Monday 30 March 2015

3 things I learned from the #DWFitnessRevolution

A few weeks ago I wrote about beginning the DW Fitness #FitnessRevolution - a programme for people like us interested in health and fitness to help keep us all motivated and on track for 40 days of food and fitness challenges.

Although I wasn't able to participate as much as I'd have liked to with the campaign because of an illness and a week skiing (tough life), it taught me some valuable, maintainable fitness lessons that I wanted to share with you.

Number 1:

Always make time to get out on your lunch break!
If you remember, in my first DW Fitness Revolution post, I swapped their run workout for a walk at work that day, and since doing that, I've made a conscious effort daily to get up and get out on my lunch break. I found this really hard, especially being someone who brings their lunch in, as it can be difficult to find an excuse to leave the office (even more so when it's peeing it down..) But it really does set you up for the afternoon ahead, getting the blood and oxygen flowing to the brain and clearing your head - it works wonders for me!

Number 2:

Set yourself small, achievable goals.

I touched on this in a post recently - I think having smaller, attainable goals can keep you really focused and motivated.
For example, during the challenge, I made it a goal to increase my protein intake. So, I invested in some pea protein and have tried to have a shake most days, as my protein was always lagging behind my carb and fat intake.

Number 3.

If you encounter a set back, don't let it demotivate you. Focus on the positives and be grateful for what you do have.

Like I mentioned before, I was a little bit ill during the challenge which meant I couldn't workout as much as I usually would. Cue initial panic and fear about losing all my strength and stamina...
Being told to rest in our hectic society is really hard, especially for someone who works out a lot, and so this was pretty difficult I'll admit. But after a few days I really understood the phrase 'listen to your body', and allowed myself time to get better before incorporating things like yoga back into my routine.. and working back up to going skiing!

The team behind the campaign really kindly sent me a 'survival hamper' which came loaded with things like;

  • Bounce Energy Protein Balls (gotta be up there as one of my all time fave snacks)
  • Arnicare cooling gel to help tired muscles
  • Biltong - never tried this before, I'm intrigued!
  • UFit and Bio Synergy protein shakes
  • Gold Collagen drink
  • Immulina supplements - to help preserve the body's natural resistance 
  • Guest passes to DW Fitness gyms (can't wait to try these out)
  • Bio care electrolyte post-workout food supplement
  • Book: The Science of Fitness by Greg LeMond & Mark Hom (cannot waiit to read this!)
  • Book: New You Bootcamp guide by Sunny Moran and Jacqui Cleaver

I can't wait to read the books, I'm really into reading nutrition / wellness themed books at the moment.

I'm thinking of reviewing some of the products - maybe the Adigym cream, the protein shakes and the Immulina tablets (I've never taken supplements before). Anything else you'd particularly want reviewing?!

Huge thanks to DW Fitness for backing this campaign, the ethos behind it that even just a little bit of fitness everyday can benefit us massively is something I'm a huge advocate of, and I've really enjoyed being part of the #FitnessRevolution community.


Friday 20 March 2015

Lemon Quinoa

It's funny the effect two sunny days (read: not raining in Manchester) has on my recipe inspiration. Today's recipe is Lemon Vegetable Quinoa, which has a fresh spring time feel to it.

Pair it with a salmon fillet or just eat it on its own ala risotto... I made this batch and had it a few times during the week for my lunch. The ingredients keep well together and the lemon juice keeps all the flavours 'alive', so it's a great food prep idea.

To make roughly 4 servings (or 3 if you're having this as a main dish), you'll need:

1 courgette
1 red onion
1 green pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
100g quinoa
100g peas
2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes
1 handful pumpkin seeds per portion (to sprinkle on top)
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon dried basil (or a few fresh leaves)

Cook your quinoa as you would rice, but add in three quarters of your lemon juice, so the 'zesty' flavour is absorbed by the seeds as they cook.

Whilst this is bubbling away, chop your veg and heat a large frying pan.

Add your onion, courgette and pepper. Mix in the cumin and basil and a few minutes before the quinoa is ready, add the tomatoes and peas along with your remaining lemon juice.

Stir the tahini through the quinoa before adding it to the saucepan and mixing well.

Either eat right away or allow it to cool before storing in the fridge - and don't forget to sprinkle your pumpkin seeds on top before you eat!

The dish has a really fresh, light appeal, and I can't wait to have it as a side at a BBQ!!


Tuesday 17 March 2015

Holland & Barrett talk December vs January bodies... in March

Right, so we are nearly at the end of March. MARCH. It will be April in two weeks, and I don't know about you but the mince pies, family festivities and overindulgence of Christmas genuinely doesn't seem like it was almost twelve weeks ago..

How quickly the time passes is scary, especially when you've set yourself health and fitness goals. That might be to look your personal best for June when you go on holiday, to run a half marathon, increase your deadlift weight, do a pull up - whatever these goals, the fact that time slips away from us so quickly means you can set a goal in say, January and come mid-March, life has got in the way and sticking to it hasn't exactly gone to plan...

Holland and Barrett have researched the differences in our bodies throughout December and January, and I think months are really important to factor in when setting goals - for example, setting a goal to train for a half marathon in December when there are umpteen cheat slip up opportunities is ultimately way harder than beginning in January, when most people are ready to embrace health again.

60% of people admitted consuming 3000 calories A DAY in December, and 70% of people felt more productive in January.. the difference in attitude is crazy!

But it got me thinking about goals, how easy it is to jump from one month to the next and not see progression. So, to help me come up with more realistic, maintainable goals, I thought I'd share three tips to keep me (and you!) in check.

1. Keep them simple

Don't overcomplicate your goal, otherwise you run the risk of becoming demotivated and will be more likely to give up. Keep them attainable, but just out of reach, so you're pushing yourself to your limit, but can see small progress each time too.

2. Note your progress

Keep a note of how far you've run that week, what it felt like to squat a particular weight, if you've struggled with anything over the past few days and so on. Vocalising your experiences makes your goals seem more 'real', and can help motivate you as you look back on your progress.

3. Sharing is caring

Have you got a mate (or anyone) you could share goals with? Not necessarily to have the same goal (although if you're both training for a 10k, for example, this would be a perfect matchmake), but this person can be your support and motivator when, par exemple, you can't be arsed to get up for a run at 6am. 

Are there any other mantras you swear by for keeping on track of your fitness goals?

It would be interesting to compare Holland and Barrett's results with July and September - July for me is heat of the summer and September for me always reminds me of starting 'fresh', returning to school, and the start of autumn.

Friday 6 March 2015

Three T Rice

This little beauty is ultimate comfort food packed with plant based, whole food goodness to refuel after a gruelling gym session or a much needed hearty lunch.

It's so easy to cook and you can make it with pretty much any veg you've got hanging around.

Ideal hot or cold, it makes a lovely warming dinner or winning lunch box eaten cold the day after.

I've called this recipe 'Three T Rice' because three of the most essential ingredients begin with that letter (genius, aren't I). They are...

Turmeric. Tahini. Tamari.

Turmeric has looong been known for its amazing anti-inflammatory and medicinal properties and boasts a load of manganese and iron in just a 4g serving (17% and 10% respectively).

Health foodie queen Deliciously Ella introduced me to Tahini and now I always have a jar of it in the cupboards to mix into sauces, chilli dishes and to make marinades with. It's got a nutty flavour, and is essentially just ground sesame seeds. It's a great source of calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron, as well as vitamin E and a whole handful of B-vitamins. It's nutritional profile also offers 20% complete protein, so it's a good veggie protein source.

Tamari is basically a wheat-free soy sauce and instantly gives any dish an a-miso-ing kick (sorry). It works perfectly in this dish to cut through the tahini and give the rice an abundance of flavour.

You will need:

100g brown rice (when cooked)
1 heaped tablespoon tahini
2 teaspoons tamari
2 tablespoons ground turmeric
Half a courgette, sliced
Half a red pepper, sliced
Small handful chopped mushrooms
Half a head of broccoli
...Or any other combination of veg you have in the house


Cook your rice according to packet instructions. Whilst this is cooking, chop your veg and lightly sauté (I used a tablespoon coconut oil to fry my veg in), mixing in your turmeric.

Once the veg has been cooking for five - ten minutes, mix in a tablespoon of tahini and stir in well so that all the veg is coated equally. Tahini can be quite dense and sticky so you might have to mix it around for a minute or so.

Once the rice has cooked, drain any excess water and add the tamari, mixing around so all the rice is covered.

Then, mix the rice in with your veg and serve, or leave to cool and store in an air tight container.


Monday 2 March 2015

Purple Protein Juice

 A few posts ago I mentioned that Indigo Herbs sent me a sports nutrition package to get creative in the kitchen with, so today I'm sharing a post-gym shake that tastes lush and delivers a huge hit of protein.

In this bad boy we have...
1 tablespoon of:

  • Hemp protein powder 
  • Spirulina powder 
  • Beetroot powder
  • Banana powder
  • 1 banana
  • 2 huge handfuls spinach 
  • 2g of cordyceps CS-4
  • 1 handful frozen blueberries
  • 1 handful frozen raspberries
  • 200 ml unsweetened Soy milk 
I use spirulina in all my juices; it's a fab source of plant protein and antioxidants, and since Indigo Herbs delivered my hemp protein powder, I've had this in all my juices, bakes and porridge too. Everyone knows why bananas are the bomb (low GI carb, fibre and potassium) - same goes for the berries (antioxidants all the way!), but I'll admit, I was a little unsure of the beetroot, banana and cordyceps cs-4 powders. SO, I've done some research...

Beetroot powder is said to be a must-have for athletes due to the nitrates in the juice which provide energy, as well as being good for helping to manage blood pressure and detoxing. 

Banana powder is 100% freeze dried 'nana, so it's perfect if you've run out of the fruit but want a banana flavour in your porridge / juice / shake, and naturally retains all the nutritional goodness that the fruit possesses.

Cordyceps cs-4 powder is freeze dried mushrooms! But not just any old mushrooms, these are prized medicinal mushrooms that originate from China. The cordyceps is an extract from the mushrooms. They're supposed to help your metabolism, boost your immune and respiratory system as well as boasting antioxidant properties. 

It tastes sweet; the bananas and berries neutralise the beetroot and spirulina, so if you're not a fan of these flavours, this could be a good one to sneak them into! 
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