Monday, 31 December 2012

New Years Eve

Well here we are again, 31st December, the end of another year.

What has 2012 held for you? For me it’s been a bit of a mixture.

It’s been a great year because my boyfriend got a job after many months out of work, I’ve done lots of fun things this year, including going on an amazing trip to Thailand to mark turning 30 and I’ve achieved lots of personal goals in terms of getting healthier, losing weight and exercising more.

On the not so good side it was a hard year for my parents after my Mum had her accident back in April time where her leg got broken and recovery is still ongoing.

I feel 2012 overall has been a year of discovery though – finding out things I like to do, trying new things and gaining/losing people from my life, all of which have been positive moves I can now see.

For now though I have 2013 to look forward to and whatever it may bring, I have a few things I’m hoping for, but who knows.

Finally after a few years we will be celebrating properly with friends tonight, although my boyfriend is working again (the cause of previous years not being quite so fun). However, he is going to rush down to meet me and our friends and hopefully be there before midnight! I need to make the most of tonight and enjoying the drinks as after 9am tomorrow I can’t drink for a whole month, since I’m doing dry January

Of course talking about a new year and New Year’s Eve, you can’t avoid the age-old topic of resolutions, new beginnings, what do you want to achieve.

Personally, I don’t like setting resolutions as such as people always pick the same things lose weight, stop smoking, drink less, take up a new hobby etc. How often do people stick at them? A few weeks? Go into any gym and the first few weeks of January are swarmed with people having a workout or trying a class, then all of a sudden it starts to empty out again.

If I had to give a list of things I’d like to try and do in 2013 or achieve I guess I would have to say:

Keep up the exercise and try and improve my running

Keep working on getting in shape and lose lots more weight

Try more new things – such as more art/culture – ballet, opera, art, new books etc

Keep up the healthy eating/drinking as feel so much better for it (starting with Dry January tomorrow!)

Try and write more, perhaps looking into doing it more than just for fun

Get a house with my boyfriend (or at least be fully saved up together to get one)
Try and see friends more, especially those who don’t live so close

Quite a lot there, perhaps I better stop before I make my 2013 too hectic!

So, all that remains for me to say is have an amazing evening tonight whatever you choose to do and I wish you all a very Happy New Year!! Here’s to a very happy and healthy 2013.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Gotta love a bargain!

Today I went to the sales, I wasn't after much for a change. I'd got loads at Christmas I wanted/needed and oddly since that wardrobe clear out a few months back I have been a lot better with what I buy.

Today though I needed to go into the shops with my Mum to return some pyjamas I'd bought her so it was off to the sales for me.

I'd dragged myself back in the gym again this morning (after yesterday's 5k), I was so achey. Then when I got out of spinning today I was even worse, my quads were in agony!

The last thing I felt in the mood for was to go join everyone and their dog in Romford traipsing round the sales.

However I'm never able to resist a bargain and we ended up spending just under four hours there. Despite me wanting to kill every other person around me for either their rude ways or stupidity (read barging into me or stopping dead in front of me).

I took a couple of pics for you to see my little bargain buys, I didn't go too overboard for once. But my prize bargain has to be the bag I nabbed - I did my usual and kept picking out items not in the sale then I saw this bag. Lo and behold it had no ticket or tag on it.

The more I looked at it the more I loved it, so when I took it to the till for them to tell me the price I was nervous it was going to be too much. (Although to be honest I was in one of those moods where I may well have bought it regardless). Still they came back to the till and me and said it was originally £69 but was down to £34.50 in the sale!

Amazing! So I of course bought it and added it to my collection - navy blazer, ring, two jumpers, a diary, a hoodie for the gym and a dress/top for New Years Eve.

Add to that my new laptop my Mum has treated me to and I am one happy bunny!

Just need to get my broadband sorted now. Although using Windows 8 is going to be a fun learning curve!

Friday, 28 December 2012

Time for a change

Friday night and I'm sat on my sofa in my PJs and watching the Da Vinci Code film on TV.

You know what? It's lovely! After four days of food, drink, family and friends I'm well and truly ready for relaxing on my own and taking a break from excess.

I've been to the gym after a four day break and run a 5k and I've drunk water non stop all day to try and get me rehydrated again. Plus food wise I've had one weetabix for breakfast, an omelette for lunch and white fish, veg and mash for dinner. Oh and an after dinner snack with a low fat chocolate yoghurt.

As a result earlier on today I finally signed up to something I had been debating over for a couple of weeks. We all know in the first month of a new year people typically go on a detox of sorts. Well this time round I'm going to follow the crowd and do the same.

However I'm doing it for charity as part of Alcohol Concern's Dry January (check out

Yes for the month of January not a sip of alcohol will pass my lips. The challenge begins from 9am on Tuesday 1st January so I can still enjoy a drink on New Years Eve!

It's funny how times change and how something simple can cause you to think about things.

I first started thinking about dry January after talking to a friend at work and it launched a discussion about how much we all drink and how we get into patterns.

I finally a few weeks ago got into a pattern of exercising and eating healthily. A good pattern. One which I am determined to maintain moving forwards. I may have put on two pounds last week - and will no doubt put on weight after Christmas excess - but I'm planning to get back in shape and lose even more weight as we start to move into 2013.

However, like many people my age I am very much in a pattern of drinking too. I like a nice glass of wine to relax of an evening on occasion, I go for client lunches at work and consume alcohol, I go out with work colleagues after work for drinks and I enjoy nights out with friends where yet again yes I would drink.

Now don't get me wrong I wouldn't say I drink to excess constantly but like many people in my age bracket I do consume alcohol pretty regularly and it features a lot in my social and working life.

When talking this through and debating whether to do 'Dry January' we ended up laughing. How shocking is it people want to be sponsored for simply not having alcohol, how mad we need so long to decide if we can make it just one month without alcohol?!

You go for a meal you drink wine with it, you go out with friends you drink, you toast a special occasion you drink. Funnily enough the conversation also turned to hobbies and what we do in our spare time.

As has become apparent this year my primary hobbies of late are spinning, reading and writing my blog. I also enjoy the theatre (typically musicals nothing too heavy), attending music gigs, watching films at the cinema and travelling/going on holiday.

However I want to try more, I want to see new things and not just spend spare time going out drinking.

One of my friends at work agreed, but cringed as she insisted on taking me to an art gallery (can you believe I've never been?!) and realised one of the great things at her favourite one was their rooftop bar!

The more you think through things, the more these things become apparent.

So far so good though, I went to see a play a few weeks back (and have a selection booked up for 2013), I'm currently reading one of the classics by Charles Dicken, I've signed up for Dry January and I've just booked up to go to the ballet (my first ever time) next week. Let's see what other new experiences I can have...

It's time for a change.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Christmas Day : a short story

The snow is thick and glistening, the tree branches all sporting a powdery cover. Outside sits a perfect snowman, decorated with Dad's old scarf and hat. We rush inside giggling after another snowball fight, the white crystals shining in our now damp hair.

Inside it's toasty warm, tree lights twinkling and non-stop noise.

Children laughing, paper ripped open, as everyone rushes to find out what Santa's brought. Glasses chinking as the adults say cheers to the festivities. And that amazing smell as Mum puts the final touches to the sumptuous Christmas dinner.

There'll be succulent roast turkey, honey roasted parsnips, crisp yet fluffy roast potatoes, carrots, peas, creamy cauliflower cheese, squidgy stuffing balls, crunchy yorkshire puddings and my favourite of all. The little sausages wrapped in bacon - or as we call them pigs in blankets. Yummy!

Mum and Dad ruffle my hair and let me have 'just a little one' as they pour me my own tiny glass of sherry.

We cheer - and jump - as the shiny foil crackers are pulled and concentrate as we try to solve the puzzles that come from inside. Everyone smiling as we look at each other in our silly hats, all colours of the rainbow round the table. Our uncles and Grandpas boom with laughter as they read the print out jokes - the same as last years!

Everyone cheers as Mum walks in with the turkey on it's big platter plate, Aunties have already placed all the side dishes around the table for all to share.

Cutlery scraping, warnings of hot plates, food being dished up and dolloped on my plate. Hoping I'll get the ones I've been eyeing up in the dish.

My fingers are covered in gravy and cranberry sauce where I've picked up bits of meat and wiped my plate clean. I lick them all, one by one, savouring every last morsel. Each taste, every flavour, my favourite meal.

Then the dishes are replaced and the plates cleared as pudding arrives. Gasps and clapping as the brandy is poured and the pudding lit, the blue halo around it as it stays aflame, we all wonder for how long.

There's pudding and mince pies, trifle and cheesecake, and later Mum will reveal her cake she's been working on for so long, making sure it's just right.

Once we're done we get down from the table to go play by the tree with the toys we've received as adults munch on smelly cheese and crackers and sip strong liqueurs from crystal glasses.

More time for us to play as they move on to coffee and mints, nuts and more. Only occasional interruptions for batteries for toys or helping us put things together that prove too tricky.

And then later we play games, everyone wanting to win, splitting into teams. Shouts of accusations, people cheating and uproar and screeching as some are announced the winners.

The tree lights twinkling seem to start to blend into one, my belly full, my eyelids heavy. So tired. I think I start to fall asleep as I can hear people calling me. It's time to get up. Probably time to go and get in my cosy warm bed and be tucked up in that thick duvet. Too much excitement today.


"Come on lad, can you hear me?"

"What you doing out here again? They've warned you before. Come on mate, on you move, come on..."

His eyes adjust and the cold reality hits him hard like a punch to the gut. Then the cold hits him, icy, sharp, unforgiving. The smell, oh the smell, not a freshly roasted warm succulent turkey, oh no. Stale, dirt, rotten waste. His legs and arm ache from lying on a rock hard base, his trousers damp and scratchy.

The policeman gives him a helping hand to rise up. This is a nice one. Some of them can't bear to touch him. He knows.

Nearby a window holds a family sitting down to Christmas dinner, tucking in to their beautiful banquet before them, laughing, drinking, eating, smiling.

All oblivious to the young boy outside.

The young boy being picked off the floor from his makeshift home for the night, being led away by a policeman, being moved on, maybe if he's really lucky being taken to a shelter for the day.

And yet again Tommy realises it's Christmas Day, he's had that dream again. And yet again it's not come true.

Monday, 24 December 2012

It's Christmas Eve!!

So the inevitable happened. I put on weight.

Two pounds to be exact.

At first I was really upset and disappointed but after going back to sleep in a nice warm cosy bed I've come to just accept it. It's Christmas after all and it would have been pretty incredible to lose weight after consuming all that fattening food and alcohol!

The fact still remains, over a five week period I lost 13lbs which is not something to completely disregard I know.

So now I'm about to get ready to go meet friends for Christmas drinks and then head to my boyfriend's to enjoy food and fun with his family tonight. I've just had a lovely breakfast of choc au pain and eaten my last advent calendar chocolate.

It is Christmas after all!

Okay okay, so I'm not THAT relaxed, I've written off the next four days to festive food and drink. However I have drawn up a new planner for me to track my eating and exercise afterwards. It's all about the balance apparently...

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Final festive figures

Well here we are, Christmas Eve Eve and also the eve of my final weigh in before Christmas. The end of my six weeks of eating healthily and exercising.

In just six weeks I really feel I've changed my mindset considerably. Whether that be participating in more exercise and genuinely missing it when I am unable to go. Or how conscious I am now of exactly what I'm putting into my mouth.

Some may say I should have stopped at five weeks since I've had a busy week of eating and drinking for work related festivities. This week has included two big client lunches out, a lunch out, our work Christmas party and a personal Christmas meal and party. A total of four days of bad eating and alcohol and only three days in the gym - one 5k and two lots of spinning.

Admittedly I am dreading tomorrow morning and getting on those scales! I know losing 13lbs is a great achievement, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to lose more tomorrow for my final pre-Christmas weight.

The worst thing will be putting on weight. I really really hope that won't be the case.

Regardless, of course tomorrow is Christmas Eve and is the start of the true festivities with family and friends so I will be sure to enjoy myself.

I've found over the last few days I've been finding myself super full quickly from eating lots of food, so it'll be fun to see how much I can actually manage over the next few days. I'll give it a good go!

I'll be sure to update you either way, before or after my Christmas drinks with friends and the get together with my boyfriend's family.

One things for certain, this isn't a pre-Christmas fad and I will be working on getting my weight down and exercise levels up after the festive fun and as we move into 2013. Wish me luck...

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Getting into THAT dress

Tuesday 18th December was the date of our work Christmas party.

This date was the second day of the sixth week of my healthy eating/exercise plan I've been following. Monday was a client Christmas lunch involving lots of food (and a smidgen of alcohol). I knew Tuesday would mean some fattening food at lunch to 'line my stomach' and lots of alcohol in the evening.

After weighing myself Monday I knew I'd achieved a pleasing total weight loss of 13lbs over five weeks though so was hoping I'd be semi happy in whatever I chose to wear for the party.

Monday night I'd come home and planned my outfit. That was when I found THE dress.

Last year I purchased a silky, strapless, short, fitted, purple dress to wear for night's out. A bargain I'd obtained in the sales I couldn't wait to wear it.

Unfortunately for me I hadn't realised quite how fitted said dress was and it didn't really fit well at all. I could maybe get it on but it was so tight it showed every bulge and left me with little room to move my legs!

I decided - somewhat apprehensively - to take the dress out of the bag I'd hidden it away in. The dress had survived my wardrobe clearout a few months back (despite not ever having been worn for over 18 months). The reason being? It had become a target outfit.

You know an item of clothing you keep to try and encourage you when losing weight. THAT dress you will work to fit into.

Well last night I did just that. I managed to fit in THAT dress, comfortably in fact. This little silky purple number saw me receive quite a few compliments too which of course all ladies love!

So yeah it might not sound much, but to me this marks another milestone and made me feel proud. I may have missed out on work awards again, but as sad as it may sound, being able to wear this dress felt like an award in itself to me!

After yet another client lunch today (this time a huge banquet of Szechuan Chinese food) whether this item of clothing will fit again in the near future is another matter...

Right now after three 'days off' I admit I can't wait to get back in that gym tomorrow and get on the spinning bike! And also to 'indulge' in a nice healthy simple dinner at home. No alcohol, no fatty food, no super huge portions.

Whoever thought I'd see the day where I was looking forward to the healthy option??

Monday, 17 December 2012

An early Christmas present

Today week six of my healthy eating and exercise started.

This of course meant weigh-in day.

Last week or rather week five I managed five visits to the gym. Two lots of spinning, two 5ks and one running and x trainer mix.

It also involved two lunches out, a meal out (but eating off the diet menu), a three course home cooked meal for my parent's anniversary and some alcohol (well LOTS of alcohol on one of the days!)

Last night I went to bed feeling bloated and expecting to be disappointed this morning.

However I stepped on the scales and...I'd lost three pounds! This means a total weight loss of 13lbs in five weeks!

This also means I am now down to the lowest weight I achieved last time I managed to lose lots of weight back in 2010 and 2011.

I was so happy this morning, as sad as it may sound I felt like crying, I was so pleased with the results!

This week I've got two client lunches, my work Christmas party and a Christmas meal/party out with friends. Obviously this is going to mean lots of food and lots of booze.

I'd love to lose a pound this week to get my weight loss down to a whole stone in six weeks! However I'm not stupid, this week is going to push things and there's not much time to exercise!

If today is anything to go by I'm probably already putting the pounds back on. I've already packed my bag for spinning on Thursday to try work off some of the calories!

Today I went to Hix Mayfair. What a lovely meal! I started with Dorset snails with lardons and black pudding. Then moved on to hay-baked shoulder of lamb with new potatoes and curly kale. Lastly I indulged in the best chocolate melt in middle pudding I've ever tasted complete with homemade mint-choc ice cream.

The meal was delicious, but it's now five hours since I left the restaurant and I'm still stuffed! I even walked home from the station tonight to try and feel a bit more comfortable!

For now though I'm just going to enjoy my early Christmas present of losing so much weight and doing so well on my healthy eating and exercise. Let's just hope I feel a bit less full soon ready for tomorrow's fun and games!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

How many of our generation will celebrate a ruby wedding anniversary?

Today my parents celebrate their ruby wedding anniversary. That's forty years together. 40.

This makes me happy because it shows relationships can last and people can spend their whole lives together when they get married.

Now don't get me wrong I was bought up in a healthy happy family - my parents, grandparents and aunt and uncle all stayed together. I wasn't surrounded by divorce.

However it's as I've got older and I've felt like I'm surrounded by relationships not lasting and cheating a seemingly commonplace and acceptable behaviour.

So today I am happy for my parents and look forward to cooking them a nice meal and celebrating with them later today.

However, I also feel a touch sad at the fact something tells me they lasted this long since they are from an older generation and this isn't going to be something experienced much in my later years.

Since when did relationships seem to mean less, when was it decided it's easier to throw things away and start anew than work on things? How come so many people seem so laid back about cheating?

I used to be shocked when I heard about people I know splitting up because somebody cheated. Now? It still upsets me, but I almost expect it from some.

Yes if I'm honest it isn't what I'd planned - still being officially 'single' at the age of 30. I have a boyfriend of over seven years but we don't live together, we're not engaged or married. We don't have children together.

Don't worry I'm not about to freak my man out, he knows how I feel as I do him!!

One thing is though I trust him completely and we have a very trusting and healthy relationship I feel. It's all about give and take, we're realistic, we're best of friends. So no we've not had the big day or have a lovely house to show our friends round or have family over to, but together we're happy.

In this day and age if I'm honest I feel this is probably worth a whole lot more.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

In a spin

Wow. So today was an experience.

I had quite a hectic day at work - yet again. In the end I went on my lunchbreak at nearly half past two, but spent it in Costa enjoying a mocha (small and skinny of course!) and reading my Kindle.

It was so relaxing and totally helped me unwind - note to self: do this more often.

However, it was pretty busy when I got back and there was a potential client 'catastrophe' which meant I also ended up needing to stay later after work.

I was so looking forward to getting back in the gym tonight after my five day break and had put my name down for spinning.

So as time ticked on I started to feel disappointment at the fact it was pretty likely I was going to miss the class.

After eventually managing to get away - and constantly checking my work emails on my phone like a madwoman en route to the station - I rushed to get on a train.

I worked myself up into such a frenzy I arrived in the gym coughing and breathless and saw the spin teacher at reception. "Are there still bikes left??" I demanded in desperation (I'm not exaggerating this is the best way to describe my tone!)

He said yes and so I ran to the changing rooms and hurriedly rushed to get ready.

Hooray! I made it into the (ridiculously hot) spin studio towards the end of the first warm up track and tried to quickly adjust a bike in the half dark.

After quite a few jumps off to readjust things I finally got into things and participated fully in the class.

I know I'm pathetic to be this excited to have made my spinning class, but I've honestly missed the gym these last five days.

Knowing I've got lots of food and drink coming up towards the end of this week (and next) I'm also keen to get exercising to help burn some calories and keep my metabolism strong.

Now though I've had a yummy dinner, had a nice hot shower and am in my PJs watching trashy TV (Don't Tell The Bride payback program to be precise!)

Well and I've seen all my Christmas presents ordered online have arrived, so of course I've had to wrap and label those too! And the bus was due to take forever so I walked half the way home in the freezing cold! Can't be relaxing too much...

Monday, 10 December 2012

Week Five Begins

Hooray!! After a week of being ill (yes, yet again!) and only managing three times at the gym I was nervous about this morning's weigh in.

Coughing non stop and feeling like someone was standing on my chest I wasn't in the best state to exercise during the second half of week four.

Reluctantly I continued to rest rest rest as my boyfriend advised and not put my body through more strain by pushing too hard in the gym.

So I managed one spinning session, one 5k and then another evening's visit simply running for 20 minutes and going on the x trainer for 20 minutes. Oh and I did have a brisk 30 minutes walk on Sunday afternoon.

Granted I did eat healthily all week and didn't have any alcohol.

The result? Me stepping off the scales this morning with a big smile on my face - two pounds dropped.

So in four weeks I've managed to lose 10 pounds (or 4.5kgs) in weight! Hard work does pay off!

Now begins week five and the penultimate week of trying to get in shape before Christmas!

Week five is going to be a little tougher with three meals planned - a client lunch, a lunch with my Auntie (although the eatery does a healthier menu) and a celebratory meal with my parents (for their anniversary). All three will likely involve alcohol too.

Unfortunately I've still got my cough/cold so tonight I've taken yet another rest day. Now I need to get in that gym whenever I can and eat super healthy all the days I don't have eating out plans.

What's also spurred me on is realising I'm just three pounds away from my lowest achieved weight now.

I'd love to lose this in time for Christmas but obviously it's going to get tougher and tougher with party season upon us.

Week six already sees a client lunch, a work Christmas party, the following likely hungover day and a Christmas meal with friends. It's going to be tough to achieve weight loss that week!

For now I'm going to enjoy my success so far and look forward to celebrating that success over Christmas with lots of sweets and treats!! (Although I've already got my eye on some gym visits in between...)

Friday, 7 December 2012

Bookworm: Life... On A High by Nick Spalding

Wow. I started reading this book on my lunch break on Thursday and fast forward to Friday morning and I'd finished it.

Granted I'm not feeling well (again!) and so I've been resting up in bed, trying to get rid of these germs and so have been reading more than I would have.

This book was just what I needed (as well as medicine, lots of liquids and a warm cosy duvet!)

I started Mr Spalding's next offering after a recent disappointing read by another writer. I was really hoping to be entertained like last time.

This time the author is on flights to and from Australia and uses his time to tell the reader his opinions and more embarrassing and comical situations he's experienced.

I really enjoy the way Spalding writes, yes he might offend some with a few of his opinions, but I like the way he's open and honest.

The whole writing and 'talking to' the reader I must admit I find a tad cheesy at times. However the laid back style of writing makes a welcome change.

This is another book that makes you laugh and is an easy read. Pretty evident in how quickly I've read this ebook.

Good points
Honest style
Great to have a nose at other people's experiences and embarrassing moments!

Not so great
Lots of typos in this book which is a bug bear of mine
Sometimes the 'talking to' style is annoying

And...would you believe it after Tweeting about starting this book Mr Spalding finally retweeted me (how funny after yesterday's post!)

I've seen from the writer's previous Tweets that he's just finished writing the third in the Love...series which first introduced me to this author. Something tells me I'll be looking to download that on its release too...

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Bookworm: The Wedding Diaries by Sam Binnie

I finished reading this book last night before I went to sleep and was surprised to find I was at the end. It felt like the story just stopped.

Not currently engaged, about to go to any weddings, or planning my own, perhaps I'm not the ideal audience for this read.

The Wedding Diaries is a fictional piece based around the wedding 'diary' of fictional character Katherine 'Kiki' Carlow.

With the lead working in a publishing house, readers are treated to hear the wedding journey of both the main character and one of her clients.

Clearly this book isn't meant to be a serious piece of prose or hopes to win any writing awards any time soon, with this piece you expect a lighthearted, heartwarming, comical offering.

After recently reading two detective/thriller books back to back, both involving murders, I thought this might make a welcome change.

Did I get what I wanted? To be honest not really. I found the book badly written, the characters weren't that gripping and the story provided nothing new - girl goes all bridezilla and wants the world for her wedding day and then comes to realise what's more important in life.

At times I couldn't see what was meant to be funny and in parts the writing didn't make sense.

Perhaps this might be more suitable for someone planning their wedding? Possibly, although the 'to do lists' and sample wedding items included at the back of the book weren't particularly true to life. Knowing the experiences of friends and family when booking their special day I know how far in advance things need to be done, so felt details were unrealistic.

Good points
Some funny moments

Not so great
Expecting an 'easy to read' readers could be frustrated by the writing style which in fact makes it hard to read (why is any speech laid out like a script for example?)
Story doesn't really offer any surprises
Characters are pretty standard, nobody stands out or grips you

In case you haven't realised yet, no I wasn't a fan of this book. I'm off now to take on Nick Spalding's Life on a High...even if he never seems to retweet my nice comments on Twitter...

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

And so week four begins...

December begins and I've completed three weeks of healthy eating and exercise (with a couple of 'off day's in between).

After that three weeks I've managed to lose 8lbs in weight.

In three weeks I've exercised 16 times.

This has been split between nine sets of 5k and seven classes of spinning.

In completing my 5k on the gym treadmill I've taken over 2 minutes off my best time and taken my walking time down to 4 minutes.

Now week four begins and I've done one 5k (on Monday) and then tonight a 50 minutes spinning session.

I'm feeling really good for it so far and am so pleased with the results coming through every week.

Diet wise I feel like I'm much more on a wavelength/pattern and exercise is becoming fun again after shedding a few pounds.

Obviously now things are going to get even tougher, with 21 days/three weeks today until Christmas Day. This means colder weather, darker nights and party season - so more food and drink temptations!

Thankfully I've got my little plan of when I'm due to be going out and therefore will likely eat food that isn't that healthy and probably consume alcohol. The plan is around these events I keep strictly to my healthy eating and exercise.

So far this seems to be working and I'm happy sticking to it so I hope I can keep it up until Christmas.

I still feel I'm struggling to get a balance though, I had far too much alcohol on Saturday night and consumed pizza and ice cream on Sunday and admittedly I had big guilt issues with it.

I'm currently watching a BBC Three programme about fat, dieting, body image and weight loss and it couldn't be more relevant.

I've already identified with people on it and their eating/dieting behaviours and I'm learning interesting facts (and frankly shocking ones).

Apparently having alcohol can reduce your body's ability to burn fat by 70% This explains a hell of a lot!

For now I'm going to try and keep at it and fingers crossed there'll be another positive weight loss next week too!

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Mopping up after Wineday 28th November...

Ah it was going so so well there for a moment, a whole 17 days without consuming any alcohol whatsoever.

And then Wednesday happened.

And alcohol happened.

So far this week – week three – I’ve been doing okay. Healthy food and lots of water consumed and a 5k completed on Monday and 50 minutes of spinning on Tuesday. I also realised I hadn’t had alcohol in over two weeks which was a great achievement in my eyes. I even said to people, ‘Wow! If I don’t drink until my night out with the girls on Saturday that will be three weeks without booze!’ When will I learn?...

Flash to Wednesday afternoon and I was all happy since I had a half day off work and was planning a nice relax with my boyfriend before we headed off to the o2 and to go and see the legend that is Alanis Morisette perform. I was super excited.

Originally we had discussed possibly having a healthy dinner at home before we left, but eventually decided to go to the o2 early on and enjoy a leisurely meal before heading into the arena to see the support acts and then Alanis herself.

I – perhaps rather boringly – had decided that Nandos or Frankie & Benny’s could both be good options since I knew how to work out the points/calories for Nandos and also that Frankie & Benny’s offered a lighter choices menu. Perfect. I was in two minds if I was going to allow myself a treat of a glass of wine, or whether to stick to simply water or orange juice.

As the afternoon wore on I was increasingly coming around to the idea of a cheeky glass of vino, since going to a gig completely alcohol free seemed a little odd (does that make me sound like an alcoholic??)

Hm, now cut to me and boyfriend at the o2 and my boyfriend admitting he is a bit fed up of Nandos, can’t we go somewhere else and us both then deciding on the Harvester. My boyfriend probably because he thinks I’m getting a tad obsessive and need to allow myself treats and me because I knew they did less fattening options than other places.

I even ended up telling the waitress I was trying to be good (after she embarrassingly noticed me agonising over the calorie notes on the menu!) So it began. I opted for a starter since all I’d had that day was a small bowl of porridge and a granola bar. Prawns with a sweet chilli dip – around 400 calories – didn’t seem too bad. And of course at the Harvester you have to have the freebie salad cart so I tucked into that.

Main course after lots of back and forth I decided on a steak – the smallest size available – which came with peas and I ordered a jacket potato with it (which thankfully was pretty small when it turned up). Naughtily I also ordered some sauce with it, but they put it in a jug so you don’t have to eat it all which is good.

So far so good right. Sure, a bit of a treat, but nothing major.

Yeah, so, er, how about if you then introduce some alcohol? Or how about if you bring to the table two LARGE glasses of red wine.

And then what if I was to say to you let’s also add on a huge ice cream sundae affair – which included crushed Aero mint bubbles, chocolate fudge cake pieces, chocolate sauce and lots of ice cream and cream?? See where we’re going here?

Of course after 17 days without alcohol of any kind the wine went straight to my head and so this helped in my decision to have dessert.

It then also conveniently assisted in convincing me I of course needed another big glass as we entered the arena to find our seats ready for the gig. And when we popped out to nip to the loo in a break before the next support act came out? Of course it’d be rude not to have another (at least at this point my brain slightly came into function and I picked a small glass at this point).

Putting aside my diet and alcohol slip, I have to say I had a really good evening and enjoyed myself. Alanis Morisette was amazing as I hoped she would be. The support acts ‘souleye’ (her rapper husband) wasn’t really up to much if I’m honest and Athlete were okay but nothing I would get particularly excited over. However Alanis had her perfect voice which nobody could compare to and she was churning out the 90s hits we all know and love and remember from my teenage years. It was a great show and so much fun.

Getting home feeling dehydrated, tired, cold and super full up wasn’t so great...

On the plus side, I did manage to get to the gym today as hoped. I am doing late night work again for a client and so I had a few hours this morning before I needed to start work. My boyfriend came too and we both nipped to the gym for a quick workout. I managed to do my 5k – in fact I did my best time yet. Granted, my boyfriend did say I probably needed that food, I should allow myself treats and that it’d be good fuel for my 5k. Hate to say it, but food and fuel wise he was right. I did my 5k relatively easily today.

How I will feel later on tonight once my work is complete and I’ve been staring at a screen for 8 hours+ is another matter.

For now though I’m just hoping I can work hard enough with my exercise to try undo some of the bad work from the wine and food consumed last night so that I still manage a weight loss on Monday. Fingers crossed.

However, if I’m honest, at the same time I also need to try and manage to get a balance as clearly I do need to allow myself treats and can’t keep beating myself up every time I have something nice to eat (which I notice I now call ‘bad food’ or ‘naughty food’ which in itself is a bit sad!)

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Bookworm: Never Tell by Alafair Burke

I finished this latest read last night - and proceeded to have some really odd dreams (you've been warned!)

After thoroughly enjoying one thriller I thought I'd go on to try another one I'd downloaded.

Never Tell focuses on the death of a rich popular American schoolgirl, the detectives starting their journey trying to decide if she committed suicide or was murdered.

What follows is a twist and turns tale involving popular kids, homeless friends, rich US families, the legal system, an ex prisoner and many many secrets.

This book keeps you wanting more and keen to find out who is linked to who and how. There's more than one story to this book and all are equally thrilling.

At times Burke's storytelling reminded me of Jodi Picoult's style - a good thing I feel. However, even better sometimes Picoult's courtroom settings and case descriptions can go on somewhat.

Not the case with Never Tell and its author, you get a snippet of all the interesting bits.

As I neared the end of this piece of fiction I admit it did get confusing at times - perhaps a tad too many characters and hints at situations and outcomes rather than being super clear and detailed.

However I can't deny I was hooked and felt I raced through this thriller.

What I also found with this title was there weren't easily guessed outcomes and scenarios, most points surprised me.

Good bits
Keeps you gripped
Good characters you're interested in
Lots of sub stories and snippets to keep you reading

Not so great
The ending I felt was rather confused
Perhaps a few too many characters, or rather not all were introduced as well as they could be
Sometimes you feel like you're guessing at what the author is suggesting and at times I felt I wanted to flick back to earlier sections to get things clear

Yes I would recommend it, particularly if you were a fan of Picoult but have grown tired of her too similar books - I guess this is a less wordy, more gripping, darker offering.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Week Three: Hard work pays off

Here I am, two weeks down and beginning my third week of healthy eating and exercise. Last week I achieved a five pound weight loss which I was so happy about.

Admittedly I was nervous about this morning's weigh in, after such a big drop last week I wondered if there'd be no loss today. Also the epic pork belly lunch which left me stuffed for hours was sure to be sitting on my hips!

I got on the scales and hooray! Another loss. This week I'd lost two pounds and my body fat is going down too, so it's good weight loss.

It felt great, I've lost seven pounds, half a stone, in the last two weeks. Seeing results really keeps me motivated and want to push on.

I also realised I've not had alcohol for two weeks. Much to my boyfriend's humour I'm actually quite proud of this fact! And as a girl who loves her vino this is quite a shocker! I feel great for it.

Of course all good things must come to an end, I'm off out with the girls on Saturday night and I'm not planning to go without booze then. I just hope that as by then it'll have been a three week break from alcohol I don't actually drunkenly fall on the floor after one glass!

I won't lie for some reason I felt exhausted tonight and I really was on the verge of not going to the gym tonight. I'd had a break yesterday though and as I know I definitely can't go Wednesday and I'll be boozing on Saturday I decided I had to at least try.

It was tough. For some reason I had no energy, but then eventually I got in 'the zone' as people say and I managed to do my planned 5k.

I wasn't too impressed with the long wait for the bus in the freezing cold winds and heavy rain. However, now sitting here in my PJs cosy in my flat that is long forgotten.

Oh and I've put my name down for spinning tomorrow so I better snap out of this lazy mood, it's the strict instructor tomorrow...

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Shopping Shame

This weekend was all about trying to relax a bit and have a bit of a quiet one. I went to the gym on Friday night, I did a spin class on Saturday morning and that was about all I had planned too – well apart from going shopping with my Mum.

We went to Lakeside a few weeks back and the plan was to help my Mum get loads of new clothes as she’d lost lots of weight since her leg injury (those of you not from Essex, it’s our big shopping centre and the nearest one to me). I ended up spending a fortune and getting myself tons of new things – hence the wardrobe sort out straight after to make room! Sadly my Mum didn’t get too lucky and only purchased a few items.

Knowing this I’d specifically aimed to focus on getting my Mum more clothes, shoes, accessories etc and just look for ‘essentials’ for myself.

I know I know, you can already guess what happened…

We spent just under six hours at Thurrock’s finest retail offering and I came back with a pair of peep toe shoes, a dress, a bag, a scarf and a fake fur coat. Oops.

Mum came back with a top and a coat. Oh dear.

To be fair I was a tad more focussed this time, I definitely bought less than the last visit and some of the things I do actually need. The dress and bag are for a Christmas party I’m going to where my friend has suggested a gold theme and I didn’t have anything particularly gold to wear. The scarf I have been looking for one for ages in this pattern (leopard print of course, I’m so Essex!)

So then the shoes and coat? Well, er, the shoes were in the sale and they will go perfectly with two dresses I’ve got and will be fab in Summer with a tan (yes I am aware we’ve just got into Winter…)

The coat wasn’t in the sale but I bought it as a belated 30th birthday treat for myself with a voucher I’d been given in August for my birthday.

There you go, it’s not that bad…

I’ve also been strict with myself today. I’ve done five days in a row exercise this week (3 lots of 5k on the treadmill and 2 lots of 60 minutes’ worth of spinning). I’d already agreed I’d see how I was feeling this morning as to whether I made it 6 days in a row again, since I’ve been trying to get rid of this cough/germs and I was so so achey all day yesterday.

For once I stuck to my plan of relaxing and didn’t go to the gym today (although my bag is already packed ready for tomorrow night haha) and I’ve managed to get some homely bits done that were needed. A bit of shopping (food and home stuff this time), hoovering the whole flat and I did a couple of sets of washing (much needed since my laundry basket was set to burst!) Granted I was planning to also mop floors, clean my kitchen and bathroom and do this month’s budget – but I can’t do everything!

And really importantly…I realised it’s one month today until Christmas (how did that happen??) and I haven’t started my Christmas shopping etc. So I bought advent calendars for me and my boyfriend and bought my family Christmas cards. I’ve also had a think about my Christmas list too.

I’ve had a proactive weekend overall – surely that balances out my shopping shame?...

Friday, 23 November 2012

Day 12: Feeling full

It's Friday night and as per last week I'm at home and not out boozing or having a boogie.

I'm now in my twelfth day of trying to be more healthy and active. Today however has been my first 'cheat day'. We had a 'working lunch' at work today which I knew would involve eating more fattening food.

On the one hand I had a couple of things in my favour - some people had been on a night out and others are on medicine as they're not well, so nobody was drinking alcohol. Maybe I won't consume too much calorie-wise after all, I mistakenly thought.

Two hours later when we finished our session and I was (very slowly) walking back to the office, I realised I was wrong.

Lunch was lovely we had mixed breads with oil and vinegar and marinated olives. Then we picked our own main courses - I went for pork belly. It was so nice, but obviously very calorific. Pork belly with celeriac purée, caramelised apple, roasted baby beetroot and carrots. If you ever go to The Luxe in Spitalfields I can recommend it.

Yes I left my crackling but the pork belly itself was fatty enough! The meal was lovely but nearly five hours later I was still uncomfortably full.

In fact, tonight I'd planned to do a 5k in the gym. I was dreading it, I felt so full and on the train home I felt more like sleeping! However I forced myself to do it (I actually felt sick at more than one point).

Now lying on my sofa relaxing after my gym visit and a nice hot shower and over 7 hours after eating said meal I am still full up! Surely my stomach can't have shrunk this quickly?!

I'm looking forward to this weekend, a chance to relax and do some hard thinking (long story!)

I've now done four days straight at the gym (three lots of 5k and one set of 60 mins spinning). The plan is to do spin tomorrow for an hour and then see how I feel Sunday.

I'm still feeling unwell and haven't shifted this bad throat and germs so I'm wary of pushing myself too much. Plus my poor boyfriend seems to have caught the germs now!

I'd ideally like to achieve six days of exercise like last week if I can, but want to enjoy some time to relax and get things sorted in my flat too. Plus me and my Mum are off shopping tomorrow afternoon/evening so who knows I may well be all shopped out!!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Day 10: germs and gyms

My office at work right now sounds like a doctor's surgery, everyone is coughing and sneezing.

I'm no exception I'm still full of germs, although I can speak and my cough is now not as tickly or regular.

I've been adamant I will stick to my plan regardless of how I'm feeling. I'd rested on Sunday and Monday in a bid to shift the cough, but then have been back in the gym yesterday and today.

Both times I've gone for a 5k on the treadmill but have obviously added more walking in again as I clearly want to shift this bug and not feel ill forever!

Helping me out last night my boyfriend made spicy prawn Thai noodle soup - something we've tried before when feeling under the weather (see first photo below). Touch wood cough wise it seems to have helped a bit.

Tonight after getting in from the gym I wanted something quick and easy so I've had quorn chicken style pieces in low fat honey and mustard sauce, with brown rice, pictured below.

One thing I've been pleased about is a change in attitude. Typically as soon as my throat starts to get sore I'd be rushing to the supermarket to grab the nearest tub of Ben & Jerrys! Not this time, I'm staying on the healthy options.

Fingers crossed I'll be able to achieve 5, maybe 6 days of exercise this week. Work is super busy right now so I'm hoping to not feel unwell much longer and in fact am finding exercise helps to clear my mind and relax after a hard day. How long this will last who knows...

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Bookworm: Vanished by Tim Weaver

Not a big fan of detective series I downloaded this book onto my Kindle and only then realised this was one of those stories – based around investigator David Raker.

As you know once I start a book though I can’t give up on it so I decided to still give this one a go and hope to be pleasantly surprised.

In fact I whizzed through this fictional tale and found myself unable to put it down, a real page turner, constantly making you want to find out more.

Vanished is actually the third in Weaver’s offering of thrillers, based around Raker this time we’re told he’s on the hunt for missing person Sam Wren. What starts as a seemingly tricky to solve missing person case (where the man seems to have just ‘vanished’ hence the book title) soon turns into a lot more.

If you’re not into all things gruesome, some of the descriptions may turn your tummy a tad. However, I soon found myself so engrossed in the story this wasn’t an issue and there isn’t gore for the sake of it, it does serve a purpose and help build up the characters and storyline.

I kept second guessing what was happening in this fictional piece and was convinced I’d got it all figured out early on (disappointed it was such a basic mystery to solve). How wrong I was. Weaver keeps the reader entertained with plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing.

Due to the type of book this was (i.e. detective/investigator series) I was also shocked when I reached the end of this story – and disappointed to have finished. I won’t give away anymore as I don’t want to spoil the story for future readers.

I was also pleased to note that you didn’t need to have read other tales in the series to understand who Raker is and what he’s about, something that has aggravated me in other similar reads.

Good points
Real page turner
Keeps you gripped and guessing
Good descriptions of scenes so you can place yourself there and feel the fear too
Liked the references to London

Not so great
Felt the end seemed a bit abrupt
Some people might be bothered by the fact some of the London underground references were inaccurate and made up

In summary I really enjoyed this book, I’ve read a lot of comical short stories of late and this gritty, dark, thriller was a welcome and refreshing change and one I thoroughly enjoyed.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Week 2: losing weight but gaining germs

I've had to write this blog post, since I'm going insane sleeping, watching daytime TV and resting up. I'm also going crazy with this flipping cough!

Every time I get slightly hot or sit a certain way I cough, non-stop. To make matters worse my voice is still gone, just when I think it's coming back I start to croak and wheeze my words out.

This has led me to getting stressed on two levels - I was due to have clients in at work today for training and of course after yesterday's break I was planning on getting back in the gym after work. Obviously not being able to stop coughing, nor able to speak, both options had to be cancelled.

As a result I'm sat at home feeling sorry for myself and panicking about work.

However, it's not all bad. Ill or not I knew Monday meant weigh in day, so I stepped on the scales first thing before crawling back under my duvet to cough my guts up!

An amazing sight appeared before my eyes, after my first week on my healthy eating and diet I have managed to lose five pounds. I'm so so pleased. This result has made me even more determined to get myself back in shape.

I'm a person who likes to see results and it feels great to have worked so hard last week and achieve such a strong weight loss.

This has also made me so annoyed to be unwell as I don't want to go off track at all. I want to carry on exercising and eating healthily. I'm not silly obviously I won't achieve this sort of number every week, but it is a welcome start.

Last week I managed to achieve nearly four and a half hours of exercise - completing four sets of 5k at the gym and two sets of spinning, attending the gym six days in a row. I also stuck to my healthier diet for all seven days too.

Now I'm keeping everything crossed that this stupid cough and these germs disappear asap so I can get back to work, back in the gym and try hard to lose some more weight for next week!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Day Seven Sunday: first hurdle

At the moment I am lying in bed with a cup of tea and my Kindle next to me and a frown on my face.

Last night I had my Auntie over for dinner and a catch up, we had a lovely time. I was pleased as I consumed no alcohol and we ate a healthy meal which still tasted great:

Grilled chicken breast with vegetables and mash and a low fat honey and mustard sauce for main course
Followed by meringue nests filled with low fat chocolate yoghurt and topped with raspberries and strawberries.

It was yummy.

However as the night went on my tickly cough started to return and in turn my voice started to disappear. I went off to bed hoping all would be fine in the morning.

As you've no doubt worked out by now, it wasn't. I've been coughing all night and I can still hardly get more than a few croaky words out. My boyfriend has instructed me to rest up and skip the gym today (hence being in bed so late).

Great a lovely long Sunday lie in.

Me being me though I'm not revelling in an excuse to relax, I've got the hump.

I was really looking forward to going to the gym today and seeing if I could beat my 5k time again and moreso to achieve going to the gym every day this week, seven days in a row.

Also worrying me is I have clients in for training tomorrow morning so I need to be able to talk and hopefully run a session without coughing all over the place.

I know I should be pleased with doing well so far and sticking to eating healthily this week and exercising for six of the seven days. Of course I can eat healthily today too so not all is lost.

Right now though I'm going to lay here sulking and coughing and having the hump. Sorry!

On a more positive note check out these pics of last night's desserts :)

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Six days in a row Saturday

Hooray it's the weekend!

I didn't get loads of sleep last night due to a tickly cough (thankfully it seems to be a nighttime/early morning thing). When me and my boyfriend heard the alarm go off this morning I think we both were feeling like staying in bed rather than getting up to exercise. I was also a tad achey since I've been the gym everyday so far this week.

After a hot drink and a banana off we went to the gym. I was in a panic, as when we left we only had 15 minutes until my spinning class started.

We got stuck in some traffic, so as we pulled up outside I hurried into the gym and changing rooms. I rushed into the studio and realised I needn't have worried.

You can tell we're getting close to Christmas and people are coming into hibernation mode. Our Saturday morning class is normally packed, today in total once everyone turned up there were about 10 of us there - about a third of the usual numbers.

So I survived the 60 minutes spin class (despite some tough routines and somebody close by deciding to break wind part way through - not the best when you're in a small room with no aircon and sweaty bodies!)

Then I came back to a nice hot lunch of beans on wholemeal toast and a cup of tea which was much needed.

I've got my Auntie coming over tonight for dinner and a catch up, but for now it's time to relax. I've already watched some extreme weight loss programme and flicked through Zest magazine to keep me inspired.

Let's see if I can make day seven out of seven...

Friday, 16 November 2012

Friday night fitness

It's Friday night and I was due to be going out tonight with friends drinking and to watch a local band. I've been pretty tired out this week and keep feeling like I'm coming down with a cold, so I took the safe decision (for once!) and decided to give it a miss.

This also meant I could make sure I still stuck to my healthy eating (and no alcohol). After my day at work I felt like I needed to clear my head and decided I'd use my evening wisely and hit the gym before heading home.

A run on the treadmill focussing on improving my time and listening to some of my favourite fast tunes nice and loud was the perfect medicine. A short way in I did start to think I might be too tired to make 5k tonight, but I forced myself on.

Granted I felt pretty sad when we finished work, everyone planning to meet friends, go drinking and similar and little old me heading out with my gym bag over my shoulder. It's Friday night!!

Once the treadmill got ever closer to the 5k mark I started to feel a bit better about missing out on a social life tonight.

When I finished my 5k and realised I'd knocked over a minute off the time I achieved on Wednesday I felt even better!

I've come home and had a healthy dinner (of course weighed out on my trusty scales again!) and am now relaxing on my sofa.

Now of course I'm not saying I'm never going out and enjoying alcohol again. What I am realising though is how much better I'm feeling this week and the fact my body is working more effectively not having to deal with loads of booze and junk food.

As someone who loves a nice big glass of wine and a good night out, I'm going to have to find a balance. Who'd have thought it though this Friday night fitness actually isn't all bad!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Day Four: Portion control

Busy day at work today and I still felt a bit rubbish from my messed up sleep pattern if I'm honest. I knew it was going to be a bit of a struggle.

However I managed to stick to it, eating healthily and drinking lots of water (getting a bit embarrassing now though nipping to the loo so much in the office!)

I was also successful in getting out on time so I made it to spinning. My fourth day at the gym this week.

What also bought a smile to my face is that finally my legs are moving more at spin and going faster, more like they used to. I found I managed to go to the beat a lot more again too. Hooray!

Don't get me wrong there's still a long way to go and I appreciate this, but it's so good to feel changes (even if they are small) so quickly.

I'm also trying to keep a closer eye on my portions. I noticed looking at some of the meal pictures I've posted they might look really huge. I should add I'm following that tip again of using a smaller plate to make you feel you've got more to eat (see pic below to give you an idea, I'm of course having dinner off the smaller one).

I'm not being super strict with portions like allowing yourself a small fistful of pasta for example, but I am (finally!) using my kitchen scales so I can make an effort to think a bit more about how much I'm eating and not just what I'm consuming.

I guess the only downside is these stupid cold symptoms which keep coming and going.

I'm so keen to keep going though I've already packed my gym kit for tomorrow! I've decided to end a crappy busy work week and let off steam by gyming it, even if it is sad for a Friday night!

I've had a lovely dinner of Quorn pork style and apple sausages, with mash and beans. Real comfort food but so low fat! Now time to sit back and relax, I can't believe it's Friday tomorrow already and day five...

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Day Three: how a day can completely turn around

Wednesday is here, halfway through the week and three days into my healthy eating and exercise regime.

As I mentioned yesterday I had to do some late overnight work through Tuesday to today so I was worrying about being able to stick to my plan. Often working overnight leaves me craving sweet treats to keep me going.

As it turned out I ended up working from 4pm Tuesday to 5 o'clock this morning, just a bit longer than expected... I'd originally thought we'd probably be done by about 3am based on previous experience.

Whilst work continued and I noted the time ticking further on, I realised my best made plans might not work. I'd 'cleverly' thought if I finished at 3 I could get up about 11am and get my eight hours of sleep and then go to the gym to complete today's 5k on the treadmill.

Hm...after signing off work and walking zombie-like to my bed after 5am the last thing I could think of facing was the gym. I felt like I could sleep all day!

I managed to get about 7 hours sleep or so in the end and woke up feeling full of headache and confused (i.e. what time was it, realising I was at my parents not my flat and so on). As you've probably guessed by now I still wasn't overly excited about hitting the gym.

However I pushed myself, had a shower, big cup of coffee and a banana and after a bit of a chat I left my parents to go direct to the gym.

I felt fed up to be honest because I was tired (lack of sleep and hunger always makes me moody!) and then also realised I'd left my coat at my parent's house! But I got in the gym and on the treadmill and I'm pleased to say I did it!

There were a few moments where I felt so so weak and tired out but I pushed through - despite my annoyance at the guys who came onto the treadmills next to me... Seriously, there are 30 treadmills downstairs in our gym (yes, I did count them!) About 5 or 6 of them were in use and we were all spread out. Why oh why would you come and plonk yourself down directly next to someone else?? Grrr.

When I finished though I felt great! I'd beaten my time and managed to run a lot longer today (I'm trying to increase my running time and decrease walking time until I can build up to run it all and run it fast, well that's the plan).

My strop came back when I got outside, it was so cold and the bus wasn't due for ages. I ended up getting a bus part way and walking the rest. Once back in my home sweet home I had a healthy salad lunch and then had a lovely long hot shower.

After finding a burst of post-exercise buzz energy I had a bit of a tidy up and sort out of the flat and then sat down to relax.

I'm sad I know, but when I sat down I realised I'm A Celebrity was on repeat from last night. Obviously I was working so missed the episode and was keen to watch the eating challenge.

Since then I've had a nice dinner of quorn spaghetti bolognese and lots of water and I've noted some trashy TV programmes on tonight I love - MasterChef and Girlfri3nds. Embarrassing I know, but I am looking forward to chilling out and indulging myself.

So there you go, another successful day again, I've stuck to my healthy eating (I've had a yoghurt for a snack and will probably have another small snack later on). I've stuck to my exercise planned, despite an initial setback too.

I've gone from being tired out and fed up to feeling proud, relaxed and happy! Funny how a day can completely change eh?

Pic of some of my OTT organisation - food diary and exercise planner.

Bookworm: Love...And Sleepless Nights by Nick Spalding

The second in this series of the fictional lives of Jamie and Laura focusses on the newly married couple and the fact they're going to have a baby.

Spalding's work is described as 'lad lit' and admittedly a lot of the content you can tell comes from a man's point of view. Sensitive souls shouldn't bother.

In between reading this story I read a book written by Spalding and talking about himself and again it made me laugh (although not as much as his fictional offering). I'm pleased to say on reading the second in this fictional series I was yet again giggling childishly like a schoolkid at the descriptions, situations and choice of words.

At times there are more tender moments, which help to balance things out. Admittedly it's the embarrassing situations (such as their child's favourite word!) which are the gems though.

Again I fell in love with the main characters and enjoyed the storytelling from both sides via their blog and diary.

This time not only are there relationship dramas, but pregnancy, birth and parenthood calamities to go through. All told with a big dollop of humour of course!

Good bits
Loveable characters
Funny stories that make you laugh out loud
Nice mix this time of more serious, sensitive and heartwarming items too

Not so great
Some parts are a tad far fetched
Some points are very much from the point of a 'lad' and not entirely believable of a woman

As you can probably tell yet again I found this an enjoyable light hearted read and look forward to reading the third instalment!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Day 2 of getting back in shape

Well I managed to survive day one of trying to get myself back on track so I guess that’s a start! Unfortunately when I went to sleep I felt like a sore throat was creeping on – how does that work? You eat more healthily and drink more water, you exercise...and then you seem to get ill. Makes no sense to me!

Anyway I woke up this morning feeling fine – I’d had quite a lot of sleep as I’m working ‘from home’ (my parents) again Tuesday evening through to Wednesday morning for work. Starting work later today did me a favour as it meant I could pop to the gym in the morning (well okay, let’s be honest about 1130am). I had a quick small banana to eat before leaving and then decided to do another 5k on the treadmill.

Mission accomplished I left the gym pretty sweaty and tired (told you I was unfit right now!) although pleased I’d managed to cut my time down again. However, on getting home my throat started to hurt and if I’m honest it’s burning and feels super swollen right now. I’m starting to wonder if I’m allergic to the gym!

The other piece in this jigsaw is obviously healthy eating and again I tried to stay on track by having my banana breakfast and then a salad for lunch. Pictured below my salad had mixed leaves, a bit of orange pepper, seafood sticks (I love them!) and a tablespoon of reduced fat seafood sauce. I decided to wash this down with a glass of orange juice to try and push back against the germs setting up home in my throat. For snacks I had an apple and a low fat chocolate yoghurt.

Working from home and working in the night I admit I do find it tough to stick to this, not so much eating healthily but not over-eating. Sitting in a room on your own throughout the night in silence typing and staring for hours at a computer screen does tend to make me want to snack (if only to stay awake and alert!)

Lucky for me my Mum was making me dinner (an old Rosemary Conley recipe I think it is. For those of you who are too young, she’s a blonde haired older woman who used to do lots of exercise videos and diet books quite a few years back). Ginger chicken. I love it! Chicken pieces grilled in the oven in a ginger sauce marinade, served with salad and jacket potato. Yummy! Although we all know what Mums are like so I’m expecting a rather hefty plate full to be presented in front of me.

To help me try and stay on track I’m using a mixture of methods tried and tested before, which seemed to work so hopefully they’ll be helpful this time.

My Fitness Pal, which lets you track your calories consumed, your weightloss progress and your exercise (and what really helps me randomly is the water tracker where you log how many glasses of water you have a day, something for some reason I find hard to do).

A food diary – just a little notebook where I note down all my food/drink consumed that day, I seem to find keeping a log of what I have and seeing it in front of me makes me realise how much I really do eat/drink and also stops me eating lots as the time goes on.

As part of this food diary I use Weight Watchers Points (a combination of the very old system my Mum used to follow many years back and a slightly more up to date system thanks to a points book my boyfriend’s Dad gave me). Again I don’t follow this to every last little point, but I use it to stay on track and highlight where I need to cut back/where I’ve gone wrong.

I’m also going to try and blog on here regularly to make me take things more seriously – and hopefully be embarrassed when messing up because I have witnesses, which in turn will make me stick to the plan.

I’ll do my regular Monday morning weigh in and again will note this down in my little notebook (along with the exercise I do).

I was very conscious this is a tough time to try and ‘stay good’ since I’ve got lots of plans coming up for the festive season. I’m going to still stick to those and have fun (I’m concerned about becoming a bore who just bangs on about exercise and food, which I KNOW I’ve been guilty of before). However, I’ve done a little chart (notice the sad anal theme running through here? Little Miss List that’s me!) so I can see days that will be write offs and so hopefully plan the good days in between and around them.

Thankfully my boyfriend is going to try do the same and I hope we can act as support for each other as we go along.

Have to say right now my planned trip tomorrow to the gym is starting to worry me somewhat as my throat feels more and more like a volcano has set up inside it and that I’m developing some sort of third world goitre on my neck/glands. Nice.

Fingers crossed I will keep drinking water and after tonight’s shift get a good rest so I don’t get a flipping cold/tonsillitis which I seem so prone to! Every year I seem to forget having a flu jab does not mean I’m not going to catch any germs for the whole of winter.

I’ll be back for Day Three...

Monday, 12 November 2012

Here we go again...

Saturday I struggled to find an outfit I felt happy in. Yesterday I spent all day hungover and lazing on my sofa, unable to go the gym as I felt too awful. This morning I got up and weighed myself and the results weren't pretty. The last couple of weeks spinning and gym workouts have been tough and not as enjoyable.

So today something finally clicked and I thought enough is enough. Yes, yet again I'm trying to get in shape.

I'm currently nearly a stone over the lowest weight I ever managed to get down to and I'm not happy.

Clothes seem more snug, my love of spinning has started to disappear as I find the class a struggle and my confidence is lacking, so much so I found myself thinking back to an old blog post today

I'm annoyed with myself for getting to this stage yet again, so this morning my gym bag was packed and I decided to sort myself out.

Today I've had lots of water to drink (and non stop trips to the loo as a result!) to get me rehydrated again. I almost laughed at myself as I felt shocked how I felt so full drinking so much water and didn't need to keep snacking today.

I've had healthy food (well a cinnamon and raisin bagel for breakfast wasn't the best choice). Lunch was one and a half wholemeal pittas with a mini reduced fat houmos pot and a pack of cassava crackers. I snacked on grapes and strawberries, drank eight glasses of water and limited my coffee to two cups.

After work I went to the gym and did a 5k (and beat my time). Then on getting home I ate a dinner of salmon fillet, vegetables and sweet potato, with a big glass of orange juice. For afters I've had a cup of tea and a low fat chocolate yoghurt.

Yes, it is just the first day and this is going to be a struggle what with the festive season fast approaching, but little steps at a time for now...

I'm just pleased I've finally found my motivation! Now let's hope I get some good results, I'm going to try keep you posted to keep me on track.

Bookworm: Life...With No Breaks by Nick Spalding

Another week, another book review. I seem to be trotting these out lately, let's be fair though it may have a lot to do with the fact I've been a tad lazy with my blog lately.

Reading on my commute to and from work means I can read quite a bit and then a review on said book gives me an update on my rather neglected blog!

This time I decided to read another offering from author Nick Spalding as last time he actually made me giggle quite a lot and made train journeys a lot more fun.

Life...With No Breaks is a book he wrote over a period of 30 hours (he was aiming for 24 I believe) and is a random mix of opinions and memories from his life.

Yet again I was smiling and (embarrassingly) laughing out loud in public reading Spalding's words.

You seem to always find something to relate to, either an opinion you agree with or a story that sparks a memory from your past.

Granted there were a couple of times I felt links to topics were a bit tedious, but give the guy a break he was writing this without stopping and making it up as he went along pretty much.

I've now started following him on Twitter to see if he can make me laugh there too.

Through there I've learnt of a third follow up to the Love... series and in fact the second offering is next on my list to read.

Good bits
Makes you laugh
Easy read
Making me want to write more for some reason

Not so great
Some bits are a tad tedious
Some comments might annoy you depending on your background/views

Overall I'd recommend this ebook as another easy, lighthearted read to cheer you up, particularly in these dark, cold, moody Winter days and nights!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Booze and bad food 1 fitness and weight loss 0

I'm worried. Winter is here and I've unfortunately gone into hibernation mode - preferring to stay indoors snuggled in the warm, snacking on junk and sipping wine with dinner.

What concerns me most about this is how I'm feeling - confidence is getting low again, my clothes are getting tighter and I'm constantly tired.

I managed to up my activity last month when I was conscious of fitting into a bikini for my holiday in Turkey, but I did find it pretty tough.

Now since we've been back I have got so lazy and I feel it.

As you all know (and probably got sick of!) I discovered spinning in June and got pretty addicted. Yes it was tough but I loved it, I felt good for going and enjoyed pushing myself in class.

However, as surprised as I am to say this in the few times I've been recently I feel like I'm starting to get bored.

No, my classes aren't involving much harder routines, the instructors aren't getting worse, the people attending aren't dull. No, I know why I'm feeling this way, the classes are just so difficult and unpleasant at the moment.

Why? Because my fitness has dropped. My legs won't seem to move as quick as they need to, I'm getting more sweaty and find I need longer recovery times. Therefore rather than pounding the pedals to the beat and smiling as another great track comes on, I'm getting fed up that I'm struggling so much.

Thankfully I forced myself to try the gym today and attempt another 5k on the treadmill. I did it (and surprisingly at my shortest time I achieved before our holiday). It was so so hard though, I felt completely shattered when I finished (not great when I've got a late shift at work ahead of me!)

My legs were in agony, I was dripping with sweat and feeling fed up. I moaned to my boyfriend about how hard I'm finding things lately and thank goodness he just gave me the truth.

I'm eating and drinking badly - I'm not consuming enough water, I'm in fact indulging in too much alcohol. I'm not sticking to a healthy diet and trying the few odd treats, instead I'm wolfing down chocolate and junk and eating out lots.

Okay so there you go I admit it, I know what's wrong. First step I imagine, like they say to alcoholics.

I've got a fridge full of healthy foods, have been the gym twice this week and have more visits planned. What I need though is a way to snap out of this lull.

I know what I'm doing wrong and I'm not happy with my change in body shape and energy as a result. Yet, I'll admit, I also am finding it hard to sort myself out and fix it.

How do I get my motivation, energy and enthusiasm back?

That right now is the million dollar question it seems. So Help! Any tips or ideas you can share would be great, right now I need all the help I can get!!

Monday, 5 November 2012

Bookworm: The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

I finished this book yesterday (taken me quite a while), deciding to try it out after Morton's The Forgotten Garden.

As with the other story I found it hard to get into at first, although blessedly there seemed to be a few less characters to remember.

This time we're taken through history by Grace, an elderly lady. However the difference is most of her story is about other people and as the name suggests the House at Riverton.

Unfortunately I found as a result some things were left hanging and not properly described.

Morton skips through time periods again, but I didn't feel it was quite so effective this time and instead left you feeling confused on occasion.

I also found most of the characters weren't that likeable and resulted in a rather negative feel throughout the book.

On reaching the end there were a couple of twists, but admittedly by this point I was just focussed on finishing as it felt the book had been going far too long.

Good bits
Some twists
Again nice to have a brief look into how people lived in the past
You did want to keep reading to find out the next piece of the puzzle

Not so good
Felt too long
Lots left unanswered
Seemed a confusing writing style this time

Overall the book was interesting, but I got fed up having to try remember who was who, when things had happened and found it hard to care for some characters as they were painted as rather unlikeable.

Definitely going for a more lighthearted and comical read for my next one...

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Bookworm: Love...From Both Sides, by Nick Spalding

This brief piece of fiction opens with the phrase "Oh God, her breath smells like the gates of Hell have opened." From then onwards this book didn't fail to keep me laughing.

The story focusses on the love lives of Laura and Jamie describing a host of dating disasters and terrible tales from both the male and the female perspective.

We hear what sorts of issues men get themselves into via Jamie's blog entries and women's worries from Laura's diary entries, addressed to her Mum.

Although this book was very short (one of a selection of short comical life experience offerings from the author) it never felt things were rushed. Stories were told in such a way you couldn't help but relate, laugh and picture the scenes/characters being described in front of you.

Just as the fictional tale started to feel it was going down 'cheesy' territory, Spalding brings it back and has you sniggering again.

Good parts
Makes you laugh throughout
Likable main characters
You want to carry on reading more funny tales after it ends

Not so great bits
Perhaps a tad too short
Said to be based on real dating experiences of the writer's friends and family, but some parts feel a tad far fetched.

Enjoyed whilst flying on my holiday and then hungrily consumed on my first morning on the beach, this was an ideal easy read. Really recommend if you need a bit of a giggle.

I'm planning to download all the others now!

Bookworm: The Last Telegram, by Liz Trenow

Trenow's book is described as the tale of a young woman who falls in love with a Jewish boy during World War Two.

The story I ended up reading was therefore not what I'd expected. However once I'd completed this piece of fiction I realised this was not necessarily a bad thing.

Focussing on the life of Lily, the book starts and ends on the present day, when our main character is an elderly woman.

You're then taken back in time to her childhood, Lily becoming a woman, the war and how life was in England. The Last Telegram centres around Lily's family and their silk business.

I enjoyed the interesting snippets at the start of each chapter on silk - how it's made, its history and the like.
Due to the descriptions offered, I expected the story to be set in Germany, during the times of Hitler and hear all about the romance between Lily and her Jewish love. However it turned out this book had many other stories to tell.

This the author's first novel and I devoured it in two days. It's likely this was down to me reading lots as I had bad weather on my holiday and didn't have much to do but read! However, this fiction did keep you hooked, with strong characters, romance and sad times too.

Trenow's story surprises you, it doesn't provide what you think and I found it offered me interesting snippets of history.

Good parts
Surprises you
Good characters
Lots of emotions from one book
Interesting. Feel learn about history and silk making, something I wouldn't typically have read up on

Not so great
Do feel at times how many bad things can happen to one person
Ending felt a bit rushed

My Grandma was German and from what I know she fell in love with my Grandad who had a Polish/Jewish background. This too was during the war. Perhaps this added to my interest in the tale, it certainly added to a longstanding regret of mine to never have got the whole story whilst my grandparents were still alive that's for sure.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Bookworm: The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

On a few occasions I’d seen this book in various forms – either on the shelf in a bookstore, somebody holding the paperback on the train or within a list on Kindle. It wasn’t until recently I reread the book’s blurb after seeing it on my Kindle recommended list and actually thought it didn’t sound too bad and offered something different to what I’ve read in a while.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the result. Morton provides something different in her dark fairytale mystery, which switches between present day and then back to two different periods in the past.

Admittedly when I first started reading the story – and in fact for quite some time – I found this book quite tough to get into, there are just so many characters! At times you do feel you have to remind yourself who is who and which character they are related to. Unfortunately with reading this on a Kindle it’s also not as easy as a paperback to just flick back a few pages/chapters and find the passage referring to said character to refresh your memory.

One thing I loved about Morton’s story is the constant reference throughout to ‘Eliza Makepeace’s’ fairytales – I found them so enchanting, with a dark twist. Also the way the history of Nell and where she truly comes from is told throughout her granddaughter’s modern day detective work, Nell’s own discoveries and the actual past itself is very clever and makes for an addictive read.

At times, the book does feel a little long and that the story is almost never-ending. Regardless, you still want to read on and find out the answers and the real truth of what happened and the true character behind each person featured.

There are lots of twists and turns throughout – some of which, granted, are a tad predictable and easily guessed. Morton keeps you captivated though and her descriptions are very strong and well written – many times I could picture myself in the cold, grimy room where Eliza lived as a young child, or sitting on the bench admiring the beautiful forgotten garden itself.

You end the book feeling satisfied, happy and still left with that feeling of magic. Morton does well to tie everything together in many ways - the storylines, the characters, the time periods and the novel versus the fairytales.

Good points
Something different
Well written
Engaging storyline

Not so great
Too many characters
Perhaps could be a little shorter
Some bits are rather predictable

Overall a good read and certainly worthwhile on Kindle as it's hardly any cost where it's a bit older now. The best way to sum it up for me is like a grown up fairytale for adults. Magical and enchanting!