on the floor, and some leg extensions off a bench.
I always finish off with some stretches for my back, legs, arms and particularly my shoulders. I do a few pilates stretches I learnt when I used to do classes, and the rest is done on one of the stretch frames we have in the gym.
I like to have a gym workout at least twice a week or I feel lazy - it just shows how used to my routine I am! I'm also managing to fit another smaller workout, or a swim, in on the weekends now as well. I really am enjoying going to the gym again, and I enjoy it even more because it justifies eating lots of lovely food. I refuse to feel guilty for having an extra slice of cake and I never feel like I have to go work it off, because I generally am very healthy and I go to the gym enough to burn it off. I'm looking forward to finishing work in a few weeks so I can have more time to enjoy the pool and sauna at my gym over the coming weeks as well. Love food as much as I do but don't want to have to buy bigger clothes for the Christmas party? Why not do what I do and balance all that food out with a few workouts? Don't forget that you don't have to hit the gym to burn off some calories - go dancing with the girls, or go for a long walk with the family... or why not just spend a few hours under the covers with your other half and burn the calories off that way?
What's your fitness routine like over Christmas? Any workout tips you'd like to share?