Why can’t I find my running mojo?

I don’t consider myself brave writing this post, but I do consider myself to be honest. Social media today is filled with pictures of people’s healthy meals, but they somehow neglect to post the pictures of the not so healthy food they consume in between. You will find pictures of people in their underwear… yes underwear, comparing their body shapes over time. Every day of the week seems to provide an alliterative excuse to display pictures of yourself and declaring how much better you look, how much you love yourself now. Call me old fashioned, but this is a trend that isn’t for me. Since when did we think posting partially naked pictures of ourselves was something our friends and family would want to see, never mind the rest of the world? People forget, once it is on the internet it is there forever!

Anyway I digress, the point of this is to highlight that when trying to achieve something, or trying something new, the road is not always smooth, as social media would lead you to believe. I think acknowledging this is just as important as telling everyone how great you are doing.

I set myself the challenge of running 5k on Valentine’s Day. For the fit and healthy amongst you, this is nothing I am sure. But for me it would be like running a marathon. Not because I am completely unfit, or that I am delusional to compare the two. It is the mental barrier I have to cross to do it. I have tried to take up running on and off for years, and always end up giving up. I never seem to have found that place that people talk of where they enjoy it, find it addictive and can keep pushing themselves to run faster or further or competitively.

So when I am on yet another run where I can’t find a breathing pattern, every muscle is tight and on the verge of cramping (or so I think) and I am having to set myself the tiniest of goals to get through it (get to that lamppost, run to the corner), eventually the temptation to give up takes over and my running programme I spent hours creating is tucked away out of sight.

This time I cannot find the will power to even go out for a run. I find excuses to put it off, convince myself a nice long walk with the dog is doing just as much good. In terms of my health and well being, the walks are having the desired effect as part of my eat less move more mantra. However the need to be able to achieve this running goal, I have now realised, is a mental one not physical.

Now that I have acknowledged that, and realised my goal might not be that realistic, I am prepared to admit I need to change things a bit. Better that than give up completely I hope. So I am going to give myself more time. Take things slower and build up in a way I can manage and aim to run 5k by the end of March 2017.

Yesterday I started with a jog with my dog. It was really nice. I always feel conflicted about whether I would like company on a run. Would it motivate me to keep going or will I feel pressured to keep up and then give up? It turns out the dog was the happy medium. He goes at my pace, since he is on a lead, and it feels like you are not alone.

So there you have it. Goals should be set to push us and help to us overcome things, and it is healthy to admit that this means it is not always easy. Its healthy for both body and mind to understand why it is hard and confront it. Small steps and trying new approaches to achieve your goal is great. Let’s start talking about that more to balance out the gratuitous self adoration on social media which can make others feel like failures. Remember social media is a facade. As we now have the power to filter our images on these platforms, essentially using photoshop style technology to improve our images, social media itself is a filter. It allows you to only showing what you want people to see. Skewing the image of what is real.

So I will build up my mental running stamina gradually, but I won’t be posting images of my sweaty face or a screen shot of the distance/ time/ calories I have burned. However I might still bore you with the incredible views I see while I am out and about!

Nxx

Is a diet the answer?

It is that time of year where we start to regret the Christmas over indulgence. A friend said to me the other day ‘Christmas ended up being the whole of December for me’. This is so true. These days we have Christmas parties, work gatherings, and generally find any excuse to start buying all those delicious festive treats that have adorned supermarket shelves since late October.

Once the decorations are down, and we do not sit in the soft glow of fairy lights, the truth emerges. We might have put on a few pounds, our skin might be a little dehydrated or had a break out of spots. However it effects you, we all have that guilt complex that makes us vow to do something to reverse what we have done to ourselves.

Slimming World, Weight Watchers, Lighter Life, Slim Fast. These are just a handful of the ‘diets’ we hear about today aimed at helping people to lose weight. What do they have in common; they provide you a snippet of information for free to entice you to buy a membership to an exclusive club with all the secrets to lose weight or buy their specially designed weight loss products normally at an extortionate price. Each provides a unique methodology for weight loss over a period of time, but are any of them actually sustainable? Does anyone enter into a diet with the intention of following it for life or is it a temporary change in their habits to reach a goal?

As anyone who has experienced one of these diets will tell you, they work for a while but as soon as your body accepts the new portions and combinations of food you eat, your weight loss will plateau. The only option is to continue to reduce portion sizes and cut things out, on these such diets, and then what; we just eat nothing? Latterly you reach your goal and start to introduce food into your diet again that was ‘banned’ or restricted. Inevitably weight creeps back on.

Nowadays these diet regimes will talk about exercise too. But they all miss the main principle… most likely to keep you paying for their advice and buying into the corporation.

The simplest advice out there is; Eat less and move more. I got to thinking about this, is it in fact that simple? Calories in versus calories out will determine your weight loss, gain or maintenance. That is all you really need to know to make this work. The more you eat, the more you need to burn off to avoid fat gain. If you can combine the idea of eating less and beginning to move more then you should be able to lose weight.

I have a good understanding about food groups and what these foods mean to your body, but you don’t really need to be an expert to make this work. You will hear people talk about empty calories, good fats, bad fats, super foods and so on. Ultimately energy (calories) is energy and fat is fat. Take in more energy than your body needs for the amount you move, the more will convert to fat that then needs to be burned off. You will not burn fat until you have burnt the energy surplus in your body. Hence why weight gain is easier than weight loss.

Weight loss/ gain is merely a simple equation. There are many apps these days with databases that will calculate the calories you have eaten and what you have burned. It puts the control in your hands to be the maker of your own destiny. If technology is not your thing, food labels display the calorific content of the food contained.

Exercise is moving, in whatever way works for you. You don’t need to get an expensive gym membership, buy an exercise bike or the latest celebrity DVD. Start small, make a little change to your habits; go for a walk, join an exercise class, maybe a steady bike ride. Build up your enthusiasm for exercise, don’t overwhelm yourself by setting unrealistic expectations of yourself. If you haven’t run before perhaps aim to get to 5k rather than a marathon and so on. You should only exercise for you and not compare yourself to others. It will be your biggest downfall. The internet has a vast array of free videos to introduce you to new exercise too. Everything from aerobics, to HIIT exercise programmes and yoga, there is something to suit everyone.

Using this principle I am starting the year eating smaller portions and reducing the ratio of carbs in my diet. I am drinking more water and a little less caffeine too. I am not depriving myself of any food group or treat merely moderating what I have. Exercise wise, before Christmas I would have considered myself to undertake light activity. I walk my dog at least once a day, and went to Pilates once a week. Now I will continue with both, adding in a dance aerobics class once a week plus a 6 week training plan to be able to run 5k by Valentine’s Day.

So if you feel you have more pounds on your person than in the bank in January, don’t subscribe to a profit making diet plan but simply eat less and move more. It is far more sustainable as it is habitual change.

Good luck to all you post festive fitness fanatics in the making 🙂

Nxx

 

 

Hello 2017

 

hello-2017I am not a fan of the word resolutions. It suggests something needs to be resolved, as if all that has gone before in the previous year needs correcting. I prefer to think of goals. I have four categories for my goals; a specific achievement something that will challenge me and make in a more rounded and better version of myself in body and mind. Refrain from something/ give something up, test my strength of character. Start something new and kick-start something I have avoided/ stopped doing that I love.

I also start a little later than 1st January. Inevitably I am still in holiday mode since it’s a bank holiday. This year I am starting on 5th January, exactly 9 months until my 30th birthday.

So my goals for 2017 are;

  • Lose 3 stone for 30 (by 5th October)
  • Not eat sweets, biscuits or crisps (the classic office snacks)
  • Learn about gardening and make my garden beautiful
  • Start writing short stories

I achieved a lot last year and have a lot to be proud of, but some goals, passions and issues were ignored and left behind. This year is about picking those up and starting again. Project Fab 30 will be designed to achieve these goals and bring more focus on fun and hobbies.

Wish me luck

Nxx

 

 

 

Homemade Christmas Garland

I am super excited to be decorating our house for the festive season at the weekend. Our kitchen has a window that was crying out to be adorned with a garland. Mostly because there are some hooks perfectly placed from where a seemingly dated net curtain used to hang. But also because against the cream walls, it is a blank canvas crying out for some colour.

So it turns out garlands are rather expensive, so after a little research I visited my trusty supplier of all things wonderful (Amazon- obviously) and bought all the component parts for a LOT cheaper. The beauty being I will get the exact look I want without compromise.

It was super simple to make and lots of fun. Check out the before and after pictures! garland-1

The sad looking artificial tree branch was transformed into a traditional festive delight. The warm red and copper tones fit perfectly with our kitchen and the dried oranges and cinnamon sticks are starting to leave a lovely aroma has they start to warm up above the radiator. I would highly recommend saving some money and investing a couple of hours time to make something perfect for your own home.

garland-2Here it is in a bit more detail. There is no real skill involved. I did however use Chefaid twist and tie (the wire like stuff you use to tie sandwich bags) to attach the baubles and oranges as it was a little more sturdy than the fine string they come with.

It has really got me in the mood for Christmas. Next stop some festive baking and creating my wrapping theme for this year…oh yes there is always a theme!

The festive season is upon us

Ah how I love Christmas. I never tire of the warmth of the season, how we brighten up the winter with rich colour, rich food and stopping to spend quality time with our family and friends. Celebrating those relationships and what they bring to our lives all year round.

For me the charm of Christmas is not the religious aspect, it’s not the childhood charm, but it’s the effort we go to in society to make it such a magical time.

This time last year was particularly special as we prepared for our wedding on 5th December, but it did mean my usual focus on preparing for festive celebrations was put to one side. This year I am going all out!

Look out for recipes, craft ideas, and many more hearty adventures over the next few weeks.

 

Nxx

The Old Station Tintern- Afternoon Tea

My husband is a big fan of afternoon tea. So when I found a place that does afternoon tea in an old railway station, I knew it would be a winning birthday present.

Tintern is a beautiful village which sits on the border of England and Wales on the banks of the river Wye. It is famously known for it’s Abbey and the impressive ruins that still stand hauntingly next to the river. We pass through Tintern on our commute to work, and always comment on the fact we need to come down and explore. Having booked afternoon tea in advance, we decided to spend the afternoon there looking round.

We parked at the north end of the village and wandered down along the river towards the abbey. It was a beautiful crisp day and we found that Tintern was not daft and had expertly located a pub, with a lovely garden, facing the Abbey across the road. The Anchor Inn is a a surprisingly big pub with a fabulous food and drink selection. I tend to judge a pub on the wine it serves and this was a winner! Who would have thought in late October we would be sat outside having a cheeky Sunday afternoon tipple, warmed by the sun with such a stunning view? 

Then it was on to the Old Station for the main event. This is a simple, small cafe, in an old railway station waiting room. It has been preserved well, the only modifications being the modern amenities needed to run a cafe. The staff were so friendly. They ask you to book afternoon tea in advance so there is no wait and no unexpected preparation for them on the day. Which works well in the customer’s favour too. The cafe is small with plenty of outdoor seating but on a cold day, you would not want to be lingering over your afternoon feast outside. A table was reserved for us and we were immediately offered drinks while the finishing touches were added to our cake stands.

I was trying to work out what it is about afternoon tea that us Brits love and I came to the conclusion it is your own personal buffet where you don’t have to limit what you have because there is a queue of people behind you, you can have everything on the buffet and more!

tintern-2

We were overwhelmed with the generosity of the portions. Two separate cake stands arrived, one each! There was enough food on one stand for two people, but we were not complaining. The scones, jam and clotted cream were brought out on another plate. The sandwiches were so fresh and the variety was excellent; beef and horseradish, egg mayo, smoked salmon and cream cheese and brie and cranberry. Four different cakes were offered (8 bite size pieces per stand), these too were outstanding. Lesley, the lovely lady who looked after us, kindly offered to wrap up the scones for us to take home, noticing we had stopped eating and were both looking a bit full! The tea and hot water kept coming and we were so well looked after we did not want to leave! Alas with full bellies we headed home for a nap in front of the fire.

It is definitely one to visit for value for money and incredible quality and lovely views of the river. http://www.tinternvillage.co.uk/seedo/tintern-old-station/

Time to make a plan!

 

fab-30

Project Fab 30 has begun.

I have exactly 360 days until I turn 30. I want to be the best, happiest version of myself. Some things in life are not in control and can knock you sideways emotionally and physically. I cannot account for those along the way but what I can do is change other things around it.

I am starting to develop a plan. I find it easier to break things down into chunks and tackle them one at a time. So I am breaking the year up into quarters (roughly) and will set myself goals to achieve.

My focus is;

  1. To be proud of myself
  2. To be happy
  3. To improve my health and well being
  4. To challenge myself

Nothing else matters this year. I intend to turn 30 with the biggest smile on my face. This will be my biggest Hearty Adventure yet with lots of little adventures in between.

First up October to December!

 

Awesome Autumn

autumn-1

I woke up this morning at my usual time and it was still dark. Although it makes it harder to get up, I looked out the window at the grey sky and the wind blustering through the trees and smiled. My favourite time of the year has arrived.

Autumn has always felt special to me. I have always associated it with change and the start of something new. As a child it was the start of a new school year, and my birthday. The school term was broken up with harvest celebrations, Halloween and the build up to Christmas. There is something so nice about the predictability of Autumn and Winter; the colours change outside, the nights get longer and the weather gets colder. Summer never seems to live up to my expectations in the same way.

Autumn brings new food inspiration, a new comfortable wardrobe and lots of Hearty Adventures in the cold winter sun. It is the perfect season for writing blog posts in front of the fire. So look out for lots more to come. Start by heading over to Hearty recipes and food page to find some simply twists to your vegetables to add that wintry feel to midweek meals or weekend treats!

 

Puppy love!

My hubby was no sooner introduced to me than he was my family pet at the time, Lola. I love dogs and it was an added bonus the man I met loved them too! After five years of moving around for work, living in flats, we are finally settled in our own home and last week we finally achieved one our dreams and got a dog.

Meet Seth, a 2 year old Lurcher cross Deerhound.Seth 1He is a loving, playful dog who did not have the chance to be a puppy when he was younger. Being a rescue ,we know he has had a rough start to life and his behaviour reflects a lack of structure and nurturing in his early years. For us, none of that matters as long as we can give him the loving home from now on.

I have grown up with dogs, both rescues and puppies, but the feeling when you have your own dog is completely different. When they look to you for reassurance, affection and security, its a wonderful feeling, knowing you can give it to them. He is a cheeky pup while he works out what his boundaries are, but nothing we cannot handle. Understanding his behaviour is fascinating, and we intend to make every effort to help him with his fears and embrace the things he loves. He fits into our lives perfectly; he enjoys long walks so an ideal companion for our weekend outings and an excuse for us to find time in our day to make sure he gets a short walk in the morning and a long walk in the evening. Selfishly, it provides us with some time to clear our heads after a day in the office so a winner all round!

One year on…

D

Today it has been one year since the death of my Aunty Donna. This is something I still struggle to come to terms with. She was 55 years old and happy with a family who worshipped her as a mother, grandmother and  friend. Donna passed away in her sleep from an unknown heart condition. There is something so unjust about someone dying so young, when seemingly in good health. It is hard to believe a year has gone by, and the pain has not dulled how I expected it might.

Of course my grief does not compare to that of my cousins’, my Dad’s or my Uncle’s, but I grew up spending time with my Auntie due to my cousin, Nigella, and I being so close. Donna’s devotion to her family could not be criticised. She wore her heart on her sleeve and protected her own fiercely. My cousins could not have had more love and laughter from their Mum and I was lucky enough to feel that too. That is why it is so hard to get over the loss.

This week I have been sharing some of my best memories of Donna with people. It has been nice to talk about her and revisit good memories. It lifted the dark cloud of her loss for a short time. I think there is still a taboo around talking about someone who has passed away. Some people see it as you not moving on or that you are still grieving. I think it can make the listener uncomfortable, because they don’t always know what to say. You can feel guilty about talking about something sad, because people don’t always know how to react. This cycle of silence and worrying about how others feel can be destructive, but breaking the cycle is just as hard. I am in no place to give advice, but all I will say is try to talk, just try.

I think we are all still grieving. For Donna, but also the compounded grief of losing three people we love so close together. I think part of my personal struggle is living so far away from my family, I miss some of those day to day connections. I didn’t know what I could do today to celebrate my Aunty Donna, and attempt to make something so incredibly sad into something with some happiness.

Nigella suggested I cook her favourite meal, pour her favourite drink (drinks she was a Burke after all) and imagine the enjoyment it gave her and those she cooked it for. Aunty Donna loved a family meal, something our whole family share with her, so it’s perfect really.

One year on, it hurts and it still doesn’t make sense, but today is about raising a glass and remembering the positives.

 

RIP Donna

Nxx