We are Monica Shaw and Andrew Burtenshaw. We live in the Cotswolds with our sweet terrier Lucky. We are very fortunate to live in a cool little cottage on a nature reserve, which has come to feel like the first step in our journey towards… what? We know that these are the things we really care about: cooking, walking outdoors, climbing mountains, camping, CrossFit (to keep our hiking legs in shape), and happy hygge times at home. We know this because we seem to find ourselves gravitating towards those activities at every opportunity we get! The more we live and do, the more we realise that we want a life close to nature and where work = play. So this blog is a chronicle of our journey towards a smallholding and building our own business so that we can afford to have the lifestyle we want. We write about all the things that make for a happy free life, from food and recipes to travelogues and camping tips.
SmarterFitter started back in 2007 with grand visions about becoming a big time fitness tracker of the likes of caloriecount.com. It gained some notoriety for its web-based Seinfeldian chain (thanks Lifehacker) but as time and life evolved, SmarterFitter felt more at home as a blog about my food and fitness adventures.
There was a time when the focus was on my weight loss journey (you can read my old About Me page if you’d like) but these days, my focus has changed. In my 20s, it seemed so important to focus on losing weight. I’m writing this at age 37, and realising I’ve spent way (WAY) too much of my life worrying about body fat percentage, macronutrients, and being ever smaller than I was the day before. I realise now how destructive the “health and fitness” journey can be in a world where fitness is measured in pounds and kilos. So now I write with the simple motivation to find happiness in life, living, work, and play. (Ok, maybe not so simple, but hear me out.)
I’ve always loved the outdoors and my big life goal is to be as close to it as possible (growing my own veg, chopping wood, having chickens, taking my daily dog walks in the mountains, that sort of thing). I’m grateful to CrossFit for helping me see beyond the scales and learning that actually being bigger can be better and can help me get closer to the wilds I so love to be a part of (as much as CrossFit has been a challenge to my social anxieties and total lack of competitiveness!). I’m grateful to Andrew who’s shown me that I’m not alone and that there are people out there who want to share in this kind of life with me. I’m grateful to be able to live where I do and have a circle of entrepreneurial friends who inspire me to pursue an income that doesn’t suck my ass dry.
I’d love for SmarterFitter to become a big part of that income stream. But moreover I want it to be a repository of my life stories, adventures, and recipes that have made life awesome!
My involvement with SmarterFitter began when I met Monica. I had previously been a city dweller for most of my life, but had moved to the countryside to be close to my family. I met Monica in circumstances that I would not normally have expected to meet someone and fall in love – at a gym! I’d recently joined CrossFit Cirencester, and we discovered we had so many shared interests.
For me, it marked a real shift. I’d always been interested in food and the outdoors, but I’d never properly engaged myself with those interests. But finally, I’d met someone who shared those interests, and we encouraged each other to pursue those things.
In that first year, we started hillwalking together (our biggest challenge was the Yorkshire 3 Peaks, which involved 24 miles and 1500m of elevation in one day!), training together and developing an obsession with cooking with tahini. I mean, tahini goes with everything, right?
When Monica suggested that we start writing together for SmarterFitter, I jumped at the chance. We wanted to show people that the things we’ve started doing together (and that people often wonder how to get started with) are things that anyone can have a go at. So, from now on, prepare to read lots of posts and tips we’ve discovered about camping in mountain ranges, outdoor gear and all sorts of fitness stuff. And tahini. Obviously.