Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Fighting the fat: my healthy-ish journey so far

My running shoes! Nike trainers in black, with pink and blue

Fighting the fat: my healthy-ish journey so far


So I’ve mentioned before that I’m on something of a mission to banish some belly fat (and other areas) that has crept up on me slowly over the last three years (definitely post-marriage).
Anyway, I thought it pertinent to share you a quick update on where I’m at.

Full disclaimer: I’ve not stuck to a super strict regime, and the bouts healthy-ness below are punctuated with a few social events and the odd Hob-Nob biscuit.  I am but a mere human, and a greedy one at that. 

In the process, I’ve been introduced to a few products my some very helpful PRs, and I’ll share my thoughts on them too.    
  
So here’s what I’ve been up to…

Fitness

Running


This is something I never thought I’d hear myself say. I pretty much hated running my whole life.  Almost as much as I hate early mornings. So if you told my 20-year-old self that I’d one day be getting up at 9am on a Saturday and running around the park, I would laugh in your face. Yet here I am.  

It’s obviously super-helpful that hubby is doing it with me. Truthfully, I’m not sure if I’d be fully motivated to go alone.

We only go once a week, and I can only muster about 1-2kms. But that to me is progress. Major progress.

I’ve even bought some cute running shoes, which is obviously a better motivator than the trainers I’ve had since uni (proof itself of how much of a running-phobe I am).

Running tip #1 – build yourself up to it.  Don’t expect to go from 0 to 60 without any shin-ache.  I made the mistake of going from practically stationary to full on sprints, and it wasn’t big or clever. Let your body gradually get used to it. Slow and steady really does win the race.

Running tip #2 – mix it up. Jogging slowly for up to an hour isn’t much fun. So it’s good to break it up with bursts of jogging, followed by faster running. This makes for a more interesting workout, and I also feel it makes me workout more efficiently. I always like to run faster for the last home stretch, with the bench at the end of the park proving to be a huge motivator.     

Running tip #3 – sip, don’t swig, water. The temptation is to go crazy and glug on water when working out, but taking small sips is the way to go. I was sent the Bobble Insulate bottle below, which keeps water cool for 24hrs, which is perfect as there’s nothing more annoying than lukewarm water when you’re sweating buckets. Even better, the stainless steel bottle doubles up as a flask for hot drinks.  Bloody brilliant.    
   
This Green Water Bobble bottle keeps your drink cold


If you’re bored of water, a healthy juice shot could be a happy substitute. Very LA, I know. I was sent these Organic Ginger Shots, which contain ginger juice, apple juice, water and nothing else. 

Ginger shots drink - an alternative to water

Way healthier than a processed shake.  However, the ginger fiery-ness nearly blew my head off, though my husband liked it. So if you can take the heat, it’s a good sub for h2o.      
   

Yoga 

I mentioned this in my earlier post, but I practice yoga at least three times a week.  I watch the super straight-forward Shilpa Shetty Yoga, which is perfect to do at home and fits around my daily routine. There is the full 40 minute workout, or a 10 minute version for when you’re short on time. As I’ve been doing it for a few weeks now, I do feel leaner and more toned.

Yoga tip #1 – Give yourself rest days.  Everyone’s body is different - some of us love to get up and do yoga every single day.  And some of us don’t.  I clearly fall into the latter.  When I enthusiastically tried to do yoga for the second day running, AFTER my weekend jog, I suffered strong stomach pains. I think I stretched too far, and I was off yoga for a week.  You see, your body needs to rest and recover after exercise to help your muscles repair and tighten. So going the whole hog is sometimes counter-intuitive. Alternate your days.


Food           


So the biggest thing I’ve learnt is, moderation trumps dieting every time. The problem with strict diets is that they are super unsustainable, and the moment you ease up, the weight comes back on.

The second thing I’ve learnt is that healthy eating is tricky to balance with a social life.  I was doing really well until I had three back-to-back consecutive meals out with different friends.  And even though I had smaller portions than normal, it pretty much kyboshed my routine.

But instead of crying about it, I’ve come to accept that there will be those ‘cheat days’, and an easier rule of thumb is this, don’t eat crap in the house.  

So here’s what I’ve been having:

Healthy, but filling breakfast    

Lizi's low sugar Granola is perfect combined with fruit and yoghurt


While I’ll treat myself to a poached egg on seeded toast on the weekend, in the weekday I need something quicker. Now I make my own citrus porridge (recipe here), and generally avoid shop-bought cereals as they contain insane amounts of sugar.

Low sugar granola with fruit and yoghurt - a great breakfast option


However, I was pleased to be introduced to Lizi’s Granola, which is a low in sugar (less than 4% per pack) and packed with seeds.  I’ll often have this with fruit and yoghurt, and while initially it took getting used to, I now don’t miss the syrupy sugary-ness of standard granolas. Also, the combination of oats, nuts yoghurt and seeds really helps me feel fuller for longer, keeping elevenses at bay.     

Carb-free dinners 

Carb-free recipe for prawn with avocado and mango


I’m surprising myself with this one.  I figured that skipping the carbs would leave me famished.  But if you pick the right alternatives, you’re not left hungry at all. I’ve been having courgette spaghetti (or courgette), and even had a protein packed prawn, mango and avocado salad (see the recipe for that, here).  As long as there is some form of protein in the mix, you can feel full minus the usual pasta, potatoes, rice or bread.           

Healthy fats 

Vita Coco coconut oil has multiple benefits


Yes, you should still be having fats.  I’ve mentioned that I’ve been oil pulling for a while now, well I’ve also experimented with eating teaspoons of the stuff (hey, Miranda Kerr does it too).  The key thing is to go for 100% raw organic coconut oil.  So I’ve been using Vita Coco’s range. I’ll soon be experimenting with using it in cooking too, so watch this space!
  

Healthy snacks  

Californian almonds with handy snack boxes


From experience, I know that you can maintain a healthy weight and flat stomach by eating normal home-cooked meals, as long as you cut out unhealthy snacks. You see, snacking is the secret diet killer.  When you feel hungry between mealtimes, the temptation is to go for a quick fix, and usually it’s an unhealthy one – i.e. a packet of crisps or a chocolate bar. So one of the things I’ve changed up is what I snack on.      

I pretty try to avoid snacking between mealtimes, but if I must, I’ll grab a handful of almonds, which are filling and full of good fats and nutrients.  I received these scrummy almonds from California Almonds, who also provide handy snack tins so you can take a portion of almonds to work or snack on-the-go. Way classier than a sandwich bag or oversized Tupperware.
    
After following my fitness and healthy eating plan, without compromising myself too much, I’m feeling fitter and leaner already.  Like I say, the results aren’t dramatic, but hopefully by doing it the sensible way, they’ll be lasting.            

What are your best health and fitness tips? Share your thoughts with a comment below... 


Thursday, 19 May 2016

Healthy recipe: carb-free prawn, mango and avocado salad

 Carb-free prawn, mango and avocado salad

 

So I’ve mentioned this in my Fighting the Fat, blog post last month about how I’m trying to take positive baby steps towards getting fitter and leaner.  One of the key things that have helped me is swapping carbs for salad and vegetables a few evenings a night.

When my husband first suggested this to me, I thought it was absurd… a meal without rice, potatoes or pasta wasn’t a meal.  Or at least that’s what I thought.  However by being creative with courgette and loading up on protein, no-carbs hasn’t been that bad.  In fact, I’ve felt quite full.

As I go on this healthier adventure, I’m picking up new recipes along the way.  And below is one such meal I prepared, which is totally healthy with a protein kick of prawns.  

I present to you prawn, mango and avocado salad… a heady mix of juicy prawns, meaty avocado and tangy-sweet mango is the perfect taste distraction from carbs.  Best of all, if you buy ready prepped prawns (I opted for Young’s Cooked and Peeled King Prawns), there is zero cooking involved.   

So here it is…


Recipe for carb-free prawn, mango and avocado salad

Ingredients


1 pack cooked and peeled king prawns, defrosted
1 ripe avocado, peeled
1 mango, peeled
1 heart of romaine or little gem lettuce
Juice of 1 limes
3 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
A few coriander leaves to garnish    

Method


To make the dressing, mix the sweet chilli sauce and the lime juice together.
Pour the dressing over the defrosted prawns and leave to marinade while you prep the rest of the dish
Cut the avocado and mango lengthways into thin slices.
Cut the base off the lettuces and slice the leaves into chunky pieces.
Divide the leaves, avocado and mango between two plates
Top with the king prawns
Garnish with coriander.

Crab-free prawns, mango and avocado salad - done!


Monday, 16 May 2016

How to: copy Huda's lip contour in Famous



So here I am with another experimental beauty video which shows you how to make the best of what you've already got, rather than what you haven't.    

In these videos I attempt to take on much sought-after beauty looks, using products that I already own, many of which are super-affordable high street drugtore offerings.

This time I rose to the challenge of creating Huda's lip contour look in Famous. You may have seen all over instagram and the like,that Huda is the darling of glammakeup, with Kim Kardashian as a muse.  She's brought out these gorgeous lip contours, and I wanted to see if I could recreate the colour for myself, without spending another dime.  I used two lipsticks from Collection Gothic Glam range - Seduction and Scorned.

Check out my video to see how I created the look below.

Huda's lip contour in Famous recreated with cheaper lipsticks

What other looks, colours would you like to see me attempt to recreate in a frugal way? Let me know in a comment below.   

Thursday, 12 May 2016

How to: copy Huda Beauty's Lip Contour in Trendsetter (with lipsticks you already own)



This tutorial shows you how to copy Huda Beauty's Lip Contour in Trendsetter, using lipstick shades that you most likely already own.  I rummaged through my old lipsticks and dug out two shades - No7 Moisture Drench lipstick in shiny conker (a red/orange tone), and MUA in no.11 (a nude brown shade). By mixing the two, I got the perfect blend for Trendsetter. The thing to bear in mind is that lip colours look different depending on your skin tone.  So you may want to try a more muted red blended with a nude brown if you're lighter skinned.  

The purpose of this tutorial is to remind you to show some love to your old, discarded, bottom of the bag lipsticks. Mix them together, you never know what shade you'll come up with!  

Huda beauty lip contour in Trendsetter using your own lipsticks




Thursday, 5 May 2016

Greek stuffed aubergine and courgette

Recipe for Greek stuffed baked aubergine and courgette with sweetcorn

Greek stuffed aubergine and courgette 


So I had an aubergine and didn't know what to do with it. I didn't fancy a curry, so baingan bharta was out of the question, and I'm trying to curb the carbs.  So I opted for Greek stuffed aubergine, which has a bit of naughty cheese, but otherwise ticks the healthy box.  

For good measure and economic cooking, I've also created a side of stuffed courgettes - one of my much-loved, and my husbands much derided - recipes. Of course you can skip the courgettes if you don't fancy them, but as they combine so may of the same ingredients and both need cooking in the oven, it make sense to load up on the additional veg.   
  

Recipe for Greek stuffed aubergine and courgette  


Ingredients   

1 large aubergine
1 courgette
1 medium onion, diced
3 medium tomatoes 
Handful sweetcorn 
1tsp all spice 
Pinch salt
Handful grated cheese
Pinch black pepper 

Method 

Cut the aubergine in half lengthways 
Score the flesh, rub with salt and leave in a colander to strain for about 30 minutes 
Then wash the aubergine and drain on a kitchen towel
Bake the aubergines on an oven tray, flesh side down for around 40 minutes  
Meanwhile, slice the courgette lengthways
Scoop out the seedy flesh 
Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes 
While the courgettes and aubergine bake, cook the diced onions in olive oil for a few minutes 
Add some black pepper 
Add a spoon of all spice, then stir
Add in diced tomatoes and a splash of water, cook until the sauce is thickened 
Top the aubergine with half the sauce
Stir in the sweetcorn to the remaining sauce 
Add the sauce and sweetcorn on top of the baked courgette
Top both the courgette and the aubergine with gates cheese 
Return to the oven until the cheese it golden and bubbling

That's it, simple and beautiful.  You can also garnish the aubergine with feta cheese.  Either way, it's a Grecian beauty that packs a flavourful punch!