Thursday, 15 May 2014

An Apology

After a manic week last week preparing for my conference on Thursday, a long 'recovery' weekend and crazy week this week, has meant no time to update my blog.

Suffice to say, I've worked out every weekday except Thursday, Friday and Monday over the last 2 weeks. :)

Currently feeling particularly exhausted after riding in and then doing my full upper body routine, circuits class at lunchtime, walking down the High Street (and back up the hill) twice, and eyeing up my pre-ride snack before heading home...

The scales have finally started shifting again, along with my renewed enthusiasm for exercise and watching what I eat, so hoping to get that ball rolling again properly as well :)

Fingers crossed I'll be able to update properly tomorrow!

Today's Workout(s):
Cycling (av speed = 11 mph) = 27 minutes (uphill to work)
Upper body routine = 37 minutes (including 8 minutes of rowing intervals)
'Body Blast' = 25 minutes
Cycling = 25 minutes (estimated ride home)

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Fair Weather

I'm going to put both hands up and admit that right now, I am very much a fair weather cyclist.
I took one look at the rain out of the window this morning and decided that I'd get the train, rather than brave the torrential downpour before hitting the gym - and fortunately, the train was playing ball today and actually arrived when it was supposed to! This gave me enough time to surprise myself with a slow but non-stop, 25-minute run on a slight incline. I'm determined to complete my first Parkrun this month, so was quite pleased with this, considering I've not run for a week. :)

Yesterday morning I had my induction with Rayen, our new PT and Gym Manager at work.
I'd already said I was most interested in learning to lift properly and that the previous PT was dead-set against it, so was pleased to hear Rayen wanted to take me back to basics to build a good foundation to go forward from.

My new programme uses the equipment we have downstairs, which means I have cancelled my second gym membership, and for the next 4 weeks I'm going to see how I get on with it.
There's now a healthy mix of compound bodyweight, machine and freeweight exercises, divided into Upper and Lower body workouts and taking into account my cardio and ride to/from work.

I suspect it's probably going to kill me for the first week and that I might have to leave home a bit earlier (at least initially) until I know the routines better, but really looking forward to getting started next week! :)

Yesterday's Workout:
Cycling (average speed = 10 mph) = 26 minutes
Arc Trainer (Level 5, 130+ rpm) = 25 minutes
Rowing Machine (Level 9, 32+ spm) = 10 minutes
Cycling (average speed = 11 mph) = 24 minutes

Today's Workout:
Running (slow, 5.2 mph, 0.5 incline) = 25 minutes (5 min walk warm up / cool down)
Body Blast & Stretching clinic = 50 minutes

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Just a Quick Note

Crazy busy at work again so yesterday and today's updates are combined and a little brief!

Apparently I'd pulled my left quadriceps muscle over the weekend so I opted to get the train in yesterday morning.
BIG mistake! As I was waiting on the platform, [the train which was supposed to be] my train, went whizzing past empty and without stopping, despite the signs saying it was running to time and not cancelled. This wouldn't have been an issue if the next train wasn't due for another 40 minutes... grr!
Cue lots of waiting around getting cold, and a very pissed off girlie as I couldn't really do much in the gym either. I ended up doing just 10 minutes walking on the treadmill with a bit of gentle stretching afterwards.

Today my thigh was a lot better for the time off, so I was back on the bike again this morning - just taking it nice and easy. There were a lot more bikes on the road today (assuming because of the tube strike), and I was overtaken a few times by very enthusiastic roadies! I did still get to the office in 26 minutes though, which gave me enough time for 20 minutes on the Arc trainer.

I was taking it fairly easy again today as tomorrow morning I've got an induction session with Rayen, the new PT at our gym, who is going to put together a new weights programme for me! :)

Today's Workout:
Cycling (average speed = 10 mph (according to MapMyRide)) = 26 minutes
Arc Trainer (Level 5, 130+ rpm) = 20 minutes

Plus ride home: Cycling = 25 minutes(ish)

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Recipe: Spiced Apple Cake

This post is a little late in coming...
Some time ago I was the lucky recipient of Tamzin's (at Salad and Sequins) Coconom coconut sugar giveaway and I'd promised to post a recipe I'd made using it.

Coconut sugar is made from evaporated coconut palm sap, and is 'naturally rich in macro and micro nutrients which include; Potassium, Magnesium, Zinc, Iron, twelve (12) of the essential vitamin B complex and amino acids. The minimal processing of Organic Coconut Sugar preserves it’s nutritious components making it one of the most nutritionally superior sweeteners available. It’s complex carbohydrates are also believed to provide a slower release of the sugars into the bloodstream, offering sustained energy without the “highs” and “lows” of refined, commercially available sugars and sweeteners.'

I made a banana sponge cake a while ago, but I'll admit, it wasn't very photogenic and needed a bit of work. I also used the ginger-infused sugar to make some slow-cooked BBQ pork belly, but again, the recipe needed some tweaking before I'd consider posting it.

This weekend the sugar had its third outing as I thought I'd make a spiced apple cake for my mum's visit over Easter; the result? Pure delicious awesomness!! I've been very, very impressed by the sugar and will definitely look to get hold of some original (rather than flavoured) as I suspect it will be used more often! :)

The recipe below is lower in fat than a standard apple cake, dairy free, made with wholemeal flour for extra fibre and is slightly enriched with Pulsin's Natural Whey Powder for an extra protein boost (and because that stuff is awesome!).

The finished cake is really moist so doesn't keep for more than a few days, but to be honest, it's so good it probably won't last that long anyway ;-)

You will need two 20cm round baking tins - preferably loose-bottomed or springform as this cake could be tricky to get out otherwise!

Preheat the oven to 190 C

500g Bramley (or other cooking) apples, cored, peeled and finely sliced
(toss in 1 tsp lemon juice to prevent them browning!)
250g Wholemeal flour
100g Coconom ginger coconut sugar
250ml Unsweetened almond milk
75ml Groundnut oil
1tsp Baking powder
1tsp Ground cinnamon
1 tsp Vanilla paste
2 Large eggs (I used 3 small (with only 2 of the yolks), as my girls lay little ones :) )
40g Pulsin Natural Whey Powder
2 tbsp Smooth Bramley apple sauce
2 tbsp Demerara sugar (to sprinkle on top - optional)

1) Mix the flour, whey powder, baking powder and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.
2) Whisk the coconut sugar, almond milk, oil, vanilla and eggs in a separate bowl until frothy.
3) Carefully mix the wet ingredients into the the dry until well-combined and smooth. The mixture will seem very wet.
4) Stir the apples through the batter so they are well covered, and split the mixture between the two cake tins. Sprinkle the demerara sugar over the top of one of the tins (if using) to give the finished cake a nice crunchy top.
5) Bake in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes. The cakes should be risen and an inserted skewer should come out clean with no firmness left to the apples.
6) Allow to cool before removing from the tins.
7) Spread one of the cakes (the one without the demerara) with the apple sauce before carefully placing the second cake on top.

8) I dusted a tiny bit of icing sugar over the finished cake before serving, but naturally this is entirely optional!

Ta dah! x

This will slice into 12 generous servings at 212 cals, 32g carbs, 7g fat and 6g protein per portion.

Another awesome workout day today - I had DOMS in my hamstrings and shoulders after yesterday's yoga, so my ride in was a little slower. After having left 15 minutes late anyway, I only had time for a quick 10 minute run before showering and heading to my desk. That probably wasn't a bad thing though, as I signed up for the 'Body Blast' and Stretching Clinic classes over lunchtime.
Body Blast had me doing mountain climbers, push-ups, burpees, step-ups, punches, lunges, kettlebell swinging and bunny hops in a rather intense 20-minute circuit. It's the first time I've ever done anything like it since school and although I hated it at the time (f'kin burpees!!!), I've felt great afterwards! The stretching was also good and it feels like I've straightened some of the kinks out in my neck that I hadn't realised I had!

Think I might have to take it a little easier tomorrow though - it seems my motivation is a little more enthusiastic than my body after the Easter break!

Today's Workout(s):
Cycling (av speed = 11 mph) = 27 minutes (uphill to work)
Walking (brisk, 3.8 mph) = 7 minutes (5, 2)
Running (slow, 5.4 mph) = 10 minutes (10 non-stop)
'Body Blast' & Stretching = 45 minutes
Cycling = 25 minutes (estimated ride home)

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Putting on the Ritz!

Last year my (not-so-little) sister bought me and my mum a voucher for afternoon tea at the Ritz.
We had agreed to book our tea for the Easter Monday as mum was coming down to London anyway, so on Monday we dressed up on our posh frocks and headed into town for a rather extravagant overdose on sandwiches, scones and cakes (not to mention the glass of champagne and my jasmine tea).

Over Easter weekend I knew I wasn't likely to stick to my calorie limits (or do any exercise), but took it relatively easy on myself by aiming to stick around maintenance TDEE. I did go over a little, but overall I wasn't too unhappy with only having gained less than 1lb.

In other news, I baked a gorgeous Spiced Apple Cake over the weekend, and made a seriously good Minestrone Soup - will try to get the recipes and pics up next week!

Then to top things off, after my ride into work this morning, I thought I'd give running a try as my feet seem to be better, and  instead of doing the 2x slow (5.1mph) 10 minute runs I'd planned, I managed to run for the 20 minutes straight up AND felt I could easily have done more if I'd had the time! Definitely ready to start lifting again! :-)

As the office is incredibly quiet this week, I took advantage by popping down to one of the classes at the work gym. We have (another) new PT downstairs and I was (possibly a little over)excited to learn that she's an Olympic weightlifter(!) and is happy to put together a programme that I can do from downstairs (with the limited free weights section) - which also means I won't have to pay for a second gym membership! She's also hoping to get a power rack or cage for the gym (instead of us just having the Smith machine...). Fingers crossed...

Today's Workout(s):
Cycling (av speed = 12 mph) = 27 minutes (uphill to work)
Walking (brisk, 3.8 mph) = 10 minutes (5, 2)
Running (slow, 5.1 mph) = 20 minutes (20 non-stop)
'Power Yoga' = 45 minutes
Cycling = 25 minutes (average ride home)

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Riding to Work: Day 3

No pictures today as I think it was even colder today than it was yesterday!

Seriously, it wasn't fun riding with my fingers balled up into my palms to try to keep them warm, and I don't think I had full circulation until a couple of miles into the ride!

No major update today as I'm busy sorting stuff out before the Easter break; I finish this evening for five wonderful days off!
Hopefully will get a bit of time to work out, but my mother is coming down for a few days which usually limits what I can do :(

Today's Workout:
Cycling (average speed = 10 mph (according to MapMyRide - included slow cycle path)) = 30 minutes
Arc Trainer (Level 6, 130+ rpm) = 20 minutes
Lateral pulldown, squats and bench press = 10 mins (not particularly heavy as work gym doesn't have the right equipment)

Plus ride home: Cycling = 30 minutes(ish)

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Riding to Work: Day 2

Padded shorts were definitely a good investment as my bum bones felt a little bruised this morning! Admittedly, the cold didn't help because although it was beautifully bright and sunny, there was a light frost on the ground as I rode over the Common. I think I also need to get myself a pair of full-fingered gloves as my fingers took ages to warm up as well!

On my way home last night I tried taking a local cycle route home, which was a beautiful route, marred by the the Easter holidays (ie, loads of kids and dog walkers). I rode it again this morning hoping it would be quieter at 7am and wasn't disappointed; I just saw 2 dog walkers. It does seem to be a bit slower than riding the roads though, as it's a bit more technical with cycle path barriers and narrow bits! :)

Not sure which way to go back this evening - the dilemma!

When I got to the office, I then did a quick 20 minutes on the Arc trainer and 8 on the rowing machines to give my arms a bit of a workout. Gonna try to get back on the Stronglifts programme after Easter though, after my somewhat heavier cardio focus recently.

Today's Workout:
Cycling (average speed = 8.8 mph (according to MapMyRide - included slow cycle path)) = 31 minutes
Arc Trainer (Level 6, 130+ rpm) = 20 minutes
Rowing Machine (moderate speed, 32+ spm) = 8 mins

Plus ride home: Cycling = 30 minutes(ish)

Monday, 14 April 2014

I Did It!

Seeing as my mudguards and very fetching Altura Hummvee padded shorts arrived on Saturday, I had no excuse left for not riding to work today, so ride to work I did!

I figured that Easter week would be quieter on the roads and left before 7am to make sure everything was really quiet, and made my steady way over the 5 miles to work to see where the potential problem spots would be.

The entire route took me dead-on 30 minutes, which considering the train journey plus walk from the station takes about 20 minutes (plus another 10 minutes if I walk to the station rather than getting a lift), I thought was pretty good and I'm sure it's a time that I can work on improving! I've spent some time today looking up alternative routes and have come across what looks to be a pretty cycle route running along the local river, so might see what that's like for the way home. ;)

I didn't spend time in the gym afterwards (it took me a while to sort my lock out and I had to go back to the bike to grab the lights which I'd forgotten to take off), but think I'll try to get some time in tomorrow.

Today's Workout:
Cycling (average speed = 9.1 mph (according to MapMyRide - included a couple of traffic stops))

Friday, 11 April 2014


I am so sleepy today it's unbelievable...
After a fabulous evening out last night at Evans Cycles (I only bought some new pedals, a mudguard and multitool) followed by a curry, I was tucked up in bed at home by 10.30pm, only to be woken up by the other half who had the midnight (or 1.30am to be precise) munchies.
For some reason, partially due to his subsequent fidgeting and snoring, I was unable to get back to sleep until about 4am, which has made today particularly painful!

As a consequence, this morning's workout was very mediocre on the bikes as I just didn't have the energy or inclination to keep my heart rate above about 140bpm for the 40 minute duration.
It's also affected my food choices today as I've just been craving carbs! The regular Friday morning bacon sandwich for breakfast and then lunch was a prawn cocktail baguette from Greggs. I'm also propping myself up on a full-fat Coke this afternoon... zzz..... TFIF...

Should get to try my bike out with its shiny new bits over the weekend with any luck! :)

Today's Workout:
Stationary Bike (moderate, 90+ rpm, L7) = 40 minutes

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Nom nom nom

This morning's workout was a repeat of yesterday's on the Arc trainer and rowing machine in preparation for today's eating out! :)
Pad Thai at lunch and this evening will be a curry, after the Evans Cycles 'One for the Girls' event and hopefully some bargain hunting shopping! Can't wait!

Today's Workout:
Arc Trainer (Level 6, 130+ rpm) = 35 minutes
Rowing Machine (moderate speed, 32+ spm) = 10 mins

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

This Girls is on Fire

Well after yesterday morning's pretty poor workout, I was determined to make the most of P working late. The result was over an hour in the gym - 50 minutes on the bike, 20 minutes with weights and 10 minutes stretching. The result? I was knackered but felt great!

Last week I bought a foam roller to try out and as it arrived the day before, I had a go with it last night when I got home. My conclusion so far was that despite the fact I need to work on my core muscles to be able to roll properly(!), I've got a lot of rather painful muscle knots in my upper back and calves. Although incredibly painful to roll, they did feel great afterwards and I'm looking forwards to trying it again tonight.

P is working late again, which means I'll be doubling up gym time again today in anticipation of a rather food-packed day tomorrow! I'm going for Thai at lunchtime and then a curry in the evening after going to the local Evans 'One for the Girls' night with a friend - yum!

Although my feet are feeling a little better, I'm still off running at the moment so this morning's workout was 35 minutes on the Arc trainer, followed by 10 minutes rowing for a grand total of 451 cals. I should have at least another 30 minutes down there again this evening so will be interesting to see how many more I can do! :)

Today's Workout:
Arc Trainer (Level 6, 130+ rpm) = 35 minutes
Rowing Machine (moderate speed, 32+ spm) = 10 mins

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

It Could Have Been Friday 13th...

My alarm clock didn't go off this morning.
Well to be precise, it DID go off, but the volume had magically turned itself right down so I didn't hear it. I wasn't going to make my usual train, so P was going to drop me at the next station on his way into work, however on going past our station I could see my usual train was actually cancelled. Checking the departures for the other station, I saw the train from there was running late, so I ended up walking back to our station and waiting the 20 minutes for the next train... still with me?
The overall result was that I only had 15 minutes in the gym this morning, which isn't great considering that today has also been full of cake(!) - a colleague's homemade banana loaf (it would have been rude not to) and Battenburg for afternoon tea...
Hormonal munchies definitely got the better of me today, so as P is working late, I plan to head back down to the gym after work! :)

Today's Workout (so far):
Stationary Bike (moderate, 90+ rpm, L6-7) = 13 minutes

Monday, 7 April 2014

Review: Musclefood

I can honestly say that I never thought I'd be reviewing an online meat delivery company, but look at me now! I didn't want to post this until we had tried a few things from the order, but having had Musclefood's veal on Friday, steak on Saturday and Corn-fed chicken on Sunday, I think we've got enough to report on. :)

I placed a rather large order with Musclefood after seeing loads of pictures all over Twitter, of the beautiful cuts of meat that people had received. We've been running our freezer down for the last few weeks, clearing out any freezer burnt meat and half-eaten bags of oven chips, ready to have enough room to accept the order.

In all honesty, although the web address probably appeals to many men, the name doesn't necessarily bring to mind a good quality butcher, nor the fact that they sell a wide range of products other than meat (including egg whites, nuts, oils, snacks and a variety of supplements), so I suspect some women might overlook it.

The website is pretty easy to navigate, with sections for any special offers, meats, dairy & eggs, nuts & grains, oils, snacks and supplements. Their bundled meat packs are rammed full of a variety of products and they have regular offers via email.

They offer free postage on orders over £75, with deliveries being available on Tuesdays -Saturday (you select your delivery date although there is a weekend supplement). Orders come packaged in cool, insulated packages which are fine out of the fridge for up to 72 hours.

It's also worth having a stack of freezer backs handy, as certainly the 2.5kg packs of chicken breasts, come as single packs and it may be more convenient for you to split them out into more suitable portions before freezing.

It took a while to figure it out, but this is the total of what we received - personally I think it was a huge amount for £110!!

24 (large) chicken breasts
5 chicken supremes
2 packs diced turkey breast
1 pack diced beef
6 pork loin steaks
4 rump steaks
1 ribeye steak
4 duck breasts
2 whole corn fed chicken
2 hache steaks
4 beefburgers
8 sausages
1 veal escalope
2 packs Southern grill seasoning
1 tub virgin coconut oil

As mentioned above, I've now tried the veal (beautifully tender and great flavour - very, very lean! - shown in the second picture above), the ribeye (again, great flavour and very little fat for a typically fatty cut - shown in the first picture) and we had one of the whole, corn-fed chickens for our Sunday roast (buttery and so much more flavourful than typical supermarket birds! - terrible picture to the left). I've also cooked a couple of the (massive) chicken breasts to supplement my snacking during the week! :)  P was hugely impressed by the steak and chicken, so I think it's safe to say we will be ordering from them again once the freezer is a little emptier!

Use the link below to claim a free introductory gift of either 4 chicken breasts, loaf of protein bread, 2 British Haché steaks or 2 horse fillet steaks.


Workout-wise, I'm still off running as my feet still ache so over the weekend just had a quick 40 minute blitz over our local Common on the bike. Today was another 35 minutes on the stationary bike followed by time on the rowing machine. I really hope they get better so I can still do my first Parkrun over Easter!

Today's Workout:
Stationary Bike (moderate, 90+ rpm, L6-7) = 35 minutes
Rowing Machine (moderate speed, 32+ spm) = 6 mins

Friday, 4 April 2014

Addicted to Fitness Gear?

Hi, I'm Zoe and I'm addicted to buying fitness gear... :-/

As if last week's bike wasn't enough, I've since bought:

1 x pair of 3/4 length leggings (all my full-length ones are too warm now)
1 x vest running top (2 tops isn't enough, apparently)
1 x long-sleeved base layer (didn't have one)
1 x short-sleeved cycling top (didn't have one)
1 x lightweight windproof jacket (didn't have one)
1 x pair of Adidas trainers (for cycling in - my usual ones are too flexible)
1 x foam roller (attempting to relax my calves and quads)
1 x set of bicycle lights (goes without saying, for commuting)
2 x SmartShakes (mix 'n match, baby! - more on these in a sec)

On the plus side, I don't think there's too much more that I can really say that I need... or is there?

One of the conversation on my MFP news feed yesterday, got around to the timing of sport nutrition This resulted in my going off to research the subject and on the back of which I decided to try having a post-workout shake after this morning's cardio session.

As I don't like chemical sweeteners and wanted to include a reasonable ratio of carbs: protein (which rules out many commercial protein shakes), this involved me making up my own using what we had at home:

  • 250ml unsweetened almond milk
  • 10g Pulsin natural whey protein
  • 30g Chocolate Nesquik
  • 10g Almond butter
248 Cals, 26g Carbs, 9g (good) Fat, 14g Protein

I was originally going to use sweetened almond milk with pure cocoa powder, however after looking at Nesquik's nutritional information (Sugar, Fat Reduced Cocoa Powder 19.6%, Dextrose, Emulsifier: Soya Lecithin, Vitamins (Vitamin C, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Vitamin B6, Thiamin, Folic Acid, Vitamin D), Minerals (Magnesium, Iron, Phosphorus), Salt, Natural Flavouring), I decided it was possibly a better option. The almond butter gives a good dose of healthy fats and additional protein whilst the almond milk meant that I wouldn't feel bloated like I do after regular milk.

The resulting shake was rich and creamy and definitely worth repeating! Usually after working out I feel drained and by the time I get upstairs to my desk at 8.30am (over an hour after finishing my workout), I'm starving. The shake made me feel more 'whole' and filled me up to the time when I had my Friday morning bacon and mushroom sarnie at 10.30am. :)
So from next week, my shake is going to become a regular feature of my morning - which naturally meant that it needed something to go in!

I've got the regular Maximuscle shaker but I think they're just too big for the size of shake I'll be making. I'd been eyeing up the SmartShake ones for a while but as soon as I saw them in person, in Holland and Barrett, I knew they were 'the one'.

The 600ml shaker section has a unique clip-in mixer and is apparently a no-leak design. As well as the shaker section, the stack has 2 more compartments (one of which has a removable divider) in which you can store any other supplements/tablets or snacks. The (very girlie) bonus of course, is that the sections can be mixed up to create your own unique shaker! :)

Today's workout was cardio again as I still wanted to keep my feet pain-free and wasn't sure how well weights would go with inflamed tendons. It was really amazing to see the difference between my Polar figures and the estimated cals from the Arc trainer! The Arc trainer reckoned I'd burned more than 80 calories more than I actually did, over the 30 minute period! Interestingly though, the rowing machine was spot-on :)

Today's Workout:
Arc Trainer (Level 6, 130+ rpm) = 30 minutes
Rowing Machine (moderate speed, 32+ spm) = 10 mins

Thursday, 3 April 2014


Apparently my feet can cope with cycling, but not walking or running :(
Back on the Ibuprofen today...

At least I should be going out for a ride with P this evening...

Today's Workout
Stationary Bike (moderate, 90+ rpm, L7-8) = 35 minutes
Rowing Machine (moderate speed, 32+ spm) = 10 mins

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

WIAW: The Overdue One...

I suspect I'm finally battling injury :(
I was feeling a little stiff this morning but usually think nothing of it as it usually wears off after a few minutes into my run. This morning though, by the time I reached 20 minutes the tops of my feet felt just like my laces were too tight (they weren't). I kept going to the 25 minute point but had to stop there (and got on the bikes). They continued to ache afterwards, although eased up slightly after I'd been sitting at my desk for a couple of hours. Even now, I'm walking very gingerly. :(
It's been suggested I've inflamed my Extensor tendons, which basically means Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation - all of which are a bit tough at work.

In any case, I'll see how they feel later as I don't want to be jumping to conclusions, but think I'll have to lay off running for a bit to make sure they definitely don't get worse. :( Oh well... at least I think I'll still be able to cycle and can probably use the Arc trainer.

I really do suck at remembering to take pictures of my food. I mean, I only committed to do WIAW, which means just taking pictures of what I've eaten for one, single day of each week, but inevitably, I end up forgetting to take pics at one meal or another...

HOWEVER, I DID remember to take pics this week, so without further ado, this is What I Ate Wednesday Sunday! :)

Breakfast was a toasted slice of seeded wholemeal bread with half a tin of Heinz Beans with sausages - a somewhat guilty pleasure of mine. :) This was topped off with a fried egg (freshly laid by Gabbi) with a single rasher of streaky bacon (I cooked a bit too much when making P's Bacon, Egg and Cheese 'Manwich'). 

We then headed off to the bike shop where I bought a bike!!!

After much excitement, by lunchtime I was feeling hungry again. P asked for an egg mayo sandwich, so my lunch was largely comprised of leftovers. Leftover tuna mayonnaise with capers, egg mayo (made with salad cream) and a sliced egg in Sweet Gem lettuce leaves, with a side of cherry tomatoes.

I very nearly forgot to photography my dinner so had to push it all together to get something relatively photogenic :)

I went a little mad on the veggies, but we had roast pork with stuffing, half a baked apple, baby new potatoes, cauliflower cheese, spring greens, broccoli, stringless beans and gravy - naturally with a good blob of apple sauce!

The Sunday Roast is very definitely a favourite in our household...

Today's Workout:
Walking (brisk, 3.8 mph) = 10 minutes (5, 5)
Running (slow, 5.6 mph) = 25 minutes (25 non-stop)
Stationary Bike (moderate, 90+ rpm, L7) = 13 minutes

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

I Bought a Bike!

Excuse me whilst I get my excitement out of my system... :-)

I owned my last bike when I was about 12 years old - about the time when I was seriously into horseriding (and had my own pony), and we moved house. I can only assume that as the riding took precedence over everything else, my mum got rid of my old Raleigh 'sit up and beg' kid's bike in the move. I didn't even miss it.

However since starting my fitness journey, the idea of being able to get out and ride with P (who used to be a very, very keen mountain biker) has been increasingly appealing. I've been increasing my ride time and difficulty on the stationary bikes in preparation, but like the treadmill, it's no real substitute for the real thing. As P is now starting to get fit again ready to ride the London-Brighton route for charity, I wanted to get outside with him but unfortunately his spare bike was just too big for me to feel comfortable or stable. It was time to look at getting me my own wheels.

At only 5'2", most mens' frames would be far too big, so I had to do some research into the ladies options. We wanted something capable of keeping up with him on trails, as well as being used for the daily 5 mile commute to my workplace. With some ideas in mind, this weekend we headed to our nearest Cycle Surgery as they apparently had a number of ladies frames in stock, and settled on the Specialized Jett 29er.

Although I've really got nothing else to compare it to, I have to say it's wonderful!
So much lighter and easier to ride than P's heavy Downhill bikes, and the shorter reach means I actually feel like I'm in control. The 29" wheels sniff at kerbs and laugh at bumpy terrain, and the front lockout suspension makes road and hillwork a doddle.

We've been out on them three times since Saturday and despite a little seatbone bruising, I'm completely hooked! I think I know what my main weekend workout is going to be now! :)

Today's Workout (Stronglifts 5x5):
Squats = 45kg
Overhead Press = 25kg
Deadlift = 65kg

Rowing Machine (moderate speed, 32+ spm) = 6 mins

Friday, 28 March 2014


Well today's been very enlightening in more ways than one. :)

1) I wore my HRM for the full cardio workout this morning:  Although I appreciate the training zone is only a guideline, by the time I hit 20 minutes running my heart rate was already 'out of zone' and by the end it was a full 20 bpm above my recommended level. I ended up trying to slow down my running and bike speed to bring it down a little.

2) I burn a lot more calories than I realised. On my cardio days, using a combination of MFP and Fitbit adjustment I usually get about 450 calories added. Today using the HRM, I burned 614 calories

 3) I finally managed a full 30 minute run AND could probably have done more if I hadn't wanted to get some bike time in as well! Seriously happy with this. I suspect dropping my running speed to help manage my heart rate, contributed to my being able to run for longer. Funny that...

4) Apparently I can't eat as much as I used to be able to!
I was very kindly invited to join a colleague at the Wimbledon hospitality tasting session today, where I ate ALL the things! Unfortunately I didn't manage to try Albert Roux's lobster because by that point I was just too full and still had desserts to taste!! Currently feeling very full and verrrry sleepy...

5) My new electric blue slingbacks seem to attract a lot of attention! (but they are purdy though!)

Today's Workout:
Walking (brisk, 3.8 mph) = 10 minutes (5, 5)
Running (slow, 5.5 - 5.8 mph) = 30 minutes (30 non-stop)
Stationary Bike (moderate, 90+ rpm, L6) = 18 minutes

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Baby Guns!

Very pleased to report that I managed to bring all three components of my HRM to the gym this morning!

I was even more surprised to find that my 45 minute Stronglifts workout burned about 100 calories more than the MFP values. As MFP has a reputation for overestimating burns, this was particularly welcome news - I can eat even MORE food on non-cardio days! :)

Finally, feeling somewhat pumped up by my workout, I wanted to have a bit of a flex in front of the mirror to see progress - and look! Baby guns!

I knew that I'd been losing weight on my arms as they definitely don't feel as loose and flabby as they used to, but I was still pretty surprised to see these babies have emerged. Apparently they're shedding off their cocoon of fat nicely! :)

Seems like I'm at the 'bite 'point for Stronglifts now, where I'm finding the weights where I can't just do 5 straight sets so have to repeat the weights. I'm quite glad though, as it's nice to see where my more natural 'baseline' is as the programme starts you by just lifting an empty bar.

So as it currently stands (since starting on 5 Feb):
Squats = 45kg (I doubt I'll complete 5x @ 50kg)
Bench Press = 35kg (didn't complete 5x)
Rows = 42.5kg (didn't complete 5x)
Overhead Press = 25kg (didn't complete 5x)
Deadlift = 60kg (still easy)

Cardio day tomorrow! :)

Today's Workout (Stronglifts 5x5):
Squats = 45kg
Bench Press = 35kg
Rows = 42.5kg

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

HRM Fail...

I failed!
Fully intending to try out my new HRM for this morning's cardio session, I dropped the transmitter part in the car on my way to the station so got to the gym at work and couldn't find it. :( At least I hadn't dropped it between the car and the station though, which is what I was worried about!

I was back on form again with this morning's cardio session - I've been trying out a friend's trick on the treadmill of sticking my towel over the time so I don't know how long I've run for, and this morning I made it to past the 20 minute mark before I started to feel tired, and finished at 25 minutes (once my song had finished - Aerosmith's Pink - LOL!). I was actually quite surprised as it's been 2 weeks now since I did a non-stop run of 'reasonable' length, so I was expecting to struggle this morning. To be honest, I could probably have run for longer but I wanted to spend some time on the bike as well today.

This week I've started to do some research into bikes so I can look into both cyclecommuting the 5 miles to work, and also start getting into mountain biking. I've volunteered to be part of one of my work's two Great Escape Challenge teams, so I need to get some training in if I'm not going to be the weakest link! - exciting times!

Today's Workout:
Walking (brisk, 3.8 mph) = 10 minutes (5, 5)
Running (slow, 5.6 - 5.8 mph) = 25 minutes (25 non-stop)
Stationary Bike (moderate, 90+ rpm, L7) = 13 minutes

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

You Know You're Hooked When... find reasons for buying yet another piece of fitness gear... Oops?
After 'uhming and ahhing' about buying one for months now, I finally bit the bullet and bought myself a purdy pink Polar FT4 to be able to track my non-step workouts better!
Looking forward to trying it out tomorrow :)

 In other news, after finally getting over my latest cold this winter, I had planned on getting back into the gym yesterday morning. However after missing my train (by seconds!) and thus having to wait 40 minutes for the next one(!), I only ended up having 15 minutes to play with in the gym. :(

Today I fared a little better and headed over to my other gym to play Stronglifts. After lifting 42.5kg in squats and 25kg in overhead presses, I had to wait a while before one of the bars on the floor was free to do my deadlifts. Was worth waiting for though, as I started lifting the previous guy's weight - 60kg. I quite like the raised eyebrow effect ;-)

This week has also been full of lovely eats!
The ladies have finally started laying again which means our egg basket is looking great (and I get lots of super-fresh poached eggs!)

[left to right: Jaffa, Gabbi and Boo]

After seeking inspiration from my MFP buddies, I made this uber-healthy taco salad for dinner last week (the tortilla bowl works a treat!).

Then equally colouful, was Friday night's saltfish fritters (recipe to come this week) with plantains, baked sweet potato and salad. I think after feeling poorly, my body just wanted the good stuff. :)

Today's Workout (Stronglifts 5x5):
Squats = 42.5kg
Overhead Press = 25kg
Deadlift = 60kg

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Then and Now - 3(ish) Months' Progress Pics

Yesterday I finally got around to taking some progress pics so I can compare how I looked at the start of my journey (okay, I only got around to taking my first pics after I'd been losing weight for a month and a half) and now.

It's actually quite enlightening, especially given the fact that I never used to think that I looked particularly fat, even though the scales said that I was technically obese.
Although despite there being a stone (14lbs) in difference between the two sets of pictures, I don't think the difference is as marked as it is for some people. For reference, I am 5'2" and 31 years old and working out 5 times per week for 45-60 minutes. Currently on 3 days of cardio and 2 of heavy lifting until I've lost a little more and meet my 5k running goal, then I'll reverse days so I do 3 of lifting and 2 of cardio.

What does seem to be apparent, is that I seem to have been losing weight relatively evenly from all over my body, perhaps with a slight emphasis on my back, shoulders/upper arms, tummy and waist. This tallys with the fact that I've gone down both a clothing and bra size over this period. My face also looks less chubby, and my jawline is a little more defined.

Most importantly though, I feel so much fitter! I've gone from struggling to do 10 minutes on the cross trainer and running for just 60 seconds got me out of breath, to being able to run for nearly 30 minutes. I can squat and lift 40kg with relative ease. There's a spring in my step, my skin and hair are loads better and I am in love with my morning exercise endorphines!

At this point I've still got about another 20lbs to go before I class as a 'healthy' weight, which at 1 lb per week with a little leeway, means I should hit target and be able to drop another clothes size before my sister's wedding in August. Result!

Today's Workout:
No gym workout today as I'm streaming with cold (my nose is running more than I can/will today). May go for a walk later :)

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

WIAW: The Barefaced One

I think I'm coming down with Man Flu.
P has had a nose like a tap for the last few days so it's pretty much inevitable I guess, but I was hoping my immune system would have shaken the bugs off :(

As a consequence, today's workout wasn't as great as I'd hoped, but I did manage to do 10 minutes' running at 6mph (yay - finally at 10 min mile speed!) with a slight incline, but because I was feeling crap, the rest of the treadmill session was 5 minute intervals at 5.8mph with 0.5 or no inline, and 60s walks in between for the rest of the 40 minutes. I did follow up with time on the bike as well :)

There seems to be a social media trend going around today for 'cancer awareness'. Although I can't seem to find out where it originated, I'm more than happy to raise awareness for this horrible disease so have joined in the #nomakeupselfie trend.

Because awareness isn't everything, I also paid for my Race for Life entry today as well - a friend and I will be running it this year in June (instead of walking it, as per last year!).

Want to help? Please consider donating to your local Cancer Charity!

Last week I failed miserably with WIAW so made an effort to take pics this week.
Today's post is therefore brought to you by Thursday :)

Breakfast was the current favourite and one I keep going back to: fresh mango and pineapple with 0% Fat Greek Yoghurt and a drizzle of honey - yum! Sometimes I have a sprinkle of cinnamon as well. :)

 I will have to apologise for the next pic (well no-one can say it was photoshopped to look good!) as I got most of the way through my lunch before remembering to snap it!

This was leftover dinner from Wednesday, and was The Hairy Dieter's low-cal Pan Haggerty (a lovely one-pan dish of bacon, potatoes, cheese and carrots) from their second recipe book. I have to say, both of their diet books are brilliant and well worth buying. Some recipes are a little obvious and simple if you're a keen cook anyway, but worth it for the inspiration!

I posted about Thursday's dinner separately because it was also really, really good. This was a Caribbean-spiced 'Cottage Pie' with fried plantains - a veg (actually a fruit), that I've never cooked before and definitely will do again!

So all in all, a pretty good day of eats and not at all 'snacky'!

Now I'm off to go see what everyone else has been eating! :-)

Today's Workout:
Walking (brisk, 3.8 mph) = 8 minutes (5, 1, 1, 1, 5)
Running (slow (but getting faster!), 6.0 and 5.8 mph) = 25 minutes (10, 5, 5, 5)
Stationary Bike (moderate, 90+ rpm, L8) = 13 minutes

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Quick Update

Crazy busy again today so no time for a full lunchtime blog post :(

Today was a Stronglifts day - weights were 40kg for both Squats and Rows, and 35kg for the Bench Press.
I really struggled with the Bench Press today, so will be sticking at the same weight next week...

In other news, I had an impromptu run down the high street after my workout this morning as I'd forgotten to pack a regular bra - doh! Apparently my size is really popular as M&S had hardly anything, so I ended up having to buy one of the 2-pack sets. Grr! On the flip side, I also picked up a lovely new black sports bra, which means I won't have quite such a rush trying to get my other one washed and dry so regularly.

Today is also notable in that I registered for Parkrun!
Aiming to run my first 'official' 5k in 3 weeks' time with a friend at Nonsuch Park. Go me!!!

Today's Workout (Stronglifts 5x5):
Squats = 40kg
Bench Press = 35kg
Rows = 40kg

Monday, 17 March 2014

Week in Review: ending 16-03-14


'This week, I 'ave been mostly...'

Getting my hair cut. And I don't mean just getting the same cut as I did last time, and the times before that, but actually thinking about what I wanted doing and trying something a littel different. Granted, there are only so many things you can do with short hair, but I'm really pleased with this cut. My hairdresser is awesome!

After much deliberation, I resubscribed to Graze. I spend too much money on healthy snacking, but this lets me budget for it a little better, plus I get a lovely variety of different things to try in each box.
Although we've been tinkering with it for a couple of weeks now, this week P and I completely geeked out and worked on our model railway so it's now looks less like a toy layout, and is heading towards looking like a proper set. (I'll admit, I'm not all that into the trains, but I've been having fun creating buildings and designing the landscape).

I tried cooking something completely new!
I've never cooked plantains before but I think I'll definitely be doing them again - not least because I've got another one in the fruit bowl! These twice-fried Tostones were lovely with the Caribbean 'Cottage' Pie.

I completed three 20+ minute runs this week. I've still put c25k on hold for now, whilst I focus on getting more comfortable running for this length of time and increasing my speed. I'm now up to running at 5.8mph, which is a vast improvement from the 5mph that I started at!

I squatted 32.5kg. Still baby weight by many standards but again, I only started lifting properly in February so am pretty chuffed how well it's going. I'm still struggling to up the weight on my overhead, but I'm sure it'll get there slowly. Have to say I LOVE how it's helping to change my body shape!

I managed to lose another lb despite eating ice cream! As you may be aware, during the week I take my exercise very seriously but come the weekend, I tend to slip somewhat. As a general rule though, so long as I stay below my TDEE calories, I'm not too worried about going over my target calories for weight loss. This means, that despite eating more than I should (and this weekend, that included Ben & Jerrys Half Baked ice cream and chocolate brownies), I still lost weight, which goes to prove that there is definitely some flexibility with the scales and that the food you eat, it not all that affects your weight!

How was your week? :)