Tag Archives: Product reviews

Sugar free living and running – sugar free bars product review @well_naturally

4 Jun

Whilst I was pregnant I was completely off sugar. I just didn’t want to touch it – whereas normally I had a real sweet tooth so it wasn’t a bad thing actually. Since my son was born a year ago I have made a concerted effort not to eat much sugar and looked into sugar alternatives – as both my husband and I are real believers that less is most definitely more when it comes to sugar. My husband has completely cut sugar out of his diet and I have to an extent but just try to use alternatives and have less than I used to.

Did you know that “the average Australian’s sugar intake is 27 teaspoons per day!”

There are so many fads and diets out there it can be tricky if you are a follower – I tend to take bits from each in terms of what I eat and eat as healthily as I can and avoid sugar and wheat where I can but if I turn up at someones house since these are life choices rather than my being coeliac or anything like that I will eat what I am given :-)

I am no nutritionist but i feel it’s pretty simple – eat little in moderation and as close to coming out of the ground as possible. I don’t normally eat too many carbs but with the marathon coming up I have had to as I was finding I was running out of energy and with sugar I have found with the energy gels etc I have had to have a bit more than normal at this time.

Product review

I have reviewed some low sugar/sugar free products before from Well Naturally but they got in touch with some new products they wanted me to try and yes they too are no added sugar yay. Well Naturally product Review - The Girl That Runs

I am not too good with products that taste artificial hence I don’t eat much protein powder these days – so I wasn’t sure how I would get on with the chocolate mint and the protein bar but below are my honest opinions of the bars that they sent. I don’t get paid – I just get sent things to try and to write about!

Nuts & Seeds Almond Sesame Seed Linseed bar

I took one bite of this and absolutely loved it! It reminds me of some nut bars I used to get from Whole Foods back in the UK. I am not normally a huge nut bar fan but this bar is yum and is wheat and gluten free as well – bonus.

It’s naturally sweetened with stevia and again I don’t normally like stevia as it tastes a bit artificial to me but I didn’t notice it in the bar this time so it gets the thumbs up from me.  There is 1.1g of sugar so very happy with that too unlike a lot of fruit and nut bars out there.

Fruits and Seeds Currant pepita seed sunflower bar 

This bar was a little bit sweet for me because of the extra fruit but it was nice again and the nuts balanced it out a little bit. My definite favourite was the nuts & seeds almond sesame Linseed bar above. Again this is wheat and gluten free and sweetened with stevia although the sugar is a bit higher at 4.2g but probably due to the fruit in the bar. but still only 494kj which is not bad for something with nuts in it.

High Protein mini bar 

I wasn’t a fan of this as it was a little bit artificial and dry for me but my friend tried it, loved it and finished it off! so just shows that one person can like something and someone else not so. If you like protein bars then you would probably like this and it is a great snack and quite small so it would fit into your handbag and be great for after a workout.

No Sugar added dark chocolate with mint 

I’m not a huge fan of dark chocolate so again i wasn’t a big fan of this but again my friend was. The flavour to me was less artificial and tasted like dark chocolate just without so much sugar which was great but like I said I am not a huge dark chocolate fan so i wasn’t that keen. I love Well naturally’s Milk chocolate bar – i reckon if given the chance I would wolf the whole bar down!!

The thing I love about Well naturally is that you can get their products from Coles, Woolworths as well as other places and Target so they are very accessible and nicely priced. Anyway this is just my opinion – go and try for yourself :-)

Reduced Sugar ideas/websites 

I have a few cookbooks I have been using lately that if you are into reducing sugar in your cooking and also eating healthy might be worth a read – the websites are below for the authors:

I Quit Sugar – Sarah Wilson has become a bit of a no sugar leader in the last few years. I have all of her cookbooks and regularly follow her across her social media and agree with her way of thinking 80% of the time :-) Whilst she doesn’t use sugar she generally replaces it with low fructose favourites such as Rice Malt Syrup which I use so technically her desserts are still sweet so if you are avoiding anything sweet just go off sugar or anything sweet such as fruit or sugar replacements completely is my advice*.

Lola Berry – Lola Berry is a recent blogger, cookbook success. I like Lola’s books too as they have some good healthy dishes – i bought both of them but she replaces a lot of the sugar in her recipes for maple syrup and coconut sugar which again is sweet and technically kind of sugar so bear that in mind but she has some greta healthy recipes across the two books that I have cooked and love.

David Gillespie – David wrote  the Sweet Poison books which I found interesting and agree that sugar is bad – but he replaces sugar with xylitol and dextrose so again the food is sweet so it all depends what you are into.

Anyway hope these are helpful. Have a great weekend and Happy Running :-)

Product Review: Lululemon technical Running gear

30 Mar

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from Lululemon asking if I wanted to meet up and chat about their technical running clothes to assist me with my training. To be honest I hadn’t really looked at Lululemon for running clothes before but I was pleasantly surprised at how much technical running product they have. They recently opened a store at Indooroopilly in Brisbane and it is quite a find.

I avoided the tiny miniscule running shorts that they also sell as I figured there would be a serious issue of trying to fit my generous thighs into them and I would probably look ridiculous! So they kindly gave me a trail running vest and a pair of 3/4 running tights.

I tried the outfit out both at the gym and outside in a medium length and a long distance run so what you see below is my honest account of how I found the clothes.

Technical top 

The Girl that Runs - wearing Lululemon

Just after my session at the gym wearing the top and tights – the panels on the top are fairly slimming so that’s a bonus for me!

Fabric, general style

To be honest I wasn’t 100% convinced with the material in the top before I ran in it and I was worried I would be pulling it down all the time as it felt quite shiny – but I found I didn’t have an issue once I was comfortable with the top and the way it sat. The size larger was too big so I was worried it might be too small but it just sat right. I did find I had a bit of a crinkle in the middle as I am an hourglass shape so not an up and down size but it it was fine.

Design

The thing I liked about the top is that the arms do not come right up to the arm pit but you have a lower cut meaning you don’t have the issue of chafing – like it!

Running Tights

Tights are always an area I struggle with and post-baby I figured it might be an issue with my wobble that refuses to go away!

Fabric, general style

I figure I can’t go wrong with black. I am not very adventurous when it comes to colour on my bottom half so colour got my seal of approval :-) with a little bit of girly detail at the bottom – some see through black fabric and a small amount of pattern :-)

Design

Loved the design mainly because the tights actually came up to the waist and not to my belly button – yay – no muffin top!  They were very comfortable and they were tight but not compression pant tight so you knew they were there but didn’t have the life sucked out of you (although I love that feeling with compression pants!)

The tights also have a pocket to put your energy gels in etc which is handy.

So the main thing was actually running in them and trying them out!

Issues I have had with running gear includes chafing, ill fitting clothes – too tight, too loose, too hot, too cold – etc etc. I found once I got used to the top as I mentioned before that the clothes were very comfortable. Tights were a dream and very comfortable to wear and whilst it was a warm day I didn’t feel that they were too warm to wear. Top was great – no chafing – hoorah! Lululemon clothes

Final thoughts

Pros

Technical products, well thought out in design and clearly are effective.

Nice subtle designs – like I said I wouldn’t go for their shorts as they are not me but these clothes were right up my street!

Cons

I guess a lot of people might say the cost is an issue as they are not on the cheaper end i.e Target etc etc but you do get what you pay for and I think good quality running clothes is like having a good pair of running shoes. You wouldn’t run a race in $10 trainers ……or would you?  I have running clothes that I bought years ago that I still have and wear as the quality is so good and I would put the clothes in that category.

Note: I wasn’t paid for this review. What you are reading above is my genuine opinion. I always say read a review but then go and try out for yourself. I try to be as honest as I can and tell it as it is.

Product Review: TomTom Runner Cardio GPS Watch

22 Feb

I’ve always been a Garmin girl and have a 405CX and an Edge 500 for my road bike. But after having my baby I found that with the issues I had with my wrists that the 405cx was way too heavy on my wrist – actually to the point of hurting and becoming really uncomfortable so I started looking for a new watch.

RunStopShop came to my rescue and asked if I would like a TomTom Runner watch. I wasn’t 100% sure as to be honest I hadn’t really heard about TomTom as a running watch – more for their GPS – but I figured both TomTom and Garmin now do both so maybe they were ok.

I looked up some reviews and they were good so I said yes to RunStopShop and my watch arrived in the mail. It came in a  fancy plastic cube box and I loved the colours – red and black and it looked kind of cool with its square shape rather than a boring circular face!

Set Up

TomTom Runner watch - The Girl that Runs

The watch arrived with a small cradle that you plug in and into your computer to charge. Very small and compact.

The set up was pretty straight forward. I literally took the watch out of the box, plugged in the charger to the back of my computer , went to the TomTom sports site and then a wizard took me through everything and I set up my account/watch entering my height, weight etc etc. Then ready to use – how simple is that!

TomTom Runner watch - The Girl that Runs

The packaging is kind of cool. I was very excited when it arrived.

Useability

One thing I love about this watch is there is an optical sensor so no need to wear a heart rate monitor strap which is a definite plus. I used to chafe and find the heart rate strap really uncomfortable especially being a woman and wearing a running crop top or bra.

You simply put the watch on and it measures everything in one go. The downside I guess is if you like to wear your watch loose – you can’t really as for the Heart rate Monitor to work it needs to be tight on the wrist so no light is exposed. When you are ready to run you literally click the button to the right – choose whether it is treadmill or run (outside) and away you go – very simple.

I am not one for massively over complicated especially when I got caught out a few times in races with my Garmin and ended up either spending half the race trying to sort my watch out or not having any splits etc or knowing my time –  as I left the watch and got on with running.

The strap itself on the watch takes a few goes to get it right as it has little holes that you slot the clip into but I am used to it now. It hasn’t given my wrists any major grief so far unlike my 405cx.

Functions

When running you can set up the watch in a number of ways. You can choose for example to run a certain distance or to burn a number of calories off and it will then vibrate when you are 50% through, 90% through and 100% done which would be handy when wanting to run a certain distance or a race (although not all races are 100% the distance they advertise!

You can also set the watch up to race a route that you run regularly so you know if you are faster/slower than last time – a little bit similar to Garmin’s Virtual Trainer. I don’t tend to use things like that.

When running with the watch you can flick through easily to see information such as distance gone, calories, heart rate and pace which is great. I used to get so paranoid touching my 405cx as it was so sensitive whereas this is all a simple button that you press down so not much chance of messing it up.

The stats that the watch records is basic such as heart rate, distance

Stats from TomTom Cardio Runner - The Girl That Runs

The stats on the TomTom app are not that comprehensive but you can sync with Strava and MapMyFitness which gives a lot more detail. It depends how much information you want.

Accuracy

The GPS part of the watch is very accurate and it all syncs with Map My Fitness or Strava as well as TomTom Sports app – their app though to be honest is quite poor in terms of stats so I use Map My Fitness/Run and it gives lots of comprehensive information including elevation, route, heart rate, even lets me pick which trainers I have run in and I can decide to retire them when I have run a fair few kilometres in them. Please note I did pay for a Map My Fitness upgrade which I’d recommend as you don’t get access to much with the free version.

I did used to like Garmin Connect but using Map My Fitness/Strava is not massively different and when I used to wear my Garmin I always used to bring it together under Strava anyway so I am not really that fussed. My running friend (Shaun) couldn’t believe I was leaving Garmin – I’ll get over it! Using a third party app like MapMyFitness really makes it easier.

The treadmill side of the watch as with most watches that monitor indoors is not 100% accurate and most runs it has been .10-.20 out in terms of distance so my treadmill might say 8.20 and my watch says 8.05km but this was an issue for me when I had a Nike Plus many moons ago but the thing I like about the TomTom is I can calibrate after every treadmill run and it works it out. So before ending the run and switching off I go to pause, then down to calibrate and enter the distance it says on the treadmill and it sorts itself out which is great otherwise it would be very frustrating.

Conclusion

I do love this watch and I use it in every training session now. It took a while to get used to it and the strap but I’m all good now. I like the fact that it is easy to navigate and easy to flick through when running. The Tom Tom app itself isn’t great but it;s good that it sync with external programs such as MapMyFitness. The price is reasonable at $345 (as at 21 Feb on RunStopShop – and you can get up to 15% off your order ! – see the tag on the right hand side of the page) and I like that I don’t need to wear a separate heart rate monitor so this device gets my thumbs up.

Pro’s

  • No need for a heart rate monitor strap
  • Great price
  • Easy watch face – easy to see your stats and to flick through whilst on the go
  • Compatible with Strava and Map my Fitness and gives good stats
  • Easy to set up and to start training with
  • You can change the straps and buy new colours if you are into that sort of thing
  • Fairly lightweight to wear

Cons

  • You can’t really use the watch as a regular heart rate monitor without starting a treadmill or run session which some people might find annoying. It’s not a big deal but this watch is not a watch with a heart rate monitor it is a lot more.   You could do it by clicking on treadmill session and seeing what the HR is whilst having it on pause but I wouldn’t buy it if you are solely after a heart rate monitor that you can check throughout the day – this is more for running and getting results back not just for HR. Go and buy an activity monitor like the Loop, Fitbit, Vivo etc with the heart rate strap if thats what you are after.
  • Has to be very snug on the wrist for the Heart Rate Monitor to wear which some people might not like if you like to wear your watch loosely.

p.s make sure you buy the right watch as there are some cheaper versions of this watch without the optical heart rate monitor and you’d need to buy a strap for that additionally.

Please note this review is my own personal opinion and I was not paid for writing this. I try to keep my reviews honest and open and if you have any questions please feel free to contact me. 

Product Review: Start 2015 off on the right footing with Slim Secrets new range @slimsecrets

4 Jan

Happy New Year! I hope you are settling into 2015. I have a feeling it’s going to be another eventful year! One of the things I am trying to do this year is to really stick to eating cleaner. I find I feel so much better when I do. I had a clear out this weekend of all the wheat in my pantry as well as things that shouldn’t be in there!

It’s funny I have found since being pregnant and giving birth that my palette has completely changed and things I liked before I can no longer eat/drink. I did find after having my son that my sweet tooth returned and I overindulged a bit to begin with as I hadn’t had sugar in ages as it made me sick. I didn’t touch protein powders etc for a long time either. Todays post is a product review.

I’ve always been a fan of Slim Secrets products as unlike some of the products out there theirs taste nice and they sent me some to try from their new range – two ‘Protein Indulgence ‘ drinks –  and two protein bars – called the Bare Bar.

Bare Bars 

The Bare Bars are promoted as protein bars and the thing i liked is that they are gluten free which now that I am cutting wheat and gluten out of my diet is perfect as some other brand protein bars have gluten in.

Overall opinion on taste

Slim Secrets Protein Bars review on the girl that runs

I had to take images from Slim Secrets website as I forgot to take photos of the products they sent.

The bars come in two flavours – Berries and Cream and Double chocolate. I loved the berries and cream bar it tasted nice and not too artificial. It was not sweet – as they use stevia in the bars and I ate half before a work out and half afterwards and wanted more!

The double chocolate I really wasn’t a fan of. I really believe that chocolate is chocolate and if you want it have the real thing as ‘healthy’ chocolate flavours always disappoint as they never taste like what you really are after. The bar in comparison to the berries one tasted a bit drier as well so I wasn’t too keen on that either. I’m not keen on artificial sweeteners including stevia and again the chocolate seemed to have more of an artificial taste to me than the berries.

Ingredients

From an ingredients point of view for protein lovers out there they do have over 12g of protein so that’s good. They also have 10+g of fibre. The carbs are minimal as is the sugar which is basically stevia rather than real sugar.

You can order the bars from their website or buy them in Target or at the supermarket so they are readily available which is good.

Protein Indulgence Shakes 

ok, onto the protein shakes. These come in a handy size bottle which you can throw in your gym bag and they come in two flavours – Caramel Latte and Choc Coconut. I like the bottles as it means you don’t have to measure everything out – you simply drink.

I find with drinks like this I need to put them in the fridge as I can’t drink them at room temperature. So I took them along to a training session for my friend and I try out.

Slim Secrets Protein Shakes review on the girl that runs

I had to nab a photo from Slim Secrets website as I forgot to take a photo before drinking and throwing the bottles away!

You might notice a pattern here as again I wasn’t keen on the chocolate but liked the caramel as did my friend. We just found the choc coconut tasted a bit too artificial and we weren’t keen on the mix with the coconut. The caramel I would definitely have again.

Ingredients

The drinks have more protein in them than the bars and they are just over 126 calories. Again they are sweetened with stevia rather than sugar and they also have green tea extract in them which according to their site Green tea has been shown to increase fat burning and boost the metabolic rate as well as improve brain function and lower the risk of cancer.

For gluten free peeps like me again these drinks are gluten free which is great and they also are low lactose.

Conclusion

I think at the end of the day though the drinks and the bars do come down to taste as if you don’t like certain flavours you just aren’t going to like the taste. I guess people have protein snacks for a reason so the ingredients are more important potentially.

As I say with all my product reviews especially food/drink go and try for yourself as this is just my opinion and everyone likes different things. Slim Secrets has a huge range of products so I am sure there is something you might like to try :-)

Note:

Please note  I was not paid for this review just sent samples to try. I try to be honest in my reviews and give an accurate opinion of how I found the product.

Product Review : Polar Loop Activity bracelet

17 Dec

I have a Garmin 405cx and used to love it so much but since coming back to running since having bub I don’t like it as much. I mean I like what it does and the data it gives but I don’t like the bulkiness which hurts my wrists and the fact that the battery wears down so much so I hardly use it. Am saving for a newer lighter version!

A few months ago I started looking into activity bracelets as it seems everywhere I looked there was a new one and a number of my gym buddies had them. I liked the idea of them being light and thought getting one might be good until I get my new watch. So I ended up getting a Polar Loop in the mail from my friends at Run Stop Shop and have been using it for the last couple of months to see whether it would be useful or not.

What’s the point of activity bracelets?

I guess my interpretation would be taking the old step pedometers into the modern age! The bracelet tracks your steps, how active you have been, how many calories you have burned and at what time. I did use a Nike+ for a while a good few years ago and the activity bracelets now are a little bit similar to that but a bit more advanced in terms of features but it depends which one you get.

Set up

When the package came in the mail I was very excited to get it. The first thing you have to do is chop the watch strap down to fit your wrist. I was a but scared I would end up cutting too much off and be stuffed but I measured my wrist and then as my friend Shaun advised me to do I measured again. When I was sure I wouldn’t stuff it up I got my husband to cut the strap. I then plugged the USB thingy into my computer and set up was easy.

Polar Loop Review on The Girl That Runs

Useability

I couldn’t wait to put the wristband on and to start seeing my steps accumulate. I found to begin with every few steps I was checking it to see how many steps. I know – nuts and slightly obsessive!

The idea is that the watch will show you how active you have been and I found it did make me think in terms of when sat at my desk how inactive I was and then start thinking about making up for it by going to the gym at night or for a run!

I also had the Bluetooth heart rate monitor which is great for the gym as everytime I got onto the treadmill or bike my heart rate comes straight up on the screen clearly in front of me rather than having to put my hands on the heart rate readers which can be awkward. There is an app that you can download too which syncs everything together and shows a breakdown for how active your day has been and whether you met the daily goal.

You can sleep in with the Loop on too and it tells you how well you slept. I found I couldn’t wear it because of my tendinitis but it is handy to see how restful you are. I managed to wear it a couple of times and it was pretty accurate.

The Girl That Runs - photo of Polar Loop

Seeing my calories burned became an obsession!


Down sides

The only down side to the Loop for me really is because at the moment I am a new mother and am using a pushchair a lot the issue I have is that it doesn’t pick up the steps when walking or running with the pushchair unless I walk one handed and let my hand swing. I contacted Run Stop Shop who were very helpful and explained that the Loop is designed to be an activity monitor i.e steps/calories burnt in day to day life and responds to movement especially in your arms so normal walking or running you would swing your arms but having them on a pushchair means that you are restricted in movement and so the technology doesn’t respond as well.

There are lots of GPS/ heart rate monitor watches out there which would be better for hardcore training outdoors and give more information such as routes and times etc.  Polar do have a number which are worth looking at. I haven’t tried them out but have seen good reviews.  I’m highlighting the Polar RC3 as there is a sale on at the moment if you are in the market for a new watch!

For me The Loop is great as an activity monitor and great for indoor training where my Garmin doesn’t tend to be used as the GPS signal is slow or non existent.

Conclusion
For me the Loop is great as a day to day activity monitor and for use indoors where my Garmin doesn’t seem to work so well and when I want to keep an eye on my heart rate in training. It would be a great gift for someone wanting to get into exercise or just generally improve their activity and monitor heart rate etc however if you want to really monitor training, and have GPS, times, maps etc then this is not for you.
 Please note that these are my own opinions and I have not been paid to write this review. 

Product Review : Airia Trainers

10 Dec

I have to admit I had never heard of the Airia Brand, so when Airia approached me and asked me to try their Aria One shoe out I wasn’t sure. I scoured the internet and the reviews were mixed but of those positive reviews people said that they had got faster wearing the shoe and the company itself claims to help you be able to run 7% faster so I thought why not? I’ll try the shoe out. I’ve run in a lot of different brands over my time running including Nike, Saucony, Adidas, New Balance and now I am an ASICs convert so trying this shoe was going to be a challenge as it was so different.The Girl That Runs previews Airia trainers 20141014_121657

Overall look and feel

My shoes arrived and I was intrigued. They didn’t look like your average running shoe. They were very light compared to my normal trainers, and really curled up at the end. You certainly wouldn’t be able to wear these like normal trainers to walk down to the shops in that’s for sure. in Airia’s promo material they do advise that they are made solely for running not to walk or stand in.

Comfort

When I first put them on they felt a bit strange but very comfortable. They are extremely light so I felt like I was wearing slippers rather than a running shoe. Airia’s promo material advised to put at least 10k into the shoe before getting used to them which I did. On the treadmill the shoes felt good. I really enjoyed running in them and I don’t know if I felt like I was running faster but I did have a good run and felt good running in them. I did find where the shoes tilted upwards they felt a bit strange and I don’t think my feet would be able to deal with that over a longer distance as my toes were sliding around a bit as the shoe was a bit wide.

Running outside I was a bit more aware that the shoe didn’t give masses of support like my normal trainers but they did continue to be nice to run in and again  I also found as they are quite wide that my toes and bottom end of the foot was sliding around a bit. As a middle distance runner these shoes would definitely not be great for running over a longer distance as they don’t really give much support in the ankle at all and I have rolled my ankles on a number of occasion in other trainers so that was a definite put off for me. I do wear orthotics and whilst they fitted ok when I actually went to see my physio she was not too keen on my running in them regularly because of the support issue.

Conclusion

Whilst the shoe was very comfortable and light fitting and would be great to race in – the biggest issue for me was the lack of support that I need and the shoe is quite wide. They were comfortable on the treadmill over a short distance so I think I will continue to wear them for sprints.

I try to be as honest and balanced as I can when writing reviews and encourage people to try for themselves. This is just my opinion but see for yourself at Airia’s website.

Product Review: CW-X Womens 3/4 length running tights @RunStopShop

6 Oct

I recently got some CW-X 3/4 running tights from my favourite online running store Run Stop Shop and I have to say they are great. Still having a bit of a jelly belly from baby and wanting to run without feeling my insides weren’t jiggling up and down these tights are great.CW-X Running tights

Fit

When I first put them on they felt very snug but they are meant to. They have a draw string at the top so it means you can pull them as tight as you like which I like as I like to feel everything is being held in! I’ve had tights in the past that are just elastic at the top and they haven’t fitted properly to my shape.  I Like the fact as well they they are not as low rising as other running tights so I don’t have a muffin top!

I haven’t had great experiences with 3/4 length tights before as they have always been quite tight on the calf and I’ve ended up with a deep imprint on my leg when I remove them but these were not too bad. I jostled around a bit to get the pattern in the right place to maximise compression as the knee bit needs to be on the knee but once I had them on they were really comfortable and flattened all my wobbly bits – awesome!

Climate control 

They felt quite thick which for Queensland I thought might be an issue in summer but they would be a great spring, autumn and winter tight to wear and also for the cooler days in summer as there are a few air vents in them to give some breathing space.

CW-X 3/4 length running tights

Being put through my paces in a PT session wearing my CW-X tights. They were very comfortable and kept all my jiggly bits in!

To run in they are so comfortable. After baby M was born I bought some ‘el cheapo’ tights from Target and K Mart but you do get what you pay for and I spent half my time when back into running pulling them up or wiggling them around but these never moved and I felt quite secure my butt wasn’t going to suddenly make an appearance! I did a PT session in them and they were great support so they are definitely a favourite in my wardrobe right now. There are lots of different compression tights out there on the market and it often is a case of finding the right ones for you. I think I have probably tried most of them now and they are a firm favourite in my wardrobe.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,020 other followers