Crystal light balancing therapy at The Sanctuary of Healing

Before my visit to The Sanctuary of Healing I had no idea what a chakra was or whether mine were aligned. All I knew was that I was eager for some relaxation time and to try something different. 

  

The Sanctuary, near Blackburn, believes that our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energies need to be able to flow freely through our body in order for them to be able to work together to heal the body. 

Spiritual healing is never something I’ve learnt about before or even believed in so I was excited to try one of the treatments and experience something different. 

My friend Liana and I opted for the crystal light therapy treatment which lasted for 30 minutes, although you can opt for a one hour treatment.

The Sanctuary told us that crystal light therapy ‘combines natural healing frequencies with the use of precious gem stones to bring balance and harmony’ to both body and mind. 

A treatment is said to help correct imbalances in the body which can manifest as an illness; in particular IBS, joint pain and sciatica to name a few. It also claims to help with Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis and asthma. 

The treatment uses chakra crystals and colour which are said to radiate energy to each chakra in our body. We had seven lights pointing to the main seven chakras in our body. Chakras are basically  the energy centres in our body according to ancient Indian medicine. 

They are: 
1) The root chakra at the base of your spine.
2) The sacral chakra in your lower abdomen. 
3) The solar plexus chakra in the upper abdomen. 
4) The heart chakra just above your heart. 
5) The throat chakra in your throat. 
6) The third eye chakra in your forehead between your eyes. 
7) The crown chakra at the top of your head. 

So basically what we did was lie on a bed with a ridiculously comfy pillow while one of the therapists adjusted the lights accordingly to align with our chakras. We then had the option of having the lights dimmed or not and whether we wanted soft music on. I opted for both. Then it’s time to relax for 30 minutes and it’s up to you whether you stay awake and watch the lights or go to sleep and let the crystals do the work.

Afterwards people are said to feel more energised, enjoy a better nights sleep, feel less stressed and more relaxed. I can definitely say that I felt more relaxed but I’m dubious as to whether the crystals had anything to do with that but all in all it was a lovely, relaxing and peaceful afternoon. 

Before our treatment we enjoyed some lunch in the café which was delicious! We had one of the chefs special pulled chicken and crispy pancetta salads which included a soft boiled egg, coleslaw, shredded carrot, yellow tomatoes and mung beans. In keeping with the treatments at the Sanctuary the menu is of course full of healthy yet delicious options with some delicious looking desserts too. 
The staff we met during our visit were incredibly helpful and answered any questions we had about the food and the treatments and even gave us a guided tour of the meditation facilities on offer. 

  
  
One thing I did take away from the experience was the importance of relaxation. These days even when we think we are relaxing, before we go to sleep for example, we’re actually not. There’s always something distracting us, from phones to our other halves! I’m going to try and make a conscious effort to relax properly before bed to ensure I get the best possible nights sleep, ignoring my phone and maybe putting on some of that soft soothing music! 

Have you tried crystal light therapy or are you a fan of healing? Let me know your experiences. You can Tweet me @HannahBryan91 or email me at hbryan91@gmail.com 

🙂 

Advertisements

On yer’ bike! Why cycling is good for runners

cycling 1

There’s no doubt that cycling is one of the most popular cross training activities for runners. There are numerous benefits to getting on your bike from improving your vO2 max to building on leg strength and cadence.

Whether it be on the road or in the gym, time spent spinning those legs on the bike is valuable fitness in the bank.

Cycling reduces stress – I’m not just talking about the stress relief of endorphins firing but also the stress on your legs. Cycling let’s you add another high intensity workout to your training programme in place of a running session to reduce the impact on your legs. Trust me, your legs will thank you for putting less stress on your joints from pounding the road or the treadmill. This in turn reduces the risk of injury as well.

Cycling builds leg strength – I’ve been told by my physiotherapist before to build up the strength in my legs, particularly in my quads. Cycling will help to build up the strength in your calves, shins and quads which is beneficial for runners. Cycling also has the same triple extension that running does. In both running and cycling you extend your knees, hips and ankles which you can do at a similar cadence to running when cycling, or even faster.

IMG_0279

Cycling helps you to recover – While you’re working on other, maybe weaker areas of your body the over worked areas will feel plenty rested which in turn will help you to (hopefully) remain injury free. Not only that but if you’re well rested you’ll be able to perform better on your next run. That said, if you are unfortunate enough to have a running injury then cycling is great rehab for your legs and can help you to maintain a good level of fitness.

Cycling gives you a change of scenery – Cycling gives you a mental break from running and the mind games that come with it! This can be invaluable in helping you to get out of a training rut or can even help you to break through some important mental barriers when training for a race for example. It will also keep your legs guessing and they will then feel fresh for that next run. In a practical sense, you can also go further in a shorter time on a bike and can therefore have a literal change of scenery and see more!

cycling 5

Cycling can’t replace running – However it is important to note that cycling can’t replace running. If you do choose to build cycling in to your running programme then you must keep up your long run and other quality session such as speed for example, especially if you’re training for a race! Easy pace or recovery runs can be replaced by cycling and of course, if your injured then adjust this accordingly as mentioned above in this post. I’d say it’s also important to keep up your strength work, too.  About 10-15 minutes is said to be the equivalent of one mile and try to keep between 90-100RPM to mimic running cadence.

Running 3

Five prep tips if you’re an early morning gym-goer

blog pic

  1. Hotel miniatures – To save you from carting around big bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body wash stock up on mini bottles from hotels whenever you go away. I came back from Italy with loads of miniature shower gels, shampoos and conditioners which are perfect to keep in your gym bag. Alternatively you can buy small travel bottles to fill with your own shampoo/conditioner/body wash to take to the gym to save space in your bag and make sure you’ve always got them.

    travel container

    Travel container from superdrug.co.uk

  2. Pack your bag – This is such a simple one but it means you can have that little bit longer in bed if you know your bag is packed and ready to go. Laying out your gym kit the night before is also one less thing to do in the morning so you’re not dashing around trying to find some clean socks or the shorts you want to wear. Basically it’s just a good time saver and takes the unnecessary stress out of your early morning routine. Don’t forget to pack a couple of carrier bags too for your sweaty clothes and wet towel.
  3. Hair dyer creased clothes – I always pack my gym bag the night before and more often than not I’ll have packed a top for work that should really be hung up rather than folded and stuffed into a gym bag. Come 7.30am when I’ve finished my session it’s in desperate need of an iron. Never fear though because the gym hair dryers come in pretty handy here. Use them on the warm/hot setting and it blows out the creases in no time at all.blow-dryer-311549_640 (1)
  4. Dry shampoo and a doughnut– I wish I had the patience to carefully blow dry my hair and then curl/straighten it as some women do every morning at the gym. Truthfully I just can’t be bothered after a tough session, I just want to get ready and go so I can eat! If I’ve not done a session where I’ve got seriously sweaty I’ll spray some dry shampoo in my hair and then use my faithful doughnut. Sadly I’m not talking about a Kirspy Kreme here but the hair doughnut you stick your pony tail through and pull your hair over the top to create a giant messy bun. These are absolute lifesavers and believe it or not they actually work better on unwashed hair and you can’t even tell you’ve come straight from the gym!

    Wearing the doughnut post 1 hour run before a quick turnaround for a Crossfit WOD a couple of hours later.

    Wearing the doughnut post 1 hour run before a quick turnaround for a Crossfit WOD a couple of hours later.

  5. Food prep & post workout snacks– I always make my breakfast the night before to save time and money. If you make it the night before you know you’ve got it to devour straight after your workout and you don’t need to worry about how and when you’re going to refuel. Check out my overnight oats recipe which is a great post workout breakfast to have on the go. Also it’s worth packing a snack to take after if you’re someone who takes a while to get ready or likes to eat breakfast at your desk. Aim to eat the snack (or your breakfast) within 30 minutes of finishing your workout.

    IMG_7607

    My overnight oats (recipe in previous post)

Training on holiday & the Berlin Marathon countdown

Thanks to the fabulous running community on Twitter I’ve been reminded that it’s less than 10 weeks until the Berlin Marathon! 

Run 4

10 weeks though! Seriously, where has the time gone?! I’m already at that ‘can’t stop thinking about it marathon stage’ and constantly drifting off into day dreams of running a 3.15 marathon (yeah right, Han!) and I’m not ashamed to say I’ve already planned the outfit I’m flying in! God help whoever has to put up with me for the next 10 weeks, I apologise now.

As you may have spotted from a previous a post, I’ve been in Italy on a bit of a tour across the country. When we booked the holiday I knew I wouldn’t be following my set marathon training plan for a number of reasons; 1) there’s gelato to be eaten 2) the heat and 3) I booked a holiday to relax, sightsee and have a break.

So with that accepted I settled on trying to get a few runs and some bodyweight exercises in now and again, it is part of my happy pace after all! Still, it was hard not running. I worried about getting behind, worried about the extra pizza weighing me down and worried that I ‘d be too unfit to get back on track.

The reality is that it’s two weeks and I actually exercised most days. Granted most days it was walking but when sightseeing in Venice and Rome we averaged 8 miles of walking a day! Never forget to pack your Garmin on holiday, even if you’re not going to be running!

If you’ve got an autumn marathon booked and a holiday coming up as well then check out these tips on how to maintain a training routine while away.

Sightseeing – Grab a guidebook and go on a walking tour. Lonely Planet books are amazing for this. Not only will you see the sights and plenty of hidden gems along the way but you’ll also be banking some miles in the legs. Think of it as another version of steady state cardio. Another amazing way to see the sights of where you’re staying and to explore an area is to get up and run! Run early in the morning before the heat hits and use it as a way to explore the area and see some sights before everyone else is awake. It’s like your own personal private tour and a chance to get up close and personal with the city.

Run 2 Run 1

Use your surroundings – If there are some steps down to the beach do stair runs up and down them or sprints along the beach. Think of the feeling of jumping into the sea after a hot and sweaty workout! Also, use the sea or a swimming pool if your hotel has one to get some swimming in. It’s a great cross training activity and gives your knees a break from road running or pounding the treadmill. Not to mention it’ll cool you down!

Run 3

Move the furniture- Make space in your hotel room/find the space to do a bodyweight workout. This can be as little as a tabata workout or an hour long strength session if you wanted it to be. Check out Dane’s blog where he’s posted what we did as well as some more challenging hotel workouts. Make sure you look around and see what you can make use of. It might be a step for calf raises or a chair for Bulgarian split squats for example. A good bodyweight workout can go a long way! You can burpee, hip thrust, or squat jump just about anywhere! If you’ve got some bands pack those in your suitcase too to use when you get there.

Run 5 Run 6

Running past the colosseum, along the Venetian canals and by the harbour in Ischia was amazing and I feel so lucky to say I’ve done that. I’m excited to get stuck in to Berlin training once again now though as well as my new programme for the gym designed by Dane. You can check out my previous programme in an earlier post here.

Run 7

In other marathon news I’ve only gone and got myself a good for age place in next year’s London Marathon! 😀 YES!

LDN mara 1

I’ll be keeping you up to date with how my trainings going over the next 10 weeks as well as posting plenty about Italy and the new recipes I’m going to rustle up inspired by the food I’ve eaten in Italy.

Ciao!

 

How to eat clean while travelling 

 This post is coming to you from a sun drenched beach in Ischia, one of Italy’s most beautiful islands. I’m fast approaching the end of a two week trip of a lifetime around Italy which started in Venice and will finish in Florence. 

I’m having the most amazing time. The weather has been spectacular as has the food, scenery and activities. I’ve been lucky enough to see some of the most historical and breathtaking landmarks Italy has to offer as well as sample some of the tastiest meals of my life so far.

  
It’s the amazing food which leads me nicely to the topic of this post. I’ll also just add that there will be plenty more in-depth food posts to come on each area I’ve visited so far as well. 

As I’m sure any girl will tell you, when you go on holiday you want to be looking your best and I’m no different. 

That said, here I am a couple of kilos heavier and abs gone but I’m still lying on the beach in a bikini. The best way to be bikini ready is to just put one on and rock it.  Job done and I couldn’t agree more. 

The food here is out of this world and was a major factor when thinking about where we wanted to go so it was only inevitable that I’d get a little fluffier on this trip. 

I know many people get worried about this when they go on holiday so I thought I’d write something about how it is still possible to eat clean and make healthy choices while abroad. 

That said, remember you are on holiday and it’s a time to enjoy yourself! It’s a time to try new things, experience the local cuisine and treat yourself. I don’t regret a single gelato, pasta dish, pizza or bread basket I’ve devoured because it’s all part of the experience and it has been incredible! 

As soon as you get to the airport it’s easy to enter holiday mode; a croissant with your coffee, a beer with your breakfast or a super-size snack from duty free. That’s fine but if you’re conscious of staying healthy on holiday here are a few ways to navigate the airport junk food traps: 

1) Snacks – At most airports there’s usually a Boots or a little shop/cafe where you can buy nuts, carrot batons or pieces of fruit which are all great healthy snack choices. Avoid salted nuts though if possible.

2) Take your own- If you know you’re likely to get hungry before you fly then pack your own snacks to eat before going through customs. This will mean there’s no need to cave in and buy something unhealthy. Some ideas include bananas, nuts, kale chips, protein bars, homemade energy balls or carrot/cucumber/celery sticks. 

3) Meal prep – This is more applicable  to long haul flights but taking your own prepped food on the plane is an option. Fruit, vegetables and solid foods can go in hand luggage but foods with sauces or with a high liquid content need to go in those little transparent bags you get before going through security, or just use sandwich bags. Make sure you check online or the airport website for quantities allowed and for any other restrictions. It’s also worth noting that these days you can usually buy a basic side salad in cafés/restaurants and some sort of meat which is a simple and easy way to eat clean. Add some nuts to your salad for extra protein to fill you up. 

When you land and start the holiday it’s so easy to devour every treat in sight and by all means if that’s what a holiday is to you then absolutely go for it. However what I’ve found over the past two weeks is that if you want to you can stay healthy while on holiday. 

Breakfast – In each hotel we’ve booked we’ve had breakfast included which has been great. I LOVE breakfast and especially love my egg scrambles but I had a feeling they wouldn’t be available at a breakfast buffet. Some options have been better than others. The Italian way of life here is a cappuccino, croissant and juice for breakfast. This is all we got in Rome so I fully embraced it. However at our other hotels there has been far more choice. Go for the fresh fruit, eggs, brown toast or museli. Stay away from cakes,  pastries and sugary cereal. Also, just have one breakfast! Why does it feel acceptable on holiday to have three or four courses at breakfast when you’d be satisfied with one at home!?

  

Lunch – The salads across Italy have been spot on, packed full of flavour and variety. Again, most places have a salad option and some sort of meat or fish on the menu. Trust me, it’s the bread basket that’ll be your downfall! Just do what Dane and I did (or tried to do!) name your slice when the basket arrives, have that and then you’re done.  

   
    

Dinner – Each and every dinner here has been absolutely incredible. I’ve had a giant buffalo ribeye steak, tuna tartare and enough octopus to fill an aquarium! Fresh fish is the only dinner option in my opinion and it often comes with fresh vegetables or salad.  Need I say more!? The entire bread basket, wine, limoncello and pudding is optional of course! Basically what I’m saying is that there’s usually always a healthy option on the menu, you’ve just got to look and chose appropriately. 

   
    

Reading this back I realise I’ve stuck to very little of this but that’s ok. I wouldn’t want to leave Italy not having  fully immersed myself in the experience and deprived myself of anything. Balance and finding your happy pace is key. And now if you’ll excuse me it’s time to find mine again at the gelato shop before taking another dip in the sea and practicing that epic dirty dancing lift – yes, Dane and I are that couple. 

Keep an eye out for my next blog post while I’m away which will be about Berlin marathon training on holiday with just 11 weeks to go!

  
Ciao. 🙂 

Nourishing our bodies at The Garden, Hale

Get yourself to The Garden in Hale

The Garden 2

Balance in my life is always restored after I’ve been to see my best friend, Liana. Visits to Liana’s always involve great food, training and hysterical laughter at some point throughout the weekend. A recent visit to her house was no exception.

We rustled up a delicious dinner on Saturday evening of scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, spinach, chives (who are we?!) and avocado – we LOVE breakfast at any time of the day, especially for dinner. Sunday morning was a knockout egg scramble with chilli and chives before we hit the gym for a strength session.

We have been dying to try Bosu Body Bar in Chorlton for ages as it looks amazing but sadly for us it wasn’t meant to be as they are closed on a Sunday so we had to go in search of another fantastic healthy eating place to fill the void. Liana had been to The Garden, in Hale before with her friend so even though it was a good 30 minutes away after looking at the menu we decided that it would be worth it.

The Garden offers a selection of healthy, organic dishes using local produce and has an array of mouth-watering clean treats.

45 minutes later thanks to horrendous traffic we arrived delirious with hunger but the friendly staff soon had us sat down at a table browsing the menus with two tasty drinks on the way.

Liana went for a Green Peace smoothie which was made up of spinach, avocado, apple, kale, cucumber, parsley, wheatgrass and spirulina while I had an I am Balanced juice of coconut water, fresh aloe vera and fresh peppermint. They were both served in charming jam jar style jars with cardboard straws. They also do amazing looking shakes and a raw cacao smoothie, too.

Choosing lunch was just as hard as choosing a drink as the whole menu is full of delicious superfood dishes packed full of flavour and goodness.

Liana went for the Rainbow Spaghetti which was seasonal vegetable spaghetti, which you could have raw or al dente, served with a choice of tomato, coriander and chilli or a kale pesto sauce. You could then choose from quinoa meatballs, organic salmon or organic chicken. Liana had kale pesto and organic chicken and said it was delicious.

The garden 3

Meanwhile I went for the Abundance Bowl with king prawns. This was a big, hearty bowl of cauliflower rice, chilli and lime chickpeas, spring onions, parsley, radishes, apple, sunflower seeds and pomegranate seeds topped with pistachios a lime and mustard dressing. It was really tasty and the cauliflower rice was very filling but the only thing I would say is that I would’ve liked more dressing.

We didn’t stop there either. We also got some kale chips which had been cooked with some sort of cashew butter making them even tastier than regular kale chips, as well as and dips and crudités. The three dips we chose were houmous, sundried tomato tapenade and cashew cheese.

Enjoying the chilled atmosphere we decided we wanted to stay a bit longer, i.e. we weren’t done eating, so we checked out the dessert menu. Everything looked delicious but what we really had our eyes on were the blueberry buckwheat pancakes on the breakfast menu. The staff and the chef were kind enough to make us them and we enjoyed them with dairy free ice cream, banana and homemade chocolate sauce. We also threw in a homemade date and raw cacao protein ball on top – us girls can eat!

The Garden 1

If you live in Manchester/near Manchester or are there for a day trip I’d definitely recommend checking out The Garden, it’s well worth it. It’s a health food lover’s paradise. #earthfriendlyfood

Berlin marathon training

Warning: look away now if you don’t like squiggly red line running routes and heart rate graphs!

Berlin marathon

In honour of National Running Day I thought it was only fitting to write something about running and more specifically about my running.

If you follow me on Twitter/Instagram you will probably know that I’m training for this year’s Berlin Marathon (woohoo). I still can’t believe I was lucky enough to secure a place in the ballot, I’m so excited!

I also happen to love Berlin having visited once before on a four day city break with my friend Hannah G. The nightlife there is like nothing I have EVER experienced before. Anyway, that’s another story and a different blog post entirely.

Berlin mara 1

Back to this post and my Berlin Marathon training. So far my training has been good and I’m injury free – touch wood – having largely stuck to my programme which is about 25 weeks in total if I remember correctly.

Each week on my programme is different but there are certain elements which are constant. Every week there will be two quality sessions, one focusing on speed and the other on distance. The rest of the week is split in to minimum 30 minute runs. A run after a quality session will always be a 30 minute recovery run at easy pace and the others will have some strides thrown in.

rec run 1

A recovery run with 7 x 20-30sec strides thrown in.

Here’s what my training looks like for this week. This is the second week of phase two of my programme.

Monday 30 mins easy pace with 7 20-30 sec strides
Tuesday 30 mins easy pace
Wednesday Quality 2: 4 mins hard, 3 mins recovery jog until reached 10K
Thursday 30 mins easy pace
Friday 30 mins easy pace with 8 x 20-30 sec strides
Saturday Quality 1: 20 mins easy pace, 20 mins threshold pace, 20 mins easy pace
Sunday 30 mins easy pace

Saturday is my first Q1 (quality 1) session but this is my second week of Q2 sessions. I’m really enjoying the programme so far as it means I’m running regularly and even when I don’t feel like it I remind myself that 30 minutes is more than manageable. I think it was on a Runner’s World Facebook thread where one woman wrote that whenever she doesn’t feel like running she always runs at least one mile. If at the end of  that mile she still doesn’t want to run then she allows herself to run home, meaning she’s done at least two miles that day. This is a great strategy if ever you’re lacking in motivation as by the time you’ve reached two miles about 15 minutes has passed so I think I might as well do the other 15 and before you know it you’ve reached 30 minutes.

A recovery run which turned in to a pretty fast 5 miler, whoops.

A recovery run which turned in to a pretty fast 5 miler, whoops.

I’m also monitoring my average and max heart rate thanks to my fabulous Garmin Forerunner 220.

One of the main benefits of using a heart rate monitor is that it can help you to make sure you’re recovering adequately from other runs. If you know your average resting heart rate and VO2 max you can work out what your heart rate should be on a recovery run. Having a quick glance at this on your watch while running means you can make sure you’re not overdoing your easy/recovery runs (something I am guilty of!) and this can ultimately help to prevent overuse injuries.

HR 1

A 5k made up of fast intervals which got my HR to 191.

Monitoring your heart rate also gives you a more precise way of gauging exertion levels which is usually more accurate than your own thoughts on how hard you think you’re working.

A 10K Q2 session HR graph

A 10K Q2 session HR graph

I’m definitely getting faster as well which I love and I already feel comfortable at a faster minute mile pace than before which is great. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve still got a long way to go before the Berlin marathon and over the next two weeks my speed sessions really start to ramp up, eek!

A Q1 long run from the previous week.

A Q1 long run from the previous week.

My goal is just to perform as well as I can in the marathon on September 27 and enjoy running my first marathon abroad. I’d love to run sub 3.30 or dare I say it break 3.20 but we’ll just see what happens on the day. Either way, I’m ready for the next four months and to see what I’m capable of.

Are you training for a marathon? Let me know what your programme is like!