As a Vegan non-milk drinker I tend to have two favourite plant milks that I use – Organic unsweetened Soya milk which goes in tea and Organic Oat milk which I use in coffee and on cereal/porridge. And if you are currently making the transition to a dairy-free diet, you will find that going dairy-free has never been easier
Personally, I’ve never been a fan of dairy milk. All my life I have shied away from it as cow’s milk makes me feel sick. It’s only now as I follow a plant-based diet and have started to look into the health benefits of eating like this that I’ve become aware of the cruelty within the dairy industry, and the power of the dairy lobby that I’ve begun to explore the alternative, ethical and much healthier options.
But we are so lucky to have many different kinds to choose from these days – Almond milk, Rice milk, Hazelnut milk, Hemp milk, coconut milk, cashew nut milk…
But which one is best? I don’t actually think there is a ‘best’ one – it’s a matter of taste and checking that you’re buying your plant milk in its natural form without anything added to it. Some manufacturers feel it’s necessary to add sugar or apple juice or other ‘stuff’ – avoid! And always buy Organic if you can.
From a health point of view the National Dietetic Association says that Soya is thought to lower cholesterol – first by reducing the body’s natural cholesterol-producing capacity in the liver and secondly soya foods are normally eaten in place of other higher saturated fat foods such as fatty meat and full fat dairy products. Most soya foods are naturally low in saturated fat and contribute to unsaturated fat intake which helps reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff!).
Oat milk contains high levels of vitamin E and folic acid, which is essential for most bodily functions and is needed to synthesise and repair DNA, produce healthy red blood cells and prevent anaemia. and is also a good source of phytochemicals; and I like it!
Can’t find Organic plant milks?
Last weekend I spent time offering free Sports Massage at the Frieth Hilly 5k and 10k race – a scenic, local race which raises funds for the village school. It’s very popular, well organised and set in stunning countryside, but often when I suggest to people that they should or could run this race, their response is ‘oh I hate hills!’ Or ‘I don’t do hills!’
Sadly, hills are part of our lives. Certainly here in the Chilterns they are. And when you get to the top – there’s a view – think about what you’re missing if you don’t run to the top…
“Running up hills forces the knees to lift higher, one of the most desirable developments for any runner, because this governs stride speed and length,” wrote Lydiard (with Garth Gilmour) in his book Running With Lydiard. “It also develops the muscle fibers, increasing power.”
Okay, so that’s why we need to do it. But is there a secret to making it any easier and less huffy puffy? Or is it a case of just getting on with it and stop whingeing?
If your oxygen and energy consumption are too high early on, you’ll pay later by slowing down and running out of glycogen,” says team GB coach Nick Anderson in an article in Runner’s World. Forget speed when you’re new to hills: focus on effort. “Aim to keep your effort constant,” he says. Try to keep your heart rate at a constant level to preserve energy.
Hmmm, easier said than done. My heart rate sores as soon as I look at a hill let alone run up it!
But it’s worth it because according to Dr Bengt Saltin at the University of Copenhagen – who has studied in depth the results of hill running – those mad runners who regularly train on hills can improve their running economy by as much as 3%. This, believe it or not, equates to 6 minutes off a marathon time and 2 minutes off a 10k distance. Okay, that might not sound like much but actually if you’re chasing personal bests, it is. His research and studies also discovered that runners who incorporated tough hill sessions (as opposed to namby pamby undulations I assume) into their training had higher levels of aerobic enzymes in their quadriceps (thigh) muscles, which are chemicals that allow your body to function at a higher intensity for longer which is what we want to happen when we run….
Okay, okay, we will run those hills!
It’s a no brainer!
If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter then you already know that we have two Border Terriers. Or more properly, Border Terrorists. I was a Labrador girl once but had always had love of these teddy bear faced comedy mutts. We tried to rescue several. But each suffered from ‘see a cat, kill a cat’ syndrome and so weren’t suitable for our cat friendly home.
Pre-Bordermadness I watched YouTube films of Borders performing zooms and clever tricks, talked to our paper boy whose Border accompanied him on his rounds and who I fell madly, deeply in love with (the dog, not the paper boy), and researched the breed. ‘Wonderful family dog. Obedient. Easy to train. Gentle…’ On and on. Perfect, I thought. Not your typical terrier then, that likes to remove fingers (I used to have one of those too…) and a bonus, they love to run. And run. And run.
Archie was our first. He was West London born and bred. And was…well… a nightmare puppy. Ripped the bottoms off our trousers with his teeth by hanging on to our legs. Sinking his needle-sharp puppy teeth into us at every opportunity. No amount of training or behaviour intervention worked. We despaired. He couldn’t understand, it was all play and great fun to him. He seemed to interpret our screams as encouragement. No matter what ‘positive reinforcement’ strategy we tried, we just couldn’t teach him that this was not a game we wanted to play.
Eventually, though, at about eighteen months old, he stopped. Although he still has a tendency to try and nip my leg with his teeth. But he has a screw loose. In fact, if there was such a thing as Autistic Spectrum in dogs, he would be in that spectrum. But that is who he is and we love him.
So we figured if we got another one to keep him company it might help him to connect. And we crossed our paws very tightly and wished for an easier puppyhood. Along came Figgy. And our wish was granted, she is the polar opposite to Archie. She has never nipped us, she listens, responds, comes when called and doesn’t do a sit-down protest and refuse to budge, as Archie does, in the middle of the busy high street. She doesn’t mug people for their poo bags, or carrier bags, or dangly fleeces. She is a dream.
Archie and I didn’t get on too well with our running either. He just jumped up and bit my bum every time we tried to run along together. Excitement of course, but he just didn’t ‘get’ what he was supposed to do. Figgy is a runner, even now at nine months old, I can see she and I will have a running bond. I look forward to taking my well behaved teddy-bear dog out for runs once she reaches a year old and is fully grown. And Archie can just sit and stare and refuse to budge on the sidelines, which is what he enjoys doing the most.
In my Pilates class I always try to include the plank. It is a very powerful exercise that builds endurance in the abdominal muscles, back and stabiliser muscles. It challenges the stability of the spine and shoulder girdle and is a great exercise for athletes, because we need that stability when we run or cycle to keep our torso rock solid as this then enables our arms and legs to do their work to the best of their ability. If your torso, and so spine, is rocking all over the place then you are more likely to get injured.
And generally this exercise makes my clients swear and groan.
In classical Mat Pilates the plank exercise is actually known as The Leg Pull. It has morphed into being known as the plank more recently.
You can see from the picture above which muscles you are working and the aim in most cases is to hold for as long as you can. Maybe start with 15 or 30 seconds and set yourself a goal of working up to 3 minutes. It takes practise, so have patience! However, it is vital you only start holding it for long lengths of time (all relative) if you are sure you’re using your abdominal muscles. If you feel it in your back, then you must stop until you are stronger. Which you will be with practise. Try not to let your bottom come higher than your head or let your back sag and keep length through your spine. And don’t forget to breathe!
By the way the record for holding the plank is 5 hours and 15 minutes held by a 57 year old man called George Hood…Go George!
So how long can you hold yours for then?
Clocks go back tomorrow…Some of us remember, others need constant reminders from our wonderful Social Media world, while our pets ignore the time change and continue to demand feeding and walking at exactly the same hours as the week before.
But why do we have to do this every year?
I love putting the clocks forward to signify Summer has finally arrived but I really don’t enjoy the turning the clock back as Winter sets in, even if it does mean we have an extra hour to play with in the day. Which is very welcome.
We have no choice in the matter though because daylight saving time is used to save energy and make better use of daylight. And it’s used in over 70 countries. I suppose that’s a good enough reason then.
But did you know that Daylight Saving Time has only been used for about 100 years… although apparently the idea was conceived years before. Ancient civilizations are known to have engaged in a practice similar to modern DST where they would adjust their daily schedules to the Sun’s schedule.
Well I never.
Roll on Summer.
That is all.
It is a superfood after all. I have tried to eat/drink it. It looks like green powder paint, makes me gag, turns my tongue green and I’m sure my eyeballs too. Somebody please tell me a palatable way of ingesting it. I’ve tried it in a smoothie, in juice, in a Nutribullet fruit or veg muxup and apart from turning whatever it is mixed with into a dark shit green – which doesn’t help on a visual level – it is truly vile.
Is it worth it?
According to Rich Roll in his wonderful book ‘The Plantpower Way’ it is ‘one of the most concentrated food sources on the planet…Spirulina is rich in a wide variety of vitamins, phytonutrients, and antioxidants, and studies have established a strong correlation between spirulina intake and enhanced endurance, as well as expedited recovery induced by exercise stress.’
Of course that’s why I need to take it! And I am a bit in love with Rich Roll too…who just happens to be one of America’s most admired endurance athletes who believes totally in a plant-based diet.
Okay then, I’ll give it another go.
Maybe in tablet form?
I like pink.
And it had better make me run longer.
So how do you take it?
Nike, Adidas, Sweaty Betty, Ronhill, Lidl, Oxfam…
What kit do you buy to wear in the gym, or run in? Where do you buy it? What makes you buy it? Colour? Style? Price?
I am overwhelmed with the amount of running kit on offer these days. We are spoilt for choice.
But now you can buy kit anywhere and pink stuff too!
GAP, Primark, Hennes, you name it, there’s lycra, hoodies, multicoloured socks, fluorescent pink bras and all things running.
I don’t have a favourite brand. But I do like snazzy kit. And pink.
Supercharged chocolates – Booja Booja (vegan, organic and pink too…well, the box is…)
Need a fix? A legal high? I’ve found it! Just one of these delicious raw chocolates and you will fly. And they taste divine. More than divine. I couldn’t even begin to contemplate eating any other chocolate now. Except maybe Green & Blacks which I am rather partial to – the dark chocolate of Booja-Booja, is mouth-meltingly bittery sweet and oozes moreish raw chocolateyness.
These chocolates make my taste buds jump to attention and dance.
Those are the best words I can find to describe this fix.
Honestly, it’s true.
I have written several blogs over the years. And failed. I got bored with myself – stopped writing. So now I have decided to have another go with the aim of keeping myself entertained this time and picking up a few regular readers in the process.
How do you encourage people to read your blog though?
What’s the secret?
“Writing is the only way I have to explain my own life to myself.” Pat Conroy, My Reading Life
“Don’t procrastinate. If you want to blog, then blog.” Fritz Chery
“Blogging is hard because of the grind required to stay interesting and relevant.” Sufia Tippu
So there you have it. Now I know what I’m thinking…