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Thursday 12 March 2020

Sundose Supplements: Sunshine in a glass or placebo?

Sundose contacted me to see whether I wanted to try their supplements. As a rule I try to avoid supplements as I want to get everything I need through my food, plus as I race so often I don’t want to have to worry about anything nasty ending up in a test should I be tested (in the slim chance that all the really fast ladies fall off their bikes and I somehow end up at the front and eligible for a test!). 

However, I also eat plant-based only foods which means that I do need to be aware of what I could potentially be missing out on. I believe that I should be able to get virtually everything I need from my food … but do I actually get it? I’m sometimes lazy … like most people I juggle, family work and training and sometimes it’s easier to eat the same thing for breakfast, lunch and dinners as it’s one less thing to have to think about in a busy lifestyle.

I take an off-the-shelf multivitamin I picked up off the shelf at my local supermarket but does this really contain everything I need? You know what? I’m not sure it does.

Sundose is quite pricey compared to an off-the-shelf multi-vitamin but the reason for this was that my daily supplement is tailored to me, my lifestyle and my desired result. I had to answer a health survey which asked me basic biological details, whether I excluded any food from my diet, fluid and caffeine intake, diet including sugar intake, how man meals I eat and whether I make these, general immune system, lifestyle including sports and intensity, alcohol consumption, stress and whether I suffer from ‘odorous gases and plenty of other questions and finally my health goal. I chose I wanted to have more energy. The questionnaire is in-depth and it took me around 5 – 10 minutes to complete. 

… and then I just had to sit back and wait for my order which was scheduled to arrive within the week.

When the parcel arrived, it was well packaged and the supplements were in a box with a flip up lid which made them easy to store as I wasn’t dealing with 30 days worth of individual packets. The supplements came in a daily sachet, one half was powder which I mixed into water (I’d chosen the orange flavoured option) and took as a drink and the other half of the sachet contained 4 pills. There was also a list on the bottom of the box specifying what was in the powder and what was in each capsule.

The powder which was white in the packet turned grey when I first mixed into the water but after stirring, it went bright orange and looked like fresh orange juice. I was a bit dubious but it tasted how I’d expect fresh orange juice to taste if it was made from a powder. There was a slight aftertaste but it wasn’t bad and it was smooth - there was no unpleasant texture. It did however take a second stir to mix the powder that had settled to the bottom of the glass. I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to drink. 

I had 4 daily pills in my supplement packet and I don’t have any problems taking pills but they were a decent size, around the size of a large capsule.

So How Did I Get On?

Same as you, I have a busy life trying to juggle family, full-time job and commute and training and trying to remember something in addition can be difficult even if it’s something small like remembering to take a supplement! The first few days I set a reminder on my phone and then I fell into the habit of having the supplement when I had my breakfast so one reminded me of the other which was handy. Doing it this way meant I had an additional drink as well as my coffee (which is good as I know I don’t drink enough!) and also meant I didn’t have to remember to take different pills from my cupboard. I also took a handful of the supplement packets with me to work for the days I had a silly early start at work, so I could have one with my breakfast there. I found I had to try and make new habits to remember.

Week 1
I remembered to take the supplements every day. I did notice that my training was going really well and it was nice not to have to even think about the multivitamins in the cupboard as I knew I was getting what I needed from these supplements. Not sure I can say that the good training relates directly to the supplements at this early stage but if the placebo effect works then I’m happy to take it! 

Week 2
I’ve have taken a handful of sachets to work as they’re easy to stick in my bag. I work shifts so it can be difficult to take the supplements the same time every day. Training still going well. Feeling pretty good about it all. Missed a day by mistake but didn’t take a double dose the next day – just skipped that day. 

Week 3
I’ve caught a cold – or at least I have that stuffy blocked up feeling. I’m blaming a day of being out on the bike in a hailstone storm. I’d hoped that being so good with my supplements would stave off the inevitable British winter-time cold but maybe not to be! Took a few training sessions off the schedule and gave my body a bit of a rest. At least I know I’m getting the vitamins I need … as well as all the coffee I’m drinking! Actually quite look forward to the orange drink in the morning now. Guess I must usually have been a bit dehydrated without realising it. 

Week 4
The cold disappeared a lot quicker than I’d expected and I’m back training normally. Not sure I can thank the supplements for such a quick recovery but they seem to have helped. I’ve been pretty good at taking them every day (although I missed a couple of days when I had to dash to work early) which probably also helped. Coming to the end of my 30 days trial and very tempted to carry on, particularly as a vegan and with all the training I do it’s been nice not to have to think about what supplements I need and when I need them.

In Summary

I liked not having to think about what supplements I needed to take and work out what days I needed what vitamins and which minerals – that was all worked out for me and taken out of my hands. The drink tasted decent and although the pills are a fair size, I didn’t have any problems with either of them. I did find that my training was going really well and my cold cleared up really quickly although this could of course have been a placebo effect or me looking out to see whether I could see any effects of the supplements. However, whether placebo or not – it was a definite benefit! A downside of the supplements is that they are quite pricey but if your health and training are important to you then it’s a serious decision to consider!

Sundose have given me a code to share which gives £20 off your first order: ‘sarahb’
You can visit the Sundose website here

Note: Sundose didn’t pay me for this blog, they just offered to send me a 30-day trial and asked me to write impartially about my experience. I was curious so accepted! :)

Learning Squash: Should I have brought a helmet? #SquashGirlsCan

You all know I love an adventure … even if I don’t know EXACTLY how it’s going to go. But sometimes that’s part of the fun. Apart from those adventures which involve long runs and ornamental gardens … 

So when I was contacted by England Squash to ask whether I wanted to have a go at playing squash I said I’d love to … but I didn’t know how. And not only that, I didn’t know where or what or even whether being squashed was a necessary part of the game. 

Luckily, knowing how to play wasn’t part of the requirement. England Squash offered to help me get started by sending over some kit to use and set up a lesson with Ginny and 2 other ladies who were also fairly new to squash too. 

Massive nerves on my way ...!

England Squash were keen to challenge misconceptions around squash,and encouraged us to go to an all girls’ session so we could see how much fun it was, and join in with the 
 #SquashGirlsCan campaign. They also wanted people to see how easy it was to start the sport and get going… however, if you know me, then you’re aware that my coordination is a bit hit-and-miss. In the past, I’ve seen grown men run to get out of my way when I’ve picked up a tennis racket. Hopefully, I’d be a little more successful at squash. 


I turned up to my lesson in the correct kit, but clearly I was a shining example of ‘all the gear and no idea’. I knew next to nothing about the sport and I’d deliberately not researched it prior to my lesson as I wanted to start with a clean sheet. I was a little bit concerned that they may have underestimated my (admittedly amazing) ability to completely mess things up and hoped they’d warned the coach and the other ladies attending the lesson that I was a bit uncoordinated (*cough* VERY *cough*). Perhaps I should have brought everyone helmets and shin pads … I decided I should probably stand a long way away from everyone else and try to avoid wildly swinging the racket. 

I met Ginny who was the coach and she introduced me to Zoe and Reema who were being coached. Everyone was friendly and chatty and normal. No-one expected me to know what to do or to be good at the sport and Ginny told me that we could all go at our own pace. It was nice to know there was no pressure and that I was playing with people who weren’t expecting big things of me (like being able to hit the ball!). 

Reema, Ginny, Zoe and Me!

We started off with a warm up which was some very gentle jogging, a bit of galloping (I love a gallop!) and some dynamic stretches. Ginny then asked us to play a game. She told us the names of the lines on the wall of the court and gave us one of the squash balls. Our game was for the first person to throw the ball over the service line, the next person would allow it to bounce once and catch it and throw it under the service line, the next person would throw it over … we had three lives each and would lose a life every time we threw the ball in the wrong place or fumbled a catch until only one person was left. My coordination isn’t great … but put a bit of competition into a game and I am ALL OVER THAT. We laughed and had a grand old time and got used to the bounce of the ball. 

So the lines have names ...
I was surprised that the ball wasn’t half as bouncy as I’d expected. I’d thought it would be more like a tennis ball but it hardly bounced at all. Ginny explained that there are different balls for the game depending on the level of the player and really good players would play with balls which hardly bounced at all which would make for a faster paced game as you’d have to really run to get to it. 

Ginny fed the ball to us for the next part of the lesson by throwing it at the wall and we’d have to return it forehand and backhand. I was surprised that I found backhand much much easier! To hit the ball to the correct place I had turned so I was facing the side of the court with my shoulder towards the front wall. 

It took me quite a while to get used to this as it initially felt like I should be facing forwards but once I got it, it made it much easier to return the ball. 

We played another game to get used to returning the ball which was to try and keep the volleys going between us. It was really exciting to be able to feel as though I was playing the game – when I’d arrived today I hadn’t even picked up a racquet or squash ball before! 

Ginny taught us how to serve… and I got it in theory … but was just completely incapable in practise. Not only could I not hit the ball with my racquet, when I finally did, it flew up into the air and bounced off the lights! Twice! Ginny spotted what I was doing and I was throwing the ball, rather than dropping it – I was clearly getting too enthusiastic! 

I even hit the ball!

We were having so much fun, I was disappointed when the lesson ended. We did some gentle cool down exercises and stretches and then Ginny announced she’d baked some banana bread so all we went to enjoy that and grab a coffee. I’d planned to go home straight after the lesson, but was having so much fun with Ginny, Zoe and Reema that it seemed a shame not to spend some more time there! I’d expected to learn some squash, but some new friends was a definite bonus. Besides, we’d worked hard and the banana bread sounded amazing! 

So … will I go back? Yes definitely. I had a brilliant time and not only did I get a great workout in, I made new friends and am on my way to learning a new sport! I was also surprised that it wasn’t as pricey as I was expecting – I’m going to go along to one of the ladies only sessions which is every Sunday and £2 per session and mixed abilities. 

If you’re interested in having a go at squash, take a look at the England Squash website. There’s a whole section for women new into the sport here for the Squash Girls Can campaign where you can find a venue, lessons or where you can go to watch to build up some confidence. 

Ladies only mixed ability sessions ... AND cocktails! I'm in!

As mentioned at the top of the post, I wasn't paid for the post but Squash England gifted me the kit and set up the lesson for me to try :)