Polygiene does it again- a stink test

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Freya lingerie brand has recently added an activewear line to its offerings.  Smartly, they chose to use fabric treated with Polygiene for their designs, which helps prevent bacteria (and therefore odour) build up after repeated gym sessions without washing in between.  You can read my other suggestions on how to avoid stinky gym kit at your desk here on H2 Life Blog.

To put these Polygiene-treated shorts to the tests, I wore them for over 5 hours of running and indoor cycling without washing.  After each use (and then drying on a hanger or floor), my husband gave them the sniff test.  Only this last time did he start to notice something, and as he pointed out, he had to put his nose right against the fabric.  What a brave soul!  I was really surprised because they were really sweaty after each of my workouts.  i thought there would have been some indication before then.

Overall, I am very pleased with how the Polygiene treatment helped delay the onset of smell to these shorts. It helps save me time from doing laundry and save energy/water from less loads.  My husband is happy too as he feels is he constantly washing gym kit while his collared shirts require fewer washes if he layers properly.  Less washing also helps your clothes last longer, as the washing machine can be a bit rough on fabrics.

Yes, a dryer uses a lot of energy, but boy do I miss having one!

The only thing I would suggest is that Freya start using Polygiene fabrics for their sport bras too.  It would make me feel more confident knowing I am not going to smell after wearing my sport bra for a second time without washing (come on- you know you do it too!) or that if I douse myself with water on a hot day, I won't smell horrible.

What tips do you have to avoid your gym kit from smelling?

Thanks to Polygiene for gifting me these shorts to try out.  All opinions are honest and my own.

7 Quick and easy health products for you to try

Friday, April 8, 2016

Lean Greens
One of the fun bits about being a blogger is trying out products before a big marketing launch. Samples might come to me from goody bags, via other bloggers who are not a good fit for the brand, or from the brand finding me on social media.  I will only share products that fit in with health and happiness (along with my skin allergy) so here are a few I recently tried and think you should too:

Lean Greens- The health benefits of algae and other superfoods are all over the news lately.  Lean Greens takes veg and makes it into a handy portable drink.  The smell is very similar to my Energy Bits but it tastes good (remember to swallow Energy Bits rather than chew).  The first ingredient listed for Lean Green is malodextrin (aka sugar, which probably helps with the taste) but I don't know how much sugar there is per serving.  I use it as a meal replacement on the Tube if I am running late for work.  All you need is a protein shaker and water. And the Lean Greens of course!  

Sass Intimate lotion- I finally was able to try the lotion after a bikini wax (not that I needed one as Florida was too cold and rainy to swim).  I used the Sportive Recovery Serum and Perfect Skin Concentrate lotions to help prevent ingrown hairs and to reduce irritation after running and shaving.  Neither irritated my skin (which is sensitive due to allergies).  I did not try any of these internally (nor will I). Nature knows best when it comes to lady bits.  If you regularly wax and exercise, you would really benefit by trying Sass out on your thighs on bikini line. 

The Protein Works Bircher Breakfast- Very easy to use if you can plan ahead. Simply add water, milk, or nut milk to this pot and leave for a few hours. I added milk and left in the fridge overnight. It was a very fast and filling breakfast.  A small spoon is included in the container too.  I wish the pot itself wasn't plastic but I don't think cardboard would last overnight with the added liquid. Super handy for camping, early training sessions and life on the go.

Goodies from The Protein Works
The Protein Works Diet Protein Truffles- OMG. I think the flavour of the mint chocolate truffles is delicious. My husband doesn't have as big a sweet tooth as I do and said it was pretty good for a protein snack.  The size is perfect and with 10.7g of protein, it is pretty filling.  I can't wait to try the other flavours.

Dr. Bronner's 18-in-1 soap- What amazing smells! I washed my hair and body with the hemp lavender scent after my marathon. It lathered well but left my hair feeling a little dry. Usually I use conditioner and leave in conditioner, so it felt very different to me.  It gave my hair great body though. 

Dr. Bronner's 18 in 1 soap

Supergrain Protein Pot- Similar to the Bircher Breakfast, this superfood pot simply requires hot water.   The nutritious ingredients include white hemp, ancient grains, and sunflower protein.  It was ready in only a few minutes and tasted like warm brownie mix.  It is lactose- and dairy- free too.

Green People quinoa and calendula shower gel- Another great goody bag find! The smell is subtle, yet refreshing and it feels soft when applied to my hands and skin.  The winter wind along with frequent hand washing makes my skin so dry this time of year.  This shower gel is a nice treat.

What are you favourite finds lately that makes living healthy and happy a bit easier?

All of these items were sent to me as samples in return for a review.  All opinions are honest and my own.  What can I say? I love to eat!

Shake things up with Power Plate®

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Vibration training gained popularity with Russian athletes in the 1960s and has been around ever since (1). Today you can find Power Plate® machines in your local gym or fitness boutique. They have even just released a Personal Power Plate®, weighing 18 kg, that will fit under your bed or in your cupboard.  There are numerous benefits to vibration training, including increased circulation, improved flexibility, reduction in cellulite, speeding up recovery, boosting endurance, and improving core strength and stability (2).  It can also be a great benefit when strength training in the gym. In 15-30 seconds you can pre-activate your muscles which will in turn, increase your power and range of motion (ROM). In a 2016 study, Dallas, et al. (3) found direct pre-activation resulted in increased flexibility and explosive strength in the legs of divers. This affect last up to 15 minutes following exposure to vibration. The pre-activation in this series were 4 sets of 30 seconds with 30 seconds rest in between, with a different exercise for each set (static squat, dynamic squat, and lunges on each leg).

How can you pre-activate? Hop on to the Power Plate® in your gym and either hold a static pose or a simplified version of the move you are about to perform, such as squats, without the weights. Even if you have to wait a minute or two for the lifting equipment to become available, the benefit of the vibration training was found to still be available up to 15 min (3). In other research studies, vibration training has been shown to improve muscle activity, force, and power (4).

What is the physiological reason behind this? Dallas et al. (3) hypothesise that the vibration helps the stretch reflex loop in the muscle fiber. Vibration training also raises muscle temperature and blood flow to the muscle which helps with ROM (4)  The neurological system may improve motor unit synchronisation and help further develop the central balance neuropathways (5).

By using a Power Plate® during your workout, you can reduce the length of the session.  The vibration makes the workout more intense, activating all muscles in body. Even if the exercise you are doing doesn't target another part of the body (for example, a bicep curl), another part (the core) is still engaged.   Older people who have trouble with their balance or people who take part in sports that require a lot of agility (trail running, parkour, tennis, basketball, football) will see rapid improvements in their sports performance once they started using vibration training.  A 2016 study (6) found that Elite male soccer players improved their stability when they had a short vibration training session of 3 x 60 seconds with 60 seconds rest in between trials after a 10 minute warm up on a stationary bicycle.  Additionally, both the elite and amateur male soccer players improved their anterior Y balance test reach distances, which is an indication of improved flexibility.  This increase in stability, flexibility, and balance can help reduce the risk of injury in the long term, such as during a match.

There are several contraindication for vibration training.  People who are pregnant, have cancer, broken bones, a recent IUD insertion or have a pacemaker should not use the machines.  Never use the machine barefoot and always use the mat if you are sitting on the machine.  Some people find the vibrations too intense on first use.  To help the body become accustomed to the new sensation, you can stand on the mat during the first few sessions to dampen the intensity.  Also, rock back and forth on your feet from heels to toes to explore how the vibration travels differently through the body depending on body positioning.  Standing straight up will allow the vibration to travel right up to your head, so aim to keep the knees soft.

The vibrations are not something you will have experienced before, so it may take some time to get used to.  Once you are used to it, vibration training is a proven way to make use of your limited time in the gym.  The long-term improvements in flexibility, strength, and stability will be an asset to your performance goals.

1 Biermann, W.  1960. Influence of cycloid vibration massage on trunk flexion. American Journal of Physical Medicine  (39): 219–224.
2 https://powerplate.com/
3 Dallas, G., G. Paradisis, P. Kirialanis, V. Mellos, P. Argitaki, and A. Smirniotou.  2015.  The acute effects of different training loads of whole body vibration on flexability and explosive strength of lower limbs in divers.  Biology of Sport. 32(3): 235-241.
4 Sands, W.A., J.R. McNeal, M.H. Stone, G.G. Haff, and A.M. Kinser.  2008. Effect of vibration on forward split flexibility and pain perception in young male gymnasts. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance.  3(4):469-481.
5 Ronnestad, B.R.  Comparing the performance-enhancing effects of squats on a vibration platform with conventional squats in recreationally resistance-trained men.  Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 18(4): 839-845.
6 Cloak, R., A. Nevill, and M. Wyon.  2016.  The acute effects of vibration training on balance and stability amongst soccer players. European Journal of Sport Science.  16(1): 20-26.

Essential cycling gear from Wiggle

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Every once in a while, I get an email from the good folks at Wiggle about kit they are currently featuring.  For those that don't know, Wiggle is an online cycle shop that offers good stuff at an affordable price. dhb is their own 'brand'.  My husband has several dhb items and I can attest to their quality.  Wiggle also includes free snack packs of Haribos in your order and has a loyalty program for frequent shoppers.  How cool is that?

I am an affiliate, which means I get a very small percentage (1-2%) of each sale made by clicking through the links below.  The best part is that it doesn't cost the buyer anything additional to support me (and this here blog).

My Ride London 100 training starts Monday, so the blog and social media channels will soon be peppered with cycling posts.  If you have any sportives planned for 2016, please let me know in the links below!

This week, Wiggle would love for you to check out the following (many have alternative colors so be just to check the site for alternatives):

Garmin Edge 520 GPS Cycle Computer, on sale for £189.99 (savings of 21%), with free delivery to UK

AlĂ© Exclusive Ultra Canale Short Sleeve Jersey, on sale for £40.50 (savings of 55%), with free delivery to UK

dhb Aeron Bib Shorts, £65, with free delivery to UK

dhb Aeron Roubaix Long Sleeve Jersey, on sale for £48 (savings of 20%), with free delivery to UK

(James turn your eyes away from this one!)
Eastway Zener D1 (Ultegra - 2016), on sale for £1530 (savings of 15%), with interest free credit
Shimano 105 5800 Groupset, on sale for $284.99 (savings of 49%), with free delivery to UK

Continental Grand Prix 4000S II Folding Road Tyre Twin Pack, on sale for £59.99 (savings of 40%), with free delivery to UK

GripGrab RaceAqua White Overshoes, on sale for £14.40 (savings of 60%), with free delivery to UK

Please note, I have never tried any of these products so please do some research before making a purchase.  I have made my own purchases from Wiggle for myself and my husband, and would recommend their site even if I was not an affiliate.

Race Review: North London Half 2016

Friday, April 1, 2016

Lots of people arriving
Last year was the inaugural North London Half. (You can read my review here.) It was perfect for me at the time as I lived 2 miles from the start in Mill Hill and had 17 miles to run in prep for Prague marathon. My husband and dog were at mile 11 to cheer me on too, which gave me a boost at the end.

I think most people found the start line in 2015 challenging to get to because this year the race started and ended in Wembley Stadium. I have moved house since, so it took me ages to get to the stadium (between disruptions and a super early start). Once I got there, I saw a few friendly faces (Miss Wheezy and Lauren) and dropped my stuff off in the media area. It was a pain to get to the room as it was deep in the stadium but it was interesting to walk through central command where all the organizer's and safety services were monitoring the race.

The race started on time but was uphill for at least a mile (this came in handy at the end though). My goal was to finish in 2 hours so I started off pacing with a woman, Catherine, who I met in the press area and aiming to keep to 9 minute miles.  Overall, the route was very similar to last year's.  There were some fans cheering at the stadium and near the Tube stations, as well as a few bands along the way, but most of the route was quiet.  It was nice to have large roads to run on so it wasn't too congested with runners. The route featured plenty of (heavily staffed with volunteers) water stations, loos, and Lucazade.

View of the start line as I exited the Tube station
At the halfway point, I stopped on the Allianz Park track for some photos so I finished up the race on my own.  I just couldn't catch up with Catherine!  It was cool that at the track side there was a huge video screen that put your name up as you crossed over the timing mat.  I missed my name, unfortunately, but love the idea!  

Entering Allianz Park, the midway point

Names up on the big screen
Everyone who ran the race will agree the hill at mile 9.5-10.1 was the worst thing ever which I am naming Heartbreak Hill after the one in Boston Marathon. The next few miles were unremarkable as I was simply trying to keep on track with 9 minute miles.  The last mile was downhill and I was cutting it close to my cut-off so I kicked it up a notch.  I felt like I was close as I passed the Tube station and thought the end would be at the end of the Olympic Way.  In doing this and not seeing an end in sight, I had to have a gel in the car park, less than 0.2 miles to the finish because I was about to hit the wall.  We entered the stadium on the east end and finished on the turf in the stadium.  Fans were allowed into the stadium to watch for free, so it was cool to see some folks sitting and watching (but I wish they were cheering more loudly).  And I hit my goal with a finish time of 1:58:47!

Boom! Me and my new bling
After crossing the finish line and getting a million selfies inside the stadium, runners were corralled out and received a navy blue technical shirt, a great goody bag (last year's had more chocolate) and a foil blankets. This was amazing as it was a bit cold, windy and a little rainy on the day.  These blankets would have been a great idea last year! 

I went back to media area where I met the 1st & 2nd place men's winners who are on the Run Fast team and from Kenya. I asked them about the weather and the hills, they said the hills were similar to Kenya. They were really nice and I wish them the best with their running careers.

Trying to get a quick photo but we are too fast.  Ha!
Ronnie and the winners, not blurry
The North London Half is what I would call hilly (elevation of 534 feet).  If you live in west or north London, it is an easy race to get to and will take you through some familar sites.  It is also early enough in the year that it fits nicely into spring marathon training.  Pre-registration for 2017 is now open if you want to get an email notification when registration opens up.

Not often you can be in an empty stadium :)
Thanks to the North London Half for complimentary entry to this race in exchange for a review.  All opinions are honest and my own.