FitFriday XXIII, FatFriday X. Too much sugars. Meh.

Fit.

Being keeping at it with my weights and my intermittent yoga between lessons, so as far as exercise is concerned, I’m feeling pretty good.

BUT, between work and Jon being on night shifts I’ve not really given myself much opportunity to enjoy the recently increased sunlight. I need to fix that and try and make time for myself to get out into the garden in a t-shirt or a dress and dig, weed, get cold and get some sun for a bit. Otherwise I’ll have to look at VitD supplementation which, outside the darkest hours of Winter, is a little sad for someone who actually has the time to get some sunning done.

Diet has been OK, but sugars through the roof. Not so much the granulated, palm or cane sugars, though they have features more often. More dates and prunes, things like Nakd bars. Which, however good for you, are very rich in fast release sugars. This has sent my water retention a bit weird, so I’ll monitor my intake of salts and water until I’m back to normal. Safe to say, I won’t be abusing fruit again, especially not dried fruit, in the near future. Sugar is sugar.

Back onto some more calories, though, now work levels and workout levels are increasing. Body fat is pretty good and I really need to get some gains in whilst we keep wondering about the whole baby-plan. May need to rewrite my yearly plan, if we’re not working towards a baby yet.

Fat.

As mentioned, I haven’t been too lazy. Kept fairly busy, doing lots of work and exercise, house kept quite well, other than hoovering, which feels like a futile effort this time of year.

The naughtiest thing I ate was an amazing bread and butter pudding which shall feature in next week’s WWW. Already had a Supreme Bread and Butter Pudding, so maybe this one can be a Regal Bread and Butter Pudding? Either way, wheat, piles of dairy, sugar and sickeningly sweet raw custard with it.

The tastiest thing I ate was actually not the pudding, though it may be hard to believe. I actually preferred a bowl of corned beef with cheese, though, again, the dairy will have to be cut back. It can’t be doing me any good to be pushing my limits like that.

Next week I’m sticking to my workouts, cooking up plenty of fish and beef alongside lentils, salads and eggs, as well as rebalancing my sugar intake and cutting back the dairy.

How did your week in fitness go? How do you cope when you need to cut back on tasty foods, like cheese?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How To… declutter your wardrobe the easy way.

Spring cleaning time! We’ve already addressed the clutter in your house. How about we take a look at our wardrobes next? I know, I know: “The horror!” You, like me and pretty much everyone, hate the idea of clearing down your wardrobe. And I get it. It’s always been time consuming, we never know what to part with, we hold onto something and everything “just in case” and eventually we are done, with nothing to show for it but a couple of wasted hours and a top with a few holes in it that maybe we’ll throw away, reuse or thrift (we never do).

So here are some foolproof steps to clearing down your wardrobe the easy way.

1: Sort everything by season.

First of all, none of these tricks work properly is your jumpers are between your sundresses and your shorts. Try and separate your clothing by the seasons there are in your country. Maybe there’s just a dry and a wet season, maybe the Spring and Winter are very obvious, but the Summer and Autumn are similar. However you do it, sort your clothes by the season you’re most likely to wear them.

2: Get storage boxes.

One marked “mending”, one marked “rags and upcycling”, one marked “charity”. Keep the mending one near your sewing. Keep the other two somewhere you can easily move them into your room several times a year, but where they’re out of the way for about 300 days of the year!

When you come across something that’s broken that should be in your “keep” pile, add it to the mending box. When you come across something that’s too bad to give away, put it in the rags box. When you come across something nice that isn’t right for you, put it in the charity box.

3: Use the hanger trick.

Go through this season by season. Hang all your seasonal clothes the wrong way around. Put your seasonal tops and underwear and whatever else upside down in drawers. And just use them all as normal. At the end of the season, whatever’s still the wrong way round hasn’t been used and probably won’t really be missed.

When it comes to work clothes and formal wear, keep them in rotation for a full year. If they get no use in a year, then you probably don’t need them.

Once the first year is up, we move onto stage two of the sorting.

4: Sort it by size.

We all do it. We keep clothes that don’t fit. Maybe they’re from when we were a different size, maybe they shrunk or stretched in the laundry, maybe we were given them. Whatever it is: you don’t need them.

Most people have two sizes they hover between over the course of the year. In my case it’s a small to a large 12, or a large 10 to a small 14. So first make a pile of your range, be it 8-12 or 10L-14S. Everything outside that pile, unless it’s an overgarment you regularly wear over many other clothes, can go.

Next, look through your “keep” pile for anything that only just fits and take it out of the pile. Just because the label says it fits or it sometimes looks OK doesn’t mean it actually fits.

5: Get a theme going.

Like it or not, we all have colours, cuts and styles that suit us. Depending on where you like your variety, try and theme your wardrobe. It’s fine to have a gothic wardrobe full of various colours and cuts, a dress wardrobe full of various styles and colours or a wardrobe that has a bit of anything blue, green and grey.

But if you have a wardrobe with clothing in styles ranging from hippie to emo, in cuts ranging from grungy to classic dresses, in all the colours of the rainbow, you will soon run out of things to wear. Why? Because not only should your wardrobe suit you, your clothes should match. When your clothes largely have something in common you don’t run out of combinations or ideas. So find out what colours suit you best, what your personal style is and what cuts and items are best for your life and see what theme you can work out that meets all your needs.

So now we’ve worked out what to keep, we have three daunting boxes ahead of us.

6: Make a mending pile.

So, this is one of the only two parts where you will actually have to sort the traditional way. Sit down and organize your loved, well-fitting, themed clothes that need mending. Sort them by the type of repair: darning, stitching, patches, rehem, reline, bleach. Then, find a day when you have enough time to repair one group. Do this until you’ve repaired the whole box.

7: Repurpose.

Another part where you have to sort traditionally. Arrange the clothing by fabric type so you can easily access them when you need them. Then, put them in your stash or put them away.

Ideas for old clothes include: dishrags, carseat covers, aprons, cushion covers, hanging organizers, under-table hammocks, patches for mending, etc.

8: Give away.

Finally, take what you’re going to give away. First try offering items to friends or family. Whatever they don’t want, put through the wash, fold and give to a local charity shop.

And that’s how to declutter your wardrobe the long, but very easy way. Not only have you got rid of your clutter, you’ve also got a better wardrobe, fixed your damaged clothes, got an endless supply of dish and wash rags, given to charity and hardly thrown away a scrap of fabric! How about that?

How do you declutter and sort your wardrobe? How do you reduce your fabric footprint? What is your fabric stash like? Do you reuse much? Please share your ideas, thoughts and advice in the comments!

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

WWW. Regency Indulgence Breakfast for Dinner.

Well, seeing as Jon has ten days in a row, we went all out on the last night off before he was back to work. I was quite inspired by this:

So we decided to have a Regency style breakfast for our dinner. Jon has named it “The Ridiculous Breakfast”.

First course.

Awesome Regency Inspired Breakfast 6

Fried Goose Egg.

Scrambled Duck Eggs with Cheddar and Spring Onion.

~

Second course.

Awesome Regency Inspired Breakfast 7

Chicken Stir Fry.

Bacon and Cherry Tomatoes.

Peppered Pork Belly.

~

Third course.

Awesome Regency Inspired Breakfast 8

Cheesecake.

Raw custard.

Coffee.

The only thing there isn’t a recipe for is the cheesecake, because I did plenty of cooking and wasn’t sure there’d be time to make a cheesecake too.

Course one.

Ingredients:

-2 goose eggs

Yes, the size of my fist.

Yes, the size of my fist.

-4 duck eggs

-50g very rich cheddar

Cheddar.

Cheddar.

-2 spring onions

-black pepper

Utensils:

-frying pan

Recipe:

1: Fry the goose eggs until the white is firm and the yolk is runny.

Awesome Regency Inspired Breakfast 5

2: In the same pan, scramble the duck eggs with cheddar and onions.

Course two. Stir fry.

Awesome Regency Inspired Breakfast 1

Ingredients:

-2 large chicken breasts

-10 cherry tomatoes

-800g/1lb stir fry vegetables

-3tbsp soy sauce

-1tsp salt

-2tsp onion powder

Utensils:

-chopping board and knife

-frying pan

Recipe:

1: Chop the chicken and vegetables. Halve the cherry tomatoes.

2: Fry until all liquid has left the base of the pan.

3: Season and stir fry until crisp.

Course two. Pork.

Ingredients:

-4 rashers of bacon

-10 cherry tomatoes

-4 strips of pork belly

-black pepper

Utensils:

-grilling pan

-frying pan

Recipe:

1: Lay the belly in the grilling pan. Pepper well and grill until crisp.

Awesome Regency Inspired Breakfast 2

2: Pan-fry the bacon in the pork grease. Add the tomatoes near the end to pop them.

Course three was just cheesecake, my raw custard and some coffee and tea. Fasting, then this is a far better alternative to eating throughout the day, I think.

10 Ways to Take Care of Yourself.

We all know and understand the message of looking after ourselves first. Everything from the little reminder during airline safety videos to advice for first time mothers reminds us that you can’t help someone before making sure you’re safe yourself.

But it can be hard to stick to this. Most of us have someone we put at the same level as ourselves, if not before us in terms of wellbeing. All of us have at some point harmed our health by trying to care for someone else. It’s all well and good to say “look after yourself”, but when the time actually comes, all you want to do is give everything to your partner, child, friend, relative or pet. When we try and look after ourselves first we can feel guilty or worried.

So what are some ways we can take care of ourselves when really all we want to do is run around looking after other people?

1. Quiet corner.

This is first because it’s the very first thing you can do. Everything else comes in no particular order, but this is big. Find yourself a nice, quiet corner of the house to call your own and to make comfortable. Try and keep any stressful work away from it and make it pretty clear that it’s your territory and refuge. It doesn’t have to be a room. The bath, a comfy chair or even the garden could do. Wherever you are comfortable, happy and out of the way of household traffic.

2. Eat well.

Eating healthy is vital to looking after yourself. Make sure that you eat food that energizes you and refreshes you, avoid food that makes you sluggish or unwell and don’t eat too much or too little. Eat when you’re hungry and not just when you get the time. Drink plenty of fluids. Don’t let yourself get away with a diet you’d never feed someone else. You deserve as good and healthy a meal as anyone else.

3. Bedtimes.

Set a bedtime and stick to it as much as possible. Sure, you may get up to care for someone who is sick or to put a child back to bed, but in principle, lights out is lights out. Try and guarantee yourself a routine, some proper rest and some bedroom privacy.

4. Dress up.

Make yourself look nice every day. Maybe not dressing to the nines, but wear practical clothes you like seeing yourself in, sort your hair, put on a bit of jewelery, a dusting of makeup, get rid of hangnails and dirty hands. Seeing yourself looking good will boost your confidence and mood.

5. Have a treat.

Even if you’re making sure to eat really healthy, budget properly and stay focused, from time to time give yourself a treat. It doesn’t have to be something massive, expensive, extravagant or anything of the sort. But if you’re the sort of person who will, in a week, buy £20 of chocolate for a loved one and not allow themselves a boiled sweet for the entire seven days, you’ll understand when I say: it really isn’t that big of a deal. Have a little treat. Enjoy it.

6. Get a hobby.

Find something you can do that you love. It might be scrapbooking, painting, dancing, cooking, rappelling, sewing, anything. But find something you love and make a habit of doing it. Maybe you’ll go to a monthly book club or maybe you’ll set aside twenty minutes a day to garden. Whatever it is and however often, take some time to just be you and have fun.

7. Exercise.

No matter how healthy you’re eating, how well rested you are and how little time you have, try and find a few minutes a day to exercise. It will build your muscles, burn through fat, elevate your mood and get you fired up and ready for the next challenge. Maybe you can only manage a four minute emergency workout in the morning. Or maybe you have three hours a week to dedicate to jogging. Whatever it is, do it.

8. Unwind.

Just because you have your quiet space and bedtime doesn’t mean those are the only times and places you can relax. Sit down with the kids and read a book. Watch a film with your partner. Just soak in the bath. Do something once in a while to completely put your mind and body at ease.

9. Get out.

It can be very easy to get locked between work, home, shopping and any other closed spaces, like bars, clubs, gyms, restaurants or friends’ houses. But the great outdoors can help you in many ways. Just looking at plants can relax you, fresh air does a body good and sunlight provides life-giving Vitamin D. A brisk walk in the park once a week could make life so much easier.

10. Laugh.

Laughter being the best medicine is a commonly repeated and mocked expression. But, in reality, it does help. Laughter can provide pain relief, relax you, make you happy and boost your immune system. So find something comical, sit down and have a good laugh. Laugh even at the bad jokes, the inappropriate ones, the offensive ones, the ones you don’t like. Laugh more and you’ll feel better all round.

Do you think you look after yourself well? Or do you always put others first and yourself last? How do you look after yourself? How could you improve? Feel free to share.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

IQ is EVERYTHING… and Nothing.

Everybody is obsessed with IQ.

When it supports your absurd political ideology, biological or sociological theory or simply when the “right” people and agendas are associated with a high IQ, it means everything. It is infallible, a marker of definite quality, a sign of the Messiah.

When it offends your delicate sensibilities, disproves or works against your theories and when the “wrong” people have high IQs, or, Heavens forbid, the “right” people have low IQs, it means nothing. It is weak, a poor measure of quality, meaningless.

And once they’ve decided whether IQ is good or bad, people will trot out countless individuals and studies proving their case. It’s astonishing how well science has proven that IQ is the most important measure of individual quality, meaningless on an individual level, a marker of society’s success and independent of social development, all whilst it doesn’t even exist! Truly a miraculous thing.

Now, for what it’s worth, I sort of agree with the last statement. No, not the sarcastic remark, but that IQ doesn’t exist. At least not in the way people think about it, or want it to exist.

Many people assume IQ is a definitive marker of intelligence, like a brain scan, an exam score or the likes. Something that tells you, with at least 80% accuracy, how smart, wise, bright or otherwise intelligent a person is. The reality is a little duller. What even the most culturally neutral, squares-vs-circles, spot the difference IQ test measures is actually mathematical ability. In other words, how well you can put two and two together, order things by size and shape and work out the next item, word or number in a sequence. Which I’m pretty sure we all mastered by the age of six. Even very autistic or mentally handicapped children can do such things, albeit not always on demand.

I’m not saying these things aren’t important, mind. Being able to quickly, consistently and efficiently do such things plays a huge part in your life. Being able to work out if you got the right change, to guess which data plan suits you best, to gauge the time it will take a gazelle to reach your hiding spot, to take apart and put together machines, to whittle a point to just the right size, etc have always been important skills for humans. We need to do these things in order to live. We always have and we always will. Because regardless of your job, lifestyle, age or status, a human who can’t remember the difference between a moving and a still car, who can’t remember the severity of car impact, who can’t gauge the speed of an oncoming vehicle, who can’t work out the probability of getting hit and who can’t weigh the pros and cons of crossing an open road versus looking for a pedestrian crossing is probably a dead human. Maths matter, folks.

So why is a measure of simple mathematical ability used as a measure of intelligence? Well, it isn’t. Even the most hardcore IQ-loving scientist understands that IQ isn’t telling you how intelligent someone is. It is simply telling you their potential for intelligence. How intelligent they could be if everything worked out right.

The difference between IQ and intelligence is similar to the difference between a talent and a skill. Let’s look at my family, for two reasons. One is we are a very artistically gifted (or talented) bunch, the other is there are a lot of us. My father is a skilled musician, a decent writer and a good painter; my mother is an excellent painter and a good crafter; my eldest brother did not exploit his talents as far as I know; my other brother is a good singer; my eldest sister is a good writer and a good sketcher; my other elder sister is a good singer, but I’m not sure what else; I like to think I am a decent painter and a good crafter, sketcher and writer; my younger sister is an excellent painter and a good writer; my youngest sister is a good painter, writer and jewelery maker. So with genes that are somehow conducive to artistic talent, we all wound up with different sets of skills. And we all use those skills differently. I will write absolutely anything, my younger sister writes scripts, my father writes songs and poems. I paint landscapes and surreal and impressionist art, my father painted a lot of abstract work, my mother paints realistic portraits and illustrations and my younger sister paints manga and pop art. We have used what nature gave us very differently.

And that is the difference between talent and skill. An artistically talented two year old who never exploits this gift will not grow up to be a great artist. They will paint better than the average two year old, but no more. Likewise, a brilliantly gifted abstract artist may paint more realistic portraits than Joe Average, but will pale in comparison to a talentless professional portrait artist with years of experience. Your talent is what you are born with. Your skill is what you learn. Together, they are your total ability, your limitations. Likewise, your IQ is a rough measure of your potential intelligence. What else you have and what you do to build on it is what makes your actual intelligence.

So what are the other sides to your intelligence, the other things that contribute to how smart you can possibly get?

The first is commonly called “Creative Intelligence” or “Creativity”. The most correct term for it is “Latent Inhibition”, ie, how naturally inhibited and obedient you are. The higher the latent inhibition, the more likely you are to need rules, even instruction, before you dare act. The lower the latent inhibition, the more likely you are to do something on impulse or to break boundaries. Everyone needs both the ability to follow some sort of order, even if it’s just remembering the consequences of your actions, and the ability to act independently, even if it’s just weighing several rules or orders against each other. I have a theory that it is often a poor balance between IQ and LI that results in stranger or less adaptive behaviours, rather than low IQ causing all the trouble. Individual motivations and interests aside, someone with a below average IQ with above average LI will be just as law-abiding as someone with a high IQ and average LI and probably moreso than someone with above average IQ and below average LI.

The next is social learning. This could be in the form of empathy, sympathy, cooperativeness, etc. Basically, it’s your ability to learn from others without instruction. This is where a lot of people on the autism spectrum fall. They may have a high IQ and moderately low LI, but without the ability to infer from others and properly observe them, you can’t begin to learn. Social learning is the groundwork for all other forms of learning. This is how you integrate into your culture, develop an accent or a walk. You don’t study another person’s accent, but if you live with them it will merge with yours, either from empathy, cooperation or just acclimatization.

Finally comes education. If you just have IQ, LI and social learning as distinguishing elements of intelligence, we would be no different to most social animals. However we also have education. This comes in many forms, from schooling, to training, to immersion, to passing old wives tales around. Your education is what you have learned from others through instruction and your IQ, LI and social learning abilities will all reflect on how easily you can be educated. Therefore, the last factor is simply your personality and culture. Are you willing to be educated? Are you overly trusting, maybe not trusting enough? What will you focus on learning? What education do you have access to? What education do you need? Someone with a high IQ, high social learning, and low LI could easily avoid educating themselves, be taught the wrong thing or live in a society where certain matters are not essential to their lives. Therefore, you can have someone who is set up for high intelligence, who is wrong about many things due to cultural factors, obstinacy, lack of educational resources or emotional intensity.

Of course, a hard limit on intelligence is a hard limit. All things being equal, someone with an IQ of 120 is smarter than someone with an IQ of 70. Just as, all things being equal, a man with two legs runs faster than a man with only one. And of two people in a class, all being equal, the one with the higher IQ will be able to advance to a level where the one with a lower IQ gets stuck. It’s as simple as that.

But there is simply more to it than that in real life. All things aren’t equal, for starters. Someone may have dyslexia, synesthesia, psychopathy, nerve damage, autism, etc. And the cultural environment in which our education happens can shape us permanently, so that someone very bright is reluctant to leave the social norm, or someone very dim is in the right setting to learn harsh truths the bright person can’t. And, finally, probably most importantly, few people reach their full potential anyway. When the environment is at its harshest we are encouraged to develop our intelligence as far as possible, but we rarely have the means to become educated. When the environment is at its gentlest we are hand-held through life and discouraged from developing our highest intelligence, but we have the luxury of great education. And which matters more? Who knows. Both are highly adaptive strategies.

What does matter is IQ. Just not in the way people think it does.

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

FitFriday XXII, FatFriday IX. Warrior Diet.

Well, it turns out that my natural eating habits plus salads technique for losing fat and keeping mass is called a Warrior Diet. Who would have guessed?

Basically you eat low calorie, plant-based foods over the day, have a 4-6 hour eating window where you eat as much protein and fat rich foods as you like and then finish off with the carbs if you’re still craving them. So that’s pretty cool.

I also ate 1/4 of a family-sized cheesecake yesterday and am deeply regretting it. On the plus side… [TMI] what comes out undigested didn’t contribute calories, right? [/TMI] Ah, lactose intolerance, maybe you’re useful after all?

Other than that I’ve been very good and enjoyed eating loads of vegetables, berries and meats over the course of the week. Did some weighted walking, some shifts at the charity shop, some lifting sessions and some yoga. Generally feel awesome.

The naughtiest thing I ate all week was that cheesecake and I’m not sure it was worth it either. The tastiest thing I ate all week was a cocoa Nakd bar. They’re just plain delicious and having been on berry ones for a while, the chocolate hit was wonderful.

I haven’t been too lazy this week, so I’m feeling pretty good about my activity levels.

Next week I plan on keeping everything up, avoiding dairy like the plague, reading more about the Warrior diet and doing more yoga when bored.

How did your week in fitness and health go?

WWW. Lamb MeatFeast and what to do with the leftovers.

This week’s meatfeast was a touch more modest than they’ve been before. It did, however make a perfect lamb roast and the recipe is simple and just in time for Easter. Still, it was awesome and we ate well. So well I forgot to take photographs, so just trust me when I say it was quick, easy and delicious!

The lamb roast.

To make this dinner edible to our guests and usable in future cooking, we needed to avoid alliums, mint and bell peppers, as well as anything strong and distinct, like cloves or cardamom. A bit of a challenge, but here’s what we did.

Ingredients:

-1 whole leg of lamb

-800g/1lb beetroot and pumpkin, any combination

-2 small sweet potatoes

-1 large parsnip

-3tbsp salt

-3tbsp smoked paprika

Utensils:

-chopping board and knife

-large, deep baking pan

Recipe:

1: Lay the lamb horizontally across the pan.

2: Wash, peel and chop the beet, parsnip and pumpkin. Roughly even sizes.

3: Place the sweet potatoes around the lamb. Pack in with the other vegetables.

4: Dust everything with salt and paprika.

5: Roast at a medium temperature (around 160C) for an hour and a half.

6: Finish at 200C for 20 minutes.

7: Serve in the tray.

The crumble of rhubarb, apple and pear.

Funny and crude acronym intentional.

Wanted to make another apple and rhubarb crumble. Had some frozen pears to use up. It sounded funny so we went with it. Turned out delicious. Jon only regrets the lack of my raw custard on it!

Ingredients:

-2 pink lady apples

-2 small pears

-200g/7oz rhubarb

-300g/10.5oz flour

-200g/7oz unsalted butter

-100g/3.5oz lard

-50g/1.7oz soft sugar such as palm sugar/coconut sugar/brown cane sugar/molasses

-5tbsp granulated sugar

Utensils:

-chopping board and knife

-mixing bowl

-baking tray

Recipe:

1: Chop the apple, pear and rhubarb into roughly even sizes. Place in the tray.

2: In the bowl, combine the soft sugar, butter, lard and flour. Mix until crumbed.

3: Pour the crumbs on top. Spread out. Sprinkle granulated sugar on top.

4: Bake at 160C for 1 and a half to 2 hours.

The leftovers.

There were obviously no pudding leftovers. But there was quite a lot of lamb on the bone and some vegetables left, so I made it into a rough dahl-stew mix. Jon loves it and wants the recipe on here. :)

Ingredients:

-bone of lamb with plenty of meat

-some roast vegetables

-a head of broccoli

-600g soaked lentils (around 150g dry, but soak first!)

-1 green pepper

-salt, pepper, onion powder

Utensils:

-chopping board and knife

-large pot

Recipe:

1: Chop the lamb off the bone. Place the lamb and lentils, including the lamb bone, in the pot with some very hot water.

2: Add the vegetables on top so the water doesn’t cover them.

3: Boil until the lamb and lentils are combined. Stir in the now steamed vegetables.

4: Stir in the seasonings and serve.

And that was what we had for MeatFeast!

What was the best thing you had this week? What if your plan for Easter Sunday dinner? Would love to hear about it!

TTFN and Happy Hunting!