Tuesday, August 29, 2017

What I Wore: Galaxy Print Skirt

There is some kind of special pull when it comes to galaxy or cosmic prints. I just can't resist them and the rate at which things often sell out says that I'm not the only one. Luckily for me, there's always eBay when I want to hunt something down and much like my other favourite eBay midi skirt- click if you missed my floral midi skirt post.

So yeah, I had to do that thing where I wear 'proper' clothes again. Something that's about to become an everyday issue as of TODAY I'm back in a proper job in a proper office with other people to whom I'm not related. Thing is, my version of proper clothes and adulting sometimes involves a galaxy print or something in a vibrant shade of green or something with glitter. And that's ok too. I do not remember fondly the more corporate dress codes I've had to work with previously and I think there will be something nice about pulling on more than just jeans and a jumper everyday like I have been doing for the last 3 years.

T-shirt is a linen one from H&M last year, necklace is super old and the shoes are Geox


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Chloe Likes To Eat: Snack Attack

Once upon a time, I used to have a proper job. Y'know, one where I had to go to a proper office with other people to whom I'm not related. Everyday. At the same time everyday. I'm about to re-enter that world, which is a bit daunting. But my point is (I'm getting there....) that apparently, there are loads of people missing out the joy that is a desk snack stash. Or at least there were in my last office and I think my parents were equally mystified at the rustling coming from my middle drawer...

Since I've been working with family, I have dutifully converted them to the snack drawer. We each have our stash in our own desk drawers, things to munch on in between meals or before/after training sessions, little treats of varying types and indulgence. So, here's the tour...

Yup, so that'll be my middle drawer and the contents. My snack drawer. It's quite full (good job I'm back on secondment for a couple of weeks in October...) and some of my favourites are:

Aldi deli Sweet & Salt popcorn. I talked about it in my Aldi best buys post last month- click if you missed it. It's a cheap and cheerful carb heavy pick-me-up, especially good for training days and HUNGRY days.

The Veggie Burst pouches are also from Aldi and probably should have gotten a mention in the Best Buys post. 25g pouches of almonds, cashews and edamame beans flavoured with salt and pepper. A welcome savoury snack as it can be tough to find smaller, individual snacks that don't need to be in the fridge that are savoury. These are also relatively inexpensive at 29p a pack.

The somewhat inevitable appearance of a protein bar. These are PhD Smartbars and a relatively new product. The raspberry one is good for a dark chocolate fix although the raspberry filling seems to leak out of them in the packet and it tastes a little like cough mixture (I don't mind that, it's comfortingly medicinal). The Peanut butter one though.... Think Starbars. Remember those? Not quite as sickly but every bit as good. Perfect for a sweet treat with less sugar and more protein than an actual Starbar. You can buy them direct from PhD by the box but it's actually cheaper to buy their 'pick n mix' bundles of 5 for £10- you can pick the same flavour for all 5 or mix it up as much as you like.

I'm not a huge tea drinker or even coffee drinker- I tend to have a couple of cups of very strong French roasted filter coffee in the morning but then leave it there for the rest of the day. But both the Teapigs peppermint & the T+ multivitamin are pleasant for a warming drink on a cold day and the lemon & peach multivitamin tea in particular actually tastes of lemon & peach rather than generic green tea. Bonus. Teapigs and T+ both available from Ocado.

And nuts. A convenient little blend of raw almonds, cashews, brazil nuts and hazelnuts. I love the idea of making my own blends but I have approximately zero self control when it comes to picking at a bag of nuts and that's a lot of calories and a lot of fat to consume. These tubs actually contain more than one serving but they are convenient and they're from Lidl- look for them on the checkout aisles.

What's in your drawers? I am intrigued to see if anyone else fills their space with an array of edibles in my new office. I'm also intrigued as to whether I'll be the only one wandering about with a 1.5L water bottle (yes, really). Given I generally get through around 3.5L of water in a typical working day, it's going to be a challenge!

Monday, August 14, 2017

What I Wore: ZSL x Oasis

You know when you idly browse a marketing email that lands in your inbox and you're not really sure why, but ti turns out to yield something amazing? Just me? Oh well.

This is exactly what happened when I opened the ZSL newsletter a couple of weeks back. I love London Zoo, we had a great time at Zoo Lates back in June and there's always something I'm desperate to see. What I wasn't expecting was to head straight to a fashion retailer and drop £80 immediately. ZSL have collaborated with Oasis to produce a collection of ZSL clothes, shoes and accessories and to say I'm excited is an understatement. You see, it all started with some pyjamas I bought my cousin's daughter for her birthday a couple of years ago, and my lament that they didn't make adult sizes. They still don't sell the adult sized pyjamas (to my knowledge) but Oasis DO sell the most amazing tiger print trainers and shirts with the rainforest on it (amongst other things....)

I have no idea what is going on with my face in these pictures- I seem incapable of maintaining anything resembling a sensible expression when I take these images. But my point remains, the shirt is something else. I probably could have done with a slightly larger size to fit my boobs in but this works for me.

Tiger print trainers to follow- because TIGER print trainers!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

FOFO: Fear Of Being Found Out

In a generation of acronyms we talk a lot about YOLO and FOMO but one thing that has plagued me over the last couple of years is FOFO - Fear of Being Found Out.

Before anyone's imagination gets carried away, I'm not a serial killer with a new identity or a member of a secretive cult. But like most people do, I have a life, a history and a past. For me that includes an estranged family which I've talk a bit about before - click if you missed my post on dealing with the death of an estranged family member.

I've never really been confronted with my past in the sense of the people that know 'who I really am' because until a couple of years ago, I lived in completely different parts of the country to my estranged family and therefore there was an almost negligible chance I'd ever come across someone I'm technically related to or who might realise the connection between the family and me. All that changed when I started the job I'm just about to leave because it put me back to being based in the area I originally come from and where my estranged family live.

Whilst I've slowly settled into the idea that one day I am probably going to walk into someone who remembers me as an 8 year old or who makes the connection between me and a family I've had no contact with for the better part of a decade, I realised only now I'll be moving on and returning to living at home in London that as an active member of the local community- I run with a club, cycle with members of a club, use local business and services, eat out and socialise locally, that what has always bothered me is not being confronted by my choices, I have long since reconciled those, but that I have been thinking of the person who allowed herself to be manipulated by emotional blackmail and had different surname as 'who I really am'

Do I want people to know that person? Do I want to be connected to that person?

Actually the bigger question is: is that who I really am?

We all have a life, a history and past. I am a summation of all of those things but I'm choosing to drop my FOFO because where I come from and the details of my past do not exclusively make me who I am now.

I love and am loved by someone I plan to spend the rest of my life with
I scrunch my eyes up when I laugh
I am a runner- finisher of marathons, half marathons, charity challenges, 10k and more
I am part of a community- I try to give as much to the community around me as it gives me through volunteering
I am successful in my career choices- I am where I want to be right now
I own too many pairs of cheap sunglasses because I can never find them when I need them
I ride my bike for several hours at a time on a weekend. For fun. And I'm qualified to lead other women in such joy
I love pick n mix sweets and am especially weak willed around them
World class DJ sets on sweaty dancefloors fuelled by diet coke make me feel alive
I am a blogger
I still love green
I own too many pairs of impractical shoes
I make choices every day, not all of them are good

I am all of these things and more, and these supercede so many of the things I have been or that came before.

This is 'who I really am'. I am not scared of that. I do not fear you finding out.


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Thoughts On My First DNF

DNF. I DNF'ed. A couple of years ago this would have meant nothing to me. I would have thought you were perhaps speaking a language with which I'm not familiar with, to a certain extent, the language around any hobby, not least sports is very much it's own. But I'm now very familiar with it's meaning in the literal and physical terms.


Did. Not. Finish.

I have cried my way around courses, I have grunted through sprint finishes. I have unlaced my trainers walking through a finish funnel because for some ridiculous reason, the blister that is now in shreds on my heel didn't hurt at all whilst I was running and is now preventing me from walking properly. But I have never walked off a course. I have never not completed a race I set out to do. Until last week.

We're currently two thirds of the way through our internal club championship summer races- three 5k races, three 10k races. I've volunteered at some and ran my 5k PB at one in May (read more about that and feeling a sense of pride in it in THIS post I wrote about regaining body confidence). I rocked up on a sunny Tuesday night ready to rock through a 10k knowing full well I've been on terribly form with what used to be my absolute favourite distance but vaguely hopeful I might be able to cling to someone's tail to get through in around 60mins - not a PB but getting back towards it.

You know, I didn't even think about it too much when I felt my ankles ping in the first mile which covers part of a nature reserve. Not trail running by any stretch of the imagination, but not road either, and it takes me legs a few minutes to settle into a run, my ankles do ping like that a lot when I run on uneven surface. And when that ankle started to pull a bit a few minutes later I didn't really think about that too much either, because it was still inside the 3k mark and it can take me that long to get into a 10k. But then I did start to think about it, and then my foot started to go numb. And then I decided that 1 5k lap of this race was enough. Did. Not. Finish.

I have done a lot of stupid things through injury. There was the time I worked through a chest infection- at the time I worked behind a bar, it was grim. The time I worked through 'it's probably just a water infection' until I needed to go to A&E with a gallbladder infection and a 3 night stay in hospital. There was the time I tried to run on torn ligaments. There was the half marathon I ran 3 miles of with no feeling in one foot. On every single one of these occasions, trying to 'power through' has left me far worse off than if I'd quite whilst ahead when I started to realise something was wrong.I KNOW this is the sensible, grown-up decision to make- I'm not in serious contention for any championship prize, these are free races I enter for the joy of running with my club- in essence they matter only in so far as I allow them to.

So why am I so disappointed? Why am I questioning the validity of preserving my wellbeing and ability to run & exercise over finishing what is essentially 'just' a run where I happened to be wearing a number? Why is there the nagging whisper that  says to me 'it's because you're just not good enough'?

This is a common theme for me, I wrote about running being the best and the worst thing that ever happened to me last year. Running and sports have given me strength and courage. It's allowed me to prove to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to, even if it's not always the straightforward journey or the exact outcome I expected, but the inevitable stumbles an proverbial falls also leave me lost or doubtful. The key, and part of the strength I have gained from running and sport is dealing with it in a healthy way- yes, DNF-ing was disappointing, but it was also the right choice for me. I'm in the fortunate position that I don't have to justify that to anyone except myself either- I'm not an athlete, I'm not in serious contention for any kind of competition and if there's ever time to learn what a DNF feels like, it's a race or a run that doesn't mean too much.

So there we have it, another one to add to my growing list of running experiences over the last 3 years... disastrous marathon... check. Sub 60m 10k... check. 5k thigh chaffing... check. DNF... check. Anyone else care to share a DNF story?

In a shameless plug, I'm also going to remind you that there's a little over 12 weeks left to try out a #RunningDownDementia challenge- 100km means you need to run less than 10km over the course of each week and you could raise some vital funds to help tackle dementia which can be a devastating disease. I'll be dedicating my 250km to my late Great-Grandmother who died last Friday after a 15 year struggle with dementia, aged 95. Read more about the campaign and the work Alzheimer's Research UK are doing in my post Don't You Remember


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Chloe Likes To Eat: Aldi Favourites

So I do 80% of my grocery shopping in Aldi and Lidl. Last year I posted about 5 of my favourite products from Lidl, not necessarily the cheapest or a dupe of something specific, just 5 products that I love from Lidl. This time around, it's Aldi's turn, mostly because although I used Aldi occasionally, it's only now one has opened at the end of the road near the office that I've been using them more extensively.

So let's start with the important stuff.... WINE!

Gavi is not exclusive to Aldi, it's an Italian white wine which I love, it's £5.49 from Aldi, which is about £2 per bottle cheaper than anywhere else. Look for the distinctively tall and skinny bottle, you will not regret it.

A chilled glass of white wine of a summer evening requires a nibble to go with it (just me?) and these salt and vinegar crisps are salty, sharp and a tiny bit sweet all at the same time. Crunchy, not as lethal as a kettle crisp but still substantial. I LOVE them and at 79p per bag, they're considerably better priced than a lot of branded snacks.

If popcorn is more your thing, sweet and salt is the only way to go and the individual bags often stocked on the checkout hit just the spot. Move swiftly though, because the sweet ones never seem to sell but the sweet & salt ones walk off the shelf like nobody's business. 39p per bag, a nice desk drawer snack stash addition.

And whilst we're talking about snacks these quinoa bars appear to be quite new and come in the cacao & cashew flavour or a berry flavour (which I personally find a bit too sweet). At 141 calories (C16.4 F5.5 P4.1) they make a very handy pre-workout snack, especially on evenings where I go out to classes and end up pushing my evening meal right back into the late evening, or this week as a post-parkrun nibble. Slightly chewy, slightly crunchy, what's not like about a chocolate nut combo that doesn't send your macros off the charts?!

Not pictured, but Aldi's unsweetened almond milk is about half the price of some of the big name brands, and it still blends into my breakfast smoothies just fine. They also do a sweetened version if that's your thing as well as soya milk in both varieties.

And brownie bars. It's a bit of a con that these are with the 'healthy' products, they're still chocolate brownies, but they come in boxes of 3 individually wrapped bars, perfect for on the go and for curbing one's enthusiasm for eating the entire batch of brownie in one go (just me?). These are £1.49 per box and if anyone in your household happens to have intolerances or allergies, these might be handy as they're free from several common allergens as you can see from the box.

A few other notable aisles to pay attention to in Aldi...

If nuts and seeds are your thing, check out the baking aisle. Did you know that you pay VAT on nuts/seeds that are snacks but not as baking ingredients? Raw almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts all work out cheaper from baking ingredients!

Chocolate Milkshake is a great recovery drink after sports because it's a brilliant balance of carbs and protein, Aldi's chocolate fudge milkshake is a treat in a glass.

What have I missed? Do you have a special favourite you detour to pick up on your grocery run?