The ultimate 10k fun run through beautiful Stockholm


This year I signed up for the Stockholm Urban Trail, a fun run with a difference, covering 10km of Stockholm’s best sights and streets.  I wanted to do something a bit different but still aim for a goal, and I wasn’t disappointed!

I’m not a great morning person but for some reason I leapt out of bed at 6am and was raring to go, I had a sense of purpose and energy to match.  The run was well organised with clear communication beforehand and instructions on where to go, what time we started (7.30am!) and with a bit of a warm up to get the crowd buzzing, we were off!

The run started in sections so that there weren’t too many people running through the beautiful old buildings at once, kicking off with the interesting Vikingaliv Museum (I hadn’t been in there before!) and then down past the water up to the gates of the outdoor museum of Skansen where we came across the first brutal steps up the escalators (which were obviously not switched on) and up round the beautiful park, meeting folk dressed in historical costumes and taking selfies along the way.  The run then progressed through the beautiful avenue of trees passed through Djurgården and over Djurgårdsbron and towards the regal Army Museum, up more steps and back through the back streets of well-heeled Östermalm.  It was a deadly quiet and serene Sunday, with just a few dog walkers and early morning tourists staring in wonderment about what the heck we were doing!

Our next port of call was the fun Rigoletto Cinema which had Mamma Mia 2’s trailer showing and a cheeky stop for popcorn and then back up the steps to MOOD Stockholm, a classy, high-end shopping mall. The run was so interesting and fun, with selfie stops, dressing up and things to see that it really didn’t feel like we were running a race at all!  Our next stop was through to the centre of town and running through Scandic’s Downtown Camper Hotel, surprising guests having breakfast with high fives and then round through the pretty gardens of Kungsträdgåden and onto the Musikaliska a music hall with musicians playing for our entertainment.

The home straight down the beautiful street towards the Nordiska Museum: the penultimate stop with more steps up and running through the exhibition space was great.  The end was nigh now and a final run through Josefina’s bar and onto the finish line meant that this was definitely a 10k run with a difference!

Here’s a taster of this year’s race:

It’s 3rd in the 4th race of the STHLM Challenge so if you’re living in Sweden or like to visit (often!) then this will be for you, where you can run all or just one race.  I loved every minute of it and this is coming from someone who didn’t run in these races at all until the Midnattsloppet last year. It’s surprising how much adrenalin and a buzz you get from it, and I’d definitely reached my step goal by 9am.

What a brilliant start to the day!

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Try this for a breakfast of champions


When you have little time but want the most nutritious breakfast, try prepping a topping for your yoghurt, muesli or porridge.

Most mornings I have unrolled whole wheat oats for breakfast usually with banana, berries and a porridge topping.

Make your own with the following:

  • Chia seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Raisins
  • Cinnamon
  • Linseed (flaxseed)

It’s a fab way to get a well-rounded mix of nutrients such as Vitamin E for great skin and nails, B1 (Thiamine) good for breaking down carbohydrates for use in our body as energy. Chia seeds have lots of fibre and Omega-3, great for raising our HDL levels, the ‘good’ cholesterol to help us protect against strokes and heart disease. Cinnamon can lower our blood sugar levels and is an anti-inflammatory, good for fighting off infections and repair muscle tissue.

Since embarking on a cleaner way of eating, I really don’t miss shop bought cereals and nuts and seeds with added salt or sugar.  My palate has changed and at first it can taste a bit bland but you’ll get used to it.  At the moment I’m studying a course in Nutritional Therapy and one of the exercises I have to do is assess a family member or friend.  I was surprised to learn that a few of them do not eat breakfast because it makes them feel nauseous in the morning, something I can only equate to not being used to eating first thing. One friend was suffering from constipation and bloating so rather than resorting to laxatives, I suggested she tries eating breakfast to see if this will help.  I recommended she takes it slowly and have something small and nutritious to begin with such as my homemade Tasty Snack Ball or a banana or yoghurt with the topping.  So let’s see if it works!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m studying a diploma in Nutritional Therapy and have discovered loads of interesting snippets about how our body works and reacts to the food we eat.  I’ll share some more soon here so remember to follow me and on Twitter for regular updates.

Happy Monday everyone and enjoy your week!

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Stockholm Skyline

How’s the 10k training going?


So, I signed up for a 10k run earlier this year, full of beans and determination! How’s it going? Well, I’ve been massively pre-occupied with other things in my life lately and this has taken time away from my training.  But, never fear!

Last year I completed the Midnattsloppet, a 10k run in the hipster neighbourhood of Södermalm in Stockholm and discovered it was a very hilly run.  So armed with this knowledge I did a lot of hill training and was very glad I did as it meant I was well prepared and although I’d love to say I ran up the hill like a leggy gazelle, it wasn’t as painful as I thought!

So, the next 10k is Stockholm’s Urban Trail Run, which is more fun rather than striving for a PB time, where we will be taking in the sights of Stockholm, running through Skansen (an outdoor museum, very hilly) and also lots of steps going up (non-functioning!) escalators and stairs in shopping malls, shops, cinemas and through the beautiful Royal Dramatic Theatre.  It’s an early morning race where you can stop to take pictures of the buildings, some selfies and soak in the views – a bit like being a speedy tourist. What a challenge, and I’ll be doing more step work and still working those dreaded hills as well as work out how to hold my phone, take a picture and run at the same time!

Here’s a video of the run from last year:

Less than four weeks and counting! I’ll post some more updates here soon.

Happy training if you are working towards a race coming up soon and I’d love to hear other’s thoughts on what they do to prepare, so please do comment and share your tips!

Why I started Project Clean and Lean


Here’s a bit of background to why I started blogging about healthy living and fitness.

I was about to get married and wanted to lose weight for the big day – the bride’s dilemma – and to ensure I looked my very best for the pictures that would be sitting on my living room shelf for all time, for all to see.  I wasn’t massively overweight or anything, I just wanted to lose at least 5 kilos to feel better in myself and to fit into a lovely wedding dress.  That was the motivation. However, despite this element of vanity, I actually needed to lose weight, for my health.  I am not tall and I was slightly podgy, I ate what I wanted, drank what I wanted and hmm, did some exercise here and there when I felt like it.  As soon as you hit your 30s you do notice that weight does not shift very easily so I had to stage a personal intervention and the wedding day was a fantastic deadline!

Fast forward 6 years later, I had managed to lose 8 kilos for the big day, kept it off for a while, then became comfy in my cosy married world and life took over including working a busy desk-bound job, long commute, eating on the run, lack of sleep, stress and not taking enough care of myself.  Admittedly I put a some kilos back on, not too much and definitely not like before, but enough for me to stage another mini-intervention where I have since lost 6 kilos and so far kept it off for the past two years.  Result!

So, what’s with all this yo-yo-ing weight loss/gain? It’s too easy to lapse back into a lack of discipline and I fully intended to keep up with the rules of Clean and Lean: by eating well and tried to exercise regularly. Then it was setting a goal for starting after the New Year or in time for summer. However, I realised that one can’t lose weight just because of a trying for a deadline or whatever it is…it’s a lifestyle choice, something you need to do for life.  I had to change my way of thinking and how I can make better choices – despite the busy lifestyle – because my health depended on it.  My family background has a pre-disposition of high blood pressure and cholesterol, stroke and Type 2 Diabetes and I certainly did not want ongoing health issues, dependent on medication.

What encouraged me change my way of thinking is that earlier this year I started a Professional Diploma in Nutritional Therapy, in order to help me re-think and understand my lifestyle choices and understand nutrition further.  I wanted to help my family understand it especially my mother who is from a different generation and has a traditional outlook to food, to break bad habits too.

I’ve learnt so much in the first few modules and I’ll be sharing some insights here, so sign up for updates and watch this space!

In the meantime, have a happy, healthy weekend and hope you feel motivated to make some healthy lifestyle choices too!

Running season has started!


Living in Sweden has its perks: Fika (coffee and cake) is a cultural institution and is satiated once, maybe twice a day; the weather can be glorious in the Spring and Summer months and there are a plethora of well-organised running races popping up all over the major cities.

So following on from my experience of the Midnattsloppet 10k run last Summer, I have signed up for the Urban Trail, a 10k with a difference where all the beautiful sights and buildings of Stockholm are part of the race: running through and in them, providing perfect opportunities to take a selfie and the challenge of a run at the same time.

I love that there are so many different ways to get fit and inventive running races these days, making it far more fun and interactive, such as Tough Viking, Urban Mile and even the Park Runs are a good way to start without too much commitment or being self-conscious.

So, have you signed up for your challenge yet? If so, enjoy the training and if not, why don’t you give it a go? So much fun and everybody has to start somewhere!

Watch this space, I’ll be posting more on nutrition and how I’m doing with my training soon…

Happy running!

 

 

The running challenge…or not?


So last year (2017) I embarked on my first ever running event.  I decided I needed to try something new and opted for the 10k Midnattsloppet run in Stockholm.  Sure, I’ve done a couple of 5k fun runs before for charity but I wanted to stretch myself a bit and get some training plan in place.  I was a bit nervous about doing it – not sure why – maybe it’s the perception that I needed to achieve a personal best, or at the very least finish it!

I needn’t have worried because although 3/4 of the way through I was willing it to end, I was also weirdly enjoying the experience too (see my previous post for full race breakdown), there was a sort of buzz, maybe that’s what they call adrenalin.  It’s also mildly addictive and so this year (as it’s January and let’s not lose the momentum of positivity and motivation), I have signed up for the Urban Trail and possibly others, maybe something different, to be explored…

In signing up for these races, I am going to do the runs that I know will suit me (in this case the 10k is enough) and I will reap personal achievement in terms of challenge, route, training time and what my body’s telling me.  I suspect a half marathon will not bode well with me as I have degenerative foot issues which will likely inhibit performance, enjoyment or become worse with more kms.

The moral to this story? Don’t feel pressurised (either by others or in yourself) to undertake races that you don’t want to.  Simple as that.  Just because you have a PB in the 10km and feel you can do more, is a half marathon necessarily the next challenge? Is more distance the key? Why not try something different like a trail or a Mud Run instead? Without furthering your kms and stressing your running legs, you may reap a challenge in a different way.  It could even be that you don’t even want to run anymore and decide to take up swimming or cycling instead!  Whatever your choice, I’m sure it’s an exciting one.

Go for it!

 

Tasty Snack Ball Recipe


As part of my food prep for clean and lean eating, I’ve adapted this snack ball recipe.  Perfect for pre or post gym to stave off the hunger pangs and give you an energy boost or for that post-dinner snack to ensure your sweet tooth doesn’t crave chocolate.  Pop a couple of these in your bag and you won’t need to buy processed snacks, crisps or chocolate and great for your purse strings too!

Makes around 12-14 balls

Time: 20 minutes (including roasting time)

Ingredients

40g sunflower seeds

50g pumpkin seeds

100g almonds

30g figs, roughly chopped

30g dates, roughly chopped

30g raisins (or other dried fruit of your choosing)

90g dried cranberries (or other dried fruit of your choosing)

30g dates (mine were a little dry so you can rehydrate with hot water for 5 minutes), roughly chopped

2 tsp chia seeds

30g Shredded coconut with added cinnamon to taste

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180c and roast the nuts and seeds for around 10 minutes.
  2. Once nuts and seeds have been roasted, set aside to cool.
  3. Once cooled, add all nuts, seeds and dried fruit to a food processor (or you can manually chop if you wish) and mix until it’s combined and broken down into roughly chopped pieces.
  4. Using slightly wet hands, take a small handful of mix and roll into bitesized balls (enough for 2-3 bites).  The ingredients will be slightly crumbly so remember to keep rolling and push together.  It’s a bit fiddly but it’s all worth it!
  5. Roll balls into the coconut/cinnamon mix and coat thoroughly. You may need to re-roll, and re-pack the balls again to ensure it retains its shape.
  6. Place in containers and eat as desired!

Please note that these are approximate weights and feel free to adapt the recipe to your liking; you can use all sorts of dried fruit, nuts and seeds of course – the choice is yours!

Embarking on a new direction


New Year, New Goals

I love and hate this time of year…the bad thing: it’s cold and dark (if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, obviously), the good thing (and more importantly), it’s a time for getting yourself sorted, to make those resolutions, go for those goals, do something a little different, create a challenge for yourself.

Learning about yourself

As the years tick by, I’ve found that I’m definitely more conscious about my body and how it works, as well as understanding that we’re not young anymore and we don’t simply bounce back into shape or can eat and drink anything we want.  I was never tremendously interested in the Sciences at school and have not progressed a career anything to do with health or food either.  It’s only since I embarked on the Clean and Lean eating ‘diet’ back in 2011, that I started learning more about nutrition, sleep, mindfulness, well-being and exercise.  I found I enjoyed learning about what food does to your body, about how to eat certain things and not others and of course, it’s all over the media, with celebrity chefs turning to a different way of cooking, being overloaded with healthy recipes for this and that, new fads, foods, eating regimes etc etc…that we can’t help but pay attention to it.

This year’s goals

So far I’m going great guns in 2018! Feeling motivated and re-energised I’ve enrolled in a distance learning course in Nutritional Therapy.

I wanted to learn more about nutrition in general and how I can further adapt my eating habits.  I also wanted to learn more from a personal point of view, with high cholesterol, blood pressure and Type 2 Diabetes in the family, I wanted to avoid a lifetime of drug dependency and to prevent myself from getting illnesses which I could most certainly avoid.  I also wanted to find out more to help my Mum, who, being a very different generation to most of us reading this blog, was not sure about what was right for her, what she could eat and how to change her perception of food.

We grew up in a Chinese household with lots of delicious meals: salty, fatty, oily, carby.  Is it a great diet? Not really, and with a health scare last year, even my Mum has embarked on learning more about her way of eating and I want to help her.  The clincher was when we found a picture of us both from 2007 looking bloated, fat and quite frankly very unhealthy! I can’t even bear to post a picture of it here but in time, I might summon up the guts to share it with you.

I’m really looking forward to learning more and will post more about this on the blog over the coming months.  Hope to share some interesting insights with you soon!

 

Here’s to a Happy, Healthy 2018!


Hi All – sorry it’s been a while! Happy New Year and I’m hoping that you have your New Year’s Resolutions in place? Again, mine are the same; after a busy, Festive Season, we’re all feeling a bit heavier and slightly unhealthy right? Never fear! we can get back on track and this is exactly what I’m doing in January: no booze, clean eating, meal and snack prep, lots of hydration, motivation and embracing the great outdoors.

I’m also signing up for a few more running races this year, so will share my training and nutrition schedule and tips, some recipes, plus my review on the Fitbit weighing scales, running kit, trying out Cross Country Skiing, new workouts, food and drink crazes and more…

Here’s to a happy, healthy 2018! 🙂