Motivation – getting it, and keeping it!

It’s true, I’ve fallen off my perch when it comes to motivation at the moment.  Not so much with the change of diet although I’ll admit, I’ve had a few lapses back into that sweet, sweet world of refined sugar.  No, this is more about my fitness.

Call me crazy but for years now I’ve enjoyed going to the gym and the satisfaction of a hard, sweaty workout.  There have been times where I’ve not gone as regularly as I’d like but it’s still played a part in my life.  When I think back to this time last year though, I was incredibly motivated.  Three or four times a week (and before work no less!) I’d hit the gym, throw in an evening Body Balance or Kettlebells class plus go horse riding twice a week.  I had a routine.  Even if I felt tired or not in the mood I still got myself out of bed, laced up my trainers and got out there – 9 times out of 10 I actually felt better for it.

Now it’s the complete opposite – I barely make it to the gym once a week, and only because I have a session booked in with a trainer, and it’s been months since I last rode.  So what’s happened?  Well, my motivation has walked out the door, shutting it firmly behind itself.  I’m sure it’s not helped by a new job with a longer commute, that’s more stressful and sees me spending frequent periods of time away from home.  If you’d told that to my uber-motivated self last year I wouldn’t have accepted that as an excuse…

In 2013 I was lucky enough to meet Olympic Gold-medallist Victoria Pendleton.  I took the opportunity to ask her how she stayed motivated, allowing her to reach the pinnacle of her career.  She told me it was all about having goals and something to aim for.  It’s not just about the big, obvious goals either – that alone isn’t enough.  You need mini goals that take you on the path to the Big One.  If anyone should know if this works it’s Victoria.  If you’ve read her autobiography you’ll know she didn’t find much enjoyment in cycling.

So what about us mere mortals? I asked several friends about motivation and it’s not so dissimilar.  Most said that setting goals helped them whether it be getting in shape for a holiday or wedding to 10k runs and marathons.  Others said that they were motivated by their passions and hobbies – dancing, horse riding – or remembering how good they felt when they were in a healthy routine and looked good in their favourite pair of jeans!  Having a plan seems to help some too – making sure to decide when to hit the gym and what to eat at the start of the week, essentially making an appointment with themselves.

Whatever it is, when any of them feel things starting to slip, they just think back to the original reason for doing the things they do and just press the reset button allowing their motivation to get back on track.  So what’s my trick for getting motivated? Well, I’m still trying to work that out but I can honestly say I’ve been inspired by these wonderful friends of mine!

Advertisements

When the going gets tough…

…the tough get going?  No, I’m not about to post about the Billy Ocean song (or Boyzone, depending on your music taste!)  I’m actually having a really tough week on my journey.  I’ve been off the antibiotics for a few weeks now and just as I thought my skin was really beginning to clear, bam!  Another awful breakout.

Imagine, if you will, getting three or four pretty decent sized spots on your face.  Hmm, not great you may be thinking, perhaps even, yeah, been there.  But they aren’t spread out, no, they’re all on your chin.  Sounding a bit worse, right?  Well, now imagine these spots are actually so close together you can barely tell where one stops and another begins.  Yep, that’s what I’m dealing with right now.  I don’t think I’ve ever had it this bad, so frequently.  So why is this happening?

In the July/August issue of Women’s Health (UK) there is an article ‘Have you got the guts for good skin?’  It explores how sensitive your gut is and how what we put into our bodies really affects this delicate balance of good and bad bacteria, resulting in, hey presto – skin problems.  Of particular interest to me was that antibiotics get a mention.  Whilst they do great things to help fight infections they actually don’t distinguish between the good and the bad guys – wiping them all out instead!  And this really throws your body off kilter.  It can take months after a course of antibiotics for your body to get back to its optimum balance.  Despite this, I’m not sure I’m ready to completely forego medication just yet.  Knowing now how sensitive the gut is though, it does make me wonder if that’s where the answer lies. Elsewhere, Madeline Shaw also believes, and writes in her book Get the Glow, that your skin is a reflection of your inner health.  Well, if that’s true, I think I’m in trouble!

As I said at the beginning, this is proving to be a tough week.  This latest breakout has left me feeling self concious, upset and lacking some of my normal confidence.  Not to mention the spots feeling uncomfortable, tender and sore.  I’m avoiding some social situations and piling on the make up in the hope that it’s less noticeable, I’m even wearing it to the gym!  People say they can’t really see the spots but I think they’re either good liars or perhaps blind!  Don’t get me wrong, I know they are being kind and I’m not after the sympathy vote either.  This blog is about charting my journey to clear skin, which means not just the highs, but the lows too.

I’ve been eating a lot cleaner for a few weeks now.  Just because I’m not seeing the dramatic improvements I’d hoped to by now, doesn’t mean I’m ready to give up on this.  Eating clean is beneficial for my health in general and I believe it can take a few months to really see a difference.  After all, my body needs to rid itself of the toxins that have built up over years of a less healthy diet.  It’s just unfortunate for me that this comes out on my face!

Almond and Chia Energy Bites

One of the hard things about being on a clean, healthy diet is when the 3pm munchies strike.  Everyone else is tucking into the cake and chocolate that so many offices seem to have these days, leaving you feeling miserable as you watch them indulge.  Well, not any more!  Thanks to Deliciously Ella, these Almond and Chia Energy Bites will give you the afternoon pick me up you need whilst also satisfying that sweet craving.  I made these last night and love them!

20150614_191845

To make about 20 balls:

200g almonds

400g Medjool dates

4 tablespoons raw cacao powder

2 tablespoons almond butter (Ella makes her own but I went for the cheats option and bought some!)

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 tablespoons chia seeds

 

Put the almonds into a food processor and whiz for about 30 seconds until crushed.

Pit the dates and add to the crushed almonds along with all the other ingredients and 2 tablespoons of water.  Blend again until everything is mixed together and it’s all nice and sticky.

Roll the mix into balls.

Place in the freezer for an hour to set, then store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Enjoy!

 

Lights, camera, action!

Wow, what a week!  I’ve spent the week travelling the length and breadth of Scotland for work.  I’ve seen some fantastic places that ordinarily on my trips up here I wouldn’t be lucky enough to see.  Speaking of lucky, it’s been the most incredible weather up here – definitely not the norm I’m told!  I even had to buy some sun lotion after getting a little pink on day one.

20150610_114658

All this travelling can mean only one thing when it comes to food – eating on the go.  A clean eater’s worst nightmare…or at least this clean eater’s nightmare.  Staying in hotels often on the outskirts of town, with no way of refrigerating anything means you are at the mercy of the Tesco gods.  Add to that long days and therefore extreme tiredness and the carb cravings really set in.  So here it comes, my confession – I gave in to those cravings!  I’m not proud of that, but I have come to learn that there isn’t much to be gained from beating myself up about it either.  So as long as I get back on track there’s no harm done.  I’m not on this journey to be a no sugar/dairy/gluten/meat saint, after all I’m only human!

20150611_190322

I spend a fair amount of time travelling for work which disrupts not only my healthy diet but my daily routine in general (I recently started a short yoga course but due to this I’ve not been able to commit to every class).  I think the added stress of this also contributes to my skin problems.  Speaking of which, you may be wondering how that’s going – I’m off the antibiotics and whilst it’s looking a lot better my skin is by no means clear, so still a way to go yet!  Anyway, with all this going on I need to find a way to stay on track as my work situation isn’t going to change any time soon.  How do you stay healthy when travelling?  Let me know by commenting below.

Un weekend en France!

I love bread.  Soft, white, freshly baked French bread!  How the French stay so slim with all this beautiful food I’ll never know.

This time last week I was enjoying a short break in France.  While this trip could have been my downfall (and at times, very nearly was) I chose not to let this happen.  I believe in everything in moderation and so, I allowed myself the bread, the cheese, wine and yes, even a small amount of chocolate.  And that’s the point – a small amount.  I didn’t go crazy but still allowed myself to enjoy it.

Food

But enough about food…

I flew out to Bordeaux for a family holiday, the first one in many years! Staying in rural France in a beautiful gite with it’s open plan living, large garden and pool providing an idyllic setting.  The sun shone, the wine flowed, laughter filled the air and quickly I was able to relax, switching off from the real world.

The gite, Le Peyrat, comfortably sleeps up to 12 and is reached by a white gravel drive, passing the resident grey pony on one side and the boules area to the other.  Beautifully renovated, Le Peyrat opens up into a large garden with decking and an additional covered seating area for cooler evenings, garden toys for any little ones (including trampoline – I’d forgotten how much fun this could be) and a secluded pool (a real little sun trap).

A 30 minute drive away is the small, quaint town of St Emilion.  The drive takes you through picturesque French countryside littered with many vineyards, large and small.  Once in St Emilion, cobbled streets wind themselves between gorgeous French architecture.  We took the street that leads up to the church, offering fantastic views of the town and terracotta rooftops.  Once at the top it opens up into a small square with a handful of cafes and shops – the perfect place to stop for a drink and to soak up the sun.

Street 2

 

Meandering back down the cobbled streets you find a mix of shops – souvenirs, cafes, macarons, but above all, and being in the midst of world-renowned vineyards, wine!  In a sunny square, about halfway down, with the church spire looming overhead, we stopped for lunch at Cafe Amelia.  Serving simple, yet perfectly done, dishes, this place offers great service and fantastic value for money.  Steak frites for 9 euro – can’t argue with that!

Church

After using all that energy it was time to head back to the gite for an afternoon nap followed by a game of boules! So until next time, au revoir Bordeaux!