Getting out of auto-mode

Live Loosley London Auto-mode

It’s easy to walk through life in auto-mode.

I do it all the time. I’m in London, a big busy metropolis. You can walk around the city passing thousands and thousands of people and not recognize a single one of them. Usually walking with a purpose to get somewhere the quickest, most efficient way possible; the people in your way are faceless bodies literally just in your way, as you are to them.

No matter where you are, city or a small community, work can get monotonous if you let it. You can sit there 9-5 unchallenged, working for a business you are not particularly passionate about with colleagues don’t particularly know that well.

Then we get home and zone out in front of the TV before heading to bed and doing it all over again.

In one way, I see auto-mode as a bit of a coping mechanism. Life can be overwhelming, hard work and scary otherwise. Auto-mode is safe and easy.

But life in auto-mode is just that, it’s easy. It is uninspiring, unchallenging and spending too much time in it can be damaging to self confidence and general wellbeing.

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Week 3, Sugar Free. Challenge Complete

Well, ending the sugar free challenge on Halloween was definitely not one of my smartest ideas. This post should actually be called ‘The Sugar High’ or ‘The Sugar Crash’ rather.

Let’s not dwell on the sugar binge that occurred last night (candies, pizza and beer) and again this morning (pancakes and maple syrup for breakfast)… Here is a glimpse on my final week of The Sugar Free Challenge and my general conclusions from the whole experience.

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Week 3, sugar free

This week went much smoother than Week 2 but still not quiet as smooth in comparison to how well Week 1 went.

Aside from Tuesday when Dan marinated Salmon with a winning, sugar-filled combination of brown sugar and soy sauce (eye roll!!), I stuck to the sugar free diet for the final week of the challenge.

I stuck with easy snacks that required little preparation – nuts, almond butter on rice cakes and fruit. Lunches involved homemade soup, salad or leftovers from dinner.

My favourite meal of the day is breakfast though and this Portobello mushroom and egg combo was by far the winning meal of the week. It’s one of those meals that seem like a treat even though it is full of healthy ingredients. And when you’re cutting back on treats… a meal like this definitely helps.

I was able to resist the bake sale at work and just barely made it through the week. Knowing the end of the challenge was near and also having slipped up pretty majorly on Tuesday, my motivation to finish the sugar free week was dragging.

It’s not that I was craving sugar so badly that I couldn’t wait to eat it again… I just found that restricting my diet for so long was really starting to wear down my drive. It wasn’t enjoyable anymore.

This brings me into my conclusions of the sugar free lifestyle…

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Week 2, Sugar Free

IMG_0016During Week 1, I put effort into preparing healthy sugar free snacks, lunches and dinners. Our whole household went sugar free so we worked together to set ourselves up for a successful week.

This week we were much less prepared… lunches were mapped out for the first half of the week but because of some conflicting evening plans we did dinners separately. My snacks in Week 2 were limited to fruit and assorted nuts. My dinners were sporadic as I was often out in the evenings, so I ate very random bits and bobs by the time I got home… like goat cheese or almond butter on rice crackers.

By Thursday/ Friday my diet was limited to lattes, oranges and chips (fries). NOT HEALTHY… but sugar free…

I’ve gone into the grocery store and opted out of buying a pre-made salad or soup for lunch because I saw sugar was on the ingredients list. So being this strict for the purpose of being sugar free, might not be the healthiest option for me.

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Week 1, Sugar Free

IMG_0008Well it has certainly been a learning curve. I’ve become so much more aware of how many things have sugar as a key ingredient in them and also how many things have a decent percentage of sugar making up carbohydrates.

This week I didn’t eat anything with refined sugar, no fruit and no processed carbs. My diet involved a handful of dense carbohydrates a day (quinoa or basmati rice), eggs, meat, non processed cheeses, nuts/seeds/beans and lots of vegetables.

Why no fruit? The idea is to adjust my palate to crave sugar less; just as our palates have been conditioned to crave sugar… they can be conditioned to crave it less… It’s truly amazing how many things in life can be boiled down to habit.

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The Sugar Free Challenge

Firstly, Happy Canadian Thanksgiving Everyone!! Thanksgiving is about celebrating the harvest and other blessings of the past year with family and friends. I have so much to be thankful for and am excited to share this year’s Thanksgiving feast with an old friend of  mine who lives up north near the Lake District here in England. Kelly is preparing a feast today and I cannot wait to indulge!

Starting tomorrow however, I will be attempting a sugar free diet for the rest of the month. And I challenge you to be conscious of your sugar intake as well.

Until doing some research, I would have said I have a very low sugar diet. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth and I make most of my meals and snacks with no added sugar. It turns out however, that though my sugar intake may be lower than average, it is much higher than the recommended daily sugar intake, which is 6-9 teaspoons.

Going sugar free was my roommate Kailee’s idea after a recent chocolate binge in Switzerland (can’t blame her!). We have been reading up on it and plan to use many of the recipes and advice provided from Deliciously Ella.

At a high-level, here are a few high-sugar items which you should consider cutting out of your diet completely…

minimize your sugar intake by CUTTING OUT THE FOLLOWING:
  1. Soft drinks, energy drinks and fruit juices
  2. Low-Fat ‘diet foods’ often have fat removed from them which get replaced with sugar
  3. Canned fruits preserved in sugary syrups
  4. Dried fruits
  5. Candies and sweets
  6. Processed/ pre-packaged food (Heinz ketchup is 24% sugar!)

Getting more meticulous, keep an eye on your intake of the following very nutritious but high in sugar foods…

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Crunchy Roast Chickpea Snack

Healthy Snack Live Loosley

I have a constant craving for crunchy and savoury snacks. I love everything about them. So when it comes to lunch at the office, I often prepare for this weakness. I know that no matter what I eat at lunch, I’ll still want a small bag of chips after.

Rather than exploiting my will power and feeling deprived of what I want… I take a different approach. The ’80/20′ rule. Be good 80% of the time and enjoy your cravings 20% of the time… eat 80% veg and 20% carbs… Make sure 80% of your day or your meal is healthy and well balanced.

Never deprive yourself of what you want, but make up for it in other areas. Being healthy doesn’t mean you live off of green smoothies and lettuce. It’s controlling your intake so you have a well balanced diet and ENJOY it.

I pack a light salad for lunches at the office. I do this so I can balance out my craving for a savoury snack… more often than not, chips.

Now that I’m not training as much as I was this Summer, I may need to get a bit more cleaver with fooling my cravings… So here is a HEALTHY crunchy and savoury snack that has helped me move away from my chip dependency.

This roast chickpea recipe is easy to prepare and is packed with nutrients like protein, fibre, calcium, iron and magnesium.

Prep: 5 minutes
Roast: 40 minutes

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Bean Stir Fry

This is my ‘go-to’ dinner after an evening workout.

Scenario

You’ve just finished your workout and it’s now 8:30PM. You’re home by nine and you’re seriously starving. You’re tired so basically right after you eat, you’re planning to sleep. You’ll be craving a high cal meal but you don’t want to eat something too heavy right before bed… WHAT DO YOU DO?!

Bean stir fry to the rescue.

This recipe is high in protein and fibre. It is filling but doesn’t make you feel bloated or sluggish the next day. Oh, and did I mention how delicious it is?

Prep: 10 minutes
Simmer: 15 minutes
Result: 4 servings, bean stir fry

Bean Stir Fry

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Everyone should own a foam roller… and use it

One of my goals this year is to stretch more…

But stretching alone isn’t always enough to release muscles tightness. This is why my goal has evolved into foam rolling 2-3 times a week as well.

Stretch

After this weekend’s race – foam rolling was/ is my total saviour. I raced the London ITU Sprint Triathlon in Hyde Park and it really took a toll on my body. My energy levels feel low and I’ve been really stiff and uncomfortable this week. My muscles have finally started to loosen up now which I will attribute to 1) drinking lots of water and eating lots of nutrient filled foods 2) taking a couple rest days directly after the race 3) swimming on Tuesday which got my muscles moving again (could also be called an impromptu ice bath because it was so cold!) and 4) stretching and foam rolling.

You don’t have to feel stiff and uncomfortable to foam roll however. Rolling out your muscles is a great activity which benefits all lifestyles…

Here’s some info about what it is, what it does and why you should give it a try!

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Soft Coconut Rice Squares

A perfect snack – both filling and packed with healthy fats and nutrients. These will get you past the 11am hunger pains at the office and/or those low times on a long bike ride.

I often make these on Sunday evening so they are kept handy for the week. For those who have sensitive diets, these are gluten free, dairy free and vegan friendly.

Prep: 5 minutes
Simmer: 20 minutes
Result: 18 Coconut Rice Squares

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