Sceptically Fit


Reasons to have a smartphone

Filed under: Personal, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Sceptically Me @ 07:26

Instant recipe search!

So after an evening in the pub, SO attempted to be supportive of my healthy eating thing (Can’t you just eat around the pie crust? Lasagne is out too? Well, you have to pick something) and we headed to the late night mini-supermarket to pick up some meat to cook (my post-pub concession was we can have some oven chips to go with it).

The supermarket was out of lamb chops but had some nice looking Irish rump steaks. Which SO looked at and shrugged and revealed without peppercorn sauce what’s the point of steak. Imagine the wonder when I quickly looked up a recipe on my phone so we could a) determine it was easily made and b) grab the ingredients.

Went a little heavy on the pepper (SO thought the recipe didn’t look peppery enough) but tasty. And while I can’t consider it a truly healthy meal, and the beef stock cubes weren’t gluten-free,  it did show better options aren’t always more time consuming. In the time it took the chips to bake (ie same amount of time a pizza would take and half the time for a lasagne) I cooked the steak and made the sauce. And besides, four tequilas on an empty stomach, how healthy can you expect someone to be.

Learning points:

  • its just as easy and tastier to cook up something than to heat a pizza
  • Despite seeming to have normal or greater competence in life, SO continues to be amazed at the concept that food you buy can also be made at home
  • I can be motivated enough to stick to my healthyish diet even after a night out.

Also – more success on the resolution front. That’s two new recipes this year and I’m only in the third week!


2013 – New Years Goals

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , — Sceptically Me @ 20:28

Ok so I’m a little behind on my new year resolutions but then, I feel like this years aren’t as momentous as I’ve felt previously. These all seem reasonably concrete – an identifiable goal to achieve but aside from studying for certification they are all developing on patterns I’ve already started to set.


  • Follow a Paleo/Primal diet strictly for approx 30 days
  • Keep a food diary to identify food intolerances – so far big suspects are wheat, apples, onions and brocolli.
  • Follow a paleo/primal diet 80/20
  • Improve my cooking – aim of a new recipe every fortnight.


  • Make a roller derby team
  • Be able to do ten full pushups, I’ve kind of dropped wanting to do pullups. I still want to but it seems the goal doesn’t match my motivation for it. I think the limiting factors pushup-wise probably parallel my limits pullup-wise. I also suspect pushups will be easier to achieve if only that I don’t need any equipment.

Lifestyle and Wellbeing:

  • Start sewing again – did a few repairs/modifications of clothes last year but would like things to work a bit better. Need to start making some of my own clothes and a better effort of making the clothes I do have fit
  • Sort my wardrobe – a big change in defrumping my wardrobe last year. Still working on it. I’d like to get rid of or integrate all ‘closet orphans’ and I’d like to purge or adjust all illfitting clothes.
  • Read more – progress was not as good as I’d like, still waste too much time on the web instead of picking up a book. As a goal – I’d like to read a book a month.
  • Get regular 8hrs plus sleep.
  • stay in contact more – sent out initial contact emails, and then didn’t follow up on the responses.


  • two exams for certification over the year (ideally by July)
  • keep cv up to date


2012 Goal Review

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , — Sceptically Me @ 01:00

I fell very short in meeting my New Year Resolutions for 2012 but I’ve made some progress in some areas, and in many ways I’ve improved my life in areas I didn’t think I needed to prioritise.

Overall WellBeing

  • get eight hours sleep most nights: I’ve definitely  lacked on this – my sleep patterns have been very mixed up. Yet at the same time, I think I’ve increased my awareness of my sleep needs. I’m still working on  taking the time to meet those needs but I’m definitely more aware of how I feel better about everything if I have decent sleep.
  • Complete a 30 day Paleo challenge Continue eating paleo most of the time – From a brief (mostly) paleo January the rest of the year kind of fell apart. I’ve been eating badly – especially a lot of processed food and wheat based food. I’ve been binging on chocolate (especially Cadbury wholenut) but overeating in general. The plus I can take away from this year is an increased awareness of the way various food makes me feel. I’ve been dealing with increasing IBS symptoms, and for the last month or so – GERD!.
  • Smoke less – this was actually a sucess
  • Move into my own apartment: two moves this year but I’ve ended up at a very nice share place in nice part of town
  • Keep my home clean and tidy: Getting there – I’m definitely the messy flatmate
  • Keep my houseplants alive: thanks to my moves – not even attempted
  • Email/Call/Skype more often with friends and family:  I’ve reached out, but still a work in progress.

Fitness Goals

  • be able to do a full pull up – not yet achieve, oh well, can roll over again.
  • do the Survival of the Fittest and be able to get over the 6″ wall without help: This is the best fail – I had to pull out of the race because I signed up for a rollerskating course that started that day.
  • run a half marathon in under two hours in May : The worse run I’ve ever had. But I consider it a sucess – I finished the race. It was awful, it hurt every step of the way.

Creative/Lifestyle Goals

  • improve my paleo cooking – This got worse – for a while I was doing ok in that I was at least cooking comfort food for myself. Then I stopped doing that and just started buying ready meals. Obviously, a big part of my diet fail was how easy it was not to eat well when you aren’t cooking.
  • complete the beginners swing dancing course  – another fail. Marathon running took over, new job took over, sprained ankle, then success – interest replaced by roller derby! (still want to go back again though)
  • finish a book a month: Not this prolific but I’ve definitely read a lot more this year.
  • take the time to indulge my creative side at least once a week: I go my sewing machine out at least…


Other Success!

  • I got a new job
  • started learning spanish on my commute
  • started cycling more  – to skate class, to and from the office or train station
  • Roller Derby!
  • revamped my wardrobe – had fallen into a bit of a frump
  • International travel – Budapest!


I’m Back!

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , , , , — Sceptically Me @ 00:10

Woo! I finally joined a gym – I’m finally working out again. I haven’t been to the gym since July. I sprained my ankle quite badly at the very beginning of August. I moved house and quit my gym at the end of August. Obviously, I really did need to take it easy for a couple of months to heal up. I had signed up for roller skating lessons just before the sprain. The lessons started October and I’ve been too afraid to try my new skates until the lessons started in case I resprained by ankle.

So the closest I’ve come to any serious exercise for about three months is a gentle 10minute cycle to and from the train station (there’s enough of a hill, I’m counting it).

The roller skating lessons are hard work. Its Roller Derby style skating so lots of low ‘derby stance’ skating which is killing my thighs. And my lung capacity seems to have diminished quite  lot! It was definitely time to get back to the gym. It turns out not having a current gym membership is a bit of a demotivator. Who’d have thought? So five weeks of roller skating lessons – each week I must join a gym and work on this.

And this weekend I did. I am tired and have that somewhat comforting soreness from a good workout. I didn’t go too crazy – need to ease myself back into it. And I didn’t do enough stretching… but otherwise. I’m back!

Workout for 1,086 pts

  • Cycling:
    • 0:13:13.8 || 3.4 km || 15.6 mph (+98 pts)
    • 0:13:08 || 2.9 km || 13.2 km/hr (+21 pts)
    • 0:12:59.6 || 3 km || 13.9 km/hr (+23 pts)
  • Cuban Press:
    • 2 kg x 20 reps (+24 pts)
    • 2 kg x 8 reps (+21 pts)
    • 2 kg x 20 reps (+24 pts)
  • Barbell Squat:
    • 20 kg x 6 reps (+49 pts)
    • 20 kg x 6 reps (+49 pts)
    • 20 kg x 5 reps (+46 pts)
    • 20 kg x 6 reps (+49 pts)
    • 20 kg x 6 reps (+49 pts)
  • Romanian Deadlift:
    • 20 kg x 15 reps (+45 pts)
    • 20 kg x 15 reps (+45 pts)
    • 20 kg x 15 reps (+45 pts)
  • Standing Barbell Shoulder Press (OHP):
    • 20 kg x 8 reps (+72 pts)
    • 20 kg x 5 reps (+64 pts)
    • 20 kg x 6 reps (+68 pts)
    • 20 kg x 5 reps (+64 pts)
    • 20 kg x 5 reps (+64 pts)
  • Bent Over Barbell Row:
    • 20 kg x 8 reps (+29 pts)
    • 20 kg x 8 reps (+29 pts)
    • 20 kg x 8 reps (+29 pts)
  • Running (treadmill):
    • 0:02:00 || 10.6 km/hr || 1.5 % (+14 pts)
    • 0:03:55 || 10.6 km/hr || 1.5 % (+32 pts)
    • 0:03:55 || 10.4 km/hr || 1.5 % (+31 pts)
  • Stretching:
    • 0:10:00 (+2 pts)


TMI – Typical…

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , — Sceptically Me @ 14:24

Oh the joys of running.  The half-marathon that gave me a lovely under-the-nail blood blister was in May. The blood blister is long gone, but it lifted my nail off the bed enough that today when I clipped my big toenail – suddenly most of it is no longer attached to my toe. So now I have half a nail – vertically. And not only is painting my nails out and it looks awful, I’m now afraid it going to catch and tear off the part that is still attached.  Maybe I shouldn’t have clipped anything but too late now. Do I wear a bandaid over it?



Everyone hates bananas!

Filed under: Exercise, Personal — Tags: , — Sceptically Me @ 12:50

Ok that’s not entirely true but I was interested in the comments on this post on the merits of bananas over sports drinks. I hated bananas with a passion. I still don’t like the smell of them, although I’ve become largely indifferent to the taste. I still don’t like them. I’m aware of how good they are for  me – and their usefulness in fueling exercise.

In fact, my declining dislike has corresponded with my increasing cardio exercise ie training for a half marathon. I’m aware that as much as it seems otherwise most of the time, sometimes your body does know what it needs. About ten years ago I suddenly got a craving for bananas. I think it corresponded with a new very physically active job. For about a week I needed to eat bananas daily – then suddenly halfway through a banana – I didn’t like them anymore. I’m assuming I was low on something and needed to address it. My body wanted bananas until it had addressed the imbalance, and then the dislike-override faded.  Now that I’m planning on reducing my running and just concentrating on weight lifting, sprints and fun sports, I wonder if I’ll lose start developing a dislike of bananas again.



Discovering a Weak Point

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , — Sceptically Me @ 16:42

I finally moved to a new place on the weekend. Moving day is one of those times you really get an idea of your basic functional fitness level.

I moved from a flat on the second floor to a flat on the third floor. Both old Victorian tenements so stairs the whole way

I had two very kind friends who offered both assistance and vehicles. I didn’t have any furniture so just boxes and bags but a lot of them – and my packing Fu meant some of the clothes only bags were surprisingly heavy. In order to speed things up I got everything downstairs prior to their arrival so by the time we got to the new place I really appreciated the two extra bodies.

Being strong and fit enough meant I could keep going without taking a break up and down multiple flights of stairs. I could carry everything I packed rather than needing to leave any heavy boxes for the men folk. I still had energy to finish sorting though several hours later I was starting to fatigue and lifting a book filled packing box above my head to put on top of a cupboard was now beyond me (new place doesn’t have a bookcase).

The next day the muscle aches really started to kick on. To be expected my legs are quite sore – calves like after a half marathon and thighs, well I did an hour of weighted stairs…

Why surprised me a bit was that my upper arms and back feel fine – so seems my upper body training isn’t going to badly. The weak point – forearms! Oh they are aching. Sustained grip on heavy object is taxing!


The Joy of Frozen Vegetables and Warm Winter Food

Filed under: Recipes — Tags: , — Sceptically Me @ 23:55

Last year, the UK experienced winter weather that would probably make those from North America snort in derision, but it was enough to grind the country to a halt. While news of road closures kept filling the broadcasts, I was influenced by a friends warning that supermarkets would not receive any more stock and panic-shopped a bunch of frozen vegetables including a kilo of frozen shredded spinach.

At the time I was horrified – what was I going to do with frozen spinach? I certainly didn’t seem to suit my style of cooking and unlike the traditional frozen peas and corn wasn’t going to be something I’d be happy cooking up in the microwave with a nice dollop of butter.

But what I’ve since realised is that its perfect for bulking up the veggie content of chillis and curries, casseroles and hotpots.

Frozen onion is wonderful – I’m not too lazy to chop – I’m just incredibly sensitive to whatever it is that makes your eyes water. My eyes will still be sore and red several hours later! But not with frozen onion.

Basic Beef Casserole:

  • approx 500grams of diced casserole steak
  • 300gm of frozen spinach (ie probably a 3rd of a bag)
  • large cup of frozen onion
  • large cup of frozen peas
  • beef stock
  • chicken stock
  • tablespoon of lard
  • tin of borlotti beans
  • tin of button mushrooms.
  • herbs – oregano and garlic

I put the beef, lard, spinach, onion and peas in a casserole dish. Added the beef stock (I used a knorr beef hot pot gel) and chicken stock (I used two units of my homemade stock) and topped up the dish with boiling water. Give it a good stir and put in the oven on 200C for about 30min. Then I turned it down to 180C for about an hour and a half. Add the beans and mushrooms, oregano and garlic – give a good mix and turn the heat down to 160C for approx another hour.

As a cold winters night comfort dish after a good weights workout at the gym – its a good hearty meal for two – or for one, and a delicious reheatable meal for later (that’s the great thing about hotpot style dishes – they reheat well). I think I might add another tablespoon or two of lard next time – need a bit more fat to balance all that protein and carbohydrates.

Approx per serve: 715 Calories, 33grams of Carbohydrates (17grams fibre – already deducted), 109grams of Protein and 16 grams of Fat


Weekly review

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , , — Sceptically Me @ 08:05

I’m reasonably happy with the last weeks progress.

Starting the week with a pretty clean low-carb diet seems to have had a pretty quick effect on getting me to feel a lot better – less bloated, digestion feeling better and more energy. I weighed myself three times during the week and have dropped 2kg which I’m guessing is water weight – no wonder I feel less bloated.

So when I’m at home, I can keep my diet under control – but I’m not so good outside. According to myfitnesspal my diet was 5246 calories over my weekly goal. Ratios aren’t too bad – 30/20/50 but with all that stress going on last week, I needed that pizza on Thurs!

So clearly still working on balancing emotional eating but feel like I’m getting somewhere on motivating myself exercise-wise.

Strength: managed two sessions this week. Maintaining the gains I pushed for last week but not ready to go up yet.

Running: a 8km run outdoors on Tuesday which went well and some treadmill hills on Saturday – hard the day after weights but I do feel like I’m getting the benefit

This week I’m going to aim for the same level of activity – have another run planned for Tuesday. Also working on not looking for food treats at work!


Months of Stress and Inaction

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , , — Sceptically Me @ 15:35

I’ve spent the last few months in a state of constant stress from several different sources. This is is not a good state to be in and its a state I want to change.

The stresses that I’m not going to detail aren’t going to go away immediately. In fact I see much of the stress staying at a similar level for quite a while even if the direct cause changes. But what has to change is how I’m coping with them.

I don’t expect it to change over night – this kind of thing never does. But I’m starting.

Diet: I’ve been binging terribly on carbs over the summer and I’ve definitely lost muscle and gained fat.  I’ve started trying to track my diet. I’m going to try and keep my carbohydrates under about 100grams a day. And based on a lot of what I’ve read, a woman who exercises a lot needs approximately 1.3 grams of protein per kg. So basically my plan is to aim for a ratio of 20/20/60 (carbs/protein/fat). With that I’m trying to cut back on my refined carbohydrates (specifically grains). The party season is about the start, and rather than bring a sense of guilt or  asceticism and denial into my lifestyle I’m going to ease myself into it. I’d like to try and tidy up now, and in the new year try the 30 day primal challenge to see how that goes.

I’ve been coming across a lot of tasty sounding recipes but haven’t tried them. I’ve not really explored cooking and creating anything myself. Once again – things I want to work at.

Exercise: Over summer, I haven’t completely dropped this, even through Autumn I managed to keep up enough running and weights to not completely set myself back. But its been directionless, and probably contributing to the stress at times. In the last month I’ve started feeling like I can’t neglect myself any long (so a big tick there). I’ve started building up my weight training again – and I’d say I’m back a little bit ahead of where I was before it all went to head. My squat, deadlift and overhead press have increased. My bench hasn’t but I do that after the other three so that could be why. I’ve also decided to concentrate on my pullup over winter – as in to be able to do one. So I pushed a bit, and now I’m down to a 12kg counterweight on the assisted pullup machine (ie 5kg less than previously).

I’m now feeling more ready to start up my running again. I’ve decided I do want to do a half marathon again next year. But I want to build up to it more slowly. Spread the training over the week a bit more and increase mileage slowly enough to match an increase in carbohydrate consumption so I don’t get two weeks before the race and am ravenously eating everything in sight. I managed to turn up at a running club and keep up with them for the 8km run – though I’m going to have to work at being able to chat while running.

Sleep – get some! I bought one of those sun alarm clocks about two months ago and I’d recommend it. I only bought the cheap one which increases brightness every five minutes for twenty minutes instead of a gradual increase over twenty minutes/hour as some do. I’m very sensitive to light so usually wake up within the first five minutes. Even though its not the gradual adjustment of dawn, its better than a sudden alarm. The other side of things – going to sleep – has to improve. I need to go to bed earlier, and I need to be less stressed so I do.

Mental Health – working on making time for non-exercise related activities. I’m planning on going back to dance classes in the new year. I’m trying to make time for creative outlets, and cut back on the web surfing (oh the irony of saying that on a blog). I’m also seriously looking at exploring meditation/mindfulness as a path to helping my mental state.


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