Tag Archives: diet

Boosting your Confidence

27 Sep

I picked up a really useful article this morning, I’ve learnt how much exercise can boost your self-confidence and make you feel pretty darn good about yourself over the last couple of years.  I’ve also met lots of people who have also found the same thing.

Take a look:

http://uk.lifestyle.yahoo.com/exercise-better-body-image-101919111.html

Tricks for eating out and enjoying it!

3 Sep

The vital part of losing all the weight was finding a balance.  To be able to continue my love affair with food, I had to try really hard to find the best way to sort out how much I actually needed to eat.

My stomach was shrinking, my body was actually helping me to help myself. So the smaller portions weren’t that difficult to manage at home, the biggest challenge came when I had dinner with a friend, he is a great cook, the food was bound to be good, so how would I be able to cope, in my head was a fear I would eat too much and my stomach would protest and make me ill or that I would offend because I’d be seen to not appreciate his hard work by not being able to eat it if I was worried about eating too much and how bad it was for me! The trauma of it all!

As predicted the food was great, I asked for about half of what he had dished up, it didn’t actually look too bad, not ridiculously small anyway, I had still had something of everything, and I really enjoyed it!

That’s been the thing, I haven’t damaged my relationship with food in any way, I love food more now than before. Back then there was a love hate thing going on, I loved eating it but hated the control it had over me and my body.

Because I now have control, I can enjoy it and relax.

There were other challenges to come, eating out was an interesting one, of course I don’t have control over the portion size, however I decided early on that this wasn’t going to force me to always end up choosing what looked like the lower calorie option in a restaurant, that seemed like quite a waste!  Or even worse never be able to go out or always feel it was traumatic and no fun!

And after all because I was doing well at home, I should be able to go out and enjoy food too, for a long-term sustainable approach, this had to be tackled head on.

So the trick is to eat about half, then put your knife and fork down, I normally then have a bit of a chat with my fellow diners, while this is happening, my head and my stomach sort themselves out and I can then decide if I am full or not.  Amazingly this is the point where I do normally decide I have had enough, I have enjoyed the food, savoured it and am not stuffed, I then place the napkin over the food or if it’s looking like the staff are beginning to clear I put my cutlery on the plate, it’s then normally taken away – result. I have changed the way I eat, I stop more than I used too, I think we all perhaps just look at the food on our plates and just shovel, it’s a kind of endurance challenge!

Yes it takes a bit of willpower to be able to do that however I counterbalance with the thought of being stuffed and perhaps feeling ill later and the waste that will be, together with the fact that because I use this technique I can eat what I want, not the salad or the boring options.  It makes eating so exciting!  I’d never have been able to have gone on a week’s foodie holiday in Italy without being able to perfect it!

There are some things I do to help myself, I may not have the chips, I love chips however I love new potatoes just as much and I can have a few more of those…but essentially there isn’t much I won’t eat now.

I can do it for puddings too, more difficult but it can be done, Pizza Express have really helped me out here with their ‘tiny’ desserts which come with coffee, a result!    And often if I’ve been really good with the main then a pudding on a special night out is not going to end the world, especially now I’m in maintaining my weight loss!

Same principle for takeaways, stop when you’ve had your small plate full, chat, reflect and if you then think ‘I’m full’, put the lids back on the containers, for some reason once I couldn’t see the food, I lost interest, others could help themselves but I was more than happy…..with a pizza, cut into 8ths not quarters…it’s all really about tricks.

And if the waste bothers you, well for takeaways, order less next time!  Even talk to your takeaway proprietor and see whether they can do you smaller portions, you may be surprised.  I’d love to see pubs and restaurants reduce their portion sizes anyway, some are just crazy, you don’t need to eat massive amounts to enjoy good food.

Give it a go once your stomach has started to shrink, you’ll be getting used to smaller portions, and have in your mind that this is the way forwards to be able to have a normal and healthy relationship with food, it is a head game of tricks!  I can go out and eat, enjoy a takeaway and the lovely food that friends prepare, that’s what motivates me!

So again, it’s all about less.  Just let your head and stomach work together, stop regularly when you’re eating and think, believe me it does work.

The photo is of my first attempt at home at making pasta from scratch! Went quite well, because I’ve sorted my relationship with food, I even love cooking more!

Why it’s different for boys (over 40)

2 Sep

Yes, I am 43 and heading rather too quickly for my liking towards 44. One thing that I’ve learnt about is that the ‘over 40’ body is very different to the one we had in our 20s. Therefore we need to approach losing weight and exercise in a different way too. Our metabolism is slowing down and our bodies are just starting to see the effects of time, we can’t do anything about it, it’s just biology!

I’ve mentioned before that I’m finding from my research that support and information specifically for men in losing weight and keeping it off isn’t as extensive as it is for women, us girls to tend to talk about it, swap stories and hopefully offer each other some support, but I wonder if men do this?  The sexes do think differently so this is another one of those things where plans built for women will not necessarily work for men.

So if you add the being over 40 thing as well, then it’s becoming obvious that some help is needed!

The piece below is from a web site I’ve found, written by a bloke, he does a great and honest job at looking at why things are different once you reach 40 and uses a lot of the techniques and thoughts I have.  None of us want to be older (ridiculous when you think how much of our lives we spent wanting to be older!) but if you listen to the advice and understand why things do work differently the results can be so much better and hopefully easier. And as things will continue to slow down, starting to make changes at 40 seems like a really good idea!

So check out Forty, Fit and Fabulous , there are a lot of really interesting bits, it’s well worth reading up about how your metabolism now works so you can adapt.

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Weight gain for men over 40 is a natural sign effect of the aging process. Why? Well, because the body’s metabolism is slowing down which most people don’t realize. So they continue to eat the same amount of food that they did when they were twenty years old, and the result is that the body stores that extra fat on the belly mostly.

Combine that with an increasingly sedentary lifestyle and we have the two main reasons for weight loss over 40 for men.

Did you know that the mortality rate up to six month after retirement is at the highest in your life. As all of the stresses of work and life disappear at retirement there are no goals anymore and no exercise. Getting older does not mean getting lazier.

There may be other reasons for the weight gain as well, such as emotional and mental health problems that may need to be addressed.

Losing Weight Tips:

1. Diet: Your key to eating right is eating enough nourishing food that you won’t feel famished and binge on empty calorie, high-fat snacks. Good balanced meals, combined with smaller portions at every meal is the way to go. Be aware of what you are eating and how much. Keep a food diary and record everything you eat.

2. Exercise: 30 minutes of exercise everyday is a good goal. Aim to exercise everyday. Walking is good for your joints, and is low impact, as well as being more effective than running. Running is harder on the body, especially when you are over 40 years old, as well as being less effective for weight loss because joggers burn more sugar than fat.  Make the walk something you do where you are breaking a sweat. Walk up a hill or two. So incorporate exercise into your daily life.

3. Mental and Emotional Health: If you aren’t happy with yourself, then you will lack motivation to take the time to put some effort into making yourself feel better. You just wont care. Just getting started with exercising will start to make you feel better as exercise helps to melt away life’s hassles. Adopt the mindset that eating healthily and exercising is a way to tell yourself that you deserve to be healthy and to live a long, productive life. Find a way of exercising that you enjoy and get started with it.

No Chocolate again, ever.

23 Aug

Does this sound good?  Probably not, it could of course relate to anything, cheese, cake, takeaways, all those foods that are bad for you, that you love and you probably eat too much of .

Most diets will say you can’t have them, your first thought if you want to lose weight will be that because you eat a lot of it, you should stop completely. It is about depriving yourself, and comes back to why diets always seem to feel like a negative experience.

But what happens when you come to the end of your diet, hopefully you’ve lost weight, do you still not eat them, I bet you’ll miss them too much and they could be key to why you fall off the wagon and put the weight back on?  And this may have happened more than once?

If you love food then to succeed in losing weight and keeping it off you need to find a different way. If you aim to cut out those things completely that you really love, it won’t work, you have to take control of them, not the other way around. The aim should be about how they can work for you long-term, there shouldn’t be any difference between what you eat while you are losing weight and what you are going to eat once you have lost it.

So look at what foods really don’t work for you, what makes you hungrier, what can’t you stop eating?  Worth mentioning at this stage, if you only eat the ‘bad’ stuff and don’t eat any fruit and veg, lean meat, fish etc, then you do need to think about that, my way is far easier if you eat in a ‘balanced’ way, it just makes sense? Take a look at my previous post on that subject.

As I started to lose weight I realised that food was in control of me, I used to say something to myself all the time to justify the amount I eat –  ‘if I eat it, it won’t be there for me to eat’, of course I would then just go shopping again, replace it and the cycle would continue.  Remember I had no willpower, I would eat a 6 pack of crisps, a tub of ice cream and even if I cooked for myself, the portions would be far more than I needed (more to come on that subject).  If the food was there I would eat it and this cycle had been in place for 16 years.

I loved bread but what I noticed was that if I eat it at lunchtime, within an hour or so I was hungry again. So now I don’t eat it at all in the week, I do though eat ‘good’ bread at weekends and special occasions, you know the stuff that is fresh out of the oven or comes from the olive stall!  Bread now sits on the ‘treat’ list, especially if I end up spending £3+ on a loaf!  And I actually enjoy it even more now.  My view is that this has been the central element of my weight loss, once I made this change, the weight started to really shift, this entailed listening to my body very carefully, I will talk about that more as it is key.

If it’s chocolate then don’t aim to cut it out completely, just buy less, and keep it in the fridge, it’s harder to eat a lot if it takes more effort, my trick is the smaller bars of Green and Blacks, once you get your head around the fact they make no economic sense!  Word of advice don’t go down the route of buying the treat size bags of chocolate bars, it won’t work, you will end up eating a lot of them, because they are there. Better to actually buy one full size one a week!

Buy smaller amounts of things like cheese, just don’t have lots at home, if you then suddenly crave it, if you have to make a degree of effort, get in the car to go to the shop, there are lots of stages that give you the opportunity to think about what you are doing and most of the time something else will crop up and you won’t bother.

People also ask me about takeaways all the time, there are tricks to enjoying them, order less if you can, order the dishes not in sauces or limit them, and my very simple way of making sure I don’t completely pig out?  I put the lids back on once I’ve dished up what I want, my brain then doesn’t see what is still there, if I’m then full once I’ve eaten what is on my plate, I just scoop everything up and throw it away. And when I throw it away my thought is now, what a waste and the next time I order I reduce the amount even more, just think about it a bit more.

Some people will swear by having to eliminate their key ‘bad’ things entirely which is fine but consider whether you want to never have them again which is what you are really saying, if you don’t want to say goodbye completely then take control of them.  What you eat shouldn’t then change when you move from losing weight to sustaining it. And as you shrink, you get motivated, see how good your new life can be, the control you have gets easier and easier, believe me!  That’s where my willpower comes from.  I hope I’m also beginning to show you that losing and keeping weight off is as much (if not more) about your head as it is about the physical stuff.

So in summary:

  • Look at the foods that are in control of you and take control of them!
  • Buy less and in smaller versions
  • Start listening to your body
  • Eat less of them, don’t eliminate them totally…
  • If your diet isn’t balanced then give that a good think and make some changes

I’ll look at the question of ‘less’ in more detail later…

And the photo, well I bought that tub of Green and Black’s vanilla ice cream in August 2009, as I recall it was to serve after dinner with a friend, we never eat it, I decided to use it to test my resolve, in the past I could quite happily have eaten the whole tub in one evening.  It has one spoonful missing thanks to my sister. It’s become a bit of a symbol. I have eaten other ice cream since (I’ll buy the little tubs now!) but this shows me every time I open the freezer how I now have control.

Small & Achievable

22 Aug

If I had told myself in August 2009 that I was going to lose 6 stone, get fit, get to a stage where I loved exercise, swim 5k, climb a mountain, sail a yacht, do Race for Life and write a blog about it all, it would never have happened!

  • How many times have you started a diet and told yourself that you’re going to get into a bikini on this year’s holiday when in fact the last time you wore one was in 1996?
  • Or that you’re going to get into that pair of very small jeans that you’ve been keeping in the back of the wardrobe?
  • How about I want to look like the very toned, tanned, 20 something fit bloke who pounds the treadmill in the gym (that was for the blokes by the way!) but you get the idea?
  • And finally if you’ve been told or found out that you are obese or even morbidly obese, that to lose what is an enormous figure is just impossible.

If the goals are too big and unrealistic then you won’t ever succeed, you can’t visualise the end result, that may be years away, you won’t be able to appreciate what you are actually achieving and you are setting yourself up to fail from the start. It will be too overwhelming to comprehend.

As I’ve mentioned before think seriously about how many times you have started a diet, lost some weight and then put it back on, at the time can you remember what were you trying to achieve? Was it a ‘big’ goal?

The trick here is to set achievable goals, something that looks like it might just be possible.

What did I do?  Well I bought the next size down in my normal jeans, of course they didn’t fit when I started, but within a month they did, the sense of achievement was amazing, and this brought with a real sense of motivation, I was then firmly focused on getting to the next pair, I always bought the next pair as soon as I got into them. I still think though that the two best times were fitting into the size 22 ones and then being able to go into Evans, buy the size 14 pair and declare that as this was now their smallest size I wouldn’t be back!

From someone who had no willpower, I found I could walk past the ‘birthday food pile’ in the office or appreciate why the mini bar of Green & Black’s butterscotch chocolate was a better choice than the 2 for 1 offer on the full size bars.

I was celebrating the achievements as they came, I was buying myself something smaller to wear, they did eventually get sold on ebay but hey they did the trick in motivating me and making me feel great about what I’d done.

If you get complimented on how you look, bottle that, when you’re feeling de-motivated, think about that feeling, how good it was and how you want more of it. Think about what being ‘bigger’ means to you, do you want that anymore?

So by small and achievable try some of these:

  • I’ll lose a dress size/an inch in a month – even less if you get overwhelmed by the whole thing
  • I’ll be able to climb the stairs and not be as much out of breath in six weeks
  • I’ll be able to reduce the amount I eat in the evenings or halve my alcohol amounts in a fortnight
  • Be able to swim/run/whatever you’re doing by a small advance each time, not an enormous jump, as you shrink you will be able to increase at a faster pace, remember the Hare & the Tortoise?
  • I’ll feel great because I am doing something – celebrate that, look for the small things that seem easier

You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned actual weight lost, I don’t own any scales, I didn’t weigh myself until I’d lost 3 stones, all the initial shrinkage was monitored through how my clothes felt, it’s well documented that yo-yo dieters will weigh themselves very frequently and become quite fixated on it.  If you only see very small losses on a daily or even weekly basis, you lose motivation, you can’t really see what you are achieving, if you lose 2 pounds one week, then only one the next week, you’re already wondering if it’s all worth it, why if you’re doing the same things in respect to exercise and food why didn’t you lose 2 pounds.  However if you weigh after a month, and you’ve lost 6 pounds, that’s fantastic, you haven’t seen the up and down cycle across the month. Then there is biology, our bodies don’t help us here, we will put on weight due to not being 100% well, what we eat, a woman’s cycle will see weight gain at certain times of the month.

So I see the scales as taking away motivation in respect to small goals, you are taken straight back to that enormous ‘eventual goal’. Of course when I did get on the scales it was a very, very pleasant surprise and I can’t tell you how motivational that was. If you can put the scales away and even better get rid of them. If you do feel the need to weigh use the ones in Boots or at the sports centre and limit it to once a fortnight at an absolute minimum.

If you start off not being a slave to the scales then you stand a much better chance of being able to sustain weight loss too, I know that my weight will fluctuate now,  I’ve had periods of doing a lot more exercise or times when there have been holidays or events where I probably eat more than I would normally do, however by not getting on the scales I’m not feeling ‘punished’, my clothes might feel a bit tight, so I adjust exercise and food again (I’m learning all the time here by the way!).

The motivation that I got each time that new pair of jeans fitted was immense. Even when I first went to the ‘Eat as much as You’ want chinese buffet and I didn’t leave feeling as though I was going to burst because I was now in control of what I was eating was motivation too.

So following on from that a question for you to think about:

  • Are you in control of food or is it in control of you?
  • What are the foods that you feel are stopping you losing weight – for example bread, cheese, chocolate etc?
  • Are you prepared to give them up forever or would you like to be able to still have them in your life?

We’ll look at your answers later…as ever be honest with yourself!

fruit and veg…

20 Aug

How did you get on with taking the 25% of your dinner off  your plate?  Hope you thought about that?  Try it again?

So there are various things that have been key to me losing the weight, one of those has been the amount of fruit and veg I eat, I always did eat quite a bit but I can safely say that’s  where I spend at least 25% of my weekly shopping budget now.

It doesn’t mean that I have gone veggy or I am living like a rabbit now, actually lettuce doesn’t feature that much! I do eat more meals that are just veg but that’s just because I now enjoy them and have found great recipes.

What I have done though is increase the amount I eat and what I eat, this fills the plate rather than the fish or meat or allows great puddings!

My favourites are:

Bananas – easiest breakfast in the world, gives you great slow release energy, if I don’t have time for anything else, I have 2 to start the day, I can guarantee I’m not hungry for anything until lunchtime.  Tennis players swear by them for energy boosts, they’re great for a munch if you’re on your way to do some exercise too. I also now chop them up and add them to strawberries, raspberries, a handful of muesli (I can’t eat nuts but the lovely people at Dorset Cereals now do two varieties without nuts, it has made breakfast a whole lot more exciting!) and some  yogurt – delicious.

Courgettes – very versatile, throw them in the oven for a great roasted veg concoction with sweet potatoes, mushrooms, onions, peppers and some chicken.  Or slice them and cook in some olive oil, black pepper and basil and then serve with pasta.

Leeks – I found a great recipe for a risotto, so simple and very tasty! If you don’t like onions in casseroles, throw in chopped leeks instead.

Broccoli – I eat a lot, to the extent sometimes I crave it!  But it appears to give me energy and the iron is no bad thing either. If you steam it, it keeps its colour and looks amazing, not bad stir fried either.

Sweet Potatoes – love them, roasted (as above), mashed, I have a great recipe for a gratin too for a treat dish, however I now serve it as a main and boost it up with other things rather than using it as a side dish.

Potatoes – now on a lot of diets the potato is a very limited or banned food, I still eat them, I love them too much not to, what I do do though is roast them in olive oil, buy good quality (often locally produced) so when they are simply boiled they taste great or buy smaller ones for baking, I noticed that the ones the supermarkets stock and label  for ‘baking’  are often very big, my tip is to check out the pre-packed ones, they are smaller and take less time to cook.

I like to look for the stuff that is in season, summer is great for soft fruit, there is always a bowl of cherries in the fridge for picking out or some satsumas, I buy dried fruit for snacking (the little bags, not the big ones! ).  If really doesn’t matter if you snack on this!

Winter is great for root veg, roast it, casserole it, make it into soups.  If you’re a cook then think creatively, batch cook, put it into bowl sized bags and freeze, then you have your own ‘ready meals’, defrost while you’re at work, pop in the microwave when you get home. Great way of using leftovers too, I get cross when I hear people say that buying fresh food is expensive, it doesn’t have to be, use everything, make soup from the 3 slightly sad carrots, cake from the overripe banana, buy cheap potatoes and make bulk mash to freeze or make soup again.  It just takes a bit of thought.

The trick for me is to make it easy, make it fun, make it tasty. Get creative, eating veg doesn’t mean boiled veg, there is a whole load of stuff you can do with it.

If you don’t like fruit, try making smoothies, you can even buy bags of frozen fruit in the supermarkets now, great if you don’t eat a lot too, just take out what you want for breakfast etc, no waste, I do hear a lot of people say they don’t but fruit because it goes off before they get round to eating it, my tip is to buy good quality and keep it all in the fridge (apart from the bananas of course).   And if you’re not buying volumes of the stuff you used to snack on, I bet the actual amount it costs will be the same or even less?

Word of note, there will be those who don’t eat any fruit and veg because you ‘don’t like it’, this is something you have to think about, I’m not saying you have to suddenly start eating what you obviously don’t like very much but you are missing a big trick, and if you want to get fit and healthy it has to be part of a balanced diet, there’s no way round it and I would be very, very surprised from the hundreds of varieties of fruit and veg out there, that there isn’t something you’d like. This is the bossy bit, you are missing out on essential nutrients, your body does need these to work properly and get fit, especially as you get older and if you’re not eating fruit and veg you are filling the gap with things that have many more calories?

Final thoughts:

If you say you don’t like something, have you actually tried it, I don’t mean when you were six, I mean recently.  If you haven’t tried it you can’t say you don’t like it?  You might not like steamed veg, but would you like it stir fried?   Go on give it a go!

I didn’t eat pasta until I was 22, we just didn’t eat it at home when I was growing up, I always said I didn’t like it, however I tried it and I do…..and then there’s black pudding, I didn’t try that until last summer, now I must have it with a cooked breakfast!

If you can’t cook, maybe it’s time to think about it, it doesn’t have to take a long time or be complicated, I’ve found that as I’ve cooked more, I enjoy my food more too.  And for those of you who can cook – you have no excuse do you really???

Speeding it up

19 Aug

I’ve been doing some reading this morning about different diet plans and supplements like Adios.

A lot of them talk about their ability to kick-start your weight loss, all well and good but what are you going to do once you’ve finished them?

Someone said to me that a particular diet plan had worked for them, by that they meant that they had lost weight while on it, however I pointed out that they had now put back on (and more) all the weight so my view was that it hadn’t worked?

There are of course people who use them, lose the weight and get so motivated at that stage that they can carry on losing and sustaining but my experience is that they are not the norm.

The norm is to revert to same, the diet ends and it’s back to the ‘normal’ eating behaviour.

So why do the diet at all, take a different approach, remember those questions I asked you about your experience with diets, well if you’ve been on more than two and always put the weight back on then it really doesn’t matter which ‘diet’ you choose, chances are it won’t work for you.

So let’s try something very simple. When you serve up tonight’s dinner, put your normal amount on the plate.  Now take 25% back off the plate and rearrange it so it looks like it fills the plate or transfer it to a smaller plate so it looks more.  An instant reduction in calories of 25%.

And tell me when you’ve eaten it, did you really notice it was that much smaller?

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