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.**

Savse Smoothies Review

I’m currently in London living this week on a course. That sounds quite dull but it’s actually very cool – and I get to stay in London rather than do the dreaded commute, which I rarely ever do. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever stayed in London longer than one night! So prepare for some hipster-style cold brew iced lattés (don’t think that’s a thing), avocado on toast breakfast, roof-top yoga and street food extravaganza. Ha, I wish.

But back to my post for today. I was kindly sent a selection of Savse Smoothies try out. So here’s what I thought.

Savse drinks (1)

I’ll say upfront I’m not actually a smoothie person. I don’t drink them regularly and rarely ever buy them. I just prefer eating fruit. But I tried them all, and my parents got in on the action too so they gave me some of their thoughts as well. And they’re serial orange juice drinkers so this is right up their alley.

Savse drinks

What makes these smoothie special? There are quite a lot of smoothies out there. These are a little different to most because they’re cold-pressed, 100% natural and contain no added sugar. I actually had no idea what cold-pressed was… Basically it’s using high pressure processing (HPP) to extract the juice from the fruit and vegetables. It means that it doesn’t need to be pasteurised as the bacteria etc. has been wiped out by the process but the vitamins and goodness remain. This means they can last for 45 days in your fridge (unopened)! I tried quite a few different flavours. I won;t go through each one as i

Super Orange

Super Orange Savse

Contains: mango, celery, apple, lemon, orange, passion fruit and carrot. It has 110 calories per 250ml bottle.. It was one of the sweetest smoothies of the bunch and had a definite underlying taste of mango. It was very tasty!

Super Red

Super Red Savse

Contains: strawberry, orange, kale, spinach, broccoli and celery. It has 98 calories per 250ml bottle. This was lovely and tangy and not overly sweet. Very refreshing and one of my mum’s favourites.

Super Blue

Super Blue Savse

Contains: Blueberry, kale, beetroot, spinach, blackcurrant, apple strawberry and orange. It has 105calories per 250ml bottle. This was very tangy!

Protein Punch

Protein Savse

Contains: coconut, pineapple, lime, vanilla, maca and whey protein. Each 250ml bottle has 175 calories and almost 11g of protein. This really tasted like a non-alcoholic piña colada, it was lovely and creamy. It felt a bit more filling than the others. Definitely one for post gym or to tide you over between meals if you’re in a pinch.

My favourite though was…

Super Purple

Super Purple Savse (1)

Contains: beetroot, apple, lemon, lime, mango, avocado and coconut. Each bottle has 105 calories. It wasn’t very sweet at all (just enough) but had a very earthy flavour due to the beetroot, which I love. I’m a big beetroot fan and I love the beetroot shots you can get to help with endurance so this was right up my alley. My parents weren’t as keen though so perhaps it’s an acquired taste!

The two other flavours I tried were the Purple Carrot and the Super Green. Both contained vegetables, such as carrot (obviously) and broccoli, and though you could kind of taste they were there it worked well in the smoothie. You felt saintly drinking them Winking smile

Overall thoughts? I quite enjoyed them. They were very refreshing on a hot sunny day and I like that there’s a lot of goodness packed into them. I’d still personally prefer eating my fruit and vegetables but that’s probably because I like volume over convenience. So for people who struggle to hit their five a day these would be handy as it’s really not a struggle to drink them at all!

Do you drink smoothies?

What’s your favourite fruit and vegetable?

How do you get your five a day?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the smoothie for free in return for my review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

The Nitty Gritties–Food

As I’m plodding my way through my training for my sixth marathon I thought I’d do a mini series on some bits and bobs (“the nitty gritty”) to do with my training that might either be interesting (who knows!) or helpful to other people. Obviously I’m no expert and this is only my experience, which isn’t huge, and everyone is an individual. What works for me might not work for you, but you might find something that helps! I have a few other topics in mind but if people find this a) boring or b) have a request, please let me know Smile

First topic surrounds one of my favourite things (other than running): FOOD. When it comes to food and marathon training I think it can get over-complicated and confused. To be quite honest, if you’re a regular runner or do regular exercise then really not a huge amount needs to change straight off the bat. You don’t suddenly need to be eating pizza every night and gulping down a protein shake to get through the day.

Ideally as you gradually increase the miles each week then you should also gradually increase your calories/fuel as well. This is especially true if you’re trying to lose weight (I’m not, don’t worry!). Just because you added an extra few miles onto your usual run at the weekend doesn’t mean it’s time for a second lunch. That being said, as the miles do get substantially bigger and you suddenly find the day after a long run you are rungry ALL THE TIME then sensible snacking can help immensely.

Protein

As you probably know I’m a huge fan of protein. Personally I think a snack that’s high in protein is fantastic because not only is it quite satiating but it’s also great to help towards muscle repair. Running takes a lot out of the body and protein can really help build back up the muscles.

  • Cottage cheese – this might sound a bit odd but cottage cheese is a fantastic, tasty snack. It’s high in protein and low in fat and sugar. It’s a good source of calcium and selenium (a good antioxidant). Have it plain or add in some berries and some seeds and suddenly you have quite a well-rounded snack with protein, carbs and fat. I take a little Tupperware box with me to work and eat it like a yogurt in the afternoon.
  • Nuts – pistachio nuts are a regular snack for me at work. I prefer them to other nuts as they’re a bit harder to eat as you have to de-shell them. This means I’m less likely to mindlessly power through a bag of them. Nuts are high in calories but they’re a fantastic source of protein and ‘healthy’ fats. If you have more self-control than I do, other nuts are also just as good.   IMG_8275
  • Meat jerky/biltong – OK not exactly a ‘normal’ runner’s snack but I love these. Just make sure you get good quality that’s not full of sugar and strange chemicals. It’s super high in protein, while low in carbs and fats.IMG_8276
  • Icelandic-style yogurts – they taste just like normal yogurt though they’re a lot thicker. They’re low in fat and sugars but really high in protein (something like 11g per 100g) and contain all the good probiotic magic too. There are flavoured ones too but they’re usually full of sugar so I’d recommend just throwing in whole fruit instead.

Fat

Fat, like protein, is very satiating and shouldn’t be feared. It’s an important source of nutrition for our body, helping contribute to healthy hair, skin and nails and also hormonal function and reducing inflammation. Just avoid trans fats as they’re the nasties that can mess around with your system.

  • Hummus – pair with some vegetable crudités or some wholemeal crackers and you’re good to go. A great source of fat from the chickpeas and olive oil.
  • Avocados – the star of Instagram posts all over the world, mash onto a rice cracker (preferably a wholegrain one to bump up the fibre and satiety factor). It’s a great source of potassium (more than bananas!) and monounsaturated fat.
  • Nut butters – again, spread on rice crackers, toast or eat by the spoonful. Fairly calorific so a good choice if you’re in a rush and need to get in some nutrients fast. Personally I’m not a fan of nut butters. It’s alright but I don’t get the craze for it…
  • Cheese – avoid processed rubbish (though I’m always partial to Babybells as they’re in such handy little packages). Try and get some good quality cheese that will be more tasty, more nutrient rich and just generally better for you. Cube up some feta and throw in some cherry tomatoes or olives and that’s quite a nutritious and filling snack.

Carbs

Carbs are a necessary requirement for running. When training for a marathon, a low carb diet is probably not the best approach unless your body is really used to this way of exercising. Your body needs fuel and carbs are the easiest and simplest fuel for your body to use. You do want your body to tap into your fat reserves as well but within reason.

I’d avoid crisps purely because they’re not that filling and they’re likely to spike your sugar levels and leave you wanting more. Aim for low GI (more complex) carbs that will digest slowly and leave you feeling full and satisfied.

  • Fruit (banana is obviously a great choice here but obviously I’m going to say apples are the best).  
  • Vegetables, such as carrots. I don’t need to convince you veg is good for you.
  • Pretzels – a nice salty snack that’s more filling than crisps and really moreish.
  • Popcorn – a great snack as long as you avoid the sugary ones. A great source of fibre as well which is key for a good working gut and digestive system.
  • Toast – a slice of wholemeal toast can be exactly what the body needs. Add some jam and have before a run and you’ve got a great source of fast and slow releasing energy. Or peanut butter for a more sustaining snack.

Little bits of what you fancy…

Life is too short to not enjoy food! Have that slice of cake or bar of chocolate, just don’t have it every day “because I’m training”. I will always have a naughty snack/cheat meal/whatever the hell you want to call it at the weekend because though my body might not need it, my mind and soul does.IMG_6459

My ethos is that I generally try and save a big treat until the weekend so I can fully enjoy it rather than some shop-bought cakes or biscuits someone from work has that I eat because I’m bored. I want to go out to a nice restaurant and eat a nice meal with people I enjoy being around. I make it into something that can be fully immersed into and enjoyed. Like afternoon tea or enjoying some home-baked cake from my friend.

If you’re feeling tired and worn out, generally it can be one of two things: you’re not getting enough quality sleep or you’re not eating enough. Your body needs fuel and recovery. Sleep and food are two very simple easy ways to make running easier (IN THEORY – busy mums all over the world don’t shoot me!). If you’re not looking to gain weight, eat as much as you possibly can to maintain your weight with your training. Don’t skimp on calories, dive into those bad boys. And if you start gaining weight? Drop it your calories down a bit. Better to gain a little weight in the process of good running than burn out because you’re not eating enough. I’m not saying to suddenly count your calories and become obsessed over it, but just be mindful of what you’re putting in to get the best out.

Just my personal thoughts!

What are your favourite snacks?

Do you lose weight or gain weight when training for a marathon?

Do you graze through the day or stick to bigger meals?

Quick fixes don’t exist

Like everyone else in the world, I want quick results and less hard work. I want to go to one interval session with my running club then smash a personal best at my next race. I want to eat a bowl full of salad and kale that immediately cancels out the cake I ate the night before. I want to do a few crunches at the gym one time and have killer abs. Forever.

Yeah. Doesn’t quite work like that, does it? Sadly not. And there is no time like the start of the year than hearing BS claims about “lose 7lbs in 7 days” or “get your bikini body in two weeks!”. It’s almost comical how these things suddenly spark up almost as the new year is chimed in. BOOM. Every news paper, every magazine, every advert, every gym… It’s all about that January fix and New Year’s Resolutions.

And the latest diet craze that sprung up out of seemingly nowhere is this “sirt food diet”. Er, what? Sirt, or sirtuins, are a type of proteins in the body that help regulate biological pathways that basically stop our fat cells from multiplying (more fat cells = the more fat we can become). So more foods containing sirtuins apparently means less risks of getting fat. This is a very loose explanation. I won’t get into the science of it because, let’s be honest here, it’s a load of rubbish anyway and the science premise of the diet itself is shaky. Oh and hey, there’s a book so you can go and waste your money on buy and read and be thoroughly unimpressed. The science is based on mice and fruit flies. Enough said.

Ranting aside, Women’s Health actually have a great article outlining this so-called diet revolution. And for once, it actually puts some sense into it.IMG_7772

February addition of Women’s Health

For example, they highlight that one of the ‘sirtfoods’ is red wine and you’d have to drink around 40 litres to get any sort of benefit. And surely then you’d kind of be dead… Unlike say the Daily Mail, Women’s Health doesn’t just present an entirely one-sided article promoting a ridiculous food plan. They give a good insight into how little we actually know about these flimsy claims. And they note how ridiculous such a reductionist approach to eating would be. The final advice was, just stick to eating healthy and exercising. No nonsense there.

What I also like is that WH also talk about good food to include in your diet which have actual science behind them, such as turmeric (a runner’s best friend for anti-inflammatory properties). I like this: science-based no-nonsense advice and for once not another diet to try and lose those “stubborn pounds”. Plus, not everyone reading Women’s Health wants to lose weight so having foods described in terms of beneficial properties other than just fat-burners is always welcomed.Women's HealthIn a nutshell the takeaway message is: you can’t just eat a ton of kale and drink a load of red wine and think that you’re going to wake up the next day two sizes smaller and feel amazing. Unfortunately life is far more complicated and your body is far more complex (it’s smarter than some dumb new crazy diet as well).

Don’t get me wrong, it is tempting to believe the claims that you can lose weight quickly and shape up in an instant but it’s just marketing rubbish. A big load of money is in this industry and it’s sole purpose is to convince people of their quick, easy routes to body perfection. But health is a lifestyle change and takes weeks and months, even years to achieve. And health isn’t solely measured by weight anyway. Any crazy diet to quickly lose weight is just going to cause more harm than good and be unsustainable. So, my advice would be eat your kale and have your cake too (but in moderation) Winking smile 

**Full Disclaimer: My subscription to Women’s Health was provided for free by magazine.co.uk as part of being in their blogger network**