Why I shouldn’t be your #bodygoals

All Things Fitness

As a health and fitness blogger I try and keep to a rounded selection of content from food, to supplements, to training, to recipes, to my body…. At the moment it has been VERY competition prep based. Why? Well that’s my life right now I am 5 weeks out from my next competition, surrounded by others on prep and if I don’t make it my life and throw everything into it, there’s no real point in doing it. I’m very all or nothing and if I get relaxed about my prep, well it’s self explanatory, the results won’t come!

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So why shouldn’t you want your body to look like mine?

My body is sitting at around 10% body fat and I’m 55kg- that means that of my entire body only about 5.5kg of that is fat. It is recommended that women shouldn’t have a body fat percentage lower than 10% as that is the lowest necessary level for normal body function. But let’s take a moment to remember that I am in prep for a purely aesthetics based competition and to be a serious contender I need those lower levels of body fat. A normal healthy woman shouldn’t really be striving for this level of body fat.

It can happen at different levels of body fat for different girls BUT I have now stopped having my period. This is just one example of how my body is dealing with what is being thrown at it. At first when it happened for a couple of months I started taking pregnancy tests because of the paranoid person that I am even though I knew it was impossible for that to be the answer, given where my romantic status is right now… (You catch my drift- oh hey immaculate conception…)

After this competition I am looking to take a year until I compete again for a couple of reasons:

• my body needs a break and to work its way back to a healthy state of internal homeostasis

• I want to build more muscle and if I’m constantly cutting and in a calorie deficit then that cannot happen

So while I LOVE competing and competition prep, if I want to keep doing it for quite some time I need to be sensible and strategic about it.

I post progress pictures and flexed six pack pictures because I’m proud of myself. I am proud of what I am achieving, the progress I’m making and how I’m getting on in my competition prep. Whilst I am super proud of myself this doesn’t mean you should want my abs, or my new found back muscles and pecs.

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So if I don’t want to inspire you with my body, how do I want to be inspiring you?

I would love you to be inspired by my positive outlook on life, my attitude towards goal setting and smashing those goals, my ideals of uplifting people and supporting each other even if they are your competition and if I can have this attitude in life, you can too!

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After my competition I will be progressively gaining some more body fat to a healthy and maintainable level and maybe once I’m there, my body could inspire you to get that butt in the gym. But for now I shouldn’t be your body inspiration.

If I can inspire you to make healthy changes and life choices, encourage some more body confidence and self love then I will be one happy bunny.

Please just remember I am prepping for a bodybuilding bikini competition that is purely aesthetics based and only maintainable for a short period of time.

Big love Char xxx

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OSHUN white

Reviews

Last month OSHUNwhite sent me a 14day teeth whitening oil pulling kit and a copper tongue cleaner. What with always being in front of the camera, I am always wanting whiter teeth. In January 2015 I took part in a study with the BBC to test the effectiveness of over the counter teeth whitening kits. The results came in and no one’s teeth had been whitened to a degree where it was noticeable to the human eye. This is because the active ingredient in teeth whitening kits isn’t strong enough and can’t be strong enough due to EU regulations. Many people get teeth whitening products sent over from the US because their rules and regulations are different. I have never used anything stronger than can be bought in the UK because I always get nervous about them damaging my teeth and only having myself to blame for being so silly. This was the reason why Oil Pulling has intrigued me for some time now.

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Oil pulling has been practiced for thousands of years as part of the ancient Indian practice of Ayurveda. The practice involves swishing a small amount of oil around your mouth for 5 to 15 minutes each day. Traditionally, unflavoured coconut or sesame oil would be used.

Oil pulling works to reduce the levels of harmful bacteria in the mouth, which are pulled out with the oil. This delivers a powerful, natural oral detox, resulting in reduced plaque, long-lasting fresh breath and a beautiful white smile.

~ OSHUNwhite

OSHUNwhite offer a 14 day kit, one sachet each day first thing in the morning before eating breakfast. This is really handy because if you’re staying at friends let’s say, you don’t have to carry around your great huge jar of coconut oil, you can just pop a sachet in your bag. They offer 4 flavours, Crushed Lime, Wild Cherry, Spearmint and Peppermint. The flavours really help to distract you from the fact you have coconut oil filled with toxins in your mouth…

I tried the Crushed Lime flavour. The guidelines say to swill it around your mouth for 5-15minutes, on my first time I lasted 5! I was SO disappointed in myself but its such a new and surreal sensation that I just couldn’t keep going any longer. Luckily like with most things practice made it better and more tolerable, however, even after the full course I still only managed 10minutes max! (what a wimp!)  I think for me it was the oily texture, yes I know it’s coconut oil before you say anything, it just didn’t feel like something I should be holding in my mouth for that long. Although I must say, the Lime flavour definitely helped!

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As much as I hate to admit it (because I was rubbish at it) it actually did work! I’ve heard mixed reviews about Oil Pulling so it was nice to be able to experience my own results. My teeth felt cleaners and glossier and they looked whiter so it’s definitely something I want to be able to learn to love. So thank you OSHUNwhite for introducing me to oil pulling and making it a nicer experience with such great flavours and convenient kits!

To get your hands on an OSHUNwhite 14 day kit head to their website here.

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Here’s to naturally healthier, whiter smiles!

Char x

The Importance of Setting Goals

All Things Fitness

In Summer 2015 someone sent me this picture:

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Instagram: @elle_fit

At the point that I received a screenshot of this image, I was teaching dance at summer camp. On my breaks/afternoons off/ days off you would have generally caught me either working out on the monkey bars near by or practicing yoga on the grass outside. I had managed to nail forearm stands, chin/chest stands and various handstands and was feeling pretty proud. Then I think it was my sister who sent this to me with what I can only assume to have been accompanied by a message of amazement. Me and my friend Abi, who was with me at camp when I got the message, just looked at the photo in amazement, rotating my phone 360 degrees trying to workout how this position was even possible. Then I gave it a go and couldn’t even get up there; I suddenly had so much admiration for Elle and anybody able to even get into this position- it requires a lot of core strength and well, all over strength to get into it never mind hold it. It was then that I decided that this was something I would work my way towards.

I took a step away from it and started my training for fitness modelling just doing bits of yoga to supplement this training but nothing too advanced. I then came back to this pose with a stronger mind and body and nailed it. I am not at all trying to say that yoga is about just creating shapes because it is so much more than that, but this for me was a goal to achieve and I am proud to have achieved it. Now I can work on moving in and out of it and relaxing in my time up there working through my breathing. That is the next stage for this position for me. I’d also like to be able to lift my straight leg a little higher to a more horizontal line.

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So why is it important to set goals:

  1. They are something to work towards
  2. They will keep you focused and motivated- Long term vision, Short term motivation
  3. It can be easier to track progress
  4. They can turn mountains into mole hills
  5. They tell you what you really want

 

What sort of goals should you be setting?

Sure, make big goals something you really want to achieve but know its going to be a journey to get there. They will keep you motivated long term, but you should also set smaller goals along the way too, trackable goals to mark your progress and spur you on further. These goals help our self confidence, focus, and motivation to stay on track for the bigger goals.

Here’s a personal example for you.

My BIG Goal

To compete as a fitness model in April 2016

My Smaller Goals

  • To improve my posture and stop hunching/rolling my shoulders forward
  • Write for my blog more often, improving my writing skills and furthermore increasing engagement with my blog
  • To be able to sprint at level 19 on the treadmill for all 10 sprints in  my hit training.

That is just an example of what I am working for and focusing on daily. I have other goals I am working on that are and aren’t geared towards my competition prep. I am just happy right now that I have achieved one of 2016’s big goals in that headstand at the top of this post.

Have you got any goals you are working towards? Large or Small, they’re all important. Let me know!

 

Char x

Festival Studio 2.0

Aerials, Contemporary Dance, modelling, Photography, Work

In July I headed back once again to shoot with Festival Studio Photography. You may or may not know that Jessica and I shot with them in October 2014 too. This time I was shooting alone with around eight photographers. Like before it was a very fun shoot, very relaxed (hard work) but a great environment to work in.

We worked through a few looks and themes. Contemporary dance, Aerial Silks, Aerial Hoop, Acro on a mirror and the Grand Finalé- a shoot using flour to capture an image that carried motion. As you can see we had a lot to fit into the day, each of the photographers had one on one time with me in each of the themes. I’ll include for you at least one image from each of the themes.

Some of the photographers came with specific ideas of what they wanted to capture and some with reference picture to try and recreate. Others, were happy to let me move through sequences and positions for them to capture.

Festival Studio always know how to look after me and is always the most inviting atmosphere to work in.

I am also delighted to tell you that I have been invited back once again to shoot with Festival Studio in October. There was a great reaction to the flour shots and people have requested a second shoot date- great news! So in light of this coming up have a look below at what we achieved in the July shoot.

We had Charlotte as our subject model fir an aerials, contemporary dance, modelling and powder shoot at the studio recently. Her performance was flawless, giving great energy and fun to whoever photographed her. A lovely girl who brought confidence and great humour. Thoroughly recommended.

~ Chris Sharp,  Festival Studio Photography

Malcolm SK Fitt Photography

Photography, Work

On the morning of Sunday 1st February Malcolm and I headed into the woods in Harrow to do a sports shoot. It was freezing cold so it’s a good job it was a fun shoot. Malcolm was very professional and made me feel comfortable in front of the camera. He was also very accommodating when it came to the cold, he’d brought along a blanket for me just to be on the safe side.

Part way through the shoot we even had a cameo from a furry friend who wanted to join in:

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I loved working with Malcolm and we tried many ways to try and achieve the look he was after. The strong, athletic, running shot. Luckily all our stars aligned in the last 30 mins or so and we got it and both got excited to keep shooting!

I would definitely recommend Malcolm as a photographer any time! Have a look at his website here: http://malcolmskfitt.com

Here are a few of my favourite images from the shoot!

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Malcolm SK Fitt Photography

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Malcolm SK Fitt Photography

Malcolm SK Fitt Photography

Malcolm SK Fitt Photography

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Malcolm SK Fitt Photography

Malcolm SK Fitt Photography

Malcolm SK Fitt Photography

Malcolm SK Fitt Photography

Malcolm SK Fitt Photography

Nick Radley Headshots

Contemporary Dance, Extras, Photography, Work

Shortly after moving to London I was chatting to Aidie, someone I met on a shoot in the summer and he dropped into conversation that he was getting a couple businesses going. He then went on to tell me that one of those was Headshots and would I like to have some done….obviously I said yes! I then had a conversation with the photographer (that night!) and we set up a shoot for the next day!

I’m not going to lie, we probably picked THE coldest day of the year so far and to add to that It kept raining that horrible drizzly fine rain where one minute you’re bone dry and half an hour later you’re soaking and have no idea how it even happened.

Right from the off Nick was really friendly and approachable and this set up for a great shoot. We headed out and found a couple of locations to shoot, all were outside. This was great for me (bar the temperature) because my other Headshots had all been taken in a studio. A few locations and concealed changes later and we were wrapped. Throughout, Nick gave great direction. He knew where to ask you to move for the light to hit your face right and asked for a variety of looks…. If there was something that worked he’d ask me to hold it and we’d shoot that for a moment and then move on. Nearing the end of the shoot, I was turning into an icicle and grabbed my scarf/shawl/blanket (the most versatile wonderful thing ever) to try and thaw out a little and get some circulation back and Nick asked to shoot me in it….. Turns out most of the shots I selected are those wrapped in my scarf.

I was really impressed with how my images turned out and there was a really quick turn around from shoot, to selection,to retouched to me receiving them. Really great service. Communication was amazing too right from the off, to making sure I was happy afterwards. I genuinely would recommend Nick to anyone, have a look for yourselves….

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Whether you’re an actor, dancer, MT Performer, any creative professional or ANYONE that requires a professional headshot/ portrait photograph Nick is the person to go to.

If you’re interested, even just to enquire, contact details are below:

Aidie Palmer: Aidie.palmer@gmail.com
Nick Radley: nick5r@hotmail.co.uk

When I share this post on Facebook I’ll also tag them in it if you would rather find them that way.

Like I say, I’m really happy with my images and would happily go back when they need updating!

Festival Studio Photography

Aerials, Contemporary Dance, Photography, Work

In October Jessica and I took a job with Festival Studio Photography modelling/ dancing for a group photography session.

From the moment we arrived we couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome, the atmosphere was lovely. We had our own dressing room, gowns, slippers… The works!

The idea of the shoot was Contemporary Dance and Aerial silks. Jessica and I had practiced a few partner holds/positions and then we worked through some solo shots also. It was arranged so that thee were about 5/6 photographers who each had about 15-20 minutes with us on a rotation, working through a range of shots for each. Everyone was really enthusiastic and shared their photo with each other in the lounge area excited about everyone’s shots. Occasionally someone would run back through and be like ‘you did a position for so and so, can I shoot that please’ and that was nice, their enthusiasm was contagious 🙂 All of these shots were in a bright room with a white back drop like the image below. It’s my favourite image of me and Jessica from the day. © Charles Merry.

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We then took a short break and moved into the Aerial part of the shoot. I mixed between three (and one extra for Paul) positions, all the same for everyone and this was a little more strenuous than the dancing previous. A splits position, a Beamon sit and a scorpion. I really love these pictures as the lighting and post production have led to a black back drop so the silks look such a rich vibrant red. Here’s an example © Jan Marshall.

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We then moved on to some more jumps, turns, leaps… Anything that we could try and capture motion within the image. I wore a light blue leotard and coloured Aztec print full skirt and Jessica wore a sheer dress that floated as she jumped, really great for capturing the movement. These shots were also lit to give a black backing and definition in the muscles, shadows of the body (great if you want your calves to look amazing! Haha) . Here’s a shot of Jessica © Paul Branton, Festival Studio Photography.

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The whole experience working with Festival Studio was great, we had such a great time that before you knew it six hours had past and everyone had to go home. I honestly couldn’t recommend them more! Highly professional, welcoming and so accommodating. Hopefully we’ll shoot together again soon !

I’ll leave you with some more images from the day:

© Jan Marshall Photography

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© Roger Coran

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© Paul Branton, Festival Studio Photography

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© Charles Merry

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Meet the Cast: Aim to Fly UK

Aerials, Contemporary Dance, Work

Earlier in the year I was invited to join the Aim to Fly development team as their Dance Specialist. So what did that mean? It means that when Aim to Fly has their first production I will be cast mainly as a dancer but also that during the developmental process I will be leading dance workshops for the cast.

On October 30th and 31st Aim to Fly held their first intensive. The aim of the two day intensive was to all get to know each other, work out our apparatus and culminate some ideas for a work/show. So who was there? We wee incredibly lucky to be joined by Serenity Forchion founder of New England Center for Circus Arts (NECCA). Time with Serenity is invaluable, we were extremely lucky as she is rarely in the UK and she is so knowledgable, so time with her is like gold! Joining myself, Serenity and Mel ( founder of Aim to Fly) there was Leona, Leah, Thom, Dayna, Soul and Kaiya. We are a mix of disabled and able bodied performers with a variety skills and experience so we all had a lot to learn from each other.

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On the Thursday I held a dance/ yoga esque warm up for the group before we started working on the apparatus. It was great to see the adaptations people made to make the moves fit their bodies if they had particular restrictions. Everyone embraced what I did as it was a little different to the general warm up normally held before class. We then worked our way around each apparatus and explored them how we could, it was a great way to try new apparatus too. We used silks, sling/ cocoon, trapeze, hoop, and a higher hoop. My experience mainly lies with aerial silks so it was great to work on other apparatus… I spent a lot of time on the trapeze. My word my hand hurt A LOT afterwards. After our aerial exploration we moved over to another studio where I led a contact improvisation session. It was very well received considering it was new to everyone. We tried a 15-20 minute improv to see how it would be received and then followed it by a 20 minute improv but with our eyes closed. Closing your eyes increases your need for spacial awareness and to be able to listen your body as well as everyone else’s. It also meant that those who were a little more self conscious of moving like this, didn’t have to worry or engage with the idea of others watching them. It was great though, it encouraged trust within the group and we decided that it would be used between elements on the apparatus.

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Thursday was a BIG day for everyone but very educational ready for knuckling down Friday. The Friday panned out in a similar way to Thursday, a mixture of aerial work and dance. We chose a single apparatus to work on for the piece. The idea is that we each select an apparatus and start in/on the chosen apparatus and each person in turn will perform a piece. This will then lead into a blindfolded structured contact improv to finish in a huddle lifting a group member as high as we possibly can whilst remaining safe.

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Throughout the process we had cameras set up to collect working studio footage and discussions we had along the process. I will be taking a look at this footage and editing together a film for Aim to Fly as a means to introduce us to a public audience. So watch out for that in the coming weeks!

Piece of String: London Bridge Live Arts Festival

Contemporary Dance, Piece of String, Work

As you know Frankie and I recently started our own Contemporary Dance Company Piece Of String, enabling us to make new works and collaborate choreographically.

We debuted our new work Still Image at the London Bridge Live Arts Festival, performing on Thursday 25th and Friday 26th September.
Still Image was created using photographs taken around the London Bridge area on a Polaroid film to ensure the moments captured could not be edited or altered before using them to create material.

Synopsis:
Through sensory exploration, Still Image captures unalterable moments in time and invited the audience to find new meanings.

The festival itself was themed around the five senses. There were installations, live pieces and sensory experiences spread throughout the festival for everyone to move through and explore. We spent a lot of time in the sound installation. There were some cones suspended from the ceiling and when you placed your hand underneath it conducted light and a sound…. Each cone light had it’s own sound, so you could play around with the combination of sounds, it was really quite entrancing! Here are some images from the sound installation:

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There was also a very intriguing experience for smell; you had to take a smell card and then take a seat and put on their aptly named ‘Smellmet’. You would then select a series of scents that will be pumped through the ‘Smellmet’. These selections would then be put together in a Petri dish for you and ground down so you could try them with yoghurt, bread and still lemonade. My combinations took me to a Christmassy tasting sambuca… Have a look at the set up:

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The whole experience was great and a good place to start in showing our work. Have a look at Extracts from Still Image here:

We are also on Facebook so take a look at our page:

https://www.facebook.com/Pieceofstringuk

I’ll leave you now with some images taken from our performances there:

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