Month: February 2012

(Almost) Wordless What I Ate Wednesday No.28.

Hello hello to all of you fabulous people!

Today, I am tired. (Surprised?)

So I am going to leave you with some photos of today’s food.

I’m off to finish my work and SLEEP.

Enjoy today’s WIAW, thanks once again to the fantastic Jenn!

{Weetabix mush with frozen raspberries}

{Lunch of celery, seeded thins and a mini pot of red pepper flavoured hummus. I ate several more thins than are in this photo!}

{Went to buy books for my course at Blackwells and I maaay have got sidetracked by Costa and the lure of iced lattes}

{Snack time – Greek yogurt and yet more frozen raspberries}

{Vegetable Biryani that I cooked for my dinner tonight, enter a very sore back! What you see around my dinner is the evidence that I worked and ate simultaneously tonight – your average student night ;-)}

Night lovelies!

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Just Keep Trying!

Well.

You know how yesterday I said I was exhausted? I’m still exhausted. But today it is for an incredibly different reason…

…I was in the gym at 10.30am and then I went to Pilates at 5.30pm!

I know, two workouts in a day – practically unheard of on this blog 😛

If I’d started a blog in late springtime last year this would have been very different, I was working most days of the week, I often did light cardio and strength on the same day. I loved working out, I had a great stamina, and I’d found ways of exercising that didn’t irritate my back or hips (much).

I was feeling great, I was mostly happy with my body. I relaxed my exercising throughout my exams and when Tom was back and I was free of exams, I had better things to do really!

Then came uni.

And we all know the rest!

But any, enough of that tangent. Today, whilst I am fairly sore, I feel so proud of myself.

I’ve managed to achieve 45 mins of cardio AND 1 hour and 30 mins of Pilates. To be honest, I can ignore the pain, I feel GREAT.

Breakfast was a banana, I know some people like bananas after workouts but I quite like them as pre-workout fuel.

Second breakfast:

The usual weetabix mush with some frozen strawberries and blueberries. Frozen fruit isn’t a patch on fresh fruit but it does have its own positives. I love the cold burst of flavour and the way it slowly softens into the milk. It’s also pretty nice to have a variety of fruits which would normally be out of season!

The rest of the morning was spent working on my bed and as a consequence lunch never really materialised. I ended up just having little snacks here and there. A hand full of chili thins, some celery sticks dipped in taramasalata (all my healthy fats right there!), some more fruit…

I was due to meet some girls from my Old English seminar in the library this afternoon, we have a presentation to give on Thursday. I was a little early so I nipped into the library cafe to grab a mini brownie. They’re delicious, much lighter than any I’ve ever tasted, with large chocolate chunks in them. They’re really diddy but they’re a lovely treat.

Presentation prepped so a quick dash home to grab my things for pilates and then I was off again. Like a said, a busy day!

Dinner when I came back ended up being pretty decent despite the kitchen being an absolute tip and dirty pots and pans all over the surfaces. Urgh.

Pan-fried mushrooms in chilli and garlic, mixed in with a handful of tomato and red pepper tortelloni, served with a sprinkle of Parmesan. Pretty darn tasty if I do say so myself 😛

One thing that did perk me up was this:

The middle one I bought on Monday, we’re studying them this week for my Modern Lit module, they’ve been most interesting to read. The other two arrived today in the post from Amazon. I bought them second-hand for only £3.50 in total (delivery included) and they’re almost good as new! Very impressed. They’re just light reads that I’ve heard good things about so I thought I’d give them a go. I’m quite looking forward to reading them 🙂

Anyway I’m off to bed, 9am tomorrow!

Do you sometimes exercise twice a day?
Are you a pilates or yoga fan?
 I’ve completely fallen in love with pilates!
Any new reads worth mentioning?

 

An Off One.

Hey my lovelies!

Sorry for my lack of post yesterday (if anyone cared :-P) I was just feeling pretty under the weather and generally quite stressed. These next few weeks are going to be crazy busy and having everything happen on top of the pain and fatigue, which is really starting to kick in, isn’t going to be easy. So if I sound grumpy or don’t post daily that is why!

I just have a lot to sort out for uni, I started physio today, I’ve upped the medication I’m trying for the pain to the maximum dose this weekend and it’s making me almost constantly dizzy as well as making my coordination awful which is stressful, I have to go to the doctors every other week at the moment, I have a group presentation this week, essays are starting to build…

Basically I’m just drained.

But enough of that. Lately I’ve realised that I spend the majority of my money on three things: food, books and going for coffee. I feel like I should care but if I’m honest, I don’t! I’ve saved up a fair amount of money considering I’ve barely done any paid work in my life and I can think of far worse things to spend my money on.

However, the spring ranges are starting to appear in shops and I want to save a little money to buy a couple of new pieces as the warmer weather slowly starts to arrive.

I though I’d share a few of the items I’ve got my eye on in Zara at the moment:

I love the blue tones of the ombre shirt and the white lace dress is just so pretty!

This morning I thought I’d make myself a good breakfast to start the week with.

I had a fairly early start this morning so I picked a breakfast I could prepare in advance to save time in the morning.

A bowl of chocolate overnight oats, with raisins and cranberries mixed in did just the trick. It was delicious, the oats were gooey and dense, the chocolate made it feel like a very indulgent start to my morning.

Plus it definitely filled me right up through my morning, I didn’t feel the need for more food till I got back at about 11am. Pretty good going if you ask me, especially as my morning involves an uphill cycle!

I cam home, made some phone calls, did some work and tidied my desk. My room, bathroom and my things in the kitchen are always very tidy but for some reason, I can never keep my desk tidy. There are always pieces of paper, notebooks, folders, lecture notes, pens, pencils, books, letters… Are any of your desks like that?

Lunch was a bit random, as I was heading home I grabbed a pot of Greek falafel and hummus and it made the perfect lunch on the go along with some celery.

It was probably the most spontaneous moment in my day – I know, I have an incredibly exciting life.

This afternoon I went off to physio for the first time in years. She was really friendly and approachable and I loved her attitude. She says that she is not there to deal with the condition but to deal with the symptoms. So she’s given me some strengthen exercises and some strict rules for my posture. Fingers crossed I manage!

After my afternoon lecture I grabbed my first iced coffee of the year(!) and came back to my room to work. I also snacked on a bowl of weetabix and banana but forgot to take a photo. I’m good at taking photos of my main meals but I’m useless at capturing snacks, I just never really feel like taking photos of every tiny morsel of food which passes my lips!

Dinner was a quick and easy affair:

My typical stir-fry of veg and quinoa. It’s quick, easy and healthy so it’s a winner with me. I also indulged with some dark chocolate after dinner.

All in all, despite the stress and the medication, it’s not been a bad day!

How was your Monday?
What’s your desk like, a mess or neat and tidy?
What’s your go-to quick and healthy dinner?

 

In Which Baiba Visits.

Well my lovely readers, I have had a really fantastic weekend so far!

First of all, thank you so so much for all of your really supportive and caring comments on my last post. It took a lot to write it and then post it so it meant lots to me that you all offered your own experiences and your words of comfort! It’s receiving all of this wonderful support that makes writing posts like that completely worth it 🙂

Yesterday afternoon, after I’d finished with my seminars, I hopped on the bus into town to meet my wonderful friend Baiba from the train station. It was so nice to see her again, we haven’t seen each other in about 7 weeks so we had a lot to catch up on!

I booked us a table at Jamie’s Italian which is a restaurant I love. The food is fresh, well presented, and pretty reasonably priced plus the restaurant itself is in a lovely building with a really relaxed atmosphere, perfect for a meal out with an old friend 🙂

We decided, in the interests of preserving both our student budgets and our waistlines, to go for a shared starter and dessert. This way we got an affordable three course meal, pretty nifty if you ask me.

We started off with some ‘Mike the Woodman’s Mushroom Fritti – our own-grown crispy fried mushrooms served with really garlicky mayo’. Seriously, this is one of the best starters ever. If you live anywhere near a Jamie’s Italian, I urge you to visit just for this starter, the mushrooms are fresh, the crumbly batter surrounding them is light and crunchy and the garlic mayonnaise is just delicious, so indulgent. A light squeeze of lemon over the mushrooms just tops of the fresh taste. I’m pretty sure I could have had a portion to myself 😉

‘Prawn Linguine – Pan fried garlicky prawns with shaved fennel, tomatoes, chilli & rocket.’ There’s nothing quite like catching up with each other’s lives over bowls of delicious linguine. This is one of my favourite dishes to eat when out because I rarely get the chance to eat seafood at uni. Somewhat of a luxury really! It was delicious, I love the thin spicy tomato sauce that coats the linguine and the rocket adds a little bite to the dish.

We decided that we needed dessert. I mean really, who doesn’t?

Unfortunately, in my eagerness to devour my half of dessert, I completely forgot to take a photo of it! But, because I know you are probably desperate to hear about it (just pretend, okay?) I’ll describe it for you. ‘Peach & Almond Tart – Frangipane tart with preserved peaches, whipped yoghurt & honey’ Doesn’t that just sound divine? The frangipane was thick, in fact actually quite dense, but it had a lovely taste and serving it with yogurt and honey was genius, it was such a tasty dessert. At any rate, we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Instead of a photo of the tart you can have a photo of the beautiful Baiba.

I absolutely love her scarf!

We then went on to a bar for a drink and headed back home to chat late into the night. I’m not surprised we didn’t end up going to sleep till after 2am, we had so much to talk about. It’s so nice to have friends that you have endless amounts of stuff to talk about, it’s comforting to know that even after weeks apart, you can just slot back into the friendship as if no time has passed. Having said that, it’s also really exciting to see how much friends are changing and growing from their time at uni, we’re becoming different people, we’re developing new passions and instead of making us grow apart, it adds a new element to our relationships 🙂

Today we went for coffee with the gorgeous Natalie, our mutual friend from home.

Lattes never fail to lift my mood, especially with a shot of vanilla syrup. Sugar-free mind you 😉

Don’t I have such pretty friends?

It was so nice to be the three of us and we chatted for a good pair of hours. It really helps to see them when I’m feeling a bit low from being ill.

I’m so glad I got the opportunity to see both of them again, I’m lucky to have such wonderful friends!

Anyway I’m quite tired and I want to get an early night so I’m off. I hope you are all having a fabulous weekend 🙂

What are your plans this weekend?
Do you still meet with all friends? Friends from your childhood?
What is the nicest meal you’ve had at a restaurant lately?

My Day (and Struggles) in Food.

Disclaimer: If you have eating disorder tendencies or find related topics difficult, please do not read this post. 

Also, this post is long, just warning you!

…..

Do you know what I did today?

I actually took a photo of  everything I ate. I know a day late but, as they say, better late than never!

So I can indulge in a post which focuses almost entirely on food, which of course makes me happy, seeing how it’s one of my biggest obsessions.

Speaking of obsessions, I think it’s about to come clean. What I am about to announce is something I have never outright written about in the blogworld. I’ve alluded to it in previous posts and I’ve mentioned it occasionally in comments on other blogs. But I’ve never said it here and I think that because of all the wonderful support and advice you give me, I owe it to you.

Why have I never said it before? Because I don’t want it to be the focus of this blog. This blog is about healthy living, learning, loving, healing, happiness, and of course food. (With a touch of fitness thrown in occasionally!)

I don’t want people to think that this is what defines me.

Anyway, after clearly trying to avoid the subject for the last few lines, here goes:

I have struggled with disordered eating and incredibly poor body image and self-esteem for the last 5 years.

Perhaps it’s not a big surprise, I don’t really know how much people have noticed.

Let me clear a few things up. Firstly I eat pretty normally, I get my guideline intake (sometimes more, sometimes less), I am a ‘healthy weight’, I have a healthy BMI.

I am NOT saying I have an eating disorder. That is a serious illness which is hugely harmful and can potentially ruin your life.

All I am saying is that, like most girls, I struggle with food and my body.

I just struggle a bit more than is average.

This post is going to be my explanation, amidst photos of my eats for today…

One weetabix, soaked in milk, and topped with frozen blueberries and a sprinkling of granola.

…..

As a young teenager I was completely fine. My mother has always fed our family healthy food and to be honest, apart from distinguishing what I liked and didn’t like to eat, I never really gave food any thought. I was a fairly fussy eater as a child but gradually grew out of it. I didn’t have a clue about calories, or the fat or sugar content in food, or about dieting, nor did I care. I ate what I wanted and I was naturally thin.

Photos of me at about age 13 show a fairly skinny girl who looks healthy and pretty happy. I danced a fair amount at that age (and had done since I was 3 years old) and led a reasonably active lifestyle.

Body image problems just didn’t come into the equation.

…..

Lunch: mini pot of red pepper hummus (yum!), celery sticks, Ryvita crispbreads.

…..

The catalyst came with the development of my condition. I started a new dance class, contemporary, which I loved, at around age 13 1/2 and for a few months it was fine, I was just really enjoying it. Then I started feeling a pain in my hips when I danced, to begin with it was just a bit uncomfortable but then it developed into quite a lot of pain.

My mother took me to the doctor, I was referred to the hospital, I had an x-ray, nothing.

I was then sent to a specialist, they couldn’t figure it out but referred me to a physio and for several months I tried all sorts of strengthening and stretching exercises. Nothing seemed to work. I had more tests, MRI, ultrasound, I tried a different physio, I had acupuncture…

Still nothing.

So I had to give up dancing.

…..

This is what I have snacked on constantly today. It’s just been one of those days when I can’t seem to stop snacking but at least it’s semi nutritious and it’s really tasty. I’ve had several bowls like this. x20

…..

Obviously, stopping dance cut out a huge source of my exercise. Combine this with the fact that I was going through puberty and of course, I gained weight.

You have to bear in mind that I was bordering on underweight before, so a gaining about 6 kilos actually put me in the mid to low section of the ‘healthy weight’ for my height. But it was still a shock for me.

All of a sudden I had sizable breasts (no I’m not telling!), I had hips, I had that little bit of fat between my thighs which had never been there, and I had that little bit of fat over my lower abs.

It scared me pretty badly. Over the next few months I was struggling with coming to terms with the pain, I was having all sorts of medical tests, school work was starting to become more serious, and I had a few bad experiences with some kids at school.

All of this together led to my discovering the world of diets, of incredibly low self-esteem, the development of hatred for the loss of my dancer’s body, the absolutely 100% hatred of my new ‘woman’s body’.

So I started restricting.

…..

I went for coffee with one of my lovely English Lit friends. We chatted, we ranted about the world, we talked books, we drank coffee, and we indulged guiltlessly.

…..

It started slowly at first. I just cut down on snacks and treats – the usual. But it didn’t seem to work, so I cut down more. And more.

I reckon I was living on about 1000 calories for a few months age about 14. Scary to think about it now.

I hated my body and frankly, I hated myself.

Maybe it was depression… Maybe it was the beginnings of an eating disorder.

Anyway I did drop some of the weight. I was sort of in between what I’d been pre-condition and my heaviest.

I do think things could have gotten pretty bad.

But then I met this wonderful guy:

I sometimes think I know that if I hadn’t then things would incredibly different now.

Although I had a lot of really fantastic support from my parents, I think that meeting and falling in love with Tom had more of an effect on me.

He loved me for who I was, and I didn’t want to be a ‘broken’ person, I wanted to be the girl he deserved!

From this point, things gradually improved. I stopped restricting, he hated it, he hated the thought of me being unhealthy and unhappy, and frankly I was tired of controlling my food so much and of hating myself.

I started to eat normally again. I focused my energy on school and on Tom. I became a very different person, a much better person.

…..

Dinner tonight was simple but delicious, courgettes pan-fried in garlic and chili flakes and quinoa.

…..

The other thing that has really helped me to view food in a different light? Healthy-living blogs!

All of you guys!

About a year and a half ago I discovered healthy-living blogs, food blogs, fitness blogs… I can’t even remember how I first found them but they really helped my absolute LOVE of food to develop.

This was such a positive thing and what eventually decided me to start my own blog, this blog, Love Live & Learn 🙂

It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! I have learnt so so much from blogging, I have made many connections with wonderful, inspiring people, I have developed my writing and photography skills, I have found new foods, I discovered a love for strength training and I have had so much support from all of you.

I can’t thank all of you who comment and email me enough, you are amazing people!

…..

Fage 0% fat Greek yogurt (love that stuff!), frozen strawberries and blueberries and yet more granola!

…..

So why has this come to the forefront now if I’m feeling so much better about food?

The thing is, since coming to university I have put on quite a lot of weight because my condition has gotten so much worse and I struggled so much with physical activity last term.

To be honest, I’m really not that happy with my body. A lot of the fears and the low self-esteem and the negative emotions are resurfacing. It’s a really difficult time for me basically.

As I said in yesterday’s post, I want to use this period of Lent to really look after my body, to care for it. Yes I want to lose weight but I want to do it in a healthy, controlled way and I don’t want to lose kilos and kilos. I just want my old, healthier, toned and slimmer body back.

This post has been really hard to write, it has taken a lot of courage and it was really emotionally draining.

I really hope no one has been upset by this, your support really does mean a lot!

Thank you all for your lovely comments and support, particularly on my last few posts, you’re all fantastic 🙂

Thank you also to my wonderful parents and sister, for all of the support and help they gave me and continue to give. I honestly wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t have their love and their unfailing support. I love you all!

Lastly thank you to my amazing boyfriend, Tom. I love you so much, you have been more help than I could have ever imagined.

Were you surprised by what I talked about here?
Do you struggle with any of these issues (or have you in the past)?
What are your thoughts on all of it?

p.s. I am sorry if some of this isn’t particularly clear, my sleep medication is really starting to kick in but I was determined to finish the post!

Ash Wednesday and the Beginning of Lent.

I know I usually take part in What I Ate Wednesday on Wednesdays but today I have no photos of

Now I don’t want to alienate any non-religious readers, or any readers with different religious views so if you don’t want to read this post I completely understand! Having said that I promise it isn’t a post solely concerned with religion.

But today I want to talk about Lent.

Because for me the idea is important.

Lent is the perfect time for making a special effort. For reflection. For renewal.

I remember one of the former priests at my church saying once that Lent shouldn’t just be an excuse to give up something, for example sweets, because that demeans the meaning of Lent, it represents so much more than that.

Now I have absolutely nothing against non-religious people using Lent solely as motivation to give something up, sometimes it can be useful to have that defined time period, especially as many people are simultaneously trying to give something up. But I do get irritated when fellow religious people do the same.

That very same priest said that it was better in many ways to give your time for something good, rather than just giving something up.

I like this approach.

I really think that this can work for anyone no matter their religious views or lifestyle.

For example if you are someone who is constantly working to help other people and never resting, you can take the time to do something caring for yourself. Or for people like me, who spend a lot of time focusing on your own life and problems (I do try not to be like this!) you can take the time, each day, to focus on doing something good for others. It could be something simple like making sure you compliment someone everyday, or it could be helping someone with something they struggle with, or it could be volunteering. The possibilities are practically endless.

I don’t think giving things up is always wrong though. I think taking the time to think about the meaning of Lent and then giving up something significant is a wonderful thing to do. I especially think giving up things which are harmful to you are important. Your body is after all the only body you are going to get, we need to take care of ourselves.

So this Lent, what am I going to do?

Well for once I have taken the time to stop and think about the meaning of Lent and about my own life.

There is a lot I can change for the better. I focused on being better.

1. I’m going to look after my body. This means no more junk food which is harmful for my body. It means limiting substances like caffeine and alcohol. This doesn’t mean that I am cutting out everything that some people would view as unhealthy! I just don’t want to eat anything that will make me feel guilty or harm the health of my body. I still plan on baking, I will still (hopefully) go out to the restaurant and I will still go for coffee. I just won’t eat bought, processed food which is full of harmful substances like high levels of sugar, saturated or trans fats, excess salt or potentially harmful chemical additives.

2. I am also  going to pay attention to my body’s natural signals which  means getting enough sleep each night. It means exercising in every way I can. It also means making sure I take the time to rest when my body needs it, not straining it too far. My body is a temple and I will treat it as one.

3. I am going to devote some time everyday for personal reflection. Time for prayer. Time for reflection on my day, what I did that made me happy, what I did that negatively affected me. Time for meditation and time for thankfulness. Taking this time everyday can help you to grow as a person, it can help you understand yourself and make you appreciate your life more.

4. I am going to do something positive for someone else everyday. Take the time to help someone. Compliment someone meaningfully everyday. Always be polite. Smile at people. Take the time to ask people how they are and really listen to them. This too is such an important part of growing as a person and can bring you a lot of happiness. Not only this but it is a chance to give something back to the world and to the people you love.

In a way they echo my resolutions this year. I guess this is because these are the things I want to do to become a better person. I want to them for me, for the people I care about and of course for God.

I don’t think these actions, these promises are uniquely relevant to Christians. I believe that everyone can implement actions like these in their everyday lives.

Even if you are completely and utterly atheist, making an effort to improve your life, to focus more on being happy and positive and to look after yourself, is so so important and really can make your quality of life so much better!

…..

I hope this post hasn’t been too deep for any of you and if you were put off by the religious content I apologise, I did try to make it fairly ambiguous so that it could mean something to all of my readers!

Are you giving anything up for Lent?
What are your thoughts on improving the quality of your life?
What efforts do you make to be happier in life?

This Weekend #2.

This weekend I went to visit my wonderful boyfriend, Tom, up at his university.

When I go visit Tom I always have a brilliant time.

It doesn’t matter if the weekend is packed full of activities or completely relaxed and spent at home, I never fail to leave happy.

Long-distance is really difficult, I’m not going to lie, but it does have some positives! The best thing about it is that every time you are reunited the time spent together is so precious and feels that extra bit special 🙂

We had a mixture of activity and relaxation, the perfect balance really.

We went for walks along the beautiful river.

We saw the first signs of Spring’s arrival.

We watched films (50/50, The Adjustment Bureau and K-Pax) and munched cookies (and un-pictured toffee popcorn!).

We sat in cafes, drank coffee and shared chocolate fudge cake.

We cooked tasty and healthy food. This is a plate of whole wheat pasta and tomato sauce with onions, peppers, quorn chicken, ham, garlic and spices – delicious.

And most importantly, we spent some magical moments together!

Hope your weeks are turning out well 🙂

What did you do this weekend?
What have you got planned this week, anything special?


p.s. Thank you so much for all of your brilliant advice on my last post! Your suggestions were all fantastic and I will be replying to all of your comments tomorrow 🙂

p.p.s. I hope you all had a lovely Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras/Pancake day!