Straight Talking - a Guest Post from Our Favorite...Brett!

Aaah heifers, been a while since we’ve heard from our favorite guest blogger - Brett - this one doesn’t disappoint. Enjoy:

Straight talking

If you haven’t read ‘The loneliness of a long distance runner’ by Alan Sillitoe, it’s worth a read. If you haven’t heard the song of the same name by Iron Maiden then you haven’t missed much. If it’s songs with running in the title you need, there are better.

Most of my runs are solo. Although a long run can be passed effortlessly with miles slipping by with a buddy, with many topics covered, there is something about the solitude I crave. The silence without, the dialogue within. Herein lies the paradox.

I think it wouldn’t be a leap of faith to say people need company. Our species is predisposed to interact. Psychologists would say loneliness is a negative condition resulting from a state of aloneness.  People who desire more relationships than they actually have can develop feelings of loneliness. However, it’s not the number of relationships that determines whether people feel lonely. It is the emotional and cognitive reactions the individual experiences in relation to these connections that plays a role in experiencing loneliness. In layman’s terms, a mindless chat with a stranger probably won’t cut the mustard.

As a child I found social situations awkward and, most of the time, incredibly difficult due to an accident which left me with partial hearing loss. If you can’t hear, you can’t talk. During my formative years I tried to conform to social etiquette. I marveled at the apparent ease my peers mastered ‘small talk’. Put simply I tried, but failed, to communicate easily with others.  I remained lonely.

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Fast forward to my mid 40’s and I have rediscovered running, initially to lose weight and stay fit. However, like Sillitoe’s character Smith I discovered the significant advantages of meaningful inner dialogue. As the dialogue continued my confidence grew. I launched a twitter account, I started chatting to other runners and for the first time I felt connected (albeit online) to a group of likeminded people. Yet the face to face meeting still left me ill at ease. I started and finished races alone. Until I became the proud recipient of a visor from Racecheck. The innoxious silver package changed everything. In 2017 I went to my first race sporting my visor. I can’t deny I felt proud, I felt confident and more importantly I now had a simple reason to talk to other #visorclub clad runners. Yes, they were all strangers however, I quickly discovered they were strangers with common interests, goals and indeed fears. For the first time in my life my friendship circle started to grow exponentially.

Running should be an incredibly unsociable pastime. A long slow run is effectively two, maybe three hours, with nothing but the passing landscape and time, like Smith, to mentally reflect. However, I now feel more connected than at any other because I know there are literally thousands of runners who are also part of a beautifully supportive (and chatty) community.

I’m still socially awkward and honestly that is unlikely to change, but I’m not lonely any more.


About Brett:

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Brett is a father, a teacher, a runner. He completed his first triathlon at the tender age of 17 and has gone on to run every distance from sprint mile to marathon and aims to complete his first ultra marathon in 2018 at the not so tender age of 47. 

He is open about his battle with mental health and since hitting rock bottom 8 years ago has been on what he would describe as being a life changing journey ever since. He is a firm believer that through sharing and support anything is possible and that above all else we must strive to de-stigmatise mental health.  You can follow Brett on Twitter and cheer him along as he battles his anxiety and beats it most days.




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How Sous Vide Cooking Makes Eating Heathy EASY! ~ A Guest Blog Post

How Sous Vide Cooking Makes Eating Healthy Easy


Sous vide has proved itself to be a very healthy option when cooking. The practice of keeping food in an airtight plastic bag means that nothing can escape. This keeps nutrients and proteins inside the meal. The actual chemical composition of the food doesn’t change so all of the benefits that the raw version has are still there; only now they are edible.  


Convenience of sous vide


Sous vide is also convenient for many different lifestyles, busy and congested, or traditional and simplistic. There are many factors that have added together to make such a foolproof and easy method of making meals, let’s look at them in depth.   

Consistency

When using sous vide on the same dish, you’ll come to realize that the taste and texture stay relatively the same. This is because of the technique. The food is kept in heated water at a steady temperature for a long period of time. Just the fact that it needs so much time means that a few minutes late won't make a difference to the food. Since no tampering is required, it stays the way it was exactly the last time you made it.


So with sous vide, you can always expect the same result every time, that being perfect and delicious.


Time saving

It is true that when using sous vide, you have to wait for long periods of time. But that doesn’t mean it takes up valuable time. The sous vide machine works independently and doesn’t call for any manual attention. So you can do anything else that needs to be done while you wait for the sous vide to efficiently do its job. This is beneficial for busy parents as they can get the day's work done while dinner practically makes itself. You can go out shopping and come home to prepared steak waiting for its toppings.


It is a very useful part of the sous vide style as not everyone has the time to stand at the stove or grill and tend to the meat. This way, anyone can have a good quality meal on the table.  


Minimal attention required


Some dishes can only be made with a certain expertise and level of attention. With sous vide, you have the expert do it all for you. It gives all of the attention while you only turn on the timer and set the temperature.


The lack of attention mandatory for using sous vide is something people look forward to. If you don’t have the chef’s touch then it’s hard to make meals everyone looks forward to. Sous vide has become the chef’s touch with savory texture and remembering flavor.

 

Freeze and eat again

This is one of the best perks of sous vide style food. If not everything gets eaten that very day, you can pack and freeze the meal so that it can be eaten later. The complaint of it not being as good as it was the former day doesn’t exist anymore. Use sous vide to reheat it and it’ll be as though you just made it. The flavor is preserved and tastes exactly as it was before.

For families with kids always on the run, this is a great way to send them off to school or on sports practice. They’ll have a nutritious snack at their fingertips all the time. The homemade meal to go.  

Easy to understand


The technique of sous vide is easy enough to understand. The temperature needs to be set at a certain point for different foods, for a different time. The bag inserted must be airtight or you’ll drown the food. After that, there is nothing more to do.


The sous vide circulator does the cooking on its own and doesn’t need you to help it as it monitors the temperature itself. The process is all so easy it’s hard to make a mistake using it. Independence is perhaps the greatest advantage of sous vide. It is the one technique that doesn’t keep you on your heels with checking, constantly moving, burning or singeing as well as undercooking. It’s all handled in the set time given for each type of food.  


Bulk Cooking


Sous vide allows you to cook a large quantity of food collectively, without any worries that the meal is cooked unevenly. Sometimes, when doing a large cook up, food can be unequally cooked. Some things get overcooked while others remain underdone. This is not the case for sous vide. It can evenly distribute the heat throughout the container so that everything is exposed to the same heat for the same amount of time.


So even if you have five plates of carrots boiled with a side of egg, they will all taste the same and all receive the same compliments.


At Home Meals


Like all home cooked meals, you know what went into dinner. All of the ingredients are familiar to you and you’re confident in feeding the family what you made. This is the same for sous vide. Everything you put in the cooker was put in with your own hand. Everything you then top the dish with for final touches was your choice. There are no shadowy corners when making the food.

Variety

It only gets better with sous vide. Not only are suppers made to perfection, but the various perfect meals you can have are also innumerable. Anything that can be cooked can be prepared sous vide style. You can experiment with a wide range spanning from different cuts of meats to elegantly cooked vegetables and even decadent desserts.  

Sous vide gives you the best result when it comes to quality. It retains all of the health beneficial factors your food has to offer and the quality you get is mouth-watering. The system is simple and straightforward. Sous vide is reliable and self-reliant, which is great if you were never comfortable behind the counter. It is a prominent step up to the cooking industry and is available to you at reasonable pricing with worth waiting for results.


Check out this blog for more Sous Vide discussion!


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How Running Can Change Your Life - Guest Post From Samantha R

How Running Can Change Your Life

 

If you’ve even casually worked out, you’ve probably given a treadmill, elliptical, or even just jogging on your own a try. However, you would be surprised at just how much running can do for you and how it can change your life. It has a myriad of benefits that you can access by putting in a little extra time. So, while you may have tried the trial of running, let’s take a look at why you might want to work it into your regular workout.

 

Get in Shape

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First, let’s take a look at the obvious benefit of running: it can help you get in shape. Running falls under the category of cardiovascular exercise which is often lumped into aerobic exercise.

 

If you want to run to lose weight, you will want to push yourself. You will want to try to and run just a little further than you think you can to make sure you get the best workout possible. On the other hand, though, you won’t want to push yourself so hard that you get injured. Instead, work your way up slowly.

 

You also don’t have to train like an athlete if you want to lose weight. Running can be a great exercise even if you only run a little bit each day. In other words, you don’t have to run a marathon every week just to reap the weight loss benefits of running.

 

Of course, you can also walk to get aerobic exercise. Walking, though, won’t offer you the best workout when compared to running. One study even looked at a comparison between moderate exercise in the form of walking and vigorous exercise in the form of running. The study looked at participants over the course of a little over 6 years. The results were measured by body mass index (BMI) and the exercise energy expenditure (MET). At the end of the study, it was concluded that running was the changes in BMI were greater for running.

 

Running Is Great for Your Heart

 

As noted earlier, running is a great cardiovascular exercise. In simpler terms, this means that it is great for your heart.

 

There is the concern that many runners show signs of poor cardiac health. A study conducted took a look into 50 men who ran a collective 3,510 marathons over the course of 25 years. Participants were selected based on their lifestyle of running and their sex, as many male runners show signs of elevated coronary artery calcium (CAC) scores. At the end of the study, it was concluded that this was a case of correlation rather than causation as the high CAC scores were associated with other risk factors, not running itself.

 

On the contrary, running can prove to be extremely beneficial to your heart health. Since it is a great cardiovascular workout, it can strengthen your heart and blood vessels. Additionally, it can improve oxygen flow in your body. Finally, it can reduce your risk of problems such as heart disease and stroke.

 

Running Can Help Your Mental Health

 

Running and other exercise can help you be a happier and mentally healthy person as well. When you run, you might notice that you feel better afterwards. There is a science behind this as well, it isn’t just a feeling.

 

There have been multiple studies that suggest running can help depression. It isn’t just running, though, it is a proven fact that exercise in general can help to boost your mood. Specifically, it can help manage moderate cases of anxiety and depression.

 

This helps with your mental health because when you exercise, it releases endorphins in your body that help to make you happier and less anxious. On top of that, it also increases your serotonin levels. Serotonin is a chemical in your brain that is also known as the “happy chemical” because it directly affects your mood.

 

Even if you aren’t depressed, running can help you to deal with everyday stress.

 

Running Is Great for Bone Density

 

Another great benefit of running is that it can increase your bone density. That might sound counterintuitive. After all, running does stress your bones. However, this stress sends essential minerals to your bones, making them stronger.

 

This statement is backed too. One study in particular took a look at this to see if running really did help with bone density.

 

The study particularly looked at long term running and its effect on lumbar bone mineralization. The participants were 14 volunteers that were members of a running club. Separate analysis also used the data from 23 runners that were available over the course of the story.

 

At the beginning of the study, they were aged 55 to 77 years old. To understand the results, they used computerized scans of the first lumbar vertebra or lower back to see how the bone mineral density changed.

 

At the end of the study, it was concluded after 5 years that the runners had a higher bone mineral density. In other words, those long term runners showed stronger bones. However, this study did show the caveat that if a runner was to workout too much and lose too much weight, bone mineral density could suffer. So, even if you are a long term runner, you should be careful not to overdo it when you are working out.

 

Joint Strength and Stability Will Increase

 

In addition to bone strength, you can also depend on running to help increase the strength of your joints. This is a matter of building up your strength. At first, you might find that running on uneven terrain leads to a twisted ankle but as you train you will notice that you aren’t as prone to sprained ankles and if you sprain your ankle it might heal a little bit faster.

 

It Can Boost Your Confidence

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Finally, a benefit of running is that it can improve your confidence and self-esteem. As you go along, you can set your own goals. When you reach these goals, you will feel a sense of accomplishment that you gain from reaching these goals.

 

You might also find confidence in how running can help you get into and stay in shape. There is something to be said about controlling how your body looks and how you feel about your body which running can help you do.

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