Protect Your Joints: LQ Liquid Health Jointcare

You probably take your body for granted until you get that first twinge after exercise, or that niggling pain, or that ache a few days after you pushed yourself really hard during a session. Truth is, your body does what it’s supposed to – until it doesn’t! I had an experience like this last year when I sprained my ankle really badly training for the London Marathon. It still hasn’t healed, and no, I didn’t get to compete. I’ve deferred until next year, which gives me even more time to get ready.

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ZeroFat iR1 launch: burn it off on a bike!

Last week, I was one of the first people in the country to try a brand new piece of exercise equipment called the ZeroFat iR1. I came away really impressed and excited to share my experience with you all, so here goes!

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Get your body ready for January with LQ Liquid Health Joint Care

Get your body ready for January: keeping healthy in winter

People love to pour scorn on New Year resolutions almost as much as they like to make them. January is a natural time to reflect on the last year and try and make the next 12 months better than the last, though – and it’s a good time to get stuck into exercise too, if you’ve spent December on the sofa overindulging!

I get sent a lot of supplements and vitamins throughout the year, so I thought I’d share my favourites with you in time for the New Year. These are things you can start taking right away to get your body ready for whatever you want to throw at it come next month!

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22-Day Revolution posts

A quick update to let you know that if you want to discover all my 22-Day Revolution posts, I’ve now collected them all in one handy-dandy page, which you can view here: https://foodfashfit.com/the-22-day-revolution/

Stepping On Kate’s Toes: Adidas Pure Boost X Review

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If there’s one thing I love doing, it’s buying workout clothes. There are so many gorgeous outfits and beautiful trainers that whenever I feel like my motivation to work out is waning, I can be sure to revitalise it with a new T-shirt or even a pair of trainers. So when the Duchess of Cambridge appeared in Portsmouth wearing a new pair of Adidas Pure Boost Xs, I knew it was time to make a purchase. I’ve never bought a pair of Kate’s trainers before (although I do have a pair of New Balance x Heidi Klum trainers that Pippa Middleton later wore!) so that helped tip them into my basket – and the fact that I could nab them from Next helped too!

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When they arrived, the first thing I noticed was their rather eccentric construction. The shoe is only attached to the sole at the toes and heel, and the arch of the foot is suspended above the base. This is probably the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen in a running shoe, although it does provide better ventilation for your foot. As I often run on trails, this rang alarm bells immediately, as this shoe is certainly not suitable for running on mud or through puddles. (Can you imagine getting a twig or a stone caught under your arch and on the top of the sole? Ouch!)

The technical term for this construction, according to Adidas, is a floating arch. The idea is that this creates more support by encasing your arch (I called it a foot hammock and I stick by the description), but personally I didn’t feel like this actually worked for my foot in the short time I’ve been wearing it.

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The other thing I noticed was how cool these look in person. It doesn’t really come across in the pictures (and I have to admit, the first pics I saw of Kate wearing made me think this was a pretty boring shoe), but these have some serious style. It was the second batch of pictures released of Kate in her black Ralph Lauren jumper and skinny jeans that made me rethink them as a serious purchase. They’re just so sleek!

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Anyway, after I’d finished mucking around and sticking my hand through the bottom of them, I decided to take them on a run to put them through their paces. I already suspected they wouldn’t be great on trails so I decided to put that to the test and do a normal circuit through the woods. First, though, I tried them out on the pavements – and as  I thought, they’re a decent road runner, nice and light on my feet.

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On my usual, stony, woodland trails, the shoes do fairly well. There’s very little in the way of grip on the sole, but the stones in the soil here help the shoe to stick. Even at this stage, it was becoming apparent that the Pure Boost’s strength was running on concrete, though…

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Things started to get a little bit worse on the narrower, rooty pathways – not having the arch of the foot attached to the sole really started to ache my arches after a while, and if there’s any movement on impact when you put your foot down on something (large stone, tree root, whatever), there’s a lot of sliding inside the shoe as your foot isn’t supported all the way across.

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Here’s a prime example of a situation where the Pure Boosts are completely out of their element. No, I wasn’t drunk when I took this pic – the ground really is that slanted in places. When you’re running on a surface like this your foot will naturally slant to the side, but when wearing the Pure Boosts, the lack of attachment allows the foot to slide inside the shoe quite a lot. At one point, because my foot wasn’t anchored in the centre of the shoe, the toes and heel went sideways with the ground while my arch when downwards with the force of my stride. A little difficult to explain, but suffice to say there was a bit of mid-run foot-in-shoe adjustments going on after this section. I would not run in these shoes on a trail like this again! It also worried me to think of road running in an actual race with these on – if you found yourself running on a street with a steep camber this would be very uncomfortable after a while.

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With all the negatives out of the way, I have to say I’m still glad I bought these. Any runner who goes on a variety of different surfaces will tell you there’s no such thing as an all-purpose shoe. The all in one base on the shoe means there are fewer spots to rub and cause chafing and blisters. You can theoretically wear these without socks, although as you can see I chickened out and wore mine! The shoe does fit quite snugly and all the recommendations I’ve seen are to take a half size up from your normal size (I can’t be the only one who finds this infuriating, can I? Why don’t they just label them a half size differently if that’s the case?). Personally, I would recommend these for short bouts of road running, casual wear, gym wear or doing sports like sailing! (I have no idea on the last front, but Kate seemed to think they were suitable!)

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Reading reviews of the shoe online shows me that I’m not alone in thinking these aren’t the best for running, despite them being advertised by Adidas for that purpose. Most of the feedback recommends these for short runs or gym visits, and I’d agree. If you’re going further than five miles and you’re going off the pavement at any point, this is probably not the shoe to wear. But if you’re looking for a lifestyle/casual pair of trainers that you can also wear for the odd treadmill run or fitness class, this is a great choice.

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The Adidas Pure Boost X is available direct from Adidas, or via Next. This model is the  Pure Boost X Shoes Core Black AQ6681, and they’re priced at £90.(The Pure Boost X also comes in a large range of other gorgeous colourways!)

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The Best Yoga Mat In The World: The Liforme Mat

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I love yoga, but I gave it up for the longest time because I always had trouble slipping. No matter what I did, my palms would always slip. I tried various mats, but nothing ever worked, and then I gave up for years. Recently, thanks to a shoulder injury, I decided to take it up again in the hopes that some directed and thoughtful exercise would strengthen my joints.

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Zombies 5k: initial review

In early spring, I’m going to be motoring off with a bunch of other fine folks to take part in a crazy, mud-soaked 5k obstacle course. So, I decided, as a basic minimum, that I really should at least be able to run 5k before I get there… In comes Zombies 5k, an app I had already downloaded but never used – which sits in amongst a plethora of 5k apps that I download whenever I’m supposed to be doing Race for Life. This time, though, I’m pretty serious about making sure I prepare properly. So at the end of last month, I embarked on my first week of Zombie 5k training!

The app works with your phone (and is also available on Android) to track your distance and other fancy things, but the main feature of it that made me download was the storyline that’s woven into your progress as you run. You plug in your earphones, select a playlist from your music folder, and then in between tracks, narrators tell a story of a group of survivors of a zombie apocalypse, of which you are one, who are struggling to gather supplies. As Runner 5, you are put into training to venture out and gather items, and the narrators mix together plot points and training advice along the way to make each run seem like it’s building up to make you an elite, zombie-outrunning athlete.

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These are screenshots from my phone to show the information that you gather as you run – and how you progress, from a series of short bursts of running interspersed with walking, to an hour’s worth of longer runs and walks in the final week. Unless you are incredibly unfit, it should be easy to get stuck into, and it follows a fairly typical route for most 5k training programmes.

One of my favourite parts about this programme, though, is the way that it captures lots of extra info that can be viewed online if you link your app to the website, www.zombiesrungame.com.

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First of all, it tracks your overall distance and time, and also breaks down the total distances for each week as you go along, as well as informing you about the major plot points you’ve encountered so far. Week one workout three was especially fun for me, as I went with my parents and their mad dogs to Royal Victoria Country Park, where not only did I get dragged through the mud by an insane mutt, but I also got to experience an exciting storyline twist when I was asked to run outside the safety of the base in order to pick up some ammo for the township!

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As you can see, if you choose to share this info, the website can track your progress on a map – which is the second aspect I really like. You can see exactly where you went, and even how fast you were going at each stage – right down to your speed for each individual song!

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Royal Victoria Country Park is an amazing place to run, as it covers lots of different terrains, from a pavemented seafront, to a wooded area, and even a military cemetery. And here’s an interesting fact for you: the tower is what’s left of Royal Victoria Hospital, where the fictional Dr Watson from the Sherlock Holmes stories trained as a surgeon for the army!

Somehow, my app magically synched itself to my run and had me tearing down a side route (middle left) in order to pick up the aforementioned ammo. The accompanying insane canine was very happy to pull me far beyond my normal running pace and I ended up plunging through a series of muddy puddles of varying depths… But, considering I’m training for an obstacle course, I’d say it’s all part of the programme!

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I’m definitely happy to have picked this method of training, and I’ll be sure to pick up my review at a later date in order to fill you in on my progress! Crazy as I sounds, I actually look forward to my thrice-weekly runs, and it’s a combination of a well-crafted learning curve, and an interesting storyline, that are keeping me coming back for more. Visit the app store to find Zombies 5k, or head to www.zombiesrungame.com for more info.

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An Ode To popchips

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I have a bit of a thing for popchips – I first heard about them on the Jillian Michael’s podcast, as she’s an investor in the company, and as you know, I love me some Jillian. So I was eager to try them out, and boy, did they live up to the hype.

I got an email through from popchips recently about research they did about snacking at work, that used the term ‘snackered’ to describe the British workforce – the word combining ‘knackered’ with ‘snack’ to refer to someone who is both tired and in need of a little sustenance to restore their soul. I don’t know if they coined this term, but I like it, and I’m adding it in to the very important diet-related word ‘hangry’ – when you’re so hungry, you get angry because you’re on a diet and you’re not ‘allowed’ to eat anything. Well, popchips are under 100 calories a bag, so whether you’re hangry or snackered, I’m fairly sure you can fit this into your calorie allowance!

Most diet plans will have an allowance for snack food – sometimes twice a day – and that fits into popchips’ research that workers reach for snacks at 11.30am and 3pm daily. Plus, apparently, 1 in 10 workers of the 2000 they surveyed admitted to taking a day off with a faked illness when they ran out of energy in the afternoon, while 6% said they take their snacks into the toilet to eat in secret! Not sure what’s going on there, but I don’t think you’d have a reason to hide your bag of popchips at the office – unless you were scared of your co-workers stealing them! I have to say, in the case of bunking off work because of low energy levels, I don’t think a bag of popchips can really solve that problem (sometimes, a sickie is just a sickie), but it will console you to snack on them during your commute home as you contemplate a half duvet day…

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popchips are definitely one of those snacks that it’s worth having around the house (and office!) for when you get an attack of the munchies – because they’re not fried, but rather popped like popcorn, they’re healthier for you than regular potato crisps. I wouldn’t say they’re an alternative to crisps, because it does them a disservice to compare the two – they’re really a unique product all on their own, and the process of manufacturing them is totally different to the way crisps are made (here’s a fact – the chips aren’t made from slices of potato, but rather small kernels of potato that are popped just like popcorn!). Who would have thought that there were more ways to cook a potato in the year 2013!

Visit popchips at www.popchips.co.uk to find out more, including stockist information.

My thanks to popchips for providing me with the delicious snacks mentioned above!

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Graze Nibblebox and Lightbox reviews

I have to say, Graze have really stepped up their game. The company creates boxes of nibbles and snacks that they send to you (postbox friendly!) on a weekly schedule (or daily, depending on how much you like Grazing!) so you can eat healthily at your desk.
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Anyone who has ever tried dieting for any length of time will be able to tell you that healthy eating and low calorie eating are not the same thing. Avocados are a case in point. Full of healthy fats and vitamins, these beautiful little fruits will set you back 160 calories for 100g – about double the calorie count of an apple. Thusly, addicted as I was to Graze’s delicious offerings, I eventually had to cancel. The boxes could be as much as 800 calories a time, and although you’re not supposed to eat them all in go, I have to confess there were times when the lot would disappear over the course of a day. At the time, I wrote to the company to tell them that I had to cancel because of the high calorie content of some of their boxes, and although they promised to look into it, I have to confess I didn’t really believe them.

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So now it’s time to eat my… well, not words – thoughts? Anyway, since I’ve been gone, Graze has been busy, and so when I got an email offering me some half price boxes as a New Year offer, I was bowled over by their new ranges when I actually checked the site out. I think when I had left Graze was introducing breads, but now they have a delicious range of crackers and dips, and delightful looking bakes, including an entire range dedicated to my favourite British institution – high tea!

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Yes, when they say high tea, they mean it quite literally – they even send you the tea bag! And, it comes guilt-free.

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As you can see from that logo on the packet in the top right, this is from the Graze Light range. When you sign up, you can select a nibblebox (which I tried first) or one of the Graze nutritionboxes, which comes in three types; the eatwell box, boostbox and lightbox. The lightbox has all of the same great goodies as the nibblebox, except no dark chocolate, or flapjacks. You’ll be sent trays that contain between 50 and 150 calories each (and you get four trays in each delivery).

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Here’s another little treat I had in my last Graze box – sticky chocolate pudding. For 176 calories, you get a mix of milk chocolate drops, jumbo raisins and green raisins – not too naughty at all, in my opinion! I also highly recommend the Korean rice crackers – it was Graze who originally got me addicted to these beauties, and for that I am eternally grateful to them!

I’m delighted with Graze’s new range – but a little bit disappointed that they no longer offer fresh fruit. I can understand why, because there were times when my fruit turned up a little – well, fizzy. And, sometimes it felt a bit ridiculous working from home and eating grapes that had been posted to me when there was a whole bowl of fruit in the kitchen! Still, I hope that they can include the option for fresh fruit at some point in the future when they can source stuff that stays fresher for longer.

If you want to try Graze yourself for free, use my code! Type in 6KDFWFW at Graze.com, or follow this link: http://www.graze.com/uk/p/6KDFWFW. You’ll get a free Graze box when you sign up, and I’ll get £1 off my next order – now there’s incentive for both of us! Each Graze box costs £3.89, and you can cancel any time you like.

If you already get Graze boxes, let me know what you think!

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Fitness Trackers: SlimKicker

One of the easiest ways to stay in shape, or lose weight to begin with, is to use an internet based fitness tracker. I’ve had great success using MyFitnessPal (and have also tried Spark People and JillianMichaels.com) but I was recently contacted about SlimKicker.com, so I decided to check it out.
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Unlike MyFitnessPal, which encourages a minimum of social interaction, SlimKicker.com really tries to get you involved in the online community, and uses a point reward system to get you to give your fitness and nutrition a boost. Apart from the obvious bump in motivation, this is a brilliant idea because it encourages you to switch up your routine, and try new things. Turning fitness into a game is a sneaky way to get you to work out without realising it! Today, I decided to take on the wall squat challenge, which asks you to do ten wall squats a day for seven days in order to earn 500 points.
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There is even info on the correct form for these squats, and recommendations for how to make it harder – if needed! It might seem simple in the grand scheme of things, but starting off small is the best way to go – how many of us have started ambitious fitness regimes only to see them crumble in the first week? The challenges are divided up into types – willpower, emotional, nutrition, fitness, giveaway and user created. They also have difficulty levels, ranging from 1 all the way up to 20!

You may well ask what the purpose of collecting points is – that’s where the reward system comes in. You post a picture for yourself of your reward, which you give yourself when you reach a certain level. I haven’t quite picked my reward yet, but the website offers suggestions such as a girls’ night out, a cheat meal, a massage, etc.

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One of the handiest things about MyFitnessPal was always the app, which meant I could add things easily as I went through the day. Luckily, SlimKicker also has an iPhone app, so I downloaded that right away!

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Through the app you can check your profile, log your food, record exercise and weight, and check your progress, as well as manage your challenges and interact with your friends.

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As I’ve been lacking a little in the motivation department recently, I’m going to try out this new app for a week and see if it helps me keep on track!

What fitness trackers do you guys use? Do you find they help you keep to your plans?

(Psst, don’t forget, UK readers can enter my competition to win 12 share bags of Popchips here!)