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 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,



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?


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?


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'.


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.


Hale & Hearty Quick and Easy Falafel Mix

DSC01693 DSC05943

  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.


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!


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?


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!


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.


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.



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!