Sunday, 28 July 2013

Bookworm: Close My Eyes by Sophie McKenzie

I picked this latest read from the Richard & Judy Summer Reads list, they normally pick some good options. 

Reviews I had seen suggested this story was full of twists and turns and so I decided to give it a go.

The main storyline focuses around Geniver whose is trying to move on and try again after her baby is stillborn. She suddenly gets a visitor who suggests all is not as it seems and there could have been more to the ordeal than the grieving mother thought.

Close my Eyes then tells the tale as Geniver discovers and uncovers more details about her life and those in it.

I was looking forward to the twists in the story, but as usual I started to guess at things and pretty early on was convinced that I knew what was going to happen. I hoped it wasn't that obvious.

Thankfully there are lots of twists and turns so you can't guess them all. Even at the end when you think you know what's happening another surprise comes in.

However, that said certain parts I felt were far fetched and getting a little ridiculous. 

I liked the book and felt gripped by it, but I do think some of it could have been written and handled better.

Good points
Addictive read
Twists and turns
Something a bit different

Not so great
Some bits obvious/predictable 
At times unrealistic 

Whether you should read this book is ultimately up to you, but for the faults listed overall I did enjoy reading this book. At the end some points left me a bit disappointed, but then a final punch at the very end delivered and I was left impressed again.

Level three of the 30 day shred

So today I tried level three. I vaguely remember looking at it and attempting parts of it once back when I first bought the DVD over a year ago.

Today I had to do it properly and get used to the fact I'll be doing it every day now for the next ten days.

When you move from level one to level two it feels a huge leap. Moving to level 3? Totally different again.

It's good in that you can see why you've done certain moves in the other two levels, to get you ready for this last level.

However some moves I just couldn't do. Even the warm up is tougher doing previous cardio moves just as a warm up! I was scared what was coming next.

How about walking planks? Yep get in plank position and then one side at a time come up from your forearm onto your hands, come down then the other side. Ouch! I found this very hard. Clearly my core needs a lot more work.

When Jillian said by now you should be starting to see a six pack I was not impressed. I've seen good results so far on paper but I'm a long way from a six pack! Granted I'm not following HER diet to be fair.

Brushing that comment aside I was met with a whole host of fun moves...

Travelling push ups
Arm row and leg raise whilst in plank
Side plank
Jumping squats
Rock star jumps
Cardio whilst holding weights (such as boxing and star jumps!)

Overall the workout itself seemed to go very quickly time wise, but the moves you had to do at the time were tough and I feel I probably missed all the full number of repetitions as I couldn't keep up. 

Hopefully as with the other levels I'll just grow stronger and get used to it. Lets hope so! 

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Day 20: ten days to go!

Twenty days down, ten to go.

So how am I finding this workout plan this far down the line?

At times this week I've wanted to kill Jillian Michaels I am so tired and achey and feel I can't give anymore.  Then I complete a workout and feel great and can feel areas toning up and I worship her!

The last couple of days I will admit I've found tough. My muscles are just so tight, doing exercise continuously for this long really does push you and I am feeling very stiff and tired as a result. Some days I go to the DVD and my achilles, shoulders and abs are so tight I think I'm never going to do it.

However the American trainer is right once you train your body and push it to adapt you feel better and you feel stronger about lots of things you can achieve.

It goes to show you can do workouts when you're still feeling the pain from the day before. And being 20-25 minutes in duration you finish just when you do feel like you're about to pass out! 

So this morning I had a major lie in.I have been feeling very tired this week. I did my workout DVD and boy was it tough. You know you're feeling it when the warm up is killing you!

However before doing it I needed a push and realising it was day 20 and I could measure some results I jumped on the scales and took out my tape measure.

You can see the results for yourself in the picture below. What better motivation than that?! 

Now though I'm at the next stage, well the final stage. The last 10 days. Tomorrow I need to move on to level three. I'm scared.

Scared how tough this is going to be and can I do it. Also scared how jumpy it is as my neighbours (who we know like to moan about my jumping about!) are going to react... 

It's just ten days though and if I can get even more results by final day it'll all be worth it.

Yes I ache it but I'm healthier and fitter for it overall. I've been better this week on my diet, I've had no alcohol and eaten healthy every day.

I wasn't too bad last week but did have some alcohol on both Saturday and Sunday and ate out Saturday night (I did try to pick healthier options though) and had a picnic on Sunday (although that was pretty healthy).

Let's hope this hard work and commitment continues to pay off. I need all the strength and motivation I can get to make it through level three! 

Monday, 22 July 2013

15 days in: half way there!

Today marks my fifteenth day on my workout/healthy eating plan.

I'm half way through! Only another fifteen days to go now. I'm half way through the overall workout and after doing five days of level two I'm also half way through this next level.

Which means next up is level three... Level three which I vaguely remember trying once before a long time ago. I'm kind of nervous I have to admit.

Yes it's a workout DVD, yes I could not do it, yes I can turn it off if it gets too much. Right?

Wrong. Jillian Michaels is amazing and this is why I love her workout DVD. I don't stop, I don't give up. I really listen to her when she says speed up, keep on going, squat deeper, do those jumping jacks wider, do those 'high knees' higher. 

I only allow myself a five second break as she allows and only then if I feel like I'm on the verge of an asthma attack/passing out! 

So how has it been? As you know this is the first time I've attempted to follow the plan all the way through. 

I've followed a strict healthy diet for 13 of the 15 day so far. This is because this weekend I indulged in some alcohol and ate out. Although even then I've tried to be sensible with the food.  

So far I've lost six pounds in weight and my body shape does seem to be changing.

I have good and bad days, some days I'm tired from work, some days my muscles are still aching from the day before. However, so far I have managed to stick at it every day and no matter how I've felt before or during the DVD I've felt so good on completion...if a little sweaty in this current weather! 

Now I've made it half way and I'm determined to make it through the other half. When I've been fed up from work or had plans I need to stick to this workout has helped boost my mood and fits in easily with my time.

I am just really scared now what level three has in store, particularly since the leap from level one to level two is so huge! 

So 15 days down, 15 to go! 

Friday, 19 July 2013

Bookworm: Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

Granted this book is pretty short, but I've  finished it in just a few days this week.

I saw the film when it came out and was a bit worried it was going to be like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. A film I am torn between liking and just not really getting it.

Of course seeing Mr Cooper features was a big swaying point for me! 

I liked the film but did find it a bit odd at times and when it first started I didn't quite get it. The book is much clearer.

Recently I bought the film on DVD so will definitely re-watch it now I've read the book.

In this fictional piece, we're taken into the world of Pat Peoples as he comes out of a mental health facility, desperate to prove he's well and a better man. Mostly to make sure he can get back with his adored wife Nikki. Nikki who can do no wrong.

The book was good as it's written in a style which cleverly conveys Pat's mind and life approach - something which I found I read very quickly. However it also puts hints in so you know what's actually going on. 

I liked the twists and turns in the book and the introduction of Tiffany. 

I did feel at times having seen the film spoilt points for me as I was picturing Bradley Cooper and Jeniffer Lawrence as the lead characters, when in books I like to make my own picture in my mind. In turn I kind of feel was Bradley Cooper a bit mis-cast for the role as he's not who I'd imagine when picturing Pat in this book.

One thing I loved was the emotions in this story - parts that make you sad, make you laugh, confuse you, make you think.

I think it's a good way to look at mental health too.

Good points
Likeable characters
Strong theme
Brings a mix of emotions

Not so great
Feels a bit crammed into too short a book perhaps?
Sometimes confusing 

On comparing the book and film I have to say if anything the book has made me like the overall story more. Pat would be pleased he got a happy ending! 

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Bookworm: One Hundred Names by Cecilia Ahern

If my last read made the reader feel a bit down, this book is definitely the tonic.

The perfect follow up to an emotionally draining read, One Hundred Names is a real feel-good tale.

Focussing on journalist Kitty Logan, the fictional story follows her journey as she tries to piece together the ultimate story her recently deceased best friend and colleague wanted to write. 

All she has are a list of 100 names and she needs to find out what connects them and what is the story. 

As is typical with Ahern, there are tough times and emotional tales to tell, but of course all must come good and have a happy ending. 

Yes some points may be cheesy and far fetched, but overall this is a lovely book to pick up your spirits and get you thinking of what's really important in life.

Good points
Feel good read
Easy read
Interesting characters
Leaves you guessing (what the link is)

Not so great
Often unrealistic/cheesy
Clever link but not as dramatic as people might have been expecting 

I have often liked books by this writer before for their feel good factor and heart warming approach and yet again Ahern hasn't failed to deliver!

Monday, 15 July 2013

Shock to the system

Today is going to be day eight of thirty.

Today is Monday which means time to weigh myself.

I've had two shocks as a result of the Thirty Day Shred and my diet. I got a shock this morning when I got on the scales (and weighed myself again). 

My body has also clearly had a shock from this workout routine and eating well. 

I've seen results!

After looking at last week's figures/my starting weight, body fat and BMI so far I've managed to achieve:

Body fat down 1.1%
BMI down 0.8%
Weight down 5.2lbs

Now you can see why I stepped back on the scales!

I'm doubtful this will occur every week, but for now this is great, just the boost I need to push on and know this is doing me good and will get results. Never mind the fact I feel a lot better for it health wise (well, apart from my sore left knee this morning!) 

My next challenge will be on Thursday, when I'll need to make the move to level two...

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Seven days in - the thirty day shred

It's Sunday morning and I'm set for another day of relaxing in the sunshine and working on my tan. 

However before I got to have a refreshing shower and get into my bikini I had something I had to do first. My workout DVD.

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm trying to complete my Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred workout DVD. In this, the American personal trainer claims you can lose up to 20lbs in weight (if you follow the workout DVD and her recommended food plan).

I'm not following Michaels' diet as it seems to pretty much reflect a healthy diet, something which I'm trying to follow myself so don't want to go down any fad shortcut diet routes. 

The idea of this plan is to get me back on track and not get a quick fox solution which sees me then putting everything back on within weeks!

Anyway, I'll get back to the point. How is it going? 

I'm now seven days in. I have done the workout on level one for seven days straight and I've eaten healthily (including no booze) for seven days now.

Today I'm off to a BBQ at my parents but  I'm having salad with my meat anyway and not drinking alcohol so it's not really going to be that much off 'plan'. 

So far I've found I need to learn some patience and not expect results too quickly and I will try remember this at weigh in. Something else I'm debating whether to stick to my usual Monday morning weigh in or to for the sake of this plan weigh myself every ten days (as I complete each level).

I'm finding the DVD is becoming a habit now and not so much a chore to do and as I'm used to the level one workout I'm finding it feels like I'm completing it so much more quickly. 

I do ache though. Right now it's my achilles and my shoulders in the main. From prior experience I know it's going to be my abs that burn when I move onto level two.

I'm finding once I start doing the workout most of my aches I forget about and I can complete it. I'm interested to see if I'll feel the same come level two though.

Right now I guess you could say it's going well. I'm a tad achey, but that's good because to me it signifies hard work and I seem to be sticking to my healthy eating too and feeling so much better for it.

I feel so much more alert for the increased water intake, but the constant visits to the bathroom at night are pretty annoying (4 times the other night waking me up!) 

It is helping knowing my boyfriend is eating healthy and doing Insanity too I must admit. 

For now I'll keep at it and keep you posted! 

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Control freak

Those that know me well will not be surprised to hear me label myself as a bit of a control freak.

I love to be in control, whether in my personal life or at work.

This often causes me problems.

I get very frustrated and down when I don't have control and things are out of my control and can't be fixed quickly or within a reasonable time.

I am one of those To Do list people, but I want to tick off that list every day and not have long term items that I have to rely on others for. Not a fan. 

Therefore of late I have been a tad down, frustrated, angry etc because lots of things I want to control but can't. 

In turn I've been 'letting my hair down' a tad too much and have let my healthy eating and exercise slip.

Last week I had loads of junk food - burgers, a Chinese, chocolate, cakes etc and I had just one day where I exercised. Topped up with lots of booze. 

The result? Over the last few weeks I've put on weight and am now feeling flabby, tired and a failure. 

So on Sunday night I decided enough is enough and I have to start taking control.

And where is the true area I can do this?

With my diet and exercise of course.

Hence I am now being strict with my food and drink intake, now on Day 4 (Thursday) and I am ensuring I regularly exercise.

Knowing I was on the 'late shift' this week (7pm finish) I knew I needed to be realistic. I also knew that I needed to do something different with my exercise as my spinning routine was becoming exactly that - too routine and the same thing.

My body needed a shock.

So although I wanted to do Insanity, I knew my downstairs neighbours would not be so keen with all the jumping etc. And so I am where I am now.

Doing the 30 Day Shred Jillian Michaels DVD. I've blogged about this before and how good the workout is for such a short (20 minutes) DVD to do at home.

I've never done it for the whole 30 days though and have always used it as an exercise to do when I miss spin or can't be bothered with the gym or the weather outside is no good for a run.

I'm currently on day four (technically I did it on Sunday and it's day five, but I ate bad so am not counting it!) 

I am finding it hard to stick to the healthy eating as the sun is making me crave ice cream and barbecues! The exercise has been a pain once I get in from work past 830pm and am starving for my dinner.

However I find if I push myself I feel better for it after.

I've also decided to try blog about it on here to try and share my thoughts, progress and hopefully results. 

Here's to getting shredded! 

As Jillian says Don't Give Up Unless You're Puking Fainting or Dying.

Here's goes...

Bookworm: The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman

What a sad tale.

I picked this book as it seemed to offer something different - set in the past and about a boat that turns up with a dead man in it and a crying baby.

Not your typical read.

What I didn't bargain on is the emotional rollercoaster it would take me on. 

All about right and wrong, love and decisions, this book is very powerful and stays with you.

I loved the fact how sad it was and also hated the fact at the same time, as it can be quite draining at times. 

You totally lose yourself in it though. Numerous times I've been reading it on the train or in bed and lost track of time, whizzing past stations or shocked by the time when checking the clock. A sign of a good book.

I left the book still unsure how I feel about the main characters - Isabel, Hannah and Tom - and in fact many others.

This is because the book really tugs the heart strings and makes you question what is really right or wrong.

Good points
Good escapism
Makes you think
Something different 

Not so good
Pretty depressing 
Leaves you unsure/unable to reach a conclusion as to who is right/what is right 

Overall I would recommend this book, granted I am a sucker for sad books and many would find this far too draining - even I did at times).

If you fancy something different and don't mind your heart strings pulled at and your morals questioned then this is a good pick!