Thursday, 28 May 2015

Glitter in the garden

There's nothing like a bit of fresh air to wear the kids out over the holidays. But sometimes you need a break from rushing around and just want to stay home. This needn't mean your kids must be cooped up indoors though. Try these tips to keep fidgety fingers busy on those relaxed days.

1. Use garden-themed crafts 

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Do you have a drinking problem?

This? Oh this is just me hanging out with England rugby player Danny Cipriani earlier today. Danny wanted to discuss his diet and training with me - and in particular how a milk intolerance has affected his performance in the past. In the interests of clarity, I guess I should confess a few things. Danny didn't invite just me for 'elevenses' (I guess he's shy?) - and in fact the invite came via The a2 Milk Company.

Danny and a2 have teamed up to spread the message about the 'Welcome Back to Milk' campaign. Seems there's a lot of misinformation in the 'free from' arena. Allergies and intolerances have got all jumbled up and there's a right scrum (see what I did there?!) about what we can and can't, should and shouldn't eat and drink. So let's 'try' and break it down (ok, I'll stop now).

Monday, 18 May 2015

Safety tips for novice cyclists

The upside of my running injury (groan, am I still on about that?), is that I was forced to look for alternative cardio activities. One of my options was to learn swim better, with goggles on and head down in the water, working on my bi-lateral breathing. Now I'm in the pool a couple of times a week, regularly getting through 50 lengths and on the verge of upgrading my beach bikini to an actual proper swimsuit (only because I had a Babs Windsor 'Carry on Camping' moment the other day - eek!). Soon I might even look like a real swimmer. 

Another option was to get on my bike and try out some road cycling - which is very much de rigueur round these parts - in fact the local A road is full of MAMILs on a sunny day. I should make it quite clear that prior to the Victoria Pendleton hybrid I bought last summer with a view to keeping up with the kids, I hadn't owned a bike since I was 12 - and my only biking experience during that time was cycling between wineries in Australia. This experience only served to prove that I was far more familiar with sinking a few cheeky glasses than calculating cadence! Time to ditch my deeper understanding of the grape and get grappling with gears...

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Step away from the black leggings!!!

I've got a LOT of gym clothes. There's countless capris, run tights, shorts and a skort taking up one drawer, then t-shirts, vests and other tops in another. There's also a pile of jackets, fleeces and long-sleeved options in the wardrobe for those colder months and specific underwear for specific activities in another cubby hole. And let's not even get started on footwear. And yet, there's a dominant colour in all of these. Black. Yes, because despite the occasional flash of blue and some hi-viz pink for biking exploits, there's a whole lotta black going on in my workout wardrobe. But it's something I wish I could change! And not least because when I get changed after working out I invariably put on - yes you've guessed it - BLACK!!!

So, while I was at Be:Fit the other weekend, I  checked out some lesser-known but far more colourful alternatives and here they are:

Tiny Fish

This is what happens when two stylish, over-achievers get together. Two close friends, two impressive career paths, lots of memories and now - one rather fab range of colourful leggings boasting two-way stretch, UV protection and breathability. Tiny Fish leggings come in capri or full length and are made from Italian Lycra and suit an array of sporting activities from yoga and dance to running and beyond. The leggings also offer muscle control and piling resistant technologies to keep your sporty look luxe for longer.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Be:Fit London - healthy inspiration to last the year!

At this time of year, there's a lot of pressure to be 'bikini ready'. Apart from the dubious overtones that carries with it (not least the issue of unrealistic photo-shopped beauty ideals for woman to beat themselves up about), health and fitness is never about the quick fix. If you want to maintain a certain level of cardio fitness, body strength and flexibility - and if you want to eat a nutritious diet - then you're in in it for the long haul. And you're going to need to keep up your motivation levels.

Which is where a three-day health and fitness 'festival' dedicated to woman comes in. Be:Fit London was recently home to some of the UK’s top trainers and classes in a bespoke fitness studio, and offered wellness, nutrition and health experts plus Olympic icons in dedicated kitchen and theatre areas. You could even get a free nutritional assessment. And just in case you got bored (unlikely!) there was also over 125 premium health and fitness brands to peruse from food and drink to fitness equipment, clothing and holidays. It's a great way to learn more, set yourself achievable goals and kit yourself out with everything you need to progress. And just what inspired me, you ask?

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Can you read a food label?

The other day I was on the treadmill in the gym and caught a tiny bit of 'Rip Off Britain: Food'. The very lovely Gloria Hunniford was talking about food labelling - and in particular explaining why sometimes quantities on food labels just don't add up (sometimes the ingredient percentages quoted can add up to more than 100 per cent - and even with my limited maths skills I know that can't be right!). The answer to this riddle is that often food manufacturers quote the percentage of that ingredient before it is cooked, rather than as a percentage that ingredient is of the final product as it is eaten. This might for example mean that a product such as jam could start off with a lot of fruit and some sugar, but when cooked, would lose a lot of the fruit in the cooking process but not lose much of the sugar. So, while you might buy such a product thinking it was 70 per cent fruit, by the time it's going in your mouth things could be very different...

It's easy to know what's in some basic food staples
For me it was just another example of how food manufacturers are desperate to keep information about exactly how food is made to themselves. They'd probably call it 'good marketing' - after all we all know certain food are high in sugar and fat - and kind of like to forget the details sometimes and just enjoy a treat. But the problem really is, that we can't really tell what is a treat anymore - hidden (and often unnecessary IMHO) sugars and hard-to-pronounce chemicals litter the labels of prepared food. Low-fat foods are a prime example of clever labelling - as they often have extra sugar to make the end product taste appealing instead - a kind of giving with one hand and taking away with the other approach. While in a perfect world we'd make everything from scratch, it would be nice if we could just grab and go from time to time - but I think those that are selling us that dream don't want us to ask too many questions. Ignorance is bliss after all!

But maybe it's time to wise up?

Monday, 13 April 2015

#Healthy inspiration from Barcelona

Taking a break is always a pleasure - and should leave us refreshed and revived. So it's not surprising that a holiday is often a source of inspiration too. Take us out of our comfort zone and we can look with fresh eyes at the world around us - be it filled with natural beauty, cultural delights or stimulating scenery. How often have you come back from a trip feeling stimulated by something you saw or experienced and/or relaxed enough to tackle tasks that seemed daunting beforehand?

This is how I felt when I happened across the magnificent Mercat de Sant Josep on La Rambla in Barcelona. A huge walk-through affair that is a magnet to tourists and locals alike, packed to the rafters with tempting, fresh foods. Stepping across the threshold brought back vague memories of how people used to shop in the UK, before superstores, ready meals and ordering online became the norm. At this market individual traders ply everything from fruit and veg, fresh fish, meat, eggs and dried  mushrooms to sweets treats and baked goods. They call out to you, ready to bargain. You can touch and examine their wares - they expect questions and conversation. It's a feast for the eyes and ears sure - and full of locally-sourced, fresh and nutritious foods. You can even sit down and have some freshly made tapas.

How long is it since you spoke to a fishmonger?

And it hit me that we have become too used to looking at photoshopped images, motivational phrases and hashtags like #eatclean, #weightlossjourney and #fittip when we need a reminder to make healthy lifestyle choices. I remember going grocery shopping with my mum when I was small. She took her own bags (I was always transfixed by the wicker baskets people used) and walked to the green grocers for fruit and veg and another shop for milk and cheese, you bought fish when you were by the harbour and meat came from the butcher's (okay, that just happened to be my Dad!!). Mum made everything from pastry to stock and I (and my brother) stood alongside her learning how to cook. Properly.