Blogging Hel, I’ve Been Shortlisted!

Yes, that’s right, I have been shortlisted for a blogging award! To be more precise the Best European Blog at the That Protein and HBC Health Blog Awards 2017.

You may be wondering why my tennis-related blog is included in the Best European Blog category, rather than say, the Best Fitness Blog category. Let me explain. These health blog awards are for UK-based bloggers, but they have one category for a blogger that lives outside the UK. I’m originally from the UK (from Hertford, to be precise), but I’ve been living in Italy for the past 16 years (wow, has it really been that long?!…)

Now that my blog has been shortlisted (along with two others in this category) I need to get as many votes as I can by 1st August 2017 from my colleagues, friends, family, neighbours, blog readers, Instagram/Twitter followers, or really just anyone I can convince to spend 1 min to fill in the form. So before you read any further, please do click on the hyperlinked image below (or click here) and vote for me!badge_shortlisted-600x600

Now if you have come across this blog before, you will know that it documents my recent journey to becoming a stylish tennis player. One of the reasons I am so pleased to have been shortlisted for a health blog award is that I am hoping this will help raise slightly the profile of this blog, and in turn encourage more people to give tennis a try. Tennis has so many physical and mental health benefits. All that running around after the ball improves aerobic and anaerobic health – as Bjorn Borg once said, a tennis match is like thousands of little sprints. The more you play, the more you will improve your mental agility and reaction times, and you will have fun in the process. In my case it has even had a positive influence on my relationship – my partner and I enjoy having a shared passion, and we often train together or team up for a mixed doubles match.

Regardless of whether I end up winning the Best European Blog category or not, I am already so pleased to have been shortlisted. Sometimes it is difficult for me to keep up with blogging with all the other activities in my life (as I discussed in a recent post), but this recognition has helped me realise it is worth making the time.


Health and Fitness Blogging Summit

Whilst back in the UK for the Easter weekend I decided to attend the Health Bloggers Community Summit at the Hoxton Hotel. I had images in my mind of tens of young female health bloggers (at least 10 years younger than me), all kitted out in leggings and trainers, turmeric latte in hand, talking into their phones or cameras for their Instagram stories or YouTube vlogs. Actually, it didn’t quite live up to the cliché, though it wasn’t far off! Whilst leggings and trainers were indeed de rigueur, it was refreshing to see that most people were too busy listening to the talks and interacting with each other to be staring into their phones and documenting the experience. In all honesty, I was probably one of the more prolific documenters of the day, as you will have seen if you followed my Instagram stories. But if you did not, do not fear, as I am going to share all the juicy details with you in this blog post!


The day started with breakfast offered by Bounce energy balls. We were all invited to make our own bounce ball creations, using ingredients that included yoghurt, bounce balls, raspberries, banana slices, blueberries, coconut, edible flowers…and take a photo to share on social media. If you have ever visited this blog before you will know I am not a food blogger, and I am more interested in what my food tastes likes than what it looks like. I do care about what I eat, and I do try and make sure I consider the nutritional content of my food, but I just don’t have the patience to carefully place my ingredients on the plate, and wait whilst I find the right light to take a photo. So I was never going to win the photo competition. But it did taste good.

Photography Workshop

I then attended the photography workshop led by Anastasia. I did a photography course last year, and I have recently invested in an Olympus pen E-PL7, though mainly for my YouTube videos. So I already knew the basics, but I did come away with a really good piece of advice related to lighting (which I haven’t yet been able to implement, as you will possibly notice from the photo at the top of this post…) I often stand near the window to get natural light for my Instagram photos (yes, those ones where I am dressing up in tennis gear), and half of my body is heavily shadowed. I thought I needed to invest in some studio lights to get rid of this shade, but it turns out that all I need is a large piece of white cardboard to reflect the light! Genius.

High Intensity Interval Training

I had to leave the photography workshop a bit early, as I had signed up for a HIIT session run by fitssi (who I think changed their name the next day to vlique?) I thought I had done a HIIT session before, but it turns out I hadn’t. My exercises (which you can see in some of my YouTube videos) are timed and use body-weight, but there is a lot more attention to form and we have more recovery time between circuits. The HIIT session with fitssi (or vlique?) was all about speed and hardly any rest. It was great cardio, but as you’ll find out if you read on, not everyone in the fitness industry thinks HIIT is the best form of exercise.

Panel Discussions

I managed to attend 3 panel discussions: 1) getting into the wellness industry, 2) how to work with brands and 3) improving the quality of the fitness industry. By far the best panel discussion of the day was the last one, led by Clean Eating Alice (and which you can watch on her Facebook page).  She invited Luke Worthington, (head of trainer education at Third Space, London), Jonathan Lomax (owner of a number of bespoke gyms), and Amy Hopkinson (digital editor at Women’s Health Magazine) to discuss what they liked about the fitness industry, how to achieve fitness goals, failing at fitness, how to recover, fitness trends, and more. The one thing that stuck in my mind from the discussions is that HIIT sessions and doing lots of different exercise classes will not necessarily help you achieve your performance goals, and slow, controlled, carefully executed exercises with correct breathing can be better for both your mind and body. This was good news to me, and provided me with more confidence that my personal trainer is getting me to do the right things, and the fact that I don’t have access to Barry’s Bootcamp classes in Italy (not to mention any names, ahem!) is perhaps not such a bad thing after all.

Reality Check

As I checked my Instagram feed over lunch I came across the following photo, posted by Amy Hopkinson’s boyfriend on Instagram. Amy’s handle on Instagram is wellness_ed and her boyfriend, Ted, has set up an account called wellness_ted.

All fitness and wellness bloggers will at some point or another be guilty of posting clichéd photos and cringy inspirational quotes, and Ted’s posts remind us we have to be able to laugh at ourselves. We need to take a reality check sometimes, and make sure we truly believe in what we are saying, doing and promoting. (And btw, Amy told me she agrees and whilst I’m sure she gave him a bit of a b******ing, her relationship should be safe!)