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

How To Push Through When The Going Gets Tough

There is no one set rule book when it comes to running and how every individual body reacts to different situations so it’s impossible to predict how you will feel day-to-day, on each run and throughout a period of training. It’s easy when everything is going great but when you hit a bump in the road, it’s how you deal with it that determines your progress.

For example, some people see the sun and they are straight outdoors, whilst others prefer the cooler temperatures of the winter running season. 5 miles one day may feel like a total breeze, whilst other days it may feel like 26.2. It’s important to remember the good days when the bad days come creeping along.

I’ve been feeling a bit demotivated recently with the change in season. I’ve noticed that I’m feeling like I’d much rather be at home tucking into a hearty meal with the heating on than dragging myself to the gym. I’ve had to seriously talk myself into my workouts in order to stay consistent with my training and ensure I’m reaching my goals. Not to mention, I also have a holiday coming up in 3 weeks.. so now is not the time to be pigging out!

Here’s what I’ve been doing to stay on track:

  1. Track your training and nutrition – My Fitness Pal and my Believe Journal have been my best friends over the last few weeks. I use them to stay accountable. On the days when I can’t be bothered with a run or a gym class, I ask myself ‘do I really want to log 0 miles in my journal today?’ and the answer is no! I want to log more miles than last week – and thus far, that’s been enough to keep me going! I also find it pretty tough to track when I’ve gone off track with my nutrition so I much prefer to stick to meals I know I can log accurately on MFP and that way I know I’m fueling my body with the right stuff.
  2. Meetup.com – I discovered this website very recently which aims to connect people with similar interests and I found that there is a local running meet-up near where I live every Sunday. Training with others is a great way to maintain motivation, push yourself and even when you don’t feel like you’re having a great session, someone else may be having the best session of their life. I’m a firm believer that positive energy rubs off on others and this may be exactly what you need to find your love for the sport again. I’m hoping that in spending some time with others who also love running, it won’t feel as difficult as it has been feeling.
  3. Try something new – Maybe you don’t feel like training because it’s gotten repetitive and you’re so used to it. I’m certainly going through that at the moment, so I decided to do something totally out of my comfort zone. I signed up to a Hot Yoga class at a local studio. I’ve only ever done yoga once before and I can’t say I loved it, but I’ve heard great things about the benefits of introducing it to a running routine. I’m excited because I took the plunge to give it a go and it’s bound to be something a little bit different from my current training regime!

I can’t preach that these things will work for everyone but I’m hoping that they’ll keep me in the groove and on track throughout the coming winter months. Why not give it a go? I’ll be posting a review of my Hot Yoga experience after my first class so keep an eye out!

Have a great weekend!

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

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 Seventy Seven – Claim Your Own Happiness

I have learned a very valuable lesson about control since the beginning of this journey. It can be a very dangerous and at the same time, amazing thing. Around a year ago, I thought I was in control of everything. I decided how little I ate, how often I exercised and how many times a day I weighed myself. I had it all fully under control, right? WRONG. I was digging my own grave and I didn’t even realise it. I was losing weight, which at the time was the only thing that made me happy but I couldn’t see that in actual fact I was stuck in a cycle of misery: obsessed by food and totally out of control.

After I realised the pain I was causing myself and my loved ones, I decided I would beat this and claim back my happiness. I consciously made that decision and took all the steps necessary to get to where I am now. I’m not claiming it’s easy to turn things around when life gets tough but I now believe that it is possible for anyone.

I know a number of people who are unhappy with their weight/don’t feel confident in themselves but don’t take any steps towards making a change. It’s frustrating to watch and listen to them beat themselves up when I know they are the only ones who can help themselves. It is YOU who has to take control of any situation in your life. YOU can be happy if YOU do things to make yourself happy and eliminate what does not. I’m not trying to preach.. I just want people to understand that you can change anything you want to in your life! Don’t settle for anything less than complete and utter happiness.

Sunday’s are exceptionally reflective for me. I mostly spend my Sunday’s relaxing and getting ready for the week ahead. I like to look back on the past week and plan things for the week ahead; meals, workouts and social commitments.

I had a lovely day out with Brandon today. We went to The Whistle Stop Barber Shop in Edinburgh for a spot of lunch. We ended up sharing dishes, something we do quite a lot, which I love as it means I get to try lots of different things. On the menu was Haggis Pizza, Poutine and a Club Sandwich. Not quite the cleanest of lunches but I really treasure spending time with Brandon and if I overindulge in carbs, who cares really. Sunday’s are for treating yourself, right? My diet always bounces back to normal on a Monday. My food shop is also done and I have an exciting week of clean meals!

We got home from lunch pretty late and stuck a movie on to relax in the evening. It was a great film – The Drop. I fell asleep throughout parts of it (nothing new there) but it was the perfect mix of crime and a good deep story-line. I also prepped some Turkey Bolognese for the next couple of night’s dinners and now it’s off to pack my bag for tomorrow.

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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