Syns and Small Wins

Well, I can safely say this is my favourite plan so far and one I feel I can really stick to for a long time. For those of you following this journey, you’re probably feeling pretty fed up of watching me set myself up for yet another failure – trust me, it’s even worse living it. So to find a sustainable plan that allows me to enjoy food AND lose weight? It’s the absolute dream. I feel so hopeful and so determined to do this once and for all.

Anyway, I’ll get straight to it. I lost 2.5 pounds this week. I’m really happy and I thoroughly hope that those small successes continue on a weekly basis!

What I’m even happier about is that I was able to enjoy my Birthday on Sunday and still lose weight. I didn’t allow myself any cake but I certainly didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything either. I treated myself but just didn’t go completely overboard. I kept the plan in mind at all times.

For the rest of the week I really stuck to the plan and enjoyed up to 15 syns a day. I made sure I set aside enough time in the evenings to prepare meals for the following day and that certainly made things so much easier. I also created a “cheat sheet” which lists all of my favourite free foods, healthy extra A and B options with measurements and my favourite syns along with their values. I sent that document to my phone so that I always had to available to check and this really allowed me to familiarise myself with everything during this first week. I also took advantage of the Slimming World app and mobile website which provides plenty of helpful tips, tools and recipes to give you the additional support that you need.

For me, a typical food day would look like this:

Breakfast (cooked with light-cal spray):

  • Scrambled eggs
  • Low fat sausage
  • Grilled tomatoes
  • Mushrooms

Morning break:

  • 1 Hi-Fi bar (Slimming World brand) or Alpen Light bar (1/2 of my healthy B option).
  • Small skinny latte (1/3 of my healthy A option)

Lunch:

  • Bean chilli with a variety of vegetables
  • Apple

Afternoon break:

  • 1 Hi-Fi bar or Alpen Light bar (1/2 of my healthy B option)
  • Tea with skimmed milk (1/3 of my healthy A option)

Dinner (cooked with light-cal spray):

  • Brown egg fried rice with chicken, asparagus, peas, onion, mushrooms and green beans.

Evening treat:

  • 5-6 coconut rounds (10-12 syns)
  • Sliced apple
  • Cup of tea with skimmed milk  (1/3 of my healthy A option)

So there it is! Reading through it, it seems like a lot actually… There was lots of variation throughout the week of course but that’s how my days looked for the most part.

Thanks again for the ongoing support. I won’t let you guys down this time! See you next week.

 

 

Quark is my New Best Friend

It happened again. I wasn’t getting the results, my weight loss plateau’d and I gave up. I lost control and I went carb crazy. It’s only been about a week and a half but I’ve gained the weight back, and more…

So I’m turning it around. I’ve joined Slimming World and for the first time in my life, I feel truly optimistic.

I had my first meeting yesterday and was amazed to hear about some fantastic results within the group. The best part? ALL THE DRIED PASTA YOU WANT (you just have to watch what you have with it – I ‘ll touch on this later).

The reason why I am so optimistic is because the plan is just so realistic. I was flipping through the information and recipes thinking “I can absolutely do this!”. After spending the majority of my life reluctantly cutting out certain foods, I am so excited about the prospect of being able to enjoy eating again. It’s just all about moderation and optimisation, something I’ve never been able to get under control before.

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I’m already thinking about and planning meals differently, attempting to fill a third of my plate with fruit/veg and another third with protein. I’m also discovering products like quark and passata which are total life savers. They’re free foods so you can have as much of them as you want (dust? anyone? no?). Combine them together and you’ve got a brilliant alternative to tomato and mascerpone pasta sauce, which I can tell you, is definitely not worth the syns.

You get a maximum of 15 of these “syns” a day and you’re encouraged to use them. That’s what makes this plan so sustainable. You’re encouraged to enjoy a treat, every day. Again, it’s just all about moderation. If I want to enjoy a cheeky chocolate bar, I absolutely can, but it just means I can’t have cheese on my baked potato for lunch. I’ve got to weigh up my options and decide what I want and what I can save until the next day. It’s so simple but it really gets me thinking about what I’m eating. These are also habits which you can develop for life.

It’s also really interesting to see how many syns some foods can be. Almond croissants, for example. I knew they weren’t great, but I didn’t realise they were THAT BAD. One almond croissant is 20.5 syns. The scary part? In the past, I wouldn’t just have one but TWO of those bad boys. And that was only breakfast. I mean, at least I know where I was going wrong…

Full breakfast as pictured above? I can have that all day, every day if I wanted. Tiny, unfulfilling almond croissant? Not so much. And I am totally okay with that.

I weighed in yesterday at a whopping 13 stone 11 pounds. That’s the heaviest I have ever weighed before. My long-term goal is to lose 4 stone and the short-term goal is to lose around 1-2 pounds a week, which seems totally do-able. I’ve got 16 weeks until my trip to Croatia and 19 weeks until graduation and realistically, I could lose 3 stone by then if I really stick to this plan. I can do this. I’ve got to.

I’m really excited.

 

Forever 7 Day Shake Challenge – Day 3

Things have been going okay! The only struggle I seem to be having is finding the time to write a post every day… Busy, busy times.

I’m certainly enjoying my protein shakes for breakfast. It’s so quick, easy and sweet which is exactly what I need and crave in the morning. I can see myself having more protein shakes for breakfast in future, even after this challenge is complete.

As the day goes on and as I begin to crave warmer, more savoury foods, it gets much harder.

I am also beginning to feel a little frustrated because my current weight just doesn’t seem to want to budge. I think I hoped that suddenly I’d shed the pounds going into this challenge but that hasn’t happened yet. Mind you, it probably takes more than 3 days before you see a result! I need to be more patient…

Despite not currently seeing a difference in my weight, I certainly feel a difference. I am again, much less bloated and way more energetic.

The Forever protein powder is great and comes in a range of flavours. There are also lots of recipes that I have yet to try. For those of you not familiar with the Forever brand, it’s certainly worth checking out! They offer a wide range of good quality health products and I’d certainly recommend them. If you’re interested in finding out more, get in touch and I’ll direct you to a friend of mine who is a Forever product representative.

I’ll keep plugging away and we will see how things go! If nothing else happens, this challenge has certainly changed my perspectives on protein shakes for the better.

Forever 7 Day Shake Challenge – Day 1

Today I started a seven day shake challenge and I’m going to write a daily post about it.

Here’s what the challenge involves:

-Two of my main meals a day will be replaced with a Forever Lite Ultra protein shake and the third will consist of a high protein/low-carb meal.

-Each shake contains 50% of my required daily vitamins and nutrients and act as meal replacements.

-I also get free foods (all fruit and veg) which I can snack on throughout the day.

Day one was a success. I had very little time this morning to come up with anything inventive so I quickly blended some vanilla Forever Lite Ultra powder with 300ml of coconut milk and ran out the door.

When I finally arrived at my first university class I was able to sip away at the protein drink. It was still cold and well blended but I was sure to give it another good shake, just to be sure. It’s been a while since I’ve had one of these so I was pleasantly surprised when I remembered that it tastes just like a milkshake!

I was certainly slightly skeptical that the one shake would keep me satisfied until lunchtime; however,  my stomach didn’t rumble once. In fact, I felt quite energetic despite missing my usual morning coffee and didn’t think about food during the rest of my classes.

Because I didn’t want to carry around a second shake with me all day, I opted for an avocado and goats cheese salad for lunch instead. Normally, I would choose something quite high in carbs, especially on such a cold and busy Monday, but I was still feeling quite satisfied from the morning protein shake.

Apart from lunch, I had an apple (one of my free foods) in the afternoon to keep me going until dinner.

I didn’t get home until about 7pm this evening and I’ll be honest, I was feeling pretty tired and was craving something warm, savoury and comforting. So I’ll admit, the thought of drinking a sweet, cold protein shake was a little off-putting. For that reason, I whipped up a half-portion of spiralised butternut squash and corgetti to make myself feel better without feeling guilty; then I had the protein shake as “dessert”. I was perfectly happy after that!

At the end of day one, I feel very positive. Looking back, I think it might make more sense to have the shakes for breakfast and lunch, allowing me to enjoy a warm meal in the evening, because that just seems to be what my body wants/needs. On a whole however, I’m certainly surprised at how satisfied I felt after drinking the shakes and how easy it has actually been today. Because I’m not much of a morning person, whipping up a quick protein shake also keeps things simple and easy – hardly any fuss and no real need for me to get up any earlier than usual! Bonus!

Weigh-In Wednesday 4 and Incentives

This cold got progressively worse and has been my major downfall this week. I’ve spent the majority of the past few days doing uni work or resting in bed and definitely didn’t get out enough… I continued to eat carbs which my body so badly craved and I’m totally gutted because I wanted to lose more weight this week but it just hasn’t happened:

Current weight: 13 stone

Weight loss this week: 0

Accumulative weight loss: 8 pounds

Still feeling rubbish but definitely getting better. I am starting to find it hard when I’m not getting the results I hoped for. I am also finding this really tough whilst I’m right in the middle of writing my dissertation so I think now is the time to really focus on some incentives:

1- Trip to Croatia: at the end of June, I will be going on a trip to Croatia with the majority of my year group to celebrate the completion of our 4 year degree. It’s been a lot of hard work (and there’s still plenty of hard work to be done) so we are really looking forward to it. I haven’t been on a holiday in years so I’m very excited; however, I’m already anxious about how I’m going to feel. I’m not going to be able to hide under big baggy jumpers! It will ruin my holiday if I am uncomfortable so I really need to do something about it. This trip is in about 20 weeks and I have the potential to lose about 2 stone in that time if I really, really work hard. That would be amazing.

2- Graduation: both the ceremony and the ball. This is in about 22 weeks (yikes) and I want to look and feel amazing. Even if I lose around a pound and a half each week up until then, I could be 30 pounds lighter!

3- Trip to Canada: this is in 25 weeks and I’ll probably be visiting some old friends. The last time I visited Canada, it really upset me that I had gained quite a bit of weight and I felt ashamed and embarrassed when meeting old friends. We don’t want a repeat of that. If I continue to lose around one and a half pounds a week until this trip, I could be nearly 40 pounds lighter.

I mentioned that one year from now, I’ll wish I had started today… Even in 4 months from now, I could be wishing that.

So, the plan moving forward… This week, I’m bringing back My Fitness Pal to help me keep track of what I’m eating. Any snacks that I have (that aren’t meals) are going to be fruit or veg ONLY. I’m going to get back on track with high protein meals and lower carbs and I’m continuing to avoid refined sugars. I’m also planning a bit of a challenge which I’ll start/talk about next week!

Until then! 🙂

Weigh-In Wednesday 3

Hello!

Apologies, this post is a few days late… I’ve been battling a cold this week and am currently working on my dissertation so everything else has just gone out the window.

I haven’t fallen off the wagon but I’ve certainly eaten a lot more carbs lately because I’ve been feeling so rubbish. I know, that’s not an excuse but that’s just the way it is. I’m drawing a line under it and accepting that I probably didn’t lose as much weight this week because of this.

Current weight: 13 stone (on the dot)

Weight loss this week: 2 pounds

Accumulative weight loss:  8 pounds

Not bad. Could be better. Mind you, slow and steady wins the race. It’s going down so that’s the main thing. I have a university ball in one week so I’d really like to lose another few pounds by then. The plan is to cut my carb intake right down, increase protein/veg and go for more walks daily. I really want to FEEL good at this thing, so I’m going to make that happen.

Weigh-In Wednesday 2

So it’s been just over a week now and I am back into the swing of things. Starting isn’t the hard part, it’s being able to come up with a plan that you can stick to long-term! I’m still working that out; however, cutting out refined sugars and cutting back on carbs has worked out just fine for now. I’ve also been going on daily walks and I intend to get back into a more regular yoga routine over the next few weeks!

Anyway, enough rambling. Here’s my weekly weigh-in results:

Current weight: 13 stone 2 pounds 

Weight loss this week: 4 pounds

Acumulative weight loss: 6 pounds

Yippee!

It’s certainly not enough for me to notice a difference when I look in the mirror but I do feel a lot better already. I know, I know… I say this every time.

My goal for next week is to get under the 13 stone mark. Think I can do it?

In other news, I have recently discovered a simple recipe for a kale and chicken caesar salad and I think I am in love! It’s so quick and easy to make and a suitable lunch option for days when you are out and about. I’ve never really liked the taste of kale but the home made caesar dressing is absorbed by the leaves, which in turn breaks it down… and it tastes absolutely divine. I’ve included a photo and the recipe below.

Kale and Chicken Caesar Salad Recipe  (modified version of an original recipe by Hemsley and Hemsley)

Ingredients:

  • 200g of kale
  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tspn Dijon mustard
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 50g parmesan (plus more to sprinkle on top)
  • 4 tbspns extra virgin olive oil
  • Cooked chicken breast and/or croutons (optional)

Method:

Combine anchovies, egg yolk, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, parmesan and oil in a blender until smooth.

Combine with kale – massaging into leaves.

Let salad marinate for approximately one hour. Toss in chicken, croutons or whatever else you fancy, sprinkle with black pepper and enjoy!

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Weigh-In Wednesday 1

So it’s only been 3 days and I’ve already lost 2 pounds. That’s to be expected really and it’s likely just water weight but… it’s still nice!

The sweet cravings come and go but it’s getting easier. Unfortunately, I feel grumpy as hell. Probably safe to warn people who might come in contact with me over the next few weeks… Be warned!

Anyway, here’s my first weigh-in:

Current weight: 13 stone 6 pounds

Total weight loss so far: 2 pounds

I decided to be brave and also post some more photos. It’s so great for motivation and comparison further down the line:

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I never wear fitted clothing when I’m overweight so it’s always a surprise when I do see myself like this… Not great. That’s going to change though.

I’m really excited about what’s to come and I have a lot of incentives this year, starting with a ball in just under a month.

I’m also graduating this year and would love to look and feel amazing for that!

Lots to look forward to… I’m going to do this!

New Start

I’m still here!

It’s been such a struggle to get back on track since my last post. I started to lose momentum as my third year at university progressed and by exam time, healthy eating and weight loss was unfortunately no longer a priority.

By the time summer rolled around, I was back where I started and feeling more frustrated and upset than ever. I was so fed up that I couldn’t find the motivation within me to even try again. I had such a negative mentality: “why start again when I’ve failed countless times before?” 

Since then, I’ve had a bit of a wake-up call. It wasn’t just the way I looked, it was the way I felt. I started to have panic attacks at night because I felt so unhealthy. I didn’t feel good.

I spent a long time planning this time. I’m about to go into my fourth and final year of a tough degree. If I couldn’t stick with it through second and third year, how the hell am I going to make it work in my fourth honours year? I was a bit stumped.

I decided to start with small changes and go from there, incorporating more health foods into my diet and trying to walk more regularly (getting those 10 000 steps a day!).

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Yogalosophy by Mandy Ingber is a brilliant book by the way!

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Then the naked issue of Women’s Health Magazine came out and it all clicked. The magazine featured a variety of beautiful, inspirational women of all different shapes and sizes who don’t diet. They are healthy and happy… and that’s all that matters:

“I simply want to be the best, healthy, toned, happy version of myself.” – Iskra Lawrence, Model (I completely idolise this woman right now)

“Eating all the kale in the world isn’t going to make you happy.” – Madeline Shaw, Nutritionist & Writer

“Eating well and getting fit is about feeling amazing.” – Gemma Atkinson, Actress

Those were just a few quotes from the feature. It was so inspirational and made me realise that above all else, I need to be happy. That’s when I decided that I wasn’t going to “diet” anymore. I’m not going to put sole emphasis on losing weight this time and create more pressure for myself (note that the name of this blog has changed from “weight loss adventures” to “lifestyle adventures”). I’m not going to cut any specific foods, I’m just going to be more mindful when it comes to eating. I’m reducing my intake of refined sugars and carbs, eating more health foods and exercising more.

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Avocado, eggs and tomatoes feature very heavily in my breakfasts these days…
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More home cooked meals

I’m about three weeks in and I already feel so much better. By eating more fruit and veg, keeping a food diary on MyFitnessPal and doing more exercise, I no longer have the desire to eat sugar and carbs… and as a bonus, I’ve lost around 7 pounds. It doesn’t even feel like I’m trying.

With the Great British Bake Off about to start, my friends and I have decided to try baking something once a week, sticking to the show’s weekly categories. I’ve set myself an even tougher goal: to make all of my bakes refined sugar-free. I thought it might be fun to share my recipes with you each week, letting you know what worked and what didn’t!

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Raw, vegan cacao and hazelnut cake and wholewheat apple and cinnamon muffins (all refined sugar-free)

This week is cake week and I’ve got a recipe in mind, so I will let you know how that goes!

In the meantime, here’s a recipe I tried on Sunday for raw millionaire shortbreads (vegan and refined sugar-free). They turned out brilliantly and taste amazing (see photos and link below).

Until next time!

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Looks good!
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Tastes good!

Recipe for Raw Millionaire Shortbread (The Wallflower Kitchen): http://wallflowerkitchen.com/nakd-raw-millionaire-shortbread/

Weigh In Wednesdays

I have decided that from this point onward I will be weighing myself on a Wednesday morning and I will do my best to write an update that same day. With this, I am also going to start with a clean slate and new/updated goals. So, I’m essentially starting again – but I’m okay with that.

Without further adieu, here are today’s numbers:

Current weight: 12 stone 11 (179 pounds)

Goal weight: 9 stone 7 (133 pounds)

Goal weight loss: 46 pounds (around 3 stone)

So during assessment time I managed to gain around 11 pounds (probably more in fact as I have since started back on my diet). That’s not great… But we’re not going to dwell on it any longer.

The important question is: what am I going to do to fix this?

Well! You’ll be very pleased to know that I have already made some positive changes this week:

I have cut refined sugar yet again and am already feeling the benefits. I’ve missed feeling less bloated and more energetic – and my skin is certainly much clearer already! Why did I ever stray? There are still so many delicious foods which I can enjoy, for example, today’s lunch and raw afternoon treats (one for today and one for tomorrow) from Food Story:

I’ve returned to the gym and will attempt to go at least 3 times a week (alongside yoga). I’ve noticed that going to the gym makes me want to be healthy and more body confident which in turn, motivates me to eat more high-protein meals and snack less. I’m not sure if it’s because I feel less bloated or just because my body craves protein post-exercise, but either way this certainly helps. We all know that exercise is extremely beneficial in more ways than one.

I have also started using the My Fitness Pal app which I am finding extremely useful. I thought long and hard about the reasons why I struggle to maintain a diet and I realised that perhaps I need to take more controlled measures to really put my daily intake into perspective. Well, this app certainly puts things into perspective and gives you a good kick up the a** when necessary.

I used My Fitness Pal many years ago when it was relatively new but found it to be quite limiting and time-consuming which really put me off. Since then however, inputting information has become a lot quicker and more automatic. A wide variety of brand names and products are now automatically recognised which saves you from having to manually input every bit of information (which can often become quite tedious, especially around meal times when all you want to do is eat!).

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The app is also just much more accessible in general. It sets weight-loss goals based on your lifestyle and monitors this through calorie intake by providing you with a daily allowance. This is so helpful in monitoring portion control and also makes you realise just how much you are eating every day.

My Fitness Pal also allows you to record daily exercise (with which you can gain additional daily calorie allowances) and also monitors nutritional levels and water intake which has proved to be particularly useful for me, because I am rubbish at drinking enough water.

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At the end of each daily entry, the app estimates what your weight will be in 5 weeks, based on what you ate that day (if you were to eat like that every day). This is when it gets really real…

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If you haven’t tried this app before, I highly recommend it!