WIAW #7

Whoops! It’s Thursday! I don’t know where the week has gone… I’ll get straight to the point with yesterdays eats.

Breakfast was yet another variation of oats. This time mixed with yoghurt, grated apple and cinnamon. I still feel like I’m eating apple crumble every time I mix those ingredients.

Oats with yoghurt, apple and cinnamon

Oats with yoghurt, apple and cinnamon

Lunch was made in hurry, you can probably tell by the way this salad is haphazardly thrown together! Lambs lettuce, cherry tomatoes, avocado, mozzarella all drizzled with pesto and served with a chunk of multi-grain baguette. This definitely hit the spot!

Mozzarella, Tomato and Avocado Salad with Pesto

Mozzarella, Tomato and Avocado Salad with Pesto

The Man and I haven’t quite made it to the supermarket this week, but I managed to pull together all the ingredients to make a Chicken & Lentil Balti. The benefits of keeping your store cupboard and freezer full! It might not look very appetising, but I assure you it is goooood. Even better, I have some leftover for lunch today. Not sure the rest of my office will be so pleased about that. Sorry guys!

Chicken and Lentil Balti with wholegrain basmati rice, a wholemeal pitta and mango chutney.

Chicken and Lentil Balti with wholegrain basmati rice, a wholemeal pitta and mango chutney.

With the fruit bowl empty and me pretty full from 3 big meals, there was no snacking yesterday!

Me Vs. The R Word

Yesterday was my first running event of the season. Notice how I don’t use the R word. The reason for that is that I am actually not the least bit competitive.

I’ve always enjoyed participating in various sports and activities but have always crumbled under the slightest bit of pressure to compete. I’ll give you some examples from my childhood…

Trampolining

Loved it! I couldn’t get enough of the training. I practiced my routines til I could do them in my sleep.

The day of the competition arrived and gone was the energetic, confident Me, and in her place was a tearful, shaking mess who could barely climb up onto the trampoline let alone complete my routine. I sobbed the whole way home.

The next day at training I completed my routine perfectly – much to the great annoyance of my coach.

The Flute

(Geek Alert!!)

Playing the flute came naturally to me and I really enjoyed practicing and playing with the school orchestra.

One teacher insisted that if I wanted to continue playing, I had to do the grades. Cue more shaking and tears. I don’t think I managed to get more than 5 notes out of the flute come assessment day and even those were wrong ones. I sobbed the whole way home again.

The next day in my lesson, I breezed through the scales – much to the great annoyance of my teacher.

 

I could go on with examples, but I think you see the pattern emerging here. Too much pressure to perform on the day = failure & tears.

Maybe it comes down to the fact that I know that I will never be the best and that actually, I’m not that bothered about it.

I tend to be middle of the road in most things I do. I  start off pretty well, picking up the basic skills with ease, but then it comes to a certain point and I just stop progressing. I was a member of many teams and clubs – swimming, netball, drama,  athletics and of course trampolining. But I was never the star player.

I am Jack of all trades and Master of none.

Luckily for me, I am also a firm believer that it’s the taking part that counts.

So back to my point, yesterday’s running event.

Several weeks back, Gym Buddy asked me if I wanted to join her and another guy she knows on an organised 10k run in our local town. I of course agreed.

Gym buddy and I began training together. The guy, who is a member of a running club, did not train with us. For some reason, Gym Buddy was under the impression that the The Guy was about the same pace as us. One week before the event, Gym Buddy and The Guy went for a run together and very quickly found out that that wasn’t the case. We shall now rename The Guy  as Slow Man. (Sorry, Slow Man!)

Nevertheless, we promised to stay together. Since I wasn’t expecting a world record, winners medal or even a PB  – I wasn’t bothered  in the slightest about taking it slowly. Instead, Gym Buddy and I were planning to use it as a workout, a bit of fun and a good start to the season.

With that in mind, we hit the gym for a 40 minute upper body circuit before we met Slow Man to head towards the start line. The weather was perfect, seriously perfect. Bright sunshine, around 18 degrees, with a delightful breeze. The route took us through the country side down lanes, tow paths and bridleways. We saw fields, ponies and even a Llama would you believe it. Gym buddy and I chatted and laughed the whole way (whilst Slow Man puffed a few paces behind us). It was probably the most enjoyable run I have even been on. We made up for the slow pace by adding in some  sprints, then jogging back to join Slow Man.

We reached the finish line after 1 hour 11mins (about 20 minutes slower than our usual pace) but it didn’t matter a bit. We had a fantastic time and felt like winners. So much so that Gym Buddy and I have already signed up for our next event, a 10mile run at the beginning of June.

Slow man on the other hand probably never wants to do another event with such hyperactive and noisy companions. Perhaps we did overdo the Lucozade a little…

 

Me Vs. New Kit

Leave me unattended with the laptop for an evening and I will most likely end up indulging in some ‘virtual’ online shopping. I say ‘virtual’ because I don’t actually buy anything. I just put lots of things in my basket, dream for a little while about a) How amazing it would be to actually own those things and b) How I could find a way to afford those things….then eventually resign to the fact that short of winning the lottery it isn’t going to happen and close the laptop in a huff.

Lately though, my virtual shopping has extended from Topshop & ASOS to JD Sports, the Nike Store and Sweaty Betty.

In my dream world, I’d have an entire wardrobe dedicated purely to workout clothing and trainers. Lorna at Lunges and Lycra has got the right idea with her huge collection of trainers – soooo jealous!!

Wearing the right clothing does not only make working out more comfortable but it also makes me feel the part, which in turn, makes me act the part too.

Crazy though it might sound, the right clothes make me feel stronger and faster. When I made the switch from a baggy old pair of jogging bottoms to a new pair of Nike running tights it was like something clicked inside me. Suddenly I felt like I belonged at the gym.

In fact, investing (doesn’t that word make spending feel less guilty?!) in new workout clothes boosts my motivation in two different ways.

  1. It motivates me to get out of the door. Some days, this can be the biggest hurdle to overcome!
  2. It motivates me to work hard. Unfortunately, getting out of the door is only half of the battle. Tempting though it may be to plod along on the X-Trainer for 20 minutes, I think we all know by now that it doesn’t give you the best results. You’ve got to work up a sweat!

Think of it this way. You can’t rock up at the gym in sexy new Nike Flyknits and then just hang around the water cooler for an hour, now can you?! Or worse still, leave the lovely little things lurking at the back of the cupboard unused, Quel Horreur!!  These sorts of trainers need to be out pounding the pavements…or at least pounding the treadmill if you don’t want to get them dirty (they are so pretty after all).

I mean who wouldn’t want to go for a run EVERYDAY if they owned a pair of these…

Shame  that my budget dictates that I have to make do with my trusty but boring, plain, black Asics. Hmph. Guess I’ll have to dig deep to find some motivation within for now.

P.S. Unfortunately for me Nike hasn’t endorsed this post. I really am just a big Nike fan who wants, but can’t afford, to buy their entire ladies range. Shame.

What workout gear gets you motivated? What new kit are you lusting after at the moment?

WIAW #6

It’s my 6th week of participating in WIAW and I’m coming to realise so many great benefits of this weekly post!

  1. It gives me the motivation to continue eating healthily. No one wants to see pics of McDonald’s now do they?! Not that I really like McDonalds all that much, but you get my point…Healthy (or at least home made) food always looks so much prettier. 
  2. It encourages me to make an effort to vary my diet. It’s so easy to get stuck in a food rut, but now I have an audience (even if its only a very tiny one at the moment!) to think about too. No one is going to be interested in seeing the same 3 meals week after week.
  3. It helps me to keep an eye on portions. Spending one day a week photographing everything I eat helps me to understand how much I am really eating. It’s so easy to get carried away with a nibble here and an extra snack there, but photographing everything helps me to focus on whether I really am hungry, or if I’m just snacking because I’m bored.

And with that, here is what I ate yesterday…

Another shopping trip without a fully formed list resulted in an excess of eggs. For the millionth time. When will I stop picking up a dozen every time I go to the supermarket just in case. Just in case what exactly?!

On the bright side, we had a loaf of rather tasty multiseeded bread in the house leftover from the weekend, so I whipped up some scrambled eggs on toast for breakfast this morning. I must say I enjoyed the change!

Scrambled Eggs on Multigrain Toast

Scrambled Eggs on Multigrain Toast

The weather has warmed up just a smidgen, so I decided to brave a salad. I picked up a pot of Sainsburys Taste the Difference Greek Salad which has a mix of baby salad leaves with piccolo tomatoes, feta cheese, olives and a lemon and dill dressing. I also added the king of salad – avocado.

Greek(ish) Salad

Greek(ish) Salad

In the afternoon I snacked on some fruit. Obviously not the whole bowl…I really only put this picture in to prove that I do in fact have a full fruit bowl like I said in my post last Friday!

Photo 09-04-2013 19 21 42

For dinner we had sirloin steak with sweet potato wedges and fine green beans. I also made a sauce/dip using some low fat creme fraiche that was lurking in the fridge.

Steak, Sweet Potato Wedges & Fine Green Beans

Steak, Sweet Potato Wedges & Fine Green Beans

Creme Fraiche with paprika and lemon.

Creme Fraiche with paprika and lemon.

Why don’t you give WIAW a try too! Click the button below for more details…

Me Vs. The RAF Fitness Test

Over the weekend I caught up with my 17 year old cousin who is currently going through screening to enter the RAF as a Mechanic. He’d recently passed the Fitness Test and I was intrigued to hear what it consisted of.

The thing that stood out to me was the running test:

  • Complete 2.4km in 11 minutes and 11 seconds or less (on a treadmill)

I like to think of myself as quite fit, but that sounded pretty fast!

Despite having absolutely no intention of attempting to join the armed forces (sorry – the title of this blog is probably a bit misleading!) I decided I needed to know whether I could do it.

This morning I hit the gym to give it a go. I calculated that I would need to set the speed to 13 kmph – yikes! Despite having pretty long legs, I usually consider 14 kmph to be a sprint for me – I accepted long ago that I am definitely built for endurance not speed!

After 5 minutes I was blowing pretty hard. I turned the speed down to catch my breath, then cranked it back up again. Towards the end I had to speed up to 14.5 kmph to try make up some ground. But damnit, I didn’t quite make it!!!!!!

2.4km in 11mins 45seconds.

2.4km in 11 mins 45 seconds.

A quick google when I arrived home and I discovered that as a woman I’d in fact only need to do it in 13 minutes and 23 seconds.

Still, I am not satisfied. I am absolutely determined to do it in less that 11 minutes and 11 seconds, so watch this space…

In fact, consider it a challenge to any fellow runners/gym goers out there reading this…I hope to see some shakey pics of sweaty treadmills soon!

Friday Fridge Raid

Tonight I got home from work a little earlier than usual and so fancied making something Fridayish. Which basically means something a) More time consuming and complicated than my mid week 30 minute meals and/or b) More indulgent than my usual repertoire.

Photo 05-04-2013 18 36 35

However, in our house, we usually do the food shopping on a Sunday, which means that come Friday the fridge is looking pretty bare. Anything that can be found in there, should be treated with suspicion.

From looking at this picture alone, you could be forgiven for thinking that I am an alcoholic who lives on yoghurt, jam and condiments alone. I assure you that is not true! I also have a fully stocked fruit bowl, honest.

 

After a little rummaging in the store cupboard, I discovered I had all the ingredients to make a Chicken Risotto. Perfect Friday night food!

Many years ago I learnt how to make Jamie Oliver’s Basic Risotto. Nowadays I pretty much know the recipe off by heart and simply adapt it to suit the contents of my fridge.

Tonight I made a garlic and rosemary risotto, with a dollop of half fat creme fraiche added at the end instead of the butter. Then I topped it with oven baked chicken breasts which had been seasoned with garlic, rosemary, the juice and zest of a lemon and black pepper. I served with a sprinkle more lemon zest, parmesan cheese, black pepper and an abundance of broccoli!

Lemon, Garlic & Rosemary Risotto with Oven Baked Chicken.

Lemon, Garlic & Rosemary Risotto with Oven Baked Chicken.

Served with broccoli!

Served with broccoli.

The Man gave up a takeaway with the boys for this, so I was nervous to hear his verdict…

His exact words were “A strong 8.5 out of 10.”

High praise indeed for a man who is more steak and chips than lemon zest and broccoli.

Me Vs. Hills

I admit it, I plan my running routes to avoid hills.

All well and good if the upcoming race you are training for avoids hills too…

Alas, mine doesn’t. In fact, there is a pretty mammoth hill to climb to get to the finish line. Bummer!

It’s not like I totally avoid hills altogether – actually I’d go as far as to say that I enjoy doing Tabata hill sprints on the treadmill (is that weird?!). Deep down though, I know that it isn’t enough. Don’t get me wrong, Tabata hill sprints make for an extremely sweaty workout and I will definitely continue to do them. But it’s just not the same as having to climb a ‘never ending’ hill in the middle of a 10k race.

With only 10 days til Race Day, this morning Gym Buddy and I figured it might be a good idea to pull our heads out of the sand and drag ourselves up some hills.

The changing of clocks has made the mornings dark again so getting up has been a struggle. To make matters worse, it is still bitterly cold and windy out. Had I had sensed even the teeniest tiniest droplet of rain, I think I would have been back under the duvet in a flash!

With our brains still in bed (it was 06:50AM !) we couldn’t come up with a decent 10k route which incorporated some hills, so instead we did a couple of loops around a shorter route. The main hill is a particularly long and nasty one. The sort where the peak seems to be an ever moving target, like trying to find the end of a rainbow. The gradient eases but never seems to level off entirely. And worst of all, when you do finally get to the top it doesn’t offer the relief of an instant downhill.

We conquered it twice despite a bit of resistance from my usually patient left knee. However, I can’t exactly say that we had as much fun as usual. Instead of constant chatter and laughter along the way, all I could hear was some poor soul gasping for breath…Oh, that was me.

Chocolate & Raspberry Porridge

Chocolate & Raspberry Porridge

When I arrived home , my skin was stinging an attractive shade of red from the cold. So I warmed up with a tasty bowl of Chocolate & Raspberry porridge. Note to self, next time – add more chocolate!

Enough moaning, it’s time to man up. Next week the aim is to complete 3 loops.

Runners out there – do hills ever get any easier?

WIAW #5

The 4 day Bank Holiday weekend combined with the clocks going forward has left my body clock and I (yes we are two separate entities) totally confused. I really feel like Wednesday has snuck up on me! So this week it really is what I ate [on] Wednesday….

I had to stay at the office until after midnight last night, so I skipped my morning workout (boo!) this morning in favour of an extra hour in bed. I still woke up feeling a bit groggy, so the plan for the day was healthy comfort food. I know from experience that if I don’t satisfy my appetite enough throughout the day when I am  tired then come the evening I can end up head first in the biscuit barrel. So I made a conscious decision to focus on healthy and filling foods that would leave me satisfied, without worrying too much about the calorie count.

My breakfast this morning was inspired by a recipe posted by a fellow porridge lover – Stevie at  Cinnamon Soliloquy. Why oh why have I never thought of chocolate porridge before??? What a super idea!

I enjoyed this breakfast but I don’t think the two flavours combined are my personal favourite. Next time I might try straight chocolate. Or chocolate and raspberry!

Chocolate and Banana Porridge

Chocolate and Banana Porridge

At lunch, I just had time to nip into M&S and pick up something super quick. I noticed this new Moroccan Spiced Butternut & Couscous Salad with Roasted Carrot Dip and just had to try it. On closer inspection I found it also contains quinoa, pomegranate seeds, raisins, chickpeas, coriander, spinach and dried apricot – all good things in my mind! And WOW it really did hit the spot – spicy, tangy, sweet but also creamy because of the carrot dip. Not only delicious and nutritious, it was filling too…but me being the greedy little cretin I am, I also had a wholemeal roll on the side. (I did warn you that I love my carbs!)

M&S Moroccan Spiced Butternut & Couscous Salad with Roasted Carrot Dip

M&S Moroccan Spiced Butternut & Couscous Salad with Roasted Carrot Dip

For my mid afternoon munchies I nibbled on some mixed nuts with dried fruit. A snack which I love, but truly resent for being so high in calories. I like to convince myself that my thighs understand that the nutritional benefits balance out the high calorie count. Please don’t make me sad by telling me otherwise.

The Man cooked dinner tonight – result! A huge chicken breast stuffed with herby soft cheese & sundried tomatoes then wrapped in bacon, with spicy peppers & onions and a man mountain of mash potato.

Chicken stuffed with herby soft cheese, spicy peppers & onions and mash potato. Courtesy of The Man.

Chicken stuffed with herby soft cheese, spicy peppers & onions and mash potato. Courtesy of The Man.

I think it is safe to say that I am satisfied!

Me Vs. Easter

My scales and I are not on speaking terms this morning and I blame Jesus and his Lindt bunny disciples.

I also blame Hot Cross buns. And Wine. And the late night burger and chips I ate. And the bacon and egg baguette I needed.  And creme eggs. And the cheese scones I baked.

OK so it’s pretty obvious who’s really to blame…

Me.

It all started so well, Friday morning Gym Buddy and I hit the gym at 08:00 for a 90 minute full body work out. I arrived home ravenous (see previous post about my extraordinary post workout hunger!) and that is when the halo started slipping. I think it finally came crashing down when I was polishing off a burger and chips at 01:00 AM after a boozy girls night out.

When I woke up on Easter Sunday I sealed the deal by eating an entire Lindt Gold Bunny for breakfast. Yep, you read that right.

Ironic really that this supposedly Holy holiday seems to encourage  gluttony these days – oh wait, maybe it’s just me?! (Tell me it’s not just me?!)

This morning I dragged my bloated body out of bed to the gym for this workout:

  • Burpees (30 seconds)
  • Deadlifts x 8 (30kg)
  • Shoulder Press x 8 (8kg Dumbell in each hand)
  • Sumo Squats x 8 (8kg Kettle Bells in each hand, held in front)
  • Bent Over Rows x 8 (20kg)
  • Press Ups x 10

Repeat 6 times. 

  • Plank on the Swiss Ball (rolling ball in and out)
  • Crunches on the Bosu x 15
  • Side Plank (30 secs each side)

Repeat 3 times.

It’s slow going, but I am back on track and hope to be able to report that my scales have forgiven me come the end of the week….

In the meantime, someone PLEASE ease my guilt a little by telling me about your overindulgence’s this Bank Holiday weekend!

Me Vs. Post Workout Hunger

My appetite after running is incredible.

Take this morning for instance.

Before leaving the house, I drank a pint of water and ate one of the homemade Hot Cross Buns I had made the night before (another post to come on those!) I knew as I was eating it that it was a bit of a mistake and that I should only eat half, but I don’t really do the whole ‘save half for later’ thing – I salute those who can manage this, but I am more of a ‘have one now…and then have another one later too’  kind of girl. That my friends is why I will never be a skinny minny.

Anyway, I then ran 6.5 miles as scheduled with Gym Buddy. It was a windy run again (no, still not that sort of wind, even after the hot cross bun) which made it tough, but the sun was shining so we kept our chins up.

On returning from my run, I then had my real breakfast which was a banana, oats, yoghurt and berries (the hot cross bun was more of an accidental breakfast, so doesn’t count alright?) and some more water. Pretty substantial right? A good blend of carbs, protein and fruit – just what my body needs post run.

By 10:00AM, despite 2 cups of coffee, my stomach was rumbling! What is that all about??

Fortunately for my belly, one kind soul at the office had brought in some homemade Tiffin. Which as it happens, tastes suspiciously like Rocky Road. Anyone know the difference?! Either way, it was yummy.

So belly was satisfied for a little longer. But it came at a price. Before 10:30AM I had almost certainly consumed more calories than I burnt running this morning.

There’s still a lot of hours left in the day to eat my way through!

I’m not suggesting for a second that I would have been better off staying in bed this morning and therefore having a slightly smaller appetite. I’d rather gain all the fantastic health benefits of exercise and eat like a horse any day.

I just can’t help but think it’s all a little bit unfair that my appetite seems to totally overestimate my calorific needs! I’ve been exercising regularly now for nearly 12 months, you’d think my body would have realised that I am definitely NOT going to let it starve.

So come on appetite, relax, chill out, I will continue to feed you cake – I promise!