Healthy Life Balance

Well hello there. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I had about an hour to do some blogging a few weeks ago, but then I couldn’t remember my password. Such is the current state of my brain! Teaching can be a really demanding job (Don’t worry, this isn’t a ‘woe is me, teaching is the hardest profession ever’ post!) but it’s a job that I love. Right now, it’s taking a lot of my time, and it doesn’t leave a lot of time for anything else at the moment.

We have been walking, doing a few stretches of the Thames path, but work has been the main focus of my life. This won’t last forever. As exam season approaches, I will have less classes to plan for and mark, so I will start to have more free time to blog, relax and generally live my life again!

As result, I’m starting to think of how to make my life have a healthier balance. Back at the beginning of the year, I decided to make my diet healthier and eat a more wholefood, plant based diet. When we started eating this way, I had loads of energy, lost some weight and had a good understanding about what was going into my body. But it is a lot of work! While we still eat a generally plant based diet, we aren’t eating as well as we should be. So, over the next few weeks, I’m going to try and make a concerted effort over the next few weeks to get a few more recipes and get back on track. I know I’ll feel brighter when I do, and I’m hoping that it’ll help for when I’m walking.

The ThamesRecently, I’ve being having pain in my knees and back, which means that, funnily, walking Poppy isn’t enough exercise to keep my hypermobility in check. Full disclosure, I’m not even doing my back stretches. So I’ve decided to join a Pilates class, get some strength going in these old bones and maybe, just maybe, it’s time to start going back to the gym. As Poppy goes to daycare a few days a week, she doesn’t need walking when I pick her up. I need to move more. At the moment, I’m getting out breath, walking Poppy while drinking a coffee in my Keep Cup! It’s definitely time to kick things up a notch.

I’ve decided to revamp my work out gear, including getting a new sports bra, and am toying with the idea of getting a FitBit watch, as opposed to the one I wear on my bra, so I can keep track of my fitness and hope that it motivates me to hit the gym. I’m not looking to be an athlete or anything, I just want to make sure that my life has a bit more balance to it. If I can plough half as much energy into being fit and healthy as I have into writing courses for school, then I should be running marathons in no time!

Christmas 2016

Happy new year and all that guff. Yep, I’m glad all the festivities are over. You see, I’m not a massive fan of Christmas. There’s too much pressure, faff and fuss for just one day. Anyway, by the time the end of term came around, I was exhausted and just grateful for the two weeks break. My parting end of term gift? A cold! I was a sleepy, snotty, coughing mess for the first part of the holidays. Then Phil came down with something worse for the remainder of the holidays, meaning all we pretty much did was sleep and veg out, trying to rid Crafty Chai towers of the plague.

sunrise

But having a less than mediocre Christmas did get me thinking about what I want our Christmas next year to look like, colds and flu notwithstanding. One thing I realised is that I need to get my shit together for Christmas way earlier than I did. Not just buying presents, but organising decent card, festive treats and thinking about what we’d like to do during the festive season. Because while I enjoyed being lazy and binge watching the latest Netflix sensation, it’s not how I want to be spending all my time away from school. I realise that I was really tired and needed to spend some time recuperating but I also felt that I was wasting my two weeks off. Next year, I want to make sure that there’s time for vegging out, but also time spent seeing a few friends, going on some lovely walks and spending more time reading and crafting.

Newgale

In my head, next Christmas, I envisage a whole different picture. More fresh air, less time on the sofa. Trying out great, healthy plant based meals, less cheese and crackers. More time reading, less junk TV. Focus on the special things, make new traditions and plan lovely things. I want to make sure that the foodie treats we have are worth it, and just mindless eating. I want it to be something I enjoy and not regret. So I’ll be planning next Christmas with military precision, making sure that there’s time to enjoy it, without worrying that time is being wasted.

Healthy Vegan Diet

When I first became vegan, over a year ago, I thought it was a matter of time before I lost a load of weight, had bags of energy and was eating kale by the bucket load. This hasn’t happened. Why, I hear you ask? Well, very simply, it’s easy to follow an unhealthy vegan diet or a vegan diet that includes a lot of processed or unhealthy foods. Lots of people find this quite surprising and some people take a look at me and are surprised to find that I’m vegan as I am carry a few extra pounds. And this is before I eat my own body weight in vegan mince pies and tofurkey over the Christmas period.

tofu stir fry

I’ve made no secret over the fact that I don’t enjoy cooking. Add to this the fact that I’m a comfort eater and I work a lot and want convenience foods, means that I have spent the first year of my vegan life seeking out all the sfv (suitable for vegans) snack foods, take aways and unhealthy short cuts. While this is not what I wanted, it’s not surprising, considering my unhealthy relationship with food. (As a teenager, I had to go to Weight Watchers!) While I knew this wasn’t what I wanted to be eating, I wasn’t really sure how to correct my diet. Then I watched Food Choices and this confirmed what I already knew – that I should be eating a whole foods plant based diet. On the documentary, they mention a vegan who existed on fizzy drinks and crisps. While what they are consuming might be vegan, it isn’t healthy and I know I want to be eating well. Because I work a lot, I know I need to nourish my body so that I sleep well, manage my stress and have plenty of energy. Eating processed junk foods isn’t going to do that, even if they are sfv. Any dairy products will have been replaced with other equally unhealthy ingredients. Watching Forks over Knives reaffirmed what I already knew – that I had to find a way of making sure my diet consisted of whole food plant based foods, not just vegan foods, as that’s the best thing for my health. While I’m generally pretty healthy, I could stand to lose a few pounds and I want to make sure that I’m eating the best for my body.

spaghetti

In order to eat a more plant based diet, without spending hours in the kitchen, we knew we needed some new recipes that are quick, healthy and easy. Phil bought Keep it Vegan by Aine Carlin and it has a number of simple weekday meals that are easy to put together. We’ve already tried the stir fry and were really pleased that we had a healthy plant based dinner made in under twenty minutes. This is the kind of thing we need. I’ve also bought the Minimalist Baker cookbook, as I love the meals on her blog but want to have everything in one place.

vegan cookbooks

This is not a diet or a ‘new year, new you’ fad. This is a change I feel like l have to make. And yes, there will be times when I get a take away or over eat on some junk food, but this should be much, much less than I’m doing right now. Hopefully, I’ll feel the benefit of a whole foods plant based diet really soon.

TV Recommendations – November

Yes I’m still alive. Yes this post is late. No it doesn’t include Gilmore Girls or Walking Dead – that will follow soon. Without further ado, here’s what we watched in November.

TV_recommendations November

The Crown – Netflix || Black Mirror – Netflix ||

Divorce – Sky Atlantic || Shetland – BBC ||

So if you haven’t watched The Crown yet, where have you been? It was one of the best TV shows I’ve seen this year. I love how much chatter there was about it on Twitter too. I quite like the monarchy and thought that this was a fascinating insight into what life might have been like for the queen when everything was kicking off with her uncle and her dad. I don’t think that it can ever be easy to be in the position that she was put into, especially at such a young age. The different relationships are what make this series so watchable. Everyone has their own agenda and will use whatever and who ever they can to achieve their end goal. The glitz and glamour of it all though is fascinating and I love the relationship between the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh. We tried so hard to pace ourselves with this series, but burned right through the series in next to no time. I cannot wait for the next series.

We watched Black Mirror pretty quickly too, especially as the first episode in the series was spooky and intense. It was a great commentary on the way social media and technology is taking over our lives. I have to say the first episode the best one. The rest of them aren’t quite as terrifying, and some are a little dull, especially the one about the old folks/the afterlife. What cracks me up about Black Mirror is that it takes the piss out of social media and technology, all the while knowing pretty much everyone will tweet about it! But it’s a really good series, if a little dark. Don’t watch it if you’re looking for something uplifting!

I was interested to see Sarah Jessica Parker’s new series, Divorce, as I loved her in Sex & The City (who didn’t?!) and I am loving this new series. It is hilarious! It makes divorce look like something everyone should go through it! Once again, SJP has an enviable wardrobe and her friends are hilarious, though I don’t think I’d want them to be my friends. The dynamic between SJP’s character and her husband, Robert, is brilliant. He is equally lovable and annoying. This series is definitely worth watching, especially if you like a little dark humour.

We stumbled across Shetland out of sheer desperation for something to watch and we were instantly in love. One of the girls from book group recommended it and I’m so glad that we watched it. Series 1 & 2 are on Netflix and we bought series 3 on iTunes. (Be warned that series 1 is only 2 episodes long) It’s a bit like Hinterland, just not as dark and foreboding. The scenery is breathtaking and the characters are really lovable. I’m really looking forward to the next series which should be on TV next year. An absolute gem of a show.