Tag Archives: diet

Don’t tell me healthy eating is a bore

salmonI have posted a few times (here, here and here) about the so-called “healthy eaters” of our generation – the ones who fad-diet and going on juice cleanses to starve themselves for a week and rid themselves of toxins before heading straight for McDonald’s. The ones who think a week of hardcore dieting, living off lip gloss and fresh air will even out months of eating no fruits and vegetables and packing down the crisps. I can’t stand crash dieters who do this . People like them give people like us (the healthy ones who make lifestyle changes to remain in good shape and at full strength) a bad name.

Every now and then, a few tweets will pop up on my Twitter feed, or I’ll spot Facebook statuses announcing to the world that someone is dieting, trying to lose a few pounds and is struggling. They might say something about how eating healthy is boring or how they are eating healthy but not losing any weight. First of all, take a good look at the pictures in this post – all of healthy meals and drinks that have been freshly prepared with the best ingredients and are full of flavour. Tell me that food, like the plate of salmon and salad at the top, are boring – that this riot of colour is less appealing than a squashed, greasy McDonald’s burger. Or the black linguine with king prawns and garlic below – is this just too full of flavour for you?prawnDieters need to realise that if they have been living off a diet of crap, then that is what their body has become used to, that your body now craves high levels of sugar and fat. Yes the first few weeks will always be a struggle because you are essentially trying to change a lifetime of bad habits, and you will be craving the diet your body is used to. But after this period, you body will start to crave the right foods and the longer you stick with this course, the more you will start to enjoy the foods. Your taste-buds in turn will start to relish in the diverse flavours, something they had been numbed to with a previously high sugar and fat diet. Now they will wake up and smell the bacon, or so to speak.

It is important to realise that this is not an immediate process and will not happen in the first week, but a few weeks down the line, you will start to notice big changes. It just means sticking with your health kick for long enough so that it becomes a lifestyle change. Another problem that is often voiced, is the failure to lose weight despite switching to healthier foods – well first of all, make sure that the foods you think are healthy are in fact, because if you have gone for “diet” foods and ranges, often these contain a lot of hidden sugars which turn to fat, and salt. These can cause even more health problems in the long run when actually it is very simple – lots of fruits and vegetables, less carbohydrates and stick to brown rices/breads/pasta, and go for protein-heavier meals with plenty of fish and less red meat. Cooking things yourself means cutting out the middle man, who often adds a lot of salt and preservatives that you do not want to be eating, plus cooking yourself makes you more aware of what is going in your own food.smoothieFinally, something else that those looking at changing their diet need to realise is the importance of portion sizes – if you are eating healthy but are still bigger than you feel you should be, portion sizes could be the problem. Some of us go on a health kick and while starting to eat better foods, we start to eat massive portions to fill ourselves up, in turn stretching our stomachs to make us hungrier than we should be. It is important to realise that in Western countries we are probably already eating far more than we really need, and spending a fortune on food while 1.2 billion people around the world are living on the equivalent of £1 per day – read more about this and living below the poverty line on Sarah Hardman Travels

It is important to remember that the size of each food group on your plate will need reshuffling, but also the size of your plate – if you are a pile it high kind of person, you might not be giving your stomach a chance to say it is full before shovelling a load more down. Again, much like the changing of foods, it will take a few weeks to adjust if you are usually someone who eats massive platefuls with big snacks in-between – but once you have adjusted, you will wonder how you even found time to eat so much food. I’m not saying never have a treat, or a cheeky McDonalds – I’m just saying that the healthy lifestyle should be the norm, and the treats should remain just that. Particularly if you are intent on losing weight or being healthier.

Give it a try and let me know how you get on – you might be surprised the effect eating a little less overall and some more of the right things can have on your body.

A slice of something nice makes the world go round

image (30)One thing you can say with absolutely certainty is that my family loves cheesecake – fresh, baked, fruity, chocolate – we love them all. So whenever we go to New York, we always fit in as much cheesecake as possible because quite frankly none of us have ever had cheesecake that is better than you get in the delis out there, not unless my mum makes one herself. Always a winner is blueberry – one of my absolutely favourites and a total classic. Here is a picture of the blueberry cheesecake from the previously mentioned Fluffy’s – all of their stuff is to die for and it is just a couple of blocks walk up from Times Square. Well worth seeking out for any food you fancy – all of their stuff is amazing from muffins and cheesecake to pancakes, sandwiches and omelettes.

image (27)The perfect thing about these delis is after a long day of walking around the city, it was lovely to grab a bit of cheesecake on the way home from the pub, with a hot chocolate and head up to bed. I’d prop my feet up on a pillow to stop them aching and dive into this, the chocolate brownie cheesecake. Wow. Words don’t do this justice. While American cheesecakes often lack the base we Brits love, half of this cheesecake was a thick, fudgy chocolate brownie base with another thick wedge on top. Yum.

image (24)Another snack we often indulged in for lunch was the rather delicious slices of pizza sold in delis and cafes across the city. I’m not really one for meat pizzas, so I loved the huge range of veggie pizzas on offer with loads of spinach and ricotta slices to tantalise my taste buds. I don’t normally eat much pizza at home, but these were freshly made in front of us and on thin, crispy bases which in my view, make the pizza. It was especially good when you wanted to eat something light and fast between visiting the sights.

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Are you a sweet or savoury person – which one do you like the look of more?

Pancakes, bagels and more pancakes…

image (21)I’ve barely started typing and my stomach is already rumbling looking at all these pictures of the yummy food I was eating while in New York – writing this is going to be a struggle without a snack! I love food, I’ll never deny that. And despite loving being fit and healthy, I will never deny myself a treat. So when I went to New York, I knew full well that I would be getting lots of treats in the food department. Top of my list of things I wanted to eat were lots of pancakes, cheesecake, steak and burgers – plus a cracking Italian.

image (28)Breakfasts were eaten at The Wellington Hotel’s cafe, Fluffy’s or the deli next to our hotel – all serving incredible food! The top photo was taken in a Brooklyn restaurant my sister took us to, it served us a huge pancake with poached eggs, bacon and an option of sausage with lashings of maple syrup. To the left you’ll see the fruit cup and three stack of pancakes with bacon I had at the Wellington. Sadly I don’t have the picture of the blueberry pancakes from Fluffy’s which were actually my favourites!

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image (32)I was also absolutely loving the deli next to our hotel which served the most amazing smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels with onion and cucumber. Mouth watering and one of the things I was most desperate to try – it was just incredible! Especially when washed down with a fresh juice made up of spinach, carrot and apple. It looks gross but was actually delicious! My mum also had one that was carrot, orange and apple which was so bright orange that it stained her mouth! All so super healthy and juiced right in front of us with no added ingredients.

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Keep posted for more delicious meals from New York and two restaurant reviews coming up! What would be your dream breakfast in NYC?

Why I’m not giving up anything for Lent

8970182946_40dc985e84_bPost-Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday, whichever you prefer) all everyone seems to be talking about is what they are giving up for Lent – whether a practising Christian or not, it has become engrained in our culture that we should go through life systematically making sacrifices to break up the times when we gorge ourselves silly. There seem to be three main types of people who I have spoken to on the subject – those who try and fail continuously at dieting and are using this as an excuse to make another half-hearted attempt at losing weight. Then there are those who fancy a personal challenge of seeing if they can give up something for around six weeks, some even do it for charity. And finally, those who use Lent as a way to start a longer project of giving up bad habits like smoking.

The one I seem to hear about repeatedly, it seems to be the only thing on peoples’ minds lately, is losing weight, This seems to be the motivation behind any of these sacrifices whether it is stopping drinking, eating sweets or chocolate, or for those who decide to take up exercise. I have no problem with people wanting to improve themselves or their health, but there is rarely any mention of this. Everyone seems more concerned with losing weight and doing it as quickly as possible by starving themselves or cutting out any treats rather than changing their lifestyle to keep the weight off long term and becoming a healthier person who is stronger and more toned. I really hate the way our society has become so focused on this cycle of gorging and purging – so many seem to go for a “health kick” which sees them working out loads and cutting back their foods to an unhealthy extent or even sticking to a liquid diet. This is crazy and totally ridiculous – how on earth can they possibly think this is maintainable long-term? And if it is not, what is the point when you will only put the weight back on when you return to normal?

5681629499_1178c11ef7_bDon’t get me wrong, I’m totally in support of those who give up chocolate for Lent and manage to stick to it the whole time – I just don’t understand the point when the same individual will, in my experience, go and stuff themselves silly when Easter arrives. I have a lot of respect for people who completely change their lifestyles – the ones who go cold turkey after smoking 40 a day for decades, the ones who completely change their eating habits and create a new lifestyle with plenty of exercise and the ones who cut back on drinking and partying all the time to take part in marathons. All of these people are so inspiring and should be really proud of themselves because they have committed to a lifestyle change and they have created a long-term plan. I am firmly of the belief that there is no short-term fix for anything and a six-week cutting back of booze, fags or grub is not going to undo a lifetime of binging on all of these.

Of course, just to clarify, I am talking about those who have adapted Lent from the traditional Christian season of fasting and prayer to a time of sacrifice for weight loss. I know that there are many out there who genuinely give things up because of their beliefs and this is also to be respected. However, I personally have little time for those who say they are giving something up for a few weeks – is this really a sacrifice when there are hundreds of thousands, even billions, out there who have sacrifice their health every time they take a drink from a dirty river? I just don’t understand why it is so hard for some people to understand that moderation is the key to a healthy lifestyle – just as you can’t binge on McDonald’s all the time, it is not healthy to live off the same limited foods, to cut out food groups like carbohydrates, or to have a liquid diet. It takes a careful balance of healthy foods, treats and EXERCISE! Of course it is easier if you enjoy healthy foods and working out, but there are many variations of these and it is just a case of finding the right one for you.

380435359_85e10c439c_oI like to think I have found my balance – I eat healthily, drink plenty of water and work out a few times a week, but I also enjoy getting drunk on a night out and going out for a nice meal. I never sacrifice or stop myself from having something I want, I just work harder at the gym to balance it out. This is my motto for life, if you want things, you have to work for them. Quite frankly, if you want that dream body, you need to work for it, not take the easy option. This is why I am not giving up anything for Lent – a) I just don’t see what sacrificing something for six weeks will achieve, and b) I feel that actually I already have a balanced lifestyle and I genuinely don’t know what I would give up! Why not join me? Forget about Lent and make some real life changes, get healthy and fit for life, not just until Easter.

Have you given anything up for Lent? What was your motivation and do you think you will stick with it?

Mistaking a New Year cleanse for a quick binge and a few days of starvation

Photo by Alan Cleaver

Photo by Alan Cleaver

I’m finding the endless stream of Instagram pictures, Facebook statuses and Twitter updates about everybody’s New Year diets and workout schedules absolutely infuriating. The amount of disgustingly unhealthy programmes and ‘cleanses’ I have seen promoted on both blogs and social media is getting ridiculous and yet people wonder why we have so many young people with eating disorders who use these methods, some even dying from them.

How can grown men and women with any level of intelligence possibly think that drinking nothing but juice and fruit tea for four days is healthy?! Of course you will lose weight, you are starving your body of the fuel it needs to keep working! You will put this weight straight back on, and possibly more, when you begin eating normally again, probably rewarding yourself with extra ‘treats’ after completing the four days.

It is outrageous and scary at the same time to think that so many people are doing the Atkin’s diet, the 5:2 diet, the cabbage diet, the chilli water diet, the restricted portions diet, the water-only diet, the cotton wool diet, the fresh air diet… THESE ARE ALL JUST WAYS OF STARVING YOURSELF! They are no better than the binging and purging used by those suffering from bulimia or the starvation of anorexics and you, by taking part and indulging these few days, are helping to promote this as a way to lose weight and be ‘healthy’ to other young people.

It’s about time people took responsibility for their actions and realised that what they put out into the universe through recommendations, social media and blogging can in fact have a scary and even deadly amount of influence on peoples’ lives. Your advice or ‘wise words’ can reach those who are more easily influenced and could cause them to embark upon a long-term juice only diet that could destroy their body and leave them in hospital.

It seems that health and dietary education is not working for my generation, although split into those who love their combination of doughnuts and diabetes and those who dedicate their lives to health and exercise and treat their body like a temple – there are issues on both sides. I can’t stand the people who crash diet and who are all about their lettuce leaves and cous cous in January, but you know that it is only a matter of time until their are storming into McDonald’s demanding a Big Mac – how can this be good for your body and how on earth can you hope to keep the weight off and remain healthy?

At the same time, there are those who live off nothing but turkey breasts, lettuce and protein shakes all year round – how is this any better? You are punishing your body with a basic diet designed to change your body shape – this too is a form of starvation through limited food groups (perhaps a lack of carbs) and through lack of variety.

I guess that old question comes into play here – do you live to eat or eat to live? Well, I have to say that I love to eat, but don’t live to eat. I certainly don’t limit myself to eating to live.

It is important to remember one word – BALANCE. All of those who have spent a lifetime on crash diets, battling weight gain and restricting themselves, I am about to blow your world wide open.

If you really want to lose some weight and tone up – the only way to achieve this without surgery is to EAT LESS and MOVE MORE! If you live healthily, eat healthily and do enough exercise all year round, then you won’t be forced to crash diet in January as your attempt to show willing and to try to make an effort. It is not hard and it doesn’t have to cost. No excuses, so go do it and leave the crash diets alone.

Photo by UrbaneWomenMag

Photo by UrbaneWomenMag


My first attempt at making risotto

Tomorrow I am cooking dinner for the whole family, including my boyfriend, so the pressure is on and I will be trying my hand at a new dish. I am going to attempt to make my first risotto, after falling in love with the dish at a number of restaurants recently. So far I have tried butternut squash and Wensleydale risotto and a salmon and asparagus dish.

I am going to be making Creamy Gorgonzola and Portabello Mushroom Risotto – it sounds delicious and I can’t wait to try it! Fingers crossed it all goes well. Click here for the recipe I will be using. I’ll take photos and let you know how it goes!


Workout: Stronger, harder, leaner

Just got home after another epic workout. Treating myself to new gym clothes has really been an amazing motivation and I am killing it again at the gym – I have totally revitalised my workout and am loving it again. My body feels amazing now that it is really being challenged again. I love how good a really powerful workout makes you feel. I’m totally hooked on endorphins and I’m not ashamed to say it – there’s nothing like the buzz you get post-workout.

None of my friends are gym bunnies like me and none of them really understand why I enjoy going to the gym so much (I don’t think three workouts a week is excessive!) because they have never given it a real shot, but if they prefer to feel tired rushing around at work and sad when their clothes don’t fit like they would like them then fair enough! Personally, I like my body to be soft and yet strong, I like being able to run and lift weights without a problem. I like that my clothes fit the way I like. And I LOVE that I can pretty much eat what I want because my metabolism is so high and I rarely put on weight now, even if the majority of the time I prefer to eat healthily.


Too many people think the key to losing weight or toning up is actually just eating less when in fact, I actually eat more now than ever and yet weigh less because I am eating less junk and because I am working out to burn it off. My body is lean and toned and yet I enjoyed a huge Italian feast of tagliatelle with a sauce made of double cream, brandy, prawns and vegetables with two different types of garlic bread, wine and cheesecake for afters last night. It’s all about moderation.

My current workout is cardio heavy with plenty of weights and a strong core section. I do either a 20 or 30 minute interval run (depending on how much time I have) and usually run for either three or four minutes followed by a minute of sprint walking. This interval running is great for boosting my cardiovascular fitness and building up stamina – plus its also the most effective for weight-loss. I then move on to 20 minutes of interval training on the cross trainer at a high resistance level before finishing with ten minutes of fast-paced cycling.

I then move on to weights working the inner and outer thighs to strengthen my muscles for running and to help stop my hips from clicking so much. Reps of 12 and I try to move up a weight every few weeks. This is followed by the leg press (which I can stack) and I do various exercises on there including one-legged, pyramids and general lifting to mix it up a little. Doing these weights have really helped strengthen my legs for running without building any excess muscle, my legs are slimmer than ever!

I then move on to arms and use all the weight machines working my biceps, triceps, shoulders and core as I try to build up my strength in my arms. I stick to lower weights because I tend to build muscle in my arms (especially biceps) quite easily and although I don’t mind this, it makes the sleeves of my cardigan a bit tight!

Finally, I finish with an intense ab workout. Starting on the ball, I will do 25 oblique crunches on each side followed by 20 long arm crunches with a 7kg weight, finishing with 40 Russian Twists with the same weight.

After these, I hit the floor where I start with another 20 long arm crunches with the weight, 20 basic crunches followed by 20 reaching to my knees and another 20 reaching through my legs. Then I do 40 oblique twists followed by 20 crunches where I fully extend my legs and arms. Finally I do 40 more Russian Twists on the floor and then sit on a weights bench to do 20 leg extension crunches.

After this I’m usually a jelly mess and have to head home for a snack, today’s was a bit of brown, seeded toast with peanut butter.

What’s your favourite workout? Any tips to further my workout?


Fasting, dieting or starvation – what ever happened to enjoying a healthy lifestyle?

Fasting, dieting or starvation - what ever happened to enjoying a healthy lifestyle?

I was ashamed to see my mother lovingly unpacking a book she had ordered last night. Unpacking the packaging as delicately as if it were a newborn baby, she squealed with glee and called me over to look at what she had in her hands.

To my horror, it was the new 5:2 cooking book which offers a range of “delicious” meals that are 500 calories or less to help you fast on certain days of the week.

What kind of lunacy is this? On what planet do women believe that they should starve their bodies of nutrition for two days a week in order to be unhealthily skinny and model a body more often owned by the starving children in third world countries?

I think it is disgusting that society has made women feel they must lose weight in such a ridiculous manner that could pose serious health risks – in one magazine article I read that a woman’s reproductive system had actually shut down because her body went into starvation mode and could no longer cope.

But what I think is even more disgusting is the fact that women in society are now stupid enough and naive enough (and sadly, I must now include my mother in this category) to buy into this fad and potentially be willing to cause their bodies serious harm in the process.

I have always been one for a healthy lifestyle and go to the gym or swim three times a week, purely because I love to exercise and as a social experience because many of my friends attend the same gym. I don’t do it to be skinny or loose weight, I prefer to build muscle and tone up which in turn makes me weigh more as muscle is heavier than fat.
I go to the gym because I like to set myself personal challenges and to push myself using machines to build up the weights and resistance I am using.

I also eat extremely healthily, again, because I enjoy it – I love healthy food. I have always craved salad and fish and fruit, but I am also known to indulge in a few cocktails, cakes and sausage rolls!

I eat to fuel my body for exercise, and just as I deserve a rest day from exercise, my tummy deserves a treat from the usual healthy food every now and again. The key is moderation and a good attitude!

Far too many people seem to think that eating less is the key to losing weight when really they need to get off their bottoms and start moving more and faster.

I know it is hard to fit in workouts around a full time job and to have the energy when you get home, but I work a full time job, am studying for a Diploma in Journalism distance learning, have a pretty packed social life and contribute regular articles to a festival website – yet I still manage to find time.

I think there are far too many excuses in the world and far too many lazy people with bad attitudes. Your body is the most precious gift you will ever receive and it deserves the finest in treatment considering the incredible things it allows you to do. Cramming down three McDonalds meals a week and heading to KFC every night for a Krushem is not the way to respect your body.

Hopefully, I have managed to persuade my mother to shred the book and try a better attitude towards working out – one can only hope she doesn’t sneak the book back out of the bin!

In the meantime, hopefully I will be getting out of the gym soon and trying out a combination of yoga classes and bootcamp to test my body in new ways.