Caffeine Free: 6 Months On

Caffeine Free Girl- 4 Months On (2)

Good morning! You know I write my posts in advance but I can safely predict that by now I’ll have jumped out of bed in my minion pjs and headed straight for my Peppa Pig advent calendar (random purchase from the other half) for a little pre brekky chocolate. Yep, we’re definitely into the festive season! This is a time of year to indulge, treat yo’ self, and live for the moment.

So why am I writing about how I gave something up?

Well, I figured that this is just the time to have some real talk about sticking to your guns without actually denying yourself the little pleasures in life.

Way back in  July – ah July, remember the sun? Or more appropriately: slightly warmer rain? – I took the decision to cut caffeine out of my diet entirely. There were a number of reasons for this which I posted about here. I’m proud to say that I’ve managed to stick with it since then. But it wasn’t easy. Just to confirm, when I say I gave up caffeine I mean that I gave up drinks with high caffeine content: regular tea, coffee and cola. I’m not strict enough to cut out coffee flavored things or to remove things like green tea from my diet which has a very low caffeine content.

Unfortunately I can’t say that I had a trick or great cheat for giving it up. I had to just use my will power. It was bloody hard at times if I’m honest. I found that the most helpful thing was to be kind to myself. Treating myself to a little hot chocolate on the way into work, and getting some really good herbal teas made substituting coffee and tea and thing of luxury. Sure a box of fancy tea is more expensive than the regular stuff but hey, I was making a saving on coffees on a daily basis, so why not? Having some healthy snacks in my bag like bananas and oranges were another handy way of keeping my energy up without coffee and tea.

The thing about giving up caffeine is that, at first you think you’ll be exhausted forever. The fact is, after a couple of weeks my sleeping pattern had normalised. I was sleeping in a meaningful way and I’m more rested and alert in the mornings now. With the amount of dairy and sugar I was removing from my daily intake, my skin began to improve. I started to feel like I had more energy. Real energy from real food and not an artificial boost. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that coffee is the devil or anything. It just wasn’t working for me and I’m a lot happier and healthier without it.

If you’re coming into the festive season and are worrying about losing sight of your commitments, don’t. You might not be tempted, or you might have a moment of weakness. My advice is that if you want to indulge yourself do it with something you’ll really enjoy. For me, that means not feeling guilty later. So if you are cutting something out, just be honest about what’s achievable for you, remember to try and if you do over indulge, forgive yourself!

We’re only human after all.

 

Lovely Life of Earth

 

Saturday morning started off with a big disappointment for me. I’d been in touch with the lovely people at New Lanark about paying a visit to the world heritage site there and much loved Christmas Experience event that they put on every year. It was to start off what has now become a very busy build up to Christmas for me before I skip off to Dublin to spend the holidays with my family. But when Saturday dawned with high winds battering my building and as we heard on the radio “too many road closures to mention”, it was quickly decided that the trip to New Lanark was just not going to be a possibility . Which was a real shame. However, to salvage the morning myself and the girls went for a little breakfast instead and my eyes were opened to a new gem in Glasgow…

Bakery 47

I’m always the last to know when it comes to trendy new places so most people living in the South Side of Glasgow are likely aware of the little treasure that is Bakery 47. But I just found out so I’ll tell you anyway! This is a gorgeous, bakery and cafe with a small but delicious and reasonably priced menu. They sell all manor of cakes and bread but like any good bakery I could see that if you want to get what you need you’d better get in early. At around 11:30 when we were ready to leave I could see a bit of a queue gathering – clearly this place is loved among the locals. I had a beautiful warm mince pie with almonds and vanilla cream. The pasty was melt in the mouth and a little bit flaky which made it perfectly light. And while no mince filling will compare to my mum’s homemade fare Bakery 47s was pretty close. Even more than the mouthwatering food though, the service there was fantastic – you can tell that there is a lot of love behind that little spot and I had a lovely time there.

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Back to the Gym

While I’ve clearly been sampling the plenty of festive food, I’ve been working out more this week than I have over the last couple. This is a massive cop out but the poor weather has been putting me off running. At the end of the day, I have a demanding full time job and while I’d love to get up at 5am and run, my body clock just doesn’t work that way even though I wish it did. While I find running a great way to unwind, getting soaked and blown about the place and risking a fall just isn’t what I’d call a relaxing end to my day! Yoga and home exercise just weren’t cutting it so I’ve joined a local gym. And I love it (yes, I am one of those sad people who likes gyms). It’s good to have the option of classes again too. Although on Monday I went to an abs class and forgot my water bottle like a total chump – seriously, running sweatily over to the water fountain during the much needed rest periods was a nightmare. Lesson learned!

 

Books

Living well is as much about diet as it is exercise and I’ve been trying a few recipes from Madeline Shaw’s book Get the Glow. There are some nice simple meals in here like the spiced salmon and cucumber, and the almond pancakes which I made for my parents last week on their visit. The chia pudding has also been a breakfast staple for me over the last while. However, as you can probably tell from my bakery trip, I’m merely dabbling in Madeline’s healthy diet as I’m not in a position to fully commit to it just now. If I’m honest, the premise of the book is great but if you’re a person who incorporates regular cardio workouts into your regime – which I think people really should if they can – I don’t think that sticking to her diet is actually possible. For me, delicious and skin clearing as it is, I just don’t feel like it gives the carbohydrates and energy I’d need regular meaningful workouts. For brekky, smoothies and ideas though it’s great to have on hand.

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I went on a little Waterstones binge last week and as a minor sci fi and general space geek, Chris Hadfield’s An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth caught my roving eye pretty quickly. Reading about life in space is fascinating but even more so is how a person gets there in the first place. The drive, ambition and preparation that goes into a life’s work of making an aspiration a reality was both inspiring and encouraging to read. I particularly love his philosophy on being prepared for every eventuality and the way he rubbishes positive thinking alone as a means of getting what you want. There’s a saturation of “inspirational” people out there who, for the life of me I just can’t figure out why people think they’re inspiring. It’s refreshing to read about someone who has worked hard for success that is not only personal but used to educate and benefit everyone. Give this one a read!

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Like Chris Hadfield I want to make the most out of the time I have and make it count. So rather than letting the crappy weather get me down (much) I’m in the gym, eating cakes (sorry Madeline) and of course getting into the festive spirit. Take that Scottish weather!

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The excitement of putting up our first tree!

Jen

Sunday Post – Abs, Crafts and Small Setbacks

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Wow August is just flying in! Here’s a little update from me on the past two weeks:

I had a wee setback…

So last Monday night I spectacularly stubbed my toe on our lovely pine table leg, making it far too painful to run on for a good week! I’ve only just signed up for a half marathon on September 19th which is creeping ever closer so it was terrible timing. The toe is now healed though and training is back on in earnest. Just my luck though, eh?

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My Brother Visited…

My big brother came to stay with me and Chris for 10 whole days. We had so much catching up to do and it was great to have so much time to do it! He also happens to be a wonderful cook and treated Chris and I to some delicious home cooked meals after a days work which was so kind and very much appreciated.

8 Minute Abs in Earnest…

While I was unable to run or do anything leg related really, I made a big push on my 8 Minute Abs workout! It’s a tough one to do but I have been noticing that I am getting better at it and my core is becoming more defined as a result. A strong core is vital for running so this is a workout that I will continue with my training for this next half marathon.

Edinburgh Fringe is on…

I stopped by Edinburgh Fringe last Saturday with my brother and we had an amazing time. I love the atmosphere during the festival and I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in comedy or the unusual. We caught one of many free shows at City Cafe and then headed down to the University which looked just like a music festival. If you can get there, I say go for it!

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Reading Time…

I bought a book called Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell and I’m really enjoying it. For me, it reads like an exceptionally well written sociology thesis which ain’t a bad thing. I have been flying through the book and would recommend it to anyone who loves to delve into the cultural, geographical and socio-economic reasons behind who gets ahead and who doesn’t written in a positive and fluent style which makes it difficult to put down!

I did Crafting…

Three girls, exceptional home cooked food, felt, foam, PVA glue and chilled white wine: all of the ingredients for a wonderful Thursday night. My friend hosted a lovely craft night this week and even though I would not describe myself as artistic or crafty in any way, it was a lot of fun and a great way to spend a school night. Next week I’m looking at decorating glasses…there quite possibly a Go For It post on the horizon here!

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Have you done anything different this week or had any set backs?

Leave a comment below, it’s always nice to hear from you!

Avocado Love

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Avocados. They’re damn good. In guacamole with a nice spicy kick and a dribble of crisp lime, as a soft accompaniment to toasted pine nuts in a salad, or just smeared over some whole meal bread; their creamy texture, cool earthy and ever-so-slightly sweet taste make them my favorite savory fruit. I find it hard to leave a grocery shop without one!

But have you tried one in a smoothie?

Yeah, not the most ground breaking ingredient, but definitely one worth sharing with you. I’d like to say that I came up with the idea myself, but it was my boyfriend who arrived at my little home office desk on Sunday morning with a class of green tinged juice – I am at a conference this week and I needed to get some work done over the weekend, I promise that I have a healthy work/life balance and normally value my weekends but I’ve been looking forward to this one and really wanted to be as prepared as possible!

Anyway, he was away for a run and didn’t want to have anything heavy, so he just took some food in our fridge that seem like it provide some energy for running; in this case, a carrot, an avocado and some orange juice; chucked them in the blender and made us a drink. As with a lot of Chris’ concoctions, it was delicious filled me up till lunch time (and I get hungry when I’m working!) and is just another use for one of my favorite things to eat. So obvs I made some more.

Avocados contain mono saturated fatty acids for a healthy heart, fiber and one avocado contains more potassium than a banana. Particularly in the warmer months of the year, they are a cool and fresh tasting addition to a meal. I hope you consider popping one in your smoothie too! Or if you are way ahead of me and have some awesome avocado smoothy or generally avocado related recipes, please drop me a comment and I shall be forever in you avocado-y debt!

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Go For It – Let’s Make Bread

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Malted Walnut Seed Loaf

Hello! This post is so late going up today, the whole clocks going forward thing has really messed me up it feels like I’ve been chasing my tail all day! But here it is: This weeks Go For It Post is making bread. Not exactly ground breaking is it? But for people who maybe don’t spend too much time in the kitchen (which can easily be anyone if your schedule is busy enough) bread is a simple, satisfying and quick way to try your hand a baking and build up a bit of confidence. There is something really satisfying about kneading and crafting a dough and there is plenty of room for adding your own interpretation of a bread recipe to create your own customized loaf. I’ve never made bread before so this has been something that I’ve been meaning to try. Today I picked up a couple of ingredients in the local wholefoods shop (not that I couldn’t have gotten most of the stuff in a large supermarket, but there you go), and decided to get cracking. I found a great recipe on the BBC Good Food website for a Malted Walnut Seed Loaf. I have a couple of recipe books here at home but find the BBC Good Food website is a brilliant online resource for whatever you are planning to cook and I use it quite a bit. The only substitution that I made to this recipe was to use coconut oil instead of sunflower oil because, well, I just really like using it! Walnuts are packed with Vitamin E which is great for your brain and your skin as well as having antioxidants to combat free radicals. This recipe is also full of healthy seeds which is why I chose it, but of course there are lots of other bread options for allergy sufferers if this isn’t your cup of tea (or loaf of bread…).

I really enjoyed making bread for the first time and also took great pleasure in eating it too. Not only did it taste awesome, but the lovely bread-smells from the oven mean that the flat smells freakin’ amazing! Bread can be as simple or as complicated as you like so why not give it a try? I recommend it!

Thanks for reading!

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All the Yummy Walnuts
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The bread mix

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Yes here I am, making bread

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