Scary Sugar Facts has led to Scary Sugar Tax!

Some think it’s controversial, others think its a solution…but what is Sugar Tax?

A study published on October 31, 2013 found that a 20% tax on sugar-sweetened beverages would reduce obesity rates in the United Kingdom by about 1.3%, and concluded that taxing sugar-sweetened beverages was “a promising population measure to target population obesity, particularly among younger adults.”

Recently Jamie Oliver called upon David Cameron to be ‘as brave as he knows he should be’ in tackling Britain’s obesity crisis, so it’s a hot topic I thought I’d cover for you!

There are a wealth of healthier options out there, but it’s the choices we make as individuals which can lead us to a dark place of sugary addiction. Here are some facts that might shock you!

  1. The average child consumes 32 teaspoons of sugar…A DAY.
  2. Refined sugar is linked to: Manic Depression, Cardiovascular disease and Colon and Pancreatic Cancer
  3. Sugar is highly addictive (which you might already know)
  4. The consumption of sugar is growing faster than the worlds population, by 1% every year, and worse still sugar production is growing even faster…making this resource cheaper and more available.
  5. Your B vitamins are on the down low if you’re consuming refined sugar, if you ain’t got them you’re looking at chronic fatigue, paranoia, heart palpitations and cravings.
  6. If the food ain’t sweet, doesn’t mean it ain’t got sugar in it. White bread – sugar. Pasta Sauce – sugar. ‘natural’ fruit yoghurt – sugar.

I think that’s enough to scare me aware form the biscuit tin for now don’t you!

Lx

Winter Warmers

Coming into the winter months, porridge can get a little boring so here are some recipes to spice up your early mornings. Feel free to use Oatmeal, Rolled oats or Jumbo oats. A really good tip is to soak your oats the night before, this makes them extra creamy and saves a little on prep time…meaning you get an extra few minutes in bed!

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Heat up some sliced apple, cinnamon and a little honey and add it to your normal oatmeal or porridge. For post workout, throw in some cherries and cocoa nips then add a dollop of creme fraiche for a little treat. If you’re looking for a protein boost, add in some coconut yoghurt and some chunks of pineapple or mango. For something a little more unusual, mix some greek yoghurt and rosewater together, add that into your oats, then add some stewed rhubarb, a handful of pistachio’s and a dollop of honey. My favourite is plain and simple, jumbo oats cooked in almond milk with peanut butter and some chopped banana. Nom nom

Lx

Women of The Year

Read it here, if you ain’t heard of these ladies ya’ll need to keep reading! These women are the leading ladies in a world constantly striving towards gender equality and self improvement, changing laws and breaking rules along the way.

I attended the annual Women of the Year lunch yesterday, for the first time. Not knowing what to expect I entered the room and looked for some familiar faces. As the awards went on, I became increasingly aware of my mediocre achievements and conquests in comparison to those being awarded. I explain below why each of these accomplished women are such rightful winners.

Dame Jocelyn Bell – Winner of the Prudential women of the year Lifetime achievement Award.

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A scientist in the field of physics and astronomy, an inspirational role model and campaigner. Dame Jocelyn Bell is widely known for discovering the first radio pulsars, by constructing a radio telescope and recording data over many years, resulting in the discovery of what we now call a neutron star. Her campaigning began at a young age, when she and her parents protested against a policy (studying sciences) at her school. She has also campaigned to improve the number of women in professional and academic posts in the fields of physics and astronomy.

Her speech yesterday astounded me. She was witty, intelligent, controlled and yet totally unassuming. A true role model. I have to also mention her insanely cool glasses, she was way ahead of her time with those! (see picture above)

Agnes (Cokie) van der Velde – Winner of The Barclays women of the year award

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Ebola is something we have all become used to hearing about over the past 18 months, and to this day, 11,000 people have lost their lives to this deadly virus. Although under control now, Cokie van der Velde has been at the forefront of this epidemic disposing of the victims bodies, which is when they are at their most infectious. It is impossible to convey in words the strength of this woman, this not being the only dangerous disease she has worked against. In 2008, she travelled to Zimbabwe to fight an outbreak of Cholera, in 2010 she was part of MSF’s response team after the Haiti earthquake, all while looking after her own family back her in the UK…puts a whole new spin on the word giving.

Jayne Senior – Winner of Good Housekeeping Outstanding Achievement Award

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Between 1999 and 2011, Jayne Senior led an outreach programme for young people in Rotherham called ‘Risky Business’. During that time 1,700 cases of grooming or sexual exploitation were reported….shockingly all were ignored by the Police. At this point Jayne decided to move things forward by personally handing over countless pieces of evidence and records to Times Journalist Andrew Norfolk, putting her own identity at huge risk. With this new information and publicity, a full enquiry was made which showed 1,400 people had been abused in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013. She is still fighting for Justice today.

Kristin Hallenga – dfs Outstanding Young Campaigner of The Year

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When Kristin Hallenga found a lump in her breast aged just 23, she was told it was nothing to worry about. Now, as a result of this misdiagnosis she is 29, living with terminal cancer in her spine, pelvis, hips, brain and liver, kept alive by copious amounts of drugs. As a result of her misdiagnosis, driven by frustration and anger Kristin created CoppaFeel! an organisation that encourage and educates women on breast cancer, the signs of it and what we can do to prevent many others from suffering this awful disease. On collecting her award, Kristen was visibly emotional, as would be expected…however her strength, courage and raw experience shone through in her words of support to one and all in the room.

Read about Coppafeel! here

Dame Stephanie Shirley – Special 60th Anniversary Award, Women of The Year

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Although not present at the lunch due to medical circumstances, her presence was felt around the room by her incredible achievements. Stephanie Shirley arrived in Britain many years ago as a refugee and started her working life as an experimental software programmer, building computers from scratch. Things were very different back then, for example when Stephanie got married, she had to leave her job because married couples weren’t allowed to work in the public sector together! However, she later set up her own software company in 1962 aged 29 with just £6. Her company only employed women and she was forced to call herself ‘Steve’ to bring in business. Since 1993, Stephanie Shirley has given an estimated £67 million to charities through the Shirley Foundation, which supports projects linked to Autism in memory of her son who suffered from the condition and died aged 37 from a seizure.

Read about Dame Shirley’s Foundation Here

So, after hearing what these women have accomplished over such a short space of time, makes me realise what we can and will achieve in the future. If there’s something you’re passionate about and want to support, go out there and do it. If there’s something you excel in, take control, lead your passions in the right direction and leave a legacy even your mum would be proud of.

Lx

Family support

After recent events, I feel encouraged to write about family, and the support we can give each other in times of need. As I make my way to Old Trafford for the Super League Grand Final I wonder how things would be if I had a different family. What would it be like without my three older brothers to protect and care for me? and equally what would it be like for them not to have a younger sister? People have often said we are a very close family, I think and hope we are also a giving family, one that listens and does not judge. We lean on one another throughout life’s challenges, and we have a unique dynamic which I believe many other families have too.

Something that highlighted this to me was the final of the Great British Bake Off, and the winner this year, the very talented Nadiya. Why did she win?  Was it because she has the best iced buns and showstopper or was it because she had the strength of her family. I couldn’t help but notice the way her family reacted when she was crowned the winner. It was like a blanket of love and safety surrounded her. I wondered if this gave her the strength to carry on and eventually win the programme.

I see family support in a most unique way when it comes to Nordoff Robbins, the music therapy charity of which I am proud to be an ambassador. People of all ages suffering from a wide range of disabilities benefit from this incredible charity, through the power of music. The families who support these people are some of the strongest I have seen. Their steadfast dedication and care to their loved ones is something that deeply effects me.

So…why not give a loved one a call this evening just to say hello…you never know the impact a few words could have.

Party in The Pants…

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Last Saturday we got invited to Lululemon’s Richmond store for a ‘A Party in The Pants’, to celebrate their new range of leggings. We were treated to a class of @acroyogadance with the lovely Eugene and Pip who effortlessly twirled and glided using a mixture of yoga and dance with bundles of creative expression, followed by some yummy treats perfectly packaged from @retreatcafe. Their ‘Detox Box’ contained some delicious healthy vegan treats, including Chia seed pudding which went down really well.

So a little more about Lululemon’s new range, everything is based on sensation, how you want to feel when you workout. Words such as ‘hugged’, ‘held in’ and ‘relaxed’ are used to describe the feeling we want when we wear these leggings/pants. It’s a new way to look at leggings, and I think a much clearer way to purchase the right thing.

LW5K67S_020431_1-1Theres nothing better than feeling all neatly packed in when you’re working out, I trained in my new leggings this evening and I felt so supported, yet able to move freely. I know price wise, Lululemon are at the higher end of the spectrum, but workout gear is so on trend now it’s a competitive market out there! In my opinion their clothing lasts and has a modern edge while still being practical. Whats your sensation!?

What to Wear…

It’s a constant challenge and people always ask me how I choose what to wear when I’m singing in different places every night. I was lucky enough to have something made for my performance at the opening ceremony of the Rugby World Cup last Friday, to reflect my inner sportiness! However, it’s not always that easy.

Photo Credit: Press Association  Dress by Michael Sharpe

Photo Credit: Press Association
Dress by Michael Sharpe

I’m constantly searching for elegant, cool and glamorous dresses. With limited time available to lend to the cause, I find myself shopping online 80% of the time which can be dangerous for my wallet, I love ASOS for their quick efficient delivery and returns, and they have so many brands available aswell as their own…I mean who doesn’t look to peruse their website on your lunch break?

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Borrowing is another option, I have some great friends at POP Pr who help me out for certain events, wearing a designer dress or outfit always makes you feel special.

Then there’s the shoes…I HAVE to wear wedges on the rugby pitch which presents all sorts of problems. Everyone knows wedges aren’t the nicest form of footwear especially with dresses however there’s no other option so…the more inconspicuous the better in my opinion. New Look…they are amazing for shoes, I’ve ordered plenty and at such a good price, you don’t feel guilty if you don’t get much wear out of them. Anyway that’s my 5 pence on dresses and styling but I’m no expert, ladies it’s a jungle out there!!! Lx 

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Accessorise your inner Gym Bunny!

Top 10 Fitness Accessories

So I don’t condone being one of those ‘all the gear and no idea’ kind of people, however, why not treat yourself to one of these fitness accessories to give you’re self esteem and workout a boost. Looks like we are coming to the end of our summer here in the UK, which means darker mornings and much more of a struggle to get out of bed!

1. Garmin Vivofit

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Priced at £99.99, this activity tracker is roughly the middle of the road price wise. From the creators of some of the best active products on the fitness market, this fitness band lasts a year on a single charge. With so many people getting interested in fitness, this is a great way to monitor your activity levels throughout the day whether you’re a fitness freak or if you fancy getting geeky on your commute.
It’s not the prettiest thing to look at so I’d say, guys this is the one for yo. Ladies, read below for a slightly more attractive version!😉

2. Jawbone -Activity Tracker “UP24”

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Priced at £125, this is a little more expensive than your average activity ‘bracelet’. Looks wise, this one is a winner for me. It comes in several different colours and isn’t too think and heavy looking. The battery life isn’t as good as the Garmin but you can link up with bluetooth too so you’re data can be transferred. It tracks your sleep, activity levels and counts your calorie intake.
I think this is the perfect fitness accessory to keep you on track for your fitness goals and allow you to make changes according to your sleeping patterns and eating habits. After all you can exercise like crazy but you get out of your body what you put in. Nutrition is key.

3. reebok compression calf sleeves

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priced at approx £10, these tight fitting compression calf sleeves will keep your circulation at it’s best. Use before, during or after working out in all weather. Perfect for post workout to aid recovery.

4. Denon wireless headphones

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Priced at approx £129.99
Everytime I clean or front squat I always end up with a red collarbone from squishing my headphones under the weight, or the weight accidentally pulls one of them out. Sounds silly but when you’re focussed in the zone, thats the last thing you need. These headphones from Denon are wireless so you don’t have any of those small but really annoying problems. It means you can run, jump and lift without worrying your’e tunes are going to disappear mid squat!
They work on bluetooth and they also have a sweat proof earpiece with a reflective neckband if you’re a night runner.

5. Lululemon ‘Two times a yogi’ bag

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Priced at £118
Not much to say about this lovely looking bag, perfect size for all your workout gear and it looks pretty damn cool too. Definitely putting this on my christmas list!

6. Nike Tech Hoodie

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Priced at £65
The perfect post workout snuggly hoodie! With the weather getting that bit colder now, post gym goosebumps are unwelcome. Get yourself one of these hoodies, cosy and structured so your figure doesn’t get lost while wearing it. After your gym session/class/match whatever…you don’t want to let your body get too cold. It’s important to stay warm and not let your muscles suddenly get cold. An extreme change in temperature could result in an injury, as easy as that.

7. Orca Chamois Towel

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priced at £10.50
Whether you’re a keen swimmer or not, one of these is an essential for your kit bag. They roll up to be pretty small and insignificant but are so handy post workout, swim or exercise class. For me, these are perfect after a yoga or pilates class. You can use them for a shower (instead of paying extra for a towel) or as a supportive grippy surface on your yoga mat or pilates reformer or simply the floor. They are a cheap addition to your gym bag and super handy.

8. CCC Canterbury Baselayer

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priced at approx £30.99
Canterbury are known for their rugby clothing and I love their base layers. If you’re heading out for a early morning or evening run and it’s on the brisk side, chuck one of these on under your running top. They are lightweight, so warm and super tight so you don’t have any excess material flapping around. Designed specially to keep your body temperature up..these are a winter essential if you’re into you’re outdoor sports or running. Ladies they are quite good if you want to sweat that bit more in the gym too!

9. Sweaty Betty Yoga Block

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Priced at £10
A small yet very useful piece of equipment. I discovered these in my hot yoga classes at lumi power yoga. I have a dodgy knee at the best of times and this block allowed me to go deeper in some of the stretches without putting unnecessary strain on my knee. However, there are so many other things you can use this for. If you’re a keen crossfitter like me, this block can be very useful for aiding your handstand pushups. There are so many stretches this can aid you with, and for such a bargain price too…well worth it.

10. Finally, a few fitness apps that are very popular at the moment and worth trying if you fancy changing up your workouts.
– 7 minute workout
– 5 x 5 Stronglift
– Strava run and Strava cycling
– Sleep Cycle alarm clock
– Yoga Studio
– Zombies, Run!
– Garmin Fit