Sunday, 14 January 2018

Update - week one, No Sugar & other bits

Seeing as I've attempted this programme several times before, I should be an old hat at this. It's going better this time, partly, I think, because I've been sick and feeling pretty rubbish anyway, but also because I understand the process much better. I've made it more or less unscathed through Week One. A few off-plan meals, but only one that would have had any kind of sugar (fructose) in it. So, overall, I'm very pleased. The meals have been delicious as always (apart from a rather disappointing cauliflower curry last night) and I'm already feeling better. I haven't had great cravings for snacks and sugary things, so that's a positive. This time, however, I'd like to carry on the sugar-free focus once the programme is over. I think if I can make it 80% very healthy and allow myself the occasional treat, then I will be exceptionally pleased with that.

It was my first week back at work, too, and it went well enough. It was relatively busy for January and I've already booked some holidays, too! I'm off to Edinburgh in April for a few days, and have booked a long weekend in Nottingham in June with friends for a ghost hunt in Sherwood Forest!!

That's actually the company we're going with, too. It's the last ghost hunt at the old visitor's centre (which means, I assume, they've built a new one) and runs from 8pm - 2am! My friend sent me a link of the company running one of the hunts, so I have to search it out and watch it. Apparently, his wife is already freaked out after watching it! Hmm...

I'm FINALLY over the cold/flu/thing that's been plaguing me for three weeks. Today my head is entirely clear, and I've been sleeping like a log for most of the week which has helped immensely, as has all the good food I've been eating. So glad to finally be rid of it - what a gigantic pain it was! I've never been sick for so long, but there's definitely some nasty things going around and I'm just glad it wasn't worse.

My sister was here for several days, too, which was nice. I haven't seen her since October and we spent our time playing silly video games for the most part. She made a lovely vegetarian soup (no sugar!) which was a delicious Friday evening meal. Saturday morning I had a surge of energy and cleared out a bunch of stuff from my wardrobe and bookshelves. We headed to Ringwood to pick up a few things and dropped off my old TV, plus two bags of clothes and other bits at a charity shop. I wanted to donate the (large bag of) books at the library but they're apparently not accepting them! So they're currently in the trunk of the car until I can get to another location (a bigger branch perhaps) where I can leave them. I've never had an issue donating books before! It seems a bit odd but never mind.

It felt really good to get rid of that stuff. My sister is good at decluttering - it was on my 'to do' list, but sometimes it helps to have someone else prod you to just get it done. I'm confident there is plenty more to do, but it was a great start. 

I moved my room around a couple of weeks ago and am much, much happier with it. I've got more space in it now and a little 'lounge', separated by my bookcase which has my plants on it. It's a cosier spot and I can relax much easier in it.

At the moment I've got some cooking/baking happening for this week's meals: a beef ragu and a lovely veggie loaf. I went to the butcher in Ringwood and got some 'proper' beef for stewing, and picked up a beautiful sourdough loaf at the bakery next door. It was a bit late in the day for their usually large selection of bread, so I ended up with a large white loaf instead of the small, brown seeded sourdough I love, but I'm not fussed. Half of it went straight in the freezer for later in the programme. I'm learning! :D

I start my volunteering gig at the village coffee shop on the 27th and am looking forward to that. I had also wanted to look into volunteering at the food bank but it's only open three days a week - Monday, Wednesday and Friday - so, unfortunately, is off my options now. I know there are some animal charities around, too, so I'll shift my focus to one of those instead I think, once I've settled into a bit of a routine at the coffee shop. There is also a big parish quiz on the evening of the 27th - this is one I've attended twice before - near my cousin's house, so I'll be going up there for that which is always fun.

I am anticipating a review at work in the next week or two and looking forward to hearing how I've been doing. My job isn't changing much (except I'm taking on more typing - damn my excellent typing!) but we're hiring more surveyors so there will be more work. I have already said I'm happy to do some overtime if needed - I'd rather do that than polish glasses! - and they are looking at sending some typing out to a different timezone (I imagine Australia way) to have it typed and ready the next morning if it's needed. That sounds like a fun way to get it done! Our part-time typist isn't always available so having the option of out-sourcing it sounds like a good one.

Otherwise, that's about it. I'm happy to be feeling clear-headed and more energetic. Being sick really does bring you down - I hate it.

Hope you've all managed to avoid it for the most part!

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Week One - no sugar programme

I've decided to start the year off on the right foot and do (yet another) no-sugar programme. I've been feeling the need for change and know I've been doing very poorly with my diet up to and through the holidays. Being sick doesn't help and my usually hearty appetite has been reduced considerably. After this cold/flu/pain-in-the-butt-whatever-it-is finally decides to pack it in and vacate my body, I would like to be eating good, wholesome food rather than the carb & sugar-heavy options I tend to lean towards.

Feeling much more human this morning (hurrah!) after a good night's sleep, I sat myself down at the computer and ordered some groceries. I had my shopping list open on one side of the screen and the grocery site on the other. Because I need my groceries earlier in the day, this added £6.50 to my final bill which is annoying. Some shops don't charge once you're over their minimum spend (generally £40), so I'll need to look around next week. Still, I suppose it's the cost of convenience (i.e. me being too lazy to go the grocery store). I do need to monitor this, however, as it's not helping my budget.

I spent almost £60 before tacking any meat onto it. I am reluctant to add grocery store meat to my shops these days because there is a family butcher in the village and they sell gorgeous cuts. They're more expensive but it's worth it, as the meat is much better quality.

Anyway, I went to the village to pick up some meat and a couple of other bits & pieces and came away with £20.26 worth of meat and veggies (all from the butcher)! This meant I could adjust my initial order and I managed to shave just over £10 off it, so I'm pleased. Part of the cost, too, is 'initial purchases' of things like baking soda, spices, flour, etc. which won't get used up immediately and will be carried over for the whole programme. So some shops will work out much cheaper. Plus now I've got chicken (8 breasts!) to last me three weeks or more.

Tomorrow, once the groceries have arrived, I'll have to reorganise my cupboards and shelf in the fridge to get everything sorted out - I have stuff that can be fed to the chickens - and then have some batch cooking to do for the week. I don't really like spending my time cooking but do appreciate that it's a huge time saver during the week.

One thing I'm considering this time around is buying produce on a daily basis, rather than weekly, as it means fresher items. I'm wondering if it would be easier to monitor costs and waste more easily. I'm literally two-minutes walk from two very big grocery stores near work, so taking myself out at lunch for a bit of a mooch wouldn't be a hardship. I'm a fussy(ish) eater and soft veggies really don't motivate me to eat them (which is where so much of the waste comes in because I'll just buy fresher ones to use instead). 

So this, combined with some light walking, should see some comfortable overall health results this time around.

Friday, 5 January 2018

What a way to start the year!

I went home sick on 21 December (half-day) fighting a fever, sniffles, stuffy head - all that fun stuff - and got much worse over the next couple of days. I seemed to turn a corner and felt more or less human again by 25 December, so I decided to go to work (the hotel). Probably a mistake. I'm not a night owl as a rule anyway, so working every night, then having an evening out with friends, a 50th birthday disco for my cousin, and then working until 2a.m. New Year's Eve probably wasn't the best decision for me. I felt entirely unrested and wound up sick again! :(

I've been off work since Wednesday afternoon now, but DO feel slightly better - I had breakfast this morning! It's just a persistent low-grade fever, a bit of aching (mostly from the coughing), and stuffy head. I'm hoping lots of rest, hot drinks and sleep will manage to wipe the last vestiges from me. I have a friend who's been fighting what sounds like the same thing for over three weeks now, and I know there's something nasty out there. I'm seeing it on FB and hearing others' experiences. I hate being sick. I am relatively healthy, generally, though, so I'm hopeful I'll be over the worst of it very soon.

Just SO frustrating!

Roomie E made me a beautiful bone broth yesterday evening which perked me right up. It was just what I needed! So kind of her to take care of (pander to) me like that.

On Wednesday morning, we had a 'mandatory' work meeting which also included photos for the website. All I said to the photographer was, 'If you can make me look alive, I'll be happy.' I am NOT looking forward to seeing the result online.... :P The meeting was just an overview of what we'd done the past year, what the plans were this year, the re-org of the admin staff, and just everyone meeting everyone else (some of the surveyors work from home, so we only see them very rarely). Some good plans, although it will mean more work for me - admin has been re-organised to play on strengths

My No-Sugar Programme officially starts on Sunday. The first emails and menu plans arrived yesterday, so today I have to organise a grocery delivery to get myself started. I'm quite excited, as I was feeling really sluggish and tired over the holiday (not only because I was sick). I'm debating about a Waitrose delivery (the high-end grocery store) but only because I have a £25 gift card to use there...

Outside of this, I'm not sure I want to make goals or resolutions this year, but just try to do better in everything: more consciousness about spending / saving / eating / health / exercise / reading / writing / etc.

I'm excited to spend another year with you all! xx

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! 

It's been lovely to share the past year with you all, the ups and downs, the big projects and little ones, the trials, travels and tributes. Financial successes and 'not so' successes aside, we can continue to push forward and do the best we can.

I'll be working tonight, so will ring in the new year with a (clean) glass in hand and toast you all at midnight.

Wishing you all love, happiness and some magic for 2018!

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Challenge consideration for 2018

My Achilles heel is books. I love them, whether I actually read them or not. I buy them, I look at them on my shelves, I ponder them, and although it's hard, I can actually get rid of them (get rid of = donate) so I don't have quite the same issue as the lady in the photo. It's my only genuine hobby and is something I've done since I was a kid.

The past few days I added a "few" more books (20?) to my Kindle - not all of them free. As I have them organised into categories, I decided to add up how many I actually have: 412. Yikes! That's not including the ones on my shelves and if I include those I probably have almost 450. Based on the number of books I've read this year (61), that's just over 7 years worth of reading.

I set myself a goal to read 100 books this year (I managed 104 last year), but have struggled with it. I haven't been able to engage as fully in my reading this year for some reason. Regardless, I'm going to adjust accordingly for 2018 and be a bit more modest in that goal - after all, there are other goals I have in mind too - and perhaps take a bit more time to enjoy the books, rather than simply rushing through them to meet a random goal.

I belong to Netgalley, which issues free ARC copies of new books to readers around the world in exchange for reviews, so I read books from that. I have my library app which I can use for up to five books at a time, anytime I like. I scour Amazon for free books (now that I know they're there). I have to come to terms with the fact that, sadly, I will never be able to read all the books out there. Ever. I have to keep my focus smaller. I am a sad bunny because of that, but what can you do? ;)

Basically, what I'm saying is that I don't NEED to pay for any books yet I still do. Thus my consideration of a 'Bought Book Ban' for 2018. This will both allow me to save money and give more focuses consideration to what I already have. Some I'm going to thoroughly enjoy, some I'm not, as is always the case. But I have a number of non-fiction ones focused on money that I want to really concentrate on and take the time to work on properly. I'm aware of the irony in that...

Anyway. Obviously setting out for a year's ban is a bit of a stretch so I'll start with January and go from there. Addiction recovery of any kind only works a day at a time (this relates more to spending money/buying stuff than the actual books).

Suggestions and thoughts most welcome as always.