Whilst everybody have not only finished their New Years resolutions last week but already abandoned some of them, I have only now finalized mine.
Thinking now, it looks like I am standing on an opposite spectrum of typical New Years resolutions of eating less and losing weight. I feel like I had enough of reading about all the detoxes and losing weight and clean-eating and guilt-free eating and on and on. This year will be filled with things to try out and eat more of, not to cut out and eat less of.
My 10 New Years resolutions for a tasty 2017
(as usual, in no particular order)
Learn about Japanese cuisine – meaning, cook at least 3 recipes from my Wagamama cookbook
Learn to do Hollandaise sauce and organize brunch at home (runny yolks and homemade mimosas!)
Drink more (and learn more about) red wine
Eat at Duck & Waffle (London)
Have some pizza at Roberta’s (when visiting New York)
Have a bagel in New York
Have food from a street food truck in New York
Eat at Nopi (London)
Try out at least 3 completely new to me cheeses
Try truffle for the first time
This list was supposed to also include breakfast in the Shard and trying out lobster for the first time, but I managed to tick these two off already in the first week of January (!!!). What a start, I’m well impressed by myself.
Have a tasty New Year, everybody! Life is too short to eat bland food!
Most of the people I know today wear a fitness tracker/activity band or at least have some sort of a pedometer in their phones. I am too a firm believer in the benefits of light and consistent physical activity such as walking.
Currently (since March) I myself own a Garmin Vivoactive sports watch (with which I am IN LOVE WITH) but before that I also had a Fitbit activity tracker as well to make sure that I am getting enough steps in a day.
(There is something utterly satisfying about hitting the daily step goal, I am not going to deny it.)
So, how much did then I walk in 2016? (Mar-Dec)
Total: 3,878,088 steps (March – December)
I can distinguish two trends in my step-count for 2016:
March – June has been a particularly ‘steppy’ period pushing above 500,000 steps in some months. That’s an average of more than 16k steps a day! Way to go girl! This is partly due to my training for a Marathon in May.
There is a massive drop in steps in September which can be explained (not justified though) by the big move to London to start my new job (you know, all the networking events). The step count started increasing since October (and kept so until December) as I was adapting to my new job (literally just going less to the networking events) and the new lifestyle (no Peak District nearby).
This is not bad at all, not bad at all you may say. And I agree. I have not yet reached my pre-London levels of walking and I am still working towards that. Personally, I feel my healthiest when I get at least 12k steps in a day – this is something I am aiming at in 2017.
My health should always be a priority no matter how many events there are to attend!
Honestly, I am pleased with 2016. It’s been a very challenging year but I tackled all the crap obstacles with a brave face and proved myself I can do many more things than what I think (even add gifs to a blog post or use emojis when texting).
WHAT WENT WELL IN 2016?
I ran a MARATHON! I am proud and grateful for such an amazing strong body and probably did boast about running the race a bit too much (thank you for my extremely patient friends)
I started a new job. As awkward as I naturally am, I still managed to make a few new friends!
I moved to London (for the career). FYI London is scary, expensive and overwhelming (I have once paid £5 for a pint of FOSTERS)
I braced myself to try new things – learn programming, do taekwondo. Programming is much easier when you think – at least you don’t have to interact with anybody or apologize 50 times when you kick them too hard.
I improved my table-tennis skills. This came down all to my 70 year old coach/friend who, being long retired, has all the time in the world to play table tennis on Sunday mornings. And of course me, who has such a non-existent social life, that can play table tennis on Sunday mornings hangover-free
I ate less meat and focused mostly on vegetables
I did NOT go on any diet at all last year and focused on eating guilt-free
There’s plenty of what could have gone better but I’ll keep those for myself to reflect on. Now, it’s time to set the priorities for the next year!
I find that asking somebody ‘What do you eat?’ often produces a counter-intuitive answer of what one does not eat. Somehow, eating habits in so-called Western world are better defined by a lack of certain foods or food groups in your diet and not an abundance. The list of ‘no-no’ foods also changes constantly: gluten, grains, sugar, flour, meat, dairy, carbs, fat, [insert the current dietary hype]. In all fairness, asking ‘what do you not eat?’ would make much more sense (should keep that in mind).
Historically, different cultures defined their diet on a basis of inclusion, for example, Italians eat a lot of pasta, pizza, hearty stews; Easter Europeans – potatoes, pickled vegetables; Scandinavians – herring, berries, and mushrooms (among everything else). Foods and dishes were also closely tied to other traditions and meant different things on different occasions.
However, Westerners (meaning mostly Americans and British) seem to be going the other way around. They no longer define their diet by what they actually do eat but rather by what they don’t. A newly found ingredient is no longer added to the diet but, more often, removed.
‘Yeah, but is there something wrong with this?’ You may ask.
Well, I think there is. Focusing on elimination breeds the diet-like mentality. It creates this illusion of some foods being ‘good’ or ‘bad’. At the same time it also focuses mostly on the ‘bad’ foods (understandably, as elimination alone requires so much effort and will power). It creates anxiousness around social gatherings both for an organizer and for the attendees. It also fosters quarrel on the internet (I guess, real life as well), but not the one which leads to new ideas and findings. The one which makes you angry at each other without any solution in mind.
Let’s try focusing on what we eat or should be eating more of rather than what to exclude from your diet.
On 29th of May I officially finished my very first marathon – Liverpool Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon 2016. To tick-off the main item from my bucket list this year took me merely half a year to prepare for and 4.39h to run (it also took me only 2 months to sit down and write something about it on a blog – but that’s another story).
Reflecting on my training and performance during the race, I would like to share with you…
3 Things to Keep in Mind When Training for a Marathon
Those same old tips about running a marathon on the internet exist for a reason. You will see that person who shoots in 8m/h pace for the first 5 miles only to end up in 12m/h pace for the rest of the marathon. You will see people queuing for the first porta-potties in mile 3. No matter how many articles on ‘what not to do before a marathon’ exist with the same pieces of advice, there will be people who break the ‘golden rules’. Don’t forget that those tips/rules/pieces of advice are on the internet because they work.
You will panic. Everyone finds their own thing to panic about when training for a marathon. Even 15 minutes before the start of the marathon you will probably start thinking of all the crazy things that could happen in those next few hours of your life. When training, I have panicked about, well, almost everything. I panicked about being too slow, not re-hydrating myself enough, not eating correct food, getting an injury and also experiencing runner trots during the race and my longs runs (the list could go on) Admittedly, the last one stayed throughout the whole training process and when running the marathon itself. Whilst it would be great if you can stay calm during training, it is also ok if you freak out a little bit from time to time – you are preparing for a major event for you after all!
Marathon CAN be enjoyable. I know that some people do take pride in ‘surviving’ a marathon. ‘I thought I would die’ – says a marathoner with a smug face. Well, in my opinion (and, now, experience) marathon can be enjoyable – especially your very first one. Whilst certainly it is not easy and could even be the hardest thing you have ever done, there is no reason why you have to suffer through it. If you are in so much pain during all your first marathon, it is possible thatyour training was inadequate and/or you have not listened to those same-old marathon tips all over the internet (see my first point above). Even though it was really hard, I still enjoyed my first marathon! And why shouldn’t you? No PB to break, the atmosphere is great, trained responsibly for the last half a year for this single day – don’t You deserve to enjoy the day?
As every runner I could go on and on rambling about my training or about the feelings when crossing the finish line. Why not experience it yourself? If This Girl Can , you most probably can too!
I am now 24 years and 5 months old. Only 7 months left till the finish line of my glorious 24th year.
Let’s go through some of the activities that I (hopefully) done and see how many more I still have to accomplish. My comments in italic.
25 things to do before the 25th birthday
1. Run a marathon – the single most important goal for my next year. This is thankfully going quite well
2. Finally try out one of those cool zumba-barre-other hipster fitness classes
3. Try some real truffle – not the truffle-flavoured stuff
4. Go foraging – I live at one of the greenest cities in the UK – I do not think I will get there any truffles, but hope for some raspberries and stuff
5. Build a sand castle – on a beach
6. Taste the Cloudybay Sauvignon Blanc for the first time – my dream wine is finally coming to me!
7. Visit the Peak District – I live 20mins away and haven’t been there. SHAME!
8. Make my very first meringue – and maybe even turn it into a beautiful pavlova
9. Write my 100th blog post – that’s not going to be easy especially with a computer like this. The computer issue has been fixed – it’s now only my ass to kick to write regularly left!
10. Attend a music festival – since it’s still appropriate to be dressed like that, drunk like this & dance to that. I’m thinking Tramlines
11. Have a movie all-nighter – like all.night.long, not a up to 2am all-nighter
12. Have a professional manicure – after all those years cleaning and stuff I deserve tapping my keyboard with the perfect nails
13. Do a colour-run or a run with obstacles. Need to research and book this!
14. Try yoga – yes, I said it. Maybe will not instagram my first pose as I believe it will not be as gracious as other instagram ones
15. Go to the spa – never done it as well and mama needs her massage. Hope to do this over my hols in LT
16. One day drink mimosas in the morning whilst having brunch with my best friends – I guess this one is dedicated to one person who would appreciate that the most. This is scheduled for September
17. One day wear the pajamas all day long, lay in bed and binge on tv shows – I guess this is coming after buying a new laptop as well.Walkind dead woop woop
18. Travel abroad (Lithuania does not count) – see something new! France has been booked and I cannot wait!
19. Have a 111 Heslington lane gang meet up – these are the people that are amazingly hard to put in one place.BUT MY BIRTHDAY DID IT!
20. Get into the sea or an ocean – maybe not diving (if it’s in UK) but at least have a walk or something
21. Try some new British sport – such as squash Squash has been planned for Easter Sunday!
22. Have an all night party and don’t go to sleep – yes, like we used to do! Almost did it! I know, almost does not count.
23. Organize a homemade cocktail night – and serve something besides sex on a beach (the only one I can actually make)
24. Make a photo album dedicated just to this year. Completely forgot this – need to buy the album ASAP!
We all know the reality – bucket lists get forgotten and lead to the most stressful month of the year being just before the next birthday. I am trying to focus on crossing out things in a more regular manner so as to not to let that happen. Albeit slowly, but surely, I will cross everything out.
Who thinks that February passed so quickly, it’s hard to believe it’s SPRING already?! I’m pretty sure that one of the reasons is this damn weather that has not changed since November 2015. I am lucky enough to still have motivation to go outside and do my scheduled runs (at least some of them) in these conditions.
The focus for February marathon training was stretching.
I am well-known for my eagerness to jump straight into the shower after my runs instead of taking time to stretch. But I am massively happy to scream say that I managed to stretch after every.single.month this February. This is fantastic news and I can see results in March as I still keep on stretching. Boys and girls, miracles DO happen!
You can have a look at my running schedule below (February runs marked in yellow):
I few highlights from my training in February:
Unfortunately, I got sick by the end of the first week of February. I tried to ignore the illness as much I can. Unfortunately, seems like ignoring the flue is not really the most appropriate approach and it resulted in me being off sick for almost all week and not being able to do my runs.
I have had my very first hiking experience that same weekend which was absolutely AMAZING. I love hiking! It was a great cross-training weekend and since I was still a bit ill, it was good non-strenuous exercise to do.
At the end of the month I have given myself a present – Garmin Vivoactive watch. My precious Garmin Forerunner110 took ages to catch GPS recently resulting in me getting cold outside my house waiting as well as it would run out of battery after only a few runs. It was time to say goodbye…
I am very excited for March training (good as it’s already 12th March)! I am though dreading tomorrow’s planned longest run ever I have ever done – 14 mile long run. This is definitely getting serious.
Finally, the nomination for the focus of the month of March goes to….. NUTRITION! Lately, my appetite has been growing together with the increased running mileage and I have been struggling to meet my body demands in a healthful way. AKA I ate loads of chocolate.
But for March (this should in reality run until at least 12th April) I am focusing on my food intake. This is such a difficult topic when the whole Western world (certainly, my office at least) is focused on reduction whilst I will be trying to increase my meal sizes by adding more whole-grains, beans, legumes and veggies. This is to avoid snacking on useless stuff or have cravings for quick energy-fixes during the day.
Wish me luck as I start (continue) to tackle my longest runs ever!
Recently I have been browsing through the food and drink trends over the last 10 years in this fantastic info-graphic.
One particular trend – development of the vending machines which can provide you a freshly made dessert or a whole meal – has made me think about the relationship with food that society has today.
I am blessed to say I was born in a family where meals were cooked on a daily basis and my current friends and family are keen on cooking and eating ‘real food’. This is why Michael’s Pollan’s book ‘Cooked’ (and what now seems to be a whole movement) did not shock me as much. But seeing this vending machine trend develop over the recent years, made me think that I might be an exception to the rule in the Western world that we live in.
More so, there are vending machines for freshly madepizzas or burritos.
One might argue, that to address this problem, we should also have vending machines stuffed with healthy stuff (and maybe we have, I have not spotted many of those). A vending machine filled with fruits, healthy snacks or maybe even dispensing freshly made salads. Sounds like a promising idea, however, I think the problem lies in not what the vending machines have to offer for us but rather in the fact that we rely on them – not only for mindless snacking but also for main meals and desserts now as well.
This situation just makes me to agree with the Pollan even more – the relationship with us and the food we eat has changed dramatically. This relationship has a huge impact on our health, culture and even social life. The fact that we may rely on vending machines cooking us food might have a bigger impact than what they actually serve. After all, we have salads in McDonald’s as well.
I would recommend everybody to read Michael’s Pollan’s ‘Cooked’ which discusses the relationship with the food we used to have and we seem to be missing now. If you are not a vivid reader, there has been a ‘Cooked’ documentary released quite recently on Netflix (which I cannot wait to watch!).
And maybe today have a meal at the table with your partner/friends/family?
The focus for January marathon training has been performing all the workouts scheduled in.
After the month is gone I am glad to officially say that the month has been successful.
I am actually enjoying the monthly focus approach to marathon training as it makes it all easier to bear the burden of running 26.2 miles by this summer.
I have been moving the workouts around to suit the changing schedule such as unexpected Table Tennis matches and so on. Moreover, I realized that I might need 2x rest days a week instead of only one even if that sometimes has both table tennis training and a run scheduled for one day.
A few highlights from my training in January:
5 miles pace run – I have achieved the average pace that of 10.21 which seems great. However, it is impossible to run at an even pace in Sheffield – the first half of the run is always a steep hill down and the other half is a steep hill up. Despite my best intentions the pace varies hugely between first and second half of the run. I am thinking of choosing some other running path for this type of run so I could actually pace myself and make sure I run at an even pace the whole run.
9 miles long run – This has been the run in the harshest weather conditions ever. The run started in windy snow storm (as I live on a hill) and by the time I went down the hill it was raining cats and dogs. The wind gusts reached a whopping (at least for me) 20 mph. During my second lap I was also awarded a period of hail. You can image how happy I was when my run has finished.
For February I have planned to focus onstretching.
Stretching has been something I tend to neglect after my runs and can result in numerous injuries not letting me finish the marathon. At the moment, I usually stretch after longer runs and somehow ‘forget’ to after the short ones.
I pledge to stretch after every.single.run I do regardless of the duration/length/intensity of the run during the month of February.
I remember those very first posters celebrating ‘strong’ and ‘fit’ as the ‘new healthy’. I remember the sparkle in my eyes and the thought that ‘It’s finally happening!’. No skinny models, unreasonable clothing sizes, guilt for eating that treat or obsessing over your not-so-skinny thighs.
It’s a miracle!
Soon I saw the whole movement spread via pinterest, instagram, blogosphere and, recently, snapchat. I saw hashtags such as #fitspo #fitspiration #fitgirls#fitnessmovement emerge. I saw ripped abs, healthy salads and inspirational quotes wherever I scrolled. It looked like the movement really kicked in. It looked like it will finally inspire people to be the healthiest they can. Unfortunately, it does not seem to be the case.
Despite the praise for the ‘healthy’, ‘fit’, ‘strong’ bodies, seems like #fitspo pics don’t actually inspire us to be healthier but make us anxious instead. The way that skinny models within fashion magazines made us feel 10 years ago.
A study conducted by Kate Mulgrew from University of the Sunshine Coast has revealed that viewing the #fitspo type of images focusing on strong bodies produce similar results as the ones of the skinny models. More research is needed to be able to diversify the emotions more between the different groups of people viewing the images and the images per se, however, this is a good starting point in understanding of what leads to disordered eating.
It is becoming clear now that it’s not only the pics of skinny models that could lead you to eating disorders.
I would encourage everybody to go through their instagram, pinterest, snapchat and twitter feeds and unfollow the accounts that make you feel sad/angry/discouraged or anxious about yourself. I am pretty sure there are a lot of bloggers and fitness inspirations who are making you feel better and guiding you into taking better health-related decisions, however, beware of the ones that don’t.
One of the pretty realistic bloggers who is a great fitness inspiration without making you feel guilty is Charlie behind The Runner Beans. She posts both the inspiring parts of her life as well as writes about the times when she is down or unmotivated. You may want to check out her post on why she does not want a six pack.