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Should you be using a foam roller?

Foam rolling. Everybody is talking about it, but is it really worth all the hype? Here are the pros and cons of foam rolling.

foam roller

My torture device… 

First things first, what is foam rolling?

The idea behind foam rolling is to release tight muscles and the adhesions in them that restrict your range of motion. In other words, in theory, it helps to stretch out your muscles and relieve any soreness.

However, whether foam rolling actually does you any good is something that is hotly debated, with evidence both for and against it.

THE PROS

Supporters of foam rolling, rave about the benefits. Not only is it meant to help reduce the risk of injury by improving circulation, it also softens tendons which results in increased flexibility. It has also been suggested that foam rolling can help to regulate your nervous system, which increases what is known as muscle extensibility (how far the muscle can be stretched to you and me).

In theory, this increased circulation and flexibility helps you to achieve your full potential when it comes to your gym sessions, as it helps to encourage better form and reduce those dreaded DOMS.

Yep, it might hurt when you’re doing it, but as they say – no pain, no gain!

THE CONS

All sounds great, where do I sign up?

Before you go grabbing a foam roller at the end of your next session, it is worth considering that while many people rave about foam rolling, others recommend avoiding it. Although the supposed benefits are great, in reality, researchers aren’t all that convinced.

Many worry that rather than helping your muscles to soften and recover, the pressure that is applied during foam rolling could actually be having a negative impact on the nervous system instead! 

TO SUM IT UP

Foam rolling is a relatively new phenomenon and so scientific research is limited. While studies have shown that it might not have negative effects in the short term, the long-term effects have yet to be studied.

Therefore, while it might help your lifts in that session, or even in that week, there is currently no way to say for certain whether it will continue to offer these benefits in the future.

If you were looking for a more definite answer, I am sorry…

Do you foam roll or are you more of a stretching sort of person? Comment down below which you prefer.

Jamie x 

From Summer To Autumn | Switching Up My Routine.

It’s Autumn time!! Autumn is my favourite season hands down. A) Because it is my birthday season (I’m an October baby so it is officially my birthday month) and B) Pumpkin spiced lattes are back and I am continue embracing the #basic life in caffeinated style and C) Because I love updating my health and beauty routine to suit to colder weather. I thought I would share with you guys today some of the changes autumn brings to my routine. So, let’s get started. 

Skin Care

I tend to use autumn as a transition season to help to rejuvenate and repair your skin from any summer damage and get it ready for the brutalities of a British winter. Everything has to serious up its game when it gets to autumn as moisture becomes to new buzz word. Now it is getting colder and I am becoming more and more reliant on the central heating, a more intensive moisturiser in necessary. I tend to ditch the lighter creams and go for heavier moisturising creams and gels that reinvigorate my skin and body and give it a little extra hydration.

  1. Whereas the Dove Summer Revived Gradual Tan was getting me through the summer months just fine now it is more about the Aveeno, which I cannot recommend enough. I also tend to get slight eczema during the colder months on my chest and elbows (nothing too serious) but this moisturiser clears it right up and keeps it to an absolute minimum.
  2. I also tend to switch up my lip care to something a little more moisturising. As you might remember, during summer I was LOVING the Carmex Pineapple and Mint lip balm (it even featured in my holidays essentials post). Now, however, my lips are needing a thicker balm that does not make me mourn my summer holidays. Dr. Lipp Nipple Balm is perfect for this. It is so so nourishing and super thick so continues to provide moisture ALL day. The thickness might not be for everyone but I cannot think of a better lip balm to take me from summer into autumn – it’s fantastic.
  3. Moisture might be the buzz word but it is important not to forget to exfoliate during the autumn months. My go-to is always FRÉ Skincare ‘Purify Me’. It keeps my skin clean, smooth and helps to get rid of dead cells and impurities without making my skin feel dry or tight at all. It’s a dream of an exfoliate and I would seriously recommend it. If you fancy getting your hands on some remember to use my code JJ, which will give you 15% off at the checkout.

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Hair 

Moisture is also the buzzword when it comes to hair. I have pretty dry hair anyway so my hair care regime doesn’t change dramatically BUT I have some bits and bobs I would recommend and one pretty big change.

  1. The Lee Stafford Hair Growth Treatment (For Hair That Never Grows Past A Certain Length) is AMAZING! Not only does it help speed up hair growth, which I love during the autumn and winter months, it also leaves your hair feeling super moisturised and silky smooth. I definitely will be using this product a lot more regularly over the next few months.
  2. The biggest change when it comes to my hair is that autumn means it is time to bring back the gold. I am a natural blonde but like to change up the tones to match the seasons. Over summer I had a super light highlight ran through it. Autumn will see more honey shades to match my wardrobe and make up changes. By winter we will probably see the return of a silver undertone but, for now at least, I’m going to be a golden girl

Make Up

I hate to say it but I am no longer the tanned goddess I was last season. Now I resemble a sheet of paper and that sadly means that my make up all needs switching up to suit. My autumn make up looks tend to be a lot deeper and more intense. Whereas summer saw pastels and pretty shimmers, autumn is about browns, burgundy and a popping highlight.

  1. The biggest change in my make up from summer to autumn is my lipstick colour choices. Whereas summer sees me rocking a soft pink, bright orange or more natural/nude shades, autumn is all about deeper and darker lip colours. My absolute go-to’s are both MAC. First up is Dark Side, which is the most stunning deep burgundy ever that goes so well with browns and oranges. I also absolutely love Dubonnet, which is described as a deepened claret. It is the perfect deep red and goes with pretty much every single make up look.
  2. I am sad to say that after months of light powders and a bit of bronzer, the liquid foundations are back. Even though I am looking for a bit more coverage from my foundation I still don’t want my skin to feel clogged up and full of make up. My favourite for creating a beautifully dewy, natural finish is the Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation. If I am looking for something with a little more coverage, the MAC studio sculpt foundation is my go-to (although I am currently in the market for a new one so suggestions are welcome). 
  3.  In terms of eye shadow, my bright oranges and yellows have had to go back in the drawer until next year. It does mean, however, that my NUE Eyeshadow Palette from Laritzy  has really come into it’s own. I have spoken about this palette before for it’s stunning browns and deeper shades and they are absolutely perfect for the autumn months. My Smashbox Full Exposure palette is also a favourite for the autumn/winter months and is great for creating day looks as well as looks for your work Christmas party.

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It’s goodbye for now Silent Disco… 

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Fashion

Definitely the most notable change in autumn is my fashion. Living in the UK means that autumn gets very cold so the shorts and cute summer dresses go to the back of the wardrobe for another year and we say hello to some new fashion staples.

  1. Hallelujah, jumpers are back! I love a jumper. The bigger the better. Last year I did a huge jumper shop and got loads from Primark. They’re super affordable and will last me through this autumn as well. I would also recommend hitting up Primark for coats. They’re usually very similar to ones you might find in River Island or TopShop but are a fraction of the price.
  2. It’s time to say goodbye to the sunshine yellows, baby pinks and bright (and by bright I mean covered in flamingos and pineapples…) and hello to burnt oranges, burgundy and deep reds. Just as with makeup, my wardrobe becomes a lot deeper in the autumn months. I still like my longer dresses but tend to pair them up with cute little chelsea boots and wooly tights rather than flip flops. When it comes to shoes, Zara have an excellent selection (as always). Here are some of my favourites.

Snake Skin/Leopard Print High Heel Ankle Boots – £99.99

Red Leather Stiletto Ankle Boots – £89.99

Burgundy High Heel Knee High Boots – £119

All a little pricey (they’ve had to go onto the wish list) but Zara shoes are great quality and last for years so definitely worth the investment if you can afford them.

smiles

Okay, so maybe baby pink still features a little… I just can’t help myself. 

Exercise

Autumn might be my favourite season but the switch from summer to autumn is a bit of a disaster my training programme. Okay, that’s unfair on autumn, but it certainly does mean there is a huge dip in my motivation. When you get up for work and it’s dark and then you come home from work and, surprise surprise, it is once again dark, the last thing I fancy doing is a gym session. This means that my exercise programme sees a bit of a switch up in order to maintain motivation throughout the colder months.

  1. My training moves from outdoor agility and functional training to more gym based, indoor training. This isn’t a problem as long as I ensure to keep up cardiovascular training whilst I’m there (I’ll also probably be walking around less so I also need to make up for that). 
  2. I train a lot smarter in the colder seasons. This means that I make my workouts shorter and focus them more on compound movements.That way I’m not inside for every single daylight hour but I can go in and get an effective session done quickly.
  3. Gym buddies are saving graces when you’re lacking in motivation so I tend to go to a lot more classes and group sessions during the colder months. Pop into your local gym and see what they’ve got available OR look into local walking groups or Zumba classes – these always keep me motivated and it is also a great way to make friends (it’s nearly secret santa time, right?)

So there you have it, some of the changes I will be making to my routine over the next couple of weeks. Are you guys excited for Autumn? What are some of the biggest changes to your routine that the new season brings? Let me know in the comments below. Until next time. 

Jamie x 

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Coffee and Crunches | How Is Your Coffee Habit Impacting Your Fitness Goals?

It’s no secret that I am a huge coffee fan. I never used to drink it but final year at University got the better of me and I went from a milky Latte to a black Americano with an extra shot in the space of about a month. Nowadays I have coffee every single day without fail, whether that be from a coffee shop or chilling on the sofa at home. Coffee has a bit of a bad rep when it comes to health and fitness (one of the reasons I avoided it for so long) but is it really all that bad? Can squatting and shot-ing ever mix? What is your coffee habit doing to your fitness goals?

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We’ll ignore the huge slices of cake, shall we? 

I have been doing my research and found both positive and negative ways in which coffee is having an impact so sit tight, get yourself a cuppa and let us begin… 

Positives

We’ll start with the positives and you will probably be pleased to hear that there are a lot.

  1. Calorie Burner: The International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, found that trained athletes who took in caffeine pre-exercise burned around 15% more calories during the three hour period post-exercise than those who took a placebo. This comes down to the fact that coffee contains caffeine (surprise, surprise), which you probably already know is a stimulant. What you might not know is that it has also been shown to enhance our metabolic rate and can help increase fat oxidation as a result of this – cappuccino anyone? 
  2. Athletic Performance: You might also be surprised to hear that sipping coffee has also been linked to improved athletic performance according to the International Society of Sports Nutrition. This is due to the fact that caffeine stimulates the central nervous system. Research has shown that that it can help with memory and concentration, which subsequently helps when it comes to your workout. This leads us on to our next benefit…
  3. Pre-workout: Pre- workout can be expensive but it turns out that everything you need might already be sitting in your cup board (or, you know, at your local Costa). As well as hoping with your performance, a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning has revealed that caffeine can also help to reduce DOMS when it was compared with a placebo. Less time needed for muscle recovery more time to make the gains!

Negatives 

Unfortunately, it’s not all good news and there are some pretty bad ways your coffee habit could be impacting your health and preventing you from achieving your fitness goals.

  1. Calorie Intake: We’ve talked about how coffee can help when it comes to burning calories but make the wrong order and you could be adding a lot more calories to your dinner break. It’s estimated that 34% of us (ahem, me) fall victim to what is called ‘upselling’. Picture the scene: you’ve ordered a small latte and the cute barrister has told you you can upgrade for only 50p extra. Seems like a good idea, right? Wrong. This could apparently result in an extra 17,000 calories over a 12 month period. Of course it depends on your coffee preference but certainly food for thought.
  2. Anxiety: Perhaps not directly linked to your workout but certainly important to consider, coffee consumption, due to the caffeine, triggers the release of the same hormones involved in the fight-or-flight response. This can lead to increased feelings of anxiety and has the potential to exacerbate any existing anxiety disorders.
  3. 40 winks: Despite apparently helping with performance, if you’re drinking coffee within three hours of heading to bed you could be increasing the time it takes to drift off by up to 40 minutes – that’s a lot of extra counting sheep. Being sleep deprived can have a huge impact on your whole day, not to mention your workout.

So there you have it. As you can see, science has been anything but conclusive and there are both positive and negatives ways coffee can impact your health and fitness. My thoughts overall? Everything in moderation. I personally find myself more motivated, awake and content after a coffee in the morning (not to mention I enjoy the taste). I usually go for a white Americano with almond/coconut milk so it is not too calorific. Every so often I will treat myself to a dirty chai but it’s all about being aware. Stay hydrated and maybe cut back on the syrups and you’ll be fine.

What’s your go to coffee order? Let me know in the comments below.

Jamie x 

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Sources:

https://www.verywellfit.com/the-neurological-benefits-of-muscle-building-creatine-3121392

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24901809

https://www.verywellfit.com/drink-coffee-to-boost-your-workouts-and-more-3121398

http://www.womenshealthmag.co.uk/nutrition/happy-hour/7744/coffee-effects/

http://www.womenshealthmag.co.uk/beauty-style/skin/2759/is-your-morning-coffee-wrecking-your-skin-with-acne-and-dehydration/

https://www.nutracheck.co.uk/calories/calories_in_drinks/calories_in_coffee

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/expert-answers/calories/faq-20058100

https://www.muscleandfitness.com/features/edge/think-coffees-bad-you-think-again

https://www.health.com/nutrition/5-reasons-to-drink-coffee-before-your-workout

Beat The 9-5 | Top Tips For Staying Healthy If You Sit at a Computer All Day

Since starting work I have found that I am a lot less active. Yes, I am still going to the gym and getting my 4-5 weekly work outs in (it does help that I work at Gymshark HQ, of course), but being active is not just about smashing a weights session or hitting up the cross trainer. When I was at home I was walking everywhere, I’d play in the garden with the puppies and I would consciously ensure I was getting in at least 10,000 steps a day. Working 9-5 in a office, however, makes this a lot more challenging. Whilst there are plenty of opportunities in the HQ to get up and about, the reality is I still spend a lot of time at my desk and working on the computer. I have recently being getting into some new habits to ensure that I am remaining healthy and taking care of my mind and body whilst at work and so I thought I would share we you guys some top tips I’ve picked up to beat the 9-5. 

Top Tips for (2)

 

Sort Out Your Set Up. 

No surprises here, but being sat on your computer all day everyday is not the best for your posture. Where your computer is in relation to your eyes is super important and can impact on your neck and back. If you’re looking too far down at your monitor it can cause strain on your back and neck resulting in problems in the long run. However, too far up and you’re likely to get dry eyes. When it comes to your set up, it’s kind of like the Goldilocks principle – not too high, not too low. A maximum 10 degree angle? Just right.

Also, remember you can be at your desk without being sat down all day! Apparently just 30 minutes less of sitting each day can have a hugely positive impact on your posture and long term health, so get yourself an adjustable desk and alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day. Trust me, it will give you more energy and make you more productive and alert.

Clean It Up.

Remember it’s not all about your physical health – I’ve found that having a clean and organised desk really helps me to keep a clear mind! Keep it nice and tidy and get yourself some nice pictures and personal bits and bobs (I have a little plant on mine) so your desk is a pleasurable and enjoyable place to be.

Back It Up.

No, I’m not talking about that presentation you have on Monday morning (although I would definitely make sure you’ve got that backed up). I’m actually talking about your monitor. If you’re sitting too close to your monitor you’re at risk of a number of nagging eye problems including eye exhaustion, burning, dryness and muscle pains behind the eyes. You therefore want to make sure you’re about an arms length away.

I have a condition called optical near-sight conversion, which means it is even more important to ensure I am a good distance away from my screen and I am taking frequent breaks. Since starting work I have ensure I practise eye exercises at least once a day to strengthen the muscles and prevent aching and soreness.

If you fancy practising some eye exercises, you can get more information here.

Eyes On The Prize.

Another trick for protecting those eyes is to increase your font size. Sounds obvious but a bigger font size will stop you from having to squint and strain your eyes, which could result in strained muscles and headaches.

I’e also found that since starting work that is predominantly computer based that my out of work hobbies have changed. Rather that getting straight home from work and starting another Netflix series*, I like to do something that gives my eyes a bit of a break. If it’s nice weather I tend to go for a walk or I’ll do some baking and cooking for the house! Just find something to keep you occupied for a few hours that doesn’t mean staring at a screen and straining your eyes.

(*Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly still watching Netflix – how else I am supposed to binge watch old seasons of Love Island?!)

Stay Hydrated.

If I had a £1 for every time I had written ‘stay hydrated’ on this blog I would probably have enough to fund my excessive coffee habit. Probably… The sad news is, coffee is actually not helping! I try and limit my coffee intake each day and instead try different herbal teas – gross at first but I have actually found a couple that I really like and they are caffeine free so loads better than drinking coffee all day. I would recommend Pukka Organic Teas – they have loads of different flavours that are actually really lovely and don’t just taste like you’re drinking bits of grass – always good. 

I also always have a bottle of water at my desk. As you all will know, drinking water is essential to keeping healthy. It also will force you to get up every once in a while and refill your bottle, meaning you’re up and about – win win. 

Take A Pack Up

As well as making sure you have a bottle of water on you, I would also recommend taking yourself a pack up and enough snacks to get you through your shift. Not only does this save money, it also means you have control of what you’re eating and therefore it is likely to be a lot more balanced and nutritious.

I tend to make enough food in the evening to have some left over for lunch and then snack on chopped veggies and dried fruit. I also have been practising my baking skills and been making ‘healthy’ snacks, including muffins and granola – a lot better (and a lot cheaper) than snack bars from the vending machines. 

Work It Out

Last but not least, it’s the desk workout! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t carry a barbell on my back at all times ready to drop into a squat at any given moment, but I do try and do abs engaging exercises and focus on my posture. I also make sure than every hour I get up and about – whether that be just to go for a wee and fill up my bottle. Even just a little wander will keep your blood flowing – every step counts. 

If you struggle to get enough steps in, I’d recommend getting yourself a pedometer. Studies have shown that sedentary people who wear pedometers and set daily step goals (I go for at least 10,000)  become more active and therefore improve their overall wellbeing – both mental and physical.

So there you have it, some of my top tips for making sure that you’re staying healthy whilst working a desk job. Keeping mentally and physically healthy whilst at work is super important and something that is often neglected. I hope that these tips are useful! Let me know down below your top tips for staying healthy whilst working your 9-5. 

Jamie x 

 

Sources

https://www.shape.com/lifestyle/mind-and-body/8-things-you-need-do-if-you-sit-computer-all-day

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-13931/21-ways-to-stay-healthy-when-you-sit-at-a-desk-all-day.html

https://www.bustle.com/p/7-simple-ways-to-stay-healthy-when-you-sit-a-lot-37035

https://www.prevention.com/fitness/fitness-tips/a20444127/walking-pedometer-program-to-lose-weight/

https://www.bustle.com/articles/179775-11-ways-to-stay-healthy-at-the-office-because-your-habits-matter

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160323142345.htm

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-sitting-too-close-to-screen-making-you-blind/

 

How To Fit In Training With A 9-5.

I was talking to a friend a few weeks back who works a 9-5 5 days a week about how, despite training and eating relatively well and consistently, she was not seeing the same results as her Instagram idols. It’s a sad truth that whilst our #fitspos are making a career of looking like solid 10/10’s with booties that defy the laws of gravity, most of us have to head out to work. Whilst it is absolute #goals to see that these bloggers have been able to make careers out exercising and whipping up aesthetic meals, in reality can we translate this to our own lives? How do you fit in training with a 9-5?

Make Your Sessions Count 

I am fortunate to work in a HQ with a gym, which is very VERY handy and means I can go everyday either before or after work. However, if you can’t make it 5 days a week – don’t stress! It’s not always about being in the gym all the time but rather it is about what you’re doing in the gym when you’re there. There are a few ways you can do this. Firstly, if you have 2-3 days a week you know are less busy or have a larger window to play with then make that your gym time. It is better to not be rushed – quality over quantity when it comes to training.

It also matters what type of exercises you are choosing if you’re not able to train loads. I would suggest focusing on compound movements and ensuring you are getting balance in the muscles you are training. If you’re going 3 times a week you want 3 full body sessions with a different main focus on each. You want these to be dominated by movements such as deadlifts, squats and bench press. To be making optimum gains these are a lot better ways to use your time.

Meal Prep. 

Tupperware is your new nest friend.

I rave about this in pretty much every single post, but honestly I cannot recommend meal prepping enough. Training and achieving your goals is not all about hitting up the gym, it is also about how you are fuelling your body. If you’re cooking in the evening make enough for dinner tomorrow and even make your breakfast so you’re not rushing around the next morning (overnight oats are perfect for this!). That way you know exactly what you’re eating and you’re not tempted to grab something quick, easy and (let’s be honest) probably pizza, but what could be easier than taking the tupperware out of the fridge?

Work With What You’ve Got. 

You might not always be able to get to the gym (or you might absolutely hate the gym – the environment is not for everyone!) so work with what you’ve got. There are loads of apps that give you quick and effective home workouts focusing on body weight exercises and HIIT. These are really fast ways to stay fit and healthy.

You can also pick up some really good equipment from places like Home Bargains that are super affordable and can help to make your home workout a little more challenging. I would suggest getting yourself a resistance band at least as these are great for the booty burn and really versatile.

Remember you’re not a #fitspo superstar*. 

And that’s okay. 

You don’t have to be training all the time. You’re allowed a glass of wine after work. You’re probably not getting paid to go to the gym. Yes it would be nice, but you’re a superstar elsewhere and you’re smashing it.

You need time to relax and recover. Living a healthy lifestyle is as much about relaxing as it is resistance training. Get enough sleep and don’t be too harsh on yourself if you’re not up a 5AM sipping on a kale smoothie. Be proud of how hard you’re trying and just do the best you can – anything is better than nothing. 

*unless, you know, you are, then oh my god HI!

So there you have it, some of my top tips for fitting in fitness with a 9-5. I admit I am in a very privileged position due to where I work but that does not mean I am getting paid to deadlift. Training is something that now has to fit around my life, my life does not (and should not) fit around training. 

Jamie x 

 

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Sources 

http://www.menshealth.co.uk/building-muscle/workout-programmes/train-like-an-athlete-with-a-full-time-job

https://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/fitness/training-tips/how-to-work-a-95-and-still-be-fit-af/news-story/53ab1e54ee2f1d6b1ffbc457d465183a

https://www.myprotein.com/thezone/motivation/fitting-exercise-around-9-5/