Getting back on – Lucy’s November Challenge

Life is good for me at the moment. I like being busy, and right now I am the busiest I’ve been in 3 years. I’m trying to run a theatre company, fund-raise, continue my tutoring work, keep up my Bikram habit, re-decorate my flat and hold down a social life all at the same time. It’s a lot of fun.

But when you’re busy, often something has to give, and for me it’s been the healthy life-style I’d adopted with such joy over the last couple of years. Since mid-summer, I have certainly let things slip. I am binging out on bad foods and I’m not exercising as much. And guess what? It doesn’t feel good, and it doesn’t look good! A few times over the last month I have tried to instil some heavy will power and jump back on the band wagon, but to no avail. Oddly I think I need somebody to answer to, as well as myself. This morning it hit me: I’m going to answer to you guys – my readers! Because how can I sit here at my computer and preach healthy eating and active lifestyle if I’m going to house parties and eating family packs of doritos!? I can’t. So I’ve decided that to help me jump back into the healthy lifestyle I’d grown to love so much, I am challenging myself to the healthiest of all Novembers! And you’re going to keep an eye on me.

Each Sunday I will set myself fitness tasks to complete throughout the week, and I encourage any of my readers to join in! I will also document healthy meals I concoct and be more dedicated in posting online about such things. If I slip and fall off the track, I will tell you. And I hope that will be rare. I would love to hear if you guys try a similar thing, so do message me.

Today I did the first video of a 5 Day Workout Challenge created by Fitness Blender (one of my favourite fitness sites). I will aim to complete the challenge over this week as well as doing yoga and jogging. I am also going to kickstart this wonderful November with a basic detox. On Monday I will be eating purely fruit, on Tuesday purely Veg and on Wednesday a mixture of the two. I have done this in the past to boost my brain into taking things more seriously! But please don’t follow suit if you have never done it before.

Lucy’s November Challenge

WEEK 1

Monday – Bikram Yoga (90 mins) and Weights (10 mins)

Tuesday – Fitness Blender’s 5 Day Workout Challenge Video 2

Wednesday – Fitness Blender’s 5 Day Workout Challenge Video 3

Thursday – Bikram Yoga (90 mins) and Abs (10 mins)

Friday – Fitness Blender’s 5 Day Workout Challenge Video 4 and Bikram Yoga (90 mins)

Saturday/Sunday – Over the period of the weekend: Fitness Blender’s 5 Day Workout Challenge Video 5 and Bikram Yoga (60 mins)

I will report back halfway through the week and at the end of the week. This is one girl taking control of something she has every capacity to take control of!

See you on the other side.

3 Ways to Help Yourself Behave

I’ve recently been trying to slim down a tiny bit again. All the usual things: summer is round the corner, my birthday is next month, I’m going to a wedding on Saturday etc etc. Anyway, I’ve found a few things that have really helped me stay on track – steering me away from the chips and dips, and towards the home-made soups and kale!


 

1. Fit-spiration

Many of you may have heard of the evil twin sister to this motivational technique – “thin-spiration”. Thin-spiration is a hideous hideous thing. It’s a word generally used by people suffering from eating disorders to describe the reams of photographs they look at of un-naturally skinny other people, whether they be celebrities or just other fellow anorexics. It is a distinctly un-healthy idea, but the need for inspiration to achieve our goals is a common one. I recently heard someone talk about “fit-spiration” and thought that sounded wonderful. Find a picture of somebody who is in excellent shape – slim but healthy. Somebody who is fit and strong. Make that your goal. I stumbled across this picture when I was shopping online for a new sports bra, and it’s stayed on my laptop desktop ever since!

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2. Health food blogs

I’ve previously talked about my favourite food porn website: http://beautifulpicturesofhealthyfood.tumblr.com/

But I’ve now got a new favourite health-food blog, and it’s all vegan. Readers, meet Deliciously Ella. Deliciously Ella, meet my readers. Once you find a brilliant health food blog, it’s easy to stay healthy yourself, because you crave their recipes. You want to make what they make, you want to eat what they eat. Gone are the desires for a Dominos pizza with burgers in the crust, and here come the impulses to make a vat of quinoa every weekend, just to add to all my dishes during the week. I want to make this, and this… and most of all these. Get a healthy obsession, and suddenly being good isn’t a chore.

3. Fruit and Veg Challenge

Recent research has found that our ideas of 5-a-day are way under what we really should be consuming. Apparently it’s more like 7-a-day. But let’s be honest, we all knew that the more fruit and vegetables we ate, the healthier and happier we’d be; There isn’t a limit. I’ve recently set myself challenges – every now and then I say, “let’s eat solely fruit and veg today”. It’s easier than you think. I eat fruit all morning, have a salad dressed with lemon juice and plenty of herbs for lunch, more fruit in the afternoon and then a home-made soup for dinner, or a mound of all my favourite vegetables: Green beans, cauliflower, aspargaus, mushrooms. Challenge yourself to eat 7 portions of fruit and veg today, and just see how much the bad stuff you consume goes down.

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Gorging on Winter Side-Dishes

I’ve eaten a lot this evening. It’s been a binge day. But thanks to my rule of not buying any bread/potatoes/sweets/crisps for my own flat, the worst I could binge on was buttered rice cakes… and I certainly did that, after my celery dipped in salsa, oatcakes dipped in pesto and corn thins dipped in almond butter. However, the most delicious thing I ate were these wonderful bowls of vegetables, otherwise known as the “winter side-dishes” (even though they played the role of protagonist in my mealtimes today).

Firstly the spinach:

 

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I got the idea for this from my favourite food porn website. Firstly I fried a small handful of pine-nuts and a small handful of raisins in about a teaspoon of coconut oil. Then I steamed a whole 240g bag of spinach, drained it, chopped it up and added it to the pan. All the ingredients were sizzled around a little, salt and pepper was added, and voila. Delicious and nutritious.

 

The second dish was the hot mushroom and carrot dish:

ImageA large carrot was grated, and a box of mushroom were sliced. An onion was fried in a small dash of olive oil, and a chopped chilli pepper was added. Then the mushroom and carrot was added, along with a handful of cranberries (keeping it festive, and adding a bit of tang to the dish). A dash of worcester sauce and a slop of teriaki sauce joined the party, and finally a generous teaspoon of paprika was thrown on top. The bowl was garnished with some chopped coriander, and I was ready to go.

 

Home-made Soups

Making home-made soup is one of the most notoriously easy but underdone cooking activities. I owned a blender for over 2 years before I made my first home-made soup, but I have never looked back. All it involves is bunging together various vegetables/stock/spices/herbs, and stewing them for a while, before liquidizing! It really is that simple. And they are brilliant when trying to eat healthily or trying to lose weight. They feel substantial and filling, because when you make it yourself it is often thick and chunky. And they are full of nutritious vegetables. This is very appropriate after my last post – home-made soup is actually good for you.

My flatmate and I are now huge fans of home-made soup (it’s rare for there to not be a random coloured concoction brewing on the stove), and I’ve been meaning to do a soup post for months. Here it finally is. This is the first, but it will definitely not be the last. Here is my recipe for Courgette and Pear Soup. (The amounts are estimates, and as with all home-made soup, a little freedom to experiment is always allowed).

Lucy’s Courgette and Pear Soup

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130g sliced courgette

40g spring onion

150g pear

160g cauliflower

2 cloves of garlic

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tbsp soy sauce

A sprinkling of tumeric

1/2 a chilli pepper (if you want it spicy)

1 chicken stock cube

Simply fry the courgette and spring onions with the sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, tumeric and chilli. Then add about a cup of hot water with chicken stock dissolved. Finally put in the cauliflower and pear and let it all simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove the pan, and pour the stew into a blender to liquidise. Once it has all been blended put the soup back in the pan and add water as necessary, until it is the consistency you prefer.

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Spicy Sweet Potato Cottage Pie with my Ex

My ex-boyfriend came round for dinner tonight.

What a potentially dramatic way to start a blog post! But the reality is much more mundane (although wonderful for being so). Rob was my university boyfriend and the most important relationship of my life thus far. However, it was not meant to be. I knew that. He knew that. Now we are almost 4 years on from the break-up and are just incredibly close friends. Not with benefits. Just friends. The platonic sort. People say it can’t happen – Well we’ve gone and done it.

Now you’ve had that bit of personal history, I’ll bring this round to food again. Rob is a boy who likes to eat. I know a lot of boys like to eat, but this boy particularly likes to eat. When we were at university he had to go to the doctors for a check-up at one point because we thought he had tape worm – he would wake up in the middle of the night with crippling hunger and couldn’t rest again until he’d eaten a banana. It wasn’t tape worm. It was just an enormous appetite. So when Rob was coming round for a catchup dinner tonight, it was important that I made something hearty. This suited me, as the seasons are changing in London and the horrid cold and rain that has crept up on us Londoners over the last few days has made me long for wintery pies and stews. However, I still like to stay healthy. So I cooked up this: My spicy sweet potato cottage pie. It’s full of vegetables and good protein. No bad carboydrates. Just vitamin-y goodness.

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Ingredients:

1 x Courgette (grated),  2 x white onion, 10 x button mushrooms, 1 x tin of tomatoes, 1 x pack of lean beef mince, 1 x chilli, 2 x garlic cloves, tbsp of worcester sauce, tbsp of wholemeal flour, about 300g butternut squash, 1 x sweet potato.

Instructions:

Fry the chopped onion, chilli, garlic and mushrooms in a small amount of olive oil until soft and golden. Add the grated courgette and stir for a little. Add the mince. Add the tomatoes. Add the worcester sauce and flour. Leave to boil on a low heat for at least an hour. Meanwhile, boil your squash and sweet potato and create a mash. I added black onion seeds and a little fresh coriander to my mash, but that is certainly optional. Set your oven to 190C. Place the mash on top of the beef mixture and grate a little cheese on top, or just season with salt and pepper. Place your dish into the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the cheese on top has cooked and begun to brown.

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Experiment and enjoy! (with ex-boyfriend friendships, and cottage pie…)