A Life Less Beige in Valencia

Hi! How are you? The age ‘ol line “It isn’t you, it’s me” seems fitting.

There’s been a lot of change and things happening behind the scenes here, which is why it’s been quiet. I wasn’t sure how to start, so I may as well launch into some of what’s been happening and catch you up on a few things.

Feeling burnt out last year, I’ve tried to consciously slow things down and be more present this year. Every day I see people rushing around, heads down looking at their phones getting from point a to point b, but not really taking in the journey.

Kind of symbolic of life I think.

Remember to enjoy all the small wonders and the journey as a whole, rather than constantly worrying about the next step and not enjoying the moment you have right now.

Deep.

Henna hand reading Get Some Headspace by Andy Puddicombe

What do you think of the henna art? I had it done at a fundraiser for the Nepal earthquake appeal. It’s the first time I’ve ever had it done, but I think it’s intricate detailing is really pretty.

I had one of those moments last week when I looked down at my henna, holding a book on meditation wearing loose patterned trousers and laughed to myself. TOTAL stereotype.

I’m reading Get Some Headspace by Andy Puddicombe at the moment and I recommend anyone to read it. I know meditation is a bit out there for a lot of people, but this book helps breaks the process down in an easy to understand way. It even has an app – now that’s modern meditation!

As little as ten minutes of mindfulness a day can help with all the thoughts we get busy chasing around, or getting tangled up in. Think of it as a workout for your mind. The brain is just as important to take care of as any other muscle and organ in the body. If you’re curious to know more, take a look at the fun Headspace website. It’s been making a massive difference for me with a feeling of general calmness.

 

The most exciting news – after 18 months of studying my other half, Mike qualified as a Health Coach and Personal Trainer before Christmas. I’m so proud of him and all his hard work. It’s what he was born to do and he’s a natural with clients.

Needless to say the theme for me this year has been focused around health, wellbeing and fitness. I’ve been learning loads from Mike who has been training me in the gym (secretly I think he enjoys being able to make me hurt) and has helped me make A LOT of positive changes in my diet.

Goodbye sweet tooth and refined sugars.

June 1st is when he’s all set to officially change his career and start working from a gym. He is also SUPER close to launching his website, so in the mean time, follow him on his social media and give him a virtual high five:

Urban Life Fuel Facebook  l  Urban Life Fuel Instagram  l  Urban Life Fuel Twitter

Girls that lift. Weight training in the gym.

The biggest shift so far for me this year has been exercise. Over the years I’ve dabbled with the gym – never really having set goals and doing the same exercises, at the same weight and the same amount of reps for months at a time. I’ve lost weight, but always just become a smaller version of myself. Getting more educated, I now understand the benefits and difference weight training can make – including how you can change the shape of the body.

I am loving the feeling of getting stronger physically. Myth buster – girls, you will not turn into the incredible hulk because you do weights.

1. You have to eat LOADS of food to build muscle.

2. Females don’t have as much testosterone in their bodies, so don’t get as bulky as our male counterparts, AND

3. It doesn’t happen overnight. If you don’t like how an area is progressing, you can maintain and change the way you train.

I’m a girl who loves balance in life, so along with weight training, I’ve also started yoga and man it feels good to stretch and open the body.

There is a great website, Do Yoga With Me, which has plenty of classes you can do for free from the comfort of your own home. Thanks Ché for the recommendation!

I’m super excited to start a six week intro to yoga course on Monday, taken by my friend Ché who has recently qualified as a yoga instructor. Check out her Instagram for some inspiring, fun and informative yoga posts.

I’ve followed SO many yogi babes and strong fitness girls on Instagram this year as a form of inspiration. It’s my new obsession (in a non-creepy way).

Ciao Positano 💛

A post shared by Nicole Bass (@alifelessbeige) on

 

This month we also had a wonderful trip to Rome and the Amalfi Coast (HELLO pizza and gelato), but I’ll fill you in on more of that later.

The rest of this year is looking exciting with Glastonbury nearing, a holiday to Greece, family and friends visiting from New Zealand, plus celebrating several friend’s weddings. The second half is going to go by in a flash.

Be present,

Gorilla Circus Trapeze Lesson Hanging Out

Last weekend I learnt how to fly. Not in a grew wings and flew like a bird sense (though that would have been cool), but in a swung from a trapeze meters in the air form.

Things have been feeling a little ‘beige’ lately, so I decided to push my comfort zone and do something new that I’ve wanted to try for ages. Something that has been patiently waiting to be crossed off on my ‘Less Beige List‘. A trapeze lesson.

During the week I booked in for a two hour class with Gorilla Circus who were holding some of their summer sessions outdoors at Battersea Park.

Gorilla Circus Trapeze Lesson Warm Up

Gorilla Circus Trapeze Lesson Warm Up Stretches

I arrived at Battersea Park to a beautiful, sunny blue sky morning – perfect weather for ‘flying’. At 9am our group of ten were ready and eager to get underway. After being given a few safety instructions, the class started with some stretches to get our bodies warmed up and limber.

Gorilla Circus Trapeze Lesson Upside Down Swing

Nimble and prepped, we were given a demo on the low bar of the knee hang trick we would be attempting once in the air.

Swinging from the bar, knees were brought through our arms to hook onto the bar. Toes pointed and pulling our legs into our body, we could then let go to hang upside down. This took me back a few years to childhood days spent in the school playground.

We then needed to reach forward as far as we could, backs arched in training for our last swing when we would be caught by a catcher.

Easy tra-peasy.

More technique was covered including how to reach for the bar, where arms should be placed, body positioning and the all important how and when to jump to take the leap of faith.

Gorilla Circus Trapeze Lesson Looking Up

Gorilla Circus Trapeze Lesson Swing One_Unsized

As we looked up watching one of the pros demonstrate the knee hang trick in the air, it was only then that it was mentioned how we would actually be getting off the trapeze into the safety net. “By the way, at the end you will do a somersault to finish. Kick your legs forward, back and then the momentum will help you flip”.

“You want me to do what?!”

While I was still processing all of this information and wondering how on earth I was going to remember what to do (and how), it was time for our class to to climb up and have a go.

Gorilla Circus Trapeze Lesson Ready To Swing

Climbing the ladder up to the platform was definitely nerve-wrecking the first time.

There is a lot to remember, but the best advice I got was from a girl in our group on her seventh lesson. “Listen to everything the instructors tell you. If you do as they say, you’ll pick it up quickly and progress faster”.

Gorilla Circus Trapeze Lesson Ready To Fly

I was all smiles on the ground beforehand…

Gorilla Circus Trapeze Lesson Ready To Climb

Then it was into concentration mode as I got ready to clip the carabiner to my harness and make the climb up. Butterflies were starting to set into my stomach. Could I really do this?

Gorilla Circus Trapeze Lesson On The Platform

I would be lying if I said there weren’t nerves when I got to the top of the platform and looked down, though I think my face says it all! How does it always look so much higher when you are looking down?

At this stage I was almost certain my heart was about to jump out of my chest, it was beating that fast. Breathe.

Leaning forward, both hands were on the trapeze and I waited instruction to go.

“Ready (bend knees). Hup! (jump)”.

All of a sudden, the platform from under my feet was gone and I was swinging through the air on the trapeze. The nerves subsided as I listened to the instructior giving me directions from the ground.

Gorilla Circus Trapeze Battersea Park

“Legs up, hook your knees, hands off, reach out, hands back up, legs off, legs forward, legs back and release”.

Landing in the net, the adrenaline after a successful first go was the biggest rush. I mentioned to the instructor that I could see how trapeze gets addictive. She smiled while replying “Wait until you get caught”.

My legs were shaking like jelly as I made my way down the ladder back onto solid ground. It was a relief, but I couldn’t wait to get back up for my next turn.

Gorilla Circus Trapeze Lesson Platform Ready

Standing on the platform before my second swing, the nerves came rushing back like the first.

The third go was much easier and we were all watched carefully by one of the instructors to make sure our timing and technique was correct so we could be caught on our last swing. This was the bit I had been looking forward to!

Gorilla Circus Trapeze Set Up

Nine out of ten of our group got the thumbs up for the catch, so we each had a turn where timing with our catcher was key. If our timing was out, then we wouldn’t be able to be caught. I was especially nervous as I really wanted to do it.

Gorilla Circus Trapeze Lesson Catch

Standing back on the platform, I waited for the prompt and jumped into action. Everything went smoothly and before I knew it, the catchers hands were around my wrist. On his prompt “Gotcha”, I released my legs from the trapeze and was swinging through the air!

It was such an amazing feeling. If you have ever wanted to try your luck at trapeze (or do now), plenty of places offer lessons, so have a search for somewhere local.

Gorilla Circus Trapeze Lesson Achieved Learnt To Fly

Not quite off to join the circus (yet), but I definitely want to do another class. I’ve got a lot more to learn, but happy I managed to get the ‘hang’ of it.

After class we discovered the Foodies Festival nearby in the park, so celebrated with a glass of bubbles (any excuse).

Kiwis can fly,

WinWin your own Tefal Juice Press!

Following my post on juicing, Testify Digital got in contact to let me know about a Tefal Infinity Juice Press they have to give away.

I’m a fan of smoothie and juice making, so it’s a great opportunity for readers in the UK to be in with a chance to win.

All you need to do is watch the video below and answer the simple question.

Good luck,

Juice your greens oranges and apples

Eat your greens? Well, now it’s time to juice your greens and drink ’em too. My social media feeds these days are full of wellness, fitness and yoga babes with images of green juices being a common theme. Looks a little like you’re drinking algae, or some form of liquid grass, but get the combination right and you’re onto a winner. These juices pack a serious nutrient hit and are a great way to get in some of your 8 a day.

I’m a regular smoothie drinker myself, so when I was invited to attend a juice workshop and body conditioning class with a bunch of other health conscious bloggers, I was happy to attend with friends Ché and Lulu.

Juice your greens with Derry Temple of Temple Training

Exercise and nutrition expert, Derry Temple of Temple Training started the evening with an informative talk about the benefits of incorporating juicing into your daily life. As well as the many positives such as detoxification, increased energy and strengthening your immune system, there are also some negatives including the loss of all the good fibre and the high amount of fructose (fruit sugar) if you do drink a lot of fruit juice.

Juicing tips

  • Buy organic fruit and vegetables where possible.
  • Be mindful of the ‘Dirty Dozen and Clean 15‘. These are your fruit and vegetables that are most and least likely to contain nasty pesticide residue.
  • Always wash your fruit and vegetables before juicing.
  • Add more vegetables than fruit to avoid too much fructose. Think spinach, kale, cucumber, carrots, celery…
  • If you do prefer your juice sweet, try adding lemon, or lime juice to sweeten rather than using more fruit. High fructose in your diet spikes your insulin (not good).
  • Add protein powder to your juice post-workout.
  • Your body needs good fats and protein. Juices do not replace a healthy, balanced diet.

After learning the ins and outs, it was our turn to raid all the delicious fruit and vegetables to have a go at making a juice ourselves.

Juice your greens Philips juicer

Juice your greens - Fruit and Vegetables

There was a large rainbow selection of fruit and vegetables, which all got well utilised and put to good use. I whipped up a ‘Ginger Cleanse’, but also got over excited and added 2 oranges, half a cucumber, half a lime and 2 slices of pineapple…

Ginger Cleanse
  • 1 apple
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 celery stalk
  • A chunk of ginger

Have a go at making one yourself. The beauty with juices, you can add extra ingredients as you choose and it’s a great way of using up what is in the fridge.

Juice your greens - Che IndieBerries

Juice your greens - Che IndieBerries Lime Eyes

Ché was having all sorts of fun playing with her food in the corner.

Juicing Time

Philips Juicer and Juice

The Philips juicers were easy to use, though I learnt a very valuable lesson. Make sure to peel your oranges before attempting to juice them. Our juice combinations were delicious (even yours Ché) and most were finished before our body conditioning class rather than saving them until after. Oops.

Speaking of which, I forgot to mention Derry is a professional Muay Thai kick boxer. Once we were finished juicing everything in sight at the Greenlight Digital offices, he took all of us across to Urban Kings where we were put through some challenging circuit training.

Urban Kings Gym Team Shot

This was our before photo while we were still fresh and smiling!

As we walked past a few guys sparring in the boxing ring, I knew Derry had a challenging workout ahead for us. To get our heart rate up and bodies warm, we were straight into side steps, high knees and floor sweeps in a circle around the outside of the mat area.

Happy with our warm-up, Derry split our group into two teams for our 30 minute body conditioning class. We had to race the other team while doing three rounds of circuit exercises:

  • 10 alternating lunges
  • 10 burpees
  • 10 squat press using kettle bells
  • 10 box step ups
  • 10 sandbag squats
  • 10 press ups, sandbag
  • 10 sumo squats using a kettle bell
  • 10 side hops over a bench
  • 5 sprints using an agility ladder

Needless to say, we were put through our paces and came out a lot more red in the face and sweatier than before we started. Great for strength and cardio fitness.

Blogger girls post workout

As well as catching up with old friends Lulu and Ché, it was great to meet other bloggers Siobahn, Emily and Ibbs.

Thanks to Joe’s Bloggers, Currys, Temple Training, Urban Kings and Philips for a fun and informative bloggers event. You can also read Currys’ write up of their #currysintrojuicing evening.

Green juices,

Finish line with medal_Great Wall of China Marathon

The alarm jolted us awake at 4am. Was I dreaming? Had I really upgraded to the half marathon on the Great Wall from my initial 8.5km just two days earlier? Looking at my race outfit laid out on the floor next to me – my number already pinned to my running top – the large red ‘Half marathon’ sticker over my initial ‘Fun run’ one confirmed that, yes I most definitely had.

The nerves were kicking in with waves of excitement as we headed to the lobby where everyone was busy with last minute race preparations. At 5am we were on the bus headed back to Yin and Yang Square where the race started and finished. This is where we had been a couple of days earlier for The Great Wall of China: Pre-Race Inspection.

Pre Great Wall of China Half Marathon_Yin and Yang Square Huangyaguan

Warming up pre Great Wall of China Half Marathon_Yin and Yang Square Huangyaguan

Even though the weather was expected to get over 28 degrees during the race, arriving at 6am the weather was rather chilly. When we finally made our way into the square off the warmth of the bus (past a brass band playing Jingle Bells), the energy in the air was buzzing. Music was pumping and women on stage were warming up the crowd with exercises and stretches.

Pre Great Wall of China Half Marathon Runners_Yin and Yang Square Huangyaguan

Pre Great Wall of China Marathon Race_Yin and Yang Square

Looking at this photo of Mum and I before the race, I can still feel the nerves in my stomach!

All runners were assigned a starting wave depending on ability and previous race times. This made sure there were less bottle necks on the wall (some parts were single file) and that the more competitive runners didn’t have to spend time navigating through the slower runners (like myself).

Pre Great Wall of China Half Marathon Starting Chute_Yin and Yang Square Huangyaguan

We wished my Stepdad and Uncle luck as they set off in the first wave to compete in the full marathon, then my Aunt who was also doing the half, in a wave ahead of us. Finally it was time for Mike, Mum and I to line up in the starting chute.

Words don’t do justice to the mixture of feelings as we stood there looking up towards the Great Wall – it was exciting, scary and nerve wrecking. It was incredible. This was it. There was no turning back.

We were counted down, then everyone was off under the large ‘Start’ banner and down the road for the first kilometre. This is where we said goodbye to Mike as he took off ahead of us at a (slightly) faster pace.

Great Wall Of China Half Marathon

The next four kilometres were uphill to take us to the entrance of the Great Wall. Due to not wanting to burn out too early, or get a lactic acid build up, we walked this section which helped conserve energy for the remainder of the race.

My favourite part of the course without a doubt was the 3.5km section on the Great Wall. Even with 2,516 steps, which I ended up really enjoying. The views were incredible and I had to remind myself a few times to take in the surroundings and appreciate all of the experience.

Great Wall Of China Half Marathon_Village Children

The course was really well organised with plenty of stops containing water, bananas, sponges and electrolytes to keep hydration and energy levels up. Lots of local children were excited handing out water soaked sponges and water bottles to the runners as they passed. Many also put out their hands for high fives, which resulted in a lot of smiles from the children and runners.

The support from the locals was so encouraging. They lined the streets and village watching and cheering, which really pushed everyone to keep going. A lot also volunteered their time to help – the most impressive were those that had to carry all the water bottles and distribute along the Great Wall for all of us.

Great Wall Of China Half Marathon_Village and 17km mark

Another highlight was running through a local village as we got to see different sights, including a man walking his goats. It was a relief reaching the 17km mark out of the village. Knowing it was the home stretch and there was only 4km along the road back to the finish line was exhilarating. We were nearly done. We had nearly achieved completing the Great Wall half marathon! At that moment I knew it was doable. I could do this.

The last 2km were tough. The hardest of the race. My jog became more of a slow hobble, but I didn’t want to stop. I knew I just had to keep putting one foot in front of the other. My body ached and my ankles hurt, but the knowledge of the nearing finish line kept me going.

Soon other runners were also cheering us on – having finished the race themselves, they came out to support other runners nearing the end. The extra push of encouragement at the end really helped and it was emotional running down the finishing chute with my Mum, hand in hand holding the New Zealand flag. The crowd was cheering and the smiles on our faces said it all as we crossed the finish line.

Great Wall Of China Marathon Finish Line with medal_Yin and Yang Square

Crossing the finish line with Mum, the feeling of achievement and self-pride was like nothing I had ever felt before. Just three days before the race I never would have thought that I could do it, then there I was, holding my medal after running The Great Wall Half Marathon 2014. Mike greeted me at the finish line and there were a few tears of joy and disbelief. Even typing this it still feels surreal – lucky I have the photos and medal as proof it actually happened.

Great Wall Of China Half Marathon_Finish Line

Great Wall Of China Marathon Finish Line_girls with medals_Yin and Yang Square

My Aunt, Mum and I looked surprisingly fresh after finishing!

Great Wall Of China Half Marathon_Runners Completing Finish Line

Great Wall Of China Marathon Finisher_Yin and Yang Square

We waited and cheered on many of the other participants as they crossed the finish line, which was truly inspiring. People of all sizes, shapes and ages competed and completed the race – there really is no one size fits all when it comes to marathon running. Anyone can do it.

Post race with new zealand flag_Great Wall of China Marathon

Being with family in China and running this half marathon with my Mum to celebrate her 50th, is such a special memory. She continues to inspire me to push my own comfort zones and without her adventurous nature there are so many things I wouldn’t have experienced in my life. Thanks Mum!

So proud of my Stepdad who came third in the marathon and for the rest of us for completing such an memorable challenge. You really can achieve whatever you set your mind to. It took me 3 hours, 28 minutes to complete the 21km, which I was pretty happy with considering I had only decided to do the race two days before with very little training.

It was hot and it was hard – both physically and mentally. Would I do it again? Without a doubt. The race was fantastic and the marathon runners inspired me to want to achieve the full marathon… One day.

I can only imagine what future birthdays bring.

Milestone memories,