2016 has not been a kind year thus far. Now we are in March. Three months in. A third of the way through the year. Yup. Time is, quite literally, flying by. I can probably safely say that 2016 will not be a vintage year for me. Bad news followed by more bad news. My source of joy and escape has come from running. After over a year of being out of the fitness game due to injury I knew I needed to do something and it needed to be cheap as possible. And it doesn’t cost a dime to pull on your running shoes where ever you are and step outside. When I moved to London, my housemate Eilis got me to sign up to my first ever half marathon which was only 6 weeks away. It was the best thing I could have done! Evenings after work were spent sprinting up hills and Sundays mornings were all about 10km runs round north London. It gave me focus and drive, when you have your headphones in you can just zone out and not think about anything except you and the road. It’s the best form of therapy. Last weekend was my marathon, down in Brighton going along the sea front past the piers and the bandstand. The weather was dry with a bit of a breeze, perfect running conditions. I would have liked to have smashed it in under two hours but I managed at 2.08 hours, alright for my first one I reckon (I did end up in the medical tent though after aggravating an old knee injury, spent an hour in the medical tent with an ice pack on and sipping Lucozade like a drama queen. Poor Eilis had to come and rescue me). I have another half lined up for May to keep the training going. For anybody else going through a bit of a rough patch or just had a bad day at the office, I would totally recommend running (or any exercise for that matter), even if you can only run to the lamp post. Then the next time to the end of the road. Before you know it you might be doing a half marathon of your own!
It’s all getting very exciting down at Hollylovescake HQ, I have just popped in an application form to my local farmers market! If all goes well, I should be up and running by October. I can obviously rely on all you loyal fans to come down and support me every week, right (What do you mean you live in Tijuana and you only stumbled on my blog by accident?!)? It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while but never really had the guts or the facilities to do it. I’ve had lots of encouragement from my ever supportive BF (at least one person I can rely on to buy some cake…) and my new kitchen in Ascot has been given the all clear by the council, 5 out of 5 hygiene stars no less! Therefore I have been experimenting with lots of different recipes so my cakes can be enjoyed by as many different people as possible. I always thought vegan baking would be pretty joyless experience but this cake has been a revelation.
So as if I wasn’t busy enough already what with the baking, blog, sewing, job that keeps me away from home 4 nights a week plus the long distance relationship, I now also have yoga to keep me occupied. Over the last two or three weeks, I have been doing an hour of yoga 6 days a week and already, I can’t imagine life without it! Around a year ago, I slipped a disc in my lower back and had to have a week off work. Ever since then, if I picked up too much weight or did certain exercises I would agitate it and the pain would return. This was very frustrating as I have always been into keeping fit and was a regular runner, boxer and regularly attended a boot camp, but if I did a squat too fast or threw a punch too hard, I would be in agony. Lifting cast iron pots at Le Creuset for a job didn’t help! I eventually went to see a chiropractor who said my spine was now also out of line and the back muscles are super tight. He advised most of the activity I was used to doing probably wasn’t doing me any favours, I kept trying for a couple of weeks to do exercises that were more back-friendly such as spin class and using a cross trainer. But still the pain persisted (sad face). So I did some research, spoke to a few people and the advise always seemed to be yoga. I kinda just ignored it at first, my perception of it was that it was just slow and boring, how could it possibly give me the workout I was used to? In the end, I reluctantly gave it a go. I started off with a beginners YouTube video. I could hardly hold the moves or even get into position!
So another January, another attempt at being a Gwyneth Paltrow-esque model of perfect health. Every year comes the endless promises to my body that I will only feed it whole foods, nothing will pass my lips unless it is dense with nutrition and completely lacking in any fun (ie. sugar, fat, carbohydrate, alcohol, yawn). I dream that by February, my skin will be glowing, I will be wearing a size 8 and I will be participating in triathlons. And by the second week in January, I have always conveniently forgotten all these promises to my body. Ohh just one glass/bottle of Prosecco tonight won’t hurt, it’s a special occasion, it’s the dogs birthday. Ohh I’ll just lick the spoon, I need to make sure this cake mix isn’t poisonous. Ohh I’ll just walk this bit of the run so I can take in all the scenery. And before I know it. I am back to old habits and feeling a bit of a failure. So after 29 years of failed resolutions, this years I decided to set myself something a little more achievable rather than trying to completely over haul my lifestyle. As you can tell from the blog that sugar is pretty important to me but I am also very aware that it is not so good for my waistline. I couldn’t possibly ban it altogether (What would become of this blog?! Hollylovescarrots? Hollyloveslentils?) so I am making one little resolution. I am making a conscious effort to cut out refined sugar from my every day diet. That’s it. Sure I can still enjoy licking the bowl after baking and enjoy a slice of my own cake because it’s a once a week treat but day-to-day sugar is no more. If something needs a little sweetening mid week, a bit of raw honey or organic maple syrup does the trick and still offers nutritional benefits. Little changes like this go a long way and mean I am less likely to fail, this morning I made amazing spelt and coconut milk pancakes drizzled with a local honey, totes delish and guilt free (recipe coming soon). So this year, I’m not going to be a resolution failure (don’t quote me on that…)
I find baking the most enjoyable, relaxing and calming activity. Its like my therapy, I can loose myself for hours in the kitchen. I get in the baking zone and forget everything else. This week has been one of those weeks, it has been pretty rubbish for several reasons (I shan’t bore you with the gory details) so I was just itching to get baking. I also really enjoy running and working out (Sadly, no matter how hard I wish, cake is never going to be calorie free) which I also find is good for the soul but nothing beats some bonding time with the Kitchenaid with Radio 2 in the back ground. The whole process of sitting down with a pile of books trying to find or create the perfect recipe, then measuring, making and baking. It requires all your concentration for those couple of hours and then, at the end you have created something lush that you can share with someone who deserves it (or, if it has been one of those weeks, just grab a fork and scoff it on your own. Note: Several runs needed after this). So next time you are feeling down or just need a little pick me up, don’t reach for the vodka, pick up your apron and get baking!
Those with food intolerances are viewed by many as just fussy eaters (or awkwardtarians as my mate calls it. I like this cos it sounds like a dinosaur). There are those who avoid gluten or dairy due to the amount of research and opinions from professionals saying they are not the kindest food stuffs for our waist line. However, a huge amount of people cut out wheat and/or dairy due to the health impact on the body, especially the tummy and digestion. My mum is lactose intolerant which she kindly passed onto me in a currently very mild form. I’m not quite sure how it works (with my peanut sized brain) but not all dairy is created equal with some products containing more lactose than others. I made her really ill the other week when she tucked into my chocolate Easter cake without telling her it contained cream. Uh oh. Was def not the favourite child after that incident.