Things I’m loving lately (January)

I have such a good recap of this weekend that I can’t wait to rave about (which I need to write!), but for now I’ve had a few bits and pieces that I’ve been enjoying recently so I thought I’d share.

I was sent some cans of the new Radnor Infusions Zero Calorie Sparkling Soft Drink. It’s sparkling Welsh spring water from the Radnor Hills in Radnorshire with a gentle flavour of lemon and mint for one of them and raspberry and black cherry for the other. The water is infused with natural flavours and fruit extracts – meaning no sugar, preservative and sweetener free, and zero calories.

I loved the sound of the drinks before I’d even tried them – I’m a big fan of Wales (having gone to university there and also having relatives there) and this just sounded delightful. It’s not like a diet soft drink though – if you’re expecting Fanta levels of flavours this is not it. Instead it’s quite subtle and delightfully refreshing.

I think I preferred the lime one a bit more and could even imagine adding a little bit of gin in there for a cheeky jazzy G&T. It’s a shame it’s not summer because these are fantastic BBQ drinks – especially for those who don’t want to drink.

I was also sent some leggings to test out from Constantly Varied Gear. Now obviously I am a huge leggings fan and have had my fair share so I was keen to try them out.

The first pair are a kind of cosmic design which I think is so funky. Having worn so many leggings in my time I’m quite a harsh judge. The fit is alright but it definitely isn’t as good as Lululemon or Nike.

They’re a bit more restrictive. Also when testing doing squats in them, they didn’t pass the “no see-through” test. It’s not terrible but especially on the cosmic design the design gets stretched and the material becomes quite thin.

The green leggings were cool looking but not my favourite kind of design.

It was tricky to know where the mesh detail was supposed to go – on your knees? On your shin?

And the waist band and the bottom bits were tight without my give. You’d need to get your sizing spot on to feel optimum comfort.

So all in all, not bad leggings but don’t expect Lululemon or near that quality. They’re nice for a jazzy design.

I was also sent a running belt to test out.

This is so handy because I’ve somehow managed to mislay the two running belts I had previously. I was sent the Premium Running Waist Belt from runnershighstore.com (black, extra small) and it is fantastic.

It fits perfectly above my hips and sticks in place. It fits my iPhone 7 in it and doesn’t bounce.

I barely know I’m wearing it. It comes in different colours like bright green, yellow, pink, blue etc. and it’s very cheap compared to other brands.

And a bit of non-related running stuff… I ADORE my giant Harry Potter mug. I drink a hot chocolate every night (I know, I’m so old before my time).

I hate small drinks – if I have a tea or coffee, it’s in a big mug. And my hot chocolate is no exception! This mug Kyle got me for Christmas after a dropped my other big mug (sad face) is PERFECT 🙂

And that’s all for now folks!

Do you have certain criteria that gymwear needs to be? For me it’s got to be comfortable and look nice – I mean, fairly simple I guess!

What’s your favourite hot drink?

What’s your favourite soft drink?

**Full disclaimer: I was sent a number of these products for free to test out for my blog and social media. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

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?

Back to my usual antics…

I cannot tell you how happy I am right now with my knee.

Things have improved so much! After spending so many weeks with a knee that either constantly ached, clicked, niggled and just felt uncomfortable to slowly seeing different symptoms disappear is just fantastic. To walk down a corridor without thinking about my knee is a relief in itself. I want to do a more in depth post on the things that helped and what I did so keep an eye out for that.

This weekend was full of good stuff. Friday night Kyle and I made rocky road ready for the morning as we would be going to Netley parkrun for his 50th. I do feel somewhat bad about how long this has taken because because obviously Kyle could have gone to parkrun without me or have me support, but when I’m injured we’re both a bit more inclined to stay in bed and make the most of not having to rush out the door on a Saturday. But now my knee feels better, we’re back at it.

We made the rocky road by basically melting a load of chocolate we had stashed from Christmas and random times with a load of butter and then mixing in marshmallows, chopped glace cherries, M&M’s and broken biscuits. SO GOOD.

The next morning we luckily naturally woke up earlier than the alarm and decided to get up and sort out the rocky road as it still needed slicing. Jeeze it was hard work! And I ended up eating lots of little pieces that fell off (“tidying up”). So much sugar so early, oops. It did not make me feel that great I must say… greedy Anna strikes again.

Kyle got a milestone shout-out in the run briefing which was lovely and then we were off. I ran a fairly easy pace with my friend Mike as I hadn’t seen him a while and it was nice to have a chatty run. He was running every day in January so he was happy to plod with me. Kyle had more in his legs so zoomed off ahead.

Photo credit: Ken Grist

We ran the winter course which is harder going, but to be honest I felt very comfortable running.

Photo credit: Ken Grist

In fact, chatting to Mike just took my mind completely off how my knee was feeling and when we finished I realised I’d just had a normal run!

My time was 24:55 which I was happy with.

We then handed out rocky road chunks and cleared down the course before heading to the café for tea, more rocky road and a slice of cake from someone else celebrating a milestone.

While I enjoyed all the delicious treats, I didn’t feel it did me any favours not having had anything substantial to eat yet. But it was worth it.

After lots of chores and boring life admin, Kyle and I went to Smith and Western for an early dinner. I mean, this really is our kind of place. Lots of ribs, burgers and, of course my favourite, chicken wings. It was nice and quiet though (it apparently gets very busy and loud later with lots of birthday shout-outs).

Of course I’d already checked out the menu and knew I was almost certainly having the chicken wing sharing platter… but just for me. Kyle was tempted as well. We asked the waitress what kind of numbers we were looking at because that would dictate if we would have one each, one between us or need to order something else alongside (yes, we are greedy people).

The waitress said it was 21 wings, 7 of each flavour (Southern Comfort, BBQ and Buffalo). That sounded like a reasonable number for us to have one each. The waitress laughed at us and said we clearly loved our wings. Yep! Kyle also ordered curly fries.

When the meals came out it looked massive. The waitress then told us that they’d actually just changed their ratios of chicken wings and it was now THIRTY per platter, 10 of each flavour. Wowza! The wings were so tasty. I definitely preferred the buffalo flavour though to the sweeter ones. The BBQ was nice and tangy but the Southern Comfort was really quite sweet if you had a few in a row.

We were well and truly stuffed afterwards of course. The waitress said she was super impressed. She asked us if we wanted pudding and I was like “we’re good but we’re not THAT good”!

That said, I did somehow manage to squeeze in a couple of pieces of rocky road later on as we chilled watched a film. A sweet end to the evening 😉

The next morning I felt well and truly fuelled to go to my personal training session. With my PT we just focus on leg strength. The idea is to get me strong for running so we do a lot of running focused exercises. It’s only been the last month or so I’ve been back seeing him due to my knee, but now I feel so much stronger. My squats are back up to where they were last year (75kg – not a huge weight I guess, but for me it is!), my hip thrusts are back at 90kg and I feel GOOD. I really like seeing my PT as he knows exactly what my goals are and understands my injury history and fears.

Then I headed off to Kyle’s dad’s to have a lovely pork roast dinner. I know, who would have thought I’d be hungry again after all those wings? But clearly my stomach is a bottomless pit!

Happy times indeed 🙂

What’s your favourite roast dinner?

Do you ever see a personal trainer?

Would you say you’re greedy?

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?

A happy knee, a happy Anna

FINALLY somewhat of a positive update with ACTUAL running.

I don’t want to jinx anything, of course, but I genuinely feel like I’m (mostly) out of the woods with this knee injury. Obviously things could easily regress back and all go wrong again but at the moment things are looking very positive.

At the weekend Kyle and I went to Southsea parkrun. The week before I’d run a tester mile and another tester two miles and my knee had responded well. So three miles was my next challenge. I could have run the three miles on my own but I really wanted to do a parkrun as it had been so long and we could go for brunch in the amazing Parade Tearooms a short walk away.

Kyle’s mum, Sarah, came with us to support. She’s just started the Couch to 5k programme and was building up to do a parkrun herself. She wanted to see what kind of runners parkrun had and to reassure herself she wouldn’t be right at the back (she definitely wouldn’t be).

The great thing about parkrun is that firstly no one is ever last because of the tail walker and that the run is full of all different kinds of runners, of all different abilities, shapes and sizes. While she has seen a parkrun before, she’s never really watched with the interest of a potential runner.

I woke up and my knee was feeling amazing. It felt almost normal. The ever-helpful Steve Bonthrone had given me some great advice going into this run. He said I should try really hard to visualise and think about the best run I’ve ever had. This way it’ll keep me positive and stop me focusing on “how’s my knee?” or that I think I’m injured and will expect pain. This was fantastic advice.

There’s so much about having a longer term injury that’s in your head. The way you think about yourself, the issue and how much pain and discomfort you believe there to be – or expect there to be. Having Sarah there hugely helped as well as I could chat away to her about her running and her worries, which made me completely forget about mine.

It was very cold. But I do love a cold, dry and still morning for a run. You know you won’t be cold for long. We wedged ourselves within the middle – Southsea gets so busy! There were 657 runners, which is crazy. It’s a narrow area to start and a lot of bollards, fences and people to be wary of at the start so if you ever want a PB here you really need to be as much in the front as you can.

The first mile was an absolute dream. It was like the best kind of running – I felt smooth in my running and with not even a hint of difference between my legs. Through the second mile it started to feel a bit harder and I got a slight niggle just under my knee but it wasn’t concerning and it didn’t last. Whew! More than anything it was just tough on my endurance. Three miles is a long way, eh! 😉

We finished the run and my knee still felt good. Halleluiah! My time was 24:24.

To be honest, I could have gotten 28 minutes and I’d have been just as pleased! Times right now don’t matter (arguably, do they ever…).

Then we walked to the Parade Tearooms and met up with my parents for brunch. It’s lovely that Kyle and my family get on so well 🙂 My dad and Kyle ordered the fry-up while Sarah, my mum and I ordered the Jayne Salad, which is just a BEAST of a salad.

It has chicken, bacon, potatoes, coleslaw, beetroot, corn, tomatoes, berries, onion, carrot, lettuce AND a mid-way hidden layer of cheese. This salad is not for the faint of heart. The waitress even said “you can box it don’t worry”. Oh pahh-leeeease. I will be fine. The two mums however, epically failed and had to box over half for home.

It was a lovely morning, and I felt so happy and relieved that the run went well. And for the rest of the day and days after it still felt good. THANK GOD!

I had another run on Tuesday at lunchtime planned with Kyle. It had been so long since I ran at work. In fact, even people I didn’t know at work had been commenting on my lack of running! So it was so nice to don my gear and head out in the cold sunshine at lunch and go for a run. And while the run was hard work (my legs were feeling heavy from the gym) it was so wonderful to be outside in the fresh air. Yesssss!

A more sensibly paced run

So my next run is planned for tomorrow… long may this streak of good running and happy knee continue.

Do you enjoy running when it’s cold?

Do you find your parkrun getting busier and busier?