Thursday, 31 March 2011

Losing weight the Sog way

Today was my weekly weigh-in, and I lost another 5 lb. This loss means my BMI is finally back in the "ideal" range, at just over 24. It also means I've lost 34 lb since I started dieting and running at the beginning of January. And I've dropped two dress sizes (at least!).

Someone asked me today how I continue to have such good weight loss several months after I started dieting and running. Surely weight loss begins to slow down after you've lost a lot of weight?

I think there are several reasons.

First, we all know the adage "muscle weighs more than fat". So, as you exercise more then weight loss will tail off because you're building muscle. That's right, yes? Well, I've spent the past 2 years building up core strength and muscle tone at circuit training. So I already have muscle lurking under my fat! So maybe that's it.

Second, I work out damn hard. I run four times a week (Tuesday and Thursday nights with my local running club and Saturday AM and Sunday PM on my own). I don't just run a couple of miles at a leisurely pace. I run between 4 and 5 miles, at a pace around 10 min 30 s per mile (slightly obsessive about pace!) And I still go to circuit training once a week :)

Third, my diet's changed a lot. I don't drink alcohol at all (except for special occasions or if it's Sunday night and I'm peed off because I just injured myself...). I don't eat bread anymore because it's high calorie (130 kcal a slice, in addition to spread and whatever else you're eating with it). Bear in mind, I used to eat so much toast before January! Toast for breakfast, perhaps a toasty for lunch, toast as a snack while I was working (I love toast). I don't eat cheese, biscuits, cakes, sweets, chocolate, ice cream, or crisps either. No snacking! If I'm hungry between meals I tend to have a drink...

I've made changes or added things to my diet too. I eat a lot more fish than I used to, which is low calorie and a good source of protein. I eat lots more fruit and veg, but not as much potato. I always eat breakfast, and I try to have carbs for lunch instead of dinner, especially if I'm running later that day. For dinner I might have homemade soup or a salad, nothing too heavy. If I'm on a rest day then I eat with the family but have a small portion.

This plan suits me and my lifestyle well, based on my exercise and home routine. It might not suit you. I hope though it might give you some ideas and help you towards your weight loss goals.

Thanks for reading. Please leave a comment if you have any tips to share.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Not missing the office

Some days, I really miss being employed.
  • Living in London
  • The bustle of the daily commute (reading Metro more like)
  • Being offered cannabis at 7.30am on Inverness St (OK, I can do without that!)
  • Social interaction with colleagues.

But other days, I'm glad I'm self-employed.
  • When my kids are poorly and I can drop work and go and pick them up within 2 minutes of receiving the phone call from school. 
  • When I fancy lunch at 11am and I can stop and make myself something (instead of holding on until 12 for the canteen to open!). 
  • I can't go and spend unnecessary £££ in Gap on Camden High Street (yes, I have heard of online shopping...). 
  • When I'm tired and need a nap (shhhh!). 
  • I don't have to contribute to wedding, retirement, birthday, charity collections. 
  • And I'm not tempted by the biscuits, cakes, and sweets that appear from colleagues who have been on holiday.

Today, I've had emails inviting me to eat:
  • Biscuits
  • Something high-calorie (unspecified)
  • Reese's peanut cups (drool)
  • Leftover sandwiches... (yum, tasty)
Is it any wonder I've weighed more than 13 stone for the past 10 years?! (I don't weigh that now BTW.)

Right, back to work :)

Sunday, 20 March 2011

My musical history

I admitted to a Twitter follower recently that I have a secret love for Katy Perry. This admission made me realise how much my music tastes have changed over the years.

When I was 11, I asked for a Walkman for Christmas. My parents bought me the best one around at the time, with cassette player AND a radio. Whoop.

I loved those equaliser switches, no idea what they did.

Sadly, I was a bit limited in music tastes and I asked for a Wet Wet Wet tape to go with it (Memphis Sessions - 1988).

By the time I was 13, I had discovered Radio 1 and music my parents didn't like. Me and my sister were masters of the mix tape (pause and record). The Walkman had been replaced by a series of "portable" radio cassette/CD players (portable in that they had handles and you could make them work outside if you put 8 'D' batteries in them).

Around this time I spent a summer working for my dad and earned (in 6 weeks) the grand total of £30, part of which I spent on a KLF album (The White Room - 1991) and Boss Drum (1992) by The Shamen.

The rest I took with me to my first music festival. My Church youth group leader agreed to take me, my sister, and our friend Mel to Greenbelt. Here began my indie/rock/grunge phase, which included bands such as The Levellers, Why?, and Eden Burning. I went to Greenbelt throughout the 90s; the highlight was seeing Moby live in 1995, totally awesome (he was VERY rocky at Greenbelt, surprised many people because he was best known for Go, but I loved him).

From 1993, I was studying for A Levels, working at Millets, and spending too much time in Our Price. I was buying Blur, Oasis, Pulp, Elastica, etc and sitting in fields listening to local bands. I wasn't cool enough for the Madchester bands (although I secretly liked The Stone Roses) but I fell hard for Britpop.

In 1995, I moved to Leeds and discovered that, despite going to clubs back home, I knew NOTHING about dance music. I realised that I actually didn't like nightclubs, and I retreated into 70s and 80s music, forming into a love for Brutus Gold's Love Train (70s night) and Top Banana (80s music). I also discovered Jazzy Keks in Blackburn, and began to shun mainstream nightclubs for small seedy places where I could dance the night away to The Jacksons.

After graduating and moving to London, my music tastes didn't change (I rarely went clubbing, but if I did I preferred the cheesier clubs). I liked chart music, whatever was on the radio really. Radio One's Live Lounge has educated me recently, and I highly recommend the Live Lounge CDs. My particular favourites are Florence and the Machine's cover of Halo, and Ironik's version of Tiny Dancer (both on Live Lounge 4).

Nowadays, I'm listening to Heart FM and being influenced by music I have to work out to on Wednesday nights (too weakened to resist). So that includes Lady Gaga, Black Eyed Peas, and Rihanna, and my current favourite: Dynamite by Taio Cruz.

But, I'm claiming Katy Perry for my own.

Seriously, what's not to love about Katy, hmm?
During the writing of this blog post, I listened to Dynamite six times and California Gurls twice.

Friday, 18 March 2011

What makes a friend?

I was thinking today about friendship, wondering what it is that defines a friend. Is seeing someone every week, having a laugh and a bit of a chat together enough to say "yes, we're friends"? Or are you only "common and indifferent acquaintances" and in need of something extra to seal the bond of friendship? Do you need to know the intricacies of someone else's life to be a friend?

I have a couple of friends from university who I last saw 2 years ago. Before then, it was another 2 years since I'd seen them. What makes us stay friends despite so many years passing? That ability to "pick up where you left off". Is it shared experiences, memories, time?

I wondered this as I stood in the school playground this afternoon, dozens of friendly people to chat to, many of whom I'd spent a night or two in the pub with, but probably only two or three I felt I could actually call friends. The ones I knew I could ring to ask a favour without question or refusal.

I think I was feeling a bit sorry for myself, and nostalgic for the time I lived in London. Remembering the great friends I made when I had just had my son and felt isolated at home; remembering working in an office and having a social life!

I moved from London 4 years ago. I again had feelings of isolation that I had after the birth of my son, so I attempted to make friends straightaway. I went to toddler groups with my son, I started going to Church. I found it very difficult but I did eventually make a few good friends. I still feel, though, after 4 years, like I'm on the outside looking in.

Perhaps I need to make an effort to interact more. Maybe I need to be patient. Or, I should just be happy with the friends I have and work at building some good memories with them, that we can reminisce about in years to come.

Or maybe I should stop thinking so damn hard when I'm on the school run.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

It's that time again: Wednesday Wii Fit weigh-in

Here I am again, Wednesdays seem to come around so quickly. I've got the Wii balance board out and I'm contemplating stepping on to see if I've lost any weight this week.

I'm not sure I will have though. This week has been marked by bad diet choices. It was my husband's birthday last week. I've drunk alcohol, eaten two cooked breakfasts (albeit grilled or poached rather than fried), and dipped deep-fried food in sour cream. I feel queasy just remembering!

I did make some good choices too. I tried steamed mussels, ate lots of plain salads, and discovered slimline tonic with ice and lemon is just as nice without gin ;)

On the exercise front, the weekend wasn't spent very energetically! We swam and cycled, but 3 hours bobbing in a wave pool and meandering down a water slide, or following a 5yo on his bike, aren't massive calorie-burners.

But, I did get a good run on Thursday night before we left for holiday, and last night too. And I had to run to the local train station this morning to pick my car up! Monday night saw the return of the hula hoop (I have bruises!). So perhaps not as bad as I feared?

So the verdict... I lost, nothing.

I also gained nothing, so overall I'm pleased (and relieved). It seems I can splurge once in a while and eat an unhealthy meal or enjoy a night out. But not every week!

The diet and exercise routine are now back in full swing!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, 14 March 2011

Finding my waist

Last year for my birthday, during a bout of fitness freakiness, I asked my husband to get me a skipping rope and a hula hoop. Both have remained largely hidden ever since (and it's very difficult to hide a hula hoop).

I wanted to get the hula hoop after using the Wii Fit and enjoying the hoop exercise on that. I always could feel a difference around my waist. But dragging the Wii balance board out every day was annoying (and just never happened).

In view of my recent weight loss and strange enthusiasm for exercise, and because my abdominal muscles are still woefully weak, I've dusted off the hula hoop in an effort to strengthen my abdominal muscles and tone my waist (there are many other benefits too).

I'm very sensitive about my stomach and ab muscles, and I feel uncomfortable every time I'm asked to "engage them" during circuit training. So I think additional home workouts are key from here on.

So tonight, I've devised an ab workout, which includes a selection of crunches and curls (and back exercises too) that I've learnt at aerobics and circuits. I finished with 12 mins of hula hooping (alternating left and right orientation every 2 mins with rest periods). I did 12 mins because I started to get quite sore, I think time is something I'll have to increase slowly with this.

I just need to remember to do this workout daily now. (Umm, maybe not daily. LOL)

Next up, find that skipping rope...

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Lazy days

We're having a lazy afternoon, sitting in front of a roaring log fire watching various wild birds on our patio. Lack of sleep has caught up with 3yo and she's fast asleep on the sofa. (Despite her demanding that we go swimming at lunchtime!)

We had a cycle ride this morning, 5yo leading the way. Really pleased that he's not forgotten how to ride his bike without stabilisers. He learnt during a camping trip in the summer but we've not had many opportunities to consolidate his new skill. He's full of confidence though, which is lovely to see.

Back to the holiday villa for various lunches (pasta for 5yo, cheese and biscuits for hubs, salad for me). Think I might be addicted to chilli (or Nando's Hot Peri Peri Sauce at any rate). I wonder what chilli addiction is called?

We'll head to the swimming pool later once 3yo wakes up. Then we're set for a takeaway tonight before packing for our return home tomorrow. Holidays are over so quickly.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Easy like Sunday morning

Aaah, there's nothing better than having a long lie in on Sunday... So why the heck was I up at 5am?!

My 3yo daughter has been up what feels like every 2 hours (2 toilet breaks and 1 falling out of bed incident). She doesn't lie in bed and shout for me, or cry (which are both still annoying), she gets out of bed, walks into my bedroom, stands next to my face, and shouts at me (or pokes me continually in the arm until I wake up). No ignoring that!

Both kids were properly awake by 6am, so I tried morning fare of an iPad each, and biscuits and juice. After 2 mins I get a shout of "ants!" and I discover the coffee table in our Center Parcs villa is covered in the insects. Yuk. After eradicating as many of those as I could (they must be living inside the table because they aren't anywhere else) I was fully awake and realised I wasn't getting any more rest.

So, I've had an early start and am consequently a bit moody (I drank too much last night at my husband's birthday dinner, so I have a 'slight' headache). But, we are on holiday, and since nothing opens until 10am here, I'm chilling on the sofa in my PJs (hoping my husband will make breakfast today, but it's not looking likely). Kids are making aliens from a kit we were given by a friend. It's actually quite relaxing... (and the view's not bad).




- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Friday, 11 March 2011

Birthday break

For the past 3 years, usually in February or March, we've gone to Center Parcs for a short break. This year we're at Elveden for my husband's birthday.

We were super-organised at packing this morning (the kids did wake us up at 5am though), and we arrived just after 10am. We didn't want to swim (which is what most late-stayers and early-arrivers do), so we got the bikes off the car roof and cycled to find our villa. Except we took a wrong turning and ended up cycling a mile in the wrong direction. (Sack the mapreader.)

For lunch we stopped at Cafe Rouge (my favourite lunchtime spot). The menu is a dieter's nightmare though, everything is covered or cooked in either butter or cream. I settled rather apprehensively on steamed mussels in tomato and chilli sauce, with a plain side salad. I've never eaten mussels before so this was an experience, and very enjoyable I must say. The worse part was watching my kids leave ice cream sundaes.





The kids loved the massive playground we found outside, and we had it to ourselves, which was great (but really strange).





Now, the kids are playing in the spa bath, I've got a G&T to hand, and my husband is ogling the tech/girls in Stuff. We're all knackered, but looking forward to swimming tomorrow.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Heart attack-inducing chocolate chunk brownies

It's my husband's birthday today, the old man is 34 yet still gets ID'd for beer. Anyway, for a month, he's older than me, so he gets painful reminders. Like anti-ageing cream and an old-man hotwater bottle for presents, for example ;)

I wanted to bake him a cake, but I doubt even he can eat a whole one (and I won't help him eat it at the moment). My mum sent me a recipe for chocolate brownies; I loved them as a child, so I thought I'd make them. Here's the recipe.

Chocolate Chunk Brownies

Makes 16

125g unsalted softened butter, plus extra for greasing
200g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids), chopped into small pieces
275g light muscavado sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large free range eggs, beaten
100g plain flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin with baking paper. Put half the chocolate into a heatproof bowl, set over a pan of simmering water and melt. Remove the bowl from the heat and allow to cool a little while you make the mixture.
2. Put the butter in a large mixing bowl and, using a wooden spoon or electric hand mixer, beat until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and vanilla extract, then continue beating until soft and fluffy.
3. Gradually beat in the eggs, then sift over the plain flour and cocoa. Pour in the melted chocolate and stir everything together thoroughly. Stir in the remaining chopped chocolate pieces, then pour the mixture into the prepared tin.
4. Bake for 25-30 minutes until just firm to the touch, but still soft and gooey in the centre. Leave to cool in the tin (they will continue to cook as they cool) then transfer to a board, using the paper to lift them out. Dust with more cocoa powder and cut into squares. Eat warm or at room temperature.

Heart attack-inducing, yet so tasty. My son ate one, my husband managed two (I sneaked a corner that "fell off").

There are 12 left; who wants one?


Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Introducing the Wii Fit Weigh in

My followers on Twitter will already be aware of my weekly Wii Fit weigh-in. Ever since I started dieting (& running) at the beginning of January, I've been weighing myself every Wednesday, just before lunch, on my Wii. I use the same scales and settings for the sake of consistency rather than accuracy.

Since I've decided to give up Twitter for Lent, I'm going to be blogging about my weight loss here, and I'll add details of the exercise I did and highlights of my diet.

So, last week, I had a bad few days. I was getting a bit down about my diet and felt I wasn't getting much support at home. I went for a run on Thursday night (3 miles) but came home in a bit of a mood and failed to eat dinner. I also failed to eat breakfast and lunch the next day, so I was in a bit of a bad frame of mind. However, my husband obviously had a sort of mind-reading moment at work and sent me a text offering to cook me a nice healthy dinner that evening, and after a chat later, we seem to have resolved a few issues. I also chatted on Twitter with some fellow dieters, who gave me some great tips.

On Saturday morning I got up at 5:50am and went for a run (I know, I am a bit mad!). I love running in the morning, it's so quiet and the sun comes up as you're out. I ran at least 5.5 miles, I'm not 100% sure of the final distance because my GPS app crashed on the final leg. But it was still a great run, in just over an hour. On Sunday afternoon I ran with my friend Becca and we did a similar distance in just under an hour. She pushes me a lot because her usual pace is much quicker.

I started this week being a lot more organised about my and the rest of the family's diet. I've planned meals that are healthy so I can eat with everyone, and hopefully I can get the kids to try new tastes at the same time (they loved chilli, with turkey mince instead of beef). I've also planned desserts so my husband doesn't feel like he's missing out. Although, he did eat a whole strawberry flan in one day, so perhaps that's not a good idea.

Tuesday night was running club, and we did speed work (alternating slow and fast runs). A great "last chance workout" for me, completely knackering, but left me feeling fab.

So, the announcement you're all waiting for, this week I lost ..... 4 lb. In a way it's sad that I had that bad couple of days, but maybe I needed them to help me focus and continue in a better frame of mind.

On to next week now, and tonight's circuit training class. Looking forward to it :)

Sunday, 6 March 2011

My weight loss story...so far

A few years ago, my son (age 3) turned to me and told me I was fat. That innocent observation was enough to make me realise I needed to change my lifestyle. So, I began going to an aerobics class once a week, and 6 months later I started circuit training too.

But, I didn't change my diet at all. Some nights I would come home from aerobics and drink two cans of beer! So, of course, I didn't lose weight, although I did improve my stamina and tone up in some places (arms mainly).

Around September 2010, I began to feel unhappy about my shape again. Both my kids had commented on my fat tummy. Of course, I'd noticed I hadn't lost weight doing the little exercise I did. It bugged me, but I didn't know what else I could do. I didn't think I could fit anything else in around childcare and work (which I did most evenings after the kids had gone to bed), and I certainly couldn't afford much more (I stopped going to aerobics in October after the instructor raised her class fee).

I started to think about my choices. My daughter was soon due to turn 3, meaning in January she would qualify for free childcare. If I planned properly I could work during the day, freeing my evenings for other things. After chatting on Twitter with someone from my village who had joined the local running club, I decided I would start running in January. I knew the person who ran the club, and he suggested I give it a go too. Decision made, I felt much happier.

I also realised my drinking was an issue and I needed to cut that back substantially. And if I was going to subject myself to the trauma of running, I might as well make it count by changing my diet. However, with Christmas approaching, I knew that starting a new diet straightaway would be doomed to failure. I decided that could wait until January too.

At the beginning of January, just before I started running, I roughly counted the calories I'd consumed in one day, and I was completely shocked at how many were in alcohol, chocolate, ice cream, etc. I resolved to make my diet count.

Now, I kind of wish I'd been organised and remembered to blog weekly about my weight loss, my diet, and my exercise routine, but honestly, I didn't think I would be so successful.

Diet-wise, I've cut out bread, cheese, alcohol, chocolate and other snacks. I eat lots of homemade soups or salads, or a much smaller version of the "family dinner". But it's real struggle. For example, I eat salad or soup then realise I didn't include any protein ... I avoid all fat but forget some fats are "good"... I'm unsure about carbs (when I should eat them, how much, etc). And, with my kids being fussy eaters and my stick-thin husband taking one look at wholewheat pasta and lentils and telling me he'll leave me if I make him eat them, I've sometimes been cooking two lots of meals a night. Very stressful, and makes me feel a bit useless sometimes.

My weight loss has been great though. I lost 7 lb the first week of my diet, 4 lb the next, and the weight continues to fall off. The more I lose, the more determined I am to make this weight stay off and never come back. (I've lost 21 lbs since January.) I've dropped a dress size too, going from a size 16-18 to size 14. I'm really pleased about this!

With respect to exercise, at the beginning of January I was running once a week, by the end of the month I was running once on my own at the weekend (just around the village), and now I'm running 4 times a week (to the next village and back). This weekend I ran over 10 miles. (As my running partner Becca says every time she sees me: "you're addicted, no doubt about it.")

There's definitely a feeling of panic though, I'm desperate not to put any weight back on. I'm sure one week I will, and I'll be gutted. But I know I've made a good choice, and I'm determined to stick with it. I'm definitely not going back to this...

Taken on New Year's Day, 2011, at about 2 am!
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