FitBits - fitness for fun and wellbeing: July 2014


Sunday, 27 July 2014

Beasty clean eating breakfast ideas

If you follow me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, you'll know that I'm a sucker for a beasty breakfast and a healthy lunch/dinner, spending far too long sharing pics of my food and overusing annoying hashtags such as #eatclean, #cleaneating, or #healthybreakfast.

Breakfast is coming meme

I'm by no means perfect and don't eat clean all the time - red wine, chocolate and pizza make frequent appearances in my weekly diet, usually on a Friday night after a long week at work, and on the weekend we tend to eat out for lunch a lot.

But, I try to live by an 80/20 rule - eat well 80% of the time, and have whatever the feck I want for the remaining 20%. If that 20% is filled with wine and chocolate and dirty pub burgers, then so be it! After all, what's the point in doing all this exercise if we can't have a little of what we really want sometimes?

But, when I'm 'being good', I like to try new things and put a bit of effort in. A bit of pre-planning goes a long way so I thought I'd share some of my favourite quick and easy healthy recipes starting with; Beasty Breakfasts.

I don't know about you but I wake up starving every morning - why not make the first and most important meal of the day a good one? :) 

Egg & veg breakfast muffins 

Egg & veg breakfast muffins low carb

These are so versatile and easy to make, and taste delicious, whatever you put in - you just have to give these a try. It's a case of chuck it all in and bake, so you can let them cook while you're faffing about in the shower or getting your work stuff ready in the morning. Or, you could cook them the night before and reheat them or have them on toast the next day. BOSH.  

I've blogged the full recipe here, fill yer boots! 

Protein pancakes 

Banana protein pancakes healthy clean eating

Who said pancakes are just for pancake day? No one. Ever. These badboys do take a little prep and effort but are ready in about 10-15mins if you're organised. They're so bloody tasty too, I love topping mine with banana and cinnamon, or blueberries and raspberries, but you can basically do whatever you want. 

For the full recipe step this way

Egg & banana protein smoothie

This is great for a quick breakfast on the go, a post workout refuel or an afternoon snack to keep your energy levels topped up. 

If you get the fruit balance right it tastes marvellous and is surprisingly filling. 

- 2x eggs 
- 1x banana
- Handful of blueberries or raspberries (be generous as this is where the flavour comes from)
- 1x large spoon or two of Total Greek Yoghurt 
- Almond milk 
- Dash of cinnamon  
- Couple of ice cubes 

1) Crack eggs, chop banana, chuck the rest in a blender or a container to hand blend 
2) Blend for your life (I've got a hand blender and mix it in a protein shaker as it's nice and big)
3) Enjoy! 

EGGGGSSSS (and other stuff) to put on toast

We all know the mighty protein power of the humble egg - but having eggs for breakfast doesn't have to be boring. Not that eggs are boring, however. Is there anything better than the perfectly timed runny boiled egg and soldiers?

And when it comes to toast I'm totally and utterly in love with Vogel's bread. I got introduced to it by a lovely Brighton nutritionist who knows her stuff - she said once I try it I won't want to go back to normal bread - and she was right. 

It's got such a dense, nutty, oaty flavour with no emulsifiers, artificial preservatives or raising agents. It's totally filling and wholesome and full of goodness, you *have* to try it.

Vogel's bread - eat clean

Anyway, enough about the bread, what are we putting on top? EGGGGSSS. And other stuff. 

Poached eggs & bacon (OK so bacon not totally 'clean' but errmagahhd baaacoonnn)

Bacon and eggs on Vogel's toast

Poached eggs, tomato, ham and rocket, drizzled in olive oil 

Poached eggs - healthy clean breakfast ideas and recipes


I love a good omelette - another 'throw-it-all-in' kinda breakfast that's quick and easy to make. The other day a clean eating plan I was loosely following suggested an apple omelette. Sounds weird, right? Don't knock it 'til you've tried it - I was pleasantly surprised! 

Full recipe (and others from the plan) here.

Apple omelette - healthy, clean breakfast ideas and recipes

Here's another omelette I had a couple of weeks ago, with sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, shallots, spring onions and tomatoes. Basically I just threw in whatever I had in the fridge, sprinkled a teeny bit of parmesan over it and destroyed it in less than two minutes. 

Omelette - healthy, clean breakfast ideas and recipes

Eggs, asparagus, ham and mushrooms

Who needs toast when you've got EVERYTHING ELSE?

Avocado & tomato with ground black pepper

Let's not forget the good old avocado for a dose of healthy fats. Spread it over your Vogel toast instead of butter or margarine and add sliced tomatoes on top.

Avocado on Vogel's toast - healthy, clean breakfast ideas and recipes

Blackberry & blueberry parfait 

This was another beauty from the Buzzfeed clean eating plan and OMG it was UH-MAZING.  Like a little helping of breakfast sundae whipped up in a matter of seconds.

Blackberry & yoghurt parfait - healthy, clean breakfast ideas and recipes

- A few generous tbsp of Greek Yoghurt
- Handful of blackberries, roughly chopped
- Handful of blueberries
- 2tbsp roughly chopped almonds
- 2tbsp ground flaxseeds

Mix everything together in a jar, layer more berries and almonds in between and on top, and sprinkle with flaxseeds. Simple. As. That.

Good old oats

I hereby swear, for as long as we may live, (and run), we shall never forget the humble porridge oat. There are about 10million ways to have your oats in le morn, but these are two of my favourites:

Oats with almond milk, blueberries, crushed almonds and honey

I don't even need to tell you why this is good. It just is. Go do it. Now. Go on! Works just as well with bananas btw. NOM. 

Overnight oats 

A very recently discovered bowl of pure joy. Why the hell did no one tell me about this before?! Ooh it's so thick and creamy and filling and YUM. *happy face*

Note to self: maybe put a bit more almond milk in next time as they were a teeny bit too thick

- Porridge oats
- Unsweetened almond milk 
- Blueberries
- Greek yoghurt
- Honey
- Blackberries 

- Mix the lot together
- Leave it overnight in the fridge 
- Top with blackberries 

Overnight oats - healthy, clean breakfast ideas and recipes

And there you have it 

So there you go - no more excuses about not having time or not having any ideas for filling and healthy breakfasts. I wake up excited about breakfast every day and really enjoy trying new things out and finding new favourite recipes.

Next up: Sexy lunches. Hold tight for a bit though as I'm 27 days away from getting married so my 'over the next few days I'll be sharing' might be 'whenever I can get a break from wedding admin'.


Do you eat breakfast regularly? What are your favourite healthy (or not) breakfast recipes? I'd love to find some more. 

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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Learning to swim: the final chapter?

<-- Learning to swim parts 1 & 2

Last week I had my last swimming lesson. When I joined the 12 week course on 19th May, with nine lessons left to go, I had big ideas of coming out the other end being good enough to sign up for a triathlon. After all, nine weeks to train for a race - it's a bit tight but it's not impossible, right?

If it was a run or a cycle ride I was training for, it would be fine. I know how to do both of those things. But with swimming, I was starting from scratch, with an added fear of deep water and a general hatred/intolerance for water going up my nose. And the whole not-being-able-to-breathe-under-water thing was most inconvenient.

My lessons have been brilliant, only five or six of us maximum each week, doing a variety of drills, strokes and endurance work. We've done lots of tumble turns, hand turns, deep entry dives (which proper scared me at first but I love them now), working with pull buoys, kick boards, 'dumbbells' and one lesson we played with flippers - OH MY GOD DID I FLY!

Learning to swim: flippers & dumbbells
It took four weeks and LOTS of flappy, frustrating and sometimes brilliant practice to finally swim a full length front crawl. If I have a bit of a break I can turn around and come back down again, just about. But it has to be a good 20-30 second break to get my breath back, and I can't always make it.

A work in progress

My technique isn't that great and not very efficient - sometimes I feel like I'm gliding through the water really effortlessly, and when I slow it down and concentrate on my arm entry and breathing I'm not too bad. But others I'm a flappy, spluttering mess, unable to make it to the other side of the pool without stopping.

When it goes wrong I find myself gasping for air towards the last few metres - big, ugly 'I'm-drowning-here' gasps of air. God knows what I sound like to other swimmers. I think I go too fast and get tired too quickly, so run out of breath and panic.

I asked my instructor to film me so I can see what I look like and find out what to work on. Here's what nine lessons (only three of which focussed on front crawl, mind) and lots of practice produces:

As you can see, it's a bit messy, with way too many strokes,  I can only breathe on one side (tried it on the left and promptly sank), and I need to work on my arm entry. If you can spot anything else that needs work please let me know! Despite my poor technique, my confidence is up, I'm no longer (OK, mostly not) scared of deep water, and I know it's just a case of practice makes perfect. There will be no triathlon this season, but that's OK because I can work towards one for next year. There's no point signing up for one if I'm not ready, I want to do it well.

Round 2...

The next course of lessons starts again in September which will lead quite nicely into training for Brighton Marathon again (unfinished business) and will be great low impact cross training. I'm gonna continue to swim alongside training for the Barns Green Half over the summer, and hopefully build a better base of running for the winter and have the swimming as a constant to keep fitness levels up.

I've loved the challenge of learning something new and am really pleased with my progress, I just need to work on technique and stamina now, the only way is up.

If anyone's got any tips or observations from my video please do share, I'm all ears! Also, if you're learning to swim or are thinking about it, let me know, I love talking strokes! 


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Sunday, 13 July 2014

Getting back on it (again!)

Wow. Another couple of weeks without writing - and not because I didn't want to but mainly because I've been mega busy and physically couldn't write. I also had nothing really to say anyway apart from 'ouch'/waaaaaaah/FML etc.

After my debut kayak river trip a couple of weeks ago I gave myself some lovely tendonitis in my right forearm, which was really not convenient and promptly put a stop to me going to the gym, cycling and swimming. It started off as a dull ache just after the trip but with each work day got worse until I couldn't type, write or lift at all with my right arm.
I thought it'd go away so whacked on a wrist support, slathered on the ibuprofen gel and tried to only use my left arm to work with - which was excruciatingly slow and infuriating. Have you ever tried to use a computer without your dominant hand? Your body goes into total spaz mode and doesn't do anything your brain tells it to.

After a few days of being in pain and getting angry, storming out to walk round the block to calm down the pain eventually lessened and now it's (thankfully) completely gone, so I can get back on the proper workouts. And stop comfort eating.

Sucker for structure

There's a lot going on in the land of Tess at the moment - it's six weeks until my wedding day so lunch breaks, evenings, weekends and regular night-sweats are currently consumed with hog roast planning, marquee decoration, car park logistics, toilet hire, registrar negotiations, ceremony planning, meeting this, email that, phone call after phone call after phone call.

Wedding brain meme

It's also really busy at work and this coupled with a wonky arm and not much exercise has put me in a right stress the past couple of weeks. Trying to fit in some exercise and a social life whilst trying not to have a breakdown about the monumental amounts of money that are due this month is quite a task and my training and eating has been far from consistent.

Throw in a weekend at a festival, another at a wedding reception with a free bar and a few more getting friendly with a nice bottle (or few) of red and you've got another couple of reasons why training has taken a back seat recently.  It's been lots of fun though, a nice relief from being on the go during working hours.

Love Supreme Festival 2014
It actually really hurt to hold that bottle but there was a task in hand!

I can't really combine drinking and training, for me, it has to be one or the other. I like to be in control and the only way to do that is with planning.

Getting back on the wagon

So, it's a new week tomorrow, my arm is working again and I've done all the food shopping, meal planning and most of the food prep for the week ahead. To give me a kick start I'm starting this clean eating detox which actually looks really doable and after that I'll hopefully be back on track to eat clean and train well in the lead up to our big day.

I've spent the afternoon cooking quinoa, peeling asparagus (faff no.1), boiling eggs, grounding linseed (faff no.2) and generally being the don of food prep.

Not that I'm doing it to 'slim into my dress' or anything, I'm doing it to get back on a healthy, happy level where I'm not riding a rollercoaster of undulating energy levels throughout the day. When I eat well my concentration levels, focus and energy are at a constant high. I sleep better, train better and feel better.

Training for the Barns Green Half in September has started and it's great to have a purpose with running again. I'm such a sucker for a structured plan and with six weeks until Wedfest it's the perfect time to stop faffing about and get back on it.

The only person making me feel shit has been me and it stops now!

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Do you love to follow a training or eating plan? What do you think about detoxes as a kick start to getting back on the wagon? 
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