Monday, 30 May 2016

Review // Lean In 15

Unless you've been living under a rock, Joe Wicks and his book Lean In 15 have been taking the media world by storm. 
I have to admit, I have been slowly stock piling more and more healthy eating books to try and break my routine of eating the same thing day in, day out. 
I ordered Lean In 15 from Amazon and gleefully began to start sticking coloured labels on to recipe upon recipe. 
One thing that I love about this book is that Joe takes the time to explain what sort of fats are good for you (there's none of this 'avoid every fat, every carb' business to be found here! He also gives a neat little list of 'essentials' to have in your cupboard at all times, whilst telling you to bin the 'sad steps'. 
The amount of times I've looked in a book and been baffled by an ingredient has been staggering, and I am happy to report that this isn't the case with this book - I managed to find everything in my local supermarket and it was all reasonably priced - no extortionate liquid gold truffle! 
The recipes' are easy to follow with clear instructions - one thing I would say is that the portions come up quite big, so I tend to decrease the volume ever so slightly, but that is literally my only complaint! 
If you're looking for quick and easy meals that are also devilishly easy to prepare on a budget then this is certainly for you!

Friday, 27 May 2016

The truth about // Scoliosis

I say scoliosis, you say...? Probably, nothing. I hadn't heard of it until I was diagnosed with it either. Several years on, I still remember catching a glimpse of my x-ray, not knowing it was mine, and being struck with horror at the image. That poor, poor person, I thought to myself. 
Hah, well, I was that poor, poor person. This was my spine, my x-ray, and my diagnosis. 
Most causes of scoliosis are unknown, but it can be caused by the spine not forming properly whilst you are a baby, or, in my case, trauma to the spine and its' muscles. 
When I was 13 I broke my pelvis and was in a wheelchair for a very long time. When I got out of my chair, my hip stuck out, something which we assumed was because of the trauma to my pelvis. It later turned out that my spine had curved, which could've been there since birth, as both my grandmother and great aunt suffer from it, but because my spine muscles were so strong, it never showed. Apparently, when I was a baby I used to sit up incredibly straight from as soon as I could sit unaided, and years of horse riding and being told to sit as straight as possible in the saddle meant I had incredibly strong core muscles - until I became wheelchair bound. 
The implications of scoliosis differ from person to person, some people develop chest problems if the curve is in the ribcage, or, in my case, can cause the hip to protude. 
Day to day, my back pain is managed and quite often I will go weeks without pain. Sadly, when I do get pain, I am left bed bound, dosed up on muscle relaxants and not entirely on this planet. 
Simple things can set off my scoliosis, like trying to clean the bath or sitting for too long, but I try not to let it get me down. When I was first diagnosed, I was entirely disgusted by how much my hip stuck out - it wasn't natural, I used to tell myself, and I used to spend hours looking at myself in the mirror trying to find a way to stand that 'hid' my hip. It wasn't until my spinal consultant twisted me in to an incredibly painful position to show me how to 'hide' my hip that I realised it was a lost cause trying to do this and that my body was definitely not flexible enough for that. 
But I am not downtrodden over this, people will always have it worse off than me. My pain, on the whole, is manageable thanks to a cocktail of muscle relaxants and painkillers, and I still have the use of my legs to exercise frequently to stop the pain. 
Scoliosis, if severe enough, can be treated through surgery which is advancing each and every day with fantastic results. Alternatively, physio and core exercise is offered as another option, something which I take full advantage of with physio accredited core DVD's and exercise sheets.
To those who have been recently diagnosed and are looking for answers - it isn't a life sentence, and life really will go on. 

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Planning, planning, planning

You know those mad people that tell you that on the weekend they’re up at the crack of dawn, have cleaned their entire home by 9am and had managed to put the world to rights by midday? That’s me, at least, that’s me Monday – Saturday.
You will often see me trotting to the gym before my 9-5 job and then sauntering home and in my pyjamas by 5:30. That’s just how I am, I much prefer getting things out of the way early, and then having some time to relax after.
Monday-Saturday everything is planned to a tee with at least one list on my desk, one list on my phone and one list in the diary by my bed. I am one of life’s planners, I need to know exactly what I need to do and when it needs doing by, no questions asked.
The same goes for my fitness regime. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday I complete Kayla Itsines BBG Guide, Tuesday and Thursday I do 40 minutes of cardio and one day on the weekend I will do some gentle exercise. The night before, I will have my bag packed and my gym kit ready for me to hop in to in the morning to make the transitions that little bit easier for an earlier start – I’ve even started pre-preparing my breakfast the night before so that I can have as relaxed a start to the day as possible.
By planning, I find that I rarely, if ever, miss a deadline or forget to do something. This is definitely something I’ve had to learn at university juggling three separate modules, a job, exercise and a social life. Each morning I will write down what I need to complete in the day and work through the tasks, taking several breaks as I go, to make sure that all my tasks are done.
My housemates would often still be sleeping by the time I finished a nightshift in a nightclub, went to university, then the gym and then returned home before crashing in to bed. Planning and early starts aren’t for everyone, but my productivity is so much higher now I plan my days.

As I said above, Sunday is definitely my day away from planning and early starts, and I will often be found toddling round my flat in my pyjamas until midday – balance is most definitely key!

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Baby steps

After damaging my hip further in January, I ended up putting on quite a bit of weight – around about a stone. Now, this may not be a lot to some, but I am naturally small and, more to the point, this happened in an 8 week period.
I don’t think I realised how bad I had become until I saw the images I took of myself (left) and was somewhat shocked. I know I am by no means large or overweight, but it was a big shock to me and I instantly began to wonder how to remedy my issue.
My first overhaul was to replace snacks for water, and lots of it. I used to snack a lot in work out of what I thought was hunger, but after reading an article about dehydration I decided to give drinking water a go instead. Before this point, I was lucky if I drank a litre of juice/tea a day – oh and definitely no plain water. Now, I have ditched the juices and cups of tea at work and replaced them with at least 1.5/2 litres of water in this time period. As if by magic, my hunger cravings were gone, for the most part.
I also took a long hard look at what I was eating and my portion sizes. I had a sudden realisation one evening that I didn’t have to eat everything on my plate if I was full, especially unhealthy food. It sounds silly, as I’m 22, but I always told myself that I must finish my meal, regardless of how full I felt.
Next, I overhauled my exercise regime, namely with the BBG Guide by Kayla Itsines, compromising of 4 x 7 minutes workouts. When I first started, I didn’t expect it to be hard, but coming from only ever doing cardio I definitely struggled. I do these exercises 3 times a week, cardio twice a week and one day of either Pilates or swimming.
I still have a long way to go before I'm 'happy' with how I look but for now, any progress is good progress.