How Waking Up Earlier Helped Me Feel Less Tired!

I’ve always needed LOTS of sleep. Since I was a kid my bed time was always way earlier than anyone else I knew (or know now) but now I’m an adult I’ll happily go to bed at half 8 without complaint.

They used to say you need at least 8 hours sleep in order to fully recharge, but I think that’s been changed to 6 hours now. I feel like a good 6.5 hours is all I really need, and a few years back I realised that I will actually feel worse if I have too much sleep.

IMG_1169

There’s a lot of research about different types of sleep, you can get apps and trackers that will tell you how much ‘useful’ sleep you’ve had and such.

But a while back I decided that I’d just wake up a little bit earlier in the normal working week and see how that affected my tiredness. After a little trial and error I found that waking up around 45 minutes earlier than I had been (and I usually go to sleep around the same sort of time every night) lead me to feeling more awake and refreshed than I had when I’d slept a little longer.

IMG_1168

I was sold! I’ve also tried a few other things to help with getting a good night’s sleep. I’ll put my phone down as soon as I go to bed, and watch tv for a bit before falling asleep. I don’t like to use my phone after around 9:30 if I’m honest, just because it’ll give my brain a little rest. iPhone recently added a feature that takes the blue out of the screen backlight after a time set by you, which is supposed to help your brain switch off and be less active ahead of sleepy time.

I was also sent a few sample products by the brand Kiss the Moon to try out. A couple of balms and face oils.

 

One was a temple balm and one was a face scrub and since my skin is so picky and changeable I didn’t really want to try the scrub. But I do love a nice face oil. I’ve given them all a go and though I didn’t find them to aid my sleep at all, they did have lovely calming scents. There’s three types and each one is aimed towards a different skin type. I decided to take one on holiday to Rome with me.

IMG_0936

The calm oil is my favourite scent of the bunch, but I’ll be honest they’re very ‘herbal’ scented and not really my cup of tea. I did find them to be calming, as I mentioned before, but they didn’t do anything for my skin. I have face oils which when I wake up I can feel they’ve made a difference to the softness of my skin, and with these oils they didn’t seem to make a difference, so I can’t say I’d reach for them. That being said, that’s not the primary point of these. They’re designed to relax you in an essential oil kind of way, and in that this succeeded.

Of all the things I’ve tried out, to help me wake up feeling more refreshed, I’d say setting my alarm to an earlier time was the most successful. It took a couple of attempts to know when was best, but now I’ve done it I’m so pleased I did. My brain has enough time to wake up, I’m not rushing to leave the house, and I’m calm and relaxed. I’m so pleased I did it!

IMG_1167

 

Kiss The Moon sent me a few samples of their products free of charge to give a go. You’ll be able to tell my opinions are my own and I have recieved no financial benefits for posting this article.

How Running Changed the Way I Feel About My Body, For the Better!

I was never an athletic child, I hated doing PE, never went in for sports and in fact the idea of going outside even filled me with dread.

Then we hosted the 2012 Olympics and all of a sudden I became interested – to the point in which I started running. Let’s be honest, I wanted the shiny medals, but I also wanted to see how far I could push my body and what I could get it to achieve.

asics

My affair with running ended abruptly after a series of running injuries that I managed to stretch and yoga out and ultimately ignore until I couldn’t ignore them any more. But this isn’t about that (and if you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll already know the back story). This is about how I now realise how much impact running and fitness had on the way I perceive my body and how I still feel about it.

I’ll start with how it affected my relationship with food. Before I started running I had never really considered food as fuel. Of course I knew it was, but I didn’t ever look at it in a clinical way. I feel like I began to see how different foods would benefit me in different ways, partially in how it would enable me to endure whichever activity I was participating in that day, but also how it could help me recover from those activities too. Once I started thinking this way, I was able to adapt this into creating healthy and useful meals so that it wasn’t all boring ‘healthy’ foods, but also things I looked forward to eating.

I posted in a recent article about how wearing sports bras affected how I felt about my small chest size, but wearing sports clothing also affected how I felt about my body all over. I had never liked the way my stomach looked when I sat down – blobby and rolly and much better if I was standing – and sure, eating well and working out makes a difference to that, but in turn because I knew I was working hard to be healthy and fit my opinion of how my body looked changed. All of a sudden I was proud of each part of my body for enduring what I was putting it through. Because my muscles, for the most part, were keeping up with the demand I was asking of it, I didn’t see my body in a negative light any more – my bum wasn’t shaped any better, my legs weren’t more shapely, my stomach wasn’t more toned – BUT I knew everything was doing its job. I was happy.

lexie3

Even though I have stopped being active in the same ways I was back then, due to injury, I still have most of that mentality. Yes I get a bit fed up if I start to feel bloated, but I know weight is relative, I know my body is strong and relatively healthy – and I know it’s working for me.

 

I’d never felt this way about my body until I started being regularly active, and I really enjoyed the way it made me feel about myself. This isn’t something I’ve forgotten since I’ve become more sedentary, either. I remember how I felt and I don’t lament over it. I’m so pleased I went through this phase, and who knows, it might rear its head again – but until then I’m delighted with the mindset it brought with it.

Here’s to feeling fit, healthy and happy with myself.

Shutterbug’s Holy Grail Beauty List Pt 2

beauty

Here’s part 2 of my beauty and skincare Holy Grail list. If you missed part one, Beauty, you can read it here!

So, on to skin and hair care. I have very very difficult skin. Eczema, folliculitis, sensitive to hot and cold and itchy. It looks okay, but feels horrible most of the time. Over the years I’ve found creams and potions that have helped me feel comfortable and here are the best ones I’ve found!

hydra

Let’s start with Garnier Hydra Lock. This formula has been marketed by Garnier in several different guises. Hydra Lock is the most recent. This cream is thick, unscented and has maple extract in it. It’s the only thing that would settle my legs after shaving, before I started lasering them (that’s for another blog, another day!). I use it on my hands daily and it keeps them hydrated enough to settle the eczema.

sugarbaby

On a similar note, my new favourite body cream is Aloe Sailor by Sugar Baby. I actually won this in a pass-the-parcel when I was in Ibiza last year. The friend who put the gifts together had picked this up in TK Maxx because it fit with the nautical theme of the holiday, however it appears this is an Aussie brand and you can’t get it anywhere here – if I’m wrong I’d love to know where I can get it. But until then I’ve been using this sparingly so I don’t run out! It’s actually a self-tan prep cream and has aloe vera in it to soothe skin that’s been over exposed to the sun. It was great in Ibiza to soothe after sunbathing and was actually the only thing that helped with the burn after I received a jelly fish sting. But since then I’ve found it also helps with wind chapping I have experienced this winter on my legs and arms. It’s a miracle cream. Oh, and it smells of coconuts and reminds me of summer. I just love it, and I want more!

eqyptian

Egyptian Magic is an oil based cream containing all natural ingredients like olive oil, honey and bee pollen. It claims to work on all sort of skin ailments, and I know for a fact it works on burns and dry skin. I tend to use it on my cuticles for the most part. It’s not cheap but I picked my tub up with a mini tub in Costco! It’s great to have in the cupboard as an all-rounder.

frizzease

Moving onto hair care, now. I have very fine, limp hair and it’s not very thick. In order to keep it in check, I’ve been using John Frieda’s Secret Agent from the Frizz Ease collection for around 15 years. It’s truly the only thing that tames my baby hair and flyaways. It’s lightweight and doesn’t make my hair look or feel greasy. It washes out fine and doesn’t bother my scalp. It’s a wonder cream!

oil

The idea of adding oil to my hair always seemed absurd, but my hair dresser used Moroccan Oil one time, and I was amazed at how it made my hair feel. It wasn’t greasy or heavy. In fact my hair felt conditioned, lighter than usual, shiner and it dried faster! So I’ve been using it ever since. A bottle lasts forever so I don’t mind the investment. I use it once every couple of weeks and I only need two pumps. Plus it smells amazing!

bumble

The last product to tell you about isn’t a new product. I lusted after Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray since I was a teenager. Having tried sea salt sprays in the past, to try and create texture, fullness and something which resembled a beach wave in my hair, nothing had worked. My hair is poker straight and doesn’t hold a curl unless it’s set with industrial strength hair spray. So I splurged and picked up a bottle – I actually bought the mini size first to make sure it worked. And it did! This spray creates a matte look to your hair, but if I spray enough on my wet hair, twist it up and let it dry naturally, I usually get up to 2 day’s worth of beachy hair! It’s really changed my look and makes my less frustrated with my limp lank hair – usually by this stage in growing my hair out I’m so frustrated with it just hanging there that I get it cut short, but now I’m loving the length and look, and this spray is why!

So that’s it! The beauty and skincare products I’m loving at the moment. I’ve picked up a few new things I’m yet to form opinions on yet (products by TheBalm, NYX and some of the UDxGwen range) I’ll be sure to review in time, and also share some of the fabulous things I’m sent in my GlossyBox.

Stay tuned!

2 Years In – My Running Tips

I will shortly be celebrating my 2 years runniversary! Amazing that I’ve stuck at it this long, and it wasn’t a fad. Who knew?

When I started out running I really wanted to get advice from people like me – not just running magazines and sports therapists. I did get some great tips from bloggers and friends which really helped. So I thought I might do the same, and share some of the do’s and dont’s I’ve learned along the way, in the hope that it might help some of you. Since the weather is improving and spring is here, running season is kicking off – so here goes!

  • Running is free – this is true, but you really must invest in good shoes if you’re serious about running regularly. My first pair of shoes, Nike Pegasus, were wonderful for a while, but too wide for my feet it turns out. Get a gait analysis and go to a shop that has more than one brand, so you don’t just get lumbered with the best shoe that ONE brand can offer. You need the best shoe for you!

000519069

  • Everyone learns at different speeds. Everyone starts from a different fitness level. Everyone is different. Some people will run a mile on their first outing, and others will take a month before they can manage a mile. The important thing is you laced up and went out.
  • If you run, you’re a runner. (p.s You’ll hate it if anyone calls you a jogger!)
  • Speed isn’t everything. When I started running I was impressed with the speed I could run a mile. But I was shattered after it and wanted to throw up. I soon realised speed isn’t the be all end all – it’s finishing that matters.
  • Leading on from this, don’t compare yourself with others. This is much harder than it sounds. Two years in I still berate myself for not running as fast, as far or as often as another person. But they might be lighter than me, or younger than me, or just simply more athletic. They also might be pushing too hard and end up with injury.
  • Listen to your body. I’ve had two bouts of injury, ITB and runner’s knee. I ran too far too quickly and didn’t listen to the niggles when they happened. At the time I was working in a two storey shop on my feet all day, and would spent days between runs in pain, taking painkillers to make it through the day. It’s not worth it. But if you train smart you can avoid it.
  • Running is bad for your joints – When I started telling people I was taking up running, I heard it all. Mostly that running wrecks your joints. It’s true to an extent, but it’s also true for all high impact sports if you don’t take care of your form and your body between run days…..
  • …which leads to…. Complement your running with core work and weight training. You’re putting your body under lots of stress every time you pound the street. I do a yoga session which is designed to help strengthen and stretch my body twice a week. I do arm and leg weight sessions once a week, focussing on my weaker areas when I need to (leg press to strengthen quads and glutes really help prevent further ITB injury). I work on arms, because when you get near to the end of a long run that can be all you have to help propel you on!) and core work which really helps with my form (especially posture).
  • You’ll have really good runs, and you’ll also have crap ones. Lots of crap ones. But at least you’re running!
  • Run with friends. It’s amazing how much more enjoyable running alongside someone else is. You don’t need to chat, just run!

stage

  • Enter races! If you don’t decide to join a club or have a running buddy then you might not know the joys of running in a group. And if you are familiar with how fun that is, then you must experience the anticipation and camaraderie of running an organised race. Plus goodie bags and medals…. it’s a win win!

mkm5

  • You will become obsessed. I know I told you running is free, which is technically true, but you’ll want ALL the clothes and ALL the accessories and to enter ALL the races. You have been warned. You will also, all of a sudden, be absolutely fine wearing garish neon colours and loud prints you would never have dreamed of wearing before!

UVtunnel

  • Never use nutrition on race day that you haven’t trained with. You don’t want to be caught short in the middle of a race because you’ve tried a new gel that day and it’s given you the two bob bits.
  • Hydrate in the days leading up to a race. If you’re chugging on water the morning of your event all you’ll do is need to pee every ten minutes. Portaloos are not your friend. 
  • One of the best bits of advice I read when I started out: “Never trust a fart after a mile” Crude but true.
  • You will all of a sudden be fine with discussing your bowel movements (and girls, your monthlies) with other runners, and you know, everyone else.
  • Don’t put too much pressure on yourself – I’ve been there. I still go there. If I have a race coming up, I want to be the best I can be. But because of this I put so much pressure on myself that it stops being fun to train. Don’t fall into that trap.
  • Just because you ran for ten minutes doesn’t mean you can go and eat a McDonalds. But I actually found that I went right off most fast food and fatty snacks when I started running and I really just wanted a banana….. I still do get the occasional burger though…. beef’s good protein, right?
  • Most of all enjoy it! You’ve chosen a great, social sport, that will get you healthy and outside into the fresh air…. and lots and lots of shiny medals!

Like Sticking a Straw in a Coconut

I’m all about the hydration especially when summer comes along. Iced tea has always been a firm favourite when the weather gets hot, but it’s always in the back of my mind that I should maybe try something without caffeine.

Last year when I started running I was on the look out for a drink that was refreshing and tasty but was something other than water, post race. I’d heard a little about coconut water and when I saw Vita Coco in a store I bought one. It’s an odd taste when you first try coconut water, because for some reason you expect it to taste like coconut milk… well I did. My surprise was a positive one and I became hooked! I bought the stuff in bulk from Costco and always had a bottle in my bag to drink as soon as I’d finished a race. I don’t know why but it seemed to bring me back to myself after the running delirium that I usually suffer!

When a friend asked me what they could bring for me to eat or drink at the end of my half marathon a few months ago the only thing I asked for was Vita Coco!

57455_10154100950990716_9080735549987637503_o

Since then they’ve brought out loads of flavours and I was lucky enough to be sent a box full of the lovely stuff to try and review so I can share with you how amazing it is. Now you’re probably thinking why Vita Coco – isn’t all coconut water the same? Well, no. I was spoiled by the fact that I chose this brand first, but will admit when out and about I have tried other brands – and other brands are just bleurgh. Some are made from concentrate and taste milky. One I tried tasted exactly like Ferrero Rocher flavoured water (really odd and not at all nice). So I stick to Vita Coco.

vitacoco

Pictured are all the flavours they sent me, and I have also bought some of their new lemonade flavour myself to try.

Their coconut water is 100% natural, pasteurized goodness which means it’s suitable for pregnant ladies. It’s gluten and dairy free, kosher and is vegan approved. It’s packed full of electrolytes (which is why it’s so good after a run) and contains no fat or cholesterol. All the sugars are natural from their fruit purees and juices. All these factors make it amazing and healthy and really good post workout, but especially post run or bike, I have found.

So what were the flavours like?

Let’s start with plain original coconut water, which is really anything but plain. It’s refreshing and mildly coconutty. It’s delicious and wonderful and you just have to try it! Peach and Mango was the first flavoured carton I tried. I found it really pleasant with the fruit flavours subtle enough that neither overpowered the other. Orange was tasty, even though I don’t really like orange flavoured things it was refreshing and not too acidic. Acai and pomegranate was an odd taste that I couldn’t compare with anything for a long while. I drank it from the carton so I don’t know what colour the juice was but it tasted red and kind of grapey – after a while the only comparison I could make was cloudy honeydew melon! Pineapple was definitely my favourite of the flavoured waters. I’d tried this flavour for the very first time at my half marathon and it was amazing and refreshing. The burst of pineapple and refreshing coconut had echos of pina colada (which I love!) and was amazing on my taste buds after two and a half hours of running and warm water!

vitacocop

Since then I have bought a load of cartons from Costco as they’ve just started stocking the flavours – and also the new lemonade!

I adore american lemonade so when I heard Vita Coco were bringing out their own version I was so excited. I bought a couple of cartons from Whole Foods and was really pleased with the product. It’s got a very strong lemony flavour, so not subtle like the others so you can only call it lemonade rather than coconut water with lemon. It might be slightly strong for me since I suffer with heartburn when I have very acidic foods but I will definitely try it again!

Vita Coco have made a few packaging improvements since I first started buying it, mainly the screw top on the small cartons. There used to be a foil lid that you peeled back to drink, or stuck a straw into, but now they’ve added a lid which is resealable – good idea Vita Coco! Although saying that it was very easy to gulp the whole lot down after a run!

So the verdict is – drink coconut water and make sure it’s Vita Coco – you’ll never go back!

Vita Coco provided me with some free samples to review, but I have spent lots of my own money on their product in the past and will continue to in the future, coz it’s just so darn yummy! All the opinions in this review are my own. Now go and make some opinions on their product of your own!

Follow on Bloglovin

Everything But The Cow

During my recent, and wonderful, encounter at the Lexie pop up shop at BoxPark, I was lucky enough to be given a free sample of a soy milk protein drink by a brand called Everything But The Cow. Their drinks boast all natural ingredients with no dairy and only sweetened with a little honey.

I was given the Strawberry and Raspberry flavour to try and after tasting it I knew I wanted to try the rest of the range. After having a lovely chat with one of their reps on twitter they agreed to send me a sample of each of their flavours.

Their drinks are made from a unique mix of over 20% real fruit and 7g of plant protein. This provides a perfect balance of carbohydrates and protein which is especially good for pre and post workout recovery, but it’s also great as a super-healthy anytime protein boost!

What’s more is their shakes are both made and packaged in Somerset, so the whole kit and caboodle is home-grown!

ebtc1

I’ve been trying to move away from milk for a while now, replacing it with coconut milk, which I’m loving, but I hadn’t tried soy milk until I tried these shakes. I was excited to try the Banana and Kiwi one especially, since I love kiwi flavour anything, but was unsure about the banana part. I really liked this flavour and told them as much on twitter (they’re a lovely lot, go and say hi!) I really don’t like banana flavoured things (I struggle with bananas in general) but the guys at EBTC pointed out they use real bananas instead of flavouring and that’s why people respond to the flavour favourably. They also commented that people make smoothies with real fruit in their kitchens so why would EBTC use anything less in their product? Well said!

photo 4

The kiwi flavour really came through and the banana was smooth and subtle in the background. The strawberry and raspberry flavour was similar to a strawberry smoothie with a raspberry edge. I think I tasted the soy a bit more in this flavour, which isn’t a bad thing, but was unusual since I’m not used to the taste.

So two down, and one to go….. Bring on the spring heat wave and the EBTC twitter account came up trumps again by mentioning they’d been experimenting with a carton of shake by sticking it in the freezer and making a protein slushie! An inspired idea, I spoke to them and they said to shake the drink to mix it and then pop it in the fridge. Once frozen all you do is cut it open and squeeze it out!

I had intended on letting it part freeze and then mushing it up inside the packaging, squeezing it into the glass and sucking it up with a straw. But I’m easily distracted and by the time I got around to removing it from the freezer it was solid. But hey, I rolled with it. Cutting it open and giving it a little encouragement, it plopped out into my cup and I was able to easily shave it down with a spoon creating a granita type desert. I’m not a massive fan of orange flavoured anything so this was a perfect way to try the Orange and Mango shake.

photo

I loved it. It was almost too much for one dessert and would have easily split between two people. I can see this being perfect to take on a picnic – kids wouldn’t realise it was healthy! With none of the nasties in it I felt very saintly digging in. Healthy doesn’t mean tasteless or boring!

As an added bonus, Everything But The Cow are supplying post race drinks at the Women’s Running 10k Series this year – I’m running Milton Keynes’ race so more yummy shakes for me!

You can buy Everything But The Cow from:

Holland & Barrett
Ocado
​Harrods
Whole Foods Market
As Nature Intended

Partridges
The Natural Kitchen

Incidentally Holland & Barrett were offering buy one get a second for a penny until a few days ago, so keep an eye out for more promotions like that in the future!

These drinks are super yummy, very healthy and perfectly transportable. They’re best drunk cold from the fridge, but I would say popping one in your gym back as you leave the house couldn’t hurt. You’ll get that much-needed recovery protein and carbs you need after you’ve been working out.

Everything But The Cow provided me with a sample of each of their flavours free of charge. This review is my own opinion of their products – I’d love to hear yours!

Follow on Bloglovin

The Weight Debate

I’ve never been fat. I’ve been chubby, chunky, skinny, bony. I’ve never been an extreme of fat or thin in my opinion. But I have been a victim of prejudice due to my weight.

My first full-time job was at a store for a fashion brand whose target age range was between 35-65. Giving advice in the fitting rooms to women who were all shapes and sizes, genuinely complementing their choice of outfit and telling them how much what they chose suited them was often thrown back in my face with an “It’s okay for you being so skinny” or something similar. Their comments reeked of their own insecurities, but at 18 years old it’s bound to leave doubts. It always made me angry and I wondered whether they would be as accommodating to that kind of comment had the roles been reversed and I had told them how much their fat bums had filled out those trousers nicely.

My circle of friends includes a great deal of people who are training for things, whether it be body building shows or athletics, diet is a huge part of this. You need to be head strong, regimented and focussed with what you’re putting into your body to fuel your sport. In the last few months they have ALL mentioned to me times in which their diets have been criticised or not understood. Even close family or friends saying ‘surely one [insert non diet food here] won’t kill you’ or ‘It’s a shame diet stops people from having a good time’. (FYI it doesn’t, but comments like that do.)

Apparently if you’re trying to eat healthy you’re not having fun, you only eating ‘rabbit food’ or you must be rich because eating healthily is so expensive. If you’re vegetarian, vegan or like the off falafel you’re a hippy.

Last night I was flicking through my instagram feed and I saw a post from Boux Avenue. They’re a lingerie company and they pride themselves on promoting curvy women. They’re not a plus size company nor are they promoting skinny sticks. They over airbrush their product photos, but who hasn’t gotten a little heavy-handed with Photoshop from time to time? I love their brand, their product and their ethos. They posted a screen shot from a new tv advert but it wasn’t the photo that interested me, rather the comments.

weight

The far left screen grab (top comment) is what kicked off the debate, and I don’t know about you but the objections from the person named laudurr scream of some kind of insecurity.  I don’t know whether she’s just been worn down by people constantly telling her she’s too skinny, anorexic or needs to eat more. I don’t know why she chimed in so quickly and so defensively, only she’ll know that, but it seems everyone’s a victim whether they’re curvy or skinny, and the original comment really pushed her button in a strong way. The funny thing is, the two people having this argument are on the same side. Both want to see all sizes of healthy women excepted.

A fellow blogger is having problems at work at the moment. She’s a trail runner and recently completed the London Marathon. She’s still training for events and as a result will eat what she needs to fuel her sport. Her boss doesn’t understand and will make comments in front of other colleagues questioning whether she’s ‘allowed to eat that’ or saying ‘none for you’ when treats are put in front of the team. And now other colleagues are making comments. I don’t know how I would cope in a situation like that.

For all people who are on restrictive diets it requires focus, dedication and SO much mental strength the maintain it. It’s similar to an alcoholic staying on the wagon. If you’re on a carb free diet leaning down for a show, for example, and you have just one bite of something with carbs in it’s all over. You might as well eat the whole pizza. What people who are dieting/fueling/competing need is support. When going out for an event or  party with friends and you can’t have even one sip of wine because it breaks your eating plan you shouldn’t have to justify why – especially to friends. I know people who out themselves as alcoholics when they’re at functions just so that they don’t get bullied for not having a drink. They get more kudos from this than if they had told the truth about alcohol having too many calories for their diet – “what a party pooper” they’d say.

The discussions of weight, health and diet are fire starters. They flick a switch in people’s emotions, remind them of the time they were/are picked on. It makes them think of that holiday photo sat on the beach in a swim suit that was a little too tight. It reminds them of the second helping of desert they had last night and then washed it down with another glass of wine. It makes people think of gluttony, greed and selfishness. It’s so emotion evoking that when they see someone so focussed and driven and achieving success it makes them feel like a failure. They resent the apparently virtuous person in front of them, and their gentle persuasion to push them off the pedestal they’ve just put them on will make them feel better if they succeed. They don’t understand your diet, they don’t understand your drive and they really don’t have the will power. They know it, you know it, but it’s you who ends up feeling rubbish.

People have their own demons, their own struggles and their own prejudices. It’s so frustrating that it’s not the norm to support, listen or understand. What people need is a pat on the back, an ear to listen and understand, and so much support. I know I’m inspired by healthy ‘plus sized’ people who are conscious of diet, activity and confident that they look amazing. I’m inspired by people who work hard for their desired body shape and size. I’m inspired by those who eat well to fuel their lifestyle, enjoy it and excel at it. As long as you’re not doing damage to your body or mind I support you, and I wish more people felt the same.

Follow on Bloglovin

 

Taboo or Not Taboo?

It’s strange that these days subjects that were once taboo are acceptable for discussion (sexual preference, sex, disease, toilet habits, mental health) but it’s still unacceptable to talk about pms and periods. I wrote a blog post a few weeks ago which mentioned monthlies and for some reason felt it was necessary to put a disclaimer to that effect at the start of the post. This post got significantly less views and comments than any of my other posts.

It go me to wondering why we are so ashamed to talk about something which is as natural as breathing, eating or having a baby. It’s part of the majority of women’s lives and yet we won’t talk about it. Thankfully I have a great group of like-minded friends who don’t mind chatting about pms and giving advice or sharing hormonal woes. But why do we shun discussions like this. Even a lot of my friends have alternative words for them so they don’t say the actual name when mentioning them. Thankfully I live with an open-minded man who has no issues talking about women’s issues – good for me since I struggle hard every month.

I have a hate/hate relationship with my menstrual cycle. I hate it and equally it hates me. It wasn’t until I was googling ‘running on your period’ the other day that I realised that it’s written about so little. Incidentally people write about sports bras until they’re blue in the boobs but you never see discussions about the correct pants to wear when running either (this was recently remedied by Leah at Naturally Leah) – but I digress.

I planned a long run on Saturday and much to my annoyance found I’d had a visitor in the night. But I’d planned the run so decided to go ahead anyway. The weather being as it was we went to the gym and I began pounding the treadmill, but I started off with a nice jog and decided to run at 10k pace and keep it easy. I stopped after 20 minutes because I thought I was going to faint. I was overly hot, my back ached and my stomach hurt. It was so defeating having to stop because of a normal monthly occurrence – and at 30 I should be used to dealing with this.

The thing is I’ve been struggling with meds over the last 6 months, trying different pills and it’s messing with my hormones and as such my cycle. Since I’ve only been running 9 months I’m a novice at dealing with it when it comes. And it likes to arrive on important race days too – wonderful.

They say a little light exercise can help with cramps, but what of the mood changes? Running’s tough. You need your mind and motivation and not to give up. But PMS ruins this. It makes you want to stay at home in your sweat pants, nursing your swollen stomach and sore boobs eating chocolate and trying not to sob at toilet roll commercials. It makes you want to give up when you’d normally carry on and it takes away most of your positive thinking. It makes you harder on yourself when you can’t do what you set out to do and fools you into thinking you won’t do any better next time. Well it does for me. It makes me hot, fed up, dehydrated and dizzy and generally impossible.

So I’m struggling and hoping that going forward, once a month, this won’t be a normal occurrence. And I hope that going forward people won’t be afraid to talk about these things as much. A bit of research and I dug out a few blogs about the science behind how menstruation effects running performance and they made me feel a little better. Things about estrogen levels on certain days – it also mentioned on the 2nd or 3rd day of your cycle you might get a burst of energy which can make you feel like you can run forever. I tested that this morning and I felt better than Saturday and didn’t want to pass out, but wasn’t overwhelmed by unrelenting energy.

I feel a bit bitter towards men not having these issues. They can run, swim, bike etc whenever they like, but us girls have to plan months ahead when signing up for races or taking a holiday, so they know what they’re going to have to deal with. I’ve often joked that I’d opt for a hysterectomy if you could so I wouldn’t have to deal with it. Who knows – if I run enough they might just stop altogether. Here’s hoping!

Follow on Bloglovin

Goodbye January

I cannot believe that January is over already! Doesn’t time fly?

This month has been varied, difficult, tiring and motivating. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

  • Training. Plans were put in place at the end of last year and we’ve spent this month easing into them so we can successfully complete our first marathon on May Day bank holiday. It’s taking some adjusting to due to work schedules, weather and trying to keep a balance between training and resting. I think we’re doing okay – not amazing but I’m not worried that we’ll complete our training. During the period between now and the actual half marathon we have two races planned in, a 5k and a 10k which will complement our training and give us some benchmarks on our progress (and hopefully some PBs!).
  • Planking. I started doing the 30 day plank challenge and I’m about half way through. Currently on 1.30 mins and it’s getting harder. I’m starting to get back pain whilst doing it, so I’m really concentrating on my form whilst I’m doing it and trying to adjust so that I’m definitely using my core and not my back to stay up.
  • Eating. We’ve been buying a lot more chicken and different kinds of veg, eating more pasta and just more in general. I’m trying to eat more regularly, and by adding an 11am and 4pm snack to my working day I have been less hungry when I get to my meals. I’m trying to teach my body not to hold onto the food I’m putting in and choosing foods that will give me energy and help with recovery depending on the workouts I’m doing on that day.
  • Seeing my friends. I’ve seen so much of my friends this month, it was a wonderful continuation of Christmas. I’ve been out at the weekend 3 times in as many weeks. It’s been amazing but I think I need to slow it down now and concentrate on training and resting properly on my rest days.
  • Lusting over nail varnishes! I bought the new Gwen Stefani minis from OPI with some vouchers I got for Christmas. I love them all and have tried out some nail art with them this weekend. It’s a tad messy but the overall finish was okay.

photo 1

photo 2

  • Planning for February. We are taking our niece to see Taylor Swift at the O2 on Tuesday and we can’t wait! It’s going to be an amazing day – I’m just as excited as she is! We also have tickets to see Dog Day Afternoon at the Southbank BFI as part of an Al Pacino season they’re doing and the following weekend we are seeing Pixar in Concert at the Royal Albert Hall – all Pixar music played by an orchestra. These two events bookend my week off work, when I’m hoping to do some training, chilling, reading and finally do some things to the house!

It’s been a pretty good month and I’m really looking forward to February and seeing how much I can squeeze into it. I’m really interested in seeing how my fitness can improve this month and if I manage the 5 minute plank at the end of my challenge!

Follow on Bloglovin

This Week I Have Been Mostly

This week has been all about feeling better. Last weekend was a write off because Gary and I had what we thought was a cold and turned out to be a viral infection. It knocked us both for six and meant we had to delay starting our half marathon training. We did, however start to feel well enough midweek to make a visit to the gym and do some weight training, followed by an easy 2 mile run on Thursday evening after work. It was the first time we’d run in the dark and we found a nice little route looping where we live. It’s well-lit and doesn’t get too muddy, though the pathways are a little uneven at points so you do need to concentrate – I don’t think I’d do well trail running!

photo 1

I wrapped up warm and took advantage of a rain free evening. My Garmin had run out of battery so I ran with the Nike running app on my phone but had accidentally set it to pause every time I stopped running and so when I waited to cross a road it paused without me realising. Half a mile later I noticed the distance hadn’t moved and worked out what had gone wrong. Needless to say I was a bit miffed – especially since as I was wearing gloves I couldn’t get it going again myself. That was the first run record I have ever discarded. Naughty Nike app.

Strength training has been going well too and I can feel it making a difference to my running. I’m hoping the work I’m doing on my legs will reduce the amount of injury I suffer down to ITB and runner’s knee pain (not to mention how great my arms will look in the summer!). The run on Thursday was great with only a small knee niggle as I ran back towards the house. Today we went for another run around the same route and I felt no pain at all. Our training plan will have us running at least 4 times a week with rest days at the gym working on strength. We plan on working in some core exercises to be done at home too. For Christmas I received a Moleskine journal aimed at health and wellbeing. I’m really looking forward to using it and getting something down on paper.

Because we’re out of the house so much at the moment and being so active, food has become a real point of focus for us. We always try to eat healthily but we can be a bit lazy and buy prepackaged meals that are easy to whack into the oven and leave for 20 mins. But now we need healthy hearty food pretty quickly when we get in from running or the gym and we need it to be filling too. I’ve been trying to make the long-winded meals at the weekend and make enough for 4 people that we can eat half of that evening and then chill the rest to reheat  in the week. I’ve also been making pasta bakes at the weekends to portion out and take to work for lunches so I can get my carb fix before I head for my work out. I’m really enjoying trying new foods out and my herb and spice cupboard has never looked so good!

Pinterest is a god send when looking for recipies and this time of year it’s full to bursting with fantastic healthy food ideas. The latest one I’ve tried is for cheesy broccoli orzo which has made enough for two good-sized portions to take to work. It tasted great hot so I’m hoping it survives a nuke in the microwave at the office!

photo 2

Next weekend I’m excited to get the slow cooker out and give it its first spin of the year. I really really love food – can you tell?

As well as working out and eating, this week I have been painting my nails (a lot) so that I can give all my new bottles a try. Not too sure on the Nails Inc Leather or Sprinkles. I am looking forward to trying the chrome and hologram ones soon though. I’m also intrigued by the Gwen Stefani OPI range that’s about to come out. Not blown away by the shades, but intrigued by the new technology.

I’ve been keeping up with my Q&A journal and reading all your blogs. I’m loving the amount of training I’m seeing, healthy eating and positive motivated people –  go you! I’m constantly inspired by you all 🙂

Next week for me is all about getting my first full week of training done, eating well and working hard because next weekend I intend to play hard. Saturday night is girl’s night and we are going for a boogie – I can’t wait!

Follow on Bloglovin