A Canadian gal living in Britain with 3 men and a dog. Wine helps.

Created by MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Feeling Content

I haven't started a work week feeling this relaxed in a long time;  I spent the long weekend going on long walks/runs with Molly, planning and eating healthy meals and spending time with Andy and a few close friends.  We had a particularly good day yesterday that started with a two hour hike.  (We really are blessed with the surrounding country-side here.) Molly too, has had plenty of exercise and in between she and I have enjoyed ourselves by just chilling out in the back garden. Andy and I also went on a 5.5 mile bike ride; however because my gears need a few adjustments I didn't want to push it and will wait to go on a longer ride once  Alex comes over to sort it out for me. 

A feeling of contentment has been hanging around our house lately and here are few contributing factors:  

The new flower jug I bought on Friday; 
I always have fresh flowers in my dining room and it might not seem like much, but having something pretty to display them in is even better.

As mentioned previously, lots of outdoor exercise with Molly and Andy.

Watching Molly enjoy a snooze in the sun after a long trek as I savoured a good novel;  
She's such a cutie when it comes to her toys.

I've been eating healthy and combined with keeping active, I'm feeling good.

Lots of laughter - it really is good for the soul.

Music:  I've been listening to a lot of new sounds and I'm especially enjoying a female duo called First Aid Kit and a bluegrass group called Old Crow Medicine Show; listening to their song Wagon Wheel makes me want to watch O Brother Where Art Thou again, or at the very least re-download A Man of Constant Sorrow by the Soggy Bottom Boys...  Daft Punk's new tune Get Lucky is pretty good too, if your looking for something upbeat to add to your workout track. 

I'm patting myself on the back for sticking to a number of the goals I'd sent out for myself in May. (I've now cleared the goal of more than seven posts and the month isn't over yet.)
Most impressive of all (at least to Andy) is that I've been enjoying most of the above activities despite the absence of a chilled glass of white wine in my hand. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Doubling Up

Sunday turned out to be a really great day for the Race for Life.  The forecast had called for rain but it was actually quite warm with sunny breaks.  I was a bit overwhelmed at all the women, children and their supporters who were gathered on the field.  What an amazing turn out for such an emotional and important cause. I met up with a friend from the organization I work for and after a brief chat we decided to leave Molly with Andy and Connor as the course itself is rather tight and it was going to be hard enough for us to navigate the tight corners (Tracie told me there are a number of women who start out running but quickly resort to walking, causing major bottlenecks).  She was right, because although the paths down by the beach are really scenic the organizers really need to find a better venue for the race as the track isn't very suitable for the high volume of people. It was particularly lovely though to see all the crowds of people along the race track who were out to offer support and encouragement. 

I really wanted to post a picture of my race kit, but I left it over at Beryl's when I stopped by with Molly after the race on Sunday (after which we then walked the 3 miles home). I had to stop reading people's backs because I was beginning to spend a lot of time fighting back tears. I wanted to be positive and upbeat, not sad.  

My sign read: 

I run for my Mom 
my Aunty 
and I run for You 

I ran the race in just under 33 minutes. I won't be breaking any records but I felt good about it all the same.  Running with someone made it a whole lot easier that's for sure. As we came back onto the track leading to the finish line I grabbed Molly from Andy and with my shoe-lace undone, we crossed the finish line. Loads of people were cheering and seemed thrilled to see  the dog beside me (they wouldn't have realized that she had just joined me).  The commentator who welcoming everyone back actually called us over for a short interview because of Molly.  It was funny seeing the expression on her face when I told her that I had only picked Molly up along the way because of the crowded paths.  Of course I'm regretful that Molly didn't get to run the whole thing with me as planned but I had to think of her safety first. Either way, she had  her moment to shine.

 I'm seriously thinking of training to do the 10k in Hull next year :) 

Oh and I almost forgot to mention that I raised £175 in total.  Not too shabby if I say so myself. 

Last year Andy went out and spent some serious money on a bike;  he hasn't been out on it nearly as much as he had hoped. I've been saving up my Tesco Clubcard vouchers for the Double Rewards Program which is now on.  Monday I went in to the shop and ordered this baby: 
  It was on sale and because my vouchers were worth double it cost me a whopping £0.   Sure it's not as fancy as the bike Andy bought himself but I'm hoping it will suit my needs perfectly.  It's at least going to ensure that my husband gets his money's worth out of his bike and I'm looking forward to planning a few outings with him. I think we will both be putting more than a few miles behind us this summer.

Friday, May 17, 2013

That Friday Feelin

Well here we are back at Friday again and today I have That Friday Feeling in abundance. I'm going to start by saying that this week hasn't been a good one for me in terms of exercise because of my blasted back but that's not completely 100% honest.  My back has been much better the past few days however I'm suffering from a serious lack of motivation to get out there and hit the pavement (due in part to the weather - lame excuse I know) and the fact I have been otherwise occupied.  Within a few more days I should be back to my  fitness focused self, but for the moment I'm trying to concentrate on food prep for the healthy eating program that I've begun and will tell you all about momentarily.  I know I need to start getting a bit more friendly with jogging, even if it's at 9:00 at night. Lots of people do it so why not me? Wait, don't answer that.   Oh, and of course I've only done the shred once. ONCE. Pathetic I tell you... but I will sort myself out.   

Anyway, let's get back to the food topic.  After a lot of planning on Tuesday night (with the aid of the aforementioned program I'm trying out) I sorted out a list of foods that are now only going to be the occasional treat and am taking a more hard-core road when it comes to eating.  I'm on day three and so far, things are going well. I feel full and am not missing much other than the Yogurt Breakfast Bars I usually eat when I get to work.  (I will probably miss wine this weekend too but I will get over it.) My coffee intake is more or less under control and I'm consuming water like someone who has been stranded in the desert for days on end.

Here is a sample of what I have making and eating this week (I apologise for the photo quality; just remember, this isn't a food blog ;) 

An omelet with lots of spinach, asparagus, tomatoes, mushrooms and a little bit of light cheese.

I roasted some chickpeas with Cajun spice; I have been grabbing a handful whenever I feel the need to snack on something other than fruit or yogurt.  They are a bit dry but tasty all the same. 

I don't have much of a green thumb but I do have a  bit of success with herbs so I chopped up some of the fresh basil growing on my windowsill:  

and threw it into the pot of chopped tomatoes, garlic, mushroom, onion and oregano that was simmering on the hob: 

I was making the sauce to accompany whole wheat pasta.  I'm still getting used to the fact that I can eat as much pasta & rice as I want (within reason) on this program.  When I used to be on WW I always skipped the pasta/rice as the extra points weren't worth it. 

I topped it off with a bit of Parmesan and it was delicious! 

In other exciting news: 

I have raised £145 and still have two days to go until the Race for Life on Sunday.  A huge thank you to those of you who supported us. (Molly was even pledged a tenner by her proud Grandma Wendy). 

My baby sister turns 28 today.  She and I talk quite a bit about life accomplishments and I don't think this young woman is completely aware of how much she has to be proud of. Stacy is not only beautiful, intelligent, motivated and strong, she is good and kind and in the famous words of Tom Petty (if you're under 30 you might be wondering who that is) 'has a heart so big it could crush this town'.  Every time I hear the song Walls I think of my baby sister and all that she has grown to be. 

I love you little sister and I will always be so very proud of you. I hope your birthday is all that you want it to be and that I get to hug you sooner rather than later.  

And lastly, it might not be big news to the rest of the world but my husband is coming home after five days away and I can't wait to welcome him back with some good lovin. 

Enjoy your weekend. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

More days like these

The first bank holiday of May turned out to be a glorious one;  we have been waiting much longer than usual for a bit of spring weather and the whole county was overjoyed to feel the sun for three straight days.  Temperatures even reached above 20c on the Monday. 

Alas, it was only a cruel trick played by Mother Nature because since then it's been windy, rainy and chilly. 

On days like today I remember that hot, sunny weekend and wonder if it's the best we are going to get until the usual summer rain begins on the 1st of July? We made the most of the good weather and I used it as an opportunity to finally get a few good photos of our boy (and of course Molly :)

I took dozens but here are a few of my favourites:

(Hopefully not the only time we get to use Blue Fish)

This kid slept for hours during the latter part of the afternoon.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Taking the Number 8

Every spring Andy reminds me that I have to be careful when making any plans for upcoming weekends. You might think this is because he has a thousand splendid ideas racing around in his head for fun ways to enjoy our precious time off.  Or perhaps he might have to work the odd weekend or two now that he is based down South.  You would be wrong though; The only thing racing around in his mind at this time of year is Formula One.  Andy has thoughtfully marked each Race Weekend on our calendar so that I don't mistakenly plan an outing on a Formula One Sunday. If anything does get planned I either go solo, or re-arrange.  Qualifying takes place on the Saturday and I'm adamant that these remain flexible; I'm OK with sacrificing every 2nd or 3rd Sunday but not the whole weekend (besides that's why we pay for Sky Plus right?)

This past weekend was a race weekend so we hadn't much on the agenda.  While Andy was watching qualifying on Saturday, Dawn and I were out walking the dogs.  Dawn told me that she and Robert were taking the bus up to the White Hart pub in the afternoon for a few drinks and a bite to eat.   She was laughing as she explained how Robert was a bit excited to go on the bus.  It would be a real adventure for him and we decided it would be fun for Andy and I to go along.  What else are you going to do on a rainy Saturday afternoon? 

Andy was up for the pub but raised his eyebrows when I told him we would be travelling the few miles to town on the bus.   I quickly got online to double-check the route times (I used to ride the bus to work when I first moved here) and sent Dawn the details.  Apparently Robert was waiting for us on the corner ten minutes before our scheduled meet up.  

Waiting for the Number 8
Andy looks super-excited!

Ah, but a pint is a bit more exciting right?

Dawn and I are naturally thrilled to be out. 

We had a lot of laughs, a few drinks and another great meal at this quaint old pub.  

Speaking of racing I wanted to let you know that  with less than a week to go Molly and I have reached 90% of our goal pledges with a few more still to come in! Training got put on hold again at the weekend due to my back, but I've sorted myself out with a temporary fix of muscle relaxants and will be back out on the pavement with Molly this evening.

Friday, May 10, 2013


I'm feeling rather let down this week.  The reasons for this most likely stem from any (or all) of the points listed below:

1.  The pains that I have been experiencing in the small of my back have left me feeling out of sorts and not able to exercise as much as I'd hoped this week, even though moving helps. A bit.

2.  Flights to/from Nova Scotia are still well over £800 and because of this we can't lock down a date to get my sister here.  This is made even more frustrating because she doesn't have the type of job where she can pick/chose her holiday time easily.

3.  I'm reading Winter of the World and although I'm just as captivated as I always am with anything written by Ken Follett, reading a historical novel about the cruelties humans have inflected on each other can get a girl down.   
4. The sun came out and teased us last weekend yet this week has been windy and not-so-sunny.  I'd really enjoy another day spent in the garden with baby boy:

4. The icing on the cake for my low state of mind is courtesy of my monthly pest; I don't know why this bugger seems to knock the stuffing out of me for a day or two, but it does.  Aside from the chronic back pain I've been experiencing, I would say that this is probably the only legitimate reason for my low mood.  

However I have to look on the bright side:  It's Friday, my husband is back in town, I have a gorgeous and faithful (albeit odd) little companion who enjoys running with me (when no one else will) and will cheerfully do so this weekend; I'm just over halfway to my fundraising goal for the Race for Life and best of all?  There is always Pinot Grigio.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

International No Diet Day

Before I give you an 'accountability rundown' on how the Wellness Program is going I want to say that we had an incredible three day weekend here at Casa McAllenby.  It was made even more so because we had our grand baby with us for most of it.  That kid is absolutely amazing.  Yesterday we spent hours outdoors soaking up the sunshine.  I took a ton of pictures and plan to share those with you later this week.  However today my plan is to bore you with how I've been doing with this wellness thing, and as today is nearly over I'd better crack on.

On Friday Molly and I did go for a long walk and although I didn't track my steps, I got out and walked a good distance (which is usually the norm anyway); On Saturday I upped my game and went hard during my 'jog'.  I cleared two miles in 24 minutes. No it won't break any records but for a slightly chubby, asthmatic 40 year old it's a start. On Sunday I mentally reminded myself of the the workout goals I've set for myself as I'm not big into writing out lists.  I will leave that to my sisters. They are excellent list makers. 

Which brings me to days 6 and 7 on the Wellness Calendar, which are combined. Monday the 6th was apparently International No Diet Day however today is the day I decided to rise to the challenge as I was too busy playing with Jayden yesterday.

So.  International No Diet Day: Let’s all try to take a break this week from thinking about what’s wrong with our bodies and instead focus on what’s right. Make a list of 10 things you love about your body.

Hrmmm.  I could list you 20 things I dislike about my body in the time it's gong to take to list more than the three usual good things.  However here goes nothing:

The colour of my eyes; even though all my siblings have big, gorgeous brown eyes

My hair - it's in really good condition at the moment
My lips (which were ironically made fun of when I was a teenager)
My legs, their strength and shape
My boobs (its a love/hate relationship)
My toes
The ladybug (Florence) tattoo on my left foot
My hands - for what they are capable of
This is beginning to get hard now.  Am I supposed to say my Va-G-G because I'm a woman? Well I won't.
How my skin turns a golden brown in summer despite being freckly.  (Or maybe it's just all my freckles connecting?)
This might be stretching it and although lame it may be:  my heart because not only is it strong and healthy, it's full to bursting with love and gratitude for all I have been blessed with in this life.   

Friday, May 03, 2013

More than a pretty wall calendar

On Monday Andy began working down near Reading on the project he spent the early part of 2012 securing.  We now have to make the adjustment to living apart again for five days a week.  I think Andy and I will have an easier time of it than Molly, although she does have the consolation prize of scoring herself a spot on the bed with me each night.  

At least it's Friday, the sun is shining and Andy comes home this afternoon;  It's a three day weekend herein the UK and we are going to make the most of it. Let's hope the sun shines for at least 2 out of the 3 days.  

I can't believe it's May already and so far this year I've hardly achieved any of the goals I'd set for myself. Well strictly speaking that's not true; I have to be a bit more positive because: 

a) I've starting drinking a lot more water, which is a good thing because I've always consumed a fair amount of water to begin with. If I'm not drinking wine, I'm drinking water.    

b) I haven't bought any new clothes since before Christmas and that includes shoes people.  Shocking I know.  However this is down to two reasons, one being that money has been a bit tight since our super awesome holiday in the Maldives, the second being that I promised myself no more new clothes until I've lost at least five pounds.  Which means I need to concentrate harder because summer is coming and I love to buy summer clothes. 

c) I signed up for the Race for Life;

As I mentioned in point b, summer is heading this way and with it the summer sales, so I really need to get my head in the right place and do a bit more to get myself healthier because I hate trying on clothes when I feel this way.  Exercise hasn't been as forthcoming as I'd hoped due to the spasms of pain I've been experiencing in my lower back; I'm trying to get on top of that as well - I'm refusing to let it turn me into a couch potato.  Besides, moving around is better for my back than staying stationary. 

To give myself an little extra motivation, I'm going to start using this: 

The Wellness Calendar that is lovingly put together each month by Cassie.  I enjoy her site and wish I was only half as organized in my own life. Although I've been following her for awhile this will be my first attempt at following her Wellness Calendar.  I've printed a copy for both home and the office and although I'm a few days late beginning I think it will make a good start to staying motivated.  Most of you who are doing well  with your healthy lifestyles seem to have some kind of agenda.  So I'm taking a page from your book and this is the month I'm going to make my own lists and stick to them.  

My Goals for May: 

Run the whole 5K on the 19th May
Cut down on carbs
Shred at least three times a week
Lose 5-6 lbs
Post here at least 7-10 times

I think all of the above are perfectly achievable and to ensure that I reach my goal of more posts this month, I'm going to try and log my progress.  Just a heads up for those of you who find food/fitness blogs tedious.  I will endeavour to write the odd post or two about the phenomenal activities we get up to at or around Casa McAllenby for the two of you who pop in now and again as I know my writing must keep you absolutely riveted. Or not.  

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend.