As I’ve said a few times on this blog, I don’t sleep well. There appears to be no rhyme or reason for it, although it’s markedly worse when dieting for a comp (cortisol? nerves? lack of carbs? Who knows!)
So, when CherryActive offered to send me some of their concentrate and capsules to try, I leapt at the chance. The Montmorency cherries used in the products are said to be great for encouraging better sleep, y’see. They’re also a fantastic antioxidant and great for sports recovery. Sounds like my kind of thing. Oh, plus, I really love the taste of tart cherries. So, how did I get on?
First up, the concentrate (which I tried in the new “shot packet” size). You add this to water, smoothies, yoghurt – whatever you like really. I had it in water mostly, but did add it to a chocolate protein shake/smoothie once which was really nice. Although there’s no added sugar or sweeteners (or preservatives, flavourings or colourings – so the antioxidant qualities aren’t affected), I did find the concentrate pretty strong and sweet. So I simply watered it down more than the recommended dosage, still having the whole serving but with a lot more water. I can’t see that it matters (CherryActive people, tell me if I’m wrong?) and it had the added bonus of making me drink more water.
The taste is great and it was a nice extra for me as I don’t drink squash or “fizzy pop” and we don’t have fruit juice in the house. If you were to buy the big bottle of concentrate, it lasts up to 12 months in the fridge. The product won “Best Supplement Award” at the Natural Lifestyle Awards in 2009. You can buy online, or from Holland and Barrett stores, and the 30ml shot pack like I tried is £1.89.
Did it help me sleep, or recover from training? I honestly can’t say. I started drinking it after my comp, when I also upped my calories and carbohydrates significantly. But I did suddenly start sleeping a lot better (and more deeply). Whether from the CherryActive, from something else, or from a combination – I couldn’t tell you. Sorry – not a very scientific answer! Would I buy it and use it? Yes, and I intend on getting a big bottle from the local health shop in town next time I’m in there.
I also tried – indeed am still trying – the capsules. You take one or two a day. Like the concentrate, they’re made from 100% Montmorency cherries but are simply a more portable, more convenient and flavourless way of taking it. The cherries are fine-milled and then freeze-dried and the caps don’t taste of anything. My veggie friends will be glad to know the caps are completely vegetarian with no fillers.
The verdict? Again, I can’t say for sure whether or not the CherryActive capsules have contributed to my improved sleep since I’ve finished contest prep, but I have been sleeping better. Typically at this time of year I feel groggy when I wake up, no matter how long I’ve slept for. I feel better this year. Maybe the way to find out will be to see what happens when I run out of the capsules? You can buy online, or from Holland and Barrett stores, and 30 capsules (the size I had) is £12.95. The CherryActive website has some discounts at the moment.
Sistema food storage products
Remember when I had my BioSignature assessments done? One of the recommendations Ben gave me was to stop drinking out of horrid plastic bottles and to stop microwaving my food in tupperwares. BPA free is the way to go, he said. So when Sistema sent me a couple of bits of food storage kit I was pleased, because these are BPA and safe for carrying your food around in. And we all know that bodybuilders are renowned for carrying food with us. After all you never know when the apocalypse may come and global stocks of chicken and broccoli may plummet!
Sistema sent me the two bits of kit you see above, albeit in different colours. I got a groovy little round tub in green, which has a larger main compartment, and smaller bit which clips on top and an in-built spoon. The lid is very secure, you could use it for something liquidy without fear for all the assorted bits of paper in the bottom of your handbag (don’t give me that – your handbag is full of receipts and post-it notes, too, I know it). The little spoon is very handy and the dual compartment thing means you could have, say, yoghurt and seeds, or porridge and protein powder, or any other combination of things which you wanted to mix together just before eating. The capacity of this tub is 530ml.
The “twist n sip” bottle flummoxed me for a while. It’s very small, you see: just 460ml (although you can get different sizes: 330ml, 460ml and 700ml). I thought it was too small for sports drink or water in the gym (unless you want extra cardio walking back and forth to the water fountain) and too small for filling with water to take out and about with you (unless you don’t ever get very thirsty). However, inspiration struck me yesterday as I was heading out to a client meeting. I am trying hard to steer clear of dairy at the moment, and I knew the coffee place in which we were meeting wouldn’t have non-dairy milk. So I filled my Sistema bottle with my milk alternative and took it with me. Yes, I have no shame. No, the coffee place people didn’t mind me pouring my own milk into my americano. No, my client didn’t mind either (or if she did, she didn’t say so!)
I guess you could also use the bottle for its intended purpose which is a light and comfy bottle to hold whilst out running 😉
The bottle has a squirty lid which twists down securely. I can report it is indeed very secure because I took a roundabout a bit too enthusiastically on my way to the meeting and my bag fell upside down in the car. Not a single receipt was dampened!
All Sistema products are made from lead-free virgin materials, are BPA free and dishwasher safe and are secure and lightweight. There’s a range of sizes, shapes and colours including pink, aqua, lime green and black.
You can get Sistema plastics products online or at Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Wilkinsons, Amazon, John Lewis and many more places. Highly recommended as a healthier, more secure and hygienic alternative to all those reused takeaway and elderly sports bottles you got free at an event circa 2004… !
Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.