What can crystals do for you?

I recently attended a Stress Free Sunday event put on by my favourite yoga brand, Yoogaia (who’ve recently been named one of Apple’s top 25 apps of 2015 – pretty cool, huh?)

As well as a fantastic yoga session and deliciously healthy brunch, we got to meet Bunmi of Crystal and Rox, a yoga/lifestyle clothing range with a twist. Each item in the Crystal and Rox collection has a concealed pocket for holding crystals – the idea is that the benefit of your yoga practice is amplified by wearing the right crystal close to your heart throughout the exercise.

Now I consider myself a fairly sceptical person but I’m always open to being proved wrong, so I really enjoyed having a good chat to Bunmi to find out a little bit more about the concept. After hearing her story I was motivated to give crystals a go. Bunmi was kind enough to gift me four to try out for myself:

  • Amethyst, which is said* to relieve stress and its physical symptoms (e.g. headaches and migraines) as well as help you make good decisions
  • Blue lace agate, which is said to calm anger and allow you to speak truthfully without causing drama
  • Rose quartz, said to encourage unconditional love towards both yourself and others, and help attract your twin flame (note: I was particularly keen on this one…)
  • Smokey quartz, the stone of serenity, said to transform bad energy into positivity and help overcome negative emotions about your situation

For the past three weeks, as a bit of an experiment, I’ve been choosing one or two crystals to carry with me almost every day, dependent on the kind of day I anticipate I’m going to have. So, if I knew I was going to have a stressful time at work I would take the amethyst and the smokey quartz. If I was feeling a bit down on myself I’d choose the rose quartz.  (As I don’t have an unlimited supply of Crystal and Rox clothing I’ve been keeping them in my bra, to the amusement of my friends and colleagues who have to deal with this kind of oversharing from me on a regular basis…) And honestly… I think it’s helped.

Now I’m not saying that I’m convinced the crystals have special powers. What I think has happened is that the act of consciously choosing a stone based on the way I want to handle a situation has helped me to actually handle it in that way. For example, on a day when I needed to have a difficult conversation with someone I’m close to, I chose the blue lace agate. I was able to say my piece without reacting in a disproportionate way to what had happened, essentially because by choosing that stone I had acknowledged that the best way to approach it (for both parties) was calmly and without drama. 

So does it really matter whether you believe crystals have innate properties, or whether they just remind you about the best way to behave to cultivate happiness? Are you a bit of a fraud if you don’t buy into the whole idea, but you like the fact that crystals prompt you to act a certain way? Personally, I don’t think so. Who cares if you’re only experiencing the placebo effect if the outcome is positive?

As for me, I remain intrigued, and pleasantly surprised, by the results of my little experiment – and grateful to Crystal and Rox for introducing me to the idea!

*All info about the properties of crystals provided by Crystal and Rox.

Trespass activewear – review

Me wearing Trespass

Over the years I’ve developed something of a Nike obsession, and these days about 90% of my kit comes from there. One of the things I’ve been slightly concerned about is replacing it when it gets too worn, as unfortunately with the need to both pay rent at London prices and feed myself I seriously doubt I’ll have £80 left over for a pair of fancy running leggings. So when Trespass got in touch asking if I’d like to review their activewear range I was more than keen!

I chose two items, this quick dry t-shirt...

Blue sports t-shirt

…and these running leggings.

Grey and yellow running leggings

As it turns out, the timing was ideal as the lightweight fabric was exactly what I needed in this heat. I don’t like wearing shorts to run in even when it’s boiling outside – not because I want to hide my legs, but for practical reasons. (The way that I’m built means I will never have a thigh gap, so bare legs would mean CHAFING and no one needs that.) These leggings are the perfect solution!

I love the flash of colour on the sides and the crossover detail on the waistband, but my favourite feature is the fit on the calves. There’s no flaring so they do tailor to your leg, but they’re quite loose so you’re not left with big red seam marks on your skin for hours after you’ve taken them off, which I’ve often found with other three quarter length leggings.

The t-shirt did a great job of keeping me as cool as possible in this weather too, as it’s made of an almost mesh-like fabric. It has a cut-out design on the back, which will make you happy if you’re like me and think that a plain t-shirt just isn’t fashionable enough, even for gym clothes!

Being a performance-focused brand, Trespass has thought about more than just the aesthetics, though. The fabric boasts a number of other qualities – it’s antibacterial, high wicking and quick drying. And believe me, I tested these to the extreme in this heat wave…

I have only worn the pieces once but I know I’ll get lots of use out of them in the future, regardless of the weather, because they’re so comfortable. I actually put this outfit on when I got up this morning, as being already dressed for it would mean I had to go for a run later, but I was enjoying wearing it so much that I kept delaying my run – I just wanted to stay in these clothes all day!

(P.S. HOW LUSH is my street? Thanks to my personal photographer, flat mate and running buddy, Jennifer, for the pic!)

 

February fitness tips

As we’re now well into February and those New Year’s Resolutions seem like a distant memory, Fat Face asked me to share some of my tips for staying on track with your fitness goals. So here goes:

1. Be a tortoise, not a hare

With fitness, you have to play the long game. It takes one month for you to notice a difference, two months for close friends and family and three months of hard work for everyone else to see the results. If you’re struggling now, concentrate on how great you’ll feel come the summer when you’ve put all the grind in and are reaping the rewards.

2. Don’t give up on giving it all a go

Exercising is just like studying or working in that you won’t succeed in it unless you find something you love. For me that’s weights, but for you that could be horse riding, roller skating, trampolining, squash, archery or any number of things. Hell, you could be an undiscovered heptathlete! Don’t stop searching for the thing that will make you fall in love with fitness.

3. Write a food AND mood diary

This is one that I learnt from my PT, Leigh. If you’re struggling to stay on track with your diet, don’t just write a food diary – also make a note of how you’re feeling through the day and have a look at the relationship between the two. Today, in the middle of yet another stressful week, I gave in to temptation and had a chip butty for lunch. With butter. And ketchup. AND CHEESE!! Half way through I stopped enjoying it, but I finished it anyway and felt gross all afternoon. This brings me on to my next point…

4. If you slip up, tell someone and laugh about it

Feeling guilty doesn’t do anyone any good. It can actually be quite harmful. It’s far better to confess, have a giggle and just move on. I have already told Leigh about the chip butty incident. He made me repeat “I must not eat chip butties” after him in between burpies so now it’s out there, it’s been dealt with and we never have to speak of it again. (Except he’ll probably tease me about it for ages.)

5. Treat yourself to a new gym outfit

Fat Face’s Activ88 range is perfect for helping you stay active in this cold weather. My top picks are the Overhead Hoody* and the Moonshadow Running Leggings*. I wore the hoody to the gym this evening but I imagine it would be ideal for winter runs too – it’s cosy while also being light and breathable and has those little thumb holes that I love! I also really like the neckline, which is high enough to keep you warm but loose enough that you don’t feel like you’re being strangled while you work out, and the bright detail on the stitching.

2015/02/img_0174.jpgThe leggings have a really pretty pattern of flowers and leaves and are high waisted, which is great for warmth and also for hiding the evidence of accidental chip butties. My only criticism is that they’re a little on the thin side, which can be a cause for concern if you’re big of booty and love deadlifts. The flat lock stitching does mean they’re extra comfy, though.

2015/02/img_0170.jpgFinally, here’s a picture of me rocking the look because, you know, I love a fitness selfie. What are your tips for staying on track? I’d love to hear what motivates or inspires you.

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Fit fashion – buying new running shoes

My beautiful new custom Nike Frees arrived the other day. Like the typical modern-day consumer that I am, I’d decided I wanted the shoes first and then found excuses to justify the purchase. These are the reasons I gave myself:

1. They say you should buy new running shoes every 300 – 500 miles. I’ve actually no idea how many miles I’ve run in my old Frees, but I figured it was within this bracket which was good enough for me. It was only afterwards, when I was doing the research for this post, that I discovered there’s not really a source for this information. You can find recommendations in that region all over the internet, including the Asics website, but (like for so many other claims in the fitness arena) there doesn’t appear to be any research to back it up. It is important to replace your shoes at the right time to avoid injury, but the best advice I found was that everyone runs differently so their shoes will wear at different rates. Pay attention to aches and pains and if they are more frequent or feel different it might be time for a new pair of shoes.

2. If you intend on running long distances you should buy a pair a half or full size bigger than you usually take. This is because when you’re running long distances your feet will get slightly swollen so you need to allow extra room. I sort of learned this one the hard way – my old Frees were size 6.5 and were fine for distances up to six miles or so but started to get uncomfortable after that. As I’ve decided to do the Cardiff Half again this year I wanted to get a size 7 to avoid encountering the same problem.

Now to return to the real reason – that my old pair were starting to look a big worn and I just wanted shiny new ones in my favourite colours – I’ve since realised that I’m okay with that too.

In fact I spend a fair bit on gym kit, which might seem strange because it’s not going to make any difference to the sweaty mess that is my face when I’m working out, but I feel better when I’m wearing it, which is important. When I’m wearing nice gym stuff I feel happier and more comfortable and more motivated to train. I think this is related to how essential it is to love the body that you have while working for the body that you want. If wearing nice stuff helps you feel better about yourself then you should do it – you’re not in the gym to punish yourself, you’re there to improve on something that’s already pretty great.

New gym stuff also makes for a great incentive (although probably best not to go for shoes every time – could get expensive). Telling yourself you can have a new sports bra or running leggings once you hit that PB is going to be more beneficial than telling yourself you can have pizza and cake, although sadly less delicious…

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