Towards a better me: Part 11

I have sat down to write this post at least twenty times and re-written it closer to ten times. I have not been happy with any version so far. Not even this one. But I think I need to rip of the band-aid.

 

I think it is fair to say that I have been some what lacking in motivation with everything, training, writing and even cooking. The only thing I seem to have the motivation for is reading. Each day is simply, eat, work, read, sleep and do it all over again tomorrow.

 

I am currently over half way through another 12 weeks personal training course. But I don’t feel like I am progressing at all. Firstly, my personal trainer, Denise moved to newer pastures three weeks into the course. It was a bit of a struggle to hold back the tears on her last day. She was so lovely and chatty. Without her pestering me each week on whether I have attended all of my classes, I don’t feel like I’m pushing myself enough.  I’m like ah sure its “Games of Thrones” tonight, that so much more important than going to a class, right! I am slacking, I know this but can’t seem to shake free from it. I haven’t even done a single session that wasn’t a personal training or class.

 

Each week I tell myself I am going do better, I am going behave. I will go to my classes. I need to focus but I just can’t seem to achieve it. It didn’t really help that I was on holidays for a week and half. The PT sessions are released for booking in week batches on the Tuesday the week before. All of the prime evening and morning sessions go so fast. You need to get on real quick if you want to get the slot you want. I had planned to do the training on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday once I was back but being over in France I completely forgot and didn’t get on until later and there was nothing. So, my one and half week break became a two week break.

 

Then last week again the bookings went so fast even though I was checking every hour waiting for them to be released. I only managed to get things booked for the weekend. But then ended going up home for my mother’s birthday instead. So over half way through and missing three weeks! My rhythm is broken and I don’t know how to fix it. It isn’t helped by lengthy recovery times after. My joints are aching something terrible for four or five days. I was so thankful that this week is going much better. But no my lower back is in agony.

 

Another thing I am struggling with is food. Those who know me knows my love affair with food. I love food. Food is emotion. It’s comfort, it’s exciting, it’s memory. Food can evoke so much. When I get homesick, I attempt to make my mum’s beef stew. Its never as good as hers. But it’s enough to tie me over. If I’m really bad and heading up to her soon I’ll put a request for it. While over in France for holidays, Pierre brought me to a Michelin star restaurant, Clovis. To say it was an amazing food experience is a massive understatement. I can’t wait to go back next year!

 

There was a moment earlier in the year, when my boss was selling her practice, that I considered possible doing a culinary course. I love cooking and blogging about cooking. There is so much I want to learn about, to understand flavours and textures better. It was a very tempting idea, but a risky one. What if I wasn’t actually good at it. What if I did have what it takes. If I hadn’t had a mortgage, I might of taken the plunge. Maybe one day I will.

 

But at the moment, I am not really cooking. My poor KitchenAid is sitting on the counter unused and unloved. My dinners of late have been very lazy. Just chicken or salmon with broccoli with sweet chilli sauce. While it is quite tasty, there isn’t anything exciting about it. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are just becoming monotonous. I long to get back into the kitchen and makes something new and exciting. But everything is hectic and busy. I hardly seem like I have had a moment to rest, a moment to breathe.

 

This week so far I have been moderately well behaved, I have taken my meds (most days), ate relatively well, been into the gym twice for two intense work outs. I was even inspired enough to make a new recipe, Garlic and Pepper Chicken Stir-fry. It was very tasty.

 

I do feel like giving up sometimes. Ever since my little face drop during the 5k back in March, my period has been consistently absence. I can’t help feeling sometimes that this isn’t gonna happen for me. Every passing month my belief is waning and I think that is where my lack of motivation is coming from.

 

 

Swimming: what I’ve learned so far

A few weeks ago I injured my knee. Not in a terrible, life altering way; but in a sort of way that got me thinking about other forms of exercise. I couldn’t run, rowing is a bit difficult for everyday and I couldn’t just do cycling (’cause that shit hurts my bum!) so I decided to give swimming a go. It was something I loved to do as a kid. I was called a water baby from the age of 2. I just loved being in it. A pool, the sea, a puddle, the bath… you name it and I tried to swim in it.

 

But I had never really swam for fitness purposes. It’s always been about splashing, dunking, diving, bombing and lying at the bottom of the pool/ocean. So when it came to knowing what to do I was a little stumped. But 1 month in here’s what I’ve learned…

 

1: Like all other sports, proper gear is essential

Being a former leisurely swimmer, you know whilst on my holibobs and such, all my swim gear was frilly bikinis and fifties style skirted swimsuits! Gorgeous for a day of tanning oneself with a few minor dips in the pool to cool down but completely useless for actual rigorous work. I naively thought that I would not need Speedos. I was wrong. Having to fix myself every 5 mins was time consuming aaaaand having my boobs pushed up created ridiculous drag, those puppies needed to be pinned down! I also owned no goggles and after an hour of swimming you REALLY wished you owned some. Chlorine is a bitch and you sorta need to see where you’re going, especially with small kiddos not looking around. Tis best to dodge them!

 

2: Breathe as often as you want/can

Honestly, this one feels like it should be a no-brainer but so many people (myself included) do this! Holding your breath while swimming. Taking one maybe two gasps per length. WHY?!?!? You wouldn’t hold your breath doing any other sport! Imagine trying to run laps over and over again like that. BREATHE! (I’m looking at you Coriel). Swimming is an all body workout, constantly moving, pushing through water, heart rate raising. It’s proper cardio. You need that air. So take it! I always thought that I hadn’t mastered the special breathing needed for swimming, like there is some trick that I was missing. I would do a few laps and my chest would be tired. When I finally gave in and breathed every time my head was out of the water it all changed. I could swim for longer and I wasn’t getting worn out as quickly. There is no special secret, there is no trick.

 

3: Swimming is deceptively tiring

I think this surprised me the most. I am a sweaty person, particularly when I’m training. Perspiring all of the God damn place! And I used to associate sweating and red hot cheeks with how hard my workout was. Obviously, it’s really hard to perspire in water. So when I started swimming for training purposes I was concerned I wasn’t going to get a proper workout from it. I was constantly adding with something. Running and a swim, cycling and a swim, weights and a swim. Then one day I decided to swim the equivalent of 2k in the pool, (112 lengths). I was like this should be graaaaaaaaaand. I was so wrong. Ver wrong. By the end I was so tired I could even bring myself to sit in the sauna. Or to sit in the jacuzzi. I just wanted to lie down. I felt like I had ran for days but I was not sweaty and I was not hot; I was just tired and so weak. Swimming is no joke, no picnic.

 

4: It’s really fucking good for you

Coincidentally, TIME magazine had a whole thing about exercise in one of their latest issues (the one with Leo Varadkar on the cover I think). Aerobic exercises (such as swimming and running) seem to be best for our brain’s health. All due to having to pump more blood to the brain, our biggest user of oxygen (again peeps, breathe!) It helps increase “brain-derived neurotrophic factor,” this protects AND repairs brain cells. Aerobic exercises also can help to lower the chances of memory loss and Alzheimer’s, even if the person has a parent with Alzheimer’s or if a person is carrying the gene for it. Such a good reason to get the budgie smugglers on!

 

5: Swimming is making me a more confident swimmer

Ok this one sounds stupid, but go with it. When I was a kid, our school organised swimming lessons for PE for like 3 years. We learned everything. And from starting to swim regularly again I’ve realised that these classes have massively benefited me. Until now I just assumed everyone could swim with ease. Not so… I’m watching women and men in their fifties learning how to swim. And I’m impressed, it must be so scary after all that time. It’s something that comes naturally to me, easily to me. It’s a skill everyone should have. And I think it’s easier to learn that shit when you’re young. So peeps with kids, get them in the pool and teach them to swim. And if you’re all grown up and can’t swim, learn, now. It’s so lovely and worth learning.  You never know when it’ll come in handy

 

Oh and speedos are not flattering.

SUPERPOWER SMOOTHIE

Power Smoothie Recipe

This January, I think most of us are happy to leave behind the excesses of Christmas, and are returning to some better, more balanced habits. For me – I’m back to doing my annual metabolic reset. It’s a short sharp shock to my metabolism that involves cutting out wheat, sugar, coffee, dairy and booze. There’s no limit to how much food you can eat, so it’s not a diet. It’s also not low-carb, there are plenty of healthy slow release carbs on my plate, so it’s not as hard as you might think. I’m also a big fan of Nutritics software, which helps analyse menus. They are also actively helping food businesses prepare for Natasha’s Law, which will kick in in 2021 in the UK.

I did this last year and felt a million dollars afterwards, so I’m doing it again! Right now I’m halfway through. Every morning I have this one particular smoothie – it seems to tick all the boxes for me, and I’ll explain why:

Ingredients

Raw spinach

Cucumber

Half a green apple

Lime juice

Fresh pineapple

Coconut milk 4fl oz

Coconut water 4 fl oz

2 tsps Mrs Superlife powder

Fresh ginger

Cinnamon powder

Here’s why this particular set of ingredients works for me.

Spinach and cucumber should make up at least 50% of the solids in your smoothie. Fruit smoothies may taste nice, but you’re just loading up on fruit sugars. These are the least offensive veggies you can add to a smoothie, and they have plenty of benefits.

Fresh pineapple is really good for you, it’s crammed with potassium, copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium, beta carotene,thiamin, B6, and folate, as well as soluble and insoluble fiber. It’s supposed to be good for bruising and it’s also full of vitamin C! I like to buy a whole pineapple, then trim it and chop it into chunks for the freezer. Tinned pineapple is usually preserved in syrup, and really this fruit is already very sweet!

Full fat coconut milk: Everyone’s heard of the benefits of coconut water, and it’s readily available in every Spar and Supervalu, but I also add Coconut milk to my smoothies. The tinned stuff you throw into a curry that can be about 1000 calories a tin. You probably think I’m bonkers adding what is pretty much liquid fat to my smoothie. However, fat intake in the morning has been proven to help with weight loss, especially around your middle. There have been some interesting studies that show the type of calories we eat contribute to weight gain in different parts of our bodies. Sugar in particular can contribute to visceral fat gain (fat around the organs that leads to a thickening waist) So, healthy fat in the morning, along with protein and fibre can help you feel full and provide you with plenty of good calories for the day ahead!

Fresh Ginger: I add a good inch of fresh peeled ginger root, which is really warming and has a whole heap of proven medicinal benefits. A close relative of turmeric, ginger is great for the digestion. Ginger is also of great for DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). In this 2013 study from the American Pain Society, they report finding evidence for the “hypoalgesic effects of ginger in osteoarthritis patients and further demonstrates ginger’s effectiveness as a pain reliever” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20418184

Cinnamon is another ingredient you mightn’t expect, but apart from tasting like Christmas, the interesting componant is Cinnamaldehyde. Cinnamon, even in doses as small as 120 milligrams per day, has properties that are anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory. In tests, cinnamon has had a positive impact on good cholesterol and blood pressure. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24019277 Cinnamon can also help with insulin resistance, a major factor in blood sugar levels.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2901047/

So now, I put cinnamon in everything, the kids pancakes, smoothies and granola, even on ice cream!

I’ve also become quite fond of organic SuperLife Powder. You can get this in certain healthfood stores, and I’ve seen it in Centra, as well as online here. It contains  hemp, cacao, maca, kelp, spirulina, chlorella, barleygrass and lucuma. All of which are reported to be good for hormonal balance, reduction of sugar cravings and boosting the immune system. Now, this powder is why you might like to up the amount of lime juice. It’s not the tastiest in the world, but the lime juice will just about hide it. I generally add a teaspoon of this dark green powder to my smoothie (though the bag says to use a tablespoon!) I figure the rest of the ingredients are already doing a lot of good.

The trick to making your smoothie a habit that sticks, is to always have the ingredients in the house (cucumber is the one I seem to run out of the most often, the rest, including spinach can be frozen easily). My habits tend to slip when I’m super busy or on the road, so I’m looking forward to trying the ‘Good Green Stuff’ sachets. They have 77 different ingredients, and are in handy portion sachets, so a few of these in my handbag will certainly help. Aisling in the Green Health Store in Galway sent some of these sachets into PBM HQ to get our opinion and I can confirm they taste a LOT nicer than the Superlife mix, and are very handy for travel. Check them out here.

Over and out

xxx

Bitchmittens Emily

When to Run

Running is often met with a great deal of groaning, moaning, complaining. People don’t like it! It seems repetitive, tiring and loooong. When I discuss running I’m often told that people would rather do something more fun with their time, that exercise shouldn’t be a chore. And I whole heartedly agree. Exercise should be fun! But running is fun, we’re all just looking at it wrong.

 

The other day I was thinking about all the times we run (or could run) and not think of it. When it’s an asset and a not chore. I thought I would list them to see if I can’t shed some of the running’s bad rap.

 

Running from the bedroom to the bathroom when you’re naked.

Running after your kids.

Running away from your kids.

Running down a long corridor in a hotel while semi-intoxicated.

Running to the loo.

Running to shelter whenever it rains.

Running to get that thing you forgot when you’re next at the check-out.

Running because you’re scared.

Running because you’re giddy. (Is this just me???)

Running after a bus, train, taxi, that friend who promised you a lift!

Running into the sea because walking is just not an option at that temperature. Hello Ireland!

Running after your dog when he’s spotted the local cat.

Running after your dog when he’s noticed someone eating.

Running after your dog because he’s found a herd of deer.

Running out to the car to give your husband his lunch when he’s leaving in the morning.

Running to work yourself because you’re late (again!)

Running to get shotgun (of a car) because let’s face it, nobody abides by the laws of shotgun.

Running to stop your nephew getting hit by a swing.

Running to win your league’s rounders tournament.

Running to de-stress.

Running to get the last seat.

Running to your family at the airport because you missed them soooooo much.

Running down hills because it’s super easy.

Running on flat surfaces and feeling like a plane taking off (seriously, still only me???)

Running so fast you feel like you are going to keel over.

Running when you’ve gotten in trouble.

Just running.

 

I am sure there are many more instance where running is beneficial and, what more, lovely. If possible, it’s something that should be embraced. It can be hard when you are pushing yourself but remember, exercise isn’t always about pushing yourself. It’s also about living your life, getting things done, feeling free and de-stressing.

 

So enjoy you’re run, even it’s just to the the loo.

 

 

Towards a Better Me: Part 10

Realisation:

 

‘The Fear’ was still my training mate this week, but I had Denise back this week. ‘Did ya miss me?’, she said as she bounced down to the PT room. ‘Yes, Michelle made me do planks!’, was my reply. The laughter from her indicated she wouldn’t be taking it easy on me.

‘Any more issues since?’,

‘No’,

‘Good, time to take it back up!’

Oh, what I had let myself in for! It was a tough session, and Denise was holding no punches. But Denise had let slip, she had a new beau. The other girl taking part in the training session and I wasted no time in taking the piss and attempting to freak her out. And while it was fun to see her squirm, I was genuinely thrilled for her. Tuesday night was gone in a flash. It was quite a blur. I can only remember one of the bench presses. I couldn’t get over how heavy the 25kg bar felt. I hadn’t used it in the three weeks and it felt so heavy. It took everything to do those bench presses.

 

Thursday’s morning session was also a blur and quite tough, not helped by the fact that I had missed breakfast. Denise and I had the personal training centre to ourselves. I know I had the bench presses with the 25kg bar but I don’t know what else. Seriously, I really should write these soon as to the day as possible. It’s only been a week like! It was a very good session. I head to work after my shower very pumped and made to the office just on the stroke of nine.

 

I had my little sister and one of the bitchmittens’ founders, Rhona and her new hubby coming down the weekend and she was currently trying to convince me to go cycling. I haven’t been cycling since last June. My gears are fucked and take absolutely ages to change, which really grinds my gears. (See what I did there! Sorry I know I’m not the funny one.) And on my last bike ride, I only managed about 5km and half way through took my gear frustrations physically out on my bike and kicked the shit out of it! I may have even bent the back wheel, but I cycled back just fine. So finally, I reluctantly agreed to cycling if Pierre could fix my bike. Luckily (or unfortunately), he could and we were able to borrow bikes for Rhona and Cormac from our friends.

 

I wasn’t expecting much from me and I had told the others they may have to leave my lying on the grass somewhere while they went all the way to Crosshaven. It 15 km, I was thinking I’d be happy with 7km. It was a gorgeous day down in Carrigaline and the Carrigaline – Crosshaven Railway Walk was looking lush and green and full of people walking, running and cycling. We made our way out and everything was going well. Knees were a bit sore but that was about it. I was quite happy to fly past where I had stopped and had a fight with my bike. And I just kept going, I was in the rear but I was easily keeping up with the guys. The lads pushed forward leaving Rhona and I behind as we chatted. Though they didn’t get far. They had pulled over to take in the beautiful scenery.

 

After a barely of a minute of stoppage and a couple selfies, we were back on the trail to Crosshaven with me and Rhona leading the way. I was in great form, enjoying myself immensely, saying hello to everyone I passed. God only knows what they thought of me. Crazy lady on her purple bike! Before I knew it, we were in Crosshaven. We mused about whether to get a coffee here or head back and get one in Carrigaline to drink at the beach. Beach was the call, so back on the bikes we got and off we went. Unfortunately for me, the gears on bike were stuck in quite a high gear. And I was belting it back in, leaving the others in my dust! Pierre eventually caught up with me and I stopped to let the others catch up. Pierre has a bike computer on his, and clocked me at 28km per hour. Once I caught sight of Ro in the distance off I shot again only stopping at the end of the trail. It took the guts of 45 minutes out and only 1 minute back in. I got a chance to sit down and wait for the others. The gear issue became my undoing once we reached the big hill up to my house. I ended making the climb on foot. It seemed like the longest trek ever! I jumped back on once it had levelled out a bit and then there was only the short ride back to the house where the others were waiting.

 

All in all, it was very good day. I got to remember why I loved cycling so much. I used to go everywhere on my bike when I was younger. I was quite surprised that I was able to cycle the whole thing and with ease, if you exclude my aching knees and the hill! But when you compare it to how far I got last year, it was a clear indicator of just how much more fit I have become in only three months.

 

Now if only I could cycle the mini marathon and I be set.

 

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