Tag Archives: diet motivation

Day 5: Friday Night Syndrome

What is it about Friday nights? You spend the first part of the week being so healthy you could be the pin-up in a juice bar, only for the clock to strike 4 on a Friday and your resolve crumbles faster than a full fat chocolate chip cookie. Friday. Night. Syndrome.

The typical Friday night conversation

The typical Friday night conversation

Friday nights are my Achilles heel. My way of unwinding after a long, hard week of working is to go out, meet some friends and chit-chat over good food and some sort of alcoholic beverage. If I just went home and watched TV I would feel cheated and probably spend the night crying into my broiled white fish and broccoli supper. That’s what Sunday through Thursday is for!

So, realistically I’m not going to give up my Friday night socialising – I just need to find a way to healthify it.

The plan this Friday was to go to Zeitgeist in the Mission for a few drinks and then on to Burma Love, which just opened recently. Perfect I thought, planning it all out in my head – I’ll have no more than two vodka tonics at happy hour, before heading to the restaurant where I would opt for the healthiest option on the menu and then head home at a reasonable hour and get the requisite 8 hours sleep. HEALTH MASTER!

Emmmm…didn’t quite pan out that way. The primary cause – I forgot how ridiculously strong the drinks are in the States. They’re even stronger when you engage in a bit of friendly, Friday night flirting with the bartender. So, my first vodka-tonic was most likely worth three normal (Irish) ones. And this tickled me pink enough to order two more. And then of course, the banter with the friends got even better, so food was forgotten about until around 10. We actually did end up going to Burma Love, but were tipsy enough and starving enough to order the slightly less than healthy option…with a side of wine.

So, not an amazingly healthy night, but also, not a complete disaster. A disaster would have been to drink beer rather than vodka tonics and then not eat until midnight when you stop and get a burrito. This kind of disaster has struck before.

I’m not quite sure how to cure myself of Friday Night Syndrome though. Maybe buddy up with a fellow health warrior and only do rounds of drinks with them? Any tips or strategies out there?

A note on Zeitgeist and Burma Love. It was my first time at both and I had a blast.

Zeitgeist is a fun dive bar, with a great outdoor area and lots of benches. Not too many annoying hipsters either. If you’re not trying to be healthy they have a BBQ pit as well where you can get some burgers.

Burma Love was great as well. I had never had Burmese food prior to coming to San Francisco, but now tea leaf salad is one of my favorite dishes. As with most restaurants worth going to in the city you need a reservation. We got lucky and got a table with no reso!

Comment on healthy living

Despite a relatively un-healthy ending to the day it started quite well, with lots of fresh, whole foods. No exercise though. I was still exhausted and knew I’d be doing Barry’s Bootcamp on Saturday so I decided not to push it. Outside of food and exercise the other healthy thing was chilling out with friends and laughing. Food for the soul, so it is!

Food and exercise

No pictures of my lunch, drinks or dinner so you get a selfie instead

No pictures of my lunch, drinks or dinner so you get a selfie instead

  • Snack: Green Juice from Thistle (ordered the night before)
  • Breakfast: Kefir with berries (AMAZING)
  • Lunch: Salad with chicken, edamame beans and a slice of rye bread (bold, bold, bold)
  • Snack: Sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, large handful of walnuts
  • Drinks: 3 (large) vodka tonics with a splash of cranberry
  • Dinner: Green tea salad (split by three people) Tablespoon of a chicken/noodle dish, 2 tablespoons brown rice, eggplant prawn dish (YUM) and one large glass of wine
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Day 2: The post-holiday post-mortem and my new goals

Is there anything worse than getting on to the scales and having your body fat % tested, right after the holidays?

fat

For the record, there is definitely plenty worse in life than this.This comparison obviously only relates to other superficial events or occurrences that could befall a human being. Like having a skinny friend who eats toast and chocolate croissants every day. That features highly on my list of terrible things that could happen to someone. I’m looking at you Frenchie!

I know many of you are probably screaming at your computer, going ‘For the love of all that is good and holy, why the hell would you do that to yourself?!? Everyone knows that the only time to weigh yourself again is after a two week juicing cleanse, a round of colonics and a haircut. And only then if it’s first thing in the morning and you’re completely naked.’

You’re right…you’re right! That would typically be my way of thinking as well. Why put yourself through undue heartache and torture, cursing the day a mince pie ever crossed your path?

However, there’s no denying that on occasion you need a short, sharp shock to the system to jump-start change – and stepping on those scales and having your belly fat pinched is the best way to do it.

I actually had the remarkable foresight of anticipating my post-holiday excuses months ago, so I signed up in advance for a 10-week fitness and nutrition program in work- with a pre-evaluation on January 6th. Job done.

And so starts my tale of woe…

How much damage did the holidays do? A LOT! 7lbs worth of damage and a place in the overweight body fat % category (0.8% over healthy). I was actually shocked at how quickly I put on the lbs and body fat. However, when I stepped off the scales in a huff, wanting to cry and thought about it some more – it made sense. Whilst I didn’t go crazy and indulge as much as I wanted to, I had been pretty lax with my healthy eating for a good two months. It was slow and creeping and disastrous.

So now starts the epic challenge of reversing this and I’m hoping my 100HealthyDaysinSF program will help me.

For full disclosure I’m going to put down my new goals here. I hope to achieve these at the end of the 10 weeks of the fitness program I signed up to.

  • Lose 3% body fat
  • Be able to do 10 full push ups (I can do 3 now)
  • Reduce waist size by 3 inches
  • Be happy and healthy

Mx

Comment on healthy living today

Today was a good day in terms of healthy living – all three of my meals were healthy and I started back exercising with a group exercise class. This was TOUGH going! I felt like I needed to explain myself to the strangers in my class as I was huffing, puffing and sweating after a round of jumping jacks. ‘First workout after the holidays, you know…’ It was tough, but I’m glad I did it. It was a win even turning up.

Food and exercise

Once again featuring the book light. Obsessed

Once again featuring the book light. Obsessed

  • Hot water with lemon
  • Breakfast: 1 cup of scrambled eggs (50% whites, 50% whole), chia seeds, steamed kale. (I MISSED KALE SO MUCH)
  • Lunch: Salad with lots of veg, edamame beans, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, olive oil and balsamic. Also a little bit of seaweed salad – which had SUGAR in it. Criminal, never again.
  • Snack: handful of almonds and raw veg
  • Exercise: 45 mins group exercise class
  • Dinner: White fish with green beans, cherry tomatoes and half an avocado
  • Lots of herbal tea

Day 42: Combatting sugar cravings with water

For a while now I’ve been battling some serious sugar cravings. Have you ever experienced this? The ‘can’t sit still at your desk, about to claw your nails down your face or throw someone down the stairs just to get to the granola jar faster’ kind of feeling.

sugar

When I first started the challenge I didn’t suffer from this at all. I actually wrote a post on Day 13 about the evils of breakfast cereal and boasted about the fact that I was able to breeze past the jars in work, and not be tempted to grab some.

Oh how cocky and naive I was!

What happened? Why am I suddenly afflicted like this? What was I doing differently back then?

Thinking back, I was more motivated, certainly – I was all keen to do the best job I could with the 100 Healthy Days Challenge. All the enthusiasm of someone starting out on a new project.

But I don’t think motivation, or lack thereof, is the reason.

What I really think was different was the water I was drinking. I was making a massive effort to drink water and herbal teas – nettle, dandelion and mint predominantly.

So, as an experiment I decided to drown myself with water and tea today. I constantly made sure I had a bottle of water and a herbal tea on the go. I probably drank more than I would normally, or felt like I needed.

And, good news – I didn’t have any sugar cravings today! I was once again able to breeze past the granola jar, mentally giving it the middle finger and a big #$% you. I’m hesitant to start the celebrations just yet. All too often I think I’ve solved my sugar issues, only to find myself nose deep in a cereal bowl.

Let’s just call this an interesting observation. And let’s just try it again tomorrow and see how we get on.

This is going to be my strategy for upping my water intake:

  • Keeping a large glass of water by my bedside and drinking the full thing as soon as I wake up in the morning.
  • Whenever I have a coffee, I’ll make sure to have a glass of water with it. Italians do this in bars all the time!
  • Drink water flavoured with natural fruit – we have lots of this in work. The new thing is basil flavoured water. Kids these days!
  • Carry a bag big enough to fit a bottle of water and make sure I have one when going out.

FYI – I also tried the below things as well, which apparently have an impact on blood sugar and sugar cravings.

  1. I did not eat any fruit
  2. I started taking a good probiotic
  3. I started taking Omega 3s
  4. I put cinnamon on everything!
  5. I upped the protein and healthy fat amounts in my salad – extra chicken, avocado and added in pumpkin seeds and olive oil

Fingers crossed we can have another good day tomorrow!

Food and Exercise

  • Snack: 10 almonds
  • Exercise: 45 mins spin with light weights
  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs (made with olive oil), steamed egg whites, chia seeds, steamed mustard greens and kale, raw peppers, large coffee with half and half
  • Lunch: Green salad, with chicken, avocado, olive oil, apple cider vinegar
  • Snack: Hummus with crudites – including PURPLE CAULIFLOWER
  • Dinner: Kale salad, cherry tomatoes, sweet potato, cannelini beans, goat’s cheese, olive oil and apple cider vinegar
It's PURPLE

It’s PURPLE

Day 40: Ending a week of bad living

The most appropriate way to end a week of bad living – eating poorly, no exercising, general slovenliness-  is with a hangover.

Whilst it’s no fun for anyone, it serves two purposes:

  1. It’s a fitting punishment for the crime- after a week of abusing my body with food and unhealthy activities, I deserve to feel the effects of my bad behaviour in a physical way.
  2. It’s motivation to start leading a healthy lifestyle again.
Yes, I deserve it

Yes, I deserve it

Thinking about it, hangovers are actually excellent motivators for living a healthy life.

As you’re lying on the couch, with last night’s make up still caked on your face and that little stamp on your hand from that dodgy club, you’re filled with so much fear, shame and self-loathing that the only way to dig yourself out of it, is to promise yourself that it will Never. Happen. Again. And that starting from now you won’t drink any more, you’ll eat healthfully, cook from scratch, exercise daily, meditate every morning, spend quality time with your family, donate to charity, volunteer in the community and be the best damn human being you can be!

…Actually, let’s start from tomorrow. The take out is on the way and you’ve just accidentally eaten half the packet of cookies belonging to your roommate and being honest, you’re probably going to go in for a second round.

So, my advice to anyone looking to become healthier is to go out immediately, neck 10 margaritas, don’t eat dinner, dance on some tables, maybe kiss the barman and then watch your life magically transform for the better.

(NOTE: As always, I’m being slightly melodramatic. I actually wasn’t that hungover. I didn’t drink that much, but I was still exhausted and emotional, possibly from a cold. And I also think I’m allergic to alcohol!!! 😦 )

(NOTE #2: The night before the hangover was spent at the Hozier concert. He was playing the Regency Ballroom in SF, which is a brilliant venue. Small enough for it to feel intimate, pretty theatre-like building, ample bar staff. If you don’t know him, check him out. His voice is amazing. And he’s Irish. So, obviously I love him even more!)

Hozier, the big ride!

Hozier, the big ride!

So, what caused the week of bad living that ended with a hangover? God, what ever causes it?!? I always have so many theories on the subject. It could have been any and all of the below.

  • Out of my regular routine
  • Dehydrated
  • Time of the month
  • Sugary breakfasts
  • Busy at work
  • Exhaustion
  • Too many carbs
  • Not enough carbs

Suffice to say it happened and I got a hangover that caused sufficient pain, heart-ache and general self-loathing to prompt me into affirmative action. Once again. Yes everyone, once again I am hopping back onto the wagon, having yet again fallen off it.

But sure, as I learned this week (in an interesting talk on film-making that I attended), you need conflict for any great story with a happy ending. And if this challenge was going to be easy there wouldn’t be a point to it. The only thing I can do is dust the crumbs off, buy some brussel sprouts and get right back to it!

Food and exercise

Not going to get into the details of what I ate. But, randomly, the first thing I did when I woke up with my hangover was make Chia Seed pudding, which is what I’ve been wanting to do for ages.

Gelatinous muck or tasty breakfast? Maybe a combo of both.

I admit, it looks disgusting

I admit, it looks disgusting

Day 39: My list of must-watch food documentaries

I’ve always been really interested in health, wellness and nutrition. I devour any and all articles or videos on the topic that I can get my hands on. Most of the companies and personalities that I follow on social media are health and wellness sites or gurus.

(There’s also a healthy (arguably unhealthy) dose of reality TV stars in there as well. My guilty pleasure. Yes you, TOWIE.)

I’m also really interested in relaying the random health facts that I learn, back to my friends and family – spewing them up just as they’re about to sink their teeth into something amazingly tasty, fatty, sugary and unhealthy. Much to their annoyance, unsurprisingly.

annoying

”Ohhhh, you’re eating non-organic pumpkin spice ice-cream, are you?!’, I exclaim. ‘I just read a funny story about that, last week.’

This would inevitably lead to me being glared at across the table, and perhaps a spoon being flung in my direction.

‘It’s probably not a funny story Michelle,’ they would reply. ‘It’s actually probably a very,very sad story. So, please, please, please just shut your pie-hole and let me eat my unhealthy, yes, but extraordinarily tasty pumpkin-spice ice-cream, in peace. You are ruining eating for me.’

Needless to say, I’ve stopped sharing my health facts at meal-times.

But the more I read and watch, the more I want to talk about it! This is true, in particular, when it comes to my latest obsession – the secrets of the processed food industry and the failure of the regulatory bodies to regulate. I’m truly shocked at what I’ve learned recently – how the big food companies are doing their best to hide what’s going into their products, how they trick the public into thinking there are nutritional benefits, and how they load everything with sugar to get people hooked! It’s criminal, in my mind.

Note, this is particularly bad in the US – it would appear that the food restrictions here, related to additives, are not as tight as they are in the EU or elsewhere.

I’m not even going to try to relate back the nuggets of information I picked up on this topic- I’m not a scientist, doctor or dietitian and I would probably get the facts entirely wrong.

Instead, I’ve listed out three really great documentaries I’ve watched recently on the topic. These are must-watch if you’re interested in health and are curious about what goes on in the food industry, behind the scenes.

All three approach the topic slightly differently, but for me, the one overriding message in all of them is that processed food is making people sick and the only way to stay healthy is to stick to ‘real’ food – as close to its natural state as possible.

And this message has definitely had an impact on the way I eat. I now always check food labels for wacky ingredients and I rarely (if at all) buy heavily processed items. Even the granola I binge on is all-natural, with nothing artificial in it.

So, have a watch. These are all available on Netflix or Google Play.

Fed Up: “Everything we’ve been told about food and exercise for the past 30 years is dead wrong. FED UP is the film the food industry doesn’t want you to see.” (Scariest fact from this film is that some companies put sugar into baby food, to get people hooked from the beginning!!!)

Crazy Sexy Cancer: “In 2003, when I was a 31-year-old actress/photographer, I was diagnosed with a rare and incurable cancer. Weeks later I began filming my story. Taking a seemingly tragic situation and turning it into a creative expression, I share my cancer documentary of survival with courage, strength and lots of humor.”

Food Matters: “With nutritionally-depleted foods, chemical additives and our tendency to rely upon pharmaceutical drugs to treat what’s wrong with our malnourished bodies, it’s no wonder that modern society is getting sicker. Food Matters sets about uncovering the trillion dollar worldwide ‘sickness industry’ and gives people some scientifically verifiable solutions for overcoming illness naturally.”

Food and exercise:

There's Quinn cooking up a storm. Amazing tacos!

There’s Quinn cooking up a storm. Amazing tacos!

  • Breakfast: Greek yogurt, apple, pear, chia seeds, pecans, almonds
  • Exercise: Barry’s Bootcamp. Soooo tough! 10 x sprints on the treadmill. Felt like puking
  • Snack: Peanut butter and unsweetened almond milk smoothie. OMGawd it’s good.
  • Lunch: Salad from Wholefoods – lettuce and veg with prawns, feta cheese and olives with balsamic and olive oil.
  • Snack: Rye bread, tortilla chips and hummus
  • Dinner: Beef tacos made by Quinn – he grilled the beef and peppers. So yum and fresh!
  • Drinks: prosecco, 1 vodka tonic and 1 beer
  • Snack: Tortilla chips and hummus
  • Comment: It could have ended with a burrito.

Day 38: Tips from Friends – Erin

Day 38, and I bring you my second installment of ‘Tips From Friends.’ Sometimes the best, most actionable advice for healthy living comes from the people around you.

Today’s tips come from my friend Erin, a Bay Area native. It’s quite rare to meet someone who is actually from here- so many people living in San Francisco are from other places. This is something that makes San Francisco super interesting to live in, but it’s always nice hanging out with someone who has the inside scoop on the fun things to do – both in the city and the surrounding area.

Click to picture below to watch the video. We even caught some of the Blue Angels practice in the background. Really cool! The Blue Angels come to SF for Fleet Week every October – basically an air show, with lots of stunts. There are also a lot of sailors in town as part of this…it’s a fun time for everyone! 😉

Click here to watch a video of Erin's healthy tips!

Click here to watch a video of Erin’s healthy tips!

If you don’t want to watch the video, here are her tips.

1. Take advantage of the many steep staircases in the city

  • The Lyon Street Steps, in The Presidio, are Erin’s favourite and the most well-known. (Erin was the second person to mention these to me this week. My friend Isabel wants to start a regular run there)
  • You can run or walk them – it’s all good exercise
  • It’s great for people watching!

2. Eat Californinian fresh produce and take advantage of companies like The Urban Pantry

  • The fresh fruit and veg in California is second to none, so take advantage
  • Use companies like The Urban Pantry, or Plated, who will deliver you organic food, all portioned out, so it makes cooking super easy! (I am definitely doing this – it will make cooking on tired days a lot more manageable)

3. Attend sporting events for motivation to get active

  • There are so many amazing sports teams in the area (Go Giants!)
  • Whenever Erin attends a game she’s super motivated to get outside and pick up a ball or tennis racket and get active (way better than drinking beer and eat hot dogs, which would probably have been the first thing I would want to do!)

Food and Exercise

  • Breakfast: Blueberries, Chia Seed paste (delish),greek yogurt, some granola, pineapple, coffee
  • Lunch: Salad with baked salmon
  • Snack: Banana
  • Exercise: Barry’s Bootcamp. Intervals. Lots of steep intervals.
  • Dinner: Gluten free pizza and salad.
  • Comment: Good day all round – the pizza was healthified. And I went to the cinema and had no snacks, which would have been the norm!

    Chia seed paste. Fascinating. You soak chia seeds overnight in almond milk or some other liquid and it becomes gelatinous. Actually delicious!

    Chia seed paste. Fascinating. You soak chia seeds overnight in almond milk or some other liquid and it becomes gelatinous. Actually delicious!

Day 37: Veg-loading – my new strategy

Day 37 was all about veg-loading. Think carb-loading, but a lot less fun. Veg-loading is my new strategy for surviving nights out!

Pre-drinking is a thing of the past. It's all about the pre-vegging!

Pre-drinking is a thing of the past. It’s all about the pre-vegging!

Day 37’s night out was actually a date! As mentioned in a previous post I find it quite challenging to eat healthfully when going on a date – I get nervous, I forget to eat, I have some drinks and then I eat bold stuff when I get home.

This time around I was determined to keep it healthy. I figured the best way to do it was to stock up on vegetables and other good food throughout the day, as I knew I wouldn’t have time to eat when I got home.

Thankfully, this is really easy to do in work. I will always be extraordinarily grateful for the abundance of fresh fruit and veg we get. When you want to be healthy it’s so easy!

So, I had kale and crudites at breakfast with some eggs, crudites as a snack, a HUGE salad, with a variety of veg for lunch and then more crudites and hummus in the afternoon. I also worked out and drank a shed-load of water during the day. When I left to go out I felt satisfied and clear headed – not like the hungry, dehydrated wreck I was on the last date.

My huge salads

My huge salads

 

I’ve actually already made it a habit to eat a lot of vegetable at meals. I could never be the the type of person that just eats tiny portions – that’s why a conventional, calorie restricting diet would never work for me. I need something substantial in my belly or else I would be driven demented with hunger. So I eat loads and loads of veg.

It’s funny, I work with a lot of Frenchies, and whilst they’ve never said it, I think they are slightly appalled at the amount I put on my plate. The French, in my mind, have really mastered the art of eating – they take small amounts of fine, high quality food. My mountain of raw veg and chicken, with only lemon juice as a dressing, most likely seems barbaric to them.

‘IT’S GOOD FOR YOU!’ I feel like shouting sometimes, when I see them look over in my direction at lunch. ‘YOU’RE EATING A PASTRY! STUFFED WITH CHOCOLATE! I DON’T CARE IF IT’S ONE OF THE MINI ONES.’

I’m a little jealous of the French, clearly. They’ve probably never had to veg-load in their life.

On to the date – we went to The Royal Cuckoo in the Mission. This is a great spot for a date, especially mid-week. They’ve got a great drinks menu with lots of good cocktails. It’s all low lighting, fairy lights and cosy seats. They also played some live jazz as well. I’m not a huge jazz fan really, but it was fun.

So, happy to say I managed to keep it relatively healthy on a date day. I think veg-loading, or healthy-food loading is the way to go in the future!