Working off the weekend

Running in the sunI’m back from a blissfully long weekend in the countryside with my family. We enjoyed country strolls, country air and, of course, country pubs!

Weekends away don’t necessarily have to mean total blowout on your exercise regime and diet. Squeezing in a quick run and a leisurely country walk can keep you from veering too far off piste. And although it is ok if you do indulge a little, it’s always nice to rebalance on your return so your lapse doesn’t lead to total collapse.

On my weekends away I know I’m not as stringent about my calorie intake as I should perhaps be, and I forgive myself a glass of wine or two, the occasional carb, or vegan chocolate. I deceive myself that these are counterbalanced by strolls in the country air and the odd run and I promise myself to undo the damage come Monday.

Weekends are renowned calorie traps for most of us and without the routine of the workday, I know I find my hand wandering to the snacks and drinks that I have no time to be tempted by while at work. The odd weekend of mild excess isn’t the end of the world, but once too often it can seriously damage all of your hard work from the week. But having a before and after contingency plan for weekend weaknesses can help to prevent a health slump.

I always try to get a good lunchtime run in before the weekend. This week we ran a gentle 9k along the river, and although post-injury it wasn’t the fastest we’d run the route, it certainly helped set me up for the weekend. Lowering your calorie intake by 200-300 calories before and after the weekend can also help prevent the scales tipping too much come Tuesday. And of course, it’s important to get post weekend exercise plans booked in, so you a straight back into the proverbial saddle and into a healthy routines when you return.

Sneaking what exercise you can into the weekend will, of course, help. I managed a couple of pre-breakfast runs while I was away to get my metabolism going each day and we enjoyed a couple of walks a day with the dogs too.

Yesterday I began my post-weekend penance with a delicious giant, ‘reset’, salad for lunch and homemade butternut squash, parsnip and rosemary soup for supper. And today, fresh from the weekend we paced out 10.3k at lunchtime and I’m just home from a Zumba class to top off my exercise for the day.

I’m starting to feel back on track and am looking forward to a week of exercise ahead.

I’ll leave you with a delicious and healthy recipe for butternut squash soup to start your week. This will usually last me for supper for 3-4 days and saves making anything when I get in late from climbing or Zumba.

Butternut squash is not only tasty it has plenty of nutritional benefits. It is low in fat and high in fibre, high in vitamin c, potassium, (important for bone health), and in vitamin B6, (essential for the proper functioning of both the nervous and immune systems). It is also rich in carotenoids, which are shown to protect against heart disease. In particular, it has high levels of beta-carotene (which the body converts to vitamin A), identified as a deterrent against age-related macular degeneration. It is also rich in folate and antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties.

Ingredients

1 butternut squash
2 parsnips
1 onion
2-3 cloves garlic
Dried rosemary
Fresh rosemary
Dried sage
Vegetable stock cube
Pine nuts (optional)
Harissa paste (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

  • Peel, de-seed and dice the squash
  • Peel and slice the parsnip
  • Steam the squash and parsnip until tender
  • Meanwhile peel and slice the onion
  • Fry with a little olive oil and the garlic until soft and starting to brown
  • Add a couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary, dried rosemary and sage as required
  • Tip the squash and parsnip into the water from the steamer, add the stock cube, onion and garlic
  • Add more water if required
  • Simmer for 5minutes
  • While simmering toast a handful of pine nuts in a saucepan over a low heat
  • Remove from the heat and blend using a hand blender
  • Season with salt, pepper and rosemary as required
  • Warm through and serve topped with pine nuts and a tsp of Harissa paste stirred in for an extra spicy kick!
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