Hello! Long time no . It’s been a while since I managed to get any real thoughts down on paper because I have been the busiest bean in the world. The primary side effect of being so busy (aside from neglect) is that I am consistently shattered. I feel like I never have any energy, that I’m always falling asleep at my desk, and arriving everywhere a little bit late with only half my make up on.
Since discovering exercise I’ve always been so full of energy, so feeling so lethargic has been really getting me down. As a result, I’ve been trying different ways to feel more energetic and reclaim my old spritely self. When the guys from Frank’s Staks got in touch to see if I wanted to trial their product, their ‘Staks of Energy’ caught my eye. I could do with stacks of energy, even if it meant dropping the ‘c’ in stacks. Got to be worth a go, ey?
Frank’s Staks kindly sent a week’s supply of their Staks of Energy range to see what I thought. In case you’re not familiar with them, Staks are pouches containing a daily dose of supplements. You get a pouch a day, and each supplement has instructions on its own packaging as to how and when to take them (i.e. in the morning or with food). It’s supplements gone luxe (yes that’s a thing now). Frank makes Staks for all sorts – building muscle, getting lean, wellbeing, beauty, slimming, energy – so there’s a Stak for everyone.
Anyway – what did I think? I certainly felt like someone very fancy when I slipped my pouch in to my handbag each day. They’re nicely designed and it feels very bespoke to have a daily supplement plan. I expected to draw strange looks at work whipping out my little packets, but no-one batted an eyelid (not sure if this is because no-one found it strange, or just that no-one pays me any attention – TBC). Each Stak of Energy comes with the following little bundles of energy:
- Supergreen powder
- Supergreen capsules
- Vitamin B (“Phosphatidyl Serine Plus Vitamin B Tablets”)
- Pre-workout powder
There’s a really useful breakdown of each supplement and its purpose over on the Staks of Energy page on their website.
I used the supergreen capsules, vitamin B and BCAAs every day, I used the pre-workout on workout days only and, in the interests of full disclosure, I didn’t try use the supergreens powder once. I tried, I really did, but I have a thing about certain foods/drinks/edible substances where they give me the heebie jeebies and drinking greens powder is one of those things. I’d sit it on my desk every day and tell myself “Just mix it, I’m sure it’s fine” (I didn’t) / “I’ll make that in 10 minutes when I’ve finished this email” (lies) / “I’ll mix that in to a smoothie for breakfast” (nope).
Despite my greens powder dodging, I can honestly say I did notice a difference in my energy levels. I didn’t change anything else during my week’s trial – same old lack of sleep and usual diet – and did feel as if my energy levels increased. There’s definitely something to be said for getting adequate minerals and vitamins, and I think my body really enjoyed the boost from the supplements!
Unfortunately, I don’t think I will continue to use Staks of Energy, purely because of the price. A weeks’ supply (7 days) is £44.99, and a 28 day supply is £134.99. You can save 10% if you subscribe for regular deliveries of a 28 day supply (reducing the price to £121.49 for 28 days’ supply). I think this is prohibitively expensive. This is definitely a ‘luxe’ product and, while it’s true to say that the price reflects the convenience, quality and aesthetic appeal of the product, I think you’d have to be really serious about supplementation to spend this much on supplements. There’s also quite a lot of waste. The disposable packaging is great for streamlining your bag (no supplement pots or tupperware to lug around) and it saves time portioning out your daily doses, but it does create quite a lot of rubbish.
If you’re serious about supplements and are looking for a convenient way to make sure you keep on track, I would recommend Staks 100%. It really is a great product that I enjoyed using and definitely felt the benefit from.
Thanks to Staks for opportunity to try Staks of Energy. All opinions are, as always, my own.
Other cool stuff:
I was kindly invited by Sweaty Betty to a week of fun, fitness and fashion known as the inaugural Sweaty Betty ger Bootcamp! For seven days straight SB organised a sweaty activity for us with various SB ambassadors at their stores all over London. Most of the activities are run by Sweaty Betty every week (they run 70 free classes a week nationwide!) so if any of them take your fancy, check out your local store’s timetable to see what classes they run! Unfortunately I didn’t manage to make all of the classes – I missed Thursday as I was already booked to go to another event, and I missed the weekend events as it was my birthday weekend and I went to Wild Life Festival, but the days I did make were awesome! Monday We started the week bright and early at the Marylebone store for a HIIT dynamic pilates class with the truly lovely SB ambassador Hollie Grant (aka the Pilates PT). Her class was a seriously tough but rewarding sweat fest, which comprised a mixture of cardio intervals (think tombstone burpees and mountain climbers) and painful pilates moves (damn you pilates ring). As well as being absolutely lovely, Hollie is a great teacher and she looks amazing – her classes are very inspirational. A great start to the week!
Post-pilates group shot! Photo courtesy of Sweaty Betty.
Tuesday Tuesday was a lunchtime spin at Psycle. This isn’t a regular Sweaty Betty class – more of a ger’s field trip! Psycle is an amazing luxe studio that I go to relatively regularly, and every single time I am surprised by how hard it is and how sweaty I get. We did a 35 minute express lunchtime class. Although it was shorter than the regular one hour classes it definitely felt tougher, so I think the workout you get is equivalent to an hour’s class.
We were all SO sweaty. Thank goodness it was dark.
I don’t do lunchtime classes and this reminded me why – all in all (including travelling time, the class, shower and dressing time) I was away from my desk for two hours. That isn’t something I can afford to do on a regular basis (or at all, really!) so I don’t think I’ll be heading back for an express class during my working week, but it was fun to hang out with the #SBgerBootcamp crew. Wednesday Wednesday was another early start (I’ve never been up at 5:30 so regularly before!) for a yoga class in SB’s gorgeous Ledbury Road studio (Notting Hill Gate!). It was a beautiful sunny morning and walking through Notting Hill on the way to the class was such a great way to start the day. The class was led by another SB ambassador, Charlie Morgan from Shanti Living. I think yoga really depends on your connection with the teacher and their method and I absolutely loved Charlie’s class. She played great music and was really encouraging – she helped me in to my first ever headstand and I had my most successful attempt at crow pose yet! It wasn’t in any way successful, but I did get further than ever before. I went off to start my Wednesday feeling energised and relaxed – I’d really recommend her classes.
Such a beautiful morning with Charlie!
Friday I couldn’t make the run club on Thursday as I was at the launch of Psycle’s new Canary Wharf studio (it’s awesome – more on this soon!) but was reunited with the #SBgerBootcamp babes for a ballet barre blast at the amazing Frame. We were taken through our paces by the hardcore (and very beautiful) Gede Foster and my butt was crying before we were even halfway through. Barre is HARD yo.
That’s me in the middle, trying to carry on through the intense pain in my butt.
After the class I picked up an amazing smoothie from the smoothie bar at Frame – I went for the cacao, banana and peanut butter one and can definitely recommend it.
Post-barre group shot! Somehow I ended up front and centre…
I had an amazing week trying so many new classes with Sweaty Betty; I was absolutely knackered at the weekend! A huge thank you to Sweaty Betty for organising such a fun week!
Other cool stuff:
I haven’t exercised for three weeks and I don’t care.
Well, I do care. If it was up to me I would go out to run and play every day, but sometimes life gets in the way and that’s fine. This is all about keeping it real so I’m going to be honest about my exercise habits, in the hope that the next time you’re going through a dry patch (fitness wise) you won’t feel so guilty.
I last went running at the Red Bull Wings for Life Race, and had an amazing time. Unfortunately I ended up with some horrific blisters (wearing brand new shoes for a race, I deserved it) and some equally serious chafing (arguably, I did not deserve this) so took a few days off to recover/start to walk properly. I was limping like an idiot and needed the time to heal, so taking a few days off was fine by me.
After this, work kicked off in a big way. When you’re finishing at 1am every night and don’t even have time to stop and eat, the idea of popping out for a run or getting up early to catch a class seems laughable. My chosen career comes with peaks and troughs in the working hours department and that’s something I accept as part of the job, no complaining (OK, minimal complaining). This is the deal and that’s fine by me.
Add in to the mix a few busy weekends celebrating birthdays and seeing family and that leaves no time to squeeze in a workout. Constantly driving somewhere and popping in to see different people takes up a lot of time, and waking up on a mattress on a floor with a raging hangover isn’t particularly conducive to getting up early to go for a run. Seeing family and friends and celebrating their milestones is incredibly important to me, and if it means missing a few workouts then that’s fine by me.
Next up, in a big sign from the universe that says “You’re getting old!” I fell on my neck competing in a bungee run at my niece’s 9th birthday party (I was up against a 13 year old, and I lost). It’s been incredibly sore ever since and, while being no doctor, I know that necks are not to be fucked with. If sleeping on my side and coughing hurt, then it’s highly likely that a good old run round the park or a heavy session in the gym will also hurt and quite possibly impede my recovery to being the owner of a fully functional neck again. So, I’m refraining from exercise until it gets better because (a) my neck is important, and (b) doing most things is plain painful, so this is fine by me too.
The reason I’ve decided to share this is because I had started to feel guilty and useless and fat. Being a big social media user, it’s easy to get bombarded with tweets and instagrams showing you just how fit everyone else is and how much fun they’re having doing crossfit/running track, and feeling like a useless blob in comparison. The thing is, nothing positive can come from negative thoughts. Yes, I haven’t exercised in a while, for a variety of reasons, but each of those reasons is legitimate. My career is important. My health is important. My family is important. Sometimes life gets in the way of being an instagram worthy fitness ger, and that’s fine by me.
Other cool stuff:
I’ve idolised you for quite some time now. While I was at university I suffered from an eating disorder. I started exercising more and more and I remember seeing photos of you in a women’s fitness magazine (I can’t remember which one). I was immediately struck by how lean you are and decided that, if I wanted to banish myself of my hideous, flabby body, I should start running like you. I tore the photo out of the magazine and I kept it with me. Run run run and maybe you’ll look like Paula.
As time went on, my little fascination with you grew. I wanted to read more about you, how you trained and what you ate. I was determined to look just like you.
One day, when I was reading an article about you in Runner’s World. I read that when you’re in training you eat around 5,000 calories a day. I was shocked. That was 10x more than I ate, at least. The article continued; you ate for energy and power, fuelling yourself to accomplish great things. Food was not your enemy. It was your ally.
Over the next few weeks I digested this information. 5,000 calories. 5,000. The number followed me around in my head. I had started to enjoy my running, as opposed to seeing it as an exercise in reducing body mass, but rarely had the energy to run particularly far or fast. It started to occur to me that maybe I could allow myself some food if I made sure I used it all up running.
I started small. I’d read that you ate bananas and rice, so I started adding these to my diet in small quantities. I entered a 10km race and added banana to my half bowl of oats and water. I’d have sweet potato for dinner before heading to the gym for an evening weights session. Bit by bit, I started getting stronger.
In this time, my admiration for you changed. While I still think that you are beautiful, I now admire your strength and grit. I love that you are vocal in promoting causes that you believe in, like anti-doping and increasing female participating in sport. I love that your marathon world record remains untouched. I love that you are so talented, yet so down to earth.
I know that you have inspired me to be more and to seek help when I was struggling. To focus on my health and fuel my body. To dream of achieving great things.
Thank you Paula.
Other cool stuff:
Did you read my post on making realistic new years resolutions? If so, how are you getting along? Research suggests that just 8% of people manage to achieve their new years resolutions, which is a pretty measly figure if we’re honest. Now that we’re well in to 2015, I thought I would check in to see how you’re getting along and report back on my own resolutions.
So, how am I getting along? My resolutions for 2015 are:
1. Improve my swimming – I am taking part in Swimathon this Sunday! So far in training I have hit 1000m, which is over double my previous distance PB of 400m, so I’d say that one was coming along nicely, thank you very much.
2. Get a new half marathon PB – Ah. This one is more of a work in progress and, if it happens, will definitely be later in the year. I’ll have to admit that I’ve been a bit slack on my speed sessions, so I need to get back on it.
3. Get a new 10k PB – Also a work in progress! Eyes are on the Nike Women’s Race in London on June 21 (riding with my crew, Ride or Die) to make this happen.
4. Get back on a scary road bike – I’m taking part in the 25th Anniversary of the Windsor Triathlon as part of team Human Race and as part of my training will be getting back on a racing bike! I am terrified but plans for this are definitely in the pipe line. Fingers crossed for no broken bones this time round.
At a third of the way through 2015 (a THIRD) I’d say that wasn’t bad progress at all, with further work to do over the coming months. How are you getting along?
My friends at Holland and Barrett have put together a slider showing the average differences in health between December and January (aka, the effect of the New Years Resolution). If you’re slipping on your way to achieving your health or fitness goals, here’s a reminder of the wonderful effects that healthy living can have!
Holland and Barrett provided me with store credit to post about their new years resolution slider. Mediocre resolution performance all my own.