Unpopular opinions #2 and more things I’m loving

I really enjoyed writing the unpopular opinions the other day so I thought I’d do another round, as well as some cool things I’m loving lately. First the unpopular opinions…

I love salad and all vegetables. If half my plate isn’t full of vegetables I feel a bit miffed. In the blogging and fitness world this is not such an unpopular opinion, but perhaps not in the general population. I think it could also be that I’m volume eater and adding vegetables and salad to a dish is a great way to trick my greediness into believing I’m eating more. And that vegetables are super tasty.

I don’t share food. I think this harps back to me being like a squirrel and worrying food will run out. I don’t know where this fear came from because I’ve always been well-fed through my life!

I just don’t share food unless I can guarantee there’s a proper divide and equal proportions of food. And that I still get a significant portion. So if I’ve ever shared food with you, count yourself lucky. To have escaped alive.

I haven’t watched the vast majority of the Marvel movies. I love Guardians of the Galaxy, X-Men (not Marvel but superhero-y) and Thor but all the others have passed me by. It might be because I’m not a big Robert Downey Jr. fan but I feel like too much has happened now to catch up.

I like a selfie. Yes it might be narcissistic and vain, but I quite like them. I do a lot on Instagram and it’s more because I like to track progress and keep connected with other people than “omg look at me”. It’s nice when you do it in an interesting place as well. Like, here’s my face plus something more interesting too 😉

Films about animal cruelty get me far more upset than small children cruelty. Don’t get me wrong, the latter does upset me. I’m not entirely heartless! But if a dog dies I will be in pieces. I was really chuffed to find the Hachi statue in Tokyo (actually, the dog was called Hachikō in real life). He was the dog that waited for his owner outside the train station.No film has ever destroyed me as much as that film. I was sobbing. Not delicate little sobs, but full on “I can’t breathe” gasps and shudders. On a coach full of people I didn’t know.

And things I’m loving…

Leisure trainers. Hmm, what? Trainers you don’t run in? What are those?These Nike trainers though are SO comfortable. They’re quite thing and light, so definitely not for running (for me). I wear them to the gym, but I also wear them to the shops and seeing friends. If I’m entirely honest, I’d live in gymwear most of my life. It’s a struggle to wear jeans.

And, I promise they’re not the same shoes, I recently got these Vans:Yes they are very similar colour… but they’re Vans so completely different. Ahem. Anyway they too are super comfortable and handy for leisurewear (leeeeeeeeeeeeesurewear is how I say this in my head).

My new Starbucks mug. I bought this in Tokyo. I’ve never seen a black Starbucks mug. It’s got a very matte feel and says “Starbucks Reserve” on it.It’s a decent size as well. I can’t be dealing with mini-mugs.

Biotrue Eye Products Review

I was recently sent some eye health products from Bausch + Lomb. It’s a bit of a random one I guess but I was keen to do the review because, as some of you might know, last year I had laser eye surgery done. I no longer have to wear contact lenses or glasses – yay! This is still amazing every single day. Though in the morning I will still go to grab my glasses when my alarm goes off, it’s that ingrained.

So these eye products seemed ideal for me to test because, though my eyes have been pretty much 100% perfect since the surgery, they do get a little dry towards the end of the day. I’m sure this isn’t just due to my surgery but also to the fact that I’m staring at a computer screen all day long. 

BiotrueÂŽ Rewetting Drops

These drops are used to refresh tired or irritable eyes. And they’re not specific for contact lenses. They contain hyaluronic acid, which helps to maintain the natural structures of a healthy eye.The drops are administered using a the “Control Grip system”. It was easy to use – no squirting or great gush of liquid. It literally just drops one tiny drop at a time in a very controlled way. I’ve used quite a few different types of eye drops and these are by far the best at accuracy and not soaking my face or making me look like I’ve watched Hachi again.My eyes felt very refreshed after using these when I finished work. Driving home can be such a pain when you have dry and tired eyes so these helped give a bit of life back into them. My eyes felt more refreshed and, well, moist (apologies, I know that word is awful for people).

TheraPearl Eye-ssential Mask

The eye mask is to help with eye hygiene and can be used for the management of blepharitis, conjunctivitis or styes when used warm. I can see this fully helping as when I had a stye I used a hot compress (well, a flannel) on my eye for two evenings in a row and it really helped. Using the mask for cold helps relieve headaches.It’s re-usable and moulds to your face thanks (apparently due to the “pearl technology”).

You can put it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds and then put it over your eyes for some instant relief. It’s very soothing I’ll tell you! And it’s very easy to clean if you’re worried about hygiene.You can also pop it into the freezer for around two hours and use it as a cold relief. It’s super handy and easy to use.

Biotrue Daily Eyelid Wipes

The next product are the cleansing wipes. These are a safe and hygienic way to gently clean your eyelids and eyelashes without damaging the delicate tear film. Again this can be used as part of the treatment for blepharitis and cleaning any “crustiness” caused by infections or allergies.To keep everything sterile and from avoiding contamination between the eyes, the wipes are individually wrapped. The wipes don’t contain detergents or preservatives.The wipes are quite refreshing, don’t sting or feel chemically in any way. They do make your eyes feel very slightly sticky, but only briefly. Otherwise they’re great! Find the products from Superdrug or online.

Have you ever had any eye issues?

Do you have a favourite mug? And optimal mug size?

Are you on board with leisurewear?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the eye products for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Fori Bars Review

When I was contacted to do a review of these snacks I was straight away intrigued. A meat-based snack…high in protein…no processed rubbish? Sign me up!

I’m a big fan of protein-high snacks and you’re probably aware of how much of a meat fan I am so it was a no brainer to accept this review. I was also very intrigued as they said they weren’t like protein or cereal bars and they weren’t like jerky or biltong either. How very intriguing!

The company is called Fori (who have a really great tagline of “Devour & Conquer – something I could definitely live by!). They’re a fairly new brand, having launched in October 2016. They wanted a snack that wasn’t overly processed, full of good nutrition and good ingredients. They also wanted to avoid creating a snack that was overly sweet. Now I love my sweet things but I do prefer a savoury snack mid-afternoon which doesn’t get me itching for more sugar or give me a crash half an hour later.

Fori sent me a box of their snacks containing the four different flavours: Chilli Beef, Moroccan Lamb, Piri Piri Chicken and Thai Turkey. What I really like about the company is that the meat is sourced from free-roaming animals; their beef and lamb enjoy a grass diet, whilst their poultry are free to forage.

Each bar also contains 20g of protein, which is quite a hefty punch! And they’re all around 150 calories or so. So a reasonably sized snack. But what were they actually like?

I loved them. Absolutely loved them. They are right up my street. I’m a big fan of biltong but these are completely different. It’s difficult to describe exactly what they’re like as they’re not similar to anything I’ve had before.

The only way to describe them is that they’re like a burger. That may sound a bit random and unappealing but it’s just what it reminded me. A definite meaty taste with bits of dried fruit and seeds in it. Really very tasty.

I quite liked that each bar had a different flavour as well. I was a little dubious about the Chilli Beef as beef isn’t my favourite meat and I’m not that into hugely spicy food. However it was delicately spiced and still very tasty.The ingredients list is pretty damn good as well. Check this out for the Moroccan Lamb:

British Grass Fed Lamb (69%), Free Range Egg White Powder, Sunflower Seeds, Beef Stock, Dried Apricots (5%), Dried Dates (4%) [Dates, Sunflower Oil], Cumin, Coriander, Smoked Paprika, Cayenne, Cinnamon, Ginger, Turmeric, Allspice, Salt, Vegetable Fibre, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Mint, Parsley, Dehydrated Garlic, Red Bell Pepper, Dehydrated Lemon Peel, Spice Extracts.

Ans the egg whites are free range as well! And the nutritional stats are really good for a snack (again for the Lamb):So it is a rather protein-heavy snack and lighter on the carbs and fats. But this is how I prefer my snacks so I’m fairly happy with this. I find protein fills me up a lot more than carbs.I can imagine these snacks might not be for everyone (obviously not vegetarians or vegans) but I’d definitely say give them a try. I loved the texture of them (like I said, a bit like a beanie meat burger if that makes sense) and the taste was really good. My favourite was the Thai Turkey but really any of them were up there! The Moroccan Lamb is nice and fragrant and the Peri Peri Chicken and Chilli Beef have a gentle spicy kick.

Fully recommend these. If I could eat them every day, I would! I’m just hoping they’ll become more wide-spread and available. Check out their website for more info on where to get them.

What kind of snacks do you prefer?

What’s your favourite meat?

Veggie burger or real burger? I’m not a bean burger fan at all. I prefer meat (who’d have thought, eh?)

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent these bars for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Full of positivity and MuscleFood pre-workout review

I’m in a super positive and happy place right now. I’ve started 2017 just feeling good and ready to take on the year. I came into work on Tuesday feeling in a good mood, much to the delight of my colleagues 😉

Though I don’t tend to make big grand New Year’s resolutions (last year’s resolution was to be more punctual. That lasted a week) I have made a couple of notes to myself on things I’d like to improve on. One being more conscious of my spending – so only one takeaway a month rather than three or four… Another is being more confident and ready to take on new challenges at work.

I’ve recently bee promoted, to start the new role in March, and it gave me all the anxieties before Christmas wondering if I could actually do it, whether I’d fail, whether they’d demote me once they found out I couldn’t do it…But instead I’ve switched it round and thought, “OK let’s do this”. If people have confidence in me, then who am I to argue with that? I just need to stay focused, work hard and not be afraid to ask for help.

In terms of running and goals in the fitness area? I actually haven’t a clue. I’ve become a lot more relaxed about running in general and I no longer feel the desperate urgency to fulfil my Marathon Major goals as soon as possible. After Tokyo I want to reset and chill for a bit. Just run for fun. Enter races that make me happy and just pootle along. I’m enjoying the gym so I’ll carry on there, maybe look for some new challenges in that area. Basically I’m content and it feels like a weird place to be in, but also very nice. I think I’ve relaxed a bit more….weird.

Onto my review then!

MuscleFood Rampage™ Pre-Workout Formula

A few weeks ago MuscleFood sent me some pre-workout to try out.Pre-workout is actually something I’ve only just become familiar with. I drink BCCAs (branched-chain amino acida) during my workout which help maintain muscle mass when doing strength workouts, especially as I do my morning workouts fasted. My goals are not to lose fat and I don’t want to lose muscle either.

So what’s a pre-workout then? You basically drink it before you workout as the name suggests! It usually contains a stimulant like caffeine and some other supplements to help get the most out of your workout and reduce fatigue.MuscleFood kindly sent me two different flavours of the their pre-workout Rampage (what a name, eh): Lem & Pink Grapefruit and Orange & Pineapple. It contains BCAAs to reduce muscle breakdown and help with recovery, as I mentioned above, Arginine AKG which is another essential amino aciden which helps the body to create energy from protein, fats and carbs, Beta Alaine which helps with performance (though be warned, it does cause some rather odd tingling!), Taurine for muscle growth promotion and recovery, Citrulline Malate to help fatigue and manage lactic acid, Creatine Monohydrate which is a well documented and studies supplement to help with building muscle and Beet4Perf™ which is a natural beetroot ingredient to help boost performance as well (I love my beetroot supplements!). It also contains 200mg of caffeine (the equivalent two cups of instant coffee).To be honest, I was highly sceptical of pre-workouts in general when I first heard about them as it all sounds a bit weird. Stimulants for working out? Hmmm. But then caffeine has been proven to help push harder and I often use caffeinated gels during marathons and drink a coffee before a race – and in general most mornings. I obviously don’t want to become dependent on caffeine but getting up at 5am to start my workout at 5.30am is tough going and having caffeine just before really helps. I just make sure I don’t have any further caffeine later in the day.

Though to be honest I don’t find I need anymore, whereas if I don’t drink the pre-workout by 10am I definitely need my morning cup of coffee. Normally I’d have two cups of coffee a day so now I’ve switched to decaf on days I drink this. I’m not hugely sensitive to caffeine and don’t get any headaches of withdrawal symptoms if I don’t drink it for a few days so I think I’m OK.

So what did I think? Well, the taste isn’t amazing. It’s not disgusting or unpleasant, it’s just something to get used to. Both flavours are nice enough but some mornings it does take an effort to get it down. I make up one scoop with 200ml of water and that seems like the perfect amount. Any more water and the taste gets worse as it waters down. The grapefruit flavour is better than the pineapple in my opinion.

Taste aside, did it aid with my performance and recovery? It’s a tough one to know for certain, but I do believe it’s helped me. Within 15 minutes of drinking it I start to get the tingles (they’re no hugely unpleasant, just a weird itchy palms kind of feeling) and then I feel a lot more awake. It’s not made me feel invicible and nor can I suddenly deadlift 10kg more. However I felt more “get up and go” and more alert. Obviously the caffeine is a big factor here but the other bits and bobs could be contributing too. After particularly heavy squats, my legs weren’t quite as sore as they might be. But again this is all very cause-effect stipulation and subjectivity.

I do enjoy taking it though and am happy to keep it in my routine. I won’t take it before every gym visit, just when I think I need it. I’ll also have a week or so without it every now and again to help keep my caffeine tolerance at a nice level. I don’t want to become too dependent or used to it.

I don’t think it’s necessary for the gym or to make any significant gains. It’s more of a pick-me-up to help supplement you as and when you need it – if you need it at all! But I do recommend it if you fancy adding a little it of oomph to your workout occasionally. I’m tempted to try it before a race as well to see how that goes.

Have you ever tried using per-workout?

Do you use any supplements?

Have you made any big goals for this year?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the Rampage Pre-Workout from MuscleFood for free in return for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

 

MuscleFood Live Clean™ meals review

I’m not going to lie, I don’t eat microwaveable meals meals (“ready meals”) that often at all. But when MuscleFood contacted me and asked if I wanted to try out their new line of ‘healthier’ ready meals (not vegetarian)…well I was intrigued.MuscleFood is an online food and supplement company. I’ve bought many things from them before, from their meat selection (regular chicken breasts or mince to more exotic meats such as llama and ostrich) to their egg whites, and to their protein powder (I bought the unflavoured type to add to my porridge – perfection), and it’s all been really good. I’ve actually also got a couple of protein pizzas in my freezer that I’ve yet to try…

But I’ve never tried their pre-prepared microwaveable meals. And this is mainly because I enjoy cooking and am not a fan of a “dinner ding”. Though their meals didn’t look like your bog-standard tiny-portions, over-salted and dodgy ingredient meals. They’re high in protein and under 500 calories, which sounded like the perfect dinner to me.

I received a selection from their Live Clean™ range: Oriental Chicken Pad Thai and Beef Lasagna With Italian Veg.

The Pad Thai contains spiced chicken and wholewheat noodles in a spicy peanut sauce with “crunchy” Asian veg. The Lasagne contains beef with wholewheat lasagne and Parmentier sweet potatoes, fennel seeds and roasted Italian veg. Interestingly they’ve been designed by a Michelin trained chef and the packaging has been designed so it doesn’t all get cooked at once. A valid, valid point. Chicken and veg don’t cook at the same time. So no more watery, mushy veg!

Beef Lasagne

Having been brought up on cook-from-frozen lasagnes as a child (my mum wasn’t the best of cooks…bless her), I tend to avoid them. I was a bit dubious about this ready meal but I liked that it came with a serving of vegetables on the side and it didn’t look like a heap of sweaty melted cheese.

What I like is that it’s separated into two different compartments so you can cook the lasagne for longer than you cook the veg, so the veg doesn’t turn into mush. It was ready in four minutes.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this, not being a huge lasagne fan. It wasn’t overly creamy or cheesy, but definitely had a good amount of meaty filling and you could really taste the fennel in the vegetables and potatoes. The ingredients list looks pretty damn stellar for a microwave meal and the nutritional profile is really good. Nice and high in protein and carbs.

I would definitely eat this again. Though being the greedy person I am with a huge appetite I did need to bulk it out a bit with more veg, but that’s just me. I think for a normal person it would be fine.

(This was before I added the extra veg)

Chicke Pad Thai

This meal really appealed to me as chicken is my protein of choice. It sounded very tasty as well with peanut sauce and Asian vegetables.

Again, you cooked the two sections for different lengths, but it was ready within two minutes. This meal is a lot higher in protein and lower in carbs.

Taste-wise it wasn’t too spicy but lovely and aromatic. I again added more veg to this as I felt there wasn’t a huge amount in the mix. Though the chunks of chicken were huge and a good amount of them!

(Again this was before I added the extra veg)

I’d happily eat both of these two meals again. For nights when I’m running to come home to a nicely balanced quick meal like either of these would be super useful. I like that the ingredients aren’t full of rubbish and they’re very filling and tasty. The price isn’t that bad either, you can get seven meals for ÂŁ28, five meals for ÂŁ20 or one meal for ÂŁ4.95. Obviously it would be cheaper to make these yourself but for the saving in time and convenience you are of course going to spend more.

The only sad thing is their lack of vegetarian and vegan options.

(I do have a referral code for MuscleFood which gives you some freebies if you order using it, such as chicken breasts or other items–> AS548885).

Do you eat ready meals?

What’s your ideal ready meal?

Have you bought anything from MuscleFood before?

 

**Full Disclaimer: I received the meals for free in exchange for a review. Al opinions are my own honest ones.**

Stewart parkrun Review

Happy Monday! Can you believe its just two weeks until Christmas? Crazy! I’ve got those two weeks at work so in my head I’m counting down 10 days until I’m off. Pushing through!!

Today I have yet another parkrun review for you. Another one kindly sent in by my friend Michelle (the super speedy one). As she’s currently studying to be a doctor her home parkrun isn’t really Netley or Southampton as she spends more time “up North”, where she’s based for university. Anyway, I’ll leave her to it!

Since moving down to Teesside for the last year of my uni course Stewart parkrun has become my new ‘uni home parkrun’. I felt very welcomed the first time I attended and is popular with members of several of the local running clubs.

Location: As the name suggests Stewart parkrun takes place in Stewart Park which is located in Marton, a suburb approximately 3 miles south of Middlesbrough. The park itself is about 120 acres made up of mature woodland, an arboretum, open parkland and two lakes. There are facilities for the whole family with a play area, outdoor table tennis, mini golf, a trim trail and pets corner which is home to llamas, goats and deer.

Stewart Park is also home to the Captain Cook Museum; located on the site of the cottage where Captain James Cook was born and the start of the Captain Cook country tour. Northern Dales Farmers Markets have partnered the park to hold a monthly Farmers Market and Craft Fair on the fourth Sunday of each month – I thoroughly recommend a visit to treat yourself to some yummy handmade bread, pies and of course sweet treats!

Parking: The park is well signposted and easy to find! There is a free car park with approximately 180 spaces available but it can get pretty busy so overflow parking is close by within Middlesbrough Sports Village (an amazing sports complex with a gym, sports hall, athletics track, sports pitches, cycle track, outdoor velodrome and indoor children’s play area!).

Amenities: Within the park is Henry’s Café which is open before parkrun and perfect for grabbing a post parkrun ice cream in the summer or hot chocolate in the winter! The finish is conveniently located right outside the café so there are no excuses for not staying for a post parkrun drink and natter ;). Bike racks and the all-important toilets are located within the park’s visitors centre area.Course: Starting on the hill and outside the Captain Cook Museum (making it easy to find!) the course is two anti-clockwise laps of the park taking in the open parkland, woodland and both lakes. It is run entirely on tarmac paths but these can be slippy at times when wet and due to the leaves. Also watch out for conkers the paths during the Autumn!The start is very fast due to the first 100m being downhill! From here it goes across the world map and past the play area towards the car park. There are a few corners as you run around the edge of the car park and onto the open parkland at the north of the park. This area is quite exposed so can be tough on a windy day!! You turn 180 degrees just past the lower lake to head south towards the woodland area. Once you’ve run up the long incline to the woodland area the course becomes twisty with lots of turns, a few of which are quite tight! In this area it is important to also watch your footing as there are a few bumps in the tarmac path and just be careful of your ankles on the edges of the path. Towards the end of the part of the course in the woodland area you run around the edge of the upper lakes before heading downhill and turning 180 degrees to finish your first lap at the bottom of the hill which was shortly after the start.

After following the course around for your second lap you take a right just before the world map and play area to run along the northern edge of the Henry Bolckow visitor’s centre before a sharp right through an archway and across the quadrant to the finish line.Once you have collected your finish token the funnel is well organised to snake around the outdoor table tennis tables to reduce funnel congestion and into the courtyard seating area of Henry’s Café.

The course has km markers, arrows at the corners with multiple paths and friendly marshals at key turns so there is little chance of going wrong 😛

Elevation: Stewart parkrun is defiantly undulating!!The start is straight into a downhill followed by a fairly flat section across the bottom of the park and then what feels like a long incline into the woodland. Once in with woodland area there are a few short inclines and declines mixed in with the twists and turns. The finish is very slightly uphill as you pass through the arch into the visitor’s centre area but when you are trying to give it that last push and sprint finish feels more uphill than it actually is!!

Number of participants: The record number of participants is 330 but on average there are usually around 300 runners each week. The number of runners doesn’t usually cause a problem, even on a lapped course due to each lap being quite large. When nearing the end of their second lap (particularly in the woodland area) the faster runners do pass those completing their first lap but by this point the field is spread out and paths are more than wide enough for runners to pass each other. I’ve also found that those runners still completing their first lap are very considerate and tend to keep to one side.As with all parkruns there is a wide variety of finish times, with the speediest varying from around 16 to 18 minutes and the final runners finish in about 50 to 55 minutes. There are often a number of children taking part with their parents (or playing in the park) making Stewart parkrun a truly family parkrun!

Check out their Facebook and Twitter page for more information!

Have you ever done this parkrun?

What’s your favourite parkrun terrain to run on?