Friday, 31 August 2012

Foodie Penpal Reveal #3

The Lean Green Bean

This is the third month that I have been involved in Foodie Penpals. It started in the US thanks to Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean and is now hosted by Carol-Ann from Rock Salt in Europe. Everyone is assigned a another penpal to send a parcel of food treats to, and you will receive one form someone else.

This month I was ecstatically excited to be paired with Anna and Robert from Amsterdam. Don't get me wrong, I have received two gorgeous parcels from British penpals so far, but a box coming from overseas could only have added mystery.
The pair responded to my dietary needs and preferences beautifully with a variety of sweet and savoury treats and ingredients to inspire me in the kitchen.

The first things I tried in the box were the raw chocolate and fig cake. I have had raw chocolate before but this has a new and intriguing texture for me as it contained whole nibs of cacao, rather than having been completely ground down and formed into a bar. Cacao is full of antioxidants - no guilt whatsoever tucking in! The fig cake is I believe a Spanish treat. All it contained/contains is dried figs and almonds, in a similar way raw energy bars combine dates and nuts. It tasted super luxurious for something so simple. It just goes to show that refined sugar isn't necessary for sweetness.

In the sweet corner is also some organic cacao powder. I don't want to embark on using an over ambitious recipe to use it because of it didn't work out I would hate it to go to waste. I think using it simply in oats and smoothies will be the safest way for me to enjoy it...but who knows, I might man up and get experimental! Anna and Robert also included a recipe for vegan chocolate one way or another I'll be venturing out of my comfort zone as I rarely make desserts - somehow I can never get them right. Hopefully this time will be different!

In the savoury corner are some noodles, stock, alfalfa seeds and curry paste. The noodles are 'cha soba' so they have green tea in! Anna and Robert told me that they have a very interesting flavour and as I love green tea, I couldn't wait to try them out (look out for future posts to find out what I do with them).

There is also organic mushroom stock which I have never heard of before, though I know the Kallo brand. Can't wait to experiment with it!

The curry paste went down brilliantly in a curry with butternut squash, peppers, chickpeas and spinach. Even my meat-loving Dad went back for seconds!

And last but not least, the alfalfa seeds. Now this is way out of my comfort zone. I would love to grow my own fruit, veggies and herbs but have never had my own garden in which to do it. Apparently alfalfa seeds can be grown in a jar in the house to produce sprouts that can be used in so many ways and are super healthful sources of fibre, protein, and vitamins B and K (read more here). I followed this youtube tutorial on sprouting. I will of course be posting a verdict once they are harvested and eaten as the process can take some days!

I sent a parcel to Cara who blogs about her amazing cake baking at Bake yourself crazy, though she hasn't posted a reveal at time of writing this. Fingers crossed she'll post soon! 

So, as you can see I have been a very lucky girl once again! If you'd like to take part, check out Carol's or Lindsay's blogs (depending on where you live) to find out more!


Saturday, 25 August 2012

3 Day Juice Detox - The Verdict

For the last 3 days I have followed the detox plan laid down in the JuiceMaster book Keeping It Simple! Over 100 Juice & Smoothie Recipes. Here is what the plan looked like:

As you can see it is a rotation of five juices and smoothies, as well as hot water with lemon/lime and I also incorporated herbal teas.

Beetroot featured heavily and though I generally detest beetroot (along with olives and coffee...I know, I know, sorry coffee lovers) I don't mind it at all in juices and sweetened with other fruits and veggies.
Beetroot stained fingers!
The one above is actually the H2O detox - about half as much juice as the 'meals' topped up with water to be a more refreshing drink that you can sip on in between meals. It has beetroot (surprise), pineapple, apple and lemon in!

I kept up my program during an overnight stay in London by preparing my drinks in advance and bottling them in any flasks/shakers I could get my hands on. The one above is a very filling beetroot, apple, spinach, parsley and cucumber juice blended with avocado (the Beyond Detox). It is seriously creamy, with plenty of powerful ingredients and just enough sweetness from the apples.
This one is the Detox Special. Probably my least favourite because the vegetable content (more beetroot, celery, cucumber, yellow pepper and broccoli) was a bit higher than the others, so less sweet. But even though it was the first one, it wasn't too much to put me off.
This one tasted far to good to be on a detox and unfortunately the Super Detox Smoothie only featured once. Freshly extracted pineapple juice blended with blackberries, blueberries and natural yoghurt...I'll leave it to your imagination!
Here's another demonstration of my preparedness ;-) When I returned from London on Saturday morning (I made my breakfast the day before to have on the journey) I decided that it would definitely be easier to make the rest of the days juices in one go and store them in flasks again. Tip: as long as you put a squeeze of lemon in, a juice it can keep well for much longer. This Dreamy Detox isn't quite what you'd expect from the name. Instead of a velvety smooth, creamy gentle flavour, there is a real punch of lemon and ginger, which is juiced along with apple cucumber and celery.
All together then!
 So how has it gone?
  • On day one I was aware of my energy levels dipping around midday and some mild headaches which are apparently normal and indicate withdrawal from stimulants like sugar and caffeine.
  • Since then, no problems at all in terms of energy or headaches, and a notable improvement in
    • bloating
    • my skin
    • stomach cramps (they are better than they were since limiting sugar but not gone all together)
    • generally feeling lighter
    • feeling more in control of my eating habits and better able to recognise hunger
Oh, and I said, I was overnighting in London, so as to collect Emma early from the airport as she returned home from her incredible stay in the US. In fact, you must check out her blog about her travels here. She told me she'd bring me back some American goodies and I am hugely grateful for what she brought me :-D
Hopefully these will be familiar to any of my American readers? So excited to start trying these once I'm back on the food tomorrow!

Bye for now,

Hannah xx

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Let's Get Juicing!

So, I hinted last time about something new going on in my life career-wise. Well what it is, is that James and I are sick of job hunting and the thought of having to work for someone else kind of leaves a bad taste in our mouths. Instead, we have been beavering away, researching and planning our own business - a juice and smoothie bar!

Juicing has been on and off in my life for about 6 or so years. My mum used to make us fresh green juices and smoothies to have with our dinner and I also incorporated it when I was 18 and realised that my diet could do with cleaning up and my body could afford to lose some weight. I also juiced a little at uni...until my cheap juicer blew out!

Now the juicer (or rather, my mum's juicer) is back with a vengeance to give me a kick up the backside to up the fruit and veg ante, and also as a key lab apparatus for our enterprising experiments! We have a few winners so far, but there's so much else for us to think about and do! Property, equipment, suppliers, funding....the list goes on, and I keep getting waves of uncertainty and feeling that it's just too big a project for someone like me, so used to being told what to do. Thankfully James has a degree in accounting and finance and his parents have been running their own business for almost 30 years so we shouldn't be completely at sea.

I realise that I haven't updated on food for a while. Well, as of today and for the next 3 days (if all goes to plan) I won't be having any! I want to really immerse myself in juicing so that I can really appreciate and advocate its power, and so I'm on a juice detox until Sunday morning.

Today seems to involve a lot of beetroot, which is supposed to be great for building up your blood, and other cleansing ingredients like cucumber, celery and apples.  For dinner I will be having a smoothie - juiced vegetables and apples blended with avocado, and there will be a few other smoothies for me to indulge in and help ensure I get sufficient fibre, fat and protein. So far I'm not feeling any more hungry than I would typically feel when I anticipate my dinner, and though I'm not craving anything, it's that impulse for experiencing different  food textures that I'm missing. I also experienced some mild headaches around midday which is supposed to be a typical reaction as the body withdraws from caffeine and sugars.

How I am going to work this around my exercise is something I'm a bit uncertain of. Today is easy because it's a scheduled rest day. But I'm scheduled to do spinning and body combat classes on Friday and Saturday and the fact that I'm possibly going to London tomorrow afternoon is a bit of a head-scratcher. And keeping on top of my juices will take a bit of planning...

I'll update again here about how it all goes with the juicing and any other exciting progressions, business-wise!

Hannah xx

Monday, 20 August 2012

Exercise Review

Yesterday marked my last day on my lifting plan based on this program from I adapted it to incorporate more cardio and the fitness classes I love.

So how did I get on?

  • I really liked being able to have some structure in the lifting sessions, and this allowed me to see where I was progressing and what needed more work. It kept me focused and able to get the most out of my time on the gym floor as there was less drifting in between exercises and less time wasted pondering over how much weight and how many reps.
  • I kept a diary to remind what to do and enable me to quickly get on with an exercise as I could easily refer back to last week's to see where I was at. For example, it made it easy for me to tell if I was ready to bump up the Kg's, if I could quickly read that last time I managed all the reps and sets. Unfortunately, I don't have the best handwriting, which is apparently made worse by exercised muscles:

  • I noticed improvements all round in strength - obviously a great result. 
  • For the most part I enjoyed the program. However, the back workout seemed a bit rubbish as I never really felt like it was being worked out and I never experienced any soreness after.
  • Most of the weeks I didn't totally stick to original plans, in terms of which workout fitted which day. Life happens, and sometimes you need an unscheduled rest day!
  • During the last six weeks I didn't run long distances as much as I should've, though I have still kept up my cardio endurance doing spinning, and my latest exercise love - body combat! It's essentially doing a load of moves from different combat disciplines to music. It really gets your heart rate up and my back felt worked after this (unlike the actual lifting day!)
  • I also questioned the body part combos that were in program, i.e. chest and shoulders, and biceps and triceps. and whether or not this way was giving me optimal workouts and recovery. I will be switching this round in my next program to find out.

So. My new program, courtesy of James who is a self-taught, self-proclaimed expert (well, I suppose he has the body to show for it), looks like a real challenge, and I feel I will struggle to sustain it for six weeks....well we'll just see how it goes.

And the weekly schedule looks like this

As it is Monday today, I tested the water with the leg workout. Leg workouts usually get my heart rate up a lot higher than other body parts, and James' workout got it even higher still! I added on 10 and 5 minute jogs before and after to get warm and relieve the kind of 'tense' feeling I'm often left with after.

It actually went very well and enjoyed mixing up the different number/lengths of set and really mixing up different strength training approach. This kind of integration of different methods is apparent across the program and I really think it'll help keep it fresh....maybe I'll last six weeks after all!

Elsewhere in my life, things have taken a rather unexpected turn with respect to job hunting. More on this in another post, I just felt like leaving this on an unrelated cliff hanger...I know you'll be gagging for more ;-)

'Til then,

Hannah xx

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Recipe: Stuffed Round Courgette

Last weekend I blogged about the beautiful produce I bought at the market, including locally grown vegetable beauties:

See that round green guy in the middle? That's an actual courgette. Today's post is the recipe I invented to stuff him, and and how I used the stuffing I had to spare.

Stuffed Round Courgette (for 1)

1 Round courgette
1 Tsp coconut oil
1/2 Tsp cumin seeds
1/2 Tsp chili flakes
1 Stick celery - finely chopped
1 Small carrot - finely chopped
1 Clove garlic - thinly sliced

1/2 400g tin of kidney beans - drained
1 Small handful of chopped walnuts 

  • Preheat the oven to 180C
  • Cut off the top of the courgette and scoop out the flesh with a teaspoon, saving the flesh in a bowl. I hollowed it out until the shell was just under a centimetre thick.
  • Replace the top as a hat and place on a baking tray in the oven for about 30 minutes
  • Make the filling by melting the coconut oil in a saucepan (medium heat) and adding the cumin and chili. Add the celery and carrot when the spices are fragrant. After about 5 minutes the vegetables will have softened and you can add in the garlic for another minute or two. Keep stirring the mixture.
  • Roughly chop the courgette flesh (depending on how roughly it was scooped out) and add to the pan. It should add a lot of moisture and cook down quickly
  • When the courgette has mostly broken down stir through the kidney beans so that the mixture is fully heated through. I found that I needed to add a little water to keep the mixture from becoming too dry.
  • If you like, season at this point, and stir through half of the walnuts.
  • Once the courgette has had its 30 minutes, take it out of the oven and get the grill heating up. 
  • Remove the courgette hat and place the courgette, up-turned, on a few layers of kitchen towel to drain out some excess moisture for about 5 minutes.
  • When the courgette has 'drained' fill it with as much of the mix as possible and top with the remaining walnuts.  Pop it under the grill to reheat and crisp up a little. I put the hat under the grill beside it, just for the hell of it.
  • After a few minutes (or before it starts to singe) take it out and put the hat back on (the courgette).
  • Serve up!
As I hinted, I had some mixture leftover. Keeping it in the pan I added a generous handful of baby spinach leaves and warmed it through until the spinach had wilted. The moisture from the spinach turned the leftover mixture quite sauce-y, and reminded me of creamed spinach!

All together, looking rather sparse in such a big dish....

My next mission is to figure out an inventive way to use my aubergine and yellow tomatoes. I would like to try making baba ganoush I think....and perhaps a pasta sauce will do the yellow tomatoes justice!

'Til then,

Hannah xx

P.S. Totally forgot to add that this recipe is being shared over at Healthy Vegan Fridays hosted by Shelby at Everyday Vegan Girl , Gabby at The Veggie Nook and Carrie at Carrie On Vegan. Be sure to check it out! 

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Fitness update and some recent inspirations

OK, so no food waffle today (pun not intended).

My exercise life has been going strong for the last couple of weeks since having to pull out of the 10K event. I am still following my weight-lifting plan and just coming to the end of my fifth week. Strength has been gradually increasing and my recent successes include squatting 55kg (plus the bar) on the Smith Machine and bench pressing a 25Kg barbell, both completed to 3 sets of 10 reps without failure. When/If I ever get a training partner or spotter (James) I will focus more on training heavier and to failure.

This time next week I'll have a think about where I can change things up, taking up the things I have enjoyed about the workouts and mixing in some stuff I have researched. I enjoy keeping my body guessing as this helps to avoid plateau and it keeps my interest in keeping fit alive. I can't imagine the gall of 'having' to keep up with a regime that bored me, life is too short to spend hours doing things that you hate.

I went to another combat class yesterday and I'm pleased to report that though I can feel a little soreness in my back, it's nothing like the sensation of having had a stampede trampling on my back that I had last week! I have also been working on flexibility and core strength through practising yoga poses, both in and out of class. It's so refreshing to take some time to really get to know how your breath and body feels and the sensation of relaxation and energising afterwards.

I haven't done any proper distance running (over 30 minutes) for a couple of weeks, though I have done interval training on the treadmill, working at 1minute:1minute intervals of 8km/h and 15km/h (10 repetitions)  in my last session which I was very happy with, and of course hour long spinning classes do well to build cardiovascular fitness and endurance.

So that's the fitness side of things. I also love reading other food and fitness blogs on my google reader and it's the many blogs I read that inspire me to blog myself. Here are some recent highlights for me - it's a mixed bag of health, food, fitness posts - but I hope you find something here to inspire you too.

This looks like an awesomely simple yet versatile recipe that I would love to try once I get my hands on some split peas!

I'd love for BBQ season to come around again to make up one of these and make up some Tzatiziki to smother it with!

Some great tips that I will be considering when revising my workout plan next weekend

The creativity that goes into every single recipe on this blogs just wows me every time. Those shells are made from Cauliflower?! What the?! I love to think that I would get round to making these but in the meantime I will just gawk and wait for someone to make them for me!

Did you see this documentary on the BBC? "Eat, Fast and Live Longer" explored the impact of fasting on prevention of preventable diseases like cancer and cardiovascular illness, based on the effect that fasting has on cellular activity. The 5:2 (5 days a week eating however you want and 2 days at a low calorie intake) was deemed the most preferable way of getting these life-enhancing benefits. Jacqueline has written about how she has been inspired by the programme. I must add, though, it's not something that I will be dabbling in, at least not for a while.

There has been a lot more on my reader that has made me drool inspired me later but at risk of this becoming another foodie post I guess I should hold back :-P

My last couple of weeks have also been dominated by coverage of the London Olympics. Haven't team GB been doing so well?! In fact, each and everyone of the competitors are inspiring - I thought that I train hard but their schedules are mind-bogglingly intense. The fact the team GB have been doing so well proves interesting to me from a Psychological perspective - that bridge between body and mind, the way that the motivation of a home crowd can help you tap into that extra 10% of exertion to get that medal. This has clearly been at work and the athletes are quick to observe and mention this when they reflect on their medal-winning performances. Here are my stand out performances:

  • Jessica Ennis - Won gold in the heptathlon, including event performances that would've been medal-worthy in their own right. The dedication of training yourself in seven disciplines for one medal, rather than one event like most other!
  • Nicola Adams - Winning the first ever women's boxing Olympic gold. A historic moment in women's sports and will be sire to inspire interest and uptake in the sport for other women. And such a lovely lady too!
  • Laura Trott - Double gold at the velodrome and after all the injury/medical trauma she has been through, at just 20 years old????!!! A real inspiration (I may or may not have pretended to be her in my last spinning class...)
  • Mo Farah - Double gold in 5 and 10Km races at a pace that I could only dream of sustaining for about a minute...just incredible.
  • Oscar Pistorias - The South African's participation in the men's 400m semi and 4x400m relay final has broken boundaries in this Olympics and his no excuses, no boundaries attitude is what everybody could do with remembering once in a while. I think this picture which has been storming the online world sums it up well

Hope this has given you something to chew over (oh, fine, yes that food pun was intended...) and that you're able to take some inspiration from this Olympics, just as I am.

Hannah xx

Saturday, 11 August 2012

My week in food and a new staple recipe

Damn I've been a naughty (AWOL) blogger this week. I intended to share a few foodie/fittie posts with you this week but the impulse to write never quite grabbed me *sigh*. I've been job hunting A LOT. And when I'm not doing this, I'm in the gym, buying/eating food, reading the posts of other lovely bloggers or being totally absorbed by the olympics. As I'm sure you don't want to hear about the job hunting (and God knows, I don't want to write about it) I'll write a little about the foodie-ness of my week, and update on the fittie-ness, reader-ness, and olympic-ness side of my week tomorrow. I know I said that my next post would be fitness related....but it's my blog so there ;-)


This week has seen the birth of my addiction to baked and stuffed sweet potatoes

Above is potato loaded with houmous (my homemade formula pimped up with coriander) On the right is a potato stuffed with green lentil and mushroom ragu (I'll pop the recipe below.)

I love serving them with a MOUNTAIN of greens/purples as it makes the meal all the more filling and virtuous.

So what else has been on the menu....

Overnight oats at breakfast with a lovely big mug of green tea. I've been adding in the fruit in the morning, typically frozen mango or banana and as many berries that I can heap into the jar. It fills me right up and has meant I can get my oaty fix without breaking into porridge the sweating for gym, I think!

This week has also played host to some exciting snacks including sugar-free banana chips, multi-seed and carob 9bars (like chocolate), and the obligatory dark chocolate squares.

And my food highlight of the week was the farmer's market! I treated myself to a Caribbean Bajan Pie from the veggie deli (you can drool over this and their other delicacies here). It is based on a Caribbean favourite - macaroni and cheese pie, but instead uses orzo (last time I had this was in Greece) and cheese-like tofu. I really enjoy the spicing of, kind of curry-like but exotic at the same time, and I topped mine with hot pepper sauce as was recommended to me. Alongside a salad made with the lettuce I also bought at the market, it was a very satisfying dinner!

I also bought these veggies (purple kale, lettuce, yellow tomatoes, aubergine and round, yes round, courgettes)....I wonder what I will do with these! I really love my farmers market, it's just a shame that it is only twice a month. I have otherwise been mostly getting fruit and veggies from a local green grocer where I can get bundles of stuff for a pound or so - buckets of broccoli/cauliflower/cabbage, punnets of avocados and pairs of mangoes!

Oh, I'm sorry, did I promise a recipe? It's oil-free, vegan, sooooo easy to make and extremely versatile. As you saw, I served mine on a baked sweet potato, but I used up my remaining servings by serving it with some toasted rye bread smothered in avocado, and just as it was with some green veggies. I can also envisage it with pasta as a bolognese sauce, between pasta sheets for lasagna, or between aubergine slices for mousaka. Ready for it? Here you go then!

Green Lentil and Mushroom Ragu (3 Servings)

1 Medium onion - chop in half and slice
1 Bay leaf
300g White mushrooms - thickly sliced
1 Clove of garlic - sliced
400g Tinned tomatoes
400g Tin of green lentils - drained
1 Big handful of chopped fresh basil

  • Steam-sautee the onion and bay leaf. That is, get a small amount of water simmering in a pan before tipping in the onions. Stir until the onion is soft and translucent and bay leaf is fragrant.
  • Add in the mushrooms. These will release a  lot of moisture, so you shouldn't need to top up the pan with water, though add a splash if the mixture starts to stick.
  • When the mushroom are slightly softened add the garlic. Keep cooking altogether until the mushrooms seem completely cooked through.
  • Tip in the tomatoes and green lentils.
  • Cover and simmer altogether for about 10 minutes, then continue to simmer uncovered for another 10 minutes or until you are happy with the sauciness of it - not too watery. Be sure to stir through the basil for the last couple of minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper if you like, and then serve!

See, I told you it was easy, and I hope that your mind is buzzing with ideas of how you could use this in other recipes or as a base to make it your own.

I am submitting this post to two blogging events - Healthy Vegan Fridays hosted by Shelby at Everyday Vegan Girl , Gabby at The Veggie Nook  and Carrie at Carrie On Vegan and to Wellness Weekend over at Diet Dessert and Dogs. These events always give me inspiration and keep my motivation to be healthy high over the weekend.

Hope you've enjoyed this very food and picture heavy post. Here's to something a bit less food obsessed tomorrow....maybe ;-)

Hannah xx

Monday, 6 August 2012

A day of food and a recipe

I haven't blogged about a whole day of food in aaaaages and today has been the first day in a while that I actually took photos of everything I had. I will even spoil you with the recipe for my dinner :-)

My first eat of the day was overnight oats. Overnight oats are all over the healthy-eating blogging world and it seems as though everyone has their own way of doing it - and I guess that's the beauty of the meal as you can really experiment and make it your own. Get  started by being inspired by some of the blogs like I was (here, here and here)

Last night I mixed up some oats, a similar volume of soya milk and a couple of teaspoons of ground flax seeds, then this morning I stirred through some frozen mango, fresh blueberries and a teaspoon of chia seeds and left it mingle for about half an hour before tucking in. It satisfies that need for a comforting texture in the morning and supplies you with all your macro nutrients, but as it isn't warm it keeps you cool and refreshed at the same time. Please try it, you won't regret it...and see how great it looks in the jar!

My lunch was a failed vegetable omelet vegetable and egg scramble which I made by sauteing dried mushrooms, a few cherry tomatoes and cavalo nero then mixing in a couple of eggs. Topped off with some avocado, it hit the spot before I had errands to run in town.

 Tonight I wanted to take the time to cook myself a proper dinner, inspired by a recipe in one of my favourite recipe book (River Cottage Veg by Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall....have I mentioned it before?!) I adapted it to create Spiced Aubergine and Chickpea Salad, and here's what I did

Spiced Aubergine and Chickpea Salad (for 1)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Medium aubergine (eggplant) - Chop into 1 inch cubes
Half a tin of chickpeas - Drained. If using dry chickpeas, soak 50g and boil for an hour to make up the right quantity
1 Small corn cob - Or half a large one
1/4 Tsp ground coriander
1/4 Tsp cumin seed
1/4 Tsp chili powder
1 Clove of garlic - sliced
1/4 Lemon - you need the juice and the zest
Small handful of fresh coriander - chopped

  • Preheat the oven to 200C, and whilst it's warming up also put in the baking tray you are going to used with the oil drizzled in it.
  • Meanwhile, toss the aubergine in the ground coriander cumin seeds and chili powder and add to the baking tray when the oil in the tray is very hot.
  • Bake the aubergine for 30 minutes, stirring half way.
  • Meanwhile, wrap the corn cob in some foil and put this in the oven too. You can add butter here or any seasoning you like but I just love it as it is. About 30 minutes should see it cooked through perfectly - tender but not chewy)
  • When the aubergine has been baking for 30 minutes then stir in the chickpeas and garlic and return it to the oven for another 10 minutes.
  • Toss the fresh coriander, lemon zest and juice through the baked aubergine mixture and serve on top of a bed of salad leaves.
  • You can have the corn cob as it is on the side, but I chose to chop off the kernels and toss it through the salad.
  • Season, if that's your thing, then serve.

I am submitting this post to Healthy Vegan Fridays hosted by Shelby at Everyday Vegan Girl , Gabby at The Veggie Nook  and Carrie at Carrie On Vegan 

Phew, that's a lot of food for one blog. Hope it hasn't left you too hungry! Next time I post I will probably give an exercise update!

Hannah xx

Sunday, 5 August 2012


So, you know how I posted about the Total Warrior 10K event I was so looking forward to participating in this weekend? Well, it didn't happen. Well, the event happened, but my participation didn't. It was starting to look a bit difficult when I had to take part in a training course on the day we needed to travel up there which would've meant driving over 200 miles quite late into the evening before pitching a tent to try and get some rest. Then, the day before we intended to travel one of the team members who was supposed to drive part of the team up there had to pull out. This meant potentially squeezing all 5 remaining team members into James' 5 seater car and somehow loading the boot with 3 tents and all the rest of the necessary gear and clothes. We realised that this wouldn't work, and James was beginning to feel uneasy about the prospect of driving  so late through Friday traffic in his car which isn't in the best condition. We considered taking the train but it would simply have been far more costly.

The rest of our team ended up taking the train and I believe that they had an amazing experience. I'm so disappointed, though I am trying to remind myself that there will be other events...a bit more local perhaps. On Thursday, I was desperately searching for a solution - so desperate that the apparently reasonable idea of somehow moving the event down south sprung to my mind! The very fact that there was a second in which my mind consider this to be a feasible solution, to me, just goes to show the impact stress has on thoughts (sorry, psychology student brain is speaking)

There is one bright side to this however. To blast away some of my stress on Saturday, which is usually a rest day for me, I took 2 new classes at the gym. As far as I was aware I had signed up for 'Combat Blast' and 'Body Conditioning'. Combat Blast hit the spot - routines incorporated a range of combat disciplines and I spent an hour wildly throwing kicks and punches in every direction and I was super sweaty and pumped after. It was a great workout which I will definitely be doing next Saturday (might have to switch up my rest day schedule!) Today, my back is soooo sore (in a good way) so I was clearly engaging muscles which haven't had a look in for a while - result!

Next was body conditioning, which I assumed would be pretty pilates based and I thought would be the perfect antithesis to a dynamic combat session. Turned out to be the opposite -  a boot camp circuit session where the instructor had us doing sprints, body weight exercise drills and mini circuits. At the end, she let us pick up some weights, though I could tell that she didn't have much time for weight training, at least not until you had mastered the gruelling body weight challenges. I respected this ethos and body weight exercises are definitely something I will consider when I next change up my workout regime. Besides, if burpees, push-ups, mountain climbers and jump squats are good enough for military and sports professionals, they are more than good enough for me.

I apologise for the absence of piccies in this post - I really should've taken a picture of my post-workout sweat! Unfortunately, my training course last week and then spending the remainder of my weekend celebrating my brother's Birthday has left little time for being inspired to share any health/fitness related finds. Hopefully, some more substantial posts will come together next week!

Hannah xx