Monday, 31 December 2012

A head start!

I'm getting a head start on the healthier eating/weight loss wagon this year...a one day head start, but a head start none the less!

I have spent the last couple of months taking it easy on myself when it comes to being sensible with calories and haven't always made the healthiest choices. By doing this I not only get to unleash my greedy inner self, but have had potential for gaining strength and muscle which is obviously amazing :-) of course this does mean you have to do weight training to get these benefits, and it's been a regular feature of my workouts! Yesterday I hit a weightlifting milestone, which felt amazing, dead lifting 85kg for 1 rep TWICE. Last week I struggled to lift 75kg once. Thank you christmas indulgence.

I don't weigh myself anymore (i haven't ever obsessively weighed myself, just enough to know which direction I was going in) but I can tell by looking and the tighter fitting of my clothes that the extra calories have done their job. Ok, my stomach is softer and my hips and legs more chunky. But guess what? I'm running faster and lifting heavier than ever, making it all worth it!

My next challenge is to maintain these fitness gains while getting my body into a fitter shape to match. Eating fewer calories, about 2000 calories- i would never deprive or starve myself - will allow me to shed the excess slowly to hopefully retain as much strength as possible as my muscles will still be well fed. I also hope that being lighter and having less heavy food to digest will help me get even faster and have more energy throughout the day.

I have a framework for my food all planned out which allows me to be flexible with my choices, and cook and shop economically. It is mostly plant-based, with vegan soya-free protein powder, nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans and lentils as primary protein sources, though eggs and cottage cheese will regularly feature. Fruit or veg will be part of every meal, and I will not deprive myself of healthy fat sources.

My workout plan is yet to be finalised though. I want to do heavy lifting, running (sprints and up to 10k), spinning, yoga and tabata workouts. I just need to figure out how I can fit it all in!

How will you be kick starting your new year? Or have you jumped the gun, like me?

I would love to hear you plans and tips for keeping your new habits in check!

Happy new year!

Hannah xx

Friday, 28 December 2012


In the hope that I would mildly be able to keep my health in check over the holidays, I signed up a few weeks ago for the Elf4Health challenge, hosted by Lindsay and Elle. There are three cycles (we are currently in the third) and are paired each time with an elf to share our healthy journeys, help one another and report back on the various challenges set.

I was paired at first with Diana who was an awesome elf and we are still in touch. You can follow her blog Veggie Next Door.

Then I had a disappointing match 2nd time round, they didn't contact me much and only half way told me that they hadn't been able to and wouldn't be to participate...well thanks a bunch.

My third match (after having to be rematched after my initial 3rd elf could no longer commit) is Leila from Spinach and Skittles, and I think we are going to have a great time sharing the final week or so of challenges.

The challenges have consisted of fitness, healthy eating and healthy mind challenges, so for all round health :-)

Yesterday's challenge which I caught up with today was to write a gratitude list - 20 things I am grateful for. So, I wrote it and what? Do I bin this, frame this? I thought I'd share this with my readers, because after all, I'm grateful for you too!

Ok, it's a little bit soppy for me, but it think it's a good idea for me to shout from the rooftops of the Internet things that I am thankful for and happy about in my life! There's no shame in the things that make my life the happy life that it is :-)

Thank you!

Hannah xx


So it looks like we made it!

My Christmas, despite being far more sedentary than I had planned, was a fab one! I ate to delicious but gratuitous excess, and my stomach is not thanking me this morning. I whizzed up a vegan protein smoothie for this morning's breakfast, spiked to the max with superfoods to try to some how to repair the damage:

The goods - homemade nut milk, chocolate flavour vegan blend protein, purple kale, frozen strawberries, chopped apple, flaxseed, barley grass powder, and superfood xs powder.

Unfortunately I didn't get any photos of my Christmas and boxing day eats, however I think if i were to relive them (the quantity more than the choices) might make me a little queasy! However, it was every bit delicious and I definitely did not neglect my vegetables :-)

I was spoilt with some amazing health/foodie/fitness gifts!
- Some amazing trainers, that have hard but flexible soles ideal for weight lifting and spinning,
- A jacket for when I get running outside again
- A baby mp3 player, just for workouts
- Quinoa and millet
- Healthy treats like this raw chocolate bar
- Nutritional yeast. I need to experiment and then I will get back to you with a verdict!
- An apple chopper
- Sweetheart ramekins! Can't wait to bake with these

I was grateful to be able to spend so much time with mine and James' family and though it was relatively quiet, it was enjoyable and as relaxing as you could expect from families such as ours.

Hope you had a great time too! How's your recovery going? Any particular strategy?

Hannah xx

Monday, 24 December 2012

New workout: Tabata

**DISCLAIMER: this post contains no christmas content whatsoever. But in advance, i would like to wish you a happy Christmas and new year**

Lately I've had to squeeze in whirlwind 20 minute workouts due to my early starts at the juice bar and unwillingness to hit the gym when I'm tired after work, in the mayhem of peak hours.

Tabata (not sure how to pronounce...TAbata...taBAta....tabaTA???) is a method that's growing in popularity and is said to be THE way to burn fat and improve fitness in a minimum amount of time. You push yourself at a high intensity, with minimal rest for a range of exercises. It's kind of like the HIIT (high intensity interval training) of the circuits.

The format that I've been working with follows the same structure as the first one I ever did - one I followed on YouTube( Here's what I do:
- I select 4 or 5 exercises
- I perform the first for 20 seconds, then I rest for 10 seconds (the quickest 10 seconds of my life!)
- Do this 7 more times, so it lasts 4 minutes in total.
- I then give myself about 30-45 seconds to have some water and to allow my heart rate to become more comfortable
- Move onto the next exercises for 4 minutes each in the same format.

So what exercises can be applied? Because I've been working out at home without any equipment, the following body weight exercises have been more than sufficient:
- Jogging in place, high knees
- Free punches (into thin air...but if you've ever done boxing on Wii console, you'll KNOW this works your back)
- Press ups (from knees at the moment)
- Burpees
- Plank
- Push up plank
- Alternating lunge jumps
- Squat jumps
- Crunches or reverse crunches
- Tricep dips
- Mountain climbers
- Wall sits (I'm talking 90 degrees)

If you have dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, resistance bands then your repertoire grows exponentially. Seriously, you will never be doing the same workout twice, nor will you plateau as you are continually pushing yourself to your personal highest intensity.

And it will make you SWEAT! I could seriously rename this blog Hannah Does Sweaty...I should've taken a pic after my tabata this morning, and it was only a baby 16 minutes! Perhaps just a regular 'Hannah Does Sweaty' feature will suffice...

Have you tried tabata yet? Any tips or exercises you'd like to add?

(Happy Christmas)

Hannah xx

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Some kitchen experiments

I'm a hoarder when it comes to recipes from like-minded blogs! I favourite all the ones I think are doable, look tasty, and for which I already have most ingredients and can get the remainder with ease.

However, I often don't get round to any of them. Perhaps I am worried I won't do them justice, and I also like my kitchen routines as I explained last time, so deviating from my usual trends is a little disconcerting.

Stick with me on this, I have a cookie and a hummus recipe to show you!

But it's that time of year, may as well be 'cookie'mas, as every blog is laden with cookie recipes! I just had to find a 'too simple for anything to possibly go wrong' recipe to try, and thankfully this one seemed very promising. Just 4 ingredients, and I already had them ready to go.

I followed Caitlin's instructions exactly, though I omitted the chocolate squares on top. That niggling part of me that was worried I could STILL screw up made me too reluctant to potentially waste my precious dark chocolate. So they looked a bit naked, but I was happy with the taste none the less. The brown sugar nicely caramelised the natural peanut butter, and as my first time using a flax egg (or flegg?) I was impressed by how eggy it seemed as I added it to the bowl. I'm not sure what it added to the cookies but I wouldn't have risked leaving it out!

My technique for getting uniform shapes was to tightly pack them into a measuring spoon so they were perfect half domes. Trying to form the dough by hand was a crumbly yet greasy mess.

The texture was more crumbly than chewy, so if you prefer a chewy cookie perhaps adding some extra moisture (milk?) would help here.

It made a generous batch, so the danger here is eating the whole lot. But as the ingredients are relatively unprocessed and no unpronounceable extras, it's a preferable avenue to a whole box of chocs, or multiple slices of Christmas cake!

So, at this point I'm in an unfamiliar situation. I have a batch of cookies, which I never have, and a fridge depleted of staples...I ALWAYS have some form of dip or spread, perfect for lunch with some veggies and pitta bread. I had none, and no tins of chickpeas to make my usual batch. I did have a rather sorry looking lump of sweet potato though, and vaguely recalling a paleo recipe for hummus (paleo diets omit beans/pulses....I don't understand this!) got to work.

Dead simple.

Three ingredients:
About 300g sweet potato, chopped and steamed in the microwave until soft. Allow to cool.
2 generous heaps of tahini paste
1 generous pinch of cinnamon.

Blend in the food processor.

Slather on everything ;-)

So simple and creamy, high in fibre and beta carotene. Almost like eating dessert. Unfortunately lower in protein than usual. But we can make up for that later!

What have you been experimenting with lately? Broken any trends?

Bye for now!

Hannah xx

Thursday, 20 December 2012

I'm baaaaaaack!!!!

Hello strangers!

I know it's been a long time but here I am! While I was setting up my business I ended up far too distracted to keep a regular blog (or any blog, who am I kidding?!) and though I appreciate that would have been a great way to document our business start up, I just had so much on my plate and didn't have much motivation/energy to do much else.

I keep a blog for my juice and smoothie bar 'Applebar' but I wont really be able to post everything I want to say as its a bit too personal, so the obvious outlet for those posts is here!

So, the best way I can think of updating you about the food and fitness things in my life is a quick list!

I don't know about you but so often I find myself in a position where I recycle the same ingredients and cooking methods for a couple of weeks, get a bit bored of them and move onto something else. But right now, love food-life is ALL about the following few things:

- My slow cooker! Happy to just go about its business while I'm in Applebar, I can just bung in some veggies, pulses and spices, and come back to a warming healthy dinner with plenty of leftovers to save for another day.

- Pumpkin purée! I read a lot of healthy living blogs, most of which are American! They go mad for pumpkin from about mid-October onwards, typically purée-ing it and using it for soups, chilies and baking. I got the bug in November, made a huge batch of the stuff (in the slowcooker!), froze it and only just got brave enough to use it.
- Brussels sprouts! I think I'm the only person in my family who would be gutted of they didn't make our Christmas dinner table. But forget the boring tradition of boiling them to death, roast or sautée them until they deliciously start to caramelise. Toss them in a salad or pasta dish, add them to a sandwich and reap their nutritional benefits too (hello vitamins C and K!)

- Homemade raw bars! When I'm on the go, I love to grab a raw food bar. Like Nakd or Pulsin'. They taste so sweet and indulgent but they are actually filled with nothing but good. When I have time to make my own, I blend equal volume of dates and nuts to make a dough, pimped up with natural flavourings like cacao, vanilla, cinnamon etc....these recent bars also had goji berries and made use of the pulp from making nut milk...

- Yes, nut milk! I'm not wholly opposed to dairy, but in the morning it's just a bit much for my tum and I've since turned to making my own nut milks using guides such as this and whatever nuts I can my hands on (oh you know what I mean!!! Tut tut you dirty minds!)

- Coconut oil. I'm sure I'll do a whole post on this soon. It's so good for you and I'm loving putting it in and on my face.

So these are things that have been IN in my kitchen recently...but undoubtedly if you check back with me in a week or two it may be a slightly different story!

For fitness, the coldness has been keeping me indoors, either at the gym or in our flat. I've been enjoying:

- Interval sprints. These have me thinking 'oh god I'm gonna vom' and attract a few stares due to me thundering along on the treadmill, but they are a good way to sneak in a good cardio burst, and I hope they will improve my pace when I'm able to get outside for some 5-10k runs next year. I run for 30-45 seconds at at least 18km/h, take a breather for 45-60 seconds, repeat 8 times.

- Spinning class. A 60 or 45 minute class always challenges my endurance and I prefer the variance on the bike compared to the same time spent on the treadmill. Good music is a must though. A few weeks ago I had to endure an entire Flo Rida album. Just no.

- Weights, as always. I love being strong, though it's a shame I'm nearly always the only girl in the weights area.

- Tabata. This is my latest favourite and I will do a whole post on it soon.

- Occasional yoga stretches on waking. I can't make a class anymore but when I have time in the morning I find a few sun salutations and downward dogs centre me and remind me to take care of my body.

Thanks for coming back and reading, I hope it was worth the wait!


Hannah xx