2012 – The Year In Dirt

Rain, wind, mud, rot, rain, wind, mud, rot… that was the veggie gardening theme this year! The summer was so wet and miserable and we went batty trying to stay on top of the weeds. Combined with a bit of slackarsery on our part, it was pretty slim pickings…

Remember those humungous parsnips of 2010, of can-sized diameter? 2012 yielded just 1.2 withered specimens.


Our beetroots came to nought and the salads didn’t do much either. We had another go at pumpkins but left it too late in the season, and there just wasn’t enough sunlight for them to do anything. But they were slightly bigger than the micropumpkins of 2009 so I’m counting it as progress!


The leeks didn’t seem to mind the quagmire – we’ve got quite a big haul of those. Hard to believe that a tiny, tiny seed could turn into something so huge. I’ve got my eye on Jamie Oliver’s Leek and Turkey Pie for Boxing Day.


One thing that really thrived was the rhubarb. I hacked it all back and stewed it up for the freezer then it came back again, so I made rhubarb and apple chutney. After three months in the jar it’s really deep and spicy and will be killer with leftover Christmas ham. Woohoo!


Remember my in-laws’ wild and woolly allotment? It’s been tamed after many many hours of labouring. We grew our leeks up there and my in-laws grew flowers, delicious potatoes and also raspberries and strawberries. They even put up a shed with Birds of Britain posters inside; it’s all very civilised!

On the left is November 2011 with the 3ft-deep weeds, and on the right is October 2012 (the weedy path has since been taken care of!).


After the diabolical weather this year I reckon the 2013 tactic will be to not bother with anything but the most grim, hardy and dull veggies that don’t mind a frequent drowning! I’m going to give a few kale varieties a proper go too – it’s meant to be robust. Anyone had much luck with that?

Happy holidays, lovely people! Hope you have a relaxing one and thank you gazillions for stopping by!

DVD Dust-Off: Week 5

I’m still huffing and puffing my way along in the Great DVD Dust-Off. This week took 8 days. Shhh!

Cathe Boot Camp and Muscle Endurance13. Muscle Endurance by Cathe Friedrich (2002)

This is a good old-fashioned 64 minute full-body resistance workout using a barbell and plates, dumbbells and a medicine ball. I did the 45 minute upper body premix. That sounds like a lot of equipment but you can adapt: I don’t have a medicine ball so used a dumbbell instead, nae bother. Also, if you didn’t have a barbell you could easily substitute with dumbbells.

The disc also contains an excellent 60-minute circuit workout called Boot Camp so it’s great value.

This is another goodun for Body Pump fans as it breaks up the moves into separate segments for chest, back, shoulders, triceps and abs. There’s a nice variety of moves and Cathe seems to be in particularly cheery mood so it feels like a gym class in your living room. More details and reviews here.

Verdict: KEEP

Cathe MMA Boxing14. MMA: Boxing by Cathe Friedrich (2009)

This is a good workout if you miss your kickboxing classes like mad but no longer have the knees to do them. I still get my RAH! KAPOW! fix without the soreness. Running for 49 minutes, it’s got shades of a Body Combat class where a sequence of moves are broken down slowly then put together. I’d call it an Intermediate workout by Cathe standards which suits me just fine!

The boxing combinations are simple but if you really put your all into them you’ll get a good workout. There are cardio intervals that involve some jumping so I just did my own low impact shuffle-around kind of thing. There’s a killer core section that uses a dumbbell and it’s pure torture. More details and reviews here.

There’s also a bonus 20-minute punching bag workout if you happen to have one of those. I wish I did!

Verdict: KEEP

Cathe Cardio Core Circuit15. Cardio Core Circuit by Cathe Friedrich (2009)

This advanced cardio interval circuit workout requires no equipment aside from big lungs and a good set of knees. It was way, way too much for me. It came as part of Cathe’s Shock Cardio System series (which also included MMA: Boxing above) and I love most of the others workouts in that series so don’t feel bad that this one has to go. More detail and reviews here.

Verdict: REHOME

DVD Dust-Off: Week 4, with bonus pointless stats

This is the 900th post on Dietgirl! The blog has been alive for 11 years and 11 months, or 143 months, or 621 weeks if you prefer. So that’s an average of 6.293 posts per month or 1.44 posts per week.

I also have an enormous spreadsheet that documents the weekly weigh-ins since it all began on 15 January 2001 (albeit with sizeable gaps due to travel, illness and/or denial). I could tell you my average weight loss over those 621 weeks but the number is so small you’d all have to go out and buy a microscope…

. . .

The Christmas HAM Plan is now 11 days strong and strangely enlightening! I lost weight in Week 1 while thoroughly enjoying cake-related festivities. I’m finding the HAM “rules” to be strangely freeing. I’m still blogging up a storm every day… swing by and say hello if you fancy?

. . .

Back to the Dust-Off. The Mothership emailed to “bagsy” the Tai-Chi video from last week. That’s one orphan with a new home.

Yogalates for Weight Loss10. Yogalates for Weight Loss with Louise Solomon (2008)

The instructor has a very odd way of saying the word “body” and she says it a lot in this workout. She elongates the bo then the dy fades away. Like BAHWdy. Bahhhhdy? Bohhhhdee. I was so busy trying to figure out just what she was doing to that word I wasn’t doing the moves properly and had to start over.

But once I got used to her voice I remembered that this is a fab workout; a hybrid of pilates and yoga as the name suggests. The first half is called Core Toning and features many classic Pilates moves and the second half is called Cardio Enhancer which is more lower body and ab stuff. It’s gruelling but her daughter does an modified version which I followed a lot. A worthy home substitute for a class.

Verdict: KEEP

Cathe Travel Fit11. Travel Fit by Cathe Friedrich (2009)

I always recommend this one if you don’t have a lot of space or dosh – a resistance band only costs a couple of quid. It’s 50 minutes of resistance band toning with short cardio intervals. Because it’s designed for hotel rooms, there’s no jumping around so it makes a great low impact workout. I bought a stronger resistance band to harden it up a bit.

There’s no repetition under the rules of the Dust-Off so I’m sad I won’t be doing this for awhile. It’s so good for when you can’t be arsed with equipment. It’s a good one to get in the download form for a laptop, phone or tablet for easy travels.

Verdict: KEEP

Jillian Michaels Yoga Meltdown (Amazon link)12. Yoga Meltdown by Jillian Michaels (2010)

This isn’t a traditional yoga workout – it’s more like yoga intervals. It’s fast paced and I was utterly knackered afterwards. It felt more like a body-weight resistance workout than yoga. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but if I’m in the mood for yoga I like it quiet and meditative. If I want something more intense I’d rather lift weights. Check out the Amazon trailer to see what you reckon.


Monthly Check In: November 2012

Ho ho ho hello! It’s time for another monthly plan update plus the lowdown on the mighty December challenge!

Wow, I got quite a lot done in November. Not sure if it was the structure imposed by the challenges, or the fear of looking like a twit in public if I didn’t come through?!

Challenge #1 – Three Times A Lady Blogging Lady
I wrote 7 posts here, 2 on Pussycat and 1 on Up & Running for a total of 10. That does not average out to the targeted three per week. D’oh! But still, it’s a step up from my usual one-or-twice-a-month slackarse efforts of late and now I am feeling the writing love. Now let’s say a fond farewell to this low-res sexy Lionel…

Once, twice, three times a blogging lady!

Challenge #2 – The Great DVD Dust-Off
I’m going to carry on with this one. Decluttering is good for the soul. Coming up: Bob vs Jillian Smackdown!

And now for the December Challenge…
I’m blogging every day this month! Julia and I were chatting about how easy it is for things to go tits up in December with all the festive shenanigans. Also, my 2012 lard-busting results have been lacklustre (one measly pound off in November) so I want to finish strongly and not start 2013 with extra extra pounds. So for both our amusement and accountability we created…

The Christmas HAM Plan

(HAM = Happy And Mindful)

We set ourselves three simple habits to work on. Inspired by the Amsterdam experience my list includes sticking to three mindful meals and a minimum standards agreement on exercise, plus blogging the gory details each and every day. We each set out our HAM Plan habits here.

Five days in and the HAM rocks – it’s that structured mindfulness thing again. It’s also fun pretending to be one of those food blogger types for a wee while, even though I find it hard not to picture disapproving readers tsk-tsking at all the cake last weekend.

So if you fancy cheering me on, kicking my butt, or just want a stickybeak at how two ladies navigate the festive season (I’m personally addicted to this window on the running coach life), I am writing every day on the Up & Running blog throughout December. Fair warning for the coming weeks: There Will Be Cocktails!


DVD Dust-Off: Week 3

This is a slacker Week 3 DVD Dust-Off Update but I wanted to get caught up since I’m nearly finished with Week 4! I’m enjoying this project but I hope this is more helpful rather than batshit boring for you guys. I have non Dust-Off posts coming very soon so don’t worry!

Element: Tai Chi for Beginners7. Element: Tai Chi For Beginners with Samuel Barnes (2008)

This was an impulse buy because I loved other DVDs from Element and felt a mad compulsion to collect them all, like I once did Baby-Sitters Club books (even the Super Specials) or obscure Radiohead singles. It’s beautifully made with serene music but the verdict is unchanged from years ago: I find tai chi more a snooze than serenity now! I may revise my opinion when I’m 70 but for now it’s time to pass it on. Also, the bloke reminds me of that bloke in Star Trek whose name escapes me and it was kind of unsettling. Profound, I know!

Verdict: Total REHOME

Cathe Friedrich's Gym Harcore Series: Gym Style Legs DVD8. Hardcore Series: Gym Style Legs by Cathe Friedrich (2005)

Despite the cheery faces on the cover this is a serious lower body resistance workout – over an hour with barbells, dumbbells, resistance band and stability ball work. I thought this would be a definite Rehome as there’s so much squat and lunge work, but I’d forgotten there there’s a good 25 minutes of floor stuff using just a resistance band which was doable with my dodgy knee – great moves for the hips and glutes. There’s an evil calf raise section which I could do no worries. So a surprise keeper! There’s lots of info, reviews and a clip on Collage Video.

Verdict: KEEP

Cathe Friedrich's Low Impact Circuit9. Low Impact Circuit by Cathe Friedrich (2006)

This workout contains three circuit cycles, each with a step aerobics routine, a step interval blast, a compound strength exercise then an upper body move. Cathe is so creative with her workouts – there’s some great variety in the resistance moves, including some natty resistance band work.

While the step work is low impact on this one (Cathe has some seriously crazyass step DVDs out there), the movements did not feel good on my knee so I just the resisty bits. I only have this DVD as it came as part of set, so I’ll find someone who actually likes step work to make full use of it. If you’re after an efficient mix of cardio and resistance work and like a bit of step action, give this one a burl! More info here.

Verdict: REHOME

Back tomorrow with November Challenge wrap-ups and the lowdown on my big December Challenge!