A New Challenge

excercise, exercise, fitness, food, Health, health,, healthy, lessons, Life, life,, lifestyle, london, london marathon, mental health, nottingham, running, weight loss

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.

 

Advertisements

Weirdo Quinoa – Recipe

brunch, cooking, dinner, Life, lifestyle, recipes, salads, weight loss, weightloss

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

blog, depression, fitness, food, Health, health,, healthy, Life, lifestyle, london, london marathon, mental health, running, Uncategorized, weight loss, weightloss, wellbeing

 

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)

 

I GOT IN! – LDN Marathon 2016

fitness, london marathon, running

I really can’t believe I’m writing this post. When I was 16, I was so unfit that I could barely even walk up a standard flight of stairs without being short of breath at the top. The thought of running for longer than even a minute was completely alien to me. Fast forward 9.5 years to 2015 and I’ve just found out that I have gained a place on the Virgin London Marathon 2016. Holy shit.

In those 9.5 years I’ve spent hours in my mum and dad’s converted garage on a cross trainer, completed the P90X & Insanity programmes, shared a tiny council gym with lethargic teenagers in their PE class, pushed the limits with an awesome PT (Hi Will!), completed the very first UK Colour Run (5km) and then progressed to the 10km Race for Life. It’s been quite the journey, let me tell you. And now the bloody London Marathon! I’d say right now, I’m 50% crapping myself, 50% pure determination.

I’m running as part of the Mind team. For those who might not know, Mind is a UK based charity who focus on providing help for those suffering from mental health issues. They do some amazing work, including offering counselling services, supported housing, crisis helplines and they even help those who have had their lives overturned by mental health problems get back into training schemes and employment. Sometimes MH treatment can seem like it isn’t taken very seriously, which is frustrating for those struggling, as MH illnesses left untreated can have a far more damaging impact than so many physical illnesses. This is why it’s so important that charities like Mind exist.

Running the London Marathon for Mind has a very satisfying sense of symmetry for me. In the past, I’ve taken medication for depression. Sometimes even now I struggle with it. But one thing that has never, ever let me down, and I’ve always been able to rely on to give me a massive serotonin (happy chemical in the brain) boost is exercise. I can’t begin to estimate the number of times I’ve felt that sickening emptiness in the pit of my stomach, but forced myself to put on my gym kit and go for a run, and came back from that run feeling like I’ve conquered the world. Raising money for a charity like Mind, doing the very thing that has pulled me out of a hole so many times before – it’s a very humbling thought. Oh god, now I’m crapping myself again!

So I’m going to be blogging (and hopefully vlogging, providing my camera stops being an ass, but that’s a tale for another time) my training over the next few months. Firstly, I have a feeling I’m going to want to remember this ridiculous journey. Secondly, I’m going to be begging you for your sponsorship over the next 5ish months – the least I can do is keep you in the loop.

The following link takes you to my fundraising page. I understand completely if you don’t want to donate just yet, but please keep me in mind over the coming months. I’ve got a lot of hard work ahead, and your sponsorship would really mean the world to me.

www.virginmoneygiving.com/lucy-titterton

Healthy Junk Food: Lamb Kebab

dinner, food, Health, healthy, recipes, Uncategorized

I wish I could with 100% honesty claim to be one of those people who loathes the thought of a greasy kebab. But alas, I am by nature somebody who loves junk food, and I’m not especially discriminatory against any particular type. What I don’t love though, is the feeling I get after I eat a kebab. For anybody who didn’t spend their late teens and early twenties falling out of Britain’s nightclubs at 3am and into the local takeaway, you might not know exactly what I’m on about. Please see the picture below, for reference.

  Whilst you might recoil in horror and ask yourself who in their right mind would eat something so unrecognisable as a food stuff, it’s worth remembering that this is actually a fairly tame representation of the standard doner kebab. I dare you to google image ‘doner kebab’ and not be horrified by some of the results. The thing is, as disgusting as they look, the combination of high fat, low quality lamb, soft, carb loaded flatbread, crunchy salad and garlic/mint sauce to top off, actually makes for a drunk 21 year old’s dream food. 

But honestly, the fact is when you buy one of these the portion size could usually feed a family of 4, the lamb is the poorest quality you can imagine with a horrifyingly high fat content, and the sauces are usually laden with oil. Health food, they are not. 

However, I decided to make my own version. I went to the shop and bought 2 lamb steaks. These were handily in the 3 for £10 section on meat and poultry, so that was a bonus. After marinating them in olive oil and oregano for about 2 hours, I pan fried for about 2 minutes on each side, then wrapped in foil to rest. Whilst the meat was cooking, I made up a simple flatbread recipe – it’s a Jamie one, you can find it here. The great thing about making your own flatbread is that because it’s a yeastless recipe which isn’t designed to rise, there is no need to knead (hardeehar) or prove for hours at a time. Once the dough was rolled out into something that resembled 2 circles, these were cooked in a frying pan sprayed with frylight over a high heat. I then zapped back to the lamb, which I sliced relatively finely in homage to the dodgy kebabs of my youth.

I decided to cook one side of the flatbread a little longer than the other. This gives one ‘crispy’ side, and one soft. On a plate, I then topped the soft side of the flatbread with carrot, coriander, spinach and the lamb. It just seems to make the eventual folding of the kebab a bit easier if the inside is softer. To make the flatbread ‘stay’ once it had been folded, I plonked a plate on top of it whilst I griddled some asparagus. By the time the asparagus was cooked and ready to be served as a side, the  weight of the plate had forced the flatbread to stay put. Yay physics! To boost the veggies (fruits, whatever) I added in some baby plum tomatos; and I finished with some leftover shredded mozzarella and grilled halloumi. Not needed but it would have gone to waste and it was treat night dammit!

Put it all together and whadaya get?!

This.

  

Mega Veggie Loaded Stir Fry

food, recipes, weight loss

A very quick post today – my body appears to have taken to waking up with the sun, at about 4.30am and refusing to go back to sleep. I’m not convinced the matchsticks keeping my eyes open are going to hold out for much longer, but alas! That is a battle for another time.

Tonight’s tea consisted of a prawn and veggie stir fry with a half serving of brown rice. I’m usually not a carb cutter, because I believe in having a balanced meal rather than restricting. But I’d already had a bagel for breakfast, a couple of oatcakes with some fruit for a snack and a rye bread sandwich at lunch, so I felt like a half serving of rice was probably quite sufficient tonight. After all, I’m not sure 5km week night runs really require carb loading. Man. I wish.

Simply put, I bloody love a good stir fry for three reasons: A) tasty tasty Asian foods, B) great opportunity to get a bajillion servings of fruit and veg into one bowl, C) super easy to make without using 84 different pans. Giving a recipe for a stir fry seems a bit silly really, since you can basically just put any veggies you like into a pan with whatever flavourings you enjoy and go for it. But hey! Just in case anybody reading is absolutely dying to make this exact recipe

Tonight I used 5 garlic cloves, a third of a red onion, 1 spring onion, 1.5 courgettes, 2 handfuls of frozen broccoli and 1 handful of frozen green beans (microwaved together to cook before adding into the main stir fry pan to avoid excess water), 1 small pack of mange tout and a packet of raw frozen king prawns from aldi. I also cooked 80g (dry weight) of brown rice. Generally speaking, in the week I tend to make double portions so I have enough for tomorrow’s lunch.

First things first, I like to cook my rice before I crack on with the veggies. I find trying to navigate my way through rice cooking and veg stirring tends to be a recipe for stuck to the bottom of the pan rice, soggy veggies or both. Lovely. So what I tend to do is cook the rice first, turn off the heat and leave the lid on for the rice to retain the heat a bit.

For the veggie pan, I always start by softening the garlic and red onion first with a tiny bit of chilli oil. Then I add in the chunkier veg – in this case the courgette. It’s around this time when I whack the frozen broccoli and green beans in a bowl with a splash of water, cover with cling film and microwave for about 5 minutes. About 4 minutes into the microwaving process I added the spring onion, mange tout and prawns and stirred until the mange tout to the veggie pan into the mange tout shows signs of softening and the prawns have began to turn from grey to pink in colour. When the broccoli and green beans are done, drain the excess water off and stir into the pan with the rest of the veggies. To add a bit more flavour, at this point I like to add in some oyster sauce and a small splash of soy sauce. VOILA!

Cheddar, Sweet Potato and Kale Mash 

food

Have you ever had an accidental moment of genius? Because today I did. On Sunday, I cooked myself some lamb loins, sweet potato mash, roasted carrots and kale. I had leftover mash and kale, so I had planned to make bubble and squeak cakes with gammon and fried egg.

However, just after I got home from work I remembered it’s my Nan’s birthday tomorrow, and my parents are holding a good old fashioned BBQ for her. Not wanting to turn up empty handed, I decided to make a recipe I found via the Shayloss YouTube channel – quinoa, tomatoes, coriander, jalapeño, onions, garlic, lime, cumin, olive oil, corn and black beans. It’s a pretty simple recipe, but involves lots of prep. So by the time I’d chopped all of the ingredients, cooked the quinoa, washed the pots and done all of the boring, grown up things associated with cooking; the last thing I wanted to do was fiddle around forming perfectly shaped bubble and squeak cakes and then attempt to cook them in a way that was healthy, but would allow the cakes to hold their shape. No fanku.

Instead, I chopped the kale, added 20g of mature cheddar and microwaved. And oh. my. god. if my tongue could leap out of my throat and do one of those Michael Jackson grabby crotch thrust things with a *heeee heeee*, I swear it would have done! Such a simple accompaniment to gammon but such flavour pay off. As I said, I chose to have it with a gammon steak with the fat removed and a dry fried egg (do not attempt to do this without a good none stick pan – it will only lead to heartache). Seriously, anybody reading this HAS to try this recipe. Sweet potato can be counted as a portion of vegetables, and so can kale. That’s two of your five a day in one incredibly tasty recipe. I mean come on. That doesn’t happen very often. TRY IT!

IMG_4399

Overall verdict: The trophy cupboard of top comfort food recipes has gained a new bobby dazzler.