Nov 282013


At 5’7″ I currently weigh about 8.5 stone – this is probably the lightest I’ve been since my early teens. And I’m probably the leanest, and strongest, that I’ve ever been.

52kg has been my target race weight, however I certainly hadn’t expected to achieve it relatively effortlessly after having a baby. If I’m honest I’d convinced myself my figure would never come back, but here I am with a stronger core than ever and slimmer hips by a few inches. It’s most unexpected!

I have wondered if getting back into training quickly, during the body rehabilitating phase, has allowed my body to rebuild accordingly? Of course it could all be down to a proper training plan, weight loss through breast feeding and an improved diet, and strength gain from carrying Meg and the general physical nature of just being a full-tine parent. My ‘break’ is when I usually walk an hour a day with Meg in the pram or backpack, and I also have an hour training on the turbo each evening.

Now, can I maintain this target weight until next race season? I guess it’ll fluctuate along the way but I’m pretty confident that this is where my body has naturally settled. I’d like to improve on my body composition – fat/muscle – so from here that’s what I’ll be concentrating on. Really the number I’m most interested in is my power:weight ratio. I want t do everything possible during this training and development phase so I can have another successful and enjoyable race season next year. I also want to have the strength and endurance to compete over a longer duration next year.

With each week I notice changes to my body – new muscles developing, particularly around my hips and thighs, better tone, flatter tummy. Refining my diet will have a lot to thank for this. I eat very little processed food, and sweet treats are all home-made with more wholesome ingredients where possible. Experimenting has been fun. I certainly need calories, but I try not to eat ’empty calories’ these days. I do love cake though(!) so I’ve been trying to find ways to make delicious and wholesome cakes to satisfy my sweet tooth. And they make a great energy fix straight after exercise.

Here is a recipe I’ve worked on for orange and almond cake.

It’s been adapted from a standard victoria sponge mix and it is beautifully light yet kicking with orange flavour. It doesn’t really need a filling or topping. It’s so easy to make.

This recipe uses less butter and sugar than a normal vicky sponge mix but you’d never know.  The ground almonds and olive oil make it beautifully moist and it’s surprisingly light and fresh. The almonds and orange bring some nutritional value to this cake that feels like a real treat to eat. If you want to enhance this I guess you could increase the almond quantity, but in doing so reduce the butter and the flour. It’ll make a heavier cake that may need a longer bake. Caster sugar could be totally replaced with the GI friendly agave nectar, or even honey.
I hope you give it a go…
Jen’s orange and almond cake
2 oz real butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 oz agave nectar
1 oz caster sugar
finely grated zest from 1 large orange
1 oz (generous) ground almonds
3 1/2 oz self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 large free range eggs
Flaked almonds to scatter

  1. Pre-heat oven to 170degC.
  2. Put everything but the flaked almonds in large bowl and whisk with an electric hand whisk until smooth and the colour of the batter lightens (~2-3mins).
  3. Scrape batter into a round cake tin (~ 8 inch). I always line mine with re-useable silicone baking paper.
  4. Level the mix and then scatter the flaked almonds over the top.
  5. Bake in centre if oven for 15-20 mins. The smell will direct you as you should be able to detect when it smells sweet and delicious, which is a great time to check your cake.  When cakes start to over bake the smell turns bitter, which I guess is the sugar burning.

Definitely check your cake before 15 mins – if it looks cooked touch surface to see if it bounces back. 
Once cooked take out of oven and leave in tin for a few mins before turning out.
You could serve this warm with cream or yoghurt for a pudding, but I leave it to cool completely and finish with a dusting of icing sugar. Any excuse to use my sugar duster (best thing ever).

I’ve also been getting really into my casseroles and curries (from scratch) recently and can’t get over how delicious the results have been, for very little work and expense. I’ll share one of these winter warmers with you soon. The only trouble is that they do need a few hours to cook – which is fine for me being at home with Meg – but for most people it’ll have to be cooked the night before. They actually taste even better done this way, so it’s worth giving it a go if you can get organised.
 Posted by at 2:56 pm

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