All the things I’m loving lately

There is so much good stuff happening right now, I’m loving life.

2020 really has been a great year so far. So let’s get cracking with a few life updates.

I got a promotion at work! I really love my job at the moment and enjoy what I do, and so getting a promotion is just the icing on the cake. My job hasn’t actually changed that much, but I have more authority and “clout” in what I do. Changing careers a few years ago was 100% the right thing for me to. I love my week and I work hard. I feel confident and happy with where things are going. Rather than despondent, lost and confused as I was previously (and a short commute MASSIVELY helps too of course).

And another happy life event is that my flat has a buyer (did I mention it was on the market? It has been since before Christmas…but thanks to Brexit and the election it was slow times) and Kyle and I have found a house and had our offer accepted! So all things are in motion for us to move out in the coming months. SO EXCITING. Obviously my promotion certainly came at a timely moment as well for this with all the mortgage application process and finances. I’ll share more when things get more finalised 😀

I’ve also been kindly sent a few products to test out.

I was sent some KALME Day Defence www.kalme.co.uk facial cream to try out. It contains SP25 and is clinically shown to reduce skin redness and sensitivity. I’m a HUGE fan of any sort of face cream that has SPF in it because…well, wrinkles. Yes, entirely vain but there we go. Other than things like alcohol and smoking, the sun is a big reason for wrinkles and I for one and trying my best to look ever youthful 😉

While I’ve never suffered from acne, the cream also contains zinc oxide which helps reduce inflammation and combat breakouts, which I do get occasionally.

The cream has got lots of good stuff in it for sensitive skin and for looking after you, so I’m more than happy to use this. Especially when doing long runs out in the open with the sun beating down. The only thing I will say is that it’s quite thick so you don’t need a huge blob (but works for wearing on runs).

I was also recently sent some cold brew coffee, funnily enough called Calm Coffee – a lot of calming stuff going on in this post!

It’s coffee that is infused with 10mg of CBD (Cannabidiol). I was sent the Americano and the Caffe Latte.

The American uses 100% Arabica Brazilian coffee beans and is basically black (as Americanos tend to be), whilst the latte contains oat milk. And because they’re served in cans, this means they’re a solid environmentally friendly choice.

With this I was sent the ground coffee version too, which is also infused with CBD. I make this either using my coffee machine (which is not an all-singing all-dancing variety but your simple “add scoops of ground coffee and water” to variety) or in the coffee press.

So CBD… what’s the crack? It’s not like THC (the more infamous variety) in that it doesn’t give you a high and it’s non-psychoactive. But CBD is commonly taken by people with anxiety, or insomnia, and inflammation or chronic pain. It’s not classed as a medical product however, it’s classed more of a supplement, but it (at least ancedotal at the moment) is said to help relieve these issues to an extent.

I really enjoyed the cans. Very refreshing, no strange tastes… just like a cold brew coffee really. And the ground coffee was delicious too. I like the fact that it’s touted to help you focus and energise you – definitely something that combines well with the caffeine. I wasn’t “buzzed” or running about that place and I wasn’t “zenned” out, but it was just like drinking a nice cup of coffee and feeling the benefits of that.

I’ve also been sent a number of turmeric supplement products too. This is something I am super excited about because there’s a lot of hype about turmeric being good for reducing inflammation and being good for injury-prevention and recovery (something I’m definitely no stranger to as I’m sure you’re aware).

I was sent three turmeric supplements: two capsule varieties and a bio-fermented liquid which has both probiotics and digestive enzymes in as well. All the products are vegan as well.

The turmeric capsules both have a combination of black pepper and ginger and contains zero additives and fillers. To counteract the fact that the compound curcumin, which is the active ingredient, gets quickly metabolised by the body, the added black pepper which contains piperine helps get the maximum absorption and bioavailability from it. The ginger which helps with the digestion and absorption too.

The Bio-Fermented Turmeric is a liquid that you drink (well, you have a shot of basically). Again it contains the black pepper necessary for decent absorption as well as live cultures to help with digestion. It actually tastes quite nice as well! I thought I was going to have to hold my nose and take it but I really enjoy having a spoonful before my porridge in the morning.

Considering I’m marathon training at the moment, I’m loving that I have all this turmeric to take. Reducing inflammation from running is a key priority to me. I’m not one of those total hardy souls who can run all the miles every day. I have to be sensible and really focus on recovery and looking after my body so these supplements have come at the perfect time for me. I take the liquid in the morning, then the capsules with dinner at night. You can get them in Holland & Barrett soon 🙂

Do you take any supplements?

Do you enjoy drinking coffee?

Do you wear any SPF creams throughout the day?

**Full disclaimer: this post contains products that I was sent for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Learning To Cook From The Ground Up

I have another food-related post for you guys. I am a HUGE lover of cooking. I find it relaxing and I really enjoy it. Also there is something so satisfying about creating a meal from scratch and eating it. And of course cooking for people you love. So here’s an article to help if you’re new to the cooking world and how to get started…

If you would like to learn how to cook good, simple meals, but you are not yet proficient in the kitchen at all, then it might seem all to be a little overwhelming. However, it is going to be perfectly possible to learn to cook as well as you like, as long as you make a point of doing so step-by-step and from the ground up. In this article, we are going to suggest just one route that you might want to take in order to do that. If you follow these suggestions, you should find that you are effectively learning to cook much better in no time at all, and providing amazing meals your friends and family will love.

Starting With The Basics

It’s a good idea to start small if you can’t really cook at all. That means just learning to cook some simple meals that you can practise some basic cooking skills by doing. There are a huge range of dishes you could try, but the aim is to stick to something that only has a few ingredients – and yet produces a wonderful result on the plate. You might even start by cooking some basic sides, such as looking up how do you make shredded cabbage and trying that out. Start with the basics, and you will have a much better foundation going forward.

Follow Your Nose

If you want to do well in this, you are going to have to make sure that you are enjoying it, and there is one sure way to make sure of that: cook meals that you know you love to eat. If you do this, you will find that it is much more of a joy cooking in the first place, and you will be proud knowing that you can produce those meals that you have always loved to eat, but never known how to put together until now. Following your desire in this way is always going to be a good way to go.

Buy Good Equipment

The equipment that you have to use in your kitchen really does make a huge difference to how well you can cook. You need to make sure that you are going to buy good equipment, as that will make it so much easier to cook as well as you would hope, so that is something that you are going to want to think about at some point too. For now, you might just want to look into getting a decent set of kitchen knives and doing with that. But later on, specific gadgets might become more desirable, in which case you should get them.

Practise

Remember that, like everything in the world, it is going to take practise, but that as long as you are happy to put in the work, you will get the rewards you are looking for in the end. No matter your reason for wanting to learn to cook, you will find that it is hugely rewarding, and opens you up to many possibilities in the kitchen.

Do you enjoy cooking?

Do you have a meal you’re known for?

Eating and the Planet: How to Reduce Your Environmental Impact

I have an article today which is very close to my heart.

While I know I eat a lot of meat (yes, a lot of chicken wings) I don’t eat like this all the time (I can’t afford to for one thing!). Throughout the week I rarely eat meat. I eat a lot of fish (like tuna in my lunch and sea basa in the evening) and I adore Linda McCartney sausages. And I’m very conscious about food waste and not buying unnecessary food. But anyway, here are some fantastic tips for you to read!

Image credit – Pixabay

If you love food, eating and cooking and have never been a vegetarian before, then it can seem daunting. You might have tried out Veganuary or another vegan/veggie-based food challenge before, but committing to it long-term or on a permanent basis isn’t for you just now. But the food we eat does have an environmental impact it’s important to be aware of. With this in mind, here are some things you can think about with your food-shopping to have less of an impact on the environment.

Meat

The best way of reducing your environmental impact whilst still remaining a meat-eater is to cut down. Think about meat as a once or twice a week treat, rather than something you have every day, and make sure you are using the whole animal wherever possible. We don’t mean pig-snout sandwiches – more, that you are thinking about ways to use all of what you have. This might be making a stock out of a chicken carcass or using scraps to make gravy.

When you are buying meat, shop for organic and local meat wherever possible. Although often more expensive, if you’ve cut down your consumption anyway, this shouldn’t have too much of an impact on the food bill. Aside from the environment, it’s just more enjoyable to eat meat knowing that it’s been farmed in a responsible way, rather than battery farmed.

Shop Nearby

Heading out to the shops for a carton of milk in your car a few times a week adds up. Even if you do need to use your car to get to the supermarket, if you can plan your meals in advance and do a big food shop once a week, rather than multiple little trips throughout the week, you will drastically reduce your carbon emission. Obviously we’re all human and sometimes forget things, but try to stay organised and pick items on when you’re on other trips as much as possible.

Food Waste

The UK has made massive improvements reducing food waste recently. In the last year, it was reported that waste was reduced by almost five million tonnes. Previously, 8m tonnes of food waste was going straight to landfill and, with methane gases released from landfill having a global warming potential 21 times greater than carbon dioxide, how we use and dispose of food waste should be top of everyone’s list in terms of sustainability and eating environmentally. One of the best ways you can reduce your food waste is to plan your weekly shop in advance. Instead of buying ad hoc, make a meal plan, write a shopping list and stick to it. There’s a difference between replacing chicken with pork in a dish because the pork was on offer and just buying the pork as well because of the discount. Plan in advance and have a leftovers night once a week, where you make a hotchpotch meal with all the bits and pieces from previous nights to stop any wastage.

If you are looking at the ways you eat and buy food, sustainable clothing and trying to reduce your travel carbon emissions, ultimately we will all be living on a happier and greener planet.

What things do you do to be environmentally friendly?

Do you eat meat?

Why Following A Healthy Lifestyle Isn’t A Sacrifice

Hope you had a lovely weekend. I have another article today and it’s one close to my heart: being healthy for life.

I couldn’t imagine not exercising or thinking about the longevity of my health. Yes I love eating less nutritious food (cake…chicken wings…) but a lot of the time I eat vegetables, fruit and get a balanced diet – without becoming obsessive over it. And sleep! Sleep is SO important. I get up stupidly early but I go to bed at a reasonable time, which definitely helps! So here we go…

Pexels – CC0 License

There are many sentiments, easily found online, that hold mistaken impressions or somewhat incorrect premises. This is likely not news to anyone. However, when these impressions become the norm, or when they permeate culture, they can become a real problem. Perhaps the latest of these worrying trends is, that while accepting overweight people is absolutely paramount and should be commended, the ‘healthy at any size’ fad is leading to a harmful debate.

Most of us understand this. However, while this can seem like an extreme example, it’s often an attitude that we find throughout culture. For instance, we might hear people joke at the office about how they’ve already fallen off the gym wagon, or that they hate to run, or that it’s much easier to fall in love with pizza than it is to diet.

Of course, we’re not here to judge, nor act superior, nor pretend that those people are in any way lesser. The delicious call of a morning fry-up breakfast or how much we love to indulge over the Christmas period are facts better left unsaid. However, we’re here to discuss why, despite many claims to the opposite, following a healthy lifestyle is not a sacrifice, or something you have to pay for with true hardship.

Please, consider our warm advice:

A Good Sleep Schedule Is Everything

Getting your sleep schedule right can feel equal parts science and art. Science, because there are very real habits and practices that contribute to sleep hygiene, and sometimes your nutrition can make a massive impact. Art, because getting to sleep is an experience. It takes a practical ability, more than just switching off a light switch – if only things were that easy.

A good sleep schedule can aid your life in ways you may not understand. Any energy you feel will be thanks to a good nights sleep, and your body’s ability to repair itself. Even with the best nutrition, the best exercise, the healthiest body, the strongest genetics, you will feel like an absolute shadow of yourself if sleep-deprived for a few days.

In Matthew Walker’s illuminating book ‘Why We Sleep,’ he sheds like on many myths related to sleep hygiene and practice. One of these is the idea of ‘sleep debt,’ which he shows is very real, but trying to ‘pay off the debt’ as if a bank overdraft simply does not work. A good sleep schedule is able to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep a night, and if we fail to do that, then we slowly erode our health just a fraction more. This is why it’s important to take your sleep seriously, perhaps even as a prescription. Our society is fundamentally sleep deprived.

This means that living your best life, feeling energized, ensuring you keep a good memory, boosting your immune system and staying emotionally stable is all fundamentally aided by good sleep habits. Sure, you may not be able to watch that Netflix series late into the night, or it might be that partying all night each weekend may be a little less attractive, but what you miss in those small considerations you make up for in a healthy, well-sustained life. Of course, don’t be a fascist with yourself about this. Just aim for better sleep habits.

Losing Weight Feels Powerful

We can often see losing weight as a harmful challenge. We know that having to observe what we eat with clarity and care, or trying to limit our indulgences isn’t very nice. If we could, we would love to live in a world where going for that extra slice of cake for dessert or eating a large greasy breakfast each morning wouldn’t add on the pounds, but unfortunately, that’s not a possibility.

However, losing weight needn’t feel like some intensive and aggressive approach you need to take. In fact, losing weight can be an extremely worthwhile process. To begin with, it can teach you certain lifestyle skills that will help you in the long run. Learning to cook better, more nutritionally dense meals, perhaps with the help of a Sunday meal prep program, can help you feel more autonomy in the kitchen. Sooner rather than later you’ll find it intriguing to browse your local supermarket shelves to see what health foods are on offer, what international cuisine you may try, and much more.

Additionally, eating lighter, healthier meals simply feels good. It helps you feel less lethargic after that intensive carb load routine you are used to, and switching from intensive coffees to green teas, all while staying hydrated, feels phenomenal. The more weight you lose, the healthier you’ll feel, and the better your body will be to handle. You’ll also notice your face becoming thinner and your natural self shining through, and this can have major impacts on your skin quality, your hair density, and how in-shape you feel. Losing weight is not a sacrifice. It can be an absolutely emotionally rewarding, powerful journey.  If you’ve ever accomplished anything that gave you a sense of pride in life, imagine that but also felt during every single moment of your day.

Now, we’re not here to disparage overweight or obese people for a second. Many are trying their best to adopt healthier habits. But when you take a direct, structured approach to losing weight, learning your BMI and caloric maintenance, staying as active as you can, and eating a healthy, balanced diet, you’ll slowly notice yourself blossom. For some, this can be life-affirming to the extreme.

Furthermore, this most fundamental of healthy practices can help you start looking to other changes you can make. For instance, if needing to quit smoking, you can research the best nicotine therapy product and buy it online to aid in your efforts.

The Hard Challenge Of Exercise Can Help You Grow

Many consider exercise to be a hard challenge, and they’d be right. But there’s nothing like the feeling of coming off a treadmill after a good workout well completed. It is a glow that lasts for hours, and will help you in all social situations, in the confidence you have, and in the self-respect you curate.

Many people think of attending the gym and are instantly put off. We see those who have amazing physiques, those who are lifting hundreds of kilograms/pounds or those running a 10k on a treadmill and think that this is certainly not the place for us. But remember, you don’t need to be particularly physically skilled to join a gym. It could be that through using a program such as Couch 2 5k, joining a few classes, or simply getting back into the motion of using a rowing machine, you feel able and active.

When you have a training plan in place, you have something to look forward to and aim towards. You can move on from that point with confidence and care. Every little achievement you make means something. Take it day by day, perhaps twice a week, then three times, then four. When you get into the schedule you’ll start feeling more active, you’ll sleep more easily, and you’ll start noticing your body start to feel much, much healthier, even in the way you breathe. This will have a positive impact on all other aspects of your life, so don’t be afraid to begin in a humble context.

With all of this advice, we hope you can take worthwhile steps towards following a healthy lifestyle. As time passes on, you will feel nothing but pride and a renewed sense of confidence, knowing that the cost of feeling good was never that bad after all.

Do you get enough sleep?

Do you enjoy going to the gym?

Do you think about your health a lot?

Knee update

I’ve been fairly quiet on the old blog recently due to the obvious matter of not doing much running as of late. I probably owe you guys a bit of an explanation of where I’m at with that (if you care!).

So post-Chicago Marathon I had a full nine weeks off of running due to my knee giving me a lot of grief. Grief when I walked, grief when I would bend down and even grief just lying prone in my bed. After a few physio appointments with different people, different diagnoses, a clear MRI (“structurally perfect”  apparently), lots of rest… it did eventually get better. Better in terms of daily life mostly. Bending my knee completely was still super stiff and uncomfortable, but walking was fine. Running? Nope.

After lots of trial and error, advice from people with more brain cells than me, and Internet searching, I found some good rehab exercises to get my affected leg stronger. As it had been quite a while that I had been feeling discomfort my brain and muscles were now protecting the movement on that side and had consequently those muscles had weakened. I added lots of single leg strength exercises several times a week to get it back up to strength.

Previously these exercises would be too painful to do. Now they were fine (rest does help, imagine that!). And the difference between the two legs was obvious. I mean I’d clearly done a good amount of strength on my left leg post-hamstring issue before Chicago and my poor right leg was now lagging behind. Ah injuries, don’t we love them and their patterns? So this time I worked both legs consistently (slow clap for Anna).

The good days of my leg were now outweighing the bad days. Things were looking up. And perfectly in time for the Christmas parkrun. Not wanting to ruin anyone’s Christmas (or just annoy people in general) I decided to do my first run BEFORE the parkrun so if it went badly I could skip the parkrun and just enjoy Christmas, rather than it potentially go badly and then feel a bit pants about it. However, both runs (easy 5ks) seem to go quite well.

The trouble was afterwards. My knee felt very niggly, grumpy and tight. It was like taking a step back from where I had previously been. I foam rolled, I iced (does any of that ever work? Mentally I needed to do something) and it slooowly got better again but reluctantly. Frustrating.

During this time of year it seems every runner is doing something (races, festive parkruns, 12 Days of Christmas running bonanzas, etc.). It can be mentally very difficult to be injured at this time. You want to join in, you want to be out there running along looking like a pilock in your Santa’s hat. It’s a great time to run as well because you’re so well fuelled from all the chocolate, mince pies and festive treats 😉

And being the stubborn idiot I am, as soon as my knee felt reasonably better, I tried another run. During the run I knew it wasn’t working. It didn’t hurt per se but you know when a run feels crappy. Something wasn’t right. My knee felt off and like at any moment it would start to hurt.

This entire injury period (and my hamstring too) I’ve felt like I’ve been very controlled and not done stupid stuff that Past Anna might have done. But here I regressed. I ignored my family saying wait a bit longer, I ignored Kyle asking what the rush was. And I ignored that my knee wasn’t feel super great. I just wanted to get out there and be part of that world again. And of course I made things worse.

So here I am, almost two weeks from that last run. I’ve been sensible, consistent with my rehab and not pushed anything. I also had the very welcome and helpful advice from a friend on Twitter (the super Steve Bonthrone: @pt_steveb) who gave up over half an hour of his time on a Saturday to video call with me.

He gave me such good advice, talked through my issues and gave me some new exercises and stretches. And things have gotten so much better. To the point I don’t realise anything is different with my knee until I try and bend it very firmly or crouch down and put a lot of pressure on my knee (I avoid this obviously). I’ve also taped up my knee using KT tape (and the help of Kyle and a YouTube video).

I need to bite the bullet and try another run now. I feel strong, my knee feels stable and good and mentally I need to test it. It feels so much better than it did before the other runs. But I feel so scared and worried it’ll regress. It’s so difficult to know when to start again. I hope I’m making the right decision. Finger’s crossed.

Do you find icing or foam rolling helpful when you’re injured?

Do you ever use tape for injuries?