Tuesday, 27 January 2015

A God-Damn Super Hero

This week's blog reading music is Silent Militia by Devin Townsend, Diana has been singing this joyful pop metal tune incessantly around the house and now it's embedded in my brain so it's only fair I pass it on like an aural virus.

Been an active week doing some organized exercise most days, so much so that having a rest day made me feel like I'd forgotten to do something, turned out all I'd forgotten was how much I enjoyed sitting down to play GTA5 for hours at end.  As 12 Rounds Boxing is so busy these days I've taken to booking all my classes well in advance, having my diary planned out really takes the struggle out of motivation, I never have to convince myself to get my arse to the gym if it's already in the diary as that's just what I'm doing today, it's like someone else is making the choice for me.  I went to the 7am class on Monday before work and that probably wouldn't have happened if I'd just left it up to me to decide  - and as it turned out I spent the day feeling like a god-damn superhero after I snapped the heavy bag off it's chains and sent it crashing to the floor with a left hook.  How was your Monday morning?

Did a weights session for the first time since before Christmas on Sunday, hopefully will be a weekly thing, and also did a couple of different yoga classes this week.  One being my usual Tuesday class which this week as well as the usual practice of getting me stretched out included the first steps in learning how to do handstands, now this sounded intimidating but was great fun being in a room full of grown ups feeling like we were 7 years old again, stumbling and falling about the place but still being pretty much better at it that we expected. The other class was what I dread from yoga. Rather than an active, exercise based hour I was instructed to start with a loud "Ohhhhhhhhmmmmm" ("...because this is yoga") and was then encouraged to "Drink in the breath of your life" (too many problems with that statement to go into) and finished the class with an effected whisper of "I'm relaxing my feet, I'm relaxing my feet....  my feet are relaxed" for each and every part of the body, which for me had very much the opposite effect.  Each to their own as always, clearly a lot of people get something from that kind of new agery and if it works for you I'm not gonna judge (much) but I can't it seriously and if you cant take it seriously you're not going to get any benefit from it.  Basically the closer your lifestyle is to the that of Gwyneth Paltrow the less seriously I can take you.  Like I said the other week, a big part of exercise is finding something that works for you so you actually want to do it, and this means not being afraid a try something that doesn't work.
OK.  So it wasn't this bad.


Still, the rest of week was positive, the diet's been mostly good apart from one lunch where I had sandwiches and felt totally bloated for the whole day afterwards, you really notice the difference after staying off bread most of the time I was craving salad the next day.

Been in the gym most days but we've found a bit of time for other things. We went to an early screening of the new Disney/Marvel film Big Hero 6 courtesy of the awesome people at Den of Geek and then also went to see the latest Daniel Kitson play, Tree, at the Old Vic both of which were fantastic in entirely opposite ways and both I would highly recommend.

Thanks for reading, as your reward here are some kittens drinking milk from bottles and a baby panda battle royale.


Follow me on twitter @savageless
Or instagram.com/savagelessx


Check out the brand new 12 Rounds Boxing website here
www.12roundsboxing.co.uk
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Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Quorn and the finer points of face punching.

This weeks blog reading music is Gagarin by Public Servic Broadcasting. This is so silly and so much fun, love the video too.

Been talking to a few about stretching and yoga recently, I've posted it here before but if you're one of those people (or indeed if you're not) here's a link to the free online yoga course I did, you can do the course at your own pace or sign up and then get an email every day with a link to a 15 or 20 minute class, perfect for beginners and there's plenty of other online classes if you get a bit more into it.  Erin Motz is perfect for me for yoga, none of the new-age mock spirituality rubbish that winds me up so much, doesn't take herself too seriously as a yogi (even posts wine recommendations) - just stretches and breathing and clear and concise instruction.  I'm also doing a weekly yoga class in Old Street on a Tuesday which I'm really enjoying and there's a ridiculously good offer on for that, £29 for 3 months of classes, and Olivia who runs that class is similarly no nonsense.  Seriously, if you find you're sore after exercise or generally stiff and tense get some yoga in to your life.

Yoga's all well and good but it's hitting things that's really fun.  I've really enjoyed being at 12 Rounds Boxing this week, last year was all about losing some weight and just getting active again but this year it's getting better and better being at classes where we're hitting pads and working on some technique, thinking about your head positioning or your foot placement when throwing a combination makes that the fact I'm getting a work out feels almost secondary.

My awesome Nan and my awesome Saku shirt.
Had a sit down with Kat from 12 Rounds this week about setting some goals for the future and how I'm feeling about things, lifestyle stuff as well as diet and the gym which feels like it's helped to refocus.  Small goals set but attainable ones I think - dropping another jeans size, doing a proper chin up (still beyond me, still utterly intimidating).  I never used to get that with the dead-eyed drones at Fitness First who swiped my card...   the time I wasted at that place and never got results.  I did hit one small goal this week, Diana bought me an awesome Kazushi Sakuraba t-shirt for Christmas that was too tight and this week I fit in it nicely. Small goals but attainable ones.

Right, I love to cook and I had a request for recipes in the blog so here's a couple of simple, very healthy, one pot winter dishes that keep well so are good for lunches the next day too.  Skip to the end for this week's cat video.


Chili con Quorny

Ingredients:
1tsp coconut oil
3 cooking onions or 1 big Spanish one, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped.
2tsp chilli powder
1tsp cumin
1/2tsp smoked paprika
1tsp oregano
2 bay leaves
2tsp worcestershire sauce (skip this to keep it a vegetarian dish)
300g bag Quorn mince
2x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
1 can kidney or borlottii beans. Drained and rinsed.
250g mushrooms, finely sliced.
1 bunch coriander
Splash of red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper

I'm not a vegetarian but I do eat Quorn.  It's inexpensive, high in protein, high in fibre and very low in fat but it is a bit bland so needs robust reasoning.  This recipe will work with beef mince, just brown it in another pan and drain the fat off.

Method:
1. In a large saucepan melt the coconut oil over a medium heat and add the garlic and onions.  Stir and cover the pan for a couple of minutes until softened then add the chilli powder, cumin and paprika, stir so the onions are coated.

2. Add the frozen bag of Quorn (or beef mince) and stir through, it should only take a couple a minutes until the Quorn takes on the spices and starts to defrost at which point add the tinned tomatoes, bay leaves, oregano, worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to almost a boil and then leave to simmer on a low heat for at least 25/30 mins, if you can cook it on a very low heat then the longer the better just be sure it doesn't dry out or burn to the bottom of the pan.  If you can cook it for a while and then turn it off and come back to it later in the day or even the next day then bonanza!

Note - If you're buying tinned tomatoes always buy chopped ones unless you want to keep them whole on your plate, tomato tinners (tinneries?) use the more ripe tomatoes for chopping.  Theo Randall said so and he's great.

3. For the last 10 minutes of cooking stir in the sliced mushrooms and beans and a splash of vinegar.  Check your seasoning as you might want to add some more salt at this point too

4. Once the mushrooms are cooked you're ready to go.  I like to chop coriander and stir it through once the pot is off the heat.  Serve with brown rice or if you're going low carb then a green salad or steamed broccoli.  Top with more chopped coriander, chopped spring onions a dollop of greek yogurt or sour cream.




Green Soup

Ingredients:
1tsp coconut oil
3 anchovy fillets (skip this to keep it a vegetarian dish)
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped.
2 red chillies, finely chopped.
1 onion
400ml chicken or vegetable stock (a couple of stock cubes dissolved in boiling water is fine)
2 heads of brocolli
100g kale
1 bunch coriander
1 bunch parsley
1 lemon
Salt & pepper

Green is good.  This is delicious and packed with stuff that's great for you.

Method:
1. In the same pan you made the chilli in melt the coconut oil over a medium heat and add the anchovy fillets, give them a minute and they will melt away.  Add the garlic and chillies (seeds and all, but leave the seeds out if you're a delicate flower) and once they've had a moment add the onion and cook on a low heat until softened.  You could also add a couple of chopped sticks of celery at this point.

2. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil and drop in your broccoli and kale and the zest of a lemon. Add a pinch of salt and plenty of fresh black pepper, don't go too mad on the salt as the anchovies and kale are both pretty salty already.  Simmer for about 10 mins or until the broccoli stalks are softened.  Pretty much any green veg would do well in here, cabbage, spinach, peas, definitely must mint if you have peas.

3. Transfer the mix to a blender and add your fresh herbs, stalks and all, and the juice of half a lemon.  I like my soup thick like in the picture but you can blend it super smooth or blend half smooth and half thick and mix back together depending on how you prefer the texture.

4. Poor it back into your saucepan and add any more seasoning or lemon if it needs it, a good slug of hot sauce at this point could also do it wonders.

5. It's good to have some protein so serve with a poached egg like mine above (runny yolk in green soup is wicked), crispy bacon, crème fraîche or parmesan cheese.


Thanks for reading, here's a video of cats being confused by waterbeds and another of a SpaceX rocket exploding on landing (no one was hurt, it's an awesome guilt-free kaboom).

Follow me on twitter @savageless
Or instagram.com/savagelessx


Check out the brand new 12 Rounds Boxing website here
www.12roundsboxing.co.uk
12 Rounds Facebook page
Twitter @12_roundsboxing

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.

Week 3

Blog reading music this week is from Billy Bragg, Tank Park Salute. I've always loved the way Billy can write and perform songs with such heartbreaking poignancy without resorting to any cloying sentimentality, utterly authentic at all times.  Plus he's an Essex lad like me so I've probably got a soft spot for him due to that too.

Zut alors!
Bit of a blip in the diet this week. Diana and I headed to Paris for the weekend for her birthday present (What's that? Oh yeah, I suppose I AM an awesome boyfriend) and while we headed to all the usual tourist must see spots, the Mona Lisa (meh), Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower (wow) our main focus was food and pâtisserie so the usual diet was thrown out for a couple of days in favour of visits to Stohrer & Sadaharu Aoki, salted caramel éclairs, the worlds finest chocolatiers, wonderful bread, amazing coffee, wine & charcuterie, buckwheat crepes with eggs and country cider in stone bowls. Spectacular.  We were lucky enough to meet up with a Parisienne friend who took us around the city for a few hours and pointed out interesting places for us, it seemed we spent every moment not eating walking somewhere so hopefully managed to exercise off at least some of that cake.  Fantastic couple of days, now back to salad for the foreseeable future.

My old shoulder injury has flared up again this week so I've stayed off the boxing and swimming. One of the important things I took away from the 12 week course last year was listening to my body, I've got a few ongoing injuries/problems I'm always carrying around with me and I would previously always tend to overwork in the short term and and then end up in loads of pain and unable to exercise in the long term, so I've skipped a couple of boxing sessions and stuck with yoga class.  I didn't want this to stop me doing exercise though and as Diana is a big fan of stay at home exercise DVDs she invited me to join in with her Les Mills Bodycombat session in the living room.  If I love Billy Bragg because of his stripped down, no nonsense approach then Les's high energy, plucked eyebrow, cheesy Bro singalonga-douchbag routine was about as far removed from that as I could handle, I lasted less than a minute before I went in the other room, googled 'bodyweight tabata' and found this class on Youtube that I could do on my own without aggravating my shoulder (or Diana).  Tabata's great - quick, high intensity exercise sets with short rest periods that Daniel at 12 Rounds uses as inspiration for his classes and it smashes me to bits without me having to be a judgemental prick towards the extremely successful and probably lovely in real life bloke on the screen.
HI GUYS!  We're aspirational figures!

So a few lessons from that.
- Don't overexercise if hurt, but don't let your discomfort become your excuse for not doing anything.  Can you work around it?

- Find something that works for you.  If it's a dude in a leotard singing along with 80 power rock, so be it, if it's a personal trainer screaming at you like a drill sergeant that's fine too.

- There's loads of exercise classes on Youtube for free.  If you want to get your body moving this January but don't know where to start, feel intimidated or are just too skint for the gym, get to Youtube and find something that appeals (just remember to warm up beforehand and stretch afterwards, you can find tutorials for this too).

Thanks for reading, here's further evidence that cats are dicks and a video of a panda cub playing in the snow.

Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.

Follow me on twitter @savageless
Or instagram.com/savagelessx


Check out the brand new 12 Rounds Boxing website here
www.12roundsboxing.co.uk
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Twitter @12_roundsboxing

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Group therapy

Week 2

That's one way of looking at it.
This week's blog reading music is the Beastie Boys.  Part of the playlist in the gym at 12 Rounds this week and guaranteed to give you a boost when you're starting to flag half way through a hard class, RIP MCA.  Less said about Bryan Adams being on that same playlist the better though, urgh, feckin Bryan Adams.  I heard this new Kanye West song before class this week too, nothing like being driven into a furious rage before going to a boxing class eh?  Seriously, if you or anyone you know actually likes Kayne West please seek the advice of a professional who will prescribe you an intensive course of the first four Ramones albums.

When we officially finished the 12 Week Transformation program with 12 Rounds Boxing in December, Kat sat down with myself and fellow 12 Weeker Laura to talk about the program and those conversations have now been edited into a video which you can watch right here so y'know, do so.  You wanna see my face other than that grumpy mugshot to the right don't you?

Spinach omelette with Devilspit Extreme sauce. Powerful stuff! 
Anyway, been back in the gym with a vengeance this week.  Everyone there seems ready to get stuck in and make up for December's indulgences and it's led to a great atmosphere.  I find it so much easier to work hard and and to keep working hard when in a room full of people doing the same thing, it's so easy to quit when it get's difficult if you're only accountable to yourself.  If you're thinking you should do something new and more healthy this January then try a class if you've not done so before.  Don't be intimidated as there's bound to be a load of people in the same boat as you, find a boxing gym or Zumba or bodypump or pilates or something, it's surprising how much easier it is to push yourself harder with other people around and someone at the front shouting out when to do next so you don't have to think.

In that spirit I went along to a new yoga class this week in central London ran by a friend of a friend who is offering a ridiculously good value deal on classes.  Yoga is so good for you and a great compliment to boxing training. I've done plenty of yoga at home on my own online (try this free course, it's fantastic) but it's good to do it with someone there who can point out to you where you need to make changes and offer advice.  Also, New Year, new things, I can be a bit of a homebody if allowed to be so it's good to get out in the world. Incidentally we went to see Birdman at the Barbican afterwards.  Go and see Birdman, it's amazing! Someone give Michael Keaton an Oscar. One of the best and most unique films I've seen in ages, also the Barbican is a great place to visit for any reason.

Just need chocolate? This stuff is awesome
The diet's been totally on point this week, no more bread or pasta, no booze, no refined sugar, nothing processed, lots of water and green things... following the Christmas carbageddon my body was crying out for vegetables.  Like everyone else I suppose it's easy to be motivated for the first week of the New Year, the trick is to not go so hard on yourself that you get burnt out and by the third week in it's back to pizza and beer. Being healthier should make you feel good about yourself, not miserable because you're denying yourself everything you want.

Right, with that in mind I'm off to Paris for the weekend with the Mrs to eat cakes and baguettes, everything in moderation and all that. Thanks for reading, here's a video of a cat being a total dick and another of an explosion in a fireworks factory - Holy shit.

#JeSuisCharlie

Follow me on twitter @savageless
Or instagram.com/savagelessx


Check out the brand new 12 Rounds Boxing website here
www.12roundsboxing.co.uk
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Twitter @12_roundsboxing


Saturday, 3 January 2015

Carbageddon

Week 1 (again)

Welcome back. This week's blog reading music is Gravedweller by The Wytches.  Something I heard for the first time on New Years Eve and loved it - 3 minutes, loads of energy, bit of a racket and an early 90s throwback kinda sound.  Wicked.  Played to me by my friend Simo and you can read her top 10 movies of 2014 blog here.  She generally only likes good things so worth a read and you're going to need films to watch in January to keep you out of the pub, right? Although I do disagree about Under the Skin,

Christmas and Gozilla. Perfect.
Right then, to business. Christmas is done and the laziness, drunkenness and dietary indulgences shall remain largely unblogged, rest assured I probably look a bit more like my before pictures than the after pictures now.  There's been bread, there's been pizza, there's been cookies and there's been booze.  My first day back in the gym a few days after Christmas and Kat asked me how my diet had been, I literally laughed at her

I'd given up bread and pasta for the 3 months before Christmas and eating wheat over the break really made me notice the benefits of cutting them out.  Urgh, heavy and bloated and sluggish.  Clearly cooking a big, rich, indulgent pasta and seafood dish with garlic bread on Christmas Eve was delicious but I felt like a python trying to digest a whole goat afterwards.  Let alone the insane toastie I made almost on a bet.  Jesus.

Cheese and bacon toastie. Too extreme for me, this went in the bin.
So following an indulgent Christmas and a stupendously pissed New Year's Eve it's back to it.  Today I've taken down the decorations, and taken the tree outside, binned all the left over crisps and cakes and bread and cheese, packed all the booze away under the stairs and stocked the fridge with veg and fruit and fish and Quorn.  It's all too easy to just keep picking at all the left over festive treats so they had to go (I might have eaten a mince pie), this is the time to focus, the time for indulgence is up! Don't let the stumble turn into a fall.

Happy New Year!  (hic)
Much as I enjoyed a very chilled out Christmas I did start to get bored and was excited to get back in the gym.  As I'm typing my body feels drained, everyone at the class this morning was talking about how they were dreading getting back in there and how they'd not done any exercise for ages and how much this was going to suck - by the end of the class the gym was littered with broken, but smiling bodies.  It's so easy to forget when you're sitting at home eating pudding what an awesome feeling you get from a tough work out (and today felt tough!) and I can't wait to get back in there.

This is week 1 of another 12 week block.  The first one was an official program from Kat at 12 Rounds Boxing but this one is all on me (Kat and the others from the 12 Week group are super-supportive anyway it's not like I'm alone), 12 weeks is a short enough amount of time to not be daunting and long enough to see some real results.

The first 12 weeks got me primed and this year I'm looking forward to stepping it up.  Let's have it!


Back to regular programming. Kale and eggs and green tea.
Bambo didn't really appreciate his Christmas gift it has to be said. 



Follow me on twitter @savageless
Or instagram.com/savagelessx


Check out the brand new 12 Rounds Boxing website here
www.12roundsboxing.co.uk
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Twitter @12_roundsboxing