Little Things: Staying Healthy on a Busy Week

Is it just me or does there seem to be so much going on after holiday lull that no one was ready for? There was the public outpouring of sorrow and reminiscences following the deaths of David Bowie and Alan Rickman. Tim Peake’s space walk again capturing our imagination. And, at least in my own circles the engrossing, maddening and at times heartwarming viewing that is the Making a Murderer documentary series on Netflix. Yep,it’s been an emotional roller coaster of a week – and that was just on the telly!

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I saw this in a Facebook comment and had to share – hands up if this was you after watching Making a Murderer!

Work has been fairly intense with a lot of early starts plus my boyfriend’s band played their final gig together on Thursday night. It was a great set and there was a really positive vibe with everyone there. But it did go on quite late. Having to do a presentation first thing the next day wasn’t exactly ideal but I got through it and am really glad I was there to watch the guys the night before. Needless to say though, I was ready to chill out come 4:30pm on Friday!

I’ve found this week that it’s been the little things that have gotten me through healthwise. Monday night saw me go on a bit of a YouTube binge and watch a bunch of Madeline Shaw videos. I’d read her book before Christmas which I’d mentioned in an earlier post. I wouldn’t say that I was all that gone on her entire diet plan but the quick tips and ideas she offers are really useful. For example I’ve been taking her advice and hydrating first thing in the morning with water and salt and giving myself a bedtime routine (hand cream massages are a total winner). Plus I just like her style in general. Her enthusiasm about coconut oil is just heart warming and I like that she doesn’t mind that her kitchen table is a little messy when she’s doing a cookery tutorial. Because we can’t all have those blindingly white kitchens – even if she does have a very farm chic Aga – I feel that Madeline emanates a chilled and accepting vibe which I’m very much in favour of.

Money is always so tight in January and health conscious food can be on the pricey side. I found that stocking up on plenty of fresh fruit throughout the week has been a way of giving myself a boost in the snack/breakfast department without making an impact on my bank balance! Buying a big bag of kale and mixing it up with fresh orange juice and lemons or blending a delicious apple and pear with some cinnamon and honey have made for simple but effective ways of getting nutrients into my diet when I’m just in the door after a busy day.

I went on a slow paced 3.5 mile night run on Tuesday and then a 2 hour walk in the glorious snow on Saturday afternoon. How good is snow?! It was like stepping into Narnia! Everyone in my area were out on sledges and Chris and I had a constant snowball fight the whole time we were out. Not my best week for exercise but with a gym class planned for today that’s 3 solid workouts of varying degrees which I’m pretty happy with.

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It’s a Winter Wonderland here in Glasgow

 

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So pleased!
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After any snow day or cold weather in general, a Madeline inspired non dairy (oat milk in my case) cinnamon hot cocoa is definitely a good shout!

Thinking about the little things like getting the fruit and veg in, staying hydrated and getting outdoors have kept me in good form all week – in spite of some late nights and an aforementioned compulsive tv documentary which had me shouting at the television more than usual!

Have you been shouting at any appliances this week? Do you have any tips for running in the snow? Because I think it’s here to stay!

 

 

 

 

Sunday Post: January Girl

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Hello! Welcome to A Venturing Girl and my first post of 2016. I think we’re all well and truly over the whole festive vibe right now so just a quick roundup from me:

Christmas…I spent Christmas with my family. I played some charades, ate great food and caught up with old friends. I had a wonderful time and I hope that your did too.

New Years…New Years Eve involved an escape to Stirling with my boyfriend and an adorable Bed and Breakfast stay with the kindest hosts. We had dinner, got drunk , laughed a lot and watched the fireworks over the castle. It was the perfect place and the perfect company for new beginnings.

Aaand Back to Reality…I went back to work on Tuesday, this week has been long and tiring and yeah I totally wallowed in it – I hope that you were more successful than me!

Okay so now that that’s covered, let’s talk about what’s next.

I have a slightly different approach to my New Year plans for 2016.

I find the concept of New Years Resolutions a bit archaic. The idea stems from ancient religious practices and as positive as I’m sure they can be, I can’t help but link them to some deep seated guilt or self loathing that we’re meant to feel about ourselves which impels us to try to change who we are to be “better”. I mean, thinking about plans and goals is always a good idea. But rather than try to do something new and change myself (because no one needs to do that, we’re all fine) I want to enrich and build on what I already have.

One of the main skills I learned in 2015 was Project Management and how to really deliver on a goal. With this in mind I’m giving myself an achievable monthly To Do List to feed into a larger plan for the year.

Because who doesn’t love a good To Do List?!

So here’s mine for January:

  1. Try homemade Thai food: my boyfriend got a Thai recipe book for Christmas so what better month to try some new recipes than January: when you are constantly forced inside due to poor weather and a lack of money!
  2. Capsule wardrobe: I overhauled my wardrobe last weekend and created a capsule wardrobe after reading so much about it on other blogs. And also because with 2 trips away over Christmas my wardrobe had become insane.  Something had to be done. After a week of this I can say it works! There is a lot more clarity in my wardrobe right now (phew!). I plan to keep this up throughout the month. To find out about capsule wardrobe this blog post is a great guide.
  3. Make sourdough bread
  4. Go to One Gym Class Per Week: okay I’ve been doing this anyway but I want to stick with it!
  5. No meals after 8pm
  6. Make my Instagram beautiful: I want my Instagram account to have more of a themed vibe this year showing positive healthy imagery. Rather than spam people I know with blog promotions and a thousand hashtags I took the decision to just set up a separate Instagram account for this blog so that people could follow me because they were interested in health and fitness. If you’re interested in this sort of thing, you can find me here (oh and I’ll totes follow you back).

So that’s me, short and sweet. What about you –  are you bothered with New Years resolutions this year?

Leave a comment below, I love to get them!

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.

 

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 -?

Caffeine Free Girl

Caffeine

Throughout the course of my little blogging journey I’ve been trying to make positive changes everywhere I can. But, as we all know, even for the most open of us, change can be bloody hard! Experts will tell you that behavioral change is the most difficult because habits become ingrained into our routines and therefore our lives. That’s why smokers find it so hard to kick the habit, why you’re waking up at 6 am on a Saturday instead of lying in while you have the day off and probably why 9 times out of ten you did lock the door when you left the house even if you can’t remember doing it. Behaviors, people! So change is hard, and it’s not because you’re not up for it, it’s just that you’re battling a consistent behavioral pattern that your mind has gotten used to and doesn’t see a reason to do anything differently because it likes its little routine.

Just about one month ago, I made a bit of a biggie (for me anyway). I cut high doses caffeine out of my diet. Coffee, Coke, Tea (inwardly wails) are gone.

Caffeine and Me

Why you ask? Well, I’m a slight girl with a fast metabolism and I have found that while caffeine can definitely give me an energy boost, the negative effects greatly outweigh the positives for me. I get energy spikes and then massive troughs (which makes me need a boost through food, often sugar) and it has a really bad effect on my sleep. Over the last while I have been noticing that it makes my heart absolutely race which, again just doesn’t sound very good. I’m not a girl to do things by halves and I have been down the “cutting down” road before so I made the decision to just get it out.

I love a cup of coffee. I am the girl juggling a take away Starbucks or Glasgow favorite Gordon St. Coffee cup with my phone and bag while stalking about town. Tea is my go-to comfort drink. I feel like I actually need it when I’ve had a tough day or open a book. There are just so many situations when it’s the most appropriate drink going. Basically, the last month has been very tough. But as anyone who has ever made a decision and stuck to it knows well, it has also been really, really rewarding.

How I managed it:

For the first 10 days I was very tired. Specifically at work which is where I tend to need the pick me up most – I have written a post on staying healthy at work here if you are like me and would like some tips. But I realised that if I was going to make this change, that I would need to really commit to it. So I started going to bed a bit earlier. I started to make sure that I was more hydrated at work – even going so far as keeping a 2 litre bottle of Evian at my desk! Soon, I was finding that my energy levels we actually increasing and (oh joy of joys) my skin started looking much, much healthier!  It can be very difficult to break a habit and make a change and the thing about changes to your lifestyle is that they require a consistent effort. But the reward has been so great and I am so proud of myself for sticking to it!

If you are interested in cutting out caffeine, I hope that this post has shown that it can be done. Here is a link to caffeine content in various drinks from The Guardian which was a bit of an eye opener for me.

Have you ever given up something and reaped the benefits? Leave a comment below, we can encourage each other!

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I miss tea but here are some of the substitutes I’ve been using from left to right: Earl Grey from Whittard (sparingly), Lemongrass and Green Tea from WholeFoods, Mountain Honeybush Tea also from Wholefoods and Arctic Storm Tea (a mix of green tea with chilli and other delicious things) which I bought in the Greenwich Market in London and utterly love!
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Water has been my go-to lately which may explain the slightly more glowey skin I have been experiencing!
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Boiled water with lemon and/or Lemon and ginger is another delicious and cleansing hot drink. Also…look at the size of that lemon!!