How to stay happy on a sick day

tips for sick day

Getting sick is SO frustrating. You eat your veg and take your vitamins but sometimes the body can’t fight off infection without a few rest days. I don’t know about you I can’t wait until we’re all floating heads inside robot bodies (joke).

As someone who prides myself on prioritising fitness and healthy eating I am horrified at the idea of having to take time off work to recover from illness, but I’m starting to see the importance of sick days and nipping it in the bud instead of struggling on and feeling miserable.

With that in mind here are a few simple and easy to follow tips that you might not have thought of for staying happy on a sick day.

Eat carbs

Although you might lose your appetite when you feel sick it’s key to keep eating to ensure you have enough energy to recover. My favourite comforting carbs are pasta, mashed potatoes, rice or a huge pile of toast smothered in peanut butter. If you’re too tired to cook grab a Cliff Bar for an energy boost with zero effort.

If you’re not hungry or you can’t really taste food, I recommend making a smoothie jam-packed with spinach and bananas (I love this post from Amy about the health benefits of bananas) and leave to chill in the fridge before drinking. A nice cold beverage will soothe a sore throat and help keep you hydrated too.

No guilt

There are two types of people, those who call in sick at the drop of a hat and those who would rather die at work than take a day off. Hello! I’m the latter.

I really hate taking days off due to sickness and only do it when my back is playing up because I physically can’t get out of the house. To me, sitting at home feeling guilty is more painful than showing up for your shift when you’re under the weather. I’d rather suffer that day than let anyone else down, but we all know that’s a pointless attitude to have.

I’ve been trying to work on my guilt – in every aspect of my life – for a while now. I’m definitely getting better, but it takes time and practise. If you want to truly feel better about yourself on a sick day then try your best to remember that your health comes first, and without it you’re useless at work, as inconvenient as that may be!

Get dressed

I was ill recently and spent the first day in bed, wearing the same pyjamas all day with my hair matted and my face unwashed. The next day I forced myself to get up, take a shower, get dressed and managed to drag myself to the store to buy some medication.

I felt so much happier on the second day, and although that may have been the medication I also just felt more alive because I was dressed in something other than smelly old PJs. You also might like to take it a step further and treating yourself a face mask. I like this Garnier Sheet Mask because it requires minimal effort but really plumps up dry, dehydrated skin.

Open a window (or at least the curtains)

Fresh air might not be what you’re body is craving, especially if you’re cold, but consider opening all the curtains in your home when you’re feeling unwell.

Studies have shown that workers in sunlit areas are more productive than workers without exposure to natural light, so if you want to speed up your recovery having a natural light source is a good idea.

Not only does natural light increase endorphins and serotonin leading to improved mood, but did you know it can even boost your white blood cell count? Get those curtains open!

Stay connected

Being home alone all day can be a real downer. I’m a total introvert but even I think that being sick needs company! Obviously if you’re infectious (no, I’m not talking about your infectious charm) then it’s a but unfair to subject others to your germs, so you might want to find company via phone. Normally my mum is the first person I speak to when I’m sick because she’s the best at sympathy. Mums are good for that!

Chat to friends on Twitter or WhatsApp but avoid emails in case you get sucked into work related enquiries. Text that friend you’ve been meaning to catch up with, or Skype your long lost cousin. Whatever keeps you occupied and in the loop with other humans is essential.

How do you stay happy on a sick day?

 

Opening up about mental illness in the modelling industry – Washed Away by Nikki Dubose

nikki dubose book review

Washed Away: From Darkness to Light is a Memoir by former model Nikki Dubose. She has appeared in magazines such a Maxim, Glamour, Vogue and Vanity Fair and first suffered from an eating disorder at just eight years old.

Her childhood trauma of sexual abuse led to bulimia, various drug addictions and serious mental illness in later life. Although she boasted a high-flying career in the fashion industry, at the height of her success she was experiencing intense inner turmoil which she kept hidden from the world.

Talking about one performance on the catwalk she writes;

“As my feet carry me to the edge, I hear no sound, experience no sensation. Despite the music and commotion, I am lost in a dreamland. How long have I waited to arrive in this spectacular moment? I never imagined I would feel so numb, so vacant. Dozens of cameras pop and crackle as they capture the magnificent creature before them. I perform, but inside I feel trapped, imprisoned within my mind.”

Nikki describes the terrifying ‘whispers’ she hears when she’s on stage, the voices in her head which mock her every move. When met with praise she ignores everyone and instead of celebrating with champagne and dancing, she rushes home to her apartment to be alone. She only wants one thing, and that’s to binge on – and then purge – large amounts of food.

To say Nikki came from a broken home would be kind at best. Her parents separated early on and her mother sexually abused her and treated her as a buddy; someone to show off to as she performed sex acts in online chat rooms and hooked up with strangers in bars. This is just one of several people who took advantage of her innocence from a young age.

With such a tainted childhood, it’s no surprise that Nikki went looking for love in all the wrong places. Her struggle to meet the demands of how a model should look only exacerbated her eating disorder as well as her constant self-loathing.

As I read the history of Nikki’s eating disorder it became clear that it was not only a way to stay as thin as possible for the modelling world, but a form of physical release that she couldn’t get elsewhere. Her mental illness ultimately led to the physical condition which consumed her life.

Having lived with a hatred for my own body for most of my life and dieting since aged 17, this topic really hit home for me. I’ve never been diagnosed with an eating disorder but I know I’ve teetered on the edge, and so I empathised with the daily rituals she went through to hide her unhealthy behaviours.

“I binged and threw up in the shower or in paper bags that I kept in my bedroom. I was the smart one; Evelin and Vitor had no idea, especially when I hid the vomit in the paper bags. My knuckles and lips began to bleed and scar again, but I covered them with concealer. Whenever a make-up artist raised an eyebrow at the cuts, I said that I had an autoimmune disease.”

Nikki talks to the reader as though we are her closest ally. Throughout her illness she felt unable to share her troubles with anyone, so to have her talk intimately and in great detail about the things she’s endured is a privilege.

Reading her words is like being inside Nikki’s head. Her writing style is brutally honest and disturbing at times, a testament to not only what she has endured but also how difficult it must have been for her to relive these painful memories and put them down on paper.

I had no idea what to expect going into this book. I never thought I’d finish the thing in just a few days and feel so utterly connected to someone I’d never met. Knowing Nikki’s story has reminded me why I started to write about mental illness online, even though it often leaves me feeling vulnerable to expose myself to the world.

Although Washed Away is about championing the possibility of recovery, it’s my no means a self-help book. I’m not sure the world needs another one of those anyway. Often those of us with mental illness know deep down what steps need to be taken, but we just can’t imagine having the strength carry them out.

This book proves that we are indeed strong enough, and that even the darkest of times will lead to light.

Buy Nikki’s book here

This post is sponsored and contains affiliate links

 

10 dieting habits I’ve given up in 2016

giving up unhealthy dieting habits and learning to live a healthy balances lifestyle

One thing that went unnoticed when I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety was my fixation on food. As my condition got worse I was obsessed with fitness and eating healthily, two obsessions which are often seen positive factors in someone’s life. For this reason I’ve never had my eating problems medically diagnosed, and have struggled to get my eating habits back to what I consider normal. In the past year I’ve come on leaps in bounds in this aspect of my life, as well as working towards a more positive body image. Here’s what I’ve stopped doing in 2016…

Tracking calories

I used to have My Fitness Pal on the homepage of my phone screen so that I could input everything I ate throughout the day. Ideally, I would record all the food I was planning to eat the night before so that I could plan exactly what I would eat and what ‘treats’ I could fit in throughout the day. The problem with calorie counting for me was that eventually fitting in treats became the main goal, so I would eat very low calorie foods like salad and vegetables in order to eat a bar of chocolate straight afterwards. Fat has more calories per gram that protein or carbohydrates so I would avoid most fats to keep calories low. Little did I know that fat consumption is extremely important for maintaining a healthy body and it started to affect my hormones and brain function. Ultimately I became too focused on calories instead of the quality of the food I was eating, so I gave up.

Eating clean

No one can actually define what ‘clean eating’ is, so why the hell should I try an emulate a vague statement that so many people are hailing as the next big thing? Some people include honey, sweeteners and cereal bars and others don’t even allow the use of salt or heaven forbid, shop-bought products. They would have you grow everything from scratch in your own garden and eat it raw, whilst others are publishing books packed with ‘clean’ brownie recipes. It takes way too much brain power to figure out the rules never mind actually abide by them.

Always choosing the ‘healthy’ option

After years of reading tips on how to eat low calorie meals the go, at work or in restaurants I became a seasoned pro at selecting the ‘healthy’ option in any given scenario. This meant substituting fries for salad, bread for more salad and dessert for a cup of tea. I still try to eat a well balanced diet most of the time but when I’m in a restaurant or in a rush I don’t stress as much as I used to. I try to listen to my hunger cues and eat to satisfy those instead of making a ‘perfect’ meal.

The ‘all or nothing’ approach

I’ve had those bad days which involve eating family size boxes of biscuits, pot noodles and peanut butter straight out of the jar. I’ve even planned for those exact days after weeks of restrictive eating where I munched on only carrots and chicken to get my goal weight. I would load up on all the junk food I wanted and cram it all into one massive binge session happy in the knowledge that I would be back on my low calorie, no junk plan the next day. The guilt associated with this was extremely upsetting, as the binge never made me happy in the way I thought it would. Days later I would be sick of restricting and be planning another mammoth eating session and the cycle continued. I’m now a firm believer in “a little bit of what you fancy does you no harm”.

Eating less than 1000 calories per day

This is just stupid, and anyone who advocates this type of meal plan should be avoided like the plague.

unhealthy dieting habits I've given up in 2016

Meticulous meal-planning

Obviously planning your meals is a great way to get organised and helps with creating shopping list and sticking to a budget. I still like to batch cook meals in the form of soups, chilli and cottage pie and have them in the freezer for when I’m in a rush or have nothing fresh in the fridge. I am however, totally over the idea of planning every single meal and snack for the entire week. A meal plan which is that detailed is perfect for someone who needs educating on portion sizes and which foods are best in a balanced diet. I feel like I know enough about food and how my body works to make those choices myself. It also means I can eat more when I’m hungry, less when I’m full and go ‘off plan’ without feeling like I’m a total failure.

Relying on caffeine

When I was creeping towards my goal weight (just writing that makes me feel slightly sick) I was at the tail end of a year-long diet which was starting to take it’s toll on me mentally and physically. I was constantly tired, hungry and cranky whilst nervously counting down the hours to my next meal. I would stay awake with black coffee and caffeinated diet sodas only to find I would crash an hour later. If it wasn’t time to eat I simple cracked open another drink and waited nervously. I dread to think what my body was doing to cope with the lack of calories and the excess caffeine. Now I have one or two coffees a week, sometimes none at all.

Cutting out carbohydrates

Not happy with cutting out fats I tried to limit my intake of carbohydrates too. I considered them ’empty calories’ as protein is supposed to help you feel satisfied for longer so I decided they weren’t worth worrying about. I would eat bolognese without the spaghetti, a bacon sandwich without the bread and roast dinner without the roast potatoes. I’ll never go back.

Exercising to compensate for over-eating

I used to exercise everyday for at least 90 minutes and up to 3 hours per day. I was so terrified of gaining weight that I would factor in extra workouts before or after a big meal to try and burn off the extra calories. This is reasonably sensible but probably not essential when my idea of a ‘big meal’ was a slice of toast. Now I exercise a few times a week and try to fit in classes like yoga to help with my mental health.

Avoiding eating out at restaurants

The prospect of eating out at restaurant was extremely stressful when I was in a severe calorie deficit. On one hand I knew it was safer to eat the food I cooked myself to know exactly what was in it, but on the other hand every fibre of my being was screaming out for a big plate of something delicious. The cravings were so intense that I would normally go but I had to know in advance exactly where we were going so that I could plan what I would eat, ideally with a look at the menu beforehand. It really took the joy out of what is supposed to be a fun, sociable experience. Nowadays I eat out 2-3 times a week and eat until I’m full with whatever I’m craving at the time.

What diet habits have you given up? Are you ready to start 2017 with the aim to love your body more?

 

 

What you need to know about my period 

period tampons sore boobs truth

If you consider this post TMI then that’s exactly why you need to read it. Periods are a natural bodily function for half of the world’s population so they deserve to be spoken about. Read on for an honest snapshot of my monthly flow! 

1. I don’t use tampons. I’m nearly 30 and I had my first period aged 10, so I’ve had ample time to try out the blasted things but goddamnit they’re just not for me. I can barely get them in, I can’t get them to stay there and I just don’t like them. Maxi pads for life. 

2. I can’t wear light coloured tshirts in fear of – you know – splashbacks. Same goes for pale underwear, jeans and bath towels. I also can’t comfortably go to the toilet, if you know what I mean.

3. I eat my feelings. This month has been sponsored by Dairy Milk Oreo, Five Guys fries and a milkshake (weirdly no burger though), flapjacks and Heinz Tomato Soup. 

4. I fly off the handle. I bought web hosting and instead of paying for it monthly I paid for 3 years worth in one go, resulting in me being almost £300 out of pocket. Of course, it was entirely my fault but this didn’t stop me blaming the rest of the world and sobbing uncontrollably for 20 minutes. 

5. I wear what is essentially a training bra for 2 weeks, due to sore boobs. I know all you females have been there. Under no circumstances should my breasts be touched, tapped, rubbed or squeezed intentionally or indeed in error or I WILL explode with rage. The tender little ladies need as little disruption as possible just before and during the period; so a wireless, seamless stretchy bra is the only option during this time. 

What’s your period like? Have you got any tips to share? 

5 easy tricks for people who hate doing cardio

hate doing cardio easy tricks fitness lose weight

I love fitness, but I must admit I like to pick and choose my favourite parts and I tend to avoid the things I hate. I have recently come to realise after taking part in several races that I was not made to be a runner. I also perform poorly in sports like netball, swimming and hockey and as a result you can normally find me on my own, happily lifting dumbells in a quiet area of the gym. When it comes to cardio, I understand. The struggle is real. Getting started is so bloody hard, so here’s a few sneaky tricks I like to use….

Try and improve your time

If you really despise doing cardio then a good incentive is to try and get it done a little quicker each time. So instead doing more to make it harder, just work more intensely doing the same amount of mileage. For example, if you normally run around the block in 15 minutes, try and do it in 14 minutes and so on. You won’t waste any more time on the thing you hate, but you will improve your fitness levels.

Listen to podcasts

I’m sure you’re fully aware that podcasts exist, I’m not going to take credit for informing you about that one. However, I think a lot of people assume that the best thing to listen to during exercise is fast-paced, invigorating dance music. Me on the other hand; I like to while away the hours listening to Dawn O’Porter talk fashion with her pals, Emma Gannon commenting on social media and Sword & Scale deconstructing true crime cases whilst I flail around aimlessly on the cross trainer.

Do HIIT

OK don’t get scared now. I promise you won’t die. The beauty of HIIT training is that you’ll feel certain that you’re going to die for very small segments of the workout, but then have time to recover, do it again and all the while you’re actually becoming superhuman! All jokes aside, I much prefer doing a 20 minute HIIT session to a 45 minutes steady state workout that burns around the same calories. It’s also better for building strength, increasing your metabolism and improving overall fitness in a shorter space of time. I would suggest running intervals to start you off, where you sprint for 30 seconds and rest for 1-2 minutes and repeat the cycle until you die, ahem, sorry I mean become a goddess.

Take a class

Cardio doesn’t have to be a lonely affair. If you prefer to be motivated by a fully qualified ball-buster then sign up for a class in your local gym. I find the time passes waaaay quicker when someone else is co-ordinating my workout, combined the the loud music and group setting a 45 minute session flies by and I always work harder than I would on my own.

If all else fails…

Get on that stationary bike and stick on Netflix. Get stuck into a few classic episodes of Always Sunny and before you know it you’ll be done, having successfully exercised like a boss and feeling like a superior being compared to those god-damn bitches from Philadelphia.

Three reasons why you need to have yoga in your life

three reasons you need yoga in your life

If you follow me on Twitter you’ll have noticed my “in your face” updates about my recent foray into yoga. I’ve done it on and off for years and like bleaching your upper-lip hair or a visit to the dentist it’s one of those things you just wish you’d done earlier in life. Yoga is life-changing, invigorating and something I urge everyone to try at least once. Read on to hear my case for yoga!

Strength & flexibility 

Let’s talk about the physical benefits of yoga before I start to explain how much it has improved my mental state. My favourite thing to do in the gym is lift weights. I love the process, the sense of achievement and the feeling of power that comes with picking up heavy shit. The problem for me is that I do it for a hobby and as a result have obtained a few niggling injuries that could be helped if I had better core strength and general flexibility. I know what you’re thinking – yoga is easy, it’s just stretching! But trust me, when you wake up 24 hours after your first yoga class you’ll know for sure that it does effectively work your muscles! Yes, you’re only using your own bodyweight for resistance but the positions and the time held in those positions is a real test for even the most confident weight-lifter. Flexibility is something I have never had, but I’m assured it’s an ability I can refine with practice and a little time. Combined with some weight-training I’m still maintaining muscle but with a focus on functional strength.

Self-improvement

I have been a fitness freak for several years now, starting off with a cheeky Zumba class and quickly progressing to what others would deem unpleasant adventures like spinning, HIIT, weight-lifting and half-marathon training. The thing I quickly realised was that I loved the idea of trying something new and getting better at it over time. Unfortunately in my preferred area of expertise this often led to burn out, injuries and mental torture (running, I’m talking about the repetitive, lonely, painful torture of running). With yoga however, the scope for self-improvement seems wide and pretty welcoming. It’s not a case of doing more burpees than the person next to you, but more a case of pushing yourself a little further mentally and physically than you thought you could previously. The journey is ongoing and for me 100% internal which is a refreshing change of pace.

Motivation

There seems to be a common misconception that yoga is some sort of sleep-educing witchcraft designed to send you dosing off into the best forty-winks of your life. Don’t get me wrong, there have been times in the final moments of an hour long session where I’ve been lying flat on my mat, stretched out and could’ve quite happily lay there until the gym manager peeled me off the floor at closing time. But the general feeling at the end of a class is that of satisfaction, and for me a newfound motivation that filters through to other areas of my life.  Whether I held every pose correctly or long enough is irrelevant, because for that short period of time I concentrated on only one thing at that was my attempt at doing yoga. The ability to de-clutter the mind and work only on the physical task at hand is so beneficial, that I guarantee over time your stress levels will decrease, your daily focus will sharpen and your general motivation will improve. I find my motivation is at its peak just after I have practised, so I try to do classes early in the morning to get the most out of my day.

Do you practise yoga regularly, or are you tempted now?

I’m not thin and that’s OK…. I think

 

ok with being fat not thin

I’ve used this blog as a way to document my health & fitness journey. I’ve focussed a lot on losing weight because this has always been my primary concern, and I just assumed that everyone else was worried about that too. I know there are some people who just don’t gain or lose weight, they just happily maintain a healthy shape, but they must be the minority right? Surely at least 80% of the population is in the same boat as me and makes every mealtime decision on the basis of their future dream body? It seems that maybe I’ve been wrong this whole time. First of all, there are a lot of people who’s bodies I seriously envy, but they themselves feel fat and ugly. There are also a lot of women who are considered overweight and don’t give a fuck. They feel confident and look damn fine. I mean, they look proper good (and by ‘good’ I don’t mean they are actually a size 12 in real life but by comparison to runway models they appear to be ‘plus size’ or ‘curvy’). There are women out there of every shape and size who are killing it right now by being sexy, stylish and above all themselves.

If you haven’t seen any of these women you aren’t looking hard enough

Grace Victory is a British blogger and You Tuber who is brutally honest about her struggles with eating, depression and body image. She has her own style and offers a healthy perspective on mental health, relationships and working in the media.

Emma is a breath of fresh air in the blogging world. If you’re sick of looking at twentysomethings in Topshop bralets and American Apparel disco pants then walk this way. She will swither about spending £30 on a Tesco coat and swoon when she sees Hugh Jackman on the red carpet. Finally, real humans on the internet! She has won an awards for her You Tube channel thanks to her efforts in plus-size fashion, although I feel her appeal isn’t specific to plus-size ladies. She’s just your everyday woman who’s comfortable in her own skin and I find that fantastic.

Katie H Willcox started out as a plus-size model who was encouraged to gain weight to stay suitably appealing to clients, but found no happiness in an industry that forced her to be either stick thin or overweight. She now runs a successful agency called Natural Models and Healthy is the new skinny which aims to spread the message to young women that their value is not defined by how they look or how sexy they appear. Whenever I feel shit I look at the organisation’s Instagram account and I literally feed off of it’s imagery. Go look. Now.

This general message has been chipping away at my brain for the past year or so; No one else cares what you weigh, and obessing over it is a waste of your time. It’s a waste of your life.

Fiona & Joseph-77

When people say that it’s not money that makes you rich, they know their shit. I recently got married and realised how many kind and generous people I have in my life. I’m not just talking about people giving gifts (although we did receive some wonderful things) but instead other ways in which people show love. One of our friends played piano during the ceremony, even though afterwards he told me how nervous it made him. My uncle’s baby was born literally days before the wedding but he flew up to be with us for just a few hours. Many of my husband’s family and friends travelled for a day and told lies to get out of work just to attend the wedding. A few of our guests brought professional cameras and took photographs all night so that we could have lots of images once our main photographer had gone home. Some of these things cost money, but a lot of them just took time and effort – and I am dumfounded that so many people care enough to do that for us.

I looked around the room at our wedding and thought how lucky we were to have so many wonderful people in our lives. It made me realise that I value a person based on their personality traits (obviously) not their job, salary, dress sense or how many notches they need on their belt. At that moment certainly wasn’t looking around judging how people looked physically in their outfits of choice. So why on earth do I define myself by a different standard?

Another thing you don’t go looking for at a wedding is abs. Is it just me or is everyone obsessed with having abs these days? OK actually it might just be me. I did have a fascination with ladies with abs for quite some time. I told myself that I too could have those square, washboard muscles if I simply ate well and dedicated my life to the gym. After researching further I realised that those Instagram pictures are of ladies who have less that 10% body fat and have purposely dehydrated themselves for the photoshoot and they will most likely lose those abs a few days later, and crave Ben & Jerry’s like mad after sticking to a low calorie diet. Those abs are beautiful but they are not the only kind of beautiful. I also realised that I can eat Ben & Jerry’s whenever I want because I live in Scotland and don’t ever have to bare my stomach unless on holiday. I recently went on holiday and did bare by stomach to a resort full of other British ladies who all had lovely soft midsections just like me. Maybe I can have my cake and eat it.

I’m not content with my body. I don’t look in the mirror and admire my flat stomach,perky breasts and toned legs, but I don’t think there is anyone in this world who does. I keep reminding myself what I admire in other people; beautiful skin, an infectious laugh, the confidence to not wear make up, loyalty and the ability to remember other people’s birthdays are a few things that come to mind. So here is a photo of me in a bikini to prove that although I’m not thin, that’s OK.

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AWAKE

wake-up-and-liveI’ve been struggling with my diet since Christmas, although I didn’t realise it. I’ve only put on about 3lbs, but it feels like a slippery slope if you can’t rein it back in, especially as I am getting married in November. If I was getting married tomorrow I’d be perfectly happy with my body, but the fear of putting on more and more weight uncontrollably between now and the big day is one that plays in my head constantly. I’m so proud of how far I’ve come with my health, weight and muscle tone but I am terrified it’s all going to be snatched away from me again.

So anyhow, since Christmas I’ve put on a few pounds and although I’ve been calorie counting as usual there seemed to be an underlying problem. I realised that I was always hungry. Not only that, but I was always tired, falling asleep on the couch at 7pm and struggling to wake in the morning. I was also sore from working out at the gym, sore from being on my feet all day at work, and my head was always aching from wedding planning and juggling that with day to day jobs like remembering to pay bills and post letters. One of the things on my to-do list was renew my mobile phone contract, and when I did I got a new phone with amazing battery life. At first I thought this would be great as I could guarantee enough power in my phone to listen to music at the gym, but what I ended up doing was rediscovering podcasts. I listened to a few celebrity interviews like Lisa Kudrow and Tina Fey (I have a thing for inspirational women I think) and then remembered that I had enjoyed listening to Ben Coomber a few years ago, and started listening again.

Ben is a personal trainer/nutritionist/entrepreneur as well as general geek about all things health and fitness. When I listened to his first podcasts there were about 30 available, now there are 125 and still going so I have plenty of 50 minute bursts to get through on my walks to and from work. Listening to him talk about losing weight, getting fit and more importantly getting healthy has kind of knocked some sense into me. A few years ago I was eating mainly Paleo but fell off the wagon as my weight plateaued. I cut out healthy fats and meats due to their high calorie content and ate mainly low-calorie, low-fat foods including lots of fresh fruit and vegetables but not much else. I also adhered to the rule that ‘all calories are equal’ which I knew wasn’t true, but it helped me lose weight so I didn’t care. And so although after a year this diet has got me to my goal weight, I realise now that it is unsustainable. This is a word which I hear Ben say a lot, and it certainly has rung true with me. I would deny myself foods when I was hungry, knowing that after I saw the weight loss when I stepped on the scales for my weekly weigh in I would then allow myself to eat some of the things I had been dreaming of all week; cakes, scones, takeaways, chocolate, all in one day til I felt ill and seriously guilty. This diet was unsustainable as I was living week to week, literally counting down the days until I could stuff sugar in my face.

I’ve not made any drastic changes to my diet or exercise routine, but I feel amazing. I feel awake. Here are some of the things I have learnt and applied to my daily life after listening to lots of Ben’s podcasts:

1. Drink more water
Everyone will look at this and say ‘Duh, we all know we should drink more water, tell us something new!’, but its a basic requirement for life. Yes, we all know we need water but do you actually try to drink more? I was drinking no water whatsoever but I was drinking at least one coffee, a few teas and a few sugar-free fizzy drinks throughout the day and I thought that was OK. Now I actively try to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day and as a result I have given up tea, coffee and fizzy drinks without even trying. Now I actually crave water whereas before I was craving caffeine and sweetener which created a vicious cycle and serious dehydration. I don’t get that afternoon slump, and my headaches have disappeared.

2. Protein is king

I have never stopped believing that protein is a good energy source, I just thought that they represented too many calories on my plate which could be substituted with tasty sugar. I decided that my carb heavy breakfast of porridge or fruit was not working as I was still hungry afterwards, and tired too which can be a result of eating carbohydrates. I thought I would eat a protein rich breakfast as Ben suggested and see how I got on. I’ve been having eggs for breakfast and find this fills me up nicely until lunch, and I’ve been also incorporating more protein in there too, by having a tuna salad followed by fruit and seeds. I now feel that although eating protein with every meal is not ideal from a cost or convenience perspective, the positive results in terms of energy levels are really great. So I’m trying to have protein at every meal simply because it makes me feel amazing. I save carbohydrates for dinner, as this is when getting that sleepy feeling that comes afterwards can be beneficial. It’s not enough make me fall asleep at 7pm but it sends the signals to my brain to relax and helps me get a better nights sleep.

3. If it makes you feel rubbish, don’t eat it
It can be hard to analyse what exactly has a negative affect on our bodies, but the easiest way to start is by eating whole foods as much as possible. As I’ve been doing this I realise that Greek yoghurt was making me feel really bloated, and thought that maybe I should avoid dairy for a while. I did this for roughly a week and I felt good. So no, I’m not lactose intolerant, I’m not allergic to dairy but if I feel better without it then why consume it? I don’t miss it enough at the moment so I’m steering clear. I celebrated pancake day by eating a massive crepe filled with Nutella and marshmallows, and I literally had to go home for a lie down to recover. Not because I was sick, but because my blood sugars were so low that I physically couldn’t stay awake! Don’t get me wrong, that crepe was amazing… but I had stuff to do that day and it was kind of inconvenient! If I am eating before exercise or before a busy day at work I now realise that processed sugars are going to make me very sleepy to are best avoided.

I hope you’ve found some of this helpful, its just a general round up of some of the positive changes I’ve made recently and I felt like they were good enough to share. If you are interested in reading or listening to Ben Coomber you can find him at http://bencoomber.com/

My favourite foods for weight loss

10388731_10154164592770338_361707102_o 10323467_10154096195855338_1462208954_o 10319873_10154073170595338_23201438_o 10421699_10154209072540338_847846574_oI haven’t done a weight loss update in a wee while because I was really struggling to lose more than a few pounds before gaining it back weeks later. Recently I have had more success (Amen) and have lost about 9lbs in the past two months, even though I was on holiday in Cannes and celebrated my engagement during that time. So although not everything that worked for me will work for you, I wanted to share my favourite foods at the moment and how they are helping me progress on my weight loss journey in a positive way, instead of feeling deprived and hungry.

First up, I love to start they day with a bowl of porridge. I don’t buy the pre-packaged sweetened variety and instead weigh out 50g of Scottish porridge oats and cook them with almond milk. My trick is to add sweetness in the form of a mashed banana, added whilst the oats are still cooking on the hob or in the microwave. With this addition there is no need to add sugar or syrup, and it also makes the portion much bigger and more filling. I like to add a few blueberries if I have any to hand, and this always keeps me full until lunch.

Vegetable stir-fry has been my favourite meal lately. If I’m exercising that day or am really hungry I will add some noodles but I also really enjoy just using a bunch of finely chopped colourful vegetables. I flavour them with garlic, ginger, chilli and soy sauce and top with some fresh coriander and lime juice. All these flavourings are guilt free but make for an incredibly tasty dinner. Toss in some prawns for extra protein.

Soup. My saving grace. My light in the dark. Oh I do love a big bowl of home made soup. When eating out, I almost always have the soup. Even when there is a salad or another seemingly healthy option on offer, soup is normally more filling, nutritious and lower in calories. I’m not one of these people who eat soup as my evening meal – I am far too excited about dinner to waste it on a mere bowl of soup! I usually have a bowl for lunch or have some as a starter in the evening followed by a smaller portion of something delicious.

Finally, I am obsessed with colourful salads. There is nothing more depressing than being ‘good’ on your diet, asking for a salad and being presented with a plate of lettuce, tomato and cucumber. Its my mission in life to create rainbow salads brimming with beetroot, red onion, peppers, asparagus and every variation of leaf known to man. Call me superficial but it keeps me interested in cooking and makes eating it so much more enjoyable.

I hope you have found some of these ideas helpful, and I would love to know your favourite foods for weight loss!

My week in fitness

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Happy Sunday everyone! Hope you’re all having a lovely weekend, and here is my weekly fitness round up for anyone who is interested….

Monday – I went for a swim tonight with my mum. Talking to her makes the time go much quicker. I’m having problems with tight muscles and impact seems to aggravate my knee at the moment so swimming is a great activity for me at the moment. It’s nice to try something different too, and it doesn’t really feel like a workout!

Tuesday – Today I rested after a long day at work. I have been going through a phase of refusing to rest but it was stupid. It’s not big and it’s not clever.

Wednesday – My knee was still a bit sore today and I had a lot of stuff to do in town so I was walking around a lot but I didn’t actually hit the gym. I made sure to do some stretches at night time before bed.

Thursday – I went to my first Pilates class and fell in love with it. The instructor had us using foam rollers which was also a first for me. My back got a serious seeing to by that foam roller and I felt so much lighter and flexible at the end of the 45 minute class. I really can’t wait to get back next week! I felt so good I even went back to the gym in the evening to to a weights session for my back and shoulders.

Friday – As much as I love metafit, my IT bands are not loving the high impact movements so I had to pass on that tonight. I did go to another class called Willpower & Grace which is a kind of cardio version of yoga/tai chi with lots of good stretches. It turned out to be another great option for my tight muscles and I felt great afterwards without aggravating my injuries.

A successful week I think! Needless to say I have even resting all weekend too just to make sure I don’t overtrain and get injured again. I hope you guys have all had a wonderful week whatever you’ve been up to.