Month: October 2016

Pyscle London review – let’s do this

I’ve just experienced my first-time at Psycle – one of a few spinning studios that promises to offer you a full body workout on a bike and leave you feeling as though you have just been to a nightclub!

It takes inspiration from indoor cycling classes popular in the US, which are apparently adored by celebs such as David Beckham, Lady Gaga, Lena Dunham and many many more. There’s even been a reality TV show on E! about it all called Hollywood Cycle (everything on that channel is a guilty pleasure for me). I enjoy spinning so thought I would like it, but I was expecting to come away thinking it was all a bit gimmicky. However, I didn’t. Instead, I thought it was absolutely amazing and I might have fallen in love with the instructor just a little bit. She was incredible! Here’s what I loved…

The energy
The energy from staff and regular goers is infectious. People love the classes, so before entering the studio you already feel part of something special. (Yes, that sounds cheesy, but it’s true!) Then there’s the instructor and she was on a whole other level of positivity. Not only was she clearly superb at spinning, but she was actually managing to rock out on the bike like Beyoncé while giving directions and making you feel as though you’re doing the best job ever. She was so encouraging and full of life.

The darkness
Lights are turned down low for the class and when I say low I mean almost off and at times it was pitch black with a few strobe lights. Paired with the music, you really did feel like you were in a nightclub, but most importantly it hid the buckets of sweat pouring from everyone and all the red faces. I could see my silhouette in the mirrors in front of me, but not much else, and I’m thankful for that. I’m sure I looked like a monster but I could pretend I was a glamorous (sweaty) goddess riding the bike like a true athlete!

The music
Loud, it was so loud and a fantastic playlist of new songs and classic anthems and again, left you feeling like you were at a party – but also hid my horrendous panting from being out of breath!

The routine
This is a hardcore class, spinning plus aerobic moves and weights. If you don’t like anything else about this type of studio, you can not fault the actual spinning session you’ll receive.

The kit
There’s no need to bring towels or shoes with you to this class. On your bike in the studio is a towel waiting for you and after the class you can pick up a towel or two for the showers. Plus, at the door you’ll be given a pair of clip cycling shoes to wear. The changing rooms are also equipped with shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, GHD hair straighteners and even tampons if you need them! (I can only talk for the women’s changing rooms of course!) There are lockers to keep all your bits and pieces in and also the chance to buy water or healthy smoothies from the ‘Energy’ kitchen. 

All of which I give a huge thumbs up to, as the classes aren’t particular cheap* but worth the experience and all the little extras you get along with your actually spinning class. Thank you Psycle for a gorgeous ride and to my beautiful friend for inviting me along to experience it. I would definitely go again and would go regularly if the studio was close to where I live. Unfortunately it isn’t but I will definitely be up for making the trip again and I’ve already got some new recruits who would love to try it, after I shared my experience. I’m sure I saw they offer parties too… perhaps that’s how I can celebrate getting to my goal weight or my next birthday! 

Psycle London has two studios, one in Mortimer Street near Oxford Circus and another in Canary Wharf – this is the studio I attended and Alana was my instructor. *Classes are £20 a session but introductory and bundle offers are available.

Now to buy some ‘credits’ for the studio… 

Winter is coming and I’ve got a Slumbersac!

This week has felt like the middle of winter… runny noses, chest infection, the huge desire for comfort food and a reminder that my little girl’s room seems to enjoy making a cold night feel even colder! I’m sure it has its own micro-climate and isn’t it typical for the nursery to be the one room in the house that is either super hot in summer and super cold in winter. Unfortunately there’s not much we can do about changing rooms around, so instead we’ve had to come up with some easy ways to make it a lot more snug in there.

I thought I had the bedding situation sorted as I went extra big last winter when I stocked up on baby sleeping bags, but I was gutted to see that they are already to short for my toddler. My daughter is 18 months but she’s as tall as some 3-year-olds! So the hunt for another baby sleeping bag that would accommodate her longs legs began. I also wanted to see if there were any sleeping bags thicker than a 2.5 tog, as last year we ended putting blankets on top of the sleeping bag which I feel defeats the purpose.

The winner is a Slumbersac. I had a chuckle when I saw how long the Slumbersac is, but I’m very pleased that it has a good length on it. This is the only sleeping bag I’ve seen that I believe will last until the age it says it should on the label. The design allows you to fold the bottom half of the bag too, so that you can have it a little smaller while your baby grows into it. Plus, it’s extremely soft. I honestly wasn’t expecting to be wowed so much by a baby sleeping bag! I’ve got a 3.5 tog with sleeves which will be perfect for the depths of December and a lighter one for ‘autumn’.

I’m delighted to share she had a very restful night’s sleep in it and it’s already part of the family, as a few days after receiving it her winter bug came out in full force and she was sick all over the thing. On the plus side, I was able to test it in our washer and dryer and it came out the same size and softness! Thumbs up! I love finding good baby products!

Exclusive discount code!
After publishing my review the Slumbersac very generously offered me a discount code to share with my readers. Click here to enjoy 15% off their sleeping bags!

Shake ya ass, but watch yourself!

Social sport adventures…

As much as I have certain weight and dress size goals, another huge milestone for me is getting my fitness back. The first run I went on after having a baby left me feeling as though I would never be physically fit again. That may sound a little over the top, but my body felt so alien to me – I could barely run for 5 minutes, whereas I had managed to jog for 5 miles at a time before having a baby.

I had to go back to basics and really build my muscle tone and cardio up from scratch. Having persevered with various exercise classes and routines, I finally feel as though I have my strength back – and it feels great.

Another welcomed bonus to feeling strong again is the ability to try out new sports for fun and make it into a proper social event. Recently I went skiing for the first time ever! I’ve always wanted to go but I’ve been a proper chicken about it. At school there was a ski trip but I didn’t go on it – I was too insecure  about my size (even then) and any sporting activity was not my strength – its haunted me ever since, why didn’t I just go! So, when a friend rallied a group of us to have a lesson on a dry slope I was so excited to finally give it a go – and to have got my fitness up to level where I felt like I could at least try – even if I was a bit pants!

I absolutely loved it, although I can not turn right! And, I loved being with my closest friends and having a laugh doing it. Which made me think how amazing it is to do something sporty as a way to catch up with friends and get fit!

There are a few new classes in my area that I’d like to try out with some pals to keep up the social sport adventures. One includes an aerobics class to 90’s music with glow sticks called ‘Clubbercise’!

Another lovely friend of mine even suggested doing a spin class together for our next catch up followed by lunch and a few drinks for a treat! I love that idea, especially as her spin classes sound like they’re way bigger than anything I go to – so I can not wait!

What else could I try? Perhaps a charity run? Ideas and friends are welcomed to join me!

P.S If you’re wondering why I called my post ‘shake ya ass, but watch yourself’ it’s simply because I’ve had this noughties song in my head for ages and thought it might catch your attention! Did it work?

A simple pasta sauce recipe

This is a short and sweet post to share a little recipe… tomato and butternut squash pasta sauce. It’s tasty, filling and goes well with lots of stuff like prawns, beef or chicken, alongside pasta and whatever veg you may like (such as peas, spinach or peppers).

Tomato & Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce Recipe

Ingredients

  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Tablespoon or so of tomato puree
  • Coconut oil (or your regular oil)
  • Olive oil
  • Onion
  • 2 garlic gloves
  • Butternut squash – I use a packet of the frozen stuff
  • Salt, pepper and oregano
  • Teaspoon of agave syrup

Method

  • Cook your butternut squash until soft (then leave to one side or while that’s cooking crack on with the below)
  • Slice and dice some onion and crush some garlic – fry the lot in your chosen oil – I like to use coconut oil.
    *You may want to use a pan larger than a frying pan for this as it’s going to contain the whole sauce shortly and it creates a decent amount!
  • Add your salt, pepper and oregano, followed by the puree and tinned tomatoes – stir it up.
    * If you want to add fish or meat to the sauce, you could add your chosen item to the pan at this point to cook.
  • Once the onion and garlic look nearly cooked, add your butternut squash and mash it all up.
  • Bring to boil, reduce to simmer for 10 or so minutes. Stir in a little olive oil and I like to add agave syrup for a bit of sweetness and voila!

It’s basically your standard tomato sauce with butternut squash! I may be slightly obsessed with butternut squash at the moment. I love it in this sauce though as it makes it super thick and delicious. Plus, on Weight Watchers its 0 SmartPoints, whoop whoop!

The photo shown is the sauce with prawns and peas, which was later mixed in with some wholewheat pasta.

The ‘sad step’ – does The Body Coach have a point?

Last week I boasted about my 4.5lb weight loss. After that post (and in the days that followed) I overindulged and didn’t listen to any of my own advice when it comes to losing weight healthily and eating well. It’s an old habit of mine to have a ‘good’ week, followed by a ‘bad’ week. I seem to get complacent after I lose any weight and think that I don’t have to put in the same amount of effort I had done in the first place to lose it. Plus, my daughter has not been sleeping well at all which means I haven’t been either, and when I’m tired I don’t tend to make the best decisions. Although I was surrounded by healthy foods, I still managed to seek out items that were ultimately going to lead to a gain. With all of that in mind it’s no surprise that I put on most of what I lost last week (3lbs to be exact). I’m so annoyed with myself and embarrassed as to why I didn’t continue to eat well (especially as I’m now confessing what happened).

Strangely, in the week that I put on the most I have done in a while, it’s the same week that I’ve received the most compliments for looking slimmer.

My lovely husband bought me a little present the other day – Joe Wicks’ Lean in 15 The Shape Plan book. I have his first book and love his recipes (and his HIIT workouts on YouTube), so I was chuffed that he had picked me up a copy which I’ve been meaning to buy for ages. I love reading about nutrition and Joe gives a little overview at the start of the book, on things like eating good fats, fuelling your body correctly and lots more. I  often feel conflicted on a lot of the points mentioned as it makes complete sense on paper, but anytime I’ve gone ‘full fat’ with yogurts, or milk for example, I’ve never lost weight or dropped a dress size. Yet, so many people have had huge excess following The Body Coach’s philosophy (not that it’s just about yogurts!).

Interestingly, he refers to bathroom scales as the ‘sad step’ and instead encourages people to take photos of themselves as they change their eating habits and exercise regimes. This week I’m definitely guilty of letting that number on the ‘sad step’ get me down about my weight loss, even though I know I’ve already shifted a lot of my excess fat and I’m getting closer to my various weight loss goals (despite minor setbacks).

It’s all got me thinking… Do I need to change my way of thinking towards healthy foods and how I measure success? Should I incorporate more of Joe’s philosophy into my everyday eating and the way in which I follow the Weight Watchers plan – which I do love, especially as I’ve always felt that it’s the portion sizes that I need guidance with and that’s what SmartPoints does for me (plus it’s the only thing so far that has ever worked).

What do you think? Are there any benefits to eating 0% fat yogurt and drinking skimmed milk? Are bathroom scales a ‘sad step’ or a ‘step of success’? Are lots of us stuck in an old way of thinking when it comes to healthy eating and weight loss?

On that note, I’m off to buy an avocado to up my intake of good fats.

3 ways I beat my weight loss plateau

Once a week I record my weight. For me, this is concrete evidence that I’m eating well and moving around enough to shift the weight I put on during pregnancy. Although dropping a dress size and feeling more confident are incredible weight loss success measures too, I do feel a little frustrated if the number on the scales doesn’t budge after a week’s worth of healthy eating and exercise.

A few weeks ago I realised I had stayed the same weight for 4 weeks in a row. “What a waste of time” I thought. In an attempt to start new and healthy habits, I refrained from self-wallowing in chocolate and decided to look at what I had been eating and how much exercise I had actually done. In hindsight, I had overindulged on chocolate and prosecco. Also, I hadn’t managed to think about my day or week ahead and plan what kind of foods I could eat and when. I’ve always found that having a loose plan of a menu for the day and making sure I’m surrounded by healthy foods always keeps me on track.  From that exercise, here’s what I did and the good news is, after a week of following my refreshed approach to weight loss I shifted 4.5lbs – and that included several meals out too!

Tips to get your weight loss back on track:

1. Own up to facts
I had to really question how healthy I thought I had been over the last few weeks. Having looked at the foods I was eating, it was quite obvious that old habits had crept in and I was overindulging at every meal. I really do believe you can enjoy everything you like when wanting to lose weight, but large portion sizes, alcohol and sweet treats have always been my downfall and it’s something I need to keep an eye on. So, I faced the facts and stopped being in denial about how healthy I had convinced myself I had been.

2. Advanced tracking
So, I use the Weight Watchers app every single day. I record what I eat and when. Usually, I record it as I’m eating it or on a few occasions (and which I wouldn’t recommend) after I’ve finished! This has sometimes backfired as I thought foods were lower SmartPoints than they were! Having spoken to my leader about my weight staying the same, she suggested I track my foods in advance. This means adding everything you’re going to eat for the day or the next day in advance. It sounds simple but it’s made such a difference. I used to roughly guess how many SmartPoints I’d eat, but it was never as accurate as actually tracking the foods in advance. This way, I know for sure that I can stay within my allowance and – this may be a huge sign of still having a baby brain – I’ve actually forgotten on several occasions treats I’ve scheduled into my day. This is especially exciting at the end of the day when I thought I’ve been out of SmartPoints but I’ve already allocated a little Weight Watchers chocolate to enjoy! Yum! I should also add that I had soup whenever I felt that I needed more than just a piece of fruit or veg to keep hunger at bay. Check out my lazy veg soup recipe here.

3. Keep exercising
Exercise makes me feel tons better and I’m sure that if I hadn’t kept up my running, spinning, Joe Wicks videos and walking, I would have gained weight instead of staying the same. So, I vowed to myself to keep up the exercise and I booked in sessions in my diary so that I was more likely to stick to it.

I hope these tips can help anyone who has stumbled across this page. Leave any tips you have in the comments below!

Snacking on soup & a lazy veg soup recipe

I’ve found a way to sneak another meal into my day and that meal is soup! I’ve never been so excited by soup before, but stay with me while I explain.

I’ve been trying to think of new snacks I can enjoy late afternoon that are filling but not too heavy, as dinner is just around the corner – and no, I can’t wait till dinner! My Weight Watchers allowance is very precious and every point counts, so I’m keen to ‘spend’ only 2 or so SmartPoints on a snack at this time. With the weather being a little cooler I suddenly felt the urge for something warm and cosy, and then I remembered people make soup – and I could make soup with all the 0 SmartPoints veg I have. So that’s what I did.

Before I continue, you should know that I’m a lazy cook and a huge fan of recipes that are super quick, or can be left in an oven with very little attention required (so that I can do other things) .

I have found a very speedy (lazy) way to make a delicious soup out of any veg – ok, maybe not any veg but the ones I’ve tried have turned out to be pretty tasty. You simply need to cook your chosen veg and blend it untill smooth (or nearly smooth) with a can of tinned tomatoes, then add it to a cooked onion, spices, and vegetable stock. Cooking the veg is the most time consuming part of this recipe and the rest of this method is quick – if it’s easier you could always cook the veg on a separate day or time to when you intend on having or making the soup…

Lazy Veggie Soup
Requires a blender…

Ingredients

  • Any veg you have! I’ve made soup with carrots, courgettes and frozen chunks of butternut squash (you can buy packs of these – butternut squash is so hard to cut!)
  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Herbs (optional and you can use any you like – I’ve made soup with sage, mixed herbs and oregano of separate occasions)
  • Spices (also optional – a little curry powder or cayenne pepper gives this soup a nice kick)
  • Onion
  • Vegetable stock (I use a low salt vegetable stock cube with water)

Method

  • Roast, boil or steam your veg – however you like, just cook it and leave it to cool a little before blending.
    – If you roast your veg add in a chopped onion at the same time.
    – If you cook your veg in another way, you’ll need to fry up some diced onion.
  • While you’re veg is cooking make say 400-600ml of vegetable stock (this depends on how thick you like your soup and how much you want to make).
  • In a blender, mixed together your tinned tomatoes and veg (and roasted onion if you went down that route)
  • If you don’t roast an onion, fry a diced onion in a large pan then…
  • Add the blended mixture to your large big pan with your vegetable stock, spices, salt and pepper. Bring to boil and then simmer for a few minutes… Or you can mix it altogether and heat in the microwave when you’re ready to enjoy your soup (I did warn you I was lazy).

This makes a decent amount of soup if you wish to share it with everyone in your household or keep some in the fridge or freezer to enjoy on other days – speaking of which – I was recently given a tip that you can use those 1/2 pint milk cartons as soup containers in the freezer too! Just don’t pop it in the microwave – if you pull it out in the morning, it should be defrosted by late afternoon/evening. I really hope this recipe is easy for you to follow and you enjoy making this lazy soup!

As always, apologies to proper cooks out there!

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