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8 Reasons you Should Cut your Sugar Intake Today

Here’s why you should cut down your sugar intake today…

We were recently talking in the office about how much sugar you find in everyday food and drink. Things you consume without really thinking about it, like cereal or yoghurt.

Sugar provides the body with empty calories that give us energy without any nutrients. As a result, we eat more without feeling full or satisfied. This leads to an increased risk of weight gain, certain diseases, and a cycle of highs and lows in energy levels, which will leave you feeling tired and craving even more sugar!

We know that sugar isn’t exactly good for you, but at the same time we couldn’t agree on just how bad it is.

So, we did some research…

Your Recommended Daily Intake

The Government’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) recommends that our daily sugar intake should be less than 5% of our total energy intake.

This varies from person to person but as a rule of thumb that works out to be around 25 g for women, and 40 g for men.

To put this in perspective, a 330ml (small) can of coke contains 39g of sugar. That’s basically the suggested daily intake for men.

What does sugar do to your body?

Let’s start with the obvious ones.

Sugar can Cause Weight Gain

The SACN carbohydrates and health report found that the consumption of high sugar beverages and foods resulted in weight gain and increases in BMI.

Sugar supplies us with energy but no other nutrients meaning it is in no way satisfying for our bodies. This leads us to over consume. This means if you are able to dramatically cut down your sugar intake, losing those extra pounds will be much easier.

It’s bad for your teeth

We are all told this as children, it doesn’t stop us of course, but sugar rots your teeth and leads to gum disease. So, if you want that pearly white smile, best to avoid it as best you can.

Sugar contributes to diabetes

People with large sugar intakes are much more likely to develop type-2 diabetes.
The issues surrounding diabetes are complex. Sugar by itself is unlikely to be the direct cause of diabetes, however, it does contribute, you are much more likely to get type-2 diabetes if you are overweight. Other factors include genetics, and fatty foods.

It’s bad for your skin

We’ve all seen spotty teens running around and our first thought has been too many sweets. Well, we aren’t entirely wrong there. Too much sugar causes your insulin to spike which leads to inflammation through your body. This Inflammation produces enzymes that break down collagen and elastin, resulting in sagging skin and wrinkles.  Aside from increasing the effects of ageing, sugar can also exacerbate skin conditions like acne and rosacea.

Winter Skincare

It’s bad for your heart

“When glucose spikes after eating sugary food, our insulin increases to compensate for it, and this activates a part of our nervous system which increases blood pressure and heart rate.” High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, as is diabetes and obesity, both of which have been linked to excessive sugar consumption.

Sugar also increases unhealthy blood fats called triglycerides in the blood, which up the risk for heart disease and stroke. In one April 2014 study, those who ate the most added sugar were most likely to die from heart disease than their counterparts who consumed the least.

It makes you tired but won’t let you sleep

We all feel like we need a quick sugar pick me up sometimes. I personally keep some dark chocolate in my gym bag for if I over do it and start feeling faint. However, consuming sugar gives your body a sugar spike which then forces it to over compensate by producing more insulin. This means the sugar spike lasts only a short period of time and then you crash. You then crave more sugar, and you begin a cycle of sugar spikes which could be detrimental to your sleep.

Sugar could very well be addictive

Although the verdict is still out on this, you can’t argue with the withdrawal symptoms people suffer when they reduce their sugar intake. Nor can you argue with the cravings that lead us to over consume sugars. Both of these things are signs that sugar is addictive.

Sugar is bad for your liver

Like alcohol sugar is processed in the liver.  Too much sugar leads to fatty build ups around your liver. Some studies even suggest sugar is as bad for your liver as alcohol.

What can you do?

  • Cut out fizzy drinks. They taste good, but not only are they full of sugar, our body processes this sugar very easily leading to very quick energy spikes.
  • We’re sad to suggest it, but cut down on your desserts.
  • Exercise frequently. This will give you something to focus on that isn’t your cravings.
  • Check the sugar content of your food. Yoghurt for example often has surprisingly high sugar content.
  • Be careful of fruit juices and smoothies. Whilst they are often sold as ‘healthy’, they can contain huge amounts of sugar.
  • Breakfast cereals are another thing to be wary of. Some of my own favourite cereals like Crunchy Nut Cornflakes are hugely sugary.
  • Jamie Oliver offers some great healthy recipes and advice on sugar.

All images sourced from Unsplash

We are no experts on these matters so please feel free to share any knowledge you have in the comments section below.

Our main sources, which we have linked to at various parts of the article, are:

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The New HBB Branding

Our New Branding

You may be noticing some changes.

This is because we decided it was time to refresh our look and our message.

We wanted to get to the core of who we are and what our bags mean to our customers.

This was no small challenge.

We began by sitting down and asking the hard questions, what are our customers saying about us? To each other, to their friends, and to us?

With this in mind, we began thinking about the HBB identity, where it currently is and where we wanted it to go.

What became very clear, very quickly was that we are many things to many people. But what is our core message?

Comfortable, Practical, Unique.

After hours of brainstorming these three words appeared at the forefront of the conversation.

From this we came to a brand statement that we believe combines these ideas perfectly.

Beautifully Balanced

Balanced not just in the ergonomic, comfortable shape, but as a part of your lifestyle. Perfect for city slickers and country ramblers; for the office or the beach.

The Look

Next we had to figure out what this would look like.

Mood board after mood board exposed some weird and wild ideas.

We settled in the end with a mixture of abstract imagery that display this idea of balance without immediately identifying our product. Perhaps more importantly though is the idea of colour! Bright block colours that match the innovative, exciting and colourful bags that we make.

How does this actualy look?

What are your thoughts?

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5 Common Back Problems And How To Fix Them

Five Common Back Problems And How To Fix Them

Looking after your back is an important part of life no matter how young, fit or flexible you are.

Our modern lifestyles are culprits of a huge array of potential back threats. One of the biggest is the chairs we sit in.

But other things, like heavy bags, bad shoes, even too tight trousers can, over time, lead to a series of complicated and even agonising problems.

In this article we outline 5 common back problems faced by the modern person and how we can start to address them.

#1 Slouching in your chair

Humans are not designed to sit for long periods of time. However, the majority of people find themselves sitting for over 10 hours each day.

So, good posture whilst seated is important.

People often slouch unconsciously, as sitting upright requires engaging a number of core muscles. Over time this places strain on the muscles and soft tissue in your lower, and upper back as well as your neck and shoulders.

What to do:

Begin by being aware of your posture. When sitting, keep your back straight, shoulders back and abdomen tucked in. At first this will be uncomfortable as your muscles aren’t conditioned to work like that, but keep at it!

Stand up and walk around every half an hour or so, even go so far as to do a few stretches by your desk.

Exercises to help:

  • Plank/ Side plank
  • Hip thrusts
  • Lunges
  • Seated row

(Scroll to the bottom of the article to see more details on these exercises.)

 

#2 Flat Back

A flat back causes you to stoop. It means your back is straight instead of naturally curved with the pelvis pushed forward.

This can make it difficult to stand for long periods of time, adding all sorts of aches and pains to our back muscles.

Spending long periods sitting down can also contribute to a flat back.

What to do:

Flat back is likely an indication of weak core strength, so you are going to want to start doing regular core strengthening exercises.

  • Plank/ Side plank
  • Leg raises
  • Chest stretches
  • Seated row
  • Pull-ups

The opposite of this is anterior pelvic tilt which causes an excessive curve to the spine. This can be helped with many of the same exercises.

#3 Standing on one Leg

If you’ve been standing for a while you will likely find yourself leaning on one leg, maybe shifting between the two. It may feel more comfortable to do this than standing firmly planted on two legs.

However, when you do this you place extra pressure on the side of your lower back and hip.

If this is something you do a lot, perhaps you work standing up, this can lead to muscle imbalances and muscular strain in the lower back and buttocks.

Other guilty culprits that cause bad lower back and hip problems are things like carrying a heavy bag over one shoulder.

What to do:

Wear a backpack with both straps, distributing the weight evenly. Also, don’t overfill it. If you want a single strap bag, our Healthy Back Bags are specifically designed to contour to your spine, spreading the weight evenly across your shoulders and down your spine.

Strengthen your glutes and lower back.

Do frequent stretches to stretch out those tightening muscles.

Exercises to help:

  • Plank
  • Sidelying leg raises
  • Lunges
  • Squats

#4 Hunching/ Text neck

If you spend your days bent over your keyboard peering into your screen then you might often catch yourself hunching and aches will begin to appear in your back.

Hunching indicates weak upper back muscles and a tight chest.

This type of posture can cause you to develop a rounded upper back with shoulder and back stiffness.

As well as this, when hunched over your keyboard or bent over your phone screen, you may find yourself poking your head forward which can further this problem of tight shoulders.

Correcting a poking chin involves improving your sitting habits and exercises to correct your posture.

What to do:

  • Gently lengthen your neck upwards as you tuck in your chin
  • Seated rows in a gym or pull-ups
  • Chest stretches

 

#5 Rounded shoulders

Rounded shoulders are when you naturally stand with your shoulders rolled forwards. To test this face a mirror and relax. If your knuckles are facing forwards it indicates you have tight chest muscles and a weak upper back.

Rounded shoulders are typically caused by poor posture habits (like slouching), muscle imbalances and focusing too much on certain exercises, such as too much focus on chest strength while neglecting the upper back.

What to do:

Strengthen your upper back and stretch your chest muscles:

  • Plank
  • Seated rows in a gym or pull-ups
  • Chest stretches

 

The Exercises:

Below are just a few exercises you might want to try. If you are unsure how to do any of the exercises, we suggest you ask a professional. Some incorrectly performed exercises can be more damaging than helpful.

#1 Plank and Sideways Plank

Lie on your front propped up on your forearms and toes. Keep your legs straight and hips raised to create a straight and rigid line from head to toe. Don’t allow your lower back to sink during the exercise. Your shoulders should be directly above your elbows.

Alternatively, balance on one side, again keeping the part of your body touching the floor in line with your shoulder and your body rigid and straight.

Focus on keeping your abs contracted during the exercise. Hold this position for as long as you can.

#2 Side leg raises

Lie on your side with one arm tucked under your head. And raise and lower your leg slowly in a controlled fashion.

 

#3 Seated Row (Rowing machine)

This is one of our personal favourites as it works your legs, core, arms and upper back.

Remember to keep your back straight as you move through the motions.

#4 Pull-ups

These require a fair bit of upper body strength. However, you can do assisted pull-ups using various machines in the gym or resistance bands.

#5 Chest stretches

Various yoga poses are excellent for this such as upwards facing dog.

A good stretch to try is standing with your back to a wall, then with your arms at 45 degrees press back against the wall.

#6 Lunges

Step into a lunge lowering one knee to the floor and then moving back into a standing position.

Repeat this with alternating legs ten times (each side).

#7 Squats

With your feet firmly planted on the floor shoulder width apart, lower yourself down as low as you can go without lifting your heels.

Keep your back straight and stay as upright as possible. You should feel like your are about to fall backwards.

A good trick for beginners is to place a chair or box behind you, gently touch the chair or box and then stand up again back up again. This will stop you from tipping backwards.

Alternatively, put something under your heels to tilt you forwards, allowing you to drop further into the squat.

You can find more detail on many of these exercises and on dealing with back problems online in places like the NHS health blog 

 

Share your knowledge of dealing with back pain in the comment section below.

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11 Gorgeous Autumnal Walks to Take your HBB on

Autumnal walks

11 Gorgeous Autumnal Walks

Autumnal walks, whilst having a bit of a chill factor, hold some of the most beautiful landscapes of the year. The trees turn to golden browns and gorgeous reds and oranges. The air, crisp with a hint of those colder days to come.

It is then a time of year that is perfect for romping over the soft hills of the English countryside.

So, we thought we might put together a little list of walks that would be absolutely perfect to take your HBB on.

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If you like this article, or perhaps have a favourite walk to share, feel free to leave a comment in the box below.

In the South West

1. Stourhead, Wiltshire – King Alfred’s Tower walk

This 5 mile walk takes you up through beautiful woodlands to King Alfred’s Tower (open at weekends only, 12-4pm throughout October), a 160ft high folly designed for Stourhead’s owner Henry Hoare II in 1772. It is believed to mark the site where King Alfred the Great rallied his troops in 878. Don’t forget to stop and enjoy the spectacular views across the lake in the landscape garden, with the deep autumnal hues of red, russet and yellow from the surrounding trees. Take your time to soak up all the features of this masterpiece, including the tranquil garden of the South Lawn, the shaded banks running down to the lake and the Grotto, which contains a statue of a sleeping nymph.

Get a map of the walking trail here

Autumnal walks
Credit: Marilyn Peddle https://www.flickr.com/photos/marilynjane/4546584778

2. Castle Drogo, Devon – Teign Gorge walk

This is one of the most famous walks on Dartmoor. The route takes you past the imposing bulk of Castle Drogo – which was the last castle to be built in England, these areas are rich in history, with incredible views and abundant wildlife.

Then there is Fingle Bridge, a popular focal point for budding photographers, and the perfect spot for a game of Poohsticks in the river Teign. The return journey follows the river’s path through dense oak woodland where the foliage turns to vibrant shades of yellow and orange. If you look up you might just catch a glimpse of the castle above the trees.

Get a map of the walking trail here.

Credit: WyrdLight.com

3. Kingston Lacy, Dorset – Beech Avenue and Droves walk

This 3.8 mile walk takes you round the beautiful network of droves, along the stunning 1835 Beech Avenue and back along the outskirts of the Kingston Lacy parkland. The Avenue began life in 1835 when William John Bankes planted 731 trees along the side of the newly built road. The tree canopy now forms a beautiful tunnel of russet colour during the autumn months. The National Trust is now working to conserve this stunning visual landmark by replacing lost beeches with hornbeam trees, which also provide beautiful autumn colour, but are more suited to the British climate.

Get a map of the walking trail here

4. Brownsea Island, Dorset – Rich Reds of Brownsea walk

Brownsea’s unspoiled landscape provides a peaceful haven for visitors seeking a bit of autumn colour. From sweet chestnuts and beeches to hazel trees and scarlet oaks from North America, there are a whole range of bright hues to enjoy. Even the local wildlife adds to the vibrant atmosphere with migrant redstarts and the local population of red squirrels as the stars of the show. This easy walk will take you round the island to enjoy all the delights of the season with sweeping coastal views thrown in for good measure.

Get a map of the walking trail here

5. Heddon Valley, North Devon – Heddon Valley to Woody Bay walk

Nestled on the West Exmoor coast it’s easy to see why the Heddon Valley was a favourite with the Romantic poets. In autumn the path through the valley is full of vibrant yellow gorse, which scents the air with the smell of coconuts all the way down to the sea at Heddon’s Mouth. There are also plenty of walking routes higher up, including an historic 19th-century carriageway and part of the South West Coast Path, which run across some of England’s most dramatic coastal cliffs. Those prepared to brave the challenging terrain will be rewarded with stunning coastal views across the Bristol Channel to Wales.

Get a map of the walking trail here

Photo © Basher Eyre (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Near London and the South East

6. Winkworth Arboretum, Surrey – Winkworth to Oakhurst walk

During the autumn months the splendour of Winkworth Arboretum really comes to life with rich, blazing colour from the Japanese, American and Norwegian maples. This 2.5 mile walk weaves its way through the woodland to the top of Hydon’s Ball, where you can enjoy spectacular views across the Surrey landscape. From here the route carries on to the charming village of Hambledon where you will discover Oakhurst Cottage, a delightful 16th-century labourer’s home which has remained largely unchanged for the past hundred years or more.

Get a map of the walking trail here

7. Emmetts Garden, Kent – Weardale walk

This beautiful circular walk links Emmetts Garden and Chartwell (formerly home to Winston Churchill), passing through the woodland areas of Toys Hill and Hosey Common. Emmetts garden has a beautiful display of autumn colour due to its variety of exotic trees and shrubs, all surrounded by acres of wild native woodland. Keep an eye out for the Acers and Katsura Toffa trees, and see if you can smell the latter filling the air with a sweet toffee scent.

Get a map of the walking trail here

Photo © Oast House Archive (cc-by-sa/2.0)

8. Devil’s Dyke, West Sussex – Saddlescombe Farm and Newtimber walk

Only five miles north of Brighton, Devil’s Dyke is full of stunning vistas – including a panorama which the Romantic painter John Constable described as ‘the grandest view in the world’. From a working farm nestled among rolling hills to the remains of Iron Age ramparts and old chalk pits, there is plenty to see in this landscape. A colourful habitat all year round, in September the hill-barrows at Newtimber become even more vibrant when the flowers transform the hillside into a beautiful carpet of purple.

Get a map of the walking trail here

9. Wicken Fen Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire – Wicken Fen Boardwalk trail

Wicken Fen may not have any woodland, but it’s still possible to see stunning autumn colour on a walk around the reserve. In September the sedge turns an amazing russet colour, which becomes golden in the evenings as the setting sun illuminates the leaves. During the Second World War Dig for Victory campaign, the war office turned the fen into arable land. Restoration of the area is now being carried out, and every visit you make to Wicken Fen helps the National Trust to care for the plants and wildlife that have made a home here.

Get a map of the walking trail here

Credit: Andrew Stawarz https://www.flickr.com/photos/stawarz/4318620433

In the Midlands

10. Attingham Park, Shropshire – A Light Autumnal Walk

Explore the changing colours of the deer park with a walk taking in views over the open landscape to the river, and of the orange-gold trees that mark the start of the woodland. Kids will love crunching leaves underfoot or trying to catch them as they fall from the trees. Keen-eyed adventurers might also be able to spot some of the resident fallow deer herd camouflaged among the brown bracken and ferns.

Get a map of the walking trail here

James Humphreys - SalopianJames (CC BY-SA 3.0)

11. Belton House, Lincolnshire – Belton Park Walk

Autumn reds, yellows and golden browns can be found all over Belton, from the adventure playground and parkland, to the tranquil views overlooking the boating lakes. The magical misty mornings and crisp, clear days of autumn are an ideal time to enjoy the wonderful succession of changing colours. As you explore the estate on this walk, you can rustle your way through fallen leaves and enjoy the gorgeous golds and yellows of the lime trees along the cobbled drive. Closer to the house, rich ruby and russet creepers clad the honey-coloured walls of the West Courtyard, where the sharp but sweet aroma of ripening quinces lingers on the air.

Get a map of the walking trail here

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Travel Ready with HBB

TRAVEL READY WITH HBB Travel with peace of mind It's Summer, the time of country walks and longer days. A time for travel on foreign continents in search of sun, exploring hidden [...]

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7 Amazing London Walks

Seven Amazing London Walks

You don’t have to travel to the Yorkshire Dales, or the Brecon Beacons for a nice walk.

Sometimes you simply don’t have time to take the weekend to get out of the city. If you live in London, there are loads of great walking routes, from abandoned railway lines to some of the biggest parks you can find inside a city.

Whilst a walk in the city won’t give you the raw savage beauty of the cornish coast or the stunning views over rolling hills that you might find on the South Downs it does offer views, forestry, cityscapes, parks and a rich, full history.

So, for all of you who can’t get out of the city, grab your HBB, pack it with all your essentials, and have an explore of one of these walks we’ve shortlisted for you!

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1) The Capital Ring

The Capital Ring Walk offers you the chance to see some of London’s finest scenery. Divided into 15, easy-to-walk sections, it covers 78 miles (126KM) of open space, nature reserves, Sites of Specific Scientific Interest and more.

Find out more and download maps

2) Green Chain Walk

Stretching from the River Thames to Nunhead Cemetery, the Green Chain Walk spans the fields, parks and woodlands across 50 miles of the area. Split into 11, easy-to-follow sections, this guide allows you to explore as much, or as little as you like, at your leisure.

Find out more and download maps

3) Jubilee Greenway

The most recent addition to the Walk London routes, the Jubilee Greenway is 60km long – one km for each year of the Queen’s reign, to link together all the major Games sites.

Find out more and download maps

Our Bags are great for walking with. The clever design makes your bag feel lighter, and the clever pocketing means no more rummaging around lost at the bottom of your bag.

Don’t just belive us though!

“I actually use this bag for dog walking, it has a pocket for me to put a bottle of water, the bag itself holds an ice-cream tub that i give the dogs water in. The side pockets are great for storing dog treats and poop bags and i have room for my keys, a spare lead, somewhere to put my purse/phone etc too. It might be small but it has been so useful and it’s even weather resistant so if it rains the things inside don’t get drenched!”

– Emily

“Just wanted to say I’ve now recieved my two HBBs and am loving them! Now able to walk with both arms free, love the clever deisgn… and how it can be easily opened while wearing. Thanks!”

– Sylvia

Get yours here

4) Jubilee Walkway

The Jubilee Walkway may only be 15 miles long but it contains some of London’s most iconic landmarks.

Find out more and download maps

5) Lea Valley Walkway

The Lea Valley Walk follows the route along the Lee Navigation towpath, from Waltham Abbey to the Thames at Limehouse Basin.

Find out more and download maps

6) The London Loop

Taking the London LOOP is a great way to get to know London better. Made up of 24, mostly flat or gently sloping sections, its combination of beautiful open spaces like Hainault Forest Country Park and Bushy Park, historic buildings (Hall Place and Black Jack’s Lock & Mill), makes this an enjoyable walk.

Find out more and download maps

7) Thames Path

Stretching from the lost floodplains of Richmond to the Dickensian stretches of the eastern marshes, the Thames Path offers walkers lots to see and do.

Find out more and download maps