Tuesday, 26 February 2013

30 Day Shred Review

I decided to restart the dvd series I bought last year. The box set I bought was of Jillian Michaels DVD’s. My friend Bethan recommended them to me. I decided to start with 30 day shred. This is a 30 day programme that is 20-30minutes long including the warm up and cool down. It is interval and circuit training based workout. You do 3 different circuits in which you do a strength, cardio and abs interval. The idea is that you do each level for 10 days. There are two women working out with Jillian, Anita who is doing the easier movements and Natalie who you can follow to do the harder versions. I tried my best to always follow Natalie. The American version of the disk apparently includes an eating plan. I did not follow any prescribed diet plan but ate healthily (with the occasional piece of pie).

Next I plan to review Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism.

If you are struggling for time this workout is for you. You can fit this in easily into a very busy day. I did my workout at different times but found early morning to be very productive. Each circuit is just 6 minutes and they vary in levels of difficulty. I found some circuits harder than others and this helped me to gage my progress.
The exercises are achievable they require minimal co-ordination. You move on from each exercise fast as well so if you hate one its ok as at most you will only be doing it for a minute.
The results are real. I can see a big change in my body shape and my measurements have changed as well. My arms have lost 1.5 inches and I lost 3 inches from my waist. I didn’t weigh myself this time around and in hindsight I should have done as I feel there must have been a change.

It can get a bit irritating hearing the same thing for 10 days. If you are not in the right mood for Jillian’s motivational chit chat it can really do your head in. Another con for me is the dvd is promoted as a quick workout BUT the opening sequence of the dvd (before you even get to the workout) is Jillian talking for 5 minutes and you cannot skip it. This really frustrates me when its 6am and I just want to go back to bed.
Level 2 is a bit intense on the knees. It would be tough for anyone with serious knee injuries however if you just have slightly dodgy knees you could follow the easier exercises that Anita does.
Only a stupid thing but the two women really should stop smiling, when I feel like I am going to keel over the last thing I need to see is a woman smiling through an exercise that is making my body burn. I want them to look in pain!

Personally I think it’s worth a try. I really enjoyed it and it’s not a bad workout and the results I have had have made the 30 days’ worth it.

Day 1- Level 1
I am back and sweating profusely. Needless to say it was not easy and it hurt more the I anticipated. It was more the cardio that shocked me. After an extended running break I think my body was angry. Apart from my irritation that JM calls Star Jumps , Jumping Jacks I found the workout enjoyable and am hoping I can stick to it for the full 30 days.

Day 2- Level 1
Back again. I was fortunate enough to have day off today because of the snow as I result I got around to doing the shred during the day. I am very aware that the weights I am using are teeny tiny but going to use them for a few more days at least as my body gets used to it. Definitely no improvements yet but as yesterday I enjoyed the workout.

Day 3- Level 1
I walked straight in from work and powered through day 3. I have started feeling a dull ache in my legs throughout the day which I am assuming is from all the squats and lunges. My press ups are improving although I am still following Anita and doing the easier version. I don’t know why but I find the first circuit of level 1 the hardest. Today I found myself able to predict more the moves that were coming so I am watching the screen less and just getting on with it. I took measurements today as I forgot to on Day 1. I can’t imagine much has changed in 3 days to I shall look back at these every 10 days as each level ends.

Day 4- Level 1
I went to the cinema this evening so my workout was later than usual. I found that harder as I had eaten more then I normally would do before the workout and could feel it sitting on my stomach whilst I did the abs portion of the circuits. I have decided to up my weights half way through level 1 so tomorrow will be my last day with the little purple weights. I managed more press ups then usual today. For some reasons press ups are becoming my personal gage to measure how well I am doing.

Day 5- Level 1
It’s my last day with the smaller weights for level 1 and I can predict what exercise I am going to notice the change on. The circuit 3 side lunges with anterior raises is going to kill me with heavier weights. I can’t decide yet whether I will lower them for the start of level 2 or just keep going with them. Today was a good workout I did it as soon as I got home and that helps with motivation a lot. My legs have stopped aching a much as they were thank goodness!

Day 6- Level 1
I upped my weights. There not stupidly big or anything but they do make some of the exercises considerably more challenging which I guess is a good thing. I actually felt I was in a good rhythm today and finished much more fired up then sprawled on the floor. I have started turning the volume super low as I pretty much know what she says off by heart. I am pleased to be nearing day 10 but I am getting a bit nervous for level 2.

Day 7- Level 1
My arms hurt today. No joke it’s difficult to move them above my head! It’s not excruciating but it’s made the higher weights harder . On a huge plus side I am finally getting better at press ups. I managed to do a few of the proper press ups and my Anita style press ups have improved loads. It was nice getting to do this workout in the morning as it made me feel really great for the rest of the day.

Day 8- Level 1
I felt really sluggish doing the workout today. I didn’t eat badly the day before but I think what I did have sat really heavy. I managed the workout but I did not finish with flair. I finished laying on the ground exhausted. I did really push myself which probably explains why I was so flat out at the end. I am so pleased with my press ups improving but I do find them tough the second time round. Just 2 days to go of level 1.

Day 9- Level 1
My back hurts today. I have no idea if that is anything to do with the shred but I keep having to stretch it out which must look amusing. Second to last day and it was fab. Definitely a better finish then yesterday and I felt I got much more out of the workout. I went for a short run afterwards which felt pretty good although was not the easiest run in the world and I could feel the shred ache on my leg muscles. Just 1 day left and then it all changes.

Day 10- Level 1
Finally 10 days has passed and I have reached the final day of level 1. I started the workout thinking I want to finish this 10 days on a high so am going to push like mad and that’s exactly what I did. I managed some Natalie style press and really dug deep to make the most impact. I also took my measurements today and was shocked to see I have lost 1.5 inches off my arms already and an inch off my waist. Normally I am sceptical about results that quickly but apparently it happens! Now I am waiting for level 2 to kick off no idea what to expect!

Day 11- Level 2
I had read a few things on level 2 and that did not help. A lot of people were saying you needed to be co-ordinated. I am a very uncoordinated person I actually once kicked a woman at Zumba trying to follow the instructor and getting it all messed up. So the idea that I would feel that same humiliation of not being able to do something in my own home did not appeal. But I gave level 2 a whirl all the same and found it ok. The first 2 circuits I loved. I could feel the burn on my arms and was aware of how much I had improved as I was able to do the walking press ups. So with this success I approached circuit 3 somewhat cocky. As punishment Jillian hurt me! Circuit 3 is hard. The 2 strength moves together hurt muscles I do not even know the name off. I sweated my way through and when the cool down arrived I was pretty much gone. So If this is how level 2 feels I am sure there is going to be some changes to my body come day 20!

Day 12- Level 2
After yesterday’s session I was reluctant to train today. I knew it would be hard. Powering through I got the DVD started and kicked off again with the first two circuits which I find I manage well. Then came circuit 3 and it floored me again. I pushed myself even harder determined to conquer the 2 strength moves. I had to take a few short breaks as my arms felt like lead but I kept pushing. I was pretty pleased I managed to push through I just hope like the press ups in level one that these two strength moves dramatically improve as a progress through the level. I know the unknown muscles will be hurting tomorrow.

Day 13- Level 2
I was right. My unknown muscles on the inside of my shoulders (what are they called) absolutely kill today. I also think this level is much more impact on the knees. I was trying to make sure I did all the lunges and planks technically correct so I wasn’t injuring myself by doing anything wrong. Thankfully I seem to be following them right. I am so far not feeling like I like level 2! It’s really bugging me that Natalie and Anita smile through the exercises I find hard. I want them to look like me, a tomato, sweating profusely and in pain!

Day- 14 Level 2
Like with level 1 I am starting to get used to what the routine of level 2 is and I am definitely learning Jillian’s Script. I managed to do a lot better to do on the circuit 3 strength moves and was doing 2 reps then pausing on Jillian’s 3rd. Hopefully as my strength builds I won’t have to miss one out!

Day- 15 Level 2
I love weekend shreds. It’s much nicer to get my shred on earlier. I am half way through the shredding programme and even more exciting is that I am half way through level 2. I find level 2 quite difficult although today I feel I am getting the hang of it more. My back is very tight and knotted and I am constantly trying to stretch it out. I don’t feel the cool down routine helps this enough.

Day 16- Level 2
Today inspired by a very dedicated friend I woke at 6am and did the shred. I LOVED it. I felt really energised and really got into the moves. I was completely wiped when I finished and felt I had got the day off to a great start. It’s also an awesome feeling knowing I have completed my shred for the day. My body is a bit sore now but am sure as the day goes on this will wear off. 4 days to go of level 2!

Day 17- Level 2
Another early morning shred and I am loving getting it done before I go to work. Firstly it wakes you up like nobodies business and secondly I know for the whole day its done rather than the awful build up to doing it on my way home. Whether I keep it up at 6am remains to be seen. I FINALLY managed to do the whole routine of the strength moves of circuit 3. My muscles are starting to adjust. Just 3 days left of level 2!

Day 18- Level 2
Another early start and another early training session done. Today I felt really strong and really fought to conquer the last strength move which I managed to do all off even though my shoulders and unknown muscles were screaming I kept going yeh! The only downside is I now have a very knotted back and my neck feels a bit sore. I am really looking forward to the end of level 2. I am hopeful that level 3 will have last back and shoulder work please!

Day 19- Level 2
I failed getting up early today so didn’t do my shred until I got in. I really wish I had done it early it’s so much better getting it done and dusted in the morning. Another good work out but am aching lots.

Day 20- Level 2
Final day hallelujah! I don’t think I could face doing the final circuit again. As it was the last go I really punished pushed myself and tried to do every move justice. I was flat out by the end of it!

Day 21- Level 3
The game changes again! Level 3 is A LOT less impact on the back and shoulders. Although plank moves are involved there a less which is a nice reprieve. I preferred level 3 over level 2 as the moves were more accessible. Although still hard I just found my body more capable of performing them. I was chuffed to discover I can do a walking press up!

Day 22- Level 3
The day is here my birthday shred. I cannot believe how I timed the shred that it has meant I needed a birthday session. I woke up and powered through the whole session so that I could enjoy the rest of the day. It was a great way to start my 24th year and although tough I definitely enjoy level 3 more. You don’t use your weights as much in this session but when you do they are tough moves.

Day 23- Level 3
I woke up nice and early at 6am and shredded away. The ladies are still irritating me with all their smiling and I am very aware Jillian doesn’t do a lot of the moves. Also the camera often pans in on just Anita so initially I had no idea what Natalie’s version of the move was. The circuits in level 3 have little variation between Natalie and Anita. It’s pretty much the same for the majority of the moves. I feel my core has definitely got stronger as the walking plank move I can stay doing for longer than needed.

Day 24- Level 3
I did my shred so late I almost didn’t make it. I finished it a 21:45 and it was tough. The desire to doing nothing in the evening was strong so changing into my kit was rough. Thankfully I made it through. Level 3 does not drag half as much as level 2 did. They do have on major similarity and that is they have a high impact on the knees. It’s tough to control a softer landing like Anita does to reduce the impact.

Day 25- Level 3
I learnt my lesson from the late night session so did a 6am workout and am feeling a lot better for it. My knees were aching a bit but I survived. I feel I am really getting the hang of a lot of the moves. I switch up the ab move on the final circuit and she only makes them hold on side each time and really I want to alternate the hold.

Day 26- Level 3
A managed to get shred done and dusted in the morning and again felt I had improved. It’s the press ups I am really noticing a difference on. I am looking forward to the end of the 30 days quite a lot at the moment.

Day 27- Level 3
I completed the workout this morning which was a really good idea as I work until 6 today and it would have been a nightmare trying to get this done later in the evening. I am feeling quite tired of workout 3. It’s not as interesting as the other two workouts and I am beginning to get a bit bored!

Day 28- Level 3
I was at a family event today so did the workout early so as to avoid the evening workout blues. I went well again. Press ups are going really good and I feel much stronger than I did at the beginning of the 30 days but I am ready for something new now. Preferably one that doesn’t demand I work out every day the same!

Day 29- Level 3
Sunday I was not feeling well. I came down with a temperature and a severe headache BUT I powered through and managed to limp my way through the penultimate day. I didn’t feel any better for the workout and used all the energy I had to achieve it but was glad I managed it.

Day 30- Level 3
The 30th day has arrived and I am a poorly women with tonsillitis rearing its ugly head. However, I point blank refuse to give up on the list day so I ignored the fever, throat pain and headache and conquered the final day. I pushed myself as much as my ill body would go to finish on a high note but it was tough and I was relieved when it was finally over!

Friday, 8 February 2013

Bake Me: Lemon Meringue Pie

Mary Berry’s Lemon Meringue Pie.

I watched the Great Comic Relief bake off the other week and watch as several celebrities battled Mary Berry’s lemon meringue pie recipe. They all did well making the recipe and I thought maybe I should bake more!
Lemon meringue pie is my favourite. I love it so much and the idea of being able to make it was really fun. So I printed off Mary’s recipe from the GoodFood website and bought my ingredients, all of which was super easy to find.
I began with the pastry. I have made pastry before and always find when it comes to putting in the pie tin that I am useless. My sister taught me that if you balance the pastry on your rolling pin to pick it up rather than trying to unsuccessful pry it off the work surface its easier.  The pastry came together in my beautiful old Kenwood (thanks mum) although I did have to add a bit more flour as it was too sticky. Once in a ball the recipe said to roll it out , put it in the pie dish and cool and I managed it! Woo. I was so chuffed when it was not all stuck to the table that I did a small celebratory dance in my kitchen.  Whilst the pie dish was in the fridge I got to work on the lemon curd.

Some of my pastry
 The lemon curd  needed the zest and juice of 6 lemons mixed with cornflour  to from a syrup like texture. Then this mixture was mixed into 450ml of boiling water in a saucepan. It thickened up almost immediately and looked an awful lot like Vaseline (gross). I removed this off the pan and separated 6 eggs to use the yolks. I watched a youtube video once to teach me how to do this. Its actually easier than you think. I whisked the egg yolks with caster sugar and then poured them into the pan with the Vaseline lemon curd mixture and whisked over a high heat. What resulted was a pan of orange thick syrup (it does not look so orange in the picture but it was honest). I was tempted to Google why it wasn’t yellow but instead I left it alone, in hindsight this was a good thing.

It was orange!
 Next I blind baked the pie dish. I forgot to put grease proof paper underneath the beans but it didn’t make a big difference. The pie bottom just had a few dents in it! Once finished I poured the orange coloured curd into the dish.
Next came the meringue part of the recipe. I was pretty nervous and screwed up the first time but not following what Mary’s recipe stated. I added my sugar too early and end up with meringue that was gooey and was definitely not forming peaks. So I started again after messily binning all the failed meringue and washing a drying up my bowl I patiently made sure the egg whites formed soft peaks and then incrementally added the caster sugar and voila I had a meringue. Then I added a tsp. of cornflour as per Marys instructions and re whisked. The meringue was glossy and I was super pleased with it. With a few large dollops I covered the curd and then attempted to created swirls on top with a fork. They looked ok but they weren’t a patch on Mary’s.
 After 20 mins in my temperamental oven resulted in a slightly golden brown meringue. I nervously removed it from the oven   I impatiently waited for the pie to cool. I removed the pie time which was pretty scary and was worried  I would do a Claudia Winkleman and drop it but thankfully it survived.  I cut it open and revealed tell-tale yellow curd mixture and a crispy and fluffy meringue. Needless to say I am pretty chuffed with the result. It tasted delicious and hopefully I can recreate it another time for family and friends.
The Finished Product
I think this bake me project is going to be super enjoyable if it keeps up like this. As it was a comic relief programme that inspired me to start it I have decided to order the apron and oven gloves designed for the bake off  to donate to Comic Relief (when they are back in stock)
 Any suggestions for the next bake me project?

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

The Story So Far

I  have been a graduate trainee librarian for 5 months now and I felt it would be a good idea to explain how it is going. A lot of other hopeful librarians might be starting to apply for the schemes in schools and it is really good to know what to expect.
Firstly I have and am thoroughly enjoying my job. I am gaining a wealth of experience that will help me in my goal to gain chartership.  I have felt my confidence grow and become more sure of the job and that I know it is what I want.
Daunting as it was to start I am starting to feel much more a part of the school. This is one of the difficulties of being a grad trainee. You are only going to be in the school for one academic year. Therefore you have to establish your authority with students and your place in the school quite fast.  However, the librarian you work with as in my case will help you do this.
I have enjoyed the lessons, displays, recommendations, reading, awards, competitions, prizes, cataloguing, covering, weeding, issuing and many other jobs that form up a graduate trainee role. I have done my best to make the most of my role. I have tried where possible to put my own stamp on work and to push myself to do things I may not feel naturally inclined to do. My first reading lesson for example was a bit nerve wrecking but once you have one out of the way you feel much more capable.
School hours are amazing if you plan to study at the same time as you are able to start work much earlier. So far I have managed to complete 2 modules whilst working just 3 days a work after school for a few hours and the occasional Saturday.  Studying at the same time is hard work and takes a lot of self-motivation. However, if you are sure being a librarian is what you want to do it is worth studying a the same time as within a year I will be able to get chartership and have a year’s experience.
You will gain a lot of practical experience if you choose to undertake a school graduate trainee scheme and push yourself to do lots. You have little time within a school to learn the ropes. It is literally diving in at the deep end but in a good way.  This means you are starting to progress from the get go and no time is wasted.
The only down side of most graduate traineeships is the pay. It’s not great and it can be tough to manage if you live alone.  On the plus side 1 year as a trainee and you should be able to apply for assistant posts and boost your salary.
With 6 months left to go I still have plenty more information to absorb and things to learn but the bonus of the graduate traineeship is that I feel I have learnt so much already about what it means to work in a school library. I have gained some useful skills that should help me progress in my chosen career.  With so few library jobs out there a traineeship is a great way to go to get experience and get paid.

If you are thinking of a school traineeship it is not essential to be an avid children/teenage book reader. However, I have found it unbelievably helpful to have a good up to date knowledge of the books the students are reading and am enjoying making my way through a whole new world of fiction!
There are a few traineeships available in the midlands and quite a lot in the London area. To see a list of the graduate traineeships currently recruiting visit the CILIP site
Currently Reading: The Haunting of Tabitha Grey (BBA)