As part of the festivities for last Friday’s World Sleep Day (it’s March 17th – perhaps mark it in your calendar for 2018 and maybe grab a belated extra hour snooze tonight?!) I had the superb opportunity to hop on board a plane with a friend and voyage to the peaceful climes of Westin La Quinta, Marbella. I’ve written extensively about the importance of sleep – it’s a critical component of the wellbeing formula, rather than some sort of hedonistic luxury. To quote sleep legend, Professor Adrian Williams, we’re taling about ‘survival of the most rested‘. In line with this, I was thrilled to trial Westin’s brand new Bedtime Routine and to have had the chance to gift two lucky people their very own wellbeing break to the beautiful Westin La Quinta, Marbella! I spent a few nights in one of their deliciously compelling ‘Heavenly’ beds, so-called for good reason, and left feeling better than when I arrived, which is a sort of wellbeing nirvana, to my mind! Click MORE below to see the full behind-the-scenes of the routine and a little glimpse into the trip… (more…)
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This Monday is known as Blue Monday, a statistically miserable day by virtue of things like rain, dark, cold, work, abandoned resolutions, fatigue etc. I recently attended a fascinating TEDx talk by Professor 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, to combat Blue Monday, 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 recognize 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, so I’ve detailed what I think are the key reasons why we should all invest more time in our rest! In this post, I’ve also collaborated with Philips to test their Wake-up Light, as getting up is the part of sleep I find the most difficult! Click MORE to see it all… (more…)
If you’ve been following the musings of Fitness On Toast for a while, you might know that I often focus on the importance of sleep to complement a healthy lifestyle. It’s one of the key inputs that many of my Personal Training clients seem to minimise! To further my understanding of sleep, I recently took part in a fascinating research study to find out how sleep can enhance sporting performance and indeed overall fitness. Bensons for Beds, the UK’s leading bed specialists, have teamed up with The Sleep School, founded by the UK’s leading sleep expert Dr. Guy Meadows, to create a new data-driven resource, which aims to help everyone achieve a peaceful night’s sleep, in a natural way. This post reviews the test, and includes an interview with Dr. Guy, digging into the theory a little more! (more…)
Last Friday night, I was invited to attend a seriously unusual sleepover… Dr. Guy Meadows, one of the UK’s foremost authorities on all-things ‘sleep’ & founder of The Sleep School was running a consultation at the Charlotte Street Hotel in partnership with Febreze, who’ve just launched what I can only describe as ‘sandman mist’ for your bedroom and sheets (though they call it Sleep Serenity)! After we concluded, I put into practise some of his tips & tricks in one of the hotel’s deliciously comfortable 6ft beds for an uninterrupted, pure night’s sleep. This post builds upon my previous article on Sleep last month, and gives a feel for Dr. Guy’s Five Secrets of Great Sleep to help your body operate at its peak when you’re working out the next day! (MORE…)
One of my favourite feelings in the world is collapsing into my bed, physically and mentally exhausted, knowing that I have a long, deep, deserving sleep ahead of me. But that’s not just lazy indulgence, as a good night’s sleep isn’t a passive activity, but rather, I think it’s just as actively valuable as regular exercise and quality nutrition. A good night’s sleep can improve overall health and make every aspect of the following day more productive. This post is my take on why and how sleep matters in your healthy lifestyle.
1) “WHY SHOULD I ???”
Getting the right quality and amount of sleep:
– Enhances muscular recovery by speeding-up protein synthesis,
– Restores and maintains mental alertness (by discharging the brain’s accumulated daily Adenosine build-ups),
– Releases Human Growth Hormone – 60% to 70% of daily HGH secretion takes place when you’re in early sleep, following which the deepest sleep cycles often occur! Poor quality sleep can negatively impact human growth hormone levels.
– Restore organs, bones, and tissue; replenishes immune cells; and circulates human growth hormone around the resting body.
– Vastly improves the quality of interaction with other people!
2) MY “SLEEP TIGHT” ETHOS…
‘Get more sleep’ is easily said, but I know a lot people who simply can’t fall asleep, and toss and turn for hours on end. For a while, that was me too, stuck in a catch 22 of feeling too tired during the day, going to bed too late and waking up too early in the morning, only to do it all over again. One way I tackled this was by working out on a regular basis which is proven not only to help you fall asleep, but also to improve the quality of that sleep. Every body is different, so it takes time to figure out what works best for you; I personally prefer a heavy workout early in the morning, a productive day, then a light ‘exercise’ in the late evening (e.g. a power walk which gives my body the final reminder of just how tired it really is!). I wouldn’t recommend doing an intense workout before bed as that energises the body instead of calming it. Afterwards, a relaxing warm bath (I add this lavender bath oil to unwind muscle fatigue) and a mint tea (try to avoid any caffeine or alcohol before sleep, as they’re stimulants). Other things that may help is avoiding oversleeping as it will interrupt your circadian system (‘body clock’), which in turn will set you off later when you need to fall asleep. I’d stay away from sleeping pills as much as possible as they cause the body to develop a dependency, and they don’t get to the root of the real problem anyway, but just mask the symptoms. There are stories of politicians surviving on 4 hours sleep a night, but frankly, that’s unhealthy for anyone in the long run. I’ve always felt 7 hours to be a minimum in order to maximise wellbeing during the day, and I regularly aim for 8 hours. Also a room that’s dark and not too hot helps too. Investing in the largest & highest-quality mattress the room will take can be life-changing, and even fun little apps like the Sleep Cycle alarm clock can help you sleep smarter too!
3) “…AND WHAT IF I DON’T ???”
Not getting enough / high-quality sleep:
– Weakens the immune system,
– Renders you less energetic which will lower the quality/intensity of a workout,
– Affects the concentration of sugar levels in your blood – they’re likely to become elevated, which can lead to development of a pre-diabetic condition,
– Slows the metabolism, leaving it harder to maintain or lose weight,
– Induces a sluggish sense,
– Can increase appetite (certainly does with me!),
– Makes you moody and loose the motivation to workout or do anything!
Hope that helps you to rest up, sleep well, and train harder!
I’ve wanted to share this supremely exciting news on the blog for, well, just over 6 months now. Things are changing, FitnessOnToast is quite literally expanding; I am pregnant (not just gluttonously engorged)! Amidst the COVID lockdown and what can only be described as an ‘atypical yet unforgettable’ year, I found myself wanting to withdraw from the stresses of this deeply unnerving world, (quite literally by switching off the TV around the house, and escaping the social media maelstrom in my hand), and instead simply focus on pouring all the best ingredients into the little miracle growing inside me. Whilst I gained professional qualifications in the ‘pre-and-post-natal’ space a decade ago, I’d never been that ‘baby person’ who simply loves holding, cuddling, looking after babies. In fact, in my youth they once seemed rather monotonous to me – eat, sleep, nappy, repeat. My view has long since changed, and during this time I’ve been reading books on babies voraciously, and it turns out they’re actually pretty remarkable little contraptions! (I’ll share some of my favourites from the reading list at the bottom). This post is intended to share just a few of the key reasons as to why I believe it is worth continuing your training into pregnancy & beyond, and is relevant for both women considering starting a family, and for their partners to be aware of too – it’s a team sport! Click MORE below for the thoughts, and do feel free to ask questions in comments if there’s anything I can help with…
I recently returned from 9 days in planet Earth’s most rapturous dreamland – the Maldives. I’ve been fortunate to visit this heaven on prior occasions, and I am struck by how its luminous beauty never dulls; on this trip, I visited the wonderful Westin Maldives Miriandhoo, a jewel in the crown of the Westin Hotels and Resorts group. I’ve worked with Westin for many years as their Wellbeing Movement ambassador and I’ve experienced several of their properties around the world; as such, I know the wellness ethos that pervades every detail of this hotel group well, and it’s one that I feel passionately about infusing into every trip I take. Whilst I was hosted at the Westin Maldives Miriandhoo (henceforth WMM), I experienced the purest expression of their Wellbeing philosophy, free from the restrictions and confines imposed by a bustling cityscape, and instead, able to indulge in the secluded tranquillity of island life. Picture-perfect postcard-style, powdery-soft sandy beaches, mesmeric sunsets, the freshest seafood and perfect temperatures, all render it an unsurprising top honeymoon destination; for me, after only a few days, I recovered the hitherto lost sensation of feeling recharged, relaxed and renewed. Thereafter, the ensuing week of pure revival left me ready to take on 2020 with gusto! Click MORE to see and read about my experience of this nirvana…
I recently had the opportunity to share some thoughts with FashionMonitor.com for an interview ahead of a panel at the Festival of Marketing, on which I sat to discuss trends in the fitness industry. The interview caused me to think quite alot about several of the challenging topics posed to me. FashionMonitor presented a gently precised version of the interview HERE, but for those looking to explore the more complete answers I scribed, click MORE below to get my full thoughts on the trends shaping the industry at present and over the coming years, along with perceptions surrounding the influencer marketing world. (more…)
Road biking through undulating vineyard topography, and during the more stationary moments, unwinding at the glorious Château St. Pierre de Serjac; as far as active press trips go, this was set up to be highly compelling! In the event, it was *so* compelling that I scribed a piece for Women’s Health on the affair (which should go live very shortly, so do keep your eyes open). The experience was extremely well balanced; road biking is unexpectedly demanding from an aerobic perspective, and the Château St. Pierre de Serjac is just a heavenly sanctuary in which to relax; that exquisite channel in the middle where those parameters meet is what governs a highly successful active break! As an aside, if you do read this and think ‘hmm, I could quite imagine myself giving that a shot’, I would strongly urge you to wear padded bib shorts, as road biking saddle soreness is orders-of-magnitude more intense than gym-induced muscular soreness! 😫. Find my full review of Road Biking and Château St. Pierre de Serjac below.
The training cycle is tough on the body, and with successive workouts-and-showers, nothing takes a much of a gruelling battering as the hair. As such, and in direct response to several curious, hair-conscious reader enquiries over the years of scribing fitnessontoast.com, this post is fully dedicated to hair health. I may be a highly qualified professional when it comes to training and the likes of sports massage, but I’m only an enthusiastic amateur on matters pertaining to the hair. As such, I’ve done the heavy lifting for you, and picked the brain of multi-award-winning superstar hair artist Siobhan ‘Shivvy’ Jones for all the choicest pro-tips. Shivvy is a L’Oréal Professionnel teacher & Guest Artist, hair stylist on X Factor, Next Top Model, and artist to the likes of Little Mix, as well as being the Owner and Creative Director of Rose & Wild Hair, her delightful new studio in Fulham where we shot these pics! Those are some of her professional credentials, but beyond that, she enjoys heavyweight repute for setting the tone on colour technique and trends in the fashion industry. If like me you wash your hair too frequently post-training, Shivvy’s insights will help you to find and get the perfect tone, products to use and much more! Read on… (more…)