Danger is approaching…..Easter

Paradise

 

There is a huge proportion of people who make new years resolutions to lose weight, get fitter and to be healthy. Many of us will know that familiar post Christmas gym rush when you can’t get a treadmill and all the classes are packed like a tin of sardines. A lot of the time it is very irritating, probably more so because by Easter these people have decided that Saturday mornings eating chocolate and watching TV seem far more appealing. The gym is more  empty and we go back to that comfort until the rush for a beach body brings them crawling back in on the countdown to their vacation. Once on vacation fitness regimen and healthy eating gets left at home and is not picked up again till after the following Christmas.

I hold my hands up that yes I have been one of these people in previous years but that this year my attitude has changed. I’m feeling very motivated and I feel that this is a combination of not eating the sugary junk (no risk of eating it and then being on a downward spiral) and also the support that the FitFam on Twitter has provided. There are numerous scientific studies that have demonstrated the benefit of group support and because Twitter is accessible 24/7 there is always somebody tweeting something motivating or inspiring. Sometimes just reading tweets about healthy eating or gym sessions is enough to keep pushing me to eat clean and to exercise. I equally find comfort that when I am tempted or I feel tired that I can tweet and just putting it out there makes me feel better.

So thank you to all my FitFam you are truly marvelous and interesting people.

If I had made this pledge and not set my blog or Twitter account I doubt that I would of made it this far. I’ve tried to give up sweets and junk so many times and I’ve never got further than 3-4 days. At almost 4 months of no added sugar I have control of my sweet addictions and feel better for it.

I definitely need to be better with my exercise during the week and to not let work get in the way. I have a half marathon to run in March so I need to be running outside and will continue to do body combat and body pump on a Saturday morning. The feeling that I have leaving the gym is not comparable to any other feeling. Before when I ate a chocolate bar it would be enjoyable for a few minutes and then I would feel guilty for a day or so. Not worth it!

I am determined to lose 15Kg over the next 12 months and to run my half marathon in 2 hours which is a 20 minute improvement from last year. Best get my training plan together.

Here are some tips to stay on track

The Hunger Scale

Use this to avoid over-eating and to become more in tune with your nutritional needs.

1 about to pass out                                If you wait to eat until 1 or 2 you are probably going to overeat or make unhealthy food choices.

2 ravenous

3 Fairly hungry                                      Start eating whenever you are between 3 and 4.

4 Slightly hungry

5 Neutral

6 satisfied                                                 Stop eating between 6 and 7.

7 full

8 stuffed                                                   If you continue to eat now you will eat a lot more than you need.

9 bloated

10 feeling sick

Emotional Eating:

If you are not physically hungry but feel that you still want to eat think about what you really want. People are more likely to eat when they are bored, stressed, tired or emotional. It is really important to identify if this is happening to you. It might be that you keep a food and mood diary and record how you were feeling at the time of eating a food.

Once you start to see a pattern and become more aware of this issue you can start thinking of ways to solve it. There is a lot of research that has demonstrated that cravings last for between 20-30 minutes so if you can find another activity to do for this amount of time you might be able to avoid that junk food.

Activity Ideas:

Paint nails, shower or bath, read a book, take a nap, colouring in, knitting or needle work, cleaning or go for a walk.

Also make sure you are not thirsty as this is often mistaken for hunger. Make sure that you are drinking enough during the day. Don’t make this mistake of filling up on diet drinks, there is some research to indicate that they may increase snacking behaviour.

Conscious Eating:

Ask yourself some questions…

Am I really hungry?

How long has it been since I last ate?

Can I do an activity instead?

Is there a healthier food than the one I want to eat?

When you do eat make sure you take your time, chew well (20 times) and try take 20 minutes to eat your meal. This is how long it takes to realise that you are full up.

Rewards:

When you stick to your healthy eating and are exercising you will achieve your goals. Don’t forget to reward yourself when you are making progress but it is really important to make these rewards non-food related.

Ideas:

New nail varnish, book, massage or beauty treatment, get hair cut, go and see a movie or buy some new clothes.

EASTER:

All the Easter chocolate is already all in the shops and I have been ignoring it. It all looks very tempting but I’m not going to break my pledge. So when the day arrives and everyone is tucking into their eggs I am going to make myself a fruit basket. Go to the supermarket and splurge on some of the more expensive fruit. A real treat but a healthy, natural one. If you want to go all out then placing the fruit in a bowl with colour tissue paper to make it more fancy and Easter egg like then go for it. I will tweet a photo of the one I make.

Good luck with the next month and I will be blogging again very soon. I have some great recipes that are both delicious and healthy.

Cx

3 Months Down and 9 to Go

I have reached the three month point of my Sugar Pledge and I feel very confident that I can maintain this for a further nine months. I don’t think that I am eating anymore than I usually would but I have noticed that if I eat carb based meal or snack that I do tend to crave more carbs. I don’t have anymore cravings for sweets or chocolate which is positive.

I have decided that my next goal is to start reducing my carbohydrate portions and to increase the vegetables and protein in my diet. I also need to get motivated and make sure that I am going to the gym regularly and I’m not skipping it because I have stayed late at work. I’m definitely a creature of habit and it never takes me long to adopt a new habit. I have to decide what the best way is to it and to make sure that my goals are SMART.

It’s a funny time of year when I reflect on the past twelve months and where I think I want the next twelve to lead me. I think it is so easy to get swamped in the day to day grind of life that we forget what is important to us and to make sure that we make the most of life. This week I suggest writing down ten things that you want to achieve this year and then plan how you are going to achieve them.

Think of what you want and go get it!

Cx

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Be the person you want to be in 2013

It’s that time of year again when we all have a think about our aspirations, hopes and dreams for the coming year. Most people will make a New Year’s resolution, but how many of us will be able to maintain this change over the next 12 months? Can you remember what you pledged to change last year? I can’t but it was probably something along the lines of…..

  • be more active (go to the gym each day).
  • Eat less chocolate and candy.
  • Write a book.
  • Go to an evening class.
  • Be better with money.

Now the main issue I can see and reflect on when I look at these goals is the fact that they are not SMART goals. I recognise that I did not achieve them because they are not SMART. An example of this would be my Sugar Pledge where I have only eaten less chocolate and candy because I have set myself a goal of 12 months of not eating sugary foods or drinks.

Let me explain what I mean by SMART goals.

S- specific

M- measurable

A- achievable

R- realistic

T- time

Examples:

  1. I’m going to do more exercise in 2013. This is not a SMART goal because it is quite vague and to motivate yourself to achieve your goals you need to know exactly what you are aiming for and how you can achieve them. Also to make sure that you have the satisfaction of reaching your target rather than it floating off into the ether.
  2. I’m going to go to run for 30 minutes on 4 days of the week. You could make it even better by specifying which 4 days you will      do this on but you could set these days on a week to week basis to work around changes to your schedule.

If you want to lose weight choose a sensible goal, for example by saying you want to lose 5% of your body weight over the next 6 months. Once you achieve it you can aim for another 5% or you could aim to lose inches instead. Make sure that what you are aiming for is a healthy weight and that you are eating enough to meet your body’s nutritional requirements for protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Starving yourself or following a plan that is less than 1300Kcal per day is not healthy and will result in vitamin, mineral or protein deficiency. Make a change that is sustainable in the long-term and is a healthy balanced diet. Yo-yo dieting has been shown to be bad for our health so slow, gradual weight loss and achievable, sustainable changes are more likely to result in keeping the weight off in the future.

I find that each morning it is useful to set yourself mini goals and then work through the day to achieve them. This is particularly useful when your goals are diet or exercise related but can also be used for pretty much anything you want to get done in a day. I really enjoy blogging and I’m very new to how it all works. I have been very busy for the past few weeks and I hold my hands up that I am guilty of blog neglect.

However after reading The Weekly Writing Challenge I am feeling motivated to write more regularly even when I am busy. Turning the TV off and doing something that is both constructive and enjoyable has many benefits. I enjoy photography and I am also going to aim to do the photo challenge and use my nice camera.

What are your New Years resolutions? Choose three or four at the most, I’m always trying to do too much at once and then I lose focus and fail to achieve any of it. If you are really struggling then have a look at My Future Listography, an excellent journal with headings that help to shape some future aspirations and trips.

My Aims for 2013

  • Continue my Sugarpledge ( I’m 8 weeks in today) aiming for 12 months (see specifics in earlier posts).
  • Do an hour of exercise on 4 days of the week to include a run outside, 2 cardio classes and a weights class.
  • Write one blog entry each week.
  • Save money for my big trip in December 2013 (I will of course need to specify an exact amount to save each month).

You can achieve anything that you want to achieve, just do it and make your dreams reality. Just remember to make your goals SMART, make sure you are not spreading yourself too thin when you know you will be busy or have a lot of other commitments. One of the biggest motivators is the feeling of achieving so make those goals SMART and feel good when you reach them. Then you can set the next target.Bright Meadows

Live your life the way you want to and have a fantastic and successful 2013. You can achieve it!

 

Cx

 

 

 

 

 

Carb Monkey? Yep that would be me!

So although I feel that Sugar Pledge is going very well and by that I can say that today marks 5 weeks and 2 days since I last ate a sugary treat or added sugar to my food. I have been thinking this evening that I might (definitely) have been eating more bread. Why are we such carb monkeys up here in the Northern Hemisphere?

If I lived in a place that was warm and sunny most of the year round sure I could live on fish and salads, but I don’t I’m living in cold and rainy England and I crave stodgy carbs. This has to stop and this week I am pledging to not eat any bread at all. I have not given up sugar to replace it with bread or other savory snacks. New game and new rules this week people!

I’m definitely not craving sugary foods I just need to avoid snacking. I have been carrying around a vanilla pod to smell and sugar-free strawberry gum which has satisfied my sweet tooth enough to not crave the hard stuff. It is of course that holiday time of year when the city centre is scented with gingerbread, cake, warm donuts and candy. I have to walk through town everyday on my way to and from work. In the morning the streets are deserted and the shops are shut and there are no food stalls making sweet treats. However fast forward to 6pm and everything is open, cooking and I’m hungry trying to make my way home to make dinner.

I’ve been super busy at work and have been going in early and finishing late every night this week. I have only made it out to run twice and that, I am certain is why my weight loss has slowed down. It is so annoying, I need to get a better routine, I’m hoping everything settles down next week.

I have a job interview next week which I’m uncertain about. I’m sure the stress has contributed to my bread eating behaviour. It’s so hard to know which decisions are the right ones, I wish I had a crystal ball to see what I really want from life. I wish it was easier and there is so much pressure to choose right first time around. Sure its important to learn from your mistakes but I would like it to get easier instead of feeling like my choices are on repeat.

I think my best option is to do my best see what the outcome is and then if I have a tough call to make I need to do a pros and cons list.

Sugar Pledge goals for next week? I’m going to aim to lose half a stone by Xmas. This is a bread free zone and I’m going to need to get myself to the gym at least 4 times in the week. Game on.

 

Healthier Roast Potatoes

Everybody loves a good roast potato but they are often cooked in a huge amount of oil. 3 medium roast potatoes can average 150-180Kcal and 4-8g of fat. So how can we modify them so that they contain less fat but still look and taste as they should?

This is the method that I use at home when I occasionally make them to go with a roast dinner.

Recipe:

Pre-heat your oven to 180C, 350F or gas mark 4.

Take some new potatoes (skins left on) and par-boil them for about 10 minutes (they need to be slightly cooked). Drain them and give them a shake so that the edges are slightly ruffled. Place the potatoes into a roasting dish and add some salt and ground black pepper. Next you need to spray each potato once with some 1Kcal sunflower spray oil and give them another shake.

Cook in the oven for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Variations:

Add fresh thyme or rosemary before cooking. I also like to roast whole cloves of garlic and onion in the same roasting dish.

Enjoy

Cx

http://frylight.co.uk/indexfl.html

 

Easy Lettuce & Pea Soup

This is my favourite time of year when all the trees turn into a kaleidoscope of burnt orange, ruby red and golden yellow hues. The time of year when you get out of the shower in the morning and it is a completely traumatic experience just because it is so cold. You have to wear layers and wrap up to brace the fresh and bitter cold air. I like to make a big veggie soup on a Sunday that I can then take to work everyday and avoid the temptation of buying hot (usually unhealthy) food from the cafeteria.

I love this recipe because it takes about 30 minutes from start to finish, is low calorie, tastes delicious and is full of vitamins to ward off those horrible colds going around.

Equipment:

1 large saucepan, a sharp knife, chopping board, spoon to stir and a hand blender. A large container to store the soup in your fridge and a smaller one to take a small portion to work.

Ingredients: 1 large white onion, 300g frozen garden peas, 1 whole iceberg lettuce, 5 small new potatoes, ground black pepper, 5 tsp vegetable bouillon ( I like to use Marigold), olive oil and a splash of milk.

Method:

Put a splash of olive oil into the saucepan and use a medium heat. Roughly chop the onion and add to the pan, stir so they don’t stick. Chop the potatoes with the skins on and add to the pan, followed by roughly chopped washed lettuce. Continue to stir so the veggies lightly cook. You want the onions to be translucent in colour not golden brown.

Next boil the kettle with a 1000ml of water and then pour over the veg until they are just covered. Add the vegetable bouillon and grind some pepper in and stir well. Leave to simmer until the potatoes are just cooked. Turn the heat off and blend the soup using the hand blender. You need to blend until the soup is smooth and without lumps. Finally add a splash of milk and stir. Leave the soup to cool down before you transfer to your container for the fridge.

Variations:

You can experiment with the different types of lettuce that you use, it is surprisingly flavoursome. I also sometimes like to add some fresh chopped mint or a teaspoon of mint sauce when the pepper and bouillon are added.

Enjoy

Cx

Find the extra willpower to lose weight

Finding that extra willpower to push you along to weight loss is very important. You need to make it specific to you, to what is important. You need to harness the power that will make you feel that losing weight is more important than eating that candy bar.

So how do we do this?

Start by taking a piece of paper and in one column write ‘what will happen if my eating behaviour stays the same?’ and in another column write ‘what will happen if I change my eating behaviour?’

I will write what my list would look like.

What will happen if my eating behaviour stays the same?

I will gain weight and feel uncomfortable in social situations.

I will be less healthy and be at risk of diabetes when I am older.

I won’t be able to wear the clothes that I want to wear.

I will feel less confident in general.

 

What will happen if I change my eating behaviour?

I will lose weight.

I will be able to wear the clothes that I want to.

I will be healthier and fitter.

I will feel more confident.

I will keep my teeth strong and white.

Another way to do this is to write down how you feel next time you eat sugary snacks. I feel that when I eat chocolate and sweets in the first instant I really want them, I enjoy eating them for about ten minutes and then I feel really guilty for the rest of the day. When I avoid these cravings I feel anxious about not having them and have to use all of my willpower but this lasts about 10-15 minutes and then I feel really good for the rest of the day. Try writing how you feel next time this happens to you, it can really change the way you feel about food.

Sugar Addiction

Today marks day ten of my sugar pledge and I’m feeling pretty good/smug. It has not always been easy and my main saviour has definitely been planning and also knowing that I have this blog and Twitter followers to motivate me. I think Friday was the worst day for avoiding sugar junk but I made it home.

I had a really long, stressful day at work and left three hours late. If this was last month and I was still eating sugary crap then my journey home would have involved buying chocolate at work, picking up more when I get off the train and I would probably end up buying a packet of biscuits to munch on when I got home. The damage? I estimate that it would work out as 800-900Kcal and 100-150g sugar. Ouch. When I am adding up the amount of sugar I was consuming it makes me feel sick.

I am an emotional eater and I will be blogging about techniques to overcome emotional eating at a later date.

What actually happened instead? I ate my emergency drama banana (photo to follow) and marched to the train station. I got off the train and held my breath as I walked past Millie’s Cookies so that I did not become intoxicated with the sickly sweet smell of warm cookie dough. I walked into another shop to look for something quick for dinner but could only see cheesy and creamy dishes so I walked straight out ignoring all the Halloween candy on sale. I caught a bus to my house and realised that I needed bread and milk from the corner shop. Deep breath, I’m going into a minefield of chocolate, sweets and biscuits. However I succeeded in only buying a packet of strawberry sugar free gum and a small bottle of diet Pepsi- rock and roll baby. No sugar for me :)

I feel like this time I might actually be able to do this. I have tried so many times in the past and failed. I have written evidence from a journal that I started (and stopped) writing two years ago. I am going to put up some of my entries on my blog to see how far(if at all) I have travelled from my sugar addiction. Should be interesting reading.

So to plan! I’ve cancelled my pudding from the staff Christmas meal out in December and I am going to start testing some sugar free pudding recipes to prepare for Christmas holidays which I am sure will be a tough sugar pledge time. I will put the best recipes up to share.

I’m off to the movies this afternoon so I need to a) eat before I go and b) buy some mango to have as a snack. No pick n mix for me! I worked out that an average bag is 400-1000Kcal CRAZY! There are 10g of carbs in just 3 cola bottle sweets and probably 80-100g sugar.

Enjoy your Saturday, I will put up one of those old journal entries later this evening.

C x

Baked Cinnamon Apples

This is a useful recipe that does not add sugar. The main aim of my pledge is to cut out chocolate, sweets, cake and junky foods that contain sugar. I am not giving up other foods that contain other types of sugar like fruit (fructose) or dairy (lactose) because they are both important parts of a healthy balanced diet. They are essential to provide a wide range of vitamins and minerals, including calcium to keep our bones strong.

I will be seeking out similar recipes so that I can avoid puddings and cake. It also boosts our fruit intake.

Baked Cinnamon Apples

Ingredients: Cooking apples, sultanas, cinnamon, turmeric, half fat creme fraiche

Method: Take the core out of the apple leaving the apple whole. Put a few teaspoons of sultanas into the hole and sprinkle some cinnamon and turmeric over the apple. Place in the oven at 150c or 300F or gas mark 2 for about thirty minutes. Serve once soft with a spoon of the half fat creme fraiche.