Monday, 18 April 2011

Week 3 Weigh In

I'll admit now that week 3 wasn't the best - I had 2 birthday meals out, birthday drinks, and dinner at a friend's house, all in the space of 4 days. I ate curry and naan bread, I drank copious amounts of wine, I had a few crisps, so all in all I was a bit worried about tonight's weigh in. However, there were two things keeping me going - I'd done a lot of exercise this week (clocking up a total of 200 minutes), and I'd had a few non-syn days during the rest of the week, both of which I hoped would at least balance out some of the bad stuff. I also managed to fit into a pair of jeans that were a bit tight the week before, so I felt I'd lost a little bit.

My target for this week was to lose at least 1.5lbs, as this would get me my half stone award, and as I went to class tonight I was doubtful of even losing that much, so I was incredibly surprised to find that I'd actually lost 3.5lbs. This means I've now lost 9lbs in the last three weeks, and I got my half stone sticker on the book!

I honestly have no idea how I managed to do so well again last week, but really hope that this will continue. This week is as busy as ever. Tomorrow is my fiance's birthday so I have yet another birthday meal out, and then on Friday I'm meeting my mum for our regular Good Friday shopping/lunch/wine trip! This is then followed by a meal with my future in-laws on Sunday for Easter (and I really want to try and avoid the Easter eggs given the syns our consultant told us were in even the small ones!).

I won't be weighing in next week, as I'm away for a week's holiday in Perthshire, so it'll be another 2 weeks before I see if I can sustain these losses!

Come Dine With Me

Over the next few weeks my calendar is full. I have birthdays, a holiday and a wedding reception, all of which could involve eating and drinking all the wrong things. However, I still have a slight control over what I'm eating at these occasions - and should be able to select appropriate foods from the menu that have lower syn values.

The biggest difficulty coming up in the next month or so is some Come Dine With Me style parties. This is the 3rd time my friends and I have done this - we keep it like the TV show, and all go around to each others' homes for a meal, although ours are considerably more spread out! The menu is revealed shortly before each dinner, and we all score each other in secret! We don't take it too seriously though - instead of £1000 prize, the winner gets treated to a meal in the restaurant of their choice. Its good fun creating a menu, and having a few nights of great food with great company (another bonus being that we all actually like each other!).

When discussions were had about having another set of dinners, I definitely wanted to do it, however my problem is syns! Obviously there's no choice of what to eat at these, and wine normally flows relatively freely as well, so there's massive potential to break the diet. Last night saw the first of the dinners, and I think I coped relatively well.

Starter was chicken liver pate, toast and salad. I'd saved my healthy extras yesterday, so I counted the toast as my B choice, and just had a very small amount of pate, plus lots of salad. This was followed by a main course of chicken stuffed with cheese and pesto, gruyere potatoes, roast carrots and broccoli. I'd also saved my A choice for the day, which was more than used up by the cheese in the main, and I'm hoping that the extra syns I saved this week will have helped make up for the rest of the cheese and pesto. Deserts were my big worry, so I've said to everyone that I will only have a very small bite of their desert. However, last night's lovely host also gave me some syn free fresh berries and natural yogurt - so bonus points for a perfect dieter's desert, and it meant I didn't feel too envious as I watched everyone else tuck into banana and chocolate cake.

Fortunately the dinners are all spread out - I have another on Wednesday, but following that, the third night isn't until May, so hopefully a similar tactic each week and the spread of the nights will mean the diet doesn't go off track.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Week 2 Weigh In

Yesterday evening saw my second weigh in, and despite feeling positive about it, I was shocked that to find that I'd lost 3.5lbs. I was also thrilled obviously! This takes my total loss since starting classes to 5.5lbs, so I'm hoping for at least 1.5lbs this week so that I can get my half stone award at next week's class.

Looking ahead to this week, Saturday is going to be a difficult day. It's my finace's birthday next Tuesday and we are going out for lunch on Saturday to celebrate. I'm confident that I can make low-syn food choices (soup followed by steak), however our lunch deal also includes a bottle of wine. Then, on Saturday evening, I've got a night out in the pub to celebrate another friend's birthday, which will involve a few more drinks, so overall the alcohol on Saturday could be my undoing. To try and compensate I'm trying to up my exercise this week, and have started with an hour gym workout plus a 30 minute swim today, and I'm also trying to have some low syn days in the run up to the weekend. Hopefully this tactic will help me stay on track despite my planned 'bad' day.

Good luck to everyone else weighing in this week, and if anyone has any hints and tips for compensating for my bad Saturday then please let me know!

Monday, 11 April 2011

Week 2 Thoughts

My week 2 weigh in is fast approaching (5.30pm tonight), and I'm feeling positive. I've had a really good week, and have managed to come within my syns every day.

At home, sticking to the diet has been easy. I've been spending time cooking some good low-syn or syn free food, and have really enjoyed getting back into the kitchen again. SW chips have been a popular choice for me this week, either with an omelette or some meat and salad at lunchtimes, or as an accompaniment to a main meal. I've also experimented with herbs and spices on them, and particularly enjoying dried rosemary or cajun spices as a chip topping. My favourite meal of the week though has to be my Saturday evening rump steak, chips and salsa. My fiance couldn't believe it was 'diet' food, and we both enjoyed a really nice meal washed down with some red wine! I've also discovered the wonders of Laughing Cow Light traingles (I don't like the extra light ones). These have been delicious on toast with some tomatoes, or as a 'dip' for my chips, and being allowed 5 a day as an A choice has meant I've never had to worry about eating too much!

The biggest difference I've felt this week has been when I've been out. I had two evenings out during the week, and stuck to diet soft drinks. On Saturday I had a very busy day, which meant that I didn't have time to get home for lunch - in fact all we had time to do was pop into a newsagent and eat in the car. Normally I would have succumbed to the sandwich and crisps option, because there was very little choice of slimming friendly food. However, I managed to find a basket full of apples and bananas, and just had a few pieces of fruit for lunch.

I've also continued exercising over the last week with ten 15 minute sessions completed, from a combination of gym, zumba and walking.

Despite all this, I'm still nervous about tonight, and just hope that I've done enough to get a good loss.

RECIPE - Penne Arrabiata

This is my favourite Italian dish, and its taken me a while to get a recipe I'm happy with to make at home. The recipe is 3 syns per portion, because I use a glass of white wine to make the sauce, however it makes a massive difference to the taste, and in my opinion is well worth the addition of syns.

(Serves 2)
200g penne pasta (or any other pasta of your choice)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 onion
1 tsp dried chillies
175ml white wine
1 tsp sweetner
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Black pepper, fresh basil and parmesan to serve if desired

  1. Finely dice the onion and garlic, and fry over a low heat in some fry light for 5 minutes, or until the onions have softened slightly.
  2. Add the dried chillies and fry for a further 1 minute
  3. Add the wine, and let the volume of liquid reduce by half.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes, sweetner and balsamic vinegar. Cook for around 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. In the meantime cook your pasta according to the instructions
  6. Before draining the pasta add a small cupful of the pasta water to the tomato sauce (I know this sounds mad, but it really helps bring everything together)
  7. Add the drained pasta to the sauce, stir, and cook for a further minute.
  8. Serve in pasta bowls, topped with black pepper, basil and some parmesan from your healthy extra A choice (if desired)

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

RECIPE - Cheesy Potato Skins

Loaded potato skins are another of my favourite foods, and the ones I usually make are full of cream and cheese - so definitely not something I could eat regularly on SW. After a bit of experimentation I've come up with this recipe, which really satisfies me without breaking the syn bank. In fact, all it uses is one laughing cow light triangle - which I take from my healthy extra A choice.

(per potato)
1 baking potato
1 laughing cow light triangle
2 spring onions
Sprinkle ground nutmeg
1 rasher bacon

  1. Bake jacket potato in oven until cooked, and fluffy inside (normally about 1 hour depending on size)
  2. In the meantime, remove the fat from the bacon, chop into small bits and fry using frylight until crisp, then set aside.
  3. When cooked, cut potato in half and scoop out all the potato, leaving the skins intact
  4. Chop the spring onion.
  5. Mix the potato with the cheese triangle, spring onions and nutmeg. I use a food processor for this, but it does work by hand - it just takes longer (and may require a splash of milk to loosen)
  6. Stir through the bacon bits
  7. Spoon the potato mixture back into the potato skins and bake in the oven for around 10 minutes
  8. Serve with some salad

Review of Wii Zumba

As I mentioned in a previous post I'm a big zumba fan. My Wii Zumba game arrived yesterday, and I was really keen to try it out as soon as possible.

Today I tried out a 45 minute intermediate zumba class on the game. There were different levels available - beginner, intermediate and expert, as well as different class lengths - 20 minutes or 45 minutes. As I've been going to zumba classes for a while I thought I would start on the intermediate level and give myself a long workout, and after trying it out I think this probably was a good level for me to start at.

You wear a velcro band around your waist during the game, which holds the wii remote. The band felt comfortable, and I forgot I was wearing it as I was doing the moves. The games then measures how well you match the moves of the instructor. There is a bar at the bottom of the screen which goes up if you match the moves and when you reach the end of the bar you move to the next level. The only difference I could see between levels was the number of people on the tv screen, so I don't think it is anything to be concerned about if you end up slightly out of time or doing something different.

The workout was divided into a number of songs, starting with a warm up and finishing with a cool down. Each song had its own countdown timer, so you knew exactly how long it was until you got a 10 second break to grab a drink of water before the next song started. (And water was definitely needed between each song!)

The whole workout felt very energetic, although as with any exercise you could put less effort into it if you were struggling. I was familiar with some of the moves from the zumba class I go to, but there were also new moves, and I found them all easy enough to pick up after the first few times. There was also one song which we do regularly in the zumba class, with very similar moves, so it felt nice to have something familiar! By the end of the workout I felt like I'd done a lot, exactly the same as I do after a class. I really enjoyed the workout and wasn't tempted to stop at any point - something that I've found a problem in the past when working out at home alone.

The game itself looked to have other options, and parts that have to be unlocked, so it looks like there will be enough in the game to keep me entertained and keep me using it. I still intend to get to zumba classes when I can, because I do really enjoy these too, but this is a great backup to have at home and I'm sure will help me increase my exercise. Overall a big thumbs up!

RECIPE - Lentil and Tomato Soup

This soup is syn free on Extra Easy, really filling and very easy to make.

250g red lentils
1 tin chopped tomatoes
3 onions
4 carrots
1 swede
1 bay leaf
2 ham stock cubes
Salt & Pepper

  1. Add a kettle full of boiling water to your soup pot along with the ham stock cubes
  2. Add the lentils and tomatoes to the water
  3. Roughly chop the onion, carrot and swede and add
  4. Add the bay leaf and seasoning
  5. You may wish to add more water, depending on how thick you like your soup
  6. Simmer for about 45 minutes, then blend
  • For an easier soup, buy a pack of cubed carrot and swede instead of chopping your own
  • This also tastes great when you add 2 rashers of bacon at the start of cooking (just remove all fat and roughly chop the meat - no need to grill it first)

RECIPE - Cottage Pie

Cottage pie is one of my favourite comfort foods, and also really fills me up. This recipe is only 1 syn for the entire lot on extra easy (although it serves 4)

500g extra lean mince beef
4 carrots
2 onions
2 cloves garlic
1 stock cube
1 tbsp tomato puree
50g red lentils
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried rosemary or thyme or a mixture of the two
Salt & Pepper
800g potato
4 spring onions
1/2 tsp nutmeg

  1. Finely chop the onion, garlic and carrots into small chunks. (I normally use a food processor to do this for speed)
  2. Brown the mince (no oil/fry light needed if using a non stick pan), and drain off any fat
  3. Add the finely chopped veg and enough water to just cover the mixture. Stir in the stock, lentils, rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper and bay leaves.
  4. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally
  5. In the meantime peel and boil the potatoes and allow to steam dry in a collander.
  6. Finely chop the spring onions
  7. After the 30 minutes, add a tablespoon of tomato puree and stir through. Cook for a further 10 minutes.
  8. Preheat the oven to 200C
  9. Add the mince mixture to the base of an oven dish
  10. Mash the potatoes together with the spring onion and nutmeg. I normally use my food processor for this, but it can be done by hand, though it takes longer because you're not adding any fat to the potatoes. (though if you have milk left over from your daily allowance you may wish to add a splash)
  11. Top the mince mixture with the mash potato and smooth out with a knife. Swirl the potato around with a fork to create texture and small peaks
  12. Pop in the oven for 15 minutes. The potato should be lightly browned by this time
  13. Serve with the veg of your choice!
  • If you have a Healthy Extra A choice left you could always add cheese to the mash for a cumberland pie
  • Experiment with the mash on top. It also works with celeriac, swede or sweet potato instead of potato, or even a combination of two of these.

Week 1 – Weigh in and thoughts

Yesterday evening saw my first weigh in and a 2lb loss, which I was pleased with. I hadn’t expected that big first week loss because I had been dieting on and off since January, plus I’d had a bad weekend with two meals out and far too much wine.

Overall I was pleased with my first week. Going to the classes has helped give me that extra motivation, as I have made better choices than I would have done in the past. On Friday I was at a charity quiz night, which involved a buffet. Our table was in the worst possible position for a dieter – right next to it, so I had to spend the entire evening looking at food that wasn’t SW friendly. However, I stood firm, and I only ate 2 small squares of cheese (as a healthy extra) and a few pickled onions!

I also surprised myself on Saturday. I was out for lunch with my fiancĂ© and mum, and despite being tempted by some very naughty meals I opted for a penne arrabiata. When it arrived it was served with garlic bread, which was immediately offloaded onto my fiancĂ©’s plate so that I wouldn’t be tempted. Before I would have probably just eaten the garlic bread!

However, whilst these were attempts at sticking to the SW diet, I did come undone with the wine. Friday night was pretty heavy – in fact I actually lost count – and Saturday involved wine with lunch and then later on in the evening! Sunday was also bad overall. I had dinner arranged with a few friends and ended up eating far too much – particularly the naan bread, which I know is bad, but was really tasty!

Moving on to week 2, I want to improve on my weekend performance. It’s my sister’s birthday on Saturday, which is going to involve another meal out. The main goal then is going to be to considerably cut down on the alcohol, and to continue to make sensible choices whilst out.

Good luck to everyone else weighing in this week!