Friday, 31 July 2015

Avoiding Diet Temptations

Oh how I'm laughing as I write this blog post. Another timely post...

I've not not lost any weight today and I can't think why. It can't possibly have anything to do with the half packet of chocolate chip cookies I ate yesterday. Nope. Definitely not that.

Temptation is EVERYWHERE when you're dieting. I succumbed yesterday which is very annoying because I was all set to regale you all with helpful hints about how to avoid buying cack when you go shopping. You know what though? I'm going to tell you anyway. Do as I say, not as I did. I was better today. Honest.

I go to the supermarket everyday. So everyday, I am faced with aisle upon aisle filled with goodies. Well, baddies really, but nice tasting baddies. And everyday I am faced with the irony of the supermarket having Diabetes UK as its nominated charity when it peddles so much sugar and badness. But I digress. I have discovered two things that have really helped me to avoid temptation at the shop (except for yesterday).

Firstly, I eat before I head out. If I'm hungry, I'm much more likely to buy cack than I am when I'm feeling full.

Secondly, if I buy 'treats' for my son, I buy him things that I don't actually like so I'm not forced to eat them later. I try not to have anything that I should avoid in the house at all. That was the problem yesterday - I had bought biscuits because we have a visitor.

Gah. I'm so cross with myself for eating those biscuits. I felt really yucky afterwards too. Pffft. I have eaten much better today though...


Breakfast: Grapefruit and a Yakult (again)
Lunch: Tuna mayo and salad. What?! I like mayo, OK? 
Dinner: Omelette and a peach.
Snack: Ovaltine Options hot choccie drink. 
Drinks: 1.5l of tap water

This little lot adds up to about 528 calories according to FitBit. Not a lot of calories is it? I don't feel hungry though, so all good. Fingers crossed that tomorrow's weigh in will be better than today's one was!

FitBit Stats From Yesterday

Steps: 16,982
Distance: 6.88 miles
Active minutes: 99

My Stats

Current weight: 11st 8.2lbs (Same as yesterday. Booooooo.)
Next weight target: 11st 7lbs (pre-holiday weight)

TOMORROW: Cutting Out The Cack

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Gym vs Walking

I have chosen my blog subject well today as I have lost a whole pound in 24 hours, which I think is mostly down to having walked 17,000 steps yesterday. I can't be entirely certain, but my calorie intake yesterday was about the same as it was the day before (when I only lost 0.2lbs), but the difference in the number of steps I did is quite large. I also made a conscious effort to walk quickly yesterday, which should burn off more calories. Perhaps only doing 6,000 steps a couple of days ago contributed to me not losing much weight yesterday.

Obviously, this is in no way a scientific conclusion, but the fact is that I lost a pound in the last day, making 3.4lbs in just four days. I am eating less and eating better, and I am walking. Just walking. That's the only exercise I'm doing. I've been getting up and walking around the block a couple of times every couple of hours. FitBit is great for reminding me that I have been far too sedentary (lazy) for far too long, and motivating me to get up and MOVE.

I've been doing the walking thing for about six weeks now and have found that I can walk further and faster than I could to start with by quite some margin. We walk to the supermarket every day which has the added advantage of reducing our food wastage, although it does mean I'm faced with temptation every day. I try to walk everywhere locally and have reduced my fuel consumption by about £10/week. Excellent. I can put that into my pampering fund ;)

I used to go to the gym. I was doing the same diet at the time and so I think it's safe to say, in my unscientific way, that I have found that I am losing weight just as quickly by walking as I did when I belonged to the gym.

Walking is free. My favourite price to pay for anything.

The gym was good as it had some variety. You could work out different parts of your body and it was great for toning too. The people in the gym were all nice and I know from talking to the operations manager there, that they are really keen to help people get fit regardless of your starting point.

I may well go back to the gym if I want a new challenge, but for now, I will save the money and stick with walking further and faster to lose the pounds.

Give it a go! Just have a 5-10 minute walk 2-3 times a day and see how much better you feel.

Let's see how I'm doing...


Breakfast: Grapefruit and a Yakult
Lunch: erm... half a packet of chocolate chip cookies (that made me feel very lethargic)
Dinner: Pork loin and lots of salad with some mayo.
Snack: Ovaltine Options hot choccie drink. 
Drinks: 1.5l of tap water

This little lot adds up to about 900 calories according to FitBit.

FitBit Stats From Yesterday

Steps: 17,222 (following yesterday's debacle, I popped out and walked around the block every hour or so)
Distance: 6.82 miles
Active minutes: 137 

My Stats

Current weight: 11st 8.2lbs (About 3.4lbs down in four days)
Next weight target: 11st 7lbs (pre-holiday weight)

TOMORROW: Avoiding Temptation

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Being Good To Yourself

I've made a number of big changes in my life recently. Diet and exercise are two of them, but another change I've made in a bid to feel better about myself is to do a bit of self-indulgent pampering. As a working single mum, I rarely bother with doing anything for me, but actually it's very important for your inner well-being to take care of yourself. So I decided to try out a few little treats...

By far my favourite is thanks to the lovely Stephanie. I bumped into Stef in the gym one day (Woohoo! Get me, bumping into people in a gym!!!) and she told me about her new business. She's doing fake eyelashes. Not just any old ones though, the lashes she uses are very realistic and she glues each one to individual lashes - avoiding the baby lashes - so no looking like letter box draught excluders like the TOWIE girls. I can't tell you how thrilled I am with them. They make my eyes look really big and open. Check it out...

See how crappy my natural eyelashes are?

Ta da! This is my eye afterwards

Neat eh? I have no make up on at all in the second shot and I wake up with my eyes looking like that too. Shame no one gets to see that, but hey!

I have them topped up every fortnight. Well worth the money. EVERYONE notices how great my eyes look now. Check out Stef's site:

Cost: £85 (full set), £45 (top-up)

I've been getting my eyebrows threaded (ouch!) and dyed too. I'm a red head, so my eyebrows (and lashes) are naturally fair. Getting my eyebrows shaped and dyed has been a revelation too, although the first time they were done, the dye was too dark and I looked like a child had taken to me with a black marker pen.

Cost: £8 for threading and about £12 for both threading and dying.

I've had acrylics a few times because my nails have always been a bit flimsy, but since being on my diet, my nails are now quite strong and have grown of their own accord. Happy days! So, I have invested in five bottles of nail polish so I can spoil myself. I even had a pedicure.

Cost: £4/bottle of nail polish.

The one thing I've always liked about myself is my hair, but I've never done anything with it. Because it's long and straight, I can get away with leaving it alone for years. Not any more though. I've been getting it trimmed every eight weeks recently and it looks and feels great.

Cost £38

OK, some of these thing are expensive and won't be within everyone's budget. I can only just scrape together enough money for it, but it really does make me feel good, so I think it's worth it. You can buy face packs for £1 and treat yourself like that, and buying a bottle of nail polish isn't too bad.

Take a bit of time and do something nice for yourself. It's a really important part of your well-being.

Now, let's see how the diet's going...

Menu plan

Breakfast: Grapefruit and a Yakult
Lunch: Salmon and green salad
Dinner: Omelette. (Massively busy still, but trying to keep eating fairly healthily)
Snack: Ovaltine Options hot choccie drink. 
Drinks: 1.5l of tap water

This little lot adds up to about 820 calories according to FitBit.

FitBit Stats From Yesterday

Steps: 10,685 (following yesterday's debacle, I popped out and walked around the block every hour or so)
Distance: 4.24 miles
Active minutes: 86 

My Stats

Current weight: 11st 9.2lbs (About 2.5lbs down in three days)
Next weight target: 11st 7lbs (pre-holiday weight)

TOMORROW: Gym vs Walking

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

What Is A FitBit?

I love my FitBit. I got it from eBay for £45. It's just the basic 'Flex' one, but it has really helped me to realise how sedentary I am. (That's posh for 'lazy'). It's also made me think much more about what I eat.

Here's the thing, there's a very simple equation to weight loss (or gain!):

Calories In - Calories Out = Weight Gain/Loss

So, if you can get a handle on what you're eating and how many calories you're burning, you'll crack this equation. Calories in = what you eat/drink. Calories out = what you burn off through exercise and generally being alive. Simples.

My FitBit is synced to my phone and to my laptop and I have set it to losing 2lbs per week. I have plugged in my weight and I can list the food I eat so it can tell me how many calories I've consumed. It let's me know if that's more than I should have, or if I have some wiggle room. If you've over-done it with the food, you can move around more and watch the calories being worked off.

Because you wear your FitBit, it monitors the steps you take and it recognises when you're moving faster too. I've watched the steps as they register on my phone and I have to say that it's surprisingly accurate.

Even if it wasn't 100% accurate, it has made me see when I've not moved enough. My job involves me sitting at a desk. Some days, I sit here from dawn until... dawn actually. I've pulled numerous all-nighters to hit deadlines. This week is particularly busy for me and so I'm very conscious that I'm spending far too much time sitting on my backside. Yesterday, I spotted that I'd only done 700 steps all day and so I went marching around the block and got them up to 6,000. Not quite my target of 15,000 (!), but a lot better than it could have been. Today, I have forced myself to walk to the supermarket and have just returned from another brisk walk around the block. Bish bosh, that's 8,000 steps done on a day where I would otherwise not have done a tenth as much.

I even managed to lose some weight overnight - 0.6lbs gone. That's over 2lbs in 2 days. Bloomin' marvellous. The holiday weight will soon be gone.

You could do all of these things without a FitBit, or with another similar product, but I have truly found it to be a fab way of getting a handle on the weight loss equation.

Other cool functions on the FitBit are being able to challenge friends to walking duels, and being able to monitor your sleep patterns. It shows periods of restlessness and waking. I have 99% sleep efficiency which seems to mean that I slip into a coma at night, or just die. Either way, I sleep very well :)

There are other more expensive FitBits that show your step count on the wrist band and that measure your heartbeats. Mine doesn't. Mine is just the basic Flex one.

Menu plan

Breakfast: Apple (I got up really early to work and missed brekkie, so just had an apple. Not ideal, but this is my real life.)
Lunch: Missed. As above.
Dinner: Will make sure I eat a decent sized salad with some salmon this evening and a grapefruit. I do love grapefruit.
Snack: Ovaltine Options hot choccie drink. Might have that now as a matter of fact.
Drinks: 1.5l of tap water

This little lot adds up to about 420 calories according to FitBit. Not really enough, but I don't feel hungry, so it'll have to suffice. Don't suppose I'll fade away. I will endeavour to do better tomorrow.

FitBit Stats From Yesterday

Steps: 6,337 - pffft.
Distance: 2.5 miles
Active minutes: 47

My Stats

Current weight: 11st 9.4lbs
Next weight target: 11st 7lbs (pre-holiday weight)

TOMORROW: 'Being Good To Yourself'

Monday, 27 July 2015

Losing 2lbs A Week

I have my FitBit set at losing 2lbs a week, which seems to be a sensible and achievable target. There's really no point in hoping you'll lose a stone a week because it just won't happen. Not without removing a limb or making yourself very ill at any rate.

Losing 2lbs a week is actually quite unlikely. In my experience, sometimes I lose more and sometimes I lose less, but that's my target. It's a good target because it gets you into a mind set that says 'I'm here for the long-haul' rather than 'I'm still holding out for a quick-fix', and it's fairly realistic if you average it out over a longer period of time.

Some good news though is that, when you first embark on your new 'HEALTHY YOU' regimen, you'll probably find that weight melts away quite quickly for the first few days, or even for the first couple of weeks. This will give you a happy little boost. All the reading I've done on this seems to suggest that much of this is down to losing water rather than fat, but I'll take that. All wins are good wins :D

I've seen lots of 'miracle' products claiming you'll lose half a stone in a fortnight thanks entirely to their products. Actually, you'll probably lose that kind of weight just by starting a sensible diet and exercise programme.

Yesterday, I re-embarked on my mission to lose weight and I can tell you that I stepped on the scales this morning and am down 1.6lbs. In your face, holiday baggage! I haven't taken any 'miracle' products. I have just eaten sensibly - reducing processed sugars and carbs - and chomping my way through fruit and veg instead. I also walked more than 15,000 steps. So, diet and exercise was all I needed.

I expect my weight loss will be relatively speedy for the next few days as my body suddenly has to do a re-think now that it's not getting any holiday fodder. This will slow down. It'll probably plateau at some point too. I'll talk about how frustrating this is when it happens in another post.

My diet today will be fairly tedious, but that's because I have a LOT of work to do and little time to think about making my food exciting. Oh, and my laptop has decided to be very flaky. How does technology know when you really need it to work well?!?

Menu plan

Breakfast: Pink grapefruit
Lunch: Half chicken breast with back bacon and lots of salad with some mayo
Dinner: The rest of the chicken breast and bacon with baked beans
Snack: Ovaltine Options hot choccie drink - I might push the boat out and have a butterscotch one cos that's how I roll ;)
Drinks: 1.5l of tap water

This little lot adds up to about 730 calories according to FitBit.

FitBit Stats From Yesterday

Steps: 15,935
Distance: 6.29 miles
Active minutes: 125

My Stats

Current weight: 11st 10lbs
Next weight target: 11st 7lbs (pre-holiday weight)

TOMORROW: 'What Is A FitBit?'

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Getting Shot Of The Holiday Pounds

Uh oh. I braved hopping on the scales to see what damage my three week trip around Europe has done. Let's just say that I didn't exactly stick to my diet. But who does when they're away? I don't want to be a complete diet bore. I ate better than I would have done before the diet started, but I still stuffed down ice-cream, pate and fresh bread. Not all together. That would be horrible.

According to the scales, I have managed to put on 4.5lbs. Actually, that's not as bad as I'd feared. Although I relaxed the old diet, I did do quite a bit of exercise. I made myself walk around, often in quite hot temperatures and carrying a rucksack, so that must burn more calories than just strolling around normally.

Today, I need to climb back on the wagon and eat better. I've been to the supermarket and bought 'sensible' food. I plan to have a bit of a boring day food-wise today to see what weight vanishes over night.

Menu plan

Breakfast: Two egg omelette
Lunch: Baked salmon and lots of salad with a blob of mayo - sorry, I can't eat salad without mayo
Dinner: Grilled pork loin steak with veggies but no spuds and a pink grapefruit for pud
Snack: Ovaltine Options hot choccie drink.
Drinks: 1.5l of tap water

According to FitBit, this little lot adds up to about 722 calories. If I get hungry during the day, I'll eat an apple or some other piece of fruit.

Lots of variety with essential fats from meats/eggs and lots of different vitamins and minerals too. You need to have plenty of variety, so you don't miss out on any essential nutrients. Water's really important too. My skin looks great through this diet and I suspect a lot of that is because of the amount of water I consume.

I'll also do 15,000 steps today.  Let's see if I can shift half a pound today. Will report back in the morning as I weigh myself at the same time every day.

The lesson I'll take from this is that I will probably have to watch my weight forever, but that's OK as long as I monitor it and deal with it quickly.

Current weight: 11st 11.6lbs
Next weight target: 11st 7lbs (pre-holiday weight)

TOMORROW: 'Losing 2lbs A Week'

How To Lose Weight: From FatBat to FitBit

Here's the thing about losing weight - you want it gone NOW, or by next Saturday at the latest. But that's just not going to happen, unless you're aiming to lose half a pound, in which case you might just be OK.

I was exactly the same, but as soon as I accepted that the weight had taken years to pile on and wasn't going to be in any rush to leave, I suddenly found that I could get on with it. And you know what? I haven't needed to lose the whole lot anyway to feel better in myself and about myself. In fact, after two stone, people started to notice and I could get into much smaller clothes again (I'm comfortably in a 16 now and can just about squeeze into 14 as long as I don't need to eat, sit or breathe <g> - down from a 22!!!). All good stuff!

If all you want is to look good in that little black dress again, you'll be searching for a quick fix - and they really don't exist. I've tried all kinds of things and none of them work, so save your dosh. If you look at losing weight as being a programme to get you HEALTHIER though, you'll tackle it very differently. So look to be healthy, which will happily also make you look gorgeous eventually.

There's a really simple formula to losing weight. Eat less than you burn off and you will lose weight. Simples. So, EAT LESS AND MOVE MORE. More specifically, eat less in quantity AND try to cut out the cack we all consume. I have ditched all the processed sugar and processed carbs. I'm eating lots of salad and fruit. I try to ensure that my diet is balanced, so I eat a lot of tuna, salmon, chicken and eggs to ensure I'm getting essential protein and fats. I also take a multi vitamin and an Actimel or Yakult, just to be certain that I'm not missing anything. I dumped cordials too and now drink a lot of water. And I drink Ovaltine Options. Those have been a real life-saver - they tick my sweet tooth box and they're quite filling too.

Yes, it's boring, but I feel so much better for it.

I'm finding the food side of things perfectly manageable and I haven't really felt hungry. If I do feel hungry, I go with it and get something healthy to eat. We've had two family birthdays this month and so I've had cake. That was fine. I got straight back on with the diet afterwards. No problem. In fact, once a week I eat a bit more because it's supposed to give the metabolism a bit of a kick.

I needed to lose five stone and so I embarked on my weight loss mission on 1 February 2015 - five months ago. I joined a gym and did lots of exercise, much of which I hated. I've managed to tear something or other that joins my sternum to my ribs while I did some weights, and I have no idea what I've done to a tendon in my thigh, but it bloody hurts. So, I cancelled the gym membership and invested in a FitBit and I have lost as much weight using this as I ever did at the gym.

There are lots of things out there like the FitBit, but that's the one I have and so it's the one I'll tell you about. Specifically, I have the FitBit Flex. The FitBit is a little bracelet you wear that monitors your movement. It counts the number of steps you do in a day and it's surprisingly addictive. I make sure I do at least 12,000 steps a day (10k is what's suggested). This is making me fitter, building muscle and helping me to lose the weight. It's GREAT and it's EASY to do. You can challenge your friends via FitBit too, so that's quite fun if, like me, you CANNOT lose... EVER :D

You can record the food you've consumed on FitBit too, so you can see when you've messed up and you can get out and do some extra walking. You'll often find me pounding the streets late at night desperately trying to burn off any excess calories. The neighbours must think I'm bonkers. Well OK, they already think that, this just confirms their suspicions.

I lost the first stone really quickly. It melted away in about three weeks. The second stone took longer and the third one has been a devil to shift, but I'm nearly there - just two pounds to go. I expect the fourth and fifth stones will be harder still, but I'm up for the challenge. It really helps that I am already feeling so much better about myself - and I look a LOT better too. You really don't need to lose all the weight to feel very much better about yourself, so it doesn't matter if it takes me another six months to lose the next two stone. I want to do it safely and in a way that I will be able to keep it off.

I set myself lots of little targets rather than focussing on the end game. In two pounds, I will have lost three stone. Five pounds after that, I will be 10-stone-something. OK, it'll be 10 stone 13lbs, but a win's a win, right? Three pounds after that, I'll have lost as much weight as my little boy weighs!!! You see? Lots of little targets.

Here are the obligatory then and now pics...

Not perfect, but a hell of a lot better. I even have ankles!

So, just do it. Want to be HEALTHIER. Forget the quick fixes. Every step you take makes you a teeny bit fitter. Every pound you lose makes you a little bit healthier. A pound is actually quite a lot. Go and look at a bag of sugar. That'll weigh about two pounds. See? It's quite a lot, isn't it?

Go for it!

Jane x

PS. Just to be clear, I'm not in any way medically trained and nor am I a nutritionist. I'm just a FatBat who's hoping to become a FitBit ;)