Saturday, 30 June 2012

Bookworm: Fifty Shades Freed by E.L.James

Well, that's it then. The three books of the Fifty Shades trilogy is finished.


Over the last two weeks I have downloaded and read all three books in this raunchy series. The fiction termed as soft porn, Mummy porn and referred to as the modem day, grown up equivalent of Judy Bloom's Forever.

These books have sparked a whole host of debates and led to shops not being able to meet demand quick enough. Female commuters have had more enjoyable journeys to and from work and if we're to believe rumours men have gained a few tips too.

Fifty Shades Freed is the final book. I found the first book appealed giving something different because of the escapism it offered and a bit of filth (well who doesn't have a naughty side?) The second, Fifty Shades Darker, gave more of a storyline and a darker side to tell and focussed on Christian's history.

Now with the third, we're treated to storyline, darkness and a bit of smut. An ideal mix? Hm, to be honest 'too much of a good thing' does spring to mind when you read this last one.

Again I know we're not critiquing a piece of historical and award winning literature here, the likes of which Ms Steele refers to as the sorts of books she likes to read. However I found I started to get a bit bored - a lot of things happening were pretty far fetched and in fact quite a few times I found myself going off Mr Grey, rather than lusting after him.

The same sorts of phrases were used and started to get a tad tiresome. I began to wonder what else was going to happen and was the writer simply getting greedy in producing a third book.

However there are a few twists and turns and despite all my negative thoughts, I was still hooked and couldn't stop myself reading.

Good bits
Just as addictive
Some twists to keep you guessing
A few new raunchy bits

Not so great
Repetitive writing, terminology and phrases
Pretty far fetched
The ending was a bit non
Found myself turning against the lead Mr Grey which I don't think is the point here

Overall I've really enjoyed the series and am glad I indulged. Rating this book on its own merit however I'm not sure I'm such a big fan.

Friday, 29 June 2012

What will the neighbours say?

First off I have to thank a friend at work for the idea for this blog. We always share our tales of fitness and healthy eating and other things we’ve been up to. Today we were talking and started discussing women and our appearance – how constantly worried we are about how we look – in all sorts of situations!

I guess this kind of links into my hang ups and worries of trying out new exercises classes/hobbies too – I don’t want to look stupid. And I will never forget when me and my boyfriend first started dating and he worked in the gym – I refused to be in there when he was, he just could NOT see me sweaty! Eventually there were times I had to be in there the same time as I was working, but I used to hide in a little side room to avoid him seeing me out of breath and sweating.

Similarly whenever I liked a boy when young I could not eat in front of them, my second date with my boyfriend I picked at the food like a sparrow (very unlike me if you know me!) I was just so worried I might look stupid when eating, get some food down me or stuck in my teeth for example.

And once us ladies discover makeup, that’s it, the thought of leaving the house without makeup on makes us recoil in horror. Granted, as I’ve got older I’ve got a bit more sensible about this and do venture out sans makeup for certain things (normally going to the gym where it will sweat off anyway, or if we are driving round to my parents and I won’t see anyone else!)

It all stems from the matching underwear situation – just in case you have an accident, you get knocked down by a car, perhaps you should ensure you always leave the house in matching underwear. Because what if they need to take your clothes off? Never mind the fact you could be critically injured and really ill, oh no the issue here is that your underwear is decent!

Or what about your legs? Are they freshly shaved or waxed, or instead are you resembling a baboon, your legs home to a small forest-ful of hair? Imagine having to be taken into hospital like that??

It’s funny we’re all very strict with ourselves when it comes to our beauty regime – hair cut or colour is due, we need new clothes, our nails need doing, we need a bikini wax and so on. Yet when it comes to other more important things like our health, it seems to come second place. Think about it, how good are you at ensuring you book your smear test once you get that reminder? Or the dentist? How many reminders does it take for you to pick up the phone and get that check-up booked in?

You go to the gym, are you more concerned with your technique and getting moves right, working to your full potential, or instead self-conscious that you’re dripping with sweat or have face resembling a beetroot?

We all follow these diet plans to try and make sure we lose weight and get trim, we push and push ourselves to stick religiously to what we are and aren’t allowed. Do you ensure you get your ‘five a day’ like this? Would you religiously take vitamins to make sure you’re getting the right nutrition? No I thought not.

So why are we so hard on ourselves? What does it matter if we go out with no makeup on, or dare to wear our ‘clothes for indoors’ in the outside world? What is the worse that could happen if we were ill and had to be taken into hospital – would the doctors refuse to deal with us because our toenails weren’t painted and our armpits needed a shave?

Although I’m sure we all realise how silly this situation is that we put ourselves in every day, we all still do it.

I can be going to see my niece and nephew and I’ll still do things like make sure my nails are painted or I change my outfit and check I look okay. They are three and seven, as if they will notice my beauty regime…

Why are we so worried what other people think?

I have one of my oldest and bestest friends staying over tomorrow night, she regularly stays over when we go for nights out together and it’s great – we can have a good gossip before we go out and then a great giggle the morning after at our silly behaviour.

Yet whenever she is coming to stay I worry about the mess my flat is in and how I really must clean. She’s even said herself she doesn’t care and I should know her well enough to know that, but still I think about getting my flat spick and span.

I’ve had people from within my block of flats knock at my door unannounced before and – ashamedly – I’ve ignored the door. No, not because I don’t like them (although that recent note may change that with some), but because I’m ashamed of the state my flat is in. Or worse still I’m in my PJs without any makeup on! Nobody is seeing me like that!

Thinking back to my childhood I can even remember having blazing arguments with Mum as a teenager and her telling me to be quiet as the windows were open and the neighbours might hear!

I would say perhaps this weekend I might try and fight back against this behaviour, maybe go out for the girl’s night with no makeup…yeah right who am I kidding?!

Look, I’ll go spinning tomorrow without any makeup on, it’s a start…

Thursday, 28 June 2012

One habit to another

Last night I watched a program on BBC3 (my favourite channel for trashy TV) about people and drugs. This wasn't about heroin addicts or Class A users, it referred to people who liked legal highs and even those on diet pills or sexual medication they can't stop taking. It was pretty interesting.

As you can guess it focussed really on addiction.

Today I went to spinning, this was only my second class and this time I went it alone, since my man is working.

Since braving horse riding and spinning - two things I've shied away from for a long time - I have started to wonder what else I could try.

I've found myself continuously returning to my gym's class timetable, looking up all the options of things I might like and the timings.

My boyfriend actually said to me today "One word. Addiction."

Have I gone from the habit of sitting in, pigging out and letting my diet slip to instead obsessing over what I eat and how to burn off that fat and any excess calories? Simply shifting from one habit to another?

Of course if this is the case I don't mind too much since the path I'm on is now a healthier one.

I do wonder if this is why I don't stay committed to healthy eating and exercise for a considerable amount of time though. I get obsessive over it and push it too far.

Today I realised the way my boyfriend's shifts work he will be off Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. What did I do? Look up what classes we could go to together when I finish work on Monday and Tuesday next week that's what.

I'm going for a girl's night out Saturday, which I'm really looking forward to - I love a good goss and a boogie! However because it's going to involve alcohol I told the stables last week I won't be riding this Sunday.

The result? I can't stop thinking about the fact I'm not going to get to go horse riding. I've been torn between considering phoning up and going riding still on Sunday, to looking if there are any classes we can go to in the morning instead.

I've also tried to be realistic that I may be hungover (although I am going to really try not to get carried away and drink too much), so am also toying with the idea of an afternoon run instead.

Really it'll all depend on how achey I am post-spinning after tonight's class.

I've done my workout DVD Monday and Tuesday this week. I had a rest day on Wednesday and of course spinning tonight. I've not decided what exercise I'm going to do tomorrow (there aren't any classes though the time I finish work). Saturday I hope to go spinning with my man (with a different instructor unfortunately) and then we shall see what happens Sunday.

As for next week, I've already lined up Body Combat for Monday night - since my boyfriend said he'd like to try this and isn't too sure about testing out Zumba just yet.

After learning my friend at work has already lost three pounds in just two days on her 'fad' diet though I'm really hoping for good results on Monday' weigh-in. I feel I've really put the effort in. We shall see

Still one thing's for sure I'll definitely be making sure I have a good jump around to my DVD as much as possible, after getting this ridiculous note from the neighbours in the flat below...

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Food, glorious food

I love trying new food and it’s one of the great things I enjoy about going on holiday – sampling new cuisine and discovering new tastes and textures I enjoy. So, I thought I’d do a bit of Google-hunting to see what Thailand has to offer. Oh my…

Well, it appears I could tickle my tastebuds with a whole host of new flavours. How about prawns – lovely – still alive?? Er no thanks. Or a nice healthy salad accompanied by some pork – yum – the meat is raw though?? Um, pass. Want to try a barbecued meat dish served over steamed rice – tempted – this meat though is typically field rat?? No way on earth!

Check out some more culinary delights here:

It seems insects are pretty popular…Still I shouldn’t be too shocked, I did see a man eating an un-hatched egg (complete with bird embryo) on a recent holiday programme in Thailand.

I think I’ll stick to the more standard pad thai, red or green curries, mango sticky rice (dessert), fresh spring rolls and panang curry.

Thinking of foods I do like and have discovered (this is making me hungry now!) here’s a selection of some I recommend:

Saganaki with honey tried in Skiathos (a twist on the Greek fried cheese dish – this one was cooked in filo pastry and generously drizzled with honey).

Konditor & Cook frosted carrot cake – the icing is to die for.

Posh eggs and bacon tried in a local gastro pub near where I live – duck egg, bacon ‘foam’, crispy pancetta and brioche soldiers.

Black pudding bonbon – side dish served at the same pub

Roasted salmon on penne pasta in a lobster cream – from a local eaterie

Afternoon tea – scones, jam and clotted cream – the best I’ve had was at Cheddar Gorge

Rump or fillet steak at Miller & Carter near where I live, or steak in a Roquefort sauce in France

Lamb Kleftiko – the best I’ve ever tried was on a cobbled street in Zakynthos many years ago (before it became an 18-30 holiday spot!)

Selection of seafood – scallops, crab, prawns, cockles etc at the Company Shed in Mersea

Devils food cupcakes (peanut butter frosting, dark chocolate cupcake, Reece’s peanut butter cup on top) from Angel Food Bakery in Brighton – THE best cupcakes

Pan fried fish with black squid ink risotto – from an Italian/seafood restaurant in Brighton

Hate to admit it but Dominos Texas BBQ pizza gets me every time!

A huge mouthful of meaty goodness – Kiwi Burger from GBK (massive beef burger, fried egg, beetroot, cheese…)

Pear pancake with chocolate sauce and ice cream from My Old Dutch pancake house (and if you can manage one of their chocolate milkshakes – amazing!)

Okay okay I need to stop now as I am getting far too hungry thinking about this. Maybe I’ll follow up in another blog as this is not helping me in my bid to stick to healthy eating. If anyone has been to Thailand and can recommend some different dishes to try (which aren’t going to make me want to be ill) please get in touch and comment below!

Or alternatively any dishes you can recommend trying, perhaps I can try them out when my healthy eating plan is complete and successful!

Monday, 25 June 2012

Bookworm: Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James

Here we are again. Another Fifty Shades book complete, in a matter of days/under a week.

This second offering of the trilogy had me rather more surprised however. The smut and kinky goings on were still highly featured, but this time there was more of a storyline apparent. In fact at times I felt close to tears.

I don't want to delve into too much detail as I don't want to spoil the reading experience for those who haven't indulged in Mr Grey and his wicked ways just yet.

However, rather than just focussing on their amazing sex life, this story takes time to explore Christian's character in more detail - what makes him like what he does and what a horrific childhood he suffered.

Of course it's important to remember this is just an enjoyable piece of trashy fiction, but instead of just dirty talk, this time round you feel you're reading a rather dark piece of chick lit at times.

Good bits
More of a storyline this time round
Just as addictive, you want to read on and on

Not so great
At times the events are a little hard to believe/far-fetched
You still need to hide those pages on the train!

I finished the second instalment on my journey home and I admit I was pleased I'd downloaded all three, so the next one is ready and waiting. What am I going to do when I finish book three?

Book two ended with a hint at a more sinister turn of events so I'm keen to get started...

Calorie counting and exercise vs fad diets

Whenever I am eating healthy and trying to get back on track with my weight I have Monday morning as my weigh in day. I like to ensure I weigh myself at around the same time each week to avoid any differences which could influence the result. I’ve also got scales which show your body fat and BMI which help let me know if I do put on weight whether it is through fat or muscle.

Today I weighed myself and was pleased to see after my good efforts this week I have been rewarded with a 2lbs weight loss!

On Saturday there were 6 weeks to go until we jet off to Thailand (so exciting!!) and so I am trying to be well behaved – diet and exercise-wise – until then. During this time I had my Dad’s birthday and I also have my boyfriend’s parent’s joint 60th birthday party. This means food and drink. I am going out for a girl’s night this weekend too which means food and lots of drink!

However, I’m hoping if I crank up my exercise I should hopefully beat away those sneaky calories and fat, before they get a chance to settle. It did seem to work this week.

I’m still 8lbs away from my lowest weight I’ve been (when I lost nearly three stone) and it’s bugging me I can’t get down to it. I’m hoping with the diet and exercise I followed last week though I can get closer to it before my break.

So what am I eating? I’m trying to keep my calories and fat intake down, but still eat things I like (well healthy things).

During the week – porridge (Oatso Simple, various flavours)
Weekends – low fat cereal either Weetabix or Raisin Wheats

During the week – homemade salad with low fat salad cream, pieces of chicken, olives and pepper or low fat tin of soup with 2 dry ryvitas

Weekend – Saturday I had my Dad’s birthday so had a huge roast dinner! Sunday I had a seafood stick salad with low fat seafood sauce

Afternoon Snacks – I try to have two different types of fruit as my snacks during the week in the afternoons (or if I run out a packet of Special K mini bites or a Weight Watchers mini chocolate swiss roll bar)

Evening Snacks – I have either a Shapers low fat chocolate dessert pot or a bowl of dry branflakes and a mug of Cadbury’s Highlights low fat hot chocolate (if I’ve got calories spare and I’m hungry I’ll have both!)

During the week – a choice of either fish, veg or salad and some form of carbs, or chicken with veg or salad and some form of carbs

Of course I strayed slightly last week as on Thursday I had Nando’s after spinning (although again I had water to drink, half a chicken medium spicy, spicy rice and corn on the cob). Then for my Dad’s birthday I ate a starter, a huge roast dinner and a big slab of gorgeous carrot cake (clearly not low fat!).

However in that week I did my workout DVD numerous times (high intensity cardio/weights), horse riding and spinning. Clearly in this instance my exercise helped burn off all those calories on the days I did stray. Fingers crossed that will work for this weekend…

I’ve started thinking about my diet today after conversations with friends who are either also entering into healthy eating, or running with a diet plan. The latter is what has grabbed my attention – fad diets.

We all know and have been told these fad diet plans are not good for you – but they are so tempting. When you are sticking to a healthy diet and exercising your butt off and see no weight loss, then your friend who is drinking shakes drops a ton of weight, it does make you wonder. I admit I was starting to think this yesterday (before weigh in) and wondering how bad can these fad diets be? Surely if I wanted to follow it just to get slim for a holiday it wouldn’t be so bad?

Or do you get addicted? Do they just mess up your metabolism. Sure, you lose fat, but your fitness won’t improve.

I’ll be honest, I’m torn. I know reading this my boyfriend – former personal trainer – will go mental at the fact I would even dare consider such an option as he’s drilled into me how bad these plans are. If I hadn’t lost weight today I do wonder if I’d have started to look down the quick fix route instead.

For now I am going to try and stick to the self-made plan I’ve been following and try to get fit as well as lose weight ready for my holiday. However, if those around me start to see amazing results, I really can’t promise right now I won’t get swayed…

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Riding: week three

It seems that spinning for me hurts the evening after not straightaway. There was me telling people I wasn't too sore from my first experience and then Friday afternoon and evening came and my calves were so so tight, my arms were so sore! I made myself do my workout DVD on Saturday, but I was so stiff after.

Last night as I went to bed, knowing I had riding this morning, I was feeling pretty nervous. My muscles were still aching, I knew my boyfriend wasn't coming to watch and I could hear the weather was awful.

When I awoke, I was achey and really sleepy and the sky was so dark and the weather so windy. I wasn't exactly in the mood for riding to be honest.

My friend picked me up and off we went. I was told I had Guy (the same horse I had in my first week) and that brought a smile to my face. He's old and can be a tad slow, but he's lovely! I was even more glad I didn't have the same horse as last week too - Harley - when I saw him kicking his stable door loudly!

I've been building up the whole getting on and off the horse and have worried this was starting to have a negative impact on my enjoyment of this hobby as a result. Therefore I made my mind up to stop being a wuss and try and get on quick.

Walking quickly up the mounting block I grabbed the reins, held onto the front of the saddle with both hands as directed and made myself get on quickly and with force. I got on quickly. Yes I was worried, but I got on okay and stayed on the saddle, just!

Today we were in a quarter of the outside sand arena. The rain held off and after worrying about getting wet or cold, I soon found instead I was getting hot and sweaty from the exercise.

We did a mix of walking, changing rein by crossing diagonal, we did quite a bit of trotting and we even did some jump prep by trotting and walking across the course and over a pole (on the floor).

Guy sometimes takes a while to get going, but he soon got faster and mostly did as he was told! I felt much more in control again today and was pleased when the instructor told me I'm doing well in our post-class feedback.

A lovely fellow rider helped hold Guy as I dismounted (and assisted me in getting him further into the yard as he just stopped dead in the entrance and wouldn't move!) Again I forced myself to get on with it and I got off quickly, even if I was a bit nervous.

I helped put Guy back in his stable and left the stables smiling!

As usual I felt full of energy when I got home from riding and got onto doing my workout DVD. (No doubt as usual I'll be aching as a result tomorrow too!)

I then thought as I have the flat to myself I'd relax, so I ran a nice hot bubble bath whilst it pelted down with rain outside. (Where is our summer??)

Just as I eased myself in though a loud buzzing caught my attention and I discovered a big bee caught in the bathroom windows and struggling to get out.

I hate bees (and wasps for that matter). I literally leapt out the bath and then stood for about fifteen minutes waiting for the bee to get out whilst I shivered and covered the floor in bubblebath suds! Not the best start to a relaxing bathtime.

Eventually I managed to get in the bath (and discovered the bruise on my inside knee has got much bigger and purple, lovely!) I did eventually manage to lie back and relax though.

And the energy kept on coming, I started cleaning my flat and doing household chores I've been meaning to do!

Now though the tiredness has crept in so I'm going to just take it easy and relax on the sofa. I'm hoping my hard work this week pays off and I see some good results in the morning when I weigh myself, only 6 weeks now 'til I hit that beach in Thailand...

Thursday, 21 June 2012

I'm spinning around

I'm sitting on the sofa in my PJs relaxing and resting after my earlier antics. Tonight, as part of my latest idea to try new things, I took part in a spinning class.

It's madness, I've belonged to my gym for over six years, with an enviable membership rate and classes are included. Tonight was the first time I've ever done a class!

As you know I've recently got back into horse riding as a hobby and decided to try new things and stop worrying. I've considered spinning before, but been unsure if it would be too tough, could I keep up?

In order to give me a bit of a confidence boost my man got dragged along. I was feeling pretty confident until a colleague (who used to be in fitness) told me it was hard to keep up with the instructor when she was training to teach it, my boyfriend reminded me to tell them I'm asthmatic and I woke with aching muscles from last night's workout DVD session.

Regardless, off we went into the spinning studio upstairs in our gym, armed with a towel, water and of course my asthma pump. I timidly approached our instructor and let her know we were new. She was lovely, coming over to show us how the bikes worked and what position to get in. In addition she advised to take it at our own pace for our first time and sit down when we needed.

After a short while we began. This workout works you hard. Even the initial warm ups had me pretty breathless. I took our instructor's advice and turned the resistance dial up to suit me and not quite to the level advised at all times.

I thought I'd be nervous about certain elements, such as standing up on the bikes, but was pleased to find I actually felt rather safe and secure on the machine.

I've seen other people come out of the spinning studios before and they are always dripping with sweat. I knew it was going to be hard.

Only part way in I was dripping with sweat, my hands at times couldn't grip the handlebars they were so soaked and I my heart was pumping so hard I thought it might burst through my chest.

We pedalled super fast, pushed through as we made the resistance really high, we stood and pedalled, did push up arms and pedalled, leaned down and pedalled, did ab work and lots more.

Forty five minutes of very hard work, where I know I eased a tad before the end as I was starting to feel so nauseous. Admittedly I did sit down a couple of times and didn't crank up my resistance quite as high, but for my first time I was pretty pleased with myself.

Going once with my man has also given me the confidence to know I could go on my own and that others in the class are not judgemental monsters!

So there you go, a second new experience and I survived. Let's see how I feel in the morning.

Right now I am very sleepy and full up after a brief visit to Nandos for a post workout feeding. Now to think of the next thing I'm going to brave and try out...

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Bookworm: Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

So four days ago I downloaded this book onto my Kindle. I'd seen so many Facebook statuses about this naughty novel and heard all the hype that I gave in and decided to give it a go.

Now, in less than three days I've finished this tale of an attractive, dominant, successful young CEO and a naive, virginal, young graduate.

The first thing I did on finishing? I've downloaded the further two books in the series!

This book was so addictive I could not put it down. No not because of its amazing plot and impeccable writing. You just literally can't get enough of it.

All in all this book is pure filth. Those of a sensitive nature or who would admit to being a tad prudish, don't bother, you'll hate it.

But otherwise ladies get yourself a copy of this NOW!

Complete and utter escapism, this story keeps you gripped and fascinated by whatever the delectable Mr Grey will do next.

A fictional character, this man has major sex appeal and I would imagine every girl in her head has her own idea of her Mr Grey (put it this way I doubt it's a redhead as James suggests).

What will happen in the next two I really have no idea. I was shocked to finish the first one and found I felt sad. One I was sad I had finished the experience and two because it didn't end as I'd expected. Well technically it doesn't really 'end' as it's simply just the end of part one.

Good bits
Pure escapism
Certainly makes the commute a lot more exciting!
People have suggested loaning it to your man once you've read it for tips...
Good book if you've not read any type of erotic fiction before (I too was an erotica virgin!)

Bad bits
There isn't really a proper plot as such
Some of the lines are a tad cheesy
If you don't feel comfortable with more adventurous sex you'll probably just see Grey as a freak/monster
You may find you need to hide your page from fellow commuters

I recommend downloading it to an e-reader and be prepared to lose a couple of evenings/lunchbreaks to it.

I would stop to tell you more, but I don't want to spoil your experience, let Mr Grey teach you... Plus I'm off to go get started on the next one!

Friday, 15 June 2012

Turning 30 in Thailand

I feel like a child the night before Christmas, I keep making myself feel sick I am getting so excited and I can’t stop looking at various photos and reviews. My holiday for my 30th birthday is booked!

To be honest until I get all the paperwork in the post I don’t think I’m going to fully believe it, after all the drama with the travel company we used and suspicions over their situation and the service received from our contact. Although I’ve got to give it to the guy he’s found us some lovely places to stay.

I decided quite a while back I wanted to do something different to celebrate my 30th and not follow the crowd with a party. Once you get to this age there seem to be so many issues within your various friendship groups that quite frankly I couldn’t be bothered with all the dramas and I can go out and get drunk and dance any time. No, I wanted to have memories to treasure (and perhaps also to distract me from the fact of how old I am getting!)

After talking for months about going away and wanting to ride an elephant for my 30th I am relieved it is now arranged and I can look forward and count down to it! 7 weeks and 1 day in case you wondered…

So what do I have planned? Well, after getting my east and west muddled up (don’t ask!) I realised the east side of the islands was going to be the best place to go as August is in monsoon season in Thailand. I also knew I wanted a mixture of a bit of a culture and some good old fashioned relaxation.

The result? A few nights in buzzing Bangkok where we are booked into a pretty smart hotel close to transport links and not far from places we want to visit. We plan to visit a floating market, some temples, traditional Thai buildings/museums , ride on the old canals and have a trip in a Tuk Tuk. And if my boyfriend has anything to do with it we’ll also check out a ‘ping pong’ show and some Thai boxing. Next up is a luxurious stay in a spa resort at the end of Chaweng Beach on Koh Samui for relaxing, maybe some treatments (although I feel local Thai massage people on the beach etc will be better value!) and a chance to go on an elephant ride. Finally we arrive at Salad Beach, for a cosy but slightly less pampered stay where we will just unwind, relax, sunbathe and eat dinners on the beach – and where I will actually turn 30.

I. Can’t. Wait

I’ll be going to somewhere I’ve never been –it’s going to be completely different and I’m going to be spending it with my boyfriend so if at times things might panic me I know he’ll look after me!

Of course – as per with me – I am now starting a slight panic – primarily at present regarding my weight. I have 7 weeks effectively to somehow transform into a body worthy of the beach and summer clothes. This is going to be hard work! And of course I don’t want to miss out on Summer (whenever it decides to arrive in the UK!) and be a bore and not eat or drink for the whole of July and the rest of June. I have three family birthdays during that time too.

I’m also conscious of being away from my family for my birthday, as a small family we make a big fuss of birthdays and tend to spend them together, so I feel almost mean going away for my 30th like this. However, rest assured I will make sure I celebrate with them and in turn with my friends when I return. Plus 2 days after we get back me and my boyfriend will have been together 7 years so we need to celebrate that somehow too!

For now I’ll continue to daydream of white sand, beautiful waters, hot sun, gorgeous food and lots more. Well, until I get home and then start my manic list-writing of all the things to sort – ferries, vaccinations, travel insurance, currency, packing, transport to and from the airport, getting into shape. Hm maybe I better get writing that list now…

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Bookworm: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

I felt a bit queasy on my way home tonight (think I got a bit overexcited re my impending Thailand holiday booking!) so decided to have some dinner before doing my workout DVD.

Of course then I started to read my latest ebook on my Kindle and I got so caught up in it before I knew it I'd finished the story!

Those fitness followers out there don't worry I have now also completed my DVD and day nine of the 30 Day Shred so I can tick that off my to-do list for today too.

Anyways back to the matter in hand - The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - I saw the American version of the film first. This is a different approach for me as typically I find I see a film after I've enjoyed the book. However in this instance I hadn't touched the much talked about Millennium series before.

I was pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed the film, even though it was pretty dark at times and there are some pretty disturbing scenes. People told me the book was much worse, but that I should read it as the book was better than the film easily.

So I decided to give the book a go and I was pleased I did.

Good bits
Very addictive, you don't want to put it down
Good characters
Good twists

Not so great
The book does seem a little long, by the end I was wondering how much more was left to go
Perhaps a few too many characters, at times I was a tad confused with the ins and outs of the Vanger family

Overall I felt this was a strong book and a good story and I'll be keen to read the other books in the series.

Next up to decide whether to read about fiction in Greece or Pakistan...

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred

“No resting”. “I want you gargling your heart”. “I want you to feel like you’re going to die” are not typical phrases people would traditionally pay to listen to. However, if you decide to take on Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred Workout DVD this is exactly the sort of message you can expect to hear.

I’m now on day 8 of the plan – I skipped a day on Saturday since my calves were so tight and I knew I was horse riding the next day for the first time in about 17 years so I thought I better give myself a fair chance to actually get on the horse!

Whether you should take a break or not seems to be a bit of a debate online between fellow fitness followers with some arguing you should do 3 days on, 2 days of cardio and repeat, whilst others have stuck to it for a whole trail of days in a row. Me, I am going to try and follow a pattern of 5 days on and 1 day rest, unless I feel fine on the sixth day and then I’ll carry on.

The way the plan works is based over three levels and each level has Jillian and her two ‘helpers’ - one who is for beginners and the other for more advanced/fitter participants. At around 20 minute per workout you are probably thinking I’m a bit of a wuss finding this tough. Believe me these are a hard and long 20 minutes.

Jillian works on the 3-2-1 plan (she created this I believe), whereby you do 3 minutes strength, 2 minutes cardio, 1 minute abs. In addition, she likes you to work big muscles along with smaller ones to allow for the greatest fat burn possible. The types of exercises include jumping jacks, jump rope, bicycle crunches, butt kicks and strength moves which work combinations of chest and abs, biceps and calves, thighs and shoulders and so on. Oh and you get a brief cool down at the end.

When I last started this workout when I first bought it back in January I used soup tins for weights but I’ve since bought small light weights and for comfort I’d recommend using a mat for the floor work. I find in each workout I don’t have a chance to stop for water as no breaks are allowed (only 5 seconds if you’re really struggling) and I am dripping with sweat by the end.

At the moment I’m still on Level One – the idea being you move up a level as and when you feel ready. My logic is 10 days on each level. In the past when I’ve done the workouts just as part of exercise I’ve been on level one for a bit and then mostly followed level two, with one go at level three! Now as I reached sessions 7 and 8 I found my body has pretty much adapted to the first level and I’m thinking it may be time to move on. However, I’m going to try and follow my planned structure and do 2 more sessions on this first level just in case.

I’ve tried a few workout DVDs over the years – like most females I’d imagine – and I have to say I really like the style of this one. Things like the 10 Minute Solution workouts I find the trainers too ‘American’ and ‘cheesy’ in their approach. I really enjoy the Pump It Up Ministry of Sound DVD I’ve had for years, but don’t find it has major results.

However, Biggest Loser USA’s trainer Michaels has a good style, of course the odd cheesy line creeps in there “You strong. You can do anything”. In the main though this trainer has a good approach I think and her tough ways do push me on despite the fact it’s just a voice on a DVD at the end of the day.

I’ll keep you updated as I progress with the sessions and when I move up a level. Funnily enough when I do the workout my aches and pains from horse riding (I can only now just about sit down comfortably) fade somewhat.

The problem I’m having now is when I sit down and rest and then get back up again, I feel like I have a heavy medicine ball between my legs stopping them moving properly or meeting together! The result is me waddling a tad duck-like along the road until the pain eases. Not a great look.

As the week progresses I hope the pain will subside and I’ve decided to carry on with the 30 Day Shred regardless for now. Only issue is just as the pain goes, I’ve got my next riding lesson on Sunday so it’s probably going to come right on back again…

Monday, 11 June 2012

3D - dull, dear and dire

This weekend I saw two pretty hyped films – Prometheus and Snow White & the Huntsman. One was watched through two pairs of glasses, the other through one. No I wasn’t dressed in fancy dress or going mad, I saw Prometheus in 3D (so with 3D specs on top of my own) and Snow White was watched in simple original format.

Over the years I’ve seen a variety of various 3D films – the first being a Michael Jackson video/short film at Epcot in America when I was about 7 in fact. More recently I’ve watched a few 3D films at home – Shrek and Final Destination, which isn’t really all that impressive when watched on a tiny TV like mine. The others include Saw and Toy Story. Of them all I would say I liked Toy Story the best to be honest. Overall – I think 3D is a waste of time.

Whenever I go to see a 3D film I spend the first few minutes adjusting to the screen and trying not to get a headache, then I sit there looking out for the 3D parts and propping the glasses up on my nose. By the end of the film I’m left wondering why so little was in 3D and why I paid so much for the privilege.

Granted, I have not seen a 3D film at the IMAX and maybe this is where I’m missing out and I don’t realise the true potential of this technology.

To me though 3D is just a waste of time, it just distracts you from the film itself and takes away from the storyline. On viewing both films this weekend I didn’t regret seeing Snow White without 3D since it was a good film in its own right. Prometheus on the other hand, I was pleasantly surprised with as it’s not really my type of film but I thought it was quite good (not as good as critics have suggested though!) The 3D in it? Not a lot and it didn’t add to my enjoyment – in fact the most 3D used seemed to be in the opening credits…

So what is our fascination nowadays with 3D? Why are they bringing out more films with this feature on it? The cinema in my mind is expensive enough for a basic ticket, let alone if you add on the 3D side of things and those ‘uber-attractive’ free plastic glasses.

Whilst viewing the trailers this weekend I also noted Katy Perry has a film coming out – in 3D of course? When I saw a film, it looks more like a documentary of her life and backstage at her concerts. Why? Who wants to see that apart from possibly pervy teenage boys?

As for 3D TVs, yes I know nowadays people have massive screens in their homes, but it’s never going to be as big as a cinema screen so how can you make the most of it. Distracted by all your bits and bobs in your lounge do you really get enjoyment and a sense of ‘being there’ when watching 3D telly in from the comfort of your armchair?

My view is pretty clear to see – 3D is a waste of time and if they want to make cinema more exciting they need to go back to the drawing board. Let’s leave 3D to those paper glasses with a red and blue lens in them you get free in cereal packets and leave it to the kids to enjoy. Don’t spoil my cinema experience by tacking it on to every big production coming out.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Horseriding week 1 in pictures

Horseriding Memories

For around five years when I was younger I went horse riding every Saturday morning. My parents kitted me out in jodhpurs, hat, crop and boots and I loved it.

That is until I moved to the latest class and got a scary teacher, became a teen and thought it was 'sad' to have a hobby and found myself too scared because the jumps we were doing were getting higher!

I came across some old photos from my riding days last night before my return to riding today (separate blog to follow), which made me giggle so I thought I'd share.


Melican goes riding...and survives!!

I am currently sitting down trying to stay as still as I possibly can and hoping I don't need to laugh or sneeze in the near future.

The reason being?

When I try to sit down I face such agony I don't want to risk aggravating any muscles and causing myself any more pain. I have what I think they refer to as 'saddle sores'.

This morning I did it. I got up early (well early for me!) on a Sunday morning and went horse riding. Funnily enough as I nodded off to sleep last night I was feeling excited about my little adventure and remembered various moves and exercises we used to do when I went as a child.

In typical me-style though as soon as I woke up this morning (numerous times before my alarm) I was panicking and feeling nervous. My hands were clammy and my legs were shaky.

I'd been round my parents yesterday to collect my riding hat - which remarkably still fits, my boots (sadly my legs are too big for them now) and my crop. I'd come home and found a pair of boots which I felt would be suitable and put together a brown leggings and pink polo shirt ensemble as my riding outfit.

Of course when I got up this morning I started to doubt my outfit, worried my boots wouldn't be right and felt petrified at the thought of getting on or off one of these huge animals.

Still I got on with it and before I knew it we were at my local riding school and I was signing the registration form. What did I think my riding ability was? Ride with stirrups, ride without stirrups, trot, canter, etc, etc, etc... I was worrying just about getting on so I simply ticked 'ride with stirrups' and nothing else.

My horse for the day was Guy, quite an old horse but of course huge, as the horses always were when I was young, being 5ft 11 you're never going to get a pony I know.

I hesitantly climbed up the steps of the block to get on the horse. My boyfriend was there and kindly said I looked fine. Well I know myself I was a wobbly worrying mess and it took me a good two attempts, nearly three to get my leg over and not worry about flinging myself straight over across the other side to the floor!

Finally on I tried to keep calm as my horse kept trying to move off and I realised I was wrong about beginners lessons for adults. No the reason they led you in beginners classes was because you were young and little and not because you were simply beginners. Nobody was leading us or holding our reins today. We were in charge of our own horse.

I also remembered my first few lessons being led round an indoor undercover arena - we walked past that. There was the outdoor sand area, we walked past that. We walked into a field. This I admit made me panic, what if the horse decided to gallop off? Nobody was holding me and controlling my horse if it did.

As you've probably guessed, we were fine. Our thirty minute lesson was taken by a lovely instructor. She encouraged us and let you know when you'd been doing well and what characteristics your horse had so you knew how best to work with them.

After a few circular laps of walking, we went into trotting, movements whilst trotting with your reins tied (ie touch your head, your hips, your knees), sitting trots (wow that hurts your bum!), riding without stirrups and sitting trotting without stirrups. And you know what? Once my nerves subsided I thoroughly enjoyed it. When the lesson ended it seemed to be over way too quick.

Of course my dismount was pretty comical too. One of the girls helping out led me over to some of the stables near the back and waited for me to jump off. Again two attempts to swing my leg over and then a very undignified jump down. Still at least I made it.

Then I even got to put Guy back in his stable and learn how to remove his bridle and loosen his saddle to allow him to get comfy whilst he rested.

I met my boyfriend beaming from ear to ear and then went over to the office to let them know I'd be back next week.

Yes my bottom was in agony, yes my legs ache, yes I kept sneezing from the horse hair and hayfever, but I still loved it.

I even felt so full of energy that I came back to the flat and did my workout DVD (for day 6 of the 30 day shred plan I am doing). After all I did have a day off yesterday to let my calves heal in prep for riding today.

However, I do regret my enthusiasm somewhat since I'm left so tired and achey tonight and I can just about sit down and no I'm not exaggerating. I'm hoping after sleeping tonight things will ease up for my workout in the morning before work as I can't really take another day's break from the shred plan.

So time to waddle off to bed and try and find a position to lie in which doesn't cause me to cry out in pain. If at this moment in time that's even possible...

Friday, 8 June 2012

Melican goes riding

Oh. My. Goodness.

Last week I was casually chatting about hobbies, bootcamps and things my friends were doing of late. I myself then started to ponder about the idea of getting a proper hobby again.

Cut to this week and my parents searching through their loft and my childhood belongings to find equipment for horseriding and me emailing enquiring about potentially going back to learn to ride again. My riding boots, hat and crop have been unearthed (although I've yet to try said boots and cap on).

Then today the deal has been sealed. Me and my friend will be at my local stables for a 1030am riding lesson this Sunday. IN TWO DAYS. As we've been before we may even get boosted up to the 'advanced' beginners class at 1130 in following weeks.

I hope they realise I have not been riding for something like 17 years and I am about as flexible as a brick wall. At the moment I'm trying to mentally block out visions of actually getting on or off the horse itself.

How I feel about all this is rather odd. A mix of emotions would definitely be appropriate. I'm super nervous, scared and worried of how it'll go and if I'm going to make a complete fool of myself or just become frozen with fright.

Yet on the other hand I'm kind of excited to take up something I used to so love, before I became a grumpy teen insistent on dropping the swimming and horseriding lessons and instead going to the cinema or hanging round the shops with schoolfriends.

There is a part of me that wants to go out and get all kitted up in jodhpurs, riding gloves, new boots and coat, but I shall refrain. After all if Sunday is a complete disaster I may well never want to see or talk about a horse again.

I just hope my friend takes pity on me and is sympathetic and I don't shame her too much as we're going together.

Who knows if I manage horseriding perhaps I'll finally get to Zumba too.

For now I'm just aiming to make it through the day without being ill from the gone-off milk I had earlier or collapsing in a heap as my achy muscles finally give up!

To be continued...

My first early morning workout!

Last night I jumping jacked, squatted, bicycle crunched and dripped with sweat for just over 20 minutes. Around 12 hours later I found myself doing it again.

Yes I'm back on my workout DVD and this time I'm trying to follow it strictly - i.e. do the '30 Day Shred' for thirty days straight. Today was day five.

Yesterday I found my legs ached, my arms ached and my bum ached - causing me to fidget in my chair all day at work to get comfortable! I then went home and forced myself to follow Jillian Michaels' shouting words of fitness wisdom (or so I hope). By the time I finished my calves were so tight they felt ready to burst.

Knowing I'm meant to be meeting an old work friend tonight I realised to fit the workout in today it'd need to be done in the morning. Something my boyfriend suggested a while back when I was considering this 30 days of hell.

Now I love my sleep and I get up at the last possible minute and eat breakfast at work to ensure the most amount of time possible in my cosy bed. The idea of getting up earlier and then jumping around and lifting weights does not appeal.

Last night as I went to bed I was hobbling my calves hurt so much. I was hoping they'd heal by this morning but I wasn't too optimistic. However my alarm went off a whole half hour early and I did it. I made myself get up out of bed and put my gym gear on.

I won't lie as the DVD started I started to wonder was I being a little silly as I still ached from yesterday and it was only around 12 hours ago I'd been in this exact position doing the same thing. But I looked out the window at how light it was, albeit raining and windy and felt pleased with myself for actually giving it a go.

The result?

Well I'm sat on the train into work trying to hide the loud gurgling noises my tummy is currently making. Hm maybe making time for breakfast too might've been a good idea before leaving the flat. Although getting up even earlier I'm really not sure I can commit too.

Still although my abs, arms, legs, bum, calves, thighs and back all ache like mad I do overall feel better for it. I feel wide awake and more alert than usual and I am proud of myself for doing it.

So 5 days down, 25 to go. You're meant to progress through the levels as you feel ready (I'm still on 1 out of 3 levels so far). By my estimates I could do each level for 10 days, although the thought of going up a level right now frightens me somewhat.

I've got a pretty busy day at work ahead now, so let's hope I make it through without falling asleep or collapsing and can enjoy my well deserved evening tonight.

As the weekend approaches I've got other concerns too. Will this aching stop in time for Sunday? Will I make it and survive without any injuries or embarrassment?....Oh sorry didn't I mention? I'm thinking about going back to horseriding again at our local stables.

I'm starting to wonder - am I committed to the cause or do I just need to be committed??

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Time to stop worrying and get on with it

Sitting here watching Big Brother programmes, relaxing after a busy Diamond Jubilee bank holiday weekend, I've started to ponder what would I say when asked for interesting facts about me?


To be honest I don't know. I blogged a long while back about all the hobbies you have when young, how they seem to drop as you age. This weekend I've really started to revisit these thoughts.

Let's be clear, I don't particularly want to be on Big Brother or compete with the sorts of people that tend to feature on the show.

I've had a lovely bank holiday Diamond Jubilee weekend, consisting of a Jubilee themed BBQ, cinema visit, shopping, lots of meals and catching up with friends and family. I've also been asked a few times about starting new hobbies or discussed abandoned plans to do more fitness and exercise.

When at work sometimes I feel other colleagues have more exciting plans than me in the evenings, they always seem to do more than me. I get teased a lot by friends and family for being out all the time and drinking too much. Now in my mind I don't think I do much.

This weekend I think I've realised the problem. I feel like I don't do much because I often do the same thing. Aside from writing this blog I don't have a hobby or interest as such that I have to enjoy in my own time. It's fine to go out drinking or enjoying new food, but that can't be all you're about.

I love to read and go on holiday, or see new films or go to music gigs. Again fine, but can they really be called real interests?

Some friends have invited me to attend Zumba classes or weekend body bootcamps. I've spoken about wanting to go out running more with my boyfriend. Then a friend mentioned horseriding and something seemed to click. I am finally actually seriously considering it. Whether it's because I've been reminded of previous interests or of being young who knows.

My boyfriend also teases me about worrying too much and being scared all the time. This weekend I've really been thinking about this too.

Are my fears stopping me from living life to the full? Is it time I man up and stop being a wuss? Is it time to stop being scared and embrace things a little more? Do I need to just get on with it? Should I take my own advice, when I used to say to my man stop talking about things and get on and do things? Forget if I'm going to be good or bad at something, am I going to look stupid, are people going to judge me. How about just trying things first?

Of late I've been a little accident prone and so now may not be the best of times to suddenly grasp this approach and change attitude! However I've already decided to get my fitness and healthy eating on track, whilst still trying to enjoy socialising and eating out. I've decided to follow my workout DVD challenge of the 30 Day Shred and do it everyday and try to stick to it. I'm on day two so far.

Who knows how I'll do and what I decide to start doing, but I'll keep you posted on here and who knows it could make for some interesting blog posts...