Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
February 22, 2010
Happy Groundhog Day!
February 2, 2010
To all my US and Canadian readers (and the adopted-Americans – yes I’m talking to you Mum, Dad and Leila!) happy Groundhog Day!
According to folklore (aka Wikipedia), if a Groundhog emerges from its burrow on 2nd February and doesn’t see his shadow, he will venture out – signifying that winter is almost over, and that spring will arrive early! Yippee! If, on the other hand, a Groundhog emerges and is faced with his shadow, he will retreat back inside the depths of the burrow – signifying that we’re all in for another gruelling 6 weeks of winter… Boo!
So, after the frankly God-awful weather we’ve all been experiencing over recent months (if I see so much as a hint of another snow flake, I swear I’ll never go out again), it’s time to ask the big question. Nope, not “what’s the time, Mister Wolf?”, but rather “what’s the weather going to be like, Mr Groundhog!” And so it is that I hand over to the most famous of all Groundhogs – Punxsutawney Phil.
Phil has a temporary “February” home in Gobbler’s Knob, which is about 2 miles east of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. During the rest of the year, he lives in the town with his wife Phyllis and a group called the Inner Circle, who take care of them both. Phil is the original Groundhog, and all other Groundhog weathermen are said to be imposters. As of 2010, Phil has been predicting the weather for over 120 years – and before you ask, every summer he is fed a sip of the mysterious Groundhog Punch, which extends his life by a further 7 years. According to the Groundhog Club, after making the prediction, Phil speaks to the Club President in Groundhogese (which is only understood by members of the Inner Circle), and his prediction if then translated for the rest of the world.
And so, without further ado I would like to unveil Phil’s prediction for 2010 – which is… that we’re in for another 6 weeks of winter… Nice one Phil.
PS – Groundhogs are more commonly known as Woodchucks. And how much wood could a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood? You’ll have to ask Phil when he finally gets out of bed in 6 weeks time.
My Big FAT Diet Show
January 29, 2010
Apparently the main reasons for this are that people either spend too much time thinking about them, rather than actually doing them or they take the advice of self-help gurus and rely on willpower alone. However, I suspect the main reason that people fail (specifically on the “lose weight / get in shape” resolution) is that they don’t really have any idea how to succeed in this area – and end up following bad advice.
One good example of this would be the frankly horrendous “My Big Fat Diet Show“, which aired for two weeks post Christmas. The premise of the show was that a bunch of slightly overweight “diet divas” would try to drop a dress size in 2 weeks. Having recently decided to go on a bit of a health kick myself, I thought I’d give it a watch to see if I could pick out any healthy eating tips from the supposedly “no gimmicks, no fads” show… Guess again! The gimmick of this diet is that you restrict yourself to eating just 1,200 calories for 2 weeks (it’s not a fad though. Honest). So, if you want to use up your calories by eating 6 bars of milk chocolate a day – go ahead! Fancy living off a couple of bags of crisps a day? Feel free – as long as you stick to that calorie limit, you’re on the road to weight loss success.
And to help the divas on their way, they were given access to a pop up “100 Club” supermarket, in which everything was packaged in 100 calorie portions. And what was the most surprising thing they learned from all this? That a pork pie has over 200 calories in – whereas a bag of vegetables has less than 100… Shocking. So, rather than inspiring me to carry on with my resolutions through giving me tips, it actually inspired me through giving me the confidence that in fact I already know an awful lot about food and healthy eating. And through combining that with our new exercise regime, we should be onto a winner!
We’re currently just over three weeks into our regime and, although it’s been tough at times (yes I mean you, 5.45am weekday starts!!) and we’ve had a couple of days where we’ve not done everything as planned, we’re still doing really well. Currently we’re doing about 45 mins core training every weekday morning, followed by 10 mins jogging. Then in the evening we’re doing another 10 min jog, followed by either weight training for arms, weight training for legs, weight training for backs, or more cardio (generally 20 mins cycling / cross-training). At the weekends we’re having one day off from both exercising and eating healthily, and the other day we’re following pretty much the same routine as we do in the week.
In terms of diet, we’re eating little and often (every four hours or so):
• Breakfast consists of a bowl of porridge (whole rolled oats), a boiled egg white and half a grapefruit
• Lunch is a healthy home-made meal with some carbs (a baked potato / small portion of rice or pasta), healthy protein (cottage cheese / tuna / grilled chicken / beans and pulses) and some veggies
• Afternoon snacks consist of a healthy yoghurt, and a selection on chopped carrots, celery and apple
• Dinner is carb-free, so we eat lots of protein and veg
On top of that I’m drinking at least 1.5 litres of water per day (top tip – keep a 1.5 litre bottle on your desk and re-fill it each day to keep track!), as well as a glass of fruit juice. And no fizzy drinks (I literally haven’t had one so far in 2010) or alcohol (with the occasional exception of a small glass of red wine) unless it’s a day off. And even on a day off, beer is limited. And to be honest, having pretty much given up drinking in the week, it’s often quite tough to get back in the mood at the weekend! Who’d have thought it?!
All in all, we’re gradually building muscle and strength, as well as slowly slimming down. We’ve still got a weight to go (do you see what I did there?), but fingers crossed by the time spring comes around, we should be fit as a pair of fiddles!
Happy No-Snow Day
January 6, 2010
Last February we had a “big chill”, which London’s transport system was totally unprepared for. It was a disgrace, and meant that people like me were physically unable to get to work – despite our longing to be able to get there so that we could perform our daily duties. Instead we were forced to spend the day at home, making snow angels and building snow men in the street, having snow fights, sledging down any remotely sloped surface and generally having an awful time. I remember the day bitterly.
I am therefore glad that the forecast severe weather warning and 10cm of snow failed to arrive in Willesden Green last night, and was in no way disappointed to wake up to a mere couple of inches of white fluff covering our garden rather than the promised snow drifts. I am also thankful that the Jubilee line is working to its usual high standards despite the snow, and I did not spend the first hours of my day watching the travel updates on the news and hoping for some sort of mechanical failure / freak blizzard [please delete as appropriate] in our area. I relish the fact that I am currently sat at my desk on my lunch break rather than being curled up at home on the sofa under a duvet, watching a movie with a big bowl of soup.
And above all, I hope to God that the snow that’s been falling since 8am does not continue until tomorrow morning, disrupting the tube and bus services, thus meaning that I am unable to complete my daily commute into Central London, to my place of work. Should this happen, I will be filled with regret and longing for my desk and will not in fact be cavorting in the snow all day, with the occassional checking of emails when I happen to be inside warming up with a hot chocolate ready for the next onslaught of snow balls.
My heartfelt sympathies go out to all of you who are incapacitated due to the snow. But, for the rest of you – happy no-snow day!