Running isn’t a sport for pretty boys (and girls)…It’s about the sweat in your hair and the blisters on your feet. It’s the frozen spit on your chin and nausea in your gut. It’s about throbbing calves and cramps at midnight that are strong enough to wake the dead. It’s about getting out the door and running when the rest of the world is only dreaming about having the passion that you need to live each and every day with. It’s about being on a lonely road and running like a champion even when there’s not a single soul in sight to cheer you on. Running is all about having the desire to train and persevere until every fibre in your legs, mind, and heart is turned to steel. And when you’ve finally forged hard enough, you will have become the best runner you can be. And that’s all that you can ask for.” 

From The Gift – A Runner’s Story, Paul Mercer

Basingstoke Half Marathon 2018 what running has taught me about life

I have never been an athlete or a runner ever in my life. Needless to say, I never thought that I would actually be able to participate in and finish a half marathon even in my wildest dreams. So, last Sunday (7th Oct) when I finished my first half marathon in a mostly hilly terrain of Basingstoke, Hampshire in 2 hours and 35 minutes, I was pleasantly surprised.

I have always liked doing things that are out of my comfort zone and running has always intrigued me. So, I took up this challenge of running a half marathon just to see what I am made of.

Last year, I took up running seriously. Earlier this year, I  started training for the Basingstoke Half Marathon. During this process, I realised that there is more to running than just putting one foot in front of the other; running teaches you a few important things about life and builds your spirit and character.

You can achieve anything as long as you are willing to work for it:

As I mentioned earlier, I am not a natural runner. Running was not just difficult for me; it was impossible. But hard work, discipline and sheer stubbornness to achieve something are the essential qualities you need to achieve anything in life just like in running.

Believe in yourself and be your own cheerleader:

You will have many naysayers who will try to bring you down, the worst naysayer could be your own negative voice. Cut it out, tell it to shut up! Belief in your self and that can do mentality is the first step to actually being able to do it. Life is a marathon and some of it will have to be done alone, so it is important to love yourself to love the process. Simply put, be your own cheerleader.

Basingstoke Half Marathon 2018 what running teaches you about life

Setbacks are inevitable but Perseverance pays off:  

Injuries, tiredness, a beaten up spirit, these are some of the things I’ve experienced in and out of running. Every time I found myself down (sometimes, despite my best efforts), I got up, dusted myself, healed and carried on. It was not easy but giving up would be have been worse.

Be Proud of your Body:

Like many other women, I have been conditioned to not love my body and be obsessed with its shortcomings—the mummy tummy, the cellulite, the scars. But when I had my daughter four years ago, I finally realised the enormous power of the female body. Its ability to split in half to push a tiny human being and to heal itself is truly wonderful. Training and running the half marathon has made me more respectable, loving and prouder of my body because you realise that your strong legs and an even stronger mind can literally take you places.

It’s Your and only you Race:

As adults, we love comparing ourselves to others and vexing ourselves endlessly. Sure, someone would be faster, better, have a more of runner’s body, is more successful than you but running teaches you that is your and only your race. Enjoy it, cherish it and make it worthwhile. Comparing yourself to others simply steals the joy.

As I said, Running teaches you a lot about life. If running has helped please share your story in the comment section.

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If you have been following me on Instagram, where I post-exercise videos and fitness tips on an almost daily basis, you would know that I am a proper gym rat. So when  #TeamAaptiv approached me to test their fun and convenient programs, I jumped at the chance for a much-needed change-up in my routine.

The training game can be a very lonely game, whilst most gyms offer umpteen number of classes, for me given my crazy schedule, it is not possible to attend those classes. Also, working out in a mirrored room packed with Spandex-clad people all trying to synchronise their moves to Ed Sheeran’s Shape of you, is something I would definitely pass.

Whilst I do not mind being the lone Wolf at the gym, I do admit that occasionally I need the motivation to give it my best, to keep going and just to learn new things. Enter Aaptiv, an audio-based fitness app that gives you a boutique fitness class right in your earbuds. Each “class” has a trainer who will take you through the programme and you can get the work out at a gym, home or outside with the touch of a button.

The Workouts—

Aaptiv Fitness Review

Aaptiv has a range of training programmes that you can try from outside running, strength training, HIIT, yoga to meditation. Each category has plans for beginners, intermediate and advanced level athletes (that’s you gym rat!). Each plan is colour coded for your convenience—green is for beginners, yellow is for intermediates and green is for advanced.

I also liked the fact that they have both 10-15 minute programmes and 30-60 programmes as well. As I said earlier, the app is designed to get you going and having even 15-minute programmes which pump your heart in no time is essential. As a busy mum, this feature is my personal favourite, sometimes despite your best intentions you just do not have time. So, getting even 10-15 minutes of work out can help immensely. I am a big believer that training/exercise is the best stress-buster and therapy hence I make a point to do something even if it is for 15 minutes.

My favourite, however, was their meditation playlist. After a busy and hectic day at work, where I am usually fighting fire and doing other awesome things, my mind (needless to say) goes on an overdrive mode. And most nights, instead of getting a good sleep I end up twisting and turning, with all the thoughts in the world coming at bedtime. And let me tell you from experience: stupid ideas come from a tired, unrested mind.

Meditation is proven to calm oneself down, clear the cobwebs in mind and energise you from within. Problem is…well, it is not easy to keep still and reflect…at least for me. I have been trying to make meditation a regular practice before sleep but always fail hence Aaptiv helped me immensely in achieving this goal.

Aaptiv Fitness Review

Aaptiv: a boon for new mums—

When I had just had my daughter, I found it extremely difficult to get any workout in for days (Getting grips on how to handle a baby, the tiny new person in your life is a challenging exercise in itself and there is no shame in accepting that). Aaptiv has a section designed especially for new mums—stroller workouts. Their stroller workouts are short (20-25 minutes), making it easier to squeeze one into a hectic day, and because they use the pushchair there is no need for a babysitter.

When my daughter was a baby, stroller workouts was something I did very regularly. Getting out, with your baby, even if it is 20 minutes helps both mum and baby immensely. We all know news mums risk getting postnatal anxiety and depression (i have been there) and it is important that new mums can get enough support to get this done in their new-changed lives.

In a nutshell—

Aaptiv, in a nutshell, is a great app to use if you are looking for motivation, new training programmes and new tips for fitness. My only criticism about the app is sometimes it is very difficult to understand a move when it is only told to you. Human beings like visual cues and if you are a beginner some of the instructions get lost in translation. But you can easily overcome this challenge by carefully listening to the instructions few times before fully understanding and executing it.  For £9.99 per month, you can become a member and access all the workouts without any limits. Unsure still about Aaptiv? You can try it for free with Aaptiv’s 7-day trial.

This post is sponsored by Aaptiv but opinions are my own.

Thank you for reading. Hope you liked the post. Don’t forget to follow me. You can also follow me on InstagramTwitter and Pinterest.

I have been MIA for quite a while and to be honest this time around, I really had more than few things on my plate. We moved to our new place (yiee to that) and almost immediately there was series of sickness but all said and done, we are now settling in and enjoying our brand new home. Before moving in, the hubby and I would spend most of our time discussing about interiors, how to do the rooms and other million little things about making a house, home. One of the key things, I wanted was to have little cosy corner by the window, where I can star gaze, read, write and get lost in my little bubble. However, considering I am a world of paradoxes I also wanted this cosy corner to have a vibrant, sassy feel to it. Enter: Modern Map Art. 

 

Modern Map Art was founded in 2016 by Jennifer Beck, designer and world traveller who wanted an avenue to combine her two loves–art and traveling. Jennifer plunged into this idea after returning to LA post her honeymoon across different cities and continents. The traveling not only increased her understanding of different cultures but a deeper appreciation of different cities. At that time, she wanted to turn this understanding and appreciation to art and thus Modern Map Art was born.

 

Oxford Modern Map Art

 

“I’m not an artist by trade, but I love simple design. World History is my background which helps to understand how cities are formed,” says Jennifer, the woman behind Modern Map Art.

Oxford Modern Map Art

Jennifer might not be a technically an artist but her designs definitely scream modern art to me. After a lot of thinking, I realised the cosy creativity corner at my home would be the best place to use Jennifer’s Modern Map Art featuring Oxford–one of my favourite cities in UK. 

 

Oxford Modern Map Art

 

Map Arts have a spirited and chic feeling to it. And if you are a travel lover who want to turn your travel stories into a keepsake, then it is certainly something you should consider to spruce up your room or office. 

Find out more about Modern Map Art or follow them on Instagram

Thank you Modern Map Art for Sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.

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Welcome to the all new Style With Substance–a blog about fashion, fitness, motherhood and lifestyle. As you can see we have evolved, scaled up and grown for the better. After months of serious contemplation, brainstorming for ideas and having rather passionate discussions with my husband–we have finally reached our goal–a newer and edgier Style With Substance.

When I started this blog, I had absolutely no idea where it will go and how long I will continue this for. I was not sure if it would remain a mere hobby or something more. After zillion fashion posts, outfit photography, debates and seriously doubting if I can continue investing in this blog, we have decided to scale up.

Maxi wrap dress

Because, giving up can never be an option. 

I firmly believe that giving up on your dreams and vision should never be an option and no matter how hard the road gets it is best to keep moving forward. So, instead of giving up, I’ve chosen to grow up, get better and keep moving on ahead.

Must have Dress: Maxi dress style

I have spent the last few weeks introspecting things. And I have realised I have become a stronger version of myself. Yes, like everyone I have my vulnerabilities but I have chosen to keep persisting despite all the odds. My blog definitely reflects this ideology.

As the saying goes, just when the caterpillar thought the world was over it became a butterfly.  

I hope you have liked this new look of the blog. I would definitely like to know your thoughts on it. And please continue to shower me with your encouragement and appreciation to move on.

Hope you enjoyed reading this post. Have a wonderful week and don’t forget to subscribe Style With Substance.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest 🙂

In the last two years, ever since I re-started my fitness journey as a new mum, I learnt a lot of things that eventually helped me. In this post, I am going to share a few of those things, in the hope that some other mums out there would find it useful. I have already shared my meal preparation tricks and tips earlier. This post will focus on workouts more specifically home workouts.

One thing which still overwhelms is how to balance between cardio, weight-training and yoga whilst also handling everything else in life—home, family, work and blog.  I must admit I do fail a lot of times but planning ahead works.

Over the course of these two years, few programmes have immensely helped and these are:

Hiit workout

HIIT Workouts:

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval training. It is all about putting your body to maximum effort in minimum time. You can do it in the gym using treadmill and other cardio machines. Or you could do it with weights and you could also do it at home using no other equipment other than your body.

My favourite HIIT workouts are ones by Beachbody like Insanity Max by Shaun T and 21 day fix and 21 Day Fix EXTREME Essential Package by Autumn Calabrese (which I am following at the moment). Fitness Blender and Jillian Michaels are another favourites which will torch up those calories in no time.

Post baby exercises

Image credit: Pinterest

Cardio:

What really worked for me was combining different things. A good mix of cardio, strength and HIIT ensures that my body is always guessing what would come next and will always be on “work” mode. To be honest, cardio is my least favourite hence the challenge was to make it super fun. Enter Zumba (dancing). I thoroughly enjoy Fitness Marshall’s videos, Get Fit Janani and Vijay Tupurani (which you can watch on YouTube)for some Bollywood fun. I also love LesMills Body attack and body combat workouts. They are far cry from your usual cardio machines and oh so challenging.

postoartum core exercises

Image credit: http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/standing-abs-workout

Strength Training:  

Weight or strength training is my favourite. However, I admit it was (and still gets) really overwhelming. Enter Bodybuilding website  another platform which I highly recommend. It has a plethora of programmes some by elite athletes and bodybuilders with succinct instruction videos and dietary guides. Whether you are a beginner, intermediate and advanced “athlete” you would find a wealth of information, programmes and plans suiting your needs and goals.

Thank you for reading. Hope you enjoyed this post. Have a lovely week? Don’t forget to follow me. You can also follow me on Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.