Sunday Post: January Girl

SODA

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.

 

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.

IMAG2110IMAG2111

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.

DSC_0525

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!

DSC_0517

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!

IMAG2113
The excitement of putting up our first tree!

Jen

Go For It – Get Hiking

PicMonkey Collage

Right lads, it’s bang smack in the middle of summer. The weather is a little or a lot warmer depending on what part of the world you live in. Tell me, do you really want to spend this longer, brighter days in the Gym??

When people think of hiking, they often think of intrepid North Face/ Berghaus (or if you’re really serious: Arc’Teryx) wearers on journeys through bog and snow and desert.

In the same hike. In one day.

But I’m a fan of using the term hiking loosely. For me, once you’re off the road and into nature, that’s a hike. A hike can be as difficult or as simple as you want it to be. In the collage above I have some choice snaps of hikes I have done over the years. The terrain and the difficulty are so varied! I consider my local park to be quite hikey, Arthur’s seat in Edinburgh or the Dublin mountains are some nice intermediate challenges, and then there are the 9oo+ metre Munros here is lovely Scotland.

It doesn’t have to be difficult, it should just be refreshing and a little bit of a challenge, depending on your ability. So while it’s summer, why not break up the routine a bit and get off the beaten track, for an hour, a day or a weekend?

If you are thinking about going away for a nice hike, here are a few suggestions from me:

  • I joked about North Faces etc. at the start of the post, but seriously, always layer up even if it’s just a short  hike. Have some kind of rain gear, a zip hoody or  fleece and a vest or t shirt. It doesn’t have to be an amazing brand but make sure that what you wear keeps you warm and the rain off.
  • Bring food and some water. You are using energy, so keep yourself fueled and hydrated.
  • Wear appropriate shoes. Please don’t walk long distances in your Cons! At least have your runners on and don’t attempt anything mountainous without hiking boots. You really are putting yourself at risk of wet feet at the least and an injury at worst!
  • For longer hikes, get a compass and learn how to use it.
  • Have fun hiking, use it as a chance to unwind with friends. Hikes are more interesting and safer when you have a buddy. Some of the best conversations I have had have been out on a long ramble!

Where do you like to hike? Do you have any recommendations for me? Leave a comment below I love to get them 🙂

Go For It: RACE!

Race Numbers

received_10205346178667318
In front of Arthur’s Seat last week where the Great Edinburgh Run finished up. Races are also a good excuse to travel and experience a city or place in a novel way!

I’m a self confessed lover of running. It’s the one form  of exercise that I keep coming back to no matter what I try, it works for me. It isn’t for everyone. People can find it boring, or lonely, repetitive, not competitive enough…the list goes on! I’m not here to convince people to run if they don’t like it or suggest that it is the ultimate exercise, however, in the spirit of “Go For It”, I would like to make a suggestion to you and here it is:

Whether you love to run or could take or leave it, why don’t you sign up for a race?

Lack of motivation is a huge blocker for people looking to improve their fitness. If you have a race booked, no matter the distance, it gives you a target to work towards. Whether you care about times or not, you will know the race is coming and you will want to be ready. A lot of people , runners and non – runners alike, use a race as a starting point for their new push for fitness. From my experience and through people I have met, I can’t recommend challenging yourself to a race highly enough. Here are a few reasons why:

Races Bring People Together:

Competing in a race is an event in itself. Races draw all sorts of people from all walks of life. At last years half marathon in Glasgow I got chatting to a guy who went halves on a packet of safety pins with me, turned out he was a policeman and this was his first race! Races have a friendly atmosphere and are social in a safe and organised way. Most of the races that I have competed in have been with friends but when I am racing alone, I never feel like I’m on my own – probably because I’ll badger people for safety pins but there you go! – It’s a shared experience that you can celebrate afterward and a way to encourage the people you care about and rejoice in and appreciate each others success.

Races aren’t just about running:

If you are not much of a runner, why not try an obstacle race or a color run to get the benefit of the shared atmosphere without the potential monotony of something that you are not always keen on? Color runs are generally over a short distance and, we’ve all seen the selfies; they just look really cool! Obstacle races can also come in various physical ranges and engage you in different ways for the more adventurous and racer.

Compete With Yourself:

For people who like to jog, why not challenge yourself to a longer distance. I went from m first 10k to my first half marathon in four 4 months and even though my time wasn’t so hot, completing the half marathon gave me a great sense of pride and confidence. If running isn’t your go-to form of exercise, why not challenge yourself to a 5k. Racing for charity is a brilliant and worthwhile motivator but honestly, sometimes just completing something can be a reward in itself.

The thing about a race is, no matter the distance you ran,or the time it took you, or how many times you stopped, or how God awful the weather was – racing: the only time when sun can be worse than rain- once the race is over you have done it. You forget or laugh about the horrible hill or when you were caught downwind of someone’s spit (yeah…) and you remember it for what it was: an achievement, and one which will inspire you further in your fitness journey. Or just anything in life really.

2015-04-19_18.01.54
Chris and I last Sunday after completing the Great Run Edinburgh 10 Mile Race. It was tough, my time was 1hr 38 and the course had a very high rate of elevation. I am once again proud to have completed a race and have learned from this one just like every other.

Medals