Thursday, 30 October 2014

What's In My Gym Bag?...

Hello there lovely people.

As I'm sure you've guessed by the title of this blog post, I'm going to talk about what I feel are essentials that I always carry about in my gym bag. 

Whats in my gym bag

Adidas Powerlift 2.0: I LOVE my lifters!! In terms of gym kit these are the best £80 I've spent. I use them for pretty much all lifting, mainly because I'm lazy and put them on for squats and then can't be bothered switching back. But seriously, they're great. I highly recommend them if you do a lot of lifting. 

Skull Candy Headphones: I have these handy for if some sort of weird feeling comes over me and I fancy doing some cardio. I really like Skull Candy too, they're pretty decent quality and really reasonably priced, I'm pretty sure I picked these up for a bargain in TK Maxx.

Resistance Bands: I'm currently working hard on my upper body strength, so these come in really handy for doing assisted pull ups. I also us them for assisted push ups, stretching and pistol squats. I've recently transitioned from the blue to the red band (progress!!), but I'm still keeping hold of the blue band, just in case!

Whats in my gym bag

Lip Balm: I always have lip balm handy as for some reason my lips can get really dry in the gym. These Baby Lips taste amazing and are really smooth and just generally yummy.

Wrist Wraps: These are the pink things, just in case you're not familiar! These really help with grip strength in moves such as Deadlifts and Romanian Deadlifts when I'm doing higher reps. I also use them for pull ups when I'm a bit more fatigued, as it still allows me to train my back when my grip has weakened. 

Wrist Straps: These are just simple wrist supports that only really use when I'm doing overhead pushing movements such as Over Head Press, Clean and Jerk and the Snatch. I find they just give my wrist a little extra stability as the wrist can be quite a fragile joint.

Whats in my gym bag

Chalk: Again, another grip saviour. Great for keeping a grip on the bar when your hands are sweaty during all sorts of movements. Also particularly great for Olympic lifting. 

So there we are, my essentials, other items may come and go but these babies are the constants in my gym life. What are your gym bag essentials? I'd love for you to share either in the comments below, on Twitter @mygenerallife or on Instagram @generallifeblog


Don't forget you can also follow My General Life on Bloglovin' and Pinterest!! Also, why not check out my latest lifestyle post on Autumnal Home Fragrances?!


Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Autumnal Home Fragrance.

Hello there lovely people.

I don’t know about you, but come every Autumn I develop an obsession…with festive home fragrance. There’s nothing more cosy than relaxing on the sofa, with a blanket and some delightfully yummy candles burning

I don’t think you can go wrong with the Glade festive scents and they definitely seem to have added more variety to their range over the last couple of years. Although I’m still mourning the disappearance of Glistening Snow, my favourite festive candle ever, they do have some other yummy scents.


This one is the Roasted Chestnut and Macaroon scent and it smells sooooo good! It has a really nice sweetness mixed with a musky warm scent. It’s really delicious and I think the fragrance on these definitely spreads around the entire room when you burn them. There’s a few other lovely scents that I want to try from the Glade range, including Blackberry Frost and Winter White. You can usually pick these up on offer in various places for about £2.

Another scent that I’m absolutely in love with is the Vanilla Latte scent from Febreeze’s winter collection. I can’t even tell you how good this smells, its sweet from the vanilla with some festive spice thrown in, so good! And what’s even better is that Febreeze have teamed up with Ambi Pur so their winter collection is available for the both the ordinary plug in and the 3volution. 



I’m pretty much on a mission to have my whole house smell like this. Febreeze also have their own line of sprays and candles with their winter scents too. I highly recommend giving this a whiff next time you’re in the candle aisle because it’s so good, something I think I’ll have to stock up on for once winter is over!


How cute is the packaging too with it's little hot drinks and gingerbread men!
What are your favourite festive scents? Please share them in the comments below, on Twitter @mygenerallife or on Instgram @generallifeblog.

Don't forget to follow me on Bloglovin', it's a great way to stay up to date with all the latest My General Life posts!


Sunday, 26 October 2014

Gymdate #3.

Hello there lovely people,

Welcome back for Gymdate #3. It's been another good week for me this week and I've managed to squeeze in four training sessions (woohoo!). I'm really chuffed because like I mentioned last week I've had a shoulder injury that has prevented me from doing a lot of my usual training, but (touchwood) it seems to be pretty much mended now which is wonderful! I've been able to do a reasonable amount of upper body training this week with no pain or discomfort....pull ups here I come!!

Banded Pull Up
An action shot from some of this weeks pull ups!
So now I'm planning on getting back into my previous routine where I train a bit of lower body and a bit of upper body every session. So that usually include a squat/deadlift variation (or both), another accessory lower body exercise (e.g lunges, nordic curls, leg press) and then a few upper body exercises. I really want to be able to nail the pull up and press up, two moves that I really struggle with because my upper body is just generally weak (or my body weight is just too heavy!! haha). I think I might actually do a post on how I work these movements as I guess upper body weakness is something a lot of people struggle with. Let me know if that would be something you'd be interested it!!


Leg Progress Selfie
Leg Progress Selfie
Here are some leg progress selfies, they're definitely a-growing!
Diet-wise, I've also done relatively OK this week, I'm being fairly consistent with my meals and although I find I'm eating a lot of the same things purely out of ease, I do think it's helping me continue to be consistent. I'm also noticing the difference my diet has on how I feel. I've been trying to follow a fairly low FODMAP diet in order to try to reduce my IBS symptoms which is definitely working and I can definitely tell when I eat something that I shouldn't (mainly wheat!). I've had a couple of comments this week from my partner and work collegues about looking slimmer, which is great although not really my aim. Ideally I would like to lean up ever so slightly, but my main goal is to add muscle so I do think I need to be eating a bit more. But I'm trying to teach my brain and body the correct amount of food to eat because before I was most definitely eating more than I needed!!


Beef & Rice Noodle Ramen
One of this weeks yummy lunches, beef & rice vermicelli noodle soup/ramen
Please share this weeks gymdates, what have you achieved this week? And what are your aims for next week? Please get in touch either in the comments below, on Twitter @mygenerallife or on Instagram @generallifeblog.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Don't Skip Leg Day.

Hello there lovely people.

Today we're talking leg day, why it's important and why you shouldn't skip it. Ever. (unless you're injured or have a legitimate reason). Now I'm just putting it out there, in my opinion and experience it's not the ladies who are the culprits of skipping leg day. I always have a little 'girl f**king power' moment when I see another lady at the squat rack or deadlifting. The biggest leg day skippers in my experience are MEN! Now I'm not trying to stereotype here and I know that there are plenty of men out there that don't skip leg day, but there is also many a man that does! I can guarantee you that every time I go to the gym there will be at least 15 blokes in the free weights area training either chest or biceps. I just don't get it, I really don't understand what the aversion to leg training is! Has anyone else noticed this or is it just me?

Anyway, today I want to discuss why leg training is so important and why you shouldn't skip it!! (also, apologies for the Suzanne Svanevik overload, but her squats are just too perf!)
ATG Squat
Credit
Suzanne Svanevik's squat at the bomb.com
1. Think about how much work your legs, glutes, core and lower back do in a day.Training your legs is so transferable to everyday life and has such an impact on your overall flexibility, strength and mobility. Training your lower body now will hopefully mean that you're better able to cope with what life has to throw at your for years to come.

2. If you're trying to lose fat and get lean surely common sense says to utilise larger muscle groups (for example, legs) as these will burn more calories than the smaller muscle groups (for example, arms). Larger leg muscles will also burn more calories at rest than smaller muscles.

3. Think of the booty.

Think of the Booty
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Think of the Booty
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4. Having a stronger lower body with benefit most sports and also help reduce injury. Nearly every sport requires input from your lower body, regular training will help increase strength and power which will help you perform better. You're also less likely to get, for example, a knee injury if you're regularly completing functional lower body exercises such as squat and lunges which help promote knee stability.

5. Having a huge upper body isn't going to help you out run a lion or a zombie (it might just happen), but a stronger lower body will.

ATG Squat
Credit
Ass To Grass!!
6. Training your lower body will actually help you increase your overall strength all over your body, I'm not saying that you'll be like Brian Shaw after one leg session, but it will have a gradual impact on your overall strength.  

7. Lastly, if all the above is not enough to make you think again about leg day, maybe these will (sorry blokes, it would appear you were targeted here too!)
ATG Squat
Credit
Oh to have her ankle mobility! *sigh*
So if you're a leg day dodger, I urge you to reconsider. It really will benefit your overall health and wellbeing in the long term and although the DOMS might be horrendous it will be worth it. Why not try adding a couple of leg exercises into each gym session, this is what I try to do and find it works really well for me as I don't then totally exhaust my legs once a week. I try to do a squat and deadlift variation each time I go to the gym and I will also throw in exercises such as leg press and nordic curls too. 

I also really encourage seeking some advice from a strength and conditioning coach as they'll be able to teach you how to execute movements such as squats and deadlifts correctly, meaning they will be more effective and less likely to cause you injury (shameless plug, my lovely boyfriend is a very passionate S&C coach who loves leg day, if you're in the Warrington area he would be happy to help you!)

What is/are your favourite leg day exercise/s? I'd love for you to share so that we can all go leg day crazy together! Please share in the comments below, on Twitter @mygenerallife or on Instagram @generallifeblog! #dontskiplegday


Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Relaxation.

Hello there lovely people.

Today I wanted to talk about relaxation. Relaxation is not something I paid particular attention to until I started having to run relaxation sessions as part of my job. Relaxation can play a really valuable role in someone's life, particularly if you feel in pain, stressed or anxious. Relaxation can allow someone to take control of how they're feeling and work towards managing and hopefully changing this. 

I think relaxation is a very personal experience and what works for one person may not work for another. Some people prefer progressive muscular relaxation, while others might prefer guided imagery. I think its about knowing about what different techniques are out there and trying them out to see what works best for you. So I thought I would give you a little whistle stop tour of  a few different relaxation techniques that you can use and what they entail.

Credit

Deep Breathing:

Deep breathing is a handy one to have up your sleeve as it is a technique that you can use at any time and in any place, for example,  you could use it if you were out and about and started to feel anxious or worried about something or if you feel your workload is becoming overwhelming and you just need to take a moment. 


Start from 10 and as you slowly inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth, count down until you get to 1. It might be helpful to really focus on your breathing and the feeling of doing so, feel the rise and fall or your chest and abdomen and the sound of your breath. It may also help to think about breathing in relaxation and allowing it spread around your body and then exhaling any tension with your breath.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation:
In this technique you work your way through the different muscle groups of the body, tensing and releasing them in order to enable you to experience what a relaxed muscle feels like. People can carry tension in different areas of their bodies and not recognise it, therefore this technique can help people to distinguish the difference between a tense and relaxed muscle. I personally really enjoy this technique and find it works really well for me.

Here's a link to a Progressive Muscle Relaxation from Youtube, it can be handy to have something to direct you  through the relaxation until you become more comfortable with it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86HUcX8ZtAk

Guided Imagery:
Guided imagery uses your own imagination in order to think about a scene that you associate with a feeling of calmness and relaxation. That could be on a beach, in a meadow full of flowers or tucked up in your bed. This is obviously very individual, and when I'm running a group I like to talk about guided imagery in a more generic manner, allowing someone to choose their own relaxing scene, rather than a previously specified one. Through the guided imagery you imagine all the sights, sounds and smells of the scene. Think about the effect on all your senses, imagine what the sun, or the breeze, or a blanket feels like on your skin. Take in every detail of your special place and enjoy the feeling of being there.

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Mindfulness:
Mindfulness is a method of paying attention to the present moment and being aware of your thought and feelings and what is going on around you in the moment. Try taking five minutes to get comfortable and think about how you really feel. How does your body feel sat in the chair or lying on the bed. What can you hear?What can you see? Acknowledge the thoughts that come into you head but try not to worry about them, just focus on what it feels like to be where you are right now. You don't even have to do this indoor, how about going out for a walk and being mindful of your outdoor surroundings? 

I appreciate that this is just a very brief overview of the different techniques that you could use to help you relax and this list is most definitely not exhaustive. It's so important to take time to relax, the pressures of everyday life can easily become too much so its really useful to have some tricks up your sleeve to prevent that from happening. And as with any skill, practice makes perfect, I challenge you to take 5 or 10 minutes out of your busy day to take some time for you, because you deserve it!

Please feel free to share your favourite methods of relaxing either in the comments below, on Twitter @mygenerallife or on Instagram @generallifeblog, I would love to hear what works for you!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Gymdate #2.

Hello there lovely people.

It's been another positive week on the gym front this week. I really think that getting back into blogging and having a more health and fitness focus has really helped, I'm feeling really inspired and raring to go!!

The first exciting thing is that I've been able to do a small amount of upper body training and my angry deltoid has not reared its grumpy head!! Which is great because I know that upper body is an overall area of weakness for me and I really want to put the work in to build up my strength, so being unable to train it has been a bit disheartening. However, I'm not going to rush head first back into it as I don't want to cause any more damage, so I'm taking it slowly and gradually building up the amount of upper body that I work back into my routine. So, not only am I able to work out my upper body, it also means that I'm able to start back squatting and deadlifting without discomfort!! WAHEY!! (following this discovery I pretty much annihilated my hamstrings doing Romanian Deadlifts...it's one of my faves!!)


video
Here's some cheeky leg press from this week, I did 100kg x 10 reps x 5 sets

I'm also really pleased with how my diet has been this week, I've been really mindful of what I'm putting in my mouth, which can be really difficult at times as I work in a department where we do a lot of cooking and baking with our clients, so there's quite regularly baked goods floating around which I usually can't resist, but this week I succeeded!


credit
I'm definitely starting to see changes in my body, mainly my legs as they have been my main focus while my shoulder was recovering, but I definitely think my diet is starting to make a noticeable difference too. I'm excited to see how my body changes and progresses over the coming weeks!

A goal of mine now is to start working more on my flexibility. I used to be reasonably flexible when I was younger as I was a trampoliner for 10 years, so I'd really like to start seeing if I can get some of that suppleness back as  I feel so tight some days after lifting, particularly in my quad and hammies.


Cheeky flash back of my leotard wearing splits days!
What have you been up to exercise-wise this week? I'd love it if you would share your progress either in the comments below, on Twitter @mygenerallife or on Instagram @generallifeblog


Thursday, 16 October 2014

Birchbox - October 2014.

Hello there lovely people.

Although I've not really been buying make up recently, my monthly Birchbox subscription is something I just can't bring myself to let go of. It's my little beauty treat that I really look forward to receiving every month.

I have to say that since subscribing to Birchbox, although I’ve had a couple of ‘meh’ boxes, overall I’ve been really pleased with the products in them, and this month is no exception.



Seeing as October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, Birchbox has also teamed up with Coppafeel! in order to raise awareness and encourage us ladies to check our boobies on a regular basis! I think this is a great cause and a great way to get people involved with the Coppafeel campaign.



Anyway, enough chatting, let’s see what delights are waiting to be discovered this month.

Pixi Shea Butter Lip Balm: I’ve never tried any products from Pixi so I’m excited to give this a whirl. This lip balm is tinted and I received the colour Honey Nectar, which is a nice nude which will be great for everyday wear. My lips are super chapped at the moment so I’m looking forward to giving this a go.

KMS Hair Play Dry Wax: Now this is a product interested in. I love texturised, undone hair so I’m looking forward to seeing if this will give me the look I’m after with little effort.



Shaveworks The Cool Fix: This is a cooling gel designed to work on ingrown hairs, razor bumps, burn and redness. I am quite a sensitive soul and my skin can become irritated when I shave, particularly in the colder months when my skin is much drier. Although I’m not overjoyed with this product, I’m interested to see how it works.

Meaningful Beauty Glowing Serum: This anti-ageing serum, from Cindy Crawford, has a lovely pearlescent, smooth consistency. I don’t have a serum in my routine at the moment so I think this will be a nice addition to my daily skin care. Although I am a little concerned that it says to contact a 'Poison Contact Centre' right away if ingested, surely something I'm putting on my face should poison me if I accidentally swallow a little...not that I'm planning on doing that, just saying!




Cattier Masque Argile: This pink clay and aloe vera face mask claims to illuminate and soften skin. I like a good face mask every now and then so it’ll be nice to give my skin a treat, although I only received two sachets of this and I do prefer products that allow me to use them more once or twice, however, we shall see how we get on.

And finally, how could I forget the gorgeous little pink bag that all the products came in and the lovely little lipstick pen. These are really sweet little extras that will definitely be great little additions to my handbag.



So there we have it. I’m pretty pleased with my box and I’m looking forward to giving the products a whirl, they're not all things that I would have picked for myself, but its good to give these things a try!!

What products did you get in your Birchbox this month? Please share in the comments below, on Twitter @mygenerallife or on Instagram @generallifeblog


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Gluten-Free Pancakes.

Hello there lovely people.

Last week I posted a photo on Instagram of some yummy, gluten free and FODMAP friendly pancakes, and so today I thought I’d share the recipe. Let me tell you, it really is ground breaking!

These pancakes have literally 3 ingredients, yes, you read that correctly, 3!!  All you need is some ground rice (about 50g, I’ve also done this with protein powder which is just as yummy and has less carbs if that's yo' thing), one whole egg and half a chopped up banana. That is it.

Gluten Free, Healthy Pancakes

All you need to do is add your ingredients to a jug or large cup and blitz is all up with a hand blender until it’s all combined and completely smooth. You then heat a pan, spray lightly with oil and cook away. I use a dessert spoon and use about 1 ½ spoons per pancake. Cook the little beauties until you see little bubbles forming, then flip and cook the other side, they should only take a couple of minutes.

Gluten Free, Healthy Pancakes
Gluten Free, Healthy Pancakes
Gluten Free, Healthy Pancakes

It really is a simple as that, these are so tasty and delicious and once you get the hang of it you can start jazzing it up a bit. How about adding some blueberries? Or some cinnamon for a wintery touch? You can serve them with anything, I was naughty and chose golden syrup (and grapes), but they’re also great with yoghurt or peanut butter, the list is endless.

Gluten Free, Healthy Pancakes

Do any of you pro wheat-free/gluten-free eaters have any top tips for flour substitutes or yummy recipes? I'm pretty new to a wheat-free diet and any advice would be much appreciated!!

Let me know if you give these a whirl and also feel free to share your healthy pancake recipes either in the comments below, on Twitter @mygenerallife or on Instagram @generallifeblog.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Gymdate #1.

Hello there lovely people.

Exercise and healthy eating is something that I've really been getting into over the last few months and at the moment, it’s safe to say that I’m definitely feeling the love when it comes to the gym. I’ve been doing pretty well recently and have been training at least three times a week for the last 8 weeks or so. I’ve also been more mindful about what I’m eating, particularly as I’ve been struggling with that meany IBS recently too, which has limited the foods that I can eat (but I’ll post about that another time!)

I have also been plagued with some injury, which has been a bit frustrating. I’d been trying to really up my upper body training as this is a major area of weakness for me, however, in doing so, I’ve definitely angered some muscles in my shoulder. So because my upper body has been out of action I have been quite limited in my options, but I’ve not let that get me down! I’ve been having a big lower body focus and although it’s not as functional as I’d like (machines and light front squats only as heavy squats and deadlifts are a no no too :[), I’ve been working towards growing me some quads and booty.


Gym Selfie

Gym Selfie

I’ve also been using this opportunity to add in some dreaded cardio. I’m not a cardio kinda gal, but I feel like it’s a necessary evil that I will thank myself for in the long run. I’ve been adding in some HIIT in the form of cycling, which definitely works up a sweat! Overall, I think things are going well and watching my food intake is definitely making a difference also, I'm feeling ever so slightly leaner and my body is definitely starting to change!


Front Squat

So there we have it, my first gymdate. I’m hoping that by sharing my progresses here it will help to keep me focused and encourage me to keep putting the hard work in. Please let me know if you’d like any further gym posts, such as what training I actually do or what I eat, I’m no expert, but my lovely boyfriend is a pretty passionate strength and conditioning coach so if I can’t help, I’m sure he can!


Please share your gymdates either below in the comments, on Twitter @200orless or on Instagram @twohundredorless.



Friday, 10 October 2014

Lust List #1 | Forever 21 Activewear.

Hello there lovely people.

I love gym clothes, I really do. I would wear them every single day if I could. And I would totally choose a sports bra over an ordinary bra in a heartbeat. They’re just so damn comfy.

I personally like to feel good in my gym attire and as I like to wear it outside of the gym (‘cause I’m cool) I like it to be pretty too! Forever 21 has really hit the nail on the head with cute, functional and flattering gym wear, my wish list is huge! So today I thought I’d share a few of my favourite picks from their collection.


Space Dye Workout Capris: Although I’m not the girliest of girls, I just can’t resist these lovely pink leggings. Not only would they brighten up the dreariest of days, I love that they would match my trainers and weightlifting shoes. Plus I think ¾ leggings are a really flattering length.


Seamless Athletic Top: Isn’t this neon purple just the most delightful colour! Along with that this top would be great for getting outdoors in the colder months and who doesn’t like a thumb hole! It’s super simple design wise but very functional.


Chevron Sports Bra: This bra is just too gorgeous for words. I love the colour and chevron design and I also love the cute , contrasting double strap thing it’s got going on. It’s only low impact, but being honest, I’m not blessed in the chest department so for me this would be fine and I would definitely want to wear this every damn day.

I could go on, and on, and on because there’s so much to like. So for now I’ll just leave you with these three little beauties as I continue to drool over the rest.

What are your favourite items to wear to the gym? Please share your ideas and gymspirations either below in the comments, on Twitter @200orless or on Instagram @twohundredorless


Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Autumn Essentials 2014.

Hello there lovely people.

Autumn is definitely upon us, there’s a chill in the air, the leaves are turning orange and floating off the trees and the nights are creeping in. So I thought I’d take the opportunity to share some of my autumn essentials with you.


Heat Holders: I would not be without these in the colder months, if you get cold toes these are a life saver. I pretty much live in them from October onwards! Who ever decided to put a tog rating on socks is a genius if you ask me!

Checked Shirt: This Quiksilver shirt is made from a really thick and toasty material. I picked it up in TK Maxx so long ago and it’s my go to when the chill sets in. I love the colour too, very Autumnal.

Ankle Boots: I picked these boots up from Wallis recently and I’m in love. These boots are stylish, yet comfy and they keep my tootsies cosy on even the busiest of days. I'm a bit fussy when it comes to boots, but I really the style of these. They have a very slight heel but considering I very rarely wear heels this hasn't posed a problem. I also love that they're looking a bit 'lived in' now I've worn them for a few weeks.


Weleda Skin Food: I can tell the seasons are changing as my skin is already freaking out. Skin Food is my saviour as my skin gets so very dry and irritated once Autumn sets in, this gentle and hydrating treat is a must have.

Lip Moisturiser: This Malin and Goetz lip moisturiser has found a permanent home in my handbag. It’s soothing and provides tonnes of moisture for dry, chapped lips.

However, I really must remember that drinking water is super important too, hence including my super cute little bottle that was definitely made for a child!



What would you not be without in the Autumn months? Please share your Autumn essentials either in the comments below, on Twitter @200orless or on Instagram @twohundredorless :]