Tips on how to keep your kit from stinking up your desk

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Yesterday on my way home from work, the Evening Standard had an article about how offices should offer showers and lockers to running and cycling commuters.

I am all about reducing stink and have been run commuting for a few months in prep for the London Marathon.  I have learned the hard way that millions of microscopic bacteria are the reason why your gym clothes smell after a sweaty workout.  If you wash your clothes with the wrong cycle, temperature or detergent, you will compromise the fabric, reducing its quality.  Poor maintenance of the fabrics means less wicking, longer dry time and the perfect conditions for bacterial growth.  If I am running a race in hot temps, I stink a lot more at the finish line if I dump water on my head than if I don’t.

Nobody wants to be ‘that guy or gal’ who has an office strung up with sweaty gym kit with a smell that permeates the canteen.  Here are a few things to think about to keep the smell of victory to a minimum in the office.

Tip 1: Choose the right material

When you are buying new workout gear, avoid cotton like the plague and instead look for:

Merino wool is a natural solution to avoiding post-workout odours.  Made from the wool the Merino breed of sheep, this kind of wool doesn’t itch, helps you thermoregulate and doesn’t smell due to a natural oil secreted by the sheep called lanolin.  Icebreaker, Smartwool, and ashmei are all brands that work with merino wool.

ashmei offices in Tring

You can also look for the Polygiene logo. It is a silver-ion treatment of the fabric before final manufacturing occurs that prevents bacterial growth.  It is permanently integrated into the fabric and will not wash out. Companies such as lululemon, Ron Hill, Adidas, Poc, DaKine and Polartech are just a few examples of partner brands that use this treatment on their products.

Polygiene socks make stretching out in the dining room more bearable.

Tip 2: Wash it with the right stuff

This seems like the natural thing to do but sometimes the detergent we use or the water temperature settings don’t actually kill the bacteria.  Don’t use fabric softeners on your tech fabrics as this could leave a residue that will effectively take away the wicking properties.  A few products you could try are:

Revive by Odo Sport is designed to keep synthetic sports kit clean, oudor-free, and functioning properly. It shields the fabric from acquiring dirt between washes and adds a fast-drying agent to help kit to dry more quickly (which will keep stink down too).

Nik Wax Basewash®  effectively cleans, deodorises, inhibits the build up of body odours, accelerates drying and improves cooling efficiency of synthetic base layers.  If you have wool baselayers (we’ll talk about material choice in a minute), use NikWax Wool Wash™ instead.

Mr Black’s Sport Wash is all natural and biodegradable, yet able to squash the bacteria that cause your technical kit to smell a bit funky.  Their philosophy is to prolong the life of your clothes as you have invested in them (and we all know how much good kit can cost).

Run commute warrior!
A final option if you want to wash your clothes is to send clothes out during the day to be laundered. Indoor cycling studio and fitness gym H2 offers this as a service with a 48 hour turn-around time, which means the sweaty clothes never make it to your office to cause any offence.

Tip 3: Use Pay As You Gym (PAYG) to shower

Perhaps your training schedule only requires you to run or cycle in once or twice a week.  If your office doesn't offer shower or lockeroom facilities, look on the PAYG website to locate an inexpensive gym facility near work where you can freshen up and change before your first meeting.  Long term it might not be cost-effective, but it could also help you smell fresh for the rest of the day.

Tip 4: Run home instead

Sounds simple enough, but make exercise a priority and run home from work instead of going to the pub.  That way sweaty clothes can air out in the comfort in your living room instead of your work cubicle.  Of course, it is challenging to keep the motivation up over the course of a day but think about how you will feel as the endorphins start flowing after a few minutes of sweating.

If you have any other ideas on how to keep your office from smelling like a locker room, please comment below.  I  know Londoners can be pretty creative with this sort of thing.

Portions of this post originally appeared on the H2 Life Blog.

Do you practice self care?

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

My beautiful flowers from Prestige Flowers UK
In today's digital world with nearly instantaneous results, we have a tendency to overbook and over commit.  It is a competition of how early we get up to go to the gym and how late we stay up to finish the newest episode of Orange is the New Black.  We go to every birthday party, every leaving 'do and never miss a workout.  We never put ourselves first, which can lead us feeling tired, depressed and anxious.  I say 'enough is enough!'  It is time to take care of yourself so that you have more to give to others.  Here are a few suggestions on how to administer self care.  Note, these are things that make me feel better by keeping things pretty, simple, and calm.

Treat yourself- Fresh flowers aren't just for Valentine's Day. Prestige Flowers UK sent me a gorgeous bouquet a few weeks ago.  The comments I got on Instagram were how decadent it is to have fresh flowers and others wished they had flowers too.  There is nothing stopping you from picking up a beautiful bouquet every once in a while. Having them delivered was great too! They arrived in a really sturdy box whic would be manageable to carry home on public transport.  I tend to pick flowers up on bank holiday weekends as I will be home for a few days in a row and can enjoy the flowers more than if I was at work.

Other treats that I enjoy once in a while include manicures with my mom or friends, trips to the cinema, and going out for a meal at my favourite resturant (aka Chipotle or Pizza Express).

Facial at the spa. So peaceful

Skip a workout- Bet you never thought a personal trainer would say this.  Sometimes, you just need a night off (please do not cancel less than 24 hours before your PT appointment) to refocus.  There is a worry you will fall out of your training schedule but having a night off might be just the thing you need to get your mojo back.  You body will appreciate the rest too if you tend to workout more than four times a week.

Have a lie in- I dare you not to set your alarm.  It is glorious.

Sleeping on the #fitbitfifty bus

Watch TV without multitasking- In my house, we are usually working on the laptop while the TV is on in the background (like I am now).  But is that really an effective way to create quality work or to grasp plot of the show? Set a timer to just watch your show and chill, then get back to work.

Take a nap- It is amazing what a little power nap will do.  Rest and recovery are very important when you are training, sp make sure you are getting enough of both.  In addition, if you are burning the candle at both ends, you might need to be creative with your sleep schedule.

Revisit a favourite hobby- Usually we start a hobby because we enjoy it, and possibly because we are good at it.  As we grow up, we loose the time to set aside for these fun pursuits. So pull out the sewing machine, dust off your SLR, or book a dance lesson to do something fun again.

I am learning how to make quilts (in all my spare time)

Call an old friend- Sure, Facebook is great and so are emails but there is nothing like chatting to a friend on the phone.  People seem to be so disconnected these days with text messaging and rapid fire emails.  Reconnect the old school way.

Stop comparing yourself to others and let go of FOMO-  This will drive you crazy and develop self-doubt. Be proud to be you.  You might not get the same experiences as everyone else but it is your life to lead.

What do you do to take care of yourself?  Leave a comment below and let me know.

Prestige Flowers sent me a bouquet of flowers.  All views are honest and my own.  They would be happy to deliver flowers for your Easter celebrations if you are looking to bring spring indoors.  :)

London Marathon Looming

Friday, April 7, 2017

Running to the finish
In a perfect world, I would have wrote a post for '1 month until London Marathon' but the training plan I chose had me running two 20 mile peak weeks. It has been a long 15 weeks of training but I am feeling ready.  Now that I am officially in taper mode, a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.  My mileage is decreasing, leaving more time for food prep and Dance Moms reruns (my latest guilty pleasure).  With less than 3 weeks until my second World Marathon Major, how will my training change in the lead up to the starting line?

Less mileage- This is good as Strava just told me it is time for new shoes.  I might use my Salomons 3D this week for short runs.  In the post, I recently received Wiiv custom insoles which used photographs of my feet to create the perfect fit.  Is 3 weeks enough time to break in new shoes and/or insoles?  I am not willing to risk it so I will wait to try these insoles out.

More stength training with Julia B Fit- Every. Time. I. Say. I will strength train. Then I don't.  There just isn't enough time in the day to work and train in all the disciplines that balance the time on my feet.  Julia's workouts are great because you can mix and match different sessions based on your training goals and how much time you have.  You can get started in her online gym for free, so click on the link above and have a mosey around.

Thank you John Lewis for my new yoga bag. So fancy!
More yoga- John Lewis sent me a 'yoga at home' kit from their wellness campaign. Like strength training, yoga is something I know I need to do more of as a runner, especially one who has Achilles tendonitis and periformis issues.  The bag is beautiful and I can totally see it as a beach bag or carry on.  There was also a resistance band in the bundle, which will be handy with the strength training point above.

More sleep- Seriously. If you are part of a sleep research lab, can I please be a study subject?  I need eight to nine hours normally but then with big miles on top, even more.  Any advice on developing quality sleep patterns?

More blogging- Having reached my fundraising goal a few weeks ago, I can now concentrate on writing posts about my time in South Africa, new kit I have been testing out from Get the Label and La Redoute (check out their fitness guide with a mini-profile on me), and trying electro-acupuncture for my periformis pains.

Whole30 rules- After having to stop and use the bathroom four times on my 20 miler on Sunday and three times during Berlin Marathon, I need to get my GI system under control.  I will loose a lot of time trying to find a bathroom during London Marathon but also it is no fun having to worry about having an accident for 4+ hours.

What do you do in the last two weeks leading up to a big race?  Let me know in the comments below.

Decathlon Scavenger Hunt- so much to find under one roof

Monday, April 3, 2017

Pink Ladies!
Last week, I headed back to Surrey Quays, which is the neighbourhood we lived in when we first moved to London.  It is always nice to go back and see how the area has changed.   I am so happy when I go back to the area, probably because of the fond memories of our gorgeous flat and exploring London with fresh enthusiam.

When we lived there, the Decathlon in Surrey Quays was the only one store in the UK.  Most of my personal training/fitness kit and cycling accessories came from there, as it was easy to access and really affordable (it took me 2 years to stop converting pounds to dollars).  In the USA, most stores carry a variety of items while I find in the UK you have to go to a specialist store to find each thing you need.  Decathlon has everything from running kit to ski gear to protein powder to free weights to warm fleece for the winter and wellies for dog walks in the spring to good old bike inner tubes.  But it wasn’t until the scavenger hunt that I learned just how much variety they offer.

Bloggers are big on selfies
Decathlon kindly invited nine bloggers down for a fun scavenger hunt through the store.  There were three teams of three and I was on the Pink Ladies with Beki and Eileen.  Each team started in different parts of the store and had a dozen or so questions to answer about the products on the shelves.  We also had a bonus question about the Decathlon brands and what sporting discipline they represented.  I had no idea that Decathlon had over 20 of their own brands for everything from camping to swimming to rock climbing to equestrian to court sports.  They also carry big brands, such as Nike, Adidas, Salomon, Karrimor, etc. but in my experience, I have found that the Decathlon quality is just as good depending on what I need and how much I am willing to spend on it.

I bet you can't see us. (Decathlon made us wear these jackets around the store)

No one told us we were going to have to do math as part of one of the tasks.
Decathlon even has their own brand of fitness technology products, Geonaute.  If you are looking to invest in a heart rate monitor, GPS watch, action camera accessories, or ear buds, have a look at their selection.  With Decathlon, they really aim to remove the finacial barrier of getting stuck in to a new sport or physical activity. Often times, I see people discouraged from trying something new because they don't have the proper equipment or don't want to invest too much in case they don't like it.  After walking around the store, I can tell you there are many products that can help increase your heart rate without decreasing your bank account by too much.

Trying to find the right strawberry-flavored protein and one of the answers to our questions.

I just wanted to eat all the protein.  Apparently, Eileen did too.

After exploring nearly every bit of the store looking for clues, I am thrilled to say that our team won and were given awesome medals for our efforts while we enjoyed some great canapes and wine with the other bloggers.  Each attendee was also given a brightly colored 20L rucksack, a fitness ball, a running bumbag, and soft microfiber towel.  I was actually eyeing the 1 bottle carrier belt bumbag for the London Marathon and have pleased with it so far.

First place team celebrating our win over social media.

'In-tents' bloggers after the challenge was over.
The scavenger hunt would be a lot of fun for families or schools to learn more about different types of ways to be active and there is a great potential for it to be even more interactive with the products available.  I found a few new pieces of kit I would like to try (stand up paddleboard, horseback riding boots, and a Subea face mask with a snorket built in).  As this was the first time the scavenger hunt was put on, Decathlon is taking our feedback and will tweak the experience a bit more (I suggested adding a time limit).

I would highly recommend keeping your eyes out for similar interactive events at your local Decathlon store.  You can always stop by and have a wander around though to see what inspires you to get more active and/or explore the outdoors.

Thanks to Decathlon for providing us with a fun evening and great sporty items.  All opinions are honest and my own.

Spring Workout Blitz

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Spring seems to have sprung so now it is time to work on coming out of your winter hibernation.  I already have students asking me how to get a flat stomach. I suggest starting to spend more time outdoors by walking or running in the park.  Meet friends for a cycle ride along the canal.  Take the kids to the playground and climb on the equipment with them.  Get your body moving to get stronger and healthier in no time.

Here are 8 moves for a slender summer tummy you will be proud to show off in your swimming costume.  Start with 30 seconds each, and each week add 10 more seconds.  Add 30 seconds of star jumps between each one for a cardio boost!  Remember to check with your doctor before beginning a fitness program.

1. Side planks (30 sec on each side.  Don’t let the hips drop)

2. Partnered leg lifts (One person stands and pushes away the other’s toes as they lift them up to 90 degree)

3. Ballet crunches (Start laying on the ground and hold arms in ballet 1st position.  Then move in an anti-clockwise direction pausing at 3, 12, and 9 on the clock face.  Repeat 10 times then switch to other direction)

4. Roll back and reach (Sit with feet on ground and knees bent.  Hold arms straight out in front of you and slowly lower your torso back with your hips being the pivot point.  As you lower, bring one arm out to the side and reach behind you until you feel you cannot go any lower (you will develop a greater range of motion with more practice).  Come back up by imaging a string is attached to your chest and drawing up upward.  Repeat on the other side.)

5. Supermans (Lay on stomach with arms and legs extended.  Raise opposite arm and leg a few cm off ground.  Hold for 3 seconds. Alternate sides)

6. Step in and out plank (In plank position, step left foot out 1 step to the left, then right foot out to right 1 step, then left foot back to centre, followed by the right foot.  Continue)

7. Tea pot (Standing up, have a weight in one hand.  A jug of laundry detergent or bag with a few books in it will work.  Place left hand on left hip and have weight in right hand.  Slide right hand down outside of right thigh until you are just above knee.  Then use abs on left side to help you stand upright. Complete one set on the one side for 30 seconds, then switch to the other.)

8. Standing side crunch (Place all of weight on left leg.  Hold on to chair or wall if you have poor balance.  Raise right arm above head and point right toe to ground.  Bring right elbow to right knee at 45 degree to body.  Extend arm up again as you point toe but try not to put any weight on right foot to keep tummy working.  Repeat for the 30 seconds, then switch sides.

The foods you eat and drink will affect how your midsection looks too.  Here are some food and drinks to avoid developing a bloated stomach.  Keep a food diary to see which ones affect you the most.

  • Fizzy drinks are filled with gas, which then is released inside your stomach and intestines.  Often times fizzy drinks will have excess sugar too, which contributes to the bloating problem.
  • Chewing gum is thought to bring air into your stomach so stick to the mints before a big night out.
  • Dark green vegetables, like kale, broccoli, and cabbage, can cause bloating and flatulence, but if you eat them regularly, your intestines will increase their efficiency at digesting them.
  • Dairy causes bloating in many people with and without lactose intolerances.  Pay attention to how your body responds to milk, certain types of cheese, yoghurt, and ice cream, and then avoid the ones that give you trouble.

Another crucial element to reducing the amount of fat stored around your waistline is to get enough sleep!  Added stress and lack of rest releases a hormone called cortisol.  Too much cortisol can cause excess fat to accumulate around your midsection.1 If you are eating right and exercising, but not seeing a shift in your body shape, take a look at your sleep patterns to ensure you are getting enough quality sleep.  Aim for 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.  If you are training more than usual, you might need even more.

Leave a comment below and tell me how you are emerging from your winter hibernation.

1Moyer, et el.  Obes Res. 1994 May;2(3):255-62.

This post originally appeared on So Sweaty's blog.

Active travel awaits in South Africa

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

just a few days, I will be on a plane to South Africa.  This is the first time I will be visiting the region and I am ticking things off my bucket list.  During my two week stay, I plan on balancing fitness acitivites with time to relax, as well as sightseeing.  I am a firm believer that vacations are a time when you can unplug, find time to do the things you enjoy, and stay comitted to your health goals.

Here is a rough itinerary of what I will be doing while I am enjoying the 26 degrees C and sunshine.

Days 1-3: Visit Stellanbosch for a friend's wedding.  This is the reason I am headed down to that part of the world.  Of course, there will be indulgences with eating and drinking, but I will be burning calories on the dance floor too.

Day 4: 10K trail run at Warwick Winery and dinner with a  friend from London who lives in Cape Town.  I love me some bling and am trying to run in every state and country I visit.  This race is a trail run with lots of hills.  I will need to pack my trail shoes!

Day 5: Settle into Cape Town and visit the beach.

Day 6: CAGE DIVING!  The team at Marine Dynamics have invited me out on their boat to see great white sharks in their natural habitat.  I am a super-fish nerd and this has been on my bucket list for many many years.  This group come highly recomended and I cannot wait to bring my faux pro action cam in the cage with me.

Day 7: I am debating about paragliding or sea kayaking.  What do you recomend?  The bride and groom are having a farewell BBQ in the evening too.

Day 8: Park Run in Cape Town and then my husband arrives.

Day 9-10: Hire road bikes and explore the area on 2 wheels.  My husband will be designing our routes and I hope I can keep up.

Day 11-12: Penguin colonies and prison visit.

Day 13-14: Safari a few hours from Cape Town.  We have two safaris a day (at sunrise and sunset) during our stay.  We also get to meet some elephants up close and personal.

Day 15: Relax in Cape town and then head back home.

I am looking for fitness studios in Cape Town to visit or other active excursions.  Please leave a comment below if you have a suggestion for me or send me a tweet.

Lifelong learner

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Since finishing my bachelors degree, there has rarely been a time when I wasn't studying part-time.  My career goal was to become an aquatic veterinarian so for several years I took classes part-time at the community college in my hometown to complete the prerequisite requirements.  But unfortunately, I didn't get in.  I then found myself taking courses to become a nurse practitioner before realising I didn't like people as much as animals.  Grad school came a few years later, then my spinning certification, personal training, and additional certifications, such as Coach in Running Fitness, along the way.  I enjoy learning new things in fields that interest me and enjoy the challenge of mastering new materials.  Plus, these courses are often great ways to meet other people with similar interests or who work in the same field as you.

Lately, I haven't been keeping up with the fitness industry advancements.  As the day job isn't allowing much time for part-time work in the gym, I find it hard to justify the expense of my time and money on fitness courses.  Plus, I would need to take time off from work to attend classroom sessions or to revise for final assessments.

I was intrigued when Future Fit Training contacted me to be one of the first to try out their new Pro Zone. Offering webinars, discounted online CPD, and networking opportunities, it is perfect for busy trainers like me.  It is a private Facebook group, meaning you can check in with the app you most likely already have on your phone.  Plus, checking Facebook is something you already do automatically so you don't have to worry about remembering to log into a separate place.  Everyone in the group has been really friendly and willing to share tips and advice whenever someone posts a question.

Key benefits of membership include:
  • 12 accredited webinars per year
  • 25% discount on all Future Fit CPD courses
  • Membership of an exclusive online fitness industry group
  • Specialist guest webinars
  • Unique promotions and competitions
  • Engaging content to help maximise your PT skills and business
The webinars tend to be on Wednesdays ar 2pm, which unfortunately is while I am at work.  However, they are recorded for later viewing and emailed to you if you registered.  The first one I signed up for was about mindset training with the founder of the Body Transformation Academy.  There are many more that I cannot wait to see.  Here are a few examples:

It has only been two weeks since I have joined, and I am still getting used to navigating the group and having it be part of my daily check in.  I see tremendous value in it though for new PTs or PTs who are trying to grow their business.  I will be posting updates in the next few weeks on how I get on with it and what new stuff I am learning that will help you be healthy and happy.

When was the last time you took a class to learn something new?  Did you continue to pursue it after the course ended?