Vegan Challenge

Why hello there, readers, fancy seeing you here.

Thought I’d do a little challenge post, because you all know how I love my challenges. I’ve also mentioned how much I love Cassey of Cassey is about to embark on a two week vegan eating challenge. I’ve been wanting to eat a little more healthily, as I still don’t quite have all my energy back after the flu thingy I had. I’m a vegetarian, and I’ve gone vegan before and found it very rewarding, if a little too restrictive. I don’t think our country is really quite there yet in terms of appealing, healthy food. There are some great places in London, and others such as Terre a Terre in Brighton (seriously, EVERYONE should eat there once, veggie or not), but I absolutely detest going into a ‘vegetarian restaurant’. Images of lentils and sour goats cheese tend to flicker into my mind, unpleasantly.

I absolutely love food. I love trying new things, and I sometimes get a little miserable that vegetarian eating and great food still don’t appear to go hand in hand. I’m fed up of going to a restaurant and seeing risotto or goat’s cheese tart on the menu. Just because I don’t eat meat, doesn’t mean I’ve lost my taste buds/imagination! I’m a lifelong veggie, and it makes me sad to feel that there’s still a big stigma attached to it. That’s why I’m a big fan of Thai or Japanese food: heaps of flavour and more options. I’m pretty far from your stereotypical veggie, and I have no wish to eat in a stereotypical vegetarian restaurant with crappy art on the walls and unappetising food. I don’t want to have to choose a third rate dish from a menu because the chef decided vegetarians are inferior in some way. I’m totally getting off track here, but this is important to me, goddammit!

Anyway, I’m 100% vegetarian all the time, but when I go vegan I try to be as creative as possible. Everything needs to be carefully considered, flavours enhanced, pleasing to the senses. I’m going to do it for two weeks, starting tomorrow, just to sort out some of the dodgy eating habits I’ve fallen into, and then I’ll assess how I feel afterwards. Because it’s difficult to get all the calories you need, I’ll be eating a LOT (air punch) and about 5-6 small meals a day. I’m going to avoid processed foods and sugars, and try and come up with delicious, healthy meals. I’m sitting here now with a stack of cookbooks and ploughing through them! Cassey of is going to be putting up her own meal plan, but I’ll probably just devise my own to suit my own tastes. *Cough* NO TOFU *cough*.

So that’s me and my next two weeks sorted. Bit alarmed at not having alcohol – I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to break that next weekend for a night out, but otherwise, it should be interesting. I’ll keep you all posted, and if anyone fancies joining in, shout me up on Twitter @ameliafsimmons. Also, if you know any restaurants which serve great vegetarian food, I’d really love to hear about them.

Healthy living: End of Week 1

With the zeal of anyone who has just started a new healthy eating/exercising plan, I raced through the week with few problems. There is no week easier than the first week when you’re changing your habits, as I’m sure most of you will know. Actually, the first couple of weeks are usually pretty golden. You’re evangelical about your new eating plan, and you tell anyone who will listen that they’ve ‘really got to try’ it, it’s ‘already made such a huge difference’. ‘Sugar? You know, you reeeeally shouldn’t eat that’, etc etc. You become a diet bore. You tend to see results quickly, depending on how bad a state you were in before. Everything is glorious, and you’re in a permanent good mood. Come weeks 3/4, it may well be a different story, but hey – let’s stick with week one.

I managed to exercise everyday, focussing on different bits of my body to exercise with Cassey’s POP Pilates videos. Then I’d finish off with 10-20 minutes of cardio. Saturday was an all cardio day, and I rediscovered Billy Blanks’ Tae Bo, a workout video (yes, video) I’d used to get me into shape in my teens. Ah, the sweaty nostalgia of it all. But that’s enough about my personal life, back to the exercising.

I was like a woman possessed – logging my food and exercise every day on, spending my ‘spare’ (haha) time on researching the best workouts to follow. I’m very happy to be following Cassey and her ‘blogilates’. She’s a lovely cheery presence and puts a smile on my face for the rest of the day. Useful, as I tend to workout in the morning.

Yesterday, I finally paid attention to the name that I’d heard floating around but had never really registered. Tracy Anderson. The great pretender, as some call her, or Gwyneth and Madonna’s personal trainer, to everyone else. She seems to have completely divided the fitness world. She has very strict beliefs, e.g. women shouldn’t lift more than 3lbs if they want to have thin arms. She’s created a form of exercise called ‘dance cardio’, and I’ve been told she tends to give little instruction and smile even less.

The programme of exercise that works for you is a very personal thing, so it was little wonder that I found such a dichotomy of opinion. I’ve danced for a substantial portion of my life, so can pick up routines quite quickly, and I don’t necessarily need a running commentary on it. I also hate doing weights, I really struggle to lift anything very heavy, so that side of things works for me to. The only thing to do was to try it. I looked up some of her free webcasts, along with a routine she did with Nicole Richie, and I absolutely LOVED them. It made me sweat (sorry, disgusting), which I welcomed as Pilates makes me sore but doesn’t yield any perspiration (was that less horrible sounding?!) I enjoyed all the hopping about and twisting round and kicking (sounds like my last date…badoom tish.) I liked Tracy, I found her to be earnest and not nauseatingly false.

So, I’ll be adding about 20 minutes of her to the end of my Pilates for next week, as I felt my cardio was lacking last week. I’ve also purchased the Snog healthy treats cookbook – £7.07 on Ebay as opposed to £17 in Smith’s. I love love love Snog, and it’s a beautiful book – I’ll blog a couple of recipes from it once I’ve tried them, so you can all join in. I’ve got a detox cookery class with Nosh Detox coming up on Thursday too, in South Ken. Should be fun, and I’ll report back on that too. I know it feels anti-instinctive to be doing this health kick now instead of January, but I just see it as getting a head start on my New Year’s Resolutions. I refuse to sit back, make excuses, and get even more unhealthy over the festive period. Let me know if you’re doing anything similar, or if you keep a fitness blog yourself

I promise these self obsessed health blogs won’t be the only thing I talk about these days – I’ve just been super duper busy setting up my jewellery business (nearly there, fingers crossed!), and my free time is either spent writing articles, or visiting spas and fashion events and things. I know, I know. It’s a tough life. But someone’s got to do it.

Big fat healthy Snogs xx

Tracy Anderson, my new queen

Frozen yog - my new ice cream


POP Pilates, the anti-bikini body, and a challenge…

Oh, Autumn/Winter. A good season for so many reasons, not least of all fantastic parties, open log fires, steaming cups of Earl Grey on drizzly days, tramping through woods, rubbish but totally brilliant black and white films in the afternoon, mulled wine…..

Weirdly, I seem to always get into some sort of heavy duty exercise/eating routine around this time of year. I naturally like salads and lighter food, so I get to a point in Winter where I don’t want to see a potato, or a hearty stew, or something with mushrooms in. I also feel like I’m getting one up on my New Year’s resolutions. Because, after all, who feels like changing anything on January 1st? I’m usually nursing a hangover and feeling violent unease at the prospect of the new year.

I’ve been trying to eat fairly healthily at the moment, but had a bit of a lapse this weekend, and I can already feel the results. I feel sluggish (the worst word known to man), unmotivated, and generally not a very happy bunny. I’ve been doing some Pilates videos I found on YouTube, hosted by a very smiley and cheerful girl called Cassey Ho. I used to think Pilates was pretty much like yoga – ok for flexibility, but generally still the home of mung bean eating, New Age music-listening, crystal waving types. Then along came Cassey, with her glam gym gear, her huge smile, her insanely tough workouts, and a soundtrack including Shakira, Gaga and Rihanna.

I barely managed 2 minutes of one workout, and I realised that this was something I really wanted to do, and get good at. I went and checked out Cassey’s site: It’s amazing – bright colours, inspirational stories, motivational slogans all over the place. It’s very, very American, and I loved it. I spotted Cassey was running a 90 day challenge (sadly with only 60 days to go) comprising of 5 days of pilates/cardio workouts a week, combined with a good healthy diet. It seemed destined to be. So much of being able to motivate yourself and keep pushing through when you’re flagging is having someone energetic, encouraging and aspirational, and I think Cassey manages to achieve all of those things.

Right, waffle over. Go and check her out. Don’t blame me if you get sore thighs (ah…how many times have I said that in my life?!) Basically, I’m going to attempt to follow her challenge – not quite to the letter, because I’m not exactly going to be eating a stir fry for Christmas lunch, am I? But I’m going to try. Out go the cakes again, refined sugars and bad carbs, in come the fruit and veg and porridge. I’ll be attempting to track in on this blog – only every week though. Nobody needs to know what I’m eating every single day, for Chrissakes. Have a look yourself – maybe you’ll be joining me?!