Tuesday, 5 May 2015

THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN . . .

It's that time of year again.

The time where I renounce all chocolate, alcohol and pretty much anything that is good and brings enjoyment to my life.

The time where I overdose on sit-ups and crunches (while wishing they were CRUNCHIES), dust off my weights and trusty loyal kettlebell, pledge to do at least an hour of exercise a day, and swear off fun. (Unfortunately I have never reached the point where I consider exercise "fun". I envy those people who can.)

Yep... the holiday is booked.

I am going to Corfu in two and a half weeks. I have known I was going to Corfu for about two weeks so far, which has given me a month to get into some semblance of a shape. Other than "couch potato" shape.

Although, to be honest, I reckon I'm more of a "wine glass" shape at the moment.

And I was being good. I had my meals all planned out in advance last week. There was protein, good fats, good carbs. Vegetables. Loads of vegetables. Basically everything that's meant to be good for you. I managed to resist wine on more than one day. On Friday I exercised in the morning (I had a day off) and then walked all the way into the city centre and back - a round trip of about six miles and I burned about 500 calories each way, according to my Polar watch anyway. (Although it sometimes thinks I have no heart-rate whatsoever, so I tend to take its outcome with a pinch of salt.)

Anyhoo... I got to yesterday. Weighed myself, feeling like I HAD to have dropped a good few pounds from last time I weighed myself.

Nope. I HAD PUT ON THREE POUNDS!

I promptly went out for lunch and wine to drown my sorrows.

But as of tomorrow... I'm back on it. Okay, I've only got two and a half weeks to Corfu and therefore my desired body is realistically outwith my reach in that period of time. But I need to get into some sort of routine.  And even if I can only drop a couple of pounds (to be fair, yesterday saw the beginning of "Aunty Rose's monthly visit" so that could have attributed to the weight gain), surely I'll still feel better than I'm feeling now?

Let's see, shall we? I will, as ever, be documenting the whole depressing trying-to-lose-weight process on my instagram, so feel free to pop by and follow me there if you haven't already. (Just ignore the starter I posted from my dinner out tonight, 'kay? Thanks.)

Wish me luck!

Friday, 1 May 2015

SCOTLAND THE BEAUTIFUL: SKYE!!!

The bridge joining Skye to mainland Scotland
As you may know, a few weeks ago me and the fella headed up to Skye, a first visit for both of us. And, with the exception of probably the weather, it didn't disappoint!

Skye is an island just off the North West of Scotland and one of the Inner Hebrides group of islands. Although it is an island, it is actually also now joined to the mainland by a bridge. So although it took us half an hour to sail from Mallaig to the bottom of the island on the way there, we took the bridge back and were on it for half a minute max. So surprised we were at the short length of the bridge, we turned around and drove back onto Skye for another twenty minutes or so before we headed home!

There was tons to see in Skye - unfortunately we only had two days to try and fit it all in and, with the aforementioned bad weather, we struggled to see everything we wanted to see.

Skye isn't really known for its beaches, which is a shame since there are loads of gorgeous beaches on nearby islands and nearby mainland! We decided to go and visit Claggan Coral Beach though as the pics we'd seen online looked pretty. Unfortunately that was the point where the weather decided to turn... and the tide had only bloody came in too! However, the part of it we could actually see was ridiculously pretty.




Inside the Fairy Glen
Kilt Rock was the most accessible sight in Skye - it's just at the side of the road on the edge of a cliff and, as you know, I do love my waterfalls. This was a good 'un. Although a little precarious to try to photograph - be careful not to drop your phone!!!




Neist Point was the first place we visited when we got to Skye, on the western side of the island. Pretty views... it was much MUCH colder than it appears from the photos though!



It may be apparent from my face how cold it is!

Portree was a pretty little place and we stopped there after getting soaked at the beach to get some fish and chips - yum!


But my favourite of all of the sights I saw in Skye has to be the Quiraing.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quiraing Just look at this landscape!!! Definitely worth a visit and a walk around.




Boyfriend decided to run down the side of a cliff to explore a cave. I was not happy.

 
If you have the chance to go to Skye at any point, I would definitely recommend it - it was utterly gorgeous. Even the sunset. :-)  This was the view from the hotel we were staying in, sunset over Uig.
 
 
For more information, go here.
 

Thursday, 23 April 2015

LETTUCE BE HEALTHY!


I love the idea of being one of those "healthy" people. The people I see on instagram in approximately every third photo. The people who look all toned and glowing and post videos of their intense workouts alongside beautiful snaps of their delicious - but - healthy meals, usually made of ingredients I've never heard of and would probably only find on one of my bi-annual trips to Whole Foods in Giffnock.

They are so fit and happy and they make me sick because I'm not one of them.

(They're usually also Australian which makes me even more jealous, given I live in rainy Scotland. But I digress.)

The thing is, it's not that hard to be healthy. I just make it so by thinking that I need all these fixes that I can only get in Holland & Barretts or Whole Foods. All you need is to go to the supermarket, pick up some salad vegetables and protein and you have a million salad ideas you can try out. Just layer on some mixed leaves, peppers, cherry tomatoes and spring onion (not cucumber. Just no. I hate the stuff) and then you can chuck anything else on top of this base!

Some of my favourites are:

  • Egg, bacon and avocado
  • Chicken and cheese (as pictured!)
  • Salmon and avocado
  • Tuna mayo and red onion

All just so easy and also healthy. And low-carb, if that's something you try to stick to as much as possible. It's also a good excuse to have a lot of your favourite protein without the guilt you would have if you added it to pasta or rice. Result!


We all need some salad in our life . . . I'm all for it, especially if it means it frees up my calories for a glass of wine or twelve!!! ;-)

What's your favourite thing to put in a salad?



This blog post was produced in collaboration with Florette.


Tuesday, 14 April 2015

SCOTLAND THE BEAUTIFUL: ARDNAMURCHAN PENINSULA!


This weekend we headed up to Skye, but decided to have an overnight en route at the Inn at Ardgour. This is across Loch Linnhe, which is between Glencoe and Fort William and necessitated a trip on the Corran Ferry, a car ferry leaving from Onich and arriving pretty much at the doorway of the Inn. I had never even heard of this ferry, which takes a mere three minutes to navigate the breadth of the loch, but I think this was the main selling point of staying in this particular inn. (FYI: the inn itself was actually fab anyway!)

Three minutes after boarding we found ourselves on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula, which according to Wikpedia is noted for being "very  unspoilt and undisturbed". I can see why. It is mostly single track roads and on a quick drive we went further south of the island after checking into the hotel, as well as our trip north the following day to get to Mallaig for the Skye ferry, we didn't encounter many cars. We also encountered a lot of sheep in the road - they are obviously not used to having a lot of vehicles interrupting them. On the trip South we discovered one sheep determinedly lazing in the road on the way back. He was NOT for budging!


On the trip North we encountered a whole welcome committee of sheep on the road! They moved out of the way but it was in a very much "aye, we'll move, but in our own time, ken???" sort of way.

We also saw a few baby lambs at the side of the road. Absolutely gorgeous!

The peninsula was lovely, and I'd definitely go back. There's not much there, granted, but it's naturally pretty. Dramatic landscape, pretty beaches, lochs aplenty and random waterfalls. And the aforementioned sheep are DEFINITELY characters. ;-)










 For more information, check out this website. Honestly, if you're in the area and have a couple of hours to spare, it's worth a visit. The ferry costs 8 pounds for a car (passengers included) but if you can find somewhere to park at Onich, you can travel across without a car for free. (You can also drive around but it is about forty miles.)

I also highly recommend the Inn at Ardgour. Great wee place.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

WHY I SHOULDN'T LEAVE THE HOUSE AT ALL . . .

I hate people. They make me angry. They get in my way. They fling their arms out as I walk past, oblivious of their surroundings, and HIT ME!!! They walk really slowly when I am in a hurry to get somewhere. AS IF THEY ARE DOING IT ON PURPOSE!!!!

When I am standing in a street, waiting for someone, they gravitate towards me. It's like I'm a magnet. I could have chosen the most harmless out-of-the-way spot to stand in and suddenly I am surrounded by groups of people who have decided that where I am is obviously the place to be. WHY??? Seriously. Are they all out to get me or what? Is there a conspiracy? Am I starring in my own version of the Truman Show? Is it a game show where the purpose is to see who can drive me insane first, and the rest of the world are the contestants???

Why do they decide to take the seat next to me on the subway when there is no-one else in the carriage? Or, even worse, decide to sit half on top of me???

Why must they stop abruptly in the middle of the street without checking first that I'm not behind them, and that I'm not in fact psychic and knew they were going to do this so I could sidestep them???

Why do people who don't need to be out at a busy time of day choose to do so? Is it because they KNOW that the only chance I'm going to have to go to the post office or do my Christmas shopping is between 12 and 1 on a weekday? I DON'T LIKE QUEUES!!! I don't even WANT to be there? Why are they there? Voluntarily? At the time of day when people are rammed into the shops like sardines??? At the only time I can feasibly go there?

Why do they stand in the only aisle I need in the supermarket (usually the wine aisle) at the exact section I want to look at? Why are they taking so long to decide? Someone HASN'T asked them to choose between their two kids here for Christ's sake, it's a fricking bottle of wine and I NEED a bottle to deal with the stress!

Does this sound stressful? This is my thought process most of the time I leave the house. Particularly when I'm on my own and have no one to help deal with my frustration. My sister is convinced I'll get myself beaten up one day with the cheeky remarks I can't help but utter in my anger at most of these situations.

And this is why I should just stay inside. Possibly with wine.

DEFINITELY with wine.

Do you hate going outside as much as me?

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

AN EGG-CELLENT MEAL . . . "ALL-DAY-BREAKFAST" SCRAMBLE!


As I mentioned in my last post I don't get a lot of time to make breakfast during the week due to work - it's easier for me to throw together some overnight oats the night before or take in some cereal and almond milk than it is to actually create a slap-up breakfast on a weekday morning. It's also far easier for me to stay in bed and hit the snooze button twenty thousand times before finally dragging myself out of bed half an hour before I'm due to leave my flat!

However, when I was contacted by a representative for British Lion Eggs asking for me to create a recipe using eggs, I decided to make an exception to the rule today and try and cook something up for me and the boyfriend.

I decided to make an "all-day-breakfast" scramble of sorts. You could throw anything typically "breakfast" into this - I decided to go for relatively healthy facets of a traditional fry-up, mixing tomatoes, mushrooms and chopped up bacon into scrambled egg, along with the possibly slightly less traditional breakfast ingredients of spring onions and some cream cheese!


So how do you make this delicious but simple creation??? Easy! Just fry up 2 slices of unsmoked bacon and add some sliced mushrooms; meanwhile crack four eggs into a bowl and mix with a tablespoonful of cream cheese. Tip the eggs on top of the bacon and mushrooms in a pan and scramble, adding sliced up cherry tomatoes and the spring onions as the eggs cook. I meant to top this with some feta cheese but it completely slipped my mind - too early in the morning for me to be thinking properly, I guess! Despite the omission of cheese it was absolutely delicious!



Quite often if I eat breakfast early I feel my stomach growling around the office by mid-morning. However, I've always found one of the best things about eggs is that they tend to fill me up until lunch.

I know a couple of people who don't like eggs or suffer from an Egg Allergy. .  . I'm glad I'm not one of them because I loved this breakfast and will definitely be making it again very soon. Although perhaps I'll make it a little bit LESS healthy next time. Sausages and black pudding scramble anyone??? ;-)


This post was produced in collaboration with British Lion Eggs.




Saturday, 7 March 2015

WEEKENDS ARE ALL ABOUT THE BRUNCH . . .


Like most people who work Monday to Friday I love weekends. One of the reasons for this is that I get to lie in bed for as long as I want of a morning. Another is that I still have time, no matter when I get up, to make myself a decent breakfast. During the week I exist on Weetabix and almond milk, overnight oats or - when I'm being really naughty and lazy - a chocolate bar out of the work vending machine (I know!) so it's good to actually get a bit of extra time to hang out in the kitchen and make a proper meal for a change.

But what to make? If you are struggling for breakfast/brunch ideas, here's a couple of my favourites!

Shakshouka

This is delicious and actually really bloody healthy if you actually look at the ingredients. It's basically just a tin of chopped tomatoes, onions, peppers, spices and anything else you want to add (mushrooms, chorizo, the world is your oyster!) fried up and then topped with egg. I usually add a wee bit of grated cheddar or feta (or both!) to the end product but you can leave the cheese out to keep it completely saintly if you wish!

(I go by the above spelling of the dish as I originally got it from the Harcombe Diet recipe book, which used this spelling. It has other spellings. Just thought I'd point that out...)





Egg and bacon cupcakes



I got this one from the I Quit Sugar book and, while I think the idea of me ever actually quitting sugar is quite laughable and, frankly, ludicrous, it's a good wee recipe. Just line a muffin tray with bacon, crack an egg in, and stick in the oven. The result is pretty damn tasty. And low carb. But mainly tasty.

Recipe can be found here.













Halloumi, avocado and poached egg stack

One of my friends is mega-healthy and kept posting pictures of delicious breakfast stacks which inspired me to try one myself. The boyfriend suggested using halloumi as a "bread substitute" for the base of the stack, which worked pretty damn well. (I'm a halloumi FIEND by the way.) Just slice up the halloumi and grill, lay it out on a plate and top with sliced avocado followed by a poached egg. Add a sprinkling of black pepper. BOOM!


Amazing!










Scrambled egg and smoked salmon




You can't really get a simpler combo. Just scramble up your egg in the frying pan, stick it on the plate and top with sliced up smoked salmon. Utterly gorgeous.
























Okay, so I realise these all involve eggs, and so you're probably not going to enjoy them if you don't like eggs (I do realise that there are people out there who don't! I even know a couple of them!) ... but as far as I'm concerned eggs are a weekend breakfast staple! Hopefully I've provided you with some brunch inspiration, if you were looking for some...

What's your favourite brunch???

Monday, 2 March 2015

ON FASTING . . . AND FORGETTING MY LUNCH!!!

So today is my third fast day and so far it's definitely been easier than I thought. Still hard, mind, but I genuinely thought it would be harder than this.

I mean, there always seem to be waves of hunger. Like this morning, when I decided to hold off until lunchtime to have my first food but was suddenly overcome with starvation at about half past ten. But I stayed strong and it passed and I was able to hold out until lunch without too much difficulty!

I occasionally feel a bit moody, but to be honest that might be my personality that anything relating to food. Although my boyfriend saying proudly he thought he was under his calorie intake for the day, meaning TWO THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED CALORIES did sort of make me want to punch him.

But the value you put on food when you're not having as much is also pretty ridiculous. Case in point: last Friday. I'd had my second fast day the day before and, while in Marks and Spencers buying my 283 calorie ready meal (that's an approximate figure) I decided to buy Friday's lunch to give me something to look forward to.

I went for a simple - but delicious because "it's not just food, it's M&S food, y'all!" - egg mayo sandwich along with Mexican chicken with a sour cream dip. It was going to be an epic lunch.... and one I wouldn't be able to have until two pm on Friday due to the way my meetings were laid out around lunch. But I was looking forward to it so much. I spent most of Thursday night fighting my hunger pangs by imagining how good my lunch would feel the next day.

So you can possibly imagine my feelings when I got out of the car at work on Friday morning... and realised that I DIDN'T HAVE MY LUNCH WITH ME!!!

I'd assumed that my boyfriend had taken it out to the car, as he'd taken it out of the fridge. He had assumed I had taken it myself. We were both wrong.

I'm not proud of my actions.

I cried.

My heart was pretty much broken.

But my lovely boyfriend went back to his house at lunchtime and got it for me. And then I only had time to eat the sandwich part of it. Which also upset me.

I don't think not eating has ever upset me THIS much before. And it wasn't even my time of the month! So I've deliberately not bought lunch in advance for tomorrow.

It seems safer that way...

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

ON MY FIRST PROPER "FAST DAY" . . .

Yum....
Healthy. Sigh...

I love food in most forms. I'll be honest though - I probably spend longer thinking about eating the Pollo della Rotunda from La Rotunda (look at it, though!!!)  than I do about eating healthy protein, veg and fruit... I tend to eat the healthy stuff so I can enjoy my treats with a bit less guilt.

So I decided to give the 5:2 Diet a go.

For those not in the know and/or have been hiding under a rock unexposed to any diet chat for a loooong time, this is the diet where you spend two days a week limiting yourself to 500 calories but can (within reason) eat whatever the feck you want the other five days. Well, that's the general gist of it anyway!

This sounded ideal to me. If also a little terrifying. I am RUBBISH at sticking to diets longterm as I spend too much time thinking about all the foods I can't or shouldn't have. The beauty of the 5:2 diet is that if you are craving something that might be considered bad for you, all you need to do is tell yourself you can have it tomorrow when you're not on a "fast day".

The downside, for me so far, are the fast days.

And I've only actually done one of these so far.

I started yesterday. I was very enthusiastic beforehand, as I am with all diets. I planned my calorie intake down to the last detail, keeping it simple and making sure I would be avoiding the Kitchen of Temptation (trademark pending) as much as possible by buying an M&S healthy ready meal worth 301 calories. The remaining calories would be spent on Weetabix, almond milk and a low calorie pot of jelly, as well as numerous fruit teas and diet soft drink.

I woke up yesterday morning raring to go. I jumped out of bed (or got out very slowly after hitting snooze five million times, as is my usual routine) and started getting ready for work. Within ten minutes I felt hungry, which is not usually the case until later on in the morning. Typical. I think my brain was playing mind games with me, knowing I wasn't planning on eating very much.

The hungry feeling, however, passed and I lasted until half ten before giving in and having my Weetabix. I had hoped to get out for a walk at lunchtime in order to distract myself for the lack of lunch. However, the weather let me down. So I was limited to sitting in the boyfriend's car looking forlornly at pictures of food on Instagram while he ate a sandwich. :-(

Two litres of water and a diet Irn Bru got me through most of the day as well as a busy working day, but I was relieved to get home. I was trying to put off eating my M&S curry as long as possible, but then my boyfriend started reading an article online about the best places to eat in Glasgow and the pictures looked so delicious that I started trying to eat his iPad so I realised I could wait no longer to eat.

I put it on a small plate, ate slowly, tried not to be distracted by social media or tv, all that jazz... it still felt like the meal was over too quickly and I was still hungry. And I went to put on the washing machine and even the Daz tablets smelled delicious and potentially edible.... I wondered if I could really manage this. Luckily my stomach apparently was taking a while to catch up with my brain so after a bit of willpower,  my hunger abated and I managed to delay eating my jelly for several hours. There was one point, after dinner, though, where I realised it wasn't even seven pm yet and wondered aloud how I would make it until bedtime at this rate!

I whiled away the rest of the evening reading recipes online for inspiration for something I could eat today. (It might have been torture for some but for me it actually helped!) I also managed to make up some cacao overnight oats for today's breakfast without putting my face in the tub... although it was tempting.

I went to bed actually feeling not hungry at all in the end, and remembering that today I could eat whatever I wanted. Which I did.

And the next fast day is Thursday, and I fully intend to continue.

Whether I lose weight or not on this particular diet is another story... but at the moment this seems like a good way to have my cake and eat it too.

Just not on a fast day obviously . . .

Anyone else tried the 5:2 Diet or intermittent fasting?

Sunday, 22 February 2015

SCOTLAND THE BEAUTIFUL: GLENFINNAN VIADUCT . . .


On our trip to Fort William last weekend, the boyfriend suggested visiting the site of the Glenfinnan Viaduct. I'm a sucker for some pretty scenery plus I remembered it appearing in the Harry Potter films, so I was more than happy to go along.

It's in the Lochaber area of the Highlands, and I really liked it there. Although the boyfriend seemed to be intent of running away from me. Case in point: the photo below.


 
It turned out he was just trying to get a better view of the viaduct, but it hurt at the time...






 
Lovely area... I would definitely recommend a visit if you're in the area!
 
For more information, go here.