After a bit of a rubbish week it would have been so easy to take my grumpiness into the weekend. I’ve been feeling stressed out and overloaded, and it’s at times like this that I usually turn to comfort food and spending my time in a way that doesn’t really benefit my health. But not today. Today I chose to start my day with a Wellness Brunch at my favourite Bristol cafe, Foundations.
Although the event was taking place in a space in which I felt comfortable, and I knew I would know at least one person there, attending an event like this was still a little bit out of my comfort zone. But, as I learnt today, sometimes it does us good to step just a little way out of our comfort zones and into our ‘stretch zones’; it’s good to push the limits a little bit.
I hoped to find myself in a room of like minded individuals wanting to think about health and wellness, and I knew that if nothing else, at the end there would be waffles.
As it turned out, there was so much more than waffles!
Cat Taylor of Nudge Yourself was brilliant. She ran the event with a perfect balance of looking inward and looking forward, laughter and mindfulness, breathing and punching. Yes, there was boxing, and there was also drawing with pencil crayons. What better way to start the weekend?
We thought about happiness more than anything else, and what it takes to achieve this.
After the workshop, boxing gloves off and pencil crayons down, we enjoyed a healthy brunch and had a good old chat. I met some lovely women – really interesting people, all very much on the same wavelength. We talked about journeys, and it was inspiring to hear other people’s stories and to meet some strong women, following their passions, trying to live their best possible lives.
Because that’s all we can do really, isn’t it? Live each day in the best possible way, get up when we fall down, and just BE HAPPY.
I decided to start this year with a healthy month of no alcohol, chocolate, cakes or biscuits, and I’m pleased to say I’ve made it to the end successfully! But why stop there?
As soon as January ended everyone around me was asking if my ‘diet was over’ now and if I could go out and get drunk now, and I’ve been trying to explain that it’s just not like that.
I’m not on a diet. I can have any food I want, and I can drink alcohol if I want to. I’m just choosing to limit what I put into my body at the moment.
One of the hardest things about nutrition and eating healthily is making the right decisions and not slipping into old habits. If I’m ‘trying to be good’ I find it hard to have any chocolate around me at all. I’m an all or nothing kind of girl, and if I don’t ban chocolate completely I’ll eat every chocolate in the box.
In the past I’ve been guilty of comfort eating, and that’s a habit I desperately want to break. Food shouldn’t be a reward or something I have for consolation. It should be something I have for nutrition or something I enjoy because I want it, whether alone or with friends.
Alcohol? Well I can take or leave it to be honest. I like a nice cocktail every now and then, but I honestly haven’t missed alcohol at all in the last month. So why fill my body with all of those extra calories and all that sugar? Luckily my evenings are filled with dancing, and alcohol doesn’t help me one bit when I dance – I’m better without it!
So, ‘dry January’ is over and February is here, and I’m going to try to maintain my new healthy habits. I’m not saying I’m never going to have alcohol, chocolate, biscuits and cake, but for now I’m doing just fine without them.
Nutrition is the foundation of any healthy eating plan, or so I’m told, but it’s something I’ve struggled with a bit over the last year. A year ago I got a personal trainer at the gym and it’s made a massive difference to my health, strength and wellness, and we talk about food a lot. He’s not one of these PTs who dictates a certain diet plan or tries to get you replacing meals with shakes or anything like that – we just talk about what I eat and why I eat it.
I have issues with food, and could definitely be called an ’emotional eater’. If I have a bad, busy or stressy day, I eat. If I’m tired, I eat. If I;m sad, I eat. And when I eat, I eat all the wrong things. Chocolate being the main vice.
Over the last year I’ve tried to get into food prepping; planning my meals ahead, making a schedule for the week, and cooking healthy meals to take to work for lunches. I’ve done OK… I mean, I’ve definitely made an effort, but there have still been a number of days where I’ve given up on my healthy thoughts and gone to the local food market for a less than healthy (and very expensive) take-away lunch. In the worst cases, I’ve bought a ready-meal.
Planning and prepping food takes time, time which I don’t usually have, and I find it quite stressful. It’s boring to eat the same thing every day (I LOVE food) and expensive (and sometimes wasteful) to keep lots of varied ingredients in my fridge.
That’s why, when I popped into my favourite new healthy cafe (run by a friend’s PT) just before Christmas, the sign for a ‘Meal Prep Club’ caught my eye. I almost wrote it off as ‘bound to be too expensive’, but luckily I didn’t act too quickly and stopped to find out more.
Foundations Cafe is a great, healthy cafe on Baldwin Street in Bristol, which happens to be close to my office. They serve delicious salads, baked sweet potatoes, sandwiches, protein shakes and all sorts of things, and it’s become of of my favourite places to eat out in Bristol. The Meal Prep Club they are offering is simple, and surprisingly not at all expensive. In fact, my lunches are working out at just over £3 a pop!
This week I have have my first few lunches from Foundations Cafe, and I can honestly say each one has been delicious and, most importantly, stress free! I simply order on a Sunday for the week ahead, and collect my lunch each day. One of the things I have really enjoyed so far is the surprise each day, because by Tuesday I have completely forgotten what I ordered!
My lunches have contained things I would never think about putting in my salad, such as walnuts and apricots, and things I would never include as I just wouldn’t keep them in, like feta.
Joining up to Foundations Cafe’s Meal Prep Club is one of the best decisions I’ve made this year so far! I feel like in doing this I’ve set myself up to a really good start and with a really strong foundation to have a healthy 2018. I love food, and I don’t want to go on some crazy diet or deny myself of things all year just to lose weight. I just want to eat healthily and happily.
If you’re in Bristol and want to find out more, check out the Foundations Cafe website: https://www.foundationscafe.com/meal-prep-club.
Today is a rainy, cold, miserable day, and it would be easy to say that it is impossible to try something new on a day like this. After all, I have stayed home in my pyjamas all day with no intention of going out, so how could I possibly try something new?
However, not wanting to be thwarted so early on in the game, I was determined to find some new things to do today.
So, for breakfast I had a toasted cinnamon and raisin bagel with Cadbury’s chocolate Philadelphia for the first time. Yum. The Philly melted and it was better than any chocolate spread I’ve ever tried. Healthier too, I think.
Then, I decided to post this blog entirely with my iPad. I’ve written blogs on my iPad before, but usually use photos I have already uploaded to Flickr. This time I took the photo above with my iPad, edited the photo with the Photoshop Express app, and then wrote this post using the iPad WordPress app. It takes a while to get used to what you can and can’t do when blogging with an iPad, but overall I’m still marvelling at the technology!
Today’s new things are little things, but I feel good for being able to try something new today without leaving the house or spending any money.
I hope I can mange to keep this up during the week!
My friend Gwynnie over at Make Life Magic has started a challenge today, and I couldn’t possibly not take part – it’s the ‘Something New Every Day Challenge‘. Gwynnie says:
Do you ever feel just bored of life? When every day is the same, nothing really surprises you, you drag yourself out of bed to face another predictable day?
What about those things that you’d like to do? Some of us are ashamed of our dreams. You might want to start your own business, quit your job and travel around the world for a year, change your image so drastically that it terrifies you. But something in your head tells you “You can’t… not you. You’re too young/old/poor/dull”. Perhaps you secretly believe that excitement and success are for other people, but not you.
If you’re happy living in an unhappy, limited world, then don’t read any further. Go back to denying yourself the things that you deserve, and feeling bitter when you see people who aren’t afraid to go and get them. But if you want to feel more confident in everything you do, more excited about waking up every day, then read on. Those big changes won’t seem so scary when you’ve been making little changes every day for the last few months.
One of my oldest pieces of advice to friends who feel stuck in a rut, unsure about their own abilities or about what they want to do in life, is this – try something new every day.
Life is so full of possibilities. Why limit yourself to doing the same things forever?
I’m not talking about massive, world-shaking things every day, unless that’s your thing. You don’t have to climb Everest, join a new class every day, cut off all your hair or go sky-diving, although you might enjoy those things. I’m talking about even tiny new things – trying a flavour of tea that you’ve never had before, painting your nails a new colour, sitting in a different seat in your usual restaurant or classroom.
Gwynnie will be posting her own new somethings over on her blog, and I decided to accept the challenge and post mine here.
So, Day #1…
I actually did a couple of new things today, so I’m off to a good start!
First, I went to the British Music Experience at the O2, which was really fab! I probably wouldn’t have gone there if I had had to buy a ticket, but because I went to see Jesus Christ Superstar last night at the O2 I was given a free ticket to the exhibition. Bonus! (Jesus Christ Superstar was A-MAZING, by the way.)
Whilst at the British Music Experience my mum and I had a go at dancing in this dance booth thing, and I think it was probably the first time I ever ‘rave danced’ and ‘ska danced’ with my mum! We also sung Bohemian Rhapsody together – but that wasn’t a first! 😉
Later in the day we went to Wagamama, where I tend to order the same thing off the menu (yasai yaki soba), but today, for the first time, I ordered saien soba – and it was delicious!
Let’s see what I can think of tomorrow, and how long I can keep this challenge going! Wish me luck…
Lent starts today. For any of you who don’t know, Lent is a period in the Christian calendar which runs from Ash Wednesday (the day after Shrove Tuesday, or “pancake day”) until Easter Sunday. Lent has always been about penance and self-denial, and many people choose to give things up during this period. It is also supposed to be about prayer and charity.
Well, I’m already doing my bit for charity during this period, by volunteering for an event for Japan on March 11th and, although I won’t exactly be praying, the event is being held in a church.
I’m not a Christian, but I’ve often found that giving stuff up for Lent is a good way of imposing a rule on myself and forcing myself to do something. I can be very strong-willed, but I do need rules, and rules imposed by others are much easier to stick to. I could easily give something up for, say, a month, but when challenged by other people I find it hard to stick to my guns. However, if I can say, “well, I’ve given it up for Lent”, no one can really argue with that.
So, I have decided to give up chocolate from today until Easter Sunday (April 8th). From today, I will not be eating any chocolate in any form. No chocolate bars, no chocolate biscuits or cake, no mocha from Starbucks. No Options hot chocolate, Shape chocolate puddings, or chocolate coated raisins. Not even a Chocolate Button will pass my lips.
If you know me in the real world, please be kind and don’t try to break me!
It’s one thing to repeatedly tell yourself year after year that you need to lose a bit of weight, but it’s something else entirely to be told by a doctor.
I’m not obese. In fact, most people I know genuinely don’t think I need to lose much weight. I ‘m tall and I carry it pretty well, plus I know how to dress for my size. Most people would probably call me curvy or, shudder, cuddly.
But today I sat up and faced facts. I need to lose three stone, so I will. It’s not going to be as easy as that though, I know. Take today for example: my lovely colleague offered to make me tea (which I drink with sugar) a number of times. I politely declined, made myself a chamomile tea and drank loads of water. I was feeling very peckish in the afternoon, and I was offered some amazing smelling Fortnum and Mason biscuits which we had in the office. I wanted one, I really wanted one, so in the end I let myself have a tiny broken corner of one, smaller than a 5p piece. It was really good.
Serious willpower is what I need to accomplish my goal. I’m not going to sit here and say I won’t eat any more chocolate, biscuits or cake this year. We all know that’s not going to happen. I’ve abandoned my Marshmallow Experiment because it was simply too tempting to have chocolate sitting there in the fridge. So, I’m going to try not to buy any calorific food, and allow myself a few treats when I’m out. Let’s see how I do…
Incidentally, the phrase “to take the biscuit” (used in a situation where something is particularly bad or objectionable) is British English and our friends across the pond actually say “to take the cake”. Well, language differences aside, I won’t be taking any cakes or biscuits for quite a while, I think! 😉
As I’ve mentioned before, this is my year of being frugal and trying to get as many freebies as possible. So, you can imagine my sheer happiness when I came across a voucher to get a free box of nibbles!
Graze is a funky little company which delivers slender boxes of yumminess right through your door, as often as you want them. Each box costs £3.49, but I got my first one for free. Here it is:
On their website, you can go through all of the different items they offer and rate them. If there’s something you don’t like, you simply mark it “bin” and they won’t send it to you. If you mark something as “like” or “love” you should get it more often.
Along with the little packs of food, there’s also a leaflet telling you the nutritional information (and calorie count) of everything, and also the ingredients. The boxes are delivered by Royal Mail, and they fit through your door, so you don’t even have to be home to receive them (although I did enjoy receiving mine at work today and having something to nibble on in the afternoon).
This is without a doubt one of the best freebies I’ve ever received. The only down-side is that now I’m tempted not to cancel my membership but to continue getting the boxes. For £3.49 a week I can enjoy a little surprise and something yummy, which has to be better than wasting my money on chocolate biscuits at the supermarket and eating them all in one go (not that I’d ever do that…).
Anyway, I have a special deal which means I get the next one half price (£1.75) and with £1 off (£0.75), so I think I might stay signed up for a while longer.
Oh, I also got a free copy of The Economist today. That’s in addition to my daily Metro and Evening Standard newspapers, and weekly Stylist and Shortlist magazine. Living in London, I certainly don’t need to buy any reading material! 😉
Despite all the baking programmes I’ve been watching of late, and the picture below, this is not actually a post about cooking. There will, perhaps, be cake related posts on this blog in the future though.
Today I’m thinking about an interesting article I read on the way home in London’s free weekly magazine, Stylist. The article, “Just. One. More. Bite.” was encouraging readers to try investing in willpower instead of making New Year’s resolutions that will be abandoned before the end of January.
Personally, I’ve tried not to make specific resolutions this year. To be honest, they’re always the same anyway:
- Lose weight
- Save money
- Write more
The third, writing more, seems to be in hand. The other two seem to be horribly intertwined and unapproachable, like a drawer full of old necklaces that you’d like to wear but abandoned long ago because the effort of untangling them will just be too much.
But just think, if you did untangle all those old necklaces, you’d have loads more jewellery you could wear. Pretty, shiny jewellery. (Guys, if you’re reading this, think cables. Pretty, shiny cables that you keep in a drawer, even though you have no idea what they’re for.)
But what’s all this got to do with marshmallows? Well, according to the article, in 1972 (Stylist says ’68, but Wiki says ’72) a bloke called Walter Mischel of Stanford University conducted a test which is known as the Marshmallow Experiment. The test subjects were children (aged 4-6), and each child was taken into a room in which there was a plate with a single marshmallow on it. They were told that they could eat the marshmallow if they wanted to, but that if they waited 15 minutes they could have two. The child was then left alone to decide what to do. Some children simply ate the one marshmallow they were given, but some waited patiently (perhaps covering their eyes so they weren’t tempted or, according to Wiki, “stroking the marshmallow as if it were a tiny stuffed animal“).
The kids who waited got two marshmallows and learnt the lesson of delayed gratification. Follow-up research showed that those who had learnt the lesson went on to have higher academic achievement, and those who didn’t were more likely to have behavioural problems and trouble paying attention in class.
The Stylist article emphasised the importance of willpower; that rather than just denying ourselves the things we want (which will only make us want them more), we should learn to exercise our willpower a bit more, and resist the temptation of instant gratification. That doesn’t mean you can’t have your cake and eat it too, it just means you ought to wait a while between the buying and eating (if you’re baking, I’m not sure where “licking the bowl” fits in to this test, but I’m pretty sure it’s ok).
I need to give myself a marshmallow test. As I mentioned in a previous post, this is my year of being frugal and learning to save up for the things that I want. It’s the first time I’ve ever really tried to save up, and I’m finding it hard already.
Losing weight and saving money may seem like two separate goals, but when I start trying to untangle that twisted mess of chains it becomes quite clear that they have huge impacts on each other. I tend to run in viscous circles: I try to go on a diet, but then I get hungry or something else stresses me out, so I ignore the fact that I have a whole bunch of tasty (not cheap!) fruit and other snacks at home and go on a Sainsbury’s rampage for chocolate and other naughties. I have a night of over-indulgence, spend too much and eat too much, and feel bad about it all in the morning.
If I planned out delicious, nutritious meals with a light sprinkling of yummy but healthy snacks, I could save money and, most likely, lose weight too.
So, how’s my marshmallow test going to work? Right now there is no chocolate in my house (except Options hot chocolate, which really doesn’t count). Next time I go to the supermarket for groceries (not mid-week in a crazy fit of hunger, but for a weekly shop with a sensibly prepared list), I shall buy one, reasonably priced bar of chocolate. The chocolate will sit in my fridge, where I will occasionally stroke it as if it were a tiny, hard, cold animal. Eventually, I will eat it – when I really, really want it.
I won’t cheat by buying extra chocolate along the way. That would bust my diet and budget in one swift punch.
Let’s see if this experiment works…