Northern Girl on… Weekly food/exercise diary 

With a holiday to Cyprus and bikini wearing looming I recently signed up to a weekly hiit class and ran a Twitter poll asking if I should document week 1 of my (hopefully) reformed healthy lifestyle and you guys voted yes! So here it is… 

Monday:

  • Breakfast: scrambled eggs and tomato, yoghurt granola pot.
  • Lunch: jerk chicken salad with itsu chilli prawn crackers
  • Snack – grenade carb killer protein flapjack (before tennis)
  • Dinner: protein chicken singapore noodles with added sweetcorn
  • Water: 4 litre
  • 1 x black coffee

Exercise:

  • 200 squats
  • 1 hour of tennis
  • 10 squat jumps 
  • 22,386 steps 

Tuesday:

  • Breakfast: scrambled egg and cherry tomatoes
  • Lunch: Jacket potato with tuna and low fat mayonnaise and spinach side salad
  • Dinner: 2 x grilled chicken breasts with greens and cajun seasoning 
  • Dark chocolate choc ice
  • 3 x black coffee
  • 2 litre water 
  • 1 x gin and slimline tonic

Exercise

  • 200 squats
  • 7200 steps 

Wednesday:

  • Breakfast: 2 plain croissants and tropical fruit pot
  • Lunch: jacket potato with low fat cheddar and spinach side salad
  • 1 x pack Ritz crisp and thins
  • Dinner: 2x tortilla wrap pizzas with low fat cheese
  • 2 x black coffee
  • 2l water
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • 2 x gin and tonic 

Exercise:

  • 200 squats
  • 16,300 steps

    Thursday: 

    • Breakfast: Myprotein chocolate pancakes with mixed berries and sweet freedom choc shot syrup
    • Lunch: jacket potato with tuna and low fat mayonnaise and spinach side salad
    • Dinner: nachos with guacamole
    • 1 x Cadbury hot chocolate
    • 2 x black coffee
    • 2l water

    Exercise 

    • 200 squats
    • 7500 steps

      Friday:

      • Breakfast: myprotein chocolate protein pancakes with chopped strawberries and sweet freedom choc syrup
      • Lunch: jacket potato with tuna and low fat mayonnaise and spinach side salad 
      • Dinner: Wahaca street food and churros
      • 1 x black coffee 
      • 2l water
      • 1 x corona
      • 1 x G&T
      • 1 x red bull speedboat cocktail

        Exercise 

        • 120 squats
        • 12,000 steps 

          Saturday:

          • Breakfast: 2 x slices of cheese on toast
          • Lunch: gluten free sausage rolls with side salad
          • Dinner: gluten free lasagne with curley fries 
          • Grapes 
          • Handful of dark chocolate chips
          • 1 x black coffee
          • 2l water

          Exercise 

          • 1 x hour yoga
          • 2km run
          • 8000 steps 

          Sunday:

          • Breakfast: protein pancakes with dark chocolate chips and strawberries 
          • Lunch: broccoli and cheese quiche with salad
          • Dinner: homemade fajitas
          • 1 x black coffee 
          • 2l water 

            Exercise:

            • 3km run
            • 30 mins yoga
            • 7000 steps 

            Northern Girl on… my body image story – update 3

            Can you believe a whole other month has passed since my last body update? So what’s happened since?

            1. I went on holiday to Majorca for a weekend and wore a bikini
            2. I went out in crop top and jeans
            3. I haven’t weighed myself since 
            4. I’ve started a new fitness regime
            My new favourite outfit – out for drinks in London

              Safe to say it feels like this month I have taken huge steps to improving my mental health. Majorca was a big factor in that. I didn’t feel fat in my bikini and I was going out in size 6 dresses! The group I was with was just the most amazing group of people and I never once felt uncomfortable or self conscious and I literally came back like a new person. I am so much happier in myself and it’s reflecting in all aspects of my life. My relationship is stronger and my health is much improved, I barely have half of my IBS pains (proof it is emotion related)!

              The day after I’d got back from Majorca I’d completely forgotten it was my first HIIT class session with “Divas with Dumbbells” – more on that later – and I have to say I’m hooked. Your first 2 classes are free which is incredible but after that not only are the classes super affordable but the amazing girls who run the sessions also create for you a personal nutrition plan, homework to help you with your goals and take your measurements to help you see your progress. Me and tom have also started playing tennis again so I’m really working on my fitness in time for Cyprus  (40 days to go).

              I’m hoping that with the right nutrition plan and fitness regime I can get myself to a state where I am ultimately fit and healthy but also happy with myself and feel like I deserve the slightly unhealthy treats. Thanks to a Twitter poll I’m running a food and fitness diary this week so it’s certainly helping me make conscious food choices.

              It’s safe to say this time last month was a huge struggle but now, it couldn’t be more different. I can barely even remember what my weight was that I was so unhappy about and long may this continue!

              NG x

              Northern Girl on… Fitness and sport

              I decide to seize moving to London as an
              opportunity to get my fitness in slightly better shape. I have danced for as long as I can remember and took up skiing about a year ago but my actual fitness was far from great and I decided now was time to change that. 2017 has been my first real year of ‘fitness goals’ there’s the typical weight loss (15lb in total following a far from perfect diet) but this year having taken up running – more on that later – my goal is also to run my first official 10K.

              If you’d have told me 6 months ago I was going to catch ‘the bug’ I’d have laughed at you. I have never been the runner or the fitness fanatic, I’ve always admired those people who get up at the crack of dawn and run through wind and rain but extra sleep/warmth has always been my preference. I’m still not sure if it’s London that’s done this to me or the fact that I used to live between two huge hills, maybe both, but my evenings are now filled with lycra, Nike free runs and the Thames path. As a Northern girl it perhaps helps that running is free! So here are some of my top tips for keeping fit in The Capital without expensive gym membership fees.

              Running Tips:

              New to running? – Try free apps such as Couch to 5k / 10k (available in the App
              Store/Google Play)

              love these apps! I’m currently using couch to 10K, it aims to get you 10K ready in 14 weeks based on 3 work outs a week using proven interval techniques to increase your fitness. The app tells you when to alternate between walking and running for optimal results. I also like to pair this with GPS tracking apps so I can see the map of my route; my favourite is Under Armour’s Map my Run.

              Get the right gear – A money saving blog telling you to spend money seems somewhat counterintuitive, but there is nothing more motivating than new clothes or feeling comfortable in your work out gear. The best thing is you don’t even need to spend a lot of money. Sports Direct have some amazing sales on their Karrimor range at the minute, I’ve just picked up a neon pink long sleeve running T-shirt for £5.25 and the high street is going crazy for fitness gear with the likes of Primark, M&S and even Boohoo.com releasing fitness ranges there is something for everyone. I am lusting after the Oasis x Pineapple Dance Studio collection.

              My new £5 bargain top featuring my £25 trainers

              Shoe size smaller than a 6? – Try out the junior ranges

              If you’re a keen runner already and training for marathons, this one probably isn’t for you but if you’re new to the sport and not ready to commit to expensive, custom fit shoes always try the junior sections for your running trainers. In the looks department they are virtually like for like, spec they are perhaps slightly lower but I’ve been buying my trainers in the junior section for years and I have found them to always be perfect and there are huge savings to be had! I got my first pair of Nike trainers for £25, the adult equivalent were £90!!!!

              Struggle to motivate yourself? – See what’s going on in your neighbourhood

              My local community are really active and have a dedicated Facebook group for fitness activities including HIIT classes, yoga, SUP yoga etc.  It’s also a great way to meet like-minded people and find running buddies. See if your local area offers something similar or start your own! Goodgym.org are also great to give you a little more motivation on your run, they are organised runs throughout different London Boroughs that combine exercise with giving back and helping the local community – get fit and do good! London is great for water sports and the docklands sailing centre near Canary Wharf regularly offer discounted taster sessions for sailing, kayaking and paddle boarding. Check them out on Facebook for more info.

              Giving yoga a try at a local yoga class

              Or if running isn’t for you…

              • Shop around for classes – Seriously. It’s no secret that this City is crazy expensive and if like me you get a kick out of dance classes; shop around. When I first moved here I was being quoted £90 for an hour dance class, £22 for a weekly group class but with various research I was able to find somewhere offering Ballroom dance classes at £7 per week – the exact same price I was paying back up North.

              • Home workouts – My boss swears by a home kettle bell work out and zumba and YouTube is full of them and others. Simply stream then straight into your living room (or preferred work out location) and away you go. 

              • Groupon – THEY HAVE EVERYTHING – From monthly gym passes, to spin classes, aerial hoop aerobics sessions, yoga, Pilates, martial arts and rock climbing. You name it, Groupon probably have it (and if they don’t it obviously isn’t worth having)the offers are incredible (5 spin classes for £15 being a personal fave) andit’s an amazing opportunity to try out new and exciting things without a hugefinancial commitment. You never know, you might find out that all that energywasted on a treadmill was a lot better suited for an aerial hoop!

              • Team sports – Look out for local tennis clubs, netball teams, touch rugby teams. Whatever you’re into you’d be surprised at just what you can find on offer. The LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) have a great website that shows you all of their accredited centres and some even have a book a court feature. The ‘This Girl Can’ campaign by Sport England also has loads of information about what’s going on and is available to you.

              • Check you’re not missing out on exclusive Gym offers – Residents of Southwark can get access to gyms for free within that Borough or failing that, see if your work can offer discounted schemes to access gyms in the way of salary sacrifices/corporate discounts etc. If your work are signed up to ‘Gym Flex’ there are savings of up to 40% per month to be made and you don’t pay NI on your monthly salary sacrifice scheme. Look if your local gym offers a free ‘trial’ month, just be certain to read the T’s and C’s. Most may offer your first month free but only after they have tied you into a contract, totally the opposite of productive if Virgin have already tied you into a £250 a month membership (not exaggerated.) 

              • Love Cycling? – Santander Cycles – I love Boris bikes. I think the concept is genius, they are cheap, easy to use and they are everywhere. Download the app, register your card and get access to a code instantly. I also love the way you can see where around you has bikes available/docking stations free. A lot of London’s parks do allow cyclists such as Hyde Park and Victoria Park so you can avoid the hellish roads. One of our favourite routes is to pick up a bike at Limehouse, take the canal path up to Victoria Park then up to the Olympic Park and on a Sunday – with good timings – it will only cost you £2.

              • Take up golf – London has so many great driving ranges which makes golf a much more social event. From top golf out in Chigwell where you turn your driving range experience into various different target hitting games to the range at the o2 in North Greenwich they’re a great place to hit with friends for some light sport and alcohol! 

              What are your favourite ways to work out? NG x

              Northern Girl on… My body image story – update 2 

              Having shared my initial story and my update I’ve decided to try and update monthly. I find writing about my story therapeutic for myself and it still surprises me just how little people know/understand about eating disorders.

              My last update was a much more positive one than my initial cry for help but unfortunately it hasn’t stayed that way. I recently shared a post on my Instagram of me feeling fantastic having been able to run in just a sports bra and leggings for the first time ever! Fast forward a week and that little, dark, eating disorder voice kicked in. I couldn’t even stand to look at it anymore, all I could see was what was wrong with my body. Coincidentally those feelings started the exact same day I got weighed for the first time in months.

              It was a dark, deep spiral and it was one of my lowest points in recent times. I didn’t see a way out. I was crying and obsessing and beating myself up.  It was horrible and I couldn’t explain it to Tom. I stand by that it’s one of the hardest things to explain or deal with. I sometimes feel that at least with other mental illnesses you can empathise to a certain degree but with eating disorders unless you’ve experienced it you simply don’t know. There are so many common misconceptions. I cannot stress enough that just because someone doesn’t starve themselves or make themselves sick does not mean that they aren’t suffering – it runs so much deeper than that.

              I was back to being obsessive. I mean I am/was at the heaviest I’ve ever been. Ever. I didn’t feel any different in myself from a week ago and my clothes didn’t fit me any differently but thise two numbers on the scale completely changed my opinion of myself. It felt like climbing a wall to the top only to lose my footing on the final step and fall straight back to the bottom. My body confidence had once again been shattered and I was back to my closed up self. I wanted to start running 3 times a day. I wanted to get rid of every unhealthy item of food in the flat. I wanted to get back to my tiny 8st self. It’s almost as if I don’t recognise myself until I’m at that weight. At least that’s what I thought.

              I’m some kind of warped/backwards logic I decided to try on some of my bikinis from a couple of years ago. If you’ve seen my post on my Half-year goals you’ll know that being in a bikini this year is quite a big deal to me. With only 3 weeks to go until my first break I had a panic they wouldn’t fit so I dug them out of the back of my wardrobe, tried them on and looked in the mirror. Low and behold they fit perfectly.

              There are always going to be bits that I wish were different but with minor changes to my diet and fitness regime they will get there. I quickly realised that my issues are nothing to do with how I see myself. I love my body. I’ve been blessed with a near perfect hourglass figure and likened to a Kardashian (what’s not to love)! Instead my issues come from what I create in my head based on the numbers on the scale. To me that number 8 is magic even though realistically I know that it would mean losing what I love about myself today.

              So it’s an easy fix?  I wish it was. I wish it was as easy as just shaking my head and shaking the negative thoughts away. I think it will take a while to get those numbers out of my head. There are probably always going to be dark days where I can’t control my default emotion but hopefully I’ll never be too far away from a bikini and a mirror.

              NG x

              Northern Girl on… paddle board yoga

              You may have seen my earlier post on community yoga – if not it’s here. At the start of this month I was lucky enough to be invited to a free trial of SUP yoga (stand up paddle board yoga). This is a new concept run by the same instructor and organisational team as community yoga.

              Feeling like I was having my flash dance moment! – photo credit Neha Kadiyala

              What is SUP yoga?

              Exactly as it sounds you are doing yoga on a paddle board! The board replaces the traditional yoga mats and you’re on the water.

              Is it safe?

              It’s perfectly safe, even though you’re on the paddle board on the water, the boards are docked and connected to each other. Our trial group were a whole host of individuals with varying experience levels and not one of us fell in .

              Team photo once we all got up on the board! Photo credit Neha Kadiyala

              Do you have to wear a wetsuit?

              You don’t have to. It’s all about personal choice, I chose to because if I were to fall in I didn’t want to be in soggy clothes all day but others didn’t and stayed completely dry.

              Is the yoga difficult?

              It isn’t.  The teacher will be on the dock rather than a board to make it easier for everyone to see but she has done it on a board so she knows which poses work and which don’t.  She will give you options to make it easier/difficult but it’s all about how confident you feel and how much you want to push yourself.

              Is it fun?

              It’s great fun. I really enjoyed it and I was impressed and just how much I was able to push myself into the more difficult poses. I was doing shoulder stands that I didn’t even know I could do on land – let alone on the water!

              Where do I sign up?

              All information can be found on the DSWC Facebook page or by contacting the centre direct. There will be 2 sessions on Saturday mornings starting May 27th 10-11am and 11-12. Each session is  £25 (£20 for members) with special offers available. Full details and dates below.

              Photo credit courtesy of the DSWC

              Places are very limited so get booking! Ng x 

              Northern Girl on… Walking Tours

              It’s no secret that the London Underground is a quickest and most convenient way to get around the city but it also means that it is far too easy to spend most of our time looking at tunnels under ground and missing everything that there is to see above it.

              This weekend Transport for London teamed up with Walk London for their first weekend of free walking tours throughout the City in 2017. Me and Tom were fortunate enough to get ourselves booked on 2 of the 40 walks they were running this weekend.

              The first one saw us all gather outside Bank station to follow a walk based on the Central tube line, starting at Bank and ending at Chancery Lane. The tour guide Mark was excellent at providing us with interesting information throughout the walk, stopping at various points of interest (including the story behind the golden pineapples at St Paul’s!) and it was great for me to see a part of central London I had never even been to before, I also found out why the Ministry of Justice’s logo is what it is and came away with some excellent quiz trivia. At the end of the walk Mark even signed a copy of his book “Walk the Lines” which we picked up for a tenner (bargain!)

              Our signed copy of “Walk the Lines” following our Central Line Walk


              After a quick coffee break near Chancery Lane, we hopped on the tube (it was raining by now) and made our way to Westminster for our second TfL walk of the day. We started just outside Westminster station and took in New Scotland Yard, the remains of Whitehall Palace and the beautiful Somerset house with trivia that took us through Harry Potter, Paddington Bear and The Savoy Hotel before finishing at one of our already favourite wine bars in the city (it’s also rumoured to be the inspiration for The Leaky Cauldron.)

              Want to get involved?

              TfL and Walk London organise these weekends of free walks 3 times a year with the next one scheduled for the 20th and 21st May and the one after that will be some time in September.

              Can’t wait that long?

              There are various other walking tours which offer different tours to suit different interests. http://freelondonwalkingtours.com/ have seven different tours from Royal London to Jack the Ripper and Soho and the West End and they are just one of many tour operators throughout the City.

              Not one for mixing with a group/want to find your own way around?

              The TfL website has loads of maps to cover almost everything there is to see in London, just click on the walking section of TfL website. They also provide a “walking tube map” an alternative to the conventional map which gives you the walking distances between stations, you’d be surprised just how short some of the distances are (Leicester Square and Covent Garden, I’m looking at you!) Or if you want a bit more direction but still explore on your own there are loads of walking books available on Amazon or able to pick up in stores such as Oliver Bonas.

              We can’t wait to get out with our new book and explore just what else there is to find above the tube!