Disqus for Where Are My Knees

Quitting smoking and electronic cigarettes

Sunday, 30 March 2014

So, we're three months into the year and Christmas seems like a distant memory, as does New Year. So how are you doing on your resolutions? I must confess I'm failing on most of mine - apart from giving up Diet Coke, which I have done for Lent, but I've replaced it with full fat Fanta so the point is kind of lost.

Apart from losing weight though, one of the most popular resolutions is to give up smoking. I've never smoked. I would love to tell you that it's because I'm so strong-willed that I've never been tempted, that I stood strong in the face of peer pressure. But honestly, it's just luck. I've just never had a lot of friends that smoke, so in those impressionable teenage years, I never tried it. And of course, now I just have no interest in it at all, but I have so many friends who started smoking as teenagers and haven't been able to kick the habit.

Vype electronic cigarettes got in touch with us recently to ask about our experiences with e-cigs. While some of my friends have been able to quit smoking by sheer willpower alone (actually, more than one have quit when they got pregnant, and never started again) but I've also had a lot of friends rave about electronic cigarettes. Often it's the action of smoking that they miss, as well as the nicotine, and electronic cigarettes combine both of these things.

Obviously it's not a good idea to smoke an electronic cigarette if you've never smoked - they still contain nicotine, which is addictive. But if you're trying to kick the habit, as a healthier alternative to tobacco cigarettes, they're a great bet. I'd love to know if you've ever successfully quit smoking with the help of electronic cigarettes - let me know in the comments!

Collaborative post.

teapigs matcha green tea

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Ever since teapigs sent me a sample tin of their matcha green tea, I've been walking around singing “matcha, matcha tea” to the tune of Matcho Man (I know!). But this tea has seriously put a spring in my step, which is a good sign.

Matcha tea has been drunk in Japan for pretty much ever – Buddhist monks use it to keep them alert and awake for a hard day's meditating. It is made from green tea leaves, grown undercover for the last two weeks of their cultivation, which causes excess production of chlorophyll (the stuff that makes plants green). These leaves are then carefully ground down to form a fine powder.

In recent years matcha has become more popular in the UK, popping up in cafes, health food shops, smoothie bars and all sorts of weird and wonderful recipes. teapigs boast of the many health benefits of their matcha – as well as its high antioxidant levels and energy boosting caffeine, this miraculous green powder apparently contains the right stuff to help you lose weight and have healthy skin while you do it.

All of the science aside, you've got to like the taste of the stuff, right? teapigs kindly sent me an electric whisk and some handy serving suggestions along with my tea powder. I decided to try a milky matcha latte first – easy to make by heating some milk in a saucepan and then whisking in ½ a teaspoon of match green tea powder and a little bit of sugar to taste. You do have to whisk quite well to get everything to mix together so you're not left with clumps, but the milk whisk made this easier. This was a really nice warming drink, sweet – if slightly 'green' tasting. A note here: make sure it's only a ½ teaspoon of the powder you use – I accidentally put a full, heaped spoon in on my first attempt and it was so chlorophyll-y that it was like eating a bouquet of flowers.

For my second drink I decided to try a teapigs favourite – matcha tea shot. I whisked a ½ teaspoon of the powder in to a pudding shot glass (technical term for you there!) of good quality apple juice. This one I really liked. It was a quick drink, really smooth and tasty – the balance between the sharp tea and sweet apple worked really well. It was like drinking a shot of really good iced tea – but with the added smugness of knowing it was good for me. I had this instead of my usual morning coffee a few times, and while I don't know if it made me any 'brighter', I certainly didn't suffer from swapping out my usual caffine fix.

Am I a full on convert to matcha tea? Not yet, but I'm very happy to incorporate it in to my morning drink routine, for a bit of variation. And with spring and summer just around the corner I could see me replacing hot coffee with a sweet and refreshing matcha apple shot more often. Plus, I've already amassed a long list of matcha recipes to try (but as most of them are cakes/involve chocolate, I might not mention them here!)

This post was written by Maggie and you can check out here blog here.

Guest post - The Fast Diet: a two week convert

Friday, 14 March 2014

The following post is brought to you by the lovely Becca who has written posts for us previously. You can check out her blog here: Friendly Film Fan and I'm sure she would be happy to chat about the 5:2 plan over on twitter.

We’ve all done it, reduced our calories so low for a few days to shed a couple of extra pounds, put our bodies into starvation mode and then proceed to gain back those lost pounds plus more when we finally, finally, let ourselves eat carbs again.
I am guilty of this. I am also guilty of ‘being good’ and reducing my chocolate intake, only letting myself have alcohol or sweets once a week, going on soup diets and trying to simply exercise the weight away.
Needless to say I have failed at all of this (having no long-term will power) and I have never found the idea of going to a class appealing, despite it being one of the most successful and sustainable methods. The weight I need to lose is that pesky ‘last ten pounds’ that won’t shift no matter what, I needed something different that I could stick to forever – and I hope I have found it in the Fast Diet.

Now I am not writing this post having been on the Fast Diet for weeks or months and am now the svelte figure I always dreamed of being. No. I am two weeks into this thing and I already love it.

I know many people on this diet (also known as the 5:2 Diet or Intermittent Fasting), but thought it impractical and bad for you to spend two days a week severely lacking in calories. Then one of my best friends revealed she had been doing this intermittent fasting since the new year began and had lost over a stone, was feeling healthier and happier than before and found it, the most important word in the dieting dictionary, EASY.

Two weeks in and I have to agree. For those who don’t know the philosophy behind the Fast Diet I highly recommend reading the book by Dr Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer or watching the Horizon film that Mosely made in 2012 called Eat, Fast and Live Longer. I have to say the science really convinced me.
It is based on the principal that humans are designed to fast – we would hunt our prey, gorge then go for weeks without eating again. Today we are so used to having three square meals a day and grazing in-between that when we skip a meal our brains panic. What? No food? We must be dying!
No, you’re not dying. You’re okay.
This diet does not advocate skipping whole days of food. What happens instead is you have a quarter of the calories you normally require (500 for women, 600 for men) split however you want on two, non-consecutive days a week. I have been experimenting with my allowance and had a sandwich for lunch and noodles for dinner the first day, a protein filled late breakfast with nothing else to eat (but lots of tea, Pepsi max and water) the second, and breakfast biscuits for lunch with a small amount of curry and rice for tea on my third.
I have found a Monday/Thursday routine is best because then I get at least two days between each ‘fast’ where I do not count any calories. Plus I don’t start work until 1pm on a Monday and it is quite easy to work through my late break (gaining some time off in lieu in the process).

The first day was pretty hellish for me, because all you can think about is food when you are restricting it. Plus I wasn’t exactly prepared food-wise, so my biggest piece of advice is to stock up on veg/salad so you can gorge yourself on something.

The second day was much better, and the third was almost easy.
The key thing I am loving about this change of eating habits is if I really want some chocolate (or other ‘bad’ thing) I can have it. It might be a day later than my craving but still, it’s not true denial if you can have it at some point. The Full Fat version. An entire tub of Ben and Jerry’s if I so desire.

I mentioned earlier that the science convinced me to pursue this diet (along with my friend’s fantastic results). By consuming low calories on intermittent days I effectively put my body into ‘repair mode’, NOT starvation. My body will begin to use the sugars in my blood to produce energy, moving on to the fat once it has burnt through all the sugars. This lowers my blood sugar levels; cutting the risk of getting diabetes. This is particularly nice to know as my Grandfather had type-two diabetes along with a plethora of other illnesses.
There are other long term benefits they believe will come from this type of diet, including cutting the risk of developing Alzheimer’s at a young age (i.e. before 80) and being healthy much longer into old age.
All pretty convincing stuff.
If anyone out there has an interest in this diet do read the book, it does not cost much and will open your eyes to a new way of living. I am looking forward to seeing my body change and my eating habits develop better patterns, with the odd tub of Ben and Jerry’s thrown in.

PS: another added bonus I only just realised this morning – my skin has started to clear up and my chin, normally my worst nightmare, is clear for the first time in years.