Fit Not Fed Up: Motivation for the Festive Season

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Brrr! December is certainly living up to it’s seasonal reputation – it feels like I’ve been in a permanent state of wet feet and red nose for weeks! Not only this but with all of the festive merriment going on, our health and fitness priorities have a little habit of going out the window don’t they? I’ve been thinking about what’s been keeping me motivated lately and thought I’d share it here.

Get Yourself a Buddy: I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, having a partner in crime is a must if you feel your will power slacking. I recently joined the same gym as one of my friends. Having someone there who to laugh through the pain of Pure Abs with made the torturous nature of side crunches just that bit more bearable. Even if we’re not going at the same time, it’s good to be around people are are pushing toward similar goals to you. So look at who’s around you and encourage each other in these dark days of Winter!

Do Something For a Good Cause: There are tons of sponsored walks, runs, hikes, swims and dives at this time of year for so many good causes. Although Winter events tend to have a higher risk of cancellation – which myself and Chris fell victim to a couple of weeks ago when our BHF 10k was cancelled due to course flooding- when they do go ahead it’s a great day out. I ran the Glasgow Santa Dash 5k in aid of the Prince and Princess of Wales Trust Glasgow 2 weeks ago. It was a fantastic event with Santas of all ages – and a couple of dogs disguised as Reindeer – running through the streets of Glasgow on what was a beautiful mid Winter’s day. With all of the parties and days out this season, you could do worse than having a day out in the fresh air planned where you can meet people and generally have a bit of good clean fun. It’s great for the body, soul and you’re helping someone who needs it!
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You Don’t Need To Party All Night: I love a good night out but with the sheer amount of Christmas festivities right now I’m finding it impossible to have a late one every time! When I went out the pantomime last week it was a great night but I decided to take the last train home instead of face the queues in the cold for a taxi later. Committing yourself to public transport or a lift home may not be as glamorous but for some reason I enjoy the night more when I do it! Plus you can get a cheeky hot chocolate on the way back too if you’re hear a late opening Greggs too! Win win .
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If You See Some Good Weather…Go!:
Beautiful days can be few and far between so if you see one get the runners or walking boots on! Even in the depths of Winter nature is beautiful especially covered in frost and lit by pale sunlight. Dress warmly and make sure your footwear has good grip. It my be an antiquated notion and I do think gyms are great but you can’t beat some fresh air especially in these dark days.

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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

Go For It: Crafting

I’ve associated crafting with taking a step backwards for a long time. Think about it, when you read the word, did you automatically think of being back at school, or something you did with your mum or nana? Going deeper, I actually just associated it with an antiquated way of thinking. Pfft women crafting, go back to the fifties! The truth is though, quite a lot of my friends are wonderfully creative knitters, sewers, origamists (no, that cannot be a word) and one is particularly talented at making fantastic creations out of Tunnocks tea cake wrappers! All educated, intelligent hard working women who love to craft. So over the past few months I’ve gotten down off of my high horse and given it a go.

What I’ve found is that taking an old jar and making a new use for it, or going for a long walk with your friends to collect some Autumn leaves to press is relaxing and fun but also feels kind of productive. It’s just a pleasure to see something you actually made around the house and know that it’s completely unique to you!

For me, my favourite thing about crafting is the social aspect. Two of my friends and I meet for craft and wine nights and solve the problems of the world over some good food and felt. Only recently my friend Emer invited me to a Laura Ashley crafting event to launch their range of crafting kits in Glasgow. Sitting with a group of lovely women, drinking tea, having a giggle and eating mouthwatering cakes at the Butterfly and Pig all while violently stabbing our felt creations into shapes (some with more success than others) was a brilliant way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

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I liked using the crafting kits from Laura Ashley because even though I’m not particularly good at crafting, having everything that I needed gave me a bit of confidence. I’m quite pleased with how my little creations turned out!
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Before even going to the event I had bought someone (I’ll not name names in case they read this) one of the Laura Ashley apron making kits for Christmas. I thought it would be something fun and a bit different for the Christmas stocking. I’ll include a link to the website here if you want to take a look at their stuff for a gift (or maybe a little self gift…).

For me the key to crafting is that it does take you a step backwards. But not in the way I’d thought. When you’re with your friends, laughing at your concoctions or by yourself with your masterpiece, crafting gives you bit of time to step back from yourself, your schedule and all of the noise to immerse yourself in what’s in front of you.

So my recommendation is to give crafting a go. Have you ever tried it? Leave a comment below and tell me all!

 

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Four Reasons to be Cheerful

Saturday, for me had to be a day to switch off. It was one of those classic November days in Glasgow where the rain is pouring down and while the juxtaposition of the orange leaves and the gray sky is pleasing to the eye, it’s not actually weather that you want to be out in if you can avoid it. So I totally avoided it!

I find it pretty hard to sit about and do nothing for a day but I needed this. The last week has been packed with things to do and I needed a day to just chill out.

I had to take a rest week from exercise this week because I was getting over a cold and I’m glad I just focused on Yoga and stretching rather than doing any cardio. Taking a day off on Saturday was a good chance to reflect too on what I’m thankful for this week:

Fireworks and Fun: So one of my favorite things about living in Scotland is that not only do we have Halloween, there’s also Guy Fawkes! I love the fireworks and this year I went to see the big display in Glasgow Green. I’ve done this every year since I moved here and it’s become a tradition now. This time me, Chris and my friend Naomi went to West Brewery for mouthwatering outdoor burgers and beer (well, hot chocolate for me – I had an early start for an event the next day). I had some friends over to the flat last week for Halloween and even though I was getting over a cold it was such a fun night. The girls and I dressed up as trolls and we danced the night away. It was the most effort and make up that I have possibly ever worn but we truly felt like magical creatures! I was pretty reluctant to take my wig off at the end of the night if truth be told!

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A Day in the Snow: I organised a work event at the indoor slopes in Braehead and it was a great day out. As with any event there was a huge amount of preparation in the lead up to it but it was a pleasure to get 70 people out of the office and onto the slopes. Seeing a day come together like that is always really rewarding and while the lead up was exhausting – I was up till all hours the night before making last minute edits to the presentations and doing arts and crafts! – it’s just worth it every time in the end. I feel very lucky to be able to do things like this in my job.

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Narcos: I am obsessed with this show on Netflix. Narcos is based in late 1980’s Columbia during the war on drug baron’s and the rise of Pablo Escobar. If gritty drama, intelligent scripts, history and subtitles are your thing, check this one out!

Crafting: Okay, I’m a self confessed Winter hater but these cold evenings in are starting to grow on me a bit. I’ve been a bit more creative around the house have started recycling old jars for storage and adding a few little touches to brighten the place up a bit. My two friends and I have been getting together for little craft nights and it’s been a lovely way to spend a dark weeknight. It’s nice to have some homemade comforts around the house and while I’m definitely not an artist or really remotely talented when it comes to crafting I like having some pieces that are just my own little concoctions! Plus creativity, friends and wine are always a winner in my book.

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Book perfectionists look away now!
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So I cannot take credit for the hand knit stag cushion you see before you. My friend in the US sent this ti me as a housewarming gift and I absolutely love it. I just wanted to show it here because I'm so proud to have something so unique in my home. While I'll never have this level of talent she's definitely inspired me to be a bit more creative!

So these were the little things I was thankful for this week.

Are you a crafting novice like me? Do you have any recommendations for good series right now – because I’m getting through Narcos at an alarming rate -?

Sunday Post – Friends, Free Love and Free Running

What a week it has been for the Pride movement and for love and positivity everywhere!

It’s been another full on and fun week for me here in Glasgow too. Working overtime 4 out of 5 days this week to get an event up and running at work has been hard going but also very rewarding. This week I also started to try out a new little fitness practice that I like to call “free running” -purely because making up names for things makes them sound more interesting in my eyes!

Not a new or complicated concept, in the spirit of my last post, I just get into my running gear, leave my music off and head out in a direction that I haven’t been before and am curious to find out about. I don’t map it or plan it. I don’t set out to achieve a particular distance. If I don’t like where I’m headed I go back and try a different route. I did this on Tuesday evening, I got a little bit lost at one point (of course) but it was an interesting way to explore the area I live in, and pay more attention to my surroundings on a beautiful June day.

Taking the time and distance pressure off can rekindle your appreciation of running, and probably a lot of sports now that I think of it. I came home and did a 30 Days of Yoga video as a stretch out too – I am currently doing a Yoga video almost everyday. It’s become a bit of an obsession of mine and I’m noticing an increased level of zen and a also bit of arm definition happening too which is nice!

I have to say though, the highlight of my week has been a visit from my friend Eimear who spent Friday and Saturday here with me.  I’ve known Eimear since our first year of University and we have been firm friends ever since. I find that as you get older, you just don’t get to spend as much time with the people that you care about as you would like to. Life, schedules, commitments all have a habit of getting in the way don’t they? I certainly feel like this having moved country, but I believe that everyone can relate, regardless of your situation. The great thing about good friends is that you can just pick straight up from where you left off no matter how long it’s been. It’s such a pleasure to talk about and truly appreciate each others little life triumphs while also laughing about the hilarious shared Uni experiences!

The thing that I find is that you can have a body or a job or a life that inspires envy, but without having positive people around you it would all be a bit pointless. So if you have good people, give them the appreciation they deserve. Good friends and positive people are good for your health!

Have a great Sunday 🙂

Tea with Friends :)
Tea with Friends 🙂
Me and Eimear
Eimear and I at dinner on Saturday