Christmas Mentality

It’s almost that time of year where people are expected to stuff themselves like a turkey. All of the glorious food not just prepared on Christmas day, but in the weeks that build up the festive excitement, means that it is a difficult time of year for those who are dieting. Even a month before the 25th December it is not uncommon to already have eaten a traditional Christmas dinner with a Christmas pudding caked in brandy sauce.

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The advertisements are not in a dieter’s favour, with scrumptious desserts to make this Christmas even more special. Boxes upon boxes of mince pies, shortbread and chocolates are stacked at the entrance and all around supermarkets with offers such as buy one get one free, shouting out ‘Buy me now’. It doesn’t help nowadays that shops prepare themselves for Christmas earlier each year, stocking on sweet treats months in advance. Of course the trick there is to encourage you to buy them so that you are tempted to eat them before Christmas, so that you have to buy more nearer the time!

I confess, my weakness at Christmas is mince pies, but I am rarely swayed each year to eat one before December. It is difficult for me to only have one mince pie, I normally end up eating two with a cup of tea. The ones that I really like are topped with white icing rather than a pastry lid, which adds even more sweetness. The same applies to biscuits and chocolates from a selection box; I eat more than one at a time.

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It is natural and expected for people to put on weight over Christmas, since the weather is colder and we need to keep ourselves warm. However, food is eaten in excessive amounts to the point where people put on more weight than they bargained for. Hence why there is always an increase in gym memberships every January, due to New Year’s Resolutions and gyms advertising to fight the fat.

A mentality I have not just at Christmas, but during other occasions and parties in the year is that I might not get to have or try this food any time soon. My greatest weakness in this case is desserts, where there is more than one available at the table. I often end up having more than one helping, feeling really full afterwards. Then of course chocolate mints and mince pies are served after dessert, uncomfortably expanding the stomach even more than it really needs to because it’s Christmas.

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Maybe these should be served up more often at Christmas parties!

As expected, I always put on the pounds in December, which is also aided by recent birthday celebrations, including my own and my mother’s. However this year, I want to change my Christmas and party mentality by altering my eating habits. First off I will aim to only eat a maximum of two mince pies or biscuits during the day. I will also lower my chocolate intake by eating only the advent chocolate until Christmas day and if there is a selection box lying around at home or someone else’s house, then I will just eat one of those.

At the end of the day, dieting and losing body weight is all about eating sensibly. While Christmas is a great challenge for many people trying to maintain their weight, it is a time of year to treat oneself and be treated by others. You can still enjoy yourself, just exercise moderation.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Many thanks,

Clare Bear 🙂

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Snack happy!

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There are some days at work, including today, where I don’t get time to have lunch. When a day is full of lectures, I have a decent filling breakfast in the morning, such as porridge or beans and eggs on toast/crumpets, and then I just have enough time to snack during the day when I start to feel hungry.

The photo above is what I took to work today, although I didn’t feel the need to eat the apple in the end (that’s back in the fruit bowl ready for another day). I quite often take carrot sticks to work as a snack and also as a side to my lunch. The box next to the carrots are grapes, which I also like to munch on as a snack or side. The mono-brow in the photo is an apple cereal bar. I quite like eating cereal bars as a snack, even though they can be quite high in sugar. On days when I’m feeling a bit cheeky I have a bag of Mini Cheddars or Hula Hoops as a snack, but that’s only once a week.

Today I have easily achieved the recommended five a day, as I have a glass of orange juice as well most mornings (I don’t think an apple cereal bar counts as one of your five a day)!

What sort of snacks do you like to eat during the day?

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Many thanks,

Clare Bear

Standard gym workout

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Picture from PRLOG

I’ve noticed that a lot of bloggers who post about fitness often write about their workouts at the gym, such as their standard routine, any changes to that routine and goals achieved. While I have written a few posts about exercising at the gym in terms of reaching the 10km goal, I haven’t actually mentioned what a standard workout is for me.

Everyone exercises differently so what I do as my general routine differs from others. I do a high intense cardio workout of 15 minutes, then various weights on my arms, my abs and back area, followed by my legs. After weights I do another high intense cardio of 10-15 minutes, depending on how much I’ve pushed myself. Generally I aim for about 45 minutes of exercise each time I visit the local gym.

While following a routine, I vary it by doing different cardio workouts. Normally I start on the cross trainer, starting at a low level for one minute, then increasing the intensity to a medium level for one minute, back to a low level for another minute and so on. Throughout the exercise I gradually increase the level of intensity and make the distance between levels greater, so that I really feel the burn.

I couldn’t tell you the names of the weights I do, except that they are machine weights. I don’t know how to properly and safely use free weights, so I should probably consider asking an instructor at the gym for advice on a suitable free weight routine. But for now I stick to the machines, doing three sets of ten and having a short break and gradually increasing the weights if I see fit between sets.

After weights I do another high intense cardio. Recently I have been trying out rowing. This is a good workout but since I’m not used to it, I tend to tire out quickly. I sometimes do a bit of cycling but generally I like to go on the treadmill for my second cardio exercise. After weights I like to set the treadmill on a high gradient and walk briskly. I then lower the gradient for a few minutes, increase it again and then lower it, similar to the first cardio exercise.

In addition to the gym I walk to work and back home, which means I walk on average 23 miles a week! It has been difficult getting to the gym due to work however, I am pleased to say that I have been twice this week! However, if I don’t get to go to the gym during the week, at least I’ve walked a lot of miles.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

 

Many thanks,

Clare Bear

Weighty women

Since making the decision to walk to work and back, I have become more observant of advertisements. We are bombarded with them on a daily basis: the television, radio, modes of transport, giant billboards and bus stops. When I used to catch the bus for work I would only really remember the adverts at the stops I would use, and notice when they were changed to advertise something else. I have been walking the same route as the bus more often recently as it is slightly quicker than going the more scenic route however, doing this made me think of an idea for a feminist blog.

On my most direct route to work I pass many bus stops, and in that period of 40 minutes, there are currently four advertisements for Slim Fast. Slim Fast, as you can guess by the name, offer weight loss products which, if used accordingly, means the consumer can lose body weight quickly. What made me want to write this blog is that all of these four adverts that I see every day, the same woman appears.

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And here she is…

From what it appears on the advert, this woman is of slim build. On one of the adverts, she is leaning back on what appears to be a kitchen counter, and looks relaxed. Her smile, to me, is not genuine though. It looks fake. The text in red which appears across her upper body states ‘Works for me’. This implies that if women were to use Slim Fast products, then they would achieve positive results and look like the build of the woman on the advertisement. Additionally, the other advert is titled ‘Showtime Saturday’ and the woman states ‘I’m chilled’, while she is in the process of drinking a Slim Fast milkshake. This implies that women could or should consume these fast weight loss products while they are watching television, since binge watching back to back episodes of shows on Netflix, Amazon Prime etc. with takeaways and snacks seems to be the encouraged and current norm for staying in on a weekend evening.

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She looks so chilled…

The fact that only a woman appears on these weight loss advertisements suggests that these products are aimed at women, and that it is women who should be maintaining and looking after their own body weight. It also seems timely that these Slim Fast adverts have appeared, not just because they are promoting a new range of products, but it is not long until Christmas. There is a general consensus that people gain body weight and fat over the Christmas period, since we buy each other sweet unhealthy treats and stuff our faces with endless amounts of food. The advert could be suggesting that women should aim to lose body weight quickly in the run up to Christmas, so that they are prepared for weight gain, and then of course, Slim Fast will more than likely return after the Christmas holidays and encourage women to lose the body weight that they have gained, alongside all of the gyms encouraging people to apply for a ‘much needed’ membership.

Actually, don’t most adverts promoting weight loss only include women, who appear to be so happy with the results and would recommend it to their female friends? Products with lower fat and/or sugar content always seem to be advertised by women, such as Activia and Muller light.  I cannot think of a single advertisement that has had a male promoting a weight loss product. It seems that advertisements aimed at men, in terms of their bodily health, promote muscle. By gaining muscle, men are able to gain a fit physique and be admired by women for their ‘hours of training’ at the gym. I don’t know much about the giant tubs of tablets and powder that you can buy which supposedly facilitate with muscle gain and increasing protein intake, but they always seem to be aimed at men.

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Look at all of that manly muscle!

While men are encouraged to gain to fulfil their masculinity, women are told that they should lose weight to achieve the perfect physique, such as being beach ready with a bikini body. Do you see what’s going on here? Throughout history, women have traditionally been expected to make sacrifices and are dictated on how they should behave, while men have been implicitly advised on what they can achieve, and that they don’t need to lose out on anything.

These ideals in the divide between the sexes is upheld by the world of advertising. The divide has always been an opportunity for businesses to exploit and manipulate consumers into buying certain products. A simple example is body wash products. Many shower gels, shampoos and conditioners are aimed at one sex or the other, even though they all do the same job. One thing that startled me once was when I was looking for cranberry tablets in Tesco for my dog Oscar. The first packet I picked up advertised the tablets for women! What difference could there be between cranberry tablets for men and ones for women? Why is there a need for this difference?

I could go on with many more examples of sexist advertising, but this blog has been written in order to be critical towards advertising concerning weight loss for women. The fact that I see four advertisements with the same woman is detrimental to women’s health and well-being. This statement is bold, but it probably affects many women on their daily commute to work. Many of us face enough hardships on a regular basis just because of our sex, so promoting fast weight loss so many times on one route is dangerous. We live in a world where people have become impatient, due to how quickly we can get to places, the speed of surfing the internet, the unbelievable pace of technological advancements etc etc. We want results fast, and we want them now! Weight loss fits into this as well. Losing weight quickly is unhealthy and means that you are more than likely to put it back on again. Slim Fast offers a quick solution, but not a permanent one.

I’ll admit, I have used Slim Fast products, but I didn’t follow the instructions as specified. When I changed my diet last year in January, I would drink a Slim Fast milkshake and eat a healthy snack for my lunchtime meal. To achieve optimum results, you are supposed to have two milkshakes and how ever many Slim Fast snacks throughout the day, and one low calorie meal. Since my goal is to achieve weight loss over a period of time and keep it off, I decided against the recommended usage outlined by Slim Fast and decided to use their products as a facilitator in my weight loss. Plus I was lazy about making lunch and as a student, I wanted as much sleep as possible before going to university or work. So making a milkshake was very quick and simple, and saved time.

I am glad now that I have stopped using Slim Fast products, especially since seeing the advertising. Since my aim is to lose body weight and fat and keep it off, other methods are required. While losing weight fast can feel good and people notice, it is not a healthy way to go about dieting. I’ll take the good old fashioned route because I’ll feel happier that way; I’ll be healthier in the long term.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Many thanks,

Clare Bear

New-found exercise

When I was studying my Masters and worked part-time as a note-taker, I would use the bus almost everyday of the week. It takes normally about 15 minutes to reach the city centre depending on traffic. To get to university, it was a 10 minute bus ride and then I had to walk mostly uphill for 15 minutes to reach the campus. Therefore I used to have a form of exercise in addition to the gym, as I do walk briskly when on my own.

Unfortunately, walking at a fast pace does result in feeling annoyance towards pedestrians who walk slowly, decide to stop suddenly or don’t move out of your way. These memes demonstrate how I often feel:

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While working at a pub in the city centre I used the bus, because I did not want to walk into town and then have to stand and walk around for the majority of work, especially for a long shift. I would go to the gym on days when I wasn’t working at the pub, quite often before or after working on my dissertation during the day.

I decided to ditch catching the bus on Monday to get to the university where I work as a note taker, since the nature of the work means that I am sitting down most of the time during lectures and seminars. Since Monday, I have been walking to work and back home, which takes me about 40 minutes each way. There are also a variety of ways to get to work, meaning that I do not have to walk the same way there and back. Two of the routes are in fact part of ones I use for jogging.

Walking to work has been going well so far. I have been lucky weather wise, as it has been raining while I have been working, and then it happens to stop raining when I make my way home. Despite me moaning about slow walkers, my routes to work are relatively quiet in terms of pedestrians. It is in the city centre when the above memes come into play, and when I’m rushing between lectures on campus.

Another great thing about walking is not having to wait for unreliable buses. Even though buses run every 10 minutes through my village, they are normally always late. I would always leave out early, just in case I did end up getting a bus that should’ve got me to work on time, but then it ends up turning up late.

The obvious perk for walking to work is exercise. I will fit going to the gym around my work timetable, but if I do struggle to go one week, at least I know that I am getting a form of daily exercise. According to Google maps, it is about 2.3 miles to walk from my home to work, so I’m getting around 4.6 miles of exercise each day of the week!

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Many thanks,

Clare Bear

A morning that didn’t go according to plan

Sorry it’s been a while. As many of you know, I am currently writing up a 15,000 word dissertation (I have 29 days to go until it’s due!) as well as working part-time in a pub (the hours vary so I can get anything from 10-20 hours a week!). Since writing the blog when I started jogging again, I have been to the gym twice and jogging outside twice, as well as taking my dog Oscar for a daily walk. So overall I’m not doing too badly.

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Oscar likes to sleep on my cuddly toys (yes, I still have toys)

I wasn’t sure what to write about really, but then I thought of posting something a little bit different. Just something that happened the other day, not a big deal, but I think worthy of posting about.

On Tuesday mornings at the gym I go to there is a 45 minute Zumba class. I like to go to this when I can because it is a fun way to work out, and the instructor and regular women who go are all lovely!

I had the perfect plan for Tuesday: go to Zumba, have a hot drink and a danish pastry in town for breakfast, go to work for a 12-3 shift then take Oscar for a walk when I get back home. I was going to go to Caffe Nero because I get a weekly free hot drink for being an O2 mobile customer. I thought it would be nice to relax after Zumba with a nice hot chocolate and a pain aux raisins before going to work for a short and sweet shift, but I couldn’t!

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Weekly hot chocolate at Caffe Nero

When I got to the gym, there was a sign at the entrance stating that there was no water and an engineer had been called. I tested some of the showers before starting Zumba and they were working fine. Just before we started dancing, one the ladies asked about the water situation and the instructor said that there might be some left in the tank for drinking water. I should’ve probably left at that point, but then the music started.

I wanted to stay for Zumba because I hadn’t done it for a while, and I really enjoy it. I left 10 minutes before it was supposed to finish and as I had thought earlier, there was no water at all coming out of the showers! I was covered in sweat and there are no showers at work, so I had to get the bus, all sweaty, back home to have a shower. Luckily it only takes under 10 minutes to get to the gym so I wasn’t on the for long!

I could’ve caught the bus into town and still gone to Caffe Nero, but I wouldn’t have had as much time to relax and savour a hot drink. So I had a quick bowl of bran flakes and a cup of tea at home, then headed straight to work; Oscar still went for his walk!

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Many thanks,

Clare Bear

Exercise-free month; still got the flair

A month ago today I jogged 10km non-stop in 1 hour and 11 mins. I have raised just over £300 for Cancer Research UK which is absolutely amazing; thank you to everyone for your donations so far (I’m still collecting sponsorships if anyone is interested in donating).

Since then I have not done any intense exercise; I have my reasons. After the Race for Life I went to Berlin for a mini break, and recently I got back from a week in Spain. During the time between Germany and Spain I had a lot of hours from work due to short staff while I had to work on my dissertation as well. So July was a bit of a hectic month!

Not doing intense exercise doesn’t mean I haven’t been inactive. My dog Oscar requires a daily walk, so I take him out for about 15-30 minutes depending on which route I take. I’m quite active on a daily basis and rarely have a day where I’m sitting down for the majority of the day.

However, I went for a jog this morning! I was slightly dreading it since the last time I jogged was a month ago. I only went out for a short jog (25 minutes) but it felt amazing and I didn’t struggle either. The route was one I’d been on before and has a few steep hills which I take my time on, but I didn’t need to stop and didn’t feel breathy when I finished.

So I still have the flair for jogging even after a month off. Oscar hasn’t been for a walk yet this morning, but he’s old (at a mighty age of 12) and likes to have a lie in; I’ll take him out for a walk this afternoon as a break from writing my dissertation.

I had a quick search for an exercise meme; this one tickled me!

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Happy reading and blogging!

Many thanks,

Clare Bear