Friday, 7 November 2014

Diet fails: Excuses and how to avoid them


When I started this blog, I tried to give useful tips on how to stay focused on a diet and one of the important things I said was 'No Excuses!'. Well alright, but if you're really stuck in the habit of making excuses, how do you recognise them and work around them?

I think the first and most important thing to realise is that if you're trying to lose weight, then you are unhappy with your size and it is your old/current lifestyle that put you in this position. You don't gain weight by accident, as nice as that would be to believe. Even if you are happy with your size but would like to be healthier, then it is still your old/current lifestyle that needs changing. 

Therefore, the next thing to realise is that you need to eat healthier and exercise more - it actually is as simple as that. Your lifestyle isn't working and you cannot carry on as you are, end of. Whatever the excuse for eating those crisps or burgers, this is what you need to be telling yourself.

I am far to aware that it isn't always that easy though. I didn't fail at so many diets over the years because I could just tell myself this and magically solve my problems. You do need to get yourself in the right frame of mind however, or it won't work. I can't stress this enough. If you're not willing to be strong and just get on with it, then you will fail. I know this sounds blunt and harsh but it really is the truth.

So, here are some excuses that were given to me by my lovely facebook group members, ones that we all tell ourselves when we really just want to eat badly or not exercise. I'm hopefully going to try and help with what you should be telling yourselves and ways to combat them to keep you on track.

I'm too tired I've been in work all day/Fed up and need comfort food/Not enough time


We've all been there, well I know I have many times. You've spent all day working hard or have just had a really rubbish day and nothing seems worse than coming home and cooking a meal. All that chopping, slicing, boiling, frying... meh, I'll just get a takeaway.

First things first, you need to remind yourself of what I said above - I'm not happy so I need to change my lifestyle. Ask yourself the following questions - have I had bad day recently that I need to make up for? Have I pigged out at lunch or have I eaten well today?

Do you have anything easy you could throw on instead? Things I kept in the cupboard for days like this were Maggi sachets that involved literally just bunging some chicken in the oven covered in a spice sachet. You could even just have grilled chicken that literally takes 5 mins a side to grill (or 5 mins in total if on a George Foreman grill), covered in any spices from your cupboard. Another alternative is chicken parcels, cover chicken in a sprinkling of any spices you have in, wrap it in foil or baking paper and put in the oven for 25-30mins. Easy peasy and hardly any prep.

Easy but healthy accompaniments are couscous (soak in stock for 10mins), basmati rice (boil with a stock cube for 10mins, for extra healthy points throw in some frozen peas/sweetcorn), even oven chips if weighed out to the recommended portion size on the packet. If you want veg as well to be extra healthy, most vegetables will boil in 10 mins. Keep some tinned carrots in the cupboard so you don't have to prep, or frozen peas. You can also get little pre-portioned packets of mixed veg that keep in the freezer then microwave in a couple of minutes.

Another option is when you do cook a meal, make an extra portion to freeze then on days like these you can just re-heat one.

However, sometimes all of this will fail. Its only natural. I did have occasions where I had takeaways or frozen pizza and still lost weight. You just have to be really careful about what you chose and think about what would be a healthy choice, not just have whatever you fancy, and do not let yourself give in to temptation more than once a week, and don't do it if you know you have an occasion coming up where you know you will over eat or be unable to chose too healthily (such as a function or family meal).

As well as the above, here are some things to remember when all else fails:

Avoid: Stay away from the average 'American/Italian' menu such as fried chicken, burgers and pizza. Just don't do it. You know they're really high in calories, its not rocket science. Do not have a starter, try to minimise the damage and don't make it worse than it has to be. Avoid anything on the menu that mentions the following words 'fried, cheese, cream, oil, crispy, pastry'.

Aim For: If you go for a chinese, stick to plain rice, not fried, and a main that is in a tomato based sauce or specifically states it has plenty of veg in it. Aim for chicken over other meats. A good option is chow mein which is noodles in a plain sauce with veg, some give the option to have it 'dry fried' but then it will be fried in oil which is not as good. 

Most indian curries will be cooked in cream or ghi (clarified butter) so are best avoided. However, most indians will do something called a 'shashlik' which is basically a tandoori chicken kebab and is a brilliant option. It will come with salad so don't order any rice with it. If you have to go for bread, go for a chapati over a naan. If they don't have the shashlik, look for tandoori chicken which is basically the same thing.

Don't like the gym posers and the fees/Wet weather/Too tired to exercise. 


Exercise. Its the toughest part right? It always has been for me. It is so much easier for a lazy girl like me to sit on the sofa and do nothing.

As I said above, this is probably what got you to where you are now and you need to keep that at the very front of your mind. Exercise is tough, I will not lie to you and tell you its easy. What I will tell you is the results are worth it. And I mean consistent exercise, not just once a week or now and again when you can be bothered. I mean 2-3 times a week, at least 30 mins a time, where you are shattered afterwards and feel it the next day. Remember this when you don't feel like it.

So to combat some of the exercise excuses I will add in these top tips -

  • If you don't like the gym or classes, don't go. If you hate something you won't do it. This is not leeway to do nothing however, it means you find something else. Try classes, try jogging, try exercise videos or apps on your phone/tablet, research exercises on the internet and put your own routine together, if you have the money buy some home gym equipment and sit in front of the TV on a crosstrainer or exercise bike. Do not give up! Keep trying until you find something that fits.
  • Wet weather - again, as above, try something else. Do a home work out or have a day of yoga and/or stretching. Do anything other than break your routine.
  • Too tired - sorry this is just a time you have to suck it up and get on with it. You have to push through to get to the stage where you have more energy and you won't feel so tired. I have pushed through exercise before with a stinking cold or a day after recovering from a stomach bug, and yes I found it tough, but I felt better afterwards. Just don't push yourself as hard but don't give up.
  • You can do effective exercise in just 25-20min sessions. High intensity exercise all out for this time is more effective than a half-hearted hour long session. Research this on the internet and look into what exercises work best. I have heard it said a few times that if you are doing more than 45 mins, in the gym particularly, you will be wasting a lot of your time. The key time seems to be 30 mins of intense exercise that leaves you breathless and sweaty, several times a week.

I need it! 

Do you really? Or do you need the boost of losing a pound on the scales more? Do you need the benefits of healthy eating more? Do you need that feeling of accomplishment because you were strong and said no? I think the answer to this one is obvious!

One day won't hurt I will start again tomorrow.....  

 

We would all love this statement to be true wouldn't we? Sometimes it can be, but be honest with yourself. Is it really just one day? What about a couple of days ago when you forgot to make your lunch for work and had that naughty sandwich from the canteen? And what about the other night when you couldn't be bothered making tea and had some chips? And then what happens tomorrow as you know you're going to have a busy day in work and will be tired when you get home? And then there's that night out this weekend where you'll be drinking. 

The truth is, its never just one day. You also know that once you stop, its too easy to give up altogether. Remind yourself of that dress you want to get into, or how good it feels to get on the scales and have lost a pound. Remind yourself that you need to make changes if you're not happy where you are now.

This also ties in to 'I'll start again next week' - the more bad days you have, the more damage you will do. Try and minimise this as much as possible by getting on track as soon as you can, the very next meal ideally. Don't ruin your hard work.
 

Night shifts and then the change to days

I found the solution to this hard to put in to words so bear with me while I try and explain it. A good routine for someone who works shifts will not relay on times of the day. For example, lunch won't be 12-1 and tea won't be around 6pm. It would probably go something more like this -
  • Wake up, have breakfast
  • 2 hours later, have a small snack such as fruit or low cal baked crips type snack
  • 2-3 hours later have lunch
  • 2 hours later have a snack
  • 2-3 hours later have tea
  • 2 hours later small snack, ideally a couple of hours before bed to allow it to settle
Therefore your day will not be based around the clock so it doesn't matter what time you have your meals, you just work them around your day and shift pattern. This is obviously just a rough example and you can adapt it to whatever your routine is on any given day. 

The main rule to remember is that you should be eating around every 4 hours to avoid your body going into starvation mode and storing fat. Adding in snacks like above will keep your sugar levels on a level and also will avoid you getting so hungry at meal times that you binge, whatever time that may be.

With regards to exercise, the best solution I can think of here is think about when you are most likely to stick to exercising - are you better doing it when you wake up or a couple of hours before you go bed? Alternatively, are you best slotting it in the middle of your day on your days off? Work out what works best for your and work this into your routine.

I eat like a pig which is fine when working cos it's a very physical job and burns lots of calories but I do nothing on days off but eat the same if not more.

 

The thing to remember here is that you should eat consistently no matter what you're doing. If you are sticking to a caloried controlled diet, then that should be the same no matter what you are doing, don't allow yourself extra calories to accomodate exercise but think of it as extra calories burned. If you are lacking in energy on busy days then have foods that are more carbohydrate based for energy, such as pasta. As mentioned above, working healthy snacks into your routine can be uselful as it will keep your sugar levels on a level and prevent a crash that sends you scrabbling for chocolate.

Also, as much as I know how nice it is to do completely nothing on your days off, you should try and work in some form of light exercise to keep your metabolism on track, even if its just a walk around the block.

I want instant results, if I haven't lost weight as I would like why bother to carry on, it's not happening.

I am one of these people. It has happened in the past where I haven't got results quick enough and I've just given up completely. The truth is, if you are doing it right, you will get results right away. If you can't figure out why you haven't, do some research. For example, my first week of this diet resulted in nothing happening and I was really disheartened and felt like there was no point. It turned out I was over exercising so I tweaked my routine and by the next week the weight started coming off. It really can be that a small tweak to what you're doing will make all the difference. Focus on finding the answer rather than giving up.

I'll cut out a big dinner and just eat snacks.

This is never a good idea. A lot of snacks can be empty calories or high in things like sugar which will just make you hungrier overall. Put in the extra effort and eat something more substantial and more nutritious, it will ultimately be more satisfying and less calories. If you can't face a big meal, then make something small like a sandwich or a small portion of pasta, or best of all some soup. Anything that has a bit more body and weight to it to put something in your stomach. 


 
If all else does fail and you do fall off the wagon, then acknowledge what you've done and stop it there and then. As i say above, do not start again tomorrow or next week, start again right then. The best thing you can do is fit is some extra exercise somewhere to try and undo some of the damage, but if you can't do that then at the least just stick to your diet plan and don't give up!!

Monday, 13 October 2014

An Unexpected Twist

Am I the only one that finds just as you think life is about to settle down for a bit, something will happen to set the rollercoaster off again? This time, it’s not in a bad way, it’s in an amazing way!

When last I posted, I had just hit my 10.5st goal weight, but I was also hiding a little secret. I had found out 2 weeks before this that I was pregnant again. Those of you who have read my first blogs will know that I had a difficult time with my first pregnancy, in no small part due to my weight. My BMI was 30 so I was at risk of gestational diabetes, which I luckily didn’t develop, but at the end of my pregnancy I did develop pre-eclampsia (which I have since found out was classed as severe pre-eclampsia). I don’t mean to sound dramatic but I’m not exaggerating when I say that my life was at risk. If any of you are followers of the TV series Downton Abbey, you will recall the untimely demise of poor Lady Sybil whose condition developed from pre-eclampsia to full blown eclampsia and she sadly died. I was told during my hospital stay that this was common for sufferers of this condition back before modern medicine,  that women were commonly left in a room to die as there was nothing that could be done for them. I mention this not to be dramatic, but so you understand one of the incentives for my weight loss and why I was a little bit nervous when I found out I was expecting again. 

When I found out, I was 1lb off hitting my goal weight, so I thought 1 more week of dieting wouldn’t hurt just to get that last pound off. Unfortunately I developed a few days’ worth of migraines that changed my mind and when I did hit the scales I had gained weight. So in my mind, the official diet had then ended. I had an early celebration for getting this far and congratulated myself on losing as much as I had. 

As I have now had pre-eclampsia once, and it would seem I also have a family history of the condition, I was already at risk of developing it a second time. I did not want to add to this risk by putting back on all the weight I had lost, and wanted to do all I could myself to lower my risk. I began researching, first of all on the condition itself, which informed me that as a previous sufferer I was at about 15% risk of having it again, added to that was the family history which maybe put me around 25% risk. As I work as a medical secretary, I understood that in medical terms that was considered high risk, and I knew that the higher my BMI, the more risk I was adding.

Next I looked into what was considered healthy calorie intake and I hit some really muddy waters. As the current World Health Organisation guidelines state average calorie intake for women should be 2000 kcal per day, most websites were saying women should eat around 2000-2200 kcal per day, rising to approximately 2500 kcal in the last trimester. Well I already knew from my dieting that 2000 kcal is already far too many calories for me to maintain a healthy weight. I then read some forums with posts from real women who have tried themselves to eat healthy during pregnancy and what worked for them. These, as you can imagine, varied greatly as well as all women are different. 

Guidelines state that during pregnancy you only need an extra 200 kcal so I used this as a starting point. I had a target of 1400 kcal while dieting, so with the extra 200kcal that would take me to 1600kcal. During the last week of dieting I had been eating 1400-1600kcal and had developed migraines so listening to this input from my body and taking into account all the things I had read, I set the bar a little higher – 1800-2000kcal. I felt much more relaxed when I had a target to aim for as I knew if I didn’t I wouldn’t restrict myself enough and really would be in trouble.

Then I looked into what was considered healthy weight gain. Again this was a bit vague as it varies from woman to woman and takes into account general health, fitness level, exercise level and all kinds of other things. I found a website that took from me my current weight, my height and how many times a week I exercised which gave me a rough idea of what would be considered healthy for me (I would love to link to this for you but for the life of me I can’t find it again!). It roughly said that for the first trimester I could healthily gain around 3lbs, rising to roughly 1lb a week from then on, which overall would be just over a stone and a half. To be generous to myself I set myself the target of 2 stone overall, including baby.
Next was the exercise. I read loads on how it was fine to carry on running up until the last 3 months of pregnancy, just not pushing yourself too hard. Then in the last 3 months you should slow right down to maybe just power walking, but still staying active. I carried on jogging but was finding it increasingly difficult. My times dropped right down and I was walking more than I was jogging. I did one final organised run on a Sunday but I was the last one to cross the finish line by a very large margin and I felt very disheartened by the end of it. I decided that I would stop the organised runs but keep running in my own time at my own pace.

Then I got really sick one weekend which may have been a bug but may have been morning sickness. The plus side of this was that was what lead to me hitting my goal weight, the downside being it brought the end of my jogging. I just stopped because I felt so rough and exhausted as it took me a few days to recover, and never picked it up again. I carried on with my Zumba but I was also finding this hard, like my body just didn’t have the strength to do it. From all I had read, it didn’t really sound right, all the advice had said I should be able to carry on as normal. I had to listen to my body though as I didn’t want to hurt it or risk the pregnancy in anyway.

Then I got wiped out again with a water infection and was put on strong antibiotics. When I went to Zumba after completing the course, I felt like a different person! I had much more energy and could push myself much harder than before. It showed me that it must have been the infection my body was fighting that was making the exercise so difficult and I could carry on if I wanted to. My Zumba instructor suggested power walking instead of jogging and I loved this idea and wanted to give it a try.

However, this is the very sad part for me and the part I’m really struggling with at the moment. Too many of my old bad habits have been creeping back in. I’m eating crisps again, I’m eating cheese and all other bad things that I shouldn’t be eating. I’m only exercising at Zumba once a week, the rest of the time I’m doing very little exercise. The part I can be proud of though, is that I am moderating the bad stuff and not binging on it as much as I used to, when I check my calorie intake most days I do come in around 2000kcal. However I am still having more bad days than I would like and I am really struggling to stop myself. Every time I have a bad day I beat myself up, telling myself that I will just get pre-eclampsia again from being unhealthy. 

I am working on it, but this diet has always been a battle and struggle and it shows no signs of changing. I have learned so many ways to be healthier and I really am trying to beat, or at least control, these demons. I have now just about hit the 12 week mark, which is why it is now becoming public, and I am 3lbs under my weight gain ‘limit’ for this stage, so I must be balancing it out somehow. I know the stressing and worrying is not helping, but that was why I explained what pre-eclampsia means earlier, to show why I am concerned. It would be so easy to just say ‘forget the diet and eat what I want’ but not only would that undo all my hard work, it could risk my life.

What I can also take some solace in is that by losing weight the healthy way by moderating my diet and exercising, I have obviously modified my metabolism enough that it is helping me out now by burning food that bit quicker. I have also noticed a big difference in the level of morning sickness I’m experiencing this time round, I am nowhere near as bad as last time and most days actually feel fine. Hopefully this will all help me later on.

So here continues the next stage of my healthier lifestyle, and quite possibly the hardest one I have had to face so far. I will keep you updated as to how I get on!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

I did it!

I finally reached my goal weight! My weight loss has slowed down in recent months and I think part of me thought I would never get here but I have.

Here's the stats for you - when I started I weighed 13st 12lbs and wore a dress size 18 on the top, 20 on the bottom. I lost weight at an average rate of 2lb a week for the first 3 months and then 1lb a week thereafter. 8 1/2 months on, I now weigh 10st 5lbs and wear a dress size 12 on the bottom and 10 on the top.

Before and After!

How have I done it? In all honesty, I would call it the 'everything in moderation' diet. I haven't deprived myself of anything but I have also been healthy. I've had plenty of time sitting on my backside but I have also exercised.

I would love to say it's been easy, that I've loved every minute of it, but if you've been following this blog you'll know that's not true. It's been hard work. There were days when I wondered if it was all worth it and if I'd ever get there, but as the weight started coming off I knew deep down that not only could I do it, I was doing it!

Diet-wise I've been following a calorie controlled diet with a target of 1400kcal per day. I allowed myself treats but always made accommodations elsewhere to make sure I came as close to that target as possible. On good days I could actually fall below that! I researched and I read a lot of articles on recipes and healthy swaps, making little changes here and there to make my diet healthier. I've never let myself go hungry or deprived myself of anything. I've learned a lot about self control and teaching myself that eating badly doesn't feel as good as a loss on the scales. I've had to stick to my guns and defend myself on occasion but I've also been fully supported.

I found an exercise routine that worked for me. Initially I was doing some form of exercise every day but I moderated that to 3-4 30-45 min sessions a week. I discovered running works for me as I'm at heart a lazy girl and this was the quickest way to get results (2 30ish min runs a week). I also used my fondness for aerobics and learning dance routines (yes I'm a steps fan) to fuel a love for zumba which I avidly attend a class for once a week. I developed a firmer understanding that exercise is the main key to weight loss as you have to burn more calories than you consume and the more you burn, the more you lose.

I learned that I have an amazing support network around me but that at the end of the day, no one else could do this but me. No one else could would put the right foods in my mouth. No one else would burn off those calories and pounds of fat. No one else would feel the elation and sense of achivement of finally getting this right. No one else would feel the joy of wearing a smaller dress size than I did as a teenager. No one else would feel healthier than I ever have in my life. Yes, it took being a bit selfish to make it happen. But it also lead me to being able to share my experience with others and hopefully help people to do it too.

So, now I enter maintenance mode! No longer am I dieting, it really has become a lifestyle change. No, I can never go back to eating how I did before but I no longer want to. I can still indulge now and again but I never really stopped doing that. I'm not perfect, who is in all honesty? But I've feel I've found the key to being healthier and can now be a better role model for my son which, after the weight loss, was the aim all along.

My Facebook group and Twitter are still running and I will still update this blog about how I'm doing. This isn't the end but a start of a whole new chapter!

Friday, 22 August 2014

Recipe: Soy, Lemon & Garlic Tuna

As you may have read in Operation: Rehydration, I was recently diagnosed with dehydrated eyes and started to up my fluids. Part of the issue apparently is a general lack on omega 3 in the western diet and therefore a lack of moisturizing oils in the eyes. I've therefore been trying to add more oily fish into my diet and came across this yummy recipe for a marinated grilled tuna.

The sharpness of the soy and lemon blends beautifully with the sweetness of the carrot and sweet potato for an awesome taste sensation! It's really filling, super low in fat, high in all the good stuff, and best of all its really easy to make.

Soy, Lemon and Garlic Tuna

Serves 2, approx 432kcal per serving.

Ingredients:

- 2 x 7oz tuna steaks (approx)
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 500g sweet potato
- 1 carrot
- 1 courgette

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees c and also preheat a grill or griddle pan.

2. Mix the soy sauce, Lemon and Garlic together in a jug or bowl and spoon onto the tuna. Leave to marinate until ready to cook.

3. Line a baking tray with baking paper (alternatively you can use oil but please add the extra calories for this). Peel the sweet potato, chop into wedges and spread on to the baking tray. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes.

4. Peel and grate the carrot, grate the courgette and mix together.

5. Remove the tuna from the marinade and grill for 5 mins each side (for medium).

6. Add all remaining marinade to a pan and bring to the boil. Leave on a medium high boil until the mixture reduces.

7. Serve the tuna on top of the carrot & courgette with the sweet potato on the side and spoon sauce over the top. Season to taste.

Monday, 4 August 2014

It's not as hard as it seems…

Diet Doledrums

AKA the dreaded plateau or those stubborn last few pounds. I've hit this point after 7 months and 3st (43lbs) with only 5lbs to go. And they won't!! I'll be the first to say I'm probably not trying hard enough but I was disappointed to get on the scales today and find I'd lost 0.4kg, which is admittedly around 1lb. The problems is I'm weighing myself in kg and haven't dropped into the next kg for around 3 weeks now as  I keep gaining and losing that single pound/half kilo at the moment. I'm going to try really hard this next week to go back to basics and reign everything in as I am so close to that goal I can almost touch it. My calorie tracker reckons I'll hit it in 2 weeks which is possible but we shall see!

Running, running and running, running and…

I keep steadily improving with my running. I managed to get within 4 seconds of my PB this Sunday and ran the whole 5k without stopping for only the second time ever. I was very proud of myself! I managed to do more exercise last week and I'm trying to focus more on toning exercise instead of more cardio.

I've been trying Pilates and can now give that update of the differences between Pilates and Yoga - honestly, not that much. They both involve using the body's own resistance and weight to tone and strengthen muscles but in different ways. Yoga focuses more on flexibility and strength in a gentle, spiritual way with lots of calming breathing, you'll break a sweat but not really realise you're doing so. Pilates is more intense and focuses more on strength in a more intense way so you really feel it working during the exercises and, in my case, the day after. I'm starting to prefer Pilates in a way as it does feel more like a workout, but I think it is just down to personal preference.

Operation: Rehydration, week 2

I'm now into the second week of Operation: Rehydration and I've managed to stick at it! At first I didn't really notice a difference and was feeling headachey and tired, but that seems to be clearing now. I did notice I had a bit more energy and was able to do more exercise than usual, which is never a bad thing! I've barely noticed the drinking more but I have definitely noticed the going to the loo more!! I've never in my life had to think about it so much and make sure I go before leaving the house! But its all in the name of good health and I hope it settles down eventually!!

#MotivationMonday

The idea behind Motivation Monday was to see what motivates people, what makes someone want to change their lifestyle. Of course, I've heard many reasons but I wanted people to share it with the group as I think it can be really inspirational to hear real stories about why people want to change their lives. I also wanted to try to keep peoples motivation up with helpful mantras, quotes or songs as sometimes something will just strike a chord with you and give you an extra boost. I wanted to open it up to everyone as what motivates one person won't necessarily motivate another, so what I think is really motivational might mean nothing to someone else.

Unfortunately I didn't have any entries from anyone this week but I'm ever the optimist and will keep it running. What I will give you this week is a little mantra that has proven itself over my journey so far and something I need to keep reminding myself when I think I can't do it  - its never as hard as you think it is! Once you've made that first step, the rest is never easy, but certainly not as hard as you think.

So please have a think and enter for next week, I can't wait to hear from you!!

Monday, 28 July 2014

#MotivationMonday

Welcome to my first #MotivationMonday !

The idea behind this is every Monday I want to share what people use to keep their diets going when they're struggling and also remind them why they started in the first place. The hope then is that not only will it keep them motivated but will also help motivate others.

Over on my Facebook group (search for Fat Girl Fit) I started taking submissions from the members of their motivation and I'm now opening it up to everyone!

It can be anything - a phrase, a picture, a person, a moment. Whatever it is that keeps you going. Please share it with us and I will post the winner here every Monday.

This weeks winner is Lara Boden with this song by 3oh3 - http://youtu.be/Uyqbr0rGLdk WARNING - the lyrics are parental advisory! But it was the chorus that spoke to me the most - 'I can do anything I want' - it's just what you need to be reminded of when you're struggling because it's true, we all can do whatever we want if we try.

So please keep your submissions coming! You can submit them via comments here, via Twitter @fatgirldietblog or by joining our Facebook group (Fat Girl Fit) and leaving a comment or sending me a message.

Best of luck! I can't wait to see what you all submit.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Operation: Rehydration

I don't drink enough. This has been a well documented fact throughout my life. I'm renowned for leaving half finished drinks all over the place and rarely go the loo more than 3 times a day.

I was prone to water infections because of this but it had never really had a major impact on my health or life. It came more to the fore when I had my son as I physically couldn't make enough milk to breastfeed him because I didn't have enough fluid in me. I managed it for 14 weeks but had to stop as he wasn't putting on enough weight. At the time I didn't know what the problem was and it's only after researching I discovered what had happened and obviously I was very disappointed in myself as luckily it was the only problem we'd had.

As my diet has changed drastically over the last few months, I'm obviously not eating as much and therefore not getting as much of a fluid back up from my food. I only noticed the impact of this as the weather began to heat up as we headed into summer. For the last couple of weeks I've had a near permanent headache and been really lacking in energy. Then the other evening I was reaching for the salty snacks despite not actually feeling hungry.

After really listening to my body I realised it was the salt I was craving and started to research this a bit. It turns out it can mean an electrolyte imbalance due to being dehydrated as your body doesn't just need water to stay hydrated but salts and minerals as well. I also read the frequent water infections due to dehydration could lead to bladder cancer and electrolyte imbalance can lead to kidney issues!

Then the final straw came today when I had an opticians appointment. It turns out my eyes are also starting to get damaged due to being dehydrated. This is also linked to contact lense issues which we ironed out today but it made me realise I need to sort this issue out.

When I started this lifestyle change it was all about making healthier choices, mainly to lose weight, but also to have a generally healthier lifestyle. So this is now the next change I need to make to be healthier.

I've got myself some rehydration salts that you take after diarrhoea to help give me a boost and a litre water bottle I'm going to try and take everywhere with me to try and keep permanently drinking.

So wish me luck! This may well be the toughest challenge I've taken on so far as I find drinking more really hard and always have. But I'm determined to make a change so will update you how I'm getting on.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

10 super easy food swaps to help you eat healthier

1. Use a low cal condiment on sandwiches instead of butter or margarine. I personally use extra low cal mayonnaise, aldi's own is the best one I've found as it's low in sugar too. Other ones might be a chutney (watch the sugar) or something like mustard.

2. Use a 50/50 bread if you can't face switching to brown bread. Watch the sugar again, Kingsmill is the lowest. This won't save you many calories but it's healthier for your body.

3. Mattesons turkey bacon is a good swap for regular bacon. It actually crisps up better than regular bacon and is about 1/4 of the calories.

4. Swap beef mince for turkey mince.

5. Instead of oil when frying, dry fry but use splashes of stock to stop your meat drying out. Water will do but stock adds more flavour.

6. Low cal mayonnaise is great in mashed potatoes instead of butter and milk.

7. When roasting veg, such as potatoes, instead of using oil, line a baking tray with baking paper. The veg won't stick to it like foil, but will still go crispy.

8. Swap rice or pasta for couscous. It's easier to cook and lower in calories. If you soak it in stock it's also really tasty.

9. Switch from low fat yoghurts (they're high in sugar) to Greek yoghurts. Again, aldi do a great Greek yoghurt which is only 70kcal a pot.

10. If you love a bit of cheese, try switching to a strong flavoured cheese, such as parmesan, but use less of it.

Recipe: Low Cal Keema Curry

Traditionally keema curry is made with lamb mince and probably yoghurt but this is a healthier version using Turkey mince. I made my own curry spice mix for this but you could probably buy a pre made one, if you do go for something mild. This is also traditionally made with peas but you could switch this for any veg. I also served this with rice but it is lovely with a baked potato. Don't forget to add on calories for accompaniments.

Serves 2-3, approx 299kcal

Ingredients

*225g lean turkey mince
*1 onion, thinly sliced
*2 carrots, grated
*1/2 cup frozen peas
*400ml stock
*1 tsp ground cumin
*1 tsp garam Masala
*1 tsp ground coriander
*1 tsp ground turmeric
*1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
*1-2 cloves garlic, chopped or crushed
*1 tbsp tomato puree

Method

*Fry fry the onions and mince in a pan until lightly browned. If required, use splashes of the stock to stop them drying out.

*Add all the spices, garlic and tomato puree and mix well.

*Add the carrot and the peas and fry for a few seconds until all mixed in.

*Add the stock and leave to simmer for a few minutes until the sauce thickens.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

10 Little things I've noticed since losing weight

I've got a bit obsessed with Buzzfeed and their lists at the moment, so thought I'd do one of my own!

1. My ring size has shrunk. I can now wear a ring that's been too small since I was a teenager whereas my 4 year old wedding ring is now loose.

2. My shoe size has shrunk. Only by about 1/2 a size but a lot of my shoes are now looser than they were.

3. Booze and medication (such as headache pills) are more effective than when I was bigger and hangovers worse.

4. I have collar bones and hip bones again and a bit of a thigh gap when sat down which I only remember ever being aware of before in high school.

5. My knees are smaller and more knobbly.

6. Trouser sizes are all over the place! I have size 10 leggings that are a bit loose but some trousers don't fit me in less than a 14. Top sizes seem pretty regular though.

7. I will always have a fat girl relationship with food.

8. There is something so comforting about eating till you're full rather than just eating till you're not hungry.

9. Towels wrap around me better and don't fall off as much.

10. My head looks more in proportion with my body rather than looking too small. I honestly believed I had an unusually small head for a while when I was bigger!

Sunday, 13 July 2014

The Running Girl

When I started my weight loss & lifestyle change at the beginning of the year, I hated running. I'd never done more than the occasional sprint as a teenager and was convinced it just wasn't for me.

Then I signed up for the Race For Life in aid of Cancer Research UK for the third time. It's an event where you walk, jog or run 5k and people sponsor you to do so. I'd said at the end of the previous 2 times we'd walk it that I would run the next one, but hadn't yet. Well why not have a go this time, I thought.

I had heard about the Couch to 5k plan and local fun runs that are organised at my local park and thought these would be great to get me there. I honestly didn't know if I had it me to actually run 5k but I figured there was no harm in trying.

The couch to 5k is a 9 week plan but I managed to it in 12 due to having to repeat a few weeks. It was tough but I was very proud for having completed it.

I then started the fun runs at my local park. You sign up on their website, they send you a wrist band which is scanned when you cross the finish line, then you get a text to your phone with your time.

I did 2 of them before I ran the Race for Life which really spurred me on. On the day itself the conditions were completely different to what I'd been used to - hills instead of flat, forest instead of tracks, heat instead of cool overcast. I managed a not too shabby time of 38 mins, which I was proud of despite having done better times. I was just proud I'd managed to do it at all!

I've been really enjoying these fun runs up to now. I find I push myself so much harder in a more competitive environment. At the end of the day, I'm only really competing against myself but watching the other runners and keeping pace with them is great motivation. The pic I've included is some of my times so far. It's a bit up and down but I think there is a gradual improvement.

Some of the recent benchmarks for me have been a personal best time of 32mins 41secs and 3 weeks ago (the run before last due to a break from these particular runs) I managed to run the whole way without walking - both of which I've not been able to recreate again yet!

My current goals are to again run the whole way without stopping and to get my time closer to 30mins. I could try to progress to 10k but I'm not planning to yet for 2 reasons - 1. I need to improve my 5k and 2. I think I would get bored running for that long.

As I never thought I'd get to this point, I'll never say never as you don't know what's round the corner!

Almost there?

Sorry I've been a little neglectful lately!

It's been a good 2 months since my last update so I'm sorry I've not been writing much. By no means have I been as neglectful with my healthy lifestyle. Yep, I'm calling it that now, not a diet anymore. 

I know when I started this I didn't have a set weight lost goal but as the weight started dropping off, more people started asking me 'how much more do you have to lose?' and as I was actually losing weight this time, I did start thinking of that finish line and where to set it. I figured the target my Noom app was setting me was as good as any - 67kg or 10.5st.

Well, here we are now, 7 months since I started what was to become my life changing diet, and that goal is almost within reach. My weight loss has slowed down since the big boom at the beginning, from an average of 2lbs a week to 1lb a week. Since my last weight update in April I've lost another stone, bring my total to approximately 3st in 7 months. And that overall goal? Its only another 7lbs away.

I've set myself a few targets over my journey which I can very happily tick off now - lose a load of weight before my 30th (tick), run the 5k Race for Life (tick - in a time of 38 mins, not too shabby), drop to at least a dress size 14 (tick and then some - more on that to follow), improve my diet and reign in the amount of unhealthy food I was eating (tick), maintain an average calorie intake of 1400kcal a day (tick). 

Out of all the goals I set myself, there was one I failed to meet (sad face) and that was running while on holiday. I took my running stuff with me, was really excited about doing it, but the reality of running in a place I didn't know kind of took the shine off - I didn't really know where to go and didn't fancy running in circles around the camp. And that beach we were really close to - there was only 1 access point quite a way from our caravan, down a steep cliff to a not-the-best-quality kind of beach. But I'll be the first to admit these are probably just excuses, but for the first and only time so far, they won.

Coming back from that holiday really left me in a very strange mindset. I'd never dieted this successfully before and whenever I'd taken a 'break', by the time I'd got back into dieting again I was back to where I started, if not even worse off. So my mind couldn't really cope with having a break from a regular exercise routine. I'd managed to not go too wild with my diet and we'd been out doing a lot of sightseeing, so I hadn't been completely inactive. However when I returned from my hol, my mood was really low. I felt like I let myself down and when I finally got back into exercising, I'd be back where I started and have undone all the good work I'd done. I'd started doing a free 5k fun run in my local park and was due to do one the day after I got back from the holiday. My mind was in such a bad place though that I couldn't face it, I thought I'd embarrass myself. 

The following day I was back to Zumba and even though I was down I was still determined to at the least do this. I could do it before I even started so I could do it now, I told myself. That day was also weigh in day. I'd convinced myself to prepare for a gain as I had been a little indulgent over the holiday and not exercised. To say I was pleasantly surprised to have lost 1lb is an understatement and gave me a big reminder that I wasn't back where I started. It got me back in the right frame of mind and I noticed a big difference when I finally got back to running 2 days later. I was able to push myself further and faster and did a really great time considering it was after a day of work.

So I mentioned earlier that I had hit my target of a dress size 14 and then some. Well yeah, I'm in a size 10! I have never in my adult life wore a size 10. The smallest I have ever been is a 12. I am still really struggling to get my head around this and it is making shopping an absolute nightmare. Ideally I would try everything on but having a 2 year old makes this process difficult. So I'm guessing and probably being too generous. I'll buy size 14 trousers/jeans as I get a 'muffin top' in a 12, not thinking that they give after wear, so a few weeks later they end up loose. I'm finally accepting I'm a 10 up top and have bought a couple of things in this size that fit well, so maybe it is starting to take root now.

Luckily (and yes, I mean luckily) I don't actually have much money to buy new clothes and this led me to discover Refashionista! I'm hopefully going to amend my old wardrobe into a whole new one without having to worry about sizing at all - just make it all to fit! I've had a sewing machine since I was 21 and have only used it once or twice, so its about time that got a workout.

Well this was only supposed to be a short update but I guess I had more to tell you than I realised! I'm going to try to update little and often instead of these big binge updates which will make my blog much more readable and hopefully more fun, so please stay tuned!

Monday, 5 May 2014

My First 5K!

It took 12 weeks but I did it!

I finally finished couch to 5k! As I say above, it took 12 weeks instead of the 9 in the plan, but I got there in the end. It was a massive achievement to finally finish it and I was very proud of myself. I have to say that this plan had its frustrating moments, and if I had written it I would have added maybe 1 or 2 extra weeks to make the transition from interval to straight running smoother. Overall I found it challenging but achievable and would definitely recommend it to people who haven't ran before but would like to start. It breaks you in gently and builds your confidence so before you know it you're hitting a 20 minute run!

In the last week of the plan where you are running for 30 minutes, I was using my Noom app, which I use to track my calories, to also track the distance I was running. It turned out I that while I was now running for 30 minutes, I wasn't quite hitting the 5k mark, I was at about 4.7k including warm up walk. The couch to 5k plan only gives you timings, not distances, and I needed something a little more specific to running than Noom to help guide me to the next stage. 

I discovered the Nike Running App which will track your run, play your own music and give you updates every kilometer in your ear as to how far you have run, how long you have been running, and your average pace. I had finished the couch to 5k on the Sunday, done Zumba Monday, planned a day of rest on the Tuesday, and then my next run was the Wednesday to try out the new app.

I had no idea how I was going to do. I knew I could run for 30 minutes but at the pace I had been running, this wasn't quite 5k. I was doing the run after a day of work so I had to allow for that as well. However, I was pleasantly surprised! I managed 4.4k in 32 minutes but had an average pace of 7 minutes 30 seconds. When I set myself the challenge to run the Race for Life, I knew I could walk that in 50 minutes as that was our time the last time we did it. Therefore, I wanted to be able to run it in less that 40 minutes. According to that average pace, I was on track to do that so I was really pleased.

My regular running route has been in my local park and of a weekend I had noticed what seemed to be an organised running group, usually because I was running in the opposite direction to them! I had heard about the fun runs from various sources and thought they would be good practice for my Race for Life. I wasn't really sure I was ready but after that Wednesday run I felt more confident and decided to give it a go. I signed up using the Great Run Local website and also joined my local organizers facebook page. After I posted and people responded in a friendly way, I was all fired up and ready to go! 

I set myself the goal of running it in 35-40 minutes. Typically I couldn't set the app up right and was already off and running before it was tracking me (which is why it says 4,91k in the pic left). Once I settled into the run though I found it hard work but achievable. I tracked myself against a group just ahead of me and just focused on pacing myself. I was amazed when the app repeatedly told me my average pace was just over 6 minutes! At one point I did think I would be the last to finish as the people in front of me started to pull ahead, but a quick glance over my shoulder reassured me that whilst I was near the back, I wasn't last. 

I crossed the finish line in an official time of 33 minutes 33 seconds. I was amazed! The competitive atmosphere really made a difference to how much I pushed myself, and this was only a practice!

The Race For Life is now only 2 weeks away. My plan is to fit in at least another 2 runs this week with another fun run on Sunday, another 2 runs if possible the following week with the main event on that Sunday! My aim now is to at least maintain my time but to try and get as close to 30 minutes as I can. Wish me luck!!

If you area reading this and would like to say 'Well done!' for my achievements, I would be so grateful if you could support the cause that started the journey for me. Just a £1 donation to our Race For Life sponsorship fund would be massive 'Go On Girl!' to me and would have the added bonus of going to the very worthy cause of Cancer Research UK. You can donate securely online here or text PNKS84 £1 to 70070 from a UK mobile.

Ok, sales pitch out of the way! Other than my running, it has not been a great diet week for me. I have had a naughty eating weekend for various reasons and my running has been my only exercise this week. I haven't weighed myself yet this week but I doubt I will have lost anything. I'm staying positive though as we all have off days, I will be back on the bandwagon tomorrow and will give it another good try. I do feel those old thoughts of giving up coming back and some old habits seem to be rearing their ugly heads. It is a constant battle to keep them at bay and some weeks are easier than others. 

Recently it has been tough, ironically not helped by the fact that I am comfortable with my size at the moment. While I would like to be smaller, I'm currently the smallest I have been for many, many years and its hard to find the same drive I had at the beginning. I'm determined at the very least to not get back there so I know I won't put on all the weight again, but it is still a fight. That fat girl inside me is doing her best to take control, but right now she's not winning and hopefully she won't.