28 November 2011

Support for...

Hell, how can I say I've got worries! What I need to remember is some of the people I know who are having a REALLY tough life at the moment.

  • A childhood friend from my old church at home, with two young sons, who has been recently diagnosed with a nastily aggressive cancer.
  • A dear friend from work, who's having a lot of problems with a husband I view as emotionally manipulative, cruel and abusive.
  • Blogland friends (Diana and Sara, this is for you), both of whom have had, or are having, a very tough time for personal reasons.
Kind of makes you think, doesn't it...there but for the grace of God...

25 November 2011

Wintery veg delights

Ooooh, I do love my veggies, and in the summer will eat raw veg just about every day, and a lot of cooked veg too. But what about the colder months when a simple salad somehow doesn't seem quite so appealing? It can quickly get expensive when many of the ingredients are out of season and it simply doesn't 'warm the cockles' of you.

I may, quite by accident, have happened upon an answer! Yes, turning the veg into a nice healthy soup is one solution (if you'll pardon the pun), but cooking inevitably reduces the nutritional content a little bit, and eating it with a big hunk of crusty bread just gets oooh sooo tempting sometimes.

So there I was, stumbling about half asleep this morning, getting my cherry tomatoes out of the fridge and cutting up winter veg crudites (carrots, cauliflower, broccoli stalks, celery) to have for lunch with my usual dip of Greek yoghurt and Marmite, without a huge amount of enthusiasm, when I noticed the pot of chipotle chilli paste. Hmmm, now that looks like it'd give me a dose of heat, but maybe not with the yoghurt.

So, a spoonful of leftover houmous (leftover because it was store-bought and terminally b-l-a-n-d!) was mixed with a good healthy dollop of chipotle paste and some chopped coriander for a quick and dirty dip. Wheeee, I can tell you one thing for sure... it IS warming! And it makes my winter veg crudites taste fabulous.

24 November 2011

Back on the right road

You may have gathered I've been fretting and worrying and stressing quite a bit recently. Sleep, or at least a proper night of it, has seemed rather elusive and I have been getting more tired and run down by the day over the last few weeks. At any time I've half exected to be hit by an enthusiastic and opportunistic bug looking for a new home.

Thankfully, that hasn't happened (hooray!) and my 'OMG' period seems to have reached a limit, and is starting to come to an end.I feel so much more 'normal' again and life definitely looks better.

Believe it or not, a somewhat tacky song has been a great help to me. It's been playing over and over in my head for days, but hasn't driven me mad - quite the opposite, in fact. In particular, the following lines have made me stop, reflect and try to put my worries into perspective:

In every life we have some trouble
When you worry you make it double
Don't worry, be happy......

So, this post is by way of a little 'thank you' to Bobby McFerrin.

17 November 2011

You are what you eat...

Ah, those cute little proteins - is there another good reason to stock up?

Seriously, I guess we are pretty much all aware that choosing protein-based food sources can be a helpful thing for weight loss, as long as they are also low in fat that is.

After all, high-protein foods move relatively slowly from your stomach to intestines, so by choosing a sensible amount of protein as part of your meal you'll tend to feel fuller for longer. What's more, protein has a nice steady-as-it-goes effect on blood sugars (as opposed to some carbohydrates, particularly the more processed varieties), helping to avoid rapid rises followed by the 'I'm hungry and I want to nibble' slump. Even better, the body apparently has to use up more energy (thus burn more calories) to digest protein than it does to digest fats or carbohydrates.

But  research recently published in the journal Neuron adds a little something else to this...

It appears that a meal/snack incorporating amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) prods little cells in our bodies called orexin cells into action. Why does this matter? Well, these orexin cells stimulate wakefulness (making us feel less dopey and more alert) and, more importantly from a weight loss perspective, they also instruct the body to burn calories.

To quote the researcher, Dr Denis Burdakov, from the University of Cambridge, "For now, research suggests that if you have a choice between jam on toast, or egg whites on toast, go for the latter! Even though the two may contain the same number of calories, having a bit of protein will tell the body to burn more calories out of those consumed."

For more information see 3pm slump?

OK then, having been given another reason to choose some 'good' proteins to munch on I'd say that reduced fat cottage cheese may make even more of an appearance at lunchtimes than it has up to now.

Now if you'll excuse me, I may just pop off and boil myself a nice egg.

15 November 2011

Stop stressing!

Yep, fat lass, that means you!

I don't know why you are waking in the night at oh-dark-hundred fretting about stuff, but you really need to stop. It's high time to focus on the positive stuff and push the worries off to the side. This would not be a great time to come unglued.

Good news no.1 - lovely hubby is making good progress and does NOT need you fussing about like a mother hen!

Good news no. 2 - your weight is under control. You haven't over-indulged, resorted to chocolate, hit the bottle or anything else destructive up to this point so stop worrying about it.

Good news no.3 - lovely hubby's weight, blood sugar and diet are all under control and he's serious about keeping it that way. Again, stop the overprotective stuff!

Good news no.4 - it's dry and sunny outside, meaning walking in the autumn leaves should be an absolute pleasure. Get out there and enjoy it while you can. We have been granted an unexpected respite from winter so make the most of it.

Good news no.5 - it Brussels sprout season. That means yummy time!

11 November 2011

Goal weight?

Sorry - this is a long one!

Hmmm, I suppose that, one of these days, I'd probably best decide upon one. Don't know about you, but for me this concept has been quite a moving target over the years... the idea of setting and achieving a 'final' goal weight.

When I first started out on this journey to life (not a diet, remember!) the fat lass was one very chubby bunny indeed. No, let's call that particular spade what it is - I was seriously obese. I had lied, even to myself (er, especially to myself?), about how heavy I'd become, and the prospect of any significant or permanent weight loss seemed almost beyond my ability. Hell, at that point I'd have been pretty grateful just to put some kind of halt to the ever progressing gains!

Back then, in 2007, I had made my decision that I needed to 'do something', but was still a bit unsure how to go about it. It was a work in progress, and I expected to have to jigger with what I was doing. I didn't really have a totally clear plan or a defined goal or end-point in mind. I just knew I wanted to not be so fat and I knew I wanted to improve my health.

In those early days, in a lot of ways, I just could not get my head beyond a rather nebulous 'er, let's just see what I can do' mentality, with the ever present worrying rider of '...if I can do anything at all'.

Once I had started to see a bit of progress, and then decided to consult a dietician at my local GP surgery (more to keep me accountable than for practical advice, if I'm honest), this crystalised a wee bit more and expanded slightly to become a plan to lose 10% of my body weight so I would reap some recognisable health benefits.

OK, job started - and we nailed that one. The next logical target was to work towards losing 10% more... and so I did. Thus it went, with my weight moving downwards in 'manageable' bites.

I'd like to say the weight came off steadily over time, but progress was interspersed with odd patches of statis and the occasional backsliding rise when life hit me with an obstacle or two. However, a series of mini-targets were set along the way, which helped a lot. The sort of thing I mean is... to reach a certain BMI, a certain weight, to reach a particular number of pounds lost, to get to a specific waist measurement, to fit into a specific clothes size. All played their part and each mini-goal reached was celebrated.

Thing is though, throughout this, I never really had an unshakable end-point in mind. For a long time I kind of hoped I'd end up being able to wear UK size 14 clothes. That seemed like it would be a nice place to be. After all wasn't the gorgeous Marilyn Monroe a size 14? But what that would be in pounds or kilos? Who knew.

Fitness also became more of a priority. From a dedicated fat lass to whom exercise was a word that, once uttered, meant washing one's mouth out with soap, I moved on to actually 'enjoying' some forms of exercise! But a final goal weight? Nah, couldn't even contemplate pinning a number on that one.

And now the fat lass finds herself here, in today's differently shaped world, but uncertainties still remain. Actually, I think you could probably read this as 'a small amount of panic ensues'!

You see, having set myself some further targets in recent times, notably to do something about my remaining 'unsatisfactory' bits by getting down to less than 58kg... and staying there. I'm happily weighing in at below that mark and have been for a few weeks. In fact, my weight is, currently, pretty stable at just above 56kg.

That begs my first question... so am I done?

Inner panic now speaks up for herself (having never truly expected to be placed in this surprising?... unlikely?...even onerous? position) saying something along the lines of - hey, just hold on a minute, woah there, I can't make that decision yet! Maybe I should be at 55kg, or 54kg, or even something silly like 50kg? Heck, I just don't know. How am I supposed to decide stuff like this when I don't know the rules?

I have voiced the opinion before that what I'm actually on is a LIFETIME's journey which will never be over. Does setting a 'final' goal figure into that? If so, how?

And the big question I started with is still here to be answered - what IS my final goal weight? Do you know, I STILL couldn't tell you!

This weight loss business cannot go on forever, I know, but is that OK? Is it time to stop here and concentrate on holding fast where I am now? Or, should I have (or have had) a definite weight in mind, move to that and then stop? Is not having this 'end point' in mind a healthy way to be?

I can't answer those questions myself so I'll throw them open - what do you think?

As a bit of an aside, and judging by the current picture having shed another chunk of unwanted weight, one thing has become pretty clear to me. That belly flap I dislike so much is here to stay. So, I guess I'll just have to suck it up (and suck it in!) and get over it.

Even if I were to lose another stone (or two, or more!) I'd almost certainly still have the sticky out belly flap I've been worrying about. It is mostly loose skin and that isn't going to magically disappear. Being rid of it just isn't a viable proposition at all and trying to do so, frankly, doesn't seem a sensible plan. I guess it's slightly smaller, so that's quite enough of the moaning and mithering.

04 November 2011


There's a good reason for my being absent. My darling lovely hubby had another major operation on Tuesday, the second in three months, and things have been rather hectic with trips back and forth to the hospital, some twenty odd miles away.

I'm delighted to say that I now have my darling back home from hospital and, although it has been a rough few days, I'm actually very pleased, not only with this but with 'me' too.

Hey, maybe it wasn't too late to teach this old dog a new trick or two. Given the circumstances, I've been sensible... despite being somewhat(!) stressed. I've eaten reasonably healthily and walked as much as I could for exercise. The result of this is that my weight has stayed stable at just a fraction below 58kg.

As to lovely hubby... well, things are getting better, albeit slowly. Up to this morning I was very worried about him indeed as he seemd so knocked back after the op. This morning, although there's a long way to go until he's over the worst of it, he looks a little better. He is desperately tired and still in some discomfort, but I have my man back. When he speaks, he's making more sense, and I have him eating a little now so he should start to gain strength from good foods.

All in all, I'd say this is progress.

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