Turning the big 3-0.

Last week I turned the BIG 3-0. In the run up I was telling everyone I knew that I was pretending that it wasn’t happening and it was all a big misunderstanding. How was I turning 30? When did that even happen? It’s true, I was born on the 24th April back in the late 80’s at 5.30am in the morning – and I’ve been an early bird ever since then. In my 30 years on this planet, I thought it was time to get back on track with the blog and give some insight in what I think are the key things I’ve learnt whilst I’ve been here:

  1. You have to believe in yourself.

You can have all of the friends and family in the world who will tell you how awesome you are but in the end of the day, you really need to believe in yourself. And I’m saying this as someone who still doesn’t believe in herself most of the time. It’s a long journey to get there but loving who you are and believing in the choices that you make are such a HUGE thing to learn.

  1. You won’t know what you want to do with your life.

And I still don’t. This goes for your career, where you’re going to live and the other endless decisions that you make from whether you save up for that once-in-a-lifetime holiday or go on 5 mini breaks. The decisions are going to be relentless, and the older you get, the bigger the decision you need to make and it’s OK to get some of them wrong. The ones you think you get wrong or sometimes the ones that are totally right! I’m a big believer in what will be will be, and when you make a certain decision to do something – there is probably a reason why.

  1. Value quality over quantity.

Now this just doesn’t apply to your material items but as a starter for ten, that is something that I’m getting better at. Yes, I now buy more things from Marks and Spencers and John Lewis rather than Primark because I know that by spending that extra £15 is going to make the difference.

This also applies to the people in your life. You will have friends who were friends for a reason in your life at that time – this could be work mates who you spent 40 hours in the week and then stopped working there, and it just went completely cold, it could be the uni mates that you lived with for 3 years and now never speak to – it’s fine. I now choose the people who I spend time with who I have genuine relationships with and not just the people who I was once mates with at one point, and trying to make a friendship that doesn’t need to be there.

  1. Don’t settle when it comes to your heart.

This is a biggie. A real biggie. Don’t settle peeps. We have ALL been in relationships that make SO much sense at the time but really were you that happy? I took a chance on a relationship that was very broken at the time but I knew in my gut and in my heart, that it was the right decision. We are now very happily together 4 (and a bit) years later and getting married next year but it wasn’t an easy decision to make, but it was one worth fighting for. Love should feel easy but you sometimes need to overcome some obstacles to get there and when you finally get there, I promise you that it’s totally worth it.

  1. Make sure you love what you do at work.

You spend however many hours a week at work, doing work things, whatever that may be. All I say is love and feel passionate about what you do – you’re going to be doing it for a really bloody long time. Also, if you decide to change careers, that is also absolutely fine! You don’t have to be our grandparents that chose a career and worked for the same company for 50 years – if you want to expand your opportunities then do it.

 

All I’m saying here is that these are the things I’ve learnt and how my perception of the world has changed. I may not be right but I’m fine about that but I’ve stopped being scared of my 30’s but have decided to embrace them as a new exciting chapter of my life!

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Two Wedding Shows, One Day

I’m in full on countdown to the wedding now. I love wedding planning. I know that some people find the whole process the most stressful thing in the world but I genuinely am enjoying every single second. We gave ourselves a load of time because, due to our jobs and lives, we are very busy people and I didn’t want to rush anything and I wanted to enjoy the stuff we did do! Well, I wouldn’t dare drag The Boy around a wedding show simply because he would spend the entire time going “Do you need to look at another head piece? Are you sure they’re not all the same?” and that isn’t what it’s about – instead, you drag your Maid of Honour and one of your Bridesmaids round!

Earlier in the year, I decided that I wanted to go to the National Wedding Show – as I think the UK’s largest wedding show – there was nothing that I wouldn’t see and I wanted to tick off some thoughts in my head. The major thing for me is what I’m going to wear in my hair as I haven’t got a clue if I want something big, small or even nothing at all?! Also, I wanted to look for some more inspiration for our invites as we don’t have set colours, I wanted to seek inspiration.

And there is always need the need for bubbles.

Whilst planning to attend that, I saw that Etsy were also doing a wedding fair at West Elms off Tottenham Court Road on the same weekend. And there it was – wedding day out planned!

 

Etsy Wedding Fair @ West Elms

Honestly – I had no idea what to expect really as I knew West Elms was a very beautiful furniture shop but the Etsy theme really worked well within this setting. And this is where we started. Me and the Bride Squad are HUGE fans of Etsy so having the opportunity to speak to some of the creators of these beautiful products was fantastic. I would say there are a few highlights for me:

The Letter Loft

Jodie is the owner and creator who had a wide range of beautifully wired cake toppers, amongst some other pieces on her stand. I was really in love with these but since I’ve got home, The Boy isn’t as much of a fan which is a massive shame. Saying that though, if there was anything that could be made for a hen party *AHEM Maid of Honour* then I’d LOVE IT! Also, the main picture of this blog is something she created so it’s definitely on my wish list – maybe I could persuade The Boy?!

Lucy Says I Do

I spent some time speaking to Lucy about what we were looking for and she was inspired. She had such a wide range of beautiful designs including everything from maps for Tuscan fantasy weddings to slightly more formal events but I really loved the feel. I have to say the big thing I loved about Lucy’s designs was Lucy herself! She really listened to what we were looking for and she has gone on my list of people to talk to further about what we are trying to achieve. I would highly recommend her.

Wedding in a Teacup

One thing I’m looking for is things that don’t aren’t the norm really. I want our wedding to feel like us and in some ways, a bit more quirky! (I’m sure every single bride says that though right?!) The one thing I really liked was their seed packets. Our wedding reception is in a field on a farm and I’m looking for lots of English meadow flowers to be included on the tables and my bouquet so it seemed very apt. It’s great to get these types of inspiration!

 

The National Wedding Show @ Olympia

I wasn’t sure what to expect to be honest. Well, I was and I wasn’t. You go to these massive shows and there is the opportunity to source so much inspiration but also get a shed load of freebies that get thrown at you as you walk away that sometimes you don’t even know where to start.

There was A LOT. And there was a LOT of bridal dresses and something I wanted to bring up. I get it, you can get absolutely amazing deals at these shows and it is one way to find a dress at a fraction of the cost of those that you get in a boutique but man alive, it felt so impersonal. There are women coming out of fabric dressing rooms into the walkway wearing dresses costing £1,000 whilst everyone looks on asking their family and friends what they think. It wasn’t to my personal taste and it felt such a shame that women would leave not having the moment I feel I had in the boutique where I bought my dress. I don’t think you need to buy it full price (saying that, mine was) but I also don’t think buying it in amongst several thousand people is particularly ideal either.

The key things I would say I took away from the show:

  • I still have no idea what I’m going to put in my hair – there was A LOT of bling and sparkle at the ones at the show and I just don’t think I found the one thing that fit me perfectly and what I’m looking for
  • I found LOADS of inspiration on things like décor, favours and colours.
  • I found a lovely lady that I want to talk to more about our wedding rings – a major part of getting married!
  • I got some details on suit companies to feed into The Boy

In terms of individual suppliers, I don’t think you have the chance in that kind of environment to really spend time talking to the owners as much as I would have liked due to the fact that there is so many people there. Also, if like me, you’re still working through the details of what you want for your wedding, many of the suppliers are looking for people who are going to book then and there and put deposits down – something I just didn’t like.

Overall

Spending the day with my girls was absolutely incredible, and I loved it. They were both so on board all day talking about things and figuring out what I wanted to do and look at. I couldn’t ask for more supportive sisters! You definitely get your steps in from all of the walking so I think that made up for the waffles I had at lunch time and the numerous bubbles I drank throughout the day.

In terms of what I got from the day – in the end, it was all about the inspiration and ideas. I got some great ideas but I doubt I’ll go to any more shows like the National Wedding Show. They do a job but in the end of the day, you end up seeing so many similar stands all selling really similar things that actually it all becomes a bit wallpaper and you really can’t see what is there.

On the other hand, if Etsy was going to do something similar, I would be there in a heartbeat. It was a long way to go for what wasn’t a massively huge event but luckily we had booked other things in around it but if they decided to do a bigger version and maybe take over some more of the shops throughout Tottenham Court Road or took over Portobello Market for a day then it would be incredible.

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Losing Weight and Being a Feminist

There is so much talk around at the moment on what being a feminist means – I’m a huge feminist because I believe in the rights of every single woman out there, and more importantly have the belief that women should support women. There are so many incidents, and I have been victim to these in the past, where women feel the need to beat down and shut down other women because they feel that it’s the only way to get ahead in life. It’s not. Saying that, I’ve worked with some absolutely incredible women and men who have been so supportive of a young woman building her career and her confidence that I feel that I need to support those around me – whatever that dream may be.

Now, with this comes a lot of conversation of women loving themselves for who they are and not changing. I totally agree inherently that women should feel empowered and confident in who they are as a person and no matter what size or shape they come in. And there’s me losing weight – how does that align being a feminist? Well, I shall tell you – it’s because I want to do it. Women shouldn’t be made to feel bad about wanting to lose weight, be healthier and changing their lifestyle. I’m not sitting here saying that I want to look like a certain celebrity, I’m not doing some fad diet where I drink cayenne pepper and maple syrup in water for two weeks to drop the weight and I’m not punishing myself in the gym for four hours a day to get the body I want. I like to think of it as balance.

Yes, I am following Slimming World. Yes, that comes with some rules and restrictions that some people think don’t work like, why aren’t avocados a free food? And why are you allowed to eat as many potatoes as you like? But in the end of the day, it’s what I am choosing to follow and I am losing the weight with it. I also will admit that I am far from perfect in following the plan – I love chocolate. You are allowed chocolate within your syns but I also like wine and there are days when just a huge glass of red wine is the only thing that will suffice after a momumentally shit day at work. But you make it work and you pull back the next day. I think what I love about the plan is that it’s helped me become far more balanced in my approach to food and generally my lifestyle.

I am slimming for The Dress. Yes, I tried to lose weight before I got engaged and it never seemed to stick but knowing that you will be photographed within an inch of your life by your entire wedding party is enough to make sure you want to feel your best. I am a curvy girl and I LOVE my curves. I have a rather large rack and I also have a  decent enough bum – this DOES NOT MEAN I want to lose those things, I just want to enhance them. I “found” recently that I have a waist – WHO KNEW?! I’ve spent most of my life going straight up and down with my buddha belly sticking out the front. Through losing weight and exercising, my waist has decided to make an appearance and if I’m honest, it feels bloody amazing.

I am a feminist. I am proud of it. I love women. I love watching women who embody empowerment and confidence – idols include Michelle Obama and Adele (yes, I’m a huge fangirl). But I want to feel more confident and for me, I will feel that way through losing weight and embracing the new shape that I’ve been finding. Women are awesome and I have some absolutely incredible girlfriends who have been there every single step of the way. I’d also like to point out that men are pretty awesome too – I have incredible male friends, and The Boy, who are constant supporters of me and who inspire me every day to just go to the next step. Enjoy your bodies whether you’re in the process of changing them or just embracing whatever size you are. You are pretty awesome.

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Overcoming Obstacles – Running my first ever 10k

Firstly, blogging has taken a bit of a back seat as I *just* couldn’t find the right things to talk about – I just lost my blogging mojo. Saying that, yesterday gave the inspiration I was looking for and more.

To put it into context for those that don’t know me particularly well, I’ve never been a runner and before about 18 months ago, I was never really someone that enjoyed exercise. And this is where I’ve spent the past 18 months really changing that and more than anything, it’s been a mindset change. And that is THE most difficult thing to do – you can do the exercising, you can eat healthy when your body and willpower is pushing back and going “Give me the crap!” so loudly but it’s the willpower to say no.

18 months ago, I started PTing with my friend Kat and in one of my early sessions, she told me that I would be running an increasing number of pitch lengths throughout the session starting with two. The fear I had was unbelievable. I got through the session and had no idea how I did because I was genuinely scared of running – whether that’s a predisposed fear that I’d had from a younger me who had had failed and seen so many people around succeed, that I just couldn’t do it. Kat’s pushed me to do more cardio and has in no way focused on my running but I decided it was something that I really needed to overcome. Running was free, it was easy to do when the gym wasn’t open and more importantly, it is one of the best forms of cardio that you can do!

I have a group of uni girls that I talk to incessantly every day from what we’re eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner to what is the latest beauty product that we’ve been trying and they were talking about using one of the many couch to 5k/10k running apps. I thought if those girls were doing it, why didn’t I give it a try? And to give me an even bigger incentive, I decided to sign up to a 10k to give myself to work towards and here comes where I signed up for the Cancer Research London Winter Run. Running 10km throughout the City of London and back down into Trafalgar Square and finishing off in Whitehall. Couldn’t be that bad, could it?!

I’ve got a big personal reason for raising money for Cancer Research as breast cancer is a disease that has plagued my family for generations and any money that I can raise to find a cure is my way of helping.

Training had been going well, slowly at times due to work, but it was going well. I had been nailing a good 5km in the gym on a weekly basis and I’d been trying to get out onto the roads at least once a week as well. I was still keeping up with my PT sessions and bootcamps so I was making sure my stamina was building all of the time. The week of the race came and I planned an almost 8km run in my local area which I was going to do the moment I got home from work. Driving home and the predictable happened – it started to rain. In the back of my mind, I was like “BUT IT’S RAINING” – Nope, I was manning the f*ck up and getting on with it. That night, I ran the longest I’ve ever run (with the odd walking bit) at a total of 7.2km (simply because I’m a numpty and kinda misjudged my route from what I’d planned.)

Sunday morning came and if I’m honest, I was REALLY nervous. More nervous than I’ve been about doing any of the challenges I’ve ever done before really. The nerves did get the better of me and AJ did say it was one of the quietest I’ve ever been! I met up with my uni friend Jen who is a seasoned race runner and as we walked to the start line, she gave me some pointers on how she gets herself all ready to go. She is a speedy one and we knew we wouldn’t run together but it was really lovely to know she was out there on the course as well. And then off we went…

I found it a little strange to get into my own pace to start off with other people at such different speeds around you but I realised quite quickly that you just need to get into your own little zone and then work from that. I got to 5km and was surprised at how quickly that seemed to have gone round and then all of a sudden I was at 6km! Everyone mentioned at the end how nice it was to run around some iconic landmarks – it’s at this point, with being in my own little zone up until about 9km mark, I could have been anywhere. It was 9km when it all changed.

I sent my other half a message saying that I was at 9km and he was “Keep going!!!” and that put a HUGE smile on my face and then the atmosphere changed. The last km was lined with so many supporters for everyone just clapping and cheering you on. You couldn’t help but smile back at everyone and just feel elated that you were getting to the finish line. Running downhill was also a pleasant change but seeing my sister, The Boy and my sister’s boyfriend standing there screaming made it all really real. It felt amazing to cross that finish line and just know that you’ve done something that you never thought you would do.

I did in 1hr 16mins – quicker than I thought I’d do it! I had said that I wanted to get sub 1hr 20 and I hit it! WOOHOO! Saying that, talking to my friend Jen who I did it with says that the adrenalin and the endorphins from doing it make you just want to sign up for more – and the medals always help as a reminder. And she was right, I’m already planning the next one to do – hello June 18th!

 

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Meal Planning & Prepping

Last year, one thing I was awful at doing was meal planning and prepping, especially in December. It got to the stage where I’d be buying what we were having for dinner on the way home from work or giving up and just going out somewhere locally because there was absolutely no planning involved. Not only is this not great for your health buying last minute food which is heavily processed or cooked in a vat of oil, it’s really not great for your bank balance either.

So I’ve embraced the new year and got down to it, I’ve pulled out of all of my healthy cookbooks and tagged ALL of the recipes that I love and made sure that either they made me surprise myself or gave me something to work towards in terms of taking myself out of my comfort zone. I’ve bought myself a book that helps me keep track of everything that I’m eating/shoving in my mouth that includes a weekly meal planner.

Here are some of the products/tips I would have for helping you to get meal prep ready:

  1. Time

And this is SO important but you need to carve out some time in your week to dedicate to this. Whether you need to review recipes that you’ve saved on your phone, go through anything you’ve tagged in your recipe books or just do a bit of a Google search. You need to give yourself some time to figure out what you’re going to eat throughout the week so that when you hit the shops, you’ve got everything you need. I’ve found over the past couple of weeks that I’m actually getting the cupboards to look a bit clearer by the end of the week by using up stuff rather than shoving more stuff in there!

Check out what you have already in the cupboard – I seem to have a thing for tomatoes and have managed to hoard 5 tubes of tomato puree for some reason….. So it’s good to know NOT to put that on the list! Also, it means that you can actually give the cupboards a bit of a clear out and use up stuff before it goes off.

  1. Inspiration

This is a big thing to help you in task one of finding time is stuff that actually inspires you! I’ve become a bit of a book fanatic in the past 6 months – I love reading a recipe and pouring over books to find things I love and that I don’t. Some of the things below that I’d loved recently include:

The woman is a social media power house who has recently become a Adidas ambassador and generally is pretty wicked. I’ve followed her for probably just over a year and I love her approach to life and this kind of lifestyle. Her book is EPIC and doesn’t just include recipes but the main bulk is helping you choose how to train which is so vital for those that can’t afford a personal trainer but want some guidance on how best to do stuff.

This is a GREAT book BURSTING full of delicious recipes that can be tweaked upon what diet plan you’re following. There is an incredible Bombay Chicken recipe that just knocks my socks off every time I make it and is a firm favourite in our house.

I know that he has become a bit like marmite to some people and he isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but his recipes are absolutely brilliant. They are so simple but most importantly, I love that the majority of them are for either one or two people! His demographic are a lot younger and looking for something to make for themselves rather than ‘Serves 4’ which is a standard. They are also so easy and most of them can get done in 5 minutes!

  1. Meal Planner Diary or Tracker

Once you’ve made that plan, staying on track is SO much easier. Write that list down, figure out what you need to do all the recipes and make a shopping list. There are so many options out there on the market but I use anything from the wonderful Fox and Moon – she’s a one woman band so sometimes she’s overwhelmed with orders but her stuff is beautiful, handbag handy and non-offensive if you decide to whip it out at work or finishing up lunch with the girls.

The main thing is find something that you will use. There is no point unless you write it all down.

  1. Cooking time

More time. Sorry, I should have flagged this – meal prep takes time in advance but I promise makes things quicker in the long run. Sunday afternoon is my meal cooking time. This week I made a huge frittata which I’ve cut up into slices to eat with a little side salad on a daily basis. Not difficult but you just need to find that time to dedicate to it. Once it’s in, box it up and TA-DAH!

  1. TIME TO BASK IN THE GLORY

Honestly, you feel quite smug and epic once it’s all done. And then it’s a case of it becoming a habit. I’m sure there is a stat that tells you exactly how many weeks it takes to get you to do something enough for it to become a habit and I think it’s 4 weeks?! Whatever the stats say, the more you do it, the better and the easier it will get.

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2017 – Some Thoughts

We are now three days into 2017 and the post-holiday bliss is disappearing as fast as it appeared. It took me a good few days to allow myself to just chill out a little bit at the end of last year and when I’m finally getting into a routine of spending the days between family, friends, attached to the sofa and just general mooching and now I’m back into the routine of work. And I’ve missed a little bit of a routine – I’m a Taurus, we like to plan and we love to organise. With the routine has come my desire to have a little bit more of a plan for the year for things I want to achieve.

Some of these things are REALLY boring – sorting out our house is a big one. We have lots of stuff. And to be fair, it’s mainly me that brings in most of the stuff but it’s still stuff. We need to sort out our bedroom that is currently a mismatch of borrowed furniture when we moved into our house which is now three years ag – long enough to get our sh*t sorted. But saying all of that, I LOVE our house, it really is our home. The stuff makes it ours and the lack of matching furniture also makes it ours but maybe it just needs to be a bit more…. ordered.

As the clocks struck midnight at our friend’s beautiful wedding at a riverside hotel in Richmond, that next year we are getting married. Next year. And breathe. We have been saving and we have a savings plan for this year which isn’t a problem but man alive, it really hit us that we are getting married NEXT year! The one thing that hit me is that my very gorgeous wedding dress has been placed on hold and is waiting for me to go in in August to go and have my measurements done. It’s real, I think because when I ordered my dress, none of my measurements were done but now I have a countdown of 35 weeks until I need to go in and have someone measure me up for my ACTUAL dress.

My weight loss journey hasn’t been easy but if I manage to lose 1 pound a week between now and then, I would have lost 2.5 stone and if I manage to lose on average 2 pounds, then it would be 5 stone. 5 stone?! How crazy is that. So I am committing to myself that I am going to stick to plan as much as possible and it does feature a number of weddings between then and now, hen weekends, 30th birthdays galore but you never know – I may be where I want to be by the time I go and try my dress back on and feel like I’ve really achieved something!

Apart from the wedding which is a massive part of my life at the moment, I do want to be a better ‘girl’. I said this last year, and I’m probably to say it every year but I’m a bit rubbish at looking after myself. I should give myself manis and pedis more often, I should look after my skin better (and this is something I definitely need to better and I want to seriously change!) and find better clothes to suit me. The issue with losing weight is that you never want to buy a load of clothes until you have got to your target but I’m going to try and buy better basics as I go along.

The list could go on and on but I think the main focus for me this year is get my body to where I want it to be to feel the best I can in my wedding dress and get saving! Would love to know what you guys are working towards J

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2016: What a year it’s been

I was talking to a friend yesterday and we were talking about 2016 in light of all of the horrible passings of so many great individuals this year, reflecting on our own lives and what has happened. I’ve seen personal loss this year and it was heart breaking to watch the people around you dealing with grief but to place a positive spin on this post – there has so much that has happened to be celebrated.

It’s been one hell of a year and there are a few things that I haven’t achieved that I said I would do at the beginning of the year but there are things that I haven’t expected to do. It’s been a year of surprises, some good and some bad but I honestly think it’s one where I’ve possibly learnt the most about myself.

I love fitness. It’s true.

I started this blog to talk about my fitness escapades and I think this year has probably been my fittest I’ve ever had. I was never really one to get involved with sports at school, I went to uni and avoided the gym but got dragged along to spinning classes with a friend but this year, it’s all just clicked.

People who follow me on social will know that a lot of that has been down to my PT and friend Kat who has badgered me through session after session. You realise that when your body starts to change shape, you push yourself harder than you ever have and actually when you feel like you can’t do it anymore but you do it more! I’ve found out that I love fitness – the adrenaline and the feeling of achievement is so incredible but you never understand it until you do it.

Food is still my personal enemy. 

Fitness felt like the huge hurdle I overcame in 2016 but I feel food is my hurdle I need to overcome in 2017. I am a sugar addict, I love the finer things in life when it comes to food like BUTTER – but that is NOT going to help me feel better about myself. Through eating better, and all of the fitness, I have lost weight and my body shape has changed but I want to do more.

In late October, I started at a local Slimming World group and honestly, it has changed my perspective. I think the SW plan works as well for me as it doesn’t really inhibit any foods but keeps my chocolate eating in check!  I have signed up for 12 weeks so watch this space but I will be covering more and more SW friendly recipes and goodies on my blog.

I’m only getting bloody married. 

On 1st July this year, my bloody amazing boyfriend at the time asked me to be his wife. Shock was an understatement – practically everyone in my family knew all about it apart from me. We’ve spent time planning, writing guest lists and everything in-between but it’s been wonderful to get the planning underway.

I also have bought a dress. The dress. It’s bloody amazing. BUT I don’t want to feel average on my wedding day – I want to feel incredible. So the focus around losing weight and getting fit is about getting ready for that big day which will be photographed and will sit on my mantelpiece for the rest of my life. I want to feel no regret that I didn’t do all I could do to feel my best.

Enjoy your work. You spend most of your life doing it. 

I moved jobs this year to do something that suited me much more than what I was previously doing. I work with big brand names, I work with some frigging incredible peeps and as much as some of the days I want to tear my hair out (isn’t that everyone at work!?) the days where I don’t outweigh the bad.

One thing I say is find something you love – it is so important.

2017 – bring it on. 

That pretty much sums it up. I’m embracing 2017 with a year that has taught me so much about myself. I’m more confident and defined about who I am as a person.

 

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Gluten Free Christmas

I’ve been gluten free for nearly five years now and to be honest, the past 18 months have been a game changer in the amount of incredible gluten free products that have been hitting the supermarket shelves. Last year was the first year where I didn’t end up pulling my hair out, and didn’t stress out every single one of my friends and family members because I wasn’t a complete nightmare to feed. Supermarkets are constantly upping their game in being able to support those of us with intolerances and this is my round up of what I feel, is the best stuff available on the market today.

Best Party Food

If you’re looking for the best canapes and party food, just hit M&S. There isn’t a ‘gluten-free’ friendly section to just aim for, but SO much of their party food range is gluten-free friendly that you can find something to please everyone. I’m a huge fan of a pig-in-blanket and M&S sausages have always been a firm favourite! They are also the only brand I know that have do a gluten-free mini toad in the hole – I served these last year to my family and not one of them could guess that they weren’t just the normal versions. They keep adding to their selections and with the offer for 3 for 2 across their entire range, you will find something to fit the bill.

ms-party-food
Image from Marks & Spencer

 

Best Buffet Food 

You’ve got canapes above but a great one for the whole family when you’ve got a buffet is a good quiche or tart. Now, normally these are completely out of bounds for us with intolerances but the guys over at Too Good To Be Gluten Free have come up trumps. I’ve reviewed these guys before but I can not rave about them any more if I tried. They previously had only done individual sized pies and tarts but with the new branding earlier this year came brand new sizes – they now do family sized. This is fab news for those of us who don’t want to look like the little weirdo in the corner that can only eat certain things. If you’re quick and order before Thursday, you can buy online and get it before Christmas – otherwise Sainsbury’s now stock a HUGE range of theirs so you can always rely on them.

The individual pies range from around £1.50 with the family sized versions from £3.50 – really reasonable!

tgtbegf
Image from Too Good To Be Gluten Free

Best Puddings

I have the world’s biggest sweet tooth, I can’t help it. So pudding is serious business to me! And there is where one supermarket seems to come out on top with introducing some new contenders to my favourite list this year – HELLO CHOCOLATE YULE LOG! And for Tesco, these are not expensive and really reasonable. The one thing I’d say about the yule log is that it says it serves 6…. now, that is pretty much a lie as I think me and my other half could probably eat it between us in one sitting if we wanted to. Not that we’ve tried yet….

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Image from Tesco

Special mention

Now, I’ve always felt very very jealous of everyone enjoying these festive themed sandwiches and M&S go and NAIL it. A Turkey Feast sandwich featuring turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and much more – dare I need to say more? Thank you M&S. Thank you. It’s a thing of beauty.

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Hello!

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Sometimes life just gets in the way doesn’t it? That’s what been happening with me. Thought I’d get you back up to speed.

Work

What we all have to do to make the money to pay the rent and THAT has gone insane. I am not ready for Christmas at all, I feel like I’ve booked in friends as much as I can but even then, I can’t find time to do everything I want to do! I love my job but one thing I need to do next year is not try and take my work home with me – and that’s difficult.

I’m sure you’ve all felt the same thing at one time and another but it’s just been a BIG rush in the run up to Christmas. And I’m not quite sure I’ve ever felt this ready to have a bit of time off – bring on the weeks off!

Exercise

I’ve been ploughing on with my exercise plan – I train twice a week doing bootcamps, still doing my weekly PT session and since I’ve also started running! I’ve planned to do a 10k at the beginning of February which I’m not sure that I’m not the best prepared for it but I think I’ll be alright if I keep ploughing on.

The one thing I have realised is that if I don’t exercise then I feel bloody dreadful – keeping it up is making me feel sane.

Diet

I’ve been doing Slimming World now for about 7 weeks and I’ve managed to lose 8.5lbs in that time! I’ve actually been enjoying following the plan – I’m finding it easy to follow and despite having so much going on with work and family in the recent weeks, it’s a plan that will help me stay on track as much as possible over the festive period.

I’m going to be doing some longer posts on each of these topics but thought I’d do a quick recap!

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Change of Mindset

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I really began my exercise journey almost two years ago when I started doing bootcamps after being persuaded by my other half to give them a go. I vividly remember that first bootcamp when I came home and thought I was going to vomit. I was enjoying my one bootcamp a week, and then six months later I decided to take on PT. And then I started two bootcamps a week. I now do three solid hours a week of planned exercise and in the past month, I’ve started doing two to three regular runs a week with the desire to run a 10k in February.

My life and my attitude to exercise has done a complete 180 in the past 12-18 months.

Last week I was having “one of those weeks” – we’ve all been there for whatever reason. Nothing was going right, I was in a real hump about everything and basically exercise was the last thing I wanted to do. I didn’t run, I wasn’t able to get to one of my bootcamp sessions due to working late and my food planning kinda went out of the window. I only put on half a pound at Slimming World but it really affected me.

This week, I’ve put my big girl pants on and cracked on with life. I’ve put my food planning head back on, I’ve got my running plan back into action and I’ve gone to both bootcamps and worked my little booty off! I woke up this morning and I feel so much better about everything. My body feels in tune again, my mind feels clearer and I feel like I can go and attack the day in a way I just struggled with last week.

Exercise is a difficult habit to get used to, but once it’s part of your everyday life, it just feels so strange when you don’t do it. Your body craves it, your mind needs it and if I’m honest, I think exercise has helped not only my body in its shape and ability to do things I never thought was possible but it’s also my mind.

My mental health hasn’t actually been in this good shape for a long time – I’ve always been lacking in self-confidence, my self-esteem has always been very low and generally felt like I put on a front to smile and get on with it. Since giving myself some much needed TLC – that’s changed massively. I’m more confident in who I am as a person and I feel more capable in managing what comes at me.

Changing your lifestyle has partially being about losing the weight and looking at a different girl in the mirror but it’s been just as important and changing my mind space and feeling far more confident in the girl who’s in my head.

 

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