Monday, 27 February 2012

Week 9 started and 12lbs down...

I realised I've not updated you on my weight loss and fitness plan for nearly two weeks now. As today is a weigh in day I thought what better time?

This is the start of my 9th week and at this morning's weigh in I'd lost a pound. Although not amazing progress I can't really complain since I have eaten like a pig the last couple of weeks (and consumed quite a bit of alcohol...)

Last week I stayed the same and this week I lost a pound so overall progress is moving along nicely. I keep having 'fat day's though and so far am not experiencing the weight loss confidence I was expecting.

I'm not sure perhaps it's some sort of guilt over having such a bad diet of late. Another thing not helping is agreeing to a recent invite which is going to involve the hottest group of girls I've seen in a long while, ever since I've been a bit self conscious and wondering how things will turn out. Let's hope I lose quite a lot more before then!

Also I worked out if I've done 8 weeks of this and lost 12lbs now it's good, BUT it averages out closer to one pound per week moreso than two pounds per week. I know, details details, but it does make me feel I could have been more successful.

There are a couple of events planned this week which will again see more alcohol being drunk (I'm not an alcoholic honestly!) However, the plan is to at least try and keep the food side on track, we'll see...

I'm off to the gym today after work, in what will be my fourth visit in a row. Thankfully I'm not quite so achey as I have been. I did a little bit of everything in Friday's workout as quite frankly I was tired an couldn't be bothered. This resulted in a quick blast on a host of cardio machines and then some weight work. I only did 60 minutes but boy did I ache that evening, and the next day. I'm beginning to think this could be a good move and maybe I've discovered a new way to challenge my body again?

For now I'm going to head back to my office and eat some fruit snacks (excitement in my life sometimes is just too much!) I have been up since 5am and in work early so a nice early finish for me. Let's hope I make it to the gym and once there don't end up falling asleep on the treadmill!

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Melican on Music: Kaiser Chiefs at the Hammersmith Apollo

This Thursday a tad hungover and pretty sleepy I found myself at the Hammersmith Apollo to see the Kaiser Chiefs. The last UK date in their Future is Medieval tour, this was the third gig of theirs I've been to. I've seen the band a number of times at various festivals like V and Isle of Wight, as well as their own performances at Wembley and Earls Court. It has to be said they are one of my favourite bands.

I think most people have recognised the band has dipped in popularity over the years and hasn't appeared in the charts for a while, the last big memorable song of theirs which attracted a more mainstream crowd being Ruby. And I have to add I've just shocked myself when looking this up and realising that was in 2007!

Regardless I really like them and better than listening to their albums, I think they are fantastic live. Whether they are in the mainstream or not they certainly still have a big following. Ricky Wilson is a superb frontman and knows how to work a crowd (in my humble opinion). Seeing them this week just proved how popular they are yet again and the power he has over said crowd.

The guys opened up with Everyday I Love You Less and Less, which got the crowd going after a pretty slow start from two support acts on the stage beforehand.

Actually skipping back a bit when the support Fixers and Frankie and the Heartstrings were on, me and my boyfriend were feeling a little boring. Looking around the venue (which I must say is one of my favourites) we noticed how 'old' the crowd were, most people were our age or older and I have to admit I started to feel a little old myself on noticing this. We worried is the music we're into now the sort of thing older audiences like, have we crossed that line and are no longer into actual modern music?? We were also yawning as both of us were tired and the support acts I hate to say didn't really spark our excitement.

I knew this wouldn't matter though as whenever I've seen the Leeds indie band themselves I've not failed to jump around, shout, scream and have a great time!

Admittedly before the gig I had the new album but haven't really listened to it - this isn't a reflection on the Kaiser Chiefs, I am so bad at actually listening to albums after getting them - and so far I hadn't found any songs that jumped out at me.

The band did a good mix of classic hits, new tracks and songs off the album the tour was based on. Hearing it all live I found I liked every song and the set seemed to go pretty quickly. Best bits for me were of course Ruby, Love's Not A Competition But I'm Winning, Oh My God, The Angry Mob, the new Listen To Your Head, Ricky go up into the circle to sing and lots more.

We're known amongst friends for going to a lot of a gigs, but sadly this was our first gig of 2012 and at present is our only gig. Last year we saw Stereophonics, Rihanna, Foo Fighters, Take That, Kasabian and we went to the Isle of Wight Festival where we saw a whole array of artists. I recently went to sample some garage and old tunes at Kisstory at the Indigo2, but don't have anything else booked up as yet. I'm rather envious actually that my boyfriend is off to see Noel Gallagher tomorrow at the o2 with one of his close friends.

So I can't compare the Kaisers gig to anything else this year really, but comparisons aside it was a great gig, testament to this is the fact I enjoyed it so much and had so much energy when they were on despite my tiredness and hangover! Let's hope I get to go to some more gigs this year to tell you about!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Bookworm: The End of Everything by Megan Abbott

We all know books are very powerful and are able to influence our emotions immensely when we take in those words on a page. Do you ever get that feeling sometimes on reading a book though when it brings your mood down and almost drains you?

On reading The End of Everything this is how I felt. I've been feeling a bit moody lately, which I put down to some tough days at work. Upon finishing this fiction though I almost felt a sense of relief and realised a lot of my mood was linked to said book.

Two words for me sum up this paperback - uncomfortable and disturbing.

When the book first starts it seems to use strong, almost poetic descriptions to set out the surroundings and background of the two main characters. Then your introduced to the close friendship between young girls Evie and Lizzie.

However not long after this I feel the book then turns to a more confused style and never quite reveals what is going on, keeping you guessing.

Now I would argue this is clever in itself as it doesn't offer you the story on a plate, it offers a number of suggestions as to what's going on and keeps making you read on to fully understand.

The issue here though is you do end up getting rather frustrated I found and in a constant state of confusion. Abbott does use a very intelligent style on reflection it seems, she leaves the reader confused and disturbed, mimicking the turmoils young Lizzie is going through.

I left the book feeling with some characters I still didn't quite know what was the true story with them. Whether this is intentional or not I don't know.

I'm known for picking quite dark, often slightly depressing reads I admit so am used to feel a little uncomfortable from books I buy. However, in this case I found it too much and didn't find the read enjoyable, it felt like a struggle to get through and made me feel far too uncomfortable.

Good points:
Clever writing style
Not always obvious outcomes
Dares to cover such an uncomfortable situation

Not so great:
Makes you feel very uncomfortable
A hard read

Next book out the pile I'm tackling - Love Falls by Esther Freud, given to me to borrow by a friend, coming highly recommended. I'll let you know...

Monday, 20 February 2012

Wishing the week away

We all do it, constantly saying we 'can't wait for...' payday, the weekend, an upcoming gig, a holiday in the Summer, warmer weather and on and on and on.

Laughing just now with a colleague about how excited I was about my healthy dinner tonight and nabbing the last sweet potato (I've a night in on my own tonight and clearly am incredibly sad!) I came to realise how I wish each week away even on a mundane level.

Take the below for example I've worked out:

Weigh in day
My 'hump' day, good night for trashy TV though
Halfway through the working week
The 'new Friday' usually marked by drinks or social plans of some sort
End of the week woohoo!!
Off to the gym, probably plans in evening with friends for a night out
Off to the gym, probably plans in afternoon/evening with family

This basically lists a typical week from Monday through to Sunday. How scary to think each week is so similar and you spend it wishing yourself along to the next good thing coming up.

Now I'm sure this is perfectly normal human behaviour - or certainly for anally organised people like myself!

I can find I can even almost do it for each working day where I have no plans:
Wake up
Pack my bag for work
Get washed and dressed for work
Boyfriend drives me to station
Get on train usually 831 at latest
Get in work, log on and make morning coffee and breakfast
Eat lunch around 1, go for break around 130
Spend lunch typically writing blog or reading
Come back from lunch and have healthy snack
End of day rush to station but no matter what always tend to end up on 1817 train
Boyfriend picks me up from station
Go home, do workout DVD
Get showered, have dinner
Make lunch etc for work
Watch TV and relax for couple of hours
Go to bed
And so it begins again...

How on earth - and why - is my life so predictable? Am I lapsing into middle aged behaviour now I'm approaching 30? Am I just a very dull person, or do we all live like this?

Should we all seriously think more about doing things on the spur of the moment? Should I try out new hobbies and interests?

The thing is though although it seems I spend all week looking to the next day and appear to follow a typical weekly structure I enjoy it. It works for me.

I can remember older relatives' words when young telling you to 'stop wishing your life away'. Should I snap out of this comfort zone and get some more excitement in my life then??

Something to think about that's for sure and it certainly ties in with my whole idea of doing something different to mark my 30th birthday...

For now though I'm on the 1817 train home and looking forward to my healthy dinner. boyfriend's not picking me up and I'm too achey from yesterday's gym visit to do my workout DVD, that's two steps away from my usual weekday evening, is that spontaneous enough?...

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Bookworm: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

This book caught my eye a long while ago and after planning to put it on my Kindle, I found myself receiving the book as a Christmas present. The whole idea of a story looking at somebody being able to tell other people's emotions and in such an odd way as 'tasting' how their loved ones feel, really appealed to me.

Aimee Bender's book seemed so different to fiction I'd read before, but with slight hints of writers such as Jodi Picoult, Alice Sebold and Audrey Niffenegger. I was convinced I was going to love the story and find it a book I kept reading for years to come.

The story starts with the overall theme very quickly, focussing on the fact that after eating a piece of chocolate and lemon cake (does anyone else think this is an odd flavour/recipe in itself??) a young girl finds she can 'taste' what her mother is feeling.

As the book continues you learn more about an American family, the way they live and the secrets they are hiding. You follow Rose throughout her childhood and indeed her life and grow to understand how she copes with this 'talent' or 'curse' - depending on how you view such a feature.

I found the book intriguing and although it suggests an unbelievable and unrealistic situation, I felt myself eager to read more and caught up in the magic of it all. I wanted to learn what else Rose would find out and enjoyed the slightly 'odd' feel to the descriptions and characters involved.

However, what I found disappointing was the fact there weren't that many examples of Rose eating something and tasting the emotions of her family members. The main focus was on her mother, but then the book turns to other people and information on where foods themselves were made, which I didn't really understand.

Looking at the book in total I did enjoy reading it, but without spoiling the ending - I felt it got too far-fetched when it came to one character in particular. I think Bender could have focussed more on Rose's eating experiences when young and actual emotions she learnt or felt.

Good points
Offers something different
Interesting characters
Good escapism/magic feel
Keeps you interested

Not so great
Odd ending
Some parts don't really add up/make sense
One character and their 'talent' or 'curse' not very well explained and too far-fetched

So, give the book a go, I'm sure overall you'll enjoy it. Let me know if you've read anything else similar but which you feel works better. And if you do decide to read this food-themed fiction let me know if it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth or tickles your tastebuds!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Bookworm: A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks

At the moment I’m about a third of the way through my latest read and so far it’s one of those ones I’m undecided on. It’s not exactly won me over just yet. Reading this has made me think of another book I decided to read this year and was a lot different to what I expected too.

This book was A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks. I picked this as I actually thought the novel sounded similar to some other items I’ve read in the past which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Getting hold of A Week in December was actually quite a funny tale as I somehow managed to see the book a long while ago and then picture a rather mangled up version of its title in my head. I knew the cover had people on a bridge in London on it and that it was something like 'A month in November' or something similar.. I tried for ages to find this book online or see if I could get it on my Kindle (I stupidly hadn't made note of the author) and was starting to think I'd imagined the whole thing. That is until I had a conversation with my boyfriend and we came to the conclusion the book was by Sebastian Faulks (something he knew through being a West Ham fan, like the author himself). Laughing at myself I told a friend at work about what had happened and she explained her boyfriend actually had the book and I could borrow it, warning me he'd got partway through and having got fed up had stopped reading it.

So I borrowed the book. Now, I have a bit of an issue with things like this - bad books. If I start a book and find I don't really like it I struggle my way through it until I reach the end. I'm always convinced if I just keep at it I will end up finding I enjoyed it. Often this tends to work and I feel glad I stuck with the book, in fact I can only remember one book ever where I never bothered to finish it and did just give up. I soon found on reading A Week in December that it was going to be a bit of a struggle and a slow burner. The problem is the book is all about a number of characters and their lives and how they end up intertwined with one another. Sounds clever and interesting right? I read a book a few years back about commuters on a train which crashes and how their lives get joined together. I can't for the life of me remember what it was now! Please, if anyone knows please put me out my misery and tell me!

Anyway back to Sebastian Faulks, the problem is there are too many characters and as a reader I found I got bored, there was too much build up. However, I stuck with it and carried on reading, and reading and reading...The end results was this, about three quarters in the book seemed to pick up and be going somewhere and I found myself enjoying it.

However, then I continued and unfortunately I ended up reaching the end of the book disappointed and feeling let down, I felt for a story which built up its characters so slowly it ended the tale in a rather rushed manner.

Good bits
Interesting takes on different cultures and characters in life
Some strong and clever points made, such as the reality show references
Some twists stopped some characters from becoming a dangerous stereotype

Not so good
Build up of characters too long
Too many characters
Characters don't connect enough
Ending is rushed

Please, feel free to give the book a go yourselves and let me know what you felt. Perhaps I was influenced by other's opinions when I started reading? Let me know.

Melican at the movies: The Woman in Black

Cre-eak, cre-eak, cre-eak...

When I went to the theatre many years ago, on a visit as a birthday present to my Dad, I always remember the spine tingling feeling I experienced on hearing this noise. The noise of a wooden rocking chair slowly rocking, back and forth, back and forth. And this noise yet again managed to creep me out last week.

Last week I went to the cinema to see Hollywood's cinema version of The Woman In Black. Now normally I find myself commenting on book to film offerings, but in this instance I admit I've as yet never read the book. I have, however, now experienced this creepy tale in both a live theatre, acted on stage, and now played out in front of me on the big screen.

I will openly admit I am a wimp - and am getting worse as I get older - when it comes to scary films and stories and yet again I found myself watching through my fingers as I covered my face with my hands.

One thing I did wonder was whether they would be able to create the same sensation for the audience when watching on screen as they are able to in an old London theatre setting. When I saw the show I remember being seated in the dress circle and (without spoiling the experience for future theatregoers) I don't know if I could ever go and watch it seated in the stalls. The theatre was made to be very cold and a misty effect was pumped out into the theatre from the stage throughout.

Thanks to the - as per usual - super slow service at Romford's eateries, we found ourselves missing the trailers and ended up in the cinema partway through the opening credits of the film itself. However it didn't take long for me to get into the atmosphere as the screen was filled was misty, spooky scenes and a creepy soundtrack.

I don't want to go into too much detail of the film as obviously people will want to go and see this themselves and don't want me spoiling the experience. I had forgotten quite a lot about the story itself (my theatre visit was a long time ago), but certain scenes on screen soon reminded me and saw me start to get scared very early on.

Now not having the read book I can't really comment on the move from book to stage to screen. Some people I have heard felt the film is so very different from the book they weren't too keen. From what I can recall of the theatre a lot of points were very similar.

Overall I thought the film was good at building tension and there were jumps aplenty throughout. However, for me Daniel Radcliffe as the lead character was not ideal. Yes he's a great actor, but I just couldn't believe him too much as Arthur Kipps (and it wasn't a Harry Potter influence on my opinion as I've never really seen the films). To me he is too young and has too much of a babyface.

I've also seen some people uncomfortable with the theme of the film and the whole idea of young children dying (and not by accident). To be honest this isn't something that I considered when watching the film, people who've made these comments do seem to be young Mums, so perhaps this is why I can't relate.

The film kept me gripped throughout and iconic items seen in the theatre were featured on screen too - in particular the creaking rocking chair and the children's nursery/lost children's playroom.

So would I recommend this film? Yes I would recommend it to people who like a scary film or who like a good jump. I wouldn't necessarily suggest very sensitive people go to see it or in turn those who aren't all that impressed by being made to jump as this is a key aim/part of the film.

Now I'm faced with two problems - being in my flat on my own in the dark and not getting freaked out, and whether or not to now try and brave the book...

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Two steps forward, three steps back

Apologies in advance but this post is likely to be a little whingey.

So yesterday was Valentine's Day, which was lovely, well the evening was. The daytime during which I was at work was pretty rubbish if I'm honest. However, did anyone else notice how negative people were this year re the occasion?

Granted we all know how much the day sucks if you're single and for those buying or receiving gifts it's well known how prices rocket for flowers, restaurants put their costs up and seemingly in turn their service levels down.

Yesterday though I witnessed so many miserable updates on social media and in general everyone I encountered seemed to be on a downer or just plain rude. For a day of love it was severely lacking in some amore that's for sure!

Of course being Valentines Day I didn't think it suitable to stick rigidly to my diet plan and exercise. I ate healthily all day, but I did no exercise and in the evening consumed a three course meal and quite a few chocolates...

This of course I enjoyed, but I've since realised with dismay the next couple of weeks are going to be a nightmare. One day 'off' already, I have a meal and drinks with friends planned on Friday AND Saturday night! One involves pizza and one involves Mexican food - not the healthiest of options! Don't get me wrong I can't wait to catch up with friends, it's the calorie consumption I find concerning.

Then of course next week sees Pancake Day, my parents have already suggested an invite and our nephew recently asked about us coming to eat pancakes with him too, so it's inevitable we'll be stuffing our faces at some point.

Add to that celebrations with friends and a work do involving lots of food and you have two weeks of eating! Plus I have a humongous box of chocolates to get through from Valentine's Day.

So well done me for losing 4lbs at Monday's weigh-in, but the next few weeks have lots of food and booze in store! Oh well guess I'll have to step up the exercise and try pick the 'healthy' options when I'm out...

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Valentines Day

Lingering kisses and romantic wishes
Breakfast in bed, offers to do the dishes

Long lines of loving words as cards are exchanged
Excitement over what surprise plans have been arranged

Dining out, eating in
Champagne corks popping, glasses chinking

Watching loved up films on TV or at the cinema
Everywhere you look, themed gifts wherever you are

Everything red or covered in hearts
Flowers, teddy bears, underwear, it must look the part

Girls dressed in red, guys frantically rushing round for gifts
Wanting to impress and make sure the day's a hit

Or longingly watching the letterbox and doormat
Waiting for a card, ooh...what was that?

Surrounded by reminders you're on your own
Couples affectionate around you, you wish you'd stayed home

Constant announcements of love all day
If someone's desperately in love you hope they'll stay away

As people gush over their planned meals out and already what they've done
You're thinking ahead to your flat, alone and with your meal for one

Memories of lost loves and previous years
You make jokes about the day instead, you won't waste any tears

Whatever Valentine's may mean to you
I wish you a good day and know there's definitely people out there that love you

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

Monday, 13 February 2012

Week Seven Begins...

This is the start of week seven of my healthy eating and fitness plan.

For my weigh in this morning I'm pleased to confirm last week's plan of making sure I use up my points (to avoid starvation mode) and trying to do moderate exercise whilst being ill worked. I lost four pounds!

This means that in total over six weeks I've managed to lose 11lbs. Am really pleased, but as ever I'm still counting down to my goal and realised it's a long way off.

Still, I really cant complain, my clothes are fitting better and I'm feeling much better in myself. My BMI is steadily decreasing and my body fat is gradually dropping too. If this annoying cold would shift I'd feel pretty healthy.

Yet again though I'm in for an interesting week. Potentially three 'cheat' days food-wise and clearly I won't be working out in the gym or doing my workout DVD on Valentine's evening! I'm also going to have to skip exercise on Friday too.

Work-wise I've got quite a busy week so hopefully all that rushing about will help burn some calories!

If you've got any tips on healthy eating or exercise please do let me know, I want to have a backup plan when my body gets used to all the options I'm trying out!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Illness vs fitness - who should win?

Over the last few weeks I've been feeling a bit run down and over this week (after lots of late nights and being stuck in the snow) I found myself feeling unwell.

Now I am usually - I'm ashamed to say - a bit like men are regularly accused of when ill. I feel sorry for myself to the extreme and I am a stroppy and sulky patient.

However, when I'm trying to lose weight and get in shape I instead face a battle between whether to relax and mope vs wanting to lose weight and progress with my fitness plan.

So what should you do when you're feeling ill, you've got a cold, you're all runny nosed and funny headed. Should we head to that gym and carry on exercising, or is this bad for us and we should rest up and get better first?

If you're like me you'll find you'll receive a mixture of responses.

Over the last week or so I've been given a host of advice:

I'm under the weather because I've been putting my body under stress from dieting and exercising
I should rest up and let my body get better
The reason my cold is lingering so long is because at times I've tried to do exercise
You should always work through it and carry on with your exercising
Perhaps I've been pushing it too hard and should ease off a bit on the exercise

And the guidance goes on and on. So who's right?

I thought seeing as I've been in a cold-ridden confused state, others may well have been the same and might benefit from me giving a definite answer.

So I've done a bit of research online and the general consensus seems to be this...

...exercising when you have just a common cold is fine!

BUT you need to learn to trust your body, obviously if you ache all over and are finding it hard to breathe then strenuous exercise is not a great idea. When you do decide to exercise, tone it down a bit. Pick something a bit less hardcore.

If you've got a high temperature don't exercise because then it can be bad for you.

I've found some useful info across the following sites:

Feeling unwell and wanting to keep on that fitness track? Then follow the rules:

Are symptoms above the neck?
Is there no high temperature?
Are there no body aches?

If you can answer yes then feel free to get exercising, BUT at a reduced pace. Maybe instead of a hill run go for a brisk walk. Or shorten your usual session time.

This week I've completed two sessions of my hardcore 20 minute workout DVD (but on level 1 only), a 45 minute gym session (less time than I'd normally do) and a 1hr 10 gym session (long workout but I slowed down each time it felt my body was finding it tough). I have also stuck to my points allowance.

So my weigh in is tomorrow, I shall let you know the results and hopefully the experts are right, I will keep in shape and my cold will shift. Until tomorrow morning's weigh in...

Friday, 10 February 2012

Bookworm: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Over the last couple of weeks I've been reading - in fact glued to - 'Delirium' by Lauren Oliver.

Published by Hodder in the UK in paperback in 2011, I'd seen this book whilst looking online for ideas for new reads. The tagline 'What if love were a disease?' drew me in instantly.

The main thing that attracted me to the book and in turn also the key factor in my enjoyment of this paperback was the fact it was different. It took a different approach to love and feelings.

Centred around the main character of Lena, the story follows a different way of living. We've always been bought up to see love as a good thing, but what if this actually isn't the case? What if in fact love is bad for us?

I found the book clever in the way it used classic symptoms of falling in love as indicators of having the disease 'amor deliria nervosa'. The book makes the reader uncomfortable at times and elements of the story are strongly suggestive of Nazi Germany, with areas such as the 'Crypts' mirroring the idea of concentration camps.

Similarly themes of racism can be seen in the likes of the 'Invalids', 'Sympathisers' and 'Cureds'.

When first starting this fictional piece I was slightly concerned it was going to be some sort of sci fi creation which I wouldn't like.

Delirium has slight similarities to the film The Island in many ways too, but although you think you've guessed where it's going next it tends to surprise you.

Looking at previous reviews Heat magazine commented: "One of the most addictive books we've come across in ages...from one of the most exciting writers around." I felt the same and couldn't put the book down, reading it on my commute to and from work, during my lunchbreak and before going to sleep at night.

In fact when I got close to the end I couldn't wait to see what happened next. Yet when I did reach the end I found myself disappointed I'd finished it already!

Oliver's book will leave you in a mix of emotions - tense, sad, romantic and excited to find out more.

The openings to each chapter referring to 'excerpts' from the fictional publications by the authorities the book refers to.
The development of the main characters.
The twists and turns and overall feel-good factor of the story involved.

Not so good
Some parts are a little predictable.
A few potential flaws in some of the storyline.
A big build up and an ever so slightly rushed feel to the ending.

Overall this would definitely be a recommended read!

Budding bookworm

I love love love books. I admit it, I am well and truly a bookworm!

Ever since I was young I’ve loved reading, it’s just the way you can escape into a book and how it can totally change your mood.

You can forget all your troubles and relax with an easy-read like some Chick Lit. Or how about a good old cry reading a nice weepy tearjerker. Learn more about your favourite celebrity or public figure in their autobiography. Or picture yourself in an exotic location, in another world, or step back into the past.

The sense of achievement reaching the end of a particularly taxing read, or on the other hand the annoyance when you’ve stuck with a bad book hoping for it to improve and it never does. Or how about when you’re so sure of the ending and then an amazing twist comes in and takes you by surprise.

It’s funny, an early childhood memory which I never forget is of being at junior school and we had an awards scheme called ‘Reading Aloud’. School pupils had to read their allocated book out to their parents each night or for so many hours per week.

Well for me this was no chore or ‘homework’, I loved to read and would be eager to get my books out when at home. As a result I regularly got the associated certificates and somewhere in with my bits and bobs (likely in my parents’ loft) I have a whole pile of them.

I’ve always loved to write too and from a very young age I was writing my own ‘books’ – various childlike stories and make believe newspaper articles. When my Dad got a video camera I was in my element – getting him to practice filming by taking me on camera reading out my ‘pretend’ news announcements!

Having always been teased for having my head in a book, I came to realise I’ve never really mentioned on this blog my love of reading. Similarly I’ve never mentioned books I’ve been reading.

Therefore I’ve decided that from now on as well as my mix of opinion pieces, random thoughts, short stories and poems, I am also going to bleat on about books!

Already at work I’ve found some colleagues who share my love of literature and I’m like my Mum’s very own mobile library the amount of paperbacks I recommend and lend to her! So I’m thinking by sharing my thoughts on here I can introduce others to books I like and also hopefully learn of some gems I’ve not yet discovered!

So get ready to hear more about my favourite fiction and check out some of my recommended reads…

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

I had a dream

Last night I had a dream. Well I say a dream, more like a nightmare. It's very odd, whenever I'm not feeling that well I seem to have scary or disturbing thoughts in my sleep.

Yesterday was no exception. I went to bed wrapped up in my duvet, feeling sorry for myself and wheezing away. Very attractive!

However I woke up in the early hours of this morning in a sweat and feeling like I'd been punched in the stomach.

This latest nightmare - following the likes of family deaths, disasters, robberies and kidnappings - involved my boyfriend.

Picture this, being at a birthday party in a house which quite frankly is a lot better than your home, with a whole host of interestingly new and very close friends. You're all there to celebrate your birthday and life is great.

Then smack BANG change to images of you discovering a new entry in your partner's phone and confronting a very close friend of yours about it. He clearly doesn't care or think it's a big deal when he tells you this is simply the number of somebody your partner met on a holiday you weren't involved in.

He then adds in a very blasé way that oh yes your partner has also been hiring a prostitute on a regular basis.

Now when you stop giggling at my mental dreams and random thoughts when I sleep, just think about how it feels when you have one of those dreams where it feels so so real.

I literally woke up devastated and on the verge of tears. I sleepily called out to my boyfriend to cuddle me and for one stupid split second considered was this dream some sort of message or hint towards real life.

Why on earth does this keep happening though? What is it that causes me to have disturbing dreams when I'm under the weather? Does anyone else have this happen to them?

One things for sure this bad dream which had me frowning earlier has had me smiling ever since. Giggling with a colleague when telling my tale and then this evening laughing non stop with my boyfriend at the whole idea of it all.

Who knows maybe these nasty nightmares are there as a message. A message to remind me how lucky I am and not to forget to appreciate those loved ones around me. Either that or I'm going round the twist and need to lay off the lemsip...

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Calories, colds and confusion

After the dramas of Saturday night/Sunday morning I seem to have caught some sort of chill or bug.

I imagine waiting in the cold and snow for over an hour isn't that good for you when you have a thin coat, an off the shoulder dress, leggings and heels on. Then walking through snow up to your ankles with the snow touching the bare skin on your feet. Oh and add to that around only three hours sleep, I guess it was pretty inevitable I was going to get ill.

Not to worry though I'm not going to blog about how sorry I'm feeling for myself. Instead I'm in confusion over fitness, health and weight loss...again.

I guess you could say I'm a bit nerdy when it comes to my weightloss this time round, I am keeping a food diary and exercise log. However, I am also making a note of how many hours total of exercise I've done each week compared to the number of 'points' used (based roughly on the old Weight Watchers points system). This way I can try to look for patterns when comparing it to my weight each week.

From looking at this I have actually got more confused about how this all works, rather than discovering more and identifying how to move forward.

The week I've used 'less' points I'd imagine I would see a bigger weight loss, but this hasn't been the case. The week I've done more exercise I lost the least amount of weight (I also look at my BMI and body fat as obviously exercise can increase weight by building muscle).

Then looking at the week I consumed more points (still within my allowance) and did the least exercise (4 hours compared to my highest of 5 hours 5 minutes) I lost the most weight.

As per previous blogs I had a 'bad' week last week, where I only managed 2.5 hours of exercise and didn't stick to my point plan for three of the seven days. I was absolutely dreading my weigh in. Feeling poorly did not help my mood either.

So what happened when I go on the scales? I put on. Not surprising after the food and alcohol I consumed and lack of exercise I completed. However I only put on 0.08 of a pound, my BMI only went up by 0.1 and the same for my body fat.

My original plan for this week was to get back on track and work hard again on my exercise. Now not feeling well has meant my exercise routine is not happening. I am pleased to say my diet has been good so far though.

However right now I feel a little lost. What sort of level of exercise should I be looking to achieve? When I consume food, should I make sure I stick to my points, but use my full allowance and not have lots of 'spare' points?

This is now Week Six, but where do I go from here? How do I keep a good health/fitness vs fun/social balance? How can I ensure I keep losing weight and reach my goals?

Right now the only thing for sure is that there's too many questions and not enough weight loss!

Sunday, 5 February 2012


Wow, so the snow came as predicted then.

Having already got tickets to the Kisstory clubnight at Indigo2 at the London's o2 and finding it wasn't cancelled me and two close friends stuck to our plans and went out last night.

I feel I should also add I'm writing this after around four hours sleep or so, so excuse any mistakes...

We'd already arranged for both my friends to stay at mine and for my boyfriend to come pick us up at around 230am (the event finished at 3am). I don't think any of us really suspected the snow would be as bad as suggested. Come on they get the weather wrong ALL the time!!

What resulted was a 'fun' series of events which I'll round up below:

Boyfriend drops us at local station to get train into London, snow starting to lightly fall, at around 8pm
We get on District Line train and get stuck with some drunken rowdy West Ham fans on the tube, me panicking as always thinks they're having a row with supporters in the next carriage so we move
We get on the Jubilee Line - still running at this point - with only a light dusting of snow at West Ham we skid our way onto the tube
On getting off at North Greenwich we are faced with another oddball commuter (this was a common theme on our night - odd/annoying people)
After walking/tiptoeing along the partial undercover path we get into the o2, with people having snowball fights around us, so as you can tell the snow was pretty thick already at this point

What then followed was dinner at Frankie & Benny's - after a long time waiting in a pointless queue in the cold. We had an odd experience with a slightly nutty (but trying to be friendly in his own way) waiter and kept getting drafts of cold air as they kept leaving the side door open

Following our dinner we went for drinks at Slug & Lettuce and at around 1030pm saw the Olly Murs' concertgoers walk past, clearly their gig had finished.

Around elevenish we then went to go in the Indigo2. Now I've been to Kisstory in this venue before. About March time last year I think it was. The experiences did not match up.

We had bought tickets way in advance, around £20 each cost-wise. After trying to get in at two entrances we were told we weren't 'guestlist' or 'VIP' and told to go round the corner to the left to the side entrance.

This so called side entrance was actually outside, where we had to walk through the snow and were herded like cattle by the bouncers and told we had to 'carry our own ticket each'.

When we got in there was a cloakroom clearly labelled, but which after queuing turned out not to be a cloakroom but a makeshift extra bar... In the end we just kept our coats on us all night

We then hit the bar.

Where we proceeded to wait 40 minutes to be served thanks to the sheer and utter incompetence of the bar staff (and one guy in particular).

Thank goodness the Kiss DJs were playing some great tunes to keep our mood up! After a £45 round(!!) we went to go dance.

The rest of the evening saw us entertained by Kiss DJs Justin Wilkes and Jez Welham, Dane Bowers (who I'm ashamed to say I loved!) and the lady from Alex Party ("Don't give me your love your love gimme your love...")

Unfortunately my garage hero DJ EZ was "snowed in" and never turned up. We had a great time dancing regardless and my complaints are certainly not with the Kisstory night itself.

That great time dancing was of course spent around the sheer panic of the snow and transport situation and worrying for my boyfriend's safety.

We kept updates via text and that was how I found out the Jubilee Line had shut early, Olly Murs' fans were stranded and that the o2 was allowing people to wait in there to keep warm etc.

Unfortunately this didn't seem to get passed on to the 'lovely' security staff of the Indigo2 venue.

My boyfriend left at just before 2am to get us. The event finished at three so we tried to stay in the venue as long as we could to keep safe and warm as it became apparent my boyfriend was going through one hell of a journey.

When the event finished at three, the security staff - that couldn't wait to get us all out - knew nothing re the rest of the establishment and keeping warm etc. The DJ had warned everyone earlier on there were no trains, a three hour cab queue and little traffic getting to the area.

We were treated like rowdy yobs when simply waiting for our friend to come out the bathroom and were then shifted to various areas around the room and cloakroom area.

After around 30 minutes of trying to stay warm in the venue and ask about staying in the o2 itself we - along with many other people - were just herded out the Indigo2 into the cold.

I've since heard people stuck after Olly Murs were allowed in the o2 and into the VIP room to keep warm etc. When we'd asked we were told the main o2 shuts at 1am and nobody could get in there. End of.

We then tried to stay by the edge of the building to keep warm and eventually had to carefully walk towards the station. We ended up getting to my boyfriend and his car at gone 4am. He had been carefully trying to get to us all that time and had a nightmare simply getting close to the venue once he was near.

When we left there were still queues of people waiting for taxis and nightbuses.

Around 5am we made it home, along the A13 and then on dangerous un-gritted/not cleared roads nearer home. Me and one of my friends must have been a funny sight in heels trying to push my boyfriend's car through the thick snow on my estate to get it to move.

Then we all walked to my flat after thankfully safely parking the car nearby and traipsing through snow which came over our ankles depth-wise.

As the song goes 'oh what a night'. We were lucky not to be one of those poor stranded concertgoers that were quite simply stuck thanks to TfL and our country/capital yet again not preparing for weather we knew about.

I don't feel quite so lucky being a so-called privileged 'o2 customer' and bothering to pay my money to enter a venue so badly run and staffed by morons. Well done to those people working in the main o2 area who opened up the VIP room and looked after customers. It's a shame your Indigo2 colleagues were not in the same league...

Friday, 3 February 2012

Balancing Act

Here we are, week five into my plan to get fit and trim...Funnily enough a friend told me of a study they'd seen a week or two ago which stated females trying to lose weight and who write about it are more successful in their weight loss. I was so pleased as I was doing both.

Yet over this week that has changed. I've not written this blog and my route on the path to fitness has gone a little skew-whiff.

This week, so far we are in day number five. Out of those five days I have exercised one day. I have kept to my healthy eating on three days. For this week in total I will only be keeping to my healthy eating for three days out of seven and am expecting exercise to be two days out of seven. Not quite the same reports I've been listing previously.

I was also proud of the fact I had only consumed one glass of wine since I began my plan. That figure now stands at, well I can't really count an exact amount, but let's say definitely in double figures after this week.

I'll admit today I'm feeling a bit sorry for myself as I'm hungover - something I wasn't expecting until Sunday morning after my planned girl's night out. However I am a mix of emotions about this 'falling off' the fitness wagon. Part of me is disappointed in myself and annoyed I will have prolonged my weight loss journey. I can't even bear to think of the fact the scales will likely show a gain on Monday morning...

On the other hand I feel good, yes this week I've eaten the likes of chicken katsu curry, a chocolate cupcake and McDonalds (and consumed goodness knows how much alcohol in the form of wine and champagne). BUT I have also this week caught up with an old friend, enjoyed myself, laughed so much, had great fun with friends and colleagues at work and helped people celebrate special occasions.

This week I've said goodbye to a work colleague, celebrated a friend's birthday, laughed in hysterics with a friend, got closer with work friends, met a new life in the world, seen a family member (well my boyfriend's family) who hasn't been in the UK for over 30 years and is from Canada, discovered a new version of one of my favourite dishes and made some new plans to look forward to. In short I have thoroughly enjoyed myself.

I AM absolutely shattered from going to bed gone 1am for three days in a row this week and I know I'm going to consume far too many calories this weekend - but I'm going to enjoy dancing and laughing them off with two very close friends.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I've realised I need to be mindful of keeping a balance. Yes I want to lose weight and be happy in my body, I want to improve my fitness and future health. Moreover I also want to live my life, enjoy myself, discover new things and act my age (or arguably a lot younger!!)

It really is all about balance - in what types of food you eat, in how you approach fitness, in the way you manage your weight and in combining work and play.

Now when I weigh myself on Monday it could be a whole new more negative opinion from me and making sure I don't tilt the balance in the favour of fun will be hard. Overall though I feel I HAVE achieved this week as I've learnt a valuable lesson and the idea of balance finally seems to be sinking in...