March Goals Evaluation 2017

I have NO IDEA where March went. However, I feel that I’ve made a lot of progress this month in terms of goals. You may remember that I decided to make a couple of goals a focus each month, to make them more manageable during the final few months of my time at uni. This doesn’t mean that I am “dropping” any goals, it simply means that I’m appreciating that I have 12 months in a year, and that gives me space to pick and choose. That plan made this month a hell of a lot easier.

FOCUS GOALS OF THE MONTH:

Self

(This is where I am rolling all of these into one: Relax; Be more adventurous/ accept fear & uncertainty; Enjoy; Expand my mind and enrich my life)

  • So, I watched 3 documentaries, listened to 4 podcasts, read 3 books, saw 1 Shakespeare play, tried 1 new fear food, and watched/ listened to (wait for it) a whopping 29 TED Talks. I am LOVING TED Talks. I watch one while I eat breakfast each morning, and I am learning so much from them.
  • I established more of an evening routine, which has been helping me sleep much better so far
  • I attended 2 workshops at the place I attend counselling for sorting out the last few ED issues I’m experiencing, plus my actual sessions (4 of them). I feel like I am making real headway with this. I only tried one fear food this month, but I’ve also realised that I need to address some scary eating situations (e.g. spontaneity). More on this though when I update you on my “final bits of mental recovery progress”. I will say though: I feel at a place where I am getting pretty comfortable around food and my body.
  • I tried a new gym class, and also accepted that I didn’t have time for the 1 hour 30 workouts I was doing- so I’ve shortened the workouts and been experimenting with new moves. For me this was both a massive act of self-love- appreciating I have better things to do- and also challenging a fear of my health and fitness backsliding if I shortened all of my workouts (hint: it didn’t. In fact, it improved).
  • Still gratitude-listing every morning, but journaling in general has been a massive part of my month. Its something I’ve fallen back in love with. Myself and my journal go get coffee and just…write.
  • Also, been much more creative this month, and so I feel my creative writing efforts have been on point.
  • Took the time to actually sit down and watch one of my favourite films: Spirited Away. Small thing, but I usually put off watching films in order to do work.

STATUS: Some things I wanted to do I simply didn’t get chance, such as a solo cinema trip, watching GOT season 6, and experimenting with clothes. These are things I really fancy ticking off next month. I also want to eat some more fear foods; as it was a busy month I didn’t have room to deal with the anxiety. As I’m on holiday for Easter I have a bit more breathing space. Finally: answering my bloody phone. I love alone-time, but I also love my friends. Though I do make the effort to see them in person, I am a legend when it comes to not replying to texts/messenger/fb/WhatsApp. I just hate doing it. I’m going to make the effort to try and check messages once a day, though I can’t promise I will, because I really do hate texting.

Expand my blog and IG

  • Didn’t manage to find any blogging events taking place nearby to book into-  #disappointing. Let me know if you know of any food/fitness blogging events in Yorkshire/Newcastle.
  • Created a massive planning document to keep track of posts and when they need to be done by, to aid me in continuing to post during essay time.
  • I’ve been posting to Campus Society! I’m working on replying to comments more often, but you can now find me on there!
  • Updated my ‘About’ page, and I’m considering doing an updated “50 facts” post now
  • I gained 14 new followers on WordPress- thank you and welcome aboard newbies! Comments went up, which is wonderful because I LOVE  chatting to you when I get chance to sit down and read comments. Likes and views went down slightly but I haven’t had much time to post this month so I’m assuming this explains it. It’ll be this way until I finish my essays and complete my third year. Which, in exchange for a degree, I can deal with.

STATUS: Going swimmingly.

Start to establish my career path

  • Applied for another few jobs: I have an interview for my DREAM JOB in mid-April, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed, keeping schtum on where it is at present, and  suddenly, much as I want a job doing something I LOVE, I’m also okay with moving home and getting a non-life-fulfilling job whilst applying for one that fits that description. I’ll take it as it comes, because right now my priority is completing my degree.
  • I did create a brainstorm, and then a flow chart (this is so me), of all of my options. And it made me feel like I had my shit together, and also let me work out a couple of alternative plans.
  • Attended a “creative careers” day that my uni throws every year, and got a lot of helpful advice and tips.

STATUS: Keeping an eye out for jobs, but waiting until after my interview to commit to anything major.

 

MINOR GOALS OF THE MONTH:

Travel more often & explore

Continue reading “March Goals Evaluation 2017”

March Favourites 2017

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Banana & Nutella Omelette- Cheap and easy, and oh so tasty, this sweet omelette has been one of my favourite recipes of the month, and you can make it right here.

Pizza Storm – Okay, so pizza is a fear food for me, but a friend and I visited this place where you can basically design your own pizza. I’m okay with pizza I’ve made myself, and this was one step up from that. Probably one of the best pizzas I’ve ever eaten at a restaurant that wasn’t independent. And it topped most of those too. Super thin crust cooked in a proper pizza oven, I could load it up with veggies, tuna, and just the right amount of cheese…I’ll be back soon Pizza Storm, yes I will (when wp-1490548732904.jpgmy next student loan comes in that is…)

Naked Deli Almond Protein Fudge – This is where my money has been going for the past two weeks. I am not even kidding, I do need to wean myself off the stuff, because at £2.95 a pop this isn’t a habit I can afford to keep up.

Oppo Mint Chocolate Ice Cream- This is delicious. That’s all I have to say.

Entertainment

The Tempest, Royal Shakespeare Company Performance – This was really cheap considering the company performing, and it was also a cut down version (1hour and 30 minutes, in place of 2 hours and 30 minutes). Which, much as I love Shakespeare, I actually preferred.

Girl Up, by Laura Bates- Currently reading this, and LOVING it. Bates’s style is incredibly readable, funny, and yet crams in a lot of information. Information which I wish I’d had at the age of 13 and up.

The Outsider, by Albert Camus – Very quick read, but very intense. Full review coming soon.

Drink

Asda Liquorice & Peppermint Tea- I think that this is only about 99p, and it is hands down the best brand of this particular flavour. Better than the Pukka and Teapigs versions- and they cost about £3. I love this after my evening meal to help with digestion, and its great if you have a little bit of a sweet tooth but aren’t feeling dessert.

Dr Stuart’s Valerian Plus Tea – I can go for months and months with near perfect sleep- and then wham. Restless nights, night sweats, and me looking like I have two black eyes the next day. Which, for me, increases stress and stress related behaviours I tend twp-1490538662524.jpgo engage in. Which creates more stress, and I become absorbed into an endless cycle of counting sheep. When I struggle to sleep a cup of this one hour before bed, some serious wind-down time, and good ear plugs make the world of difference. Highly recommend.

Littles Flavoured Instant Coffee- full review of the four flavours I’ve tried will be coming soon, but the best one I’ve had would be either the rich hazelnut, or the island coconut. Though the Swiss chocolate and French vanilla are also pretty great…

Online

TED Talks- I watch at least one a day currently, usually over my breakfast to get me ready for the morning. I’ll be writing a blog post soon with my Top 10 (or it may have to be 20 at this rate…)

Health & Fitness

Supersets- I’ve added in a total body superset workout to me weekly split, and I am loving it. Because I spend most of my time with barbells, dumbbells, and resistance equipment – with just a dash of cardio (because it bores me), I like to combine the two here, and so a kind of HIIT superset formula.

Pure Gym Circuits class- Took this for the first time mid-March, and though I haven’t had the time to go back yet due to preparing to take all my work home for Easter, I will be booking it again in the future. If you want to sweat, this is for you.

Beauty

The Body Shop Fuji Green Tea perfume – I’ve had this a while now, but been too absorbed in using my Wood Sage & Sea Salt cologne from Jo Malone, because that makes me feel high maintenance and classy (ha ha ha. No. I never look high maintenance or classy). However, with spring on the way I picked this back up, as its a great dupe for one of my other favourite Malone colognes: Earl Grey and Cucumber. And its much cheaper.

 

64 Things that feel/taste better than (restricting in order to be) skinny.

We all have unique bodies, all of which have a weight range that they function optimally within. So before we get started: if you are naturally very slender, having an optimally functioning wonderfully-glowing-with-health-fabulousness in a lower weight range than someone else, then this doesn’t apply to you. As long as you are healthy, and feeling great. I am not here, nor do I approve of, bashing any body shape without knowing someone’s back-story.

No, this post is about a kind of “skinny” that is maintained by consistently restricting food . I’m sure we’ve all heard the catchy one-liner “nothing tastes better than skinny feels” (thanks Kate Moss circa. 2009 for that little gem). This particular quotation seems to be speaking about restricting foods, despite loving the taste of them– because nothing tastes good enough to be worth being over x lbs. Ultimately it perpetuates the idea that enjoying food is not worth more than maintaining a weight unnatural for your body. Nothing can feel better than seeing the scale drop.

Well, guess what?

I can tell you that a lot of things taste better than this. I can tell you a lot of things also feel better than this. So this is a quick post about what feels/tastes better than restricting in order to be skinny, in my experience so far…

Continue reading “64 Things that feel/taste better than (restricting in order to be) skinny.”

Little’s Coffee Review: French Vanilla, Swiss Chocolate, Rich Hazelnut and Island Coconut Flavours!

wp-1490538662524.jpgToday I am reviewing the instant coffee that rescued the most important relationship in my life so far. Excluding my dog.

I am of course speaking of my relationship with coffee.

A few months ago the unimaginable happened. I went off coffee. I suspect it had something to do with being a bit ill with some kind of infection, dehydrated, and my body telling me to slow down on the caffeine. But my taste buds decided after that after I was well again, we weren’t going to be drinking coffee for a while. Until I found these cool flavours, and began mixing them with 100ml of unsweetened chocolate coconut milk, and hot water- like a much healthier mocha. My taste buds and coffee were reunited. Thank god. Seriously, everyone needs to try the above combination.

I got mine between Holland & Barratt’s and Waitrose, and have waited until I’ve gone through a few jars to cast my judgement. In a nutshell: I am impressed. All of the below flavours taste of what they say on the label, which is some feat even outside of the coffee world. If anyone has ever read a herbal tea packet or the label on a bottle of wine then you’ll know this isn’t always the case (notes of apple and mango my arse Echo Falls).

There’s no added sweeteners, the flavours are all 100% natural, and (if you’re counting) each serving is 4kcal. I pretty much use a ladle to make my coffee so I’m going to disregard that last bit of information.

Now, to the flavours…

French Vanilla – 3.5/5

The most sophisticated flavour I think. Slightly sweet, smells incredible when mixed with chocolate milk to make a vanilla mocha. I feel like this would be great in overnight oats, or used to make affogato (ice cream with coffee poured over the top. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it).

Swiss Chocolate 4/5

I didn’t get a strong chocolate flavour here, though I did have my morning coffee with that unsweetened chocolate milk added, so this is possibly why. All in all, this flavour was more subtle, and simply seemed to bring the smoothness of the coffee out more. If you like subtle then opt for this one over the more out-there flavours (and they make Irish cream flavour, so this selection is pretty vanilla as far as Little’s goes)

Rich Hazelnut 4/5

Slightly sweet, smells amazingly nutty -and almost creamy. It smells like the sugar-free hazelnut syrup at Starbucks, but tastes a hell of a lot better. It tastes how you want Starbucks to taste. Its probably the sweetest of the four I’ve tried, but I adore it- possibly because it isn’t cloyingly sweet. This is fantastic in a banana-nut Frappuccino (200ml unsweetened almond milk, 1 frozen banana, 12g PBFIT or 1tbsp peanut butter of choice, 2tsp this instant coffee, and a dash of cinnamon. Blend. Dance with caffeinated joy).

Island Coconut 4.5/5

Between this and the above I think I’ve found my favourite (how could we guess it would be something nut orientated). The coconut scent of this coffee is AMAZING. It isn’t as strong when you drink the coffee, but it is definitely there in the aftertaste. I actually love that the coffee still comes through, and that Littles managed to achieve such a great balance of the two flavours. I can’t wait to make iced coffee with this one.

 

There we have it, a whistle stop tour of my current coffee obsession. The next flavours on my list to try and get hold of are the Maple Walnut, Amaretto, and Chocolate Caramel. If you’ve tried any of those and want to advise me, then comments are more than welcomed below…

Spicy Asparagus, Spinach & Egg Pitta Pizzas

wp-1490546830425.jpgWhen I was in my first year of uni I got into pitta pizza in a massive way. It was a staple meal whilst adjusting to uni life. Now that I’m weeks away from completing my degree, I keep remembering little bits of my first year and giving a few nostalgic sighs now and again. I feel like this is the perfect time to resurrect pitta pizzas- but make them a bit more sophisticated. Seen as I’m such a classy, sophisticated nearly-twenty-one year old, who is completely in control of her life, and ready to graduate in July (your sarcasm klaxon should be going by now).

But back to the pitta pizza. These are basically a healthier, quicker, much easier alternative to making/ ordering a Florentine pizza. If you’ve never tried egg on pizza, then you seriously need to make these. Because runny yolks ain’t just for breakfast. Though you could make these for breakfast, because pizza for breakfast actually sounds pretty attractive to me. As long as it isn’t the leftover post-drinking pizza we all experienced in first year. Which we aren’t going to talk about.

Ingredients

  • 2 wholemeal pitta breads
  • 1tbsp tomato puree mixed with 1tsp dried Italian herbs, and 1 tbsp. cold water (you’ll probably have some leftover-you don’t have to use it all)
  • 1 handful of asparagus, chopped into small pieces (each spear into roughly three)
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 small handful spinach
  • 30g cheese of choice, grated
  • Salt, black pepper, chilli flakes, and white pepper to taste

Method

  • Preheat the grill to medium, and place some foil onto a baking tray (means no sticking, and less washing up)
  • Place your pittas onto the tray along with the asparagus, and place under the grill for 2 minutes
  • Once the pittas are a little toasted, turn them over, spread the tomato puree over the top, and layer on the asparagus, spinach, and cheese. Place back under the grill for 1 minute.
  • After a minute crack one egg onto each pizza. Return to the grill for the final time, now for 4-5 minutes, until the egg white is cooked, and the yolk still runny (TIP! If the pitta is starting to brown a little too much but the egg isn’t cooked to your liking, then whack each pitta in to the microwave for up to 30 seconds, checking it regularly to avoid egg explosions).
  • Plate up, and top with black pepper, white pepper (AMAZING on eggs), salt, and chilli flakes.

Total Body Superset Workout!

For a couple of months now I’ve been doing a workout split of :

  • Chest & Back
  • Arms & Shoulders
  • Lower Body

And then my fourth day has been:

  •  Some kind of HIIT for the entire body (play day basically)

But after a while I’d exhausted many of my favourite HIIT workouts, and wanted to mix it up just a little bit. Enter “supersets”. When I first started going to the gym to use weights, I forked out for two personal training sessions, and the PT designed me a superset workout. I used this faithfully until I got bored, but recently the idea of a superset workout has begun to appeal to me again.

So, below is my total body superset workout. Obviously adjust the weights to suit you. The moves combined cover upper, lower, core, and some moves work everything at once. In a few weeks I’ll mix up the moves again. Below you can see how I like to do this workout. I keep rest periods short or non-existent between moves, so that I still have an element of speed to get my heart rate up:

  • Warm up for 5-10 minutes, with some kind of cardio machine (I walk the 20 minutes to the gym carrying my bag, and so often go for 5 minutes warm up)
  • Complete 3 rounds of one superset before moving onto the next set.
  • Complete the two exercises in the set without a break, and then rest for 20-30 seconds max if needed before repeating for the second/third time. As you get better you can reduce the rest periods accordingly. Some sets you may be able to get through without a rest.
  • The rest between the supersets is simply how long it takes you to set up for the next superset
  • To cool off make sure you stretch the entire body for 5-10 minutes

 

SS1-

15 v-sits

15 Bosu cross climbers

SS2-

10 upright rows 10kg

10 bent over rows 10kg Continue reading “Total Body Superset Workout!”

Meridian PB & Coconut and PB & Pumpkin bars review

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If you’re a regular to this blog, then you’ll probably remember- way back- me reviewing the Meridian Peanut, Cashew, and Almond butter bars. And then the Peanut and Cocoa/ Banana/ Berry bars. Well now I’m reviewing the Peanut and Coconut/ Pumpkin Seed bars, because the others have proven so popular than Meridian have decided to expand their collection even further. My favourite before digging into these bars was probably the Peanut & Cocoa, so be sure to try that one as its already stocked in several health food shops, including Holland & Barratt’s. Out of these two newbies I think that the Peanut & Pumpkin Seed has won me over. The coconut one was equally delicious, but the pumpkin seeds just really did it for me. Both are great ideas for a pre/post gym snack on the go, a study snack, or heated up as a dessert with either some of Meridian’s sugar free jam on top, or (personally) I love the Jim Jam’s chocolate hazelnut spread on top…

 

Taste

PB & Coconut- Subtle coconut taste emerges once you’ve chewed it a couple of times, and you get a good coconut aftertaste. Not artificial coconut, just natural coconut flavour. The base is definitely peanut though, and the more savoury taste of this works really well with the sweeter coconut.

PB & Pumpkin- Mainly peanut, but the bits of pumpkin seed add in some earthier flavour. Seeds have a very specific taste that I’m not so great at describing; I feel like pumpkin seeds have a mild, sweetly nutty taste…slightly similar to a pistachio, but not as sweet, perhaps. Again, works really well with the slightly more savoury peanut.

 

Texture

PB & Coconut- The bar has a slightly looser, chunkier texture than the traditional PB bars, which are chewier. Chunks of desiccated coconut, and pieces of peanut throughout are what causes this, and I personally really liked it.

PB & Pumpkin- Much closer to the traditional PB bars. This bar is chewier, with pieces of peanut and whole pumpkin seeds throughout. As this was my preferred texture this was a huge thumbs up from me.

 

Ingredients & Nutritionals

Again, what makes these bars so great for post- workout is the combination of carbs and protein. If you have one of these with a regular skimmed latte or cappuccino then you’re hitting around 14-15g protein with the coconut bar, and 16-17g with the pumpkin seed bar, from just that combination. Your average protein bar/shake is around 20g of protein per serving, and so although this is fractionally lower, its an ideal alternative for anyone wanting an alternative to using protein powders (I know this is my preference, as I’m fussy with protein powders, and they can also be very expensive- though bear in mind the majority of your protein should be coming from a well balanced diet containing whole foods, not a powder or bar). The coconut bar is obviously higher in saturated fat than the pumpkin seed bar, as coconut does contain higher levels of fats, however considering that 20g is the maximum amount per day recommended for a woman I don’t particularly see this as an issue. If you are watching the sat-fat though, then the pumpkin seed bar only has 1.84g of saturated fat. Fats in total though are an asset of these bars, contributing to satiety value and so how full they’ll keep you (don’t shirk fats people).

PB & Coconut- Peanuts (41%), Brown Rice Malt, Coconut (20%), Rice Bran, Rice Protein, Concentrated Fruit Juice (Grape), Rice Starch, Emulsifier: Sunflower Lecithin

kcal- 207.6kcal

fat- 13.44g

sat fat- 5.64g

carbs- 14.28g

sugars- 9.12g

fibre- 1.96g

protein – 6.76g

salt- 0.04g

 

PB & Pumpkin- Peanuts (52%), Brown Rice Malt, Pumpkin Seeds (10%), Rice Bran, Concentrated Fruit Juice (Grape), Rice Starch, Emulsifier: Sunflower Lecithin

kcal- 202kcal

fat- 12.68g

sat fat- 1.84g

carbs- 12.12g

sugars- 7.6g

fibre- 3.6g

protein – 8.04g

salt- 0.04g

 

There you go, my review of the new bars. Massive thumbs up from me, and I cant wait to get some more pumpkin seed bars. As with everything peanut butter (aka. the elixir of life), I encourage you to get your mitts on these if you can. At the moment they’re only stocked online, but hopefully will be coming to stores in the future.

Once you’ve tried them, then let me know: Team Coconut, or Team Pumpkin Seed?