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September 2014

Taco Bell

 

Taco Bell is an American chain of fast-food restaurants based in Irvine, California. A subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc., they serve a variety of Tex-Mex foods including tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos, other speciality items, and a variety of "value menu" items. Taco Bell serves more than 2 billion customers each year in more than 6,500 restaurants mostly in the U.S., however, the United Kingdom has not missed out on its Tex-Mex delights as in 1986, a location was opened in London on Coventry Street (between Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus) followed by a second location in Earls Court near the Earl's Court tube station. Taco Bell sites in the UK in operation at the Strategic Air Command and the United States Air Force bases at RAF Mildenhall, RAF Lakenheath and whilst visiting Gary I got to try a taste of Taco Bell.

Everything Is Big

 

What is it about the Americans?  They are often referred to as doing everything so much bigger, whether it be food portions, household appliances, their homes or their cars.  Is it because the major of Americans are built larger than us in the UK or is it a status symbol?
Well, one thing is for sure, there is a whole load of things bigger than me and there was me thinking I was large until Gary took a photo of me when on base at RAF Lakenheath.

Commissary

 

After spending a short time on the RAF base in Lakenheath one thing instantly caught my attention, a large plain-looking building with just the words Commissary on it.  For those of you who do not know, a commissary is an equivalent to a grocery store on a military base. So I already liked this place based on name alone and it was here where I would go to get some treats to take back home with me. Unlike supermarkets here, isles were just dedicated to a certain product such as cereals, candy and the choices were endless. 

Some of these sorts of products we here in the UK and can get them in larger Waitrose stores, Harrods food hall and online specialist sweet stores, so this was an opportunity to stock up on those items that over here in the UK we are ripped off with import duties and retailer markups. 

Luckily my visit coincided with an American tradition of Halloween and candy, what we know as sweets, where plenty and mainly in large bumper bags.  My mother is partial to Hershey chocolate and the variety meant I had to get one of each choice and as Gary said: “it’s your mother you should get her the choice”.  Wayne had heard in a song about Tootsie Roll and wanted to try them and I wanted cereals and in particular ‘Lucky charms’ something that over here is about £7 a box, but on base, it is closer to $1.99 a box.
As much as this was about getting to know my new friend Gary, the trip to the Commissary was defiantly a highlight and an insight to the joys of American eating, all be it most of my purchases were candy and cereals.

Toll Change

 

One of the biggest advantages of going to see my new friend Gary is where he lives, it means that on the route in both directions I can visit my mum and sister, whether it be for a sleepover or for a few hours to break in the journey. 
No matter when I visit, the biggest hold up is that of Dartford crossing, something soon to be a lot easier as the barriers will be removed and as the congestion charge, you will be able to pay by text, account (with a reduced rate) or a one-off payment online.  The big downside to the new and hopefully less congested Dartford crossing is a rise in toll fees, yet again the driver is hit with another increased fee.  I think when the fees come into play I will open an account and then that way my fee for crossing will be a lot less, even with the increase in effect and as credit does not expire it means I can top up once a year for those journey to my mum and sisters or to see Gary.

Scheduled

 

Everyone who has ever tried to do something long term has probably found that the biggest challenge is not reaching your goal but maintaining a schedule to do the task in hand and when it comes to weight loss this is one of the biggest hurdles faced by most since goals like that are not seen with quick results.
Last year I had a sports injury that stopped me from running and so had to take a more sedated approach to keep fit but unfortunately last year that did not happen and I fell more and more into a progressive slump.
This year I feel more motivated to want to lose the weight and keep fit and being an owner of a treadmill there really is no excuse to why I’m not at least using that, I cannot blame the bad British weather for not using that.
From experience, I have noticed that when you become aware of your body shape and decide you really do not like what you see then you have two choices, you can shy away from the whole issue and cover yourself up in loose baggy clothing or take a firm stand and decide at present that you do have a curvy body and that the shapes do not quite fit into place so you set a realistic goal and a schedule to do something about it.
I have set a goal of 18 months to lose weight and scheduling a daily run for 30 minutes on the treadmill with the aim to lose enough weight that I am happy with what is seen looking back at me in the mirror.  I find setting a goal like this is realistic and something I will stick to, being told to lose X amount of kg might be a medical achievement for some but that type of goal is no good if you still look at your body and still know you are physically fat rather than medically fat.
I have tried lots of diet plans and as much as some are helpful in educating you to eat right the one thing they all have in common is that it is a complete change of lifestyle that cannot be maintained long term and you then understand why the diet industry is worth a staggering two billion a year in the UK alone, just on dietary products to help you maintain losing weight.
Luckily for us iPhone users there are applications that make tracking weight and goals a lot easier and making life that little bit easier to maintain your goal.
I have been using an application called ‘MyFitnessPal’ and works well and is simple to use.  After signing onto the program, you enter your weight, age and goal weight. The application asks you to judge the amount of daily activity you do. You can then choose how much you plan to lose each week. In addition, you set your exercise goal. Next, you are told the number of calories you should eat each day in order to lose that weight.  Each day, you will fill in two daily logs: what you eat, and what you do for exercise. My Fitness Pal stores thousands of different foods, including many brand name items and weight the iPhone application you can just scan the bar code and enter how much you ate of that item or go, weight, he recommended does that the barcoding reports back.  for those items without a barcode or un-scannable barcode you can type in a search term and choose the closest matching item. Your food diary on My Fitness Pal will save foods that you commonly eat, so after entering that food once, all you need to do when you eat that again is just check the item and add it to that meal.
Along with entering your meals, you can enter your exercise for that day. Just like the food diary, the exercise diary section lets you type in the type of exercise you have done and tell how many minutes you did. It will calculate the number of calories you burned and add those additional calories to the total amount you can eat that day if you so wish to, I, however, prefer not to.
When you have finished entering your log for the day, you will get a note which tells you how you are doing and what your weight progress will be in five weeks.
If that was not motivational enough of not clear enough then wight he new iOS 8 operating system the Apple ‘Health’ application lets works alongside most diet application and shows in its main dashboard dietary and exercise information to keep you motivated.

Download Joke

 

Everyone wants the latest iOS but waiting over six hours to download and instal is in my mind's eye is a joke.  Apple should adopt a ticket request system next time a new iOS is available.  It could act as how theme parks allocate ride times, so when a device requests the download then a ticketed time slot is allocated for that device, this way the servers would not be overloaded and downloads would be quicker. 
But I hear you say “what happens if I miss my time slot?”
Well in all fairness I would say “tuff luck” and you should be made to request another ticketed time slot, I think for those who have patiently waited their turn should not have to wait any longer and abusing the system means yours have to join the queue again.
Maybe I should not be in so much of a rush to want to download the latest iOS then I would not be waiting so long for my download.