Rants and Raves #41

I’m back with some more rants and raves. Enjoy!

Rant: Everyday a new wonder product or superfood appears in the media that is going to prolong your life, make you younger, make you happy, keep you going…blah blah. So it’s really no surprise that a cafe in East London is selling “charcoal activated vegan croissants”.OK surely it’s just a piece of charcoal shaped as a croissant? I mean, come on now. Just buy a regular croissant and eat your five a day. Stop with this nonsense. Hilariously, BuzzFeed wrote an article on how it tasted: “It’s squidgier than I expected, and doesn’t have the burnt notes I thought there would be.” [Source] Crucially, they didn’t say delicious. If I eat a croissant, that’s kind of what I’m looking for.

Rave: And on an entirely unrelated note on superfoods and their magical properties… I’ve been trying out the Manuka Doctor Facial Oils. As you probably know if you’re a long-term reader (or you know me in person), I’m not a big make-up wearer or skin care advocate in general. I mean, I will moisturise when I remember but in general I don’t do anything. I’m very lucky in that I have fairly OK skin and dark features which helps on this front. However I could probably look tons better if I put the effort in, but ehhh.So I was intrigued when I was sent the Replenishing Facial Oil. Oil for the skin? Really? But it sounded good: “anti-ageing” and “rich in powerful plant extracts designed to revitalise and restore radiance”. Well, we could all do with some of that surely! Nearing 30 and I ain’t getting any younger. The idea behind it is that it helps regain elasticity and smooth out fine lines.

It was also the Winner of a Beauty Advisor Award in the 2016 LOOK Beauty Awards, and the ingredients don’t sound hella scary:

Manuka Oil, Rose Hip Oil, Argan Oil, Evening Primrose Oil, Cranberry Seed Oil, Grape Seed Oil, Hazelnut Seed Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Avocado Oil, Wheat Germ Oil, Sunflower Seed Oil, Borage Seed Oil, Plum Seed Oil, Peach Kernal Oil, Blackcurrant Seed Oil, Raspberry Seed Oil & Carrot Seed and Root Oil.

How did I find it? Actually I really liked this. You use a dropper thing (like a pipette?) and then smooth it onto your face. It is oily (obviously…) but it didn’t leave my face oily if that makes sense. I actually thought my face looked a lot brighter quite quickly, weirdly enough. I did really think it made a difference and will happily continue to use it. My only niggle with it is that I don’t really like the smell. It’s not an unpleasant smell – it’s slightly floral? But I’m just not a fan. It doesn’t linger though so that’s something.

Rave: Last week was a solid week of eating. I went to Casa Brasil with running friends, Mike and Rebecca. Neither had met each other but had briefly spoken on Twitter. Rebecca is a core team member at Lee on Solent parkrun and Mike is a core team member at Netley, both love running, parkrun and meat so I was pretty sure everyone would get on. They did, happy days. (Also check out Rebecca’s blog!)Casa Brasil never disappoints but I always eat far too much. I just get carried away and the strong FOMO effect takes over… is that the Parmesan pork I see? Damn I need to get some of that too! Chicken wings? Load me up! Chorizo sausages? Yes please! I’m my own worst enemy. But I did enjoy it, even if I needed about four pints of water during the night because of how salty the food is. Worth it.Rant: Recently I seem to have been doing an excessive number of presentations at work. OK, just three but it’s felt a lot. The first one went terribly. I mean, my content was OK (well, so I was told) but the technical elements of getting my laptop to hook up to the big screen and then having to use someone else’s laptop who didn’t have all the logins I need…gahh it was so awkward. Lots of filling time and awkward laughter. I got lots of pity praise afterwards… “It wasn’t that bad…” and “Ah don’t worry Anna, it was fiiiiiine”. Uh huh.

Then the next presentation was in front of my BIG boss. It was a less formal affair but he would interrupt and ask lots of hard questions… tough. But that went far better (I learnt from my mistakes. never demonstrate anything live in a presentation – always use screenshots).

Then the third was probably the worst as it was standing up in front of the whole office and presenting (in front of around 60 people). My voice was shaking. My hands were shaking. But thankfully that too went OK. WHEW.

I do feel proud of myself though. I know this is a bit of blowing my own trumpet but I’ve come a long way since starting and I do still love my job and what I do. And you do need to step outside your comfort zone to grow, so I’ll stop complaining.

Rant: And before I get ahead of myself on growing and being a better person… I still do stupid shizz. Like forget my hairbrush when I go to the gym in the morning and only realise after I’ve washed my hair. Now as a girl with long hair, this is somewhat of a tricky situation. Trying to de-tangle it all with my fingers was not a winning solution but the only solution I had. I couldn’t really blow-dry it as that would tangle it further so I just had to scrape it as best as I could into two plaits. Oh, this was on the day I wanted to look somewhat reasonable because I was doing the aforementioned big presentation. What a knob.

Have you done anything stupid recently?

Do you use any facial oils?

Do you get won over by any crazy sounding superfoods?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the facial oil for free in exchange for a review on my blog. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Life Lately

So life is pretty good right now. I feel in a very happy place.

My job is something which I’m really pleased about. I look forward to going each day and the challenges I’m given. Now that I’m fully in the grind, as it were, I feel confident and happy. Of course I still have days when i haven’t a clue what I’m doing but everyone is always so helpful and friendly that I never feel stupid. It’s been so long since I’ve felt excited about my career and I hope this continues. Of course it’s nice to work in an industry I’m passionate about as well but it’s not just that. sure the subjects I deal with are to do with cycling and running etc. but the tasks I do could be applied to any ecommerce and digital marketing industry.

And speaking of good stuff at work…As I do a lot of running and people at work know this (I tend to do a lunch time run – runch if you will – twice a week) I occasionally get some freebies to try. Recently I was given some adidas Ultra Boost X’s to test out. I can’t quite work out my feelings about them though. Walking around in them felt very odd and not particularly comfortable as they were quite tight fitting across the tops and heels of my feet. But when running they felt great. Very bouncy and soft, and like they propel you forward. I love the colour of them and the knit look as well. Very in Vogue (like I know what’s in fashion, ha).Along with testing the trainers I was filmed with two other girls from Wiggle not only running in the shoes but also answering questions about how I found them. I’m sure I turned into a bumbling blithering idiot on camera but it was a fun thing to do at work.I was also given a pair of adidas shorts. I love these! They’re great to run in – crucially they rarely ride up and they’re my favourite style. I so much prefer shorts to run in than leggings! Which is funny because we all know how big a leggings fan I am in other areas of life 😉

Speaking of running then… My runs continue to be doing OK. I had a nice social nine miles with Mike last week after work and thoroughly enjoyed it. Mike and I used to do these Thursday night runs all the time and now the evenings are lighter I think we’ll be doing them more. They’re nice easier paced runs where we chew the fat and catch up while getting a slightly longer run in – usually 7-9 miles. I hope to do some more of these 🙂I also did a good progression tempo run on Tuesday. I started around 8min/miles and got down to 7:08min/miles. It was quite windy so I didn’t manage a royal flush negative split but I felt strong and smooth running. I don’t want to do any crazy speed work right now because I’m still paranoid about injury and don’t want to risk the Brighton Marathon. But I feel like my running is naturally just getting stronger. As I always though, fingers crossed. It did feel good though sailing along at some speed rather than questioning every footstep and wondering if the niggle was still there.My gym visits are also going well. I still go around three to four times a week and I’m honestly still loving it. It’s part of my morning routine and gets me going for the day. My routine is usually two strength circuit workouts, one legs/glutes day and one back day. One circuit workout is usually focused on upper body and the other on legs and glutes again. An example for upper body is something like this:

  • Rowing machine (3mins)
  • 20x press ups
  • 12-15 overhead presses (depends on weight for no. of reps)
  • 12-15 upright rows (again, weight dependent)
  • 15-20 front raises
  • 20x Russian wists
  • Plank (1 min)
  • 10x burpees

Repeat x4

Lower body circuit goes something like this:

  • Rowing (3 mins)
  • 15-20 hip thrusts (15w/ barbell, 20w/ resistance band only)
  • 20x kettlebell swings
  • 20x squat jumps
  • Walking lunges (1 min)
  • Wall sit (1 min)
  • 20x leg raises
  • 10x burpees

Repeat x4

I like the circuit workouts as they’re quite go, go, go and keep my heart rate raised while working my muscles. It keeps me entertained! But I still enjoy the pure strength stuff too. It’s just a balance. I try and plan what I’m going to do at the gym the night before. That way I don’t turn up to the gym without a clue and walk round aimlessly. Plus at that time in the morning the less thinking I’m required to do the better!

My only annoyance with the gym was the fact that there was no hot water there on Monday. It was BALTIC. It was lucky I didn’t have the wash my hair and so basically just stood next to the stream of ice water and splashed myself in an attempt to wash.Luckily it was pretty much back to working the next day when I did need to wash my hair. I’m not sure I could have taken the brain freeze otherwise. This is what you get when you pay £18 a month eh! But I love how conveniently my gym is located and the fact that it’s open 24/7. I’d happily have a cold shower no and again for that sort of accessibility and cost.

So yes, life is good. Things are going well. Happy days indeed.

Do you go to the gym?

Do you like to do more cardio or strength workouts at the gym?

Do you like adidas workout gear and trainers?

Things I’m loving lately – February/March

I’m sure I write the same thing every year but it’s so nice to be getting into spring. The lighter evenings and mornings… ahh bliss (well, when it isn’t snowing of course).

Bodum Coffee flask: I get up ridiculously early for the gym as you may be aware. It’s actually not that bad anymore. I genuinly enjoy my super early mornings and going to the gym. It’s part of my routine. I’m verrrry routine based and it just fits nicely. I’m an early bird and get decent sleep so it’s only the initial alarm going off that is tough and then I’m awake and raring to go.One of the things I look forward to is my coffee in the car on the way to the gym. While I take Alfie for a walk (in ALL the layers) I’ve put my coffee on and it’s ready by the time I get back. I take it with me on the drive (I use a straw so it’s easier/safer to drink whilst driving) and it’s just bliss. Especially when it’s super cold. The coffee flask I use is a Bodum Vacuum Travel Mug. It is perfect. It’s never leaked or spilt (even when I fill it to the top) and it doesn’t burn my hand to hold while keeping my coffee super hot.

R8 Roller: This isn’t mine. I’ve stolen borrowed it off a friend after Marathon Talk Run Camp.I would buy one myself but it’s from the States so there’s a high shipping cost added on to the actual cost of the product, making it well over £100. I’ve been wanting to try one of these for ages and it doesn’t disappoint. It’s fantastic for your quads and hamstring. Though it’s a bit more awkward on the calf because it also rolls the shin which is a little painful and the glutes are super awkward to do (I’ll stick to my tennis ball). But it’s SO good in terms of pressure and hitting trigger points. Love this.

Lava-Activ Hydration BeltI was sent this hydration belt to test out and review. It’s similar to a hydration belt I’ve used before and got on well. The only annoyance about my previous belt is that the bottles are TINY. During the summer I’d have to top them up mid-way through my long run at my “dodgy tap”. These (BPA-free!) bottles however are a bit bigger (2x 300ml), which is so much better.The belt sat nicely on my hips, didn’t chafe and didn’t bounce. The pocket  is big enough for a few gels, coins and keys or your phone (apparently iPhoner 8’s are fine). It’s not a massive pocket but it’s big enough for what you need!  There’s handily also a pocket divider to prevent items from rubbing against each other. There are also clips to attach a bib, but I’m not a huge fan of doing this.You can wear it either way I think, but I prefer the bottles at the back than the front. It’s predominately black, but the stripe on the pocket comes in three colours (orange, blue or green). You can buy the belt on Amazon.

Cake: OK two things about cake. Firstly, I had the most amazing cake a couple of weekends ago and it ROCKED my world.It was salted caramel flavour and it was divine. The icing was deliciously sticky. Ahhh to have that cake again…

And in other cake news… I’ve won one on Instagram!! I follow the very lovely Nicki Chan-Lam (@Nickichanlam on Instagram) who has a ridiculously huge appetite! And coming from me, that’s big. She posted a competition about a cake giveaway from the amazing bakery Whisk and Drizzle in London and my comment won! I mentioned that it was my mum’s 60th birthday in May. So I win a a Whisk and Drizzle cake which I can pick up when I’m in London (for my mum’s birthday). AMAZING AMAZING. Could I be any more excited?? (said in Chandler’s voice).

Cinema trips: I went to the cinema twice last week. I took my mum to see Finding Your Feet for a Mother’s Day (but not on Mother’s Day as I wasn’t there) treat and she loved it. I mean, it ticked all her boxes of what she loves in a film so I was super pleased she enjoyed it. I enjoyed the night, but the film wasn’t really my kind of thing. I feel for my dad really as that film will probably now be on repeat for the rest of his life. That along with Bridget Jones’ Diary and Mama Mia!

The second cinema trip was with my running friend Joe. Bless him, he cooked me a hearty sausage casserole and then we headed to the very fancy Showcase cinema in Southampton. WITH RECLINING LEATHER CHAIRS. It was epically comfortable. We saw Shape of Water which was so good. It was very dream-like and gentle…you had to let yourself get swept along with it. It was very romantic and I just loved it.

Alfie: And because Alfie hasn’t been featured on the blog in a while, here he is in all his cutness.My heart just melts.

Running: I completely forgot to mention this in my last post, but when I was at the Walsall Arboretum parkrun on Saturday I noticed a woman signing the run director’s instructions. How good is that! I’ve never seen that before but I thought it was such a fantastic idea. Typical parkrun eh being so inclusive and thoughtful 😉

And this weekend is the Reading Half Marathon! I’m quite excited (despite hearing horrible rumours about how cold it’s going to be…please no more snow).I won’t be going for a PB as I’m not in that shape but I will give it a good go I think. I’m in a good place with my running, no niggles (EVERYONE TOUCH WOOD PLEASE) and I feel strong. It’ll be nice to see where I’m at in terms of putting some faster paces on for a long run. We shall see…

What are you loving lately?

Have you been to the cinema recently?

Do you foam roll?

**Full Disclosure: I was sent the belt for free in exchange for a post on Instagram. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Things I’m Loving – December

I’m quite excited about heading into the new year. 2017 has been a solidly good year for me. Full of happiness, good running, delicious food and lovely memories. I hope 2018 will continue these themes! Also I’m quite looking forward to being in an “even numbered” year again – is that odd? Anyway, on to some cool stuff I’m loving lately.

Clinique Sonic System Purifying Cleansing Brush

My skincare regime used to be cold water. Literally nothing else. But times are a-changing! After having my first ever facial last month I’ve given my face a bit more thought. Let’s be honest, I’m certainly not getting any younger and, well, I’m still single sooo…IMG_2263On that note I’ve made a couple of investments to my “beauty regime”. My mother is a terrible influence on me. She recently bought the Clarins version of the cleansing brush and let me try it out (yes we shared brushes, no I don’t care. She’s my mother). It felt amazing and left my face really fresh and clean. Then the next day we ended up in Boots and somehow I’d purchased the Clinique cleaning brush. Almost £100. I actually felt a bit sick when I got home. To be fair, it came with three other products, though I mean for that cost it better have!! (It came with a toner product as well not shown in the photo).

After having used it for a number of weeks I can say I don’t regret buying it. My skin indeed looks clearer and happier. I’m not one for getting spots or have “problem skin” but it definitely looks fresher. Plus it’s fun to use.

The Ordinary Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3% Formula

I don’t actually know what to call this product. I heard about it after listening to the Don’t Salt My Game podcast where they debunked lots of skincare myths. It was one of the products that was recommended to actually work at keeping the skin looking good. It’s also very cheap (£5.50) and didn’t have all the guff and nonsense that other skincare products seem to have.IMG_2264It has a very high concentration of two powerful antioxidants: Resveratrol and Ferulic Acid, which are apparently great antioxidants for the skin.

I just put a couple of drops on my face after using my face buffer and then smooth it in. It’s quite oily but doesn’t leave my skin oily if that makes sense. I really like this product. Together with the buffer my face has really improved. And for someone who quickly gives up with skincare products after I don’t see the point of them, these are things I’ve maintained for a good number of weeks now and really like to use.

eGloves

I was recently sent another pair of eGloves to try out after I bumped into the guy behind the business at a parkrun and he mentioned that my current eGloves looked to be a bit too big for me (they’re a small). He very kindly offered to send me a new pair in extra small in the new range. It was also extremely good timing because I was finding my hands were getting really cold when I ran. The eGloves I originally had were more lightweight gloves which were good when it was chilly but not so much for when the temperatures were really low.IMG_1887When I first popped the new gloves on I knew they were the real deal. These bad boys are seriously warm. They’re also not big and bulky – as some winter gloves are – and still have the cool finger bits that allow you to still be able to use the touch screens of smart phones (so annoying when you have to remove your gloves to do this!). IMG_1983I wore the gloves during the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon and they were perfect. The material is very breathable so even when my hands got hot it didn’t feel like they were sweaty inside. Fully recommend these if you’re looking for some warm running gloves!

Oryx Desert Salt

I was also recently sent a set of salts to use for cooking. Oryx Desert Salt is an unrefined, sun-dried salt, free from additives and preservatives. It contains natural and essential minerals and comes all the way from the Kalahari Desert, where it is ethically and sustainably harvested. And, what I most love, is with every purchase they donate a percentage to the Khomani San and Mier communities who own !xaus Lodge in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.IMG_1917The pack I received is a fab gift box set of three grinders containing coarse salt, smoked salt and wine salt and a cotton refill bag. I also received an apron (see below photo: my dad loves the apron).IMG_2173Yes too much salt can certainly be a bad thing for your health, but used in moderation and sensibly, these salts really add a lovely taste to my dinner. Salt is also good for reducing the dreaded cramp and is important if you sweat a lot (hi all runners). IMG_2175I feel rather posh using them I must say! I personally loved the smoked one as it adds such a subtle tasty edge.IMG_2180

You can buy them in Sainsbury’s.

Next month I hope to talk about my vibrating massage ball (always sounds so wrong…) and my new running watch… 😉

Do you use a lot of salt when cooking?

What is your skincare regime like?

Are there any new products you’ve been loving this month?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent both the gloves and the salt pack for free in return for a review on my blog. All opinons are my own honest ones.**

Trying to keep up

On Friday my work, Wiggle, had another ‘sports day’. They happen on the last Friday of every month at 2.30pm, with several options you can get involved in.

There were two different bike rides, tennis, swimming and two different runs. There was a “slower” 5k and a 15k. The 15k didn’t mention speed but I didn’t think it would be that fast. I saw who was signed up for it and there was a girl doing it who was a little bit slower than me so I felt comfortable.IMG_0151I decided to wear a suitably sporty outfit to work to embrace the day (plus, leggings are just SO comfortable and honestly I’d wear them every day if I could… well, I probably could at Wiggle but I need to maintain some level of smartness in life I think! Plus I really don’t need to give myself an excuse to buy any more leggings).

Before 2.30pm I swapped my leggings for shorts and got myself ready for the run. I met the others downstairs in the lobby and realised the group was actually made up of entirely speedy people. The girl who I’d spotted on the list had decided not to run at the last minute. I mean, I didn’t know for a fact that these guys were speedy but you know when you can just tell? There was also the 2.39 marathoner girl as well. I MEAN SERIOUSLY.I nervously said, “I think I might be in the wrong group here…” but they all politely assured my I’d be fine and they wouldn’t go too fast. Hmmm.

Well, as soon as we started running it was clear their concept of fast were quite different to my concept of fast. As we about to do around nine miles I decided to just keep at the pace I was comfortable with and not feel pressured to run faster. I was running 8min/miles and they were already stretching ahead of me. I resolutely stuck to my guns. If they wanted to leave me behind then fine, but I wasn’t going to risk injury or exhaustion trying to keep up with them.

It did make me a little sad though. I had so much enjoyed the last Wiggle run… it was fun and social and there were no egos or speed dictatorship involved. It was the first time since joining Wiggle where I felt left out and not good enough (entirely in my head I know but still a feeling I felt).

After a mile they waited for me to catch up. I said to them did they think it was better if I just went back and did the 5k instead? But again they assured me it was fine. They slowed down a little and I managed to keep in the group. Though they were chatting away and I was just focusing on keeping up. Again, not an overwhelmingly fun experience.

The route was nice. We went along Farlington Marshes (which is where I got the idea to go walking there on Sunday). It was flat, not too windy and soft underfoot so at least there was that.

There were only five of us and as we settled into the second mile one of the guys started slowing down and drifting behind us. In the end for most of the run he was far behind and we’d wait until he caught up at sporadic moments. I felt mean leaving him and a little angry that as a group we weren’t adjusting our speed to keep as a group.

Right at the end the two faster runners dashed off for a final sprinty mile and I ran to the end with one of the other guys who, despite being naturally fast, was starting to feel the miles. We’d completely left behind two other guys and they ended up going the long way round, unsure of the route. To be honest, it didn’t scream of comradeship or team building but there we go. I’ll know for next time when I see who’s signed up to what!9 milesIn the end it was a solid run in terms of the speed and distance – a good tempo run. But enjoyment factor? Minimal. Constantly feeling like I’m not fast enough or worried about people behind me being left behind isn’t my idea of fun.

Wiggle had also arranged for a pop-up bar with a tent serving sausages as well (with a guy dressed in lederhosen…). The 5k’ers were back so I chatted to them for a bit while enjoying many glasses of Diet Coke. It was so warm and sunny. Ahh here was the fun part – no more egos or feeling left out. Instantly I felt miles better.I know this sounds so corny, but I’ve made friends with a nice group of people at work and I don’t feel like the newbie or outsider anymore (like you do at the beginning). Everyone is around my age or a bit younger so it feels very natural and easy (unlike the run perhaps…).Anyway, onto a review! A few weeks ago I was sent a Sonic Chic Deluxe toothbrush. Now, I used to own an electric toothbrush but…eh… I kind of gave up on it. To be honest, it annoyed me having to charge it with a great stonking cable and unit in my bathroom and it seemed a faff. Yes, yes I know electric toothbrushes are better for you tooth and blah blah…

Anyway, this toothbrush is charged using a USB – which is quite dinky and cute. No long cables or annoyingness. It’s actually a very slimline and attractive toothbrush (is that weird? It’s very travel-easy is what I mean). It’s slimline and has a nice case to it to fit easily into a wash bag.

Despite it’s size, it’s really quite powerful. The vibrations of the bristles are quite intense (32,000 strokes a minute)! And I really like how after 30 seconds it pulses so you know to change the quadrant of your mouth. And the brush head is quite small so it can get to the nooks and crannies of your mouth – like behind your bottom teeth (always a problem area for me my dentist tells me). It also contains a replacement brush. Remember to change those brush heads fairly regularly!You do have to physically move the brush though yourself – if that makes sense? A regular electric toothbrush you might just need to guide it along your teeth as it’s head spins and circles, but for this one you gently do the circular actions as the head only does the sonic vibrations rather than any actual movements. It also doesn’t come with a plug, just the USB connector. I really like it. It’s marketed as a travel toothbrush but it’s now my regular one. The battery is also really good. You get a substantial number of uses before needing to charge it (maybe once per week?). My mouth definitely felt SO much cleaner after using this, fully recommend! You can buy from Boots for £19.99.

Do you use an electric toothbrush?

Do you have friends at work?

**Dull Disclaimer: I was sent the toothbrush for free in exchange for a review on my blog. All opinions are my own honest ones.**