Saturday, 23 March 2013

Diary Entry: Death Week.

It's that time of year now where we are in the last week before our final competition with cheer, and that can only mean one thing...


Starting from yesterday (where I trained for 5 hours straight!) I have a full day of training every day until BCA University Nationals this Thursday and Friday. I'm not quite sure how I'm going to fit the gym and my normal food and fitness routine in around it yet (if I manage to at all) so I'm going to be paying special attention to how my body seems to be reacting to the change, and see how it goes. Obviously I don't want to burn myself out, but  I've been doing so well at the gym over the past month or so that I don't want to end up losing all of the progress that I've made strength and cardio-wise!

Diet is going to be the trickiest part of death week, as I will potentially be out of the house from 9am-10pm on some days! I'm going to have to be super organised in preparing my meals. As soon as I've written this blog post I'm going to be hunting around my cupboards making a 'menu' for what I'm going to be eating for the whole of the week (trickier than you may think when you've decided to give up bread for lent!) and will then go food shopping after training today to pick up and bits and pieces that I don't have. 
I've already delved into the world of apple slices with peanut butter thanks to Natalie from The Blonde Ethos which is the most amazingly yummy snack EVER, and I've been saving up my Graze boxes for this nightmare week too!

I guess more than anything, I'm just letting you know that I might not be around too much this week, although I'll try my best to schedule some posts for you lovely lot. :)
Wish me luck! No doubt I'll come back to you after competition horrendous battered, bruised and super tired - but hopefully it'll all be worth it in the end!

N.B: I don't know how much you know about competitive cheerleading, but there are most certainly no pom-poms involved! If you want to see the sorts of training we'll be enduring throughout the week, then take a look at this mini-series on YouTube! The team they're showing won the World Championships last year, and you can see why with how mental their training regime is!!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Temptation Tamer: Starbucks

So you're meeting your friend from wayyy back for a coffee and you've agreed to meet up for a long over-due natter at your local Starbucks. I am a huge lover of coffee, in fact scrap that and say I am a huge lover of Starbucks products altogether. No matter how much people try to deny it, there has (and probably always will be) a small sense of luxury and indulgence when you sink into one of their crazy-comfy sofas and chat for hours on end with friends.

Coffee shops in general are definitely my Achilles heel when it comes to eating clean and healthily, but over the past year or so I have carefully narrowed down the Starbucks menu to help prevent a treat from becoming my whole daily intake of calories - and I thought it was about time I shared my findings!
All of these drinks are going to be based on the medium (grande) size beverages, for simplicity's sake - if you're having a catch-up a small probably wouldn't be enough anyway if you're anything like me!
I also don't know many people who will go to Starbucks and have a black coffee or settle for a cup of tea so I'll exclude those from my post - but if you do decide to be super healthy and go for a 17 calories americano or a zero calorie green tea then massive kudos to you - you have more elf-restraint than I do!! :)

I put the vanilla spiced latte at the top of the to kind of show you how just because you may choose to have your chosen beverage 'skinny' doesn't necessary make it good for you! Yes if it's your cheat day and you aren't as bothered about your calorie intake, changing to skimmed milk can help keep a few of those calories off, but unless it's a special occasion I always try to stay away from any of their 'speciality' drinks.
As for the others, what your dietary requirements (and if your having anything else!) will determine what sort of thing you fancy. If you're super bothered about calories, then a skinny cappuccino is a great choice at just over 80 calories. It also has the fewest amount of carbohydrates out of all of them which is great!
If you don't fancy that then a skinny latte is probably your next bet, with 12.6g of protein - great for people on high-protein, low-carb diets! - and not having too many more carbs more than the cappuccino. If you do like your hot bevvy sweet though, then go for a skinny Caramel Macchiato! It's still under 200 calories and has 10.7 grams of protein, but watch out for the carb content, at 34.9g its a little hefty no matter what type of 'diet' you're on, so maybe skip the cake you were planning on having with it. ;)

If it's sunny outside or you just fancy something cool to slurp on, then an Iced Caffe Latte (skinny, naturally!) is probably your best bet - can't go far wrong when it's under 90 calories. A lot of people think fruity smoothies and the like are the best option for being healthy, when it reality they're not that healthy for you at all! Whilst they may provide you with one of your five-a-day (so if you're on 4/5 and want to top it up then go for it!), they're packed with carbs - and I wouldn't be surprised if Starbucks whack syrup etc in there to enhance the flavour a little. If you're not bothered about carbohydrates, and are just trying to lower your fat consumption, then their fruit Frappuccinos are a great choice.
If you do fancy something more 'Starbucksy' then the iced version of the Caramel Macchiato is the perfect option. Lower in carbs than the fruit Frappuccinos, and also having a higher protein content, its a great choice if you want the taste of Starbucks, without the calories.
Whilst I couldn't find any nutritional information on their website (strange!), my personal favourite beverage at Starbucks is their Lime Refresha! It literally is the nicest drink ever, followed closely by their Berry Hibiscus one. They're low in calories from what I remember of the menu boards at my local, but I assume that they'll probably be quite high in carbs because of the juice which they put in it.

Please let me know if this has been an interesting read for you! If you like it, then I'll probably come back next week with a similar post featuring another store or maybe even the 'healthiest' of the food options at Starbucks! :)
What is your favourite Starbucks drink? Do you try and keep it healthy, or do you like to indulge a little? :)

Disclaimer: Information was taken from the Starbucks nutritional content PDF file which is available on their website. The method used was to award points for the highest protein, lowest fat, lowest carbohydrate and sugar, as well as calorie content.
This is a light-hearted look at the food and drinks industry where I give alternative food options, and should in no way be taken as being scientifically proven.

Monday, 18 March 2013

1 Chicken, 1 Week Challenge!

Chicken  is by far my favourite meat in the entire world - it's super versatile as it can be used in a wide variety of dishes and goes with so many different flavours! It's also jam-packed full of protein which any health and fitness fanatic such as myself is a vital factor to consider when creating any nutritionally awesome meal.
I'd read in a few places about cooking a whole chicken at the beginning of the week, and then using bits of it throughout the week to create meals with and it sounded like a great challenge for me to test my skills in the kitchen! From what I've seen it's also a super cheap alternative so I'm really eager to give it a go. I'll report back this time next week to see what culinary delights I have managed to concoct as the week progresses.

In other news, I've finally broken my weight-loss plateau! Since January I have been stuck at 130lbs (~59kg), and when I weighed myself last Friday, I was absolutely ecstatic to discover that I have lost 2lbs, getting me to a nice 128! My goal weight is currently 125lbs meaning that I'm now only 3lbs away which I am over the moon about.
I've been trying to deduce what has changed in my diet lately to result in this sudden drop in weight, and the only thing I can put it down to is giving up bread products for lent (post here)!

Has anyone else given this a go? I'd love to hear of the sorts of meals you've created! If anyone else fancies giving it a go as well then let me know! :)

Don't forget that my Zaggora giveaway is still open - so get entering if you haven't already! :)

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Giveaway: Zaggora Hot Pants

Zaggora Hot Pants 2.0 Medium*

This post has been in the pipe works for about a month now, but I didn't want to review these until I had given them a super thorough trial run! The lovely people from Zaggora kindly sent these to me to test-drive and since my first gym session in them - I am definitely a convert.
Zaggora Hotwear products use Celu-Lite technology which traps the heat you generate during exercise and therefore increases your heart rate, meaning your body burns more calories. I had been a bit dubious about them when I first tried them on - they feel almost like the sort of material that scuba diving suits are made from as they're a lot thicker than normal leggings. The boost they've given to my workouts more than makes up for it though!
Since using the Hot Pants, I've managed to lose a further 2lbs as well as lose a total of 3 inches between my waist and hips which may not seem like a lot, but considering I've been stuck in a bit of a plateau these past few weeks - I'm pretty impressed!
What with this horrible weather we've been having as well, the Hot Pants have helped keep me nice and toasty when I'm going out for my runs in the cold which is amazing as I'm a big sufferer of the cold which can make running in winter impossible for me.

These shorts have definitely been a turning point for me, and I would now like to give you lovely bunch the opportunity to try some out for yourself! Zaggora have offered one pair of their Hot Pants 2.0's for me to give away to one lucky person - all you have to do is enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Simple right?!
They ship internationally as well so it doesn't matter where you're from! The giveaway's only open until   Sunday 31st March 2013 so get entering! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Diary Entry: The British Heart Foundation Events Supporter Awards

Sorry that I've been so absent lately - I promise that it's with good reason. Earlier this week I made the journey up to London with my housemate to spend an evening with the lovely people at the British Heart Foundation's headquarters as I had won an award for some volunteer work that I did for them throughout the summer!
The British Heart Foundation has always held a special place in my heart (no pun intended!) as there has been quite a lot of heart-related illness in my family, so from May to September I spent a couple of days a week helping with some events marketing work in their Birmingham offices. I enjoyed myself so much and was gutted when I went back to university and so could no longer lend a hand any more! So when Rachel got in touch to say that I had won an award and asked if I could make the journey to London to receive it, I was over the moon!

The evening was absolutely inspiring - there were so many amazing people there who had overcome huge barriers and had raised thousands of pounds in the process. There was one person in particular who I was completely taken a-back by, and that is a lovely man called Peter Lee. Despite being in his 80's and having suffered from several heart problems in the past - he has run in countless marathons and other running events and is probably more healthy than I have ever been in my entire life! He is also the most lovely man ever and is so full of energy - I can only hope that I have the vitality that he has when I'm his age. He was also on the X Factor playing the spoons! Scroll to the bottom of this post for the video - it's so cute!

After a great night me and the bestie headed back to her aunts house in Ealing and had a well-earned sleep before hitting the shops in London the next day! I honestly hope that being in London never stops feeling exciting and magical - I still love going on the tube and experiencing the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street, and it would be such a shame for it to ever become an annoyance for me. We definitely shopped until we dropped and probably went into well over fifty different stores and bought my weight in clothes, accessories and beauty products. (If you're interested in a 'haul' post then just let me know!) I know it means I've pretty much annihilated my spending ban - but who goes to London and doesn't end up spending a fortune?!

Even when we got back from our adventure to the capital, it didn't stop there for me - I got home, made myself some dinner and was then straight back out of the door and off to small stunt training with cheer until 10pm - our last competition is at the end of this month so training is absolutely MENTAL at the minute!

I hope you forgive me for my absence - I'm going to be back to blogging now for good and have a giveaway coming up in the next few days which I know that you'll love so keep an eye out for it! I'm off to support our sports teams at our university's Varsity Finale tonight against Warwick university - it's going to be a great night and I can't wait to perform in between the two matches and show the rest of the university how far we've come this year. Does your university have a Varsity competition? I've heard of a few around the UK, but I'm not sure just how popular they are! :)

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