Eats and Feats

Hello there and a very happy weekend to you, hope you’re having a wonderful one.

I’m working but it isn’t too bad so far. James has been away doing an experiment and is now recovering from his 2am starts – lots of sleep, video games and guitar playing here!

This week has been a busy one but a good one food and exercise-wise, I’ve felt pretty great and energised most of the time.

James’ absence gave me the opportunity to evaluate my evening routine and I’ve been trying to reduce the amount of screen time I get, especially close to bed time.

I turned the brightness of my screens right down and this made looking at my phone during the night (part of the job sadly) much less painful.

It wasn’t such a success when I tried to use my phone in bright sunlight the following morning though!

Eats

Oh so few pictures because I was on the road quite a bit (lots of Nakd bars) this week and James left me with a pack of chipolatas that needed eating.

Chipolatas for dinner for three nights in a row was a challenge, I kept it varied by alternating veggies and salad.

My best meal of the week happened on Monday, we went to Aqua and I adored every bite of their Tuna Nicoise salad.

It really is worth sampling their version, which features rare tuna steak, but if you want to make it yourself, Laureen has you covered.

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Free range, organic, gluten-free chipolatas with sweet potato, red onion, salad and avocado

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Vanilla coyo with raspberries

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Wild salmon, salad, sweet potato and red onion

Feats

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Sun: Run 10k with James

Mon: Walk Rufus

Tues: Sweaty Betty run club (hill training) with Laureen

Wed: Winter shape up 1, Winter shape up 2, Walk Rufus

Thus: Off

Fri: Run 5.5 miles with Julie

Yay for a good workout week with some fabulous company! I even felt energised and stress-free enough to tackle two strength/interval workouts from Fitnessista.

They were hard, sweaty (check out my lovely red face in the above pic) and I’m still sore but felt great.

I was so chuffed to be able to walk our Borrow My Doggy friend Rufus twice this week, he was a little superstar and attracted many coos and compliments.

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He definitely keeps me on my toes and by the end of our walks we are always exhausted but so happy too.

Yesterday morning started very bright and early with Julie. It was lovely to see dawn break around us and we were rewarded for our 6am rising with a gorgeous view.

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I have a feeling this weekend will be very sedentary though!

* Do you manage your screen time?

* What’s your favourite salad add-in? 

A boiled egg is always a favourite but olives are delicious too!

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My #progress pictures

Progress pictures: every social media site is crammed with them. A picture of an ‘unfit’ headless figure on the left, a teeny ‘bikini-ready’ headless figure on the right.

I totally get that they are effective tools for promoting a certain lifestyle or diet, that they motivate people and that people want to show off their hard work.

One person sharing their health journey is not something that I object to, it’s the mass bombarding of every social media site with headless figure after headless figure.

And this trend of encouraging young girls and women to pose in front of a mirror, in skimpy underwear and bikinis, taking pictures for the online world to judge.

How is it accepted, encouraged and normal?

Once a picture is posted, who cares who owns it? Who cares what it is used to promote? Anyone can splash numbers at the bottom, ‘week one’ ‘week four’ and a company logo.

These pictures are used time and time again: in collages, splashed over Facebook timelines, promoted on Twitter, on Instagram, Pinterest. It never stops.

And all we are looking at is two carefully posed moments in time. They may not be of the same headless person. Even if they are, we know nothing of their real state of health.

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It is now three years since the above picture. If I was in my underwear, you would be able to see my concave stomach, the outline of six pack abs and thighs that didn’t touch.

You wouldn’t see the way I often fainted straight after I walked up the stairs to our flat, the time I cried because I felt too weak to walk up a hill.

You wouldn’t see the zombie state I woke up in every morning because I couldn’t sleep, the split ends and frizz on my hair, the angry skin that just wouldn’t heal.

You wouldn’t see the hunger I had all the time, the miserable way I watched the clock, watched other people eat, dragged myself to the gym day after day.

In the last three years, I’ve made progress, 25lbs of it. And this is what it looks like:

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Both of the pictures were taken at the same time of day, in the same place, in the same clothes (give or take different coloured Toms and a Vivofit..).

The biggest change that I see is how joyful I am in the second picture and that’s something you wouldn’t be able to see if I didn’t have a head.

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Life is much more beautiful when you’re not hungry, when you’ve slept deeply, when you relax, exercise for company and play and wake up with clear skin and bouncy hair.

I’m not immune to seeing progress pictures and wanting to lose 5lbs, to tone up, to get a six pack but deep down, I know that it really isn’t worth it for me.

Health is so much more complicated than a size, a number, a moment picked out of hours posed in front of the mirror. It is more than comparing two headless figures.

I just wish there was a way to bombard young girls and women with that message instead of the one that they’re not simply good enough.

* What do you think about progress pictures?

* What’s the greatest indicator of health to you?

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Sushi, Valentine’s Day and a long run

Hello, hello and Happy Pancake Day to you! Any unusual topping action going down today?

I’m actually going to be celebrating this weekend due to early morning work (I’m afraid I can’t get on board with breakfast for dinner, it’s like opposites day at school..).

But, if you haven’t already found your perfect pancake day, are running short on ingredients and want a perfect banana pancake stack, I’ve got you covered here.

If you want to see what a pancake fail looks like, you’ll see one further down this post – and the top tip to prevent it happening to you!

Friday

Thanks for all the lovely messages about James passing his viva on Friday, it feels like a cloud has been lifted in our household and everyone is super chuffed, which is lovely.

I took Friday off to celebrate/commiserate with him and made the most of his two-hour grilling by having my hair cut.

From this…

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To this…

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I miss my long locks but short hair is so much more manageable and it is growing super fast at the moment.

As well as the haircut, you’ll see my face pre and post antihistamines in the pic above, I decided to try in a little dairy (my first of 2015) the previous night and it didn’t go well.

Speaking of trying non-paleo foods, I took James out to sushi for lunch post-viva and sampled a dumpling and rice (my first grains in a year or more).

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We had quite the feast and I was in culinary heaven until I started to experience the ‘sticky’ feeling around my throat and swollen stomach. Le sigh.

Our evening was spent celebrating with James’ friends and colleagues, it was really fun to meet people who knew him long before I did, like his first university lecturer.

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Dinner was super late and I was feeling deliciously bloated from our sushi feast so kept it simple with roasted veggies, salad and avocado.

Saturday – Valentine’s Day

I woke up to a lovely card and some running socks (Balega are the best for preventing blisters in my experience) and headed out for pancake ingredients.

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Alas, the only bananas available were super ripe.. the worst kind for pancakes. We decided to use them anyway and let’s just say a lot of artistic talent was used on the above plate.

After wolfing down the bananas, we headed out for a lovely walk with our furry friend Rufus.

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We had a great walk in the sunshine, met so many lovely dogs and couldn’t stop smiling. It was such a gorgeous day!

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We dropped Rufus back to his owners then I got stuck into cooking dinner and making my super sour jellies, which turned out perfectly orange and shiny.

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There may have been a slight accident when I walked the moulds over to set in the fridge, I thought I’d got away with it until James picked up his beer for the night.

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Ooops!

Sunday

Going out for a run was the obvious choice on Sunday morning, if only to test out our new socks!

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They worked a treat and helped us push through to a hilly and muddy 10k, our longest distance together since the half marathon (yes really!).

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Both of us were happy with our mile times, which started with a 9:53 and ended with 8:58 – not too shabby considering our legs were tired from the long walk the previous day too.

We were also delighted that the shop had some very unripe bananas in stock, making for some lovely pancakes.

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I washed my stack down with some kombucha, I can’t get enough of this rose and hibiscus flavour.

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After resting for an hour with the papers, it was up again and off for a five-mile walk to the big Waitrose (we are in our twenties.. honest!).

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A hearty dinner was in order and these organic, free range and gluten free chipolatas did the trick, along with a heap of roasted sweet pot, onion, garlic, salad and avocado.

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Dessert was so good I had to replenish my portion – the Equal Exchange chocolate was just ridiculously delicious.

* How did you celebrate Valentine’s Day?

* What are your favourite running socks?

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Parkrun and other fun

Hello there! Have you had a fabulous week? I hope today zips by super fast so you can enjoy the weekend!

Everything has been very busy this week, so busy that I am left filling you in on the previous weekend hours before a new one is about to begin.

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The best part of this week came a few hours ago, when James passed his PhD viva – becoming a Doctor in the process! I’m just so unbelievably proud and happy.

I could rave on and on about his calm, methodical preparation and the amazing work ethic he had shown throughout his PhD and beyond… but I think I’ll save you from it!

Instead, let’s take a look back at last weekend, which was a fabulous one.

Saturday

James and I were up bright and early to meet Hill Killer Girls Julie and Laureen for some Parkrun fun!

I haven’t been to a Parkrun for absolutely ages and the my last few were testing due to horrific asthma so it’s safe to say I was nervous when we set off.

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It was as stunner of a morning and cold but not damp, I was nicely togged up in my Fabletics gilet (surely the best piece of workout gear ever) and felt good.

Going back on steroid medication for my asthma was a difficult choice because in a way, I felt I’d failed because I couldn’t manage my symptoms with diet and lifestyle.

But I have to admit that using my medication religiously has made such a difference – now I think people wouldn’t guess I had asthma unless I told them.

Anyway, the Parkrun was busy and we started off slow. But then Julie and I picked up the pace and motored uphill. Before I knew it, the downhill stretch had arrived!

We managed a 6:57 final mile, which I was really chuffed with, but the best part for me was that there was zero evidence of my asthma. No tightness, wheezing, nothing.

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James had raced ahead and achieved a brilliant time – close to our course PB – and my time, 27.02 was miles better than my recent attempts.

We walked back to the top of the hill with Julie and Laureen, which definitely ended the Parkrun on a high before they continued  on a long run.

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Of course, there was only one thing on our minds: breakfast. I also had two rashers of free-range, organic and local bacon while James tucked into some sausages.

The rest of Saturday was spent in a happy blur, doing chores, shopping and smiling, before we sat down for dinner.

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Yum! My favourite smoked salmon fillets with sweet potato fries, perfectly ripe avocado and salad.

Sunday

All the exertion of the previous day meant we woke super hungry and ready for a quiet day of rest and relaxing.

IMG_8485Pancakes were the first order of the day before a slow day of walking, chores, reading and relaxing.

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In the afternoon I whipped up a batch of my super sour gummies, which are just beyond delicious. Then tried to stop myself from eating them all at once.

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My efforts to hold off on the sour gummies may have resulted in quite the Medjool date, dark chocolate, almond butter and raw chocolate session, so dinner was kept fairly light.

I marinated some free range turkey and veggies which I made into the savoury kebabs from Mediterranean Paleo Cooking, served with some crunch cucumber.

De-lish!

* Any plans for the weekend? 

* Do you love a food that is difficult to find?

The salmon fillets are rarely in stock as they sell out so fast but I adore them!

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Super sour jellies

I cannot stop eating these gorgeous wobbly, super sour jellies.

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And the recipe is so simple, I just had to share it with you guys. First up though, it uses grass-fed gelatin so is not suitable for vegetarians or vegans (obviously).

Gelatin is said to have many health benefits – I’d summarise them but Wellness Mama has a brilliant post here you should read instead.

I ordered Great Lakes gelatin (the red one) having heard many good things about it and see it recommended on some of my favourite blogs.

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As I’ve said many, many times, I’m no chef and have no fancy equipment in my kitchen (eg microwave, food processor, decent sized freezer…) but these gummies are so easy!

They are three ingredient – ok four if you include water – take minutes to whip up and are so brilliantly addictive you’ll forget they’re not sweets.

Super sour jellies

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Ingredients 

- Juice of two red grapefruits (I freshly squeezed into a bowl, it worked out as about a cup if you’re using shop-bought)

- Juice of 1/3 lemon (again, I freshly squeezed but it worked out at about two tablespoons)

- 1/4 cup gelatin

- 1/2 cup water

Method

- Mix grapefruit and lemon juice in a saucepan with the water

- Heat saucepan of juice and water on a medium heat

- Add gelatin bit by bit (I sprinkle it over with a teaspoon) – stirring constantly

- When all gelatin is absorbed, remove from heat and pour straight into moulds. I used ice cube trays and a glass Pyrex dish. You don’t need to pre-grease.

- Pop in the fridge and leave to set for at least one hour, preferably overnight.

- Remove from moulds and keep in fridge.

* Do you like super sour sweets? 

* Any good flavour combinations for jelly ‘sweets’? I’ve also tried fresh raspberries and plain grapefruit – the lemon adds an extra sour kick!

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Review: Garmin Vivofit

My Garmin Vivofit became part of my life back in October but I’ve put off writing a review until now in order to give you my long-term thoughts on it.

I’d been feeling like all I did was sit down all day and the idea of something keeping me accountable appealed (especially when I found a cheap price).

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Funnily, that ‘cheap price’ of £70 I paid back in October is now pretty standard for vivofit, thanks to the boom in the fitness tracker market and product development.

Key functions of the vivofit:

– Counts daily steps and calculates a personalised goal

–  Reminds you when you’ve been sedentary for too long

– Has a battery life of a year plus

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The vivofit device fits into a wristband which is fully adjustable and comes with and loop for extra security.

Fit-wise, it is really lightweight and I forget I’m wearing it. The strap is comfortable enough to sleep in and easily adjustable. I never worry about it falling off.

The vivofit device has Bluetooth and connects to Garmin Connect on my iPhone. I tend to do this each night before setting it to ‘sleep’, I like to see the goals and track my progress.

There’s also a ‘community’ function on Garmin Connect where it automatically enters you into competitions with other vivofit users who have similar step goals.

This is a huge incentive for me – seeing I’m so many steps away from first place gives me a jolt of motivation to get wandering about the house!

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Garmin Connect also works with MyFitness Pal, so you can work out your caloric needs based on the amount of movement you do.

I did try to use MFP and Garmin Connect together for a while but there seemed to be a problem syncing the two, it worked on only two or three occasions, so I gave up.

There have also been a few occasions where Garmin Connect has gone off air and I haven’t been able to sync my vivofit, which is frustrating (it takes longer to upload multiple days).

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What made the vivofit stick out for me was the display. I hadn’t worn a watch for years but it is so convenient!

You can view the time, date, steps walked, steps to go before or since your goal (which changes each day depending on how you’re doing), miles walked and calories burnt.

I love having all this on my wrist – date and time is so useful and the steps are great too.

A red line appears across the top of the screen when you’ve been sedentary for an hour, with extra mini lines following for every 15 minutes of inactivity thereafter.

You can remove this line by walking around for a period of time, a brilliant reminder to stay active and get up from the chair for a few minutes each hour or so.

???????????????????????????????My vivofit has really helped motivate me to walk more, even if its a trundle around my house while taking a phone call or up and down the stairs for a little break.

I’ve also been encouraged to take breaks and go for a walk while on the long drives I do for work, which I think has improved my health.

The vivofit does have a sleep tracker but you can also set it to ‘sleep’ between a certain time each night, then tweak the times on Garmin Connect the morning after.

I tend to put my vivofit to sleep when I get into bed and wake it up after I’ve showered. The vivofit is waterproof but I don’t like the idea of keeping it on at all times.

At first, I did keep the vivofit on during the night to see how my sleep was but I was never that interested by the stats it returned – I’m pretty tuned in to my sleep time and quality.

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My final thought is on the step counter and mile counter. The vivofit has been found to be one of the most accurate fitness trackers for calorie counting.

I’m not overly bothered about my caloric burn but being a runner, mileage is something that matters.

The vivofit doesn’t have a GPS so it isn’t surprising that the mileage is quite inaccurate if I’m on a run (it’s fine when walking) – worth bearing in mind.

I still wear my vivofit each day though, just make sure to bring my Garmin Forerunner 10 if I want to track mileage when on a run.

* Do you have a fitness tracker?

* What motivates you to walk?

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A fabulous weekend

Hello! Before I get cracking into today’s post, I just need to share a picture of Winnie, the pygmy hippo at Bristol Zoo.

I was lucky enough to score an invite to Winnie’s first birthday party yesterday, where she and mum Sirana tucked into a special cake made from vegetables.

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She is so perfectly gormless and I spent at least ten times the usual time editing footage of her – I thought every shot was way too cute to go to the cutting room floor.

Anyway, this post is all about the weekend and not the little stinker (unfortunately she actually does pong quite a bit..)

Friday

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Laureen, Julie and I met super early to enjoy a run as the sun rose above Bristol. I felt so happy to start the final day of the week on such a high note.

I worked through the day but managed to sneak out for a flat viewing with James at lunch – we need a new place for several reasons – so had a hot meal.

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I baked a sweet potato then added grilled bacon and salad. It tasted fantastic but I felt sooo sleepy after, all the Medjool dates and coffee were needed to stop my eyes closing.

Saturday

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Thanks to a very early night on Friday I woke really early on Saturday and made the most of it with some quiet reading time in bed. I’m really enjoying this book.

James and I then went for a gorgeous run, retracing the route I’d done with Laureen and Julie the morning before.

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After breakfast, we both felt energised so took a long walk across the Downs to the big Waitrose to stock up on free range bacon and dark chocolate coated marshmallows.

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I’d left some raspberries out for defrosting and blended them with some water before adding gelatin to make gummies (using the recipe from Real Life Paleo).

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I ordered the gelatin last week to see if it would make a difference to creaky joints and dry skin, we’ve been having a portion each day in preparation for running this year.

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Dinner was a new favourite, veggies and free range turkey cooked in broth with lots of garlic, chilli and sea salt. Love eating such colourful food!

Sunday

We both woke up super hungry so headed straight out to pick up some essentials (maple syrup, papers) before tucking in to breakfast.

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If you’re struggling with banana pancakes, my first suggestion would be to use a green banana. It makes such a difference.

We used over ripe bananas on Saturday and the result was a terrible mess of burnt, falling apart pancakes that stuck to the pan.

After breakfast, we walked down into the city to pick up a new strap and some tapes for my video camera (yes, my kit was built in 1998.. I take pride in keeping it alive).

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I had a few phone calls to make so did a big walk, which just happened to end at Wild Oats, where I spotted these mini Booja Booja boxes.

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My afternoon snack was a gorgeous apple with some vanoffe chocolate, it’s perfect when you’re craving Dairy Milk.

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Dinner was free range, organic chipolatas, sweet potato fries and onion and salad covered in chives. Followed by Medjool dates and dark chocolate.

* Do you like gummies? Ever tried making your own?

* What are you reading at the moment?

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