Health

Fitness – Getting Started!

Hey lovely readers :-)

Today’s post is a little different from the norm. About a month ago I started writing for a lovely online blog called The Daily Quirk which is written by a great group of women, and covers all sorts of topics from films, music, and books to fashion, recipes, and now healthy living (me!). It’s a really good opportunity for me to practice writing in a slightly different style and to get my name out there as a writer.

Here is the first post I wrote for them, hope you enjoy!

We all know by now that fitness is an important aspect of our health and hardly a day goes by without new information concerning fitness being highlighted in the media. The experts aren’t lying, exercising really is key when it comes to a healthier life and on top of this it is also a pretty good tool for helping you feel a little better in your own skin. However for many people, the word “exercise” can be met with some dread. The thing is, working out should not be scary, nor should it be dull or become a huge chore. You just have to take the plunge, as nerve-wracking as that can seem, if you just get out there and start trying you’ll probably find you enjoy it!

Having been someone who danced for almost 12 years of my life, I had my exercise each week through that, and then when I stopped I had to try to figure out a way of working out regularly that I still enjoyed.

Here are a few of my tips for getting started and finding your feet:

1. Find something you enjoy doing. There is no point doing exercise you don’t enjoy doing because you won’t ever feel like working out. There are so many different fitness activities open to you and there is definitely something out there for everyone. You might prefer working out in the gym on the treadmill, jumping on your bike a few times a week, joining a sports team like a netball team, playing tennis, or you might like working out at home with some fitness DVDs. Whatever you choose, doing some exercise you enjoy a few times a week is great!

2. Get motivated. When you start exercising, have a reason in mind for why you are doing it. It definitely helps you to find the motivation to change into your workout gear if you know why you are deciding to exercise.

3. Make the time. When you have a busy week it is easy to end up making excuses for not finding the time to exercise. If you set aside time each week, maybe three or four times, to workout then you’ll know you’ve made the time for it. I find it sometimes helps to make an actual weekly workout plan.

4. Start small and build up. Something that can often set people back when they are starting to get into exercise is aiming too high and giving up quickly when they fall short. Fitness experts often recommend that you make yourself a fitness goal, or series of goals, which will give you something to work towards.

5. Reward yourself. Exercising should be fun but even when you have found a workout you enjoy doing there are sometimes days, and even weeks, when you just don’t really feel like working out. If you have given yourself a goal to aim for then it can be really great to plan a reward to give yourself if you reach your goal. Whether it is to workout weekly for a month, to lose a couple of pounds or to increase the time you can run for by five minutes, give yourself a little treat like a new piece of workout gear each time you complete a goal and you’ll definitely feel more positive!

So here are my five main tips for beginners starting to build up their exercise. Everyone has to start from somewhere and hopefully these tips have helped to show you that fitness is for everyone and it isn’t difficult to start working out!

Do you agree with my tips?
Do you have any advice for people looking to starting exercising?

Starting Anew.

I keep disappearing from the blogworld and I’m really sorry! As I said in my last ‘This Week’ post, I’ve really not been very well at the moment, I can’t lie, I’ve been struggling to keep my head above the water and carry on going. Most days I just want to stay in my pyjamas and bury myself into my bed with a hot water bottle. I can’t explain exactly what is wrong, or understand why I feel so awful, but most days I wake up aching, feeling like I haven’t slept at all, I have a constant headache and I feel incredibly shaky and weak. It is not a pleasant feeling!

But moving on from that… Yesterday and today were somewhat exciting and nerve-wracking for me – I had my introductory lecture at my new university and I met my personal tutor. All seems well, the place was packed and the atmosphere was buzzing with the general excitement of freshers. Of course, I’m not really a fresher (freshman to any US readers!) as I’m transferring into second year but I can appreciate how they feel, I was there this time last year, plus I feel their anxieties with being in a new place.

I start lectures of Monday and I have butterflies in my stomach. I’m looking forward to studying again but I am pretty nervous!

Here’s to starting anew :-)

I’ll leave this brief post here as I’m going to curl up in my duvet and read for a bit before I give into the exhaustion. I just have to share photos of the absolutely delicious meal we had for dinner this evening:

 

 

Chicken, plums and noodles with a soy, chilli and almond sauce – so so good!

This Saturday Tom is coming to visit me so I’m just holding out for that, we  might go for coffee in the afternoon and then we have plans to have a lovely relaxing film night at home. He knows just how to help me recuperate :-)

What are your weekend plans?
Favourite meal of the moment?

Anything new happening in your life?

Frosted Fingers – A Sweet Reflection.

(Warning: this is a wordy, no-photos post, if you don’t like to read then this isn’t for you! :-P)

Well I can safely say if feels good to be able to eat sugar again. No surprises there! It’s been a whole week so I can finally treat myself to my favourite ultra-indulgent treat: nutella. It definitely felt all the better for having some time off the sweet stuff, it felt like more of a special food to only be had occasionally (although I did eat rather a lot of it haha). So I thought I’d write a post about my sugar-free week with my thoughts on how it affected me and what I’ve decided to do now.

First of all I have to say that giving up sugar for a week was really not that difficult. Yeah I fancied cake when I met a friend in my favourite cafe in town, yes I wanted one of my sister’s After Eights and I definitely missed baking cakes but it wasn’t hard to decide not to. Okay so I only did it for a week, which isn’t long at all, but I went from having a couple of sugary treats a day to no sugar except fruit for seven days so it wasn’t ridiculously easy.

Having almost no cravings for sweet treats made me realise that I don’t need sugar, physically or emotionally! I guess I kind of knew that anyway, but in a way it was good to have it reaffirmed by my little self experiment. This wasn’t the only realisation I had whilst abstaining from sugar, here are a few more:

  • There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a sweet treat a couple of times a week, in fact it makes me happy, therefore there is lots that is right about it ;-) However what is important about treating yourself is making sure it is just that, a treat. I think sometimes when we eat something a little less healthy, we grab it and eat it quickly, we don’t savour it enough. So I’m going to make sure that each time I eat something sugary and indulgent I eat it on a plate, sit down,take my time and enjoy it.
  • I use some food as a type of emotional crutch. This isn’t news for me in terms of sugar often being used as an emotional prop for people going through a difficult time, but it’s a revelation for me personally. My relationship with food has been incredibly complicated for the past six years, quite a while when you consider I’m still only nineteen. When I was younger I preferred savoury treats, I don’t know exactly when I started developing a huge sweet-tooth but I now love to indulge on sugary foods. I’m fussy about which sweet foods, I don’t particularly like actual sweets, or thick chocolate bars, what I love are cakes, chocolate, ice cream… And that’s great, except that I don’t just eat these lovely goodies when I really fancy them, I also eat them when I’m feeling low or when my energy levels plummet. Not so good!
  • Although I do eat the odd sugary food each week, perhaps every other day for things like a cupcake or a cookie, I eat pretty well. I think of my diet is mostly healthy, but sometimes I worry that the 90/10 balance I strive for in life isn’t enough – I worry that the sweet treats I eat are having a negative effect on my body. But the thing is, physically I didn’t feel any different last week in comparison to the week before. Clearly my body is happy eating some sugar, here and there.

So what am I changing?

Well, mostly my outlook. I want to view treats as special things to be savoured and really enjoyed, I want to carry on aiming for a balance of 90% clean and healthy foods, and 10% less healthy, more indulgent foods. I want to try to detach myself more from the emotional response I have conditioned myself to have towards food. Other than fuel and enjoyment, there shouldn’t be any other emotions involved, no anger, no guilt, no worry…!

I’m glad I did my sugar-free week, I learnt a few interesting things about myself and the relationship I have with my food. I definitely won’t be binging or restricting anytime soon :-)

What do you think of my realisations?
Do you consider your relationship with food to be healthy?

Have you ever used food, or the absence of food, as an emotional crutch?

 

This Week #4.

Ah, this week. It’s been a bit of an odd one. I have done some nice things but running along the entire seven days I have had a general feeling exhaustion. The mornings are the hardest, I wake up in a lot of pain and it makes starting the day pretty difficult, I just never want to move. I’m hoping that if I get to bed earlier this week, I’ll be able to wake up earlier and then if I ignore the aches and jump straight out of bed I’ll be able to get past the pain. Anyway moving on…

Despite the rubbish mornings, I have still managed to do a few lovely things like meet friends, bake and even see Tom! Plus I worked past my hatred of photos and took a couple of snaps of my face for you, to make things a bit more personal. I really like reading blogs which include photos of the blogger as you feel like you know them a little better but I rarely have photos of me on here because I don’t like having my photo taken! I’m trying to change this :-)

Autumnal colours in the garden | Poppy | Cheer up time with Michael McIntyre

Coffee with Ellie | Lamb and aubergine moussaka | New pencil case

Hello :-) | Aubergine and coconut curry (apparently I like aubergines) | Apple scented candle

Working out with Jillian! | Light lunch | More pesto pasta with rocket and oven roasted cherry tomatoes

Baking in my polka dot apron | In the oven | Cheese scone round

So delicious with melted butter | Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s chicken and plums in soy sauce | Going out face

Sweet peas | A hot water bottle kind of morning | Scrabble cushions!

Fresh lunch | Poorly – cereal in my Peter Rabbit bowl | Sunday brunch with Tom :-)

Although it was a mixed week I can still take a few positives away so I’m happy. I am actually a bit nervous about this week though, on Wednesday morning I have an induction lecture at my new uni and then a session in the afternoon to meet my personal tutor. I’m looking forward to starting the year but I’m a little anxious about things like finding my way round the place (I absolutely hate the idea of having to walk in late to a lecture!) and the fact that everyone else will have been there for a year so will know how everything works already… I’m also not an extrovert at all so the idea of having to put myself out there all over again is a bit scary! Still, it is all quite exciting at the same time and I’m sure it’s going to bring heaps of new opportunities.

What have you been doing this weekend?
Have you got anything new happening this week?

If you have Instagram too then you call follow me @loveliveandlearn to see my photos as I post them!

Currently…

Reading… 

 Still Moby Dick! It’s taking me absolutely forever to read, partially because it’s pretty long and really descriptive, partially because I’ve really not been very well since last Sunday evening which makes it really hard to read. I’m almost there though, about another 150 pages to read so hopefully it’ll be done by the end of the weekend! I am really enjoying it though, I’d definitely recommend it (as long as you’re not a really slow reader haha). My next book planned is Great Expectations and I’m also finishing off The Waves by Victoria Woolf.

Listening to… 

Ben Howard’s album Every Kingdom which is so lovely and relaxing. It’s quiet enough to not make my constant headache worse and it’s helping me to feel a little more laid back about everything.

Watching…

I don’t watch a huge about of TV but at the moment there are three programmes that I watch weekly and absolutely love. The first is the series 2 Broke Girls which is hilarious and always gives me the giggles on Thursday evenings, the second is the new series of Location, Location, Location which I love – Kirstie Allsopp is fantastic, and finally the third is my favourite of all: The Great British Bake Off! Every week it gives me the urge to get in the kitchen and bake, it’s my perfect show to snuggle up in bed and watch when I’m feeling a bit under the weather :-)

Eating…

Nothing sweet… If you haven’t seen the post about it then you might not know that I decided to say no to sugar for the week (apart from fruit) to give my body a chance to recover from a couple of rather over-indulgent sugary weeks. I was fine for the first five days but today what with not feeling great I’ve really wanted a slice of toast with honey or a bowl of ice cream! There is currently a new pot of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream waiting in the freezer for me and I can’t wait to buy myself a pot of Nutella on Monday ;-) It’s the only thing that has kept me going today!

Loving…

The way that Poppy sits at the table with me every morning for breakfast and then comes and curls up on my bed next to me for most of the day. She’s such a little cutie. I’ve also been loving the fact that the colder weather we’ve been having means I can start wearing lovely woolly knitted jumpers! They’re possibly one of my favourite things to wear and they are so comfy for poorly days.

What are your currently-s?

What I Ate Wednesday No.43

 

Yup, it’s another Wednesday and this week I though I’d join in with the WIAW happenings thanks to the lovely Jenn!

Often I don’t really join in with the theme set for WIAW but I really like this theme, it fits in especially well with my week off sugar. The comments have been somewhat divided between those of you who either have already done a sugar cleanse or eat very little sugar, and those who say they couldn’t/wouldn’t ever give sugar up! I have to say, just because I am taking the week off doesn’t mean I’m planning on giving up sugar permanently. Firstly, I adore traditional baking (and eating traditional cakes!) so that would suffer, secondly as I said yesterday I believe in balance and honouring your cravings.

 

My breakfast is the meal of the day which holds the sweetest indulgence for me this week! I always top my weetabix with fresh fruit and I think that because I haven’t been eating any extra sugars the fruit tastes extra sweet.

 

It’s funny but while I can’t indulge in one of my favourite food groups I seem to have turned to another: pasta. I’ve eaten pasta almost everyday this week! My favourite dish has to be this one – whole wheat pasta, rocket, cherry tomatoes and pesto. I feel a little like I am clinging on to the taste of summer, not wanting the longer days to disappear. Having said that I’m really excited for the autumn, I love everything it brings, the change of seasons, the cozy jumpers and boots, the comfort foods, the warm fires, the blanket reading sessions…

Because I’m not eating any sweet things I’ve been eating a little more to compensate for the whole in my diet :-P This means that I eat more at meals but don’t snack so much. All I had as a snack today was a slice of toast with butter and marmite which is actually very pleasant – it’s definitely a comforting autumn snack for me.

This isn’t actually what I had for dinner this evening but it is another of my little autumn hearty meals. It’s also quite similar to the lunches I’ve been eating, only put together in a different fashion ;-) These have a very original name… Pitta Pizzas. The base is a whole wheat pitta bread, it is topped homemade spicy tomato sauce, a sprinkling of gruyère cheese and then fresh rocket leaves. They’re super easy to put together, especially if you have pre-made a big batch of sauce (which can be frozen in tupperwares) and only need about 15 minutes in the oven.

All in all I think I’ve been eating pretty well this week, what does surprise me a little is that whilst mentally I miss my sweet treats, I don’t actually physically crave the sugar as much as I thought. I had thought I might feel really bad for not having it but the only times I really feel like eating something sweet is when my energy really plummets. It’s interesting to be able to analyse my relationship with sugar although I’m not particularly surprised!

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten recently?
Do you find it interesting to analyse your body’s cravings for certain foods?
What sort of treats do you crave the most?

Recent Goings On – A Sugary Update.

So I spent yesterday in bed… Yup! The fatigue is back and pretty full on this time so I’ve been feeling a little sorry for myself recently. To be honest I’ve been somewhat expecting it to happen after three weeks of work, a day trip to London etc. I woke up on Monday just feeling awful and completely without energy!  I barely had the strength to drag myself up and into the bathroom to shower (around 11am!) so at least I spent the day clean but I stayed makeup less and in tracksuit bottoms all day – so presentable. I spent most of the day watching comedy shows on catch-up TV and reading, both my novel and a few blogs. I’m glad that I still have over a week of holidays left because I’m still not really feeling that great!

Now I have a little update for you all, some of you may have seen that several of the healthy-living blogger lot are taking part in the ‘Strike Sugar Movement‘ for the month of September, led by the lovely Christina over at The Athletarian. It’s basically a month without any added sugar, things like fruit, honey and stevia are all allowed but there is absolutely no corn syrup, cane sugar, sucralose, fructose etc. My gorgeous friend Ali over at Running With Spatulas is joining in which I really admire!

After reading Christina’s post I was quite tempted to join in but decided not to as I really want to continue with my baking projects this month, however…

Let me show you what has been happening recently:

 

 

 

So… I’m slightly addicted to sugar! And cake… and cookies… and pastry… and ice cream… and now froyo!

It’s been becoming a bit of a problem lately, I don’t eat a lot of really junky food, I haven’t had any chips or crisps etc in ages but I do love sweet treats. I don’t feel guilty for it, if you know me at all well then you’ll know that my attitude to healthy eating is about balance – eat well most of the time but do indulge occasionally when you really fancy it. However, recently I feel like I just eat too much sugar. What with feeling rather weak and lethargic due to my fatigue issues, the addition of too much sugar just leaves me feeling extra sluggish.

Basically I have decided to do a mini cleanse this week and stay clear of sugar. I’m not even allowing myself foods like honey or juice with no added sugar, the only sweet foods I’ll be eating are fruits, milk, and whole grain bread and cereals. It probably doesn’t sound like a big deal to most but I like to have some honey, a couple of squares of dark chocolate or (often) cake each day so it’s actually pretty difficult for me!

I started this yesterday so two days down, five to go… I’ve been fine today but yesterday when I was in bed feeling poorly I really wanted some hot chocolate and a slice of cake :-P

Don’t worry, I’m not being extreme, I’ve already decided that when the week is up I am going to treat myself to the first jar of Nutella I’ve bought in months!

So there is my little update for you all, wish me luck for the rest of week ;-)

Are you a sweet tooth like me?
Have you ever cut excess sugar from your diet?

Are you joining in the Strike Sugar Movement for September?