Are you Sitting Comfortably?*

There’s nothing like slipping a couple of discs to make you realise the importance of taking care of your back. Given that I manage to knacker mine up doing every day things and still ending up in A&E requiring a catheter, having a useless left leg for months and requiring surgery and a lot of physio I seriously had to take a look at my lifestyle- especially my posture to prevent a repeat of the drama. Three years on and *touch wood* I’ve not had much in the way of further problems so I thought not might be a good time to share a few pearls of wisdom as well as a really useful e-book by Adjustable Beds & Riser Recliner Chairs retailer Adjustamatic.
One of the things I learnt through physio is the importance of strengthening your core. Your core is made up of not only your abdominal muscles but also your pelvic muscles, hip muscles and lower and middle back muscles. Having good core strength can help alleviate back pain, keeps your posture in check and can help you to make safer daily movements (think lifting, sitting, standing…). Yoga, pilates and swimming are brilliant ways to strengthen your core and trust me, you will notice a difference!
It sounds really boring but footwear is another thing that really affects my back, if I spend too long in heels- or at least the wrong type of heels I get some serious backache. Platform heels are fine, as well as supportive flats like trainers. Ballet pump style shoes are rubbish for me as they provide little in the way of support but other people might not find this a problem.
My third and final tip before moving on to the ebook is to make sure you have a decent mattress and a decent chair at work. We spend a LOT of our time either sleeping or sitting. I find a firm mattress best for me and if I stay overnight anywhere I often wake up with a niggling spine. The same for chairs. You need to find a chair that really supports your back, or get a detachable back support to go on it- I have one of these at work as well as a back “belt” for days where I am in a bit of pain- it’s great for stopping the slouch!
Anyway, a far more comprehensive guide is this e-book- any one who spends a long time sitting or suffers with back pain really should give it a read. It’s funny, you never really appreciate having a healthy spine until it’s suddenly not so healthy so it really does pay to look after it now.
Have you got any top tips or experiences to share? Leave them in the comments below.

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The Wish List That will make my Mum have kittens*

I’ve always been a bit of a daredevil- the first to the top of the climbing frame as a child, the one who wanted to swing the highest. It carried on throughout my youth- abseiling, kayaking, climbing, high ropes, parasailing- I was game on for anything [unless it involved caves or tunnels, then I was much happier sat on the sidelines].

It’s all fallen a bit by the wayside since I hit my twenties but that doesn’t mean the urge isn’t there, and now I’m on my renewed mission to get back to health and fitness I’m finding myself coveting gems from my childhood to ease myself in- from scooters to rollerblades I want it all, bringing me to today’s wish list featuring products from Proline Skates

So why the title of this post? Well, lets just say I’m not the most graceful of human beings. If anyone is going to injure themselves during an activity it’s usually me [it doesn’t even have to be sport, I slipped two discs shopping in Aldi and broke my foot in Zara!] Every time I mention wanting to get back to doing things that will give me an adrenalin rush I’m met with eye rolls and “is that REALLY a good idea?”

I happen to think it’s a brilliant idea personally- but perhaps erring on the side of caution I’ll start with a scooter or skates and work my way up. As much as I like the buzz I am quite keen to avoid a trip to A&E having made it 18 months without one and I’d also quite like my dignity to stay in tact.

That said, I’m toying with the idea of a trampoline park gathering for my birthday celebrations with friends- you can imagine how that idea went down!

Are you a bit of a dare devil? Any random accident stories to regale me with?

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How Office Yoga can Help you*

Anyone who has ever worked in an office will know that you spend a lot of time sitting on your arse. A recent study has shown that office workers sitting at their desk for at least eight hours a day face a 60% increase in their risk of premature death. It’s not all doom and gloom though as making some simple changes including taking a five minute break every hour, and grabbing some exercise in your lunch break or evenings can significantly improve your chances.

With this in mind Furniture at Work have launched a campaign to encourage desk-workers to get moving using beginners yoga as a focal point. The campaign- #OfficeYoga aims to prove that it doesn’t take much time, or indeed effort to get some health benefits in to your day- using a top yoga teacher and two average office workers to highlight the importance of taking a break and how it doesn’t have to be taxing.

The campaign is backed by youtube videos showing the simple poses that can be fitted easily in to the working day as well as a great infographic both of which I’ve shared below.

Of course as well as keeping you fit reducing your risk of an early grave yoga has the additional benefit of helping you escape from the stresses of the working world and claim back some “you time” each day. Are you a yoga advocate and will we find you doing this at your desk? I’m pretty game on for instating it in my work place once I get back (I just won’t share the news with my colleagues just yet…)

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Experiments in baking: Protein Muffins

Not only have I not done a baking post in forever, it has been ages since I last did any baking in general let alone try anything new. My work/life balance hasn’t been in my favour when it comes to getting time in the kitchen, so when myprotein got in touch I was determined to take advantage of the chance to try out some new ingredients.
Protein has become a bit of a buzz word in the baking world with it cropping up in all manner of recipes. It’s perfect as high energy boost for those with an active lifestyle and surprisingly makes for a versatile ingredient. I was sent a package of goodies which included coconut oil, a muffin mix, a pancake mix, a bag of whey powder and a bag of buckwheat flour. I wasn’t quite sure where to start but in the end I stayed semi-close to what I knew and went for the protein muffin mix for my first foray.
The mix I had was the 200g unflavoured pouch which yields enough to make 8 muffins, although I made mine smaller and got 12 from the mixture. To the powder I added 200ml milk, 4 tbsp coconut oil (something I had read ALL about yet never used), 3 tbsp cocoa powder and a bag of white chocolate chunks- not brilliant for a health food and I could have gone all out with fruit and nuts but a girl needs her chocolate fix from time to time (or all the time!). If you didn’t want or need 8/12 muffins you could just use half of the mixture as the pouch seals up easily to keep the mix fresh.

After a quick mix up in a bowl the muffins took only 12 minutes in the oven at 190*c before they were ready to go. I wasn’t too sure what to expect, and mine were a little burnt on top thanks to our temperamental oven but these came out so soft and fluffy inside with a lovely texture. I won’t lie, you can taste that there is something “different” about these but if you are already used to protein enriched products you probably won’t notice it and I certainly had no issue with it- neither did the other people in and around the house who I asked to sample these, they aren’t an every day snack, but if you know you’ve got a jam packed few days coming up or have some lovely long hikes/cycles/runs coming up with Spring sunshine then these would make a perfect portable snack or recovery food once home.

For me they are a quick and easy way to get some calories and nutrition in, and whilst it’s an expensive way to bake I can see myself purchasing a mix or two every now and again just to keep in.

Stay tuned for the next instalment in my baking adventures; which ingredient would you like to see me use next and do you have any recipe suggestions?

Have you ever tried baking with protein powders and mixes? How did you find it?

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Fighting Fit with Sweaty Betty

I’m really excited to be able to start getting fit again, after years of being too unwell to exercise followed by a broken foot and dodgy back I’m itching to get back out there. Part of the recovery from my surgery involves exercise, to strengthen my core muscles to help reduce the risk of the problem happening again and again.

My consultant recommended two main exercises to me- pilates and cycling and these are the two I’m going to pursue the most, but it time I plan to add in some yoga, gentle jogging and well, whatever else takes my fancy! I already walk everywhere which is a start, I suppose, after a few weeks off my feet.

Anyway, with new exercise adventures comes a need for new exercise gear and my shop of choice for this is Sweaty Betty, especially for the cycling and pilates.

I’ve put together a little wishlist of the kit I’d buy if I had an endless budget. As it stands, I don’t and I’ll probably be making do with a decent sports bra as a starting point, like the Upbeat Padded Bra featured above.

For cycling I’m thinking that a decent, streamlined top (I’ve picked the acceleration cycle top) plus waterproof trousers and a jacket are pretty sensible. I never used to believe in waterproofs…as a care free teenage cylist I didn’’t much care if I got soaked to the skin but these days I guess I’ve grown up and I really don’t fancy getting to my destination resembling a drowned rat.

Pilates wise you can’t go wrong with some comfortable leggings and a pretty camisole. Again, I must be growing up as I used to rock up at the gym wearing whatever I found that look vaguely suitable. I currently have my eye on the fabulously patterned Chandrasana leggings and this shell pink yoga cami.

I can’t wait to get back out there, I just need to start working on building up the perfect kit, and with a Birthday coming up in a couple of months I’ll be starting with Sweaty Betty.

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