Tag Archives: Eating

Getting Technical

9 Sep

I’ve been doing a bit of research into the technology out there, what might be able to help in keeping the weight off and also enjoying exercise.

My thinking on it though is that the technology is a tool to help motivation and provide some guidance, it’ s not the holy grail.

Why?  Because it’s not infallible.

I have found some interesting things out in a geeky way, I’ve tested the treadmill, the cross trainer and the fixed bike in the gym,  I burn roughly the same amount of calories whatever I do……and if I speed walk on the treadmill, I burn the same as someone who runs the same distance!

This is of course because I am not feeding in tons of data into the machine about my body – height, weight etc. It is basing it’s measurement purely on distance and speed.  It is though a guide and I use it purely as that.

If you want a true figure you need to use something that is far more scientific, one such thing is KI performance.

The key thing here is that is works to educate you about metabolism and how you can listen to your body, understanding more about how it works and responds to food and exercise. You wear an armband that collects over 5000 data points, it looks at what you eat, all your activity (not just ‘exercise’), sleep, it’s a complete picture.

You then upload the data onto the website and it reports back.  You start a process of working out the crucial thing, how many calories you need vs the amount of activity you do, you can then adapt to either maintain weight or lose weight in the first place.  It does have an initial outlay plus a subscription but once you’ve got the hang of it and got a good amount of data about your body then you could get away with not renewing. It’s all about the knowledge you can gain.

There are also the applications that help you assess your exercise, some of these are more scientific than others but all useful in giving you the motivation to keep going. I like the fact that a lot of them now link into Facebook and Twitter, brilliant if you like your friends to give you lots of encouragement!  You also become part of a community of like-minded people.

Here are two I’ve been told about and some feedback.

Runkeeper – works through a smartphone, tracks your speed and distances covered and if you load in all the data will report back on calories burned, weight and body fat percentage lost.  It posts to your social media sites too and will show where you’ve been if you use it on outside runs or walks.   It’s great for giving you a view of what you achieve over a period of time, I like this idea as it gives you a real indication of how you are progressing, when I was in swimming training, I had a spreadsheet log, I’d publish it every week and I got a great deal of motivation from seeing how each week things got better, I was starting to challenge myself which was interesting! This App seems nice and simple and I have friends who use it both in the gym and outside and enjoy using it!

Endomondo– again works through a smartphone, works using GPS so you be tracked while out running, cycling etc. Again downloads into Facebook so your friends can see what you’re doing, it will say when you’re starting so you can be tracked in real-time too via the website.  You enter your weight information and with the right kit it will monitor your heart rate and allows you to challenge yourself and set goals.

Not as scientific as the KI, however gives a really good history of your activity online and allows you to comment on your friend’s activity too. One thing I don’t like though is that because some of the science is missing, the calories used data is going to be ‘out’ and thr system then equates it to ‘Burgers Burned’!    So a bit more ‘blokey’ really and I’d prefer it to equate to something a little healthier – just a little nit pick there!

Image representing Endomondo as depicted in Cr...

Image via CrunchBase

And of course don’t forget that if you go out and burn 1000 calories, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can come home and consume an additional 1000 calories, if you are looking to lose weight you will need to adjust your food intake too!  My view for this one is that it is more designed for the more experienced fitness person, not really designed for an initial go or for losing weight?

Once you are into a ‘maintaining’ mode then this is easier but beware at the beginning, you may be putting in tons of energy and not losing any weight if you don’t pay attention to both.  Worth getting some advice at the start on the best way to do it.  My weight loss accelerated once I had lost an amount through less food alone, I got more energy and moved more, but I didn’t then eat more as a consequence so the weight loss continued?

One little thing about the Apps that use GPS, remember if the online site is public or you don’t have tight security on your social networking sites, you could be giving away your current location and that you’re not at home, if you run from home, worth changing the start point just in case any potential burglars are watching!

There are though hundreds if not thousands of similar Apps out there, my view is if they help to motivate you, they’re fantastic! Beware the ‘calories’ burned data on some though and if you are really geeky, it’s worth looking at something like KI to start off so you get a clear view of how your body performs then moving onto something that just measures distances etc will be fine as you will know how your body performs.  There are also lots which give you calorie figures for all foods, great if you’re out on the move, however if you follow the same regime as me you shouldn’t need them, I for one would have not enjoyed being a slave to the smartphone!

If you have any others you think would be useful to tell people about, please let me know.

Photo is of me doing Race for Life this year, two years ago I held the bags and waited at the finish line to cheer on my friends!  And I even ran a bit at the end! I didn’t use any Apps, I just followed the several thousand other women doing their bit!

Hunger Pangs

27 Aug

I’ve been asked a few times how this all got started, so let’s go back to day one.

This is perhaps not the healthiest way, but it happened by accident, didn’t last for too long and what came out were a few interesting and crucial learnings about food, appetite and me.

I lost my appetite, almost completely, I might have managed the odd cereal bar but for two weeks I barely eat anything. It was an emotional time and unusually did not result in massive comfort eating but exactly the opposite, I like to think my head was just telling me it was time.

I am though very pleased it happened because:

  • I knew what hunger and being empty actually felt like, we all say ‘we’re starving’ but I can guarantee that you’re not really.
  • My stomach had shrunk over the two weeks, once my appetite started to return I found I physically couldn’t eat as much without feeling sick.
  • It was becoming interesting, my clothes felt a little loose?

I realised that this was perhaps a once in a lifetime opportunity to change, I could just return to how things were, stretch my stomach back or I could see what might happen. It was at this stage that I knew the simplest answer was to just reduce what I normally eat.  I love food and after getting my appetite back I was really looking forward to my favourite things! At the time I had no idea if it would work?

The stomach shrinking thing is interesting, it is of course the basis of most gastric surgery procedures, I was proving to myself that you could do it naturally, if you read about it, this is perfectly normal, your stomach will shrink if you reduce the amount you eat for a sustained amount of time.

For a girl who is a bit geeky it was intriguing, I was listening to my body, now I knew what hungry REALLY felt like, I could control it, I also knew what full should REALLY feel like!

It was fascinating stuff and sowed the first seeds of motivation.  Within a month I had dropped a jeans size.

I found this very useful blog post about managing hunger pangs, of course you will still get them, the trick is to take control of them, I think over time I have used all of these tips and tricks, so it was great to see them all written down!  They do work, it does take a bit of patience at the beginning as you reduce the amount of food you eat but your body will play ball, you just need to get your head to work with it.

Remember a few days of confusion and persistence will pay off in the long-term.

Taming your Hunger

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???

Not a Diet

17 Aug

So I’ve been a bit bossy and very honest about what being big is like and what motivated me to want to change things.

Your question will be now – how did you do it?

Well initially through ‘food’  alone, no exercise, however as I got smaller I had more energy and then just moved more which does speed up your metabolism (more on that later or click on Top Ten Tips for some advance reading).

I didn’t go on a Diet

This was the most important thing for me – I love food, love cooking and love eating, this process wasn’t going to work unless I found a way to be able to continue my love affair. So this sparks off a whole discussion about how you can do this?

I’m not a fan of diets, for me they just say ‘hey, you can’t have me, I’m bad for you!’ no matter how you look at it, it’s about what you can’t have (normally the things you like) and you feel deprived.  Even if there is a nice long list of the things you can have there will be more that you can’t, that you will miss.  A diet always starts with something negative.  Common sense told me that  if losing weight could be a more positive experience, you were more likely to succeed?

On a diet food remains in control, I wanted to find a way of me being in control of food, that way I could always have the food I wanted and loved. I didn’t want to deprive myself of anything.

There is also an end date to a ‘diet’, the holiday or your target weight.  Taking away the ‘end element’ means you can focus on making long-term changes and achieving goals that can be sustained.

Sustaining weight loss means changing your life totally, if you always yo-yo then you already have your answer as to whether diets work for you.  If they did you would have kept the weight off, your issue isn’t losing weight, it’s about sustaining the loss therefore you need to change the focus.

So my first affirmation was that I wouldn’t be on a diet; I would purely change how, what I eat and when.  And most importantly how much?

I have some questions for you:

1.  Do you know how much you actually consume in a day – this covers food and drink?   Try writing it down across 24 hours, take photos of the plates of food you serve, this will come in useful later.  Be honest with yourself, remember to include everything, so if you put 2 spoonfuls of sugar in your tea, write it down.  Include the times you eat everything as well.

2. How many diets have you been on over the years?  Make a list of them, how long you were on them, how much you lost, what was positive about them and what things you really hated.  How long did it take for you to put the weight back on, and how much weight did you gain?

We’ll come back to your lists, are you interested yet in making the changes though?

So what’s all this about then?

15 Aug

It’s quite simple really. I’ve lost six stone in weight without being on a ‘diet’ and am now fitter and healthier than I have even been. I’ve changed my whole life, quite amazing really considering two years ago I was 18 and a half stone, had zero willpower and had avoided any form of exercise for 42 years!

By ‘diet’ I mean I haven’t done what is traditionally referred to as a ‘diet’ – no weightwatchers, Atkins, Dukan, Cabbage Soup etc.

I’m nothing special, I’m an ordinary 43 year old girl but even I have to admit that what I’ve managed to do is extraordinary!

I’m not pretending to be an expert, I’m not qualified other than what I’ve done has worked! Over the course of the last couple of years I’ve read an incredible amount, talked to experts, and experienced and learnt a hell of a lot about losing weight, keeping it off and getting fit.

So I want to share that experience and what I’ve learnt, in the hope it might inspire others to give it a go and reap the rewards – which are massive by the way.

If you’ve spent years on yo-yo diets which haven’t worked or just think you can never lose weight then read on – you might just have found the solution.

  • you won’t need to join a club
  • there are no special foods to buy
  • you’ll be able to love food
  • you won’t necessarily need to go to the gym (unless you want to!)
  • you will need to buy new clothes
  • your life will change beyond recognition
  • you may live longer
  • be able to do things you never thought possible
  • never have to go on a diet ever again

Interested?  Click on a few pages and see?

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