Heath Grooming Products | Fighting the Urban Sprawl

Health London.jpg

Back in the Summer I spoke about one of my hero finds, Heath Skincare and Grooming products. I appreciate the value of a working family relationship and knowing that Heath was is run by a father-and-son duo, only further enamoured me towards the brand.

A quick sidebar on the father son thing. Think on how many hours you spend a week feeding what I call the virtual farm. As a public figure I have to dedicate a fair slice of my diary keeping up appearances on social media. Posting, replying, commenting, retweeting, thumbs up etc 

Which is fine, I don't mind. 

But how about you shave just five minutes off that time, can give your old man a call. You never know a call could lead to something, an idea could snowball and who knows, you could both be launching your own version of Heath someday. 

I digress. 

In just a few short months, Heath have now expanded the range to seven products – Face Wash, Cream Shave, Post Shave Repair, Moisturiser, Hair + Body Wash, Rescue: Hair + Body Wash, and Hand Salve – all of which fit into the modern man’s daily routine. 

I've also been mindful of this dreaded Blue Light that has been keeping me awake at night. I wrote about the cause and effects of Blue Light in another article. With that in mind I was pleased to discover the Heath Moisturiser has been formulated with Soliberine® NAT to help protect skin from Blue Light.

As an antidote to the mundanity of city sprawl, us men often pursue more natural environments for our headspace, and this includes our grooming choices.

HEATH has been formulated with high potency natural ingredients and new-generation actives (derived from naturals) in a range that’s ideally suited to the daily skin concerns of the modern urban man.

Watching Every Beat With the Braun ActivScan 9 | Blood Pressure Monitor

Here's a matter close to my heart, pun intended. I've recently road tested the ActivScan 9 which is one of two new blood pressure monitors recently launched by Braun. The ActivScan™ 9 is a comfortable and intuitive blood pressure monitor. It measures and stores your blood pressure, which you can access through the dynamic user interface.

The monitor is fully compatible with smartphone devices via the Braun Healthy Heart app, which lets you access your data anytime, anywhere and enter lifestyle data to create a complete picture of your health and lifestyle.

 

 

Why do I need an ActivScan 9?

It's time to start paying attention to what your body is telling you. High Blood Pressure is one of the major contributing factors to heart failure and research conducted by Braun tells us that almost two thirds of adults don’t consider themselves to have a healthy lifestyle.

Ask yourself what is more important, following the progress of your own blood pressure, or following the progress of some stranger and their cats on Instagram?

With ActivScan 9 you can synchronise this data with your calendar, include some lifestyle features like sleep, exercise diet etc. You can then see how all these variables impact your blood pressure. This information will be a great source of reference for your doctor when it comes to prescribing illnesses and monitoring your health.

Braun, whose new generation blood pressure monitors provide smart, intuitive readings that are easy to understand, is working with experts to help raise awareness of the benefits of regular monitoring and the positive lifestyle changes.

Their four leading experts specialise in Sleep (Elite Sport Sleep Coach), Mood (CEO of the Happiness Research Institute), Diet & Nutrition (@FitnessOnToast) and Hypertension (Medical).

 

 

My personal story

Around 5 years ago now I had a heart operation to correct a congenital heart defect, which remained undetected since birth. The condition was a Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) which is common in premature babies although rare that it would have been undetected through 30 or so years of my life. The ductus arteriosus is a blood vessel that connects the two major arteries (Aorta & Pulmonary) whilst the baby is in the womb and is an essential part of blood circulation. This connection allows blood to be pumped from the right side of the heart straight to the aorta, without stopping at the lungs for oxygen. While a baby is in the womb, only a small amount of his or her blood needs to go to the lungs. This is because the baby gets oxygen from the mother's bloodstream. When the baby is born, the ductus arteriosus closes, allowing normal blood flow to your own lungs to get oxygen. Mine simply didn’t close and remained open or Patent.

In short having a PDA for 30+ years caused increased strain on my heart and therefore the heart was working harder to pump blood around my body, leading to my heart (left ventricle) becoming enlarged to counteract that increased workload. I always think about my heart now and how to care for it and monitoring blood pressure is an essential part of that.

It is hard to say what long-term strain or damage has been done to my heart if any, but what I do know is that this heart defect could have been fatal. I guess I was lucky that a) the PDA diameter wasn’t large (b) I have always led a healthy active lifestyle.

Detection of my heart defect was simple; the PDA causes a continuous heart murmur, always present, always detectable. The Braun ActivScan 9 can help detect high or low blood pressure and irregular heart beats, so if I had this device years ago, who knows I may have detected it much sooner.

 

How easy is it to use the ActivScan 9?

I know, it's another mouth to feed right? Another piece of technology we have to get to grips with. Luckily the ActivScan 9 is swift and easy to use. (Even I didn't need to read the instructions).

Once it has read your blood pressure it colour-codes your results, from green to red so you can interpret your heart’s health at a single glance.

The dynamic user interface is simple and intuitive to use and the full colour display is controlled by an easy navigation wheel and soft touch buttons.

Their custom-made, pinch-to-open cuff fits easily around your upper arm and uses soft inflate technology. This provides gentle measurement, enabling you to discover your blood pressure comfortably.

 

Where can I get my hands on one?

Braun blood pressure monitors are available to purchase from Boots. For more information visit the Braun website at www.braunbloodpressuremonitors.co.uk

 

*This sponsored post was created in collaboration with Braun Blood Pressure Monitors.

Introducing KOBOX - Fightclub meets Night Club

If you've been following my Instagram stories of late you'll know I've procured a healthy obsession with KOBOX. Yes, I'm working on my bikini body for my upcoming trip to Tanzania, but square pecs and a six-pack aren't just for beach holidays and showy social posts (well some days they are). I've come to the slow realisation that fitness is a way of life. 

For many people joining a boxing gym can be extremely intimidating. Whilst it's nothing like the movies where a trainer asks you to jump in to the ring within seconds of you entering the gym and asks 'ok kid let’s see what you got', it means completely abandoning your comfort zone. 

One of the reasons I've become hooked on KOBOX of late is because there is an acute sense of community. It's ran like a family business and straight I was made to feel like one of the family. All the trainers and staff live and breathe the brand, and want every person who walks through the doors to feel as at home as they all do. 

What is KOBOX?

KOBOX, 50-minute, high intensity classes that will see you tackle all the fundamentals of boxing. Each class is structured in a series of boxing combinations, displayed in HD on the studio wall, making boxing easier than ever. The classes are boxing combined with HIIT training, think 3 minutes on a bag and 3 minutes HIIT...repeated. 

I started off by using these classes once per week just to mix it up a bit as variation in your fitness routine is important (or so I’ve heard!) Now I’m up to 4-5 classes a week and I’m feeling as fit as I’ve felt in such a long time. Each class focuses on a particular muscle group such as Upper Body, Lower Body, Core or a Full Body workout. 

The best part for me is that I can get a sweat on, throw some meaningful punches and not leave with any marks on the cash register (my face!). The music kicks ass and lends a fantastic pulse to the class. The lights dim, the beat drops and as someone at KOBOX has so aptly coined, 'It’s Fight Club Meets Nightclub'.

KOBOX has two London locations one in Chelsea and the other in the City. You simply sign up to koboxlondon.com and buy a pack of classes which you use to book your slot. The booking system is super easy to use and the classes structured with incredible staff. 

I'm now proud to announce I'm an ambassador for the brand and would love to hear from you on what your take on fitness is. Have you attended a KOBOX class and if so please leave some thoughts in the comments below. All feedback welcome. 

Why Keeping Fit Is So Important - My Heart Operation

No my fitness routine is not putting on some new adidas gear, finding the nearest brick wall and pose, although it does look like it from the images! I tend to keep myself relatively fit all year round, I'm not really one of these fitness part-timers who only keep fit during January; for the two months leading up to their next holiday; because they decided to sign-up for a 5K run or maybe some hot female instructor who you matched with on Happn works at your gym. 

Not many of you would know, but a couple of years ago I was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect (meaning I've had it since birth, although undetected). The defect was a Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA). Before a baby is born, the fetus's blood does not need to go to the lungs to get oxygenated. The ductus arteriosus is a hole that allows the blood to skip the circulation to the lungs. However, when the baby is born, the blood must receive oxygen in the lungs and this hole is supposed to close. If the ductus arteriosus is still open (or patent) oxygenated blood from the lungs via the aorta mix with deoxygenated blood from the pulmonary artery, causing the two to mix. This puts strain on the heart and increases blood pressure in the lung arteries. In my case my left ventricle was enlarged as it had been working overtime pumping that blood around the body for 33 years of it's life. The heart is a muscle after all - the harder it has to work the larger it will become to compensate for that extra work.

It was actually diagnosed during a checkup that I had when I found a lump on one of my testicles, which itself turned out to be nothing - however I was treated with a heart operation instead! The operation itself was pretty scary, I had full trust in the surgeons and put a brave face on things but when someone says to you that they have to operate on your heart, in the back of your head you cant help thinking you are not going to wake up from it. 

The surgery itself wasn't intrusive at all...they simply took a tube with a camera and shoved it up an artery in my groin all the way up to my heart. Where they simply plugged the PDA with what I describe as a bit of cotton wool, champagne cork or science gauze - which stops all blood flow across the ductus arteriosus. Within hours and certainly days, tissue forms over the 'plug' and my left ventricle returned to within normal size range. Winner, does that mean I can now be an olympic athlete?!

This heart defect isn't that uncommon...well in children it isn't, but in 30+ year old men it is rare. It is rare that such a defect that you live with 100% of the time remains undetected. Thats where my fitness comes into play. If I was an unfit slob, over indulging on trans fatty foods whilst sitting on my arse playing Playstation with my online pals kinda guy - I would probably of had a heart attack or stroke by now or something worse. I put the reason down to not having any major symptoms to keeping myself fit and healthy.

It really is SO important to keep fit all of the time not just 1 month on 3 months off...so why not try something new this week. What about some personal training, group fitness with British Military Fitness or yoga?

 

SHOP THE LOOK

Photography by Rebecca Spencer

HOW TO STAY FIT OVER CHRISTMAS & NEW YEAR

We all know that December is an extremely tough month to stay fit and motivated to keep healthy. There is just too much temptation, Christmas party invites galore, work lunches and all of your mates suddenly want to catch up before the end of the year. I'm pretty sure that many of us out there have spent more days in December nursing a hangover than not. 

I for one, don't really get many Christmas party invitations (mini violins please) mainly because I work on my own, for myself...so whats the point, turkey for one! Then there is my New Years holiday to Thailand. So for the first time, this December I'm staying fit and healthy and here are my tips to do so.

1. JOIN A FITNESS BOOTCAMP

Seems obvious, right? Well yes kind of but notice I said bootcamp and not gym. I do both and feel I get more out of being involved in bootcamp outdoor fitness training. Gyms can be quite expensive and a little dull once you are in there, thats unless you have a gym buddy or get some PT sessions. My point is, gyms are great if you are highly self motivated, bootcamps are great because it is group based fitness where you are getting motivated by the instructors and also by like minded people. I belong to British Military Fitness who run bootcamps across the UK, were fitness meets social.

2. REFUEL

After a heavy exercise session it is important to refuel your body - it should be screaming out for food, so give it what it needs! I'm a morning fitness person, so my favourite post exercise food is Protein Pancakes (shown above). Simple to make and packed with goodness. I layer my pancakes with Steens Raw 20+ UMF Manuka Honey as it is packed with plant phenols and antioxidants which support a healthy diet.  Here are the ingredients:

Put all ingredients into a blender, nutri-bullet or similar:

  1. Splash of almond milk.
  2. 2 eggs.
  3. Handful of oats.
  4. One heaped scoop of protein powder (I use PhD banana flavour).
  5. Half a banana (keep the rest for garnish).
  6. Tea spoon of coconut oil.
  7. Table spoon of greek 0% fat yogurt.

Cook in coconut oil, serve layered with honey and top with more Greek 0% fat yogurt, banana and mixed berries.

3. DRINK MORE NATURAL TEA

Sorry guys, I know how tempting it is to head to your nearest Costa or Starbucks and pay way too much for a white hot chocolate, gingerbread latte or hazelnut cappuccino. Spend the same price as one of those coffees and get yourself 15 Teapigs! TeaPigs provide naturally caffeine free tea in soooooo many different flavours, so if the Christmas 'spiced winter red tea' isn't quite your thing, then go for a more palatable peppermint tea.

4. ENJOY SNACK TIME

Little and often, little and often...I keep telling myself. Its now 3-4pm and its been a couple of hours since lunch and dinner seems a million miles away. Try not to head over to the naughty snack machine in the corner of the office. Buy healthy snacks so you can enjoy some guilt-free indulgence. Check out Willies Cacao which is about as healthy and indulgent as chocolate gets. I also love these little squares of goodness from Bioglan Raw Bites - I'm going to try the Cacao & Quinoa ones next. 

5. REMEMBER YOUR 5-A-DAY

I've had those vegetable and fruit boxes that you get delivered to your door in the attempt to eat more veg. It just didn't work, I ended up throwing most of it in the bin or blending it to make juices, but I was never that good at combining flavours. Thanks to Bioglan SuperFoods, they have done all the hard work for us with their superfood pouches. Just blend with water, I tend to have one of these per day either was my dinner, as a snack or after an evening fitness workout.

6. AND RELAX

It is important to remember down time, to relax the muscles as well as your brain. Think about what is important in your life, what makes you happy and try to let all the stresses go. These essential oils from Nudo are the perfect relaxant and each of their oils are suitable for bathing, massage or vaporisation. 

 

HAVE A HEALTHY, STRESS FREE CHRISTMAS...LOVE CARL X