Category Archives: opinion

[sponsored] Superdrug’s definition of health

A PR I had worked with before emailed me about a new campaign she was working on. Superdrug wanted to send me a basket of their health products to review. After seeing my blog she thought I’d be a perfect fit for the campaign.

I said yes, healthy items from a store I usually shop at sounded fine. I let her know my guidelines (post will clearly say sponsored and that all products were sent for review), address and that was that.

The next day a box arrived at my desk and included these items:

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(photo via Lunges and Lycra as I didn’t take a good picture of the products!)

And a few of these Lighter Life 5:2 fasting products

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Everyone has their own version of health. What works for some doesn’t for others. That said I do not think that the word diet should be anywhere near the word health when it comes to marketing and sales. Like the recent Protein World beach body advert uproar (that my friend Kat so eloquently summarized) companies need to start realizing that women want a wider range of options to their health than just the standard cookie cutter diet/skinny/pretty images we are being fed.

So, here is what I would put in my High Street Drug Store Health Basket:

1. Nails Inc. nailpolish for my marathon manicures

2. NYC 24hour city mascara that I’ve worn for every marathon and even OW swims. Never budges. Recently I wore it for a day that I cycled to work, ran at lunch, swam after work, and cycled home. No black smudges at all and it’s only £3.

3. Lillets. Because even though no one talks about it but Women do have their period on race day.

4. Mint bodywash. I love it. I know I shouldn’t but I do.

5. Dove cucumber anti-persperant. I’ve used it forever and will continue to, once I accidentally bought a pink one that smelled like dusty roses left in a library for 55 years.

6. Ibuprofen. I pick up a few boxes every time I’m there for obvious reasons.

7. Superdrug Clearly Youthful day & night moisturizers with SPF 15.  I’ve been using this skincare range for a while now and enjoy it mostly because it’s affordable, but also, my skin seems happier than it has in years.

So, if Supedrug is listening, I’d like to see your definition of health change and be more flexible to meet the true healthy lifestyles that women are currently living.

waffle disaster

A few months ago Myprotein sent me over some samples of their products to try. I chose a bag of their pancake mix and some recovery hot chocolate because… well… let’s be honest I’m not going to be voluntarily adding ‘waxy maize starch‘ to my diet any time soon.

The recovery hot chocolate (mocha) was great. I was in the middle of my marathon training through February and coming home after wet or cold runs in the dark it was nice to look forward to a warm drink. I try to get protein in after my longer runs as I’ve heard it helps recovery, but in reality I’m all about ease and if it’s easy to eat or drink I’ll grab it.  One night I added the powder to some hot almond milk and that as a winner in terms of taste.

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I had also just bought a waffle maker (waffles are far superior to pancakes IMO) and decided to try the pancake mix in it. Big mistake. It’s a very watery mixture and just did not work at all.

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My next attempt involved adding the mixture to my Mom’s already tried/tested/true pancake & waffle recipe. I figured since it was so sweet I’d just cut down on the sugar and add a bit more milk if needed. Worked a charm and the waffles were delish. Not sure how protein-healthy they were with the additions, but still tasty and good enough for me.

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Myprotein sent me these products for free to review. They do not encourage you to freestyle and try their products out in waffle makers.

a frustrating week

I’ve been frustrated this week. It’s been another one of those weeks where it seems like everywhere I look there is another sexist advertisement or insulting image.

I have a pretty basic test. If a normal person looks at a statement or image and their immediate reaction is “WHAT?” or “That seems unfair” then it probably is. Yes, there might be a reason why it is unfair (status quo, marketing pressure, sponsorship demands, etc) but the fact that it is unfair means it is something that should be noted.

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1. Anna drew my attention to this race that is awarding prizes to the top 10 males and top 6 females. People are saying it is because based on last year’s entries both are equal to 0.007% of the gender’s entry field, but I don’t agree with that. First, there is no cap on entries, so who knows how many Men/Women will enter this year. Second, at first glance it just seems unfair. Why is the 0.007% chosen? Why not 0.009%? Third, if it is a matter of funding, ie. the sponsor only has x amount of money to award prizes, shouldn’t it be split evenly?

2. I was emailed by a PR to try a new fitness class put on by a big UK gym & international fitness apparel brand. This was in the description of the class.

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In no way do I think fitness or exercise should be negatively motivated and it really grinds my gears (lol) when people emphasise this. Not to mention that it is dangerous to associate mental and physical breaking points with fitness as it could actually encourage people to put themselves into dangerous situations. I’ve seen it with the #fitspo community and disordered eating. The intent of the message may not be harmful, but the audience might take it as such.

You might not agree with me that these are issues (a lot of people on Twitter sure told me I was insane for even thinking they were) but I hope that at least by bringing them up and discussing them we’re moving away from the oh well it’s what’s always been done common place and towards thinking before we act.

running shoe review

Just before Christmas Sportsshoes.com offered to send me a pair of running shoes to review. I asked for a pair of the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 14s as I’ve been wanting to try them forever and haven’t really enjoyed the New Balance 860s I was wearing this year.

As luck would have it I had also just ordered a pair of trail shoes from Sportsshoes.com the day before, so it was a great day when the postroom delivered 2 pairs of shoes to my desk.

I brought both pairs to Vancouver with me for the holidays to put through the ringer.

Brooks Adrenaline GTS

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I’ve done about 10 runs in these shoes. They’re quickly becoming my all around favourite supportive shoe. I can see a lot of half marathons and marathons in their future.  Most recently they came on a wet Seawall run with me and even though I couldn’t get the shoes in the selfie, they were there I promise.

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As far as specs go, I truly believe everyone should go to a speciality running store to get a proper shoe fit and see all the options available. What I do like about these is they are a great fit for my narrow feet and I haven’t noticed any rubbing at all.  They were great on the hardpack trails near my parents house, and I was “almost” able to keep up with our speedy dog Nixon

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I took them for a run along the beach path and did about a mile actually on the hardpack sand with them and they were a delight to run in. See below for #shoefie proof.  I personally love the bright pink option, the last pair of shoes I was in love with were a bright pink pair of New Balances so I’m hoping for the same colour luck.

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New Balance Leadville Trail Shoes

A bit of a 2-for-1 review, I thought I’d put my opinions about these shoes on the blog seeing as I ordered them at the same time. I’m in love. I’m not sure if it’s 100% due to the shoe, or where I get to go in them, but these trainers are going to take me to new heights I’m sure.

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I wore them while hiking up the BCMC trail on Grouse Mountain with Alex and could not believe how grippy and stable they were on the wet/snow trail. The BCMC is right beside the Grouse Grind and open all year round (while the Grind closes due to liability). The BCMC isn’t as built up as the Grind either so there are more roots, and wet slopes.  I didn’t take one wrong step the whole way up and felt confident on sections of the trail like below with slick roots.

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They were also really stable on the uneven ground and even though I’m not quite used to these types of trails (London? Not quite the same terrain) my ankles were fine the next day.

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It goes without saying the blue is amazing too. My favourite part of these is that they are snug around my narrow foot, but the toe box is HUGE so you have a bit of freedom to move your toes around (and accomodate swelling on those longer trail runs I’m assuming)

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Shoes are great, but you can have too many, so with these new pairs arriving Alex and I have set aside a few of our older, gently loved, pairs to donate to In Her Shoes in the New Year.

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Thanks to Sportsshoes.com for sending me the Brooks Adrenelaine GTS14 pair of shoes to review.

kit review: Fitbug orb

Guest post time! The lovely Charlie Brown has been wearing a Fitbug orb around for the past few weeks and agreed to review how well it stands up to her very active lifestyle. Don’t believe me? Follow her on Twitter @ziggy_brown and you’ll see she’s doing sprint sets before you’ve even removed your duvet. 

So the Fitbug orb is built to track your every move, day and night, giving you the motivation to “move more, eat better and feel great”.

I was asked to test this little “bug” (my nickname for it) and this is what I found.

First Impressions

So as almost all my friends will tell you I am always busy.  When this lovely little box was delivered I, of course, had to set it up on the move.  Within minutes, whilst working to work(!?), I had registered my bug, set up an online account, linked it to my phone and had starting tracking my movements.  So big thumbs up there for ease!

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Over the next few weeks the bug never left my wrist and I was constantly complimented on my new “watch”.  Now sadly the bug does not have a watch face and this is definitely something I would suggest it adds (obviously I don’t know how easy this would be but it would definitely be a plus point).  So once again another thumbs up for the aesthetically pleasing production of this item, literally complimented everywhere I went!?

The Tracking

So this bug “uses an advanced 3-axis accelerometer to accurately measure your every step and move” this then (when you tell it to) sends your stats via Bluetooth to your phone, or you can login online to see your data.  Now I know I walk a lot, I walk to work most days which is 4 miles, plus everything else that I get up to as the day progresses, but it was quite interesting to see all my details being logged every day.  It did confirm I cover A LOT of ground!

As well as walking I also run, lift weights, take part in various fitness classes, do circuits and during the time period I tested this I also took part in a pretty extreme obstacle race.  The bug, like I said, came everywhere with me and I was extremely impressed that it even survived the Spartan Race, which included A LOT of swimming!   However, the Spartan Race also highlighted the pros and cons of a calorie counter.

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The bug asks you a variety of questions when you set it up, including your age, height and weight and I assume this is the information it uses to estimate the calories you burn.  Personally I don’t count calories I do a lot of exercise, I eat a lot of food!  However, it is interesting to see what you burn on average during the day.  However, during the Spartan Race, a 13 mile obstacle race which had me taking part in physical activity for over 4 hours, the Fitbug told me I had only burnt around 1100 calories.  To me this seems like a ridiculously small amount knowing that on average I burn roughly 100 calories every 10 minutes of running, but then if it is only tracking steps maybe this would be correct ….

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Coming out of the water you can see a bump in the middle of my chest, yep that’s the bug!

The Fitbug also tracks the amount of hours slept.  With three pushes of a button you let it know you are off to sleep and then it logs the hours slept, turning itself off after logging 50 steps taken.  It also tells you the quality of your sleep.  Now I don’t understand how it knows the quality of my sleep but I certainly found it interesting to see how little hours I actually do get per night!

Overall I was impressed with the Fitbug, for the ease of setting it up, how it looked and how quickly you could access all your stats and track your progress.  Personally, I don’t think this product would be for me.   I already know I am active and I don’t really have an interest in seeing how many calories I have burnt as I am always sceptical on how these things are worked out!  HOWEVER, I do think this would be a great little device for someone just starting to get into the world of fitness.  I can definitely see how this would motivate you to get more active.  I mean seeing your stats everyday and seeing if you could beat them is a definite incentive and maybe the calorie counter could be used as a good starter point in understanding how many calories you burn during a long walk for instance.

All in all I think the Fitbug would make a great little present and who knows maybe it would be the start of a collection of technical tracking devices as your love for fitness grows!

Thanks to Fitbug for sending Charlie the orb to test out. All opinions are obviously Charlie’s and neither of us were compensated financially for this post. 

i still smell

A while back I wrote a blog post about a deodorant I was asked to try out.  Well, you can call me a superblogger now, as I think I’ve made my own market.  In the past few months I’ve been sent a few other “smell better now” products to try out and thought I’d share my thoughts with you all.

First I tried some more deodorant. I was sent some Sure Compressed that is the same sh*t different bottle (my marketing slogan not theirs) It’s compressed and thus smaller so can fit in your gym bag. I kept it at work in my desk drawer for all those post-lunchtime pilates & yoga classes, but they sent me one that has a “bright” scent so stinks up my clothes and I now only use it for emergencies.

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Then I was sent some laundry sachets. I don’t think my laundry smells more than the average person, but there is a lot more of it. These surcare sachets worked a charm for my whites, darks, and workout loads. I usually pick laundry detergent by price (as long as it’s non-bio) so wouldn’t recommend one over the other, but at least these work.

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But what good does deodorant & laundry detergent do if you yourself don’t smell like… a roast chicken (?!?)  Radox sent me some of their Lemon & Thyme body wash to try out after those especially smelly long runs during marathon training.  Now, I’m a loyal mint bodywasher, so to try lemon and thyme felt a bit like cheating but it did the job and got me clean without any awful flowery smells.

I’m still on the lookout for a footspray sponsor, could definitely use a dry shampoo sponsor, and if I’m truly going to be the cleanest superblogger out there then we’re going to have to talk fully-sponsored spa days.

underground cookery school with quorn

Guess who’s back.
Back again.
Quorn is back (on this blog)
Tell your friends.

That’s right the Quorn brand invited me to another event last week where we got to take an Underground Cookery School class and then enjoy the spoils of our labour after. It’s not often I say no to free food, and the Quorn brand is an interesting one (more on that later) so I was happy to attend.

I showed up to yummy appetizers (veggie tempura & arancini!) and lots of bubbles to drink as we got to know the other people at the class. I was the only running blogger there so instead of talking about our next races and current injuries we actually spoke about “real” stuff like politics & religion.

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We were quickly put in aprons and taught how to make pasta. It was dead easy and really fun to use the pasta making machine thing to produce fresh tagliatelle.

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Being a true professional I never let a drink leave my hand and presented my fresh pasta to the official drying rack for cooking later.

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After making the pasta we went over to the stove to blend up some ragu sauce and start our chicken curry paste. I know everyone says this but it is really so easy and simple to make fresh and delicious food. The chefs at the cooking school used the normal recipes and then just added the relevant Quorn pieces after. As you can see from the blurry photo below, the result was pretty good and especially with the bolognese, you couldn’t tell it wasn’t beef mince.

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For pudding we made up an amazing Strawberry roulade. Not one to let food (sugar) go to waste, with the leftover meringue I made a charming little soufflé.

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Again, being the only running blogger I cleared each course (there was a chicken curry course too but my phone died) and licked the plate before the food bloggers even finished photographing each damn angle. Being a Quorn sponsored event they did go through the spiel about why it’s so good. I’m not a vegetarian or watching my weight so none of the claims they made really  mattered to me. What does matter is taste & convenience and Quorn hits on both of these. I may not be adding it to my weekly shop, but a pack or two in the freezer would not go amiss on those nights I get home from a run starving.