How did you first discover your love for yoga?
In 2000, I was diagnosed with M.E. a chronic and debilitating illness. It took many years for me to recover fully. It was an illness that left me house bound and often bed ridden.
In addition to nutritional changes (ones I still adopt to this day) Yoga played a huge part in my recovery. I found a local class and attended when I felt well enough. This weekly class gave me an insight into the importance of mindfulness and movement and what a powerful combination that can be when practised appropriately. As my health improved I became more curious about this ancient practise. I embarked on a 3 year Teacher Training Course with The British Wheel of Yoga. My passion for Yoga was ignited the moment I sat on my mat all those years ago, despite my ill health.
What sets yoga apart from other fitness disciplines?
The word “Yoga” means to unite. During a yoga class and by having a regular practise of Yoga we aim to unite both mind and body. This is achieved through posture work (asana), breathing exercises/awareness (pranayama), meditation (dharana) and relaxation techniques (yoga nidra). Yoga in essence is the ability to quieten the mind by working on all of the above principles. Unlike many other fitness disciplines, when practising Yoga, being competitive with either yourself or others is strongly discouraged.
How has yoga improved your life?
Yoga not only improved my life, I will always credit the practise for giving me my life back. Yoga allowed me to have a life. I learnt the meaning of listening to my body. I discovered tools we can use to quieten the mind. I started to understand how important the act of breathing is for our mental and physical well being. I cannot underestimate how important this practise has been in my life and continues to be. The philosophy of mindfulness that I learnt through this practise underpins everything I do both on and off the mat daily.
How often do you practise yoga?
I have a daily morning practise which includes mobility work, breathing and meditation.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of trying yoga for the first time?
You do not have to be flexible to practise Yoga. You just have to come on to your mat and breathe. Find a teacher you feel comfortable with and choose a practise that makes you feel good. If you don’t enjoy your first class, explore others. Find a teacher who offers you an experience you feel comfortable with. There are many different styles of Yoga. Some offer more breath work. Others will be more physical. Find a class, a style and a level that you enjoy.
If you are interested in getting into Yoga, Sundried's kit is suitable for beginners as well as seasoned athletes. Shop our Gym and Yoga Collection today.
Tell us something unusual we may not know about you.
I have an identical Twin Sister.
Do you follow a specific diet plan?
Yes. I don’t eat meat. I haven’t done so for over 20 years. I rarely eat fish. I am mainly plant based. I drink milk alternatives such as almond, oat and soya. I do enjoy a homemade cake post long cycle ride or run though, but tend to avoid sugar as much as possible. I also avoid processed food. Preferring to eat seasonally and healthily. I adopted this method of eating in order to support my recovery. For me personally, it works. I don’t advocate this specific dietry plan but I do encourage everyone to find foods that make them feel well. Foods that nourish them. And in that discovery, become more mindful of where the food comes from.
How do you keep your knowledge up to date?
I am a member of the British Wheel of Yoga. They are the UK governing body of Yoga in the UK and who I trained with. They offer fantastic training days, extra modular courses and In Service Training Days. Pre covid I have enjoyed Yoga Retreats in the UK and abroad with well known and respected Teachers in the industry. I hope that these will one day resume. Until then, it’s making the most of on line learning, reading resources and being part of the Yoga community via The British Wheel.
Why work with Sundried?
I am firm believer that how we treat the planet is equally as important as how we treat one another. At Sundried I have found a brand who shares this belief. Not only are their products built to last, they are created ethically and sustainably including a range of active wear made from 100% recycled plastic. I am also supporting a company that wants to give back to the community. This is demonstrated in the support to Water For Kids and Surfers Against Sewage. They are a brand that offers so much more than high quality, great looking clothing. And I am thrilled to be part of the team.
Favourite fitness quote?
Progress not Perfection.
To hear more from our ambassadors and get free tips on workout plans and more, connect with the Sundried Personal Trainers on our app.
Have you ever started a long run and thought, ‘I am never going to get through this!’ Or finished the first effort of a turbo session and wondered, ‘how can I do this over and over again?’
Ultimately, it can be really difficult to motivate oneself when the finish seems so distant and the effort to get there is so great. The good news, however, is that there is a way to ‘trick’ your mind into thinking that the end is near.
Micro-goal setting is something that I have been unknowingly implementing into my training for many years. The act of breaking up a workout into more manageable chunks really helps to alleviate the daunting prospect of having to work hard for a prolonged period of time.
Below, I have detailed some examples of micro-goal setting that you can try out for yourself. You will be amazed by just how long you can keep your body moving when your mind has mini targets to hit.
Micro goals for a long run
Next time you are heading out for a 90 minute run, why not think about it as six 15 minute chunks that feel infinitely more doable. Or perhaps you might find that three 30 minute chunks is more approachable. The way you break down a run will depend on your personal preferences and the way your mind works.
Micro goals for a turbo session
Sitting on the turbo and repeatedly hitting the correct wattage for a specified period of time can be both physically and mentally challenging which is exacerbated when fatigue sets in. If your session entails nine 3 minute efforts, break the nine efforts up into three. Three lots of three 3 minute efforts certainly sounds more doable than nine 3 minute sets!
Making sure you have the right kit can also play a huge part in getting you through a difficult session. Try Sundried's Cycle Kit today, suitable for all abilities.
Micro goals for open water swimming
Plunging into open water is possibly one of the most daunting scenarios a triathlete faces but micro-goal setting can make things seem much easier. When swimming, concentrate on getting to the subsequent buoy in the loop and once there, focus on arriving at the next.
Micro goals for a race
You can use this same strategy in a race too. After logging all those training hours and miles, you should have a good idea of your goal race time; use this information to break things up. For example, if you plan to run 40 minutes for 10k, then split it into four 10-minute chunks.
It is amazing just how long you can ‘trick’ your mind into carrying on by focusing on the next mini goal. Remember to try out different approaches during training so that when it comes to race day, you know exactly what method works for you.
Connect with the Sundried Personal Trainers on our app for more advice, workout tips, training plans and more.
About the author: Laura Smith is a high level athlete and has been a Sundried ambassador since 2017.
We have previously covered how you can master the perfect morning routine. This week is all about constructing an evening routine that is conducive to a restful night’s sleep. By improving your quality of sleep, you ensure that your mind and body are fully rested and prepared for the following day. This will not only make your training easier but you will find you reap many more benefits than if you were tired or lethargic.
The perfect evening routine should focus on two main goals:
- How do we wrap up the day with a clear mind?
- How can we set ourselves up for a deep, glorious, and restorative sleep?
There is nothing worse than getting yourself cosy and ready for bed but not being able to switch off your thoughts about the things you did and didn’t do during the day. Follow these 5 simple steps towards perfecting an evening routine and this will never happen again!
1. List the positive impacts you left on the day
This approach was first developed by Benjamin Franklin who would reflect on his day and ask himself, ‘what good did I do today?’ before going to sleep. Instead of stressing over how productive you were during the day, shift your focus into a more positive and fulfilled one.
2. Take the time to wind down for the evening
Research has found that our brains need about 2 hours to cool down before we can really get into a deep sleep. This means that about two hours before bed you should start winding down your brain. Classical music, meditating, journaling, stretching, and pampering routines are all great ways to relax before jumping into bed.
Put away your phones and switch off the TV to make your evening more purposeful. It is worthwhile avoiding stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol close to bedtime and steering clear of rich meals, spicy dishes, citrus fruits, and carbonated drinks, all of which can trigger indigestion.
3. Make tomorrows to-do list
So often, we are completely overwhelmed by all the tasks we are facing over the next day. This anxiety can negatively affect those precious sleeping hours. By making a to-do list the night before, it helps to clear your brain so it can relax.
4. Make your bedroom a sleep haven
The Mayo Clinic has done a ton of amazing sleep research and found that we need to start thinking of our bedroom like a cave if we want to get a good amount of quality sleep. Consider using blackout curtains, eye masks, ear plugs, ‘white noise’ machines, humidifiers, and fans to keep things cool and quiet.
5. Utilise Sleep Tools
There are several apps out there which are specifically designed to help you sleep or monitor your sleep so improvements can be made.
Sleep Cycle is a great app which will monitor your sleep cycles by movement. This can aid in learning about what evening ‘cool down’ gives you the best night’s sleep.
HeadSpace is another app which takes you through various meditations and mindfulness exercises to help clear your mind and wind down before bed.
Lastly, try to use lights without the blue spectrum. Research has found that the blue spectrum in lights and on our electronic devices actually keep us awake and can disrupt our sleep. Be kind to your eyes and use fixtures that have a more calming light or utilise your phone’s settings to disable the blue light during evening hours.
Remember that an evening routine is just as important as a morning routine. Learn how to perfect both in your life and you will be on your way to a more productive, healthy, and successful day.
About the author: Laura Smith is an athlete who has been a Sundried ambassador since 2017.
Want more home workouts at your fingertips? Connect with Sundried's Personal Trainers on our app, for top tips, free workout plans and more.
Establishing a good morning routine has been proven to have a positive impact on your day but this doesn’t necessarily mean you must drink a glass of warm lemon water and go for a run before the sun rises. Not all morning routines have to follow the same format or pattern. Whether you wake up at 5am or 11am, we can all establish a regimen that is conducive to our goals and lifestyle.
I have recently started to listen to ‘The Power Hour’ podcast, hosted by Adrienne Herbert, which has inspired my newfound interest in morning rituals. I have since collated an assortment of data and evidence to support a 10-step way to get your own morning routine nailed.
1. Understand and utilise your body’s internal clock
To fully utilise your morning, it is important to know when you will benefit the most from waking up and starting your day. Some people operate best in the early hours, whilst others prefer a later start. If you follow your body’s natural cues as to when you should wake up, your circadian rhythm should stay balanced which will keep you feeling energised during the day.
2. Identify your morning intentions
It is vital to acknowledge what you would consider a successful day. Would a successful day entail more productivity? Or are you more concerned with getting your health in order? Once you’ve identified your goals, it’s then time to identify the behaviours that will fulfil these objectives.
For me, personally, a successful day would be one in which I have an adequate amount of time to be productive and fulfil my daily tasks. Hence, my morning routine would consist of:
- Waking up at 5am to ensure I can fully utilise my day.
- Exercising to get my body moving and put me in a good headspace.
- A morning skincare routine to ensure I am looking after my skin.
- Eating a nutritious breakfast to give me the energy I need for my active lifestyle.
- Ensuring that my house is clean and tidy, ready for the day.
- Using my paper journal to list my daily tasks.
3. Identify what is not on your ‘To Do’ list
This may seem counterproductive at first, but the reality is that we often engage in morning behaviours that detract from our intentions. Whether you want to stop checking your emails or stay off social media, it is important to establish these behaviours so that we can replace them with more desirable ones.
I identified the following behaviours which cause me to stray from a productive morning:
- Checking social media and emails first thing.
- Having a coffee to ‘wake me up’.
- Starting work as soon as I wake up.
- Having a quick fix breakfast that lacks creativity.
- Procrastination, which prevents me starting my day productively.
4. Prepare your environment for the perfect morning
It is now time to set up physical barriers for the things that you wish to discontinue and implement reinforcements to help establish the desirable behaviours.
Here’s how I ensure my mornings stay on track:
- Putting my phone on ‘Do not disturb’ so that I am not distracted by notifications or messages in the morning.
- Organising my workout clothes the night before, so that I can get straight into training when I wake up.
- Preparing my morning water or herbal tea the night before, so that I’m not tempted by a quick coffee.
- Preparing my breakfast the night before, to ensure that it is both nutritious and delicious whilst not taking up too much time in the morning.
- Planning my morning workouts for the entire week so that I know exactly what I should be doing each morning.
Shop Sundried's Active Life collection for the perfect morning workout gear.
5. Do not hit the snooze button
Once your alarm sounds, get up! Christopher Winter who is a certified sleep medicine physician has found that every time you wake up and go back to sleep, you enter a new sleep cycle. Any sleep you get from pressing snooze is too light and fragmented to be beneficial and could actually leave you feeling more tired.
Following a prolonged period of a consistency, waking up will soon become a breeze. After years of early mornings, I now automatically wake up at around 5am and don’t need to set an alarm.
6. Move before you start your morning routine
Have you ever watched a dog or cat wake up? The first thing they do is stretch out. Give yourself time to move and allow your body to acquire some energy through the expansion of stretching. The gentle movement will gradually warm and awaken both the body and mind.
7. Hydrate before you caffeinate
Research has shown that your cortisol levels are naturally higher for the first one to two hours after you initially wake up. Higher cortisol levels will increase your alertness naturally and minimise the effectiveness of caffeine. A glass of water will rehydrate your brain which is composed of 75% water and in turn help you to begin your day feeling focused and clear-headed.
8. Get into a good headspace
Allow yourself time to be still and focus your mind. Meditation, doing affirmations, practising visualisation exercises, and undertaking controlled breathing can be great tools to focus your positive energy for the day. Research has also found that our bodies have low levels of oxygen first thing in a morning, so a few deep breaths could help re-oxygenate your body, which will keep you more awake during the day. Regular meditation has also been shown to lower blood pressure, boost the immune system, and help relieve stress and fatigue.
9. Multi-task your morning’s ‘To-do’ list
Tackle two of your morning’s tasks at once and feel super productive in the process. Being time poor isn’t a valid excuse for failing to get things done anymore.
I often listen to a podcast whilst exercising, catch up on the news whilst doing housework, and call various family members during my morning walk. There is always something so satisfying about getting two of my morning tasks ticked off at the same time.
10. Maintain the routine to make it habitual
Set up a routine that is reproducible and attainable 7 days per week to ensure that you get the most out of it. Routines can be the desirable balance of work and play, providing they are congruent with your goals and intentions.
Spend this month perfecting your morning routine and enjoy the enhancements it brings to your everyday life.
About the author: Laura Smith is an athlete who has been a Sundried ambassador since 2017.
Want more tips and tricks to aid in developing a healthy lifestyle? Connect with Sundried's Personal Trainers on our app, for top tips, free workout plans and more.
2020 has been a tough year and the ever-growing list of race cancellations and postponements have caused mass disappointment. Of course, public health and safety is of the upmost importance and so race rearrangements are the right course of action.
With 2021 looking as unprecedented as 2020, it is important to devise a racing calendar that keeps you motivated to train. For this week’s blog, I wanted to share some ideas on how you can get the most out of your training and racing next season.
Take a non-negotiable 2020 end of season break
Just because you have not raced, it does not mean that you can carry on training into next season. Your body has worked hard in training and your mind will be fatigued from the early mornings and intense sessions. Take a couple of weeks off any training regimen to recuperate, re-energise and recover.
Focus on a challenge rather than an event
To ensure that your main focus will go ahead irrespective of the restrictions, choose to embark on a challenge rather than sign up to a race. This will prevent you having to change plans and alter your training because of cancellations and postponements.
Schedule in small local time trials
Build up to your big challenge with small local time trials that are secure and less likely to be disrupted if new restrictions are applied. These types of events are often relatively cheap and do not require upfront payments so that you will not be paying for anything that does not go ahead.
If you are set on an event, be prepared to race solo
For some, having a target race is non-negotiable. If you are set on a particular race then put it in the diary and make sure you do it, no matter what. Even if the event has to be delayed, make sure you get out and complete it as a solo challenge. This will give you something to aim for and ensure your motivation does not dwindle.
Make the most out of group sessions but be primed to fly solo
When you can train in a group, make the most out of it. However, it is important that you do not become reliant on others as the future of group training sessions is currently uncertain. Ensure that you have pre-organised solo workouts and virtual training groups.
Utilise the gym and pool whilst you can but plan for closures
The reopening of pools and gyms were well received amongst the fitness fans and so take advantage of them whilst you can. The closure of leisure facilities is not completely off the cards and so I would recommend investing in some basic gym equipment and swim cords to utilise at home if necessary.
Respect the stress
The pandemic and its ramifications can be overwhelming. We all must respect that this is a stressful time and decrease our training load to keep the stress/rest cycle in balance. This is definitely a time when we must be flexible in our approach to training and take into account external pressures.
About the author: Laura Smith is an athlete who has been a Sundried ambassador since 2017.