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Wednesday, 30 November 2016

pancreatic cancer and me


On May 26th 2015 my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer after several weeks of pain, self diagnosis of everything but cancer, and three days earlier walking me down the aisle with a bottle of morphine in his pocket.

On November 16th 2016 my dad lost his battle.

He fought this cancer for 17 months.  At initial diagnosis the doctor's predicted 12 - 16 weeks.

I'm sure some of you are probably wondering why I'm writing this post on such a personal topic.  Well, yesterday was the funeral and one of the hardest days I've ever been through.  The other hardest day was the day he died.

My dad was a fit and healthy man, he'd wanted to live to the age of 90, and had cancer not got to him first, I'm certain he would have made it.  He started most mornings with a bowl of fruit and yogurt, with a small helping of muesli.  He always got his five pieces of fruit and veg a day, and he stayed active, walking and cycling regularly.  He was never ill, barely had a day off work in 40 years, and didn't approve of laziness.

Then there was me, a class a couch potato, always choosing to say sitting on the sofa with a chocolate bar in hand than getting up off my ass and doing anything. Walking the 10 minutes to work every day was the most exercise I ever got.

Dad's diagnosis struck a chord.  If someone as healthy and well as him could get hit with such a horrendous disease, then what hope is there for someone like me, and what chance would I have of fighting it.

The doctor's were all amazed by my dad, he tried everything to give himself more time, pancreatic cancer is one of the worst, and I can see why, the symptoms are horrendous and it's not surprising so many survive mere months, no-one would want to live with that.  But dad kept fighting, and the doctor's believe that he's general good health was part of the reason he survived so long.

On January 1st 2016 I set myself a challenge, to complete Total Warrior in August of this year, to raise money for Pancreatic Cancer UK.  Part of me wanted to do something to help fight such a terrible disease, to try and contribute towards one day finding a cure, and hopefully preventing others having to live through it.  But the other part of me realised I had to get fit, I couldn't keep denying the fact I couldn't run for a bus without getting out of breathe, and vegetables only made it on to my plate once a week.

In August I completed Total Warrior, and my dad was there to see me do it.  So now, more than ever, it's important for me to stay fit and keep healthy, and that's what this blog is all about.  So while my dad is my inspiration, my readers are my motivation to keep at it.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

madeleine shaw's post workout protein balls

madeleine shaw get the glow

protein balls ingredients

post workout protein ball

It's probably just over a year ago that I really started my 'fitness journey' as much as I hate that expression, that's what it is.  I started exercising in the run up to my wedding, but mainly did easy, low impact (read: minimal sweat) classes such as yoga, body balance and bums n tums, and really focused on a healthy, probably a little too low calorie, diet in order to lose weight.  I didn't go crazy, I lost about a stone for my wedding, and was really happy with how I  looked.

Shortly after the wedding, my dad was sadly diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and that's what really kick started my efforts into getting fit.  My dad has always been an advocate of eating well, and maintaining high fitness levels.  I, on the other  hand, was always happier sitting on the sofa, with a bag of minstrels.  When my dad got ill, it really made me appreciate the importance of healthy living, and keeping active, how can you expect your body to stay well, if you don't look after it.

So last year, I started upping my fitness, I went to high cardio classes, like body combat and circuits, and in January, in my quest to complete Total Warrior (you can read all about that here if you're interested) I started running.  

Then I started thinking about my diet, if you've read any of my previous posts, I don't do macro capping, or calorie counting or anything like that.  I try to focus on a balanced diet, (ahem: gives me a good excuse to still eat cake and chocolate) with lots of protein and fruit and vegetables. For the last year, me and the mr have talked about making protein balls, but have just never got round to it.  It might be partly to do with the fact for the last couple of months I've been drowning in protein bars!  But, with a little bit of time on our hands yesterday and the mr around all week to help me eat them, we finally decided to give them a go.  

Using Madeleine Shaw's recipe for post-workout protein balls, they genuinely couldn't have been easier.  Why we waited so long I have no idea.  Basically, the recipe, in a nutshell, bung everything in a mixer, whizz it up and roll into balls.  Job done.

madeleine shaw post workout protein balls recipe

protein ball ingredients
peanut butter
chopped dates

protein ball mix

post workout protein balls

We substituted half of the peanut butter for almond and vanilla butter, don't hate on me, but I'm really not a peanut butter fan, and I'm pretty sure you could use any nut butter you fancied.  We also added a squeeze of maple syrup just to help bind the mixture together, and there you have it, easy peasy protein balls that taste good.

Now, the Mr loves them, I'm a little on the fence (its the peanut butter!) so now I'm the hunt for a chocolate recipe, can anyone help a girl out?! 

post workout protein ball

P.S. Don't forget, I'm also running a giveaway on my blog at the moment, you could be in with a chance of winning a pair of Gola trainers, go check it out and get entering HERE!

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

fancy winning yourself a pair of trainers? yeah you do!

Gola Trainers

Gola Trainers

Gola Trainers

Gola Trainers

Gola Trainers

When I think about Gola, the first things that come to mind are cool retro styles in suede, pretty patterned collaborations (think Liberty) and the classic two stripe design. While I'd never have dismissed them as a top trainer brand, I wouldn't have considered them as one of my first ports of call for workout trainers. 

Turns out I need to re-consider, as these guys are actually pretty good at active wear, and while they still maintain their sleek design, they've upped their features, meaning it's not just style over substance!

Me and the Mr quickly headed out to give our new kicks a trial run (see what I did there) because not only did they look great, I couldn't get over how light and comfortable they were so wanted to see how they performed.  Now I'm no expert, I've only been running a few months, so wasn't sure how much of a valid review I could give, hence why the hubby came too, he's in training for a marathon...

So after a cheeky little photoshoot in the park, yes I genuinely was stretching in preparation for a run, this wasn't all posed (*cough cough*) off we went.  I felt like I was running on air, these really are the most lightweight trainers I've ever worn, but still provide a supportive sole.  And you feel like you're wearing socks because of the jersey fabric they're made from, which also means I can't imagine they'd ever rub, hurrah for not needing plasters for the first few wears. 

They also have a few other elements going on including super breathable and flexible fabric, and a sole which provides durability and shock absorption, probably not overly important for my little 5k jogs, but definitely required if you're going the distance.

And they must have been doing some good, because I actually ran faster that day than I had for several months, so I guess I've got these trainers to thank, because I can't think of any other reasons...ok, maybe the bowl of protein weetabix I'd had for my breakfast?!

But do you know what else I like about them? They look really good, the grey pair I've already worn a few times when I'm not exercising, other than converse, I don't tend to wear trainers, the simple style means they look good with jeans and are smarter than you're usual white sports trainer.  So it's fair to say, I'm a big fan.

Now after a review that good, I'm assuming you might quite like to get your hands on a pair yourself? Well, count yourself lucky, because Gola have only gone and said I can giveaway one pair from their Autumn/Winter range (check out the catalogue here) to not one but two lucky readers, you just need to use the rafflecopter below to enter, go go go:

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

my first ever spin class, and I survived

my first spinning class

Last Sunday I decided to pluck up the courage and give spinning a go for the first time.  I say ‘pluck up the courage’ because I’ve been wanting to try it for about a year, but always managed to find excuses to not go.  I’ve done every other class at my gym so why I had ‘spinning fear’ I don’t know, maybe it was the rumours I’d heard about people mopping a pool of sweat up off the floor after they’d finished, or getting off the bike and falling over because their legs were so weak.

Sunday’s are usually for Body Combat, but I was running a bit late, and I just couldn’t quite muster up the enthusiasm.  I noticed that spinning was starting 15 minutes later, with a teacher I know, and the thought of spending the next 45 minutes sitting down just seemed that bit more appealing.

I didn’t get off to a good start.  I got to the class later than anticipated, I wasn’t actually late, but I’d wanted to get there early so I’d be fully set up (preferably on the back row) before all the regulars arrived.  Turned out I was the last to arrive, and not having a clue what I was doing, I needed the instructor to help me set up my bike.  So she picked a bike for me (right in the middle, great!) she positioned the seat, got my feet strapped in, and showed me how the screen worked.  Then asked me to have a go and peddle.  Nothing happened.  With a bit more effort, I tried again.  Still nothing happened.  I was either definitely not cut out for this, or the bike was knackered.  Turned out it was the bike, not me.  By this point, the class was running late and I was the cause, I could feel eyes burning into the back of my head and I would have quite liked to get up and walk out there and then .

Anyway, bike number 2, I was set up and ready to go.  Warm up starts and I seem to be going ok.  Then we start to up the pace, the intensity and the incline (yep, all three!).  I spot a woman just in front of me whose screen I can see, she’s shall we say a good few years older than me (ok, thing maybe twice my age) so I figured I’d be able to match her gear levels and reps.   And then we start to climb up what felt like the tallest mountain ever, and just when I think we’re good to scale the top, it turns out we’ve got quite a hike to go, and the gears have to keep going up.  My legs are like jelly, and I’m slower than the lady I’m trying to keep up with, and we're upping the gears again!

Next up is speed, so this has gotta be easier right? I can sit back down, lower my gears, and then peddle my legs like crazy.  Yes it’s definitely easier, but now I’m shattered and we’ve got another 5 rounds to go.

The sweat starts flowing, the legs are crying and I’m only two thirds through!

Somehow, I do get some inner strength from somewhere, I make it to the end of the class and almost cry a little with relief (just like my legs).  According to the instructor I did really well, I'm sure she's just trying to make me feel better, and it works.  Feeling smug, I wobble home on legs ready to collapse.


Convinced I’ll struggle to get out of bed the next day, I have a bath and let my legs relax.  Turns out it wasn’t my legs I needed to worry about, but a bruise on each bum cheek from the saddle makes sitting down the next day pretty uncomfortable...nobody warned me about that.

I haven’t been back to spinning yet, it’s probably going to take me another few months to pluck up the courage to go back, but at least I did it, and that’s something to be proud of, right?!
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