Tag Archives: hydration

Your six step party season pre-tox plan

30 Nov

December is creeping ever closer, which means party season is nearly upon us. Cue late nights, boozy shenanigans and that seasonal ‘fitness amnesia’ that seems to strike without fail year on year.

But not this time; this time, I’m here to help you fight the cause of festive fatigue, rather than treating the symptoms after a month of overindulgence. Simply follow this six-step plan to stay feeling festively fresh, no matter what Christmas throws at you.

 

  1. Set realistic goals

Let’s be honest; you’re probably going to be rushed off your feet this holiday season, and setting yourself unrealistic goals that are doomed to fail won’t help you feel any less stressed. Instead of biting off more than you can chew, be realistic about what you can achieve. Instead of focusing on losing weight, set goals based on your health, and focus on quality rather than quantity when it comes to fitness. In this way you leave time and flexibility to properly enjoy the holiday season without feeling guilty. Consider how many times a week you will be able to fit in exercise sessions, and add them to your diary now.

 

  1. Focus on fitness

According to Total Fitness, gym attendance drops by around 30 per cent in the lead up to Christmas – so if you’re guilty of taking your eye off the ball, you’re not alone.

Offset these fewer trips to the gym by focusing on higher-intensity workouts when you do go. Not only will you reduce the time you spend in the gym during this busy period, but you’ll also cut down on body fat before you start eating more food and kick-start your metabolism.

 

  1. Stay hydrated

As anyone who has experienced the torment of a Christmas party morning-after hangover will tell you, drinking alcohol leads to dehydration, which in turn causes tiredness, headaches and nausea. Not the best motivator to start your day!

Staying hydrated is as simple as making sure you spend the day occasionally sipping on some H2O, or upping your game by adding some electrolytes to the mix.

For this, I’m loving nuun – light and refreshing sugar-free hydration tabs which you simply drop into a bottle of water to get a great taste AND stock up on the essential electrolytes you lose during everyday activity. One nuun tube has enough tabs to make twelve 16oz (500ml) hydration drinks. It’s sturdy, waterproof and easily fits into a gym bag, bike jersey, handbag, or pocket, and you can buy it online! Sorted.

 

  1. Eat mindfully

In the run up to the Christmas period, pre-toxing your diet can be vital to continued health and fitness. It can be tempting to skip meals, making room for all the extra calories you might be taking on when eating party food and drinking alcohol. Bad idea – skipping meals interrupts your blood sugar levels, meaning you’ll feel lethargic and sluggish, and then end up eating more later to compensate for your hunger.

The easiest and most effective way to eat mindfully and healthily during this period is to eat regularly, choosing balanced meals and grazing on regular, healthy snacks. Include plenty of vegetables, raw salads, wholegrains and immune-boosting goodies such as nuts and berries. Add in some probiotics to help boost your gut function.

If you’ve got the time to cook some soup, it’s a great option for a speedy lunch or as a quick meal to fill you up before going to a buffet.

Remember, be realistic; commit to looking after your health, not obsessing your about your jeans size.

 

  1. Cut down on caffeine and alcohol

Don’t panic; I’m not suggesting you avoid alcohol and caffeine altogether (where’s the fun in that?!). What I am suggesting is that you limit your daily intake.

Ingesting too much caffeine or alcohol can be counter-productive to a pre-tox, because it increases anxiety and disrupts sleep patterns, leading to a vicious cycle of restless sleep, where you then end up relying on caffeine to help with daytime fatigue, and then going out and drinking more alcohol at the plethora of office parties and Christmas socials happening in the coming month.

Set yourself the rule of no caffeine after 3pm every day. Caffeine may help keep you alert, but studies show that it puts a strain on your liver – an organ which is going to be working overtime anyway this holiday season…

 

  1. Get enough sleep

Long days at work, long evenings spent present shopping and long nights festively socialising are pretty much unavoidable around Christmas.

But making sure you get enough shut eye is crucial to your fitness and wellbeing – sleep loss is associated with weightgain, bad emotional regulation, weakened immunity and, of course, the inability to party endlessly in style. So do yourself a favour and make sure you’re getting at least 7 good hours of sleep a night.

Not sure if you’re getting the full amount of sleep you need? There are some really nifty sleep-monitoring apps out there – for example, Sleep Cycle (£0.69) is an app (Android and iOS) that also watches your sleep habits from your nightstand in order to help wake you up at the best possible time of the morning within a set period, so you won’t be late for work!

New Year’s Resolutions – is it worth making any?

27 Dec

In 2015, I will be:

  • spending more time with my family (whilst also making new friends and expanding my social circle)
  • rekindling my passion for an old hobby (and trying my hand at something new)
  • shifting that extra stone/14lbs/6kg and not giving into any unhealthy temptations whatsoever.

Yeah, right.

With an estimated 14.5 million adults making New Year’s resolutions that focus on fitness and health, self-improvement (or, at least, the desire for self-improvement) is a national hobby here in the UK. Yet very few of us – some estimates say only around 8% – achieve their New Year’s resolutions. If this is the case, and if the true definition of madness is ‘repeating the same action, over and over, hoping for a different result’, then this year we have to mix it up a little if we’re going to achieve our goals.

I’ve got some huge goals and A races for 2015, but I’ve also planned some fun events and less important races to help keep me motivated (whilst never taking my eye off the ultimate goal of completing an Ironman!)

Get fit and have fun for a good cause

Sometime, it’s helpful to have a little extrinsic motivation to keep you going. It might be that you agree to do something with friends, or perhaps the thought of raising money for charity will spur you on. Several friends have told me how they managed to while away the time whilst running marathons by calculating how much each step/km/mile was worth to their chosen charity in terms of sponsorship.

If the thought of losing the pounds by spending endless hours on a dreadmill makes you worry about losing your mind, then how about the idea of getting your mates together to take part in a Human Race Macmillan Cycletta? These women-only bike rides are set in stunning, family friendly host venues. There is also a range of distance on offer from 50-150km. There are five events around the country featuring spectacular routes between 50km and 150km, taking place in Bedfordshire, Surrey, the New Forest, Cheshire and Scotland.

If you’re not female, or want to take part in a mixed-gender event, why not search for a local sportive? Alternatively, if you visit the website of a charity that you’d like to support, they may have places on events you’d like to enter or might host their own events. If you’re worried that you’re not fit enough to do an event yet, perhaps you could volunteer so that yu witness the wide range of ages, sizes and abilities who participate in most sporting events.

Pick up an old hobby, lose weight and make new friends

Rekindle your high school love of netball, volleyball and dodgeball, or try something completely new like boxfit or Insanity classes with social sports clubs such as GO Mammoth, the UK’s largest social sports and fitness club. These kind of clubs exist simply to make your life more fun and social, without the seriousness and commitment involved in joining a specialist sports club or gym.

If you’re in North American, you might be able to join November Project: http://november-project.com/ It’s a fantastic FREE fitness movement. If you’ve been to  session, please share your thoughts in the comments below.

If you’d like to take part in a free timed 5k run every Saturday morning, then have a look to see whether parkrun is in your country yet, and if so, where the nearest locations are: http://www.parkrun.com/countries/

Try something new with old friends

Why not kill two birds with one very muddy stone – have fun with your friends AND try something new by taking part in a muddy obstacle course run! Bonus if you raise money for charity whilst doing it. Such events have rocketed in popularity during 2014, and look to be even bigger and better in 2015.

I absolutely HATE mud (and will be looking after my ‘new’ eyes), so am unlikely to do an obstacle race in 2015, but I have set myself the challenge of continuing with something new: crossfit. I’m now going to sessions offered by my Uni tri club (SUTRI) every Monday and hope to continue doing so in 2015.

Eat healthy & stay motivated

healthy heart

The problem with deciding to completely overhaul a lifestyle is that it can often be a case of biting off more than you can chew. So, when making dietary changes, start small. Set a few realistic goals – in the long run, the boost of actually sticking to them will up your confidence and self-esteem, helping you to make even better changes.

Gradually switching to a healthy eating style (not dieting!) such as clean eating can make a massive difference to your wellbeing without being overwhelming.

My sister and her fiance bought Stuart and I a Nutribullet blender for Christmas, so we’re hoping to drink lots of heathy smoothies in 2015… and I am planning to lose at least 15lbs, but more on that in another post!

Cut down on alcohol & fizzy drinks. Stay hydrated!

Nuun

Nuun

This challenge isn’t so hard for me. I very rarely drink alcohol and try not to drink coke too often. I drink water almost all of the time. Did you know that a big bottle of a juice-based drink can contain 300 calories – and those calories add up. Instead, think about switching to something like nuun, light and refreshing sugar-free hydration tabs which you simply drop into a bottle of water to get a great taste AND stock up on the essential electrolytes you lose during everyday activity. One nuun tube has enough tabs to make twelve 16oz (500ml) hydration drinks. It’s sturdy, waterproof and easily fits into a gym bag, bike jersey, purse, or pocket! Sorted.

So – there are some of my basic thoughts about New Year’s Resolutions… but as I mentioned, I have some very clear goals that I will be sharing in the next couple of weeks.

What are your goals, plans and dreams for 2015?

How do you hydrate?

23 Nov

Ever since I was small, my favourite drink has been water. I’ve never been particularly partial to juice/squash/cordial, and would almost always prefer to drink water. However, when it’s cold or I’m starting to get hungry, I can be persuaded to have a hot chocolate. I also quite like jasmine tea and don’t mind Earl Grey tea, but I never drink coffee. I just can’t stand the smell of it. I’ve tried it many times over the years, but I just can’t see its appeal.

However, when I’m racing and training, I think it can be sensible to use electrolyte drinks. My best ever race result is when I completed Reading Half Marathon in 2012 – my finish time was 1:52:19, which was a PB of nearly 25 minutes! Before that race, I was given a free bottle of cherry lucozade sport which I drank about 40 minutes before the race started. I ran better than I had ever run before and I think the drink before the start may have had something to do with it.

When I’m cycling, I often struggle to replace fluids as I’m terrible at drinking whilst moving, but I’ve been practising all summer and now have enough control over my bike to drink whilst moving.

I’ve never bought any electrolyte tabs, but have a small stash of high five zero electrolyte tabs that I’ve received in goody bags at various cycling events. I’ve used them because I have them, rather than because I like them. To be  honest, the pink grapefruit flavour is OK, but I don’t like any of the others. If a brand bought out a lime cordial flavoured electrolyte tab, I might like that, but generally the citrus ones are not my favourite.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, the lovely people at nuun (pronounced ‘noon’) asked me if I’d like to try their product, and I leapt at the opportunity.

I was so excited when I got this parcel in the post:

IMG_3424

Inside there was a bike bottle and three tubes:

  • Tropical
  • Tri-berry
  • Kona cola (caffeine-enhanced)

IMG_3425

If you’ve been following my instagram account, you’ll have seen plenty of images from the last few weeks when I was trying them out.

nuun 1

21st September

nuun 2

24th September 10km run

nuun3

28th September HOWSC triathlon preparation

IMG_3558

26th October bike ride preparation

I also took the three tubes with me to the Embrace camps in Portugal. The tubes make the product easy to carry and they don’t take up a lot of room. It was also the perfect opportunity for me to try something new as I knew that I would be putting a lot of miles in.

So, what are my thoughts on each flavour?

Tri-berry

TASTERS NOTES: “enjoy a balance between fruitiness and lightning-fast absorption. with its soft red/pink color, sweet nose, multilayered berry fruit and cherry flavour, tri-berry is the ideal choice for all of your distances”

Apparently this is nuun’s best-selling flavour. It’s possible to smell the berries and it has quite a sharp tang to it, whilst also being quite sweet. I found it tasty, but I think I would have preferred it if it had a stronger flavour of cherry. That being said, I like it quite a lot and am likely to buy it again in future. I drank a bottle of it after my recent half marathon and it definitely made a difference to my afternoon. I frequently end up dehydrated after long runs, which then gives me a headache, but drinking this helped to stave off the nasty after-effects of a long hard run.

Tropical

TASTERS NOTES: 
blending mango, pineapple, and coconut flavours into a taste that is best enjoyed in a hammock on a sandy beach, this complex blend highlights each flavour in gentle, lapping waves that will take your taste buds on a refreshing trip and leave you in a sunny mood while you’re out on the go”

I think this may be a new flavour as there are not currently any reviews on the UK nuun website. The description makes it sound perfect for me – like pina colada with some of my favourite fruit (mango) added.

When I tried this, I found it difficult to distinguish between the different fruits. I could instantly detect the pineapple, but the flavour of the mango and the coconut didn’t come through for me. I thought this was pleasant enough, but it’s not a flavour that I’ll be rushing out to buy more of. There wasn’t quite enough aroma of coconut to make it appetising. In terms of doing its job, I think it did help me to keep myself fully hydrated.

Kona cola

TASTERS NOTES: “remarkably quenching yet ‘deceptively complex’ is how a member of the montrail ultra-running team described this flavour. elements of cinnamon, vanilla, clove and a gentle hint of ginger join an underlying cola theme to complete a flavour profile that is simply stunning. try at altitude on a tough trail or climb, or as a general hydrating pick-me-up”

This comes out as the clear winner for me. I’m not sure whether it’s because it has caffeine in it. When I’m getting towards the end of a long run, I quite often fantasise about stopping at the nearest pub for a class of ice-cold coke, and the flat coke that was served at Challenge Weymouth tasted like nectar from the gods. I liked the flavour of the Kona cola tabs, as it actually tastes like real cola. My husband agreed that the flavour was pleasant, but it was a little too sweet for him.

I found this one the easiest to drink. I finished every bottle that I made of it when I was out on long bike rides… I quite often return home with partially filled drink bottles, so this is a positive result for me.

As a final aside, I like the name… it contains that tiny element of fantasy that one day I might compete at Kona 😉

If you are interested in learning more about nuun, check them out:

UK website: http://www.nuun.co.uk/

USA website: http://www.nuun.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/nuun (UK) or  https://twitter.com/nuunhydration (USA)

Instagram: http://instagram.com/nuunhydration

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nuununitedkingdom (UK) https://www.facebook.com/nuunhydration (USA)

What’s your favourite electrolyte drink?