Thursday, 27 February 2014

Recipe: Oven Baked Thai Rice

Oven Baked Thai Rice

(Serves 2, approx. 466 kcal per portion when served with side salad)
Another tasty but simple recipe I make regularly and is suitable for all the family. This one is probably my sons favourite - he ate a whole portion tonight despite me accidentally making it too spicy for him. It freezes well so can be made in advance and stored. It would probably work well in a slow cooker, although I am yet to try this.
The recipe only uses grated carrot but I usually also add frozen sweetcorn and peas which work really well in this dish, in fact most vegetables do. It also uses Green Thai Curry paste but any curry paste works great - for the recipe pictured I used Red Thai Curry paste and in the past have used various Indian curry pastes. The recipe also uses fresh garlic but I usually use Very Lazy chopped garlic.
I originally found this recipe on the My Family Club website, but the original doesn't seem to be on there any more. However, do check out this website for more money saving, simple recipes.


  • 2 chicken breasts, diced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled & grated
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 heaped tsp Green Thai curry paste
  • 120g basmati rice
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • Side salad (optional)


1. Pre heat oven to 200 degrees C
2. In a high sided frying pan, add the chicken, garlic, curry paste and onion. Fry until the chicken is cooked.
3. Add the carrot and fry for a few seconds to soften.
4. Add the rice and mix in until all coated with curry paste.
5. Add stock and bring to the boil.

6. Transfer to a covered casserole dish and bake in the oven for 20 mins.
7. Serve with a side salad (optional).

Recipe: Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca


Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca

(Serves 2, approx. 331 kcal per portion)
This is one of my favourite recipes. Its super low fat, tastes great, but best of all its really, really simple. It takes no more than 15-20 minutes tops and is basically just heating a load of ingredients, no cooking skills or experience required! As you can see from the picture, its also great for all the family. If you've ever been to a barbeque at our house, you will probably have tried it.
It started life as a Jamie Oliver recipe from his '30 Minute Meals' book but I felt he used a bit too much oil in the original recipe and he used olives which I'm not fan of. If you would like to try the original recipe, you can find it here.
I have listed the ingredients as the fresh options as it does improve the flavour, however I do use Very Lazy chopped garlic and chillies usually as its much easier and cheaper. I have also been known to miss out the capers and lemon juice and its still really tasty. If you are cooking for children it would be best to reduce the amount of chilli, unless they like it spicy!
Please give it a try and if you do, let me know how it turns out!!


  • 120g dried spaghetti, prepared as per packet instructions.
  • 1 tin tuna in brine, drained
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp capers
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 red chilli, chopped
  • 1 pinch cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. tomato ketchup (optional)
  • 1 tin anchovy fillets in oil, not drained
  • Juice of 1 lemon


  1. Start the spaghetti cooking as per the packet instructions.
  2. Add to a high sided frying pan the anchovies including the oil, the chilli, garlic and capers. Fry until the anchovies start to break up.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the lemon juice, and bring to the boil.
  4. Allow to simmer until the spaghetti is cooked.
  5. Add the lemon juice just before serving.

Nobody's Perfect

Least of all me. I nearly gave up today.

I nearly threw the towel in, admitted defeat, sat on the sofa and stuffed my face. To be honest I've been wanting to do it all week. The dreaded nursery germs have struck again, most of my family are ill. Apart from my son who seems to magically pass these germs to us whilst avoiding them himself.

I've been feeling it on and off since about last Friday when I started with an upset tummy - don't panic, I'm not going to go into details!! That has been on and off since then and a couple of days ago I started feeling like I had a cold coming on as well. On top of this I'm going through a stressful patch at work and in the past that would be guaranteed to send me scrambling through the cupboards for comfort food.

Up to today I'd managed to keep going, some days channelling my stress into my exercise. But as I said to my husband last night, because my hearts not really been in it, I didn't feel like I'd had a good week diet-wise. I was adding more stress to myself worrying about getting on the scales on Monday and not having lost anything because I didn't feel like I'd been good this week. If I look at this objectively, I've stuck to my calorie allowance and my exercise plan so I haven't wandered off track. Also, I've started running and as I'm not doing this for as long as my zumba, I'm not burning as many calories. This should change as I get more into it but it may well mean I don't lose as much this week. So over all, no reason to panic.

Part of me had been thinking I shouldn't share this on my blog as people might think I'm a failure. I've only been dieting successfully for a couple of months and now I'm blogging about it like I know it all! But I have never professed to be an expert. And aren't sharing the bad times as important as the good? After all, everyone has them. If I hadn't had them before I'd have never put this weight on in the first place!


Don't let them beat you.

As I was saying, I nearly gave up today. I just couldn't face exercise waking up feeling full of a cold and with a dodgy tummy. It made me feel so down and depressed. I was telling myself I was never going to reach my goal weight feeling like this, what was the point in it all? 

My son went down for nap and my first instinct was to join him. Instead I went downstairs and watched some TV. All the time I was telling myself while he was asleep I should get up and do my exercise (Thursday is currently Zumba day). Once the endophines kicked in I would feel better, I halfheartedly told myself.

I got up and started the Wii game, got everything ready and felt like crying - I didn't want to do this. I'll just do a short session this time, I said. I can get through that. Then I remembered that the running might not be burning as much calories so to make up for it I should do a longer Zumba session to give myself a better chance. I wavered, hovering between short session and long session. I bit the bullet and went for the long session. I hadn't done Zumba since Saturday because of the running and doing some Yoga, and even then I'd only done a short session, so I went for a familiar set of routines to make it a bit easier on myself.

As it got going, at first I felt so uncoordinated, like I'd never done Zumba before. But before I knew it, I was on the third routine and I had only just started breaking a sweat. Hold on a minute! Normally I felt it a lot sooner than this. The more I did, the more I noticed how my fitness had improved. I was able to push myself a lot harder than before. Once the endophines kicked in I actually did enjoy myself and very soon I had finished.

I did feel better as I had told myself but didn't believe. If I hadn't done it, I wouldn't have noticed the improvement I'd made. I also feel a massive sense of achievement for taking on my demons and winning.

Overall, I'm still not feeling as focused as previous weeks, but I'm proud to say I didn't give up. I wanted to share this as I know everyone has times when they've had enough, when they think that all the bad habits they had in the past will make them feel better. They won't, I can tell you from experience. I know if I had just sat on the sofa and stuffed my face I would feel incredibly depressed now and be kicking myself for undoing my good work.

So, for anyone out there also feeling like they can't do this any more, please don't give up. Keep your goal in mind and I promise you, if you stick at it you will get there. The demons nipping at your heels should only make you run for that goal even harder! Don't let them win, you're stronger than you think.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Where do I start?!

Sometimes, just making those first steps into dieting can be the hardest part.

It's all well and good me giving my top tips, but how do you get going in the first place? I saw a comment on good old Facebook from a friend who was complaining that eating salad had made his start on healthy eating boring already. I do think it was partly in jest but it got me thinking.

Some people believe that you have to start diets at 100 miles an hour, full throttle exercise and perfect diet right from the off. I fell partly into that trap myself, pushing myself to do over an hours cardio exercise every day for a week, sending my body into shock. I was shattered, I'm not going to lie, and when the scales showed no movement it did make me think of giving up. I think that if you throw yourself into it like that immediately, you're going to both tire yourself out, make yourself hungry, and probably burn out very quickly.

So, where should you start?

In my opinion, with a food diary and calorie count. For the first couple of days, maybe even a week, don't change what you're eating but look into it in more detail. Like anything else, a good diet requires some planning and research.

It may also be worth, as a reader rightly commented, not calling it a diet but a lifestyle change. Get it into your head from the start that this is how it has to be now to stop you falling back into bad habits. However, for ease of reference, I'm still going to refer to it as a diet - but this point is extremely valid and worth a try.

Anyway, back to the food diary. If you're confused as to what this should be, let me give you an example of one of mine (I'll pick a good day to make me look good!)

  • 50/50 Bread, 1 slices, 94kcal
  • Boiled egg, 1 whole, 77kcal
  • Lurpak Lighter Spreadable, 1 serving 54kcal
  • Barm cake, 1 whole, 177kcal
  • Ham sandwich meat, 2 slices, 44kcal
  • Salad greens, 1 cup, 5kcal
  • 3% fat mayonnaise, 1 tbsp, 10kcal
  •  Spaghetti, 60g, 94kcal
  • Tinned tomatoes, 1/2 cup, 60kcal
  • Grated carrot, 1/4 cup, 14kcal
  • Spinach, 1 bunch, 40kcal
  • Beef mince, 110g, 352kcal
Total - 1037 kcal

I would just like to state I don't eat this little calories! I've left off snacks as at this point I didn't think they were important in this example. Also, it is recommended for a female that you do not eat less that 1200 kcal a day as anything under that is considered dangerous. (Read more about calorie intake here). Some diets do recommend you eat 3 healthy snacks of 100kcal or less between meals.

Ok, that aside. You can see from this example that you do have to be quite in-depth about what you record to get a good estimate of your calorie intake. Its difficult to be exact but you can be more sure you are in the ball park if you record more information - the more vague you are, the more rough your estimate will be. I don't record herbs and spices either as they are so little in calorie value it doesn't make much difference.

When you start recording what you eat, you will see straight away where your problem areas are. In this example alone, I could have saved calories by not having butter on my toast and by replacing the minced beef with something lower in calories. You will also see that you don't have to survive on salad alone to eat healthily. You can start making the changes to your diet so that you can still eat the food you love, just healthier versions of it.

While I missed snacks out of my example, they are still important. I was a massive snacker, and it would always be crisps and occasionally chocolate. Referring back to swapping food for healthier versions, I have managed to change this to either low fat crisp-like snacks if I need a crisp fix, or fruit, nuts or seeds. I still have the occasional chocolate bar, but I'll have a fun-size bar instead of a full size one.

Over all, I stick to 1400 calories as recommended to me by Aimee, my Zumba instructor, who is also a trained nutritionist. Please seek advice on what yours should be as everyone is different. There is also an NHS recommended plan here.

By knowing what you are consuming and making gradual changes, you will soon be sticking to your recommended allowance and you will have found it easier than just jumping straight in and starving yourself. Hopefully, as you can still eat things you like, you won't get bored quickly either.

What about exercise?

While you are getting your head around the food side of things, you can also start to introduce more exercise. If you're not used to exercising regularly, to prevent exhausting or injuring yourself a gradual approach will work better than full out exercise to the max every day.

In my 'Useful Links' section I have linked to 2 articles on over exercising which are definitely worth a read. In summary, they recommend a low level of exercise every day, such as a stroll, and then a more full on exercise 3-5 times a week. The rest between high level exercise is important to allow your muscles to repair and get stronger.

My recommendation would be to start with something once a week for maybe 2 weeks, and then gradually introduce more. I'm a massive advocate of something such as yoga or pilates on your 'rest' days as they are low intensity but still have a massive effect on muscle tone and strength. Again, make a plan and record what you do to keep track of your progress.

Tracking your progress is important

It's a great idea to record where you started and all your progress so you can see how far you've come - and then celebrate it! Some things to keep track of outside of diet and exercise are obviously your weight but also take some measurements. It has been pointed out to me that even if you don't lose much on the scales, you can still be toning your muscles and losing physical size. You need to feel a sense of achievement to stay motivated and you won't know what you're achieving if you don't keep track.

Aimee recommends the following measurements -
  • Chest
  • Waist at narrowest point
  • Widest part of bum
  • Legs together about a third of the way down
Note the date you took the measurements and re-take them every 4 weeks at least to see how you're doing.

A slight aside here on weight monitoring - it has been recommended that you shouldn't weigh yourself more often than once a week as your body goes through regular fluctuations which can give you an inaccurate reading. Once a week, on the same day at the same time is best. You can read more on this subject here.

I see everywhere 'before and after' pictures of people in their underwear and I can definitely see why these are a massive motivational tool. In theory, I would recommend doing this to anyone. However, I am yet to pluck up the courage to do so myself as I dread there being a record of what I see in the mirror (on the rare occasions I look). But like I say, I can see the benefits of it and while I haven't done this myself, I do recommend it.

And that's it! It sounds like a lot but with a little groundwork and preparation, it really will make your experience so much easier. As the article above says, dieting is a marathon, not a sprint. You have to remember you're in it for the long term, so there is no harm in building yourself up to it. Referring again to the comment by my reader - its a lifestyle change and changes don't always happen over night.

To anyone that is embarking on a weight loss journey, I hope this helps and I wish you the best of luck!

Monday, 24 February 2014

Ready for some Top Diet Tips?

Where do I start?

I've never given anyone tips on dieting or exercise before, I've never been in a position to. Even now, I'm only really 2 months into a successful diet, who's to say it won't all fall apart soon? Why would anyone listen to me anyway? Well, a few people have been asking for tips and I've been thinking long and hard about it, and that was what led me to this blog.

It might be best not to really call them top tips as such, but the top things that have worked for me. After all, I'm no expert and I have no training. Also, as I have said all along, what works for me might not work for you. But please, read my tips, give them a try, and if they don't work, try something else. Whatever you do though, don't give up! 

Lets call that tip number 1 - don't give up!


Dieting can be hard. I'm feeling it today myself, I have no motivation to push myself. But you have to keep your goal in sight. If you give up then you will never reach it. Tell yourself this everytime you feel like you can't be bothered. Hopefully once you start seeing the results it will become easier to stick to. Even if you have a bad day, just start again the next day. If you're ill or are having a bad time of it, keep going, the weight loss will make you feel better than comfort eating or lazing around.

Tip 2 - Sort your head out


If you're not in the right frame of mind, it won't work. You have to know what you want to achieve and really commit to it. Do not make excuses as to why you can't exercise or why you can't eat right, find reasons why you can. I was always great at making excuses - I've been in work all day, I'm too tired. Its too close to bedtime, I can't do exercise now or I won't sleep. I've had a stressful day, eating that share size bag of crisps will make me feel better. Only it didn't really. Losing weight made me feel better than those crisps any day of the week.

My dad gave me a great example of this the other day. Like myself, he does a sit down job for living and works in an office. He told me that he started using the stairs to get to his office and once it got easier to walk them, he started jogging them. Not only that, but he runs to the tram stop to catch his tram home. Fitting exercise in wherever he can. NO EXCUSES!

Tip 3 - Record everything

It will make it so much easier to stick to if you get into the habit of keeping track. Record everything you eat - and I mean everything. Keep track of your weight so you can see your progress. Record what exercise you have done so you can see overall how much you're doing. Make an exercise plan so you can work out where and when you can fit your exercise in and you know on any given day what you should be doing. I use Noom on my phone to do this as I always have my phone with me but just a notebook would do.

Tip 4 - Keep it simple


Ok, maybe this should be 'keep it simple where possible'. Dieting does require weighing and measuring, if you don't do this you can't keep a reasonable record of what you're eating. I found diets such as Weight Watchers hard to stick to because it overcomplicated things trying to work out what foods cost in points. It was almost like learning a new language and new names for things, knowing foods as their points value instead of just their names. I felt restricted in what I could eat simply because I didn't know somethings points value and stuck to only a few things I did know.

These days, calories are on the packaging of everything you eat so its really easy to see what your eating in those terms. Some restaurants even have the calorific value of things on their menus (have a look at the menu on the wall of a McDonalds sometime, that will make you thing twice!). I found it so much easier and much less restrictive. I can look at the package of anything and know if I can eat it or not.

The same goes for exercise. Plan something that requires little fuss and effort to actually do. I stick to my weekly Zumba class as it is literally on my way home from work and its free. I started my Zumba Wii game as once the Wii was set up, it was ready to go any time I was ready. I didn't even have to get changed if I didn't want to (although it was always a good idea to at least change afterwards so I didn't smell!!). Now I have moved onto running, this is also so easy to organise. I just start the 'Couch to 5k' app on my phone and some music and off I go. These exercises can also work with having to look after my son. He watches me doing my Zumba and sometimes joins in. When I jog, I put him in his stroller and take him with me. There will always be ways around whatever you feel to be your stumbling block, if you want to find them.

Tip 5 - Eat fresh

Most diets will tell you this but it is better to cook your food from scratch. The main reason I do it is simply because you can eat more of it! The calorie count will be so much different in freshly cooked foods to those ready meals or take aways that it will show in the portion size. In some of my future blogs I will share some really simple recipes I use that hopefully will help you as they helped me. You don't have to be a massive fan of cooking as they're not complicated at all, and as I am always on a budget they don't involve fancy ingredients. They are also food that all the family can eat so you don't have to make yourself anything different to what everyone else is having. My son loves most of the stuff I make.

Don't get me wrong though, I still use some ready meals or ready prepared meals. Life doesn't always give you the time to prepare everything from scratch, but where I can, I do. I'll also share the things I've found to be most low in calories in future blogs. 

There are a few other tips with regards to food I'll also cover in future blogs such as meals plans - they will not only lose you pounds in weight but also save you pounds in money.

Tip 6 - Find your motivation & set goals


If you don't know what you're aiming for, how will you know when you reach it? Also, what is the point in aiming for something if you don't know what it is? My motivation is obviously to lose weight, to be healthier and to be a good role model for my son. I don't want to look fat in pictures and I want to be comfortable in my clothes. I don't want to be restricted on what I can wear and I want to enjoy buying clothes again. I want to be able to fit back into my pre-pregnancy clothes that are still sat in my wardrobe untouched for around 2 years. Whatever it is for you, find it and hold on to it. Remind yourself of it everytime you lose motivation. It it helps, write it down with everything else you're recording and keep going back to it.

With goals, I worked better with short term targets. After Christmas, I said to myself - you have 3 months till your birthday to lose as much weight as you possibly can, now go! After my birthday, its then only another 3 months till I go on holiday, there's my next goal. I have an even shorter term goal of losing 2lbs a week and just recently I set myself the goal of losing weight at that rate and hitting my 1 stone loss in a total of 8 weeks. I was so comitted I did it a week early!

Whatever it takes to keep you on track, use it and stick to it. NO EXCUSES!! 

Tip 7 - Find some support

Even though the biggest change and motivation has to come from yourself, it really does help to find people to talk to about your journey and share things with. Its even better just to hear someone say 'Well done you!'. I'm lucky to have an amazing husband who has been incredibly supportive, and a great family. My son has even been known to cheer me on when watching me do zumba. I also have Aimee, you might have read about her before, my Zumba instructor, who is a great source of advice and support. I'm sharing it all with a colleague who is also on her own weight loss journey, and the lovely nurse who weighs us and is encouraging me to try running.

I know some people will feel they are alone in this, but you're not. Even if you really have no-one to talk to, join an internet forum or try one of the social networks. There will be people there who feel just like you and will be there to say well done! I'm even on Twitter now (@fatgirldietblog) and would be happy to cheer you on.

And I guess thats it...

I could go on about which foods to avoid and which to eat more of, but if you're anything like me, you've heard it all before. Whilst things like that do form the basis of any diet, I don't believe they are they key to a successful diet. The biggest key to success starts in your head, if you want to get there and commit to it, you will.

Last bit for those of you who have read my previous blogs and are keeping track, I lost 1lb this week!! Now I'm off for a run... NO EXCUSES!!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

How I turned it around

Disclaimer - I would just like to reiterate that all the things that have worked for me that I mention in my blog are aimed specifically at me. What works for me does not work for everyone. Please seek out further advice and recommendations for yourself before embarking on anything I suggest.


How did things change?

Following on from my last post, we're probably now just before Christmas 2013. In my head I'm still a size 16 but a lot of my clothes are actually a size 18. I have still been avoiding the scales, the excuse this time is that the ones I own are not very accurate. I'm still doing my once a week Zumba and walking to and from work, and convincing myself this is enough to lose weight. I'm still eating like I'm about to be told I'll never be able to eat ever again.

The dots started connecting.

I needed new trouser for work. I was still squeezing myself into my size 16's, telling myself this was just my new shape and I had to get used to it. I was uncomfortable so finally accepted I might need to try a bigger dress size. I took a size 18 and a size 20 into the changing rooms. You won't be surprised to learn that the size 18's were a snug fit. Being the master of denial I am, I convinced myself that the sizing must be a bit small and its better to get clothes a bit roomier when you're in a job where you sit down all day.

It wouldn't leave my thoughts though. I had just bought a pair of size 20 trousers! Admittedly, the only place they fitted properly was across my tummy, they were loose elsewhere and very unflattering. I say were, I'm still wearing them on and off now.

Then I needed an outfit for Christmas. I had started to accept I wasn't a size 16 any more and my clothes-wearing confidence had pretty much disappeared. I was living in leggings and baggy tops or dresses. I tried looking round the shops for something but all I could think about was how unflattering everything was. Things I tried on just seemed to exaggerate my flabby belly. I settled on a sparkly jumper dress but only because it was loose and I could wear leggings with it.

Inside I was pretty miserable and I started to dread any though of a night out. I would start planning well in advance what to wear for any potential do and then would still spend all night feeling uncomfortable and fat.

I'd finally had enough. This had to stop.

I couldn't go on gorging myself and expect to lose weight. I had gone from feeling super confident when I was pregnant to now hiding myself away. I'd once loved clothes and fashion, now I felt entirely lost when it came to picking outfits.

I started as I always had before, a little half heartedly. It was Christmas after all, who diets at Christmas? I bought myself a Zumba Wii game and started doing it on and off vowing to kick it up after Christmas. I downloaded a weight loss coach app called Noom and started tracking what I was eating. I wasn't weighing myself as I didn't trust my scales. They were saying I was nearly 14st! It had to be wrong.

The pieces started falling into place!

After New Year, I really kicked up the pace. I was doing my Zumba game every day, eating a calorie controlled diet of around 1800-2000 calories. I was really pleased I'd managed to drag some motivation from somewhere and was really trying my best. I had weighed myself and while I still didn't trust my scales I knew I needed some indication of how things were going and that I was actually shifting some pounds. I was disappointed to find the scales still said 13st 9lbs but at least I was doing something about it.

After my first week I excitedly got on the scales thinking I must have at least lost 1lb as I'd been trying so hard. Nothing. It was saying I had lost nothing!! Needless to say I was devastated. I really thought what was the point in this, it was never going to work. In the past, it probably would have been enough for me to throw in the towel. But I was turning 30 in 3 months, there was no way I was going to feel this miserable turning 30. I was not going to hide from the camera so there was no record of my big day. I was not going to dread having to plan an outfit and spend all night miserable, uncomfortable and feeling like everyone was looking at my tummy.

You have to exercise and eat healthily to lose weight right? So what had I done wrong? The thought entered my head that perhaps I had over done it with the exercise, but was it even possible to over exercise? I started Googling things and read a few forums and a couple of interesting articles and apparently, yes it was possible. (I've tried to find them again but couldn't, if I can dig them up I will share them as they're really interesting). From what I had found, I needed to stay generally active at a low level and push myself for workouts no more than 5 times a week. So I made a plan - Zumba class as usual on a Monday, zumba game Tuesday, rest day Wednesday (I was in work so not a complete rest, back to low level as I'd researched), zumba game Thursday, Friday Saturday, rest day Sunday.

Good, I had a plan, it had to start working now. I started thinking that it was all well and good doing all this exercise, but what about toning? I knew that as I'd had a caesarean, I was likely to be prone to a saggy flap of skin on my tummy that hung over the scar - or at least that was what I told myself. There must be a way to fight this. I had started yoga on and off after having my son (again, uncommitted as before) and again had an app for it on my phone called Pocket Yoga. Maybe I could fit this in somewhere? I remembered the articles saying you should do a low level exercise on your rest days, not just stop completely, so Sunday became yoga day. I also found another app (I love my apps!) called Workout Trainer and found a great tummy toning workout that took only 15 minutes! So the plan was then 30 mins yoga, 15 mins toning. Great! This had to make a difference!

And it did! That second week I lost 4lbs! I had never lost that much weight in one go before. I was ecstatic! I tried to be realistic though and told myself that yes, I was doing great but my scales were unreliable so it was entirely possible that this reading was wrong or that I had lost weight the week before and they hadn't showed it. I told myself keep going, at least its definitely coming off!

And it definitely fired me on! The following week I lost another 1lb!

Then I got sick again and was so angry! Why did it have to happen now when I was doing so well! I couldn't afford to stop now. In the past this would have been excuse enough again to stop, telling myself I needed to rest and needed food to help me get better. I really didn't want to stop now though, I was just getting started. I'd also managed to tap into one of my greatest resources and sources of motivation - the lovely Aimee, my zumba instructor. She'd advised me to drop my calorie intake to around 1400 kcal as this would be what I would eat at my ideal BMI, and anything I burned off over this would be extra - as of course you have to burn off more than you eat to even touch the fat that's already there. I'd found calorie counting fairly easy as the calorie content is on the packaging of everything you eat, and had been gradually reducing my calories anyway so a little bit further wouldn't hurt at all.

So anyway, I was ill and as anyone would I found it hard to keep going. I was reasonably ok sticking to the calorie intake, just going maybe 100 kcal over on a bad day. The exercise was so hard though. I was dragging myself through it and not putting in anywhere near enough effort. I took a couple of days off at the beginning of the week but got stuck in at the end of the week. When I hit the scales on the Tuesday they told me I'd put on 2lbs. This time it didn't hit me as hard because I knew I'd been ill and hadn't stuck to my diet and exercise religiously so it was ok, I'd do better next week.

And do better I did! I got back on the exercise wagon and stuck to my calorie allowance. I also managed to tap into another excellent resource. I work in a hospital for a surgical department and the nurses I work with run a pre-op clinic where part of the work up for patients undergoing surgery is to weigh them. A colleague of mine had been going down to the clinic with one of our nurses before she started and using the scales. The particular nurse is also a runner and another good source of advice and motivation. They encouraged me to join them and I was only too happy to do so just for the access to reliable scales!

I got on the scales and was 4lbs lighter than my scales had told me! I couldn't believe it, I must have still been losing weight despite being ill and not pushing myself! This was great, it was working!! Finally, it was working!! I was so spurred on and went on to lose another 2lbs the following week and the week after, which was last Monday, I lost an astounding 4lbs and hit the magic 1 stone mark. In 7 weeks. I actually got a bit emotional when I weighed in that week, I couldn't believe I'd done it and done it so quickly.

Aimee had been amazing and gave me the biggest hug at zumba class that evening. I told her that I'd had a chat with my nurse colleague and got tips on running - something I had despised previously. The nurse had recommended a programme called 'Couch to 5k' which was aimed at getting anyone of any fitness level running 5k. I'd found another app from the NHS 'Change for Life' scheme and couldn't wait to get started.

I did my first run the following day. I bundled my son up in his stroller and went to the local park. I admit I found it tougher than I expected but I was so proud of myself when I'd completed it. I never, ever thought I would take up running at all, never mind enjoy it! But I enjoyed it so much I did the next run the following day, and after a days work! I completed the first weeks 3 sessions this very afternoon and am looking forward to starting the second week and pushing myself that bit further. I've also sat down and worked out a new exercise plan where I am doing something every single day - Monday - Zumba class, Tuesday - Yoga, Wednesday - Running, Thursday - Zumba game, Friday - Running, Saturday - Yoga, Sunday - Running, rinse and repeat!

So that brings you bang up to date with my journey. I hope you can see what a massive turn around I've made and I hope you can see that if I can do it, anyone can do it!! From here I'm not sure what this blog will turn into but I hope you stick with me. I have a lot more information and tips and tricks to share. Oh, and I'm now very excitedly planning my birthday outfit.

I'm going for a weigh in tomorrow, cross your fingers for me! Aimee has advised me to aim for maintaining my weight this week as I had such a big loss last time but I remain hopeful! I'll update you soon.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Where I'm At

I've recently hit a huge milestone...

I've just managed to lose a whole stone in just 7 weeks. This for me is probably the biggest weight loss achievement I've ever had! The people who know me are also amazed with this, and a lot of people have been asking me for tips and advice. So I thought some of you out there might also like to know about my journey, take some bits from what I've achieved, and maybe even use them to help your weight loss .

So who am I?

I think to follow any journey, you need to have a starting point. The best starting point for this journey is knowing more about me and where I come from. Why am I even slightly qualified to talk about weight loss? Well, all my life I've been a 'big girl'. From my cute chubby cheeks as a baby, to my curves as a teenager, to being slightly more, well... rotund as I now approach 30 in a matter of weeks. I've always been big.

I first became aware of weight and body shapes when I hit puberty early at the age of 8 or 9. I developed early , became a different shape to my classmates, and people started noticing my body. This started the very much love/hate relationship I have with my body. Part of me liked that boys in particular had started to notice me, but part of me hated standing out as it did become a reason for other people to pick on me. As we all know, kids can be cruel.

The connection with my weight/size came later into my teenage years. I have always avoided the scales but back then it didn't enter my head as much to weigh myself. I noticed I was a bit bigger than the other girls as I was always around a UK size 12 and they were around UK size 8-10. I first remember exercising to get into shape at about 16 when I wanted to wear a crop top and mini skirt to a party (the only crop top I've ever worn I might add!) and I spent a whole week working out to my mums exercise videos in the lounge. It probably didn't make that much difference at the time, but I think that was when the connection was made that to look and feel good in certain clothes, you needed to be a certain weight and you needed to work for it.

I then hit a period of depression which I won't go into too much detail about, but those of you who have also been through that particular battle will appreciate that in that state, any flaws you perceive yourself to have are magnified and completely focussed upon. My weight was such and became the first thing that would get me down the most. Unfortunately I also comfort ate which lead to me becoming stuck in a vicious cycle.

I was lucky enough to meet my future husband at the age of 17 so although I was frustrated with my weight, after meeting him it was never about losing weight to attract a partner. I was probably around a UK 14 at this stage so while weight was definitely an issue, it probably wasn't enough of an issue to actually do something about. I definitely gained weight as a side effect of being comfortable and happy, and most days it wasn't a problem. It just became one on my dark days.

I lose the chronology a little at this point in the fog of depression as for many years I was walking around in a bit of a daze. I know at some stage I discovered Weight Watchers and stuck to it on and off. I learned that I could do some exercise to earn enough points to have a beloved bag of crisps (my Achilles heel). I also started yoga, 30 mins a day in my bedroom, for a period. However my weight still steadily climbed.

Luckily I came out of the depression, probably helped in no small part by a proposal from my husband to be. At this stage I was about a size 16 (again avoiding the scales) which I had pretty much stayed at for most of my 20's. There had been some periods where it had gone up a bit but it rarely dipped below. I began to be haunted by visions of myself being a 'fat bride' and for the first time really decided to take the bull by the horns and go on a proper diet.

In the company of both my mother and mother-in-law to be, we all vowed to shift some pounds before the big day and signed up to our local Rosemary Conley exercise class. This was the first time I'd really hit the scales and faced weekly weigh ins, and to be honest I was horrified when I was first weighed. I was over 13st. Disgusted with myself I did try my best with this diet, but I'll be the first to admit it was only as the wedding was maybe 6 months away that I really got stuck in. I loved the aerobics classes and found the diet reasonably simple to follow. I even started going to the gym and discovered exercise wasn't as bad as I'd always thought and even got a bit of an endorphin buzz from it. I managed to get down to just under 12st over a period of maybe a year and was really proud of myself.

After the wedding, as expected, having nothing to motivate me, I gained it all back. Again I did do weight watchers on and off but got bored with having to work out the points for everything and religiously record it all. I couldn't be bothered exercising and all my good work was completely undone.

I was incredibly lucky enough to fall pregnant with my first child in 2012 at the age of 28. It had been a dream of mine since childhood to become a wife and mother and I couldn't have been happier. I started my pregnancy weighing around 13 & 1/2 st, a dress size 16. I was very ill with morning sickness for the first 16 weeks, surviving on water and ginger biscuits alone some days. I lost 1/2 st over that period and thought it was a great start! I embraced my growing shape and was more comfortable with my body than I had ever felt before, happily showing off my bump in tight clothing. However, due to many reasons, (the main being having our kitchen remodelled) my diet was not great and I also gained a lot of fluid all over and my weight ballooned.

I won't go into too much detail about what happened at the end of my pregnancy. I developed pre-eclampsia on my due date and, without being too dramatic, did have a short battle to stay alive whilst also bringing a new life into the world. Luckily, thanks to the brilliant doctors/nurses/midwives who looked after me, we all came through it fit and well. I had been nil by mouth for a while so I know I lost weight, but obviously actually weighing myself was the last thing on my mind. I decided to breast feed, so all things considered I was off to a good start with getting back into shape. In theory.

In practice, I was exhausted. I had been through an utter ordeal in hospital and couldn't get the rest I needed to recover as I had a little life to focus on, one that was a million times more important than my weight worries. I didn't think about weight loss at all and happily gorged myself on food using the excuse that I needed more calories as I was breast feeding. I did try with the healthy snacks for a few weeks but that fell by the wayside eventually. I also wasn't exercising as I was recovering from C-section, and you are forbidden from doing aerobic exercise for the first 6 months. I however took this as licence to do nothing.

The first wake up call came at one of my oldest friends weddings last year. I was lucky enough to be asked to be her bridesmaid and had vowed during my pregnancy that I would be back in shape for her wedding. I didn't factor in not being able to do aerobic exercise but once the 6 months had passed I signed up for Zumba classes with the lovely Aimee. This later turned out to be the best move I could have made but I wasn't to know that for a few more months. I really threw myself into it and at one point was doing a second class a week with another instructor. However, I had finished breast feeding, I wasn't eating right and the second class ended up being cancelled. I very naively thought one class a week would be enough but it wasn't.

The big day approached and due to certain circumstances I hadn't managed to try the dress on. I asked my friend to get it in a 16 as that was the size I had always been and assumed that worst case scenario I would at least be that size on the big day. I was a bit concerned that on the day it was a bit tight but didn't think about it and just focussed on my friend and her big day.

Then I saw the pictures. I was completely horrified. In my eyes, I looked like I was wearing a rubber ring under my dress. I couldn't believe how big I had got. This was also repeated in the photos of my son's first birthday. To anyone else that probably would have been enough motivation to do something about it, but not me. True to form I just tried to shut it out and convinced myself one zumba class a week would be enough.

By now I was back in work 2 days a week and walking to and from work (about 30-40mins walking in total). I was going to baby groups and running around after an increasingly mobile child. The zumba classes I was attending were a freebie through my work and that was probably the only reason I kept it up. My son had started attending nursery on one of the mornings while I was working and he was loving it. However, I wasn't so much.

I'm very lucky to have help from my mum with childcare so between myself, my mum and my husband, we do the majority of the caring for my son. As any parent will know, as soon as your child starts nursery, they start bringing home germs. All three of us got hit with illness after illness. I have never known anything like it and have never in my life been so frequently ill. Needless to say this wiped out all motivation and energy to exercise or eat right and my weight again steadily crept up.


Well, that nearly brings you up to date...

We're now approaching the time in my journey where the big changes happened and I started to take control. I've waffled on enough for one post so I will save that for my next one, but turn things around I did.

I hope now you understand a bit more about me and my relationship with food and my weight. Fingers crossed I've not bored the pants off you too much and you'll stick around for the next part.

From here, it really does only get better!