How to Nail the Morning Routine

I have another colloborative post for you guys today, all about a morning routine. I am a HUGE routine-based person. I literally have my morning’s down to the minute… clothes laid out, gym bag ready, all my food sorted. Literally most work day mornings are identical. I mean it’s quite anal I’ll give you that, but I love how much time it saves me and how much less mental energy I have to exert when it’s half past stupid in the morning… hope you enjoy the article 🙂

There’s no point in hiding from the truth: mornings can truly suck, if not always, then at least often. Our alarms go off, and all we want to do is spend a little extra time in bed, but nope, we can’t — there’s that annoying old thing called life calling, and we have to rush around getting ready and then take ourselves off to work. But what if we could change the way we think about the mornings? What if we could — oh god — actually begin to enjoy them? Well, perhaps we can, if we make some small changes. Below, we take a look at a few ways you can make your mornings work for you.

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Sleep Well

First thing’s first: make sure you’re getting a good night’s sleep. There’s a big difference in our moods in the mornings following a splendid night of rest, and one where we barely got a few hours under our belt. If you’re consistently finding it difficult to hit the land of Nod, then look at changing your pre-sleep routine. Avoiding screen time, and taking the time to calm down your mind (be it through meditation, taking a bath, or reading) will do wonders.

Be Prepared

We might normally be able to take things in our stride, but first thing in the morning? Nope, at that time of day, even small things can knock us off stride. So make sure that you’re prepared for your mornings — it’ll make everything much smoother. First, keep things simple — an easy to make, healthy breakfast will get your day off to a good start. Second, keep the essentials in stock. If you’re a coffee lover (and who isn’t?), then set a subscription to TwoChimpsCoffee.com — you’ll get a regular delivery, so you never have that “oh no, I’m out of coffee” moment first thing in the morning.

A Spot of Exercise

One of the problems many people have first thing in the morning is that, oh, they’re so tired, all they want to do is stay in bed. To get around this torturous moment, it’s recommended that you put as much distance between you and your sleeping self as possible. Exercise is a terrific way to do this. Don’t overthink it — just get up and go for a short run. Even ten minutes will be enough to get the blood pumping. Once you get back, a cold shower will burst you into life — you will be ready to face the day. People hate the idea of cold showers, but there’s nothing like stepping out, feeling completely refreshed. Give it a go!

Calm and Relaxed

Everything is going to suck if you feel rushed, so why not slow down the time? By getting up earlier, you’ll have a chance to have a calm and relaxing morning. Spend some time nursing a cup of coffee, reading, enjoying the silence. It’ll make the day feel longer, and give you more time to enjoy for yourself — people who get up later have work on their mind all day! 

Do you exercise in the morning?

Do you have a set routine that you stick to?

What are your morning tips?

Simple Ways To Stay Fit On Your Summer Vacation

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Okay, so your summer vacation might be your opportunity to get away from it all, but that doesn’t mean you should use it as an excuse to escape your health and fitness goals. You will only sabotage the hard work you have put in if you do, and you will have to work even harder when you’re back on home ground to get yourself back up to your desired levels.

To help you keep to your goals then, here are some suggestions. 

#1: Choose the right hotel

Most hotels have a swimming pool attached to them, so there will be some opportunities for exercise. And to ensure you don’t lose motivation for the gym, most hotels have some equipment for guests to use, whether that’s in the rooms they are staying in, or on another floor of the hotel. These things generally come as standard, so you shouldn’t have any excuses not to exercise during the day. 

However, some hotels have set packages for fitness-focussed guests, so you might consider these when you’re looking for a place to stay. You can see a few examples by following the previous link; hotels with fitness classes, personal trainers, Olympic size swimming pools, and dedicated running tracks. If you’re serious about fitness, you might look for similar when you’re thinking about your vacay.

#2: Do more than sit on the beach

Especially when you’re on a beach vacation, you do deserve some time relaxing under the sun. However, if you want a beach-fit body, you should do more than sit under a shaded umbrella eating ice cream and drinking cocktails all day. After all, you want to look good in your summer outfits, and these wonderful summer accessories complete your beach look after getting your body ready, so let them act as incentives to stay fit.

So, why not play volleyball on the beach? Or go for a run? You could play games with your kids too, take a swim in the ocean, or join a beachfront Yoga class. You might even try surfing, or moving away from the beach, you could take a hike if there are any trails nearby. Make the effort to do something, and then take opportunities to unwind, perhaps opting for healthier summer drinks when you’re sat lounging on the beach with a good book.

#3: Forget the tour bus

If you’re heading away on a sightseeing trip, you might be tempted to hop on and off tour buses when you’re getting from A to B. Our advice? Don’t! Not only will you stay fit if you use your two legs when traversing the towns and cities of your holiday destination, but you might potentially see more too if you give yourself a better opportunity to explore. And if you get tired of walking, you might consider renting a bike to get around, be that from your hotel if they offer them, or from any bike hire service in the place you are visiting. 

You can still keep to your fitness targets while you’re away, so don’t lose sight of them. Follow these suggestions, and you will maintain your beach-fit body all summer long.

How do you stay fit on holiday?

Do you run when you go abroad?

Silver Biotics

A few weeks ago I was sent quite a few products from Silver Biotics, a company who specialise in using silver to help keep you in good health.

To be completely honest, I’ve never heard of silver being good for your health. But it was quite cool to see the range of products this company has, from improving your immune system to wound dressing. Apparently it can protect your body from infection, prevent illness and help you recover from injury. Interestingly, back in the day silver coins were used in casks of water to prevent bacteria growing!

Silver Biotics have created this “advanced nano-silver” compound that is meant to do great things for your body. So I tested a few of their products…

Immune Support

I’ve been taking the immune support for a couple of weeks. It’s a liquid that you drink (a teaspoon three times a day).

I won’t lie it actually tastes pretty grim, but I have a great technique of swigging some back and chasing it immediately with water. Now I no longer taste it.

Taking this apparently helps boost the immune system (happily it’s also vegan so I was able to continue taking it during my vegan challenge). When I began writing this I had’t been ill for a while but then I got sick last Friday/Saturday but I’m not sure if that was a virus or something to do with what I ate. So I think it’s unfair to say this failed. Who knows.

Tooth Paste

This is a “triple action formula” containing their silver compound, Xylitol and peppermint oil. It’s natural and organic, very minty and leaves my mouth feeling very clean. I like this!

Teeth Whitening Paste

This is similar to the tooth paste but aims to whiten your teeth. It contains SilverSol, Above-Sea Coral Calcium, Xylitol and essential oils. From the website it says that “Above-Sea Coral Calcium helps to clean, whiten and re-mineralize your teeth”. I haven’t used it for that long but my teeth feel very clean. Whiter? Maybe but I can’t really tell.

Hand Cream

This is meant to help dry and damaged skin, and again contains their silver compound, Hyaluronic Acid, Coconut Oil and Vitamin E.

This was lovely! It was quite a thick cream but it rubbed in really well and it wasn’t greasy at all. My hands felt lovely and smooth. I had a lavender scented one, a grapefruit scented one and an unscented one. It was nice to have a hand cream that was unscented as sometimes scented creams can be a bit much (though the lavender was nice).

Armor Gel

So this is a gel you use on wounds (like open cuts and burns). At first I was like “yeah when am I going to test this??” and then I got some curling irons for my birthday and burnt my face. Silver linings eh (OH SNAP LOOK AT THAT PUN).

It’s very cooling and soothing and is supposed to last up to three days though I don’t really understand this if you wash your face… It can even be used for your pets apparently! There seems to be a lot of independent studies that back up the company’s claims as well, so that’s reassuring 🙂

It does feel nice on my burn and genuinely my burn has all but disappeared. It absorbs really nicely and doesn’t feel like it’s on your face afterwards. Granted it wasn’t a third degree burn but it was pretty obvious on my face but I applied this in the morning and night and it really has seemed to make a difference (obviously I have no control to be certain but I personally think it worked).

So although I might not be a full silver convert, I do like a lot of these products as they do feel good quality and nice to use.

Have you ever used silver products before?

What do you look for in a hand cream?

Have you ever burnt yourself?


**Full Disclaimer: I was sent these products for free in exchange for a review on my blog. All opinions are my own.**

Week one of being a vegan

I went into my vegan challenge feeling quite smug and happy. I’d meal prepped like a boss. I had replacement snacks. I was good to go. 

As someone who is very routine-based with the meals I eat during the week (same breakfast, same lunch, similar snacks) I just had to replace them with vegan alternatives. I had my meal pan for the week and felt confident.

Breakfast was easy. I just swapped my whey protein powder in my porridge with a vegan version. I used almond milk already so that was fine.

The Form vegan protein I tried initially (chocolate salted caramel flavour) was delicious and gave a good consistency to my porridge (super stodgy, which I love) but I didn’t feel great afterwards. I felt a little sick and like it was a rock in my tummy.

The MyProtein Vegan protein powder however sat far better in my stomach. Sadly the taste was far inferior (I had the chocolate flavour). For feeling better afterwards though, I’ll stick with the MyProtein.

For lunches at work I’d meal prepped a roasted beetroot, butternut squash salad with an olive oil based dressing (getting my calories wherever I can!) for two days and a lentil chickpea curry for three days. The beetroot meal was delicious, filling and left me feeling good.

The curry was a different story. While very tasty and filling, it left me feeling extremely bloated and very, well, windy. I probably further compounded this issue by then having a vegan salad on the same day when Kyle and I went to the cinema. As it’s only around 220 calories I decided to throw in a load of chickpeas to bulk it out and up the protein.

This meant that on Wednesday I felt dreadful. I don’t mean to go too much TMI here but I was literally needing to fart ALL THE TIME. This is awkward when you work among people in an office. I kept having to go to the loo or just hold them in which just made me feel even worse. I looked pregnant as well how much my stomach was bloating.

For Wednesday dinner Kyle and I went to a pizza place called Popsi’s in Southampton before we saw the Bodyguard music show and I was able to have something non-bean related.

I had a mushroom fake cheese bread starter, followed by a pizza with fake pepperoni, chicken and cheese on it and then churro nuggets with a hazelnut chocolate sauce (all vegan of course).It was quite nice (to be honest, at this point I was happy with anything that wasn’t a salad or a chickpea) but it tasted very “samey”.

Like the meat was all very tasteless and the cheese wasn’t cheesy at all. I enjoyed it don’t get me wrong, but it definitely was more of a “better than nothing” rather than a “better than the real thing” kind of meal.

The churros though were GOOD. Blobs of sugary chocolaty goodness.
Sick of feeling bloated, the next day needed a change. I had my lentil curry lunch planned but I couldn’t face it so popped it into the freezer.

My dad gave me an onion soup he had in the fridge and I made a little salad to go with it (#health). I felt SO much better. It wasn’t the best lunch in the world and it contained minimal protein but I enjoyed it and it caused ZERO bloating issues.

I caved by Friday and bought a fake meat substitute to throw in a salad. A kebab style meat thing from Vivera. Their range looks really good and it was really nice. I’d go as far to say that I’d eat this after my vegan challenge. It’s quite expensive though (£3 for a pack and I ate it in one…).

Unfortunately I didn’t read that you had to cook it before eating!! But it tasted fine and I had no ill effects… it’s entirely plant-based so?

Dinner-wise, well I’ve been out twice so that’s helped. Monday night I didn’t fancy what I had planned so ended up with soup with added chickpeas (the start of the chickpea saga…).

Thursday night I had a tofu based meal. I threw in lots of veg and peanut butter to make a sauce and bulk it out a bit and it worked well. But the tofu was a bit bland and sad. I need to work on this as I know I can make it better.

The weekend is where it got tricky. I’m used to having exciting and fun meals… I’ll usually have an Indian takeaway (I love tandoori chicken on the bone) and I’ll probably go out for a meal or two.

Well we still went out for food on Saturday but I just made sure it was vegan-friendly. This did mean we were limited on where we could go and when we turned up and it was absolutely rammed we had to wait for about 20 minutes for a table instead of just going somewhere else like we would normally have done.

The restaurant was the Southsea Village which, after eventually getting a table, was really nice. I went for BBQ pulled jack fruit burger and BBQ pulled jack fruit loaded fries, having been told jack fruit was amazing.

And it was! It was so tasty and had a meaty texture. It was lovely. But because it was essentially the same thing for both it quickly became very samey. I should have chosen a different burger (there were a few vegan options) but I wanted to avoid anything bean-related.

A big upset was getting a cafe we know and love and finding out that the vegan cakes had sold out. Kyle was lovely and offered to not get anything but I told him one of us had to enjoy a slice of cake at least!

Honestly this was the hardest part of the week, watching him eat a slice of cake I could have happily destroyed. I did have a very silly moment of wanting to cry when I saw how good it looked but I quickly pulled myself together. It’s just two weeks, Anna!

Anyway, on to week 2. I’m still going strong, though I have to say it’s a lot harder than I thought.

Have you ever gone vegan?

What’s your go-to easy meal?

Have you ever tried a vegan cake?

Things I’m Loving – December

I’m quite excited about heading into the new year. 2017 has been a solidly good year for me. Full of happiness, good running, delicious food and lovely memories. I hope 2018 will continue these themes! Also I’m quite looking forward to being in an “even numbered” year again – is that odd? Anyway, on to some cool stuff I’m loving lately.

Clinique Sonic System Purifying Cleansing Brush

My skincare regime used to be cold water. Literally nothing else. But times are a-changing! After having my first ever facial last month I’ve given my face a bit more thought. Let’s be honest, I’m certainly not getting any younger and, well, I’m still single sooo…IMG_2263On that note I’ve made a couple of investments to my “beauty regime”. My mother is a terrible influence on me. She recently bought the Clarins version of the cleansing brush and let me try it out (yes we shared brushes, no I don’t care. She’s my mother). It felt amazing and left my face really fresh and clean. Then the next day we ended up in Boots and somehow I’d purchased the Clinique cleaning brush. Almost £100. I actually felt a bit sick when I got home. To be fair, it came with three other products, though I mean for that cost it better have!! (It came with a toner product as well not shown in the photo).

After having used it for a number of weeks I can say I don’t regret buying it. My skin indeed looks clearer and happier. I’m not one for getting spots or have “problem skin” but it definitely looks fresher. Plus it’s fun to use.

The Ordinary Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3% Formula

I don’t actually know what to call this product. I heard about it after listening to the Don’t Salt My Game podcast where they debunked lots of skincare myths. It was one of the products that was recommended to actually work at keeping the skin looking good. It’s also very cheap (£5.50) and didn’t have all the guff and nonsense that other skincare products seem to have.IMG_2264It has a very high concentration of two powerful antioxidants: Resveratrol and Ferulic Acid, which are apparently great antioxidants for the skin.

I just put a couple of drops on my face after using my face buffer and then smooth it in. It’s quite oily but doesn’t leave my skin oily if that makes sense. I really like this product. Together with the buffer my face has really improved. And for someone who quickly gives up with skincare products after I don’t see the point of them, these are things I’ve maintained for a good number of weeks now and really like to use.

eGloves

I was recently sent another pair of eGloves to try out after I bumped into the guy behind the business at a parkrun and he mentioned that my current eGloves looked to be a bit too big for me (they’re a small). He very kindly offered to send me a new pair in extra small in the new range. It was also extremely good timing because I was finding my hands were getting really cold when I ran. The eGloves I originally had were more lightweight gloves which were good when it was chilly but not so much for when the temperatures were really low.IMG_1887When I first popped the new gloves on I knew they were the real deal. These bad boys are seriously warm. They’re also not big and bulky – as some winter gloves are – and still have the cool finger bits that allow you to still be able to use the touch screens of smart phones (so annoying when you have to remove your gloves to do this!). IMG_1983I wore the gloves during the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon and they were perfect. The material is very breathable so even when my hands got hot it didn’t feel like they were sweaty inside. Fully recommend these if you’re looking for some warm running gloves!

Oryx Desert Salt

I was also recently sent a set of salts to use for cooking. Oryx Desert Salt is an unrefined, sun-dried salt, free from additives and preservatives. It contains natural and essential minerals and comes all the way from the Kalahari Desert, where it is ethically and sustainably harvested. And, what I most love, is with every purchase they donate a percentage to the Khomani San and Mier communities who own !xaus Lodge in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.IMG_1917The pack I received is a fab gift box set of three grinders containing coarse salt, smoked salt and wine salt and a cotton refill bag. I also received an apron (see below photo: my dad loves the apron).IMG_2173Yes too much salt can certainly be a bad thing for your health, but used in moderation and sensibly, these salts really add a lovely taste to my dinner. Salt is also good for reducing the dreaded cramp and is important if you sweat a lot (hi all runners). IMG_2175I feel rather posh using them I must say! I personally loved the smoked one as it adds such a subtle tasty edge.IMG_2180

You can buy them in Sainsbury’s.

Next month I hope to talk about my vibrating massage ball (always sounds so wrong…) and my new running watch… 😉

Do you use a lot of salt when cooking?

What is your skincare regime like?

Are there any new products you’ve been loving this month?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent both the gloves and the salt pack for free in return for a review on my blog. All opinons are my own honest ones.**