I recently attended a fascinating Sleep Seminar by Dr Adrian Williams, a 30-year-practised leading authority on Sleep, based at London’s Guy’s & St Thomas’ hospital; I was reminded of sleep’s unsung value to our lives. Consequently, I’ve decided to revisit the theme of ‘the importance of sleep’ and have added a few bonus bits & pieces! I think most of us recognise we can benefit from it, but we don’t approach it in a structured way. The appropriate length and quality of sleep allows your body to function at peak efficiency both mentally and physically, and it’s just as valuable as regular exercise and wholesome nutrition. A good night’s sleep can improve overall health and make every aspect of the subsequent day more productive.
Time for a guilty admission then; for me the absolute worst part of sleep is the point at which I have to recognise that it’s over. It’s like a mini break-up, every morning; me & sleep, we’re so good for each other, but it just can’t continue; it’s wrong (but so right!). After hearing a lot of buzz around ‘artificial sunrises’, I took a chance and got a Lumie Zest about 2 months ago as an experiment. It’s a wake-up-light alarm clock, which emulates a gradual, 15-minute-long sunrise, supposedly creating a more natural start to the day. The light is meant to tell your body to pare back the production of sleep hormones (such as melatonin) and accelerate those that help you get up and go (e.g. cortisol).
To reiterate, I am absolutely, by NO means a morning person – it doesn’t matter that I have a military routine in place, waking up early is always a catastrophic debacle. This light has made a perceptible difference; when I wake (sometimes when the in-built klaxon wakes me, other times I wake naturally during the latter stage of the 15-min beaming ‘sunrise’), I feel less disoriented, nowhere near as tragic, less shocked, and less violated by no longer being in the cosy land of nod! As a result, I’m not quite as grouchy in the mornings, and I’m a tiny (but noticeable) bit more energetic. Living in the UK though, and getting up at 05:00 or 06:00 to face the pitch black darkness of a hostile winter is not fun; the Zest really does incrementally help during these months!
Here’s my thesis on the ethos behind sleep, the ‘why to’, and the ‘what if I don’t…’;
As part of my prize for winning the Sweaty Betty blogger styling event for their SS14 collection (you might remember it from my previous post HERE), I had the opportunity to interview their design team (Lisa, Laura and Julia) over at SB HQ in Fulham. The picture above is me in full-on ‘interview mode’. Organised over 3 floors, with a yoga studio, a shop, full corporate infrastructure and a strict ban on using the lift, the headquarters reminded me of a mini-Asos office; buzzing, creative, young and very cool! There are fabric libraries, mood walls, rows of iMacs, hair straightener zones, and a growing collection of award plaques…
Below you’ll find the transcript from my interview. There are some fun pictures to go along with it, which give you a flavour of how their ground floor studio-space looks, but this post is really meant for the keen fitness fashion enthusiast. It provides a rare insight into how the people that create our ‘sports looks’ think about the design process. A huge logistical and creative effort gets underway every single season, and as western consumers, we tend to take that ‘in-store-availability’ and ‘newness’ totally for granted; we’re totally oblivious to what’s going on behind the scenes, to get the product onto our shelves. The Sweaty Betty team are developing a world-class approach to the process, and I found it a fascinating experience to get a glimpse of the construction. I hope you enjoy reading it (or maybe just browsing a few of the shots) Faya x
I was recently invited along to the launch of Under Armour‘s new running shoe, the SpeedForm Apollo, which goes on sale this coming Friday (28th February), and is their updated follow-up to last year’s SpeedForm RC. The UK fitness advertising landscape is a homogenous onslaught, but this Under Armour offering is newness at its best, and as an obedient consumer, I just LOVE a bit of newness!
For the event, Ian Dickinson (Under Armour Head of European Footwear) flew over from their Netherlands base of operations, and I had a chance to pick his brain on the brand’s history, its ethos, to learn how it’s approaching the ultra-competitive footwear market, and to discover some of the drivers behind the technological innovations underpinning this Apollo shoe.
First off, I have to declare that I like these shoes. A lot. What strikes me first, as an objective viewer (I have no biased interest to declare), is the fluidity of its sleek lines; there’s a gentle suggestion of the natural ‘foot’ anatomy, right from the contoured upper which hints at ‘toes’, to the smoothly sculpted heel basket which has been scooped-out to fit snugly, right down to the full-on ‘footprint under-sole’.
Besides the obvious fact that it comes in a cute girly pink and a gorgeous aqua blue for men (I’d prefer this option personally), it feels like a really strong running shoe under foot. It includes technical features you can actually feel as a wearer, such as being super lightweight, having a ‘medial stability bar’ to offer a bit of extra midfoot support and prevent it rolling around when you land, and yields a deeply cushioned, well-supported ‘ride’. One of my favourite features is that it’s completely one-piece, whilst being ultimately breathable (featuring an impossibly airy blend of meshed fabrics which form a pseudo-skin layer), and not having any seams or stitches which gives it a second-skin feel and reduces the ever-debilitating ‘blister rub’. Also, unlike many other big brand shoes, it’s manufactured entirely in a clothing factory – out of the same fabrics as lingerie, which brings a whole new sense to the word ‘racy’ !!
I’ve been giving them a good going round the running track in Regent’s Park, and I really do like them; the seamless sensation is a massive plus, as I don’t get distracted or annoyed having to stop and adjust. I kind of forget the shoe is there at all, which I can only imagine is the highest form of praise you could offer to a ‘running shoe’ designer Some more pictures below… Faya x Continue reading
There can’t be many amongst us who dislike the fabulousness of a hearty ‘hotel breakfast’ spread – at a time when your body desperately needs fuel to power up, gather mental alertness, and prepare you for the day ahead, the trusty hotel delivers in spades! By starting the day correctly with a healthy meal, you’ll underpin the rest of the day and your body will be less likely to panic for food or overeat later. Also, by stabilising blood sugar levels early on, regulating energy and appetite, you’re more likely to avoid the classic irritability and lack of concentration.
Becoming a morning person is all about getting into a tolerable routine and what better way to do it than by bringing a little excitement to the ritual; a hotel-like breakfast. Rather than stressing your way out the front door on an empty stomach and demolishing a coffee and croissant on the go (both responsible for eventual blood sugar dips), take some time to wake up at the breakfast table, sip a green tea, read the paper, and enjoy a colourful, restorative, tasty meal in the same way you might do on holiday! It can (and should) be a fabulous meal like any other to really enjoy and look forward to. There is a huge amount of choice too; breakfast doesn’t just have to be bran flakes out of a cardboard box… If your reason for not having breakfast is because you’re time-poor, check out my healthy muesli which only involves the time it takes to add milk to a bowl! However, my breakfast this Sunday morning was made up of a selection of healthy dishes but in rather smaller portions – a good source of protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and plenty of vitamins and minerals. A bowl of porridge topped with some yummy berries, a hard-boiled egg, smoked salmon and avocado, a small glass of freshly squeezed orange juice and a cup of green tea. I’m loving grapefruit at the moment so managed to add a half as well.
See more photos and nutritional info below… Faya x
As I build towards the Sport Relief games, yesterday I attended a ‘Swimathon Masterclass’ led by swimming legends Karen Pickering (4 x World Championship Gold Medallist) and Duncan Goodhew (Olympic Gold Medallist). For those who’ve been following my ‘Sport Relief posts‘, you’ll know that I’ve been splashing away in the pool since October learning to swim the front crawl to raise money & awareness for the fabulous Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Swimathon on March the 23rd 2014 at the epic Olympic aquatic centre!
Demonstrating my nascent and highly amateur swimming skills to two world-class, decorated athletes was massively daunting, but fortunately Karen and Duncan were so approachable, sympathetic and very generous with their sage advice – and luckily, quite patient too! I got to sponge up some fascinating tips on how to improve my technique from perhaps the best-qualified teachers in the sport. One of my favourite vignettes from the class came just before we jumped into the pool for the first time, when Duncan pointed out if we’d been lying next to the pool on a sun-kissed holiday, we would certainly be appreciating it’s glorious opalescent colours, the elegant reflections on the water, the mesmeric way it creates beautiful rippling; “just think about that for a second before jumping into the pool, and appreciate it“. That really struck a chord with me; in an active life, the ‘London’ pace tends to rush us through without affording us time to just stop, breathe it in, appreciate what’s there, and then enjoy it more fully. Click to see more of their pearls of wisdom…
Some wonderfully engaged readers have been emailing me asking that I investigate some affordable fitness fashion options. At first, that sounds like a tough ask, because the price points on everything we tend to consider fashionable in the fitness world seem to be eye-wateringly expensive; they become these elated objects of desire in our mind’s eyes, like little gods in their own right! However, I think that doesn’t have to be the case. A keen eye on the internet, where something is always on sale *somewhere*, is the best way to steal a bargain, but failing that, you might look in the less obvious places…
This post features some wonderfully affordable workout kit from the high street brand, Bershka, to fulfil just such a brief… I found the clothes on an aimless stroll down Oxford Street and made a journey into the store to see what they’ve got that could be used for blog purposes; I was a bit shocked to see a whole fitness collection ready to go! From the options, I picked out the Neoprene Sweatshirt (£29.99), the Racerback Sports T-Shirt (£14.99), the ‘Waistband Detail’ Sports Leggings (£19.99), and the Mesh Sports Bag (£29.99). I’ve teamed them with a new pair of shoes too, the Adidas Boosts, which were also more affordable than I’d feared and feel impossibly springy underfoot, as if they’re doing more than just recycling my wasted energy, but injecting a shot of extra power! The entire Bershka outfit leaves you with a fiver’s change from £100, which is less than some gym t-shirts I’ve seen in sports departments!
Over the coming months, I’ll be on the lookout for more chic and affordable fitness fashion to continue to prove that it is possible to workout stylishly without breaking the bank! Think Gap, Zara, Primark etc. Full pictures from the photoshoot at the link below, and more affordability to follow Faya x