Lent 

For most of my generation Lent has lost it’s religious meaning and instead has manifested in to a period of restriction and another fad diet.

I’ve seen it (and done it myself) countless times where people give up all the foods/drinks they believe to be ‘bad’. 

This is where the problem begins. Labelling foods into groups of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ or foods you are allowed to eat and others you feel guilty for eating is where many falter before they’ve even gotten started with their ‘diet’. This unhealthy relationship with food tends to spiral out of control pretty quickly and ultimately leads to people giving up on their health and returning to their old ways. How many times have you heard of someone giving up chocolate for Lent… but they’ve had a Dairy Milk bar by day 2. 

I’ve experienced first hand the reason as to why this happens. Pyscologically, if you tell yourself you can’t have something, you actually think about it more than if you were not restricting yourself and it is ALL you want! 

Whereas, I have not said to myself that I’m not allowed to have chocolate, I just don’t have it regularly and this works. I don’t often think about it and if I do have it I don’t feel bad or feel like I have to punish myself in the gym because I had it!

So rather than ‘giving up’ something for Lent… start to make lifestyle changes today, tomorrow or whenever you feel ready. Don’t tell yourself you can’t have something but instead start to look into a healthier alternative and maybe swap out some of the things that don’t make you feel so great! You’ll notice real, sustainable changes and you won’t feel like you’re missing out on anything! 

And if you still feel like you have to get involved in Lent, give up something unrelated to food. Last year, I gave up having negative thoughts about myself and my body.

L x 

Marathon Training – Week 3

Day 1 – 30 minutes Cross-Trainer

I was really lacking motivation before this workout. I’m really not a fan of the cross-trainer as I never really feel like I get the same workout as when I run but I understood I just had to get it done. I alternated between high-resistance and speed to vary the intensity of my session – which kept my head in the game a little longer. In the end, I actually left the gym feeling grateful for the low-impact workout!

Day 2 – Rest

Day 3 – 3 miles

I ran on the treadmill in the morning before work. I watched a BBC documentary about SAS training to pass the time. I’m starting to get bored of the indoor workouts and am getting excited for the better weather to come! Training in the Summer months is always a lot more enjoyable but the hard work has to continue throughout the Winter! I finished my session with a bit of foam rolling (painful but necessary!)

Day 4 – 5 miles

The weather was so terrible so I had to run on the treadmill at the gym. Generally, if I can avoid doing anything longer than 3 miles on the treadmill I will but in this case I just couldn’t run outside! I’ve really grown to prefer being outdoors and running where I know the finish line is when I make it home rather than the mental game of when you stop on the treadmill.

Day 5 – 3 miles

Another pre-work run in the gym. As much as I prefer running outdoors, I like the atmosphere in the gym in the morning. It’s other like-minded individuals chasing similar goals and that motivates me! I finished up my workout with some core work and more foam rolling. Brandon and I then had a fun sober Friday evening at his Granny and Grandad’s for dinner, followed by a night with the space geeks at The Royal Observatory in Edinburgh! I’m finding lots of alternatives to nights out and still have a social life whilst abstaining from drinking throughout my training. 

Day 6 – Rest

I had a relatively productive rest day. I went to get my nails done in the morning and then we were over at Brandon’s Mum’s house clearing our stuff out of their garage as Stuart is getting a treadmill (so you know where I’ll be when that arrives!) I got up at 8am and didn’t sit down again until well after 5pm. We also went and got our food shop for the week (between Aldi and Sainbury’s) so we’re all set for meal prepping!

Day 7 – 10 miles

I left the house in a crop top and sunglasses and enjoyed gorgeous weather for about 5 miles and then I got soaked! I don’t mind running in the rain – in fact I quite enjoy it… It felt good and I really settled into the run. I found my rhythm and my splits were pretty even. My average pace was just 0.01 seconds faster than last weeks 9 mile run – which shows how consistent my pacing has become! 



Total: 21 miles

I’ve had another good strong week of pushing myself and have proven to myself (again!) what my body is capable of. A little self-belief and I might actually be able to run this marathon! 

Bring on week 4! 

L x

Simple Weeknight Dinner – Turkey Mince

Ingredients

  • Turkey Mince (as little or as much as you like – we always cook extra for lunches/leftovers)
  • 1 can Chopped Tomatoes
  • Garlic – 2 cloves
  • 1 White Onion
  • Tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1/4 Tsp Cumin
  • Chilli Flakes or 1 Fresh Chilli 
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

    Method

    1. Melt coconut oil (or any other oil of your choosing) in a pan on a medium heat.
    2. Add onion and garlic and fry until browning.
    3. Add turkey mince and fry until there are no visible pink pieces of meat left.
    4. Pour in chopped tomatoes and add the spices.
    5. Mix altogether and simmer until the turkey mince is cooked through and the juices from the tomatoes are being absorbed.

    Healthy food doesn’t have to be complicated or contain loads of ingredients you’ve never heard of! This meal is cheap, accessible and you can choose how your serve it. You can also add any leftover veg in the fridge (as I have done in the above picture by adding a green pepper that needed used) and I’m pretty sure it would still taste great – don’t hold me to that! We’ve tried it in stuffed peppers, with rice and poured over sweet potato wedges… all 3 are delicious! 

    Give it a go and let me know what you think!

    L x

    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

    Joe Wicks – Lean in 15

    He’s pretty much been dubbed the health and fitness guru of 2016… so when Brandon bought me one of Joe Wicks’ books back in September for my birthday, I was excited to see what all the hype was about! At the time we were on a pretty strict cutting diet and as his recipes leave out calorie and macro counts, we decided not to put it to use straight away.

    However, after a couple of months of more intuitive eating, enjoying the Festive season and recovering from illness it seemed rather fitting that we get started with Lean in 15 to get things back on track!

    We picked out our meals for the week and did the food shop – which was not cheap! A lot of fresh ingredients means it can get pretty pricey but in my opinion, it’s definitely worth it. It’s much more satisfying to know exactly what ingredients are going into your meal and knowing that it’s all the good stuff! For us personally, another thing that adds cost (and previously put us off using recipe books) is the ingredients you have to buy just to use 1 tablespoon of it! Although the more we’re cooking, the more we’re building up our “store-cupboard staples.”

    On Monday night, I was still feeling pretty rubbish so we decided to make the hearty-looking Chicken Pie first. I’d never made a pie until then- we actually had to buy a pie dish – so I was pretty excited for this right of passage in the kitchen! It was very simple to make, with ingredients that were easy to get hold of which is a bonus for a first-timer like me! It also only requires 20 minutes in the oven after all the prep is done – so it’s perfect for a mid-week dinner. As a pie-rookie, I don’t have anything else to compare it to, but if I do say so myself it was really tasty! Both Brandon and I wolfed it down and went back for seconds. This probably defeats the purpose of it being healthy but we’re both recovering from being pretty unwell the last few weeks and it was exactly what we were needing to feel a little better.


    Next up was Tuesday night’s Asian Duck Salad! I love all things Asian when it comes to food so I was slightly underwhelmed when I didn’t have much of an appetite for it. Something beige and carby sounded far more like what I was wanting. Nevertheless, we’d spent the money on all the fresh stuff and there was no way that was going to waste, so we gave it a go! I was actually pleasantly surprised… We cooked the duck for slightly longer than the 1 and a half minutes recommended as it was still looking pretty pink at that point and other than that it turned out that it did in fact hit the spot and I was glad to be nourishing my body properly with ACTUAL GREEN VEGETABLES!

    I was working late on Wednesday and was not feeling well at all so didn’t eat much. It was Thursday before we returned to Lean in 15. We were heading out to see Jack Whitehall performing at the Edinburgh Playhouse after work so we needed something that didn’t take long to prepare and cook. It was Lamb Koftas on the menu and they did not disappoint. I prepped them in just under 10 minutes and they didn’t take long under the grill at all. We’ve previously bought similar pre-made products from the supermarkets and I never will again! These were fresh, full of flavour and we got a lot more for our money by buying a big pack of lean lamb mince. I didn’t get a picture as they were not as aesthetically pleasing as the other dishes we’ve tried so far but don’t judge a book by its cover!

    Friday night’s dinner was perfect and one the yummiest dishes of the week, Steak with Chorizo and Kale. Again, it was another really quick dish to make – especially if you like your steak rare like I do! I wouldn’t normally have paired steak and chorizo and I’d never actually tried kale before but I was committed to following the recipes by the book. As a result, I discovered I really like kale. I also felt fully satiated afterwards – which I was dubious as to whether I would with the lack of carbohydrates on the plate. 

    I’m loving following Lean in 15 so far for 2 reasons; the meals are really tasty and I’m having a lot of fun in the kitchen! I highly recommend anyone looking to start following a healthy eating plan to get themselves a copy of one of Joe Wicks’ books. You won’t regret it! 

    Has anyone else tried any of his recipes before? What did you think? 

    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 Eight – A Massive Cheat Day

    Today we visited Mimi’s Bakehouse (a family run bakery in Edinburgh) to celebrate Brandon’s Mum’s retirement. I had never been before but it was a cake lovers paradise. I think I may now actually be a converted cake lover. I think about cupcakes on a pretty much daily basis nowadays! I didn’t hold back at brunch either – I’m nearly there, right?

    My intake was:

    • Ciabatta Roll w/ Pork and Caramelised Onion Sausages
    • Mars Bar Chocolate Cake (this was out of this world!)
    • Chinese (I gave in to the cravings!)

    After brunch we went into town shopping but I could hardly move from being so full so it was good to walk it off. I am coming towards the end of my challenge but I don’t feel overly guilty as I’m allowing myself a treat whilst eating healthily 90% of the time. We then had a Chinese for dinner which I did regret immediately afterwards. I wasn’t even really that hungry and I allowed my cravings to take control of my choices. I also wolfed it down at 9pm, so I’m off to bed feeling full and awful. I need to get back on it tomorrow (and stay on it this time). I’ve been far too lax and I feel like I’ve let myself down right at the end.

    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