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Fitness|| Fitbit 2 Charge – My Experience

My Fitbit has quickly become an extension of my arm. It lives there. Whether I’m having a slower day, taking it easy, or powering through work, gym, and life admin, it’s there. Watching. Well recording.

I’ve been using mine for well over three months now. At first, I thought I’d use it for a few weeks. See if I can make new habits to ensure I’m hitting my daily quota. See how my heart rate changes during spin. And then the novelty would wear off. It hasn’t.

Fitbit Charge 2 review

The Fitbit 2 Charge has been about since 2016 and has had a number of great reviews. I’m lucky enough to get one with the wellbeing plan at work, and so had to try it.

It measures not only my steps, but distance, heart rate, active minutes throughout the day, floors (flights of stairs), calories burned, and exercise through a number of preset exercise settings – I use the spin, workout and weights settings to calculate calories, active minutes and heart rate during each session. It also auto-recognises activity too, and tracks in your log. So if you don’t set your Fitbit off to go, chances are it’ll realise you’re raising your heartbeat and getting that sweat on. It actually auto-tracked my night out dancing for a birthday recently which was great! Didn’t even think how good it’d be. It also auto-tracks all of my runs, as the pre-set exercise option requires your phone to be on you to be able to use GPS.

Fitbit Charge 2 review

It’s made me really think about the type of exercise I do, through the way it splits the heart rate into categories – fat burn, cardio and peak. I’ve now started trying to mix it up a bit rather than just doing high intensity workouts. A heart rate at fat burn, means you burn less calories, but more fat – something my Fitbit helped me learn. 

You can also set the watch up to give you reminders to move every hour – a great way to keep moving. Mine goes off at 10 minutes to every hour, between 8am and 8pm throughout the week.

There’s a meditation setting for something a little more calming, giving you a 2 min period of time to breath. Once started it can’t be stopped, and I don’t tend to use this function as much. But it’s good to help bring you back to the moment.

If you can wear something comfortably on your wrist at night, it can also track sleep. This includes amount of time in each stage. It’s really interesting to see how much I actually sleep!

Fitbit Charge 2 review

Everything automatically syncs to the app on your phone so you can keep track of your activity/sleep, as well as set goals, record weight, and keep track of food and water intake. The app is pretty simple to use with a main dashboard which features everything at a top level – how many hours you hit your step goal, number of days you’ve exercised that week, and the day’s progress. After a little play clicking through to different parts, you soon get the hang of it. And there is always google/the Fitbit website if you’re finding it difficult.

Fitbit Charge 2 review

Another thing you can set up via the app is challenges. There are a range from solo missions to group leagues, and from a day to a week. We’ve done a couple of Mon-Fri step leagues at work which certainly got me walking more in the day. It’s just too easy to sit at your desk all day! I actually walked home one night to ensure I was top haha.

You can even allow notifications through your phone app, so your watch can vibrate when you receive texts/whatsapp messages on your phone, when you’re receiving calls or when your alarm is sounding!

As for aesthetics, the strap it comes with is pretty comfy, but not as pretty. But there are plenty of different options on ebay, all at reasonable prices! I’ve got a multicoloured one, which goes with everything!

Fitbit Charge 2 review

We all know battery  power is important in something like this. Mine lasts for about a week at a time, before needing another charge. It charges pretty quickly too, so you can easily do it at your desk whilst you’re sat getting through everything. You get a notification when it needs charging too, giving enough time to get it sorted so it won’t just cut out and leave you unable to track your activity.

Overall:

  • Price: £139.99. Something I’d definitely pay for one of these. It’s not bad considering everything it does.
  • Ease of use: It’s pretty easy to get used to – the app has an easy interface, and there’s only two ways to operate the watch (a button on the side and by tapping the screen), meaning it’s not overly complicated.
  • Battery life: It says roughly 5 days but I think mine lasts about a week. I get notifications before it dies, so I’m never left without it.
  • Design/aesthetics: The strap it comes with does the job, but there are some gorgeous straps on ebay! I love the metal, magnetic loop ones!
  • Recommend?: Yes. If you’re looking to track activity, keep on the move and set new habits this is definitely a great way to start.

Do you use a fitness tracker? Or a smart phone app/smart watch?

Chloe xx

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Eating Out|| Scarlett Green, Daisy Green Collection, Soho

The Daisy Green Collection, the group which includes Beany, Timmy and Daisy recently opened a new sister spot in Soho. Having only popped to Beany Green in Regents Place for coffee, and promising myself ever since that I’d go for brekkie, I couldn’t resist a group trip to Scarlett Green.

Scarlett Green is a contemporary, arty restaurant space. It’s got an open warehouse feel, and is bright and light, with prints hanging on the walls. It doesn’t feel quite as cool and quirky, or as flamboyant as Beany, but rather a more sophisticated, gorgeous sister.

Scarlett Green, Daisy Green Collection, Soho

Unlike Beany, this new spot, is open for breakfast/brunch, lunch and dinner throughout the week. The menu features a range of sweet and savoury options to start the day, including shakshouka, house-made maple granola and Buttermilk blueberry pancakes. Lunch and dinner options are naturally a more savoury affair, but with plenty of choice from healthy salads, to burgers, steaks and small plates.

As part of a group of 13 foodies (unlucky for some, not for us on this occasion as everyone was SO lovely), we had several tables together along the back. People around us all in couples or groups of varying sizes. I didn’t see any solo diners that particular Sunday but it’s somewhere I’d definitely be more than happy going alone. Especially for the banana bread.

With so many of us, the dishes ordered (and subsequently delivered) ranged across the sweet and savoury options. The Coconut French Toast was a popular order, but for me, I couldn’t resist the banana bread.

Scarlett Green, Daisy Green Collection, Soho

The Award-winning banana bread sandwich comes lightly toasted with mascarpone, fresh berries, almonds, honey and a raspberry coulis. The banana bread itself was a little more crumbly than first expected, but not dry, and it was super tasty. Paired with the mascarpone cream and berries (fresh and coulis) it was a delicious mix of flavours. I’m not usually one to pick a sweet brekkie, but this was fab. I’d definitely go for this again!

Scarlett Green, Daisy Green Collection, Soho

The Coconut French Toast arrives served with greek yoghurt, raspberries, mango, coconut, pure maple. It was very sweet too. Delicious but a little sickly. I’d definitely opt for this if I was sharing dishes!

Scarlett Green, Daisy Green Collection, Soho

The savoury options around the table didn’t seem to get quite the praise the sweet ones did. However, the side of vegemite, cheese and truffle doughnuts were amazing. Oozing with melted cheese, these had a strong vegemite flavour (I know my Aussie friends will kill me, but it’s a lot like marmite). The doughnuts were more cheese to dough, (so not too dough-y) and came topped with plenty of grated parmesan. A real cheesy affair, they’re a must order!

Scarlett Green, Daisy Green Collection, Soho

As well as being a fab spot for sweet brunches, it could definitely be one for boozy brunching too! The cocktails looked fab and had great reviews all around. The fizz we tried was delicious too. But for those looking for a more relaxed, non-alcoholic meal, I highly recommend the raspberry mint cooler. It’s light and refreshing, with juicy bits of fresh raspberry. The perfect accompaniment to a dish packed with sweet flavours.

Scarlett Green, Daisy Green Collection, Soho

As mentioned before, I can also vouch for the coffee. Their flat whites are delicious and creamy, even with skimmed milk. The coffee itself, bold but not bitter. Smooth.

Summary:

  • Price: Brunch dishes range from £7.60 to £14.20, which is about average in Soho. The banana bread is £9.70 and well worth it!
  • Food: Fantastic presentation (Instagram-worthy). Go for the sweet brunch dishes – they were rated higher by everyone around the table.
  • Drinks: Great options for a boozy brunch, or a relaxed non-alcoholic affair. The Raspberry cooler (non-alcoholic) was refreshing!
  • Atmosphere: Relaxed, contemporary. Not as quirky as it’s brother, Beany. More like a relaxed older sister.
  • Wait: We booked a table for the Sunday. It did look busy, so it’s worth booking, or being prepared to wander Soho whilst waiting.

Scarlett Green, Daisy Green Collection, Soho

Overall, a fab spot for brunch and a catchup! I want to go back to try the pancakes.

Have you been to a daisy green collection restaurant before?

Chloe xx

*I was invited along as part of a group foodie blogger brunch, and received my meal at a discounted rate. All views my own. 

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Travel|| 33 hours in Brighton

Brighton. The colourful and vibrant seaside city. One so close to London, yet I’ve only visited properly once. Yep, just once. And that was mainly for a colour run. Even when I was with Alex, who grew up in London, we never took the opportunity to head to the seaside for a day or two. Not one time. Before this July.

Brighton weekend break

Brighton is only about an hour away from London by train. That’s nothing. The flamoyant little seaside city is pretty easy to navigate (I did have Google maps out a couple times when I wanted something specific), and lovely to just take your time to wander through. It’s home to lots to see and do, including the cute cobbled lanes, The Royal Pavilion and the legendary Brighton pier. Which yes, I had to go on. The competitive side could not be restrained.

Brighton weekend break

The pier was a lot bigger than I expected.

With two indoor arcades, there were SO many penny machines and games to try. We spent a good couple of hours the first day, and an extra hour the second day there with our eyes on the prizes – you can collect tickets from a number of the machines (if you’re good), and choose a prize after! We went on quite a few, including The Walking Dead shooter game (I loved it…got really into it!), a reaction game with lights and plenty of 2p machines. At the end we only managed to get a frisbee. But we had so much fun, and many laughs, it didn’t matter at all.

Brighton weekend break

There are fair rides on the far end of the pier too. Rides start from £2.50, and you can get a day pass for £22.50 for an adult. We just did the one – the Galaxia which was so fun! (£4.50 a ride)- as we were more into the arcade that day. Food stalls run along the length of the pier too, for lunch, snacks and treats.

Brighton beachfront is where we spent most of our time.

Brighton weekend break Brighton weekend break

The pebble beach is comfortable enough to sit on. Take in the view. Play silly games. Or top up the tan. It’s a pretty long stretch with little stalls, restaurants and clubs along the front too.

It’s not necessarily one for walking along (Although it’d work those leg muscles), and you definitely need shoes if you fancy a paddle.

To the left of the pier is a bit quieter but I can imagine it having been super busy during any heatwaves. So do walk further along the path, towards Hove, if you’re after a more peaceful spot, as I’ve heard it’s not quite as buzzy.

I had to make a visit to The Royal Pavilion too.

Even though it had suffered the heatwave along with everywhere else (meaning it was looking quite brown), it was still a cute spot. There was building work being done too, so gives another reason to day trip back someday soon.

Brighton weekend break

The Lanes, those little narrow cobbled streets everyone goes on about..

…are actually pretty cute. They’re filled with jewellery shops, and quirky places to eat and drink. There’s a duck shop, which just sells rubber ducks. Yes, you read that right. It’s actually pretty fun, with all different varieties including a Spider-Man duck, ducks in cars and even doctor ducks.

Brighton weekend break

But the one place to make sure you visit is Choccywoccydoodah. It’s a chocolate lovers heaven. The window feature is made from chocolate. It’s amazing. And inside they have all sorts of choccy things to buy, as well as a cafe upstairs. We’d not long had brunch but definitely heading back at a later date.

Brighton weekend break Brighton weekend break

Talking about brunch and places to eat… it’s a tough one!

I had SO many recommendations from friends, it was impossible to try everywhere I wanted. Here’s a little roundup of the places we tried

The Chilli Pickle 

A contemporary Indian street food restaurant, the dishes all sounded (and looked…yes, I checked insta first) amazing! I can confirm, the ones we had were fab. The dishes were full of aromatic, rich flavours and the ingredients were cooked beautifully. We had such a fantastic dinner. There were plenty of drinks options too! – £69 for dinner for two (mins, a shared starter, 4 drinks & service).

Brighton weekend break Brighton weekend break

Churros on the pier

These were heavenly. Served warm, straight from the fryer, these sugary long doughnuts, were delicious. Especially when dipped into the Nutella. If you can resist the Nutella, they have salted caramel too! We got four each, with a pot for dipping. It was only £6.50 from one of the food stands at the entrance to the pier, which isn’t too bad at all.

Brighton weekend break Brighton weekend break

Creams

There are actually several branches across the UK. My brother had been to one and loved it! Ever sice I was jealous and dying to try it. So being close enough to pop in, this pancake, waffle and gelato bar was our brunch spot. We created our own, adding toppings, choosing different gelato – not a usual breakfast choice, but it was for a celebration so we decided it was worth treating ourselves. And it really was! Look at these…

Brighton weekend break

£24.70 for two create your own waffles, two coffee frappes and service.

Fish and chips on the pier

fish by the sea is a must. It’s where it’s at it’s most fresh. The best. It’s well known you can’t go to the seaside and not try it in some capacity (if you eat fish of course!). Having passed on the oysters and fresh seafood on the beachfront, fish & chips were a must for the final evening. Again, we popped to the stalls at the entrance to the pier. Service was pretty quick, food was hot, and there was plenty of it…

Brighton weekend break

The fish was SO much better than recent takeaways in London. It was meaty and tender (not too flaky), flavoursome and well-battered. The scamp however blew the fish away. It was fantastic! We ate on the pier, a little more undercover to escape the seagulls. It made a great spot.

£17.40 for two meals & two drinks.

If you’re staying the night…

I stayed at My Brighton. Upon entering it doesn’t feel like a budget hotel. The rooms are pretty spacious, super clean and comfortable. Although it did feel weird that there wasn’t actually anything separating the bedroom from the bathroom – you’ll want to already be super close to the person you’re sharing a room with. The bed was reasonably comfortable though (although I struggled to sleep after a few good hours – I think it was being somewhere I wasn’t used to).

Brighton weekend break Brighton weekend break

The bar downstairs was really cool too. They do some awesome cocktails and a fab happy hour. There’s also a coffee shop on-site, a Tesco Express opposite (for any last minute needs) and it’s pretty much next door to The Chilli Pickle! Perfect for dinner.

Brighton weekend break

At £89 it’s really well-priced for somewhere so central! It’s only a short walk to pretty much everywhere!

Getting to Brighton:

As mentioned, getting to Brighton from London is super simple. Tickets from London can start from £xx, if you book in advance, which is fantastic. Booking two weeks before I managed to get returns for just over £20 each, taking the slightly slower train (only by about 15 minutes).

I know a few people who have been by car too. It’s pretty easy, although parking can be difficult, with finding spaces and can get expensive. It’s worth checking out parking on the B2185, which is where one of my best friends parks when she makes the trip. She says “it’s pay and display but there are often spaces available and you get a nice walk into Brighton either through Hove or along the seafront past the beach huts.”

And there you have it. That’s how I spent my 33 hours in Brighton. Have you been? What did you do? I’m after more suggestions as I’m definitely heading back!

Chloe xx

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Recipe|| Cumin-spiced Mustardy Meatballs, with Sauteed Sugar Snaps & Roast Beetroot

I do love meatballs. But I’m one of those weird ones who doesn’t always want them with pasta. I know right? How can I NOT always want pasta? And me, I don’t really do meatballs and mash – so I’m probably considered doubly weird!

So what else? Well, this combo with roast beetroot, sauteed sugar snaps and a mix of cous cous and buckwheat makes a delicious, lighter meal.

Cumin meatballs, roast beetroot & sauteed sugar snap peas recipeCumin meatballs, roast beetroot & sauteed sugar snap peas recipe

The cumin spice with wholegrain mustard and rich beetroot flavours go so well together. Perfectly balanced by the light taste from the grains, and fresh, sweet sugar snaps. The textures all give something to the dish too. One well-rounded number.

I usually add more vegetables than this to my dinners. But I really don’t think this needs anything else. It’s light. It’s delicious. What’s more, it’s pretty simple to make too.

Cumin meatballs, roast beetroot & sauteed sugar snap peas recipe

The recipe is below. Hope you enjoy!

What’s your go-to for a lighter meal? How do you eat your meatballs?

Chloe xx

Cumin-spiced Mustardy Meatballs, with Sauteed Sugar Snaps & Roast Beetroot

A light, delicious dinner composed from a mix of rich, spiced and mild flavours. 

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 2

Ingredients

  • 6 beef meatballs lean, approx. 175g
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 50 g cous cous
  • 29 g bulgur wheat
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 125 g vacuum-packed beetroot
  • 100 g sugar snap peas
  • 20 g butter just a small knob
  • fresh chillies and black pepper to serve

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°c. Toss the meatballs in the wholegrain mustard and cumin, wrap into a foil parcel and oven cook for 30 minutes.

  2. Whilst the meatballs are cooking, prepare the remainder of the meal. Place the bulgur wheat in a saucepan, cover in cold water and bring to the boil. Once boiling, cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes.

  3. Place the cous cous in a bowl. Dissolve the chicken Oxo cube in 60ml boiling water and pour over the cous cous. Cover and leave for 8 minutes, for the cous cous to absorb the water and puff up.

  4. Chop the beetroot into large pieces. Place on a foil-lined tray, sprinkle in salt and pop in the oven for the last 10-15 minutes.

  5. Place the sugar snap peas in a frying pan, with a small knob of butter. Fry for a few minutes, tossing regularly. Once cooked, toss in black pepper.

  6. Fluff up the cous cous. Drain the bulgur wheat and mix with the cous cous. Split between two dishes. Top with the roast beetroot and sugar snap peas.

  7. Finally balance the meatballs on top, sprinkle with fresh chillies and pepper to taste. Ta da!

Cumin meatballs, roast beetroot & sauteed sugar snap peas recipe

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Fitness|| Speedflex, the resistance-style circuit workout

If you read my post recently on hot yoga, you’ll know that I don’t do enough resistance or strength training. It’s not that I don’t like it. Well, it can get boring. But I feel like I should be doing something more energetic with my workouts to reap the benefits. A belief I know is wrong.

So I’ve been trying to find a happy medium. A strength or resistance workout which is also pretty intense. Something which kills you internally, makes your legs feel like jelly and you question your choices. Yet one which leaves you with this amazing feel of success (maybe relief) after. One which makes you feel like you really could do anything. And I think I found it.

Speedflex is a new(ish) resistance training craze. It uses specialist machines which ‘resist’ comparable to the amount of effort you put in. The more effort, the harder it feels. So someone who lifts 50kg could use the same machine and same resistance (scale of 1 to 10) as someone who lifts 15kg, and they could both get a great workout…even if on the same resistance. Crazy huh? I obviously had to try it.

Speedflex, circuit workout

The London branch is in bank, only a 5-10 minute walk from the station. It’s right next to boom cycle, down a side street. This spot has a Speedflex studio, changing rooms, a consultation room and a gym on the opposite side of the alley which is included in the Speedflex membership packages. The gym is pretty big, and wasn’t too busy when we visited on a Wednesday evening.

There are a number of these Speedflex machines in the class studio, each for a different exercise, from squats to shoulder press. These are alongside some of the more usual gym accessories like kettlebells and medicine balls. The core element of each class being a circuit style workout.

Speedflex, circuit workout

I tried the 30 minute classic class.

Everyone got fitted with a heart rate monitor and we were off.

Speedflex, circuit workout

We had four rounds of circuits, after a warm up. Each round was a set of four stations (as there were four of us attending – nice and intimate). The timing for each interval was based on how long it took one of us on a specified station to reach a certain number. Brutal. You didn’t want to let the team down. It was tough.

Our circuits included; resistance squats, battle ropes, kettlebell swings, medicine ball throws, a sort of dead lift shoulder press type exercise on a machine, and pushing the instructor across the room (which was seriously tough – he kept shouting at me to sprint and push harder).

Speedflex, circuit workout

Throughout (well after each round) we tried to keep an eye on heart rate, which was on the screen. This was also on show to the instructor, so he could see who was working hard and who was sitting back.

Speedflex, circuit workout

I came out wobbly and feeling a little sick. But dying to go back. Such an intense workout but one which made me feel amazing after. Truly.

The changing rooms are fully equipped with showers in individual cubicles, towels and toiletries for a shower.

There are hair dryers too. And the lockers are all locked with codes, so no need to remember padlocks or coins. They’re actually really nice and the separate cubicles are perfect for getting ready again without the faff of doing it under a towel.

Speedflex, circuit workout

As mentioned earlier they do have an assessment room too, where you can get a full body assessment. It’s one which measures pretty much everything from muscle mass and which arm is heavier, to water weight. All just by standing on this machine, heels on the metal pads, paddles in hand. I don’t normally like this kind of thing, but it’s good to know every now and then if you’re on track/healthy. Great for those with particular fitness goals in mind. The instructor can even tell you how many calories you should be eating to maintain normal functioning etc.

I’ve actually been back since trialling the first class for a 45 minute classic class, and died all over again. All for that after feeling of exhilaration and achievement. Its seriously tough. One I don’t think you really ever get used to. But so worth it.

Speedflex, circuit workout

Summary:

  • Price: one session pass is £10 (not too bad for London classes), and monthly membership starts from £40.
  • Fun/serious: More serious. It’s hardcore. But worth feeling sick for – it feels like such an accomplishment to get through
  • Level: suitable for all. No matter how fit you are, you’ll still get a tough workout
  • Recommend? Yes! If you fancy something a little different, something tough, this is for you
  • How to book: You can become a member online, drop in or e-mail reception – all the details are here.

Do you put yourself through extreme workouts for the after feeling?

Chloe xx

*I was invited along to try Speedflex. All views my own. 

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