Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Quick And Easy Tenderstem Broccoli With A Bang

Ah, the classic tenderstem broccoli. Healthy, nutritious and...earthy.
It is no surprise to anyone I know that when they look in my fridge they will always be guaranteed to find cheese, chillis and some variation of broccoli. I eat enough of the stuff to keep a green grocers in business, and when I came back from a very unhealthy week in New York, the only thing I wanted to eat was a bowl of broccoli (which I did, FYI. My jetlagged arse hauled itself to the local shop to grab broccoli's before shuffling home, cooking it all up and getting in to bed before falling fast asleep in a ball). 
However, it can sometimes get a bit samey, so I have created a few tricks to spice it up.
For this super easy recipe, you will need a handful of tenderstem broccoli, some cooking oil and some garlic salt.
For this recipe, I use stir fry oil, but that's just because i'm too lazy to go buy some normal stuff. 

Cooking time: 20 minutes
Ingredients: tenderstem broccoli, cooking oil, garlic salt

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees (electric oven) and chuck the pan in to warm up along with the oven.
2. Once the oven is up to temperature, arrange the broccoli on the tray before lightly drizzling the oil over the broccoli, followed by copious amounts of garlic salt.
3. Pop the tray back in the oven for ten minutes before removing from the oven.
4.Turn the broccoli over and return to oven for a further ten minutes. 
5. Voila, your broccoli is done and ready to eat. 

And there we go; Jamie Oliver, eat your heart out.

Monday, 12 March 2018

The problem with social media is...?

If you asked ten people what their biggest gripe with social media is, you will probably get five different answers, minimum. ‘Fake’ people, false advertising, Photoshop, the answers are endless.
I have previously mentioned my gripe with people selling stuff on social media, and people selling ‘skinny’ teas which make you sit on the toilet for two hours praying for it to end are definitely high on the list. That is my general gripe.
But, as this is a fitness blog and I haven’t done a fitness post in a while, this is about my biggest gripe in the fitness world; unqualified people telling you unqualified things. Example? A Z lister trying to sell her young and impressionable followers ‘vitamins’ which will make them drop 3 dress sizes in two weeks. Now, unless she has discovered the holy grail of all fitness weight loss tactics, these followers will be paying for nothing more than what you can locate in your local Boots, but these tablets will most likely contain laxatives (see above about what these will leave you doing), which will make you drop water weight for a few days and dehydrate you senseless.
Next example? Meal guides (obviously, you also have to buy their ‘skinny’ shakes too) from another z-lister who was encouraging her fans to join her in a ‘detox’ before Christmas (FYI folks, your organs detox you , stop buying the detox juices. Put them down. Save yourself £5. You’re welcome). Now, not only is the idea of a detox outrageous, her calorie value for this was under 1000 calories a day. Less than 1000 calories. Not only will you be hungry, but you’ll be tired, sluggish and pile the weight back on as soon as you return to normal eating, thanks to your body thinking it was being starved. Dr Hazel Wallace is a fantastic advocate of calling out the bullshit, and I fully recommend anyone who doesn’t follow her should look up 1. Her and 2. Her book.
It’s not just has been celebrities who are peddling these things, but companies too. Step in Cute Nutrition, you hideous company you. Take a bow, and stay down. Cute Nutrition came under fire recently from Alice Liveing for encouraging their users to have, once again, less than 1,000 calories on their 2 shake and one (terrible) meal a day plan. A company was actually advocating starving yourself. If that doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable that a company is encouraging us to starve ourselves so they can up the sale of their shakes, then I don’t know what will.
Not only did Cute Nutrition bury their ugly heads in the sand when they were first challenged on their guide, they then gave a very sarcastic response to Alice about nutrition. For those of you not in the know, Alice is a kick arse PT, who knows her thing on nutrition (follow her too for some inspiration ladies, she’s super). Not so cute now hey?
So, this is the crux of it. My issue with social media is; little to no knowledge being used as gospel. We live in a society whereby we can access social media at our fingertips, and surf to our hearts content whilst laying in bed, sitting on the bus going to work, or whilst in the gym (sorry Luke). We are so desperate to fit in to the new ‘normal’ that we would rather spend £30 to shit out all our fluids instead of approaching a professional and assessing how best we can improve our health for the long term.
Work in a building with several sets of stairs? Walk ‘em. Treat yourself to three chocolate biscuits with your cuppa? Drop it to one, or replace it with something a lil bit healthier, like my own homemade take on the Nakd bars
What you shouldn't do, however, is scroll through the fake reality that is social media looking for the next quick fix, which will just leave you needing to purchase toilet roll a hell of a lot quicker.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Little Steps To Save The Planet

Unless you've been living as a recluse this past 6 months, you will have seen a snippet of Blue Planet II floating around on the Internet / on your tv / in newspapers (David Attenborough call me, I love you). 
In one particularly harrowing episode, we saw the impact of plastic on our ocean and the animals which reside in it. Many animals in the sea have poor eyesight, and will end up swallowing bits of plastic whilst mistaking them for their food. Ever seen a rescuer trying to pull straws out of a turtles nostrils? Or seen a penguin wrapped up in stray plastic? It's not pretty, and it's given many people (including me) the kick up the backside that they needed to start reviewing how they can be planet warriors. Now, i'm not saying that you need to sign up to some extremist group which ties themselves to bits of the landscape, but below are some pretty simple steps to help save the planet, and the cute little animals which live in it. 

1. Re-use 
Our need for convenience has seen us wasting excessive amounts of plastic over the past decade, in the form of straws, plastic food boxes and plastic cups from various outlets. Starbucks are starting to roll out a charge on all plastic cups, and many places are starting to offer to fill up water bottles for people, instead of people buying several plastic bottles a week. 
I have recently converted from using plastic single use straws, to purchasing some re-usable ones off Amazon for a few pounds. The same goes for bottles; with places like TK-Maxx and Home Sense selling great metal bottles which look great and keep your water super cold for hours (David, please be impressed). 

2. Make use of the labels 
I get it, you're rushing around trying to cook dinner, with one eye on the clock to be able to sit down in time for your favourite tv show that you've been counting down to since the episode last week (or a few hours before, I'm not judging). 
There are several things that can (and can't) go in to that magical green bin that sits by the side of your house, and it's important to check the labels before throwing things in. 
And whilst you're there with throwing things in, make sure they're clean before they go in. Yes, that does mean rinsing off your turkey mince tub before trotting out in the dark in your pyjamas before parading the bin out for the bin men the next morning. 
Even if your green bin can't take the products, you may live near a recycling centre which takes more products. 
One of my earliest jobs from my mum was to take the glass bottles to the ASDA car park on a weekend morning, whilst awkwardly jumping to try and reach the correct holes in the container. If a teenage me can do it whilst in some disgusting Converse and hideous shorts, then you can too. 

3. Who turned out the lights?
You ever walk past an office block late at night and wonder who could possibly be working at that time? Or are the lights just on because they weren't turned off?
Whilst you may not be able to go in to the office block and turn out all those lights (you may get frowned upon by the security of the office if you try and do this, and I'm not responsible for this, folks), what you can do will save you some pennies as well as helping the planet. 
Light pollution is a strong factor in global warming, and it is something that we can make a massive difference in slowing down. 
Instead of leaving lights on, or dimmed, turn them out when you leave the room. I live in a townhouse, and will often cook my dinner in the kitchen in between running upstairs to binge watch my tv or draft blog posts. The downside? I would often leave the kitchen light on as I knew I would be back down in 20 minutes to check on my next creation in the oven (Gordon Ramsay, I love you too. You can also call me). 
I am also a massive candle hoarder, and I feel like I should probably own shares in The White Company by now. Now, it may be because work is super stressful and I enjoy the scent of 'wild mint' as much as the next person, but I have spent a lot of time recently lighting some candles to get me in the mood for the next murder series on Netflix. 

And there we have it, my top three tips on how you can start to help good old Mother Nature, and have a polar bear cheering you on in the process.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Banishing Debbie Downer

Now, I don't know about you, but I am my worst critic. The worst of worst critics. Think of that horrrible short man on Masterchef who always pulls apart everyones food, and that is me. 
That inner Debbie Downer is one mean cow, and boy does she like to be vocal. 
She's there every time you catch a heel in a pavement crack wilst rushing to work. She's there when you cave and get a Fat Friday at work (fish and chips, i'm lookin' at you), and she's definitely there at night when you're trying to catch some zzz's. 
However, I am on the quest to banish Debbie to the cupboard unde the stairs and firmly wedging a chair under the door. We are all so critical of ourselves that we begin to trust these thoughts, and ignore all the postive phrase which comes our way from friends, colleagues and your nan. 
In a bid to not spend my nights in a cold sweat going over the time I waved to soeone who was waving to the lady behind me. 
2018 is the year that I am instilling some ground rules for me and Debbie in 2018. 

1. Stop dragging up the past, Debbie. 
No matter how much we may want to, we can't change the past. 
Have a really great comeback which you wish you used when the office dragon belittled you in front of your office crush? Take a breath and chuck it in the fuck it bucket (or save it for when she comes at you again, you do you), but do not dwell on it. 

2. Cut yourself some slack. 
So, you ran 5km and hit your new personal best. You're feeling good, better than good even. Those endorphins are carrying you on their backs, and you feel great relish in smugly telling Janet at the printer about it whilst sipping your green tea. 
"Oh that's great" Janet beams, guzzling on her triple shot, extra hot skinny caramel latte "I can do it in x." 
Was that the sound of your endoprhins throwing you off their backs and running away screaming? Or just the sound of your heart shattering? 
You see, smug Janet does in fact enjoy the odd triathlon. Her idol is 'the quicker Brownlee' and she has a weekly balance to blow on Sweaty Betty. She enjoys brunching 'with the girls' and goes to weekly spin classes with Susan from accounts. You return to your desk, dispondant and scowling at your green tea. 
Forget about smug Janet for a second and focus back on you, you who have just smashed your PB. Stop looking at others and their journeys, you are not on the same path as them, and you are doing the best that you can. 

3. Pick some realistic goals. 
It's all well and good deciding you want to set some goals, but if that goals in to run a marathon in 8 weeks whilst wearing your Adidas NMD's with 0 training behind you, then you're going to end up bitterly dissapointed when you collapse at mile 8 with what feels like your aorta rupturing. You find yourself on the floor, screaming at the paramedics that you'll be okay if they could just source you some Jelly Babys - you saw this on a questionable blog which you have since taken that as a solid enough reason to buy 20 packets. 
You need to make your target SMART (See, my Business Studies degree wasn't a total waste); 
Agreed upon 
Time orientated 

4. It's okay to have set-backs. 
Just because you didn't go to the gym for a week doesn't mean that you're going to lose all of the training that you did, the same way that having a pizza isn't going to make you pile on the pounds from 'bad' food. 
You are allowed to have time to yourself, and time to enjoy yourself also. You might see those fitness people on Instagram smashing a salad on Christmas Day, but that's up to them, and it's not a reflection on you if you don't do the same. Life doesn't always work the way in which you planned, and if a hot date asks you out to an Italian restaurant on the night you were due to go to the gym and train legs; just ask yourself this - what will I be having as my main ; lasagne or pizza?

Monday, 19 February 2018

The rise of the Flexitarian

"Isn't being a flexitarian just cheating at being vegetarian?" was my first thought after reading about being a Flexitarian; however with 37% of households cutting out processed meat (Nielsen,2015) and 29% of evening meals not containing any meat products from the 12 weeks before January in the UK (Kantar, 2018), I can see why it holds sway over those who don't want to cut out meat entirely. 

Since January, I have shifted from having chicken for every dinner meal (really - every. single. meal. Unless I was being fancy, and having steak of course), to moving towards either having fish, a meat substitute such as Quorn, or a vegetable alternative. This isn't because of any documentary on Netlfix, or any magazine article which told me I had three years left to live as I ate meat and drank milkshakes, this was simply because I was bored of my food choices and decided to throw a load of new items in my basket whilst food shopping. 

Don't get me wrong, my favourite restaurant in the world is a meat restaurant, and I like nothing more than a KFC or a meat feast pizza whilst sitting hungover in my pyjamas on a Saturday evening; but I am enjoying trying out new things whilst still not venturing near salmon, prawns or tofu. 

It's hard to miss the constant stream of mis-information coming from magazines, tv shows and social media outlets, with each source giving conflicting information on the health risks associated with eating meat, what type of meat you shouldn't be eating, and whether you're killing the planet (and a pig) whilst you tuck in to your bacon sandwich. 
I tend to strongly avoid any health documentaries which aren't looking at the pros and cons for a diet, which is precisely why I have never bought in to the Netflix shows What the Health and Cowspiracy. It's very easy to manipulate facts to serve your own cause, with Dr Hazel Wallace of the Food Medic slamming What The Health in a conference for it's outright dangerous message that it was sending to the masses. 

I, for the most part, only eat meat with my dinners a few times a week now, and will happily silent cheer myself for not eating meat every night of the week whilst trying to navigate what fish I can and cannot eat without gagging. This isn't for any particular health reason, although I have seen several studies documenting the correlation (not causation) of red meats and certain types of cancers such as bowel (this has been commented on by Cancer Research UK, as the bowel and colon cannot break down certain types of meat very well, which can (but doesn't always) cause bacteria build up in that area). My views are, as always my own, and if I still want to eat chicken fajitas mid-week, then I damn well will. If I want to eat a broccoli and stilton bake, then I will happily munch away whilst not feeling like something is 'missing' from the plate.

We, as a nation, are becoming increasingly aware of what we eat and how that food got to our plates, and for some people, that is not something they can handle or be a part of full stop, which is fine. I, for one, am educating myself in where my meat comes from, and I am now far more selective of what meat I purchase than a few years ago when I first started university (although, saying that, my diet did mostly contain pizza, new potatoes and the occasional carrot).

People can be a flexitarian for many reasons; health, diet, meal variety, partner/friend diets are all reasons in which people are turning away from meat, and several scandals involving horse meat within the UK readymeal distribution a few years ago saw the sales of ready meals fall off a cliff, as parents rushed to promise their children they hadn't eaten Scooby the Shetland pony who they hadn't seen in a few months.
Being classed as a flexitarian gives you the opportunity to ease yourself in to less meat dominated meals, whilst avoiding the raised eyebrows of your colleagues as you bring a Big Mac in to the office, whilst swearing blind just a month ago that you were becoming vegetarian this year as part of your new years resolution - who sticks to them anyway??


Tuesday, 13 February 2018

2018 : The year of being broken but fabulous

Now, you may read the title of this post and laugh out loud - I did when I drafted it. I was trying to think of poetic and graceful ways to explain my current situation, but then I would only be lying to myself. 
I spend so long trying to adjust my frame for photos so that no one can see the real me; I don't mean giving myself a bigger appearing bum, or sucking in enough to feel like I'm going to pass out, but by twisting my body in such a way that I can hide my scoliosis. It wasn't until recently that I realised I was doing it, and I laughed out loud at myself in the gym changing room, watching as I managed to get myself looking (mostly) straight. 
When I was younger after my accident, I had an encounter in a changing room where I had to get my cousins husband to come in and confirm to me that he couldn't "see my hip" in the shirt I liked. He swore blind he couldn't, but a part of me niggled away, telling myself that he was lying to make me feel better. 
We have become so fixated by the 'perfect body' through the use of social media that it is getting to the point where there are apps for everything - want clearer skin in an image? You can have it. Want to have an hourglass shape? Sure, however be careful not to have a Photoshop fail. 
So, 2018 is going to be a new start. Not a quest for a bigger bum, or a flatter stomach or slimmer thighs, but a quest for being broken but fabulous. 
Our bodies are diverese, and they are strong and they are capable. We are so lucky to have bodies that can work, but we don't appreciate them for what they are until we lose it. We become so fixated on what we want to become next, that we don't look at what we are doing now. 
There is more to life than slogging away for several hours in the gym, before taking enough selfies to clog up the memory on your phone. There is also a lot more to life than scrutinising the images to death - you could probably find faults with the Mona Lisa if you looked for long enough. But do people do that? No, they stand in front of that painting and "damn, what a banging painting - look at that painting". 
Tonight, instead of being at the gym exercising on a niggling injury, I am sat in my fluffy pyjamas binge watching Luther whilst cooking up my dinner (the only healthy part of which is the broccoli), before sliding in to bed to continue on the marathon with some chocolate. It's time we stopped seeing ourselves as machines pushing for the next physical upgrade, and start enjoying what we already have.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Review // Nikki Blackketter season 2

There are many things I enjoy in life; my dog bopping me for attention, a large box(es) of Hotel Chocolat chocolate, and decent gym wear which doesn’t flash my backside to the world through rubbish material.
Step in the season 2 Nikki B range.
As I mentioned in another post, I hopped off to Covent Garden for the release of the season 1 line of Nikki B back in the summer. I fell in love with the colour and the shape the leggings gave me – I did not fall in love with the sheer compression or the price, however. (Ergo, I had to wiggle furiously to get in to the leggings which I felt was a workout in itself).
When season 2 was announced, I was slightly wary. Would I be stuck shimmying my way around my bedroom whilst trying to get in to them? Would they be sheer like the flex leggings were?
Still, those worries clearly didn’t bother me that much as I was online at 2:55pm eagerly hitting the refresh button on the Gymshark site. I had decided against the bright print leggings of the range, purely for the reason that they were £5 more expensive, and didn’t seem to suit some of the models as much as others.
After watching a few videos, I purchased the light blue leggings in a small, and the sports bra in a medium. They were delivered pretty quickly, which is always hit and miss with Gymshark, and I excitedly skipped home with them to try on before heading out to the gym (note the nightmare I had with the sheer flex leggings? Yeah, wasn’t in private that I noticed they were sheer – it’s safe to say I daren’t return to my gym for a while, for fear of being ‘the flasher’).

First thing to mention is the material. I don’t know what they changed within this version of the leggings, but they are thankfully so much stretchier than the previous line, meaning I’m not left bright red by the end of it. The leggings do however appear to be longer than all of my other leggings. My legs are not short by any means, but I found myself having an excess amount of material down by my shins which required pulling from time to time. I am happy to confirm however that these are definitely squat proof (I checked in the mirror, and then got someone else to check whilst I dropped it low), and they seem to be pretty sweat proof too – okay, so I didn’t sweat that much when I exercised in them, but they did well, so I am giving it a plus. 

I always find it hard to talk about sports bras on here, as my breasts are not the ones I was born with, and were enhanced a few years ago. This usually doesn’t have an impact on my bra choices, however with tight material such as the Adidas sports bras, I find myself having to push my implant down, or readjust every so often. Usually I don’t buy sports bras online, as my size changes so much from brand to brand, that I don’t like to risk it. However, due to the colour of my very fancy new leggings, I decided to treat myself, and give it a ‘hope and pray’ tap to the screen before ordering.
Now, this may be because of the above, but I find the sports bra doesn’t tend to sit correctly, meaning I can only do certain weight training exercises whilst wearing it. I’m not sure if it’s the overlay design, but I find myself constantly having to check myself between each set or each sprint, which I fear is nudging me towards another nickname within the gym. I picked a medium for cup size, however in the back I do find it quite slippy. I am a UK 8/10, with a 32 size back, and I found that I had to keep pulling the top half of the back down to support me, which is no fun when you’re trying to do bent over rows.

Overall, I am pretty pleased with my purchases. The material is definitely much improved on this range, and they offer a very flattering fit whilst not making you feel like you’re about to lose blood supply to your limbs. I probably wouldn’t buy another sports bra of this design again, just due to the limiting nature of the style.
The order basket came to £85, which is definitely above my weekly budget, but I like to think these will make me run faster – maybe.