Four Christmas presents to ask for, for a healthier 2020


I’m a massive fan of the nutribullet, which has become the essential juicer for anyone interested in health and lifestyle, but no doubt there are others out there, and the utility of a juicer goes beyond the particular brand. Most of us struggle to eat enough fruit and veg, especially ‘boring’ but healthy dark green veg like kale and spinach, and a nutribullet is a brilliant way to get a couple of your daily servings in a quick to make and quick to consume form. Although all sorts of recipes and guidance are available on their website and in the book that accompanies the juicer, the real joy of a nutribullet is being able to mix and match depending on what you fancy and what you have in the fridge. A bit of fruit (but not too much) a bit of water, juice or coconut water, a bit of healthy green veg, and then various additions like ginger, protein powder, goji berries, peanut butter, huel, or anything else you want to add bulk, flavour or particular nutrition requirements.

A few tips:
– Some basic ingredients, such as bananas and apples can be sliced and prepared and then kept in the freezer so they are always available, and help chill the drink (the juicing process creates a fair bit of heat, so it’ll end up lukewarm if you don’t add a reasonable amount of ice).
– Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries etc are all fairly expensive fresh, but usually much cheaper frozen. If you’re going to juice them anyway, you may as well buy frozen.
– If the juice sometimes seems to end up a bit bland, small amounts of ginger, mint or honey add a lot of flavour and livens up the drink considerably.
– If possible, get flavourless protein powder. I accidentally got vanilla recently, and now all my protein drinks end up tasting of vanilla regardless of what I’ve put in them…

Fitness tracker
My personal choice is the Garmin Vivoactive 3, which I recently bought and am absolutely loving. There are loads of others out there, though, depending on what you are after, including the Apple iWatch, and the classic Fitbit (which now has several models including much more advanced smart-watch versions).

The very simplest just count steps, which in itself is a brilliant way to see that you are staying active during the day. As technology has improved, though, most fitness trackers are now starting to incorporate wrist-based heart-rate trackers, with the ability to monitor all-day heart-rate, giving you an idea of your resting heart rate and, in some cases, stress levels during the day as well. Many can also track sleep, which is a hugely important element of your health and fitness.

With all of this data, you can start to build up a picture of your routine. Do you move around enough during the day? Are you regularly getting 8 hours of sleep? Are you stressed during the day, or frequently getting a poor night’s sleep (perhaps due to alcohol consumption). We all *know* we should walk more, sleep more, drink less, and try to reduce stress, but there’s nothing like having it laid out for us in hard data to bring home the message.

Great gym kit

Whenever I’ve gone through a period of really struggling to motivate myself to get out and running, there’s one sure method to get me back on the road: buying some really nice new kit. Sure, it can be an expensive method to motivate yourself, but there’s nothing like having something new and fun to wear or use to get you back out there. Ask for something great for Christmas, and it’ll be much easier to get running during the cold dark weeks of January where we often seem to lose our fitness routines.

I’m a big fan of Iffley Road kit – it’s pricey but beautiful. There are plenty of other brands of course. Personally I think you can’t beat Arc’Teryx, especially if you want some kind of lovely, technical, warm or waterproof kit to make winter runs seem more appealing.

A lightweight bag for running

One of the easiest ways to do some extra exercise is to start run-commuting. It’s not always easy, though, and requires a fair big of logistical planning to ensure you take the right things to or from work, go the right distance and don’t end up stranded somewhere half way, and so on.

The one purchase that really made run-commuting possible for me was buying the absolutely brilliant OMM Ultra 15 running backpack. Incredibly light and comfortable, but still big enough to contain a laptop and a change of clothes, it’s made it loads easier to plan a run to or from the office.

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