Rants and Raves #23

Hello! It’s the middle of the week, hurrah! I’m working from home tomorrow so it kind of feels like Friday, but only in that I get a bit of a lie-in tomorrow rather than 5am for the gym. Woop! I’m seeing my Physio again tomorrow so I hope to have another post about my injury (oh the long-standing saga that it is, I’m sorry) another day. But for now, I’m ranting but mostly raving.

Rave: Workout clothes. I can’t stop buying them. It’s becoming an issue. To be fair though, other than food, I really don’t spend my money on much else. Forever21 is my go-to place for good quality and inexpensive gym clothes. Though I do like treating myself to Fabletics some months.

I bought the below ‘muscle tee’ from Forever21 which fits amazingly. It’s perfect for my strength workouts as my arms are nice and free and the side slits help keep me cool. It says ‘No Days Off’. Not true, but still cool.


I bought another muscle tee, a crop-top, a crop-top sports bra and two pairs of Nike Pro shorts (not from Forever21 but Zalando). ENOUGH NOW, ANNA.

Rant: Planning my weekends is so tricky at the moment. I still haven’t moved. My solicitors said it could be this week but then who knows. It depends on some enquiries… This is annoying as I’m meant to be seeing my uni friends in Cardiff this Saturday but now I don’t know if I can or not. In fact, we’ve had to rearrange the whole thing because I was going to give one of my friends a lift back and can’t guarantee it anymore. *Sighs*

I’m also just living out of boxes and reluctant to buy any sort of extra condiments or bulk purchases (which I like to do to with items I use regularly to save a bit of money).


I’m not using my downstairs toilet anymore because it’s a great place to put boxes (especially food items and crockery) so Alfie can’t get to them. As you can see, my Hello Fresh boxes are very handy!

And I have nowhere to work when I work from home as I sold pretty much all my furniture (I live life on a bean bag with a £5 Ikea side table). I’ve had to use my kitchen to work in. For my standing desk obsession it works quite nicely.Standing desk

Rave: Speaking of Hello Fresh (yes, I know, I’m obsessed)… I finally received the hallowed Recipe Journal. My parents, who also still get Hello Fresh, have two! I introduced them to it first! Anyway, I have one now and it’s already almost full up.Hello Fresh recipe folder

It makes me really proud how may recipes I’ve done (I’ve had 23 boxes – each box contains three recipes). I love it! I eat so many different foods each week and it makes life so much easier cooking a meal and then having another portion of it for the next night.

A few weeks ago I had a lovely warming Mexican broth…Hello Fresh Mecican Broth

With a good dollop of soured cream. Yum.

If you fancy £25 off your first box I have a referral code ZVUM4A (which would also give me £12 off my next box). I’m not affiliated with Hello Fresh, I just love them.

Rave: I’ve recently bought some BCAA formula, AminoX, to help with me at the gym. It isn’t a stimulant but rather it’s designed to support my strength workouts and recovery. It contains essential amino acids, L-Alanine, Taurine and L-Citrulline.AminoX

You just mix one scoop with water and give it a mix. Don’t do what I do and shake it in a bottle vigorously as when you then go to open the lid, it explodes like a foamy volcano. Gentle stirring is required! I got the green apple flavour and it’s really yummy, though luminous green. I can’t say I feel a huge difference but I am lifting heavier weights than ever before – though considering how often I go to the gym and focus on this, that’s not surprising really.

Rant: Alfie’s Halloween costume came last week. Obviously too late for Halloween…and actually too small. For a fiver though I’m not upset.

Dog halloween costume

I’m wondering if I can cut the sides a bit and see if he could fit. He may never forgive me though.

Rave: This ice cream.

Oppo ice cream

It’s called Oppo and has the fabulous tagline of “Eat like a whale, look like a mermaid”. I got the salted caramel flavour. The ingredients are far better looking than Ben and Jerry’s and so are the nutritional stats for 100ml:

  • Energy (Kcal): 77.3
  • Fat: 3.8g (saturates: 2.8g)
  • Carbohydrate: 7.6g (sugars: 6.7g)
  • Protein: 3.2g
  • Sodium: 0.1

I’m a volume person when it comes to eating (more food = better) and will happily admit I ate the entire tub in one sitting, which was around 400 calories in total. That’s comparable to a slice of cake. Though cake always wins in my eyes, this was such a nice treat for a Friday night.

Rave: I saw this picture on Jamie Oliver’s Instagram…him with Orlando Bloom.Jamie and Orlando

Be still my beating heart. I have such a crush on Jamie Oliver it’s ridiculous. I just think he’s so lovely. And I used to be obsessed with Orlando Bloom during his LOTR days. It’s like a dream come true to have them side by side in a photo… *sighs*.

Who’s your celebrity crush? Who did you fancy when you were younger?

What’s your favourite ice cream and ice cream flavour?

Do you cook from scratch every evening?

Rants and Raves #18

Is it too early to think about Christmas? Yes, yes it is. I do love autumn but I’d still like one last summer hurrah before the coldness does finally set in…we’ll see I guess.

Rave: I am now the proud owner of a standing desk at work now. I’m so pleased as I really pushed for this. To be fair, my company were very accommodating but it did require me to do the leg work (no pun intended) to champion it and find a decent one that didn’t cost the world. Posture Stand

It’s good timing as my original Amazon box was starting to sag…This bad boy is fantastic though as it even has someone to perch your mouse (before I had to put my mouse on my laptop and swerve the keyboard). It was only around £50 as well, and fully adjustable! (It’s THIS one if you’re interested – no affiliation).

Rant: Dark mornings. How easy it was to get up at 5.30am when the sun was already shining outside…now it’s like the dead of night. At least it’s light when I come out of the gym I suppose.


Dark but beautiful I suppose.

Rave: Getting back into playing the Xbox again. I’m a geek at heart and have played console games and PC games since I could hold a controller. My dad’s to blame as he’d always buy the latest consoles and get me to play with him.


Sometimes it’s nice to chill out and shoot a few zombies, crash a few cars and ‘level up’. I can’t believe how much of a geek I used to be back in the day; I played so many games growing up (The Sims, Tomb Raider, Halo, online gaming…). These days I can get bored quite easily, but once in a while it’s nice to waste some time when the weather’s rubbish.

Rant: I seem to have a soap opera life with the cats on my street. The ginger one below has been using this little spot on my front garden (hardly a garden, more a patch of untamed grass…) to chill.


So much so there is now an indentation in the grass where it’s been curled up for hours at end. I’m at peace with it chilling there though as Alfie doesn’t notice it. Bless, Alfie, he’s not the sharpest or most observant dog…

Speaking of cats, there’s one that looks so grumpy it’s almost unreal. I’ve been trying to take a photo of it for ages…I even stroked it and played with it (it seemed really friendly surprisingly) but I could only manage this one:


Someone really annoyed this cat at some point in its life. It’s holding a powerful grudge.

Rave: I’ve got a collection of old designer handbags that I’m aiming to get sell (not really high end brands, but DKNY, Guess and Radley). I put one of the Radley handbags on eBay to sell and didn’t really care how much I’d get and in the end got £28. I charged £5ish for P&P and went to he post office to sell it.

I haven’t sold anything before on eBay nor have I ever sent a handbag in the post. It was all very stressful and complicated and would have cost more than £5. The lady behind the till was aghast though and said she’d give me£50 there and then to buy it from me. I was stunned. I had a little think and decided to hell with it. I said I’d be happy to sell it to her for £40 (£50 felt too much). She gave me cash! Amazing. I did feel terrible having to go back to the eBay buyer and say it was no longer available and they were fully refunded. Sometimes though you just have to go for it!

Rant: This is a depressing and slightly morbid rant, sorry. I don’t talk too much about this on the blog as it’s highly personal and doesn’t just involve me, but I still find being separated from Ben tough. I’m learning how to redefine myself and live my life now as a unit, which is hard. It still affects me every day. I had a moment the other day when I thought (now this really is morbid I’m sorry) what if I have an accident or I’m attacked one evening? Who will know I’m missing? My parents will eventually, but not right away. I don’t speak to them every day. Yes I work with my dad but some days/weeks he’s not in the office and somewhere else in the country (or world) on business. I obviously have friends but it’s not the same is it as a significant other? I mentioned this to my mum and she said she had thought about that too (her spinster daughter all on her own…) and suggested we “check in” with each other each night. Either a text or a phone call just before I go to bed to say “hey, I’m alive”. Jesus, this is how much I’ve regressed 😉 Though we failed the first evening as I forgot and then she text too late as I was already asleep. Whoops.

And just because we’re on that delightful topping of being newly single… I saw a work colleague the other day that I hadn’t seen for like three years. She asked how married life was as the last time she spoke to me was just before the wedding. Ah there’s a great conversation “yeah…not so good actually.” Or even better still, someone who had no idea you’d gotten married in the first place asks what’s new in your life. I mean seriously, what do you say!? You have to laugh at these things really…!

Rave: To end on something lighter… This is Alfie’s meditation face.


I’m pretty sure if I could read his thoughts he was visualising how he was going to overcome the many cats that hound him around my road 😉 “I am strong, I won’t let them bother me”…either that or “I hope when I open my eyes she’s put her camera away”.

On the subject of Alfie, I find it both adorable and annoying that he leaves little bits of food all over the house. I’m pretty sure this is because he thinks someone might steal the food in his food bowl (he’s a grazer rather than an outright meal eater) so he distributes little bits everywhere…just in case.


Resourceful I must admit.

If you have pets, do they do things that are cute but annoying?

What time do you get up in the morning usually?

Do you use eBay a lot? Have you ever sold old things?

Having a healthy workspace

I work in an office environment that’s dominated by desks and computers. Sadly this is typical of many people’s workplaces nowadays. So much is done using computers and so much of a person’s day is spent sat down.

OK this is great for productivity and I’m not saying we should throw our computers out the window and go back in time…but it’s really not conducive to a healthy lifestyle when the majority of your day is spent on your bum.

Not only that but the office environment seems to be a breeding ground for unhealthy snacks…the biscuits, the vending machines, the cakes (“because it’s Tuesday” <—love those days…). And the fact that to do any form of exercise you need to do it in your own time – what little of it is left after your work hours and commute.

I worked out I spent over 10 hours every day sat down. I was horrified. I run, I lift weights, I walk my dog, I walk at lunchtime…how am I still spending 10 hours a day sat down?? Two hour’s worth of commuting and then the time at work sat down in front of my laptop is how – and that’s not counting any sofa time in the evening. Last year I seemed to go from injury to injury with my running and I was desperate to do anything to stop this cycle. Amongst other things, I decided to create a healthier environment for myself at work. After all, I spend a good chunky of my life there.

I created my own standing desk. I used odd boxes from home (or around the office) to lift my laptop and monitors to the right height. It’s not perfect it works for me!

Standing desk (1)I currently dual-use a laptop and a computer (hence the second keyboard)

Since Christmas I stand at my desk from 9am until the end of the day (5pm or 6pm). Though after my lunchtime walk I sit down for lunch as a break (plus I make enough mess eating lunch sat down as it is…).

It’s not easy and it was certainly really hard work at the beginning. I had to keep sitting down for 30 seconds every so often to take a break. But now I’m a standing pro 😉 You do still have to make sure you have good posture though – no slouching!


And yes, my work colleagues thought I was mental. They did seem curious and aware that sitting wasn’t a great thing to do all day but alas, none have followed suit…yet.

But there are other, perhaps less revolutionary, ways to turn your office into a more healthy place. Simplyhealth have a great article HERE on tips for being healthier at work, such as:

  • Have fruit and healthy snacks to hand
    This is a hard one but instead of having a communal biscuit tin, have a communal fruit bowl instead that everyone contributes too. When 4pm comes along I’m always fancying something sweet and tasty, but instead of that being a cake or biscuit I have an apple and a banana. I find it far more filling.
  • Take the stairs
    If you’re on the ground floor maybe try using the upstairs toilet (if possible). I tend to go to the loo so many times during the day because my bladder is the size of a walnut and I drink loads of water, so those extra steps help.
  • Organise group exercise
    It’s easier to exercise when you’re with other people who are motivated to exercise; it spurs you on. Perhaps start a lunchtime running club (runching!) or organise to go to Zumba together after work. Making it social really helps.

For more tips, see Simplyhealth’s article.

The thing is, you’re at work for a pretty long period of time every day, every week, every year. Yes this sucks but unless you’re a millionaire, that’s life. Making the experience a bit more healthy will do you big favours physically and mentally. Even if you exercise regularly if you’re sat down at work all day, not moving, eating rubbish then it’s pretty much like eating a McDonalds and ordering a Diet Coke. Being healthy is not just what you do in the gym after all!

How healthy is your work environment?

What do you snack on at work?

How long do you sit every day?


**Full Disclosure: Simplyhealth asked me to write an article regarding a healthy workspace with links to their website. The links are not affiliated but I will receive a small related gift in return.**

Probably jinxing it now – marathon training

Pretty much the entire (running) world and his friend are tapering or just about to taper for impending marathons. It seems everyone is training for London, Brighton or Edinburgh to name but a few.

While I’m sad that I’m not in that gang, I know that deferring London until next year was still the right decision. I couldn’t do yet another marathon on minimum training and maximum stress. I am however still training for a marathon at the moment. I’m just a couple of months behind the main pack.

The Liverpool marathon is mid-June, so I’m currently about 10 weeks away. I’m taking nothing for granted though and know only too keenly that injury could strike me down like a bolt of lightning at any point. Not to sound too depressing but being realistic is far better for me than being blissfully optimistic and then being disappointed. I also think that having this arguably pessimistic approach means I can try and not make silly mistakes (notice I said “try” there).


My long run is up to 13 miles and my next run is 14 miles. I’ve pretty much just been gently crawling up the mileage like this – though some runs I’ll do twice to allow my body to adjust before ramping it up again. The only run I’m increasing is the long run, whereas previously I’ve just thrown in miles all over the place, which doesn’t seem to work for me. I also have the Southampton half marathon planned for the end of April, which (all things being good) I will aim to race.


In a regular week, I do a hill session (usually just over 10k), a parkrun which I try and put some speed in my legs and then a long run which I’m really trying to slow down and just get the time on my feet. At this point in my long runs this is more important than ever.

Strength training


Ahh that little gem I’ve previously been missing in my life. This I would say is almost as important as my running. For me the two have to go hand-in-hand for now. I feel so much stronger. Who knows if this is essential for everyone and whether it’s essential to do for all the time you’re training. All I know is my running feels stronger, I have no injuries and no niggles.

My Go To Moves


I try and do one session a week of cross-training. This is steady-state cardio and it’s normally the day after my hilly run so it’s nice to shake the legs out a bit and not put a huge amount of effort in. I keep my heart rate fairly low to replicate a recovery jog.

Rower workout selfieIt’s usually 45 minutes on the rowing machine listening to MarathonTalk. I’d say this workout is probably more for my sanity than anything. What I mean by that is because I’m only running three times a week I worry that I’m not doing ‘enough’ endurance-style cardio. Who knows if this helps but it does make my legs feel fresher and I enjoy it!


Getting Hello Fresh meals (food/recipe delivery service) helps a lot. I’m a vegetable and salad lover to my core and while this is a great source of nutrients and vital vitamins…it may not be the best way to keep me fuelled for my long runs and my gym visits.

IMG_0201 Chicken Shawarma (spiced chicken with lentils and roasted vegetables)

With Hello Fresh my meals are far more varied and they’re all a good balance of protein, carbs and fat. It’s no secret that I don’t love carbs too much…pasta, rice and bread are not things that make me go “mmm”, but making meals with mash potato or roasted new potatoes are rocking my life right now – as well as my usual well-loved sweet potato. Don’t fear the spud! 😉


Teriyaki beef with sweet potato chips

And I’m eating more red meat and this ensures my iron levels are tip top. I can satisfy my salad need at lunch, but dinner is where the big guns come out ready for my next early morning gym session or run.

And cake. Lots of cake.

Added extras

Sleep is never usually an issue with me. I like to go to bed early and find after reading my book for a bit I fall asleep very easily. I get up stupidly early (5am if I’m going to the gym, 6am otherwise) so the early nights help. As long as I get seven hours I feel great. As a childless person this is quite easy to do I know (don’t hurt me, parents out there!!).

My standing desk at work helps reduce the amount of time I spend sitting to around 3-4 hours a day (2 hours worth of commuting, lunch, and sofa time in evening). My legs feel so much better, my hip flexors no where near as tight and just generally I feel better (read this BBC article for more information on the health benefits).

Foam rolling after my runs seems to help loosen up my tight muscles. It’s so easy to do while watching TV in the evening that I can’t not do it without feeling guilty.

Same goes for wearing my compression socks after a run. When I do my hilly 10k on a Wednesday evening the compression socks go on straight away after I shower and I usually sleep in them (yes I know, what a sexy beast I am). And I wake up with new calves, it’s fabulous.

Having said all this, I’m pretty sure I’ll now get injured 😉 #sodslaw

What are your tried and tested methods of injury prevention?

What are your top priorities during marathon training?

How long do you stay sat down each day?

Rants and Raves #6

First ranting and raving post for 2015. So we’re supposed to get snow…? Or a massive storm? So far it’s rather peaceful and quiet this morning. Wouldn’t a snow day just be lovely? Unlikely though. Anyway, here are latest my rants and raves!

Rave: New boots! OK I got these before Christmas, but in the sale from Dorothy Perkins for £20 I think. I’m not a high heel wearer but I enjoy a modest ‘wedged’ heel rather than a pointy one (if that makes sense…).IMG_8833

They’re sort of burgundy rather than the brown colour they appear in the photo. I normally go for black so it’s nice to have a change. They’re very comfy and very useful for the current rainy conditions we’re being blessed with in the UK. Though I do take them off at work now I have my standing desk otherwise it can be a bit hard on my calves…

Rant and rave: A nice segue to my standing desk.

Standing deskI won’t lie, it is hard to stand the majority of the day. I’m very much ready to sit down for lunch midway through the day. However the difference I feel when I walk somewhere after I’ve been standing compared to after I’ve been sat having my lunch is incredible. My legs are all stiff when I’ve been sat for an hour whereas my legs feel great after standing instead.

My boss asked how it was going and what my motivations behind it were. I told him how I felt more alert later in the day, my back ache had disappeared and my posture was improving. It shocked me that he seemed genuinely surprised that standing would be better for you than sitting and the health benefits involved.

Rant: Speaking of people being ignorant to health matters and fitness, sometimes I feel like shouting at people. OK not shouting, I’m not a shouty type of person. But I have serious face-palm moments when I hear and see some of the bewildering things people do or say on their journey towards health. A serial dieter at work asked “is tinned tuna fattening?”. I felt myself die a little inside. There are so many things wrong with this sentence. And then there’s the lady going on a liquid diet for a set number of weeks to drop pounds quickly. Or watching the TV programme Fast Food Baby and seeing parents giving their toddler takeaways every single day and walking past the produce section of the supermarket saying “we don’t need any of that!”.

I read a lot of blogs, magazines, books and surround myself with a lot of similar people so health and fitness aren’t vague concepts to me, but I know that for some of the population today they are. I’m trying not to sound smug or like an annoying know-it-all because I know I’m not (hello, I’m the girl who’s always injured from running). But it makes me sad when people just don’t seem to have a clue and will always try the quick fixes to achieve what realistically takes a long-time to sort out. Lifestyle changes not dieting. You could say “well it’s easy for you to say” but I work hard in the gym, try not go crazy with my cake obsession and try to eat healthily most of the time – being healthy is not easy and perhaps there’s the issue.

Rave: My parents installed two web cams for their kitchen and utility room so they could check up on their dogs via an iPhone app throughout the day.


Surprise surprise when he checked midway through the day the three dogs were fast asleep all snuggled together. I think this is brilliant and very cute. A great way to check in on your house and see what your furry friends are up to. I’m pretty sure the same would be for Alfie as he sleeps like 16 hours a day! But I would love to nosey in on what he’s up to in a day.

Rant: More of a half-hearted rant really. This is Ben’s idea of porridge:

IMG_8975 Not only does he submerge it in golden syrup but there are also a few teaspoons of white sugar in there as well. Oh his poor teeth… Thankfully he only has this or toast at the weekend as he never has breakfast in the week (*sighs*). I think I would self-combust on the way to work if I didn’t have breakfast.

Rave: If you read this blog regularly you’re probably aware that I adore BBQ sauce. BBQ ribs are probably one of my favourite foods (and why I’m so happy we’re going to Dallas as apparently they’re good there…). My latest easy meal (that Ben also enjoys) is oven-baked BBQ chicken thighs and drumsticks. I remove the skin (weirdly I’m only a fan of chicken skin in restaurants as they just do it so much nicer? More crispy and flavoursome) and coat it in BBQ sauce (sneakily add some kale) and oven bake it for 40 minutes or so. With it I have a roasted sweet potato whereas Ben has onion rings.

IMG_8844 OK let’s ignore the fact that the main ingredient in BBQ sauce is sugar and you could say ‘pot calling kettle black’ and all that jazz with my previous rant about Ben’s golden syrup…but it just tastes SO GOOD. And there’s healthy stuff there with the kale and protein. Shhh.

Rant: At Christmas one of the presents both Ben and I got were selfie sticks. Funnily enough both Ben’s mum and my parents got us selfie sticks. So we’re now the proud owners of four selfie sticks. No one is that self-obsessed right?! As we got the selfie sticks as our table present (anyone else do that?) I tried to get it working so we could have a quick selfie before we ate.

IMG_8878 Can you see how happy Ben is about this?

And that would be a fail. It has a little remote control to take the photo but it was just very fiddly and difficult to work out how to use.


I did think that our attempts were somewhat amusing, and trying to take a photo in front of a large window is never a good idea. Needless to say we haven’t attempted to try again. I am taking them with us on holiday though. Just probably not on any roller coasters… Hopefully this will turn into a rave at some point!

Rave: Nice people at the gym. I was at the gym the other morning going through one of my strength routines, just in the zone you know, and there was an older lady who was doing her own routine behind me. As I finished up and was doing some stretches she came over to me and said “Can I just say that you have such an amazing core!” Granted it was a bit of a weird compliment but it literally made my day. She told me she had been watching me do my thing and was impressed at how strong my core was. She asked my age and said she was almost 60 herself. I said to her that I hoped to be like her when I’m 60 because she was rocking out some tough moves herself! I think we both made the other feel pretty damn good that morning.

She told me she was a runner too and only a few years ago the doctor had told her after she had an accident she’d never run again – well, she said to him, she didn’t run beforehand but she was damn well going to now! She told me her 10k PB was 58 minutes – how amazing is that! Bless her heart she said mine must be 40 minutes. I loved her for that and did laugh quite a lot. Not quite I said haha!

What are your rants and raves this week?

Do you enjoy taking selfies?

BBQ sauce or ketchup? Ketchup is a mere pretender in my eyes 😉 but it will do if nothing else is available. Chips (fries) without a little sauce is a heinous sin!