Sunday, 24 October 2010

Day 63 ~ One MUST adapt when life changes....

Many apologies for having not been around, you'll forgive me when you find out how impossible it's been!  I've recently started a new job and to be honest I'm quite happy to be there and I do enjoy what I do.  The place is bustling with people most of the time, the staff are nice to me, my bosses are great and I spend a lot of time lifting things (yay for work out!).  The only downside is, is that I have almost zero time for myself for doing the things I once used to enjoy like blogging and making videos.  Want to know my real schedule?  OK....

On Mondays, Tuesdays I wake at 7.15am, go to work and come back about 7.30pm.  I eat, I rest and then I sleep. 
Wednesday mornings I wake up at 6.00am for university and then have the rest of Wednesday off.  I give myself this time to catch up with people when I'm out and about or run errands.  Thursday is another day off and I end up grocery shopping or doing things like house work, errands or resting some more before the battle of the real week comes.  The real week?  Oh. That's what's coming next.  Friday and Saturday I wake up at 7.15am, work and come back at 7.30pm, only to work until 10pm at my Mum's shop and then shower and sleep.  Sunday I wake at 8.15am and come back by 6.30pm.  This is the hardest part of the week and now, I'm truly exhausted.

So it begs the question...how is my diet going?  I didn't weigh myself officially this week because I literally forgot.  I weighed myself a few days ago and I was the same so that's OK.  I'm considering changing my weigh in days to Thursdays because it would make life easier. 
Also you may be wondering and yes it's true, I no longer have the chance to go to the Farmer's Market anymore!  I would try convincing Mum to do it but the chances are incredibly slim.  I'm very sad about that and still haven't quite gotten over it.  I will miss those gigantic cabbages, the sweet corn, the kai broccoli, Tuscan kale *dies inside* and amazing onions.  I will have to force Mum to go.

Now that I am working I have to bring my own food to work.  The funny thing is at my work place there is a given meal where everyone sits together to eat and it's a bit strange to bring my own as the kitchen lady is probably offended.  I'm still a full blown Vegan (it's a month today!) and I am eating very healthy still.  I think I'm eating more than usual but I am moving a lot more... 

But as for proper exercise, it's almost gone out the window.  In the last week I've been on a bike ride once but I haven't done any running.  I'm wondering how to get around this especially as the dark winter mornings and frost bitten evenings are coming....

In saying all of this, I am hopeful of the future and I will keep you updated.  This week has been hectic and I've also had to make do with the food we have left because we haven't been grocery shopping for two weeks now.  All will be well when my Sister is home, when groceries are back in and I can schedule in some exercise.

Wish me luck!  I hope everyone is doing well,

 

Helen

Friday, 15 October 2010

Day 54 ~ A sedentary week and a discussion with friends

This week has been absolutely appalling.  I'm not sure where time has gone but it's already Friday and I don't remember what I've done in the last four days; the only thing I do know is that I have not done any exercise at all.
I believe on Tuesday I spent all day shopping for a friend's birthday present and somehow just didn't muster up any energy to work out.  Wednesday was a completely booked day and today I just somehow did not have the time.  I still have the rest of the week to repent but tomorrow is out of the question and now I'm left with Saturday and the day of rest, Sunday.  I'm not sure what to make of this but I do know the lack of exercise is making me feel sick.  I'm not only getting sleepless nights but suddenly my bowel movements have changed and I'm beginning to feel lethargic  Considering all this and my period, which should be coming any minute now (why is it so late?!), I'll be lucky to lose any weight this week. 

Still, I have to stay as positive as possible.  My eating has not been too bad and I've remained vegan and eaten sensibly (it's hard not to on The Kind Diet).  I'm trying to add in even more greens to my diet and really trying my best to cut down on the soya and gluten this week because I have not been exercising.  Needless to say it's been a difficult week and I've eaten a lot of white rice which has not been great for the stomach (or energy levels).  I'm finding that I am snacking on a lot of bread and peanut butter - I really need to get a grip.

All of this is seemingly depressing and I really don't want to dwell on it too much.  Tomorrow is another day and I know I'm being highly critical.  Compared to the many mistakes I've made previously and the blunders of my old lifestyle, I'm living like a saint so I should really be giving myself a pat on the back.  I just wish everyday could be perfect but that's just not reality, baby!

The topic of 'reality' brings me onto something that has been on my mind since Wednesday evening.  Wednesday, being my best friend's birthday dinner, was a great opportunity to catch up with my friends and reveal my latest body for the first time in front of them.  I received some really lovely comments and the inevitable conversation of my diet and diets in general cropped up at the dinner table.

It was ever so slightly awkward when I eventually had to pop in the news that I had recently turned vegan.  There were a mixture of reactions all ranging from curiosity and what I perceived to be *roll my eyes* reactions.  I am not, for one moment, saying that my friends are judgemental but I guess having done this more than once in my life, you do begin to get a bit defensive.  The moment it came out, the jokes about failed vegetarian friends began and it was a mixture of laughter and bewilderment on my part. For the most part my friends were incredibly accepting, encouraging and lovely.   I totally understood why some people could not understand the concept of 'mock meat' and that's just a whole other can of worms. 
The night went on and the conversation moved from veganism to lifestyle choices.  Previously I had said that what I'm doing isn't a diet but merely a lifestyle change; my intelligent friends agreed, giving me peace in my heart knowing that I wasn't going mad.  However a friend, who is also going through 'lifestyle changes', said something that was incredibly thought provoking.

He declared that life is for living and that it was pointless to live miserably until you're 100 years old nibbling on leaves.  I found this particularly shocking because this is the same friend who I had managed to inadvertently inspire to eat more vegetables and start running.  I watched him as he shovelled meat, after bread, after fried good and after cake and wondered how much of that was true.

It's fair to say that no one wants to live life trapped under rules and regulations.   This is exactly why I've always said the first step to freedom is by letting go and by changing your mindset.  What boggles my mind is that this is the same friend who said out loud that he wanted to eat more 'raw' and become healthier.  Is he confused?  I'm pretty sure but what I do know is that he is a living example of why I decided to step over to the brighter side because I no longer wanted to be neither here nor there with my morals and values.   

Continuing on the subject, there are a few points yet to be made.  Many, many people live life 'to the fullest' by eating rubbish and treating their bodies like a trash can only to pay for it in the early endings of their lives'.  If that isn't one of life's biggest paradoxes then I don't know what is.  A particularly clued-in friend of mine agreed with me that the last thing you would want in a 'full life' is to have a painful and scary heart attack as your last memory.  What is life when treating your body badly inhibits everything you do? 
Needless to say the friend had little to say at the end of that conversation and I'm still very confident that what I said was completely true and more than a matter of my opinion.  It seems, it was a general consensus.

While I haven't exercised my body, I have definitely exercised my mind this week.  Today I had another conversation about the ethical reasons behind eating animals with my vegetarian Sister and this is another conversation worth talking about another time.  For now I want to leave you with a final thought:

We are blessed with the lives that we live and we are given the divine right to live it the way we want to.  Living life is not just about yourself, but it is about those around you and everyone that is affected by your existence.  By choosing to harm your body is to live selfishly and the impact of your health affects others a lot more than you could imagine.  If you have the choice, then make it a good one, one that will allow you to step up a level in life and allow you to lift others up with you. 

Good night.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Mamma Cucino Mango & Passion Fruit Non-Dairy Cheesecake

If I can point my finger at one sin food to shoulder the blame for my weight gain over these past years, it would probably have to be cakes (and anything sweet and indulgent).  When I was a child and my birthday came along, I was most excited about what cake to have and if we were going to my cousin's birthday, I would be first with a plate after we sang 'Happy Birthday to you'.  I'm not the best at making cakes which is a blessing in disguise because if I were really good at it, I'd probably be dead by now.

So as you know I've been venturing into the new world of 'veganism' and when I was faced with the proposition that I would no longer be allowed to eat normal cake again, I have to admit, I was kind of sad.  I've been doing well so far, resisting tiramisu on the left and gateaux on the right.  However, when it comes to that time of the month, cake, is extremely hard to resist.  So why the resistance when I get to eat Non-dairy cheesecake?

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Behold, Momma Cucina's Mouth- watering Mango & Passion fruit non-dairy cheesecake!  I picked this up from the frozen section from Holland & Barretts and dug straight into it the next day.  It's got a lot of sugar in it to say the least, let's have a quick nose at the ingredients.

 DSC06014  The only ingredients I am not crazy about is Maltodextrin, Sugar, the many stabilisers and all the other non-natural things.  But what am I really to expect?  It's a non-dairy CHEESE cake!  So as a treat, I shall let it pass and promise to only buy it ONCE a month if that.  So how did it fair in the tasting test?

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The tofu-cheese filling did taste fruity and was moist, creamy and satisfying.  I have to say it's a bit too sweet for me.  I am finding that a lot of special diet sweet treats tend to be too sweet.  Next time when you next find a non 'something' dessert remember to look at the ingredients.  Chances are you'll find more than one type of sweetener in there, where as if we were making our own cheese cake, it would be a lot of fruit and one type of raw cane sugar for sweetening.  So it has thumbs down for sweetness however it went down a treat with those who have a sweet tooth at home. 

The base was made of pounded yam and flour which gave it a soft and crumbly texture.  It didn't hold up very well and I tend to prefer less cheese and more base (I think I'm the only one in the world to prefer that).  Overall I have to say I prefer the base over the 'cheese'.

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So for £3.99 I would probably say I won't be buying it again, not this flavour anyway.  I may try another flavour but until then, I am still looking for a seriously, decadent and wonderful vegan friendly dessert.

Ideas anyone?

 

Helen x

Monday, 11 October 2010

Day 50 ~ Weigh in

OK let's be calm here and try to think of this in the best possible light.  I promise, I am not having a melt down.  This is, this week's weigh in stats.

Week 8:  11/10/2010

Weight:  11st 13.4lbs/ 167.4lbs                                 (+0.6)
Waist inches: 34 inches                                              (nil)
Hip inches: 41 inches                                                 (nil) 
Arm Width: 14.25 inches                                           (-0.25)
Thigh Width:  25 inches                                             (nil)
BMI:  31.6 kg/m2                                                      (+0.1)

For the first time in 50 days I have put on any weight - so by that token, I should be proud.  At the same time I'm feeling kind of *screams* because it can be slightly disheartening.  Let's not exaggerate, but I am slightly peeved.
Besides the fact that I've 'sort of' lost some on my arms, nothing much has changed besides having put on just under half a pound.  OK so what was the culprit?  Well let's see, I exercised well (although I didn't exactly push seriously hard), I ate out twice and didn't pick great choices (but they were the best I could at the time!) and I snacked on a few soya vegan treats.  I also really went crazy with the grains.
Well if you look at that you would instantly point your fingers at the outdoor eating and maybe the grains and treats.  However to make things even more complicated, I am going to be on my period soon.  So that's most likely it.  Not to mention when I'm on period I eat a lot more so I usually expect to put on a little bit and feel quite awful. 

So if we look at it now... putting on less than half a pound is actually pretty damn good, right?

So now, I'm happy again.

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Hale & Hearty Quick and Easy Falafel Mix

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  Here is somewhat of a product review!  I've tried and tested my first Hale & Hearty product and I'm pretty impressed.  This falafel mix is not only organic but it is gluten, wheat, soya and GMO free; lucky for me it is also Vegan friendly.  The ingredients are all safe to eat and so it was worth a try.  For those concerned about calories, half of the box mix (about ten balls of falafel) is only 301 calories!  So you can have five with a salad and not worry about weight gain.  They taste lovely and can be done in 25 minutes including frying off.

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They can get a little dry so I would recommend some tzatziki with it or a condiment of your own choice.  Overall, a splendid weight loss and health conscious choice.  For me, this is a weekend convenience food that feeds everyone quickly without doing too much damage. 

More mini food product reviews coming soon!

Helen

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Day 43 ~ Weigh in, Starbucks, Muscle and Spirulina

Just over six weeks now and I have some wonderful news!  Check out this week's weigh in results!


Weight:  11st 12.8lbs/ 166.8lbs                                 (-1)
Waist inches: 34 inches                                              (-1)
Hip inches: 41 inches                                                 (-1) 
Arm Width: 14.5 inches                                             (+0.5)
Thigh Width:  25 inches                                             (nil)
BMI:  31.5kg/m2                                                      (-0.2)

What great results for such an easy week.  I have lost another pound making me 166.8lbs!  I am that much closer (four pounds away) from the slimmest I've ever been as a young adult and I am ecstatic!  Hopefully I can reach that within a month or so.  The reason I am over the moon isn't only for the fact that I am skinnier, but I didn't have to even really try with the food side of things and I am seriously enjoying what I eat.  I guess a plant-based vegan diet really does help to shed pounds.  Also, I feel that my exercising is really helping and as long as I play my cards right this week, I'm sure I could lose more.  I wasn't expecting to lose any weight because I felt like I had over eaten but quite clearly I did SOMETHING right this week. 
Having lost an inch on both my waist and hips, I am feeling a lot slimmer.  Today I wore a dress I don't usually wear because it used to make me look extra big.  Today, I fitted well into it and it made me look good for once.  Hallelujah!  I'm not even bothered about my supposed gain on my arms because my BMI is going down and that only means one thing - I am further away from being obese.  All I have to do is hit 29 and I am no longer classed as obese but overweight - isn't that fantastic?!

---

Today I went out with a friend to Starbucks and I have to say, even with best intentions I managed to make some dodgy choices.  I was in the queue and looking from sandwich to sandwich, cake to cake, only to find that there is literally nothing vegan about any of Starbuck's food (besides their fruit salad), at least not at the store I was about to eat at.  I ended up choosing a mozzarella pasta salad (which was TINY) and a Naked fruit smoothie.  So I already broke number one vegan rule (er, don't eat dairy, love) but I wasn't going to make a fuss.   To top it off,  I found that in Naked smoothies, they add in corn syrup!  I could taste it and it was rather unpleasant. I have to say if I'm going to have a smoothie I will either make it or buy Innocent from now on. 
I hope this doesn't mean I have to eat fruit every time I end up at Starbucks - suggestions anyone?

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Another happy thing that happened today was that I noticed I am building forearm muscle!  How odd!  It must be the combination of my resistance training and running, yes running!  You see when I run I make sure to keep my arms a driving back and forth (as opposed to swinging from side to side) and this seems to build up muscle because I know they ache even after a run.  So when my Brother-in-law said that his friend has amazing arms from just running, he may have been telling the truth.  No wonder why my arms seem to be getting slimmer - results!

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The last thing I want to comment on is the monstrosity of Spirulina.   A lot of you know I've been searching for the perfect protein supplement for my work out and it's been particularly tough for me to find a quality vegan protein supplement.  I wanted to go as natural as possible so when I heard that spirulina could be the answer, I jumped into the research.

Not only is Spirulina packed with beta carotene (get lost, Cancer!) but it's got tonnes of other essential goodies (iron, minerals, vitamin B-12) and it offers 60% vegetable protein.  It's pretty much an anti-aging blue green algae that everyone needs to get to know.  With winter coming up, Spirulina can also help strengthen your immune system so you become stronger and more resistance to illnesses.  As well as all this, there have been studies that show it lowers cholesterol and for some it suppresses appetite so you can lose weight taking this magical green powder.  Also, expect to become even more regular with your bowel movements as it aids digestion and  now you can feel safer in our environment as Spirulina also cleanses and protects you from free radicals. 

Back to why I'm taking it, it is because I'm looking for something to enhance my running performance and recovery.  Apparently athletes have been using this stuff for a long time pre-work out or  before a competition as it gives them a massive burst of energy.  It also helps to create and mend muscle mass which is exactly what I was looking for. 

I picked up my Spirulina from Holland and Barretts for £11.99 and while that seems expensive, it's much cheaper than protein powders and it's natural and overall super.  I mixed it in with a banana and strawberry smoothie.  You know what?  It tastes ABSOLUTELY disgusting. It smells and tastes like eggy-mouldy fish and honestly it's not as yummy as it seems.  However I found a really large squeeze of a lime really helped so  I managed to drink the whole of my smoothie.  I have been looking into other recipes that mask the taste and some of it include things like tomato, chilli, ginger or celery.  I will have to update you on how well it treats my body and what kind of smoothie concoctions I make.  I also hear a raw Spirulina salad is worth trying - I'm not one to knock things before I try but that really does sound awful.

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I'm off for a run tomorrow so I shall report back.  Happy October everyone!

Friday, 1 October 2010

Running Shoes

The last time I bought a pair of trainers (or sneakers) I came back home with a black and pink K-Swiss pair and it's been worn only a handful of times.  The kitten heels and boots had taken over.

Now that I've become a semi serious runner, my Sister bought me an early Christmas present!  New running shoes!  Below are the Asics Gel Nimbus 11 (she has 12) and they are really fabulous.  When I run I feel like I'm on air!  Just as well really because all that running in old, bad trainers was starting to hurt my knee.

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I highly recommend the Asics brand, also to check out your foot shape and your running style before investing in a pair.  Yay for running!

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Vegan Sprout Handrolls

I want to share this particular recipe with you because it's absolutely out of this world...and it also happened as a fluke!  It's great as a snack, really low calorie, vegan, delicious and can be served at a main meal with miso soup and tofu on the side.  Enjoy!

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You will need, for 2 hand rolls (all approximation):

- 1/2 Cup Sprouts per hand roll
- 1/4 Cup Diced Vegan Chorizo (I use Cheatin's)
- 2 Table spoons of Veganaise or Dairy Free Mayo
- 1/2 Tea spoon of Cumin
- 1 teaspoon of dried parsley
- 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice
- 2 leave of lettuce (I used romaine lettuce)
- 1 Nori Sheet (half per hand roll)

Additional goodies I've used before
- Sliced radish
- Spring onions/scallions

How to:

  1. Cut the nori sheet in half and reserve on the side
  2. In a bowl, mix the washed sprouts and all the other ingredients together.  Taste before you put in your handroll.
  3. Lay the nori down with the lettuce leaf on top (diagonally place it so that the tip of the leaf is pointing towards the top right hand corner)
  4. Place filling on top of leaf, beware of trying to add in too much!
  5. Fold over the left hand side of the nori and wrap it under the lettuce leaf. 
  6. Carefully place on plate and serve.

I hope you try this and tell me how it goes!

Helen

Goodbye, Canned Corn!

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All my life I've eaten corn out of a can.  Why? Because it's convenient and quick!  But nothing and I mean nothing is as satisfying as eating fresh corn on a cob, lightly steamed or even raw.  It's the most wonderful thing! 

I get mine from the farmers market and they serve as a really good filling snack or side to a meal.  MMmm, crunchy, sweet and wholesome.

Any healthy recommendations on how to dress up a corn on cob? 

Day 38 ~ Am I pushing too hard?

It's been 38 official days since I've been battling to shed the weight and it's just under a week of being Vegan.  Including tomorrow, the month of September will wrap up for me having exercised 12 times and we are now charging towards October where I will continue this success.

I particularly wanted to discuss the implications of pushing oneself to the limit and the extremist's line whereby once crossed, return is no longer an option.
I, am not an extreme person.  If you look at me there isn't much extreme about me besides being extremely obsessed with food.  The one time I took dieting to the extreme I came out the other end pretty ill so since then, taking the risk was just too much of a...well, a risk.  So these days when I look at myself in the mirror every morning and weigh myself every other morning, I find myself wondering whether I'm going a bit far. 

Don't get me wrong I'm not getting anywhere near anorexia and I'm not deluded.  I know EXACTLY what I'm doing and I understand that some of it seems a bit sick (hence this post) and I know how it helps me, that, I do not need to justify to anyone.  However I do wonder about some of the other things that goes through my mind.

Take today for instance.  Today was the second day of running (this week) and I always find Wednesdays the hardest every week because the day before I would have pushed myself so hard that I would be breathing in my sweat.  Nonetheless I was running for at least 30 minutes and it was more than I would have done otherwise.  So you would think I would be patting myself on the back, right?  On the contrary, I ended up really disappointed because I found my focus dwindling and I just did not push as hard as I did before.  I'm laughing now as I write this because I realise just how irrational that is but at the time, it was very serious and I was so annoyed.  The thing is, quite clearly, I expect a lot from myself and I am afraid of going back to being fat and having 'fat mentality'

Following on from this I'm finding myself losing my way through the Vegan diet because I am no longer counting calories.  In theory this is a good thing because I love being free of this obsessive behaviour but I'm worrying constantly about whether I've overeaten because there is no longer a measure in which guides me.  In retrospect, I can see that you cannot really overeat being the vegan I am.  The diet consists of almost zero saturated fat and I'm eating whole, nutritious foods and I'm giving my body exactly what it needs.  The trouble come when I feel like I've eaten 'too much' of something and it might be either my whole grains, soya, salt or, would you believe - fruit.  I know this is particularly stupid but this is EXACTLY what I'm saying.  It's not that I'm going to the extremes of my diet but I am thinking very irrationally to make up for what is seemingly like a no-need-for-control diet. 

What I have to realise is that the fact that having no rules is a positive thing, therefore when making the right choices, my control is regained and my worries are soothed.  I know that I'm over-thinking a lot of things and that I will put right as of tomorrow.  I need to learn to listen to my body more and allow that to be my measure, my 'points' or 'calories' and I need to think with my brain as well as my stomach.

~~~ 

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Having written all of the above I do want to make a point of the fact that I really am starting to slip into my sugary habits again.  Having discovered the allowance and goodness of the likes of Agave Nectar and Malt Extract, I've been using it excessively to give myself that same sugar hit I was once addicted to.  I can see my snacking choices are turning from carrot to granola and I've noticed I'm giving into processed goods a little bit more.  Be it 'whole grain' or not, I do NOT eat processed, so why I was eating Taco shells today I do not know.  I'm not going to be too harsh on myself but tomorrow, I am a super hero vegan once again.

~~~

Monday, 27 September 2010

Phase 2: Veganism and Active Lifestyle

It's officially been four weeks since I have been losing weight seriously and so far, so good.  I've managed to shift from 176.6lbs to 167.8lbs in a month - that's 8.8lbs gone (which is great because 8 so happens to be a lucky number!).  I am ecstatic, overjoyed, proud and motivated and that's exactly why I started to this journey, because before I was a real mess.

Having gone through a small yet significant period of time losing weight, I've been researching and modifying my 'plan' and it's finally time to share Phase 2 with you.  You may recall that in Phase 1, my outlined plan was mostly to do with sleeping well, drinking fluids, calorie counting and moderate exercise, and this has worked fantastically.  I'm about to shake things up a bit because I've come across the most inspiring 'diet' book and it's totally transformed me as a person and the way I think and feel about food and life.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am now officially a Vegan.  Quite a jump isn't it?   You see actually it seemed the natural course of things.  I started off the journey throwing out anything that was processed and I no longer touched food if it wasn't natural.  I stopped snacking, I upped my fruit and vegetable intake, drank a ton of water and cut out red meat.  I did this because I felt it was the healthiest way to live and I knew for sure that that would make me lose weight - guaranteed.  However I also knew at one point I would have to modify my plan due to the complex yet not so complicated biology of the body; hence why I knew there would be more than one phase. 
As it happened, I began to consume less dairy products due to the fact that they were relatively high in saturated fat and so all of a sudden I stopped eating things like ice cream, cheese and butter and then only consuming low fat yoghurt and milk.  Everything was going swimmingly until I came across a certain video that I shall link you to in my next post (the reason for doing this is because I want to talk about the diet itself in detail, in this post we shall just review my plan). 

It happened to be Alicia Silverstone (star of Clueless) talking about her book and her diet - The Kind Diet, which has been out and extremely popular for a number of years.  Of course I was sceptical but it was something to do whilst painting my nails so I tuned in and listened. 

I was in total awe of everything she said and not only was I captivated by the glow of this beautiful woman but I was hit hard because all of a sudden I felt like everything I wanted to be was right there being explained to me.  A Vegan!  In the video she basically briefly goes over everything she writes in her book and talks about how living a vegan is the best way to be human.  She not only talks of weight loss but she talks of animals, the planet, the body and the food.  It was then that I realised that Vegan is what I wanted to become because it made sense to me (and I'm sure it will make sense to you when you read my next post, or if you have read the book!).  I watched the video around week 2 (yes I discovered her video halfway through Phase 1!), trialled it briefly in week three, gave it a good shot on week four and now I am pretty much converted.  I have to say, I am impressed with myself.

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The most important thing is that I feel so good, so good! Being Vegan and eating the way Alicia suggests in the book not only will drop your weight but it will heal you from within and I can totally feel that - so do all the other converts!  The diet consists of almost zero saturated fats, it's low in sugar, plant based, filling and very, very delicious.  It's also a very peaceful way of eating (and living) and you will understand what I'm saying when you read deeper into it.  After one week of The Kind Diet in my life, I quickly dropped 2lbs, my face is slimmer, I'm always energetic (and slightly giddy), my skin is looking incredibly, my hair is feeling strong, my nails are strengthening, my brain is sharper and on top of that, I'm really, really happy.  I've also learned a lot about food and the world just by reading the book so I highly recommend you all to buy a copy.

What really got me is that a lot of what she says correlates to a lot of what Michael Pollan writes in 'The Omnivore's Dilemma' and that book is seriously ground breaking for me.  It all makes perfect sense; be kind to the world and be kind to your body. 

In Phase 2 you will see me:

  1. Embrace Veganism as much as I can (sometimes it's difficult especially in family social get-togethers.  But I will be the best that I can be)
  2. Roughly eat around 1200kcal (but not count obsessively) and a bit more when I exercise.  It's really hard to eat over that on this diet...and I'm never hungry!
  3. Run three times a week or more
  4. Do Resistance training three/four times a week
  5. Aim to sleep minimum 8 hours a night

That's as simple as it gets.  I know a few of you will be curious to know what my food is like and hopefully you will read my next post and you will keep popping back to see recipes and food pictures.  To give you an idea of what I eat these days I will give you a rough outline:

  • Breakfast: A Smoothie / Porridge made with Oat or Soya Milk / Vegan friendly cereals with Oak Milk
  • Snacks: Fruit / Vegetables / Handful of nuts and granola / dried fruit
  • Lunch: Brown rice and veggies / Tabouleh / Beans and Salad / Falafel and Pitta Bread / Sauerkraut, Rice and Veggies
  • Dinner: Bean Stew / Udon Noodles and Veggies / Tofu, Miso and Rice / Soup
  • Dessert: Vegan friendly desserts / Baked Fruits / Tea

That's it folks, join me in my next post for a detailed explanation of the new lifestyle and the book! 

Helen

Friday, 24 September 2010

Day 32 - A leap of Kind faith

Without knowing it, today I actually lived a day of a Vegan and I have to say, it's been a particularly harmonious and stress free experience. 

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Having read a lot 'The Kind DIet' by Alicia Silverstone in a day, I've taken on board a lot of things she has written and overall it's an extremely inspiring book.  It's taught me a lot about the body and not only do I feel like the research correlates with a lot of what Michael Pollan says in 'The Omnivore's Dilemma' but it also makes a lot of scientific sense (although I'm not a scientist myself, I do know how to use Google pretty efficiently). 
As I've mentioned, leaping into the vegan lifestyle was never my intentions (at least for now) and I wanted to 'flirt' with it and see how things went.   As far as I could see, giving up eggs, milk and fish was just too much of a sacrifice.  Having read through her book, it's become increasingly logical to abstain from these animals and animal by-products and really start healing my body with the good foods that Earth provides.  I don't know how long I can go without beloved salmon sashimi, cheese omelettes and milk smoothies but for now, I think I can go without.
In saying this, I do have something quite interesting to report.  At the very beginning on The Slimming Strategy, I found that my skin began to clear up and my acne was rapidly disappearing.  It was phenomenal for the first week and since the second week, it seems to come back.  Having made the connection between cutting out red meat, fried goods and processed sugary crap out of my diet I slowly realised that it had something to do with reintroducing something back into my diet that was causing my skin to flare up again. 
Alas, I realised that I'd suddenly given into some processed flour goods and started consuming more dairy than before (remember that huge lump of cheese we bought last Saturday?).  I looked through The Kind Diet only to find that my hunch was correct.  She says that with the hormone levels in milk (which by the way is designed for baby cows to drink, not adult humans) milk can break her out and make her fart a lot! 
So since  yesterday I cut out a lot more dairy and today I didn't touch any and strangely enough, my skin has started healing again.  I will have to report on how to this goes but as far as I can see... I'm experiencing some amazing things with this new life style.

Furthermore, one thing that must be cleared up is that I'm not actually using The Kind Diet as a method of weight loss.  Alicia makes it quite clear that by adopting this lifestyle, you will naturally lose weight and glow from within.  Having embarked on this new flirtatious adventure with the vegan lifestyle, I've realised that without knowing, I've become increasingly concerned about my health and body, as opposed to my weight and looks.  The Kind Diet has taught me a lot and reaffirmed a lot of what I thought about my body and how I wanted to treat it.  So for the last few days, rather than concentrating on calories, I've been searching through The Kind Diet and found that it suits my style perfectly.  Now it's about finding the balance between putting nutritious, wholesome foods into my body, eating the right proportions and exercising vigorously.  This journey continues....

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Talking about exercise, I've finally completed three days of running this week.  My body is absolutely exhausted and I am very tired.  Needless to say, I feel fantastic and I can actually feel my muscles now; before I wasn't sure they existed.  I don't feel like any weight is shifting but I'm assuming my body is getting used to a lot of changes and is just adapting.  I'm sure within time, it shall drop off!

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Finally, on to today's food

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Check out what I had for lunch.  What do you think this is?  A bowl of rice?  Surely NOT Helen. No, it's not actually.  Today I used cauliflower (yes you heard me) as a substitute for rice and fried it with spring onions and mushroom.  The cauliflower, when mashed lightly into bits, gives a similar texture to rice and therefore can become a fabulous alternative.  It was a wonderful wholesome bowl of goodness that I ate with...

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Crispy baked tofu with a fruit soy sauce.  When I perfect the recipe, I shall pass it on to you.

 

For dinner I made lasagne again!  This time I use courgette as my pasta sheets and used beans instead of meat.  We even convinced my brother in law to have the vegetarian version and he gobbled it all up.  His version had pasta and cheese, whilst my sister opted for pasta-less but with cheese.  I was a bit hardcore and skipped both pasta and cheese.

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Do you see which section belonged to whom?  I was so stuffed by the end of it I'm almost sure I overate.  But I overate on carrots, peppers, onions, courgettes, tomatoes and beans....so I really doubt it was serious.

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Seeing as I'm not exercising until Tuesday again (turns out, I'm going to be busy on Sunday) I will be back on diligent calorie counting. Let's hope tomorrow is going to be as equally as uplifting.

Helen

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Day 31 - Intense Running, Resistance Training, The Kind Diet

I'm taking each day as it comes and each day is a challenge, an obstacle and a gift.  I am spending every day working towards goals and developing myself as a person.  I know I have to go back to university soon and even though it's only one day a week, I'm slightly anxious about it because it's going back to a life I did not like.  I am, however, determined to get this right and do well because after all, in the last month I've become a warrior so what can really stop me?

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Today's Food

On to other things, today I ate really well.  Here is a picture of breakfast - Overnight Oats with Apple and Yoghurt

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Overnight oats were made by soaking organic oats in apple juice over night, and then mixing it with organic low fat yoghurt in the morning, shredded apple (organic :D) and half a teaspoon of Agave Nectar.

This was lunch - a bean salad tortilla wrap

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I used a wholemeal tortilla wrap from Discovery.  The filling is black eye beans with organic lettuce, yellow pepper, onion, spring onion and cherry tomatoes.  Seasoning was chilli powder, pepper and parsley.  I parsley EVERYTHING.

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For dinner it was meatballs because I was away on Meatball Monday.   Today I decided to make the shift of eating meat balls to  a vegetarian option so as there was left over beans I pan fried some bean cakes for myself.  Otherwise the family had turkey meatballs in a spicy tomato sauce, and we all had oven roasted butternut squash, tomatoes and onions with stir fried kale and lemon and butter quinoa.  (meatballs on the left, bean cakes on the right)

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Sausage Fear

Today I actually had this strange and intense need for meat.  I don't know why but I had been holding this craving back since the day before so I finally fried up a sausage to satisfy my craving.  The particular beef and mustard sausage was fried without any oil on a non stick pan.  Check it out:

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Can you see how much oil comes out of the sausage alone?  I have to say that might be my last sausage for a long time because I did not feel good afterwards, both physically and emotionally.  I think it just highlights exactly why I no longer want processed meats in my system - just look at it!

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Running

I went for an intense run today and this time it was early evening around 4pm.  The sun was lowering but the breeze was still present and the sky was beautifully blue.  I did the same 0.08 mile stretch over and over again and today my body was just not working as hard as it was yesterday.  My mind seemed to stop me today but in saying this I ran a good 20 minutes and sweated a fair bit.  The work out included press ups and bench presses against the railings because I wanted to shed my arm weight, tone up and grow stronger. I am now feeling quite broken but very, very alive.

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The Kind Diet, by Alicia Silverstone, finally arrived at my door today!  I am incredibly excited and fascinated by the book and concept.  This is what I've been looking for all along and this book speaks to me like no other book has (besides a few other life changing books I will tell you about another time).  The Kind Diet talks of a vegan lifestyle, of a sustainable, honest, kind to earth, plant based diet and while I don't know whether I can commit to it, I can definitely be a flirt for as long as I want.  Learning about this lifestyle and educating myself on alternative recipes will only expand my palette and love for foods - this is definitely a journey I want you all to join me on. 

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What a fascinating day.  I'm finding that I am procrastinating in certain areas of my life so tomorrow is a day of clearing up odds and ends and facing up to things I haven't done in a long time.  Also I haven't been counting calories properly but have been eating sensibly.  I feel little change in my body as of yet but perhaps by the end of the week we shall see results.  Tomorrow I will try to monitor my calorie intake a little more and make tomorrow's run a good one before a rest until Sunday!

 

Good night x

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Day 30 - Cabbage Soup and Running hardcore

Cabbage Soup

I made the most amazing soup today; remember that gigantic cabbage I bought from the market for £1?  Well it turned into a really good wholesome soup.

 

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The recipe is slightly tricky because I didn't actually note it down but I will give you a good outline so you can make your own.  This recipe is very filling, low calorie and wonderfully nutritious.  Even the non soup eaters at home gobbled it up.

For stock:

  1. Boil (or pressure cook) prawn shells (or chicken or vegetables), onions, 3 bay leaves, black pepper and garlic together. 
  2. For pressure cooker, cook for 45 minutes.  For normal boiling, boil an hour and a half.  Otherwise, boil less and you will get a milder flavour.  Or use a stock cube!

Ingredients needed:

  1. A 'good' amount of Cabbage
  2. 200g of Lean Smoked Bacon
  3. Spinkling of Mozzarella
  4. 10g of Butter
  5. Tea spoon of minced garlic

Rough Method Outline:

  1. Gently saute chopped cabbage with garlic until cabbage has softened slightly.  Drop in 10g or so of butter and stir.
  2. Add in stock and allow stock to heat up
  3. Pressure cook for ten minutes (or boil for 20 minutes)
  4. Blitz the soup with a processor (I used a hand blender)
  5. Drop in some mozzarella cheese and stir.
  6. Bring soup back up to boil and drop in sliced bacon and shredded cabbage.  Stir.
  7. Allow cabbage and bacon to cook and then season to taste. I did not add any salt because the stock was so flavoursome (again, stock has no salt!).

So I hope that was remotely useful and perhaps gave some inspiration.

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Running hardcore

Tonight was a very special night for me because for the first time, since running, I've worked my body so hard I feel absolutely shattered.  Before I used to run I would be tired and sweaty but nothing quite like tonight. 

My Sister and I decided to go running in the park at around 9.30pm and we were accompanied by my brother in law who was roller blading around. We couldn't run around the park because a lot of it was too dark and a bit scary so there was one stretch that was close to the entrance and very brightly lit.  We decided to run from one end to the other on and on and on.  It was exhausting because we would run non stop to the end and I didn't work out how long that distance was but it's long enough for me to start losing my breath by the 4/5's of each stretch.  I was training my body to  use the oxygen intake efficiently and I found that each time I ran it became easier.  Don't get me wrong, it wasn't easy for me.  I'm incredibly unfit but I am fitter than I was three weeks ago.  What a liberating training session and we are going again tomorrow.  RAWR!

I'm also seeking out a good reputable whey protein so I can start feeding my body the correct amount of protein for these intense work outs.  I am looking for one that builds lean muscle mass and this is important for fat burning so I can lose weight effectively.  I'm interested in the PhD nutrition Diet Whey and really excited about possibly purchasing it.  I feel like a frickin' athlete in the making.

I need to rest... I might dream about running now.

Good night!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Food for Thought; Covent Garden; London; Vegetarian

Money Spent: Drink, Main and Dessert for £13.  Friend: Meal Deal for £7.
Atmosphere: 4.5/5
Food: 5/5
Service: 5/5
Value: 5/5

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Welcome to my first proper Eating Out Review and I'm delighted to start the ball rolling with such a wonderful place. 

For the longest time I've been wanting to having a meal at Food for Thought which is situated in Covent Garden along the very trendy Neal Street.  The restaurant itself is small and somewhat cramped but it is definitely worth taking a visit.  If all else fails, they do take away so nothing should stop you!

Food for Thought has been serving hearty and wholesome vegetarian meals since 1974 and their approach is both quirky yet no frills.  Their fast food is not only 'unpretentious' but it is effectively food for the soul.  The restaurant make a point of not using processed foods (yay!) in their cooking, nor do they use microwaves or deep freeze their food.  Everything is fresh and delivered to you quickly and warm heartedly.  You will find an array of different cuisine influences across their menu selection ranging from Asia all the way to the Mediterranean.  While others might find the food place small and cramped, a lot of people find their 'organised chaos' delightful.   I, for one (who is slightly claustrophobic) found it a charm. 

My friend and I went to eat before attending a fashion catwalk in the Freemason's Hall.  Despite having gone to countless restaurants all my life, walking in felt slightly intimidating because of the unconventional nature of the environment. 
You can view the menu from outside (and I do recommend you do this because of how busy it can get) and then you may go downstairs (!) and order.

Once you are downstairs there is the serving counter and a sweet, cosy arrangement of chairs and tables to your right; towards the end of the room is also some low tables where you may make yourself comfortable on the floor and relax with your food.  Every table has a jug of water that is shared as well as little dishes of brown sugar and pepper. 

The food that was laid out in front of me on the counter looked incredibly delicious.  I was so tempted to buy absolutely everything.  There is an evening special every night as well as different options of salads, home comfort food, breads, desserts, soups and organic drinks.  The menu offers meal deals which come at incredibly reasonable prices or you may choose a la carte.

I chose their evening special of carrot and courgette fritters with beetroot cous cous and potatoes. 

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I have to say it was one of the most delightful meals I've had in a long time.  I usually associate fritters with a lot of grease and fat but this tasted both light yet comforting.  If this is on for specials when you visit, I would definitely recommend this!

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My friend had their Shepherdess Pie which was also fantastic.  The pie was made with aduki beans and the mash was beautifully luxurious.  It actually tasted like a wholesome shepherds pie which is something that I find most vegetarian versions lack.  The portion seems small but this definitely packs a punch and you will not, I repeat, will not, need dessert afterwards.

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Although if you do decide to have dessert, like us, I recommend their Strawberry and Banana scrunch which is what I had.  Unfortunately I didn't have time to finish it so we took out desserts away!  It was just as well because I was so full by the end of the main course I felt like I was going to explode.  My friend had their apple and pear crumble and boy is that a hug in a bowl; perhaps lacking a bit of custard but on its own its great.

One of the greatest things about Food for Thought is the atmosphere in which embraces you the moment you begin to eat.  Everyone has a mission to eat down there (because the food is so damn good)  but there is a great buzz of chatter and laughter.  Something that you won't experience much in other restaurants is the code of sharing tables that takes place.  As the restaurant is so small, a lot of people join others on tables and while I found that slightly daunting at first, I became quickly accustomed to it and it reminded me a lot of my home town cafes in Hong Kong.  This highlights how homely this place is and brings my attention as to what this place is all about; sharing the enjoyment of food with others.  Whilst I don't want to risk sounding like a hippie, it felt like a peace circle where everyone joined for the same ideals and principles - good food with good people. 
I was actually very overwhelmed by how friendly the customers and staff were.  Not only were the ones I ate with were lovely, the staff also treat you with a lot of respect and kindness.  When I happened to be eating, the place was at its peak time but they didn't rush me and were very considerate.

If I HAD to find something I didn't like about them is their use of Styrofoam cups they use for take away purposes.  Honestly, it doesn't bother me much but for those environmentalists our there this would not strike a good chord.  I have not checked out their toilets but when you're literally in there to eat and go, they really won't bother me. 

Overall I have to say that it was an extremely memorable meal out and one of the most interesting.  Over the many, many places I've eaten in my lifetime, Food for Thought is definitely on a league of its own and if I can find another place that warms my heart as much as this one, I will be living in heaven.

Good eating, people!

 

Monday, 20 September 2010

Warm Kale and Quinoa Salad

Previously I had made a different version of this kale salad and you can view that here.  I wanted to show you the basic components of my current favourite kale dish that is packed FULL of nutrients and is incredibly filling.  For the sake of those who are counting calories, I will note them down for you but for those who are just into food, use whatever you want and however much!  Just enjoy :)

 

kale salad

Ingredients:

  • Kale (80g = 22kcal)
  • Boiled Egg (Large egg approx. 78kcal)
  • One sheet of Nori Seaweed (10kcal)
  • Sesame seeds (1tsp = 52kcal) - Nice toasted
  • Mushrooms (100g = 28kcal)
  • Quinoa (30g = 110kcal)
  • Peppers (50g = 16kcal)
  • Courgettes (50g = 8kcal)

Season with some salt, pepper, chilli flakes, sesame oil and lemon juice.  Try some sweet balsamic vinegar as well!

Other substitutes that are great included:

  • Grilled onions
  • Grilled tomatoes
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Butternut squash
  • Broad beans

Method:

  1. Cook quinoa to instructions
  2. Boil egg to your preference
  3. Try fry the mushrooms in a tiny bit of oil (I like sesame oil) and make sure not to overcook
  4. Shred and blanch the kale
  5. Shred up all ingredients
  6. Mix together in a bowl, toss with seasoning
  7. Pile all together on a plate and halve the egg on top.  Eat.

Day 28 ~ Resisting the resistance, Running, Weigh in worries and 21 day challenge

I've been away for the last few days because it's just been a very abysmal end to the week and there hasn't been much to report besides that every day was a struggle.

The bladder infection seems to be coming on and off and so that situation is bothering me at times but it's not worrying me.  Funnily enough what is stressing me out the most is this familiar feeling of giving up and restlessness.  For some reason I've lost focus on what the actual objective of this whole new lifestyle change was and all of a sudden I'm finding white processed flour and fatty meats slipping into my diet.  I'm being on harsh on myself obviously because it's not like I've let slip that badly but I think what upsets me most is that my mindset is not right.

Don't get me wrong - I still love the way I was and am living.  I am very passionate about how my life is changing and my new embrace of natural eating but somehow the fire that was in my belly has turned onto a medium setting.  I'm not expecting to be hardcore all the time but I'm starting to panic because it's usually times like this that I just give up and fall back into my old routine.

In a bid to remind myself of why I'm doing this, I picked up "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan and began reading again.  I've been reading this since I bought it but I decided to read some more to see if it would do much.  Within a few minutes I was reminded about some of the reasons why I no longer eat fast food and why reading labels are so important.  I then re-listened to Alicia Silverstone's talk about The Kind Diet on Youtube and now, at midnight, my heart feels a little less panicked. 
It occurred to me that I had not yet bought a copy of The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone so I've ordered it alongside Peter Singer's Animal Liberation. Both books, I'm sure, will be detrimental to my ever evolving eating habits and I'm incredibly excited to receive them in the post this coming week. Perhaps they will keep me on the straight and narrow.

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I haven't been eating too badly recently but my usual 50% fruit and vegetable intake seems to have gone down to a mere 40% and I've been reaching for the starches more often.  The recent weather change has not helped and is possibly the cause of my body's calling for comfort food. 
In a bid to regain my nutrient intake as well as satisfying my feeling for comfort, I will be making a lot more soups, warm and filling salads, porridge oats and vegetarian lasagne. I also have in mind to use my gigantic cauliflower that I picked up from the farmers market as a substitute for rice in a at-home, healthy 'Special Fried Rice'.  Don't know how to do this?  I shall post it up when I do it for you.

I went running again today so that's three days this week that I have exercised!  I am very happy about that and I want to continue making three days the minimum amount of times I work out in a week.  I'm enjoying running and very excited about progressing and running further.  In three running 'sessions' I've noticed that my fitness levels are already changing and I can run for a little for longer and further now.  I find it both shameful and hilarious that old men and women jog past me in the park and more often than not they will lap me over and over again.  Perhaps I can lap a fat kid one day when I get old. 

I almost know that I will not drop any weight this week.  I'm very in-tune with my body and I can tell when I have lost weight or even inches.  I think if there is change it's going to be minimal and I'm trying to work out why this is especially considering this week I did the most exercise.  A lot of people talk about muscle being more dense than fat and hydration issues, body hording fat issues etc etc but the truth is, I have no answer and I'm sure there is more to it than one straight answer anyway.  I take it that this will happen from time to time and I can't allow myself to think that a whole week was wasted (although that is how I feel).  I need to remember that a week of healthy living was a reclaim to life and if no weight was lost then at least life was gained.  Also another important note is that if you watch The Biggest Loser, quite often contestants find this happening in week 2 or 3 and they say this is normal because your body is still adjusting.  OK, I've finally talked myself out of being too worried about it.

The 21 Day challenge is also not going particularly well.  The first seven day has passed and out of the seven days I've only managed to wake up at 8am for three days.  Granted I'm still waking up in the morning but it's usually between 9-10am.  Again, I don't want to be too harsh on myself but I really need to pull the reigns in and start focussing. 

I come away from this post concluding that the new week is officially upon me and now it's time to refocus and keep reclaiming life.  It's time to re-educate and move on to bigger and slimmer things.  I'm slightly nervous about my weigh in tomorrow but what will be, will be. 

Tomorrow, I will make sure the week starts off with a bang.

Helen

Sunday, 19 September 2010

The Bladder Infection

Just as I thought it was leaving, after a day, it seems to have come back and I'm due for a run tomorrow afternoon.  I just feel like I'm never going to beat it.  It makes me so anxious and depressed that I just can't concentrate or do anything. I really hate the idea of taking antibiotics which is why I go through the lengths of eating less cheap meats (well, that's one of the reasons) and sticking to home remedies for everything.  There is only so much sugary cranberry juice I can consume!  I can't get hold of 100% cranberry besides on the internet and I need it NOW. 

So tomorrow I must wake up and buy three cartons.  I shall drink them all and clear out my system, then I will go for a run on which I am bringing my sister in law and I cannot fail her.  

I need more sleep. 

Friday, 17 September 2010

My Half-Way Goal Jeans!

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Here is a picture of me at my slimmest.  I am wearing my smallest jeans I own which is a size 12 from Next.  I was on Sure Slim at the time and was about 11st 6lbs.  This was October 2007.

 

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Here I am trying to wear them now.  I am 12st 2lbs and I'm struggling to wear them.  I think if I tried wearing them at the beginning of this journey it would have been even more traumatic.  So these jeans have become my half way goal jeans.  When I can fit into these again, I will be both proud and even more driven to continue.   By then, I will be a happy size 12. 

Here's to skinny jeans!

Granola and Yoghurt Breakfast / Cheese Salad Tortilla

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Yeo Valley Organic Natural Low Fat Yoghurt 140g / 58kcal
Strawberries 60g / 19kcal
Blueberries 20g / 11kcal
Jordan's Strawberry Country Crisp 20g / 88kcal
= 176kcal

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Asda Wholemeal Tortilla Wrap (not recommended, full of weird stuff) 72g / 199kcal
Raw Red Pepper Sliced 30g / 9kcal
Cucumber Sliced 50g / 8kcal
OrganicTomatoes Sliced 123g / 22kcal
Asda Mild Grated Mozzarella Cheese 10g / 30kcal
Drizzle of Passion Fruit Balsamic 1/2 tsp 10kcal (estimate)
= 278kcal

 

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