A lazy girls journey to fitness – part 2

It’s been a while since I posted an update on my fitness journey, so, now is the time!

I’ve actually been working really hard, being consistent with my diet (for the most part, I still allow for a few G&Ts once in a while and a dinner out with friends, because life, my dear, is for living!), and trying to push myself in my workouts. I’m still inherently lazy, and it is still tempting to slack off and not try but I’ve set myself a goal and I’m a stubborn Capricorn. I shall not give up!

When I first started on this journey I couldn’t run for 10 minutes.  I can now run a 10k (in 63 mins – I am NOT built for speed), I can make it through a class without wanting to kill myself, and I am getting stronger in what I can lift.  These are all the things that are important: getting general levels of fitness up, eating better, and feeling better.

In terms of results:

In October when I joined the gym I weighed 68.9kgs and was 35.6% body fat.  Those are horrible figures for someone who is 5 foot 5 and 27!  Yesterday (5th July) I had a body scan with my fabulous PT and the results are looking good.  He kept saying figures to me and I didn’t really understand them! But he was smiling so I figured it was good.  These are the headlines:  I now weigh 60.8kgs, and have dropped to 22% body fat.  I’ve gone from a body fat mass of 24.4kgs to 13.8kgs – that’s a loss of 10.6kgs of fat! I’ve put on 2.6kgs of muscle too.

My progress is slow, but my progress is progress and that is what is important in the end. There is still a long way to go, lots to improve, more fun things to try, a lot more sweaty nights in the gym ahead!

If you are struggling with your journey to fitness, I’ve found the following useful to think about.  Be kind to yourself.  Don’t feel guilty or like a failure if you have a few bad days.  No road is easy, keep going, and remember you are doing this to make yourself feel better.  Cute workout clothes will make it less of a chore!

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Yummy and healthy banana protein pancakes!

There are so many recipies out there for banana protein pancakes! As soon as you start googling you are thrown a list of recipies that all promise to be ‘the best’! Some have oats, some cottage cheese, some call for whipping the egg whites seperately, and others appear to require a full moon and some chanting!

The below recipie is my favourite one at the moment – super speedy and so easy! These are fabulous before or after the gym, and something I would eat everyday if I was left to my own devices!

Ingredients (serves 1)

1 large banana

1 large egg

25 grams oats

1 scoop vanilla protein powder (25 grams)

1 tsp cinnamon

To serve

1 tbsp low fat creme fraiche

Blueberries (or any fruit you fancy!)

Honey

Instructions:

Throw all the ingredients together in a bowl and blitz with a stick blender until you have a batter!

Heat a non stick frying pan and dollop the batter into 3 puddles.

Fry the pancakes for approx 90 seconds on each side.

Stack, and serve with a spoonful of creme fraiche, some soft fruit and a drizzle of honey.

Enjoy!

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(I wasn’t patient enough to take a proper photo, hence a quick snap, fork in hand!!!)

Nutrition

Based on the above, my maths says thats these pancakes should be roughly at the below:

458 calories

30.4g protein

69.1g carbs

(29.1g sugars)

8.8g fat

10.6g fibre

Hope you enjoy these as much as my greedy face does!

“Feed me Seymour…”

I recently posted about how I’d decided to go on a health kick and make some changes to my life. One of the biggest parts of this is working on improving my diet. It was terrible, mainly consisting of white carbs, chocolate, and cheese. I just didn’t want to make any meals in the evenings, and my lunches were just whatever was on offer on the high street. Very unhealthy and very expensive. Not enough of any of the good things, and much too much fat and sugar.

The new daily diet plans looks something like this:

Breakfast – one scoop protein shake with fruits and skimmed milk

Snack – nuts and raisins

Lunch – grilled chicken or salmon with spinach, veggies, avocado, and grains (quinoa, couscous etc.)

Snack – banana

Dinner – 2 egg omelette with sweet potato, spinach, red peppers

Snack – 50g dark chocolate (need chocolate in my life!)

If it’s been a particularly heavy session in the gym I’ll add in another protein shake, but the above comes to around 1750 calories which is what seems to be absolutely plenty. I don’t want to spend my days counting calories, so I’m trying to stick to a couple of new habits:

– no white carbs

– 2/3rds of the plate must be veggies

– make better snack choices!

– if feeling peckish drink a glass of water first before getting a snack (often I’m not actually hungry, but thirsty instead!)

I’ll keep you posted on how this all goes, I’ve been doing it for a few weeks, but that’s not enough time to test a new diet. But I can say I already have lots more energy and feel much less bloated! Hurrah!

A lazy girls journey to fitness

Despite my best attempts, you cannot survive on chocolate and gin alone.  I recently decided to go on a health kick, change my terrible diet, and start moving.  I didn’t realise how quickly you lose your fitness, and over the last few years my life has become increasingly sedentary and my body increasingly wobbly.

So, in October 17 I decided to join the gym – very much ‘all the gear and no idea’ – and was promptly told that I was 35% body fat (what!?) and that my metabolic age was that of someone 20 years older.  Eeek – not good at all.  I was actually really ashamed when I saw those results – how on earth had I allowed my body to get into such a way?  My family has lots of health problems and issues around food, and I felt terrible that as one of the few without these problems, I’d actually been doing damage to myself anyway.

At first, I have to be honest, I was half-assing it. Didn’t change my diet effectively and was quite relaxed about missing sessions.  Whilst losing weight and fat, I wasn’t achieving anything significant.  After checking in on my weight and body fat in Jan 18, whilst I had made some progress, it was clear it wasn’t going in a great direction.  I wasn’t really sure what my goals were, other than to lose weight, so my workouts were directionless and inefficient.

I now have an utterly wonderful Personal Trainer who is pushing me and making me accountable.  Every time I walk into my gym (which is much more regularly!) it feels like I have a support system there.  The gyms motto is ‘never train alone’ and they really deliver on that.  You know everyone by name and they welcome you as you pop in.  I still have the tendency to want to give up sooner than I need to, the knowledge that someone is watching you and actually rooting for you, seems to quickly help the motivation and gives an extra spurt of energy!

I have made more progress in this month than I have in any other since joining, and finally it seems that going to the gym has become my new habit. Rather than slobbing on the sofa watching another terrible film I’m pulling on my leggings and heading out the door.

I read a very interesting article in The Pool recently which was talking the complex issues we have today with being ‘skinny’, and it made me realise that at first my motivation to move myself was purely based on the way I look.  But now I’m feeling better and living better, I am considering the aesthetics of it as a positive side effect.  So here’s my rather messy progress shot:

In terms of how I’ve improved my diet, I’ll write a separate post on that, but as I say above, you cannot survive on chocolate alone!

I still have lots of work to do to get myself fitter, and I’m actually now very excited about the journey!

Living with Anxiety

The last few months have thrown my progress in handling my anxiety down a flight of stairs.  I’m not sure what the trigger was, perhaps the breakdown of a long term relationship, or increased pressure at work, or something else entirely.  But I write this after crying in the middle of Terminal 4 at Heathrow, on my way to Rome for a series of meetings for work.  As I write this, I have spent the last 2 hours panicking that I haven’t checked in correctly, despite 1) having printed out my boarding pass, and 2) gotten through security!

I have managed to convince myself that I have done this all incorrectly, and will not be allowed onto my flight.  I have in the last 2 hours – rang the airline to check (they say it is all fine!), asked the information people at the airport (they say it is all fine), found the airline information desk (they say it is all fine, and that I have picked a nice seat!) – and yet, here I am, sat waiting for the gate to be announced, panicking that they are all wrong, and I will not be allowed onto the flight.  I have been panicking to the point that I haven’t been able to stop myself from crying, my heart feels like it may stop at any moment, and I have the overwhelming urge to vomit.  I mean – I have now become *THAT* person at the airport!

I am not normally an anxious flier.  I have flown countless times, and on my own a number of time, with no problems what-so-ever.  But today has been different.  I’m not anxious about flying – I’m anxious about EVERYTHING, and this had been a catalyst.  I have noticed a huge spike in my feeling of anxiety in the last 3 months.  Sleeping is difficult, work is difficult – everything is difficult. Writing helps. Anxiety is a difficult thing to live with. But this too shall pass.

#redhairdontcare

I’m a natural redhead, which is something that makes me incredibly happy!  That hasn’t always been the case, whilst at university I decided to have some fun with my hair, and dyed it all the colours I could: pillar box red, black, purple… you name it I tried it.

Over the last few years I’ve been going back to my ‘roots’.  However natural red hair does start to fade with age *sobs*.  So I’ve been looking at ways to brighten up my locks.  Usual tips to stop red hair fading are: using colour depositing shampoos, rinsing hair with cranberry juice, using sulfate free hair products etc.  None of these have really given me the result I’ve been looking for, so today I picked up a box dye and gave it a whirl!

I opted for  L’Oreal Casting Crème Gloss Hair Dye Auburn Henna 4.43.  This appears rather dark on the box but, from experience, my hair doesn’t tend to go as dark or as bright as on the boxes, and red colours do tend to fade quickly, so thought this would be a good option.

It always looks like a murder scene whilst washing out red hair dye, but that always makes me chuckle!

 

**I messed up and put the ‘before’ picture after the ‘after’ picture, but I’m lazy and not much in the mood to change it!  You get the gist 🙂

 

 

 

 

Favourite skincare – July

Ah, Skincare.  Must admit I’m relatively new to *actually* having a routine that extends beyond removing my makeup, washing vaguely with some soap and slapping on some moisturiser. Oh how things have changed!

Here’s a quick rundown of what I’m loving this month

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Makeup remover:  Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water
This stuff is AMAZING! Gets rid of all the grub on your face with just the smallest amount. Not harsh on the skin at all, and you can use it on your eye makeup and not look like you’ve gone ten rounds with Anthony Joshua. 10/10 – this will always have a place in my makeup bag

Toner: Neils Yard Rehyrdrating Rose
My mum gave me this bottle after trying it and finding it doesn’t suit her skin.  All I can say is that that was lucky for me!  Gosh this stuff smells amazing.  It’s really refreshing on the skin and acts as a great preparation for serums and moisturisers. Love that is organic.  This looks to be on it’s way to be a firm favourite.

Cleanser/Exfoliator: Nip and Fab Glycolic Fix Pads
I have been raving about these to anyone who’ll listen for at least the last year.  As someone who suffers from acne and redness these have done an amazing job of evening out my skin tone and I’ve noticed a massive difference in the texture of my skin. As with anything containing Glycolic Acid, you MUST wear a suncream after using.

Moisturiser: Oil of Olay Beauty Fluid
A CLASSIC! Gosh this stuff really punches above its weight.  This is a lightweight moisturiser that sinks into the skin in seconds.  It has a slightly old fashioned fragrance to it – I can imagine people either love it or hate it. Personally I love it.  I love the price, I love the texture, I love how well it works, and I love that it keeps my skin moisturised all day.  If you have dry skin, this probably isn’t going to be great for you – but for me, with normal/combo skin, this is perfect.  Anything heavier and I break out like no ones business.

Serum: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
Everyone is talking about this brand.  So I’ve jumped on the bandwagon and am trying this stuff out.  Only a few days into using this, but so far I’m in love.  Use it just after cleansing and toning, and before applying any creams.  Comes in the cutest dropper bottle, and it has been really easy to incorporate into my routine.  So far, so good.

Direct Acids: The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%
Another product I’m trying out from The Ordinary.  Have heard great things about Azelaic Acids, and after the success of using Nip and Fabs Glycolic Fix Pads I wanted to give this a try.  Using this in the evenings only, this applies like a dream and after 4 days I’m already noticing a brightening effect.  Its just lovely and looks on its way to become a firm favourite.

Is there anything you’re loving at the moment? Let me know in the comments 🙂

Sunday night dinners

On Sundays I try to prepare myself for the week ahead. The afternoons usually consist of a bit of life admin – a chance for me to catch up on all the things I haven’t had a moment to do in the week.

Tonight I decided to do a spot of batch cooking and, let’s be honest here, nothing really beats a homemade curry!

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This recipe is originally taken from Jamie Oliver – Jools easy chicken curry – with a couple of tweaks depending on what was in my kitchen cupboard!

This serves 6 – its cheap and easy to make, and relatively healthy! You can easily add in some extra flair to the portions that you have in the fridge or freezer, if like me, you live alone and get bored of having the same thing everyday!

Ingredients:

1 onion (I used a leek instead as I had one lying around!)
4cm piece of ginger
2 cloves of garlic
olive oil (used sunflower oil as I hate frying with olive oil)
2 tablespoons tikka masala paste
3 tablespoons natural yoghurt (used low fat natural yoghurt and about 5 tablespoons as not as set at normal natural yoghurt)
2 tablespoons tomato purée (didn’t have any! So didn’t put any in!)
8 skinless higher-welfare chicken thighs (used 6 as that’s all I had!)
1 x 400 g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 x 400 g tin of green lentils
1 x 400 g tin of light coconut milk
2 handfuls of baby spinach (love spinach so used a whole bag!)
2 tablespoons mango chutney

**I also put in one small courgette, as it was looking mournfully at me from the fridge and needed using up!

Method:

1. Dice the onion (or leek in my case) and soften it in a frying pan with a splash of oil.  Finely mince the ginger and garlic and add to the softened onions.
2. Mix the masala paste, tomato puree and natural yoghurt together in a bowl and add in the chicken thighs until they are completely covered.  Pour the chicken thighs and yoghurt mix into the frying pan with the onions and brown them for 5 or so mins.
3. Add in the tinned onions, drained lentils, and coconut milk to the pan and bring to the boil.  Reduce to a simmer and leave to cook for an hour.  (If using soft veg like courgette I add this in around half way through)
4. Once thoroughly cooked, take the chicken from the sauce and shred it with a fork (this is a bit of an annoying step – but worth it!) and then add the shredded chicken back to the pan.
5. Stir in some generous spoonfuls of mango chutney, and add in as much spinach as you like! Allow the spinach to wilt into the sauce.
6. Serve with whatever takes your fancy!  Personally I love it with rice, a dollop more of natural yoghurt on top with even more chutney. With a squeeze of lime and a sprinkle of coriander… delish!!!

This freezes really well, and is great on its own, or with rice and jacket potatoes etc.

Let me know if you try it out and what you think of it 🙂

 

Peace begins with a smile

When I was around 13 I fell off of my bike (or perhaps more accurately, catapulted off my bike) and went face first into the curb.  I came off worst!  I’d fractured the roots of one of my front teeth, and done a fair bit of damage to a few others.  After many agonising trips to the dentist to have my teeth cemented back together and effectively glued back into my mouth, I felt lucky not to have lost any of my teeth.  One of the side effects of the fractured roots was that my front tooth became unbearably sensitive to temperature. Even walking outside caused a sharp stab of pain all the way up to the top of my head. So back to the dentists I went to have a root canal to remove the nerves and stop the pain.

I would not say that I was a vain person, but I do take pride in my appearance.  About 10 years after this incident, the damage I’d done was beginning to have a visible effect.  My front tooth was becoming much darker, and was clearly dead..   I started to smile exclusively with my mouth closed and cover my mouth when talking so to hide my now very notable black tooth.

They say that one of the first things that people notice about someone is their smile – and mine was making me incredibly self conscious.  I’m not really one to go in for cosmetic treatments (I haven’t the money, nor really the inclination), but after crying my eyes out after looking in the mirror one day, I realised that I needed to do something – and so off I went to the dentist to see what could be done.

I have a fantastic dentists surgery and they talked me through the options (removal of the root canal and then internal bleaching of the tooth, crowns, dental implants etc.) and recommended the best thing.  This was to be a crown.  I was scared!  Having a metal rod drilled into my tooth, then the exterior of the tooth drilled down to nothing then something glued on top!? Eek. But you know what?  It’s the best decision I’ve made in years.  The 2 appointments to get it done were a breeze – I can tell you honestly that I didn’t feel a thing!  They just drilled my tooth down, added in the metal rod, took some rather sexy photos (n.b: worst photos ever) and fitted me with a temporary crown whilst the real one was being specially made and colour matched! I must be honest in that I did request a few other cheeky changes so to improve my smile further.. 2 birds 1 stone and that..

2 weeks passed and the final crown arrived – I’m thrilled with the results.  It’s made a huge difference to my self esteem and confidence.  I now don’t think about how I should smile or if I should cover my mouth and I can now bite into foods and not worry about my tooth crumbling away or breaking.  What I’ve learnt is that if something like this is beginning to have the effect on your day to day life, and its easy enough to change – you should go for it. You will not regret it.

Was it expensive?  Yes

Was it worth it?  Immeasurably.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Red Shoes

The 1948 film of The Red Shoes is one of my all time favourites.  Beautiful, tragic, and wonderful.  When I discovered that my favourite choreographer was turning it into a ballet, I was thrilled, and knew I had to get tickets to see it.

Matthew Bourne has been my favourite choreographer since I first saw his rendition of ‘The Nutcracker’ on DVD in 2005.  After that I devoured as much of his work as I possibly could, and have seen his versions of ‘Sleeping Beauty’, ‘Swan Lake’ ‘Edward Scissorhands’, and ‘Cinderella’ as Saddlers Wells.  I also have the DVDs of his ballet of Carmen (The Car Man), and the Nutcracker ready for me to consume at my pleasure.

When my other half surprised me with tickets to see The Red Shoes for our anniversary he scored some serious brownie points!  He’s not interested in dance or theatre so this was a super cute gesture from him (his interests are golf and football!)

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We saw this at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff which is a perfect venue.  It is iconic and a great home for theatre, dance, and music in Cardiff.

The programme, to my utmost joy, is in Welsh and English, which hopefully means I’ll be able to use it to help my learning of Welsh, but perhaps best off to start smaller!

The ballet was enthralling.  Bourne swept us away into the world Lermontov’s ballet company, and we watching in awe as the passion, hopes, and despair of Vicky Page were played out before us.  The staging was perfect – with the central piece of set being a swirling and rotating proscenium arch that sweeps up the dancers and directs our glare between the front and backstage, and forces us to recognise the struggle behind producing such art.  The music was also, perfect.  It is not the score from the film, but instead re-orchestrations of the incredible Bernard Herrmann’s early scores. This was a masterstroke, and the score swelled and ebbed with incredible beauty and carried us relentlessly through the action on stage.

Bourne’s choreography was iconic and artful, as always.  The stamina of the company must be applauded as there was never a moment of rest throughout the acts.  My one thought was that the storytelling fell down very slightly in the second act, and it seems almost rushed to get Vicky’s demise.  The other half didn’t understand much of the second act, and found it rather hard to follow.  That being said, it was still an incredibly poignant and heartbreaking moment (not ashamed to say that I cried my eyes out).

The Red Shoes exceed my hopes.  This was a truly fantastic rendition of such a treasured film.  I cannot wait to see it again.