6 Nations – February 2016

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Late last year (November-time I think) we got some 6 Nations tickets to watch France v Ireland and France v England at the Stade de France.

This weekend we (me, OH and OH’s parents) went to watch France v Ireland and it was a great match despite the rain. I really enjoyed being there, soaking up the spectators’ enthusiasm and watching it live.

It got me thinking about spending time with people and how I have changed during this project. I’m one of those people who reads the Buzzfeed posts about relief when plans are cancelled and it resonates. I don’t suffer from social anxiety I’m just a real homebody. One of my goals for this lifestyle overhaul was to make more time to spend with friends and family. I’m currently trying to meet up with at least one person once a week and so far, so good!

I really enjoy spending time with my friends (I’m not a completely anti-social being haha ;)) and making time to do things with them has made me noticeably happier. It also gives me more to talk about which should mean I’m more interesting to talk too. I love to discuss current events, films showing at the cinema and life updates.

To get into the habit of organising meet ups I remind myself that I won’t have these conversations on my own. I also look for activities that are on to see if there are any takers. I have started tracking ideas in an Excel file especially for upcoming events so I don’t forget! I have divided the columns into free activities and activities with a cost so that I can easily see what I can do even if it’s the end of the month and money is a bit tighter.

Living in a city a lot of activities cost something but you can usually find something to do for free. I like to check on the Time Out website as they usually have plenty of inspiration and a diverse choice of things to do. I have also planned some walking tours for when Unicorn Princess visits in March (I will share the link to the google map once it’s finished).

What are your favourite things to do with friends and family?

Here is a bonus idea of something to do together : another cookie recipe!

These oatmeal and raisin cookies are gorgeous but let them cool down a little or they will fall apart. I cooled them for 5-10 minutes on the tray and then moved them to a wire rack (aka one of my oven shelves on the counter top…)

Oatmeal raisin cookies

The raisins in these are so juicy that the biscuit has a texture similar to flapjacks.

Bitten cookie

Keep Climbing and share your activity ideas in the comments below!

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6 Weeks Check-in

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I can’t believe we’re already mid-February! The last 6 weeks have flown by and here we are with Valentine’s Day in 2 days. I won’t post what I’ve bought for my OH as he reads this and it’ll give the game away but we’re exchanging gifts tonight as we’re off to the rugby tomorrow 🙂

When I made the decision to change aspects of my lifestyle I did not expect to be sitting here 6 weeks later and 5kg lighter! It’s given me a real boost to get back on track and start posting more regularly (I’ve even drawn up a posting schedule and timeline which may turn into a proper project dashboard haha!)

The last 6 weeks have been filled with ups and downs in different areas of my life. I ate more sugar last week than I have done in the last 3 months combined. I was disappointed in myself but this week I’ve been much more controlled and feel a lot better for it. It’s not worth berating yourself over one sloppy week when you can cheer for 5 good ones plus the ones to come.

There were some problems at work which needed addressing. I don’t like standing up to authority and so I had to dig deep and find some courage to confront the issues. When I need to challenge someone or manage some sort of conflict I’ve always used the DESC method.

DESC is used to resolve conflicts but also to help make situations clearer.

The first step is to Describe what happened. It is really important to stick to the facts and go through the situation in the order things happened. It can sound a bit like “You said, I said” but this is needed to set the scene.

The second step is to Explain how the situation made you feel. Use concrete examples from the facts you have already explained and only speak from your perspective. Avoid speaking about the other person’s emotions – you are not in their head and would only be guessing.

Next you need to Share what you would like to see happen in this situation the next time it happens. Come up with a positive action plan that will either avoid this happening again or enable you to handle it in a more positive way.

Lastly, you need to Compromise on what you will do differently next time. None of us are perfect and there is always room for a little improvement. Offer something that you commit to doing in the future.

This really helps me to breakdown the problem into small facts and explain them in a calm, clear manner. I have used this technique since university and it hasn’t failed me yet. Explaining how things have made me feel is not easy to articulate and I have to find my bravery to get through it but I know that I will feel so much lighter and less stressed when my feelings are out in the open. It is important to hold on to past successes but also to visualise future ones.

It can be really helpful to role-play the conversation in your head to explore different trains of thought and possible points the other person could raise. I find that if I have already projected myself into the situation in my mind and played through it that when it comes to the real moment I am much calmer and able to clearly express what I need to say. It can take a bit of practice before you get it right but it’s worth having a go.

The result of my recent DESC conversation was that I was confirmed in my job on a permanent contract so it really can be worthwhile to go through this method.

Keep Climbing and look up high to see over the problem to the other side.

Warming recipes for these cold nights

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As promised in my previous post (which was definitely too long ago!) here are some warming recipes to keep your belly warm on a winter’s night.

Recipe 1 – Broccoli Soup

I used the bbcgoodfood recipe for this one and it was really tasty. Adjusted the recipe slightly as I didn’t have any rapeseed oil so I used some vegetable oil instead and I swapped out the Stilton (not readily available in France) for some Bleu d’Auvergne instead. It looks very similar:

bleu d'auvergne

The soup simmers away for a good 15 minutes once everything is in:

broccoli soup

And then when it’s all blitzed up it goes the most beautiful pea-green colour:

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Highly recommend this one for a creamy soup with a nice punchy flavour.

Recipe 2 – Chocolate cookies

Inspired by the recipe on Gimme Some Oven I made a batch of these chocolate chip cookies. Mine were rather chocolate “chunk” cookies as I just chopped up a big bar of dark chocolate. These were so gooey and delicious!

It doesn’t look like much before you ball them up but it’s so worth it!

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Because when they come out of the oven warm – you see this gloriousness 🙂

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And biting into them is like pillowy soft cookie filled with molten dark chocolate:

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These keep well in an airtight container if you don’t want to eat them immediately…

That is the sort of willpower I’m working towards! I had one of these while they were still warm and then another one for a quick breakfast the next day.

Normally, I eat some yoghurt or toast for breakfast so this was a real treat.

I was going to include a cauliflower soup recipe but it went a bit weird and doesn’t look appetising in the photos. I will have another go and upload if successful!

Just got to keep climbing even when things go pear-shaped 😉

Check in – Week 3 starts!

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The act of ticking things off a list is so satisfying. It’s like an instant sense of accomplishment and a pat on the back all rolled into one. That’s why I like Blogilates.com monthly workout planners so much 🙂

Since last posting I have also completed another run around the block and I’m trying to work out how I can insert the data into posts (I’m not sure how interesting that would be though!)

I’ve also tested out the following Blogilates videos:

POP Pilates for Beginners: Ab Time – this video was really helpful because it went through the moves slowly and so I could check that I was doing them properly. It was an effective workout and followed by the 10 min Ab Sculpting I felt well and truly snapped in 2!

The Bubble Butt Workout was well-timed to break up all the abs exercises. With the WT challenge and jogging around the block my abs are feeling fairly used most of the time and it felt good to work other muscles for a change! I’m not sure if a “bubble butt” is really what I’m seeking but it can’t hurt to be a bit perkier in the behind.

I finished up last week with Total Body Pilates with Ana Caban it was really cute to see Cassey fangirling in the intro to this video. Ana and Cassey go through what I now consider to be “classic” pilates moves. There’s lots of things in “tabletop” position and with the pilates “neck” (head raised slightly off the floor). It was nice to have more chat in the videos as I felt a bit more like I was in a class rather than at home on the sitting room floor.

On Friday I did a Pilates class at work and kicked my butt! I was still aching yesterday but today the aches and pains have gone so tonight will be another run around the block followed by some more Beginners 2.0 videos and I will pick up the WT challenge again.

I have continued eating low-sugar foods and no dessert. This weekend food highlights included: leeks in a mustard/red wine vinegar vinaigrette with a slice of ham, a beef goulash and a teeny bit of home made apple compote.

Not sure what videos await me after running this evening but I’ll update on them very soon.

Keep climbing !

 

POP Pilates Beginners!

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To increase the amount of physical activity I’m doing I’ve decided to start the Beginners 2.0 challenge and the 30 day Waist Trainer Challenge from Blogilates.

I kicked off on Saturday (2nd January) with day one of the WT Challenge and managed to do the 3 exercises. They look fairly straightforward in the illustrations (and gifs) but that reverse crunch is a killer! It’s hard enough to keep my legs up in the air let alone to lift them higher. We’ll see if I get any better at it?

30 day waist trainer day 2

On Sunday we had pre-agreed to go for a run and we did our usual ‘around the block’ route. I only stopped a few times on this occasion and I hope to get to the stage where I can jog the whole route at a steady rhythm. I think if we keep running 3 times a week on this same route I may be able to manage this by end of January maybe mid-February.

After running I did day 2 of the WT Challenge this time increasing the reps to 6 of each exercise – that reverse crunch is still a killer! I followed this up with the POP Pilates for Beginners – Total Body Workout video on YouTube. It’s a 28 minute video which runs through breathing, pilates positions which work your core, legs and arms as well as a lovely big mermaid stretch at the end.

Beginners Day 1

Again it was tricky because I was using muscles that I haven’t spoken to in a long old time and they weren’t so happy to be woken up. It’s now Monday and I’m feeling a bit sore especially in my abs and legs but its a satisfying ache because I feel like I earned it 🙂

Tonight I have more WT challenge exercises to do as well as 2 videos and tomorrow will be another run around the block with more total body pilates and a bum-focused workout.

I’ll check back in on Wednesday with after some more exercise!

Keep Climbing 🙂

Sloth to Sleek – the project

nature-green-grass-high-definition-90I have been overweight for a really long time and have finally found the courage inside to make some changes on the outside.

Growing up in a family where large portions of hearty home cooking were the norm I was always plump but since my last year of university (5 years ago) I have gained a lot of extra weight that I just don’t need to carry any more. I am currently weighing in at 96kg = 211 pounds = 15 stone which is far too much for my 157cm frame!

I have been through some embarrassing moments where people have asked if I’m pregnant or how long I’ve had “weight problems” and it wasn’t enough to spur me into changing something. I’m an emotional eater so when I feel sad or down I turn to food for a burst of happiness. These incidents have each led to a binge of poor food choices and then the sadness comes back.

Yesterday my other half asked me to join him for a run. I hesitated and thought of many reasons why I shouldn’t but realised that I had none for why I couldn’t. I have a body, sports clothes and trainers – that is all you need for running.

This realisation probably seems quite daft to a lot of people but each of us have our own “eureka” moment and this was mine.

I will be using this blog to track my changes from Sloth to Sleek and as a way of keeping myself in check. I will be using fitness resources from blogilates.com as well as YouTube and recipes from various sources to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

I hope to improve not only my health and physical fitness but also my mental clarity and focus.

Here goes nothing…