Balayage by salon 64

When I was younger I had so many experimental phases with my hair. Caramel, dark brown, really dark brown, highlights, bleach, even pink and purple at one stage. None of them really suited me, at least not in a way that was sustainable. It’s taken me about 10 years of messing around with my poor locks to finally find my look. It’s natural, girly and I only need to top it up once or twice a year, which is a huge relief on my bank account!

I’m sharing these hilarious pictures of me over 10 years ago as they’re pretty indicative of what I was going through hair-wise since I was 13. Look and laugh, please.

Since people are often asking me how I get my hair done and what I ask for, I thought I’d write a short post on it to explain.

Nb/ This treatment was given to me free of charge by Salon 64 however as always all opinions are my own. I absolutely love this salon and would recommend it to anyone looking for something a little special! Amazing service, coffee and conversation.

 

What is balayage?

The word balayage comes from the French ‘to paint’ or ‘to sweep’. It is a method of highlighting the hair that leaves it looking naturally lighter, without being stripy or growing out into horrible roots. Balayage has softer, less noticeable regrowth lines (if at all noticeable) than traditional highlights, and highlights the parts of your hair that would naturally lighten in the sun, meaning it looks natural. You can get it done on any hair type and colour, and since it doesn’t grow out leaving roots, you can get it done infrequently, meaning that it ends up much cheaper than other highlighting techniques!

The steps: bleach, leave and blend, rinse and olaplex and then dry.

How it was done:

  • Section the hair into 4 equal sized sections
  • Starting at the back of the hair with smaller sections, each quarter is roughly 1.5 inches thick and is free hand painted with bleach. An extremely visual technique is what makes each balayage slightly different and bespoke to each individual head of hair. This technique is repeated starting at the back of the head working the way up to the crown. The hand painting also allows for a natural look to suit the individual, or a stronger look if desired.
  • This is then repeated on the 2 side areas.
  • Leave the colour to develop for 15 mins – this is much shorter than traditional foils, so balayage is often done and dusted much quicker than streak highlights.
  • Once the colour has developed, hair is rinsed at the backwash and the colour is blended together with a sponge to blend the newly placed blonde into the virgin hair. This technique is known as mash technique. This creates the gradation from darker to lighter hair that you don’t see in dip-dyed hair.
  • Lastly shampoo condition and style all using MR.SMITH – Hydrating shampoo, conditioner and styled with volume mousse. Olaplaex was used on my hair to repair broken strands and improve hair condition (this stuff is amazing).

Before and after: I didn’t want a huge change, just a subtle lightening at the back and around my face. The salon did a perfect job – a combination of the weak bleach used and olaplaex treatment left my hair in great condition after the treatment!

Visit Salon 64’s website to learn more and book.

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Once you visit this place you’ll be coming back all the time!

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Supplements – what, why and how?

I’ve been asked so many times what I think about X supplement and approached by brands to promote new bizarre sounding pills claiming to solve all your training problems. Whilst some of them may have tentative supporting evidence, a lot don’t. I know the supplements market is a total minefield, so here are some of the most popular supplements out there, and evidence for and against them. Obviously research is always coming out saying X, Y or Z – I’ve included a lot of reviews and meta analyses to try to get a balanced view of the literature but always think critically about what people are trying to sell you. Just remember: there’s no magic pill that’ll suddenly make you fit or give you the perfect abs. Training is hard whatever supplements you take, and quite often it’s worth spending the £50 you spend on supplements on a personal training session or a few books on nutrition. Knowledge is power (literally in this case!).

 

Protein

Our muscles are made up of protein fibres, some of which are broken down and rebuilt each time we exercise. Protein supplements/shakes claim to enhance recovery of muscles and aid growth, thereby improving performance. However, the level of conflicting information (and the price of a lot of the supplements) warrants a closer look at the evidence of their efficacy.

The evidence: Looking at muscle recovery time, muscle soreness and muscle growth, the data are inconclusive. Some meta-analyses state that here’s no evidence to suggest that muscle recovery is faster when someone consumes protein before, after or during a workout. However, a lot of the studies looked at small sample sizes, and measures of ‘muscle soreness’ and recovery are often hard to quantify. There is, however, fairly strong evidence to suggest that people in a calorie deficit may benefit from taking protein supplements, and that protein can reduce muscle catabolism (break down) following a workout. Verdict: if you’re looking to build muscle and/or are in a calorie deficit, protein may help you out. However, if you’re looking to reduce DOMS or decrease recovery time, the jury is out on whether protein can help. Because of the mixed evidence, it may be worth trying it out, especially if you’re vegan or struggling to fit in enough protein in your diet and wanting to train hard. Find what works for you!

 

BCAAs

BCAAs or branched-chain amino acids are amino acids with side chains. There are three types: leucine, isoleucine and valine. The supplements are sold to increase protein synthesis, purportedly increasing muscle mass (even while in a calorie deficit) when paired with the right training. When taken regularly, supplementation may decrease fatigue during exercise by reducing the increase in serotonin during exercise, which contributes to fatigue.

The evidence: BCAAs are one of the most heavily studied supplements on the market. In terms of exercise (there are many other uses of BCAA supplementation), there are two main factors looked at: increased exercise performance and reduced muscle breakdown. The former has much mixed evidence, mostly suggesting that BCAAs are unlikely to significantly improve exercise performance. The latter, however, has much more evidence supporting it. Multiple studies show that supplementation before and after exercise reduce muscle breakdown after strenuous exercise, reducing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

 

Creatine

Creatine is produced naturally in the body and stored predominantly in skeletal muscle. However, it is also sold as a supplement and marketed as helping to improve energy production for short duration, high intensity exercises. Theoretically, it is used by the body as a substrate to form ATP (the little packets of energy our body uses), and therefore supplementing with it means more ATP (energy) can be produced.

The evidence: Creatine is one of the more sound supplements on the market. According to one review paper, creatine is the most effective supplement to increase high-energy exercise capacity and muscle mass during training. As it turns out, of the 500 peer-reviewed papers looking into the effects of creatine, 70% concluded that it benefitted high intensity performance. However, when looking at more endurance exercises, the evidence is inconclusive, showing that if you want something for long-distance running, you should probably look elsewhere.

Nb/ There have been concerns that creatine supplementation may alter liver and kidney function, so if you have underlying conditions, creatine use should be avoided. In general though, it seems to be relatively safe!

 

Beta-alanine

Beta-alanine is a naturally occurring amino acid that is used by athletes to improve performance. Purported benefits include improving exercise capacity, building lean muscle mass and improving physical functions in the elderly.

The evidence: This supplement definitely shows some clear evidence that it can improve performance by reducing fatigue, thus making building muscle easier for those who take it. The benefits are seen most clearly in high intensity activities lasting 60s to 300s. However, the side effects are not widely studied but commonly experienced. If you’ve ever taken beta alanine you’ll probably be aware of the tingly feeling you can get, which is unpleasant at best. Few studies if any have looked into the safety of this supplement, and whilst it appears safe at recommended doses, take it at your own risk.

 

Electrolytes

When we exercise we sweat, losing salts as well as water. Salts are important for our muscles to function properly and too few of them cause the body to cramp up. If you’re into endurance exercise or workout in hot places, chances are you’ve considered taking electrolytes. Electrolytes help replenish the salts lost when we sweat, thus keeping our muscles working properly, and are provided in a way that doesn’t give our body too much of any one type of salt (e.g. sodium). Supplementation aims to reduce heat stress, muscle cramps and aid rehydration.

The evidence: electrolyte supplementation has been shown to reduce cramping caused by electrolyte loss (lots of sweating), but cramping can still occur due to other factors. It reduces heat stress, so if you’re working out hard in a hot country (e.g. racing or competing abroad) this may be something to consider. If you’re not working out in extreme heat for extended periods of time, electrolytes are probably not required for your everyday training schedule.

 

I hope this helps clarify some things for you!

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Choosing supplements to aid your workouts can be a minefield

Vegan pancakes

I always thought that vegan pancakes would have something lacking from them, or maybe they wouldn’t hold together as well as ‘normal’ pancakes. These, however, taste just like your classic fluffy american pancake and are 100% vegan!

Let me know if you make these by tagging my instagram or commenting below.

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Drooling yet?

Ingredients:

  • 150g flour
  • 250ml almond milk
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2tsp baking powder
  • 3tbsp brown sugar
  • Coconut oil
  • Mixed berries
  • Sweeter (I use fruit syrup)

Method:

Pancakes

  • Mix together the dry and wet ingredients separately
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients bowl and whisk to remove lumps
  • Leave for a few minutes to thicken while you make the sauce (see below)
  • Heat coconut oil in a non-stick pan
  • Ladle the mixture into the hot pan – you should be able to make 2 pancakes at once in the pan
  • Once the top surface is bubbly and starting to cook around the edges, flip the pancakes using a wide plastic spatula
  • Cook for a minute or two longer until light brown

Sauce

  • Pour the required amount of mixed berries into a saucepan and add a dash of water.
  • Heat and let simmer while you make the pancakes
  • Sweeten to tasteDSC_0834

Falling back in love with fitness

I feel like a lot of people categorise others as ‘into fitness’ or ‘not into fitness’. They expect those into their fitness to stay as ‘the fit one’, or ‘the one who works out’ throughout their life, without struggles, doubts or loss of motivation. This view isn’t helpful to anyone – people who perhaps don’t see themselves as ‘the fit one’ might start off attempting to become fitter, only to be put off as soon as they encounter a bump. The people who are into fitness have a seemingly endless pressure to keep it up – to continue seeing progress, continue working out X hours a week and continue enjoying every second. The reality is quite different. Fitness is a journey that, like any other journey in life, is filled with unexpected mishaps, speed bumps and temporary (or permanent) stalling.

I know first hand how much an unexpected setback can throw you when you’re making, or trying to maintain progress: injuries, a week’s holiday, excessive work, lack of sleep – it seems that anything out of the norm is a cause for concern.

Well let me tell you: it’s not. In my mind, health is about living your life as the best person you can be, both mentally and physically. Physical progress is great when it makes you feel good, but as soon as it becomes something that you have to do as ‘the fit one’, it stops being fun and, at least in my eyes, it stops being ‘health’.

People who train hard are often perfectionists and high achievers, determined to better themselves on a daily basis. This can lead to having a healthy diet and a great fitness programme, but what happens when you start to beat yourself up for missing a session? Fitness should be about treating yourself well, so instead of beating yourself up for the odd mishap, why not try celebrating the small wins?

When I first got into fitness, I had performance goals in mind – I improved my squash game at an exceptional rate, moving up from 3rd player for the 2nd team, to 1st player for the 1st team in just two years. I was proud and trained hard, and it paid off. However, when I started recording my fitness on social media, it became less about performance and more about fitness for fitness’ sake. Sometimes, I fall out of love with it fitness, and that’s 100% allowed. So here are a couple of pieces of advice to help you fall back in love with the journey.

 

  • Enjoy going to the gym for its own sake. Endorphins are your friend! Working out regularly can increase our levels of endorphins, feel good hormones released by getting our hearts beating and blood pumping. They’re natural painkillers too, making exercise that little bit less painful.

 

  • Make exercise fun. Do you remember running around the playground at school or being chased by your parents in the garden? As adults we’ve somehow decided that exercise isn’t fun, and that if it’s fun, we’re not doing it right. However, making exercise fun is the best thing you can do for your health, both physical and mental. Find a sport you enjoy or try local classes at your gym. Enjoy dancing but think zumba isn’t real exercise? Think again. If it gets your heart pumping and makes you smile, it’s probably the exercise for you. Redfine your definition of fitness.

 

  • Find friends. So many people I’ve met and spoken to on social media say that the reason they got into fitness was because of friends or a partner. If you work, why not encourage your colleagues to come to a fitness class with you once a week? At uni? You have it easy – join a society or make workout dates with your friends. The encouragement and social support of working out with friends just multiply all the health benefits. If you have a competitive side, this can be an added bonus – turning something into a bit of friendly competition makes the time pass way faster!

 

  • Don’t beat yourself up. There will always be people better than you (unless you’re Bolt) and always people training harder than you, but that doesn’t mean that what you’re doing is wrong. Everyone is different and your training regime is perfect for you if you enjoy it and it gives you time to enjoy your real life too. Unless you’re a professional athlete, taking a day off because you have a deadline isn’t going to hurt you. Listen to your body – over time you’ll realise when it’s going to be beneficial to workout, and when it’s going to do you more good to take a day off. Stop beating yourself up, it won’t help.

 

  • Focus on the small wins. If you’re chasing that before and after transformation pic, you’re probably not going to enjoy the journey as you go along. As I said before, fitness is a journey that is filled with all sorts of unexpected events. Appreciate the little nuances of working out – enjoy your ability to run for the bus, lift heavy things and the energy that comes from getting fitter.

 

It’s not unusual to not enjoy every workout, but if you stop enjoying any of them, then it’s time to re-evaluate what you’re doing. We all change with age and life circumstance, so what got you going a year ago might not do the same now. Just because you’re ‘the fit one’ that doesn’t mean you are obliged to keep doing what you’re doing. If you focus on enjoyment the rest will fall into place, and you’ll fall right back in love with the fitness journey.

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Working out with friends can add a whole lot of enjoyment to a workout

All pics by James Purvis

Workout headphones

After the recent death of my beloved headphones (and a bitter battle with Bose to get a new pair within the warranty), I put out a call out on Instagram for all your favourite workout headphones. For me, it’s all about the sound quality, how well they stay on and stopping ears get too sweaty. I don’t work with any of these brands, I’ve literally just copied and pasted recommendations from you all, as so many of you asked me to share them!

I hope this is useful 🙂

Anker
Slim+ (but apparently they break)
Soundbuds sport

Apple
Airpods (x4)

Beats
Solo 3 (x4)
X
Powerbeats3 wireless (x2)

Bose
Soundsport
qc35

JBL
Everest 70
T450BT

Kinivo
BTH240

Marshall
Major II (long battery life)

Plantronics
Backbeat fit (burpee proof)

Sennheiser
HD
Momentum (but too sweaty and big)

Skullcandy
Crusher wireless (x3) (great bass)

Sony
MDR-zx220bt
MDR-zx770bn
MDR-1000X (but expensive)
WH 1000XM2

Sudio
Regent (x2)
Tre (x2)
Sweden

TaoTronics (cheap)

Urban Ears
Platten wireless (x2)

 

I hope that helps you all!