What I’m Loving Lately – May/June

Time is flying but also moving so slowly, eh?

So Kyle and I have been continuing to settle in nicely to our new little home and while there is still so much to do (not one room is fully “finished” yet) we’re loving our new way of life.

Luckily we’ve only had to paint one wall, and that was only because we wanted to change the colour. The whole house was left in such pristine condition and the previous owners had only recently decorated so thankfully it’s just furniture and organising that we need to sort out. (But big thank you shout out to the previous owners for their kindness and thoroughness – and the bottle of fizz they left us!)

Though we did have a rather stressful time of lack of internet which wasn’t fun. Ordinarily this would just be annoying but because Kyle and I are working from home we needed something to cover us for the week that our internet wouldn’t be in place. We bought a mobile broadband thing (like a dongle I guess) to cover us but the signal wasn’t great. But after a week or so, we now have proper internet and it’s lovely and fast. Work has become so much easier I can tell you! No more fuzzy stuttering Team meetings or waiting for a webpage to load.

My standing desk is doing well!

Anyway I thought I’d catch you up with some things I’ve been loving lately…House warming gifts

We’ve been really touched and grateful for lots of lovely cards and presents we’ve received since arriving. Kyle’s sister, Lucy, popped round (well, stood outside the door 2 metres away!) and gave us these gorgeous cupcakes she’d made (she’s actually got a baking Instagram that she’s looking into starting as a full-on business –> @dirrty.cakes to check her out).

There were some lemon flavoured ones and some chocolate flavoured ones. And they were INCREDIBLE. I’m not usually a big chocolate cake fan but damn these were so good.

So fantastic detail!

My lovely friend Emma made us some DELICIOUS rocky road as well and had it sent to us. This was amazing!

We adore rocky road and honestly it really didn’t last long… Such a thoughtful and lovely gift.

Marshmallows, cherries, biscuits… so good

And Kyle’s dad gave us a selection of Tony’s Chocolonely.

This was incredible! So many flavours I’ve never tried. My favourite is the dark chocolate and pretzel one, but the almond and honey was SO good too. A bit like Toblerone. Trying to pace ourselves and not eat them all at one.

FourfiveCBD Immunity Bundle

I was also recently sent the fiveCBDd Immunity Bundle, which contains a whole host of cool products:

  • CBD Effervescent Multivitamins (containing 5mg/0.13% Broad Spectrum CBD, vitamins, minerals and amino acids
  • Advanced Daily Biotic
  • Raw Organic Cacao Powder
  • Vitamin C supplements
  • Vegan Vitamin D3 2000iu supplements
  • Peanut Choc protein bar
  • Food-Grown KSM-66 Ashwagandha supplements

What’s cool is that they have a charity partnership with Compassion London who are supporting those most in need during the pandemic – which is just such a fantastic scheme. When you purchase this box, £5 is donated to help provide three meals to vulnerable people, the homeless and key workers.

The CBD multivitamin is easy to take – you just drop a tablet into water (like the nuun or High 5 hydration tabs). It has sweet organge flavour and 5mg of CBD per tablet.

The cacao powder which is untreated, high in magnesium and iron (good against fatigue) and can be used in protein shakes or baking (a great addition to porridge too!).

I didn’t know what Ashwagandha was before getting this box, but apparently it’s clinically proven to reduce feelings of anxiety and lower cortisol, as well as aid muscle recovery. It’s also supposed to help optimise libido in men and women, wahay 😉

The Daily Biotic provides Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, which is apparently the most scientifically studied strain of beneficial bacteria. This helps to support general wellbeing and keep you healthy.

I really like this selection box as it has a bit of everything. And to be honest, recently it’s been a big help what with all the stress of moving house, sorting things out and what with one with and another… it’s been a nice boost to my health I feel.

33 Fuel Ultimate Daily Greens

And to top  up my health even more, I’ve also been sent the Ultimate Daily Greens from 33 Fuel. I’ve tried other products from 33 Fuel and really like them (their chia seed energy gels are fantastic – I did a review of them a while ago).

The Ultimate Daily Greens is like a power drink for your health, containing good stuff like wheatgrass, barley grass, chlorella, spirulina, kale, spinach and without sugar, sweeteners, preservatives or flavourings.

Also what I love is that they don’t give you a plastic scoop – the world definitely needs less plastic (side note: MyProtein should really get on board with this as people who regularly buy protein powders have no need for more scoops! Just buy one separately if you need it). For this you only need a tablespoon so you can work that out yourself. You just add it to water and guzzle away.

I add it to squash and it’s perfect. You can add it to your porridge as well if you so desire. It’s an easy mix-in.

So things are very good round here at the moment. With lots of fantastic (and super tasty!) stuff from lots of lovely people and cool companies 🙂

Do you take any supplements?

Do you add anything to your porridge?

Do you have a favourite Tony’s Chocolonely flavour?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the immunity box and daily greens for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

One final long run before the next chapter

So Kyle and I have finally moved out!

Even during this crazy lockdown Covid-19 era, we managed to sell my flat and move into our newly bought home. There’s still a lot to do and a lot to buy (allllllll the furniture) but we are super happy.

It was a busy day on Saturday packing everything into the van my parents got. I didn’t bring any of the furniture from my flat home as I sold furnished (which was what I wanted to do because I want to start fresh with Kyle) so it was just things like clothes, crockery and homeware like that… which is still a lot of stuff! But few items that were “big” other than a dining table, outdoor table and chairs and my bike (ha!). We dropped everything off at the house, then headed home again.

It was my mum’s birthday on the Sunday so it seemed like a nice last day with my family. Then Monday I’ll move out properly. It also helped keep Kyle and my family separate during the moving in process as he moved his things Sunday. (Alfie will of course be coming but once we’re a bit more settled so it’s not so disruptive for him).

On the Saturday I was able to do one last long run before we moved which was just so lovely. My long run route is a route I’ve been doing for so long. I can easily add bits on, take bits off and get anywhere from 6 miles to 20 miles. It goes all along the coast from Hill Head, Lee-On-Solent to Stokes Bay. I just love it. It’s super flat which helps 😉

I ran 15 miles and while it was super windy it was a lovely run. I tried to soak it all in and appreciate it. I’m sure I’ll find runs just as good in my new home – the coastline will just be slightly different.

Running, amazingly, has been going so well recently. I’m really chuffed about this because while there are no races to train for and no pressures, I’d hate to not have the ability to run right now. The freedom and the mental breather it provides is just so helpful right now in this time of uncertainty and restraint.

I haven’t been doing any sort of formal training or sessions, but this is hardly any different to my usual way of running! I’ve kept to around 15-16 miles as my long run and this has been a nice length for me. I don’t know how long it will be until races are back of course, as no one does, so it does feel weird not having anything in the horizon but for now I’m happy.

And now onto a review of a new protein range from MyProtein that sounded very intriguing: their Keto Blend. It’s been created to have a keto-friendly ratio of macronutrients for anyone on the keto diet, which is quite a strict low carb high fat diet. Now I will stress, I’m neither keto nor on any sort of diet but I do love MyProtein’s Whey Protein (I have it every day in my porridge). So I was happy to give this a go!

I tried their Strawberry & Vanilla flavour and their Chocolate & Caramel flavour.

I tried the Strawberry & Vanilla in my porridge and as a drink. As a drink (I mixed with semi-skimmed milk) and it was just like a strawberry milkshake. It mixed well and was lovely and smooth. Both flavours were great in porridge too.

No issues in how it mixed and made my porridge taste lovely and subtly sweet (not overwhelmingly so).

So the blend contains 60% fat, 35% protein and 5% carbs. One scoop (25g) contains around 115 calories and about 10g of protein. They also do a Coffee Walnut flavour. So not too shabby! A nice way to get some extra fat and protein into the diet.

Now back to sorting and unpacking!

Do you have a favourite long run route?

Do you enjoy sorting out things for your home? I’m a big fan of organising!

Do you have protein powder in your diet?

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.**

MRI results…

I had my MRI results for my knee on Thursday.

I was so worried and nervous. I didn’t really know what to hope for. If it turned out I needed an operation then at least I had a firm answer and could take strong actions to sort it. Yes it would take time (to schedule and then recover) and would be painful and scary, but at least it would (potentially) fix the issue. But to hope for that wasn’t making me feel any easier. I don’t want to have an operation. But equally I want my knee to feel better and so far nothing else has helped.

Anyway I sat in front of the surgeon and he showed me the MRI scans of my knee and told me that I had a “structurally perfect knee”. In fact, he was very impressed with how good my knee looked for someone who has run 20 marathons and so many miles. Instead of relief I just felt frustrated. It was like I was being told that the discomfort and pain was all in my head. I sat there literally feeling my knee aching while he said my knee looked perfect. What the hell.

He could sense my disappointment and reassured me that while having an operation was probably (relatively speaking) an easy option to curing the pain it wasn’t the ideal option. He said I should be grateful I don’t have to have an op and that usually this point of action ends up in needing another op later on down the road. And as a young (why thank you) female, taking a piece out of my knee wasn’t something he’d want to do even if I did need an operation.

But what now then? Well he said there was nothing else he could do for me and recommended a highly rated knee-focused physio. She sounded good and I rang her up and got an appointment for the next day.

She checked my knee and leg out and told me that, as we could now definitely rule out it being a tear or anything to do with the meniscus/cartilage, it was likely to be a misalignment of my kneecap. This was probably down to my calf and quad being tight. The calf wasn’t something I had considered, but it made a lot of sense. The trainers I’d changed to had made my Achilles and lower calves super tight, but I didn’t really suspect it an issue. But apparently this is pulling my knee from the bottom, and then my quad is pulling from the top.

The pain is due to my kneecap (or a specific part of my kneecap at least) being irritated. So she advised stretching (shock), foam rolling (shock), better trainers (happy days) and Ibuprofen gel specifically in the crevice of my knee where it’s causing issues. She gave me some stretches and massaged my leg and off I went.

This does all make sense to me, and of course I’m relieved I don’t have a tear, but part of me wonders if this is really it? Stretch more and foam roll? Are you kidding me? Asides from my calf, I have been stretching and foam rolling my legs weekly. Urgh. I just feel either incredibly stupid that it’s this simple or a bit cheated that it’s this simple.

At least I’ve been given the go-ahead to strength train my legs, albeit gently. So I’ve been doing TRX single leg squats and body weight squats, slowly and with good form. Maybe it’s a case of getting the strength back up to get the muscles firing appropriately?

I feel a bit at a loss if I’m honest. Sure I can try new trainers and do the whole “Ibuprofen reduce inflammation” thing but it feels a bit of a catch-all diagnosis, you know?

Anyway, I could moan and whine for too long about this. I need to gather my thoughts and see how things progress. On to something else…

I was recently sent a pack of TRR Nutrition supplements to try. It’s an advanced collagen supplement containing 10,000mg of hydrolysed marine collagen. Designed and created by a host of scientists and nutritionists (including Glenn Kearney, nutritionist to tennis superstar Andy Murray) with the aim to support joints, bone health and immune system. Collagen is a protein which helps form connective tissue in the body. We do naturally produce it but the production slows down, so adding it to your diet is a good way to pump it back up. The benefits are that is can reduce wrinkles (wahey!), support strong bones and keep your joints strong and flexible too.

So anyway I tried the supplements… I mean, I guess it was probably the best time for me to be taking it with all my knee issues. Of course I can’t say for certain but my knee has certainly improved from the terrible shape it was in after the marathon, though equally time and healing go hand in hand.

The supplement comes in a little bottle – it’s like a shot of health basically. Not only does it contain collagen but it contains turmeric (good for inflammation), glucosamine, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and copper.

I’ll warn you though, it doesn’t taste great. I would advise taking it like a shot: quickly just swallowing it down. The cherry flavour is far better than the citrus, but it still has quite the turmeric flavour.

I am very keen to continue taking this as the research on collagen seems strong and it’s something in my comeback to running (is that ever going to happen…?) will probably help. I really like the ethos behind the company and if I can be 1% of the athlete that Andy Murray is then I’m on to a winner!

By the way, they currently have a 50% off sale right now!

Have you ever taken collagen?

Have you ever had an MRI?

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

Keto 101: Everything You Need to Know

I have a contributed post today talking about the keto diet. I rarely change the way I eat (says the girl who’s currently on a two week vegan challenge…) but I love reading about different diets. I find it fascinating when people take such drastic approaches, such as cutting out groups of food or having a different perspective on the way they eat. And what works for one might not work for another. But it’s interesting anyway! So here we go…

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, chances are you’ll know about keto diets or at least have heard of them. They’ve taken the world by storm with their ability to burn fat without being hungry or feeling deprived like typical low fat diets, eating while losing weight sounds too good to be true but it’s easy to wrap your head around once you know the science. Here’s everything you need to know!

What are keto diets and ketosis?

Keto plans work by reducing your carbohydrate intake. With limited carbohydrates, your body switches to burning its own fat supplies for fuel- meaning your weight loss efforts are increased. This process puts your body in a metabolic state called ‘ketosis’, you can check if you’re in ketosis using simple urine analysis strips available at any chemist.

How does it work?

Imagine your body like a fridge freezer. Your carbohydrates are like the fridge section, easily accessible and when they’re available they will be your body’s first choice for fuel. Your fat supplies are like the freezer- the backup supply. Once the ‘fridge’ is empty, the body will utilise what’s in the ‘freezer’. It breaks down this stored fat and uses it for energy, including energy need at rest such as digestion, brain activity and more. This makes it much easier to lose weight compared to a traditional low fat low calorie diet.

Is it safe?

Ketosis is a perfectly safe and natural process for your body, as humans it’s exactly how we were designed. We store fat to be used as fuel so we have energy even when food supplies are scarce. Ketosis can sometimes be confused with ‘ketoacidosis’ which is a serious complication which people with diabetes can get. But despite sounding similar, they’re completely different things. The process of your body switching from carbohydrates to its own fat supplies for fuel can be a little gruelling, many people feel a little dizzy, tired and headachy for a couple of days. However, once the body is fat adapted and reaches ketosis these side effects disappear and you feel much like your normal self again.

How easy are keto plans to follow?

Keto plans tend to be very easy to follow. While you’re cutting out much of an entire food group (carbs) you have plenty of fat, dairy and protein options which are filling, satisfying and taste great. While it’s not an invitation to eat to excess, you don’t have to count calories and can eat until your satiated meaning there’s less temptation to cheat.

One of the symptoms of ketosis is reduced hunger, this is because without carbohydrates there are no spikes in your blood sugar. It’s these spikes that cause cravings and hunger pangs, so without them you’ll notice a definite improvement in your appetite if you’re prone to overeating. Because there are so many available things you can eat and so many great recipe ideas online, you shouldn’t get bored.

On top of this, it’s the kind of diet where you can still go out and eat and enjoy food with friends. Invited to a barbecue? Tuck into the meat and enjoy with some salad and just avoid the bread (be sure to avoid sugary marinades). If you go to a restaurant, ask for your side of potatoes to be replaced with some low carb veggies like broccoli- just be wary of added sugars or carbs in gravy or sauces. Restaurants are very accommodating and can remove these, or at least let you know what’s in them if you ask.

Can vegans follow a keto plan?

Following a keto plan as a vegan is certainly possible. There are more challenges here, since many keto followers do tend to use meat, fish eggs and dairy as their primary food sources. However you do still have options- coconut products, oils, nuts and seeds, non starchy vegetables, vegan protein sources like tofu and tempeh and vegan ‘full fat dairy’ such as cashew butter and vegan cream cheese are all on the menu. The best thing you can do is log your macros on a site like MyFitnessPal, make sure you’re keeping your carbs low enough while hitting all of your nutritional needs.

Are there any side effects

There are a few side effects of ketosis. One thing that just about everyone will experience is changed in their breath, that’s because when the body burns fat it created ketones and some of the byproducts aren’t used by the body. They’re excreted through urine and the breath, a lot of people report a ‘fruity’ smell or an acetone like smell like nail polish remover. You can relieve this symptom by chewing parsley or chewing sugar free gum. Feeling cold is another common side effect. For the most part, you won’t feel all that different when you’re in ketosis and for the majority of people, the minor side effects are worth it for the ability to lose weight more effectively.

Can I still exercise?

Yes, you can still exercise when you’re in ketosis and you should- exercise is useful for everyone. However there’s one main thing to bear in mind, and that’s the body can take a little longer to fuel your body with energy from fat. There’s a reason why athletes ‘carb load’ before a workout, it provides instant and accessible fuel for energy. When you’re in ketosis, you don’t have that instantly accessible fuel. For this reason, you might feel a little light headed if you suddenly start exercising intensely. Warm up first, and stick with moderate paced activities rather than intense exercise. Swimming, cycling, even jogging is still fine, but sprinting, hiit workouts and other very intense exercise might not be the best choice in keto.

Resistance training is a great choice when you’re following a keto plan, try out the weights machines in the gym or use Resistance bands by OriGym at home to tone up your muscles. With so much protein in your diet you’ll recover quickly, and added muscle will boost your metabolism and burn even more fat.

Have you ever followed a keto plan?