Category Archives: product review

World Meat Free Day with Quorn

It’s World Meat Free day on Monday, and while I will never promote or prescribe people eliminating anything from their diet (that’s your own choice), it is something that even just thinking about can bring about small changes.

Last month I went to a dinner with Quorn and we made a variety of dishes with Quorn products for a meat free meal.  Being a Quorn Fitness Ambassador this year I’ve been trying a few different Quorn products in my meals here and there and have found them to be OK mostly, nothing too special but also good enough to be a decent meal when needed.

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Me thinking… “Can I drink this entire bowl of chocolate?

The starter was a pulled pork sandwich made with Quorn and to be honest it was horrible. The quorn pieces tasted nothing like slow cooked pulled pork in taste or texture. The sauce wasn’t as smoky as it should be and it was served on a bog standard packaged white bun that added nothing to the entire meal. At our end we were saying it just felt like eating a stale piece of white bread with a bit of diluted ketchup.

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Don’t waste your time and eat the real thing.

The main was a chicken curry which was a bit better. Not up to my homemade curry standards, but considering we whipped it up in 30 minutes not so bad. This one wasn’t the Quorns fault though as the chicken pieces in the curry were OK and had a somewhat tofu like texture (although didn’t soak up as much flavour as tofu would).

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For pudding we had a great chocolate pudding with ice cream and we learned that with the same ingredients you can make a chocolate souffle, a brownie, a sponge and a fondant. Just by changing the ratios.

Being a Quorn evening we were told all about Quorn by the product experts.  In my opinion Quorn is clearly made and marketed as a meat substitute, and those who are looking for something quick and easy to throw into a already planned meat recipe can use it as such.  If it is your first Meat Free Day and you want to try substituting out Meat without any effort then by all means go and try your regular recipes with Quorn. But that said, I think that there are so many great vegetables and non-meat foods out there that you are limiting yourself if you only use Quorn products. This all goes back to the idea of everything in moderation!

I am a Quorn Fitness Ambassador for 2015 and have been asked to share about World Meat Free Day in collaboration with Quorn.

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[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.

Blogging butterfly

My friend Simon calls me a blogging butterfly and always wants to know what random event I’ve been to in the past week. I don’t think he’ll even be able to process that I recently went to a breakfast and on historical tour of Soho thanks to a new Icelandic super yoghurt product.

A month ago I was invited to the launch of Arla Skyr yoghurt, I said yes right away because it was a free breakfast during my taper/carb week of London Marathon training. Plus, I love Iceland, ran one of my favourite half marathons there a few years ago, and while I was there never had the chance to try their apparently super yoghurt.

Launch of Skyr yoghurt at Ham Yard Hotel

We met at the Ham Yard Hotel, which was fancier than I expected when I showed up in my sweaty bike kit, and met up with the friendly PR and bloggers ready for breakfast.  The morning started with an introduction by a Nutritionist as to how important breakfast is.  I can’t say this was directed at me, and I was shocked at how many women in the room still don’t eat breakfast. I found the Nutrition talk a bit too ‘eat protein filled yoghurt to stay full and not snack and then loose weight’ (what I took from the talk not what she actually said word-for-word) so didn’t think it directed at me.

Launch of Skyr yoghurt at Ham Yard Hotel

We were finally released to the breakfast table, but had to wait a few minutes while everyone else got out their fancy cameras to take fancy photos of the food (see their blogs as I clearly was focused on the food). It was a great breakfast with hot stuffed croissants, salmon bagels, and fruit. They had yoghurt granola parfaits too made with the Skyr yoghurt and they were also delicious.  I’ll never complain about free food though assume any biases you wish.

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After breakfast we headed out on a tour of Soho with the absolutely fabulous tour guide Peter Berthoud.  I cannot recommend him enough if you want to arrange a tour of the Soho area of London. I’ve already enquired about booking a tour when my Parents are here in June. He had a ton of very interesting facts about the area and not just your normal boring tour facts.

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We left the event with our own supply of Skyr yoghurt and as I went straight to work I left it in the work fridge for my colleagues to try. It was gone in less than a week! Everyone loved it with their morning granola and muslei which I think is a better review than any old blogger will give you.

Arla Skyr Yoghurt invited me to the breakfast & tour in return for writing up my thoughts in a blog post. I ate at least 3 croissants & 2 bagels plus a few cups of coffee and delicious fresh mango. I’m never patient enough to peel mangos so will always take advantage of that!

what do you do with your data

Last year someone was telling me how much they hate running with a GPS watch and think it’s the worst way to run, “looking at your pace the whole time instead of looking up and enjoying the run.”

I looked down at my giant green watch and thought, “Huh, yep that’s a big ol’ watch on my hand”. I barely ever look at my pace and if it wasn’t the size of a baby turtle, I wouldn’t even really notice it when I was running. It got me thinking about why I wear one and why I recently upgraded to the new Suunto Ambit3 Run.

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I run to explore. Some of that exploring takes a few months of training to do, so not all my runs are across the Dales and over mountains, but there are a lot of plods to/from work and around the river at Runch. What I like about all those runs are that I can go back and look at them after. Which brings me to the first way I use my data.

I love my run maps. I love looking at my Nike+/Garmin Connect/Strava/MovesCount (the evolution of my running tracking!) and seeing the route I ran and the surprisingly detailed maps they produce. I’ve had runs that cover entire islands, dip into the sea at low tide, and trace giant circles around cities I am exploring.

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Art. I have this dream that one day all this data I am collecting will be able to be turned into a cool piece of art.  I want some sort of interactive world map on the wall of my house that shows each run I’ve done in different parts of the world. The details need to be worked out but one day it will be on my wall.  In the meantime Sisu is doing really cool things when you connect your Strava account. I love looking at my runs in different ways and seeing the the data my watch is collecting.

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For the past 2.5 years my Garmin10 FR has been my best friend and totally up to any run/cycle/swim I threw at it (yes, it’s waterproof even though they don’t actively advertise it!) and I loved it’s simplicity and think it’s the best basic watch on the market. But it’s battery has been getting shorter and shorter, and my runs have been getting longer and longer. I’m not going to finish a marathon in 3:30 any time soon so need my watch to last a little longer.  I’m not going to go into all the things the Suunto Ambit3 Run does, as I’d be here for years (and you can check out DC Rainmaker for that) but it has up to 100 hours of battery life on GPS. It uploads wirelessly to your mobile phone, it makes 3D videos of your run data, you can customize it 100% to match the activities you do (or don’t do) – I even have a commute cycle setting, and finally you can plan routes on it and follow them with it’s built in compass.

If I’m having that same conversation about GPS watches now, I’d say that just because you wear a watch doesn’t mean you’re a slave to the pace setting.

I bought the Suunto Amibt3 Run with the contribution I received from Quorn. As a part of my partnership with Quorn they are helping me financially to reach my 2015 fitness goals. 

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.