The Diminishing Vegan

Veganism and Weight Loss

Eat to Live | Nutritarian | The End of Dieting

This post is a bit of a catch up post along with some information about where I’m going next with my diet.

We got confirmation of house purchase a few weeks ago, so exciting, we are buying our first house! No more renting! I have been moving things up there slowly, but our actual move date is in 13 days. There is so much to arrange before then, so it’s safe to say I’m incredibly busy. Packing our belongings, moving boxes, selling and giving away things, fitting this in with work and kids is proving challenging. Adding in exercise and weight loss and I just don’t have enough hours in the day. My exercise has ground to a halt until we move, but I’m still trying to keep my diet on track.

We went to Amsterdam for my birthday last weekend too, and the food there was amazing, I’ll make a post about this once we’re all settled in the new house.

So, keeping in mind all of this external activity, and the rapidly approaching end of year I’m beginning to seriously get worried about reaching my goal weight this year. There are 3 months left, and if I keep going the way I have been I will stay exactly the same weight I am now. It’s just not good enough and I can’t accept it. I need to change it up a bit as what I’m eating and doing now, while keeping me maintaining my weight, it’s just not getting me losing. I’m not sticking to it enough, a doughnut here or there, a huge portion of pasta, vegan ice cream, little to no exercise, if you put in half the effort you get out half the effort.

I’m going to change up my diet, and give Nutritarian a try, it is like whole foods plant based on steroids (I don’t condone steroid use!). The diet and books were created by Dr Joel Fuhrman, a pretty well known American doctor, and are aimed at getting the most nutrients in for every calorie you eat. The main book, called Eat to Live was released in 2003, and lays out his 6 week diet plan. There are a few keys rules, some of which I hope are really going to help me.

There are some foods you can eat completely unrestricted. These include all vegetables other than starchy vegetables. Lettuce, greens, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, broccoli, cabbages, leeks, celery, radish, beetroots, carrots, peppers, spring onions, asparagus, green beans, kale, spinach, aubergine, courgettes, cauliflower, all of these can be eaten unlimited at meal times. These can be raw, or sauteed in water. At least 1 pound of these a day is suggested which is a huge amount.

Also unrestricted is beans, legumes, peas, lentils and tofu. Fruit is suggested at 4 servings per day. No oil or salt is allowed at all.

Restricted foods include starchy vegetables and grains. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, butternut squash, pumpkin, quinoa, wholegrain pasta, millet, buckwheat, oats, any whole grains, these are limited to one cup per day. This scares me! It probably scares me for the reason why I’m not currently losing weight. I can admit it, I eat too many of these. Calorie wise they make up a huge amount of my daily intake.  You can even restrict these completely for the first 6 weeks but quite honestly that seems too far to me, so I will be sticking to 1 cup per day.

Also suggested is 1 oz of nuts or seeds per day. I will likely have this in the form of peanut butter with a banana in the evening, or added into a smoothie. No processed foods/added sugar are allowed for the 6 weeks.

When to eat also matters here, 3 meals per day is suggested with no snacks. I’m going to be combining this with fasting. I’m so far along with fasting now having breakfast so early during the week just does not feel right. I may not go as long as 20 hours, but at least 14 – 16 before my first meal which will more than likely be a huge salad with beans/chickpeas. I will follow this up immediately with some fruit. I’ll then hold off till dinner which will be some kind of cooked meal with my 1 cup of grains/starchy vegetables, tones of non starchy vegetables and greens. I’ll finish it off with more fruit and my nuts, or a smoothie.

While following this I’m reading the end of dieting book by Dr Joel Fuhrman, released in 2014 it expands on his eat to live Nutritarian approach. I believe this has some further guidelines, I’ve not started reading this yet so as the weeks go by I will post about this.

I’m aiming to keep a weekly diary on here charting the ups and downs, and all food that I eat, along with some weight loss hopefully! He suggests you can lose 20 pounds in 6 weeks, that would take me a good chunk of the way to my goal weight. If you have any experience with eat to live please send me some advice  on My Fitness PalInstagramFacebookTwitterFitbit.

Minimalism 2018 in 2018

A bit of a diversion from weightloss and veganism but I thought I would do a little update about my ongoing quest to be a minimalist (or at least get rid of a high percentage of my uneeded stuff).

After discovering the minimalists back in 2016 (and having read zen habits and becoming minimalist for a year or two), I took part in a very intense first round of the mins game and got rid of over 1000 things. Way more than required, it’s supposed to be one thing on day one, two on day two etc. Then I signed up to a Facebook group at the end of 2016, first of all to get rid of 2017 things in 2017, and now 2018 things in 2018. In 2016 I only managed a pitiful 680 things which took my total up to 1680.

This year so far I am at 1371, taking my ongoing total to 3052! That shocks me to even type! I was not a hoarder, although that number makes it seem from the outside like I was, although apparently an average American house has 300,000 items, I can’t find a similar statistic for UK but I can’t see it differing too much. I did  however have an issue with the what if’s, the I might need this one day, the just in case. My mother was very like this too, she had multiple versions of pretty much everything she owned, and then barely used any of them. When she died I was left to deal with with wardrobes full of new clothes with the tags on. I don’t think I was extreme as her, but clearly there was some kind of issue. I know I was very stressed out with my house. I found that I barely ever reached proper cleaning, most of the time I had was spent putting stuff away.

You may wonder what it is these 3052 things have been? A whole variety of things such as –

Clothes, books, dvd’s, cd’s, videos, games, games consoles, shoes, toys (so many toys), fridge, washing machine, tv, computers, laptops, cables, connectors, decorations, a bed, shelving units, chairs, ornaments, odd socks, tickets, photos (I scanned them and saved them online), drawings the kids did (I took photos of them too), a breadmaker, punch bag, skin care products,a rowing machine, old makeup, jewellery, fancy dress outfits, clothes that are too big, plates, mugs, forks and knives, cameras, camping equipment, a microwave, artwork, and even a car.

What have I gained? A level of peace regarding my house that is better than it has ever been. Today I was feeling on edge, I’m not good with clutter, (I have no idea how I managed years ago, in fact, I didn’t, I was severly stressed and had extended bouts of depression). I’m on another push to get rid of more things, and when that happens there tends to be piles or bags of things around the place. I set a timer today and got my house to comfortable within 90 minutes. That may seem a long time but I don’t have a lot of opportunity to clean during the week, and that included doing washing too, for me this is great.

What did I do with everything? I gave a lot to charity, some I sold and the rest I binned. Not very minimalist to bin things, but I am comitting to not replacing these items, if they are of no use to anyone else then I just want them out of my house.

What is my end goal? I’m not sure. I doubt I will aim for a specific number of belongings, and I doubt my house will ever look typically minimalist. Minimalism for me may be different that minimalism for others. Add to that my husband isn’t totally on board (although isn’t completely against it). However, the less things I have the more content I seem to be. I’m not against spending money, but for me it should be well spent, not frivolous, I want to make sure I really want something before I buy it. Add to this we are in the process of both attempting to buy a house and paying off some minor debt, and really, every single purchase I make must be justified to myself.

I would recommend minimalism to every single person reading this. I don’t know enough about capitalism to say I’m against it, and I’m sure it has done great things for the world, but I feel that across the board people focus too much on stuff, how much stuff they own, how much it costs, how that looks to others, their status in society. I may be called naive, but I feel we would be in a lot happier world if instead of focusing onstuff and status we took a step back and saw consumerism for what it is, an industry aimed at us getting to spend money, not in any way to make us happier.

1000 Days on My Fitness Pal

Unbelievably, I have reached a 1000 day streak on My Fitness Pal. I don’t think I’ve ever logged into something for such a long streak of days ever. My streak began on Monday 28th November 2015 an wow, so much has changed since then!

I had not been vegan very long then, I went vegan on the 4th November 2015. I was still a student having not long started my Postgraduate Diploma, I had lost about a stone at that point, having stopped smoking a few months before at the end of May.

In that time I have –

  • Graduated
  • Got my first job (left)
  • Got my second job (still there)
  • Lost another 4.5 stone
  • Went abroad on holiday for the first time since I was a child
  • Ran a 10K

And just for nostalgia, here is the post I made at my 200 day streak.

My Fitness Pal

It’s been full of ups and downs, I have had a lot of time stuck in that period, but I have chipped away and am reaching my goals, I don’t care if it takes me 1000 more days, as long as I am going down the way I’ll be happy (it would be good to finally reach my end goal though one day!). I also lost 1 pound on my 1000 day streak, which marks my first downward movement since June!

Some of the things I have done with My Fitness Pal over the years? There have been plenty of days where I’ve logged in and only added water, just to make sure it registers. Also, remembering right as I’m about to go to sleep, and having to quickly login again just to check. I hope other users also do these things.

While I have had periods of no diary logging, I always go back there, and I honestly think it is one of the best apps/websites I use. I recommend it to anyone I speak to about weight loss, calorie counting I feel is the most reliable way to lose weight, and I don’t think anyone else does it better than My Fitness Pal. The community is good too, I regularly browse the forums for inspiration. I have made friends there too from all over the world, and I love looking at other people’s diaries. Overall it is a great too, and free as well. I have tried the paid for version but quite honestly the free version has so much information, it’s more than enough for me.

Here’s to the next 1000 days! Please add me on My Fitness Pal , and other social media, InstagramFacebookTwitterFitbit. I love new people and the support from online sources is invaluable.

Mushroom Stroganoff Pasta

I’m always trying to think of healthy, quick meals to make and recently decided to give a one pot mushroom stroganoff pasta recipe a try. This recipe is for two people, it can be scaled up or down as necessary. It takes about 20-25 minutes to prepare and is a nice easy mid-week meal.

Mushroom Stroganoff Pasta

Ingredients

  • 400ml Roasted almond milk
  • 300g Chestnut mushrooms
  • 100g Onions
  • 1 Low salt vegetable stock cube
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1tsp Thyme
  • Salt and plenty of pepper
  • 2tsp Parsley
  • 1tsp Vegan worcestershire sauce
  • 10g flour
  • 200g wholewheat pasta

Method

Water sautee onion until soft. Add chopped mushrooms and cook until soft. Add garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook for 3 – 4 minutes.

Add worcestshire sauce. Add flour and stir well. Add stock, almond milk and pasta and mix.

Cover and cook for 10 – 15 minutes until pasta is cooked and sauce is nice and creamy. Add parsley right at the end.

This is around 500 calories a portion, and that’s with 100g of pasta which is pretty generous. You can add white wine to the mix too but I’m not a fan of alcohol in food.

Mushroom Stroganoff

Thanks for reading, let me know if you have made this or something similar, or maybe you have your own one pot recipes to share? You can find mon InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit. Add me oe n any or all, I love new friends on all social media for support and updates from me!

weightloss failure

My ongoing weightloss failure (and what I’m going to do about it)

I really don’t like to make a post which such a negative title, but I’m stuck in a rut when it comes to weightloss failure and I really need to do something about it. I feel this rut is inevitable, and I guess potentially the reason most people are unsucessful losing weight in the long term. You stop losing weight for a variety of reasons such as :

  • Your body has adjusted to lower calories but you haven’t made any changes
  • You start eating more and not realising it
  • You stop exercising but continue eating more
  • You get bored
  • You have a personal crisis/stress period and start eating more

When the weight loss stops, you may not have fixed your underlying problems with food, you get annoyed, fed up, eat a little more, the cycle continues, before you know it you are gaining again but ignoring it. You stop weighing, feel your clothes getting tighter, eat more until eventually you reach a point when you just say enough, bite the bullet and weigh yourself and either you have gained, or you may even be the same weight you were to start with (or more!). I’ve been there. This has happened to me twice, I have lost 3 stone twice and put it all back on. Losing weight is very difficult over the long term.

Losing weight is what I am currently failing at, I am stuck, I have been stuck now for a number of months. The 16th June was the last time I registered a loss. Very very frustrating. Since that period I had a week long holiday in Spain where I overate and drank, I put on around 6 pounds and lost it within a week. I have bobbed about the same 2 – 3 pounds since then depending on water retention.

Why? Why am I stuck? Well, I could make a lot of excuses, the one I hear myself saying all the time (and I mean all the time) is that my body has had enough of weight loss. 5 and a half stone is as much as it wants to do. I say this as if my body has it’s own brain and has made some kind of conscious decision. People tilt their head and nod understandingly, saying something like, oh you’ve lost so much already, surely you don’t have that much left to go anyway. I still have nearly 4 stone to go! I don’t feel anywhere near done yet.

My real reason for being stuck probably is a number of reasons:

  1. I stopped OMAD (I found it too extreme), but I’m still doing 18-20 hour fasts every weekday, and 14-18 hour fasts at the weekend. I think fasting has helped me not gain.
  2. I upped my calories a little as I felt I was struggling (1200ish to 1500ish). I did this because I just felt as if I should be able to eat more, I compared myself to others and felt I was too restrictive.
  3. I have stopped exercising as much. In my personal life there is an ongoing issue (regarding housing), and it is taking up my thoughts, and some time. This is time I was previously exercising.

When it actually comes down to it though, the real reason I’m failing can only be that I am eating too much! I know, it’s not just as straightforward as calories in vs calories out. Hormones, Microbiome, Sleep/Stress etc all play a part. But people in parts of the world starving don’t generally have a two month plateau. I’m not suggesting a starvation diet is required, but I need to stop making excuses to myself. Excuses are not going to get me to my goal, they help literally no one.

My goal regarding my weight is healthy, rather than too slim. My body will be ruined in a way. After over 9 stone (hopefully) of weight loss I am under no illusions my skin is going to go back into place. But how I look isn’t why I’m doing this. I’m doing this to not be obese.

Why do I want so much to not be obese? Well, we’re all going to die, I watched my parents die, I know there is no stopping it, but I don’t want to live a lifestyle that hurries it along. One of the biggest causes of death is obesity, or more specifically the increased risk of other health problems that obesity brings, cancer, heart disease and many others.

So, what am I going to do about my goals..? I’m going to think back to the 1st January this year when I posted my word for the year..the word was Focus.

I’m going to remember how much that word means this year and I am going to fully refocus on what I have power over. The main thing I have power over is how much I am eating. I’m putting my calories back down slightly, back to 1250. If I exercise I will allow myself to eat less than half back, I’m sceptical how much I really burn.

For food I will keep doing what I’m doing with whole foods and fasting, however I will cut back to my new calorie goal.

Every day I will have:

  • A salad with grains, legumes, greens, potatoes and other vegetables.
  • A fruit smoothie/nice cream.
  • A main meal.

Everything will be weighed and measured, and added to my fitness pal, every single mouthful.

I’m going to start properly weighing in every week on instagram/this site. I’m not sure on the best day to weigh in, I would like to avoid weight fluctuations so think mid-week is probably best, at the moment I will go with Thursday. I may move this to around the weekend as they do tend to be a bit of a problem.

I did consider rejoining a slimming club but I still fundamentally believe they are unecessary. What I need is accountability without prescribed actions, and without the cost! So my accountability will come from you guys on the internet. You are going to help cheer me over the finish line.

 

Exercise will be gradually re-added in. I am struggling with the personal housing issues (trying to buy a house and it’s not going well!) but this should be sorted one way or another in the next couple of weeks, and I can’t keep making excuses about not being able to fit it in. Even 15 – 20 minutes in the morning is better than nothing. The exercises I will be doing will be a mix of strength training (I will make a post about this soon), running and swimming.

I’m thinking about starting a Youtube channel, or using instagram stories more but I’m worried my Scottish accent is too Scottish! I definitely need to make myself more accountable and I’m open to suggestions. I’m over the half way point and I really need a push to make it over the goal line. To lose this final weight this year will be tough, and I may not do that, but I’m going to give it my all.

Please follw me on InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit. I love new people and the support from online sources is invaluable.

Absence

I’m sorry for my extended absence, yet again consistency is something I struggle with, during weight loss and making blog posts!

I’ve not completely fallen off the wagon, my weight is exactly what it was a couple of months ago, no more no less. That however is the problem! Losing weight should not be so damn difficult. I say to myself (and others!) it’s my body, I’m 5.5 stone down and it just doesn’t want to lose anymore, but inside I think surely that cannot be right? If someone is starving their body still loses weight, it doesn’t reach 5.5 stone down and then they forever stick at that weight do they?

I know it’s not as straightforward as calories in vs calories out, but really it’s not far off, hormones have a role to play but not so much that weight loss just doesn’t happen. I don’t think it is purely down to exercise either but it’s safe to say my consistency with that hasn’t been great either.

In my defence (and I seem to say that a lot…making excuses for myself), I went on a weeks holiday (where I barely gained any weight, and lost it the next week), and I’ve been going through a stressful time for the last month with a personal issue. But these are ultimately just excuses and they mean nothing. If I can’t be accountable to myself on my own weight loss blog then where can I? I must be eating too much, and not exercising enough, and that is just it.

This week I’m going to religiously use My Fitness Pal, aim for wholefoods (which I’ve been pretty good with tbh), and get in some exercise.  I’m still fasting, 16 – 18 hours a day and I’m going to keep this up, but not aim for the 20+ hours I was, I shouldn’t need to go to those extents to lose weight. I do sometimes think about stopping calorie counting and sticking to all whole foods, but then I remind myself that sometimes I really lack self control and think calorie counting is for the best. Wish me luck!

Thanks for reading and you can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit. Add me on any or all, I love new friends on all social media for support and updates from me!

Cauliflower, Potato and Chickpea Curry

I always love a good curry, and my recent go to seems to be Saag Aloo, but I really fancied some cauliflower. I found something similar to this, but it had a load of oil, butter and yoghurt added so I just removed that, modified the amounts of spices slightly (I love lots of spices!) and came up with this cauliflower, potato and chickpea curry.

Cauliflower, Potato and Chickpea Curry

Ingredients

  • 180 g Potatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 400 g tin of chickpeas
  • 150 g spinach
  • 2 tbsp lime juice

Method

Cook the cauliflower in boiling water for 5 minutes to get a little soft.

I left the skin on, then chopped the potatoes roughly. I cooked these in boiling water for around 10 minutes, again just to soften.

I water sauteed the onion, garlic and chilli until soft, and the onion was translucent. I know water sauteeing isn’t as tasty as cooking with a load of oil, but it also saves potentially hundreds of calories.

Add the cauliflower and potatoes and around 150 ml of water, and cook for around 10 minutes. Add the chickpeas and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until wilted. Add a little lime juice and serve. I had mine with brown rice and broccoli.

Cauliflower, potato and chickpea curry

Each portion has around 450 calories and according to my fitness pal 20 g of protein, only 3 g of fat, 19 g of fibre (and that’s before the rice), along with 321% of  vitamin A, 339% of vitamin C, 30% of calcium and 63% of iron. All round a healthy, tasty meal.

Thanks for reading and you can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit. Add me on any or all, I love new friends on all social media for support and updates from me!

What’s up with the Keto craze?

I don’t know about any of the people reading my blog, but being quite heavily into the weight loss community I notice one diet is doing the rounds at the moment, everywhere I look someone is mentioning keto. Keto is often combined with Intermittent Fasting, so that is probably doubling my exposure to it, but honestly I can’t get away from it.

Always curious to investigate other ways of weight loss, I have looked into it to try to get an understanding as to what it is, how it works, why people are so crazy about it and what the impacts of it are.

Keto Craze

What is the Keto diet? To understand that it’s best to take a few steps back to describe how the body works. Generally, on a standard diet, the body burns sugar for energy. This sugar is ingested in the forms of carbohydrates (and some protein but mainly carbs). Our body converts this to glucose and and uses this as it’s main energy source. Excess carbohydrates are stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles. When you exercise, and on a normal day to day basis when your body needs energy it gets it from these sources as they are readily available.

Eventually though your glucose and glycogen stores run out, at which point your body moves to it’s backup energy source, your fat stores, stored as adipose tissue on your body. Energy is taken from your fat cells, it is lost via bodily fluids (sweat/breath/urine). When it comes to weight loss, you want to take in less calories than you burn, therefore you use up your glucose and glycogen, then you use the fat, and over time you will get lighter. If you exercise more you will also burn more, but it mostly comes down to how much you eat. This is why people can lose weight while eating McDonalds (supersize me anyone?).

So, back to keto. The aim of Keto is to get your body into “Fat burning” mode. Instead of burning glucose and glycogen as your primary fuel source, you force your body to burn fat (broken down fat known as ketones) directlly, this is done by eating a large amount of fat (60 – 75%), protein (15-30%) and a very low amount of carbs (5-10%). As you are taking in so little carbs, you really shorten the glucose and glycogen phase of burning. It takes adjustment and has side effects, but once in this mode people report feeling great, full of energy, and many find it a successful way to lose weight.

There are a few ways of reaching the fat burning stage, as mentioned previously exercising while eating at a calorie deficit will burn fat, but also intermittent fasting is another choice. When you don’t eat for extended periods of time eventually you run out of glucose and glycogen and your body has to burn fat for energy. Then, when you eat carbs you replenish the glucose and glycogen until towards the end of the next fast.

The Keto diet and Intermittent Fasting combined keto foods aim to keep you in the fat burning stage at all times, keeping carbohydrate low so to keep fat being burned. It all sounds great so far, fat burning, increased energy, weight loss..that’s what you want isn’t it? Well, yes… but there are downsides to the keto diet that hardcore keto proponents try to ignore or disregard.

A diet high in fat and protein is not good for longevity. Although there does appear to be some who argue this, the vast majority of doctors agree, high cholesterol (much of which is eaten via saturated fat) is one of the leading causes of heart disease. (Here, here and here, and about a million other places, and here is a NHS page speaking out against a study which says cholesterol does not cause heart diesease). I am not claiming that all cases of high blood cholesterol is caused by eating saturated fat, there are certainly people who can have high cholesterol naturally, just that actually eating saturated fat does correlate with an increase in cholesterol.

Most ingested saturated fat is eaten via animal products, although some plant oils (coconut oil for example) also contribute to this. So what does eating a diet at 60-75% fat (mostly saturated) do for people in the long term? Unfortunately there aren’t many long term studies on this, however the Inuits (often held up as an example as people who ate almost all fat and remained healthy) did in fact suffer from heart disease and strokes, and their life expectancy was around a “decade shorter among native populations”.

One thing that is known from scientific studies is that groups who follow a plant based diet generally have a longer life expentency than those who don’t, and that those to raise their intake of animal protein raise their risk of all cause mortaility overall. Of course, you can make the argument that we will all die eventually, but I would guess for most people (certainly for myself and my desires for my children), a long, healthy life is the goal.

Even taking away the longevity argument, a keto diet is difficult to follow, anecdotally people struggle in the medium – long term with almost completely avoiding carbs, and report side effects such as hair loss, bad breath an leg cramps. The lack of fibre in the diet can also be a cause for concern when it comes to digestion. Additionally, if you are following a keto diet as a non-vegan ,in an attempt to fit in all the animal products and fat you are responsible for the deaths of animals and unecessary destruction of the planet on a larger scale that even a standard diet.

You can follow a ketogenic diet as a vegan although it is more of a challenge if you are not eating fatty animal products. Although, with the known down-sides of eating so much fat, I struggle to understand why anyone would want to, apart from the reason of enjoying fatty foods (thanks evolution!), and wanting to hear good news about your bad habits.

The main reason I follow Intermittent Fasting though isn’t for ketosis. I’m not sure whether I fast for long enough to reach ketosis, but fundamentally, I can’t find any research saying ketosis (being a fat burner) itself is actually bad for you. It is the dietary route of doing it that hurts your body in the long term. I like to think that with intermittent fasting I get the benefits (weight loss, increased energy etc) without the downsides (heart disease and stroke increased risk, arterial clogging).

I get the freedom of not thinking about food all day and the ability to eat a large evening meal. I have always enjoyed this, but that large meal with two other meals during the day inevitably leads to too many calories and weight gain, whereas that large meal with minimal other food can still equate to weight loss.

My disclaimer to this post is that I am not a nutritionist, nor a scientist. Just an interested person who has read and listened to many podcasts about the subject. I would suggest anyone following a keto diet to not automatically take everything at face value, in fact, that goes for anyone following any diet. Read, understand the science to the best of your capability.

Thanks for reading and you can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit. Add me on any or all, I love new friends on all social media for support and updates from me!

PMDD

Sorry for the wild tangent with this post, it is not related to veganism, however I do think it is slightly tied to weight loss. If you’re not a fan of anything to do with “The time of the month”, this probably isn’t the post for you, although I will refrain from going into detail!

PMS, Pre Menstrual Syndrome. I have heard and read many things about this, ranging from it affects up to 75% of women, to the idea that it doesn’t even exist but is used as a way to keep women down.

It’s the cliche isn’t it, it’s approaching the time of the month, the woman starts getting angry, crying for no reason, can’t stop eating chocolate/junk food in general. Bloating and pain can be part of this, along with nausea and an upset stomach, it’s not really a great time, and we get to experience this every month for a large portion of our lives.

When I was younger, and until I lost quite a bit of weight, I suffered from irregular periods. Years on and off the pill, two children, and yoyo weight (right up to 19 stone), meant that I could go months without a period, once even as long as 12 months. Around the time I got my first period I also started developing depression symptoms. I had period of very low lows, feelings of complete and utter lack of self worth. This led to a couple of bouts of anti depressants, and I would seem to get better for a while but then it would rear it’s ugly head again.

I never for a moment thought this was linked to my cycle initially, until my husband mentioned that around once a month I have a breakdown. Even when we first discussed this I didn’t think it could be related as I was still going through irregular periods. But fairly regularly, around once every month or two, life would just get too much. I would have constant build up in my head of negative feelings and thoughts related to pretty much anything and anyone I had any contact with. Normal life would make me angry, bitter, and it was mostly aimed at my husband.

I would feel resentful to the point of meltdown, snide comments would slip out while inside I was hating myself and trying to stop it. Eventually he would react (I wanted him to I think on some level) and there would be an allmighty blowout. This would usually end with me crying, him asking and struggling to understand what the hell was going on. A day or two later everything would be back to normal. Until the build up started again.

This cycle has happened many many times, him joking I just need to explode occasionally. Sometimes this would lead to ongoing depression, but even when depressed much of the time I would feel normal, then extreme depression would hit, and take over my life. I began to think I had bipolar, the normalness, happiness of most of the time, and the ridiculously low (and angry) bad times. I went through years of counselling on and off after losing my parents and recognised I had a very negative inner voice which initially was running out of control, and I wasn’t even aware of it.

Talking therapy and CBT taught me to recognise this, meditation has helped even further, and there is no doubt I am no longer depressed. But still, once a month I would have some kind of emotional blow out. But now, after losing weight I have a regular period, and I could see the correlation between my moods, and my periods.

I have been using the free clue app to track my periods for around a year, and can log mood changes here too, it was undeniable. Around a week before my period it begins, it raises to a crescendo where I feel almost out of control, then the day I get my period it releases. I then have around 3 weeks of normality before I’m off into lala land again.

With this knowledge I began googling “extreme mood swings with period”, “extreme PMS ” and other search terms like this, and I found information about a syndrome known as PMDD, Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder. This is a recognised condition which is believed to affect 3 – 8% of all menstruating women. How could I never have heard of this before?

According to mind.org.uk the symptoms of PMDD are:

“Emotional experiences:

  • mood swings
  • feeling upset or tearful
  • feeling angry or irritable
  • feelings of anxiety
  • feeling hopeless
  • feelings of tension or being on edge
  • difficulty concentrating
  • feeling overwhelmed
  • lack of energy
  • less interest in activities you normally enjoy
  • suicidal feelings.

Physical and behavioural experiences:

  • breast tenderness or swelling
  • pain in your muscles and joints
  • headaches
  • feeling bloated
  • changes in your appetite such as overeating or having specific food cravings
  • sleep problems
  • finding it hard to avoid or resolve conflicts with people around you
  • becoming very upset if you feel that others are rejecting you.

 

You will typically only experience these symptoms for a week or two before your period starts. The symptoms follow your menstrual cycle, so you might find they start to get better when you get your period and will usually have disappeared by the time your period is finished. “

It looks like PMS, but the extreme versions. I can recognise I have many of these symptoms, physical and emotional. My mood swings are on another level, irritability even at minute things is huge. I have considered (not seriously) suicide, many times at this period, thinking that the best thing for all of my family would be for me to not be there. This coming from someone who is mostly happy for the rest of the time, quite an extreme jump to take. I can’t avoid conflict, in fact I am so angry I am looking for it. The conflict is irrational and completely unresolvable. I have achy boobs, bloating is so bad I don’t even weigh myself for that week (and when I have I am up 5 – 7 pounds for around 5 – 7 days). The symptoms disappear as soon as I start my period.

The whole thing is debilitating, but when I know about something I instantly feel that makes me more capable of dealing with it. I’ve not sought a diagnosis, I’m unsure how you even go about that, but looking at the list of symptoms, and with years of historical data, I feel confident in saying I suffer from this.

Last period was the first one since discovering PMDD. In the run up I joined some facebook groups for support and they have been a good resource, although many people post about really out there symptoms, in general I have found them worthwhile. Last period I prepared myself mentally, to know what to expect. With meditation I have tried to be more mindful, so I tried to be aware of my feelings, to recognise when my frustration and anger was taking over, to take a few deep breaths and ask myself whether this was something I really felt, or whether logically if this was something being exacerbated by my hormones.

PMDD

I also spoke to some friends about this and was surprised to learn that one of them thought she had it too, extreme bouts of crying and generally feeling down came her way. The other friend had never heard of it.

While this month was not perfect I do feel it was better than the previous months. I spoke to my husband about all of this and he agreed it is a definite possibility, although was more concerned with how to deal with it rather than knowing it has a name.

There can be some treatment options including the pill and SSRI’s, but if I’m honest after years on and off both of these things and still having this, I feel I want to give mindfulness a try, although I can 100% understand why others feeling this would want to go down the treatment route.

pmdd

I can only hope for me that knowledge is power. I have been practising meditation on and off for years but have meditated every day this year and will continue to do so. Life is too short to let something like this steal 1/4 of my month, every single month. It’s not fair on my family and husband either, so I will try my best to be rational. I feel this is something that could be affecting many others though, hence why I am writing this post. Don’t let it take over, if you think you could be suffering with PMDD, do some research, speak to your doctor, but do something. If you are interested the PMDD group which I joined on facebook can be found here.

Thanks for reading and you can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit. Add me on any or all, I love new friends on all social media for support and updates from me!

sober clubbing

Sober Clubbing Glasgow | Bad Alcohol

This year I have severely cut back on my alcohol consumption, having drank twice or three times, and not much on any of these occasions. This has been an intentional act, not one to make it into my New Years Resolutions as I don’t want to feel tied to it, but over time I have found drinking alcohol agrees with me less and less, for a number of reasons.

As I have aged my hangovers have became awful. Around 20% of the time they are normal level, tired, not right for a day or two. But 80% of the time I can’t move for about 12 hours after drinking without being sick. I fondly (!) remember a night out with friends, having to travel back on the train and being sick in random bins, even in my hands at one point. Honestly, it’s horrific thinking about it. Not only am I sick, I feel awful mentally and physically for at least two days. A general feeling of malaise (never used that word before!), the fear making me not want to leave the house, or engage with anyone ever again. On top of that my filter that stops me stuffing my face completely disappears, and I eat anything in sight, usually fatty, salty takeaways.

After this extreme event I feel awful, binging on food and alcohol clearly doesn’t agree with me, and it often starts a period of overeating. I am also concerned that when I start drinking a frenzy begins and before you know it I’m doing shots and it’s 3 am. This cannot be having a good impact on my liver, or weight loss efforts.

So with all of this in mind I think it’s understandable that I want to cut back on drinking. However, I still want to socialise! I used to love a good night out clubbing, the music, the lights, the dancing, I have always enjoyed it. I’ve never felt hugely confident while out clubbing, and while I have enjoyed nights out there is something about a dark night club full of drunk people that makes me feel on edge.

While on Facebook I saw an event that caught my eye, Sober Clubbing at Ivory Blacks. Vegan snacks and fruit juice to keep you going. My thought process was, “That sounds fun”, “Wait, are you actually brave enough to dance sober, in front of strangers?”, “Will anyone go with you?”.

sober clubbing

I shared this on Facebook and a friend from work said she was up for it, so we booked our tickets. My husband thought it sounded awful, one of my friends said it made them sad. I’m not sure why going out and not drinking has such an affect on people.

sober clubbing

On the 29th May me and my friend went along and it was one of the most fun, liberating nights I have had, no exaggeration. I danced like I have never danced in public, surrounded by like-minded strangers. I was sweating, adorned with a flower garland and glowsticks, and all sober. Mindblowing that I actually managed it, but also mindblowing that I had the best time! Sober Clubbing Part 3 is on the 3rd of June and I’ve already signed up for it with a super early bird ticket.

sober clubbing

There was also a vegan meetup group on meetup.com so may dip my toe in with this next time too. I’d like to get out there and socialise some more and that seems a good way to do it! All round sober clubbing was a hugely positive and enjoyable experience, no hangover, healthy snacks, calories burned and a lot of fun!

Thanks for reading and you can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit. Add me on any or all, I love new friends on all social media for support and updates from me!

 

onederland

Stuck at the edge of Onederland

I thought I should give some kind of update with progress, and unfortunately at the moment that progress is minimal and I’m stuck at the edge of Onederland, I seem to be bouncing between the same 3 – 4 pounds continually, not managing to get any of them to stick.

Is it because it has got to that point in the year where the New Years Resolutions are well and truly a distant memory? Is it because I’ve had quite a successful year up to this point and my body needs a break? Is it because I’ve had a few social events and reasons to eat out? Is it because I’ve started running properly again? I’ll break all of these down but I actually think it is a little to do with all of them.

New Years Resolutions

How can it be May already? We are at that point where I am going to hazard a guess that most people have already long quit their New Years Resolutions. I don’t think I’m one of them, I still have my eye on the year long goal. But my focus has definitely began to slip a little.

My body needs a break? 

I am a firm believer in set-point theory around weight loss, that your body reaches a high weight and is continually trying to get back to it, seeing this as the safest weight to be at in case of famine etc. Losing weight is not easy, all of us would be a healthy weight if it was. A combination of evolution driving us to the bad foods, and the set point, it’s difficult to do, especially for large amounts of weight and over an extended period of time. I’ve lost a fair bit of weight this year and quite honestly I think my body is holding on a lot harder now than it was at the start of the year.

Social Events?

I’ve been out a couple of times with friends recently and for me this is always an excuse to eat more. This then tends to bleed into the weeks around the days out. Not huge “stuffing your face eating” but enough to slow my weight loss. I’m not willing to give up all social events but I would like to find a way of dealing with this.

Running?

This is the biggie I think. Whenever I up my running time my weight loss slows to a complete halt. It happened last year when I was training to do the 10k, and it has happened again this year now I have been upping my distances. Why though? I do eat more when I’m doing longer runs, I am definitely hungrier and when I look at the calories burned via my fitbit, even if I half these I am still not eating near the limit. Or am I kidding myself? Am I sneaking a little bit more here and there? And, am I really burning what my fitbit says? I am beginning to seriously doubt it. So, what are my options? Well, run less and eat the same, or run more and eat less. With a holiday to Spain coming up I have temporarily decided to shelve longer distances. Initially I was planning to completing a 10 mile race later this month, and while I’m sure I can train up to that distance in time (My longest run recently was 13 km, 16 km is 10 miles), I’m not sure I want to. Running will surely be easier the thinner I am, so I think I again need to drag my focus back to losing weight, not running further/faster.

I do worry I am self sabotaging as I have reached (and am still in) Onederland. Hopefully constantly reviewing and revising my progress helps with this.

My plans over the run up to the holiday are to really nail the whole foods plant based food, and to eat at a deficit, but enough to feel full. My eating has been a little lazy, no doubt. I’m maintaining but not losing and it’s not good enough. I’ve been re-reading the starch solution and I’m adding more potatoes into my diet, I love them, they fill me up, plus I believe they are very good for you. Can’t face going the full spudfit route (eating only potatoes).

Thanks for reading and you can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit. Add me on any or all, I love new friends on all social media for support and updates from me!

Hurtful Comments

I’ve had my fair share of hurtful comments along the way, most of them while at my highest weight. Mostly while out at the weekends, where you are trying to make an effort to look nice and some drunk idiot shouts a name at you and brings you crashing down in seconds. If my self esteem was a little stronger these comments probably wouldn’t hurt so much, but I think the issue is deep inside I’m telling myself the same thing. Sad but true and I suspect many people probably feel the same way.

Well tonight I had a hurtful comment from someone I expected more of. I showed them the picture I shared on the site in my last post of my face to face comparison, and proudly told them I was going to post it in my first ever #facetofacefriday. I see people posting in these and #transformationtuesday on Instagram and always want to but have felt like a bit of a fraud until yesterday when I compared those pictures. So it’s great (!) to show them to someone close (the only actual real life person I have shown them to) and have them bring you skidding back into the low self esteem.

When shown the picture, first of all they squinted, took my phone off me. Comment 1 was “Your face looks unhealthily thin in the second picture, I never noticed“. Comment 2 was, “Oh and your skin looked better in the first one“. At this point I bluntly told them to get to f*ck and that they were being totally out of order, this was followed by a quick “But you look much better now!”. Yeah, I don’t believe it. Well, no, that’s not strictly true, I do think I look much better now, I was just completely shocked.

This person has never been hugely supportive of me losing weight, mentioning about not losing too much, what about the loose skin etc etc, focusing on the negatives instead of the massive positives. Never thinking of what I want, health an vitality, seriously, eff the loose skin, I want to live longer, and healthier. Not that they have been unsupportive either, more a casual, slightly disinterested observer. Not revelling in my successes, not kicking me when I’m down. Just completely average.

My instant reaction was to get angry, then sad. Queue 10 minutes of crying to myself listening to Radiohead. I’m not usually a crier but for some reason this really hurt me. This person then accused me looking for a reason to get offended and that I had taken the comment out of context. Asking for clarification of context, they said, I just meant in that picture, of course I look better now. Too little too late I’m afraid.

Honestly, I’m sorry for the rant, but when things like this happen, especially from close people I am so saddened. When you can’t be supported by those closest to you it’s a sad day. Even if they thought what they thought, would that not have been an appropriate time to keep it to themselves? I certainly would have. I would have considered what the other person would have felt. Am I being overdramatic? On edge? They did apologise eventually but now I feel they were forced into it and only did it because they could sense this was a big hurt for me.

This has taught me something I already knew, my self esteem is not in a good place. It never has been. If it was stronger I could have just shrugged this off, but this really upset me. Really, in an idea world, what other people think about me would have little to no effect, because I know and believe what I think about myself. I would like to find some way of working on this. My self esteem has never been good, but losing weight doesn’t appear to have helped it. I’m stuck in this weird place in my head where I’m still 70 pounds heavier, barely able to see the difference in my body. I’m not sure where to go from here with it but I’m always open to suggestions.

Feel free to hit me up on InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit. Any tips for improving self esteem would be much appreciated.