A different approach

I had good intentions this morning; everything was ready the night before but tiredness got the better of me. I thought I was being optimistic last night that I would make it to the gym this morning, as I went to bed later than I normally would during the week. However, you’ll be glad to hear that I have done pretty well this week in terms of fitness.

Since I’ve been struggling to get up earlier in the morning, I went to the gym after work on Monday and Wednesday evening this week. I’ve mentioned before in my blog that I have avoided going to the gym after work due to rush hour traffic and how busy it gets in the gym. To be honest, there wasn’t too much traffic, and even though the gym does get busy at that time, there is plenty of equipment and the changing rooms don’t seem to be that busy.

Recently when I have been getting back home from work, I haven’t done any physical activity, except for taking my dog Barney for the odd walk. This has contributed to my weight gain as I sit all day in the office and then relax at home. In my efforts to change my current lifestyle, I thought it would be best to hit the gym after work. I’ve felt much better for it so far, mostly focusing on cardio in the run up to my next half marathon in February.

Sweating after an intense workout

I definitely felt the difference at the gym. On Wednesday I did one of my regular cardio workouts but struggled to keep up at the standards I was before. This was the 3km on the cross trainer which I usually complete in just shy of 48 minutes at varying intensities. I managed to complete 3km in 48 minutes and 30 seconds, but at lower intensities. Because it has been so long since I was going to the gym on a regular basis, I thought it would be best to take it steady. Once I’ve got back into a routine, I’m sure I’ll be working at the higher intensities I was before, which should hopefully lead to losing weight with a healthy diet.

I might try to go to the gym early next week, but I was surprised with how pleasant both experiences have been this week after work. Plus it feels good to have a workout after sitting all day in the office and I don’t have to worry about being late for work in the morning due to traffic.

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

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Finding my mojo

I tend to not like people who make excuses for their own problems, try to blame others or certain things for how they are, or for being in denial… but I currently match that description. I say that I’m too tired to get out of bed earlier during the week, so I reset my alarm and have avoided going to the gym. I blame the biscuit tin in my office for not eating the healthy snacks I bring with me and feel more satisfied eating a chocolate treat or two during the day. I’ve been kidding myself that my clothes have been feeling a bit tighter recently, and that one day soon I will feel more comfortable again when I eventually get round to losing some excess body weight.

I woke up this morning thinking about what my mother’s friend and my father had said to me this week. I went to the theatre on Tuesday evening and saw one of my mother’s friends who I hadn’t seen for quite some time. We had a quick catch up and she asked me how my running was going, as she is quite a keen runner herself. I said that I’ve been struggling recently to go out running and getting myself down to the gym, to which she replied “It tends to happen to phases, running and general fitness, don’t you think?”

My father asked me a few days ago how I’m doing and enquired about the gym. I said to him that it has been a while since I went to the gym (three weeks ago to be exact). He also asked about the parkrun, and again the same answer (four months ago to be precise). My father then said “You need to get back into fitness, you don’t want to lose it”. I then replied, “I’ve lost my mojo“.

I felt fed up with myself this morning, for making excuses, putting the blame on others and for being in denial about my overall fitness and health. So I prepared myself for the scales and weighed myself (I can’t remember the last time I did this).

I weigh 18.3 stone! This has been a gradual process, since over four years ago when I once weighed just shy of 14 stone.

Just over a month ago at Twycross Zoo

You can see in the photo above how I’ve lost myself recently. I have more fat under my chin, which could lead to a prominent double chin if I’m not careful. I’m carrying more weight on my stomach, back, legs and arms. I’ve noticed these changes since the summer, such as feeling sweat under the increasing folds on my back which I hadn’t really noticed in previous summers. I’ve been worried about going clothes shopping recently and thinking if I’ll be going up to the next dress size, which won’t be far away if I don’t change soon.

I’ve been feeling myself becoming larger since starting my new job at the end of April this year. I went from walking five miles a day and going to the gym at least twice a week, to walking only around 2,000-3,000 steps a day around the office and not going to the gym at all. It’s about 6.5 miles to my current job which is too far to walk. I don’t know how much I weighed when I started my new job, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve put on at least 1 1/2 – 2 stone over the last five months. I’ve also been rather indulgent and am enjoying sweet treats a bit too much – I’m a sucker for sugar and feel more satisfied eating something naughty at work rather than a banana or some grapes.

Rather than getting myself upset and self-loathing, I need to ‘find my mojo‘. I’ve had it before, I just need to find it again and get my act together. I’m well aware of the health risks associated with being overweight and not getting enough exercise; that’s one of the reasons why I took fitness more seriously and worked towards running my first half marathon almost a year ago. It feels crazy to think I managed to achieve this feat this time last year with how I am in comparison today.

After running my first half marathon (15th October 2017)

I know exactly what I need to do to get back in shape, and I’m sure you all know too. I need to feel motivated again and run towards some goals, so I’ve signed up for the Leicestershire Half Marathon on Sunday 17th February 2019 at Prestwold Hall. This is a fairly new half marathon which happened for the first time earlier this year. I love visiting grand homes and National Trust sites, so it’ll be interesting to run around one for 13.1 miles instead of taking a casual walk around!

I have just over four months to train and get myself back on track. With Christmas on its way, it will certainly be a challenge to keep losing weight so I’ll have to keep my wits about me. This morning has really been a wake up call for me. It’s time to get on with losing excess body weight and make sure I don’t lose my mojo again!

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear

Catch Up Time

Hi there! Even though it’s been a while again (almost six weeks to be exact), I’ll keep this post brief.

All I seem to do is apologise these days on my blog (I’m sorry for this – see, I’m apologising already!). I’m not writing posts as much as I’d like to, some of the reasons which I wrote about in my previous update for June. I have been feeling tired again as it’s been really busy at work recently, but the hectic spell seems to have died down for now, so I don’t feel so tired at the moment when I get back home.

I went away to Spain again for a short break to Benidorm at the start of September. It was certainly an interesting experience, which I was expecting as I had heard a lot about the lively and exciting Spanish resort. I am also a big fan of the TV series Benidorm, so I had an idea of what to expect. I didn’t know until arriving that it was Pride week – everywhere was alive with colourful flags and people dressed up. It was a fantastic experience, especially when I attended my first Pride march which processed along the sea front and into the Old Town.

After almost four months of no intense exercise, I went to the gym last Saturday morning! The gym I go to had been closed for three months for refurbishment, and I didn’t really fancy going to the one in town where I would’ve had to pay for parking and endure early morning city centre traffic. I must admit, it was hard work. I’m behind on the cardio exercises I was capable of doing four months ago, as I struggled with the higher intensities which my body used to endure.

Recent photo at the gym (sorry it’s blurry)

In case you were wondering, I’m definitely not doing the Leicester half marathon this year. With a serious lack of training and motivation, I’m in no fit state to run 13.1 miles in just over three weeks’ time. I dread to think how much weight I’ve put on due to very little exercise, but there is a half marathon on 17th February 2019 which will be good for me to aim for.

Hopefully you’ll hear from me again much sooner, and not for over a month! I promise to do better this time and get back on track with being a feminist, fitness foodie!

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear

Fiesta Española

I’m very pleased to have returned from a two week holiday in Spain with a very good sun tan! I’ve not had a decent tan for a few years now, so it feels good to have a lovely colour on my skin (plus my arm hairs have been dyed by the sun, so they are currently blonde). It was nice to have two weeks off work and spend some time relaxing and exploring a part of Spain I hadn’t been to before.

I stayed in a villa with my parents, a few friends and my dog Barney. The villa was beautiful with a much needed swimming pool and air con in all parts of the villa, including the bedrooms. Every day it was hot and sunny with the temperature increasing while we were away. The hottest temperature while I was there was 39 degrees, which was during the second week of the holiday. We all made sure that we stayed hydrated, had plenty of sun cream on and avoided being in the sun for too long. Barney was in the swimming pool most of the time to stay cool!

Barney recharging his batteries

The villa was just on the outskirts of a town called Peñíscola. We did walk into the town on our first visit, but it was a rather tidy step and the heat didn’t help either, so we drove down for future trips. Peñíscola is not quite a tourist hot spot yet – the beaches were very busy but the castle was fairly quiet and there were some nice bars and restaurants in the main town. There was also an outdoor market on Mondays which we all had a good look around.

A view of Peñíscola castle

As I love exploring, I paid a trip to the castle in Peñíscola. It isn’t one of the most grandest castles I’ve ever visited, but it was interesting to look around and the views from the top were amazing, such as the one in the photo below.

A view from the top of the castle

Since the castle is only small, it didn’t take too long to look around the ramparts and in the main citadel. There are some quaint streets which I enjoyed walking down, and some shops which I had a look around too.

A street in the citadel

We found some decent beaches which my dog Barney could go on. We spent a couple of days during the holiday relaxing on several beaches and swimming in the sea. Barney loves swimming so he joined in too and swam for long periods of time (I held him now and again in the water so he could have a rest!). I had an explore along the coast as well while we visited the beaches. The views of Peñíscola are stunning along the coast.

Exploring in my new swim suit

One of my favourite parts of any holiday is trying out local cuisine and drink. One lunchtime we visited a restaurant near the castle which we all called the ‘meat place’. You could have a platter of different cuts of Spanish cured ham with sheep’s cheese. I shared one with my father, which came with two different cuts of Spanish ham, a helping of cheese and bread covered in a tomato sauce (which looked more like strawberry jam but still tasted good).

Meat platter with sheep’s cheese and bread covered in a tomato sauce

My father decided to have a go at making paella at the villa one night. He included chicken thighs, chorizo, mussels, prawns, squid and cuttlefish. For a first attempt, it was delicious. One of my friend’s bought my father a paella pan off the market in Peñíscola, so I’m sure he will cook another paella at home sometime soon.

Paella

I drank sangria and lemon beer, but also tried out an alcoholic drink called tinto de verano. Suggested by a colleague at work, tinto de verano is similar to sangria but I much preferred the taste and found it more refreshing than sangria.

The past two weeks have flown by, but it won’t be long until I’m away on holiday again. I’m off to Benidorm for a short break in September. I love the television series Benidorm, so I’m going to experience what it’s really like. I imagine it will be a short break full of laughs and probably plenty of drinking! It will be my first time staying in an all inclusive hotel, so I’m very excited!

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

Dos semanas en España

Tomorrow morning I will be heading off to Spain for a relaxing two week holiday!

Flying into Barcelona Reus airport and then a train ride to Benicarlo-Peñiscola station, I will be staying in a villa with my parents and a few of their friends in Peñiscola. My father and his friend have been travelling through France and Spain with my dog Barney for two weeks already. They will be picking up myself, my mother and her friends from the train station when we arrive. There’s a swimming pool at the villa, so I imagine Barney will end up in the pool most days!

I’m really looking forward to having some time to relax and making the most of the sunshine. I should be back with a lovely tan with the current weather forecast for Peñiscola (except for this Sunday):

As much as I love relaxing on holiday, I like to take the opportunity to explore new places. I’ve not been to Peñiscola or around that part of the Spanish coast before. There’s a natural park not far from where we’re staying and other small seaside towns. We may plan a trip to Tarragona which my father has told me is a very interesting place with a Roman Amphitheatre on a beach!

I will post a blog on my return about my holiday. In the meantime, adiós, and as always, happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

Update #27

It’s almost been a month since I last posted blog, which is the longest time I’ve not written a post for! This is due to many things, including the hot weather. I’ve been feeling pretty tired for the last few weeks, due to it being muggy during the night. I shouldn’t really moan about the long spell of hot weather we’re having in the UK, but it does make it difficult sleeping at night and it’s not fun being in the office when it’s so nice outside. Although around this time last year, I wrote an update about what I got up to, rather than focusing on the topics I normally blog about.

For example, I went to the Caves of Nottingham last weekend with a group of friends. It wasn’t quite what I expected- the tour didn’t take that long but the history was very interesting. I didn’t know that the caves were man made, and that people took refuge inside the caves during the Second World War. It was also a great way to cool down with it being so hot outside. After the tour of the caves I visited Ye Old Trip to Jerusalem, the oldest inn in England. Just by Nottingham castle, it was very quirky inside and I had a lovely pub meal, which was beef and bone marrow suet pudding.

Ye Old Trip to Jersualem

I also went away to Birmingham for a weekend in June with my boyfriend, which was really nice. We had a look around some of our favourite shops in Birmingham, had a very tasty meal in a Brazilian restaurant in the Mailbox, and visited the SeaLife centre. It was during this weekend that England played a match as part of the World Cup. I’m not a football fan, but it was funny to hear people cheering throughout Birmingham when, I’m assuming, England scored a goal (or penalty).

Despite the fun stuff I got up to, last month was actually quite stressful for me as my car failed its MOT. I should’ve known this day was coming soon, as my car was 17 1/2 years old and had been making rattling noises for quite some time. Although earlier this year my car survived a trip to the Peak District, driving in hazardous conditions and almost getting stuck in a blizzard. The costs of the repairs would’ve been more than the value of the car, so it was time to invest in a new car.

For two weeks it felt like I had lost an arm. Since I still live with my parents, my car is a form of independence for me, so having to rely on lifts to work felt horrible for me. I am grateful for my parent’s support during this time, and they also helped me with selecting a new car and sorting out insurance. I have had my new car for just over two weeks now, and it’s beautiful to drive. I now have a radio that works, and air con which couldn’t have come at a better time. I am now the proud owner of brand new Hyuandi i10!

My beautiful new car!

While I was car-less, I went to Torquay for a weekend conference. I have mentioned before on my blog that I am a member of a friendly society, which I have done a lot of fundraising for. Running my first half marathon last year was in aid of the society’s chosen charity, the Association of Air Ambulances. Once a year around June, the society holds it’s annual AGM where members from around the UK attend. It was a great opportunity to meet members I hadn’t met before, and learn more about how the society works. There was also a presentation by a representative of the Association of Air Ambulances, which was insightful into the fantastic work they do. I had a little bit of spare time to explore Torquay, but I would love to go back to see more of the lovely seaside town.

You can see now that I had a very busy month. I wanted to write a blog one weekday evening, but I’ve been feeling tired after work and have been practicing solos for a concert I’m singing in tonight (which I’m feeling very excited and nervous about!). I will try my best to write some more content this month, although I am off to Spain for two weeks soon so I will be getting myself ready for that!

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

BBQ weather

Yesterday evening my father cooked on the BBQ rather than making a roast dinner. I was more than happy as I love BBQs and the weather was gorgeous last night. We were originally going to have a roast lamb dinner with all the trimmings, but my father sliced the joint of lamb and cooked it on the BBQ. The lamb was so delicious and juicy, and cooked just right.

While my father cooks the food on the BBQ, I usually prepare the salad. I boiled some new potatoes and green beans, and added a little bit of butter when I served them. The taste of melted butter on new potatoes is just divine, like melted butter on a jacket potato. I also prepared some vegetable skewers which were cooked on the BBQ. The skewers consisted of courgette, mushroom, yellow pepper and halloumi. I sprinkled some mixed herbs on top of the skewers before they were placed on the BBQ.

Before cooking…

I couldn’t wait to try the vegetable skewers- I like halloumi and hadn’t tried it grilled on the BBQ before, so I was keen to see how it tasted. The vegetables tasted really nice, and the halloumi was very tasty too.

… after cooking

Just before the BBQ prep started, I noticed a small bee on the floor outside of my house. It was very docile and didn’t move when I stood very close to it. I’ve seen quite a few videos on social media recently of what you should do if you see a bee in this condition. I made up some sugar water and placed a teaspoon of it on the floor next to the bee. I had to softly nudge the bee with the spoon as it was very weak and didn’t seem to notice the sugar water at first, but with a little bit of persuasion, it started helping itself to some much needed nutrition.

Giving this bee a helping hand

Normally I wouldn’t dare go near a bee, as I’m not a fan of creatures that can sting you (especially wasps), but this bee was harmless and I wanted to offer my help for a much needed insect which sustains our ecosystem.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂