Edinburgh Marathon Festival 10K Recap – 2017

Last week saw my biggest running achievement when I ran 10km as part of the Edinburgh Marathon Festival. I wanted to challenge myself beyond the 4/5km I can quite comfortably plod along a couple of times a week. It was a really great experience- much more fun than I’d thought, actually!

If you’re familiar with Edinburgh, you’ll know it’s very hilly. The 10K route is gorgeous, but it’s quite tough. There’s a very steep hill at the start for about 2km, and another incredibly steep hill coming out of the innocent railway cycle path. Of course, what goes up must come down and so there were also downhill stretches where we could catch our breath.

This is the first time I’ve run in an event with so many other people, and so I was very conscious of not going too fast and trying to keep up with people around me. I really just wanted to finish! We had a slow start up the aforementioned hill but must have paced ourselves well as we had energy left in the last kilometre to fly towards the finish line. My time was 1 hour and 6 minutes, which I’m absolutely delighted with.

Now, I do like an inspirational quote. One of my favourites is something Nelson Mandela said: “it always seems impossible until it’s done.” Now you may laugh and roll your eyes, and I agree that this was intended for much bigger things than my running a 10K. But it’s something I’ve found I really really love about running. It all seemed crazy at first. Running for three minutes seemed crazy, running for eight minutes seemed crazy, as did fifteen and twenty when I made it up to that. But I did it, and now I’ve plodded along for over an hour! I get to keep doing things that I once thought were crazy and unachievable and just “not for me”, and it’s the best feeling!

I really enjoyed the structured training, increasing my long run at the weekend and trying intervals and hill runs throughout the week. The atmosphere on the day was just brilliant, so positive and friendly. Would I do it again? Yes please!

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‘Gut’ by Giulia Enders: Book review

I finished reading Gut by Giulia Enders a few weeks ago and I had to share because I think it’s fab. Gut health is definitely the sort of thing we don’t really pay attention to unless there’s a problem and we have to. But of course, everyone has gut health, it’s just more noticeable for some than for others.

This book quite possibly has all the information you ever wanted to know about your gut. It’s written to make science accessible, and it totally ticks that box. I feel like I’ve learned so much about how my body actually works. Enders writes so enthusiastically about the digestive system that I couldn’t help but be excited about it too.

The book talks you through the entire digestive process. I found it really interesting- it’s not just my seemingly irritable bowels that are the cause of all my problems, there’s a whole load of things which need to be working in your favour. Did you know that if you have a bloated tummy at night, you’re better to lie on your left side to create a clearer digestive path? Or that the rumbling tummy noise you hear is actually because there’s a long enough break between meals for your small intestine to start its cleaning process? And just what we all suspected- the more stressed you are, the less energy there is available for digestion and so the more difficult it is for your digestive system to do its job. There’s absolutely loads more covered in the book, from the best positions to poo to the merits of good gut bacteria.

I actually finished this thinking what a wonder the human body is. It’s a very informative read and surprisingly funny too. I sometimes feel like all I think about is food and how my body will cope with it and what I can and cannot eat, so to learn more about what’s actually happening is definitely useful for me. I’d recommend this whether you have digestive struggles or not. It will definitely give you plenty to think about!

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April Favourites | 2017

I’ve got something a little bit different today- I love reading these kind of posts on other people’s blogs so I thought I’d share the things that have made me happy this month!

 

 

  • Seeing my best friend (and eating our favourite ice cream)

I finally made a trip down to see one of my favourite people for the first time in about nine months. I was feeling so unwell but since Katherine is an absolute gem of a friend we had a lovely relaxing weekend. We even managed to squeeze in an Amorino ice cream (all their sorbets are totally lactose and soy free, including the chocolate one, hooray!) and it almost felt like we were back in Paris. 

  • The return of PLL

Pretty Little Liars is back and I’m delighted. I’m happy because I love PLL, excited because there’s finally going to be an ending, and a wee bit sad because this is the final half season.

  • Fodmap friendly baking

Craig has made this absolutely delicious fodmap friendly cake not once, not twice, but three times this month.

It was recommended by a fellow low-fodmapper, and how very grateful I am. It’s quick and easy (so I’ve been told) and it’s seriously yummy. The recipe is here if you’re interested- it’s gluten free but Craig used Greek yogurt instead of sour cream to make it low-fodmap too.

  • Dawn O’Porter’s book signing

I took a trip through to Glasgow and met up with another Paris pal to go to Dawn O’Porter’s Glamour Book Club event for the launch of her new book The Cows. Dawn O’Porter is such an inspiration. It was a fab evening and I loved listening to Dawn talk about female solidarity, the pressures of being a woman and why we should be taking YOLO seriously. And that brings me onto…

  • The Cows by Dawn O’Porter

I finished reading The Cows in two days and would definitely recommend it. It’s a bit lighter than anything I’ve read recently, as well as being intelligent and very funny. The themes could be considered quite provocative and I think that’s the point- Dawn O’Porter wants to challenge us to think about how we judge others.  

  • Bryony Gordon’s Mad World podcast

I’m always looking out for new podcasts to listen to. I was very excited to hear about this, and even more so when I found out the first guest was none other than Prince Harry! Bryony Gordon’s podcast is basically encouraging conversations about mental health. I think it’s a huge deal for someone as high-profile as him to advocate looking after your mental health and I was amazed at how open and honest Prince Harry was in his episode.

  • Trip to Alnwick Castle

Craig and I had a fab day trip to Alnwick Castle, via Lindisfarne. We stopped at Lindisfarne on the way down since neither of us had been before.

Unfortunately the castle is closed for renovations at the moment, but the island itself was still very interesting to see. We then drove down to Alnwick and spent a rather chilly afternoon there exploring Alnwick Castle.

It’s absolutely beautiful and a must for any Harry Potter fan! The last time I was there I was young enough to take part in the flying lessons on the lawn used for filming the scenes in the Philosopher’s Stone…I’m maybe a bit too old now but it’s still pretty magical.

  • Submitting my final piece of PGDE coursework

My final piece of academic writing has been submitted! Keeping all fingers and toes crossed that I’ve passed everything. I’ve just got one more placement to go!

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Review: Deliciously Guilt Free brownies and blondies

I was delighted to receive a sample box of brownies and blondies from Deliciously Guilt Free. They’re gluten and wheat free, and they’re also low carb and low sugar. So they’re pretty perfect if you’re looking for a sweet treat which is still somewhat healthy!

In terms of their fodmap friendliness, there’s nothing in there which upset my tummy but of course we’re all very different and what works for me may not work for you too. All the ingredients are on the website here to check in more detail.

They were packaged very neatly and there was no danger of them getting broken in the post. There are four flavours: a browned butter peanut blondie, a chocolate and walnut brownie, a chocolate and chia brownie and a salted caramel nut brownie. They’re a perfect size- just enough! Continue reading “Review: Deliciously Guilt Free brownies and blondies”

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6 Ways I Take Care of My Tummy

It’s still April, which means it’s still IBS Awareness Month which means I’ve still got more tummy talk! Today I’ve got a little list of ways I take care of my tummy. Given that Easter is an opportunity to eat all of the chocolate, which might upset even the toughest of guts, I thought this post could come in handy whether you’re an IBS sufferer or not. 

Before starting the low fodmap diet plan, I was bloated every day. I’d wake up looking quite slim but by the afternoon I’d have to unbutton my jeans to feel comfortable. I have to laugh at just how swollen my tummy can get by the end of the day- I feel like if I was in water the buoyancy of my bloated tum could keep me afloat! Thankfully I’ve now got my symptoms much more under control, but any little changes or too much stress can knock things off.

 

Managing IBS symptoms involves a bit of a lifestyle change, so I’ve included some things I do preventatively as well as my go-tos when my tummy gets uncomfortable. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, just a few simple but effective ideas.

1. Drink some peppermint tea

I have a cup or two of peppermint tea most days and it does wonders for soothing my tummy. It’s fab for a bloated belly. One of my friends says she finds it quite zingy because of the mint, so you might also find it wakes you up in the morning like her!

2. Exercise

I am so much more motivated to exercise than I ever have been becauseit really helps my gut! Running is great for getting things moving along. I also like to do a bit of yoga. I go to a Les Mills Body Balance class which is a yoga and pilates combination. Sometimes I follow yoga videos on youtube. If I’m feeling bloated and crampy, a particular favourite is Yoga for Digestion Flow from Yoga with Adrienne. Whatever you fancy, a bit of exercise can help. 

3. Use a hot water bottle

The comfort of a hot water bottle is not to be underestimated. Sometimes I use a stick-on heat pad if I need to be out and about or somewhere like the library where I don’t really want to sit with a hot water bottle under my jumper. There are ones which stick directly onto your skin and others which you stick onto your clothes. I jokingly said to Craig that I was going to use these when we were in Berlin in December to keep me warm during the day and I wish I genuinely had!

4. Get enough sleep

I aim for 7-8 hours a night. I feel like a little old lady going to bed at 10pm but it’s 100% worth it to feel fresher and have less funky tummy stuff to deal with. 

5. Drink plenty of water

It keeps things moving along nicely. I try to drink a glass before I go to bed and again first thing in the morning as well as throughout the day. I’ve seen these HYDRATEM8 bottles with a tracker down the side so you can keep track of how much you drink throughout the day and I think they’re a fab idea (and now I’m really tempted to get one!).

6. Try to relax

This is definitely one of these things that is easier said than done! I like to watch something funny like Modern Family, read, paint my nails, or recently I’ve been using the Calm app for meditation. I think it’s useful to set yourself time (I literally put a timer on my phone for 15 minutes or however long) and just commit to whatever it is you’re doing. But even if I’m out and I’ve had something that’s not agreeing with me, I find it helpful to try to be as calm as I can be. I’ve learned that panicking about my symptoms only makes them worse!

Is there anything else you would add to this list? I’d love to hear any more suggestions!

 

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Reintroducing FODMAPs: I can eat avocado and maybe beans too!

I’m finally getting round to trying a more systematic introduction of fodmaps into my diet. The low fodmap diet is not a long term solution, but I’ve been stuck in the elimination stage for ages.

 I tried to reintroduce foods without much success a few months ago, and my GP just told me to stick with the restrictive stage indefinitely. It took me so long to manage to eat entirely low-fodmap in the first place, as I was so wary of eliminating foods and still managing to eat somewhat healthily. Then I wanted to give my tummy a chance to recover after Christmas and going to Paris in January. After that I was onto my second placement. The nerves and stress of placement had my tummy all over the place, so there was no point in trying to reintroduce anything as I wouldn’t be able to tell whether my body was reacting to what I’d eaten or just to my general stress.  So, here we are at last, in April!

The idea is that you reintroduce FODMAPs one at a time so you can try to work out what your triggers are. Hopefully you find that you can handle some of the foods you’ve eliminated, and then you can gradually reintroduce them and modify the low fodmap diet to suit you.

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The Worst 6 Things About Living with IBS

April happens to be a very exciting month…it’s IBS awareness month! I’ve found that people can have a few misconceptions about IBS and the impact it can have on someone’s life. And it’s no wonder, because it’s so taboo to discuss digestive health. I would like to think of myself as being quite an open person, so here I am ready to break that poo taboo and share with you the worst things about living with IBS.

    1. It’s not just having an upset stomach.
      There are all the digestive symptoms to deal with- constipation, diarrhea, cramps, bloating, flatulence, indigestion, a gurgling tummy- but then there’s also the nausea, back pain, headaches and fatigue. Pick a few in combination.
    2. It’s unpredictable.
      If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that I follow a low fodmap diet to relieve my symptoms. The majority of the time this really makes a huge difference. However, I’ve still occasionally been surprised by a flare up- so for me that’s cramps and spasms with extreme bloating and either constipation or diarrhea. And prior to eating low fodmap, every meal was a gamble to see what it would do to my tummy.
    3. Stress makes it worse.
      Healthy mind, healthy body. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. If I am stressed, there is no telling what my tummy will do. This year I have actually aimed to get all my uni work finished a few days before I normally would, so I can factor in time for my tummy to turn against me. I also struggle with anxiety and this only exacerbates any IBS symptoms.
    4. It impacts your social life.
      It’s all about the FOMO. I know you don’t need to drink alcohol to have fun, but it’s quite isolating to be 21 and it just not be an option for me. Going out for drinks is tricky to navigate when I can literally drink water or orange squash. I also have had to cancel plans if I have a flare up, which is frustrating and makes me feel very guilty.
    5. Eating out is a nightmare.
      I just hate sitting there saying ‘Can I have this, but without…’ and reeling off the list of ingredients I can’t eat. I’m quite a picky eater anyway but felt like I was finally getting better, and now I feel a bit sidelined by the restrictive low fodmap diet. I suppose I’m lucky in that I’ve never been a foodie, but I do love the social aspect of food. Now it just causes me stress. And that takes us back to point 2.
    6. It’s an invisible illness.
      If you have a sports injury, the assumption is that it hurts. But all the nights I’ve woken up in crippling pain, or the times I’ve sat through a lecture counting down from 10 over and over again to try to cope with the pain, nobody sees that. This of course is also a benefit, because at least I look healthy. Someone actually said to me ‘I don’t know how you can look so healthy when you eat such a restricted diet’ as if they were suspicious about the validity of my health or my restricted diet, I’m not sure which. Granted, sometimes I do look six months pregnant by the end of the day, but apart from this you wouldn’t know the impact it has on my life. And as with other invisible illnesses, it’s very tricky for people to understand or take seriously.

I don’t want this to be all gloom and doom. Living with IBS is limiting, potentially embarrassing and just downright unpleasant, but I am relieved that it’s IBS and not something life threatening. I think it’s great that I’m now much better informed about what exactly I eat and what goes into my food. I’m also much more in tune with my body and how I’m feeling. If I’m following the low fodmap diet my symptoms are under control and I can feel ‘normal’. I do try my best to stay positive, because like it or not this is now part of my life!

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Review: Brunch at Urban Angel

Where? Urban Angel, Hanover Street, Edinburgh.

I came across Urban Angel in a blog post from one of my favourite free-from bloggers, Becky Excell at Gluten Free Cuppa Tea. Luckily I have two kind friends who were more than happy to try out the brunch menu at Urban Angel with me.

We arrived at about 10am on a Saturday morning and were lucky to be seated straight away. It was very busy so I’d anticipate a wait if you arrive later. I don’t want to spoil the anticipation of the review, but I think it’s worth the wait!

I was absolutely delighted to find out that everything on the brunch menu could be made gluten free. How amazing is that? I love love love not feeling like a problem customer! Gluten free doesn’t necessarily mean fodmap friendly, but I was still spoilt for choice. Despite this, I went for my favourite: gluten free toast, poached eggs and avocado. I know it’s very simple but it’s very tasty. Also, I just can’t poach eggs so it’s actually a very special treat for someone to do it for me!

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Allergy and Free From Show, Glasgow 2017

Oh my goodness, I had an absolutely brilliant day out at the Allergy and Free From Show at the SEC in Glasgow yesterday.

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The face of a happy fodmapper.

With all of my diet changes being fairly recent, I’ve never been to anything like this before. I was very excited, and very impressed!  It was great to see (and sample!) a huge number of brands, some of which I recognised and some of which were totally new. I’ve seriously stocked up on things I do buy anyway because of the savings, and combined with all the freebies between the five of us we came back with quite the haul…

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Ta da! Should be sorted for a while…

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World Book Day: My Favourite Books

Happy World Book Day! 2017 is an extra special year, as it’s the 20th anniversary of the day dedicated to the excitement of reading.

I’ve always loved books. I was that child who was constantly reading. At night, I used to wait until Mum and Dad went downstairs then sit by my door so I could read from the light in the hall (sorry if this is a surprise but I’m sure I wasn’t as sly as I thought I was). I read anything and everything. Some of my earliest memories are going to the library with my granda and him taking books out on his card for me. Now, whilst I don’t have as much time for reading as I would like I rarely go anywhere without my kindle and try to squeeze reading time in whenever I can.

I love World Book Day and that it exists, because reading has been such a huge and formative part of my life and it’s wonderful to see its importance being celebrated! I thought I’d share a few of my favourite books to mark the occasion. Here they are, in no particular order at all.

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