TFW – Past Half Way!

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I’m now over half way into my Training for Warriors programme! Ohhh it’s so sad. I don’t wanna say that I’ve love(d) the programme – past tense, because we do still have a couple of weeks to go. But I have loved it. Up to this point it has been such a great experience. I’ve pushed myself mentally and physically.

Actually, I want to talk a bit about that. People will often tell you that mental challenges are good, and that they help you to see how far you can push yourself. Don’t get me wrong, to some extent I agree with that. There’s a lot of truth hidden behind cliche phrases, and I think the phrase, ‘there’s no growth in the comfort zone’ is insanely applicable in life. But it comes with constraints. What happens when you push yourself to your limit, and you still aren’t good enough? Let’s not be naive here, it happens. Cliche number two: ‘be comfortably uncomfortable.’ I feel like the moment of positive change is a sweet spot on a sliding scale. At one end of the scale there’s your ultimate comfort zone – I dunno, eating Chinese whilst watching Gilmore Girls or whatever your equivalent is. At the other end, there’s the zone that is so uncomfortable  that it cripples you. Somewhere in the middle, is that sweet spot where you’re a long fucking way from any prawn crackers, but you aren’t so far away that the level of discomfort is preventing you from moving forward. For me, that was getting up on a Saturday morning to run 16 miles knowing full well I’d hate every minute that took place past mile 6, and give myself hell for a poor performance for the rest of the week, so by the time next Saturday came round I’d be just ever so slightly more miserable than before, and the cycle would repeat.

TFW has so far been pretty fucking sweet spot centric. I’ve done things I didn’t even think were possible for me, but because of the environment you’re in and the supportive nature of the group, it seems much more realistic. Like, the other day we did pull ups. I definitely had help, but fucking pull ups. Who knew? A couple of weeks ago I also learned how to get on a treadmill whilst it’s already running – and I didn’t break any limbs or anything!!!

TFW  has allowed me to become part of a group of people who just want to improve themselves. We’re a pretty diverse group of people and I guess we all have different things we want to achieve from the programme. I just wanted to feel confident again. I’m not going to lie and say I’m all the way there. I’m a long way away from slaying like one of Ru Paul’s drag queens, but I do feel better about myself.

I guess this post is pretty gushy and I’m not sure it has a real point other than to update on my progress so far. I’ve not had mid way measurements done or anything. I wanted to wait until the end and see the extent of my progress. I’m not sure it will be massive because it will only have been 8 weeks, and I’ve definitely had a couple of cheat meals here and there, but still. I feel like I’m turning a corner.

It’s about time.

 

Hurricanes Hurt My Feelings. (Training for Warriors: Weeks 2-3)

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Weeks 2 & 3 of warrior training are officially complete, 5 to go!

On week 2 perhaps the most notable thing to happen was that we were given a 3 day challenge to photograph everything we ate; and then whatsapp the images to our coach, Toby. Some of my fellow warriors seemed a bit dubious about photographing everything they ate, but the self absorbed, millennial, food blogger in my head was doing back flips in front of a landscape of 4th of July style fireworks. YES. A legitimate reason for taking photos of my food! My entire life (post invention of Instagram) had been leading up to the moment, and by God I intended to make the most out of it. It didn’t take me long to realise though, that when you also have a job, taking photos of literally everything you eat/drink is actually quite frustrating. Try as I might, it’s pretty darn tricky to achieve that quirky, tumblr aesthetic when snapping a green tea served in a slightly cracked mug that says ‘This Is What An Awesome Baker Looks Like’, in front of the keyboard on my work desk. Alas, I made the most of what I had and sent the pictures through. Typically, during the 3 day challenge we had a baby shower at work for my colleague Becky. I baked maple cupcakes with pink and blue swirled buttercream (gender TBC). Whilst I did manage to refrain from dunking my entire head into the tray of cupcakes,a la Bruce Bogtrotter;  I caved at the sight of pork pie and pringles. I’m not even just saying that for alliterative illustration, that genuinely was where I cracked. I’ll be interested to see what Toby makes of THAT nutritious feast.

Whilst we’re talking food, I have still been trying (in between the pork pie and pringles) to stick to a lower carb, higher fat diet. I’ve not cut carbs out completely though, because seriously, what would be the point in life? Instead I’m trying to have carbs with just one of my meals, which is usually dinner. I’ve been making a lot of recipes from that snazzy Lean in 15 fellow whose name escapes me…Joe Wicks, that’s it. I followed his insta account after a girl at training recommended it. I was actually pretty amazed that most of his recipes do only take about 15 minutes. Tonight I made his italian lemon chicken and mate…for real though, it was a party in my mouth. I feel like I’ve said that phrase several times in this blog. Dear god lets hope I don’t ever get a decent following, I’ll be strung up for lack of originality quicker than you can say boo to a goose….that’s not a phrase is it? Anyway.

Here’s photo spunk (sorry mum) of some of the stuff I’ve been eating over the last couple of weeks. Eggs and avocado have been my pretty much standard breakfast – for ease more so than anything. The weird orange concoction in the top right hand corner is something I’m using slight artistic license in naming a deconstructed fish cake. Sweet potato mashed with 10g lighter mature cheddar, garden peas and a tin of tuna, all mixed together. And yes, it might look like something that has already been digested once, but it actually tasted lovely. The bottom right picture is of leftover tandoori chicken with salad and half a packet of microwaveable rice. I knowwww I know that cooking stuff in the microwave will eventually give me intestinal AIDS and turn me into a 2 headed zombie, but sometimes you just have to pick your battles, OK? Time was of the essence and that was that.

Moving into week 3, the workouts turned into real monsters – monsters who, I’m fairly confident were trying to bin me off. On Monday, I was tired, but dragged myself out of the house knowing that I’d feel better eventually. Monday sessions are referred to as Hurricanes. When I search for the word hurricane on dictionary.com, one of the definitions is this: a storm of the most intense severity. And whilst I think that tells you all you need to know about how tough Monday’s work out was, I’d also like to really drive the point home by letting you all know I 100% had to scarper to the loos mid workout so that I could throw up my guts. Delightful, right? We were doing a lot of sprints, followed by kettlebell excercises, followed by sprints, followed by kettlebell exercises, followed by sprints, followed by kettlebell excercises and yeah. Midway through the second lot of sprints I quickly realised I’d way overestimated how fast I could go and for how long. Egrh. Lesson learned. I will say though, one thing I’ve noticed is that there have been times when I know, if I was working out by myself, I would have taken it down 10 notches and had a rest period. Whilst yes, there are rest periods during warrior training, when you’re working, you are bloody well working and that is that. So I guess that’s good.

And, to sign this off I will leave you with this.Today I tried on a pair of trousers I couldn’t do up a few months ago. They now fit.

*Que marching band, fireworks, confetti canons and mickey mouse on a freakin’ float wearing a gym kit*

 

 

 

A New Challenge

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For the last couple of months, Andy has been lovingly nagging the shit out of me to check out a gym he’s been going to. H3 Performance is based just outside of Nottingham city centre, near Sneinton. They run an 8 week Training for Warriors challenge. The creator of the programme used to train MMA fighters, and eventually formed the programme to suit us normos. There is little I love more than pretending I’m super tough, so the thought of training like an MMA fighter suits me down to the ground. The deal is this: you pay £150 and for 8 weeks, you attend 3 group workout sessions a week. Same group of about 10 people every time, to build comradery I guess. Your measurements are taken, there’s a whatsapp group for support outside of the gym and you are given a nutrition guide. The works, basically. So, sort of to shut Andy up, but sort of because I need this, I signed up for the challenge. On Thursday last week I went to my orientation to meet the group. We also heard from an incredible woman who had completed the challenge previously. She has 5 kids, and looks better than I have ever looked in my entire life – superwoman! I think the orientation was partially intended to help ease any pre-programme anxieties, but honestly I’m so excited to get back on the health and fitness wagon I feel immune from any fear.

I want to take just a minute to get real here. My mental health has been less than optimum this year. I didn’t complete the London marathon due to a knee injury, but even during training I was struggling. The long runs were a psychological battle that I rarely won. They left me feeling lonely and useless. I didn’t believe in myself and I felt like nobody else did either. I felt my confidence plummet. One particular Saturday, I was embarking on a 13 mile long run. The weather was unseasonably hot, although it had rained the entire previous day. The lake I was running laps of had tonnes of gnats hovering its circumference, sticking to my sweaty forehead and getting in my mouth and eyes. My nike run app kept randomly pausing, and I momentarily contemplated hurling my phone into the water in frustration. I have found that if I run in my glasses they slip off my face, so I just didn’t wear them. I clearly overestimated how well I can actually see without my specs, and eventually I tripped and fell in the mud. It was this delightfully elegant moment I can now pinpoint as the lowest low of my training. I had to limp for a mile back to my car trying desperately not to cry. I felt like an idiot. And, just to add insult to injury, not a single sodding dog walker asked if I was ok! Ohhh sure they were happy to stare at me like I was the abominable fucking snowman, but god forbid they ask if the limping woman, covered from shin to boob in mud was ok. GOD FORBID.

I’ll probably talk more about my marathon training experience in a later blog but for now, just know that ever since then I’ve found it hard to feel motivated or get into a good routine. Slowly I’ve watched myself slip back into a life of Friday night takeaways and exchanging gym sessions for Netflix binges. My self-esteem probably hasn’t been this crap since secondary school. So now, I’m 100% ready to start this new challenge. The irony that I was supposed to run the marathon to raise money for a mental health charity is not lost on me, believe me.

I am SO ready to get back into shape, for both my physical and mental health. I once lost almost 5 stone (70ish pounds) and even though I was still chubby at a size 16, I felt so strong and confident that it didn’t matter to me. I could walk into any room and feel like I deserved to be there. I could make decisions with clarity. I could operate more smoothly, I was less clumsy and more focused. I just felt like a sharper version of myself. I felt like a respectable person. I now feel sluggish and heavy, and my self-esteem is pretty much none existent the majority of the time. I think knowing the difference between how good I can feel, and how bad I feel now is what makes dealing with how I feel now so tough. You can’t miss what you never had right? But I did have it once, and god damn. I miss it.

So.

Here’s to turning things around, and getting back on track.

 

Weirdo Quinoa – Recipe

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So quinoa is weird, isn’t it? Yep. That’s my opening line and I’m sticking with it.

Much like cous cous, I find quinoa tastes like actual granulated cardboard if you don’t do something cool with it. I think that’s the reason a lot of people think they don’t like it. This recipe is different though. (Why does my recipe now sound like its two Malibu and cokes away from telling you it isn’t like other girls?) Try it – if you don’t like it, you can slap me in the face should you ever happen to see me out and about. (Pre-warning – please tell me the slap is as a result of this blog post, just so I know I’ve not accidentally offended somebody. Again.)

image

The Mighty Weirdo: Quinoa – this is what you’re shooting for when you cook quinoa, fyi.

This recipe is great for a couple of different reasons. First of all, it’s delicious, so…yeah, always a bonus. Second of all, it pretty much covers all of your food groups. You’ve got your protein in the beans and quinoa, you’ve got veggies, you’ve got starch, you’ve got a little bit of the commonly known food group – nummies, in the feta. It’s an all-round winner.

And for even more bonus points, it’s vegetarian, and can easily be made vegan if you omit the feta. ***Yayyyy for knowing that some of your food choices haven’t contributed to the pain and suffering of innocent animals and are also v fashionable right now.***

People often seem to be in one of two camps about veganism – either the gung ho, ‘you will vegan or else you are dead to me’ camp, or the ‘*rolls eyes* but humans are carnivores’ camp. I’m neither. I like vegan food, I feel better when I eat vegan, I see and agree with all the ethical arguments; but being raised as meat eater for the majority of my life does make it very hard to make the commitment full time. And yes, I know that makes me a pussy. Baby steps.

This recipe is also good for making a big batch, then putting it in the fridge to use for packed lunches. If you’re one of those people who struggle for inspiration in that department, this might be a nice departure from the land of ham and cheese sandwiches and a packet of salt and vinegar crisps.

Anyway! Sales pitch over!

Here’s what you’re gonna need:

  • Quinoa – 2 cups (dry)
  • Water – 3 cups
  • Sweetcorn 
  • Black beans 
  • Feta
  • 1 punnet plum or cherry tomatoes chopped in half
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped v finely
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds removed and chopped v small
  • 1 green pepper chopped into small squares
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Coriander – small bunch
  • ¼ cup olive oil

Here’s how this is gonna go down.

Start by chopping up your pepper, tomatoes, garlic, onion and jalapeno. Transfer to a mixing bowl. I just find it’s easier and somehow ends up creating less mess if I get all the chopping done first.

If you’re using canned black beans, whip those out at this point and give them a rinse in a sieve before adding those to the veggies, along with the sweet corn and feta. Give it all a jumble together. If you’re anything like me, at this point you’ll be taking a second to admire the pretty colours. This step is optional, and entirely dependent on how much of a hippy you feel like being on that particular day.

image

Can you paint with all the colours of the mountains? Can you paint with all the colours, of the veg? (Guess I left out the black beans)

Next is the quinoa. You’ll need to rinse this before you cook it so that it doesn’t taste bitter. Put it in a sieve, under running water. I’m never 100% sure why, but for some reason, it seems to produce little bubbles which then go away when it’s rinsed. Oooooh bubbles.

Then you want to boil your water in a sauce pan, add your quinoa, pop a lid on top of the sauce pan, reduce the heat and simmer away for about 10-15 minutes until your quinoa is soft, fluffy and has absorbed all the water. Separate the quinoa with a fork and set aside to cool down a bit, whilst you make the dressing.

I prefer making the dressing in the nutribullet, because I am a lazy, millennial so and so. If you don’t have a nutribullet, or a blender, you can still make the dressing – just use a sharp knife to chop up your coriander and give it all a mix in a bowl – simples. As it stands, I just pop everything into the nutribullet, whiz away for about 30 seconds, and there you have it.

image

Looks like mould, is actually delicious dressing.

Your final step is to mix the cooled quinoa into the veggies, stir in your dressing and then try not to eat the whole bowl in one sitting. Also – try serving this with nachos and using this as the ‘dip’. So. Damn. Good.

image

Oh mama.

Enjoy your weird quinoa, y’all!

 

 

LDN Marathon Training: Weeks 3 & 4

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Week 3 of my marathon training is when I promised myself that I would never, ever run less than 3 hours after eating dinner again.  Tuesday was a 4 miler. I was working at an event in a different city on Tuesday, so I had no opportunity to run before work, which is always a bummer. I prefer running in the morning so much more. Apart from wanting an extra hour in bed, there aren’t really many excuses to not run at six in the morning. At 5pm however, you’re tired, you’ve had a long day, you’re hungry, you’ve got to get dinner started, you’ve got a tonne of chores to do, the dog needs walking, the hamster cage needs cleaning, you’ve got to dust the skirting boards, the silverware needs polishing, the cd collection needs alphabetising!! Ohhh the excuses are abundant! The problematic thing about marathon training though, is that you sort of have to just take those excuses and shove them away, because 26.2 miles don’t just happen out of nowhere. Or at least, not for me, Lucy, Penguin Runner.

On Tuesday afternoon I drove home from the event I’d been working at and was starving. I decided to try eating dinner and then run a bit later in the evening. I managed to have dinner cooked and eaten by about 5.30, and by 8pm I was in the gym. Within about 6 minutes I knew I’d end up throwing up before I reached the 4 mile mark. I tried changing my run-walk patter, I tried running at a slower but more consistent pace, I tried distracting myself by changing the treadmill TV screen to a New Zealand ‘run through’ setting. As it turns out, when you’re knackered and trying not to vomit, New Zealand’s surroundings are actually just really annoying. Why are there so many trees?! I think I made it to about the 2.5 mile mark before I tapped out. At that point, it wasn’t just feeling physically sick that was getting in the way, I was so hyper aware that I was having a terrible run that my mental toughness was about as sturdy as a birthday jelly. In fact, I was so frustrated that I ended up going home in a huff and having a massive cry, like a big ole’ sweaty baby.

Thank GOD the rest of the week’s training went to plan, and without any notable trauma. There were a couple of 3 milers and on Saturday, my long run was 6 miles. I did that at a 13 minute mile pace, so believe me, I’m no Mo Farrah, but I felt good. I mean, relatively good. I didn’t have to crawl to the car or anything, so that was nice.

Week 4 surprised me. I hadn’t really looked ahead at my training programme in detail, so I was very close to doing a cartwheel of joy when I realised week 4 was almost a ‘rest’ week. My longest run was 3.8 miles, and the shortest was 2, with a few 3 milers sprinkled into the midweek mix.  I was quite chuffed with how easy the 3 milers were starting to feel, so I used the shorter distances to try and improve my pace. As I said, I’m definitely not going to be breaking any records speed wise. I take walk breaks, because otherwise running just isn’t fun for me, and I won’t make the distances. I am noticing that the further I get into my training plan, the easier I’m finding it to reduce those walk breaks. I’m currently walking about 2-5 minutes every mile, and running/jogging the rest. It seems to be working alright.

As always, if you would like to sponsor me and help raise money for mental health charity, Mind, click through to the link below.

www.virginmoneygiving.com/Lucy-Titterton

Virgin London Marathon 2010

LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 25: Runners pass by the University of Greenwich during the 2010 Virgin London Marathon on April 25, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)

 

LDN Marathon Training: Week 2

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Week 2 of Marathon Training was supposed to look like this, according to my Nike+ app:

Monday – 3 miles

Tuesday – 5 miles

Wednesday – 3 miles

Thursday – Rest

Friday – 3 miles

Saturday – 5 miles.

What actually happened was this:

Monday – 3 miles

Tuesday – Ran 3 miles then realised the blister that I’d thought had healed, had not healed. Succinctly slammed fist down on the treadmill ‘stop’ button and went home to sulk about the injustice of it all.

Wednesday – Strapped foot in approximately 20 metres of bandaging and plasters, attempted to run on treadmill, burst blister, wanted to punch myself in the face. Spent the day hobbling around like an actual lemon.

Thankfully though, after that it was all uphill from there.  Now I think about it, that’s an odd turn of phrase isn’t it –  All uphill from there? Uphill is harder. Downhill is easier. Why would we describe things getting better as being ‘uphill’? Whoever coined that was clearly not a runner themselves. I digress. After a bit of foot airing and a LOT of complaining, things were on the mend! Rejoice!

On Saturday I decided enough was enough. I went to get new running shoes, yay! It was the first time I’d ever been to a ‘proper’ running shop. The imposter syndrome was firmly in place, let me tell you. The staff were perfectly welcoming, but as somebody who is…a bit jigglier than the average runner, shall we say, I always feel like I have to prove to people that I’m not an ‘all the gear, no idea’ type person. I feel like wearing a tshirt that says ‘I know I’m fat but I can still run OK?!’

Paranoia aside, at the running shop, they made me jog on the world’s most jolty treadmill, which films your feet from behind so the guys can assess what your stride is like. Watching that footage back was less than pleasing to the eye. As it turns out, I run with all the grace of a penguin. Additionally, it seems that my feet are destined for ugly running shoes. When I’d first walked into the shop, I’d spotted a pair of bright pink and orange Nike’s that I instantly decided were my soul mate. If there’s one time you can get away with wearing heinously bright shoes, it’s when you’re running. They were so beautiful… BUT NO. My stupid penguin feet required the most boring looking shoes in all the land.


My heart aches thinking about it. Still. I suppose, if we’re being grown ups about it, having correct support when running a billion miles is probably more important than aesthetics. God damn adulthood.

Since I got my new shoes, I’ve had much, much better runs, including a definite breakthrough run where I felt like I’d leveled up. Getting up at 5.30am to run before work isn’t easy. Running after work when you just want to go home and binge watch Jessica Jones is not easy.  So, it’s nice to feel like progress is happening. But alas. I’ll save that for next week’s update.

Again, I’m running for Mind, who are an incredible charity working to help those struggling with mental health problems. If you would like to sponsor me, click the link below:

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/lucy-titterton

LDN Marathon Training: Week 1

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It’s a little over a week since I made the big announcement via my 3082 social media platforms that I’ve been lucky enough to snag a place on the London Marathon. After I’d posted that blog, the marathon was basically all I could think about for the next 48 hours. It’s a weird feeling. Running 26.2 miles feels incredibly abstract right now, but at the same time, the fear is very (x1000) real, so I’m training my big old bum off.

The first week of training was not without a hiccup or two. Typically my running shoes have chosen now to flake out on me. Seemingly, they aren’t as keen on achieving life goals as I am. Lets just say I have become very good friends with Compede blister plasters.Hopefully I can get to a running shop this weekend to replace my old Nike’s. RIP Nike’s. It’s been real.

Speaking of Nike, I used the Nike+ app to formulate a training programme. It’s quite cool, you put in your the date and distance of your race and it puts together a weekly schedule for you to follow. Pleasingly, my first training day (Monday) was scheduled as a rest day. Wahey! That’s what I’m talking about!

When Tuesday did come round, I did my first training run of 3 miles without too much hassle. Recently I’ve been doing a lot of interval training with short bouts of sprinting/walking/sprinting/walking, so cardio wise running 3 miles straight felt like quite a different beast – and it’s without too much shame I admit I did have to stop for a walking breather mid way. I think I did alright though. I mean, I completed the run without having to call for a paramedic or anything, so you know. Bonus.

On Wednesday however, about half way through my second training run I could feel that stupid, irritating burn of a blister forming underneath me. Seriously?! For the love of God. I just about finished, but in hindsight, I probably should have quit whilst I was ahead, because on Thursday I really struggled to walk. I popped into Boots on the way home from work to get some blister plasters on the recommendation of a work colleague (cheers Liz!).

Thursday was supposed to be a cross training day, but I was really nervous of bursting my blister and coming down with a terrible case of manky foot, so I decided to give it a miss. That decision left me feeling a bit useless. This is week 1 of my training and I already had to skip a day? Not the best start. Alas. I recently heard somebody on a podcast that you have to accept your shortcomings and move on, because if you place that negativity in front of you, you’ve got to clamber over it to get to what’s on the other side, which is ultimately going to take longer to do. I felt that was quite applicable to this situation. It’s amazing how much ‘being in your own head’ can impact how well a run goes. Onward and upwards as they say!

Apart from a Friday 3 miler, which went by with relative ease, that concluded my training last week. I feel like last week was more of a light introduction for those who are getting back into the swing of things, which was ideal for me, coming off the back of an interval training phase. I’m actually midway through week 2 of my training as this goes live, but I’ll post about that next week.

Thanks for reading if you made it this far! Give yourself a firm pat on the back – I know I waffle! If you would like to sponsor me for this mammoth run, the money will be going to mental health charity, Mind. Linky linky below:

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/lucy-titterton