Barley Free Living

Here's a link to my new blog, where I'm boldly going to seek out foods with barley in, and put them on here so that I can avoid them myself and hopefully help out other people in the same predicament, especially those who don't have problems with other grains.

A "paltrow" moment (one from Sunday)

(This post is from Sunday) As the weather is ghastly, my son is off colour and my husband is travelling back from a stag do, I'm in the house and naturally my thoughts have turned to food.

Thing is, because I'm working on this eating better thing, I have been rummaging about the internet. One particular recipe that keeps jumping out all over the place is the kale chip. Gwyneth raves about this shizzle.

To be honest, I was skeptical. After all, it appears to be the staple diet of actresses who need to take their kit off a lot. (Please see Jennifer Aniston) and some of the strategies that are utilised to maintain a "hot bod" seem, frankly, insane. The idea of the Kale chip is only several steps away from eating hay with seasonings, or at least it was until I tried it....

This really isn't the most demanding recipe I've ever executed.
  1. Set your oven to Gas Mark 3.
  2. Get your kale out of the bag, take out the big stalky bits that are a bit like chewing on the nearest tree branch and give it a wash.
  3. Dry it off by patting it dry with a tea towel, or alternatively, if you're feeling particularly wild and daring, you can bundle it up in your tea towel, and windmill it. (Much in the style of Pete Townesend when the Who were in their pomp)
  4. Once you've picked the kale from the light fittings, your childs' hair and the walls, coat it with a small amount of olive oil (1tbsp-ish), salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Spread it out on lined baking sheets and hoof in the oven keeping an eye on it to ensure it doesn't burn. It should be dried out, not browned.
  5. Eat.

(I'm writing this from perspective of being a massive brasicca-phile)

Now I'd love to say that this is the future of snacking for me.....but it's not. It's good in that you get a hit of flavour, and kale is good stuff. I neglected to mention that you will be lucky to encounter any feelings of fullness at all, though the olive oil/pepper/salt/paprika thing ensures that it's not entirely without merit.

It's just there's nothing that really tickles my pleasure centres, though I am tempted to try this again in a more "crispy seaweed" style, only with less deep frying. It's not bad, but I've got to be honest, it's culinary Calvinism. I think what I'm struggling with is that it appears to be a bowl full of dietary virtue, and my inner bon viveur isn't happy with that at all. So my skepticism has remained completely intact.

But....I'd do it again, I think...or I could walk the long way to the shop and buy a bag of crisps. I think I like the second option more.

3 1 minute planks!!

G the f in!!!

Not so much back with the programme as redefining the programme....

I know it's been a while since I've done a proper post, but I haven't packed in this lifting-heavy-stuff, moving-about-more shizzle, but I have had to modify what I do to ensure that I can keep doing it.

As mentioned before, I have several injuries of the not-really-going-to-get-much-better type. They play up from time to time, and what I do is try to rest up, get better and...generally get squirrelly because I've worked hard for a while, and everything has been working...and then I have to stop. I've worked out that on an average non-pregnant, non-falling-down-a-hole year, I'll still lose up to 3 months to aches and pains of some description which does tend to bugger the schedule somewhat. After all, I have to force myself to be careful, otherwise I start listening to gung-ho me and that's when it really starts to hurt.

I didn't write up while I was doing all this ruminating, basically because "went for a walk and ate a salad" isn't very exciting. In fact I almost went to sleep typing that sentence, however it's all been to the greater good. I have been boring the ears off my other half, but that's a whole other story.

I think I might have found the way forward, especially where the strength training is concerned...

1. Limit myself to two sessions of weights a week, with one "big" session at the weekend and one smaller session in the week. Recovery time and all that.
2. Lots of walks whenever the rain gods decide not to try and wash this bit of Northumberland away. Short but lively. Also an apt description of me on a good day.
3. One full no exercise day per week.
4. Vibroplate/Powerplate once a week to shake out the aches and pains. 10 minutes, Jobs a good 'un.
5. Eat more bloody protein.

5 is proving interesting...I've been tracking with MyFitnessPal and realised I was a bit low. I wasn't even hitting their minimum, never mind the 0.5 - 0.75 per pound of body weight calculation for someone with my activity levels. Let's see how that one I am at least 20% Cottage Cheese and 7-8% broad bean with some beef thrown in for good measure. Though I have discovered that Hazelnut butter on a Digestive biscuit is the dogs' danglies. This low protein carry on could explain the long recoveries and occasional wet spaghetti arm problem....

I also discovered that I was really quite allergic to something I was eating all the time (and with 20/20 hindsight, now realise has been making me poorly for years. Now I feel quite well. Weird, huh?

I know the results will be slow this way, but I actually can't be crazy, all the empirical evidence says "Ouch" and who am I to disagree?

*also I managed to make a 220g Bag of Haribo last a week. I'm practically the Zen Master of Jelly Sweet Refusal.

PB news

I can plank for a minute at a time, and it's my stomach muscles that hurt and not my scar tissue!!

8 weeks - shmeeks...

I'm in this for the long term. More to follow but for the first time, I don't feel crushed under the weight of my own expectations.

Good things are occurring...slowly...

I'm learning things about my health...slowly...

Now lets see if I can make a packet of Haribo last until Saturday.

30th July 2013 - Gym day...feeling quite badass

As opposed to just bad.

I was at the gym today so wandered off piste a bit with the Beautiful Badass stuff...however bits of me were worked, I moved some heavy stuff and, despite the fact that I'm still barking like a consumptive seal, the cardio did not kill me. I am feeling incrementally better though, so all good in the end.

Today's workout details:

30 Mins Recumbent Bike
So far, so sweaty, like a sweaty woman from Sweatoville.

10 Reps Leg Raises
Fair to say, I've still a way to go with the old "slice and diced" lower abdominals. I tried for 12 but by the 10th one there was trembling. And now there is light hurting.

3x5 plus 1x12 Tricep Extensions - 80 (lbs - I think)
Quite chuffed with this as I could manage far heavier than I'd anticipated. Limbs still feeling ok, so hopefully I won't be typing this blog with my toes tomorrow.

3x5 plus 1x12 Leg Press - 90 (lbs - I think)
Slightly grumpy knee did not protest so I've got to be getting stronger (Thank you squats).

3x5 plus 1x12 Standing Dumbbell Bicep Curls - 8 (lbs - I think)
I must admit one of the downsides of doing this when I'm overweight is that when you're looking in the mirror to check that your form is right, it's all to easy to fall prey to the thoughts of "Oh joy, physically I'm a dead ringer for the Anti-Aircraft Battery at Blyth Beach". I think they've got a picture of me in the dictionary with the definition of the word "Sturdy" underneath it.  Then again it's not exactly like my skeleton can go on a diet. Hey ho.

3x5 plus 1x12 Seated Row - 60 (lbs - I think)
Must keep up the back work to balance up the ab stuff.

15 mins walking on treadmill at 3.5 mph.

I've also decided to set my calorie allowance at 1800, because while I do want to lose weight, I'm going to be better off in the long term ensuring that I'm giving my body enough of the right things to heal. Plus at least this way I won't be hungry (even 1600 doesn't feel enough - no wonder on that popular-weight-loss programme-that-shall-remain nameless, I was going around the bend, and I was trying to run on it too. Oh, the benefits of hindsight). Healing has to take precedence because for a start, because of the back problem, I'm already working at a disadvantage. Plus it's better for the family and me if I don't get hurt or poorly....18 month olds don't go round lifting themselves into bed after all...

It wasn't bloody doing this when I first went out!

Hi! My name is Christine and I had full on wet t-shirt/capilliary action up the jeans leg while out on a short walk at lunchtime. Boo. Irony - also because I had to take a short cut as I was at imminent risk of being washed away, I had to march about like a idiot in the house because Gympact thought I'd only done 28 minutes (that's because I forgot to switch it on)...
A bus stop somewhere in Northumberland earlier today.

29th July 2013 - Start of week 3 - Time to get serious...

This is the start of the third week and after being ill, being on holiday and generally being a bit fluffy, I'm now keen to get some momentum behind a more sustainable exercise and health improvement programme.

Last week - more croak than Croak Park and The Frog Chorus combined...
I've actually achieved my first set of real results already, after the hideous scar tissue pain in my core after doing 30 second planks that I suffered initially, I no longer get any discomfort, which means I need to up my game. This chuffs me to bits :) I've also lost a bit of pouchiness around the elbows, and as I've never been terribly enamoured with my arms, this is also very good.

Anyhow, in the name of getting serious.....

I've decided to start using several iPhone apps to underpin what I'm doing:
MyFitnessPal (for it's food/exercise diary function)
Runkeeper (for walking and other exercise logging)
GymPact (Incentivising working out)
Sleep Cycle (To make sure I get enough sleep)

I've managed to lose some weight using MyFitnessPal before but I think I've had my calorific requirements set a bit low because I've wandered off piste after a while. To be honest, one thing that has underdone me with traditional diet programmes is the fact that, because I'm small, the allowances were never quite high enough to stop me from feeling hungry, and the slightest "error" would knock my confidence out of the park. Also after partaking in a particular points-based-system-that-shall-remain-nameless when I got married some years ago, I got to my target, but was so sick of being hungry (for 6 months) that I gave up, promptly had a back "crisis", put a load of weight on, and just as I was starting to get running again, had a really bad ankle sprain...and thus was back to square one. Instead of thinking it's just me being weak, I can now say to myself, "Actually Christine, it's not you that's 100% at fault here".

I'm working on the principle advocated at GoKaleo (link to the relevant article here) with regard to the number of calories to consume in order to achieve my weight loss goal (something I intend to do in 2 stages). Basically this principle is to eat the number of calories that will sustain the weight you want to be, but also being aware that as your muscle mass increases, you'll be burning your calories more effectively so not to fall into the trap of restricting your calorific intake more to lose the last bit (I'm paraphrasing but I highly recommend reading Amber's blog).

I think most people with a smartphone will be aware of Runkeeper, but I've added an extra layer of incentive by linking up Gympact. Bascially it works be rewarding hitting a certain exercise target (min 3 times a week for 30 minutes) so that I also do regular cardio. The reasoning behind this is, because like most parents with a full time job, exercise can be the thing that gets shoved out of the schedule, and now, thanks to the fact that you are rewarded for working out, and pledge to pay if you don't, I'm sufficiently tight not to want to have to pay when I don't!

I also know I need to get more sleep so that's where Sleep Cycle comes in....odd that....

I'll let you know how it goes....

(Please note all apps, websites and blogs I mention, I'm using of my own volition and I am not receiving anything from the companies and people concerned).

25th July 2013 - So what have I been up to???

Sorry for not making it but I've been hella busy with the wee family going up the coast, went to see Amanda Palmer in Edinburgh and at a fabulous wedding at the weekend. All in the best weather the UK has seen since 2003. My golfers tan has come on a treat and my neck and shoulders don't match, but when you get good sun like this as rarely as we do, it's an inevitable hazard of existing.

It's been amazing.

Warm? In Northumberland, whatever next?
The husband and I have danced, sung (in a very croaky voice - still fighting off this hideous throat scruff), plodged in the sea and made sand castles with the little chap, walked miles, ate, drank and were merry to the point of embarrassing ourselves and those who love it's fair to say I've been pretty tired for the last couple of days. I've been staring at my screen of a night time thinking "come on,, blog...ooh telly...".

I had a small confidence dip in the middle when I tried on the dress that I bought for the wedding, which due to period bloat no longer fitted. The thing is, in the past I might have freaked out, instead I shopped for new shoes to go with a roomy LBD that I've got and though I dashed around a bit and cracked on with the festivities, perhaps my mindset is changing after all...

Though, yeah, my focus has been...patchy.

But...what I've been doing is sticking with the programme, just not on a do-it-three times a week sort of way. When I've been busy with the wee man, I've done press ups when he's been eating, done bicep curls when during nap time and focussed on enjoying my life. Doing planks while he's playing on the floor....Just not being so focussed on the "I must do x number of hours per week and to do less or differently is a failure"mentality.

I also had a "Big" period in the middle, so did what I could exercise-wise but didn't injure myself and listened to my body instead of fighting it. I can feel my strength building, but I need to work on getting more sleep and eating better to get the results I want. However I do feel mentally a lot freer.

15th July 2013 - concluding workout of week 1

Actually went to my regular gym and did some weights surrounded by fellas. Was odd but I (and they) will get used to it. 

I do need to make some weight buddies though...

14th July 2013 - More rest...and some words on "Virtue"...

Husband gave me the "Give yourself a break today or you'll break yourself"pep talk today. To be honest, though I'm clawing to crack on, this was a very good idea. It's averaging 28-29 degrees C at the moment, and this thing that is definitely a cold (my sooper dooper hay fever drugs make not a bit of difference) isn't going anywhere, so best to play the long game.

This competes with the part of my brain that is telling me to "go on, work out, not doing it makes you lazy" which is the internal narrative that I've been arguing with for years.

The thing is, fad diets and trendy new exercise regimes, create a mind set where you think to yourself " this is the mother lode, the eternal cure, the solution to my *fat* ass, squiggly middle" and your failure to adhere to it is you being weak. It all boils down to the concept of virtue, which is quite frankly, tripe.

Doing a lot of exercise doesn't make you a better person, it just makes you a person who does a lot of exercise...simple. Avoiding gluten and sugar won't do it either. Do what feels right...for you...and avoid the charlatans...

A little edifying quote....

"All our Western thought is founded on this repulsive pretence that pain is the proper price of any good thing."

13th July 2013 - So let's play catch up...

Right. Now I feel human again, I can get back with the programme. In this case, literally.

First off, Thursday's Workout and How I Fared....

(For info, I've communicated with Nia and she's happy for me to detail the workouts as long as I give credit and that is what I shall do) :)

There's a bit of tweaking (not in a Breaking Bad sense) involved as my home kit involves dumb bells, myself and the furniture. Also the pretty epic abdominal soreness (Let's just say CATS). When the "summer cold that ate Manhattan" has gone, I'm going to go to my gym and get someone to show me around the scary kit that the big lads use, but for now, I'll stick with the kit I have to hand.

The Ab wheel roll out was a bust because I don't have an ab wheel, and besides, trying to do anything requiring that degree of core resilience probably would have made me cry. It was actually that bad, I'm relatively fit but strong core work on top of a slow recovery from a birth, and a slipped disc is something I approach *very* gingerly. I still did a lot of very small ab curls but thought it best not to get too hard core too early. I checked myself before I wrecked myself, so to speak.

In place of the Suspended Push-up/Press-up, I did a sort of 45 degree-ish one on the edge of the sofa. This went okay, but I kept losing count so I probably did about 40 push-ups all in. Arms are surprisingly not giving me much gip so I can't complain :)

Similar with the suspended inverted row, did some lying down dumbbell lifts.

The lunges were great, apart from the next morning when walking down the stairs for the first time was initially "problematic". This whole programme is *really* working for me already.

I am so pleased that I've proved to myself that this is doable, that I'm not as unfit, weak or pained as I thought, and to be honest, I'm finding it very freeing. With guidance, and the application of a bit of thought, I'm getting to define how I go about improving my fitness, without slavishly attempting to follow a defined "system". Too many years of falling off the wagon with overly restrictive or boring programmes of eating and exercise.

I did grant myself another "rest day" today, but that's because I did a charity walk for St Oswald's Hospice this morning, which was 4.5 miles over lightly undulating terrain in 28 degree C heat, pushing about 40lbs of child and associated clobber in a pushchair for an hour and a half. I also have weird sunburn...So not exactly sitting on the sofa eating pizza all day....


If my lower abdominal muscles had a voice, the noise they would have made would have been the noise when two cats successfully achieve sexual congress.


More or less.

However, that was just because I'd had a decent sleep, and fortunately things did improve immensely.

Problem is it's 10.50pm and 25 degrees C. I feel as much like writing as wearing a gigantic rug. We Northumbrians just aren't used to this carry on....

11th July - Did day two but feeling yucky

I'll post about today's workout tomorrow as the throat infection was the precursor to a head cold and I'm feeling decidedly poop...

10th July 2013 - The first rest/recovery day

I knew there was a reason why I called this blog 40 Ouch.

Every part of me bar one is pleasantly fatigued. You know, when your muscles tell you that you've done good work but it's not actual "pain". That feeling is nice.

That regrettably is not the feeling that I currently have in my core.  There is no spasming or any of that sort of thing so I know I'm not injured. However what I do have is a lot of scar tissue from a c-section 18 months ago. To cut a long story short, (pardon the pun), I was immobile in pregnancy, had an emergency section and had a long recovery so I suspect that the pretty gnarly core ache that I'm suffering from is something to do with that, as I've not really had the ability to get active enough to break it down. Suffice it to say, it knacks. A lot.

It hurts even more when playing with the former inhabitant of my abdomen on the floor. (I know, school girl error, getting down on the floor in the first place). There's nothing like lying there, terrified to clench your muscles because you know it's going to hurt, while a happy but dementedly determined toddler lurches towards your head wielding a wooden bee on a string like a mace...

9th July 2013 - And so it begins....

Due to the age old adage that there's never a truly good time to start anything, I've chosen today to start my foray into lifting heavy things on a regular basis to get strong, but it's got to be said I pick my times. Because....I have a low level throat infection and I was out for a curry with a group of friends last night, because one of our number was over from Australia and we don't get to see her all that often. So just ideal. *cough*.

Anyhow I'm pleased to say that I've successfully completed my version of the first of the three workouts and it doesn't feel all that bad, and I don't feel I acquitted myself too badly. I've had to adapt things a little due to equipment and physical limitations but I'm operating on the assumption that, as long as I'm working the right muscle groups and working with a decent and tiring amount of resistance and/or weight (as appropriate) I'm doing something right.

As previously stated, I'm not going to use specifics because that would infringe on Nia's copyright, but if you are interested in the Beautiful Badass free mini course, you can sign up for it here at Nia Shanks website.

Happily the squats didn't kill me (though I had to have my dumbbells at hip height to prevent pulling in the lower back).

Now plank. I managed about 30 seconds per set, which from what I've been reading isn't anything to be sneezed at, and if the way my lower core felt afterwards is anything to go by, I will be able to sneeze with complete confidence for the foreseeable future. I was also curious about what I could do so I tried push ups/press ups. That didn't go well, as I'm not currently strong enough to do them properly, so I'll just have to work on knee push up/press ups for the time being.

No injuries, didn't fall over or make a fool of myself. All good.