Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Healthy Lunch Ideas | Mason Salad Jars

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Lately I've been Pintresting like mad. Pinterest isn't just great for inspiration for hair and home but gives me so much motivation and inspiration for nutritious yummy food ideas. The idea of a mason jar is that you strategically pile the yummy ingredients and flavours into the jar, then when you're ready to eat tip it out into a bowl. The great thing about mason jars is how you can fill them with lots of salad, carbs and dressing and because of your strategic placement of ingredients, it won't be soggy come lunch time. I really love the idea of not having to worry about your salad rolling about your lunchbox on your commute and a fresh salad come lunch time is perfect.
 
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The best way to do it is by firstly loading in your dressing, this goes in first so the greens on top don't get soggy through the day. Then add in a protein  like chicken or fish and some carbs like rice or pasta, this will stop the rest of the ingredients getting wet from the dressing so your salad will still be nice and crisp. If you're wanting to add in nuts, seeds, raisins or dried fruits add them in next before finally adding the salad with lots of leafy greens. When it's time for lunch, pour the contents out into a bowl and it will be fresh, yummy and ready to eat!
 
You can pick up mason jars from here  with different sizes and variations to suit every body's food needs and portion sizes. I've included some yummy ideas from my favourite pins to get you inspired to create your own mason salads. You can also follow me over on Pinterest to check out my favourite pins!

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What will you be adding to your mason jar?
 
 

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Clean and Clear Skin | MayBeauty's Incredible Face Mask

MayBeauty Incredible Face Mask*
This month I was contacted by the brand MayBeauty to see if I would like to test out their 'Incredible Face Masks'. As I hadn't heard about the brand before I emailed back with a few questions and did a little research myself. It's great to hear about new, up and coming brands and after some research I found out just how popular they were in Sweden, after launching there in 2013, with so many raving youtube reviews. MayBeauty are also cruelty free and focused on few products which give guaranteed results, or your money back.
 
 
The package included 5 face mask sachets, an application brush and an incredible skin guide with great tips about how to improve your skin through diet and general skin tips. The face mask itself is different to anything I've tried before. The consistency is like a thick black gel which is tricky to spread but I found it easier to apply evenly using the brush. One warning  though is on application, do not put it on facial hair, especially your brows or they will be whipped right off and nobody wants that. I shaped the thick gel around my face, avoiding eyes, lips, eyebrows and hair line and left it for 40 minutes. Yes, that's also something which is different to the usual face mask, they recommend you leave it for 30-45 minutes. Now, however difficult that is keeping your face still as it tightens up I did it and the results were amazing.
 
The mask claims to remove blackheads, oil, dead skin and prevents acne. Now I can't comment on the acne but after a rather satisfying removal of the mask, like removing PVA glue from your hands at school (YES!!). I was left with fresh, clean and clear skin. As the mask is literally peeled from your skin, it can be a teeny bit painful but you'll be fine and the satisfaction is so worth it. Blackheads appeared less visible and it actually allows you to see what's been removed on the underside of the mask. It's great to see instant results and feel super soft skin and I can't wait for my next one already.
 
Overall a brilliant mask which I'm super impressed with and I want you guys to try it too. Now MayBeauty have kindly offered my readers an amazing 30% off all face mask packages which you can do here at this link or by entering the code: laurasfacemask30. This means you can try the same package for just £13.30. Thank you Maybeauty for the opportunity to try a brilliant mask, I can't wait to try more.
 
Do you use a face mask as part of your skin care routine?

Friday, 15 May 2015

Making Your Tan Last The Summer


Safe tanning is so important - even those with the darkest of skin tones use high factors to protect their skin from harmful rays and premature aging. We all know the importance of slapping on the lotion and wearing hats and glasses to protect your eyes and face. But today I'm talking about how you can make the most of that tan and how to hang onto that beautiful glow and make the most of holiday skin.
Before spending time in the sun always prep your skin by exfoliating. The traditional Turkish bath consists of a number of procedures to heat, cleanse and exfoliate your body leaving you with the softest skin. Through experience, using an exfoliating scrub the day before a holiday has left my skin softer and glowing but also slows down peeling of the skin so my tan has lasted much longer. Soap and Glory's Pulp friction is perfect to scrub off dead cells with a lovely fruity fragrance.
Moisturised skin will hold your tan for much longer, preventing peeling and making your skin super soft and glowing. After spending time in the sun it's crucial to apply after-sun to cool and soothe skin whilst upping those moisture levels - one of my favourites for this is the Banana Boat Aloe Vera Gel. Once you're home don't forget about how much moisture you provided for your skin applying lotion and after sun. Keep it up by using an in-shower moisturiser to lock in silky soft skin whilst showering, perfect for those of us who get fed up applying lotions and moisturisers.
Alongside this, I moisturise morning and night, yes I am obsessed with soft silky skin but also my skin is naturally dry because of eczema. One of my favourites, especially at night time is the Liz Earle Nourishing Botanical Body Cream, rub it straight onto warm freshly bathed skin and it soaks in like a dream leaving you feeling soft and smelling of relaxing lavender. When you just can't hold on to your tan for much longer and you have to give into your skin renewing then a gradual moisturiser like the Ambre Solaire Hydrating Tan Maintainer will top up your skin with a natural golden bronze colour whilst keeping skin soft and hydrated.
Are you heading somewhere sunny soon? How do you hold on to and preserve your tan?

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Training For A Half Marathon


 
After feeling very inspired this weekend, watching loved ones compete in the Leeds Half Marathon, I felt it was time to share with you my own half marathon training tips. Last September, I ran the Bupa Great North Run, the worlds most popular half marathon, following the gruelling route from Newcastle to the Coast of South Shields. This was a huge journey, being that my experience in running was limited and as a child I had favoured gymnastics and swimming over athletics. But in February I began my training after struggling to run a kilometre and in September I completed the 13.1 miles without stopping. So for those of you who might be already in training or thinking of pounding those pavements, here are some tips to hopefully help you out along the way...
 

Wear Correct Footwear
The same Nike trainers that work brilliantly for intervals and gym classes won't benefit you in running at all - trust me and my poor little shin splints, we learnt the hard way! Get fitted for correct running shoes to suit your foot type and running style. Places like Up and Running will observe your running style and motion of your feet, analysing the pronotation of your feet and your arch. They will advise you on the best running shoes to support your feet without feeling pressured or uncomfortable.

Vary Your Training
Even though your ultimate goal is endurance to last the long mileage, you need to be including speed training too. Lack of speed training means your lose ability to generate explosive muscle power, resulting in a decline of running efficiency. Speed training will challenge your VO2 max and ultimately improve and push your boundaries whilst regaining and developing that explosive muscle power. Include shuttle runs, fartlek training, hill running along with distance training in your plan.
 
Strengthen Your Muscles
This is something I wish I would've spent more time doing to support my body, help with form and reduce injury. Movements like squats and hip bridges are great to strengthen hips and glutes to correct form and prevent shin splints and knees injuries. Whereas calf raises and dips will support and strengthen your achilles helping with taking the strain of the running motion. Planking and core strengthening will help to support your upper body and help with your breathing too. Add weight, build the muscle and strengthen your body to help push through those tough runs.

Fuel Your Body
Your body needs food to go the distance. Carbs are your friends! Avoid hitting the wall by fuelling your body with nutritious carbs to maximise your energy stores, eating foods such as porridge, fruits, pastas and potatoes. During your run your body will be using up glycogen and you'll need high GI carbs to release energy fast. 45-60 minutes in take an energy-gel, jelly babies or an isotonic drink to up your energy levels and make you feel 'awake'! Post-run you have a 30 minute window to re-fuel and replenish carbohydrates and proteins are your best friends to repair those muscles and replace electrolytes. Ultimately, be mindful of the foods you eat. Having a takeaway the night before a long run might help with energy but could make you feel stodgy and full of gas!

Rest and Stretch
Don't sacrifice those rest days - they're just as important as those long runs. Resting will help your muscles to recover and replenish whilst reducing fatigue too. Whilst stretching can help with injury prevention, muscle recovery and flexibility and form. Yoga is great to stretch, strengthen and can help you to manage and control your breathing.
 
Don't Give In
It will be hard, you will hit the wall and you will want to turn back. Don't forget how far you have come and how far you will go. The only way you'll improve is by practising and literally going that extra mile. Mind over matter! Always have in your mind that feeling of triumph as you cross the finish line and if you're doing it for charity, the feeling is even better. Be strong, push yourself and just keep going!
 
All of you on your own running journeys I wish you the best of luck. As always if you want me to post about anything or just want to ask a question comment or email. Let's push on forward to be strong, empowered and healthy!
Are you training for a big run? What would your training tips be?
 

Friday, 8 May 2015

How I Changed My Eating Habits

Now I had to think hard about the title of this post. The word 'diet' tends to be used where someone eats less food or cuts out food groups for a desirable body image or for medical reasons. However 'diet' to me is more about lifestyle choices and changes which aren't temporary but long term. I chose to make changes to my lifestyle and health to become a healthier and happier version of me and one of those changes and choices is the food I now eat. These pictures aren't great (especially the sunglasses falling off haha) but are a perfect example of crash dieting (on the left) and long term healthier eating habits (right).
 
 
The food choices I made previously weren't great, eating for the sake of eating and eating for boredom. Most meals were based around chips and potatoes and if it didn't go with these I wasn't eating it. My goals were to eat nutritious, wholesome food which would fuel my body for my workouts and everyday living. Which in turn, resulted in greater energy, improved skin and an overall improvement in how I felt inside. I started my healthier lifestyle in February of this year and only a few months in, I have definitely seen big changes in my body shape. I was super happy on my holiday and yes I ate doughnuts and ice cream but I also made sure I had my protein on a morning and plenty of greens on my plate. Now I'm back thought it's about sticking to the healthier lifestyle as I've found the longer you do it, the easier it becomes and soon enough it becomes habit.
 
It's not about depriving your body of all fats and carbs, because realistically this is an unsustainable choice and may work for 8 weeks but long term you're setting yourself up for failure and those pounds you lost in the first place will easily come back and bring their friends along for the party too. If I want a Chinese I'll have one, but the following day I'll make sure I do those extra reps in the gym or be careful with my food choices. Depriving yourself of anything isn't a clever idea and can lead to binging, which none of us want right? So don't cut, instead follow a balanced yet flexible way of eating.

A typical day for me would be: Breakfast: Porridge with fruit and a coffee; Morning snack: Fruit and nuts; Lunch: A tuna and rice salad with fruit and quark for after; Pre-gym: Shake or a quest bar; Dinner: Salmon, veg and rice. Eating a balanced diet from the different food groups is a huge part of improving physically and feeling better on the inside too. Of course the gym has played a huge part in my healthier lifestyle and body changes but making healthier choices definitely accounts for 80% of my progress. As they say, Abs are made in the kitchen! Below I've included some of my typical meals ...
 







 
As always if you want me to know more about my journey to better health let me know in the comments as I'd love to hear about what you guys want me to post. If you're needing a bit of inspiration and motivation you can always check out my instagram where I'm forever posting and liking food and fitness inspo. Have you embarked on your own journey of a healthier lifestyle? What's your experience with crash diets? Have a happy healthy week!

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

My Caribbean Adventure | Part 2

 

So here is the second and last part of my Caribbean Adventure. It's amazing to see how many of you loved the first post, considering I've never posted anything like this before. Like I mentioned in my last post, I would love to get into more travel and lifestyle posts so maybe this will become a bigger part of my blog in the future. So the second part of my adventure on the Thomson Celebration led me to Antigua, Dominica and Barbados. All beautiful islands, yet all very different in their own ways.
 
Next stop was St Johns, Antigua. We literally parked in the middle of a harbour town surrounded by the strangest coloured patterned water. First stop was the beach, now Antiguans say there is a beach for every day of the year in Antigua, which when you're only there for one day can be a very tricky decision. Luckily, my parents had been before and were adamant they had to show me Valley Church beach. The journey was rocky, through little villages past road side stalls selling fresh coconuts and fruits, but pulling into the beach I was literally blown away.














The sand was beautiful and white sitting against the clearest, calmest blue sea I have ever come across. It was there and then I fell in love with this beach and Antigua itself. We spent most of the day here, sipping strawberry daiquiris from the beach hut and exploring the coastline on jet-skis. It rained, but even through the rain the sea was still crystal clear. I did eventually have to tear myself away from this beautiful beach back to the little town, where we explored the shops and market and picked up some souvenirs. A couple of locals who we passed thanked us for coming and wished us a safe journey, which was truly lovely. I mean you wouldn't get that in England! Antigua stole my heart and I know that one day I'll return to the beautiful Island, maybe to visit a beach a day!




 The next island stop was a place which was completely the opposite to Antigua. Roseau, Dominica (not to be confused with the Dominican Republic) is a lush, green mountainous island,  not a beach island. Our first visit was a view right over Roseau including the cricket ground and in the distance our ship. After this we explored the Botanical Gardens, including the most beautiful plants and wildlife but also a reminder of the destruction and damage that Hurricane David in 1979 left behind (luckily the bus was empty).







After this we headed to Trafalgar falls, two waterfalls, one cold and fresh while the other hot and volcanic, there were actually people bathing in the falls because they were that warm. Many steps later our next stop was the Emerald pools. In the middle of a lush green UNESCO site rainforest, sat a beautiful, shimmering pool, green because of the vegetation that canopies above it. We took a dip in the pool whilst the rain fell around us and it was lovely, even though a little bit on the cold side. On way back to the ship our guide showed us and taught us so much about the island and showed us  pineapple plants, mango and banana trees, coffee trees, cocoa plants and lemongrass.  I learnt that the islanders live off the food they grow and are known for their long and fulfilling lives, which follows my own ideology in believing that fresh unprocessed food is truly best. I was amazed by Dominica's natural beauty and could definitely live on this island with so many mangoes about!













The last stop of our journey and the place where we said our farewells was Bridgetown Barbados. Flying in the afternoon meant we could only spend a morning here but we made the most of the beautiful beach of Carlisle Bay. As it was Sunday, most shops and bars were shut so the best place to be was the beach anyway. The sand on Carlisle bay was just like talcum powder so soft, and further along the beach we had just missed the racehorses going for their dip in the warm Caribbean sea. Carlisle bay isn't just home to 6 shipwrecks but also marine life, including turtles! A really beautiful place, I'd definitely like to come back to and explore the city of Bridgetown some more.

After baking in the sun it was time to leave Barbados and say goodbye to the beautiful Caribbean and the Thomson Celebration. Hopefully it won't be long before we meet again!

Friday, 1 May 2015

My Caribbean Adventure | Part 1

Growing up I've been fortunate to travel to so many different countries on family holidays and the places that always stuck in my mind were those in the Caribbean. Cuba, Mexico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic being the main countries, however up until now I knew little of the islands that make up the Eastern Caribbean, only from instagram! As some of the islands are so small, it is difficult to fly direct, this is where cruising becomes your ideal transportation around the calm Caribbean Sea. We chose a smaller ship (Thomson Celebration) due to the itenary it covered and less days at sea but more Island stops. With the cruise embarking from Barbados and visiting 6 different Islands, including a day at sea this was the perfect itenary. With so much to tell, I'm focusing on the itenary and islands rather than the ship and splitting the blogs into two parts with this part covering: St Barths, St Maarten and St Kitts. If you would like to know about the ship let me know i'll answer any questions you have!

 
Dress | Elise Ryan at Asos | link
 
 
With the first day being at sea little photography occurred and the day started with laps of the deck at 5.45am (blame the jet lag) and sunbathing before the captains dinner that night. The day after was our first port of call at an Island I knew little about, except seeing MIC's Spencer's rather gorgeous holiday home. The island of St Barths was definitely different to the others I was about to visit, a harbour full of yachts (including Abramovich's £250,00 a week rental with you can see nearly matching the size of our cruise ship)  with it's designer shops and restaurants where crystal and caviar was definitely top of the menu. But beautiful beaches also lined it's coast, including Shell beach.





 
The next port of call was Philipsburg St Maarten, the Dutch capital and a very popular port with rows of shops from Michael Kors and the famous Diamonds International, to bustling bars and restaurants. This was one my most anticipated visits, due to the very famous Maho beach, just metres between the white sand and the  end of the runway of Princess Juliana International Airport, listed the 4th most dangerous airport in the world. This was obviously our first stop, arriving around 10am meant we had a comfortable amount of sunbathing space and a spot out of the 'wind blasting' zone!
 
 
 
Maho beach itself is stunning, come 12pm the large planes were coming in to land which was amazing to watch them just metres above the beach, you literally felt within touching distance. However, the taking off was the craziest experience which you just can't capture through any photograph. They close the road, the pilot gives you the thumbs up - you're that close, then the engines fire up and wow. The heat, the wind and the noise is just insane - the best part was watching everyone's stuff (including people) fly back into the sea and get sandblasted - AMAZING! After a pina colada we headed 10 minutes round the corner to Mullet Bay a quieter beautiful beach to catch some rays before exploring the shops of Philipsburg. All in all one of my favourite Islands, one which I'd love to visit again.
 
 
 
 
 Basseterre, St Kitts was our next stop. We didn’t do much sunbathing in St Kitts, due to the Caribbean liquid sunshine that joined us in the afternoon, otherwise known as rain. But we did get to explore the town and try a few pina coladas whilst we were there. The England - West Indies cricket was on the day we were there but I must admit I’m not much of a fan so only passed the ground whilst touring the town. A quiet day but when your itinerary is so busy it’s well needed!
 


Dress | AX Paris
 
So that's it for the first part of my Caribbean adventure. It's definitely different to my usual beauty and fitness posts but I do want to do more lifestyle and general posts for you all. These photos are just a snippet of my adventures so check out my instagram for more. Take care and stay posted for part 2 and the most stunning beach I have ever set eyes on!