Tuesday, 26 July 2011


A couple of months ago (I think) I was at an appointment around rush hour at another part of town that required two buses to get home. I hate public transport when it's busy - it's always full, there's always people playing music far too loud, and if you're really unlucky you get a smelly person sitting next to you or a weirdo who plucks his chin with 2 20pence pieces (I'm not lying - that did happen to me once on a bus!). It also takes forever, what with everyone getting on and off and all the other traffic, roadworks, etc. On this day I really wasn't looking forward to the bus journey, and then when I got home I knew I would have to force myself to do some exercise. All in all I knew this would take me about an hour and a half. That's when it struck me that it would probably take me about the same amount of time to walk home, and that way I wouldn't need to face the bus and would be getting even more exercise than planned. I think that was a 4.5 mile walk, and the first proper walking I'd done in a while. It was hard, but I did it.

Since that day I've been walking a lot. Most days when it's been dry outside I've been fitting in at least a 3 mile walk. If I don't have anywhere to go, I have a few routes that lead from my flat around my local area and back again, and if I do have somewhere to go, I work out whether I can walk. I live about 4.5 miles from the town centre, and this has become a regular walk whenever I need to go into town. Today has been my best achievement to date. I had an appointment 4.6 miles away this morning, so not only did I walk all the way there, but I also walked all the way home afterwards, half an hour later, giving me a total of 9.2 miles for today. The last mile or so was tough, but I'm thrilled that I achieved it.

I definitely feel all this walking is really starting to do me a huge amount of good. The most obvious thing has been my fitness levels - the more I've walked, the faster I've been able to walk and the easier I'm finding the hills. My fiance has noticed a big difference, as he now feels I'm fitter than him (and he's a three times a week gym addict!). I've also started to get a few comments that my legs have started to slim down and tone up and I've definitely noticed my skinny jeans getting looser around the thighs!

In addition to the obvious physical benefits, I'm also really enjoying the walking. I tend to walk with my iPod playing a range of tunes with upbeat and happy lyrics, that make me smile as I pound the pavements. I'm discovering lots of new little things around my local areas, such as shops or parks that I didn't know existed. I'm also getting to spend plenty of time in the fresh air, and over the last couple of days, the sunshine which always makes me feel happier. Walking is also giving me a chance to destress and clear my head by allowing me to escape from the rest of the world for the hour or so that I'm doing it.

I've recently just bought myself a pair of Reebox Easytones for walking, which are meant to increase the muscle usage of the leg and bum muscles, so I'm hoping these will help tone my legs up faster as I use them. I've only been out once in them so far, as they're not always suitable footwear if I need to look a bit smarter, but I definitely felt my legs were worked harder and were sorer the next day, so I have confidence they will make a difference.

I start my new job on Monday, which is 4.2 miles from my flat. My aim is to start walking home from work on dry days, so that I'm still maintaining this new exercise which I'm loving.

Week 17 Weigh In

Well my last Monday evening weigh in wasn't a good one as it was a gain of 1lb! However, it was completely expected. It was star week, and I'd had 2 very bad days during the week full of too much food & drink! In actual fact, I was relieved just to gain 1lb! I also know that it will be off again next week, hopefully along with another couple of its friends! During the next week because of the various challenges I'm doing chocolate, alcohol and takeaways are all banned, so I think it will be difficult to go over my syns!

I think I'm going to try going it alone just now, after speaking to a few people who've shared their experiences of not going to class with me. As I said in my Class or No Class post, I have a wonderful support network online in the form of all my lovely twitter friends, and I have a massive amount of support in the real world from my fiance. I weighed in again this morning on my own scales, so that I know where I'm starting from in terms of a morning weight and a weight on my scales, and from now on will be weighing in on Tuesday mornings before work, and basing the rest of my losses from this new weight.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

RECIPE - Mango & Grapefruit Salad

I tried this salad in a restaurant, and it was absolutely delicious, so I've recreated it at home. It's syn free on all plans, and contains lots of superfree food.

1 mango, peeled and sliced
1 grapefruit, cut into chunks
2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
1 red chili, deseeded and finely chopped
Large handful green beans
1/2 red onion, cut into strips
4 spring onions, finely chopped
Salt & Pepper
Balsamic Vinegar

  1. Wash, trim and boil the green beans for 3 - 4 minutes, then run under cold water immediately to cool.
  2. Mix all the fruit and salad items together in a large serving bowl. Season to taste and drizzle with some balsamic vinegar.

Challenges - Chocolate, Alcohol & Takeaways

As I mentioned at the end of June, I signed up to give up chocolate for the month of July. 24 days in and still not a drop of chocolate has passed my lips, and in actual fact it's made me realise that I don't need chocolate as much as I thought I did. I've enjoyed the challenge, and hope that it's encouraged me to generally cut back on my chocolate consumption (thought I do confess to be really looking forward to a dairy milk on the 1st August!).

I've now signed up for two additional challenges along with a few others on Twitter, and these two are going to be my big test! The first is to give up alcohol for 5 weeks, starting tomorrow. I enjoy a glass of wine (or three) most weekends, whether I'm out for dinner, out to the pub or just sitting at home of a Saturday evening. Wine is one of the main reasons I go over my syns, both because of the wine itself and the fact that I get hungry and crave bad food. Five weeks without any will definitely be difficult for me, but hopefully will make a massive difference to my weight loss, and knowing that I'll have five hangover-free weeks is quite nice too! I am having one day off during this time, however, and that is next Saturday. It's the day I try on my wedding dress for the first time, and would really like to celebrate afterwards with something nice! Other than that, no alcohol allowed!

The second challenge is to give up takeaways, and this one is a bit longer! Myself, and another dieting bride, have challenged ourselves not to have any takeaways until our hen weekends - eight weeks for her, ten weeks for me. We're still allowed to eat out, but any food which is consumed at home must also be cooked at home. I'm a big takeaway fan, and have got into the habit of having a regular curry. It's me being lazy, because I can cook delicious syn free curries myself, and I always have some of the Sugar and Spice curry kits in the house, so they're easy for me to prepare and a lot cheaper! This challenge will force me out of this lazy habit, I hope! I do syn the curries from the takeaway, but I still think that not having them will do my weight loss more good. So, hopefully August will be a good month weight loss wise with no alcohol or takeaways being allowed!

If anyone else wants to join us on either (or both) of these challenges please do - we can all support each other!

Class or No Class

A week tomorrow I will be starting a new job. The new job means that I'm going to be unable to make my regular Slimming World class, because it starts too early. It's disappointing, because I do really like the class. We have a great consultant, the other members are very supportive and I've learnt a lot from staying to image therapy most weeks. My consultant does a few other classes, but none I can get to.

Initially after working this out, I had a look at the other nearby classes, and made the decision to go to one on a Wednesday evening. The location isn't ideal, but it's the next nearest at a time I can make. However, I'm now starting to rethink this, and contemplating just continuing myself. I don't enjoy weigh in days - I feel they drag. I'm scared about eating too close to weigh in, or drinking too much, and by the time I get home after class I'm ravenous! I could deal with this when I was getting home around 7pm, and had something quick and easy to prepare for dinner. However, the new class would be at 7.30pm, and would mean that if I stayed for Image Therapy it would be after 9pm before I got home and could eat (and there's no way I'm risking having dinner before weigh in!).

I've got a massive bit of motivation for me to stick with the diet (my wedding), and there is some really wonderful support from other slimmers on Twitter, so I think I could probably stick to it myself. By doing it on my own, it means I could weigh in first thing in the morning, so wouldn't need to spend all day worrying about it too. It does disappoint me that I have to leave my class, but there's just no way I could get there on time now.

RECIPE - Bacon & Tomato Scrambled Eggs

I made this yesterday morning for breakfast to use up some food in the fridge, and it was really good!

(1/2 syn)
2 rashers bacon, all fat removed
2 tomatoes, chiopped
1/2 red onion, cut into strips
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sweetener
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 eggs
1/2 red chilli, finely chopped
Fry Light

  1. Spray a pan with fry light. Chop the bacon into chunks and gently fry.
  2. Add the tomatoes, red onion and chilli and fry for a few minutes until the tomotoes break down (add a splash of water if the pan starts to dry out)
  3. Add the balsamic vinegar, sweetener tomato puree and a further splash of water
  4. Stir fry for another 2 minutes to allow all the ingredients to come together
  5. Crack the eggs into the pan, and mix them quickly through the sauce. Cook until the eggs are scrambled.
  6. Serve either on its own, or with a HEXB portion of toast

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

RECIPE - Roasted Root Veg Soup

I made this yesterday, and I'd forgotten how delicious it is. It makes a really thick, filling soup, and is syn free on all plans.

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
2 carrots, cut into large chunks
half swede, cut into large chunks
2 leeks, thickly sliced
2 onions, quartered
1 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
Fry light
Salt & Pepper
1.2l chicken stock

  1. Spray a large baking tray (or 2 small trays) with fry light, add the chopped vegetables and herbs, and spray again with frylight.
  2. Tuck the bay leaves underneath the veg, and sprinkle over the thyme, salt & pepper.
  3. Roast the vegetables in the oven until tender, for around 30 minutes.
  4. Add the vegetables to a large soup pan, along with the chicken stock. Simmer for around 10-15 minutes.
  5. Remove the bay leaves carefully, blend until smooth then serve.

Week 16 Weigh In

Despite aiming for a good week on plan, it didn't happen last week. On Thursday I gave myself the evening off, as my partner and I were at a doo with his work to celebrate him working for his company for fifteen years. The evening included a delicious 3 course meal, and unlimited wine, so needless to say I indulged in both! Having said that - I did make the healthiest choices for each course. I started with a red pepper and tomato soup (though the Parmesan croutons probably weren't the healthiest!), then had a steak and filled up on lots of vegetables with it, and finally had the cheese plate - where I avoided the butter completely, gave half the cheese to my partner and ate all of the grapes and celery!

I was also out on Friday night, although this time I was pleased with my behaviour! Everything I ordered was almost syn free, as I asked for lots of changes to the menu items, and whilst we were also having cocktails, I opted for one that just contained spirits and diet coke - no sugar filled mixers for me! Saturday went well too. It was my niece's third birthday, and my sister was holding a party to celebrate. I'd prepared in advance and brought syn free potato salad and syn free Indian style slaw, which meant that when the buffet appeared I had a plate full of syn free food and avoided the sausage rolls, sandwiches, etc.

However, everything had gone wrong by Sunday! There had been a major family argument on Saturday, and I'd been left feeling very upset - so turned to my old friend - comfort eating! The day began with a buttered baguette with bacon and hash browns, and then went downhill from there with more bread, cheese and crisps.

I'd got back on track yesterday, but didn't think I'd have done enough to prevent a gain, so I was very pleased with a 1lb loss this week.

Looking ahead to this week, I already know its going to be tough. I have 4 lunches out over the next 4 days, so will have to make sure I'm picking the lowest syn choices, and having syn free days the rest of the time. Its now under 2 weeks until I try on my wedding dress, and I'm determined to get my 1.5stone award by then.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Is It How You Say It?

Yesterday's post about my wedding dress countdown got me thinking about the different ways we think about our weight loss. In the post yesterday I mentioned I've lost 17lbs to date. I don't know why I wrote it just in pounds, when normally I would have said I've lost 1 stone 3lbs. The interesting thing was that after writing that post, I felt boosted by my weight loss to date. I kept thinking to myself  "wow, 17lbs, that's brilliant Laura. Such a massive achievement" and was feeling very positive about how well I'd done.

Contrast that to my feelings previously about losing 1 stone 3lbs - I was obviously pleased with the weight loss, but a little voice in the back of my head was saying that I hadn't lost very much, and wasn't doing well enough (funnily enough, the same voice that convinces me to eat the bad things!). I'd felt my weight wasn't coming off quickly enough, and that I'd been stuck around the same figure for ages.

Yet both of these are opposing feelings about the same weight loss, which has made me consider whether how you say your weight loss makes the difference. In number terms, 17 is obviously bigger than 1.3, and I think this is what my brain has latched onto. It also feels I can take bigger leaps to the next milestone. In 3lbs I'll be in the 20s, and in 13lbs - less than a stone - I'll be in the 30s, and that really does sound amazingly impressive to me! So from now on I'm going to count my total weight loss in pounds only and try and keep that motivation and positivity high! (I'll still count down in stones though - then I want it to sound like a small goal!)

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

RECIPE - Bruschetta

Bruschetta is one of my favourite things, which I thought would be a no go on Slimming World, but I've come up with this recipe, which uses 1 HEXB choice, and other than that is syn free. It's not quite the same thing, but still well worth it.

2 slices 400g loaf  from HEXB choice (I use WW thick wholemeal)
1 clove garlic
1 red onion
8-10 chopped cherry/plum tomatoes (different sizes and colours if you can)
Lemon Juice
Chilli Flakes
Salt & Pepper

  1. Finely dice the onion and roughly chop the tomatoes. Add to a mixing bowl along with a squeeze of lemon juice, chilli flakes, salt and pepper and mix through.
  2. Toast the bread until nice and crispy
  3. Chop the garlic clove in half, and then slowly rub over the toasted bread. The sharpness of the bread acts as a mini-grater, and you will soon smell the garlic filling the air
  4. Spoon the bruschetta mix over the toast. Any leftover mix is great added to soups and salads
Optional Extra
Use a HEXA of grated cheese before you put the bruschetta mix on, and pop under the grill until melted for a cheesey bruschetta.

Wedding Dress Countdown

I've been trying to lose weight on and off for years, and had always ended up losing a bit then gaining a bit more, however this time I've been determined to stick to Slimming World because I wanted the weight gone by my wedding in November. I'd ordered my wedding dress in March this year, shortly before I started going to Slimming World classes, and based on my measurements at the time, the dress was ordered two sizes smaller. I'd always planned on losing more than 2 sizes, and felt that the extra motivation of a too small dress would keep me going. Plus the more a dress needs to be altered the more difficult it would be.

Last week I found out my dress has arrived in the bridal shop and is ready to try on. So far I've lost 17lbs since ordering the dress, and in terms of the clothes I'm wearing I've probably dropped around 1.5 dress sizes, so I'm not too sure yet how the dress will fit. However, if it's still a little too small I know that I have more time to keep losing the weight before I need to have a final fitting. So, the first fitting is booked for Saturday 30th July, or just over 2 weeks time. In these two weeks I'm aiming to be 100% on plan, and really up my intake of speed and superspeed foods to try and get as much off as possible and feel as good as I can for that day.

RECIPE - Turkey in Red Sauce

I made up this recipe last week as I'd bought some turkey steaks that were on offer, and really enjoyed it. I was on a red day, so served with cauliflower rice, but would be just as lovely with some potato wedges or normal rice.

Serves 2 - syn free on Red or EE

2 turkey steaks
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 red pepper
Handful of red jalapeno peppers
1 red onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
Salt & Pepper
Chicken stock cube

  1. Chop the turkey steak into bite sized chunks, chop the pepper into strips and the dice the onion.
  2. Add all the ingredients to a frying pan. The number of jalapenos you use should depend on your own preferences. If you feel very daring add a small amount of the juice the jalapenos came in.
  3. Cook for around 20-25 minutes until the sauce has thickened and the turkey cooked through then serve.

RECIPE - Red Day Spicy Speed Soup

I've posted the standard Speed Soup recipe on here before, but that is only free if you're doing a Green or Extra Easy day. Recently I've been mixing things up and doing Red days as well, and I wanted a soup that would be free on all plans, whilst also containing lots of speed foods. I came up with this soup last night based on what was in my fridge, and didn't really expect much, however it's one of the best soups I've made (and what's more my non-dieting fiance agreed!). It's also very easy to make, and contains 9 speed ingredients.

It makes a lovely large pot, and can be frozen if necessary.

Half cabbage
2 onions
4 carrots
Half swede
1 green chilli
1 green pepper
5 radishes
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 sticks celery
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 chicken stock cubes
thumb size piece of grated ginger
50ml syn free orange squash (trust me on this!)
Salt & Pepper

  1. Roughly chop all the vegetables and add to a large soup pot along with the garlic and ginger.
  2. Add the tin of chopped tomatoes and enough water to cover the veg.
  3. Add the stock, orange squash and season.
  4. Cook for around 30 minutes, or until veg is all soft
  5. Allow to cool for 10 minutes then blend.
  6. Gently reheat and serve

Week 15 Weigh In

Yesterday I lost half a pound at weigh in - not exactly the best loss especially given that it was for two weeks, however I have been very relaxed about it. Firstly it's still half a pound in the right direction, and the equivalent to a pack of lard as someone reminded me yesterday.

Secondly, I'd had a very stressful week last week - without going into too much detail I've been trying to organise wedding things, sell my flat and job hunt all at the same time. My first flat viewing was on Sunday, so I'd spent most of the morning getting everything looking clean and perfect. I also had a job interview yesterday, so Sunday afternoon was spent doing some interview prep. All the stress and nervous anticipation led to me feeling really sick on Sunday evening, and I ended up in bed from around 7pm with no dinner. Yesterday morning I still wasn't feeling right, so again wasn't eating. Instead of losing weight when I don't eat, my body tends to hoard everything, so I don't think this helped at all for the weigh in.

Finally, I tend to limit my water intake on a Monday after lunchtime so that water doesn't show up on the scales. Yesterday, because I had a 2 hour long job interview in the afternoon, that obviously involved me talking a lot, I got through a large amount of water during the course of the interview. Again, I'm sure this didn't help when I stepped on those scales.

I'm still feeling confident, and hoping that I will get a good result on the scales next week. Its now just 4lbs to my next shiny sticker (1.5 stone), so hopefully that is firmly in my sights!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Emotional Eating

My name is Laura and I'm an Emotional Eater. When things go wrong, I want food to make me feel better. When things go well, I want a celebratory food fest. When I'm bored, eating will keep me occupied for a while. And on no occasion is the food I crave fruit!

Yesterday afternoon I got a phone call to say I hadn't got a job I'd been really wanting. As soon as I got off the phone, the tears arrived along with the desperate need for comfort food - in this case white bread toast with lots of butter and melted cheese. I tried to fight the emotional cravings for a while - yesterday was also weigh in day, and I knew that if I started eating, I wouldn't make it to weigh in. I caved, had the toast then crawled under the duvet and ignored the fact I should have been standing on the scales. Ironically, I hadn't been too nervous about yesterday's weigh in - my home scales were showing a loss, and I'd been really good all week to make up for a food festival I was at on Saturday.

This morning I started thinking about emotional eating, and how I deal with it now compared to previously. Looking back I've used food as a comfort all the way since childhood. At the age of 6, my family moved to a different part of the country. I'd started school by that point, and hated having to start afresh elsewhere. I remember my parents used to buy these biscuit things that were topped with gooey marshmallow and jam. I loved them, and they're actually my first food memory! I then also remember being at the doctor's, and him commenting that I was obviously enjoying the Scottish diet - the first time I remember a comment being made about my weight.

I remember when I was a teenager that when I was upset or feeling lonely I would go to a local shop and buy lots of chocolate and crisps, that I hid in my bedroom and used to binge on. The food never lasted very long - I could easily eat a large chocolate bar and 6 packets of crisps in one sitting. But then once it was gone I moved onto the next shop - I rotated shops as I was worried the staff would comment on my buying habits if I visited one place too often. Starting University was almost liberating in that sense - it was easy to slip in lots of treats into a normal shop without feeling too guilty, which meant the comfort eating continued all to easily. And my flatmates were always happy to break out the big tubs of ice cream with a spoon each whenever any of us felt emotional.

Since leaving uni 9 years ago, I think I've generally became a happier person and although I've in no way fixed the emotional eating habit, I don't remember exact instances so much. I know I've done it - I've definitely eaten my way through a few hundred large share bags of crisps by myself, but things don't stick out so much.

Last night, however, I feel I made progress with my habit. Yes, I felt upset so went and had something to eat - but I only had 2 slices of toast, butter and cheese (that could easily have been more), I didn't raid the cupboard for lots of chocolate and I didn't go to the shops for crisps. I missed my weigh in, but I managed to pull myself together enough to go and meet friends for dinner later, and I walked the 5 miles to the restaurant. In the restaurant I could have easily picked high fat, high syn options, but instead had carrot soup followed by a steak - a lot healthier than the pate and puff pastry topped pie my emotions were telling me I needed.

I don't feel I've completely got a handle on my emotional eating, but I do think that I am getting better. I'm recognising that the cravings I experience at times of extreme emotions are not real cravings, and actually eating things that are bad for me only satisfy me whilst I'm eating - straight afterwards the emotion is back. I hope next time I can remember last night, and try and keep myself together now that I know it is possible to exercise a bit of self control.