PRIMARK PS… Workout Make Up

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When I ‘accidentally fell’ into Primark in January they, like most shops at that time of year, had all the workout gear right at the front of the store. Amongst it, the PS Work Out No Sweat make up range caught me eye. I don’t necessarily put on a full face of make up for the gym, but I like a little bit of coverage to keep the redness at bay, and am always on the look out for a decent waterproof mascara anyway. I have already filmed a first impressions on the products and you can find this on my YouTube channel (here), but here are some more detailed thoughts now that I have given all the products a decent trial.

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As I mentioned in the video, this was my first dalliance with a foundation stick. It works best worked in with your fingers to warm up the product and get a good blend. One layer will give you a very light coverage and doesn’t conceal much (if any) of my redness. It is buildable but starts to feel a bit thick and pore clogging (if that is a phrase) after the second layer. However, there is enough coverage in the powder that I can get away with one layer of the foundation. As you can see, the shade is yellow toned ivory and pretty much in line with other ivory offerings from various drug store/high street brands. The sweat proof claim really holds up and this is what has impressed me most about the product. But despite this, it is no more difficult to remove at the end of the day which gives it more bonus points. On the down side it doesn’t have longevity in the coverage. That sounds contradictory with the sweat proof claims, but I find if I have put the foundation on at the beginning of the day has already faded quite a bit by the time I leave work and head to the gym. There also seems to be a very limited shade selection (I’ve seen three). All in all though, a bargain at £2.50.

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The powder, also at only £2.50, has been the stand out product of the three for me. It even made it into my February Favourites video. It provides just enough coverage to wear alone for a gym session and is incredible for keeping me matte and surviving the sweat! I’ve also found it suitable for dry skin which is a plus for any powder product. My habit lately has been to wear my regular work make up and then pat this on my face just before an evening gym session to keep the beetroot face and shine at bay! Down side? Same as the foundation stick – there seems to be limited shades (again, I have only seen three).

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The mascara has been the most disappointing of the three. Price wise it is in line with the rest of the range at only £2. Unfortunately that is where the praise ends for me! The formula is really dry and difficult to work with. This made it quite messy to apply and I usually had transfer to my upper lid when wearing this, despite the dry formula. Once on, it does seem to stay in place throughout a workout but it is an absolute nightmare to remove at the end of the day. In short, there are better waterproof mascaras out there that are worth paying more than double the price tag of this for, so this has been left rattling around in my make up drawers and not really touched after a week of use.

 

 

Gym Wear Wish List 2017

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With all the retailers jumping on the January bandwagon for fitness, it has been a great time to shop (or window shop!) for gym fans. So today I am sharing my top picks from the workout wear that has caught my eye this month…

Ivy Park Logo Crew Neck Sweatshirt – £28

Cover ups are just as important as what is underneath! And I don’t just mean in terms of style, I need something warm to cover up with when leaving the gym and getting hit by the cold winter air. I love the quality of Ivy Park gear since first trying the brand when it launched (first impressions can be found on my YouTube channel here) and this dark grey colour will go with (almost) everything in my work out wardrobe.

Victoria’s Secret Incredible Sport Front Close Bra – £33.18

I own a couple of Sports bras from the brand already, and the high impact ones are excellent for keeping everything in place while remaining comfortable! Even better, this front closing option means you don’t have to be a contortionist to get in and out of it. Surprisingly great size range too (32A – 40DDD). Worth every penny.

Red Herring Teal Racer Back Vest – £16

I love a slogan on my gym tops to keep me motivated and this teal colour has me longing for spring. The unusual racer back also gives it an added edge making it great value for money.

Nike Metcon 3iD Customisable Trainers – £135

Yep, you read that right these trainers are customisable. There are countless options to make them personal to you and I spent ages on the website choosing this pair! You can chose the colour, patterns, laces and even add logos and initials. Nike are by far the most comfortable trainers I can find (I have three pairs already!) so all things considered the price is totally justified.

Sweaty Betty Navasana Mesh Crop Leggings – £65

Mesh flooded the work out wear market last year and it looks set to stay. I can see why, as the mesh not only adds to the style but is functional too – allowing for more breathing space during a sweaty session. The geometric pattern on this Sweaty Betty pair are also bound to be super flattering.

 

 

The only way to drink water!

dsc00605eI’m keen on exercise and in the past found myself going through bottles of mineral water like nobody’s business. Not only was that expensive, but terrible for the environment. I then moved on to reusable plastic bottles. I found these prone to staining and they usually left an unusual taste in my mouth. Worse, more often than not they fell apart in the dishwasher – not great for this un domestic goddess!! Then two months ago, glass water bottles with silicone sleeves (catchy, I know) walked into my life. I’ve been using this for the gym, exercise classes, at home and at work and I’m converted! This one is by the brand Apana, which appears to be mainly available in the US, but I picked this up in TK Maxx for just a tenner. There are plenty of alternatives available on Amazon too. Read on to find out why I fell in love.

The water really does taste better – honestly it does! Fresher and it also stays cool for longer. I don’t think this is a placebo effect either. If you search BPA and phthalates (commonly found in plastic containers) there is certainly opinion out there that these can change the taste and quality of the water contained in them.

It’s (almost) indestructible – I’ve put this through the dishwasher almost every day and it looks as good as new.

Great for the clumsy ones among us – The silicone sleeve gives it amazing grip meaning even the more accident prone (that’s me!) will find it difficult to drop.

Looks as good as it performs – I don’t think I’ve ever had compliments on a water bottle before! So many people have asked me where I found it before rushing off to TK Maxx to get themselves one!

If I had to offer a down side, the bottles are naturally more heavy than their plastic counter parts so may not be ideal for some types of exercising including road running.

3 Guilt Free Nandos Options

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You have probably noticed Nandos has a bit of a cult following. I definitely consider myself one of it’s loyal devotees! In fact (and don’t judge me) we have coined the phrase ‘Nandos Wednesdays’ in our household which is exactly how it sounds – on Wednesdays we eat at Nandos! However, we reserve our treat meals for weekends and even though we eat at this restaurant almost every week, we go straight from the gym so still want remain conscious of the nutritional value of our choices. Seeing as we created ‘Nandos Wednesdays’ almost a year ago I have managed to work my way through a lot of the menu and now have a few favourite combinations that both taste good and fit into my weekday healthier eating habits. Read on if you want to know what they are! All nutritional values listed are calculated using information from the Nandos webiste.

(One last thing before you read on. I realise ‘guilt free’ may be a bit of a stretch! As explained in my ‘about me‘ page, I don’t claim to be an expert on anything so am not a qualified nutritionist or anything of the sort. But what I do know is that these choices are far better for me than my favourite ‘treat’ meal at Nandos; Burger, chips and garlic bread!)

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Chicken Butterfly, Macho Peas & Chargrilled Veg

The chicken butterfly is a great choice for those who prefer not to eat their chicken on the bone. It is also big enough so that when you add the two vegetable based sides the meal still leaves me satisfyingly full and I am pleased to have got two of my five-a-day in!

Calories 573 kcal

Fat 22.5 g

Protein 66.6 g

Carbs 21.9 g

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Quinoa Salad with Chicken

Salad at Nando’s?? I know but trust me this is a good one. It also has to be said that it tastes far better than it looks! The quinoa, sweet potato and avocado make this tasty as well as filling so I am never disappointed when I order this.

Calories 509 kcal

Fat 22.7 g

Protein 42.7 g

Carbs 36.9 g

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Chicken Butterfly, Corn on the Cob and Sweet Potato Mash

I know – a second choice with the chicken butterfly but it really is my favourite chicken main on the whole menu! I wasn’t always a fan of corn on the cob but the sweetness of this side goes well with the Peri Peri sauce, and I find it takes me a long time to eat giving me the chance to get more full. And you can’t order sweetcorn without mashed potato, but the sweet potato option makes it a healthier choice.

Calories 702 kcal

Fat 15.8 g

Protein 67.3 g

Carbs 67.6 g

If you have any of your own favourite Nando’s combinations let me know in the comments!

Muscle Food – Lean Meat Bundles

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I’m a total carb-aholic so when I started to pay more attention to my diet in a bid to get healthy for my 30th birthday (you can read more about this here) I made a vow to up my protein intake for a more balanced diet. I’ve tried protein bars and shakes but just can’t stomach them so decided to stick to the old fashioned method of eating more lean meat. My husband introduced me to the website ‘Muscle Food’ and now that we have made a couple of large orders I wanted to share my thoughts with you…

Muscle Food is an online store selling, in their words, premium nutrition for healthy living. This means you can find lean meat, protein bars/snacks/shakes, fresh fruit and vegetables, supplements and even protein rich ready meals and pizzas on the site. For both of our orders we took advantage of a special ‘Groupon’ deal – a 70 piece meat hamper for only £49. This deal on Groupon, and others, pop up regularly but the Muscle Food site itself is still good value, especially if you buy in bulk. They promise all their meat is trimmed of excess fat, free from preservatives and has no added salt or water. They also seem pretty proud of their reputation – the website is plastered with endorsements from professional athletes and organisations such as the Organic Soil Association and the British Butcher Association.

Once placing an order, you choose a delivery date to suit you. The main issue for us here is the company does not deliver on the weekends, which is worth knowing before you place an order. Especially as this is not the kind of order you want left with a neighbour if you are at work when they attempt to deliver (you don’t want 100’s of pounds worth of ruined meat to return home to!) We just planned our orders around annual leave days. Handily, the company sends you a text in the morning with delivery slot (which as far as I remember was a few hours) so at least you don’t have to wait in all day.

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I was dubious about having meat delivered by a courier. I had concerns about the meat being kept refrigerated well enough especially as we made our orders in the height of English summer. When I answered the door to a standard cardboard box, my doubts weren’t initially eased! However, when we opened the box, the contents was super chilled. This had been achieved by a combination of cool bags and a thick layer of insulation. In hindsight this probably would have kept the meat adequately chilled for a few further hours, but I was glad to be home to receive the delivery just to be on the safe side.

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All the meat was vacuum packed. I was pleased to find a variety of expiry dates on the products. All the meat had at least a few days to go, and some had up to a week. It’s just us two in our household so clearly we needed to freeze a lot of the meat but if you are a larger family or eat a lot of protein on a daily basis there is time to spare without having to freeze anything. Our hamper contained a mixture of chicken, steaks, pork, turkey, sausages and bacon. Most of this was packaged in portions suitable for one or two people. However, there were two packs of chicken breasts containing 2.5 kg each. We learned the hard way, but if you get a hamper containing this I would recommend separating the chicken into manageable portions before freezing – we had a hard time defrosting 2.5 kg of chicken in one packet and then eating it all within the next 24 hours!!

The biggest surprise for me was the quality of the meat. Honestly, most of it tasted better than any supermarket or butcher bought meat I have tried before. The stand outs for me were the bacon and the beef steaks. I track my nutrition on My Fitness Pal and was amazed but pleased to see how low fat and calorie these were for the taste! The only disappointment was the sausages, which compared to the other pieces were just average and not much lower fat than standard sausages. But for a 70 piece hamper to only be let down by one of the items, you can see why we made a second order!

As I already mentioned, we have been impressed enough with Muscle Food to make a second order and I am now tempted to try out some of their other offers including the protein snacks and pizza!

Have you tried anything from Muscle Food? Let me know your thoughts in the comments…

4 Motivation Tips – to get you to the gym!

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Whether you are going to the gym for weight loss/gain/maintenance, fitness, strength or any other reason the chances are (if you are anything like me) there are times when you really can’t be bothered. For me, on those days I seem to be able to think of 100’s of reasons (or actually excuses) not to get myself to the gym. Having said that I’m pretty impressed with myself as in the past couple of years I have been going consistently so I thought I’d share my motivation tips with you today. I’m not saying a gym membership is the only way to exercise (you can read my post about my favourite at home workouts here) but if you already have a gym membership you are bound to want to get your money’s worth!

1. Timing is everything

I have a 9-5 job (what a way to make a living!) and I find the best way to ensure I get to the gym is to go straight from work. Do not pass go, do not collect £200! I pack a gym bag in the morning (or the night before) and throw it in my car so that I have no need to go home first. If I do, once I’ve kicked off my shoes and sat down that’s it – not much is going to get me off my bum and out the door after that! When I worked shifts, I made sure to go after early shifts or first thing in the morning on days off. Obviously when is best for you will depend on your personal circumstances, but I recommend you find a time that means you are less likely to slack off, and make it part of your routine.

2. Plan meals

I’m one of those people who always seems to be hungry and for me working out when I feel that way is never effective. I know some people like the ‘starved cardio’ technique and to be honest I don’t know much about it but I do know it’s not appealing to me! So as I go to the gym straight from work I now make sure I have a proper breakfast and a more substantial lunch than I used to, or have a healthy snack at work part way through the afternoon. If I leave work without a rumbling tummy I’m definitely more inclined to get in my car and drive to the gym instead of to the nearest shop for food! You can read about my healthier breakfast choices here.

3. Wear ‘feel good’ outfits

I used to wear any old thing to they gym. Usually leggings and baggy t-shirts that I’d had for ages and weren’t ‘good enough’ to wear for anything else any more. I’d heard people say this was a bad idea and you should wear work out clothes that made you feel as good as your other clothes. I dismissed it thinking I’d rather spend money on other things but then I finally realised the error of my ways! I find workout clothes made by proper sports brands not only fit better, feel more comfortable and last longer but actually make me look forward to working out (yes really!). I now put the same effort into selecting my outfits for the gym as I do into any other outfit and I can honestly say this is one of the things that gets me to the gym regularly.

4. Attend classes

Most gyms have a range of classes to chose from. I find taking the plunge and going to my first one is a bit nerve-racking but I have always ended up enjoying them. I find there are a few reasons why going to a class improves my motivation. First of all trying something new and therefore mixing things up at bit definitely spurs me on. The fact that you have to be there at a certain time also means I’m less likely to make excuses or put off going. Finally, once I get to know a few of the regular faces and the instructor I feel guilty for not going so tend to turn up!

If you have any motivation tips to share please comment below 🙂

Favourite YouTube Workouts

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If I’m honest, my dedication to fitness has been flaky in the past. I’ve been a gym member on and off for 12 years and have had tried ‘at home’ workouts with mixed results. But as my 30th birthday approached in 2013 it gave me the proverbial kick up the bum I needed to take my health more seriously. Since then I’m happy to say I have kept up with the regular exercise and been more aware of my eating habits, both with more consistency than ever before (*pats self on back*). I’m a member of a gym now and also regularly attend a Pilates class, but in 2013 I was not in a position to haemorrhage money away on a membership or class fees (I had a 30th birthday trip to Las Vegas to save for!) so this time around I started my fitness journey at home. You Tube fitness videos were an absolute blessing, so I thought I’d share my favourites with you.

The first two videos come from the channel ‘Fitness Blender’. Daniel and Kelli are a husband and wife team, highly qualified in fitness and nutrition. A quick scan through their website and You Tube channel, and it’s easy to see why they have over 2 million subscribers. There is literally something for everyone; cardio, focussed strength and toning, low impact, Pilates, yoga, and (my favourite) High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). They continue to upload really regularly too. There are quite a few videos on the channel that I’ve tried, and many I plan to try in the future, but these are my favourites:

Brutal HIIT Ladder Workout – The clue is in the title. This really is brutal and probably not for beginners. Expect 20 minutes of high intensity repetitions including exercises such as jump squats and burpies (evil things!) It’s difficult, but you can ease yourself into it gradually by taking longer rest periods (well I did!) The advantage of this hard work for me, was seeing improvement in my fitness levels without having to workout for hours on end.

Natural Brazilian Butt Lift – Big toned bums may be en vogue at the moment, but Kelli was clearly ahead of the race as this video was uploaded 4 years ago! This workout lasts 35 minutes and if you are anything like me, your glutes will be burning by the end (or half way through!) Expect lunges, squats, bridges and more. I know this off by heart now so often do it at the gym. I’m still not ready to compete with Kim K, but I’ve definitely seen improvement!

The second two videos can be found on the channel Mike Chang’s ‘Sixpack Shortcuts‘. I will say I’ve seen some criticism online regarding inconsistency in the advice he provides in his videos (there are even spoof videos out there) and his channel seems to be primarily aimed at men. However, there are two workouts on his channel that have really worked for me, and he has over 3 million subscribers so he must be doing something right!

Extreme Six Pack Abs Workout & Intense Cardio and Abs Workout – When I do these videos, I do them together. They are 12-15 minutes long but the actual exercise part is around 5-10 minutes in each (he likes to talk a lot!) Expect rotations of focused abs exercises including toe touches, mountain climbers and half burpies (those evil things again!) Prior to our Vegas holiday my husband and I did these almost every day for 8 weeks and for the first time in my life I actually had the beginnings of a six pack! In other words, if you eat right too, these work!

Leave a comment if you have tried any of these workouts, or if you have any recommendations.