Secret London #SecretFitness Session

I’m not usually that keen on going to London because it’s such a faff; I hate trains and I’m a country bum. Buuut when I got invited to the Secret London event that involved getting my hair done, Alpro products and yoga on a stand up paddle board, well I was convinced!

The location of the event was a mystery until 24 hours beforehand (hence the “secret” part), though I was told it would be around Oxford Street so I could at least plan my parkrun into the equation!

It was actually really easy to get to and was set in the lovely location of Merchant Square.IMG_4278

I was greeted straight away by the very friendly people from Secret London and Collective Two (the organisers of the event) and shown the cool set-up they had.

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I got to choose a pair of SuperDry flip flops and sipped on a delicious Alpro Berry and Coconut Smoothie while I waited to get my hair done by the guys from Headmasters.

IMG_4261From Secret London’s Facebook

Charlie (from TheRunnerBeans blog) and Bex (from TwinsInTrainers blog) were already getting their hair done so I went and said hi. IMG_4180

It was a bit like meeting the cool kids from school to be honest as their blogs are a lot more popular and known about than my iddy biddy one. They were lovely, of course.

Headmasters UK[Source]

I can’t tell you how nice it was to have someone do my hair for me. I am the girl who has my hair cut once a year and the most exciting thing I do with it is put it in plaits (braids) or a pony tail because my capability to do anything else is beyond me. We were all having braids done and in cool styles. I literally said to the hair stylist, do as you wish!

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In the end it looked fantastic (if I do say so myself!). It’s definitely not a style I’d be able to recreate at home or that I’d normally choose. While we were all chatting and enjoying ourselves there was a camera crew hovering around and a photographer snapping away. It felt very glam but made me a little insecure…There I was, fresh from parkrun with no make up on. Bex and Charlie looked so effortlessly glamorous in comparison, clearly more used to this sort of thing than me!

And then we headed to the water area to begin our stand up paddle board yoga. We were all fairly nervous because there was a genuine risk of falling in. I’d brought spare clothes and a towel but still! The instructor, Jen, from Pure Yoga Zone was lovely though. And she had the most adorable little dog, Clyde, with her too (yes, he went on the SUP with her too!).

Secret London Session(2)[Source]

We got on board and headed out onto the main bit of the water. It was fairly windy so our SUPs clustered together but this meant we could chatter and giggle together while trying to master the yoga moves.

Stand up paddle board yoga[Source]

The yoga moves weren’t tricky at all in themselves. It was fairly ‘entry level’. But on a paddle board it was a different story. Even moving from your knees to your bum was a dodgy episode that required balance and strategic navigation.

Secret London Session (11)[Source]

And yet as the time went on we all became more and more confident. It required us to think carefully when doing the moves and to use our core to keep us balanced on the board.

Secret London Session (16)[Source]

It was actually quite a tough session! I’ve done yoga before but sometimes you can ‘sleepwalk’ through it. Despite the tranquil surroundings there was no sleeping through this session!

Secret London Session[Source]

At the end we got our boards together in a line (no easy feat in the wind I assure you) and posed together like the yoga buffs we’d become.

Secret London Session(9)[Source]

Then after safely getting back onto dry land we headed for some vital refuelling (I hadn’t eaten breakfast or eaten post parkrun so I was definitely ready for food!).

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We were treated to a smoothie bar that was stocked with the toppings you could imagine (OK, relatively healthy toppings you could imagine) and smoothie flavours.

Secret London Session(3)I love this photo – it’s just so “me” around food [Source]

I went for a berry smoothie with just about everything in it from chia seeds, to fruit, to nuts and almond butter. Delicious. Now I’m not usually a smoothie lover but I was very happy to chomp this down.

Secret London Session(5)[Source]

The three of us then had a little interview to talk about our session and were chuffed to hear that we sounded almost like we’d had media training with the answers we gave and our ease in front of the camera. Dahhhhhling we’re bloggers, don’t you know? This is what we do. (<—Ummm, yeah I’m about the most awkward person in life ever).

It was a fantastic experience and I fully recommend SUP yoga (and now want to go SUP’ing again asap). If you get the chance to go to a Secret London session I’d definitely give it a go. It was a fun experience Smile And we got lots of cool goodies to take away with us too.

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You can buy tickets to these events, it wasn’t purely invite only, so keep your eyes open if this is your thing!

Have you ever been SUP’ing before?

Do you do yoga?

What’s your perfect smoothie creation?

Some things I’ve been trying lately…

Hi guys, hope you’re enjoying your weekend! I’m just dropping in quickly to give a review of some products I was sent.

Review

I was very pleased with the Alpro cool bag as well! That’ll be great for picnics in the future Smile

Alpro Products

First up are the Soya yogurts. I was sent Alpro Fruity & Creamy Cherry and Alpro Fruity & Creamy Peach.Soya

I’m not a big fan of yogurts with bits in at all so I let Ben have these. He’s never tried soya yogurts before but he does like sweetened yogurts.

I personally love the taste of the plain soya yogurt as it’s different to normal yogurt where normal yogurt has a definite ‘twang’ to it, if you know what I mean. Ben said he really liked these. They were very sweet and he liked the fruit bits in them. The yogurt was nice and thick as well he said. He would have them again!

Looking at the nutritional profile of the yogurts they’re 125 calories per pot, with around 10g sugar, 4g protein and around 2g saturate fat. The ingredients list isn’t the best in the world, but I’d say it’s better than a lot of other yogurts out there!

All in all, a great snack to have when you’re feeling a bit peckish and fancy something sweet!

I was also sent some Unsweetened Almond Milk and Sweetened Almond Milk. Now you guys know I love my almond milk so these went down perfectly in my usual morning oatmeal.

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I much prefer the unsweetened almond milk as I’m really not a fan of overly sweet oatmeal. Just the sweetness of the milk itself is enough for me. However, I did try it in other things such as cups of tea (which added a lovely subtle sweetness which I sometimes like with traditional breakfast tea) and smoothies.

Berry smoothie

This was a frozen berry, banana and sweetened almond milk smoothie. Delicious after a walk with Alfie after being in the sun.

Yu Products

Next up we have the Yu! Bar. This was a Wild Berry flavour with yogurt topping. Again I gave this to Ben as he’s always complaining he doesn’t have enough time in the morning for breakfast and then gets hungry.

Yu Bar

His opinion on this: “amazing”. It had like a jammy filling and was very crunchy he said. Very sweet. He loved it.

It’s 133 calories for this bar, with “no artificial nasties” and contains 33% real fruit, 33% yogurt coating and 22% cereal. It’s quite high in sugar (especially the yogurt coating as you might expect) with 20g of carbohydrates. There’s only 1.4g protein and 5g fat. I’m not sure how much this would fill you up and keep you going. However, Ben couldn’t stress the taste factor enough. So a nice treat once in a while rather than a breakfast substitute I think.

Then we had the dried cherry pieces and dried strawberry pieces.Yu review

I took the cherry pieces and Ben had the strawberry ones. We both really enjoyed these. Each pouch is around 90 calories. I quite enjoyed nibbling on these one boring afternoon at work. They’re gluten free and the ingredients look pretty clean – and one of your five a day. But Ben said it was definitely a “healthy” snack more than a fun snack.

Purition

Smoothie mix

This was a product I was really intrigued about. I have never tried protein powders before and if I’m honest I am not a protein powder kinda girl. I just don’t see the need for it in my life. I like ‘real’ food. But I know a lot of people love them and find they’re a great addition to their diet and I have no problem with that! Just for me I like to eat something rather than drink something if that makes sense.

I got sent two Superseed Breakfast Smoothie Blends both Pistachio flavoured. I was less reluctant to let Ben try as I greedily wanted both…But in effort to be a better wife I shared Winking smile

Smoothie making

We whizzed it up using half a frozen banana each and I had sweetened Almond milk and Ben had normal milk.

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I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this! And it was hugely filling. Like literally kept us going for a fair few hours. We had this today after we got back from our Parkrun (more on that on another post) around 10ish and we didn’t need lunch until 3pm!

It’s gluten free, low carb, low salt, no added sugars, no artificial sweeteners or preservatives or additives and high in protein and fibre.

Per smoothie (without adding the milk or banana) it was 190 calories, with almost 15g protein, less than 4g carbohydrates, and less than 2g saturate fat. Not bad! And a very nice looking ingredient list!

However, it is pricey…almost £19 for 14 servings-worth. I think the only times I’d drink this would be after (or before) a long-run when I need something to properly top me up or between lunch and dinner as a good solid snack.

Dr. Karg Products

And finally! I was also sent Dr Karg crispbreads.

Dr Karg

These babies were tricky to not gobble up quickly I must say. I’ve been enjoying one every so often when I’m peckish at work or at the weekend between meals. I don’t even need to add anything to them as the toppings make them interesting enough for me!

However, I did add a couple to lunch one day when I had a lovely bowl of soup.

Soup collage

They held up really well in terms of dunkability and provided great scoopage for the chunky soup. Really good addition for lunch!

The Olive and Rosemary ones were really tasty but the 3+3 were my favourite (above). Both sets of ingredients list were top notch. Lots of wholegrains, seeds, herbs…just good old fashioned ingredients. I think they’re roughly around 100 calories per crispbread. The seeds help boost the protein (over 4g) and carbohydrates 11g, and less than 1g of saturated fat per crispbread.

Hope you enjoyed my review! I’m off to do some housework, joy of joys.

Which of these products take your fancy? My favourite was the Alrpo Unsweetened Almond milk but only because I have it literally every singly day. Though I did enjoy trying the protein shake!

What do you look for in a good snack: high protein, taste, clean ingredients?

Full steam ahead! WIAW

Hi guys. Thanks for your reassuring comments regarding my latest confessions. I don’t feel so alien and crazy now Smile

This week at work has been a ‘thrown in the at the deep end’ kinda week. We’ve got a new project going on so suddenly there are a hundred pages of documentation to get my head around and understand.Docs

Fun, fun! But I do love my job and the people I work with are great. Working with a bunch of software developers is always quite relaxed and jovial.

Enough shop talk. Today is Wednesday so, as always, it’s WIAW. Thank you, Jenn, as always for hosting! This is yesterday’s eats.

As always, nothing exciting for breakfast, just my usual oats and almond milk cooked in the microwave until a beautifully stodgy consistency.

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This filled me up perfectly. Nothing added, just pure oats and milk. I am an oatmeal purist and not ashamed!

Lunch time I took my usual salad to work and copious snacks.

Lunch packed

So for actual lunch I had my usual tuna salad with lots of random veg and salad bits (tomatoes, leaves, carrot chunks, peas, beets – just anything really).

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Eaten at my desk while reading blogs. I know should go out and have a walk and get some fresh air but I also love this time to enjoy my lunch while reading some good old blogs. I followed that with a Babybel…IMG_3435

…and a big dollop of Soya yogurt over a fruit salad [took this photo in the morning – I use frozen fruit so it’s defrosted by lunch].

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I love Soya yogurts, so creamy and vanilla-ry. As you can see, I’m loving my Alpro products at the moment!

Then a bit later I snacked on some carrots that I had peeled and chopped.

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A bit of an embarrassing snack considering they crunch so much in the office…oh well!

I had two black coffees, peppermint tea and lots of water with squash in my funky glass during the day.

Squash

Then I had an apple and a banana about 4pm when the munchies set in [old picture sorry – it’s embarrassing enough sneakily taking photos of lunch but snacks are quite tricky!].

A and b

And then home-time an hour or so later and dinner – my favourite meal of the day as it’s the one meal Ben and I eat together. It’s lovely because he’s usually in before me and has walked Alfie and then while I cook dinner he sits and chats with me about his day and my day and it’s just a nice catch-up time. I made a salad with chicken fried in balsamic  vinegar, with mozzarella dusted with basil and had roasted vegetables also in balsamic vinegar (addicted to that stuff).

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Delicious and very easy! I’ve basically been eating a lot of these style meals. You know I love my salads and adding balsamic roasted veg just rocks my world.

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This was Monday’s dinner: grilled halloumi and salad with roasted veg.

Other than that I’ve been snacking on lots of chocolate…

Chocs from Bruges

These are chocolates from Bruges which I’ve kept in the fridge…oh so good!

And I made some banana bread at the weekend.

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What’s life without a few treats? Winking smile

This morning I went on a 5 mile tempo run (as part of my training plan). I find 5 miles (dare I say it?) an easy distance.

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It’s not too short, and not too long. I have a great route I always do and the time flies by. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still tough (especially the tempo run) and at times during the run I want to give up and go home (usually within the first 5 minutes), but there’s always those good moments throughout where the ‘power of the run’ feels damn good. Especially afterwards when you’re finished running Winking smile

And I’d though I’d share with you my post-run picture and then my post-shower ready-for-work picture. Run and goAs you can see, still dark outside before and after. Oh the joys of winter! And behind is the rowing machine that never gets used… (*whispers* I told you so, Ben!!)

My running is going good – honestly, having such a rigid goal works wonders for motivation. And it’s quite nice to not just run the same all the time in terms of distance and speed. Finger’s crossed it remains as good!

And that’s me! Have a great Wednesday Smile

Are you back fully into the swing of work/education after the break?

What’s your favourite meal of the day and why?

WIAW #5

I haven’t posted in a while as I’ve just been rushed off my feet like crazy!

 

Anyway, as it’s What I ate Wednesday, I will stop harping on…Check out Jenn’s blog (Peas & Crayons to find out more):

My breakfast from Tuesday (prepare yourselves!) was overnight oats!! I’m so chuffed I finally managed to get on and do it. I feel a little bit more part of the healthy living blogging community. That’s a tick in that box! Did I enjoy it? Well…I did, but I did miss my lovely gooey hot green (wheatgrass) oats…But it was a nice change.

So Monday night I put about 40g of old-fashioned oats, 100g of Alpro soya yogurt, a splash of coconut milk, a tsp chia seeds and a handful of berries into a bowl (not that cool to have a jar yet…not quite that cool yet) and popped it into the fridge:

21.08 prep breakfast

Then in the morning I grabbed it out of the fridge. It looked a little suspicious to me…

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…but I gave it a stir and it was lovely a thick:

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It was yummy. A nice change for once in a while I think! I did make things a lot quicker getting ready in the morning though.

My lunch was my standard salad that I take to work. This time I jazzed it up with some Brussels sprouts (which I’m loving right now) and avocado (along with my usual tuna, salad leaves, beets and tomatoes). With this I had two Babel Bells (anyone else get excited about Babel Bells because you get to peel them…? Just me?)

17.08 salad (avocado)

And dinner. Well I got a bit creative and made some hummus! And let me tell you, it rocked my world:

Hummus

I used a tin of chickpeas, a tablespoon (ish) of tahini paste, lots of garlic, lemon juice and cumin. Then just whizzed it all up. Served over salad and chicken fried in a tagine paste:

Hummus salad

It was so good (if I do say so myself). And so filling. A definite winner. I do have lots of snacks through the day but they’re fairly standard and boring (apples – obviously, a banana, and a pack of Snack a Jacks Cheese and Chive flavour – the best flavour in the world, honestly I could eat these all day long).

Maybe over kill on the salads but it is a summer staples theme of WIAW! And they’re so easy to whip up. And I do love my veggies…

Onto fitness. I’m continuing on with my new line of exercise routines. On Monday I ran only two miles (it’s still so hard to not to feel funny about not running for longer, you know? It feels like I’m copping out of exercising). But it was tough! And I was totally out of breath and dying by the end:

20.08 run

Only 17 mins worth of running and I was pooped! I’m keeping up the intervals and it’s tough. it really makes you focus on the run. Then I did 30 minutes of ab work. The first exercise video I found on YouTube almost killed me. So I quickly switched (yes yes I’m a wuss). It still hurt but I was actually able to complete the routine!

I’m so pleased with how things are going. I definitely feel like I’m getting stronger (possibly psychological?) But, regardless of anything else, I am enjoying it! And that, people, is the most important part of exercise I think. If you don’t enjoy it, find something else you do enjoy!

Right, this was a bit of a whirlwind post. I hope to write a longer one delving into my hen party activities… But for now, happy WIAW!!

Impending Doom and an Alpro Review

So tomorrow is a very scary day. I’m off to London to do a Very Scary Presentation in front of Someone Very Important (capital letters are strictly required to convey the magnitude of this event). I’m confident I know my stuff, I’m fully prepared – this is something I’ve been immersed in for weeks now. I know it. But I am terrified. I am lowly business analyst and the person in question is our customer’s Big Boss. There’s no one above him. There’s a lot riding on this – how I present it and what I’m presenting. No pressure then.

I am amazed at how far I’ve come since I started this job and this project I’m on. I’ve been put (pushed? dragged?) into uncomfortable situations where I felt out of my depth, I’ve given presentations to our team and customer when I thought I knew nothing, I’ve been in meetings where I’m put on the spot, I’ve even picked up someone’s slack when they underperformed – but I’ve handled it. I’m a new woman! OK maybe not new, but definitely improved. It’s been tough though – some Sunday nights I’ve contemplated calling in sick. But I haven’t. I’ve dealt with these hurdles and I’ve definitely benefited. I just hope I keep getting better.

So, the lovely people at Alpro sent me a hoard of products to have a try of. Check out my very happy grin when I saw the parcels:

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It was like Christmas!

27.07 Alpro

Almond milk, Strawberry Shake Soya Milk, Hazelnut Milk and Soya Chocolate Dessert.

I’ve been experimenting with all these to test them out and see what’s my favourite. The almond milk is amazing (but that’s no surprise!). I’ve been using it in my smoothies:

Green smoothie

It adds a very subtle sweetness to them which I adore. It also works brilliantly in pancakes!

5.08 pancakes

The chocolate dessert is a sweet indulgence after dinner, but it’s not actually that naughty. 110 calories per dessert (less than 1g Sat Fat as well) and it’s a fairly hefty little tub. Bigger than your standard chocolate mousses but it’s richer and thicker. Very nice. I really want to try the caramel one. I’ve even added the chocolate dessert in one of my more filling post-run smoothies:

28.07 smoothie ingredients

This made an amazingly dessert-like chocolate rich thick smoothie (why use one descriptive word when you can use many??):

28.07 Smoothie 2

The only thing that I didn’t get on with with the almond milk was that it was too sweet for my porridge. I’m very particular about that – I like it to be almost savoury. Anything like jam or fruit in my porridge I’m not a fan of and sweetened milk is not my cup of tea (or bowl of porridge as it were). However, I know Alpro do an unsweetened soya milk which I love so maybe they’ll bring out an unsweetened almond milk…

My favourite was the hazelnut milk…This was delicious. I’ve just been drinking glasses of this fresh from the fridge.

Hazelnut milk

It’s so yummy. Perfect for smoothies and pancakes. It has a different taste to almond milk (duh, Anna, it’s a different nut) and it has a lovely creamy brown look to it.

Now the most crazy things of all – prepare yourselves – is that Ben loves the Strawberry Shake and the Chocolate Dessert. He can’t get enough! This is the boy that hates anything that isn’t your bog-standard cow’s milk or yogurt. Greek yogurt is even a push for him. So anyone who’s a bit unsure of soya, give these a go and see what you think. I’m partial to a Strawberry one after a run just to inject some protein and sugar into myself fast:

30.07 Alpro

And you feel like a bit of a kid with the little carton Smile

I also treated myself to the plain yogurt as well:

Soya yogurt

The pouring one is brilliant as I just pour a slug of it into my smoothies without any extra washing up. Soya yogurt tastes completely different to normal yogurt and I much prefer it (anyone else with me on that?). I couldn’t sit there eating spoonful’s of normal yogurt or Greek yogurt but I could with this.

I love Alpro because they’re a good source of a host of nutrients (calcium, vitamins B12, D, etc.) and no artificial nasties. Big thumbs up from me!

**All these views are my own – and yes, I am a bit of an Alpro fan! Hehe Smile **

So hopefully tomorrow will go well. I won’t fall over and embarrass myself (it could happen, honestly, I’m that clumsy).

Anyone else got something scary happening tomorrow?

Or any tips on how to use hazelnut milk in some interesting recipes?