Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Work It Out Wednesday #4 | Keeping Myself Motivated


Woo, it's the return of Work It Out Wednesday!  It's been a shamefully long time since my last WIOW post, but honestly there hasn't been a whole lot to update on.

Towards the end of June my energy reached the lowest point it had been in forever, I got diagnosed with hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) and it felt like my epilepsy was just totally kicking my arse.  Obviously not the best state to be working out in.

Anyway, I'm happy to report that after a good few weeks on new meds and taking care of myself a little better my energy is slowly getting back to where it used to be.  Great news for me, because it means I can get back on with the 90 Day SSS Plan.  You might remember I started the plan from The Body Coach a few weeks ago, but only got about 10 days in when my health took a nosedive.

I've been back on it again for just over two weeks now so am half way through cycle one, and although I'm not sure my weight is changing drastically yet, I'm loving the food (there's loads of it) and getting back into the swing of exercising.  My HIIT training has been surprisingly fun, I stuck to the treadmill for the most part the first time around, but am trying to mix it up with different equipment now, just to keep my interest up.

In the spirit of keeping my motivation going I've been keeping a quick daily diary to document how I'm finding the plan, this way I can look back on good days to give me some inspiration and maybe even post the highlights on here when I reach the end of each cycle.

As you can possibly tell I'm raring to go and I'd love to hear how you're getting on with your health and fitness goals.  Until next time...

SHARON

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Food | Review of Winner Winner, York

Winner Winner in York is bloody awesome!  I know I'm supposed to be all balanced and stuff in my reviews, but sometimes you just can't hold back, and this is definitely one of those occasions.

I'm kind of ashamed to admit that I didn't find this little gem of a restaurant sooner, I mean it has everything I like, great food, quality cocktails and it's location on King's Staith (right on the riverside in York if you're not sure) is ideal!

Winner Winner Restaurant, York
Winner Winner Restaurant, York
 
At less than a year old, Winner Winner is doing brilliantly in the York restaurant scene, it has many a regular customer amongst my friends, and that number is only growing.  It's easy to see why too, from the all-American menu to the decor (seriously you could totally see Guy Fieri from Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives rocking up to do some filming) and everything in between, you can tell that the owners Jayne and Michael have loads of restaurant experience and a real passion for what they do.

The menu at this place is a bit of a revelation for York, it's the kind of American soul food that can often come out a bit sad and greasy when it's attempted, but here it's impeccable.  Each of the recipes was designed by Michael, inspired by a road trip he did in America; everything is made from scratch and most importantly its frickin tasty!

Winner Winner Restaurant, York
Winner Winner Restaurant, York

Gaz and I visited Winner Winner for the first time on a really sunny afternoon and despite how busy it was, we were seated and furnished with drinks really quickly; there was an abundance of great looking cocktails to choose from but for some reason we were being tee total, Gaz went for an iced vanilla latte and I had a raspberry iced tea, both drinks were really refreshing in the hot summer sun.

Thirst quenched, we hastily moved onto the food menu, and damn was there a lot to choose from!  There were breakfast dishes, salads, BBQ, seafood, burgers, honestly just every taste seems to be catered for.  Understandably I think, we took a while to choose what we wanted to try, but eventually went for hushpuppies to start (we shared) and for the main the rather intriguingly named Famous Porker (for Gaz) and the Winner Winner Chicken Dinner (for me). 

Winner Winner Restaurant, York
Winner Winner Restaurant, York

You can probably see from the picture that the portion of hushpuppies when it arrived was ginormous, so kind of anticipating the size of the mains I left most of them to Gaz.  The one I did try was delicous though.  Hushpuppies are kind of like deep fried balls of cornbread so they carry flavour well; these ones were a little bit cheesy and spicy and dipped in the 'gringo sauce', a really mild salsa, they were tasty as hell.

Not long after finishing the hushpuppies, the mains arrived!  I was assured by Gaz that the Famous Porker was delicious, it was a double cheeseburger, topped with pulled pork and served with fries.  I did try a little bit of the pulled pork, which was easily some of the best I've had (sorry Red's True BBQ) and his fries were perfect.

Winner Winner Restaurant, York

The Famous Porker couldn't compare to my Winner Winner Chicken Dinner though.  It combined two really fluffy delicious waffles with the most incredible fried chicken; all breast meat, skin off, coated in a really well-seasoned batter.  To top it off it came with a couple of slices of bacon and a generous drizzle of maple syrup.  There's a reason this savoury and sweet combo is a classic in parts of America, it was about as epic as food can get.

I really wish I'd have been able to sample more from Winner Winner on this first visit but I was so stuffed I couldn't if I tried.  Rest assured I'll be back though, probably lots, and in the very near future.

Haven't been to Winner Winner yet?  Check them out in all there awesomeness here, then jump in your car or get a taxi/bus/train, quick!  Don't worry, I'm sure they'll save you a table!
SHARON

Monday, 27 July 2015

Food | Cooking for one, my fave tomato sauce

It's been a hell of a long time since I did any cooking posts on my blog (way back in 2013 was the last time I think).  I'd been thinking for a while that I'd like post more recipes, and an opportune moment to jump back into it came when I heard about Age UK's campaign focusing on cooking healthy and nutritious meals for one.

Now obviously I'm married, but Gaz and I both lead such busy lives that each of us ends up cooking our own meals from time to time.  Age UK's advice got me thinking about the types of food I try to cook when I'm home alone and I want something fast, nutritious and versatile.  Of course it got me thinking about my tomato sauce...  I cook up big batches of it, use it as a base for loads of meals and it's damn tasty.  Read on if you'd like to know how to cook it...

Cooking for one, my fave tomato sauce

WHAT YOU'LL NEED

1. An onion
2. Garlic
3. 1 tin/carton of chopped tomatoes
4. Oregano
5. A chili pepper (optional)
6. Oil (for cooking)
7. Salt and pepper, to taste


Cooking for one, my fave tomato sauce


GET YOUR COOK ON

Chop your onions and garlic however you like, it doesn't have to be neat, you're just cooking for yourself here, who've you got to impress?  I always like to throw a chilli in my tomato sauce so I chop that up too.

Soften the onions and garlic for a few minutes in your oil (your chili pepper too if you're using it), until they're just translucent then add in your tinned tomatoes, a good sprinkle of the dried oregano (try 1/4 of a teaspoon to start) and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Leave it to cook for 5 minutes and hey presto in less time than it takes to cook up some pasta to enjoy it with, you've got a basic tomato sauce.  

It's a really easy recipe to double so you can cook up big batches and freeze it, but what's really great about it, is how versatile it is...

Cooking for one, my fave tomato sauce
Cooking for one, my fave tomato sauce

MIX IT UP!

Here are just a few of the ways I transform this basic recipe to be used for lots different meals.

Arrabiata: Add some extra chopped chilis, a pinch of mixed herbs and some chopped ham to create a really delicious meaty sauce, serve with penne or rigatoni.  A sprinkle of parmesan cheese finishes this one off nicely.
Huevos Rancheros: This one has been a favourite recipe of mine for a long time.  I add some chopped bell peppers and some extra oregano, the warmed up sauce is served on poached eggs on top of toasted tortillas.  Sounds weird I know, but it's really delicious!
Baked white fish: I add some chopped olives, capers and basil to the sauce and bake it in the oven on top of some fish fillets.  It's a beautiful light meal, and goes really nicely with a simple salad and some bread.

There are so many other meals I create using this tomato sauce as a starting point.  What sorts of things do you cook when you're just cooking for one?

To read more about the great work that Age UK do, click here.

SHARON

Friday, 17 July 2015

Blogging | The D*cks and the Cliques


 
Disclaimer: This post might be a little long, a little swear-y, it's full of my opinions and I have a tendency to sound like a thesaurus at times.  If any of those things are likely to offend you then it might not be a good idea to read on...

Blogging is very much a hobby for me; I'm not out there competing for views, comments and shares.  If I get an opportunity or two through my blog, that's awesome but if not it's no skin off my nose.  Perhaps because I don't give two fucks about becoming established as a superior being in the blogger hierarchy I don't find myself embroiled in the melodramas I see happening in the community on a regular basis.  Don't get me wrong, I put myself firmly in the category of someone that is a bit of a dick at times but there are certain types of behaviour I see happening again and again in the world of blogging, and particularly on Twitter, that just go too far.

Differences of opinion 
On more than a few occasions in recent weeks, I've checked my Twitter feed after a long day at work only to find that some drama or other has kicked off.  This would be all well and good should everyone express their opinions like adults, but more often than not, some unsuspecting twitterer, whose only crime is to express an opinion that differs from the masses, is summarily ridiculed and torn apart.

We've all seen it happen, but should we put up with a person or people who find it necessary to treat someone else's opinions with scorn and derision just to assert their own?  Absolutely not!  And lets's not beat around the bush shall we?  These people are not only dicks, but they're bullies, plain and simple.  If we wouldn't put up with it any other walk of life why should we in our community?  I know I won't again if I see this type of shit happening in the future.

Just plain passive aggressive 
When the dust inevitably settles after conflicts of any sort it would be lovely if everyone could agree to disagree and go their separate ways.  Whilst this happens for the most part, there are always a few exceptions, many of which tend to take on a particular form - the passive aggressive tweet.  You know the type I mean, they're dripping in sarcasm, heavily hinting they're not happy about someone or something and are just generally hoping to cause a ruckus.  It's always the same type of people that post and react to these tweets too, you can see them circling like carrion birds.  But you know what?  If you don't have the cojones to come out and say what you mean, or address the people who are bothering you in an up front manner, keep it to your bloody self!

You can keep your clique
Hand in hand with the passive aggressive bullshit comes the cliques.  It's an inevitability that when you get large groups of people together cliques will form.  That's fine if the clique is just a group of people with similar thoughts and opinions and it's all kept friendly, but when they're gathering together to purposefully cause drama I take major issue.  From what I can see that kind of negative crap isn't wanted or needed by the vast majority of bloggers so let's just be buddies shall we?  If you decide you can't play nice, then you know where you can go...

The upside
I'm aware this post sounds pretty negative, but none of us would carry on blogging if it was all bad.  Most people I talk to and meet because of my hobby are genuinely nice and I've been lucky enough to make some true friends in my time in the blogosphere.

There will always be a few people who bring a bad attitude and try to ruin the good vibes, but it's great to see that it doesn't put off a lot of the good folks.  If blogging is what you love then keep on keeping on people!

What do you think? 
Opinions are like arseholes, everyone has one!  But unlike the aforementioned sphincter, I'd welcome your opinion in the comments below.

SHARON

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Life | When It All Gets A Bit Sh*t...

I try not to get massively negative about things, but sometimes life just gets a bit shit, you know what I mean?

Between my house getting burgled in February, my energy hitting rock bottom and getting diagnosed with hypothyroidism and then a family member ending up in court (for something that wasn't their fault) it's all felt like a bit much to take!


But not for me the furrowed brow (as my favourite vampire slayer once said).  I figure life is all about how you decide to deal with things and so I've got myself a new-found determination to keep being my usual chilled self and to make sure I'm doing things, however little, to make my life happier.

So far that's meant taking some time off work, having a weekend away with my husband, indulging in a bit of pampering, and even writing on StargazyEyes again.

Here's hoping a positive attitude can help my life turn a corner eh?  Until next time...

SHARON

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Work It Out Wednesday #3 | My Training Regime

Can you believe it's time for another Work It Out Wednesday already?  It seems like only 5 minutes since I wrote the last one, but you know what they say, time flies when you're having fun... or something!

As I mentioned in my first post, exercising has become a massive part of my life in the last year, and despite my struggles to lose weight, I've still had some success in building my strength and stamina, using a range of methods.

Work It Out Wednesday #3 | How I've Been Training

Personal Training
When I first started working out in a gym I really had no idea what I was doing, so working with a personal trainer seemed like a good place to start.  My initial thought was that I'd just use a PT for a month or two, enough time to learn the right form in exercises and how to structure a workout for myself.  As time went on however, working with a PT became much more, it motivated me when I otherwise might not have exercised, helped me to identify and set myself goals, and more importantly made me want to keep up with my new regime in the long term.  I know it's a pricey option, but if you can afford to see a personal trainer I think it's definitely worth it.

Strength/Weight Training
Not too long ago I would have counted myself amongst the scores of women who think that lifting weights makes you bulky or overly muscular, but oh how wrong I was!  I've found that performing strengh training, either with weights or just with my body weight, is great at keeping my heart rate going whilst improving my strength and it definitely hasn't made me bulk up, but rather tone up.  My favourite way of exercising with weights is to superset certain exercises.  As an example I might do a set of 12-15 squats, followed immediately by a set of walking lunges (15 on each leg), rest for a minute or 2 then do the same again for another 2 or 3 sets.  For a complete training session I'll do a range of supersets encompassing as many large muscle groups as possible, it definitely gets me working!

HIIT Training
HIIT (or high intensity interval training) is the most recent addition to my exercise routine, it's without a doubt the hardest form of exercise I do, but it's over pretty quickly, and the rewards certainly make it worthwhile.  I started my HIIT training just over 2 weeks ago, I use the treadmill for the most part, running as fast as I can for 30-45 seconds (admittedly not very fast right now) before having a rest interval of a minute to catch my breath.  I'll repeat this process around 12 times, and let me tell you, by the end of it I'm absolutely knackered.  Why do I do HIIT training?  Well, it's a brilliant fat burner, and already in two weeks I'm able to run faster and for far longer.  I can't wait to see what I can do as my training progresses.

I do feel like my training schedule is pretty full, but I love it and would still like to include more variety, potentially to include some classes like boxercise or circuits and maybe some yoga to improve my flexibility.

I'd love to hear about any training that you do, leave me a comment below.

SHARON
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