Eating Out In Amsterdam

I’m just home from an incredible 3-day city break in Amsterdam and I couldn’t be more upset about it. The minute we arrived in our hotel to leaving for the airport to fly home it was crazy busy but brilliant!

We stayed in a gorgeous hotel, The Hoxton, in an area called 9 streets. The hotel came highly recommended to us by a friend and it did not disappoint! We had an amazing room with a view out on to the canal so we couldn’t have asked for more.


However, I was apprehensive about having a weekend away from my normal routine, with the start of my marathon training cycle due to begin in just a weeks time. With no room in my hand luggage for my runners, I set about researching some healthy eateries to ensure that I at least stayed relatively on track with my nutrition. Upon arriving in Amsterdam, I quickly realised that it wasn’t going to be hard to eat well there. Being a pretty hip city, it was way ahead of the game in terms of health cafes and restaurants. This being said, I was also there to enjoy myself just before my training began so I didn’t want to be too strict with it.

On Friday, we were pretty hungry after travelling and arrived at our hotel just in time for lunch. We decided to dine at the hotels restaurant and use the time to get our bearings and figure out a plan of action for the coming days. The restaurant, Lotti’s, had quite a short menu but also offered good options for breakfast, lunch and dinner all within the one menu. I quite fancied a steak (one of my go-to choices when eating out as you can easily keep it relatively low-calorie by pairing with a salad or veg) but as it was lunchtime I opted for a salad instead. Chicken Caesar salad. Now this dish is a tricky one as once you add up the sauce, the Parmesan cheese and croutons, your lettuce based dish could end up clocking in at 1000+ calories. I’m a little fussy when it comes to ordering this. I always ask for dressing on the side – that way I can add the bare minimum or none at all. I also tend to request no croutons as I don’t really see the sense in ordering a salad if you’re going to eat half a loaf of crispy bread through it. However, in certain situations, I sometimes feel uncomfortable or feel it is not appropriate to be making such demands so I just leave them to the side. This time, Lotti’s were super accommodating and I got my dressing on the side! The salad itself; I’d give it a 6/10.

Friday night was a little bit of a disaster. We walked for miles across the city before we came to the restaurant where we eventually dined. We just hadn’t planned things properly and by the time we arrived and got a table it was well after 9pm and we were starving from the days exertions. We ate at an Argentinian restaurant in Jordaan called Salmuera. On walking through the door to our table we walked past a huge grill full of chicken, steak, pork and fish with the spicy aromas filling the air immediately…mmm!! At this point I knew we’d made a good choice and I was going to be able to eat well there. We both went for a 1/2 grilled chicken and shared a side of mixed vegetables and sweet potato. It was a high class Nandos – and that’s not a bad thing! 8/10.


I forgot to mention we drank quite a lot of red wine in the Argentinian place so I woke up on the Saturday morning feeling less than fresh – but still determined to stick to my plan of eating as well as possible. That went out the window when we ventured to The Pancake Bakery! It seemed like half of Amsterdam had the same idea.. but it’s always a good sign when you have to wait for a table. After Brandon convincing me I deserved it after all the walking we’d done (and it didn’t take a lot of convincing) I ordered a crepe style pancake with Nutella. It was everything that dreams are made of. I’m sure you can all imagine… but it beat me, I ended up feeling sick and couldn’t finish it. At that point I realised I’d made an error and should have gone for one of their savoury giant omelettes – which looked incredible! It still gets a solid 7/10 but be prepared for the laidback service!


Lunch on Saturday was on the go! We ended up getting a Braatwurst from a stall, Braat! on the rooftop terrace of the Heineken Experience. This was a solid 10/10. It was far from what I’d choose as a healthy lunch option back home but it tasted amazing and I really wanted to try it – so I decided not to deny myself a simple pleasure.

It was Italian (one of my favourite cuisines EVER!) on Saturday night at Casa Di David. It was just a short walk from our hotel which was also a bonus! We’d tried to get in on the Friday evening but they were fully booked – a good sign – so we had to wait! Make a reservation if you want to go at the weekend. I had Amatriciana bucatini (a kind of thick spaghetti-like pasta) and it was delicious. The carbs were most-welcomed after a long day of walking all over the ENTIRE city! I wish I’d worn my Fitbit to track how many miles we walked/steps we’d done.

Pancakes were on the menu again for Sunday morning. This time, we dined at a really cool restaurant, Mook, which was quite a walk from our hotel – but oh, so worth it! The simple, clean interior oozed style and it was clear we were in one of Amsterdam’s hip, well established brunch locations. Surrounded by loads of cool and quirky people, we couldn’t wait to get a look at the menu! Brandon was excited to see stacks of pancakes being served around us and we both opted for the Blue Magic Pancakes – organic pancakes served with blueberries, maple syrup and coconut. Brandon chose the deluxe version which included strawberries and banana too! They were absolutely delicious but again, I couldn’t finish them! It felt naughty but healthy at the same time! I highly rate this restaurant and would 100% return if I’m ever back in the city.


I realised I am a creature of habit when I ended up ordering another Caesar salad for lunch at a gorgeous restaurant we discovered, Herengracht, located in the Herengracht area. Either that or it’s just a popular salad that a lot of restaurants have on their menu. We dined outside in their terraced garden area with Brandon’s friends despite the sub-zero temperatures. That might be a bit of an exaggeration but it was close! I made my usual requests and to my surprise the waitress got it right without writing anything down. My salad arrived and it was delicious; a definite 9/10. Maybe it was the addition of the bacon but I wasn’t even jealous watching the boys eat club sandwiches and french onion soup!


Sadly, after all that our weekend in Amsterdam came to and end and it was off to the airport to catch our flight home! There was so much we didn’t see or do and I would love to return to experience it again and check out more of the places we discovered to eat!

I hope this is of some use to you all if you ever find yourselves in the Netherlands wondering where to eat out!

L x

I’m Back!

After what feels like forever (it’s actually been a quick four months) I am back in the world of blogging! I may have taken a break from writing, but there has certainly been no breaks in my life as of recent… It’s been all go, since I was last detailing my journey through 100 days of health and well-being.

I learned a lot in those 100 days and it certainly was not the end of my story. I’ve stuck with my gym routine and continued focusing on my nutrition, having genuinely transformed my entire lifestyle in just a short 3 and a half months.

Here’s what I’ve been up to over the last 4 months whilst I’ve been away from blogging about my fitness efforts;

  • I completed my 10km Race for Life in 55 minutes (a PB) and raised just over £400 for Cancer Research UK. The race was on Father’s Day and I was crying at the start, thinking about how proud my Dad would be if he could see where I was and how I had changed my entire outlook on life! I found my fire!

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  • Brandon and I purchased our first flat together in the beautiful area of Stockbridge in Edinburgh. We moved in at the end of June and it’s currently a work in progress but our vision is coming together bit by bit.

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  • I signed up to my first Marathon in Edinburgh. Fast and flat is how it’s described! I needed a new challenge and I’ve got until May 2017 to prepare – so my blog will most likely shift focus to my Marathon training in the next few months.

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  • I’ve started a new meal plan and am now eating more than ever – and fueling my body for all the hard work I put it through. I’ll be going into more detail about this in my coming posts!

  • I’ve taken up Spinning in the gym and have a new-found love for the bike! However, it has yet to surpass my love for running.
  • We booked a holiday! Brandon and I are off to Tenerife for a week of sun at the end of October – I literally cannot wait! The all-inclusive buffet is calling my name…
  • I read a book which gripped me from the beginning and has stuck firmly with me since I finished it. It’s a must read – Finding Ultra by Rich Roll. It details his journey of neglecting the life of a typical 40 year old, overweight male to becoming one of the fittest men in the world; and all the challenges in between. Keep your eyes peeled for a full review to follow!
  • For my birthday weekend, Brandon surprised me with entry to Bear Gryll’s Survival Race 5km… and even signed himself up to do it with me! I bet he wishes he had a normal girlfriend who wasn’t obsessed with adventure! It was a tough slog of blood, sweat and tears – literally… but we got through it together and we finished!!

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Anyways, that’s all from me for just now.. I was just checking in!

See you all very soon,

L x

2 Weeks to Go!

In just 2 weeks I’ll be taking on my first charity run – the Race For Life 10km in aid of Cancer Research. I’ve already raised £260 and my training is going really well so I’m feeling pretty positive about it. I’m excited for the adrenaline of race day and looking forward to running alongside thousands of other women who believe in the same cause I do.

It’s been gorgeous weather all week and I took advantage of that last Sunday, dragging Brandon outside for a run with me. Most of my friends were out having drinks as it was a bank holiday, however I didn’t even feel like I was missing out as I could not have had a better day out in the sunshine on a scenic run. I had planned to run a full 10km but the heat and hunger got the better of me (it was pretty close to dinner time) and we ended up running around 5km. Brandon had also just trained legs the day before, so I kind of felt like I was torturing him by forcing him to run through that pain.

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I’ve been keeping up with my Body Pump class as well. Even though it was really sunny outside and I would have much rather been relaxing in the evening after work, I forced myself to go on Tuesday and I was glad of it. I love the class and I always leave feeling like I’ve worked all my muscles properly. My legs in particular (it burns!) are starting to take shape so I’m pleased with the results this class is giving me. I only attend once a week but I would highly recommend this to anyone looking to get in shape. It’s the perfect strength training if you’re not as confident doing it yourself in the gym.

My day off on Thursday was spent in the garden reading my book for the majority of the morning and early afternoon. I didn’t quite appreciate how strong the sun in Scotland is and I ended up getting pretty burnt. This unexpectedly altered my training in the gym on Friday. I set off with the intention of training my legs as I would be able to rest them over the weekend, but as my shoulders were so burnt I knew it would hurt a lot to hold the bar across my back to squat. This meant I had to re-evaluate. I was geared up for a big sweaty leg session but I ended up getting on the treadmill instead. I’ve been feeling a little bit held back by the treadmill recently as I’ve been setting times or distances and finding myself struggling a lot. I realised this was a mental game I had to beat so I got on the treadmill and decided not to set anything, I would just run. I found a good rhythm and I was able just to keep going. I ended up running my first 10km in 1 hour and 5 seconds. I now have 14 days to drop this time under the hour! Even if it’s 59:59 I’ll be elated!

I hope you’ve all also had a great week in and out of the gym!

L x

Reflecting On My 100 Day Journey

I went into this challenge as a pretty weak individual – I don’t mean physically, but rather I had lost my way in life. All I cared about was losing weight and logging hours of cardio meaning I completely lost sight of all the things that really matter – like my friends, my family, my boyfriend, my job and just generally life outside of exercise and calorie counting. Ironically, I now pretty much live in the gym but things are completely different for me.

So what did I expect from this challenge?

Firstly, I thought I’d eat completely clean for the entire 100 days. I thought I’d have 0 cheat meals and eliminate all sweet treats/crisps etc from my diet.

I didn’t anticipate that I would skip any workouts. I went into this with a plan that I’d work out 5 days a week, every single week and I’d achieve my dream body.

I also thought I’d completely change as a person. I saw myself leaping out of bed, excited to take on the day and eating acai-bowls for breakfast.

What did I actually achieve/get out of completing this journey?

I found a healthy balance in my diet. I eat well 90% of the time but I do allow myself a little treat when I want it, knowing that if I’m working hard, I deserve it. A cheat meal keeps me on track – it satisfies cravings and reiterates to me that I much prefer eating well and my body feels a lot better for it.

I have come to love exercise and no longer use it as a form of punishment. In particular, I have found a passion for both running and lifting weights. I discovered a class at my gym that I love and now attend regularly. At just a mere 22 years of age, I’m in the best shape of my life and I’m  finally happy and confident with my body. I work out 4 or 5 times a week because I WANT to, not because I feel I HAVE to and that has been one of the biggest changes I have made.

I have completely changed as a person. My previous expectations were unrealistic and were formed in a very unhealthy mind. I have come to realise that noone is perfect and life does not always play out the way you want it to, no matter how meticulously you plan things. Life is not how you see on Instagram. No-one posts when they are ill, tired or just having an off day and we all have those days. I am now living my life, rather than just existing in a world of restricting myself. I listen to my body and I am learning every day what works for me in terms of my health.

Going forward, I am 100% committed to continue on this journey to improve my health and happiness. I am learning from my own mistakes, creating and overcoming new challenges all the time and I’m really growing up.

I know what I want from my life and I am determined enough to get there. I have realised that the things we want/dream of don’t just all fall into place but rather I am putting them in place. I can’t stress enough the impact that getting my health in order has had on the rest of my life. I am much happier in my job, I have a better relationship with my boyfriend and I enjoy time spent with my friends a lot more now. I put it down to the fact that I am more focused and I’m in a good head space.

I won’t be posting every day as before purely because I’m a lot busier now, both in work and my social life but I will be continuing to update this blog with my progress. I hope to post more about my workouts, nutrition tips and recipes!

Happy Reading!

L x

 

Day Ninety Seven – Steak Night

I was working so unfortunately that meant I couldn’t fit in my workout before work. I really must start going for outdoor runs when I am restricted by the gym opening hours but there is something in my head that goes ‘nope, it’s the weekend, NO workouts!’ I definitely tend to be a lot more relaxed at the weekend, with my diet as well. I also find that because Brandon is home and off work, I like to make the most of this time with him, often eating out. However, I’m hoping to get back into a workout routine on the weekends once I am settled in my new flat and find some new local running routes.

I was really craving a Chinese takeaway but I didn’t want the steaks we had planned to go to waste and Brandon managed to talk some sense into me. I had a really nice night in and even managed to stay awake through an entire movie which I haven’t done for a long time. We watched End of Watch for the second time (I fell asleep the first) and I’d highly recommend it! It was a lovely night in chilling with some red wine to accompany.

My intake for the day was:

  • Nutrigrain Raisin Bake
  • Graze Snack Pack
  • Steak, Asparagus and Tomatoes
  • 4 Ferrero Rochers (woops)

The chocolates were a gift from a colleague in work and they are really hard to say no to! I can’t believe how much of a sweet tooth I have developed.

Anyways, we’re up early to go for brunch tomorrow. Enjoy your Saturday nights!

L x

Day Fifty – The Halfway Mark

It’s a monumental Monday in my personal challenge today – 50 days in! I can’t believe I’m halfway through this crazy roller-coaster of a journey! It’s been amazing so far despite having my bad days (the entirety of last week in particular) but I’ve put that behind me and I’m using this milestone as motivation to get back on track and stay there.

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I went into my workout with a great attitude this morning and although it was hard getting back into it, I loved it and pushed myself to keep going every single time I wanted to give up. I used all the guilt (and carbs) from last week to fuel my run and managed to hit 7km. It may not have been the best time in the world but I still got up and worked out, which is better than sitting on my ass.

My intake for the day was:

  • Black Grapes
  • Nutrigrain Granola Bar
  • 2 Warburton’s Thins w/ Ham
  • Banana Soreen Lunchbox Loaf
  • Chicken w/ White Rice
  • Apple
  • Tesco Salted Popcorn Bag
  • M&S Kids Cottage Pie w/ Salad

I went for a sunbed after work. Disclaimer: I don’t condone the use of sunbeds in conjuction with a healthy lifestyle, but I definitely love a little bit of Vitamin D in my life. There’s something about the sun, the heat and a tan that just makes life seem that little bit easier so I’m super happy that it’s brightening up and warming up in Edinburgh.

Brandon is away down south this week for the induction period of his new job, meaning I have the flat to myself. I’ve had a really chilled out evening and started re-watching a tv series I previously loved, The Good Wife. I’m only 3 episodes in and I’m obsessed again already! I love having TV series’ to binge watch in the evening; I guess my lazy nights are a little reward for my hard working mornings.

I’m off to get an early night for tomorrow’s workout!

L x

Day Forty Nine – Looking Forward

Things are looking up after a pretty rough week. I’m taking this Sunday to reflect upon where I went wrong throughout the week and attempting to move on from this. I have been stressed, burnt out and emotional (there’s a lot going on in my life right now) and instead of dealing with that all head on, I ate to comfort myself. I ate and ate and ate all week and have managed to gain around 4-6lbs which I’m certainly not happy about. I only trained 4 days this week and I generally just disappointed myself from so many angles. Dwelling on one bad day during the week sent me into a self-destructive spiral and I won’t let that happen again. I’ve got my head back in the game and am ready to smash it next week and really push towards my goals!

I’ve had another really busy day packing up our kitchen, sorting other bits and bobs throughout the flat and cleaning; but I’m pretty much packed now and it’s nice to sit down with some candles on in a clean space. I’m excited to try and take a more minimalist approach when we eventually get a new flat; all the crap is gone!

My intake for today was:

  • A Bowl of Cornflakes and Rice Krispies (did anyone else mix cereals as a kid?)
  • Pasta w/ Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese
  • Salt and Vinegar SnackaJacks
  • Chicken w/ White Rice and Broccoli

Now time to chill and prepare for the coming week!

L x

 

Day Forty Five – Get Up And Show Up

This morning, for the first time since I began this journey, I actually turned off my 6am alarm in favour of one at 7.30am – but I got up 5 minutes after doing so as I felt so guilty about skipping the gym and could not sleep.

I have no idea how my body managed this as I could not even walk. My muscles were in absolute agony but I managed to push myself and ran 7km. It was pretty tough and not my best time but I felt great just for even going to the gym in the end.

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My intake for the day was:

  • 2 Apples
  • Nutrigrain Blueberry Bar
  • 2 x Chicken, Brown Rice and Broccoli (Lunch and Dinner)
  • Easter Egg

After work I went to get my nails done which was as relaxing as ever. It makes me so much happier/makes me feel great about myself. I went for a really cool aqua colour that matches my gym leggings – what more could a girl want?

I had some more chocolate again tonight and I loved every single heavenly moment that it melted in my mouth! Cadbury’s > Life. Goodnight.

L x

Day Forty Four – Tuesday Tip

Exercise is all about finding something you love, otherwise it’s a chore. If you don’t have the passion and drive for what you’re doing, you won’t stick to it and it won’t work for you. I’ve found that love through running. However, I’m not saying that I absolutely LOVE logging endless hours on the treadmill but I enjoy that it gives me the strength and endurance to perform better and progress myself when I do get the chance to run outdoors. It’s great shaving minutes off my times.

I skipped my cardio at the gym this morning due to a sore knee and shin splints. I’m considering going to see a professional about this as I’m unsure if it’s something I really need to be concerned about or if I’m just overdoing it on the treadmill. Instead, I targeted my full body with a weights session and focused a lot on my legs – which are now like jelly. As my weights sessions are never as long, I had some spare time afterwards to go and enjoy some down time in Starbucks with a black coffee before work.

My intake for the day was:

  • Black Grapes
  • Apple
  • Nutrigrain Blueberry Bar
  • Ski Smooth Raspberry Yoghurt
  • 2 Wholemeal Warburtons Thins w/ Ham (not enough for lunch after the gym)
  • Chicken w/ Brown Rice and Broccoli

After dinner, Brandon and I dropped my car at a garage as it’s needing an MOT – why does everything you need to splash out money on come at once? When we got home we were relaxing on the sofa and I decided to treat myself to half of one of the easter eggs we’d been given. It’s not strictly part of my plans but I didn’t feel guilty as I know I’m working out a lot and it won’t be a regular thing!

Now it’s off to bed to get a good sleep for tomorrow’s session!

L x

Day Fifteen – Feeling Energised

In the past I have suffered from a serious lack of energy and lethargy, which I now put down to poor diet and my sleeping pattern. I was either eating far too little or binging on rubbish. I would also then be up half the night or napping throughout the day (not saying there is anything wrong with the odd nap). However, since altering my eating habits to incorporate a clean, healthy way of life; I have seen a massive difference in my energy levels; they’re more consistent.  I am still tired when I get home at night (which is expected) however, I no longer experience massive highs or lulls in energy. Right now, I’m exactly where I want to be; in an amazing cycle where I’m feeling motivated. I’m motivated to excercise and in turn I’m seeing results which then motivates me to keep eating right, which then gives me the fuel to work out more; and so it continues.

The key for me was making this a lifestyle, rather than a gruelling diet which I would eventually give up on. There’s no way I’m giving up on this. I feel amazing, my confidence is coming back and I am just generally happier. It’s not only a physical journey for me, but a mental one too, where I’m eliminating previous bad behaviours and thoughts!

With my positive attitude becoming more prominent every day, my workouts are also increasingly productive. This morning I ran 5km at 10km/h. I then focused on my core and my arms. My baby guns are coming on brilliantly. There’s nothing I love more than seeing a girl with toned arms!

Today I ate quite a lot:

  • Black and Red Grapes
  • Melon and Pineapple Slices
  • Sweet Chilli Snack a Jacks
  • Chicken and Couscous
  • Cajun Chicken and Potato Wedges

..and I picked at the fridge this evening.

I’ve had a really long day and had a flat viewing after work at 7pm, meaning I didn’t get home ’til well after 7.30! I grabbed a quick and healthy ready meal from Marks and Spencers thinking I’d just fire it in the microwave when I got home. I then realised it actually took 20 minutes to cook in the oven – I could have cried. So I ended up picking at bits of ham, a half eaten cereal bar etc. I hate doing that as it always makes me feel like I’ve eaten loads more than I actually have. I prefer to be able to accurately track what I’ve had.

But tomorrow is a new day and I’m ready for it!

L x