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Fish is the Dish challenge

Saturday, 31 January 2015

When it comes to staying healthy, there’s one food we should all be eating more of – and that’s fish.
Health experts recommend everyone should enjoy at least two servings of fish a week, one of which should be an oil-rich variety such as sardines, mackerel, herring, fresh tuna, trout or salmon.
One of the reasons we should include oily fish as part of a balanced, nutritious diet is because they contain omega-3 fats – and these have been shown to have many health benefits. There are so many benefits of eating fish, if you want to find out more head over to this page

Seafish, the national authority on seafood launched a campaign with Fish is the Dish to encourage the people of Britain to eat more fish by promoting its health benefits and the wide variety of tasty and convenient ways that it can be enjoyed. As part of this they launched a challenge for bloggers and asked them to take part in ‘Ready, Steady, Cook Fish!’ 

I was sent a package of assorted ingredients which will include fish, vegetables, herbs etc. The challenge was to create a fish dish of your choice in just 30 minutes. I had to stare at all of those food for a good ten minutes because I have to admit I rarely cook fish and wasn't sure what to do with it.

This is what I came up with in just under 30 minutes. 
  • Put the potatoes in a pan, cover with lightly salted water, bring to the boil and cook until tender. Drain, toss with a drizzle of oil, set aside and keep warm.

  • Meanwhile, cook the asparagus and artichokes in a large pan of boiling salted water for 3-5 mins until tender. Drain and set aside to keep warm.
  • Chop the tomatoes, spring onions and basil and add a little oil and lemon juice and season. 

  • For the sea bass, heat the grill, pour 2 tbsp of oil into a pan set over a medium heat, add the garlic, and cook for 1-2 mins. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper into the pan, add the fish, skin-side up, cook for 2-3 mins, then remove from the heat. Drizzle with the remaining oil, then cook under the grill for about 4 mins until the skin blisters and the fish is cooked through. Keep the fish warm while you finish the veg.

  • Thickly slice the potatoes and arrange a layer in the middle of each of 4 dinner plates. Scatter the asparagus over the potatoes and artichokes, squeeze over some lemon juice and finish with a grind of black pepper. Top each plate with a fillet of sea bass, finishing with a few spoons of salsa.

My meal was incredibly tasty, quick to make and nutritional. I've already bought some more sea bass and some cod. I plan on using the leftovers up and cooking the cod in a parcel with tomatoes and veg with some garlic, parsley and basil. 

Do you eat enough fish? 

We're loving - Esprit Sportswear

Sunday, 25 January 2015

I'm not going to make any bold and unrealistic goals for 2015 but the one thing I've promised myself that I'll achieve is going to yoga once a week and doing one gym session a week. Obviously I'll aim to do more than that but it would be nice to get some activity in each week even when I'm not feeling well or I'm super busy.

In my bid to look more colourful and feel more comfortable whilst working out I've been scouring the internet and found a store that stocks up to a size 18 and has loads of basic items which can be mixed with more statement pieces. Esprit is a fashion brand that blends creativity and responsibility fused with a sunny Californian attitude.The Esprit webshop has thousands of items and I found a few I'm coveting for my own collection.

Sports & high-performance trousers - £ 29.00
Soft jersey T-shirt - £ 19.00
Trend trainers with a flexible sole - £ 39.99

I like the second outfit for yoga in the winter because the studio can be freezing and I need a long sleeve top and the fleece would be great to add on top when I'm going for a long walk. 

Soft zip jacket, knit exterior, fleece interior - £ 45.00
Printed leggings in stretch cotton-jersey - £ 25.00
ultra-soft slub jersey long sleeve top - £ 19.00

All my sportswear is not really fit for purpose. I'm always getting my baggy trousers caught on the machines at the gym and my oversize t-shirts fall down showing my midriff to everyone when I'm doing a downward dog. Not a good look. I'm slowly replacing all my gym kit with much more functional items like t-shirts with materials that helps wick sweat away from the body.

What are your favourite sportswear brands that cater for larger sizes?

Write a letter to your body

Friday, 23 January 2015

Helping us do the things we do. From looking at the stars to chewing food. From walking to school, to picking a flower, or waving to a friend…
We’re often trying to change them – get them fitter, lighter, quicker, stronger. If they get ill, naturally we want to make them better. But even when our bodies are relatively healthy, we still struggle to like the ones we’ve got…
It’s an expression of how you feel about your body at this moment in time. What would you say to your body if you could? Would you thank it? Be strict with it? Encourage or celebrate it? Maybe you want to ask it a question or sing its praises…
Please send us your…LETTER TO MY BODY…
As we gather your letters, we’ll be turning them into something creative. At the end of the project, we’ll invite you to an event to share food and hear about the different letters received.

Letters will be displayed anonymously.

c/o Rachel Jenkins, Halo Leisure Services, Bridgend Life Centre, Angel Street, Bridgend CF31 4AH
OR EMAIL THEM AT: letter2mybody­@gmail.com
OR DROP IT: in one of the designated boxes at Halo reception centres.
Your letter may be handwritten or typed or you could download and fill in the form on the back of our flyer
here in English
or here in Welsh.

LETTER TO MY BODY is part of a wider Research and Development Project about Arts & Health in Bridgend, which recognises that creative and cultural strategies represent some of the most powerful ways of engaging and inspiring communities. 

Artist Rabab Ghazoul invited Addo to work with her and HALO Leisure Ltd on the project, which is being funded and supported by HALO Leisure Ltd, Arts Council of Wales and Bridgend County Borough Council.

For further information, please contact:

Rabab Ghazoul, rabab@phonecoop.coop
Sarah Pace, sarah@addocreative.com

The 5:2 Diet – one year on

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

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.

Almost a year ago I sent in a post about this ‘revolutionary’ diet that I had pretty much fallen in love with after just two weeks. It has now been 48 weeks and I have no plans to ever stop it.

Since I was a teenager I have been unhappy with my weight, looks, hair… if it was superficial I hated it about myself. Previously I had minor success with short term weight loss, soup diets and the like, and I managed a good year of being small with concentrated diet and exercise.

These small successes were in vain however as I possess very little will power. VERY little. I manage six months before I get bored or lazy or hungry.

So when I found out about my friends amazing weight loss, as I talked about in my last post, the 5:2 diet seemed like a good one to at least try. Almost 12 months later I have already beaten my record on both weight loss and sustainability. I even managed to carry on over Christmas…

…Okay so I didn’t manage both days over Christmas but I at least felt the need for one day. Which is why I think I have been converted in my thinking for good; I physically felt the need for a 500 day. Christmas is a time when we excuse over-indulgence with those amazing three words ‘Tis the season’. So when I was nearing a full week passing without my having a 500 day I felt heavier than I ever have done at Christmas time. The day after I had a low calorie day I felt sharper, hungry for normal food, and more keen to get off the sofa and out in the fresh air.

Now I’m not saying this diet isn’t hard. I have days when I give up completely and consume my weight in chocolate. I also do not spend the calories on my five days ‘off’ particularly wisely – if I did I would be able to go down to a 6:1 ratio. Unfortunately my lack of sustainable willpower means I doubt I will be able to do this as I go a bit crazy on the biscuits or bread sometimes.

Back to the positives. Within about six months of this diet I was down to my ideal-ish weight, losing about a stone. This has fluctuated slightly, depending on the amount of alcohol I consume or baking I do, but I have a steady base weight which I am more than happy with.

I have no scientific proof of my blood glucose levels reducing or whether or not I have staved off Alzheimer’s, a couple of the reasons why I wanted to try it in the first place, which is a shame. I hope I am healthier in body and mind physically, I definitely feel it, and it would be an added bonus to the weight loss and confidence boost I have.

All through this I have been calling 5:2 a ‘diet’, but to me it is now normality. My consumer behaviour on my fasting days generally consists of drinking a couple of mugs of tea in the morning, a slim-a-soup mid-afternoon to combat the empty feeling I get, a zero calorie drink if I feel like I need an energy boost, and then a dinner of veggies and protein with some carbs.

This is the pattern I found works best for me. A lot of people split their calories across one big one small meal per day, but I find I get hungry if I eat something solid in the day and then my evening meal is completely unsatisfactory and I go to bed grumpy.

I have also managed to work out filling meals are possible under 400 calories, the key is less carbs more protein. Or couscous. Couscous and roasted veg is my default meal on a 500 day because you can have a lot for relatively few calories.

Sometimes I cheat and have 100/200 calories over my allotted number, but then what is life if we play by the rules 100% of the time? I am in the healthy BMI range and can fit into a size 12 with some room to spare for extra pizza slices on occasion. More than that, I’m happy.

If anyone out there has had the same success as I have, or been on this diet for longer, I would love to hear your thoughts. And if I’ve managed to inspire anyone out there to give this one a go, without using the lighter life version that Gemma has, then good luck and keep in touch!

LighterLife Fast - Losing weight over Christmas and the New Year

Friday, 16 January 2015

I've already spoken about my first month trying out LighterLife Fast on the blog but this post is going to focus on following the plan over Christmas and into the new year. I normally have a lot of anxiety around Christmas, worrying about putting weight on and trying to limit the damage or feeling guilty about what I eat. By following the LighterLife plan this year I didn't have any of those worries

I tend to put on around 5-7lbs over the festive period with all those parties and family meals, drinking Baileys like it's going out of fashion and not being able to go to the gym. This year I managed to maintain my weight over Christmas thanks to the products below. No miracle needed.

I'm sure you have all heard of the 5:2 diet, also known as the Fast diet – but just in case you haven't here is a quick overview. The idea behind the diet is that you eat normally 5 days a week and then fast the remaining two. On the fast days you quarter your calorie intake, it is advised that you eat 600 calories and get your RDA of key vitamins and minerals along with fibre and protein. The two fast days should not be taken consecutively.
I consumed just 600 calories 2 days a week by eating from the LighterLife Fast range which is available at Superdrug but ate what I liked for the other days. I didn't have to say no to anything, and didn't feel guilty after my third After Eight. I wouldn't say this is an attitude you should take all year round, you do need to eat moderately on your non 5:2 days but the easing of the festive food guilt was a great relief for me. I had to chose my 5:2 days wisely and plan ahead, I normally did them on a Monday when I was in work all day and had yoga in the evening so I was busy and not tempted by food. I also chose a Friday which is the day before my weigh in so I would want to stay on track to see the result I wanted at the scales. 

I followed the LighterLife Fast plan in the new year and managed to lose 4lbs in my first week when combining this with some yoga and a session or two at the gym. I'm hoping to lose a little more when I weigh in this week. I'm not sure it's something I could do when I'm away on holiday or on my birthday week but love this plan when I want to lose some weight quickly and with no fuss. As someone who has lost a lot of weight through plans like Weight Watcher's I've found this plan much easier to follow and his given me the results I want.

Have you tried the 5:2 plan or the LighterLife Fast products?

Fitbug Orb review

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Fitness trackers are all the rage at the moment, lots of my friends have them and they are a firm favourite amongst fitness bloggers. Fitbug got in contact about reviewing their Fitbug Orb, I was very intrigued to see how it could change my approach to fitness and if it would be easy to fit into my daily life. Fitness trackers range hugely in price from the MovBand at £27.99 (this is a basic one and only measures steps) and they can be over £100 for the more fancy models. The Fitbug Orb comes in at £49.95.

The main benefit that comes from wearing one of these trackers is the motivation it gives you. Tracking your steps each day is a great way to understand how active you are and how you can work on moving more. I found that trying to reach my initial target of 10,000 steps a day was really motivational, I wanted to exceed my target each day and see how many calories I could burn just by taking the stairs and adding a brisk 20 minute walk to my daily activity.

How easy is the set up? 
The Orb is really easy to set up. You register your Orb on the website using the number on the back of the box and then link it to the Fitbug app using bluetooth. If you want to link your Orb to your computer directly you can buy a dongle. There's only one button on the Orb which sends information to the app when you press it, you can't go too wrong with just one button. All super easy.

Wearing my Orb 
The Orb can be worn around your wrist like a watch, clip it on to your clothes or wear it on a lanyard. I wore mine on the clip which I clipped to my bra and it stayed in place all day. When I wanted to track my sleep activity I wore it on my wrist.

Tracking with the Orb
I've used my orb for just over a week and I've not really had any problems. I couldn't get it to track my sleep for the first few days but after reading the FAQ on the website I figured it out. I've tracked my steps and aerobic activity everyday and have been pleasantly surprised. Despite having a job where I sit down for most of the day I get a lot of steps in walking to the bus stop, going to yoga and doing some shelving in the library. I think the step tracking seems pretty accurate, I wore my Orb with a pedometer for one day and got similar readings. I didn't track my calorie intake with the Orb because I follow a mixture of the Weight Watchers and 5:2 diet plan so didn't want to track my food twice but this feature would be really useful for someone trying to monitor there activity and calorie intake.

Overall thoughts on the Orb
I think the Orb is a good price, it's cheaper than some competitors and great if you are new to fitness tracking and want to give it a try without investing too much money. I liked the emails I got, giving my tips each day and giving my new goals to work towards. I also liked that I could wear this under my clothes where nobody could see it. Some trackers that you wear on the wrist really aren't that dainty so I liked that this could be hidden away.
You can't log food or exercise from within the app which might be a negative for some but I just added any non-step activity on the website at the end of my day. There's no need for re-charging with batteries lasting for up to six months, I know you have to charge some other brands by USB which I know I would forget to do some days. 

Studies have shown that in the first four weeks of membership the most inactive Fitbug members increase their daily activity by an average of 265 per cent. Data shows this improvement is maintained over 12 months, indicating that the improvements are long lasting. I think this would be a great little device for someone just starting to get into the world of fitness. It definitely motivates you to get more active. Seeing your stats everyday and seeing if you could beat them is a definite incentive.

 Have you tried the Fitbug Orb or any other fitness trackers?