Saturday, January 31, 2015

From Where I Stand: The Running Edition

This post contains products that have been sent to me for consideration. All news, views and reviews are my own. I have not been paid to include the products or any of the links.

I keep saying it, and I maintain, I'm not a natural runner. The most recent foray is only because Helly Hansen asked if I wanted to be involved in their #WinterDuel challenge and I really wanted to try their kit (read more about this HERE). But to my surprise, I'm not hating it. I don't think I'll ever be one of those people who lives to run races or gets up at 5am to go out in the dark, but it's been a cracking way to get out of the flat on the days that I work from home, as per my will to look after myself a bit better. Upside, I have been able to feed my addiction to active wear! Hurrah!

#fromwhereIstand the running edition

Row 1:
Can we take a moment to appreciate my new trainers- gifted by Helly Hansen at a recent event (where I got to drool over all the things they're bringing out this year) I am a bit in love with the awesome shade of green- tights are old ones from H&M
A good old tights, hoody & trainers combo. These Nike Frees just keep going!
The HUGE bag of goodies given to me by the Helly Hansen people this week. Seriously- Kid at Christmas syndrome.

Shiny new @hellyhansen trainers getting an outing on the first run of the week.

Row 2:
Are we starting to appreciate the Helly Hansen theme at the moment? Helly tights and top for a super wintery run at in Cambridgeshire.
In hindsight trying on said tights after a New Year (because NY is definitely a 5 day period...) eating my body weight in cheese probably wasn't the smarted thing ever.
This hoody- this hoody is the work of genius. It's SHOWERPROOF for goodness sake, as in not getting soaked through if it starts to rain! It's also super warm thanks to the brushed finish inside. Kindly gifted to me by Mountain Warehouse and on sale at half price for £24.99. Seriously, go buy one already.

Yesterday was a good post day. Thank you @mountainwarehouse for this genius showerproof hoodie and I'm so relieved to be back in stock with an old and a new @teapigs favourite.

Row 3: I did not forget about my awesome the Nike Free trainers I bought in the summer (hello post dental work sale treat). They are the bestest mostly because they're so pretty I quite like wearing them with jeans on the weekend as much as for actual running & cycling.
Because you need to understand how damn bright this Helly Hansen kit is. Seriously, no excuses for not seeing me.
The Helly Hansen top is quite tight. And I don't normally like tight fitting but I didn't hate looking at myself in the mirror wearing it, so happy days.

*cliche afternoon run sunset shot*
Gratuitous sunset shot from a late afternoon run in Cambridgeshire. Goodness it was COLD

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Chloe Likes To Eat: 3 Ways to Lighten Up

I like to eat, as the name of this feature has always suggested. I grew up surrounded by food and it's still a very important part of my family and my life- we like to eat tasty things. However much my diet has changed over the years, I've always found a way to enjoy food in the end, and currently I'm in a transitional phase.

Back in October I fell suddenly quite ill. One day I was laughing and joking over dinner with an old childhood friend who had connected with me whilst in London for business, the following day I was shivering, throwing up and unable to keep fluids down. The cause is likely to have been an infection of my gall bladder, although various tests and scans during a short hospital stay didn't really give anyone any of the information they were expecting. The up side of not being able to eat for 5 days straight is that I dropped about a stone in weight- I say upside because I'd not been exercising for most of September and I'd gained more weight than I was comfortable with. The down side, is that all of a sudden anything more than a child size portion became unmanageable- Cue a mission to lighten up some of my favourite foods for personal enjoyment without the nausea and everyday food comas...

1. Little & Often
Whilst a little weight loss was acceptable, I don't want to be unhealthy or unable to do things I love like cycling. Being underweight is just as problematic as being overweight. To ensure I'm still eating a healthy amount for my moderately active life, size and gender, I've taken to reducing the size of meals and snacks but eating them more frequently. This takes some planning but as with most things once you've gotten a routine down, it's not difficult to do.

Breakfast part one

2. Weights & Measures
To keep help keep waste in check, because food waste REALLY bothers me I've taken to measuring or weighing things. Because we don't have digital scales (I keep meaning to buy a set) I've become steadily more reliant on my set of cup measure. You get to know quite quickly what 100g of this or 20g of that looks like in a cup measure and I find it really helpful so as to avoid a portion of soup I can't finish or going over the top throwing pasta into the pan.

Happy Monday.
It looked huge to me, but this portion of risotto was all weigh out and just right

3. Investigate Substitutes
The old adage- If do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten, is quite true. Investigating ways to lighten up your favourite meals and foods can be a simple change whether you're trying to slim down or like me, you just need to eat a bit less. Some of my favourites are:

Quorn mince- an easy way to make bolognese just as tasty but Quorn mince is lower in fat and will cater for any vegetarians in your life too.

Rice/Glass noodles- These super fine noodles are a staple of asian cooking, but are much lighter than traditional egg noodles. I like them for stir fry or ramen and a golf ball sized portion (when dry) is just about right for me. They're also great for those who don't or can't eat wheat/gluten

Milk- If you're partial to a morning cappuccino and I used to be when I worked next to a Costa Coffee, then you may not realise quite how calorific it is- a bit like wine, it can be easy to ignore because it's a drink but switching from a standard to a skinny is a simple change that doesn't affect the flavour but lightens the load considerably- a large take out full fat  cappuccino is approximately 216 calories where as the skinny sister is approximately 124 and is considerably less filling for those of us struggling on quantity. You could of course opt for a smaller portion, but personally, I need all the caffeinated help I can get of a morning.

Obligatory airport coffee. Pretty though, thanks cafe rouge!
Not enough coffee in the world


Tuesday, January 27, 2015


This post contains products that were sent to me care of the brand Helly Hansen. All news, views & reviews are my own.

I always have a little chuckle when fitness/sports/outdoors brands get in touch and want to work with me. I have to stop myself from saying
'ME? Have you seen the number of wine bottles in my recycling bin?!"
Nevertheless, Helly Hansen sent me a very lovely email back in December about a couple of things, and well, it's been fun.

Firstly, I received a super generous package to make sure I didn't freeze to death whilst moving about at my own personal (read: snail) pace which wasn't as much a worry in central London in December as it has been in rural Cambridgeshire in January!

Super bright delivery from @hellyhansen v excited to get on to a #winterduel

As a Helly Hansen virgin, I was really relieved that after telling the ladies what my usual size was (honestly rather than giving them the size up for fear of something not fitting) that both the top and the tights do fit. The tights are perfection, which is interesting because my bottom half can be challenging, the top is a bit more snug than I usually choose- but then for warmth I'm pretty sure it's supposed to be tight-ish. If it were a few centimetres longer, it would be amazing as it does ride up a tiny bit and I can only wear it with a higher waist pair of tights (fortunately the above come up high enough!).

Making sure these bad boys (generous gift from @hellyhansen ) fit before I get stuck into #winterduel & back on the bike tomorrow.
In hindsight, trying them on after eating my body weight in cheese at New Year wasn't so good for self esteem...

The tights feel a bit peculiar at first as the thighs and the calves have a stiff fabric that protects from the wind- as put to the test both on my bike and in the chill breeze coming across the fenlands. The inner is a super warm brushed fabric. The zips at the back keep everything snug and the side pocket is great for holding keys or a few coins for a sneaky post run coffee. My only slight niggle is that if the pocket were a fraction bigger, then it would hold my phone which I use for music and to track my run. They're super snug and warm, launder easily

The top as mentioned would be amazing if it were a little longer- just a couple, maybe 3cm and it would be amazing if the sleeves were a little longer with thumb loops- but that's probably more my personal preference than anything else. The colour wouldn't necessarily have been my first choice but in hindsight is an advantage- you're certainly not going to miss it in the half light, helped by reflective details on the half zip and the back. It feels super light weight but kept the wind out with it's short collar, and with a half zip it's easy to control ventilation, not forgetting the inserts in the back and underarms. Not being sticky/sweaty OR cold on return from a January run is probably the most telling of all- temperature control, CHECK!

ÜBER PINK in @hellyhansen for a #winterduel run

To try and keep us all inspired, motivated and out there being good little active beings Helly Hansen launched a Winter Duel app (available from the iTunes store and from the GooglePlay store) to enable you to challenge everyone from your best mate to a professional athlete or a Helly Hansen brand ambassador to run a bit further, a bit more, or a bit harder over a 5 week period.

Showerproof hoody, Nike trainers and @hellyhansen tights for a #winterduel run
Trainers, Nike -  Tights, c/o Helly Hansen - Hoody, c/o Mountain Warehouse

Now, I'm NOT a natural runner. I've tried it several times and even got to a passable level when training for forces selection, but it doesn't make me happy- that's what my bike is for. So I'm not really sure what it is that made me say yes to Helly Hansen when they asked if I wanted to review some of their winter training gear and give the app a go. I warned them that I'm strictly in the beginner category (I'm currently doing a C25K program) but I suspect it's the competitive element that has struck a chord- helped by the fact that I'm winning this week....


I usually leave being super competitive to my dad as watching him lose a game of Jenga is highly entertaining, but actually T bring out the competition in me and I like the Helly Hansen concept of channeling it. T & I sometimes race home from work as our routes converge about 1/3 of the way home and sometimes a challenge is what I need to get a buzz from something that I wouldn't normally enjoy- running is definitely one of those things.

It's been super interesting to put Helly Hansen kit through it's paces as an amateur this last month or so, mostly because the logo is familiar to me after years and years in the Lake District but I had no idea they did training gear. It's technical- and it works. Their kit is warm, dry, does what it says and is comfortable. So given today I came home from a session with the amazing director of design for Helly Hansen with a HUGE bag full of more kit to put to the test, it's all pretty exciting.

Stick about for a part 2- Mija, the director of design was really interesting and had lots to say about a brand that's over 100 years old and some of the kit coming over the next year is mind blowing (um.... basically glow in the dark anyone?!)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Who Cares

It seems this was a popular sentiment yesterday....


I actually quite enjoy reading blog posts about other people's goals and resolutions for the new year, but my Twitter feeds both business and personal were filled with Dry January and diet related food tweets, as well as the apparently obligatory first day back at work business- I find this odd not least because I know a good deal of people don't take 2 weeks off work for the festive period, in fact it's been a bit of a shock for us, because T is obliged to, due to working heavily with construction projects.

ANYWAY! I was a bit ambivalent to the ringing in of 2015 this year, strange as I usually love New Year, a bit like starting a fresh notebook or sleeping in fresh sheets with new PJs and clean hair... I didn't feel any great urge to set goals because most of the aims I have for 2015 are business related but in the first few days of January, it has become clear there's something I do need to resolve to do:

Take better care...

The final quarter of 2014 was blighted with illness- a nasty nasty experience with my gall bladder back in October, coughs, colds and my shoulder deciding to play up. I spent most of December feeling tired, run down and generally out of sorts. And more time away than at home. I haven't had my eyebrows threaded since September, my skin hates me and my poor hands are so dry that they're falling apart.

So, no diets, no desire to be generically more 'fit' or 'toned', no giving up things that make me happy (and vodka does make me happy!) but and understanding that I need to take better care of myself:

  • Get up 15 minutes earlier- I'm not a morning person, but I've trained myself into getting set up for work- at home or my hot desk by 0800. The extra 15 minutes is to eat breakfast- a habit I've fallen out of and am suffering for, and to ensure that the full routine of cleanse, tone, moisturise, eye cream, lip treatment and hand cream can be implemented
  • Take a break- I work predominantly alone. I work from home or a hot desk which is on the lower ground floor. This means that I don't see as much daylight and there's nobody to make me take lunch breaks or venture out of the door. I have a weekday alarm set for 1230 & 1530 on my phone, to remind me to get up, go and take the rubbish out or take the package to the post office or even just step outside for 5 minutes. Like a lot of people who work alone or for themselves, I'm guilty of burning the candle at both ends, and I'm less productive for it. 
Taking time to enjoy the view
  • Schedule appointments & treatments- I feel so much better for having my eyebrows threaded. I know, right?! It's not expensive and it's quick, but it's something I never make time for and therefore don't get round to. I also treated myself to a UV lamp for gel nail polish before Christmas (I already had the polishes etc from previous access to a lamp) and I love the novelty of a manicure that lasts longer than 2 days (which is the average life of my nail polish) and I've set reminders on my calender for a rotation of 2 weeks of gel polish followed by removal followed by 1 week of rest (and OPI Nail Envy). I have booked my next hair cut in advance. Sounds oh so trivial, but these small things mean when I look in the mirror, I feel a bit better put together. 
Now I remember why I normally do my own shellac... 1 week in and it's grown almost the nail length and I have a fight with a veg peeler.
How not to wear your gel manicure....
  • Water- I suspect my skin is raging for 2 reasons- first is that in December I drank more coffee than usual, and nowhere near as much water. Annoying, not least because drinking more than the recommended volume of water each day hasn't been an issue for me in a decade. And secondly because my skincare routines were not consistent. I've managed to dig out my mini filter coffee machine (makes a single mug at a time) and  I'll not be using the coffee pot through the week, as well as paying a bit more attention to emptying a 2 litre bottle of water between 0800 and 1800 each day. My skincare was disrupted because I was away so much in December, so this month it's back to more regimented practices, in a bid to try and even things back out again- including not changing any products. I find consistency helps. 
  • Preparation- And finally, the old adage, fail to prepare and prepare to fail. I took some time to ensure I have hand cream and lipsalve in with my diary, notebooks and phones. Having them on my desk- be that at home or in the office helps remind me to actually use them. I've had a good go through my skin care and make-up, ditching things I'm never going to use or that haven't worked for me. Following a few sale purchases to top up my wardrobe (why is it that I never seem to have the right balance of tops/blouses to skirts/trousers?!) a bag of donations has been compiled, I'm wearing and binning a handful of items this week and after my spectacular handbag purchase in Spain, a couple of the worn out or busted ones are now in the bin. 
I don't actually like the scent of this hand cream, but it was in the freebie stash and I can't justify spending £20 on the Aesop cream of dreams until I get through a little more of those tucked away things. 

There is an inherent theme of linking how I look and how I feel. I'm aware this may seem contrary to the many messages we as women are bombarded with regularly- that we're supposed to be able to embrace our natural beauty, or whatever. Rightly or wrongly, looking and feeling good are linked to each other for me. I'm aware this isn't everyone, and that's cool too, but it's a cycle of if I feel good about how I present to the world then I look better because I smile more, walk taller and find it easier to make eye contact. If I look in the mirror and see a young woman who looks after herself and takes a certain level of pride in how she presents herself to the world at large, I feel more confident, I find it easier to communicate with others and I find it easier to be more present as opposed to worrying what strangers, friends or the world at large might be thinking of or about me.

Likewise, when I am physically under the weather, I find it more difficult to be resilient to rejection- a natural part of the sales element of my work, It's tough to be positive when all you actually want to do is go back to bed and hide from the world until you've stopped coughing. It's hard not to feel weak or irrelevant when you've used everything you've got to get up and get working, never mind eating, drinking, laundry or leaving the house. Another good reason to ensure I put some effort into taking better care.

Life is too short to give up the things I like, and I like cheese. And carbs. And wine. And vodka. And Pfeffernüssen. Oh and cake. So I'm not. It's normal service resumed in our household, because we didn't depart all that far from it to start with, cheese happens mostly at the weekends and cake is portioned appropriate to amount of exercise performed in a day. But it's time to enjoy all these things not for comfort but for added joy.