Project Lifestyle – March Nutrition Workstream

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I am not a fan of cutting anything out completely from my diet, but chocolate has always been my trigger food. I can eat so much of it I’m sure I would put a chocolate factory out of business (I heard that the Cadburys factory in Birmingham lets you eat the chocolate because you will get sick of it – that probably wouldn’t happen to me).

So I am taking this opportunity to give it up. I am using Lent as a period of time to stick to and get out of the habit of buying it and hopefully make my taste for it disappear. I am cutting out anything chocolate flavoured too. I’ve given the hot chocolate I recently bought to my mum :)

Rather than focus on what I am giving up and I focusing on upping my protein. I have already started to eat more chicken, pork and eggs and this last week have added protein powder (using up my chocolate flavour one) and have ordered more to add into my diet. I have already noticed that I don’t get as hungry and when I do get hungry I can see why or know it’s because I’m bored.  I have also upped my fruit and vegetables intake and feel much better for it.

Both of these things came from me attending a couple of Slimming World meetings because a friend from running club runs them and he has done amazing following the plan. I have worked out I cannot afford to attend the meetings as there are other things this month I want to do and buy. However I like the premise about the plan and being able to eat as much free and super free foods and then monitoring the syns (I hate that terminology so much), which means you don’t get hungry but can have a little of something sweet.

However not all of it sits right with me. I won’t cut out bread completely as I love baking it, but I have reduced it down. I also love my morning porridge (Dorset Cereals Proper Raspberry Porridge) and adding oats to yogurt, but all these count as syns. I also find nut butter in small quantities satisfying, so I was always over syns, but I lost weight. So I am doing my own modified version and cutting out the chocolate means I can have the nut butter and protein powders.

I am also using a Fitbook I bought a while ago as a way to write everything down. I think I prefer writing it down by hand, rather than recording it on MFP. However I like that MFP calculates the calories for you so I will continue to use that, but make the extra effort to write it down by hand. I like how it lets me review how I feel and look at my day as a whole. I also like how it records the exercise you do.

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So March is about breaking my chocolate habit and upping my protein and fruits and veggies. Simple stuff!

Project Lifestyle – February Review

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Please find my full review saved in Google Docs here.

Project update Feb

 

 

Overall February has been a learning experience. I haven’t lost weight, but I have lost centemetres from all areas of my body. I also feel better for making some changes to attitude to be more positive. I have decided to keep the project as amber as one fo the key deliverables is not progressing to plan, while others are.

The nurtirion workstream was focusing on continuing to use MFP and look at the foods I’m eating in more detail. I have really struggled to keep using MFP, but have changed my food intake to increase the amount of protein and fruit and veg I am eating. I am going to take this forward in March. I went a long to a couple of Slimming World meeting and they don’t feel right at the moment or fit into my budget, but I like the premise of the eating plan.

The fitness workstream focused on the strength aspect of my workouts and this was a great success. I changed my gym programme and now have two session, once for upper and one for lower body. It feels good and I need ot mix things up more often to keep engaged.

The mental health workstream went okay for this last month. I’ve been keeping busy and doing things and have also made the most of local amenities, like the library. I also volunteered at my work and for a running event and really enjoyed it. I also really enjoyed my coaching course and plan to see if I can help out with the swimming club more.

The social workstream also went well. I stayed to the running club socials that I could and also made the most of other events such as the marshalling and volunteering to chat to people and get to know more people. A few bonus events happened such as having a bike 101 session with some friends from running club and starting swim sessions with my friend Sian.

The career workstream was a difficult one this month. The aim of this workstream is to get to a position where I will be able to progress at the end and I am finding it difficult to see the progress I can make. Some though needs to go back into this workstream.

Overall this month has been a good month. I also took part in the first gala of the year and came away with a gold, two silvers and a bronze. The only event I felt strong in was the 100m fly, but that is more about endurance than speed so that is probably why.
Feb KPIsNext month I am continuing with what I have learnt and refining things that haven’t.

  • Nutrition Workstream will focus on giving up chocolate and upping my protein
  • Fitness Workstream will focus on getting my new bike and the training plan I put in place
  • Mental Health Workstream will focus on dealing with feelings of inadequancy
  • Career Workstream will focus on the report writing aspects of my job and attention to detail
  • Social Workstream will focus on events galore and coping with being busy

Project Lifestyle – February Career Workstream

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It’s taken me a while to think about February’s Career Workstream or at least get some focus on it. I started off wanting to work on my attention to detail and find some tools to help me with that but I’ve struggled. I’ve not been motivated to go above and beyond my normal work load. I have scheduled in extra time to review the reports I produce in my job and plan to review them as though I was reading a book and reading the words for the first time, but I now can’t put that into practice until next month. So I needed to look at something else.

Then it hit me – Work Ethic.

Everyone has a different work ethic and commitment to their jobs. I struggle with comparing myself to other people at work. I haven’t yet learnt to monitor my own performance other than through appraisal systems or from other people’s feedback. I want to develop a improved work ethic where I am happy with my own performance and stop comparing myself to others.

But first of all I needed to do some research on work ethic and different styles.

“Work ethics pertain to a person’s attitudes, feelings and beliefs about work. The state of a person’s work ethic determines how that person relates to occupational responsibilities such as goal-setting, accountability, task completion, autonomy, reliability, cooperation, communication,honesty, effort, timeliness, determination, leadership, volunteerism and dedication. A strong work ethic – one that encompasses a positive and productive approach to work – is favored in the work force.” Wiki How

I have a strong work ethic:

  • I like to do a good, or excellent even, job

  • I like to meet all deadlines in plenty of times

  • I like to look for ways to improve or make myself more efficient

  • I like to help others

  • I don’t like leaving things unfinished

  • I like to be proactive (but it’s something I would like to improve upon)

  • I don’t like wasting time (I will find something to do at all times)

  • I don’t like doing things without knowing the value they will provide

  • I like to responsible for my work

  • I like to receive feedback as long as it is constructive

  • I like to be engaged in my work

  • I like to be challenged to try new things

  • I’m not afraid to ask for help and support

  • I prefer to work alone, but as part of a wider team (I like to own my role and be clear about what I do and how it adds value)

  • I like to be organised and prepared

  • I like to plan ahead and be prepared for work coming my way

  • I like to have to do list that I can cross things off of

  • I like to catch up with people while making tea

  • I like meetings to be focused and prepared

  • I don’t like unclear instructions

  • I like to do the best i can do with the time I have

However there are times I feel lazy or like I’m not doing enough work. I will often have a word document open to get out my thoughts or write things that end up being blog posts while in work at my desk. It feels as though I’m doing something, yet I feel guilty about doing it as know there must be something work related I should be doing. I have to remember that I have only been in my job a few months. I don’t know everything and I’m definitely still be over cautious in my approach. However I can’t keep on waiting for work to come to me. I have to take the initiative and make my own.

I decided to take another look at the values my organisation wants from it’s employees:

  • Love Places

  • Share Our Common Purpose

  • Inspire People

  • Think Long Term

Looking at these made me think again. I value these things and the additional details provided. I do some better than others and there are definitely things that are not my strong points, but I don’t disagree with them.  So what I am going to do is print off the values and behaviours and work through them and provide examples for each and improvement ideas for going forward. This will span over a few months most likely and are really what I am going for this year in the Project Lifestyle. I would like to get to the end of the project knowing I can demonstrate all of the values and behaviours so when my contract is nearing an end I’ll be able to apply for new roles and hopefully higher roles with confidence.

Adventures in Books… Blog Tour Cut Dead and Author Interview with Mark Sennen

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Cut Dead by Mark Sennen Released 27th February 2014

“‘He could be out there right now. Passing you on the street. You’d never know …’

DI Charlotte Savage is back, chasing a killer who was last at large ten years ago, a killer they presumed dead … Now he’s back and more dangerous than ever.

When three headless bodies are found mutilated in a pit, it’s a particularly challenging case for DI Savage and her team. The bodies bear the hallmarks of a killer who was never caught, last at large ten years ago, butchering girls on Midsummer’s Day.

Could this be a copycat or has the original killer resurfaced? With a steady stream of bodies arriving at the morgue and gruesome secrets from the past emerging DI Savage is up against it to find the killer before he attacks again? The past has caught up with them. And so has he…”

This is the third book in this series by Mark Sennen and although I normally read series form the beginning I was sent this book for review as part of the Blog Tour, so haven’t read the previous ones. I thought that might annoy me, but I really enjoyed this book. I like crime books where I don’t see the twists coming. and this falls into that category for me.

The story follows Charlotte Savage as she and her team investigate the discovery of several bodies and the disappearances of a single women every year. We get introduced the killer early on in the book, but we don’t know who they are, only brief glimpses inside his mind.  It’s creepy and thrilling to discover more about the killer each time.

I enjoyed learning about DCI Savage as well.  She is strong women working in a predominantly male world. She is also dealing with personal tragedy from her past, which we find out about and the story develops as additional plot to main story of the crimes. I like sub plots as they often allow you to get to know the characters better and in this case they really worked for me.

The premise or motive for the crimes was interesting. The cakes left by the killer at each crime scene was intriguing. It kept me glued to the book to find out why these women were chosen and then how they were chosen. At the end of the book I thought it all came together very well.

Overall I thought it was a well written and smart book that kept me engaged and wanting to find out more about the main characters and of course who did it!

Hi Mark Sennen! Welcome to Wandering Angie! I’ve just finished reading Cut Dead and found it thrilling to read. Could you tell us a bit about your book, Cut Dead?

In Cut Dead DI Savage finds herself chasing another serial killer as a cold case suddenly turns hot. The signature of this particular killer is that he takes his victims on the longest day of the year. As the book opens we are just seven days before midsummer…

Where did you get your inspiration to start writing and then to write this book?

I started writing a science fiction novel way back, eventually completing it in the year two thousand. The book did the rounds of several agents, but none liked it. I then began a novel featuring Harry, the killer in Touch, but never finished it. It was when the Amazon Kindle came out that I was inspired to get on and rework what I had into Touch. All I wanted to do was write something and have a few other people read it. Amazon gave me (and everyone else) that opportunity.

For Cut Dead it wasn’t so much inspiration as perspiration. As the third book in the series I knew it would be the clincher if I was to get another deal. Although many people have said Bad Blood (book two) was a much better book than Touch (book one), it wasn’t as popular. It was the creepiness in Touch that readers enjoyed. I didn’t want quite the same elements in Cut Dead, but I knew I had to produce something equally disturbing. I don’t know whether I succeeded, but I certainly scared myself writing it!

I really like books out now that involve a strong female lead, what made you chose to base the book around Charlotte Savage?

I, too, like strong female leads. Conversely I don’t get on at all well with strong male leads, neither do I particularly like the stereotypical male detective who’s a failure with women, tends to drink and has an unhealthy knowledge of a particular music genre. I think there’s room for one or two, but every time? No. When I began to write the first book in the series, Touch, Savage was a man (although not named Savage). I really struggled to get him on the page and what did appear was either too bland or fitted the stereotype. To avoid the stereotype I tried to make him a family man, but I couldn’t get the passion to flow. His wife, who was in the Royal Navy, turned out to be a stronger character. Pretty soon I realized I had the characters the wrong way around: Charlotte (still not yet Savage) would need to be the detective and her husband, Pete, was now the naval officer.

Did you base the character of Charlotte on someone you’ve met or a character you are particularly fond of?

No, but I guess like many characters she’s a composite of real and fictional women and men. It’s going back a bit but I loved the Ellen Riply character in Aliens. Funnily enough I believe in James Cameron’s first script she too was a man.

I found the crimes themselves very unnerving, how do you research and come up with ideas for these characters and parts of the books? 

Writing the killer is always the part I find easiest! I have read an awful lot of ‘true crime’ serial killer books (and some were truly awful) and while I don’t take any ideas from them directly all the depravity rubs off. I’ve also found that whatever fiction can throw up, real life is far, far worse. The deeds of real serial killers would never work as fiction because they are too horrible and because there is rarely any motive. For me only when the killer has a motive does the story work. I need to try and put myself in their position and feel the anger or frustration which causes them to kill. It’s not easy and is unnerving for me too, but a piece of writing advice I read once was to go one step beyond what you find comfortable. In other words to look at the page and think ‘what could be worse than this?’ In Cut Dead I distinctly remember a scene where I thought I’d gone too far. I put the question to my editor. Her answer was ‘no, it’s fine’! (just so you know where she’s coming from in Bad Blood, book two, she said at one point ‘I think we might need another body…’)

This is the first book I’ve read of yours and I would love to read more about Charlotte savage life before this story, could you tell me a bit about your previous books and future plans for the character?

Touch and Bad Blood are the first two books in the series.

In Touch we are introduced to Charlotte and the Major Crimes’ team as they hunt down a killer. We learn about Charlotte’s loss (the death of her daughter) and how this feeds into her desire to stop others getting hurt. The book is written from several viewpoints, particularly from that of the killer. While we don’t feel a whole lot of empathy for him, I’d say it’s OK to express a little sympathy, especially when we learn the whole story (not that Charlotte feels this way, of course!).

In Bad Blood DI Savage is hunting a very different type of killer and DS Darius Riley becomes as much a part of the book as Savage. There’s a more complicated storyline involving members of Plymouth’s underworld and introducing some new ongoing characters. Bad Blood was a challenge to write as it involved merging together multiple storylines – historical and present – but I discovered that this is what I enjoy. I don’t plan anything and the thrill when it all magically comes together is the best bit about writing.

I can’t tell you much about future plans (I’m halfway through book four at the moment), but there will be at least six books all told. As to where Charlotte is heading, that’s up to her and something I have little control over.

What can we expect from you next and when?

Tell-Tale (book four in the series) will be out in the spring of 2015, but there may well be a self-published novella/novel before then since after completing Cut Dead I did quite a bit of work on a standalone. Provisionally titled The House on the Moor, the action takes place in the present day and also back in the sixties in what was historically one of the worst winters on record. The moor in question is Dartmoor and the house is not the type you’d want to rent as a holiday cottage. Exactly when the book comes out all depends on how Charlotte and friends behave in the next couple of months.

What are your favourite genres to read? Which authors would you recommend in the genre/s?

I do read a lot of crime and I think you have to go a long way to beat Graham Hurley’s Faraday and Winter series. Although a million miles from my plots I’ve certainly been influenced by his attention to the detail of police procedure (much to my editor’s annoyance – she wants to cut down the number of both acronyms and characters).

Outside of crime I like the type of epic science fiction done so well by Peter F. Hamilton and was a big fan of Iain M Banks. The Culture was an amazing creation: who wouldn’t want to live in it?

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers out there? 

It sounds lame, but keep at it! With self-publishing so easy (and it’s no secret to say I think as good a way as any), there’s no excuse not to get on and finish your book. But you’ll only finish by writing, writing, writing. Get into the habit of sitting down and banging out a few words as often as you can. Set aside a specific time when you’re not going to watch TV, not waste time on your phone/tablet, not read the newspaper; you’re going to write. Even if you only write 250 words a day you’ll have a novel-length manuscript in a year. Note: you’ll have a manuscript, you won’t yet have a novel (there’s as much work from the first draft to finished article as there is from zero words to first draft), but you’re a whole lot closer than the writer who doesn’t have a first draft.

If you are struggling with technique then the best advice is to look at successful writers whose work you like. What length chapters do they have? How do they start or end scenes? How do they use speech? Do they use adverbs? Look at all facets of their writing and try to emulate them. In time you’ll develop a style of your own, one you feel comfortable with, one you no longer have to think about.

 

Back to Angie – I would like to thank Mark to taking the time to answer my questions and also writing the book. I am excited and happy to be part of the blog tour and hope to more as long as interesting books head my way.

Adventures in Books… Him and Me

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Him and Me by Jack and Michael Whitehall

“This book is a portrait of the pretty odd relationship I have with my elderly father. It’s given me an opportunity to share memories of him losing his temper with foreigners on holidays, being rude to my mother’s family at Christmas and failing epically during the fathers’ race at my prep school. He’s also written some stories about me, but can I just say, before you read anything, that I recall being a calm, well-behaved and learned child, not the intellectually subnormal, mal-coordinated dipshit that he paints me as. Nor am I, as he suggests inside, a sex addict, a flasher or a Scientologist.’ Jack

‘How dare Jack refer to me as elderly! People always tell me how young I look for my age. In this book, I have at last been able to recount the many occasions when I have been let down by my only son. He failed on the stage, the sports field and he even screwed up the interview for his first boarding school by pretending he had mental health issues. Despite being practically illiterate, he tells stories about me, strewn with grammatical errors and peppered with endless exaggerations and lies. I was a kind, doting father, who guided his son through his formative years with love, care and respect.’ Michael

‘I’m not your only son, what about Barnaby?’

‘Oh yes, I forgot about Barnaby.’

Packed with anecdotes, some embarrassing and indiscreet, many warm and touching, Him & Me is lavishly illustrated with family photographs and Jack’s original illustrations. Friends, relatives, neighbours, teachers, actors, none are safe once Jack and Michael have opened up the Whitehall archives and shared their hilarious memories with us.”

This was the last audiobook I got at the end of 2013 and it’s taken me a while to read it as I haven’t been in the car anywhere near as much as last year, so I’ve been listening in bed (often falling asleep in the middle of a chapter) as a way of not watching TV in bed.

I really enjoyed this book as I loved how it showed children and parents see and remember the same things differently. It was fun to listen to the banter between Jack and Michael. I actually preferred this format of comedy (and with Miranda Hart’s book) to stand-up comedy. It was more laid back than a TV show.  It also didn’t feel like a book. It was more like being privy to someone else’s conversation and that made it weirdly enjoyable.

I can’t say I learnt anything from this book other than people we think of as famous, have very similar lives to us. They go through the same growing up stages and deal with the same issues at school. The same goes for parenting.  It was funny listening to the different perspectives and understands the relationship between father and son. It was totally different from what I was expecting, but in a good way. I was expecting a more current affairs type books, rather than an autobiography, but it wasn’t quite that either. It was something along the lines of autobiographical, relationship, comedy (if that makes sense?).

I would definitely recommend this book as an audiobook to listen to and enjoy. It was funny and set at a nice pace. I could have carried on listening for a lot longer, so I hope they do another one!

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