The Kicking the Bucket List by Cathy Hopkins – Book Review


The Kicking the Bucket List by Cathy Hopkins (Harper Collins UK)

Review copy provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Genres: Drama, Women’s fiction, Family

RATING: 4/5

The Story

Three estranged sisters have a shock when they attend the reading of their mother’s will – in order to receive their inheritance, they must complete a list of tasks together, spanning a year. For sensitive Dee, being close to her sisters seems like an impossible dream. Fleur, the free spirit and Rose, the control freak, think it’s a waste of time. The feud between these women can’t be fixed in a few weekends. For the sake of their mother, they’ll give it a go, but none expect the program to succeed. What they don’t know is that the next year will change their lives and relationships forever.

The Review

The Kicking the Bucket List is a wonderfully unique concept. How many of us would kill to have such a legacy from a parent who has passed on? An entire year of activities to bring a family closer together. Some say that love cannot be controlled, but this novel shows it can, at the very least, be manipulated.

The three sisters, Dee, Fleur and Rose, are distinct, well outlined characters. At time they can be a little two-dimensional, but some elements of their different personalities are sure to resonate with most, if not all readers. The majority of the novel is written from the perspective of Dee, however Fleur and Rose do get a bit of personal narration themselves. Although I believe it’s important for the story that each sister has ‘their say’, at times I felt that Hopkins struggled to strike the correct tone or style. Whilst Dee’s narrative is just that, a first person narrative like that found in many novels, the other two were harder to pin down. Sometimes they read like a diary entry, sometimes like a prayer, sometimes like a conversation with their deceased mother. I would have preferred if each sister had their own distinct narrative style, to provide context and individuality to their thoughts and feelings.

Nevertheless, The Kicking the Bucket List is for the most part a beautifully handled tale of sisterhood, touching on themes of grief, loss, love and happiness with great tenderness and respect. There were points during this novel were I was on the verge of tears, and many more when they were free flowing! Having siblings myself, I found it so easy to relate to the struggles these sisters were experiencing. Misunderstandings can cause so many difficulties and frustrations, and oftimes during the book I was close to yelling at them “JUST EXPLAIN YOURSELF!”. If everybody was honest, at least the world would be simpler.

Dee was the main focus of the novel. An artist and single mother of a grown-up daughter, she had a peaceful life down in the countryside of Cornwall, but the death of her mother alongside the passing of her landlady threw her life into turmoil. Many would crumble under these circumstances; her mother was the only member of her family she really spoke to, and she was being evicted from the home she had rented for over 25 years. I was really intrigued to see how Dee would handle these situations, and I can’t say I was disappointed. Although I don’t usually enjoy escapades of sensitive, big-hearted characters (I find them a bit unrealistic, weak and dreary), Hopkins has written a woman with backbone and integrity which is extremely admirable. The same goes for Dee’s sisters – although they all have dislikable traits, there was also something sympathetic about all of them.

My favourite parts of the novel were definitely when the three sisters were interacting on their weekend excursions. With a host of activities including colonics, cat sanctuaries and perfume palaces, Hopkins exploited many wonderful opportunities for laughs and tender moments. Often funny, always meaningful, The Kicking the Bucket List has to be one of the more unique novels of friendship within families. It’s an issue which affects us all, and I think we could all learn something from this book. I know I did.

The Kicking the Bucket List is published TOMORROW, 9th March!

Cathy Hopkins can be contacted via her website and twitter.

 

 

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Hoopers Hip!


I’ve got bad news 😦 Previously I posted about how I really wanted to do 10 minutes of hula-hooping each day in order to lose weight from my stomach, but I’ve discovered that I am prone to ‘hoopers hip’!.

Despite the myriad of health benefits hula-hooping can provide, it messes with my hip joint and it can be quite painful. I have funny knees which I think may be contributing to the issue, but it basically means I’m going to have to find a different way of losing my stomach weight. I want healthy hips, I’m only 23!

I wanted to let you guys know because I’ve promoted hooping, so I don’t want you to follow my advice and then get painful joints! I know that many people don’t suffer with this problem, so what I would suggest is that you try hooping, and if you find it does hurt your hips, either reduce how often you do it, or find another form of exercise.

Sorry guys!

Gingernut x

The Saviour of the 5:2 Diet


Quite a while ago I began doing the 5:2 diet and documented my progress for a little bit. Unfortunately I went on a couple of holidays in close succession last summer and autumn, and never really got back on the 5:2 wagon.

Well today I’m beginning again, and I have to say I don’t think it really needs to be very difficult for me. I’m only going to do it when I’m working from home (I find it so much easier to eat well on it when I’m home, as I’ve noted previously), and that means I can wake up a little later, which shortens the day. I’ve also found that it works best for me when I do it from dinner to dinner (so a 24 hour fasting period). I know that this way doesn’t work best for everybody, because some need the sleep period as an additional few hours of fasting to get a weight loss benefit.

I’ve also discovered two meals/ingredients that I think make fasting kind of a doddle. The first in salad, the second is eggs.

Salad

There are many great things about salads. Firstly, the variety you can get is absolutely massive. I think they might be one of the most varied meals out there actually, because there are literally hundreds of fruits, vegetables, meats and meat substitutes you can include, in whatever combination you like the best.

Secondly, vegetables are packed with nutrients, but usually very low in calories. And I mean packed. I thought it might be helpful for me to provide you with a list of the nutritional info of some of the most popular salad ingredients. In a previous post I have also discussed a website which has more in-depth information.

1) Iceberg Lettuce – 100g contains 14 calories, 22% RDA Vitamin K and 7% RDA Vitamin A. It also has 37.4mg omega 3 fatty acids (which your body cannot make itself), and 15.1mg omega 6 fatty acids.

2) Tomatoes – 100g contains 18 calories, 5% RDA dietary fibre, 21% RDA Vitamin C, 17% RDA Vitamin A, 10% RDA Vitamin K, and 80mg omega 6 fatty acids.

3) Cucumber – 100g contains 15 calories, 21% RDA Vitamin K, 5% RDA Vitamin C, and 4% RDA Potassium

4) Avocado – 100g contains 160 calories (don’t be scared by this, it’s all from healthy fats which can actually help you to lose weight!), 23% RDA fat, 27% RDA fibre, 26% RDA Vitamin K, 20% RDA Folate, 17% RDA Vitamin C, 14% RDA Panthothenic Acid, and 14%  RDA Potassium. That’s a lot of nutrients!

5) Sweet Onion – 100g contains 32 calories, 8% RDA Vitamin C, 6% RDA Vitamin B6 and 6% RDA Folate.

If you had a salad with just some of these ingredients, you’d be well on your way to an extremely nutritious meal. On top of these, you can also add whatever flavours and textures you like.

Today I had an anchovy and green bean salad, with iceberg lettuce and half a tablespoon of Pizza Express Light Caesar Dressing, and it came to just 101 calories! That included a whole tin of anchovies (drained), 60g iceberg lettuce and 62g green beans, so not only was it low calorie but there was a lot of food so it really felt like I was eating a big meal that would keep me going for ages.

I highly recommend including salads in your 5:2 fasting days repertoire. They are very low in calories, really nutritious, they make big meals, and they can be as varied as you like! I think flavour is the key here – more flavour = satiety.

Eggs

Eggs are great for a fasting day. I’m sorry if you’re vegan, but I think you’re missing out on a great food source!

1 large (50g) boiled egg contains 77 calories, 8% RDA fat, 6g protein, 15% RDA riboflavin, 22% RDA Selenium and 594mg omega-6 fatty acids.

Many people are put of by the fact that eggs are fairly high in fat, and they are also very high in cholesterol. There is good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol, and eggs do increase cholesterol, but only the good stuff! They don’t actually increase levels of bad cholesterol in the blood, and it turns out the more cholesterol we eat, the less our bodies create. Therefore, it balances out.

Not only are they not as bad for you as everybody thought, but they also reduce how much food you eat in the long run. In a study by Vander Wal et al (2008) published in the prestidgious Nature journal, 152 men and women aged 25 to 60 were asked to eat either an egg or bagel-based breakfast, and the groups were split again into dieters and normal eaters. The egg breakfast consisted of 2 eggs scrambled together, and the bagel breakfast was a bagel matched in energy density and total energy.

After 8 weeks, the egg dieters group showed a massive 61% reduction in BMI compared to the bagel dieters group. They also had 65% greater weight loss, a 34% greater reduction in waist circumference, and a 16% greater reduction in body fat. Furthermore, there was no difference in levels of cholesterol between the two groups. They also both showed a reduction in hunger compared to the non-dieting groups. You can’t really beat those results! The only disappointing result was that there wasn’t a difference between groups when comparing the normal eaters.

The truth of it is that eggs are really great for keeping you full. The calories are very nutrient dense, and because eggs have a lot of protein they can help to keep you full for a lot longer than say, a piece of toast which may have a similar amount of calories. The other thing that’s great about eggs is that, like salads, they are really versatile. Tonight I’m going to have a ham and egg omelette before I go to the gym, but they are also delicious boiled (as a quick snack), scrambled (delicious with a couple of slices of bacon for breakfast), poached (really yummy on a bed of spinach) and even fried (just make sure you use a low-cal spray oil rather than sunflower oil to reduce the calorie hit!).

So there you have it, my two superhero fasting foods! Let me know if you have any foods you think work great for you on a fasting day, and I hope if you incorporate salad or eggs into your diet you see the benefits I have!

Happy fasting!

Gingernut x

Healthsomeness


Hi guys,

Hope everyone is well on this fine summer morning. I just wanted to ask for a favour, which you may also find helpful – I’m a freelance article writer and I’ve recently been given the link to a website where you can find lots of the things I’ve written:

Www.healthsomeness.com

It’s a website dedicated to providing the best, scientifically validated advice and information about all things health related, such as
the ultimate guide to weight loss
the health benefits of blueberries
How cinnamon can help you lose weight
the 30 best foods for losing weight and burning fat

I have written these and other articles for the website owner, so I’d be very grateful if you could check them out and spread the word – you might find something that will help you too!

Thanks,
Gingernut x

5:2 – Slow and Steady


Last week I was horrified to discover that I’d put on 4 pounds, so I was back to 10st 7. Well, this week, the weight is slowly coming off again; I’m back to 10st 6.

I want to thank the lovely individual who commented on my previous post giving me motivation – I think it worked!

I’m concerned about this week though, because I don’t know whether I’m going to manage doing 2 days, which means I’ll probably put weight on again 😦 I’ll try and eat healthily on my non-fasting days to counteract the effects of missing a fasting day!