Everything, except celery

I eat everything, except celery.

A little wave

So, there’s the saying, ‘not waving, but drowning’. A wave can be a funny thing; a little hello; a please can you help me; an hello I exist(!); or a somebody please grab me before I fall down a very big hole.

The thing with a wave is, while you might think you are flailing, someone might just think that you’re passing the time of day. You’re holding out your hand for someone to stop you from falling and they carry-on about their day none the wiser.

Someone is supposed to notice when you wave at them, for them not to see is to be unacknowledged, ignored, forgotten. So when you’re flailing, not waving, you think they’d notice. 

No, just carry on, day to day and everything will be okay.

I’m going to carry on waving. My tired arms will find something to grab onto soon.  

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Neglected

I’m afraid I cannot explain myself, Sir. Because I am not myself, you see?
Lewis Carroll

I’ve neglected this space. It’s a space I made to give myself a voice and to help me understand what I needed, but I neglected it. I’ve neglected myself. I think in having lost a bit of my voice I’d begun to lose the need to use it. If you don’t speak, then noone will listen, so why am I surprised that I’m not heard.

I go through periods of amazing self awareness and understanding my feelings, but I can just the same wake up one day and wonder who I am. Sometimes I am not myself, but another version of myself. It is a surreal feeling, sometimes poetic, sometimes terrifying. 

For a while I thought I’d keep a note of all the things I wanted to say, and then write a post for each, accurately chronicling the past to enable me to move forward. Fat chance. I kept the notes, but the times have gone, I’m not the same person who had those experiences so how could I recapture the person I was when I first experienced them.

I may yet recount some of the marathon running and crazy distance walking, but in the mean-time I’m back in real time.

And I might even have the guts to type up some poems.

As fussy as you like- Meatballs

There’s been a lot of hoo-hah in the media about the ‘meat’ content in processed foods. A lot of it has gone completely over my head. I don’t really comprehend ‘convenience’ food. As fussy as I am about most things I am especially fussy about how food is prepared and cooked. It’s the old addage of ‘if you want something doing right, do it yourself’ – I’d rather do it myself. I don’t find it convenient to compromise on taste and quality.

With meatballs under fire in the recent press I had a craving for them. Mention a foodstuff to me a few times and I’ll want it. Well, not the meatballs they were talking about, but ‘my’ meatballs. Quick, simple, cheap and wholesome. You can add to the recipe and make it your own, but for starters, all you’ll need is:

1 Small Onion
500g Lean Minced Beef
Salt & Pepper for seasoning.
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
Your choice of pasta

Chop the onion in half. Finely dice the first half and pop in a mixing bowl. Slice the second half into strips and add to a large oven proof dish.
To the mixing bowl, add the mince and some salt and pepper to season.
Using a firm spoon, work the onion into the mince until the mince breaks down and starts to stick together. Avoid over working the mince, the more of a paste it becomes, the denser your meatballs will be. Ideally the mix should just and so hold together when pressed firmly.
Now for the sticky bit! Get your hands in the bowl and roll your mince and onion mixture into around 20 balls of the same size (five per person to serve four people).
Lay out your perfect little meatballs in the oven proof dish on top of the sliced onions and pop in a preheated oven on a high heat (around 200c) for 10 minutes.
After the meatballs have been in the oven for 10 minutes and have just started to brown on top, take them out of the oven, pour over the tinned tomatoes and return to the oven for a further 15 minutes.
During this time, cook some pasta of your choosing (I like spaghetti with meatballs) and voila! A quick and hearty meal with no added blah blah blah.

This is the recipe at its most basic but…
Love garlic? Add 3 cloves of crushed garlic to your mince mixture and some sliced garlic to the onions in the oven dish.
Like it herby? Add some dried basil and/or oregano to the mince mixture and some fresh basil to the tomato sauce.
Like it spicy? Add some ceyenne pepper and/or paprika to the mince mixture and a chopped chilli to the tomato sauce.
Love your veg? Roast some peppers, mushrooms and courgette and mix in to your tomato sauce.

Basically, you can be as fussy as you like with this recipe; play around with it, you’re not going to break it!

Nutty Cookies

One of my go-to biscuit recipes is for Golden Oatie Cookies, a recipe from the Coupar Angus Abbey Cookbook, a collection of housewives’ favourite recipes that was typed up by my Great Aunty Anna many years ago. I used to bake these biscuits for charity cake sales when I was at junior school and then again in my teens when I was feeling low. Handing out biscuits at school always made me feel better about myself and the baking of them was very theraputic.

When I’m down I like to bake, but sometimes baking an old recipe can bring up old feelings so rather than stick to my tried and tested recipe I thought about adapting it and turning them into Nutty Cookies. If they’ve got nuts in them I can say they’re health food yes? I’m over the moon that, with a few tweaks to the original recipe, the biscuits turned out brilliantly and were a great success so I thought I’d share the recipe with you…

3oz Butter, 1oz Peanut Butter, 4oz Caster Sugar, 3oz Porridge Oats, 1oz Chopped Mixed Nuts, 3oz Wholemeal Flour, 1tsp Baking Powder, 1tbsp Golden Syrup

Cream together the butter, peanut butter and caster sugar until fully combined and fluffy.
Mix in the syrup and then add the oats, nuts, flour and baking powder.
The mixture should be slightly tacky and hold together when pressed, if not, add a sprinkling of water.
Roll the mixture into individual balls (around 20) and lay out on a baking tray, leaving plenty of room around each ball (you might need to do two batches as they will flatten and spread during cooking).
Pop them in a preheated moderate oven (around 180c) for 10-15 minutes.
Remove the biscuits from the oven while they are still squidgy in the middle.
Allow to cool on the baking tray for a little while and then transfer to a cooling rack as soon as they are firm enough.

If you’re anything like me, the lure of warm biscuits means that not all of them will make it to the cooling rack!

(Cumbria) Way to go Kat!

For over a year I’ve had it in my head that I wanted to walk the first leg of The Cumbria Way. I live in Ulverston, the start point, and I couldn’t see why I’d never thought of doing it before. Yeah, sure, it’s over 14 miles – that’s probably one of the reasons! So, I had it in my head that I’d walk to Coniston, have a pint, and get the bus home again.

When I voiced this to friends a while ago, they thought I was mad. My husband helpfully jeered that 14 miles is a long way to go for a pint when we have perfectly good beer here in Ulverston. But the more people built it up as a crazy thing to do, the more I wanted to do it. It became a mission. Then I broke my foot and it was put on the back burner.

I’m in training for the Keswick to Barrow walk and I need to get my mileage up before I undertake the massive task of 40 miles in one day. Doing the Keswick to Barrow is one of my 13 in 13 goals and I’m hoping to raise as much as I can for our local Mountain Rescue Teams. What better way to train than to use what I have on my doorstep and undertake this classic route, I thought.

Yesterday I did it. Way to go me! Mission accomplished.
Here’re the stats…

20130424-235516.jpg The mileage is a little more than I expected, but I did it, and I feel great for having done so (apart from the sunburn. More on that later!)

We’ve had some interesting weather recently. Late dumps of snow, torrential rain and gale force winds have been a hinderance in planning walks and runs. Monday was dismal. It’s not like it was even raining, the air and everything it touched was just wet. I had Tuesday and Wednesday off work so I had two days to choose from when planning my mission. Tuesday morning came around and it looked quite bright so I thought hey, just do it!

I popped a sandwich, apples, home-made biscuits, an energy bar and a chocolate milkshake in my bag; filled up a couple of waterbottles; tucked my waterproofs in the bottom of the bag; and double checked I had my map, compass, bivvy bag and head torch (always best to be prepared). Then I donned my new walking trousers, a long vest, long sleeved dry-fit top and my softshell, although bright, it still seemed quite cold. Ready to set off, I dithered around the kitchen for a while, fuelling up on coffee and porridge until I could put it off no longer and off I set.

The route starts on some well trodden ground for me, it’s part of a route I run quite often. I’d decided before setting off that I’d stick to the official route, rather than taking any of the other myriad of footpaths that would take me in the same direction. It was on the first bit of ascent that I began to wonder why I hadn’t just taken the easier low-level path. I wasn’t even a mile into the walk and I was burning up. I just felt so hot and bothered. Then I remembered the big yellow ball in the sky, and the fact that we’re approaching the end of April, it was actually a warm, sunny Spring day, not something we’ve been used to of late. Onwards, and on the path leading out of Old Hall Farm, I stopped to take off my long-sleeved top but opted to keep on my softshell for a bit of wind protection and to have my iPod easily tucked into the pocket (I don’t normally walk with music but I wasn’t sure if I was ready to spend so much time with just my thoughts). I rolled up my sleeves and on I continued.

The Cumbria Way is a great route for seeing the lesser known parts of the county. By that I mean it is a glimpse into the lives of local residents. Quite literally. Before I’d left the boundary of Ulverston I’d walked through a couple of people’s gardens. No, not by mistake, the footpath actually goes through some very well tended gardens and over the pristine patios of some very nice houses. There’s something in me that always feels a bit naughty when I take these paths, it’s like I’m not supposed to be there, but at the same time the voyeur in me loves having a nosy at the lives of others.

Up and out of Ulverston, and into Osmotherly I traipsed through fields of ewes and lambs, keeping to boundary lines as much as possible so as not to disturb them if I could help it. Walking alongside one wall I saw a victim of the recent bad weather. We had some bad snow drifts a few weeks ago. They trapped a great deal of livestock as they tried to shelter from the weather. A decomposing sheep is an odd thing to see. The carcass had been picked away, leaving only a skeleton on a pile of wool. A stark reminder of how harsh the weather can be for even the hardiest of animals.

Down the road and crossing over to Broughton Beck I saw a road sign, ‘Ulverston 2miles’, My Garmin was showing 4miles and I felt a bit disheartened that my sticking to the official route was adding extra miles and I was worried that I should be saving myself for further down the line if ever I were to complete my mission. It was at this time that a cyclist stopped beside me. ‘You look like you might know where you’re going,’ he said.
‘Yes, I do, and I have a map if not.’ He asked for directions for Coniston and I showed him the way on my map, giving him visual pointers for the way, including the sneaky cut through that goes past what I call the Brain Tree (it’s a tree that looks like a brain). He didn’t look like a seasoned cyclist- no helmet, wearing surfer shorts and a crisp white t-shirt. And I couldn’t help noticing what looked like an axe handle sticking out the top of his school style backpack. I asked what he was up to in Coniston and he said he was off to do a bit of walking and trekking. Oh well, I thought, fair play to him, making the most of this lovely sunny day and I bid him adieu, hoping I hadn’t directed an axe murderer to his next victim.

The route up from Broughton Beck was a bit boring, not much to report: a few horses, flocks of sheep, some friendly cows. When I reached Gawthwaite, I have to admit, I was a bit down-trodden. Gawthwaite doesn’t seem that far away when I drive past it and I had been going for nearly 7 miles. Then I saw it, climbing up on the dirt road, I got my first proper view of the Coniston Fells. Bathed in sunlight with shadowy textures showing the full extent of the impressive mountain range, this view gave me a bit of pep to continue on, even with knowing that I had lots more ascent to come. I fuelled up on my home-made Choc-nut-oatie biscuits, ready for the next section.

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Passing through farms, up and down windy roads, I hadn’t seen another soul for a long time, but all the while I was walking over fresh boot prints – I was on somebody’s tail, and I wondered if I might catch up with them. A mile or so up from Tottlebank Wood, and on the way to Beacon Tarn, I caught sight of a wide brimmed hat atop a walker with a full pack, clutching a copy of the Wainwright guidebook. I was gaining on them quite quickly so I said hello well in advance so as not to startle them too much. The walker was a lovely lady from Melbourne, on a six week walking holiday in the UK. We chatted for a little while, and she explained that she was also doing The Cumbria Way, but only going as far as Torver today. I suggested she go to The Wilsons for food and she was very happy that I’d said so, because that’s where she was booked in to stay. I said cheerio, and off I continued.

I love Beacon Tarn. I often go up there for a picnic and a swim when the weather is good. With it being so much higher than Coniston it is always less crowded, but it is deeper too, so it takes a lot longer to warm up. While it was a nice sunny day, it will be a fair few weeks before I’d go for a dip! I relieved my pack of my ham and cheese sandwiches and fuelled up for the next section.The path beyond Beacon is my least favourite part. Bog. I really detest walking through bog. It is just so tiring on the legs. We’ve had a lot of rain so any dry patches to bounce from were few and far between. But I kept it steady and didn’t fall in so that’s an achievement (for me anyway).

I tootled along, legs tired after over 12 miles and the recent boggy navigation. Then I slipped. Seeing the main road, and knowing I’d come down off the path one turning too early, I lost my footing and slipped on the saturated ground. No worry, I was surprised it was as late as nearly 13 miles that I fell over (I’m really clumsy). A bit peeved that I’d gone a bit off course, I walked the little bit of road up from Sunny Bank to the turn off for Torver Woods and the lakeshore.

I very nearly thought of just dropping down into Torver, having a pint, ending my walk and getting the bus from there. The weather had become a bit muggy and my legs were tired. To get down to Torver I would’ve done 14 miles, that was the aim for the day. No! The mission was to walk from Ulverston to Coniston on The Cumbria Way!

So I continued. Scoffing my 9Bar as I went, I navigated the fallen beech trees, victims of last week’s winds. I’ve walked along the shore of Coniston a few times, but never after having already walked for 14 miles. It suddenly seemed a bit more technical! It was short-lived. I was soon on the well-made path that leads all the way into Coniston.

I did it, it was a bit longer than I expected but after 17 miles, five and a half hours in my own company and with over an hour to spare before the last bus, I settled down with a well deserved pint.

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So, the sunburn… Yup, I hadn’t put any cream on my arms. As a result, now when I cross my arms I resemble a slice of battenburg cake, a red and white checked pattern!

If you’d like to sponsor me for the Keswick to Barrow walk and help me raise vital funds for our Mountain Rescue Teams then please do head on over to the Keswick to Barrow site and search for Kathryn Kelly, or view my profile here.

Garbage Soup, and other wonders…

‘Oh it’s leftovers for lunch again’ my Granny will often say.

Fine by me! When everything is home cooked, lovingly prepared and, well, just darn right tasty, leftovers are a veritable feast!

She’d often make what she calls ‘Garbage Soup’, a soup made up of everything in the veg rack, the odds and ends that the more wasteful among us would just throw away.

When I was living on my own I’d make myself a huge roast dinner, and live off it for days, a few days of roast dinner, then bubble and squeak and then some garbage soup with the odds and ends that were left over. Simple, cheap and tasty – it would feed me for the most part of a week.

Waste not, want not!

I was making sausage and mash the other day. We rarely have mash, usually opting for potatoes with the skin on, but sometimes it’s just a mash kimd of day. As I was peeling the spuds I began thinking about garbage soup but I didn’t have much else in. Then I wondered about crisps. You know, the lovely artisan ones that have the skin still on. So I wondered about making crispy potato skin crisps.

I popped the peelings into the steamer and whacked them into the microwave for a few mins, just to soften them. Then I laid them out and removed any excess water/starch with a clean tea-towel, squirted them with some low cal olive oil spray and bunged them in an oven on a high heat.

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Ten mins or so later- voila, crispy potato skin crisps. Husband thought I was crazy for going to so much trouble so as not to waste some potato peelings. But I nipped out for a while and when I came home most of the crisps were gone so I think they were a success!

A little challenge and the art of wallowing

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Day 17: Do you have an eating disorder?

I suppose this challenge is as much about reflection and self awareness as it is about weight-loss. When we understand our habits we are better able to change them. If we understand our self-sabotages and destructive behaviour we are better armed to make the tough decision to change our pattern of behaviour. I wouldn’t say that I have an eating disorder. I do, however, have other problems (I would never say that they are ‘disorders’) that can manifest in the way I eat.

I’ve struggled, fought, overcome, won and lost in the battle with depression and anxiety for over half my life. Sometimes this means I over-eat, sometimes it means I can’t eat. By looking at my eating habits I can recognise where my mind is and it can keep me in check to redress any impending inbalences and negative thought processes.

You’ve probably all heard the jibe about the bulimic who doesn’t throw up… I was that child. I don’t know where I got the idea but I somehow got it into my head that, after eating all the biscuits in the house, if I was sick it would make me feel better. I drank salt-water; it didn’t work. I put my fingers down my throat; it didn’t work. I tried using a toothbrush to make me gag; you guessed it, it didn’t work. So instead, I’d just over-eat and leave it at that. To some extent I still do over-eat. But now I am better armed to understand why I want to and I am able to control it.

If someone has a broken bone you wouldn’t tell them to ‘get over it’ and that the pain isn’t real. You’d give them painkillers and time to heal. In the same way, there are times where I allow myself a wallow and a tub of icecream. It’s a weird trick I play on my mind, but by giving myself permission to eat a whole tub of ice-cream I am less likely to then eat everything else in reach. By allowing the indulgence I am breaking the perpetual cycle of: binge, feel bad about bingeing, binge to feel better about feeling bad about having binged.

We are human, we feel bad sometimes, we are allowed to recognise this bad feeling and do something about it. Sometimes that thing is ice-cream, but in more recently it is a run and a slice of recovery cake.

Hit the Road Kat

So, when I started out running it was on the tracks and trails surrounding my home. The little bit of ‘road’ running I did was just to get to the trail. I never thought I’d be one to pound the pavements mile after mile. Then I broke my foot. Getting back to running, the consultant advised me to stick to flat, even surfaces. That does not fit well with trail running. So I hit the road. It’s a very different feeling. Running on the trails you are forever dipping and darting, checking your footing, gearing towards the next obstacle. It’s a great distraction activity, you can’t be thinking of much else than your running lest you miss your footing and fall flat on your face (I speak from experience of this!) Road running seems the opposite to me. At first I thought it was repetitive and draining; then I discovered it was meditative and enlightening. Before you know it you have been going for miles as you mull over life, the universe and everything.

As my marathon will be on road I thought I’d best start doing some road races. When a friend suggested the Langdale 10k I jumped at the chance – any excuse to go back to the valley. I love the place. Some find it odd that I know this, but it is literally where I was ‘created’ (on Christmas Eve, with the help of a bottle of Trinidadian rum in a staff caravan at the back of the Old Dungeon Ghyll). It will always be a kind of spiritual home for me. My Mum’s ashes are spread at the damn at the bottom of The Band. It’s where I take myself for a bit of reflection.

I’ve raced in Langdale before, a 5k trail last June. Yes, the June that there were nationwide floods. What happens to a valley when it rains a lot? It fills with water. Crossing the valley I ran through water that was knicker deep in places (it’s called a basin for a reason!). Husband joked that it would be like that for my road race this time round. I laughed it off, ‘it’s a road race, it’ll be different,’ all the while I was thinking and remembering how even the road floods in the valley when there’s been a considerable downpour.

Sunday morning came around and it had rained solidly all night. Maybe it’ll let up, I thought. Ach, well I’ve run in worse, I remembered. Onwards! Friend arrived, I packed up the car with the camping gear and we set off for the valley. Some of the fields were flooded, but not as bad as I’d seen before so I was hopeful that the campsite wouldn’t be a washout. Arriving in the valley there were only a few people around, not unusual, but a very different experience to when I’d been there to support friend doing the Half Marathon. That day we’d been lucky to get a parking space and couldn’t move for runners limbering up and supporters milling around. There were so few people this time, I wondered if the race was cancelled. We donned our waterproofs and plodded down to the race HQ to check the situation.

There were some people milling around, a mix of runners wearing traksters and windbreakers, and marshals in hefty highviz jackets sheltering from the wind (oh the wind! More on that later). Being that we few had appeared, I assumed the race was still going ahead and I asked one of the highviz people where we were starting from. A man piped up from behind me (I think he was the famous ‘Rocket Rod’ race organiser) and said that the start is ‘Down there, towards the farm. Someone’s stolen the start sign’. Or, ‘more likely, it’s blown away’ someone added later.

We tootled along towards the start point, what seemed like a random point on the little road. I left friend towards the front of the 70 or so gathered, and I took my place at the back of the pack so as not to obstruct what looked like some very serious club runners. I saw some familiar t-shirts from the trail races I’ve done and I felt hopeful, and in good company. A couple of people tried to position themselves behind me and I thought, ‘you’ll only have to pass me soon enough!’. The siren went off and away we went. Quickly. Too quickly for me. I looked at my Garmin, saw an 8, had a sharp intake of breath and slowed right down to a more comfortable (and sustainable) pace. My aim was to come in at 1:10, having managed a couple of 1:08 runs at home on comparatively flatter ground. The pack had spread right out, there were only a couple of people behind me and the lady in pink a few metres ahead of me was a good pacer to keep me going.

The course was out and back along the valley road. I’d done a recce and knew I had three hills to look forward to on the way out and one hill on the way back where I expected to have to walk. I must’ve missed the first hill on the way out as I didn’t realise how much of a beast it was until I was coming down it again on the way back.

On the way out I lost the pink lady before going into Chapel Stile, thinking that she’d gone way ahead I was a bit disheartened, but I knew there was at least one person behind me. I know it’s childish but I just didn’t want to be last. Then I heard someone behind me… It was the pink lady. ‘How did you get behind me?’ I panted with shock. She’d had to nip to the loo.

Then there were a series of shocks to the system. Having looked at the route and done a recce in the car, I was expecting to have to carry on to Elterwater, go around the common and come back again, but a Marshal was signalling me to turn right into the timeshare. Not what I expected. I tend to pick up the pace when tackling a new obstacle and this is what I did, pink lady was just a little way behind me. As I wound my way up into the complex (having a funny reminisce about saving a frog that was trying to get into the swimming pool last time I was there) suddenly there was a ‘ping’ and pink lady shouted from behind ‘You’ve dropped something!’ At the same time I felt my necklace slide down my front and I went to catch it. ‘Oh no! My wedding rings!’ I exclaimed as I saw one of them fly in front of me. I picked it up and went to turn to search for my engagement ring just as pink lady picked it up and handed it to me. ‘Thank you so much!’ I gasped, she tried to stop to see that I was okay, and I urged her to carry on, I was fine and we were running again. It all happened so quickly.

Within seconds, and with pink lady just ahead again and we came to the water station. I’d seen a sign that said to leave cups at the station, and looking ahead I couldn’t see a bucket to put them in so I stopped. I drank the water quickly, intending to get going again straight away. Then I saw the huge box of assorted jelly sweets toffees and chocolates. I actually stopped long enough to pick out a selection of purely green jelly fruits and jelly babies (I’m not picky at all!). I popped one in my mouth, clutching a handful as I went on up the hill ready to turn back on myself and back to the valley. Downhill again and processing what had just happened with almost losing my rings I kept up a good pace for me heading back into Chapel Stile, then I saw that pink lady had slowed to a walk. ‘Come on,’ I urged. ‘We’ve only one hill to go!’

Just before this big hill, I don’t know what happened. I stopped. A dead stop. Not on a hill, but a downhill section before the hill. Something must’ve been going on in my head. My legs wanted to carry on but for some reason I wasn’t letting them. It was such an odd feeling. I looked at my watch and I was acres ahead of what I’d expected. It bucked me up and I was able to carry on. Now, this was the hill where I expected to walk, but I rounded the corner and thought, ‘Roar! Lets go for it’. I saw the daunting task ahead. Then a gust of wind pushed me from behind and propelled me onwards and upwards. I almost made it to the top, my breathing felt laboured and I rounded the corner losing the windpower I’d had. I walked. But as soon as I saw the crest I set off again, winding back towards the valley letting the descent take me onwards and thinking to myself, how on earth did I manage to get up this on the way out!

I was nearly there. I saw the marquee and then The Band at the head of the valley that leads up to Bowfell and I thought of my mum and how proud she’d be. There was just one little bit of hill so I thought I’d walk it and then go all out for the last descent. As the crest approached I ran again over the top, saw the finishline, and then the wind hit me. Rushing down the valley towards me it was with such force I felt I couldn’t take in any air. The wind had indeed winded me! I put my head down and tried to take small breaths to alleviate the breathlessness. There were a few people at the end and I charged towards them with all I had.

Wow! What a feeling! I came in at 1:05:33 by my watch. A whole 3mins faster than my 10k route at home, where I haven’t walked, stopped, lost my wedding rings or been picky about which colour sweets I’ll choose. At this rate I think I might even manage a sub 60 for the Manchester 10k next month. Watch this space…

And the award goes to…

Me!

I’m over the moon. I’ve been nominated, and accepted a Liebster Award.

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Thank you so much to Deeper Breaths for the nomination.
It is such a lovely award to receive. Honouring blogs with smaller followings it’s a bit of a chain award but it gives a ‘high five’ to fellow bloggers.

I’m a little sketchy as to how it works but as far as I can see, once nominated I then write a post about it, thank my nominator (I know that’s not a real word, but it should be), nominate 5 blogs I follow with less than 200 followers, let my nominees know by commenting on their blog, and then tell you a little bit more about me. Handily, I’ve been able to use the same questions that Deeper Breaths has answered.

How long have you been blogging?
About 6 months
What’s your biggest blogging challenge?
Keeping it up to date. I seem to store it up and then pour it out all in one go!
If you could change one thing about your community what would it be and why?
I really like where I live, there is a definite sense of community. I’m involved with events and activities and I’ve helped change them to adapt with the times. I’d like to bring back more community funding to support our lovely little town in continuing the good work that people do.
Favorite month, why?
September. Not only is it my Birthday but it’s that lovely month associated with extra long Summers and the turning of the seasons into Autumn. I love shuffling through the leaves. ‘Forever Autumn’ is one of my favourite songs.
What word/phrase do you use most often?
‘Good grief’ I don’t know… Haha, yup, it’s ‘good grief’. Maybe I don’t use it that much but I didn’t know I even said it until a friend pointed it out and now I hear myself every time I say it.
Best moment of 2013, so far?
Completed my first ever road race, 10k in 1:05. Good times!
Road trip or flying?
Road trip; they’re spontaneous, fun and can turn into anything.
Where’s one place in the world you want to visit?
Fiji – I have wanted to go since I read that you can stand in today and tomorrow at the same time (over the date line).
What is your favorite band/musician?
Oooh, this is a hard one. I have really varied music tastes, from Folk to Rock. For a general all round, all types of mood listen, I usually pick something from The Beautiful South.
What is the nicest thing anyone ever said to you?
Wow, it’s actually hard to think of this one. I think we all too often forget the good and hold on to the bad. I once recieved a comment card in a feedback box where I worked, saying I looked ‘very very good’ and that I should be ‘lavished with compliments’ – that was nice! I’ve also been told that my energy brightens the room and makes everything better. I like that 🙂
If your friends and acquaintances were willing to bluntly tell you what they really think of you, would you want them to? Why or why not.
I think they would; I hope they would. I don’t need to be molly-coddled, I’d rather know where I stand. Say what you see.

So, here are my nominations…

From Snickers to Marathon
Back of the Pack Plodder
Running behind the scenes of moaning
SMILF cooks
Mind Over Matter

Check them out. If you’ve liked my posts then I think you’ll like them too – a varied mix of running, walking, cooking and thinking – just like me.

Until next time, cheerio, and thank you for reading!

A little challenge and a long catch-up

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Ooops, I’ve left this for a fair few days, please forgive the extra-long post!

Day 5: Why do you really want to lose this weight? Are you doing it for you?

The first time I (sensibly) thought about losing weight and joined a group to support me I was losing the weight because I thought I could do with dropping a few lbs. Little did I know I was nearly 15st and I was firmly in the obese category for my height. It was a bit of a health shock and I thought I definitely needed to drop the weight to be healthier all round. Purely through diet and cutting out the junk I dropped a couple of stones over the Summer between my first and second years of university. I felt great, and when term came round, I moved, left my slimming group and continued to eat healthily but the treats and excesses began to creep back so over the course of two years about a stone crept back on. I was happy at that weight but alway knew I could be just that bit lighter. Losing weight has never been about other people, it’s just been about how happy I feel in myself. I’m doing it to feel comfortable and over the years I have felt more comfortable the healthier I have been.

Day 6: Do you binge? If so, explain why you do.

In short, yes. I hate leaving things unfinished. This includes packets of biscuits, batches of muffins and even bowls of salad. ‘Waste not, want not’ is a phrase etched in my genetic code. When I plan, and have my food thought out, I can circumvent the urge to eat all the things just because they’re there. The messier my head is, the harder it is to leave food uneaten, just in case it would go to waste. I do comfort eat but if I plan this properly I can comfort eat healthy things in moderate portions. If I don’t plan and the need to comfort myself with food sneaks up on me then I’ll eat and eat. I’ve not been unknown to make myself sick from just eating too much. I don’t have an off switch!

Day 7: Do your parents know you’re trying to lose weight? Do they care?

What an odd question. Okay, maybe not odd for most, but I don’t have parents in the conventional sense. My mum died nearly nine years ago and I don’t have any contact with my father. My inlaws know, I’ve not asked if they care, but they’ve been lovely in making little ajustments when I go around for dinner. Little things like making a salad to have with my starter so I won’t gorge on bread and pate.

Day 8: Your workout routine

This varies week to week, depending on the weather and for what I’m training. In years gone by, my workout routine was nil – walks when I could fit them in and then not a lot else save the odd yoga class here and there. In recent history I discovered running. It’s not hyperbole when I say it transformed my life. Now I run about three times a week and I’m training for a Marathon. To support my running I am doing more core exercise work for strength and keeping up yoga more regularly to help my flexibility and stability. I’ve also been walking more, rediscovering the fells from my childhood and adventuring to bag more and more peaks (quite handy that I live on the doorstop of the Lake District!). I’m also training for the Keswick to Barrow walk this May.

Day 9: Did people ever make comments about your weight in a negative way?

Yes. I was the fat kid at school. I would walk through town and be followed by a girl saying ‘beep beep, wide load’. My surname was Ford and my nickname was ‘Fat Ford Fiesta’ or ‘chocolate muffin’ (still not sure how that one came about). School was not a fun time.

Day 10: What was the hardest thing you gave up during this ‘weight loss’?

My teal velvet trousers. Haha, I should explain. I haven’t given up any type of food, it’s all about control and moderation. If I have a treat one day then I can’t have it the next. The only thing I’ve given up is the inches, which has meant that some of my favourite clothes no longer fit. It was hard to give up my teal trousers, but when they nearly fell down while I was running a workshop with young people I thought it was best I move on (or never be employed again!).

Day 11: Your favourite thinspo blog and why!

Hmm, not really sure about this. I read blogs by others about their weight-loss journey but each journey is so individual to that person. It’s the training blogs I find more inspirational. The Guardian Running Blog has been great for keeping me motivated and the comments are wonderful for following the journeys of others, whether they are in it for weight loss or not.

Day 12: What do you normally eat?

Everything, except celery! As the title of my blog indicates, I eat everything with the exception of celery, which I can’t stand. I eat a very varied diet, nothing is off limits, I just try to moderate it, which, when I stick to plan really works. While I really like cheese, it plays havoc with my digestive system and makes me very stinky so I have to time when I have it! I love fruit and veg which is helpful, and I’ve always been a bit wary of processed foods which is also a good mindset when trying to lose the pounds. Cooking from scratch means I know what is going into my body and in what quantities. I’m also a big advocate of keeping a food diary, only when you are aware of what you’re eating you can control and tailor it to your goals. Here’s a run down of a typical day in my diet:
Breakfast – porridge (cooked without milk) with cinnamon, poured over chopped apple.
Lunch- baked potato with beans and cheese.
Dinner- home-made bolognase (made with plenty of veg and lean mince) with wholewheat pasta.
Snacks- yoghurt, fresh pineapple, pop-corn (popped without fat).

Day 13: Are you losing weight in a healthy or unhealthy way?

As if anyone sets out to lose in an ‘unhealthy way’. We all think ‘our way’ is the healthy way. I’m no exception. I’m taking it slow and steady, not banning foods, keeping my diet varied, eating plenty of whole foods, fruit and veg, and taking regular exercise. I’d say that’s a pretty healthy way of doing it!

Day 14: What’s your UGW? When do you expect to achieve it?

Well, as my aim is to be a ‘healthy weight’ for my BMI, the most I should weigh is 11st4lb. I’ve set my target as 11st (because I like a round number). Although, I’ll have to see when I get there whether that is the right weight for me. At 12st now, I’m already a size 12 (which I haven’t been since I was age 12!) so I’m not sure how losing another stone is going to affect me and whether or not when I get there I might find that 10st7lb might be a good weight for me (right in the middle of the healthy BMI range for my height). As for when I expect to achieve it… I’d hoped to be there by the end of this month but that’s not going to happen! I think the end of May is a more reasonable target but we’ll see how it goes. As I’ve said before, I’m taking it slow and steady.

Day 15: Are you vegan or vegetarian? If so, has this helped you to lose weight? If not, would you ever consider turning vegan or vegetarian?

Nope. I’m a meat eater. Nope I wouldn’t ‘turn’ vegan or vegetarian. (This makes it sound like some sort of religious conversion!). I like meat, and I like to know where my meat comes from. I’m lucky where I live. I can walk down the lane and see happy pigs forraging in the fields. I can then go to the market and buy lovely sausages and cuts of pork from a local butcher. If I didn’t buy from these local traders then I wouldn’t get to see the happy pigs. On a local scale I support the farming and eating of meat. On a global scale I understand that the conversion of energy from feed into meat creates a defecit of energy and a shortage of food; but perhaps we all need to start thinking locally and responsibly and this energy defecit would deplete naturally over time. I’m not going to solve Third World hunger by forgoing a bacon sandwich but I can have an impact on my local economy, landscape and legacy by choosing responsibly when I shop. Maybe I’m kidding myself, but hey, it might just be a case of picking the battles you can win and doing what little I can.

Day 16: When did you first decide to lose weight?

As I’ve said (above) it was when I was between first and second year of university that I began my weight-loss journey. Before then I wanted to lose weight but never really knew how to go about it healthily so I just didn’t. I’d cut back the excesses occasionally when my clothes were a bit tight but there was no plan, no goal, and so, no outcome. Now I have the plan, the goal, and very importantly, the support, and I’m seeing the results.

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