Healing Through Running

One big change in my life recently is that I’ve picked running back up and this time I’m sticking with it. I got into running a little bit last year (my flatmates were runners) but my enthusiasm dropped off quickly as I became busier and more stressed. When I finished my second year of uni, exercise in general went on hold for the summer until hockey season started back up, and yes I would run a little in matches, but I was fairly unfit and that was my only exercise during the week.

When you’re not motivated it feels like the hardest thing in the world to drag yourself out the flat just to make your legs and lungs ache for an hour. When you’re busy it can feel like a waste of time. When you’re self conscious it can be uncomfortable to be out in public, every inch of my body jiggling, my face red and sweaty.

But, I enjoy it. I love being active. It makes me feel productive and healthy and the endorphin rush I get after running makes a huge difference to my day. So, when I finished my lambing placement I didn’t want to go back to the slug I’ve been the past few months. I’d been working on my feet doing physical labour for 12 hours a day! I wanted to continue being active. So at the start of April I set myself the goal of running every single day. It doesn’t have to be too long or too fast but it needs to be at least 2.5km, no matter the weather, no matter the schedule. If I’m busy then I just need to wake up earlier and get it done before the day begins.

It is the 11th of April today and I’m currently waiting for my hearty, protein-filled lunch to go down before I hit the park. Living next to one of the biggest parks in London does make it a little easier to get out there, as does the brilliant sunshine we’ve been having lately. Running every single day has done me a world of good. It gets me out of bed in the morning when I want to just curl up. It gets me out of the flat and into the sun every day when I want to shut the world out. It improves my mood and my body – I’m getting fitter every day and it’s wonderful to watch my self esteem improve as my muscles are starting to tone up.

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Running has also been very important for my diet. I feel a lot less guilty about having a treat if I’ve run because I know I have earned it. I can eat more because I’m burning more, and it helps me stay fuller for longer. Running is also my incentive to eat right. If I eat too little I won’t have the energy to run further and faster. If I binge then I’ll feel too sluggish and sick to exercise. I need my three meals a day and I need more protein in my diet, so I’m working hard to create healthy and hearty meals, as well as frequent green tea’s throughout my day and a post-workout snack. Yesterday I made some protein balls with oats, peanut butter, protein powder and many other healthy ingredients. They taste delicious so it’s a little hard to resist eating them all in one go but my motivation to be healthy is strong.

I have goals too. I’ve signed up to do a race in May (either 5k or 10k depending on my ability level in a months time, but I’m hoping to do the 10k) so I want to get faster and further each week. I’m happy and healthier than I have been in a while, and I feel like running is an important part of that.

Sweet Superfood Salad

Super Sweet Salad

I’m back-back-back-back-back again!

This week I’m really into my salads: it’s getting warmer outside, it’s a light and healthy lunch, I’m working from home so I can prepare them fresh…and I also bought too many bags of salad at the supermarket so I need to incorporate leaves into every meal now. This salad was kind of a mish-mash of a lot of things I had in my cupboard but it all works so well together – really delicious, really filling and packed full of “superfoods”. It’s colourful and just bursting with nutrition!

Ingredients: watercress, spinach, rocket, quinoa, sweet potato, spring onion, pomegranate seeds, avocado, mint and a honey-mint-olive oil dressing.

I used watercress, spinach and rocket for my base but I think most types of leafy salad would work well for this. I was originally looking for pea shoots or alfalfa sprouts but left my grocery shopping till Sunday evening when everything was shut so my choice was limited. Despite the dressing having mint in, I also added some fresh mint leaves to the salad mix just for an extra boost of flavour.

Overall this took me about half an hour to make. I started by dicing a sweet potato and roasting the chunks with a dash of olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika for 25 minutes. Quickly following by boiling plain uncooked quinoa in some water for 20 minutes. Whilst waiting for these two things to cook, I sliced two spring onions and an avocado. The dressing consisted of a tablespoon or two of olive oil (I’m often a bit overzealous when it comes to olive oil), finely chopped fresh mint, a teaspoon of honey and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. When everything was cooked all I need to do was layer it all together, sprinkle a generous handful of pomegranate seeds over everything and drizzle the dressing on top. Super simple and super delicious.

I know some vegans have issues with eating honey but I’m sure agave nectar or maple syrup would work just as well in the dressing to add that sweet kick. Having something sweet makes a nice change from my usual peppery basil and tomato salads and is definitely needed in my diet since my lack of a sweet tooth often means I don’t eat enough sugar.

Hoping to continue the salad trend and experiment a bit more with different bases and toppings as we get closer to summer!

 

Recovery Check-In…erm…how long has it been?

Well, looks like all the “meal planning” and “cooking” and “focusing on my recovery” went a little bit out the window. Stress is a pain and lately I’ve been a little down in the dumps and a little wrapped up in other things going on in life. Things slipped a tiny bit but I’m still recovering and I’m not gonna let things slide downhill anymore.

The thing is I actually enjoy looking after myself and being healthy! And it’s been such a shame recently to lose something I love so much and am enthusiastic about. So let’s start again a little bit. Recovery isn’t a straight line but it’s still going up overall.

It’s April 2017 now and I’m in the process of applying for PhDs, revising for my exams and writing my dissertation. All things I’m passionate about – all things I find it hard to actually do because work is tiring. I’ve got these goals to focus on though and my future still looks pretty bright to me.

I’ve recently got back into running and I’ve signed up to do a race (me! running a race!) in May which I’m super excited about. I love exercising and I live right by a gorgeous park. It’s also more motivation to eat right and eat healthily. Too little food and I won’t have the energy to train, binge on junk and I feel too sluggish to run. Balance is important and I need to make sure I’m getting it right if I want to improve.

This is a positive post though. I might have been stressed and worried over winter, but lately I’m feeling pretty comfortable in my skin and I’m excited to just get better and better in life.

Keep an eye out for more recipes coming soon as I get back into cooking again!

Recovery Check-In 5

After a ridiculously long break, surprise! I have actually returned to this blog I started…

The past two months have been insanely busy for me and the future doesn’t seem to be relaxing anytime soon…but I really want to pick this back up and even if I have to take a break from the food posting, I at least need to keep up with my check ins. I’m going to set an alarm now and make sure I update – maybe not once a week since I am no longer struggling with recovery, but it is nice to keep thinking about how far I’ve come and there is always going to be room for self improvement in my health and my wellbeing.

SO, here we are, November 27th 2016. I’m nearing the end of my first term of my third year of my degree and it’s been hectic. I scheduled all my modules for my first term meaning I’m in university every day with a lot of assignments and very little free time to do the necessary studying my degree requires. But it’s okay, I enjoy the topics I study and overall despite having the highest workload I have probably had so far, I think I’m calmer than I ever have been in my life.

I’ve applied to do post-grad veterinary medicine and I have two interviews so far (one of them in two days) which is super exciting, even if I’m not certain that I still want to be a vet and I feel like a PhD in something like endocrinology or parasitology may be calling me instead. But if you had told 17 year old me, who received rejections from all the vet schools she applied to, that in three years time she would have two interviews, be off anti-depressants and be recovered from her eating disorder, I think she would be pretty amazed.

I still get stressed out – money is a big worry for me lately and it means I haven’t been cooking as many nice recipes as I’d like, and my meal plans have gone a little skewed. I don’t feel like I’ve been binging though and I haven’t been intentionally skipping meals at any point. I still try to eat fruit and nuts as snacks, I eat my vegetables and I have carbs throughout the day – a run down brain is never going to help with the workload. I had a sort of breakdown earlier today where I was super stressed and I felt super down for almost no reason, mainly not helped because it’s dark and cold and my previous depression was always worse in the winter. But where I would previously react by engaging in self destructive behaviours, I simply got into bed and waited it out, and now I feel much better and much more positive and productive. Just getting into bed can’t always be my reaction when I feel down, but when I’m alone and don’t have many options, it at least helps me clear my head until the bad mood has passed.

In terms of my eating disorder, I now consider myself recovered rather than “in recovery”. The last time I purged was just over 24 weeks ago (around 5 and a half months ago) which is amazing! Never in a million years did I believe I could make it almost 6 months without purging. I feel like I am still eating healthily and avoiding binges too. I do treat myself to chocolate or desserts every now and then but I wouldn’t call my eating habits abnormal at all.

It’s also almost been a year since I came off my antidepressants and even though I still have the odd down day, winter has started and I definitely haven’t slipped back which was something I was absolutely terrified of when summer ended. I feel like although I am fairly stressed these days, I am coping with life. I have a lot of good things going on too, I’m pretty relaxed about what the future holds and overall I’m still just as positive as I was when I started this blog.

So to sum up: things are good. I am healthy and happy. I feel like I have fully recovered from my battles with depression and eating disorders, which spanned several years.

24 weeks purge free, let’s make this 26 and then we’re halfway to a year!

Big Vegan Bowl

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Another meal, another colourful bowl!

Okay I loved this bowl from one of my favourite food bloggers Oh She Glows!, it was fun to make and delicious to eat (click here for original recipe!). I thought it would be quite plain because there aren’t any dressings but the flavours you get from the sweet potato, chickpeas and hummus are actually enough. All the elements of the bowl go really nicely together, it’s super easy to make and packed full of protein – I felt full within a couple of bites!

The only thing I didn’t include from the original recipe were the hulled hemp seeds because I didn’t have any and had no idea where to get some from! Instead I sprinkled some sesame seeds over the top of everything, sort of for aesthetic purposes but also because I really love sesame seeds. I wish I could say the hummus was homemade but unfortunately I still haven’t bought a proper blender for my new flat – hopefully I’ll be making my own at some point over the next few weeks though.

I really really enjoyed this meal and I think I might have it again sometime soon – I still have a whole purple cabbage to use up! It feels super healthy and clean to eat but is very filling and packed with enough protein, carbs and veggies that I know I’ve eaten a decent meal. This meal actually kept me satisfied while my friend sat opposite eating a huge pizza that had my carb cravings going haywire!

Another great tasting and super healthy dinner.

Credit to Oh She Glows! for the recipe.

Chicken Burrito Bowl

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Two things I really love when I’m cooking are 1) bowls, and 2) colour! Bowl recipes are my favourite thing to make because they just look so pretty and I love a nice helping of brightly coloured veggies to fill a dish with nutrients and vitamins.

Today, I made this delicious “chicken burrito bowl” which I found on Buzzfeed’s Tasty section, on a big masterpost of healthy grain bowl recipes (click here for original!). There’s also a really simple step-by-step video of how to make it on their facebook page which made it even easier. I haven’t really tried many Tasty recipes before but this one jumped out at me – not many ingredients but heavy on the vegetables, and not actually that much preparation needed so it was quite quick too.

I did make a few changes. I used my own homemade salsa instead of one from a jar. The day before when I had some time free, I made a big bowl to stick in my fridge for the rest of the week, using 4 small-medium tomatoes, 1 red onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon crushed chillis, chopped fresh coriander, the juice of half a lime and a little salt and pepper. It’s actually really tasty and I know all the ingredients are fresh. I also made up my own taco seasoning from a mix of cumin, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper.

I also completely omitted the cheese. I enjoy watching the Tasty videos on Facebook but I always find they use too much cheese. Although I do really like a good cheese board, I find cheese often bloats me and if I don’t need it for a recipe, I can go without. So I left it – making the recipe even healthier! – and I don’t think I would have needed it anyway. The resulting bowl was really delicious. Filling because of the rice (you can’t see it in the photo but I had brown rice under there) but also quite light because it’s so loaded with vegetables and beans. I really enjoyed this and I’m very glad I have leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch too.

Overall, a great colourful bowl filled with fresh ingredients and flavours.

Credit to Buzzfeed Tasty for the recipe.

Grilled Aubergine, Pepper and Feta Parcels

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She’s back to blogging! I’ve returned and I have a whole backlog of recipes I never shared whilst I was busy all summer. So to kick things off, here’s one that is super healthy, simple, easy and, most importantly, really tasty.

This was made during my week where I had a lot of feta to use up (and also when I was living in my new flat – I’ve moved now so after a few posts that black marble counter is going to disappear). I came across the recipe when googling “feta recipes” (click here for original!) and it’s so easy to make. I didn’t have any Mediterranean herb paste so I simply substituted a mix of oregano, basil, salt and pepper and it still tasted delicious, and rather than buy pre-roasted red peppers, I just roasted some on a baking tray myself beforehand.

The main difference I made was switching this from a barbecue recipe to a grilled one. I don’t have a barbecue but I have an oven, so I just grilled my aubergine slices until cooked and then grilled the assembled parcels until the feta was soft. It still all tasted great and I found the parcels stayed wrapped so well that I didn’t even need cocktail sticks to hold them together.

I served it with a bowl of mixed leaf & rocket salad, with a simple dressing of olive oil, salt, pepper and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. It’s a completely carb-free meal so very low calorie despite the cheese and I definitely either had a piece of toast afterwards or some form of carbohydrate based dessert – recovery means I’m not one to miss a carb in a meal, besides; I’d just be hungry later on!

This meal is surprisingly easy to make and looks really nice – will definitely be having it again and might suggest it whenever I next have a barbecue!

Credit to Tesco Real Food for the recipe.