Recipe: Coconut Prawn Curry

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This creamy, coconut prawn curry was absolutely delicious and much lower in calories than the restaurant or takeaway equivalents. I feel so accomplished when I make healthy versions of my favourite not-so-healthy meals! 

The weekend has come to an end. It’s Sunday night and your weekend is a blur of cheap champagne, good friends and lots and lots of fun. Cooking is the last thing you want to do right now. In fact, all you want is one more wonderful evening before the dreaded Monday morning blues roll around! The takeaway menu is lying on your kitchen counter and it would just be so easy to dial that sh*tty Chinese down the street. Stop! Throw that menu away. Put your phone down. Takeaway meals are so easy to make at home. This weekend, Asian food was on my mind, but rather than go to ‘Yum Yum‘ down the road, I decided to make my own healthy version of what I was craving. A few basic ingredients and all of ten minutes later, and dinner was served… an absolutely delicious, fragrant prawn curry served over some fluffy brown rice.

Whether it’s Fish n’ Chips, Pizza, Burgers, or Chinese Chicken, I will help you make your own healthy version! If you have any requests for healthy versions of your favourite takeaway meals, simply post on my Facebook or Instagram page. Until then, have a delicious night.

Ingredients: 

  • 180g Raw Jumbo King Prawns
  • 2 tbsp of coconut cream
  • 2-4 tbsp of boiling water
  • 3 cloves of Garlic
  • 1″ of chopped Ginger
  • 1 tbsp of chopped fresh coriander
  • a pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp of soy sauce
  • 1/2 a tsp of honey
  • 1 tsp of coconut oil for cooking
  • 75g of Brown Rice (or basmati rice)
  • a sprinkle of desiccated coconut (for serving)

Method:

  1. Melt the coconut oil in a shallow frying pan on a medium heat.
  2. Add the chopped garlic and ginger.
  3. Add the prawns and let them cook halfway through (2-3 mins approx).
  4. Add the chilli flakes, soy sauce and honey.
  5. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add the coconut cream, water and coriander.
  7. Cook for a further couple of minutes.
  8. Serve over the rice, add the coconut, and tuck in!

Fitness Struggles: Coping with an Injury (Part II)

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Since my injury, I have been focusing on building my strength and flexibility. This will hopefully make the recovery process easier as I strengthen the muscles in my legs, arms and core rather than losing muscle mass.

If you haven’t read my previous post ‘Coping with an Injury: Part I‘ then I recommend that you start there before reading this post. 🙂 In summary, I tore my Psoas muscle on the left side of my lower back/hip flexor approximately five weeks ago and it was a very difficult injury to recover from.

Stage 6: Assessing the Damage

As a person who is naturally impatient, it was very challenging to take a step back from my normal workout routine. I had to try certain exercises, assess the pain, and then figure out if I could continue or if it was too much. In week one, I could not walk without being in excruciating pain and discomfort. I even had to take paracetamol to sleep. I began with the cross trainer in week two. In week three, I began doing burpees, rowing, jumping jacks and body weight lunges. In week four, I began doing a lot of upper body weights, core work, and squats and lunges with a 10kg and 15kg bar. In week five, I increased to a 17.5kg bar and built up to the weights I was using before the injury. I added in leg extensions, jumping lunges, courtesy lunges, hip thrusters, dead lifts and then before I knew it, I was back to my normal routine with a little less of the explosive moves, but the normal weight. The best feeling was not having any pain. I felt strong again!

Stage 7: Helping Myself Heal

Thankfully, my medical insurance covered me for a consultation and six sessions with a physiotherapist. She has helped me cope with the injury both physically and mentally. She completely understood what I was going through and I trusted her more than I have ever trusted a medical professional in my life. She understood my fear of never being able to run again, my fear of gaining weight, my worries of not being able to exercise, and all of the emotional turmoil that came with such a complicated injury. From doing a lot of reading and research about nutrition and exercise as part of my own personal weight loss journey, I knew a few things could help speed up the healing process. First and foremost, a high-protein diet which wasn’t hard as I eat a lot of protein as it is! I also bought BCAAs and L-glutamine, which I took 3-4 times a week pre and post-workout to help my muscles heal and grow. Branched chain amino acids have been shown to help muscles repair. I figured it could only help, so why not? I took my regular supplements, which are: Omega-3 fish oil, Vitamin B complex, multi-vitamins, cranberry and a probiotic in the evening. Basically, filling myself with nutrients to try and heal as quickly as possible.

Stage 8: Unpleasant Side Effects

The worst side effect was the hormonal imbalances that I experienced during the few days following the injury. Going from vigorous workouts and exercise every morning to virtually zero exercise and constant pain wreaked havoc on my hormones. I felt deeply depressed. My stress levels sky-rocketed and I wasn’t sleeping well. My diet was horrendous. I binged on sweets, chocolate and all sorts of rubbish and did a lot of comfort eating. The guilt and depression following these binges was very hard to cope with. After doing some research, I bought a probiotic to try and help reduce the hormonal imbalance. Thankfully, my body is well on its way to getting re-balanced. However, the side effects of eating so much junk are- a lot of fat gain and a few lbs of weight gain. A frustrating set-back. This will take at least 2-4 weeks to fix, but it can be done. With a lot of commitment, motivation, and focus of course!

Stage 9: Baby Steps

Last weekend, I ran a 5K and only with mild discomfort. On Friday, I ran 8Km and felt absolutely fine. Yesterday, I ran 7.5Km and felt great! Today, I walked 16.5 Miles in total (all over London) and my hamstrings and calves are pretty fatigued, but mentally, I feel fantastic! I am starting to feel like myself again. This week, my goal is to work out for at least 30 minutes every day. I am not going to run every day because I know that this could risk irritating the injury or causing another injury. Although I feel like I “could” run a 10K every day, it doesn’t mean that I should. I need to take this one day at a time and really listen to my body rather than pushing it over its limits. But I feel like I am finally getting back to normal and I am so thankful that my injury is healing so well. I am so thankful that I can run again. I feel so thankful for my health. This experience has made me very aware of how important my health is to me. In fact, it’s probably the single most important thing in my life!

Stage 10: Moving Forward and Key Lessons

Moving forward, I am so much more focused on strength and flexibility rather than absolutely hammering my body in the gym until it is completely fatigued. I am making a promise to myself that I will stretch after every workout and use the steam room at my gym as often as I can. I will push my body and challenge myself but not punish it. And when I do push it to its limits, I will reward it with a massage or a spa treatment or something nice to show it some love! I will make sure to balance weight training with cardio, not doing too much of one or the other but equal amounts of both.

In the past twelve months, I have completed a Masters degree, been through a break-up, moved to a new city, started a new job, and I would truly say that this injury has been the most difficult thing I have had to deal with this year. It has been a physical and mental battle but I feel that I have learned a lot throughout the process. To my friends and family, if you are reading this, thank you for putting up with my constant moaning and my (virtually menopausal) emotional rollercoaster. I am hoping that it is onward and upward from here.

 

 

 

RECIPE: Banging Cilantro Turkey Burgers

There is nothing like a good burger, especially when it’s homemade. I like to know what ingredients are in my food and I like my meat nice and lean. There is nothing more repulsive that a grisly steak or a chewy fatty sausage. Please don’t misunderstand me- I LOVE beef mince and duck and bacon, but not if it is dripping with fat. Have you ever felt like you are wearing vaseline after eating meat? That is gross. Turkey mince is a great substitute for beef and it’s extremely lean. You don’t have to sacrifice flavour when munching on these juicy patties. They are packed with flavour from fragrant coriander, hot red chilli, and a few other herbs and spices. This week, I served mine with some low-sugar slaw because I was feeling lazy. But I would highly recommend serving these with avocado and a homemade mango pico de gallo or some cumin sweet potato fries. Wow, I’m salivating as I write this! Happy cooking and happy hump day.

Ingredients:

  • 500g lean Turkey Breast Mince
  • a handful of chopped coriander
  • 1 tbsp of ground Cumin
  • 1 tbsp of ground Coriander
  • 1 tbsp of Cajun Seasoning
  • 1 Red Chilli (diced)
  • 1 medium Egg
  • 1/2 a Red Onion (diced)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Coconut Oil (for cooking)

Method (makes approximately 6-7 small patties):

  1. Place the turkey mince in a bowl.
  2. Add the egg, onion, chilli and coriander and mix it up with a fork!
  3. Add the spices and stir it up until the mixture is covered.
  4. Heat up the coconut oil in a frying pan or griddle on a medium heat.
  5. Get your hands dirty and form approximately six or seven patties from the mixture.
  6. Cook those burgers for approximately 5-7 minutes on each side or until cooked all the way through.
  7. Serve with whatever topping your heart desires!

 

*I recognise that the photos in this post are not high quality! Please rest assured that future recipe photos will be a lot better. Thanks!

Why I Wrote a Letter to Myself

 

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A Photo of me from a recent holiday in Gran Canaria. Happy with my body for the first time in a long time.

I wrote this letter to myself to remind myself the importance of self-love. No, not masturbation. But rather self-acceptance, self-reassurance and self-confidence! It is so easy to be critical of ourselves and to focus on our shortcomings. But sometimes we need to be proud of the positive things we have achieved and show ourselves a little more kindness.

9 February 2016

Somewhere in London.

greenfoodandrunningshoes@gmail.com

Dear Emma,

You have always been insecure and have struggled with body image issues and a lack of self-confidence.

This has affected your perception of yourself and somewhere along the way, you stopped loving yourself and began to bully yourself and beat yourself up about not being thin and “perfect” (there is no such thing). You stopped focusing on the inside, and started focusing on perfecting your body and your physical self.

From the age of fourteen, you were cutting photographs of Victoria’s Secret models out of magazines and sticking them into your diary with captions such as, “this is what I want to look like,” and “this is what I should look like.” You talked to girls at middle and high school and compared your weight and what size clothes you wore. When you found out that you were bigger and heavier than the other girls, you started to feel insecure about your differences and began to feel anxious about your size. Size and numbers began to matter. This continued into your university/college years.

At the age of nineteen, you weighed in at 210 lbs. This shocked you and you felt frustrated and unhappy about how much you had stopped caring about yourself and your health. You were disgusted with yourself and you began your weight loss journey. It has been a rollercoaster of ups and downs, and it was only in January 2015 that you finally began to gain control and gradually make improvements. But mentally, the battle has been tough and you have been left with scars.

You have come a long way and you now have a wealth of knowledge about food, nutrients, calories, and physical fitness. You are the slimmest you have ever been and finally, you feel more “normal” (again, there is no such thing). But you must not focus on being perfect. You must focus on being healthy, both in the physical sense and the mental sense. There is no perfect size or number. All bodies are different, and all women are different. You must try and be the best version of yourself rather than comparing yourself to somebody else. Beauty is not just physical, it is spiritual and you must not lose yours.

How can you help motivate and inspire others if you don’t love yourself and live by the same advice you give on your blog? Weight loss is a transformational journey. It is not simply about losing the pounds; it is about a change of attitude towards food and exercise, a change in the perception of one’s self and learning to nourish your body, mind and soul.

You are just as important as the people who follow you, and you need to prioritise your health or everything else will fall apart. The people who care about you describe you as a kind, hard-working, compassionate individual and it’s time that you started believing it.

Don’t forget to celebrate your successes rather than focusing on your failures. A failure is not the end; it is a lesson learned. You are strong and you have overcome many obstacles in your life so far. You will continue to grow and flourish.

Take time for yourself and don’t forget to have fun. Smile. Find the positives in each day, even if there are set-backs. Remember the concept of ‘balance’ and think about what it really means. Be grateful for those around you who support you and live a life filled with love and learning.

Sincerely yours,

Emma.

Recipe: Moroccan-Style Chicken

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Moroccan-Style Chicken with Sweet Potato, Coriander and Almonds.

This dish happened by accident. As I was browsing the web for foodspiration, I stumbled across a couple of clean recipes for Tagine. After moving into a new apartment with minimal cooking equipment, I realised that I had to get creative. Also, I’m not a huge fan of raisins so I thought I would tailor the recipe to my own preferences. Little did I know that I would finish with one of THE best dinners I have ever cooked. Taste buds were delighted and I cannot wait to make this again. You can serve it with wholegrain rice if you want some extra carbs, or a spinach leaf salad if you don’t want any more starch.

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 2″ of Ginger
  • 4 Garlic Cloves
  • 2 Large Sweet Potatoes
  • 1/2 cup of Almonds
  • 1/2 cup of chopped Dates
  • a small bunch of fresh Coriander
  • 1 tbsp ground Ginger
  • 2 tbsp ground Cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp ground Coriander
  • 1 tbsp ground Cumin
  • 500ml of Chicken Stock
  • 1 tbsp of Organic Honey
  • 1 large tbsp of Coconut Oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Method:

  1. Chop up the chicken breast into small bite-size chunks.
  2. Heat up the oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  3. Divide the coconut oil between two medium-sized casserole dishes.
  4. Peel and chop the sweet potatoes into small bite-size chunks.
  5. Finely chop the ginger, garlic and fresh coriander.
  6. Add the chicken, potatoes, ginger, garlic, and fresh coriander to the casserole dishes.
  7. Add the dry spices and herbs.
  8. Toss the mixture around with a fork so that the spices and herbs cover the chicken and potatoes.
  9. Gently pour the stock over the dishes.
  10. Drizzle the honey over the top and sprinkle on the almonds and dates.
  11. Season and cook in the oven for 20 minutes.
  12. Take the dishes out of the oven and toss the mixture around with a spatula or fork.
  13. Place the dishes back in the oven and cook for a further 20 minutes.
  14. Serve and enjoy!

10 Struggles of Fit Girls

 

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During my weight loss journey, and as a result of much research, social media scanning, and talking to other women, I have discovered that there are two ways you can stay slim and look good.

The first way involves massively restricting your calories, abusing carb-blockers/laxatives/appetite suppressants/etc., doing hours of cardio, and avoiding many foods. This is the way to go if you are aiming for the super-skinny, supermodel kind of look. If that is your goal, prepare to drink lots of caffeine. You’ll need it because you will feel tired most of the time. Mood swings will also plague you and those who live with you because you’ll probably be hungry pretty much 24/7. You won’t have much muscle because your body will have started to burn muscle since it has no fat to burn, so you may feel out of breath simply lifting your cat up off the floor. If you are reading this in despair, just keep reading because there is another way!

The second way involves hard work in the gym with a lot of sweat, maybe a few calluses, and the dreaded DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). It involves a mixture of weight-lifting, resistance training, and some cardio. This is the way to go if you would prefer more of a Jennifer Aniston or Khloe Kardashian kind of body. It means eating a diet that mostly consists of fresh vegetables, low-sugar fruits, fish, eggs, lean meats, certain grains such as rice and oats, seeds, nuts, and some high-protein dairy products.  You will feel full of energy from the moment you wake up until the sun goes down. You will feel happy, motivated to succeed, and you might occasionally get “hangry” but that’s OK because you are fit and your body needs fuel to stay strong and kick ass in all that you do.

Choosing a way to live that is healthy, rather than focusing on being skinny, is better for your body, your mind, and your soul. Forget about aesthetics and focus on building a body that is physically and mentally fit. Now, onto the fun stuff. There are struggles that come with choosing this lifestyle, but they are totally worth it in the end when you have a booty that would rival Jennifer Lopez and biceps that put you up there with Ronda Rousey. These are my top 10 but if you have any more to add, leave them in the comments section.

  1. Greasy Hair. Your hair will be somewhat greasy most of the time, as it soaks up the sweat from your scalp. Either wash it every day or find a good brand of dry shampoo, that won’t dry up into a crusty mess and leave you looking as if you have dandruff. I prefer Baptiste, and I would recommend spraying it from a distance so people don’t think you are going prematurely grey.
  2. Laundry every day. Doing laundry becomes almost a daily task. Get used to it, buy good-quality Nike gym leggings or H&M workout clothes that won’t disintegrate in the wash. If you have to re-wear a gym outfit, it’s no biggie. We won’t judge you because we have all done it.
  3. Hangry. You might feel hangry after your workouts if you don’t eat within 30 minutes. Resistance training and HIIT-style training speed up your metabolism, and lifting weights depletes the glycogen in your muscles, so it’s completely acceptable to rip the head off someone if they get inbetween you and food.
  4. High heels? No thanks. You will lose your sense of femininity slightly, and will reject anything that isn’t comfortable. Your muscles are sore most of the time, and you would rather slip on a pair of Flyknits than prance around in stilettos on your day off. The only time you are seen wearing heels is when your calves are sore because you know that heels elongate the muscle, alleviating pain. Sexy.
  5. Farts. Protein shakes, fermented foods, high-fibre veggies like broccoli and cauliflower, and dairy. If you are not used to eating these foods, expect your body to produce a little excess gas at the beginning. If you let one slip while you’re doing burpees at the gym, just blame it on your shoes. “Those squeaky soles were at it again.”
  6. Sleep. You are a morning person. If you are not one yet, trust me, you will be. You would rather get up at 5:00am and bust your ass at a spin class or circuits class, and then curl up in bed at 10pm ready for a good night’s sleep. You will sleep better and feel better and you will appreciate your comfy bed more than ever before. Eight hours of sleep will become a requirement rather than a luxury.
  7. Not so fashionable. Your feet will probably be permanently blistered if you are a runner, and this poses a bit of a problem when wearing sandals or open-toed shoes. Get used to wearing sneakers or if you can afford it, regular pedicures! If you’re like me, you’ll tailor your outfits so that they match your sneakers, because living in sneakers is just an all-round better option. Comfort over fashion. Sorry.
  8. Peeing a lot. If you work out a lot, you drink a lot of water. Even if you don’t work out, you should still be drinking water regularly to stay hydrated. You might also need a little extra caffeine to perk you back up after those work-outs and early-morning gym sessions. Green tea will become your best friend. What does this all result in? A lot of time spent in the bathroom. Get used to peeing more and invest in extra toilet roll!
  9. Protein. Most of your paycheque will go on protein bars and protein powders, as you will discover that you can still have “treats” that are high in protein and relatively low in sugars. When you can have a shake that tastes like chocolate and peanut butter or a bar that tastes like strawberry cheesecake, without the extra calories, it feels like it is totally worth spending a little extra cash. Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too?
  10. Love me or Hate me. People won’t be able to decide whether they love you or hate you. Some girls will feel intimidated, some will feel jealous, and some will applaud you, admire you, and encourage you. Men will either respect you more or feel as if you are threatening their manhood because you can lift more than them. Some guys will find you more attractive and others will call you too ‘manly.’ Take all of the above as a compliment because you are strong, sexy, fit, healthy, and you aren’t doing this for anyone except yourself!

5 Tips for Staying Fit and Healthy on Vacation

Post-holiday Status

After a month of vacation, I was feeling a little puffier than before I left. To my surprise, I actually lost a couple of pounds but this doesn’t necessarily mean I am leaner. Read on to find out why!

For many of us, vacation is all about indulgence. Hotel buffet breakfasts, fresh gelato and ice-cream, afternoon cocktails during Happy Hour, and unlimited room service. If you are really lucky, you might even have a personal pool boy to feed you frozen treats. If you know a resort that stocks those, let me know.

We are bombarded with advertising for ‘Summer Body’ weight loss plans, and ‘Bikini Body’ fitness classes and supplements. We work our asses off all spring to get in shape for summer and then as soon as we return home from our long-awaited holiday, we face the fear of stepping on the scales. How much holiday weight have we gained? How much muscle mass have we lost? Have we undone all those hours we spent in the gym?

Recently, I spent a month away from home staying at hotels and friends’ residences in the Canary Islands, Scotland, and Malta. Before going away, I decided that I was not going to stop working out because I genuinely love how running and exercising makes me feel, and that I was going to try and stick to my healthy eating regime whilst enjoying a few treats here and there. Balance, balance, balance.

When I came home, I weighed myself and found that I had actually lost a couple of lbs. But this could mean that I have lost muscle mass as muscle weighs more than fat. There’s no way of knowing without taking my body fat percentage, but I don’t like to obsess over numbers, so I’m going to roll with it and get back to my regular routine of a weights, HIIT and cardio mix. If I can indulge in treats (chocolate, wine, and ice cream to name a few) whilst on vacation, and not gain weight, then why can’t you?

So, I want to share my top tips for staying fit and healthy on vacation with all of you so that you too can enjoy your holiday without feeling bad when you return home!

  1. Pack Work-Out Clothes: Before you go, decide realistically how many days you are going to work out. If you are going on vacation for a week, perhaps commit to 4-5 days in the hotel gym or outdoors if the weather permits. Take enough gym clothes for your work-outs and don’t be afraid to re-wear them if you won’t have access to laundry. Think that’s gross? You could take a small bottle of hand-washing soap with you and wash them in your hotel sink or bathtub. When you are a fitness-lover like me, squeezing in a great morning gym session before breakfast is much more important than how you smell for those 45-60 minutes during your workout! If you have work-out clothes with you, you will have no excuse not to work-out. Even 20-30 minutes each day will help you retain the muscle you’ve built, and will help keep your mood, energy levels, and sleep in check.
  2. Drink lots of Water: If you are going somewhere sunny and hot, make sure you drink enough water to stay hydrated. You might not feel sweaty when you are splashing around in the pool, lying out on the beach, or swimming in the ocean, but your body is losing water. Overheating can make you feel sick, dizzy and just plain rough. Dehydration is often confused with hunger, so make sure to hydrate right before meal times. Also, if you are drinking alcohol, try to drink one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage. Alcohol is a diuretic and will dehydrate you. If you are already dehydrated before you start drinking, you also risk drinking too much and will suffer a double-hangover.
  3. Green Tea: If you’re a green tea drinker like me, or you need caffeine in the morning, try drinking green tea on vacation instead of your usual latte or breakfast tea. Your body will thank you for the detox! Plus, when you are relaxing and getting away from your hectic daily routine and your 9-5, what better excuse to curb your caffeine consumption? Green tea is also lower in caffeine than other alternatives, and full of antioxidants. I always travel with a stash of green tea bags, and I always have a cup in the morning before my workout.
  4. Beware of the Buffet: Mealtimes at hotels and holiday resorts usually consist of buffets. Breakfast time means pancakes, bacon, waffles, eggs, donuts, pastries, and all sorts of not-so-healthy options. Dinner time usually means an ice-cream buffet, bread assortments, unlimited french fries, and beer on tap. Buffets are a danger-zone. You control your portion-sizes so be careful! Most people will tend to eat more, simply because there is literally unlimited food. Eat as you would in a restaurant. Take your time, eat slowly, and have an appetiser, salad, main, and dessert, in that order. Make sure your meal is an even spread of carbs, fats, protein, and greens. Take breaks between plates and don’t over-eat!
  5. Treat Yourself Daily: If you stick to healthy options during your meals, there is no reason why you can’t have treats! If you pick the tasty, nutritious options at meal times like salads, fish, and veggies, there is no reason why you can’t enjoy desserts, ice creams, and a couple of cocktails or glasses of wine.

Add me on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat for more health and fitness tips!

Feeling Casual and Comfortable

Today, I am wearing H&M leggings with a Forever 21 sweater. Who says you have to spend a fortune to look fashionable? I love this outfit and I feel great (and very comfortable) in it!

Fat Shaming: Shaming Fat People Thin!

Body Shaming

This is a photo of me in 2009, when I was close to my heaviest weight of 210lbs. I was eating junk food, drinking heavily and I did not treat my body with the love and respect it deserves. Check out my Instagram to see what I look like now!

The internet freaked out this week after Youtube (not-so-funny) comedian Nicole Arbour posted a video shaming fat people and claiming that, by doing so, she was doing them a favour. Grace Helbig, another Youtube comedian, then posted a video in response and briefly made reference to her own past struggles with her body image, as well as defending comedy. Whitney, TLC star of ‘My Big Fat Fabulous Life’, then posted her video in response, offering her own advice to fat people, which was quite simple; “Love Yourself.” On top of this huge pavlova of fat shaming, some idiot (not-so-clever) writer at the Daily Mail posted this article shaming Jennifer Aniston about her alleged “post-marriage weight gain,” accompanied by unflattering photos of her in athletic clothing. And the Huffington Post responded with an article, scolding the Daily Mail for such blatant, irresponsible body shaming. The cherry on the cake was a move by Cheryl Cole, who has been scrutinised relentlessly in the media for her fluctuations in weight, who stated an interview that she believes Body Shaming should be illegal.

Wow. That is a LOT of body shaming and fat shaming in one week. Are you surprised? I’m not. In fact, I stopped reading the Daily Mail a long time ago because it was making me feel really down. Why? Every other article seemed to be either written in praise of a female celebrity for being super-thin, size zero and beautiful (or a male celebrity for having less than 10% body fat), or in criticism of a celebrity who had exposed a little cellulite whilst being photographed on their yacht. Are people reading this content and actually benefitting from it or enjoying it? Are we seriously sending out a message that our bodies should be completely flawless? Have we descended into such a dark place that we actually feel better about our own bodies when we read about the struggles of other people with theirs? I seriously hope this is not at trend that will continue. In fact, I spend a lot of my time praising other people on social media for their aesthetics, their progress, and their achievements, in an attempt to counteract the negative, painful feelings of self-criticism that many people go through on a daily basis.

As an advocate of weight loss, health and fitness, I am fully in support of staying in shape and taking care of your body. I do not make excuses for obesity, as I firmly believe that if you make an effort to educate yourself about nutrition and eat a balanced diet, that even with a medical condition, you can still maintain a healthy weight (keyword: healthy). However, I am not okay with shaming and attacking people for being overweight. And I am definitely, definitely, definitely not okay with pointing out flaws in other people, or bringing attention to their imperfections. This further enforces the notion that our bodies should be ‘perfect,’ which is not a healthy goal or objective for anyone. The idea, of Nicole Arbour, that shaming fat people is a good idea to help them lose weight is so incredibly misinformed. Here are a few reasons why people may be overweight:

  1. Lack of Nutrition Education: People generally do not understand what a ‘carb’ is and what ratio of fat/carbs/protein their body needs based on how physically active they are. Most people eat far too many carbs, and should instead be getting their carbohydrates from plant-based sources (i.e. sweet potato, chickpeas, cabbage, carrots, etc.) rather than the highly-processed breads, pastas, and sweets that are heavily marketed at the general public. Most diets do not contain nearly enough vegetables either. My blog is all about eating more green food and I firmly believe that a little bit of nutrition education could quite literally change the world, and put an end to the obesity epidemic that is plaguing our nation!
  2. Health-related Challenges: Injuries, diabetes, heart conditions, hormonal issues, thyroid issues, and the list goes on. All of these health-related challenges are probably caused by poor nutrition and lack of proper exercise in the first place, but that’s just my opinion. However, they do all cause problems for their sufferers. People with PCOS and thyroid issues can find it difficult to lose weight, and a lot of the above health complications limit the amount of physical activity that is possible.
  3. Emotional Issues: Many of us are emotional eaters. We take emotional pleasure from food. Chocolate and candy makes us feel happy and good. They release those feel-good chemicals (i.e. dopamine) in our brain. We take comfort in comfort foods, and turn to food to fill that ’empty space’ inside of us. Whether it is loneliness, the loss of a loved one, insecurity, anxiety, or depression, some of us use junk food to make us feel better. The feeling, however, is only temporary and usually, we end up feeling worse as we enter a vicious cycle of comfort eating and weight gain. There are ways to overcome this habit, such as CBT, meditation, mindful eating, and hypnosis. Nevertheless, it is very difficult to break the cycle of emotional eating.
  4. Eating Disorders: Eating disorders range from anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating disorder, and some more obscure eating disorders such as food phobias and obsessive-compulsive eating behaviours. Binge-eating disorder is one of the more common disorders in the UK, and is more common in women than men. Even after overcoming an eating disorder, some individuals put on weight due to metabolic damage. Essentially, their bodies store more fat because months or years of restriction has slowed down their metabolism and put their body in starvation mode. It takes a lot of hard work to reverse this damage, so as you can imagine, the last thing these people need is to be shamed after winning a battle with an eating disorder.

If there is one message I want you to take away from this, it is this: “YOUR WEIGHT DOES NOT DEFINE YOU AS A PERSON.” Your weight, your body, your looks; they do not define you or who you have to be. You can be whoever you want to be, and it is you who is in control of your own personal pursuit of happiness. It has taken me years to realise this. Recently, after much reflecting on my past, the bullies who taunted me for my weight, and how much I have changed, I am finally realising that I spent far too long focusing on changing my looks to try and fit in, and forgot to focus on improving the real me; the “Emma on the inside” if you will. Thank goodness, I met some incredible people during my time at university and during the time I have lived in Belfast, who have helped me grow as a person. You all know who you are, and I thank you for being there for me, through the good times and the bad.

To the rest of you, join me and stand up against body shaming. Stop reading articles about what size dress Taylor Swift wore to her birthday party, or what circumference Kylie Jenner’s thigh is, or how Jennifer Lawrence put on 1kg after her last movie. Who cares?! Why are we doing this to ourselves? It certainly doesn’t make me feel good, and it shouldn’t make you feel good either. We need to put a stop to body shaming and fat shaming, and start loving each other more, so that we can truly start loving ourselves.

RECIPE: Superfood Green Salad

Superfood Green Salad

This salad is full of yummy, green superfoods. So throw away that iceberg lettuce and work this amazing recipe into your lunch or dinner!

YUM. This week’s mid-week recipe share is one that I only recently came up with. I was shopping in M&S when I came across a ‘Green Slaw’ and it only had 2 or 3 ingredients. I thought to myself, “I can make this even greener, and even healthier.” And that is how this amazing superfood green salad happened!

Ingredients:

  • 1 Broccoli Stalk
  • 1 Courgette
  • 1 cup of raw Spinach
  • 1 cup of raw Green and White Cabbage
  • 1 cup of raw Kale
  • 20 Sugarsnap Peas
  • 20 trimmed Green Beans
  • 1 stalk of Celery
  • 1/2 of a Lemon
  • 1 tsp of Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 100g Edamame Beans (Optional)

Method:

  1. Grate the broccoli stalk on the fine side of the grater into a large bowl.
  2. Chop up the courgette into cubes and add to the grated broccoli.
  3. Finely chop the spinach, cabbage and kale and add to the mixture.
  4. Roughly chop the sugarsnap peas and green beans and add to the mixture.
  5. Chop the celery stalk and add.
  6. Mix all of the ingredients and toss it all up!
  7. Squeeze the lemon juice over the mixture, add the cider vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
  8. Serve and enjoy.

This salad is super simple and so much more nutritious than the ‘mixed salad’ bowls sold in most supermarket stores. Iceberg lettuce has zero nutritional content. In fact, it’s mostly water! This salad is rich in iron, vitamin C, vitamin A, fibre and so much more. Top it with tuna, chicken, turkey or even some ham and a boiled egg. If you don’t eat meat, then throw in those edamame beans, chickpeas, and pumpkin seeds or even some quinoa or peanuts. Just make sure you have a source of protein in there. If you can’t eat your salad without a dressing, make your own dressing with organic apple cider vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, organic honey and soy sauce.

If you are meal-prepping for the whole week, just double, triple, or quadruple the quantities! You can eat as much of this salad as you like, as there is truly nothing bad about it. Green food galore. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

RECIPE: Yummy Chicken Ramen Soup

Chicken Ramen

Today, I am sharing one of my favourite recipes with you; a home-made chicken ramen soup. Perfect for a Friday night in!

This week, my inboxes have been full of messages from friends and followers asking me for more recipes. Considering that my Instagram and Facebook pages are collages of food porn, I completely understand the request for more culinary shares. So, instead of teasing you guys with photos of the amazing stuff I cook and eat, I will start sharing more recipes so you guys can enjoy healthy, delicious food too! I just ask one request… if you make one of my creations, please shout about it and tag me so I can see.

This recipe is genuinely one of my favourites. Such simple ingredients, but absolutely packed with flavour. This is a great alternative to meals from WagaMama or PF Chang’s or other Asian restaurants, which can be really carb-heavy and packed with unnecessary sugars. This is my go-to meal for a Friday night in, or after a long run.

Ingredients (Makes 2 servings):

  • 1 tbsp Sesame Oil
  • 1 tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 2 tbsp Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 1-2 ” Ginger Root
  • 3 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1 small Red Chilli Pepper
  • 1 large Free-Range egg
  • 300g Chicken Breast
  • 1/4 bag of Fresh Spinach (200g bag)
  • 1 Packet of Amoy Rice Noodles
  • Chicken Stock (2 cubes, 1 pint boiling water)
  • 2 Cups of Water
  • 1 bunch Green Onions

Step 1: Cut up the chicken breast into small chunks or strips and marinate in sesame oil, half the soy sauce, and 1 diced garlic clove for 30 minutes.

Step 2: Cook the chicken in the coconut oil on a medium heat, on a griddle or grill-pan, until cooked all the way through. Put the chicken aside in a bowl.

Step 3: Boil the egg!

Step 4: Add a tiny bit of coconut oil to a medium pot and add the diced ginger, two diced garlic cloves, and the diced chilli pepper. Cook on a low-medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until softened. Add the chicken stock and cups of water. Add the soy sauce. Cook on a low-medium heat and simmer for approximately 5 minutes. (*You can add a teaspoon of honey to sweeten if you like, but I usually feel it doesn’t need it! You can also add 2 tbsp of soy sauce or if you like your food salty, add a pinch of salt. Just taste it first, and season to taste.)

Step 4: Cook the rice noodles for 2-3 minutes. Boil, steam, microwave or whatever it says on the packet. Every brand is different. I chose Amoy because they were the least “bad” noodles I could find. They were made with rice flour and water, and had very few other ingredients. Do NOT use egg noodles. They are made with wheat flour.

Step 5: Once the noodles are cooked, split them between two bowls. Put the chicken, the egg and spinach on top. Chop up the green onions and throw those on top too. Finally, pour the soup broth over the two bowls. Serve and Enjoy!

And there you have it. An easy, simple, homemade chicken ramen. Is this 100% clean? No. The rice noodles are not completely clean, but the important thing is that you find the ones with the least “bad” ingredients. This is so much better than a take-out meal or an oversized mega-bowl of ramen from somewhere like WagaMama. The garlic, ginger and chilli add a ton of flavour and the chicken and egg keep the protein content high. I hope you enjoy making this, but I hope you enjoy eating it even more!

Ramen Close-Up

Just look at all those delicious, nutritious ingredients. Even just looking at this photo is making me hungry!