It's hard to match the high you get from travelling solo, that constant buzz of excitement and wonder at the world around you, and your own capabilities. Being back in the UK, it can leave some feeling a bit low without that constant adrenaline rush of living an untamed life. But if you ask me, one thing solo travelers learn is to be responsible for finding their own happiness, and just because you're home it doesn't mean you shouldn't still be looking for new ways to get that high you once had from travelling. I've been pretty happy to be home so far, but a lot of that is down to finding lots of amazing things to do with people I haven't seen for a long time, and taking up some awesome opportunities I missed out on through this blog while I was travelling. At the weekend, I was invited to try out Up At The O2 and to combine it with my love of all things fitness by trying out a Fitbit as I walked over the O2 Arena. You can't get much higher than that without stepping on a plane - so it was perfect for someone who usually gets their kicks several thousand feet above sea level. A perfect excuse to spend a weekend in London - my sister and I enjoyed two days of food, fitness and Fitbits.
Anyone who has read for a while will know I'm big on keeping fit and enjoying a healthy lifestyle, while I'm travelling my favourite ways to keep fit are walking, running, swimming and working out outside. Forget paying for gyms and classes when the sun is always shining and the beach beckons. But, it can be difficult to keep track of how much exercise you have done and quite how much distance you're covering when you're spending whole days walking around new cities or trekking through jungle. I tried out the Fitbit when I went running on the beach - something I've really missed since being away - and as somewhere I usually don't have phone signal to track my runs, it was a fantastic way to log my time and my distance, along with keeping track of my progress and goals.Now the idea of wearing a tracking device on my wrist does put me off slightly, it feels a little bit Big Brother to me. But wearing the wristband around the clock also means I've been able to use the app to track my sleeping patterns - something really useful when you're suffering jet lag! And I can keep track of whether I'm eating enough of the right foods, and how much water I've been drinking. I've got the Fitbit Flex, but there are lots of different styles and colours available depending on what suits your lifestyle. It really is a great addition for anyone who is interested in living a healthy lifestyle and keeping fit, or who wants to increase their fitness. I just wish I had it when I was travelling so I could keep track of the distance I covered by walking and cycling my way around Asia and Australia - particularly in Melbourne when I was working a job that had me walking a minimum of 25,000 steps a day! I'm already looking forward to taking it travelling with me again as a great way of keeping track of the distance I cover and quite how fit the lifestyle keeps me.
Up At The O2
I may not be much of a city girl, but I love a good trip to London. It's always a busy weekend packed full of catching up with friends and family, and lots of awesome events. Last weekend was no different, my sister and I crammed a ridiculous amount of food, fun and lots and lots of cocktails into two days, but it was all rounded off with a chance to see London from a different perspective. Travelling can be so much fun, whether you go to the other side of the globe, or you just take a chance to rediscover somewhere you know and see it in a whole new light. I've spent a lot of time in London over the years, and my sister lives there, so it was fantastic to try something a bit touristy and totally different. Up At The O2 takes you on walk like no other, straight over the top of London's O2 Arena, a venue that has housed performances by some of the world's greatest musical acts and has welcomed over 30 million people through its doors. The 365m walk stretches over the dome, reaching 52m in height at an angle of up to 30 degrees. Despite that, it's not a very steep walk and you don't need to be in peak physical fitness to complete it - that's the beauty of it - it really is an experience that anyone can enjoy!It's an amazing way to spend an afternoon, even if it's cloudy, gazing across the London skyline and getting some amazing photos from the 360 degree viewing platform at the top. The whole experience takes around two hours and is a perfect way to take in some of the sights of London from a different angle, we spotted lots of the city's most famous buildings while we were up there thanks to the labels around the platform to guide visitors. Walking over the dome is so much fun, you feel like you're moon-walking as you bounce over the tent-like surface up towards the platform and there's so much to look at along the way. I was so distracted by the view that I almost forgot I was wearing my Fitbit until after when I checked it and saw that I had completed a total of 1,260 steps going over the O2 - already over a tenth of my 10,000 steps a day target! I'm getting slightly obsessed with how many steps I complete each day, so I was shocked to see that my sister had taken 400 less steps than me during that time - just shows you how much longer her legs are than mine. We had a great afternoon at the O2 and all rounded off with a few cocktails at a bar inside, how better to round the day off?
Have you done Up At The O2? How was your experience? Can you recommend any other activities in London for a different experience of the city?
Travelling can have one of two very different effects on your body - half the backpackers out there seem to lose weight from not eating properly while the other half watch their beer bellies grow from night after night on the booze. It's a difficult feat, maintaining that lifestyle while not piling on the pounds, particularly when you are constantly on the move and unable to get into a routine for working out. I loved working out when I was at home and could be found at the gym at least three times a week, sometimes more. I definitely got a bit addicted at times and loved the way it made me feel stronger, fitter and healthier. So as you can imagine, the gyms is something I've missed hugely since travelling, not just the physical part but the mental side as well. It's great for giving you goals and keeping track of achievements, it's great for de stressing (granted, not something a backpacker really needs) and it's great for giving you more energy. The lethargy among backpackers can sometimes become quite contagious - I've noticed in certain hostels it can become easy for everyone to just do nothing and to have no energy to even organise a cycle to a waterfall or temple. Of course, this can be nice for a few days, but when you're travelling long-term it's important to realise the effects this will have on your body, and in turn your health. And nobody wants being ill to stand in the way of a good time!
So what can you do to avoid becoming a bloated, beer-bellied backpacker? How can you eat healthy while on the road? Here are my top tips:
- Don't forget your fruits and vegetables - in Asia, enjoy a fresh fruit juice or smoothie a day and fresh pineapple or watermelon, even a fresh coconut! The fruit is so good and so fresh, there's no excuse!
- Eat spicy. A spicy curry cures all and kills all germs as my dad always says!
- Eat a varied diet - it's difficult when cooking for one and you often end up eating the same thing for days but it is important to make sure your body gets all the different vitamins and nutrients it needs.
- Make sure you are eating enough and aren't just getting your nutrients from alcohol, it's easy to not feel hungry when in the heat all day but it's important to get enough food inside you and don't skip breakfast - it really is the most important meal of the day!
- Line your stomach before going out by eating a good dinner of pasta or curry and rice - something that will fill you up so you are less likely to binge later on greasy street food
- Remember that what you eat directly affects how you feel - if you eat greasy chips and fried food you will feel and look like crap. If you're eating fresh and healthy food full of vitamins, your skin will be glowing and you will be full of energy.
- If you're cooking in a hostel in Australia, throw some fresh veggies in your standard pasta
- If you're eating veggie to save some money, or because you actually are veggie, remember you need protein as well or you will become sick so make sure you're getting plenty from other sources
- Drink plenty of water - I felt really under the weather when I first arrived in Australia because I was too cold to be drinking enough water after Asia - dehydration affects you hugely
- Avoid beer, cocktails and fizzy drinks - instead drink white spirits with juice as a mixer
- Don't always give in to yourself over burgers on a night out and hangover fry-ups the next day
- Avoid pot noodles and 7/11 toasted sandwiches like the plague - they're packed full of salt, sugar and lots of other nasties
Staying fit while on the road - top tips!
- Walk everywhere - also great for those on a budget
- Get out and get active - you might not be able to get to a gym but the great outdoors is waiting and it's free! Hike to a temple or waterfall, spend a day exploring the city on foot, surfing or kayaking.
- Don't be afraid to have a night in - you've got plenty of time to party and your body needs a rest sometimes. Willpower - remember how much time you have to live the dream
- Can't resist the pull of the bar? Head to a club and dance the night away, drink less and burn off those calories while having a blast
- Take advantage of free gym trials everywhere you go. I spent a month in Sydney using the gym every other day and always for free, I even scored free boot camp classes twice a week and all because I took advantage of the deals that are always on offer.
- Use the hostel facilities - many of the hostels have stayed in have had some kind of sports facilities available - whether it's bikes or surfboards to rent or borrow, a basketball hoop, or volleyball and a tennis net, some even have a pool! Why not get a gang together for an evening game of volleyball? A great way to bond and stay fit, or play tennis one sunny afternoon.
- Going to Asia? Do what I did and invest in some cheaper running shoes, then use them to death! Running is something you can do anywhere so take advantage of that. Another great one is yoga - just get yourself a little yoga mat.
- Do a week of volunteering at an animal sanctuary - you're so busy working hard all day long that the love handles simply melt away and you don't even realise how hard you're working because you love it so much.
- Sign up for a yoga retreat or boot camp and give it your all, focus on fitness for a week or two.
- Workout somewhere beautiful - a friend and I headed to the beach for an intense cardio workout by the sea, and let me tell you, the beautiful setting definitely eased my pain!I could go on listing top tips and ideas for staying healthy, but there are so many. Once you start making changes to your lifestyle, it becomes easier and easier to see ways of improving. Don't be heard on yourself, it is hard when you are a backpacker and temptation lies all around you. You always tell yourself, it's okay, I'm on holiday! But five months down the line, you're still using that excuse and you can't understand why you're exhausted, you're getting sick and you have no energy or drive to explore and see the country you're visiting. Backpacking is a lifestyle, and it's important to strike a balance that suits you and the way you want to live - if that means having a fresh coconut when everyone else is on the beers then that is okay. If you fancy a salad when everyone else is snacking on greasy noodles then that's fine too. Your body relies entirely on what you put into it, so if you put rubbish into it, you will find it a bit rubbish when you're relying on it for a good time. Treats are most definitely not off limits, but they remain just that - treats.
What are your best healthy backpacker tips? How do you manage to stay fit while travelling? What are your favourite healthy backpacker meals?
A final part of my journey as booked by the Thai Tourism Agency was a hill tribe trekking experience in Chiang Mai - something I was looking forward to after a few weeks of cycling and walking, it felt good to do some exercise again and I was looking forward to a challenge of hiking through mountainous jungle. Because of this trip, I didn't actually end up spending much time or doing much sightseeing in central Chiang Mai, so I won't write a post on what I haven't experienced when I can tell you all about this instead. When I arrived in the city, I went straight to BMP Backpacker which is a cool little backpacker hangout, a places with private rooms at low to mid prices depending on what you want and the use of a lovely swimming pool in the grounds. It is near one of the Chiang Mai gates and very close to a fabulous food market that opens at night with all kinds of delicious snacks and meals for sale. After a meeting with my hill tribe trekking group about the itinerary for the next day and dinner with some travelling friends at the market, I headed to bed ready for what the next day would bring.I had a brilliant group made up of a mixture of German, Australian, Irish, French and Maltese travellers - it was great to have such a diverse group of different ages and travelling experiences and it definitely set us up for a lot of fun. We were put in a van and set out on our journey to the national park near Chiang Mai, with some of the boys feeling a little worse for wear after a big night out it was pretty funny to guess which of them would throw up first. If you've been following my travels on Facebook and Twitter (which you should for all the very latest updates) you'll already know what happened next. As we turned a sharp corner, another van drove straight into ours hitting it head on. None of us had any warning as we couldn't see through the partition between the back and front and luckily there was so many of us lacked in there we couldn't really move from the impact so no one was seriously injured. The other driver's fault, the accident had happened because he drove out at a junction when he wasn't supposed to, despite having seen us driving towards him at high speed, but it was too late, our van was a mess while the other was barely dented. Thanks to the quick work of our tour guide, we climbed into a new van, covered in bruises, just 15-20 minutes later and were on our way. Ironically the whole thing had happened on Friday 13th.Once we reached the national park, we had a quick lunch and set out on our first trek of the three days, through the dried out jungle towards the hills and the village where we would spend our first night. The trekking was pretty easy to be honest, after the 16km hikes I was doing in Khao Sok this was nothing and was nowhere near as interesting because it was firmly the dry season at this point and everything around us was dead and desperately in need of rain. But it was fun with our group and within a few hours we arrived after a pretty steep last climb through smoky hillside where they were burning the jungle for farmland. We could feel the intense heat from the fires in that last section and hoped they had them under control when we saw the wooden huts just a bit higher up the hill.
The village was made up of a collection of huts overlooking the jungle with dried banana leaves forming their roofs and pigs, goats and dogs running around all over the place. It was great, totally remote and just what we were all after. After a sit down and a beer, we went off to explore the higher part of the village and found a local woman weaving, while others farmed. Later, we watched on as the tour guide and villagers prepared our healthy, delicious dinner over a roaring fire inside a wooden hut - gotta love Thai health and safety! The food was fabulous and after we spent a night round the campfire drinking beers to celebrate being alive, our Irish friend's birthday and learning Thai songs like Chang Chang Chang. We spent the night sleeping in a huge communal hut on what was pretty much a wooden floor with a few blankets, rustic and pretty uncomfortable but we woke up ready to start the next adventure.The next day was spent trekking to the next hill tribe, which was actually the home of our very own tour guide, so that we could have lunch before beginning the next part of our journey. We hiked an easy route - except for the slippery, steep ascent at the end - and arrived at a beautiful wooden hut overlooking the fields and rice paddies, with smoke-encircled mountains I. The distance. Stopping for some noodles, we enjoyed a rest and the amazing panoramic view from the platform before continuing down the hill, into the village and onwards towards the jungle and our stop for the night. That night we spent eating more amazing food at the base of a stunning waterfall. We had low expectations considering the dry season, but this one was in full flow and a welcome treat after a sweaty last section of the hike.
Several beers and a campfire later, someone decided a midnight skinny dip was in order and we all headed bravely, or stupidly, into the water which was bloody freezing! After warming up by the fire we headed to bed where I slept in a bamboo hut by myself for the night - at least until I woke up with three cats spooning me, no idea where they came from as the door was firmly shut the whole night. Our final day was spent rafting around the river, which although low had enough water for us to enjoy, have water fights with locals and to race each other. This was followed by elephant riding, which I refused to do (see my later elephant posts) and actually after explaining why to my fellow trekkers there were only three people who bothered to do it out of over ten of us. It just shows that education can make a change. We spent time feeding the elephants instead.Heading back to civilisation, some were heading off straight away on the next leg of their journey, while I had the evening to relax before heading off to the Elephant Nature Park the next morning. We all had a fantastic time on the trip, and although it was a little disappointing because it didn't really feel like the jungle with it being the dry season, it was a fun experience and worth doing. We had an amazing group who still keep in touch and although I'm not sure of the exact cost as it was booked in a larger package for me, it can't have been a very expensive trip - well worth it for the experience, just don't expect any difficult hiking.
Have you been hill tribe trekking - what did you think? Where else in the world would you recommend for trekking?
I woke up with a jolt as an alarm went off in the lake hut next door, had I really even been asleep? It felt like just minutes ago the French guy I'd ended up sharing a hut with had been telling me about life as a chiropractor. It took a moment to realise why the alarm was going off and why the heck I was awake when it was pitch black outside and the morning safari was two hours away, but then it all came flooding back. I was up at 5am, along with five others, to paddle out in canoes to watch the sun rise over the jungle. Quickly pulling on my bikini and meeting the others out at the jetty where the canoes lay waiting, some of us pulled on life jackets for a bit of warmth, it was pretty cool out in the jungle at that time. There was joy a single light on around the lake huts, we went by torch light until our eyes accustomed to the stars which lit the beautiful night sky above us.I won't lie, there's something about dark water that kind of freaks me out. I think it's just the not knowing what is beneath you, not having any warning if something comes for you.. Haha silly I know! I've never let it get in the way of doing anything, but I have to admit I hesitated slightly when I saw just how dark it was out there on the lake. I wasn't the only one who had second thoughts for a split second, but we quickly pushed any doubts to one side, and thank god we did! Climbing into the canoes, I was sharing with an Israeli friend, Joav, who was a bit of an all around Indiana Jones, so he happily took on paddling after we realised our badly timed paddling was more likely to tip us over if I joined in. Paddling like a pro, the canoe cut through the calm surface of the water cleanly and we were soon out in the middle of the lake, having left the others far behind in our dust. We waited, floating silently in the water, for the other two canoes to catch up and listened to the deafening silence. It amazed me that the jungle could ever be that quiet. Apparently earlier in the night, Joav and a local had overheard a wild elephant crashing around in the undergrowth, but now it was deathly silent with the birds and monkeys still yet to wake.The others finally steadied themselves and made it out to meet us, we joined the canoes as closely as possible and waited, taking in the whole experience. We floated around, chatting and enjoying the peace of the early morning. Then, shortly after, the sky began to lighten around a mountain to the east of us. The clouds started to form those beautiful patterns, reflecting the first rays of sunlight and the jungle started to come alive. It was beautiful, no words can describe this experience, it left me speechless which is no mean feat. By the time 7am came around the sun was still yet to appear over the mountain, but sadly we had to go back for the morning safari - nonetheless, the sky was beautiful at that time of the morning. It was worth the sheer exhaustion of the late night followed by the early start, the morning safari and a huge uphill hike later that morning.The hike was exhausting but great fun, taking us around the lake we started out at a new point with a national park guide leading the way. It was a fairly uphill climb and some people struggled, so beware of you take this one on, but anyone with a standard level of fitness would be fine. The hike took us to a viewpoint which was lovely, but the cave that followed was far more spectacular. This huge cave was filled with stalagmites and stalactites, vipers lay inside and there were huge parts to climb and explore. We all had a great time there, followed by a walk back to the boat where we ate lunch and swam - even inventing pineapple polo as a new game with the leftover peel from lunch. It was a perfect way to end our time as the A Team and sad goodbyes followed the end of this amazing weekend. A smaller group of us who were staying at the park an extra night met up for drinks and card games that might, which was a lovely way to say goodbye before we all parted ways the following day.Khao Sok was incredible. It was easily one of the most amazing places I have visited in my two-and-a-half months of travelling solo - and believe me I've seen a lot of different parts of Thailand in that time. If you love outdoor activities, hiking, canoeing, caving and the like - you will feel right at home here! There is so much to do and see, and you might even get lucky and meet some pretty amazing people like I did.
Tell me about the places you've travelled to that really stood out in your mind - what made them so special? Have you visited any national parks?
One of my favourite experiences in Thailand so far has definitely been my time spent in a 160 million year old rainforest slap bang in the centre of the country. When my Lonely Planet and a few websites all described Khao Sok as the 'real Jurassic Park' it definitely captured my imagination and conjured up a few images - but nothing prepared me for the real beauty of this completely wild landscape. Coming from the southern islands, it was a complete change of surroundings - from perfect beaches to untamed, lush green forest. It was just what I was in need of, after the bustling, busy time in Phuket Town I was craving some nature and exercise. I was in for a treat, and after a long day spent on a bus with my newfound friend, we pitched up at the road to the national park and were jumped on by the touts trying to sell rooms at their places. In an amazing coincidence, I had planned to stay at Jungle Huts which is recommended by Lonely Planet, the first to approach me was from Jungle Huts and was offering me a treehouse bungalow there for a few hundred less than I had planned to spend - winning!After settling in and taking a walk round the village, it was time for some serious food and a few drinks with a group of German and Swedish people I had met. That night I had the best nights sleep listening to the jungle sounds of crickets, bats and the occasional monkey and woke up ready to take on the rainforest. I actually headed into the park by myself that first day and planned to spend the day exploring by myself, but overhearing two very familiar accents at the entrance was one of the best things that could have happened. I ended up meeting a couple from Suffolk just minutes into my walk and before you knew it we had teamed up together and hiked around 15km through the park over the course of a day, stopping only to swim in waterfalls spread along the jungle path. It was brilliant, just the exercise my body had been craving and great to get off the beaten path a bit. The travellers you meet in Khao Sok are there on purpose and are a different type to those you meet elsewhere, so it was great to find other people who were after the same experience I was.The couple were actually staying at Jungle Huts as well so that evening we met for dinner and planned to take the overnight trip to the man-made lake that stood in the middle of the park. It was the best decision we could have made and we all went to bed really excited for what the next two days would hold - with promises of caving, hiking, swimming and much more! We also met a small group of people who would be in our tour group the next day which was brilliant and the A Team began to take shape. The next morning, we met our group early and set out on our trip with our tour leader, Mr A - a total legend. After a short drive to pick up snacks and out to the lake, we caught a long tail boat across - an amazing journey that showed us the beauty of the landscape with towering cliffs, vast open spaces and dense jungle all sitting alongside each other. It was heaven rushing across the open water like that and the group of 16 were all beyond excited to see where we would be staying that night. The group was a total mixture of ages from late teens to 60's, but we all had a great time together.We arrived at the lake huts which were all sitting on a giant raft that had been built on the water, the whole thing rocked like crazy every time anyone walked on it and we were all a bit nervous about what the walk would be like after a beer or two! After lunch, we set out for a long hike to a cave in the middle of the jungle, it was amazing. After a short ride on the boat, we hiked through jungle, under towering rocks and over fallen trees, to reach the cave, which we then started making our way through by torchlight. It definitely wasn't somewhere you wanted to be if the lights went out with snakes, massive spiders and huge frogs living deep within. There were several parts where we had to wade through rushing water, and one point where we actually had to swim with our torches in our mouths, it was awesome! Just the kind of adventurous stuff we were all craving, and the real lack of health and safety made it even more exciting! We all arrived back at the lake huts and dove straight into the lake, which we were told in some places reached depths of 120m, but never got cold. It was strangely warm at all times, but perfect for swimming!That night was spent eating a delicious dinner of freshly caught and barbecued fish with the A Team, followed by beers and a night safari where we saw monkeys and stargazed from the long tail boat. It was so beautiful and as someone who loves a bit of stargazing, it was gorgeous to get such an amazing open view of the sky where it was so dark, the stars have never looked to clear. We all went to bed happy and prepared to get up early - at 7am for the morning safari although as all group of us planned to be up even earlier for something very special. There was a group of about six of us who bonded pretty quickly and we decided we wanted to get up to watch the sun rise while out on the lake in canoes. It was amazing and I'll tell you more about that in part two of my posts.
Tell me about your favourite travelling experience - which places have really made an impact on you? Have you explored any national parks around the world?
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?