Thursday, December 31, 2015

An Honest Review of My Year of Running

2015 is officially the year that I ran.

I hated sports at school, at university I went to the gym reasonably regularly, but I only ran outside when training for Air Force selection. I never got to that stage, and so gave up my running endeavours which were based on the Couch25K programme. Running feels like the thing I needed to feel like I'd conquered, however much I love my bike.

The whole running thing, and I know lots of people find the evangelical nature of praise surrounding the sport/hobby annoying, so I'll try not to go on too much, came about because when working away, I didn't always have access to my bike, but needed to exercise one way or another. Having trainers and some workout gear at my work base as well as home is much easier than having a bike in each location (although a girl can dream...).

Another @hellyhansen afternoon run. My poor knees are in shreds.

I'm also lucky enough to have been working with brands like Helly Hansen (tights and top above, both c/o Helly Hansen at the end of 2014) and Mountain Warehouse over the course of the last 18 months, so I've had the benefit of some really brilliant kit. I firmly believe you should run however you're comfortable, but from my experiences on my bike, having kit designed for sports increases my comfort level ten fold and therefore means one less thing to worry about.

I'd be lying if I said I connected with running and enjoyed it- I spent most of January and February forcing myself out of the door three times per week and wondering why I seemed to finding it all steadily harder, not easier. I'm not entirely sure therefore, what possessed me to sign up for a 10km race. I suspect it had something to do with being home alone and not having anyone to stop me. Turned out having a goal of the Nike Women's 10km in June helped give me a reason to drag my sorry behind around a 3-5km loop with regularity.

#thisgirlcan #werunlondon

My partner really did think I'd gone round the twist. Couch25K suddenly became Couch210K. A programme I actually enjoyed way more than the 5k version. But that doesn't necessarily explain how you go from the basics to a marathon. in the spring, disaster struck. My grandfather was diagnosed with cancer and became the third of my four grandparents to have the disease, amongst other family members. It made me angry and I decided the time had come to do something. I set myself the challenge of running 100 kilometres between my upcoming June birthday and the following year, and after a flurry of signing up for races (without a great deal of thought behind some of them) I realised I was on track to be finished by the end of 2015.

Just a tip from someone who learned the hard way though, running a race 3 weekends out of 4 in a month is hard work- training, carb loading, early starts and travelling to/from. All of a sudden you've lost your entire weekend to about an hour of actual running. I personally wouldn't do more than one race per month if I'd thought about it a bit more.

My summer seems to have been spent almost entirely sweating it out in trainers and pounding the pavements. In July I starting working with a personal trainer to try and get my nutrition a bit better balanced having started marathon training and feeling shitty for it- note to self, running that far, that often requires more calories... and also discovered that more of my joints are hypermobile than aren't. Having suffered a major injury in May, it's been helpful to get some proper advice on strength training and it's something I've continued, not just for running but because I don't want my body to fall apart.

FTJ: Running updates
Blood, sweat, tears, races and an inordinate amount of showering....

By the time we reached September, I started to realise what I'd let myself in for with signing up for a marathon. I don't think I've ever hated food so much, given I seemed to be eating. Constantly. It seemed to me that life was a cycle of running, eating, thinking about the next run and planning the next meal. But I got there. I crossed the line in tears on October 4th and spent most of the rest of the month trying to feel proud of myself and failing to put my trainers back on. I wrote about my experiences, if you want to know what they don't tell you can happen after a marathon, you can read about it HERE.

PicMonkey Collage

So yeah. In 2015, I ran. Loads. And today I ran my final race of the year, which feels like a cathartic end to the year. A really beautiful 10km Ely NYE 10km which takes my total number of kilometres run (in races only) to.... 108 and a sneaky little official personal best 10km time of 1:06:46. If you'd like to read more about my races and the challenge I undertook in 2015 to raise money for Cancer Research UK, or if you'd like to donate to the challenge, you can see my JustGiving Page HERE.

I think a lot of people have expected I would give up running after the marathon and my challenge. I missed out on so much bike riding in the summer because I was too busy getting my running in, and I love my bike and the joy I get from cycling. But... I actually quite like running too. A marathon was probably a step (or 20,000) too far and I maintain, I'm not interested in running any more of them. A 10km race though, for me that's an enjoyable distance and I have a couple lined up for 2016 already. I've set myself a limit on the number of races I enter next year and how close together they are and I also run with a small club which I love because it's not a traditional club and welcomes a whole range of abilities and has been a great way of meeting people this year. Sports clubs can seem very exclusive, especially if you're not very experienced in the sport, it's been so much fun to learn a bit more about basic running techniques and run with people training for marathons as well as people who are just dipping a toe in the proverbial water.

Running is tough on your body. People will always be quick to tell you it's bad for you due to impact but I personally think that with some guidance and proper strength training, there's no reason not to enjoy the feeling that you can put one foot in front of the other for longer or further than you could before. For me, the key to breaking running, has been understanding my own limits and learning how far is too far.

So, to 2015, the year I ran and to 2016, the year I'll enjoy running a bit more.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas: 3 Unobtrusive Traditions

I don't hate Christmas, I just don't really love it either. I'm... indifferent. Except for the one week every year where I realise, like every other year, it's me who has to do all the cards, organise and wrap all the presents and make sure that we have plans to visit all the family members who will moan if we don't. I guess I find Christmas to be more of an obligation than I do a festival. I'm also allergic to Christmas trees. Or more accurately, the mould/spores that live on evergreen trees. Yes, really. It's not so bad outdoors, but when they're in an enclosed space, it's like having really bad hayfever and peculiar wheeze. NICE. We also never manage to spend Christmas at home, so no, I don't own a 'proper' Christmas tree.

I do have 3 Christmas traditions that I like to indulge when we get within a week of Christmas though, so if you're not into hardcore Christmas, maybe you'll enjoy giving my festive three a go...

1. Cheese

New year in our house means all the cheese and all the chorizo and all the wine and all the anti pasto.

Sometimes it's New Year, sometimes, like this year, we have a mammoth cheeseboard with added charcuterie and nibbles. We tend to put it together around 2000 and stretch it through the evening. Wine is not optional. This is great fun with friends, but because we're miserable so and so's, we will not be sharing our feast this weekend!

2. A little slice of Germany

Marks and Spencer Christmas Decorations. The beginning.

This little metal tealight holder spins, propelled by the hot air the flame creates. I bought this at the Leipzig Weihnachtsmarkt when I returned after having lived there a few years back and it happened to be the same year I discovered the Yankee Candle advent calendar. I do have one this year, but I've been away so much that I'll have about 2 weeks worth to burn this weekend, but that's ok, because it's exactly the time of year for a festive candle and low lighting, in my opinion! That's my Leipzig mug creeping into the top right, which brings me onto my next point...

3. Glühwein
The mug did start off with mulled wine in it, and it's something I love. When I lived in Leipzig my flatmates made the most incredible version of Glühwein the weekend before we all went our separate ways for Christmas and it's something I like to do *properly* at least once per year. This year, my plan is to indulge in warm, spiced mulled wine after a long run (and a subsequently long shower). Yes, I have become that person!


My not so secret recipe goes as follows: 

Pour a 1L bottle of premade mulled wine OR 1 0.75 bottle of cheap red wine, 150ml orange juice & 60g sugar into a pan, bring to a gentle heat (you'll need to stir the wine until the sugar dissolves if you're going down this route)

When warmed add the following: 
a generous pinch of cloves
3 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks or a few large pieces of cinnamon bark
1/2 an orange sliced up (I use my own dried oranges)
no more than 5 cardamom pods
generous grating of nutmeg
1 earl grey teabag
very generous slug of spiced dark rum

Heat the whole lot gently for no longer than an hour- remove the tea bag after 15 mins. 

Some people love decorations, some people can spend hours wrapping presents and I know plenty of people who would be horrified if Christmas Eve wasn't spent eating *insert favourite meal* or visiting *insert Aunty here*, and that's cool. You carry right on. But sometimes I think it's easy to brand those of us for whom Christmas is something we tolerate to be categorised unfairly as people who spoil your fun. It's not that we begrudge you your own festivities, or at least I don't, they're just not my idea of good time.

Please also take a moment, before you cast aspersions, to remember that for some people Christmas is a time of difficult memories, loss or hardship. A friend of ours recently passed away very unexpectedly, and this Christmas his wife is preparing for a funeral. It is not for anyone to judge why Christmas isn't everyone's cup of tea.

I hope you have a fabulous Christmas week if you're celebrating and to all those who are struggling, may there be hope for 2016, as hope is a very powerful thing. 


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Playing Nicely With The Other Children: Coffee With Currys & Nespresso

I didn't have the kind of experience at university that means I make pilgrimages across the country a few times of year to meet up with a gang of people I lived, breathed and worshipped my university course/sports team/church group/society committee with. When I finally got around to being a graduate with a low paying job in an office of 4, living in an infinitely shitty room with my partner in the arse end of the East End, I suddenly realised that as an adult I was going to have to go out there and make some friends. Because visiting my crazy Aunts in Finchley once a month does not a social life make.

Blogging can be a great platform for meeting people- in 2012 it seemed it was the height of the brand event and launch party. I made an effort to try and go to things even if I didn't feel like it, because making friends requires effort. I tried going to the 30th birthday parties I'd never normally feel comfortable at, I went to bars I hated, tried to make nice with over entitled students who thought Army office training would mean they were a step above everyone else and their petty problems and discovered I am not what you'd call naturally sociable, but I do very much prefer to have a glass in my hand when attempting it.

Feeling jaded and worn out, 2015 was the year I gave up on playing nicely. I have a few incredible friends and I couldn't face more evenings being snubbed, more tedious waffle about how terribly important the hardship of Sandhurst is (FYI, I know, my partner completed office training, he just doesn't feel the need to discuss it at every juncture) or disasters left behind because someone drinks to much and offends someone else. TL;DR.... making friends is hard work.

Last weekend, I broke my streak of reclusive, jaded brooding and did something I haven't done in just over a year. I went to a blogger event. I wandered on down to the Fable in Holborn and got stuck into learning about Nespresso as part of the #coffeewithcurrys event and maybe it was something to do with the cocktails (there's rather a few action shots of me at the cocktail station actually...), but I left having had a damn good day.




No more than 25 people milling around, different activity stations (cocktail making first for me, what can I say) that were low pressure and well organised, no obtrusive loud music, it even turned out I knew or had met a few of the other bloggers and they didn't pretend not to know me- bonus.

Cocktails are the answer. Especially if they made up of rum, coffee, peanut butter & cocoa...

I got learn about how we taste coffee and that I've obliterated the bitter part of my palette because I enjoy my coffee strong. I almost broke one of the coffee machines (sorry Haydy & Holly....) and got a bit obsessed by the idea of a very neat little machine that would take up about a quarter of the space of my filter coffee machine AND comes from a company dedicated to going above and beyond Fair Trade standards and basic recycling.

Breaking Things
Me, (almost) breaking things

Most of all, I looked at the photos the lovely organiser Haydy sent through this week and realised that this shot sums up my day....


I left relaxed and happy. I had a lot of fun. I met some interesting people who didn't ask me if my blog was my full time job before asking my name, and I had a lot of fun (as well as deciding a Nespresso machine is now very much on my wishlist).

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

One Of A Kind: Helly Hansen x This Is My Style

This post contains products sent to me by Helly Hansen as a competition prize. All views are my own.

WAY back in the spring, Helly Hansen had a campaign running on their app called This Is My Style. By logging runs on the app, it enabled users to unlock various design features for a pair of tights with the added incentive that you could win your design printed on a one of a kind pair of tights. Excitingly, one of my designs was a winner- and so a patient wait for manufacturing began.

The tights I designed on the @hellyhansen #thisismystyle app are being made up into real tights for me! Excitement.
My design in the app

Even better for me, the design was to be be produced onto one of my favourite HH products- a 7/8 Capris that I already have a couple of pairs of- you can read my review of the winter styles and patterns right HERE.

Excitingly, I had an email from the forever lovely people at ADPR last week to say THEY'RE HERE! That's right- one of a kind, all for me tights.

Helly Hansen Tights
Sneaky little first look

The REAL DEAL! To say these excite me (yes my life is that dull and devoid of other meaning) is an understatement. One. Of. A. Kind.....


Custom one-of-a-kind Helly Hansen VTR 7/8 Capris, c/o Helly Hansen as competition winner

Aren't they beautiful?! I love the coral red and the geometric bits of the print, I love the slightly purple hue to the blue and I love that nobody else has the same pair as me. As ever, huge thanks go to Helly Hansen and ADPR for getting these amazing, amazing tights to me and for running such a cool competition. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What I Wore: Lord Mayor's Banquet 2015

Once in a lifetime he said. I'll never get the chance to do it again, he said.

In 2013, my partner was commander of the honour guard for the Prime Minister at the Lord Mayor's Banquet. It's a formal dinner held each year welcoming the new Lord Mayor of the City of London into their position and is attended by assorted members of the High Courts, cabinet and diplomatic community as well as merchants and livery from the City of London. The dress code is white tie- the next step up from black tie. Last time I had about 2 weeks notice to find something to wear, this year, I got a whole month, aren't I the lucky one.

LMB 2015
Commander of the guard. And me. 
From Where I Stand.... institutional carpets the country over. This one is Davies St.
Nothing exceptional- I'm not bold enough for sequins at events like these, but I covered everything I needed to! The star of the show this year for me, was having someone else do my hair for me. 

LMB Hair
Hair by the lovely people at Rockalily Cuts

In the wake of recent world events- I write this having just read of an explosion in a Nigerian town previously targeted by Boko Haram but also horrors of violence and disasters in Beirut, Japan, Mexico and of course Paris, the speeches by numerous officials were of particular interest to me this year. I do not and continue to choose not to share politics here or (for the most part) my social media channels, but I would hope the message that we must not allow those who support the oppression of choice and democracy to divide us or to set us turning upon each other as human beings is one you can join me in. I stand united not for or with Paris, but for all human beings. 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

What I Wore: Denim Dress & Tan Ankle Boots

There have been many cheap dresses from eBay in the last 3-4 years. Some managed a wear or two before I realised that an Asian large definitely isn't large enough for me, and some have lasted the course. This denim shirt dress has seen me through some seriously sticky summer days and it's all the right kind of awesome with a jumper over it for chilly chilly winter days. A keeper you might say, for around £5, I'm not going to argue.

Denim Dress & Tan Ankle Boots
Shirt dress- old via eBay, Belt- old from Primark, Boots- Clarks

Ironically, this dress is actually now a touch on the large side for me, luckily it's nothing a belt doesn't sort out, and given those buttons all the way down are actually poppers, it's nice not to have to worry about my boobs quite literally breaking free!

The boots. We need to talk about these ankle boots from Clarks. 

Tan Ankle Boots

Remember these from my post about wearing navy blue in autumn in October? They're still working hard for me and I love them, especially as they're cut a little lower on the ankle than most ankle boots- it gives me some definition back in my chubby chubby legs. Note to self, it's probably time to get back out there and running again after a very lacklustre effort post-marathon last month.... 

Denim Dress & Ankle Boots

Revolutionary? No. But this boots-dress-massive scarf combo leaves me feeling like actually dressed myself properly with minimal input in actually dressing myself properly. Made sense to me, but it's ok, I'll go snuggle back up in my massive scarf. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Taking a Break From Running: The Best Thing Ever

So far this year I've run 98km in races alone. I can't actually bring myself to count the hundreds of training kilometres I've clocked up since I donned trainers and pounded pavement for the first time back in January. I've cycled over 500km (although at one time I used to do that in a month) and since August I've dropped a whole dress size and I'm on the way to another thanks to a whole range of improvements to my training and eating for my activity levels. I ran a freakin' marathon for goodness sake.

 photo 21962202165_33693e40b4_z_zpshjy9t0pb.jpg

But since October hit, so has a bit of a wall. The marathon hit me hard and it took a little bit of my soul with it when it was finally over. That combined with additional work responsibilities, a trip stateside and the darker nights means in a month I've exercised less than 5 times, compared to the 4-5 times per week I was getting through this summer.

Y'know, it feels great. I'm really looking forward to going to running club a couple of times this week and not feeling that I *should* be doing something at a certain level, but taking it at the level I currently find myself at. I'm excited to plan some new PT with my trainer and for the first time in months, I don't feel guilty or lazy or ashamed that I haven't really done that much. Mostly because I came to realise I needed to take a break.

Goals and targets are great, regular sports and exercise are great too, but there is such a thing as too much and it's ok to need time to recalibrate as one goal comes to an end and you rethink your approach to whatever your fitness of choice may be. It's ok to accept that you can't do everything all the time and for some people (I include myself here) there are more important things than making yourself go for a run in the dark which will leave you hurting, feeling miserable and with a growing sense of failure. For some, the 'go hard or go home' approach coupled with the mantra 'you'll only regret the workout you didn't do' is much needed motivation, I'm pleased for you if so. We all have to find a way to make shit happen. But if you're already a driven person. if you tend towards being perfectionist or obsessive about reaching targets, your brain and your battered body might just thank you for signing out of instagram, twitter and pinterest, and going for dinner with your friend rather than sticking to your training plan, going away for a weekend and not packing your trainers for a long run before breakfast on Sunday or admitting that your twingy ankle is going to benefit far more from a marathon session of The Good Wife than it is a threshold run.

Life is too short. Say yes to the fun day out.

I've found it so easy to be swept along with signing up for event and event, session after session and hauling my behind out of bed at 0600 on the one day of the week I don't need to, just because ohmygodIhaven'texercisedenoughI'msuchabadhuman hits me. If you spend 6 days of your 7 day holiday worrying about your training plan has fallen to pieces because the most exercise you've done is swimming across to the pool bar, is that really any more or less healthy than the not doing anything in the first place? I'd say you're not doing yourself any favours.

In this brave new world of hotel room workout videos and social media schedules, it's time to give yourself a reality check. It's someone's business to post a daily fitness routine, it doesn't mean you have to do it. Hotel workout youtube videos might be great for someone who has to work away a lot, but is that what you want from your holiday? And most of all, listen to your body and your mood and your own sense of wellbeing. Feeling constantly under the weather? Injury that won't quite go away? Feeling reluctant every time you don trainers? Maybe it's time to take a step back and breathe. Enjoy life. Take a deep breath. Reassess. And don't you dare allow yourself to feel guilty for it.

 photo Running break_zps0vzj7jsm.jpg

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Adventures: Las Vegas Highlights

Ain't jetlag a massive bitch. It's taken me almost 2 days to get over flying back from the States, not great when it's remembrance weekend and I've got services etc to attend with T's regiment.

BUT at least I'm suffering off the back of something good, 6 days in Sin City itself, Las Vegas. I went out because my friends got married out there on Halloween, no pictures of the wedding because the bride and groom want them to stay private for now, but it was certainly an experience to see a Little White Chapel Wedding...


I went out with my mother & grandmother (otherwise known as rent-a-crowd if you have a wedding, FYI) and we stayed in apartment off the strip because we did some jiggery pokery with timeshare weeks and swaps. We flew direct from Gatwick with Virgin, and we were out for a total of 6 nights. 

I'd never been to Vegas before, and it's certainly different. Best description... all life found here. I'd also say that once you get over the novelty of whatever each hotel theme is, there's not that much to do that isn't eating, drinking, shopping or gambling on the strip.

Probably the only good picture I managed to take of a hotel on the strip

Not the strip and one of the coolest signs. I wish I'd been able to get a better shot

Once we got over the wedding and and the mayhem that is Vegas, we did manage to fit a few things in...

The mothership & I

We drank Margaritas... we decided that Halloween was a good opportunity to crack out some swish masks....

Doing the Gondola thing at the Venetian... The gondoliers can actually sing! 

The Venetian has it's own little canal running through part of the hotel and for about $20 per person, you can take yourself to Venice because the surroundings are to scale replicas of Venice Streets. If nothing else, it was fun. 

Vegas High Roller
The High Roller at Linq Hotel 

Like everything in Vegas, bigger is better. This 'orbital viewing platform' is just like the London Eye, except it's 109ft taller. They get really hacked off if you refer to it as a ferris wheel! The views from it are incredible and it was pretty good value for $17.50.

Getting Lucky in Vegas
You kinda can't go to Vegas without hitting a Casino...

So.... Casinos. I walked past and through many and felt they were a little sad- lots of people mindlessly loading money into digital slots. In the end my mother & I headed to the Venetian casino on our last evening, which was a little more buzzing than some we'd seen, and headed for the biggest, shiniest machine we could find. I don't know how to play most of the other casino games, and we figured we could afford to lose $20 in a slot machine. I'm quite lucky, and I have been since I was a kid, so without really knowing what we were doing- much to the amusement of all the people watching, my total cash out was $225 and change. Not bad for a half hour giggling at a machine. My mum managed $75 and we walked away happy. I bought my super tacky poker chip cushion as a little reminder of my win. 

And then it was time to come home. 

Vegas by night
Early evening flight out of McCarran

I did manage a few other fun things in Vegas- I did some serious shopping which I'll be showing off over the coming weeks no doubt, and we also managed a helicopter tour out over the Grand Canyon and Lake Mead. I find Lake Mead and the provision for water in that part of the States fascinating, so once I've finally gotten around to editing my pictures, there'll be another separate post about that too. 

Vegas is an odd place to go. Initially I wasn't sure I'd want to go back, but on reflection, I'd do it again with T, mostly because they have some huge nightclubs with headline DJs I'd kill to see. But unless you're into proper gambling or you're prepared to venture out of town regularly, it seemed to me to be a bit same-y. the same shops, the same food, the same frozen margaritas... Not that it stopped us from having fun!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

What I Wore: H&M Biker Style Coat

I wasn't looking for a new coat exactly. I mean sure, I knew I could probably use having more than one because I split my time between home and my Cambs base, but I didn't set out actually looking for one. And then an H&M discount code landed in my inbox, the next thing I know there's a screen full of knitwear (a particular weakness of mine) and coats. And this one fell into my basket. And I surprised myself by totally loving it.

HM Biker Coat

In previous winters, I've stuck with more fitted mac style coats, having tried looser or straighter styles and realising they make me appear about 5 times bigger than I actually am. The beauty of this coat is that it's a bit shorter, so it doesn't seem to drown me in the same way. The discount code made it £27.99, and it's still available on the H&M website for £39.99, as well as in a dark/wine red colour.

HM Biker Coat

HM Biker Coat


P.S. Yes, yes those are glittery kitty shoes! 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Experience: There Is Such A Thing As Drinking Too Much Water

Every day I am bombarded with messages about drinking more water. From blog posts on how to make it easy, to government/health organisations warnings about the need to drink my 8 glasses per day. But did you know there is such a thing as too much water?

First up- I don't drink a great deal of other drinks in the day, except water. I have a couple of strong cups of coffee and a cup of peppermint tea each morning, then that's me done. If you drink tea or coffee throughout the day, then know that caffeine is a diuretic (meaning it pushes the water through your system and therefore you need more water).

Second, I get through 3-5 litres of water per day (depending on the temperature) and for those wondering how that equates on the whole 'glasses' measure- that's anywhere from 12-20 glasses of water. Yeah, I know.

And before we go any further- I'm not a medical professional and you should always seek advice from your GP or someone qualified before you make big changes to your diet/lifestyle, including hydration. The entirety of this post is based on my own personal experience.

So all that water, I should have the skin like a pre-teen girl, and practically brimming with wellness right? The many benefits of being properly hydrated are documents all over the place. Well, water might be good, but  drinking excessive amounts of water can be bad. The side effects are not pretty and they're not fun.

What do you mean it doesn't have electrolytes in it sweetie?

How can you tell what excessive is- well despite a zillion fitness bloggers assertions to the contrary, clear pee is not good. Why? Because it means there's no waste product being flushed out. And that's bad because after your body is done getting rid of the bad stuff, it starts flushing out the good stuff.

Drinking a lot of water also flushes the electrolytes out of your body- the ones that are important for feeling lively, energetic and happy, the ones that help regulate things like blood pressure and hormone production. You'll feel tired, drained and if you exercise you might feel nauseous or  struggle to work at your usual level.

FYI- this is especially dangerous when you're sweating a lot because when you sweat you also lose an important electrolyte- sodium, and if you don't take on any electrolytes and continue to drink water, you're compounding the problem. Low blood sodium is grim, will make you feel really shitty and can be fatal in extreme cases.

I learned all about low electrolytes and sodium the hard way this year- I had no idea my hydration was causing me to struggle with my marathon training until someone with someone with qualifications in the nutrition field took a hard look at what I was eating and drinking. I also really struggled after I completed the marathon in October as the prolonged period of time sweating and drinking water (even though I was also drinking regular electrolyte drinks too) can be difficult to manage.

Drinking water, for me certainly, is also very habitual. Left unchecked I could and would probably drink even more water than I already do because picking up a glass is almost a reflex. Everytime I come off a call or change position in my chair or get up to do something, I drink from my glass. As a teenager and in my early twenties, I knew I didn't drink enough water, so I made myself do it. I suspect this is probably in part due to my personality type, but it's now a habit I find very difficult to break. It also means that my wine glass is most likely to be the first one empty and I'm likely to be the one who finishes her cocktail first- not just because I like a drink, but because having a glass in my hand is part of the habitual nature- it's created as many problems as it's solved.

It's no surprise that I have had to do something about my drinking problem. It's not been a barrel of laughs, but it beats throwing up in front of my running club (true story). Here's how I did it:

I added an electrolyte drink into my daily routine. They don't have to be ultra sticky sugary sports drinks- immune system boosters (the tabs you put in water and find in the supplements section) have a lot of the same electrolytes as sports drinks without all the calories and sugar. An instant boost to my system that's just like the big glass of water I've always thrown down my neck on waking up, but better.

'Close your eyes and it could be a margarita...' Mum on this week's detox drink.
That time mum & I tried coconut water. Sorry, but GROSS

Another seemingly obvious solution would be to drink less. Groundbreaking. This was easier said than done but a lot of the techniques recommended for drinking more can also be used to control drinking too. I drink sparkling water which is bottle in any case, but I've also used cups or bottles with a set volume and instead of finishing the bottle as a target, I use it like a ration system. This way I know exactly how much I've already had and I try not to exceed a certain amount either side of lunch- once it's gone, it's gone.

A side note, current guidance says you should be drinking approximately 2-2.5 litres of water per day (8-10 glasses). I struggle to get below 3 litres (12 glasses) and that works for me. Dropping below the 3L mark left me thirsty, tired and irritable. I also don't count water I drink before or directly after exercising or water I drink when I'm drinking alcohol.

Adding a glass of smoothie to my diet really helped me address the balance post-marathon. Drinking something with some actual nutritional value allowed me to get back on track, especially on the days where my appetite was non-existent. It's worth remembering that water is great for lots of things but it doesn't have anything it and that can be as bad as it is good.

Whilst unpleasant, the learning curve that came from my experience with hydration (and overdoing it) has been really fascinating in that it's taught me a lot about how some of my body's systems work and made me realise how little I actually knew about some functions or how many habits I assume are good for me, that aren't.

Grapes in a Glass
That time we added grapes to water and didn't turn into wine!

I can't stress enough that this has been a personal experience and that you should consult with someone who is properly qualified if you're concerned about how you feel before, during, after diet changes, exercise or major lifestyle changes. The point to my post is this: be wary that lots of guidance and hype in health and fitness is generic. It doesn't account for your own quirks or body type or habits you already have- drink more water is such a common piece of advice to read or hear, but remember it might not apply to you.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

What I Wore: Sky High Green

I am a uniform kind of a girl. Not even an insanely fashionable kind of a uniform but at this inbetween-y kind of time of year, I basically live in denim leggings and jumpers. Normally I'd fling a pair of Converse on my feet to leave the house every few days, and y'know, remember I'm still a human, but I spotted these on eBay a few months back and thought they'd make a nice change...

Nike Dunk Sky High Green
Nike Dunk Sky High via eBay

I remember these being a bit of a cult thing a few years back and wasn't prepared to spend the RRP on trainers I wasn't even sure would look nice on me, having had bad experiences trying on wedge sneaker/trainer type things previously. But £30 on eBay is a bit different. The description said they had been worn but I'd be surprised if these had been outdoors more than once. 

Grey & Green

Grey and green

In other news, still a bit in love with H&M. Remember this green jumper I bought earlier in the autumn (it's the one in my profile if you're not fussed at looking back....), well this voluminous grey one was another steal when I bought a sneaky new coat in yet another of their online discount events. I do love a slouchy jumper.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Chloe Likes To Eat: Lidl Favourites

I'm a longtime Lidl fan. I lived next to one when I lived in Leipzig and they were a lifesaver as the nearest decent size supermarket in walking distance when T & I first lived in London together. As with any brand or supermarket, some things are a hits whilst others are misses, but having stocked up recent, I thought I'd share a few of my favourite things.

Lidl Favourites

Dark chocolate. Since doing a month of no added sugars or artificial sugars, my taste in sweet things has changed. I didn't even like dark chocolate before but I'm head over heels for this dark chocolate with orange (the raspberry version is a dream as well). £1.49 for 125g.

Lidl Dark Chocolate

Sparkling Water. I know some people think having a water preference is up there with #middleclassproblems but I don't care. I drink a LOT of water (3-4 litres per day) and I especially like sparkling. This one from Lidl isn't as gassy as some other brands/own brands which means it does go flat a little quicker, but it's less aggressive when you drink it. If it came in 2l bottles instead of 1.5l it would be even better. £ per bottle (I buy it in cases of 6)

Sriracha sauce. Because I've apparently turn into my dad and can't eat a meal without chilli. I thought this might be part of a short term range as I bought it reduced to £1.20 a bottle, but I keep seeing it in store. It's nicely sour and not too sweet with that familiar chilli heat.

Lidl Sriracha

Mixed raw whole nuts (T also likes their raw walnuts and cashews). I use these when making my own granola and my own versions of Nakd bars. T & My mum both like their brazil nuts, walnuts and cashews for adding to porridge or cereal too- I have nothing against them by the way, it's just not something I do. £1.29 per 200g bag

A few other less photogenic favourites:
Free range whole chicken- usually around  £3.59 per kilo
Pork & Apple or Cumberland sausages £1.99 for 6
Goats, feta, mature cheddar or cream cheeses- they're all good!

And whilst I'm here, here's a few things I never buy from Lidl having learned the hard way...
Tinned tomatoes- tend to be very watery
Baked beans- too sweet in my opinion and I prefer a reduced salt version too
Dried fruit- when I looked at the ingredients, there were some added extras I wasn't so fond off including added sugars and oils
Avocadoes- I've never yet found a Lidl that sells avocados that are within a month of being ripe.
Bleach, toilet cleaner, bathroom/kitchen cleaner- they just don't do the job. On the other hand, Poundland is well worth visiting if like me you're a fan of Cif.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Review: Helly Hansen Autumn/Winter 2015 Training

The products in this post were sent to me by Helly Hansen & ADPR. I have not been paid or otherwise compensated to review them and all opinions are my own. Some of the products were sent to me in support of my challenge to run 100km in 2015 for Cancer Research. Especial thanks go to Helly Hansen and Beki of ADPR for their generosity and support. 

I talked last week about the very clever and very exciting Norviz training gear by Helly Hansen, new out this season. But as well as the very clever technical kit, they also have some very pretty (and equally hardworking) training kit.

Helly Hansen AW 15 Training
New in, Helly Hansen Training kit from the Autumn/Winter collection

The VTR 7/8 Capri is one that gets a seasonal facelift but always seems to be available. This is good because they are my very favourite. I wear them for running- including being my marathon day choice, for personal training sessions, for cycling and they are the best workout tights I've ever had. Every single seam is in the right place, they have a nice high rise AND a drawstring so they don't fall down, the 7/8 length means they don't get splattered or as dirty and they come in all the cool prints.

Helly Tights
Helly Hansen VTR 7/8 Capri sent given to me as part of the Helly Hansen Press Day 2015

Above- my much loved and ever complimented Spring/Summer tights.... AND...

New season, new prints.As well as these super bright ones, they have everything from a classy black textured print to a kaleidoscope style print in pink, white & grey. In fact there are 6 different prints and they're all beautiful.

Helly Hansen VTR 7/8 Capri sent to me in support of my challenge to run 100km in 2015 for Cancer Research

Helly Hansen VTR Capri AW15

HElly VTR AW15

These capris are not going to keep you warm as the temperature plummets but they are a great all rounder, especially if you prefer to keep your legs covered when you're out and about or doing what you do (the chaffing has been real this year). OH and they're not seethrough either. Wear whatever pants you like under these babies because it's still going to be your business.  They also launder really well- my original pair pictured at the top look just as good today as they did 6 months ago and they're washed a minimum of once per week- and being technical fabric, they dry pretty swiftly too. 

Another really REALLY gorgeous prints is this...

Helly Hansen Air JAcket
Helly Hansen VTR Air Jacket sent to me in support of my challenge to run 100km in 2015 for Cancer Research

Helly Hansen Air Jacket

The VTR Air Jacket is a dead simple wind jacket to help keep the chill at bay if you're off on your way to the gym or out for a run or a ride. It's water repellent and hooded and it scrunches up in on itself into a little ball which is pretty handy if you need to take it off and carry it or if you're tight on space in a bag. It also comes in black and a mutli-colour. I picked pink because it's high-viz in the lower light and that's quite important to me. 

It's incredibly light and doesn't feel at all plastic-y, it also has little air vents in the back to help with temperature control. It's another really useful piece of kit that I'm not really sure how I've managed without before.