Friends, cake, sweets, leggings… a few of my favourite things

My blog has been so behind recently. Since getting back from Dubai I’ve been a bit all over the place. So a great place to start is a post on some things I’ve been loving and trying lately (as well as a mini guest appearing from Papa Apple).

Starting with some seriously needed catch up time with my lovely friend, Charlotte at the weekend in Brighton. Seeing her (and her husband, Paddy!) was exactly what I needed. I was in need of a good chat and vent. She’d baked an obscenely good carrot cake with the perfect ratio of sponge to icing (basically 1:1).I had two slices – I had to be certain it tasted as amazing the first time ūüėČ I did have grand plans of doing a Brighton parkrun (ideally the Preston Park one, which I’ve yet to do) but my calf has been playing up (insert sigh here) so I played it safe and enjoyed a lovely lie-in.Charlotte and I headed into town to do some coffee drinking and shopping before getting to Food For Friend bang on 12 to get a table (they don’t take bookings at the weekend and they’re super popular). It’s a great vegetarian and vegan restaurant that has such a diverse menu.

We got a table and checked out the menu. The last time we went there we made a poor choice of both getting the same sweet potato cake things. They were nice but it was a lot of sweet potato and not much else. This time we were more savvy. We ordered a sharing platter of lots of different things, such as cauliflower fritters, hummus, halloumi bites and lots more. Charlotte ordered some chips on the side and I ordered tofu crispy bite things and some fried aubergine things.It was delicious! So many flavours, textures and good stuff going on. We ordered more halloumi bites though towards the end because they really are the show-stoppers. We decided to forgo pudding (shocker I know) and mosey about a bit more. We’d popped into a great sweet shop before the restaurant so we had a bit of sweet stuff to keep us satisfied.

The sweet shop was amazing. It’s called SugarSin. It was quite an amusing experience because we’d only gone in there to have a look as it was quite a colourful and fun looking shop. We browsed the pick n mix but really we weren’t going to buy anything. The shop owner asked us if we needed help and we did that British thing of “no no just browsing”. He asked us if we’d like to try any of the sweets‚Ķ any? Ooooh OK maybe just a try then. And then after telling us some information about the sweets (they’re from Sweden so not your traditional Candy King style affair) we’d grabbed bags and were loading up. Such easy prey haha!But let me tell you, the sweets are so good. Lots of different ones you wouldn’t see anywhere else. Worth it!So a very lovely trip to Brighton, as always. I went home feeling a bit more clear-headed and happy. What friends are for ūüôā

And another one of my great loves along with good friends and good food‚Ķ leggings! I was recently sent some leggings from the rather creative guys at Gear Bunch. Now if you’ve read my blog for even a tiny period of time you’ll know I quite like myself a pair of leggings. So when they offered to let me a try a pair of theirs I was more than willing, of course.

Their leggings are very jazzy indeed. I mean there’s no other way to describe them. If you want to make a statement at the gym or out running, these are for you. They have some truly fantastic designs and colours. I’m a little more subtle in my fashion choices so decided to choose a pair that weren’t quite so “out there” with the design. I quite liked the ombre effect and pink and black is a nice blend.They fitted nicely and were tight but not overwhelmingly so. They gave my bum a nice flattering look and didn’t sag anywhere. I could do lunges and use the bike in them. I would say with the colour I chose that underwear choice is something to consider wisely however as they can become slightly sheer when stretched.I imagine it really depends on the design you go for as to how much of an issue this is but with the pink colouring at the top I wasn’t able to wear black underwear (sorry if TMI but I’m being honest). They did require an occasional pull up though and didn’t feel like a second skin like say Lululemon or Nike.Overall I quite like them as a funky pair of leggings. I probably wouldn’t wear them on squat days just because of the sheer factor but all other stuff would be fine. I don’t know how they’d be for running however as I don’t wear leggings to run in that much at all!

There’s been a lot of social media hype regarding the recent release of the Halo Top ice cream. It’s a very popular ice cream brand in American. It’s a “guilt-free” ice cream in that it’s a lot lower in calories and it’s not full of artificial gunk and nasties. Now don’t get me wrong, ice cream is ice cream. It’s a supplementary item to your diet. If you want a pint of Ben & Jerry’s have a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. It won’t kill you. But sometimes I want to eat a pint of ice cream on a Wednesday night and not feel like I’ve just filled my body with excessive amounts of sugar. I’m a volume eater so this perfectly fits into my persona. I’m sadly not one of those people who can have a scoop and put it away. It doesn’t work for me.

So Halo Top is a lovely compromise of not pushing the boat out but still getting a solid ice cream satisfaction. However it is expensive – ¬£5 a tub, ouch. The Chocolate flavour is delicious though and though it’s not as dense or full of all the chocolatey bits and pieces of a B&J tub, it is still very tasty.

I was also recently asked to review a weight-loss supplement. Now I don’t need to lose weight so this wasn’t something I was going to try. However I asked my dad if he fancied giving it a go (he’s currently doing Slimming World) and he said he was game.

The product is called Maxislim BerryTrim. It has a high strength of Glucomannan which, according to the product is “proven weight loss and gut health”. I don’t now where these sources are though. It argues that the soluble fibre in the product will make you feel fuller for longer. I can understand the logic behind that. Glucomannan has a low energy density, which researchers (again, not sure who) say “can encourage feelings of fullness as it expands in the digestive tract“.

Gut health¬†is important, helping you have a good immune system and healthy digestive system. So that at least sounds like a winner. More fibre is definitely a good thing if your diet lacks it. The product also contains Inulin, a prebiotic that helps with gut health as well.I mean¬†personally I’m not a fan of weight-loss supplements but supporting gut health and getting the digestive system moving is a good thing. Each serving is 22 calories and contains a host of ingredients such as¬†L-Carnitine l-Tartrate, Green Tea Extract, Acai Berry powder, Barley Grass powder, Beetroot juice amongst others. It’s a vegan-friendly product. It also won the ‘Best Supplement’¬†at the UK Natural Health Trade Summit in October 2017.So my dad tried it for a few days. I got him to answer a few questions for me so I could write up his thoughts… He didn’t have a great experience it must be said.

  • How did it taste? It was inoffensive but the aftertaste lingered for hours ‚Äď it really left a poor taste, but it went down quite easily.
  • How did it mix with water (recommended way to consume)?¬†Mixed with water¬†very easy. Not lumpy but I preferred the sachets as more consistent than the tub [bare in mind, this is a man who doesn’t like faff]
  • Initial reaction? Texture was like a very cheap fruit powder drink. It had a weak flavour. Not one I looked forward to drinking.
  • Later reaction?¬†This was the real issue for me. After two days of these I experienced an upset stomach, very loose bowl movements and a general feeling of unwellness in the stomach. Yes it made me feel full but not in a good way. [This is more information than I’ve ever wanted from my dad…]
  • Could you see it working for others? Not if they have the same reaction as I did.
  • Weight lost? 1/2 lb in a week, but bare in mind I’m also doing Slimming World and consistently losing with that.

So that’s his honest thoughts. It sounds like it might be useful to some people who don’t get enough fibre in their diets and need to add a bit of “oomph” in but realistic you could just eat more vegetables.

Have you ever tried a weight-loss supplement?

Do you like patterned and jazzy leggings?

What’s your favourite pick n mix sweet?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the leggings and the weight-loss supplement for free in exchange for a review on my bog. All opinions are my (and my dad’s) honest one.**

What to Wear When Running in Winter

Winter running can seem like the most unappealing type of exercise. You look outside and it’s dark, cold and probably wet. Nothing is less desirable.

But it is true what they say: there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. The one thing that winter running has above summer running is that it gets better the longer you run. If you’ve ever run on a beautifully sunny day you’ll know how hard it can suddenly become after that first mile. You start to get hot, the sun is beating in your face, you sweat, you’re thirsty… it sucks basically. But at least with winter, though it may look pretty rubbish and miserable, once you get going it’s actually not too bad. As long as you’re prepared.

When it comes to what to wear for winter running, you really do have a lot of choice. The temptation is of course to wear lots of layers so the minute you step outside you’re not cold at all… but within a mile you’re ridiculously warm and sweating. Ideally you want to be cold before you get going, because you¬†will warm up. That first mile might feel horrendous but it does get better.

To give you some tips and guidance for what you could wear for running in the winter,¬†I’ve teamed up with Decathlon, the sports products company.decathlon-winter-run-gearI tend to graduate my running outfits as it gets colder and colder. So for the beginning of winter I’ll probably choose a long sleeved but fairly thin layer, like the Alenji Kalenji Elio long sleeved jersey.kalenji-kalenji-elio-womens-long-sleeved-running-jersey-broken-pinkHaving a half-way zip is ideal because you can have it done right to the top as you start but then undo it as you get more warm to provide a bit more ventilation. Also, having thumb holes in the sleeves is a great compromise when it’s not quite cold enough for gloves. Ideally you also want a top that has reflective bits on it, especially as the nights and mornings get darker.kalenji-kalenji-evolutiv-womens-running-jerseyThe Kalenji Evolutiv jersey is a step above providing more protection from rain but also has a handy ventilation section where you can uncover the arms and/or chest. You can see in the first picture of the three tops with the arms and chest done up (middle picture) and then how it looks when unzipped (photo above). This is great for those who can’t make their minds up what to wear!

Obviously keeping warm and dry is a high priority for runners, but so is being seen and keeping safe. Having high-vis gear on is essential when it’s pitch black outside. Yes you’re probably running on the pavement and there is street light but by making yourself visible you’re doing yourself and everyone around you a favour. When you run across a road, or run towards a pedestrian, it’s essential to be seen to avoid any nasty collisions or accidents.kalenji-ekiden-light-jacket-yellowThe Kalenji Ekiden jacket is a great lightweight high-vis jacket that can definitely help with this. It’s not too thick to be overbearing, heavy or too warm, but it will protect you from the wind and rain while making yourself visible to those around you.decathlon-winter-running-gearFor most of the year I’ll stick with wearing shorts as my legs never get that cold. But when it does get really bitter then I’ll switch to either a pair of capris or long length leggings. There’s nothing worse than numb legs!!kalenji-ekiden-warm-womens-running-tightsThe Kalenji Ekiden running tights are inexpensive (¬£9.99!) and perfect for those really cold days when you just can’t face bearing your legs.

But the one thing I cannot be without are gloves during the winter. The rest of me might be sweating and seriously hot, but my hands never warm up. I wear gloves pretty much November onwards.kalenji-retro-reflective-gloveThe Kalenji Retro-Reflective gloves are great because not only will they keep your hands warm but they’ll also give a bit more high-vis to your hopefully already high-vis’ed up outfit ;-)And in terms of running accessories, I’m a huge fan of wearing lights. Either a head torch (though I do find this annoying as they always tend to¬†bob about on my head) or by attaching some sort of LED to my clothing.

kalenji-kalenji-run-lightThe¬†Kalenji Run Light¬†is a handy way to make yourself super visible. You just put it over your top layer and you’re good to go. It provides visibility up to 20m ahead of you and it comesw wth a rechargeable battery (though it does last 5 hours). What I really like is that it has rear flashing lights as well, so you’re fully covered.

So basically my key points are:

  • Be seen, either using high-vis clothing or lights (ideally both)
  • Avoid wearing thick layers; you want to be cold when you begin because you will warm up
  • Look for material that is wicking and will protect you from the rain and wind, like a light-weight jacket
  • Wear gloves

How do you stay warm during winter running?

What are your top running accessories?

How do you stay visible running/exercising the dark?

**Full Disclaimer: I was given a Decathlon voucher to spend in their shop in return for this article. All opinions are my own.**