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Dive, Not Just a Bar

I find no greater joy in life than eating out, why? Because you get to sit and socialise with friends and family, eat good food and most importantly, you don't have to wash up. So when I get invited to go and review a restaurant it's like a Godsend. A few weeks back I was asked to review the food at Dive Bar in the Northern Quarter, Manchester, surprised at first that they actually served food, I was even more taken aback when it tasted so good...

Set back from the main road on Tib Street, Dive bar is located next to Afflecks Palace, hidden downstairs like a seedy 1930s speakeasy. More commonly known to be a late night club on the weekends, Dive are actually open from early afternoon, serving American style diner food, big burgers, burritos and all kinds of fried chicken. If it's a big 'scran' (as we call it in Manchester) you're looking for then they've got everything you need, and I can vouch and say the portion sizes are more than sufficient. Plus they've got the craziest cocktails going, like my favourite parma violet, so you're sure to walk away with happy tastebuds and a full belly. 

Seeing as though I've been holding back on the meat a little recently, I thought it was time to splash out and over indulge. Simon opted for 'The Big Cheese' whilst I went for 'Chicken and Waffles' (chicken, the obvious choice every time). As you can see from above, the burgers were pretty hefty and it was more than a task trying to bite into that. A double cheeseburger patty with salad, cheese and burger sauce, with a side of fries and slaw. Mine was fried chicken and waffles topped with gravy (on the side for me) and maple syrup. 

I can't say I'm the biggest fan of the sweet, savoury combination, however there was minimal syrup on the waffles so it wasn't too sweet. Plus, the waffles complimented the chicken quite well, making it seem no different than having a savoury carb with your meal, definitely something I'll be trying again in the future. 

I feel like you may be a little disappointed in me as I didn't get a dessert, who goes to review a restaurant and doesn't get dessert? Well unfortunately the large meal topped off with a Kopparberg just tipped me over the edge, and at the time with an oncoming holiday I wasn't willing to sacrifice weeks of gym effort and blow it on a 10,000 calorie meal I'm afraid. But, if you want to try them out yourself they offer brownie, banana split, strawberry sundae and chocolate crunch, a vanilla and chocolate ice cream with dulche leche (OMG), crunchie, cream, chocolate sprinkles and brownie.... I needn't say anymore.

If you want to try it out yourself, check out the website and book here


The Sunshine Vitamin

Vitamin D is also known as the sunshine vitamin because we mainly recognise it as being a vitamin that we get from the sun. Our body produces this vitamin naturally when we  receive sunlight, however there are also a few foods that can supply us with vitamin D. But why do we need it?

Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium and aid bone growth, a lack of it can lead to osteoporosis. As it is a fat soluble vitamin, unlike most, it cannot dissolve in water meaning it is mainly available in high fat foods and it is a lot easier to absorb into the bloodstream when eaten with fat. As well as vitamin D, vitamins A, E and K are also fat soluble. This means the few foods we do get vit D from include, salmon, egg yolks and shrimp, all high fat foods. However many foods are fortified, meaning they have the vitamin added to them such as cereal, yoghurt and orange juice. Although these are all good sources, as long as you're getting a sufficient amount of sunlight, your body can produce enough all by itself. 

If you're fortunate enough to live in a sunny country then that's all well and good, but if in places like the UK where sunshine isn't a regular visitor you many have to consider eating more of these foods or taking vitamin D supplements, which you should consult your doctor about first. But how can you tell that you're suffering from vitamin D deficiency? Well here are some of the symptoms...

-Fatigue, feeling generally not very well often 
-Severe muscle and bone pain or weakness 
-Stress factures 

As stated above, Vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, helping build and keep the bones strong. A deficiency in vitamin D in children can cause rickets, where you will find children with 'bow legs' due to soft bones. Weak bones in older adults can be especially dangerous as it increases the risk of falling and breaking bones, which can lead to further problems in later life. 

There have been some studies to suggest that vitamin D may also play a part in the prevention of cancer, as it regulates cell growth and studies have suggested that calcitriol (the hormone form of vit D) can slow down and prevent the growth of new blood vessel tissues cancerous tissue. Other studies have shown that the vitamin may also have a part to play in the prevention in diseases such as Alzheimers, asthma, swine flu and cardiovascular disease, however more studies need to be made. 




How to Beat the Weekend Binge

TFIF right? Crack open the bottle of vino, get Dominoes ordered and get your feet up ready for a movie night, sound like something you might do regularly on a Friday night? Nope i'm no mind reader it's just what most of us do when it get to the weekend after a looooong week working. Sure it's great to sit back and relax over the weekend, but how many weekends has it been now where you've gone on a bit of a 'binge', whether it be food, alcohol or something else and cocked up any healthy progress you've made during the week? 

Why do we do it? 

So, i'm going to place pretty much all of the blame on stress. When you've had a hectic day at work how many times have you lit a cigarette, poured yourself a glass or opened the emergency ice-cream in the freezer? When you're placing a lot of stress on your daily life without any mid week breaks, that tension builds and builds until you get to the weekend and desperately feel like you need to release, a little bit like holding in when you need the toilet, at some point you're going to burst. Stress is quickly becoming one of the world's biggest health problems with it contributing towards anxiety, depression and weight gain, so it's pretty clear to see that if we eliminate the stress then the rest will follow? 

Mid week treat yo'self 

Release the tension before it makes you burst. You don't have to save the cake until the weekend. Instead of splurging and having the whole cake at the weekend, have a slice on a Wednesday and you'll be less inclined to blow out later on in the week. There is no rule to say that you can't enjoy yourself during the week, so why save it all for the weekend? By giving yourself that little bit of enjoyment in the middle of the week you're telling yourself that not everything good has to come at the weekend, spread it out and spread the happiness, just don't make the things you know may not be too good for you a regular habit. 

Stop stressing 

If stress is the reason you're bingeing that it's pretty simple how to solve it right? Reduce your stress levels. Now I know this is much easier said than done. you may have a high stress job, or have family/relationship problems that are the root cause of the problem, but there are things you can do to try and help yourself relax. Make sure you take time out for yourself on a daily basis, it's not selfish and you do have time. Do something you enjoy, whether that's reading a magazine, watching a film or doing a bit of meditation, it can be absolutely anything as long as you enjoy it. 

Stay busy 

I find that I snack on rubbish the most when i'm bored, and I can imagine that it's a similar situation for a lot of people. If you spend all weekend doing very little it becomes very easy to keep getting the drinks in or nibbling on packets of crisp, so it may be useful to stay on your toes to avoid this situation. Make plans for the weekend, go for a walk, go shopping but just stay busy, you don't have to spend money to go out and enjoy yourself, just make sure you aren't cooped up in the house all weekend where it's very easy to pop your head into the fridge. 


A Day in the Life of a PT

I've been a PT for 2 years now and although I love my job, I can definitely say it's been far from easy. At the moment the health and fitness industry is booming, which is obviously great for me, but also means my job role is extremely saturated and you've got to work hard to give yourself a chance to make it. A lot of people think it's an easy job and because they like the gym they will want to be a PT, but it takes a lot more than that. Now I know i'm still pretty much a rookie in the game and they'll be people with far more experience, but this is just a little snippet into how I live my life as a PT... 

5:00am - wake up, do yoga and get ready for work 

6:00am - 11:00am/12:00pm - Train clients 

12:00pm-1:00pm - Train 

1:00pm-1:30pm - Eat lunch 

1:30pm - 4:00pm - session planning & class planning 

4:00pm - 5:00pm - Come Dine With Me (or some other crap television) 

5:00pm-6:00pm - Train 

6:00pm-9:00pm - Train clients 

9:00pm - Eat dinner & try to relax

10:30pm - Bed. (finally)

Now this isn't exactly how everyday goes, obviously it varies and I do more or less work some days but you get the general jist. My point being that even when you're not at the gym with clients you're writing client plans, or finding ways to get new clients or doing general self-employment admin. It's really not as easy as it seems and people who are self-employed deserve more credit than they receive. 

Being a PT isn't all about going to juice bars, posting workout selfies for Instagram and looking good in the latest GymShark gear, no. Personal training is about spending many hours for free in the gym showing your face to members to try and get clients, early mornings, late nights and working crazy hours that mean you don't get to see any of your friends and family, just the other PTs. So, if you want to be a PT then that's great and it's an extremely rewarding job, but don't be blinded by social media and the glamourised version of the job. 


Zouk Tea Bar & Grill

Who doesn't love a curry? If you don't then this post may not be for you. I've had my fair share of good curries, but I'm still yet to truly delve into the curry world of Manchester, and explore the great authentic meals that the city has to offer with such a large Asian community. Last week I got to tick Zouk off my list, a restaurant serving authentic Indian and Pakistani food in Manchester and Bradford.

You'll know you're close when you see the pretty lights and smell the aromatic scent of shisha passing through the street. Zouk is placed just off Oxford road in the city centre and is beautifully decorated with plants & fairy lights, the atmosphere is already buzzing by the time you hit the entrance with people laughing and smoking shisha. At the entrance you'll be greeted with the open front kitchen, so you can see just how incredibly hard the chefs  work. 

Being the launch of the new steak menu (and me not liking steak) it was Simon's turn to indulge in the finer things on the menu. The manager suggested going for the best of the best and recommended the chateaubriand steak served with roast vegetables, chunky fries and a special 'zouk' sauce. Now I know you're probably thinking...Steak in an Indian restaurant? Yep, but that's what makes it such a special restaurant, it offers more than your standard Indian. Being plain ol' me, I opted for a chicken biriyani because I strongly believe that one of the best ways to judge a restaurant is by trying one of their most simple dishes. If they can do these well then you know it's a good place to go. p.s I'm also quite fussy and like to stick to what I know...

The biriyani was served with the sauce on the side of the chicken and rice, giving me the option to add as much sauce needed based on my preferred spice level, plus our naan and still leftover poppadoms, we had a feast fit for a king. 

Considering having a curry today then? Well luckily for you, Zouk serve brunch, lunch and dinner, so no matter what time you're in the mood for some Indian food you can find it here. Check out their website for the full menu. 


3 Books that have changed the way I think

For any of you that don't know me so well, I don't just exercise all of the time (most but not all) and I actually love to read in my spare time, being an English Literature student, you can't keep me away from a good novel, however in the last year or so I've been inclined to choose non-fiction books a lot more. It seems as though we are in a bit of a global stress crisis and with more self-help books than ever on the shelves, and we must question why so many of us are suffering with anxiety and depression when we have all of the bare necessities plus more. Some of these books help to put a different perspective on life and make you think about things a from a more positive perspective.

1. Factfulness

If you thought everything in the world was going wrong then you're wrong, and that's a fact. Hans Rosling studied statistics and medicine and has created a quiz that the smartest people in the world couldn't even get right because we all have such a negative outlook on the world. The book really puts into perspective how people across the world live and that there no longer needs to be the words, 'developed' and 'undeveloped' countries because there isn't such a split between the two. Reading this book will make you want to stop reading/watching/listening to the news because of the negative twist it puts on everything, when in reality, things are improving. Although things may be bad, it doesn't mean that things aren't getting better...

2. The subtle art of not giving a f**k

This book does what it says on the tin, shows you how to stop giving a sh*t about the things that don't really matter in life. How many times have you worried about something small which has snowballed into a huge problem and eventually leads to a complete meltdown and questioning everything you've done so far in life? Yeah it's happened to the majority of us, when in reality it really doesn't contribute to your life in any way. Because we panic over so many small things, this leads to us forgetting about the important things, and this book gives you that slap in the face you need to remind you of this.

3. This is going to hurt

With the ongoing news about the NHS, we are always hearing about how targets aren't being met and the ever longing wait for A&E, but do we truly understand just how hard they doctors, nurses, admin staff work? This is going to hurt is full of funny, embarrassing, but also quite mellow anecdotes from a junior doctor and his time working in different hospitals. The book gives you an insight into just how difficult it is being a junior doctor and the lengths they go to to save us. 

Even if you're not a book boffin, it's always good to take some time out and escape reality in a good book. So next time you go to switch on the TV, when not choose one of these incredible books and learn a little more about the world...


Brunchin' at Gusto

Is there anything the millennial British love more than brunch? I'd struggle to find someone that says no to this. Brunch, that awkward time in-between breakfast and lunch has opened up brand new times and menus for restaurants and has now made eggs benedict one of the nation's favourite meals, but with so many options, where do you go for a lazy Sunday brunch? Well we headed to Gusto in Knutsford a few Sundays ago and indulged in a hearty meal with some other bloggers. 

If you've never been to Knutsford and you live in the North West then you need to get yourself there ASAP. It's a small village in the heart of Cheshire that boasts beautiful architecture, endless restaurants and the amazing Tatton Park, which spans across 1000 acres of gobsmacking grassland. You can literally take a few steps from Tudoresque buildings to this outstanding park, hosting a stately home and deers, sounds like the perfect place to live right? When you'll need a bit of cash to live round there. We strolled down the main road where we got to the pretty lights and green decor at Gusto and stepped into one of the most Instagrammable restaurants I have ever seen. 

With it being a blog event, there were cameras spread across the table and everyone getting shots of the beautiful interior and fancy cocktails, but it was a great way to meet new people and learn about how other bloggers do things. The menu offered a range of brunch meals, from sweet to savoury, but I couldn't help myself and stuck to what I love best, a full english. Whilst we waited for our food, we were offered a host of cocktails, i'll admit it was a little too early for me to drink alcohol but they looked delicious all the same. Once the food came we were blown away with the presentation, so much so that it felt like a shame to ruin it, but it had to be eaten. 

Some of the meals on the menu included my full english, potato rosti with egg, pancakes and toast topped with nutella, banana and cherries, sounds good right? Well it was, and once we had gone round and taken all of the photos it was time to tuck in and enjoy the food. Gusto were able to tend to any needs and changes on the menu, offering whichever type of egg I wanted with the meal and offering alternatives to the tomato on the full english ( which I still don't understand this tradition). The hot drinks were pouring and it couldn't have been a better way to spend a late Sunday morning, if you're looking for somewhere to relax and enjoy the weekend then get down to Gusto Knutsford