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Dear Santa, I’ve been ever so good…

Now, I’ve been pretty committed to being good this year, so I reckon that Santa should take note of my ultimate Christmas list. Some of these will most definitely NOT be under the tree this year, because my Santa is a bit of a tight-wad, but hey, it’s worth asking for a Christmas miracle, right?!

Dear Santa,

Pretty please may I have these things??

  1.  A TRX home suspension trainer:

trxI started using this back in the Summer & you just wouldn’t believe how amazing, effective & difficult it is. Working out using your own bodyweight is amazing on so many levels. Helping to build strength and mobility in a million, bajillion different ways. If you’ve never tried this out before, you are really really missing out. Venture out in the cold, find a gym that has one and get someone to show you what to do with it. I promise, you will be hooked!

2. A new, bigger kettlebell:

kettlebellI’ve already got an 8kg kettlebell (in a rather attractive purple colour), but as I progress with using kettlebells, I’m beginning to need a slightly heavier one for certain moves. It is actually best to have a variety of kettlebell weights as different weights are better for certain moves, but they are kind of expensive, so treating yourself to one every few months is cool. I personally like the vinyl coated kind. Not only do they look pretty awesome, but the vinyl cushions your forearms a little and it allows a little extra grip when your hands start to slip. I like these Fitness-Mad Kettlebells, which I found on amazon, but try a few out & see which you prefer!

3. Quest Bars:

quest barsI just can’t get enough of these. Sure, you can buy quest bars, by the box, nearly anywhere, but you’re stuck with just one flavour. The awesome guys at Protein Pick & Mix have got a ‘Not so dirty dozen’ mix – pick 12 different flavours if you like – totally up to you what you go for. This is genius because I find I like most of the flavours, but I don’t want a whole heap of one kind. Also, the dudes behind protein pick & mix are brilliant, super friendly & possibly the fastest dispatchers of protein laced goodness ever! Check them out for all your protein needs! (P.S. I’ve just seen that they do gift vouchers now too, so, you know, they are just perfect for a stocking…!)

4.  Omron BF511 Scales with Body Fat Monitor:

omron scalesTo be honest, my 10 year old crappy digital scales that I bought from a supermarket are just not cutting it for me any more. Whilst they occasionally can provide me with my rough weight (I say rough, because the reading depends on where I put it on the floor, where I stand on it & which day of the week it is), they can’t give me the information that I really need. I’m less interested now in what my overall weight is, and more interested in what is making up my weight. The Omron BF511 Scales with Body Fat Monitor gives me readings and classifications in: body fat, BMI, skeletal muscles, visceral fat, resting metabolism. I found this set on Newitts website.

5. The Tom Tom Runner Cardio GPS Watch:

tom tom cardioAs far as I’m concerned, this watch is the mecca of all GPS watches.  Take all the good things associated with an average GPS watch, like run tracking, times, auto sync-ing, water resistance etc, then add in the fact that it has a built in cardio monitor – yes, built in, no stupid chest band – win win. It is easy to use and navigate through, it has a slim design and it looks pretty awesome too, but at over £200, Santa has gotta realllllllllllly love you! 😉 Grab this awesome watch from Tom Tom.

6. A pair of Nike Free Flyknit 4.0 Trainers:

nike freesI’m becoming a bit of a trainer collector. I’ve gone from having one pair (that I’d owned since I was 15 – now got rid of!) to 4 pairs; a pair of crosstrainers, a pair for natural style running, a pair for gym work & a pair of trail shoes for OCR events. These flyknits would make an awesome addition to my spring running collection – lightweight, flexible & comfortable. I found these on startfitness.co.uk – I use this site lots for brilliant bargains!

7. A ticket for Tough Mudder 2015:

tough mudderIf the phrases ‘OCR’ or ‘Tough Mudder’ mean nothing to you, then either read ahead & find out all about it, or quit now & let it remain a mystery. These mud filled obstacle course races (OCRs) are a bit more than your average run in the park. Think river walking, mud swamps, tunnels, walls, bars, ladders, ropes, fire pits, logs, tyres, electrocution, cuts, bruises, sprains, blood, sweat & tears. I took part in my first OCR event earlier this year at mud monsters run & it was AMAZING! I’m also signed up to the Dirty Dozen Races next year. But everyone knows that Tough Mudder is the king, so I want in!

So Santa, if you are reading, please take note! I reckon this beats last year’s list that consisted of chips, wine, crisps, cheese, wine, cake & wine…?!

Cheers,

Charlie *kissy kissy kissy*

 

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My Fantasy Food Team

I stepped on the scales this morning – I actually don’t do this very often, as I find it can sometimes have a detrimental effect on how you behave for the rest of the day/week/month if you don’t like what you see. According to my (cheap, old, not very accurate) scales, I now weigh in at 139.5lbs. The half pound is very important because that makes me UNDER 10 stone, that is NINE STONE something. A loss of OVER five stone. Good times.

Anywho, I’ve noticed recently, that a lot of people I know are passing comment on my weightloss (something that actually creeps me out a bit!) & then asking how I’ve done it. Well, there’s no special secret, trick or magic spell. The answer is simple:

Eat better. Move more.

You’ll notice that I’ve said “eat better“, not “eat less“. Whilst limiting calories is an age-old, time-tested way to certainly reduce weight, it is actually more important to make sure that you are eating the right things first. For example, you could calorie count a 1500kcal diet & eat low fat crisps, low fat cheese, and sugar-free sweets till the cal counter tells you you’re done. You’ll have sunk your daily intake, but likely feel hungry, tired, a bit crabby as you are being ‘punished’ on your diet. You’ll also be far more likely to crave more food & make further poor choices.

I’m a huge advocate of snacking. Little healthier snacks between meals will stop you from sugar-crashing & craving a quick fix, like chocolate. Choose things that are full of either proteins or complex carbs, as these will help you to feel fuller for longer.

By eating better – choosing fruits, vegetables, healthy snacks AND the odd treat, you will find that you will not be so hungry, nor as likely to delve in to a huge bar of chocolate. You won’t feel so ‘punished’ if you are full. You won’t feel so terrible if you actually allow yourself an occasional treat*

*a giant bar of chocolate, giant bag of crisps, 3 bottles of wine isn’t a treat – try a small bar of chocolate, a bag of baked crisps or a glass (maybe 2) of wine.

I thought I’d share my food staples with you. These are foods that I eat at least 2/3 times a week. Foods that help me to feel full and that feel like a treat in themselves, when really, they’re all pretty healthy! They might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but give some of them a go:

  • Nakd & Trek Bars – I’ve mentioned these in a previous post. They are still delicious, sweet & sticky – perfect for sweet cravings. They have also just released a Christmas Pud flavour & it is out of this world.
  • Quest Bars – These aren’t for everyone. I spend quite a bit of time doing exercise, both cardio & weights. I am aiming to build strength, build muscle. These delicious protein bars come in heaps of different flavours and feel like a real treat. They are low in carbs, low in cals and high in protein. They are a bit on the £££ side of the snack world, but for me, they are totally worth it & they are a MILLION times better than a yucky protein shake!
  • Yoghurts – Either plain, fat free greek yoghurt (I like fage total the best), or, Danio fruit minis, or Liberte fruit layers. All low in fat and low in cals, but thick & creamy, so quite filling.
  • Fruit – I eat heaps of fruit. If I’m feeling lazy (and likely to reach for something worse), I’ll get the pre-prep packs from the shops, but most of the time, I’ll prepare it myself. Try freezing grapes as a great sub for sweets. Eat alongside other foods to make it go further & fill you up even more. Grab up a sack of clementines – seasonal & the perfect size for snacking on. A good ol’ banana is a powerhouse!
  • Marks and Spencer’s Guilt-Free Snack Range – The crisps that these guys sell are great, mostly around or under 100kcals per pack. Huge range of flavours. My faves are the sour cream and chilli lentil curls & the little bacon lentil tubes. Also a great pesto chickpea shell flavour available too. Perfect substitute for ‘normal’ crisps.
  • Popcorn – Amazing stuff. My fave brands are metcalfes (the sweet & salt and the  heat & sweet are to die for). Also try portlebay – the lemon sherbert flavour is unbelievable! Popcorn is relatively low in cals and the flavoured varieties make it feel like a special treat.
  • Rice-cakes – These are a bit of a new revelation for me. My faves at the mo are made by Kallo. There is a great kiddy range that are strawberry yoghurt & come pre-packed in 2s. Also give their dark choc and orange flavour a go!
  • Quorn – low fat, low cal, protein source & really reasonably priced. The family ‘chicken’ roast is so good & ridiculously good value!
  • Ryvita – great source of fibre, low in fat, low in cals and perfect for topping with delicious stuff. My fave topping is cottage cheese, ham, fig and basil.
  • Warburtons Wholemeal Pitta Halves – I don’t eat much bread, but these are high in fibre and relatively low cal. Great to eat with soup.
  • Low Fat Cottage cheese – great source of protein and low in fat & cals. Great as a topping, or as a replacement for mayo. Chuck in on crackers, mix in to tuna, blob it on soup, spread on ham and add a gherkin for a roll-up snack, use it in cooking & baking too.
  • Protein powders – these are great for whipping up great snacks. I’ve got the protein powder cookbook & the banana bread & vanilla blueberry muffins are super delicious and quick to make. Most of the recipes are low carb, low fat, high protein & made with great stuff like coconut flour.
  • Oats – I eat these mostly as porridge (made with skimmed milk), but also use them in lots of recipes
  • Soup – the days are getting colder and darker & soup is great for lunch. Make your own where possible, but for those of you with limited time or without the inclination to make it, there are some very good pre-prepped stuff in supermarkets now. Just try to avoid aby that have cheese or bacon/chorizo in, as these will be higher in fat and therefore, higher in cals too.
  • Vegetables – A bit of a no-brainer, but eating loads of veg will help to fill you up. Eat it raw, steamed, boiled, roasted. As a quick side dish, I like to chop loads of crunchy veggies up and chuck in a spoon of plain greek yoghurt, some lemon juice and some herbs & seasoning – perfect speedy sort-of coleslaw!
  • Veg chips – some days only chips will do – unless you can make veg chips! I like to make veg chips using carrot, parsnip, sweet potato and sometimes bog-standard normal potatoes. A teeny bit of oil, a good non-stick baking tray, hot hot hot oven and a great seasoning mix (I use semolina, for crunch, a little sea salt and some paprika and cumin). So good, give them a try!
  • Hognuts Nutbutters – A relatively new find for me. So delicious, loads of gorgeous flavours of nut butter – all hand blended & high in protein. Great toast topper, awesome stirred in to oats, or baked in to a protein cookie!

This isn’t an exhaustive list, by any means, but they are certainly favourites of mine. I try to avoid full fat cheeses and fatty meats such as salami or sausages. I don’t eat very much bread or pasta, but when I do, I eat wholemeal, where possible. I limit my alcohol intake and don’t drink at all during the week. I generally have a day of ‘relaxed’ eating at the weekend, especially if there’s a birthday or if friends are over. I do still put everything in to myfitnesspal though – even if it is wayyyyyyy over what I should have had – I find that by doing this, it does make you think & ask yourself whether you should really have that extra slice of cake or not – the answer is usually not! 😉

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My Top 10 Tips for Fitness and Weightloss

I’m no expert, or fitness/nutrition professional (so, clearly, these are just my opinions & observations of my own journey), but I have managed to shed over 4stone and drop almost 4 dress sizes, since January – and you know what, it really hasn’t been that difficult!

Here are my top 10 tips on how to get fit and lose/maintain weightloss:

  1. Get in the ‘zone’;

There is absolutely no point you reading any further if you are not 100% ready to do this. You need to look at your end goals and how you want to achieve them. If you want to starve yourself for 3 days and hope that it works, it won’t, you’re doing it wrong.

Look at yourself like a car – you need fuel to function, so starving or heavily restricting your diet is rubbish, you will just eat away at any muscle you have & store fat, so it’s a lose lose situation. Work out why you want to lose weight. For me, I was fed up of looking like a lard meatball, a flabby, unrecognisable heap of my former self (for the record, I have NEVER been ‘skinny, but I could at least shop in the high street stores before!).

You also need to move to keep working. Think of the last time you saw a car that has been parked up for an age – rusty, bits fallen off, won’t start – yup, you want to avoid that scenario where possible! My goal has never been to be ‘thin’ it is to be healthy, and that is where the difference lies.

2. Be time efficient;

“I don’t have time to exercise”

“I’m too busy”

“It’s too hot/too cold”

“I’m tired”

I definitely used to say these, there was always a good ‘reason’ as to why I was fat and why I didn’t do any exercise. Well, here is the answer to those ‘reasons’:

“Those that really want to do something find a way; those that don’t, find an excuse”

Occasionally, I find myself trying to think of excuses to get out of running, doing a workout or cycling, but you know what? Nothing is MAKING me do any of it, I CHOSE to do it, so I don’t have to get up and move my ass, but if I don’t, what would make me get up the next time? I find that excuses lead to excuses. Don’t get me wrong, it is good to have rest days, you don’t have to kill yourself every day, but think of even walking to the shops as a mini workout – just get moving a bit every day.

Get up half an hour earlier and do a workout. Do a mini workout whilst watching the TV in the evening. Do some weights or squats when you’ve got 5minutes spare (& yes, EVERYONE has at least 5 spare minutes in a day – even ‘very busy’ people). Ride a stationary bike whilst reading a book.

Find. The. Time.

3. Fuel yourself;

It is so important to eat right if you want to change & if you want to see any kind of results. I do do quite a bit of exercise now (you wouldn’t have read that from me last year!!), but if I was still drinking a bottle of wine a night and eating take out every day, I wouldn’t see much change. You need to take a holistic approach to it, so food and fitness go together.

Don’t restrict your foods or calories drastically, you will fail, or make yourself ill. The biggest annoyance for me is when people say, “oooh, which diet are you on?!” – well, I’m not on any diet. I can eat whatever I want, I just eat less & I try to make good food choices, for example:

WANT CRISPS – have some popcorn

WANT CHOCOLATE – have a cocoa nakd bar

WANT WINE – have sparkling water

WANT CHIPS – make carrot chips, or, just have a half portion of chips if you really really want them.

I also give myself ‘cheat days’ – typically at the weekend, because we usually see friends or family, so I can have wine, I can eat chips, I can have dessert, I can have cocktails and cheese, but you know what, I just eat less than I would have done when I was bigger and I try to offset it with exercise.

I also try to really focus on eating more protein – I’d rather have 2 helpings of protein and then either none or a half helping of carbs – I’m not on a low carb scheme or anything, but I KNOW that protein will help to keep me full and will help with building and retaining muscle tone, in combination with exercise. (I ADORE QUEST & CLIF BARS!!)

4. Gear yourself up;

If you are totally serious about getting fit, then there are a few things that I would totally recommend buying or downloading:

  • myfitnesspal app (free) – allows really easy tracking of foods and nutrition, tailored to your weight and goals
  • fitbit (£) – I have a flex, it is BRILLIANT – read my review here
  • 30 day shred DVD (£) – I CANNOT recommend this highly enough
  • freeletics app (free version) – for when you have been working out for a little while!!
  • a piece of gym equipment (£) – I have a stationary bike and a crosstrainer. I would totally recommend getting a little fold up exercise bike, not too costly (especially if you grab it in a sale, or secondhand)
  • get some hand weights (£) – you’ll need these for 30 day shred anyway, but you can use them independently, you know, for your 5minute workout.
  • enter a race (£) – set yourself a real challenge. Race for life is a good starting point. I completed my first last month – read about it here.

5. Hydrate;

Water. Just drink lots of water. You don’t need energy drinks, you need good food & lots of water (and sometimes a berocca tablet!).

6. Dump the Car and Move it;

Quit driving everywhere. Use your legs to walk. Walk to the shops, carry your shopping back in a rucksack!

My 3 year old can walk pretty far now as we traipse about everywhere, plus, we get to have silly chats on the way.

If you have to drive to work, park further from the building, use the stairs. Get off the bus a few stops early etc etc. See everything as a possible challenge. Do it. Move it.

7. Donate or sell your ‘fat clothes’;

Every time I try on some clothing that is too big, I put it in a charity shop pile. When I get a nice little stack of clothes together, I take them round to our local charity shop. This takes away my safety blanket, I can’t get bigger again, because I’ll have no clothes & I really really don’t want to have to buy bigger sizes again. Plus, it’s always good to give to charity, much better than chucking them out or hoarding them in the loft! 😉

If they are fancy or expensive clothes, you could also try your hand at selling them, then using the money you make to buy new, smaller clothes.

8. Involve your friends and family;

It is much easier to stay on track with your new lifestyle, if everyone around you is involved. I’m not suggestion that you get Grandma up and running a marathon with you, but she might like a stroll (or push, if she is in a wheelchair) around the park.

Feed your family whatever you were planning to eat – my hardened carnivore of a husband, now actually likes ‘meat-free meat’ and tofu, my 3 year old will eat fruit and vegetables till the cow comes home!

Get outside as much as you can. See if your sister or brother want to come with you to a race, even if it is just to spectate.

The more you all move about, the easier and more natural it becomes 🙂

9. Don’t Beat Yourself Up;

Remember, YOU are the one that is choosing to do this, NO ONE is forcing you. If you choose to have a day off, then do. If you choose to eat an entire chocolate bar, then fine – your choice. But try to look at things in the long-run. If having a rest, or eating something a bit naughty & delicious will stop you from reaching your end goal completely, then don’t do it, but, hey, we’re all allowed a day off here and there.

This is a lifestyle, NOT a temporary diet.

Which leads me on to…

10. Never, ever, ever quit;

Progress is progress, no matter how slow. But quitting will stop you from reaching your goals, always.

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New Series: In Your Cupboard

Welcome to the new series, all about the secrets that are hidden in everyone’s cupboards.

First, I’ll share what I have hiding behind the cupboard doors in my kitchen – letting you in on all my super buys, must haves, ‘can’t live withouts’ and recommendations – then, we’ll take a look through your cupboards… if you want to share, that is!

I’ve already got a few awesome people lined up to share what they stash in their kitchens. I can’t wait to show them to you. If you are someone that enjoys keeping fit or is trying to lose weight and you’d like to get involved, just drop me a message through the contact form on the ‘about‘ page & we’ll get you linked up!

In The Twisted Swede’s Cupboards…

Charlie's CupboardSo, I have cupboards that are rammed with stuff. Some normal, some not so normal. Some delicious, some not so delicious…

I really love cooking, it gives me headspace. The basis of my cupboard contents is trying to have a good selection of healthy foods, things that can be used as a basis or an addition to something bigger. I ALWAYS have berocca, chia seeds, a selection of nuts and seeds, crackers, flax seed, peanut butter, honey & dried mushrooms in the cupboard – these are what sit along side other cupboard staples such as decent olive oil, vinegars, salt and pepper, soy sauce etc. I’ve got powders such as sprirulina and wheatgrass to add to smoothies and yoghurts too (though, if I’m honest, I use these because I know they are good for me, not because of the way they taste!!). I try to buy lots of organic and raw items that are kept in the cupboard, these usually last pretty well, so won’t get chucked out straight away when I’ve forgotten to use them! Amongst other things to try, you should all get some virgin coconut oil, some crystallized coconut (awesome sugar sub) and a whole bunch of medjool dates *drool*.

cupboard4cupboardI have a heap of spices – too many to fit in the cupboard, possible spice buying problem… I just love spices. I have no idea how people can cook without them. These two pics, probably show half my spice collection, but I don’t want you to think I’m totally nuts! If you are a spice virgin, then you should definitely have cinnamon, cumin, corriander, smoked paprika, nutmeg and a few herbs kicking about – if you don’t have these, go buy them now, your tastebuds will LOVE you for it. Also, please go and invest in some sea salt & throw away the table salt – that stuff is only good for sprinkling on an icy footpath! If you are a seasoned (HA!) spice buyer and user, then you should definitely try to source dried mango powder (so sweet and delicious), furikake (a sesame and seaweed based seasoning), and DEFINITELY go and hit up ‘the spice shop’ in Brighton – honest to god, I had a real kid-in-a-sweet-shop- moment in this place. I have never seen so many amazing spices, I could have spent all day (and all my money) in there, but I reservedly bought 4 blends – with the cute yellow tins – and then dreamt about the rest of the shop all the way home!

cupboard3The other bit of my stock pile, though, not strictly a cupboard, more of a snack basket, is rammed with deliciousness. I have a heap of protein bars and balls. I’ve got seed bars, flapjacks, tonnes of nakd bars and quest bars. THIS basket is what stops me from reaching for crisps, sweets, wine, chocolate. There is nothing wrong with snacking, just make sure that the snack has some worth to it. Where I would once have reached for a bag of pick n mix when I felt like a snack and then hit the sugar crash later, I now look for something that will provide me with some nutrition, whilst being filling and a good source of energy.

So there you, go, those are my cupboards – or a snapshot of them at least. I do also have the usual stuff like baked beans, marmite, tinned tuna and dried pasta, but that is not quite as exciting!

So, do you have what it takes to throw open the cupboard doors and let us have a good rummage? Send me your pics, your staples, your must haves and your recommendations & show us all how you eat.

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