Thursday, 30 April 2015

You've got to be joking ... a waiting list .... for a spiralizer???

When I went in to my local cookery shop last week to buy whatever gadget it was I needed to try out the new courgetti "fad", I thought the shop assistant was joking when the she told me that they had sold out and I'd have to join the waiting list.

The last time I joined a waiting list to buy something was in 1995! It was for Chanel's Rouge Noir super-vampy nail varnish which hit the big time when Uma Thurman's character wore it in Pulp Fiction. Oh how times have changed.

After putting on nearly 2 stone since running the Berlin Marathon last year, I'm so ready to expand my very basic and mostly unhealthy culinary repertoire, that I duly handed over my details and agreed that I would be willing to settle for a green one, rather than holding out for a black one, which are as rare as gold dust apparently!

The shop called me on Tuesday, but I'd kind of gotten over the fad excitement by then, so didn't race down to the shop to collect it. Instead, I picked it up when I was passing today, and with a nagging feeling that it would end up being a complete waste of money.

I'd actually googled spiralizers earlier in the day and seen pretty mixed reviews. What I read didn't leave me overly excited, to be honest. The small hand held gadget that I'd bought was only scoring a 3/5 and not doing very well on the ease of use scales.

Thankfully, I was rather pleasantly surprised and found it extremely easy to use. Within 5 minutes I had a good sized bowl of green courgette spaghetti. Hurrah!

To go with it, I heated some bran oil in a non-stick pan and added shallots, diced pancetta, mushrooms and sliced garlic. I fried it all on a medium heat until the mushrooms and onions were nice and soft and then added a knob of butter. Once that had melted, I tipped it all in with the courgetti and topped with a bit of grated parmesan.

Wow! Amazingly delicious ....

... and almost just like eating a bowl of spaghetti ....

... but much much better ...

... unbelievably satisfying but without feeling like a sack of potatoes afterwards ...

I really can't believe how impressed I am with the whole thing.

I know it doesn't look like much, but I'm not much of a photographer. This was one seriously gorgeous plate of food.

Courgetti Recipe
Seriously delicious courgetti!

Can't wait to try out some other sauce ideas in readiness for my first crop of home-grown courgettes!

Monday, 13 April 2015

Burn 50 calories an hour just by standing

It's spring and I'm back to my home-made standing desk by the kitchen door, looking out onto the walled patio garden.

The research shows that we burn an extra 50 calories standing compared with sitting, so if I stand for 3 hours per day, I could burn off an extra 750 calories a week.

Not only that, it will apparently help keep blood sugar levels steady, so I should feel a bit more steadily energetic and a bit less sleepy mid-afternoon.

I've already clocked up 3 hours standing today, maybe that's another reason I've been getting more done!

Getting more done, 10 minutes at a time

In my post last week "From anxious overwhelm to optimistic excitement in 10 minute blasts" I came up with an experiment to get things done without getting stressy by just doing 10 minutes at a time.

I'd managed to train for and complete a marathon by running just 3 minutes at a time, so it seemed entirely possible that it would work for my day job and home admin too.

This morning, in an article on Fast Company, they covered this very subject in "Why Saying This Four -Letter Word Can Transform Your Productivity".

How timely!

So, from now on, I will not only be working in 10 minute bursts, I will also be shouting "Done" every time I complete something on my list.

This sounds like a sure-fire way to activate my brain's reward system to get a buzz from doing something real, instead of something pretend.

I've had 10 "Done"s so far today and some of those things even took longer than 10 minutes. 

What a start to the week.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

From anxious overwhelm to optimistic excitement in 10 minute blasts

Someone just told me that it's up to me to choose how I face the day.

I've got into the habit of starting off with an air of "anxious overwhelm". I'm not entirely sure why. It's a feeling I seem to have been living with for a long time. Every now and again, I get a real burst of positivity and enthusiasm which can last for a couple of weeks, but I haven't been near one of those blasts for a couple of months.

In the case of today, I've fallen into my usual  trap and most want to crawl back under the duvet.

My habitual response to this is to give up quickly on the day that doesn't start well. In my head, the bad start condemns the rest of the day to the scrapheap. I quickly let myself off the hook of what I need to be doing and find a distraction to immerse myself in. I've failed at my work day before I've even started. What is going on?

Why should a day that start out with fear and dread? And then just because it started that way, does it really have to continue in that vein? What if I tried something to break the cycle? What if, rather than effectively doing nothing, I did just 10 minutes of something potentially revenue-generating from my work list? Just a 10 minute task. In fact, I bet I can break much of my to do list down into 10 minute tasks.

This might be the work equivalent of my run / walk marathon approach. For the 26.2 miles of the Berlin marathon, I only ran for only 3 minutes at a time. It was a neat little mind trick that kept me focused, injury-free and most importantly in a state of pure joy for the 5 hours or so it took me to complete the course.

So the experiment for today is to do a selection of 10 minute tasks from my list.

And the experiment for tomorrow is to choose to face the day with optimism and enthusiasm.

What an adventure into the unknown that could be!

Failure to launch

And here we go again.

Am trying to bribe myself to get some tricky work done by buying cake and coffee and sitting in Nero's rather than in my home office. This is one of my more common avoidance tactics.

The cake and the coffee aren't helping my marathon training or my waistline either. Last summer's clothes are already feeling a bit tight around my middle and my 30 day plank challenge is considerably more challenging with the extra weight I'm carrying.

.... 40 minute chat interlude with student sitting next to me writing his thesis .... that's not helped either! I was trying to lull myself into work by writing about how difficult I was finding it to get started. Now I find that I've lost my train of thought for this post too. Must be time to hold my breath and batter my cuticles.

But, I've made a commitment not to do that anymore. Gosh I really do make hard work of my life. And there goes the inner critic, passing judgement again. Things are what they are - neither good nor bad.

I know, I'll update my to do list.

.... which has just left me feeling a bit sick and searching out a cuticle to attack ....

Talk about going round in circles.

A full two hours after sitting down to start work. The panic is rising and cheeks are flushed.

Another failure to launch day.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Panic, picking and world record marathoning

Do you ever find yourself holding your breath in a subconscious effort to stop time because you believe you have so much to do you can't see a way of getting it all done and you've got no idea where to start?

At some point during the day, I will find myself frozen like a rabbit in the headlights of my to do list. I notice I'm in that place when I realise that I've stopped breathing.

My automatic strategy for creating release is to pick at the cuticles on my thumbs. It makes me feel like I am doing something. "If I can just remove that stray bit of skin, I'll have completed a major task and will be making real progress on my day.Pat yourself on the back. Job well-done."

Really. That's how it feels.

Of course, there's no item on my daily to do list that says anything about completing a manicure with my teeth.

I hate to think how many hours of my life I have spent on this destructive habit. I hate to think how much more I might have achieved if I'd used that time more productively.

Like so many of us living with this kind of habit, whether it's skin picking, nail-biting or hair pulling, I experience a deep sense of shame about both the activity itself and its physical results. It makes me look damaged and feel damaged on many levels.

I've been doing it my whole life. When I hit 30 I tried hypnotherapy which actually did stop me from destroying my fingers; but it didn't work on my thumbs for some reason.

Anyway, I'm really tired of it now. So, I am formally committing to knocking it on the head once and for all. I've found this website on skin-picking which is a great source of information and techniques.

It looks like I've got a shed load of brain rewiring to do. That should tie in very neatly with my training for the Amsterdam marathon in October this year.

If I put the same time into training as I do into picking, I'll be on for a world record time!

Watch this space x