The Diminishing Vegan

Veganism and Weight Loss

Category: Weight Loss (Page 1 of 3)

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.

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.

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!

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!

Onederland | Vegan Weight Loss

You know you are on a long term weight loss journey when Onederland becomes a mythical place of wonder and joy. Okay, maybe a little too far but honestly, this weekend when I reached it, I was feeling pretty full of wonder and joy.

onederland

So what is Onederland? I believe the standard definition is when you reach into the 100 and something pounds as opposed to the 200 and something. I first heard of onederland way back in 2011 when I first started using my fitness pal. My start weight was 270 pounds, 199 seemed a long, probably unachievable way. Then I began to lose weight pretty steadily, I got to 213, less than a stone to go! Then I fell well and truly off the wagon, over a few years of yoyoing back up and down, in May 2015 I arrived back at my original 270 pounds. The losses of my parents over the previous two years had really affected me, left me at my most unhealthy, barely able to walk for 10 minutes without stopping to catch my breath, but something about watching my dad get sick and ultimately die made me see my own mortality, and the I understood the damage I was doing to myself.

Onederland was a painful reminder of how close I had previously been, and I think somewhere inside I thought I was destined to never reach it again. 2.5 years later and I stepped on the scales this weekend to see 199. I could have cried. 71 pounds lost, 5 stone, 100 and something. It was overwhelming. I still have a long way to go, 59 pounds until I reach my loose goal of 140 pounds, but this was a massive achievement and I really feel I can do this. After the damage of last weekend I have been pretty good all week and it’s great to see it pay off. I was out this weekend, had a few drinks and not the best food but not enough to put anything on so I’m not worrying about it.

I also dug out some old pictures this weekend of me at my heaviest and while I will hold onto the worst for when I get to my target I thought I would do a little face to face comparison. A lot of the time I can’t see that I’ve lost weight, but these pictures really highlight it to me. Picture on the left was 2011, picture on the right was Saturday.

Onederland Face Comparison

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!

Bad weekend…

Unfortuantely not all of my posts are positive and successful, sometimes reality bites and you just mess it up all by yourself. My mess up this week started on Saturday morning. I was out with my husband and daughter picking up something from my husbands work, while waiting in the car I went on Facebook and saw that the Love Vegan Festial was on in nearby Partick. I had went down as an interested in this a while back, but I was only 20 minutes away now so convinced my husband a quick trip there would be worth it.

Well, we all know the main reason for going to these events, food. Vegan junk food, everywhere. I was fasting, but duly bought a huge sgaia mheats roll, pizza, pies, doughnuts, cakes, pretty much everything unhealthy. I didn’t eat anything there though and brought it home as to not completely destroy my eating window. Around 2pm I had the sgaia roll, it was so salty and oily, the complete opposite to my recent diet. While it was delicious I think my body was in shock. I had to go for a lie down afterwards and drink about a litre of water. Later on that evening I had my dinner (not a hugely healthy one!), then half a doughnut and a fairly cake. The icing was so sweet I had to scrape it off, again, I think my taste buds have changed. My daughter scraped hers off too, she is pretty healthy nowadays so I think suffers from the same problem when it comes to sugar.

Next day I was so bloated, my weight was a way up, clearly because of the sodium as there was no way I could have put on even 1 single pound from that afternoon. I ended up out all day again, and had a reasonable day, fasting until 3 pm which was very late for me at the weekend but felt necessary after feeling so bloated the day before.

Dinner rolled around, and what happened? A chinese! Vegetable Curry with boiled rice and salt and chilli mini spring rolls. A huge portion, to be fair I barely ate anything else that day but after an already bloated day it is safe to say when I stepped on the scales on Monday I could have cried. I was up 7 pounds. Impossible to have gained that in fat, if one poun is 3500 calories I would have had to have eaten 24,500 extra calories, which I clearly didn’t. Sunday and Monday were not good days for my mental health either, I had a real dip, one of the first I have had in a long time, now it is Tuesday, looking back I believe that in part was due to what I was eating.

I took double water with me to work Monday and Today and I’m beginning to flush some of it out of my system. I was down a pound a half this morning and hopefully tomorow it’ll be more. I’m just so annoyed at myself for going so out of control for a weekend, I am so close to onederland, and I feel sometimes I start self sabotaging at this point.

Yesterday and Today have been good with food, I have done two 20 hour fasts back to back, and if the weather is nice I’m going to head out for a run tomorrow. I suppose the plus side to this is that I have stopped it before it went any further. I still fasted, so it could have been worse there too. And, the food made me feel downright ill, physically and mentally. Plus the flavours were overwhelming. If I am being honest it has put me off some of it, so maybe that’s a win overall!

Hopefully next week I’ll reach the elusive onderland. I’ve got a couple of social occasions coming up so I really want to stick with it during the week 100% so the weekends don’t impact me too hard.

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!

One Meal a Day

One Meal a Day | Vegan | OMAD

I’m a few months into my renewed fasting push and I’m finding that I can stretch my fasts longer and longer with little to no discomfort. This has lead to me recently trying out One Meal a Day.

Since I first started reading into and fasting this has always intruiged me. For anyone who follows me on Instagram, you’ll know I love a big meal, portion sizes are something I continually struggle with, if I don’t feel full I am way more tempted to keep going back to the kitchen, eating the kids leftovers, snacking, any way of getting more calories in.

After years now of losing weight though one thing is clear to me, my body is very sensitive to the amount of calories that I eat. Some people can eat big healthy meals, not count at all and still lose weight. I have to be strict though. I have tried wfpb without calorie counting and before you know it my issues with satiety and portion size are back and I’m using this as a reason to pile my plate (smaller than average mind) higher and feel okay about it. That is until I step on the scales and they don’t budge, for weeks or even months at a time. I believe my long plateaus are related to this, telling myself not to be so strict counting calories but then paying the price by actually overreating.

My fasting timeline has followed what I would imagine to be a fairly standard one. At first reaching 12 hours not eating was a struggle, for the first few days anyway. I previously would have breakfast very early, being of the belief I needed it before exercise, or right after. This would usually be around 6 am, so if I even reached 12 hours back then I was starving. Then I moved to 16 hours, pushing lunch time back a little later. Then 18, where I stopped eating later at night, around 7:30 pm, and had a late lunch. The last few weeks on work days I am pushing “lunch” (a large smoothie) to 4 pm, taking me to 20 – 21 hours. The last 3 days I’ve went to one meal a day, a 23 – 23.5 hour fast and a 30 minute to 1 hour eating window.

For the meal I’m eating roughly what I was eating previously, maybe a little bigger portions, 800 – 1000 calories, then some kind of small snack after taking me to around 1200. I’m actually thinking of having a smaller smoothie to break the fast, the starter per se, and that’s for a couple of reasons. I’ve found hitting my stomach with a big meal straight away can make me feel a bit blergh, and also smoothies are a great way of getting all my nutrients and vitamins in. Plus they taste good!

There are some major positives to this way of eating though. I still barely get hungry. I don’t need to think about food at all during the day. No time is spent preparing food (apart from for the kids). Less dishes and mess. Costs less. Major energy and focus. And I get to each one flipping huge meal without it affecting my weight loss.

The negatives? I think people are completely unsure as to why I’m doing this, and questioning as to whether it is okay. Even I question whether it is okay! But then I stop and logically think about what I am actually doing, on week days I am:

  • Eating 1200 calories per day (100 – 200 less than on 20 hour fast days)
  • Eating nutritious whole plant based foods
  • Freeing up time
  • Giving myself energy
  • Losing weight
  • Improving running

At weekends I’m having two meals, at least a 16 hour fast, but I am also exercising more so that’s okay for me.

This post may sound like I’m justifying my choices, which I suppose I am. I shouldn’t need to but clearly One Meal a Day is a fairly unusual diet choice with the majority of people, and even I am conditioned to think that on some level. However I am getting results, and I am happy with that choice, and until such time as it stops working, I will keep on at it (or not depending on the day!) Does anyone else follow one meal a day or any fasting plans? I would absolutely love for you to contact me on InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit. A bit of support with OMAD would be great!

January 2018 Progress Report February 2018 Weight Loss Report

February 2018 Weight Loss Report

I’m a couple of days late with my monthly update this month but I have been busy moving my website from one hosting package to another this weekend. I had noticed previously the site had been going down for an hour or two fairly regularly, and decided it was time to move so now we are in a new and hopefully more reliable place.

So, how has February been on the weight loss front? Pretty successful! I’m 7 pounds down over February, taking me to 16 pounds for the year and 66.5 pounds overall. I am officially the lightest I have been. I made a post about being the lightest I had been back in May last year at 213.5. I reached down to 204 last year, then I had my upwards blip but now I am weighing in at 203.5 pounds. I envy those with more linear weight loss!

I’m 4 pounds away from “Onederland”, the mythical place I have been dreaming of since signing up to MyFitnessPal back in 2011 and discovering it was a thing. I’m almost at 5 stone lost, but I still have a really long way to go, 63.5 pounds to be precise. But I think that the closer I get the more I really truly believe I’m going to do it. Last year I felt as if it was impossible, this year I think I’m going to do it. The combination of fasting, whole foods high carb low fat is really working for me, I’m excited to get there!

As for other things that I’ve done this month

  • Meditated every day
  • Exercised 9 times (Including getting back to swimming)
  • Got rid of 1041 items
  • Kept to my budget
  • Had only one takeaway that I didn’t enjoy
  • Did Spanish on Duolingo every day

For this upcoming month, on top of everything I’m already doing I have added in coding every day. My day job is IT based, I work for a smallish company therefore my role can be varied but is mostly development based. However I feel I really want to put some more time into improving my general skills in a couple of different areas I don’t use so much so every day this month I will be doing some work on this.

Also, I’m making an effort to reply to people on social media, especially my friends. I have this horrible habit of looking at messages while busy then forgetting to reply. My close friends know I’m not totally ignorant but apologising continually for it gets old eventually I guess.

My aims for March are to

  • Hit 5 stone lost
  • Reach Onederland
  • Keep up:
    • Meditating
    • Duolingo
    • Coding
    • Exercising
    • Budgeting
    • Eating Healthy
    • Get rid of a few more things

Thanks for reading and remember 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!

Cutting out oil

Cutting Out Oil | Vegan Weight Loss

As part of my more focused weight loss attempts, part of my process so far this year has involved cutting out oil as much as possible from my diet. I started the year reading the Starch Solution by Dr. John MacDougall, and although I still haven’t finished it I have generally understood the points he makes (and will more than likely do a longer blog post specifically on that, once I have finished reading it!).

One of his (controversial perhaps?) claims is that “The fat you eat is the fat you wear”. I only use the word controversial as at the moment I see people touting high fat diets everywhere.

What Dr MacDougall says in his book The Mcdougall Program for Maximum Weight Loss is that 93% of fat you eat goes into storage in your tissues, around your body and around your internal organs, waiting for use when your energy needs are not being met by carbohydrates. 93%! He says 4% is used for essential requirements, 3% for transfer to tissues and 93% to storage. One thing I can certainly attest to is that I have a hell of a lot of fat on (and likely viscerally in) my body. I purchased some new scales which give an average fat percentage, mine returned the horrifying number of 41%. That is after losing almost 5 stone already! Pre-vegan/weight loss days I think it is safe to say I ate a high fat diet most of the time, it’s certainly obvious from the outside.

I follow calorie counting and fasting approach to weight loss and fats really are the loser when it comes to calories, especially when it comes to oil. One single tablespoon of olive oil has on average 120 calories, with very little nutrients. Olive oil (and all liquid oils) are the highly processed output of whole vegetables, with the goodness of fibre removed. I know it does have some vitamins in there, and certainly isn’t all bad, but for me, trying to lose weight, with the huge amount of calories I would rather just go straight to the source, olives themselves, and get the rest of the nutrition along with it. For those trying to gain weight added oil may be an option, although surely eating more of other more nutritious foods would be a preferred choice?

Oil seems a total waste of calories and nutrients, and sure, some people think it makes food taste better, but there are more things to what you eat than purely how it tastes. You could make the same argument for eating meat, it tastes good…again, there are more important issues out there than taste. Food is meant to nourish us through our life, making food such a big focus in my life is part of the reason I ended up so fat in the first place. Anyway, after months now of cutting back on oil, I don’t even think it does make food taste better. It just tastes oily, makes me need a drink to clear my mouth.

All of this seems straightforward, and makes sense to me. So why would I consider this controversial? As mentioned above, high fat diets have been all the rage recently on the internet, and seem to frequently pop up into my life in discussions. There are multiple versions of high fat, there are the high fat low carbers, the atkins, and the ketosis club. The general reasoning behind them (as summarised by a completely non-professional me is) eat less carbs, then your body uses fat to burn from. At this point I think it is best that I cover what happens when you eat the food you eat.

I am certainly no expert when it comes to nutrition, nor do I claim to be, however I have read into nutrition from many sources over the years, and listened (and relistened) to podcasts which feature some of the leading lights in the nutrition field. My understanding as far as food goes is this. There are three main macronutrient groups, carbohydrates, proteins and fats. These are broken into many micronutrients but these three groups act differently within the body when consumed. Carbohydrates are turned to glucose, this is your ongoing source of immediate energy within the body. Protein is digested and turned into Amino Acids which are used for many purposes within the body, Fat (as previously mentioned) mostly turns into fat either in your adipose (under skin) or visceral (organ) tissues. High carb low fat advocates that most of your calories come from carbohydrates, as this is what you mostly use for energy. Keep the fat out of your diet, and therefore off your body. My fasting ties in here, all of your carbohydrate stores inside your cells and liver are usually used up within 12-14 hours of eating, therefore for energy use after this time your body is forced into resorting to using fat stores. I fast for betwen 16 – 20 hours most days, giving me a window of 2 – 8 hours where I burn fat by default.

High fat low carb suggests to train your body to consume fat/protein for energy, along a similar logic to fasting. Your body will burn the fat in/and on your body by default as you starve yourself long term of carbohydrates.

My thoughts….why have the fat there in the first place? Why not do what your body expects, eat carbohydrates, burn accordingly, and fill your diet with fibre and vitamins/nutrients in plant foods? Eating low carb/high fat really makes you lose out on the huge benefits of eating fibre, the cleaning out of your insides, the fullness, the increased vitamin abosrption.  The high fat diets don’t really consider longevity either. You can lose weight through any eating regimen if you stick to it enough, and I do not dispute that those who eat high fat/low carb can lose weight. But what is this doing to them internally? There are many studies (here, here and longevity related information on nutritionfacts.org here) out there which show that plant based vegans tend to live longer, with lower rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and many other big killers.

When it comes to the practicalities of cutting out oil, this mainly is realised in cooking. Instead of oils I use water/or stock for vegetables, I aim to eat unprocessed whole foods which I can control the oil content of. There are of course some fats in my diet, but these are natural plant based sources. Nearly every day I have a serving of grould flaxseeds in a smoothie to ensure I am getting omega 3’s and 6’s, and I occasionally have nuts and seeds but I really mostly try to avoid these unless it’s a small amount.

So, to bring this all together, why am I cutting out oil?

  • Unecessary calories
  • Limited nutrients
  • No sense of fullness after eating
  • Tastes bad
  • Longevity
  • And probably most importantly, for me, the fat I eat ends up being the fat I wear, and I’m fed up wearing it so visibly.

Remember 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!

16:8 and 18:6 – Intermittent Fasting 2.0 | Vegan Fasting

Way back in May last year I posted about how I had recently started intermittent fasting, following 12/12 or 10/14. I’ve decided to do a little update as anyone following me on Instagram will know that I now am doing that and more.

For the last few months (and nearly every day of January this year) I have been following 18:6, where I fast for 18 hours a day and have an eating window of 6 hours per day. This generally starts around 1:30 pm and finished around 7:30 pm, with no eating again until 1:30 pm the next day. I have even been following this at weekends (which I never thought I would say!). This level of fasting often worries and confuses people, with comments along the line of “Isn’t breakfast the most important meal of the day?”, “Aren’t you always hungry/tired/angry?”, and of course the inevitable “I could never do that”.

Well the answer is no, no and, well there isn’t really an answer to the third comment. Surprisingly, I find since taking my fasting up a notch that my hunger has actually pretty much disappeared, other than right when I’m approaching my time to eat. I have read (and really it makes sense) that hunger isn’t a real feeling, especially over such short periods of time. That hunger really just boils down to what your body expects, when you extend the period between eating your body learns pretty quickly to not expect to eat, therefore the hunger disappears. This is something I wouldn’t have really believed until I tried it myself. Tiredness again does the opposite of what you would expect, not only am I not tired, I’m bursting with energy.

I listened to my one of my favourite podcast this week (Rich Roll) and listened to Ray Cronise who I know is a big advocate of eating less meals discuss in parts intermittent fasting, I am actually going to do a full post about this podcast as quite honestly it was fairly in-depth and I think I’d like to sit and listen to it while taking notes but it’s a good place to hear about some of the science behind IF.

Today I stretched to a 20.5 hour fast and I’m thinking about going 24 hours maybe one day a week. This may seem a little extreme but it just feels good! I’m losing weight, full of energy, not hungry, able to have a large evening meal guilt free, it’s a win win as far as I can see, so I’ll keep experimenting for the moment!

Remember 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!

January 2018 Progress Report February 2018 Weight Loss Report

January 2018 Progress Report | Weight Loss

I’ve decided to do a monthly progress report on how my year and main focuses are going. So far the year is going well, I have actually managed to maintain focus all the way through January. I have

  • Lost 9 pounds
  • Meditated every day
  • Exercised 12 times
  • Got rid of 620 items
  • Kept to my budget
  • Not had any takeaways (even though my family did)
  • Booked our first family holiday
  • Ran 5k once

Also, I have pretty much fasted every day, also been within my calories every day. Yeah, a successful month for me. I’m hoping to continue it into the rest of the year. Initially I thought I would have a takeaway at the end of the month but now I’m there I actually find I don’t really want one. I did have a pasta salad one night, which I really used to love, but I found it very oily and didn’t enjoy it. Not sure if my taste buds are changing but it didn’t taste like it used to, that’s for sure.

Now we have also booked a holiday after years of being students I am even more focused on losing weight. I really would like to go and get some new clothes right before going so the aim is to lose about another 2 and a half stone before the holiday if possible. Exercise wise I am looking to run around twice a week, focusing on speed rather than distance, and the rest of my exercise is aimed at aiding weight loss.

Remember 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!

Curried Barley and Mushrooms | Slow cooker

I’m trying to save some time cooking this year and would love to start using my slow cooker, so one of the first recipes I thought I would try was curried barley and mushrooms. This is out of one of my old non-vegan slow cooker cookbooks, although it has quite a lot of vegan options, and more that can certainly be veganised. This ended up more like a biryani but was very tasty, the barley was light and fluffy but very flavourful.

Curried Barley and Mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 1 Bunch of Spring Onions
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • 2 tsp Mild Curry Paste
  • 1 1/2 cups of Vegetable Stock
  • 1 cup of Pearl Barley
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 cup of Coconut Milk (I made mine from 2 tsp of dehydrated coconut mix)
  • 400g Mushrooms
  • 1 tin of Garden Peas

Method

  1. Chop spring onions, sweat for a couple of minutes.
  2. Add turmeric and mix well. Add curry paste and cook for 30 seconds.
  3. Rinse pearl barley and add to the pot, put back on a very mild heat for a minute or so, until well coated.
  4. Add stock, coconut milk and a bay leaf and bring to the boil.
  5. Put in slow cooker, cook on high for 2 hours or low for 4. This took less time that I thought it would so I kept it on warm for a while until we were ready to eat.
  6. When ready to server sautee mushrooms and drain a tin of peas then mix these both in with the grains. Serve with rice and vegetables

Curried barley and mushrooms

Definitely recommended if you like Indian flavour foods, it was something a little different as well with the barley. Very healthy and filling. I had leftovers the next day as well which was just as nice re-heated.

I also think I will start including a rough amount for calories, considering I am calorie counting! This served 4 people at around 273 calories a portion. Any rice/vegetables are extra. I had it with brown rice and veg which took the meal up to around 500 calories. Not too bad for such a big meal!

Also just wanted to say that so far I have had no takeaways this year! I know it’s only the 8th of January but my husband has had 2 lots of takeaway food so far so I’m feeling good about it! I’ve been fasting most days, having smoothies most days and it’s going well.

Remember 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 ?

Impossible to lose weight?

This week I stumbled across this story as I was getting up for an early morning run. Additionally to this a popular fitness page I follow on Facebook has been discussing it at length all week. (Although the published date is 2014 so unsure why it popped up again).

So what is the jist of the article? That it is essentially impossible for people to achieve long term weight loss, in their words it only happens to “the smallest minority of people”.

This article really gave me mixed feelings. I can understand the logic behind it. When you look around the world people are generally getting larger, weight loss is difficult, most people fail, not that many reach and maintain a healthy weight.

However, is it impossible? Surely not. I’m an optimist, I like to think most things are possible. Not flying to the moon, or holding my breath for 10 minutes, but you know, achievable things, like possibly one day running a marathon, getting a good job, being happy, or reaching and maintaining a healthy weight.

My issue with this article is that it may steal people’s hope. My weight loss has been slow, and not so steady, but I have maintained that weight loss (mostly) for two years. But part of me does believe that many people get bigger and bigger, and as they get bigger their body adjusts to the new “normal”, then, when you eat at a deficit and exercise more, initially some weight falls off. Eventually though your body begins to think it is under attack and will do whatever it can to stick where it is, or even worse regain what you had lost.

This is where the whole weight loss journey is most important for me, and my attitude is don’t ever give up. Keep focused. We do focus on the numbers on a scale too much, and this is part of my reason for leaving slimming world, unachievable weight loss targets. Weight loss is not linear, not for anyone I know. But I do believe it is achievable if you are willing to commit to the long long goal.

Diet’s won’t work in the long term, strict caloric deficits won’t work in the long term, going like a bat out of hell exercising won’t work in the long term. A change of lifestyle (as cliched as it sounds) is the only way out. Food, exercise, general activity levels. You don’t need to be obsessed, but you do need to be focused. We all know how easy it is for weight to go back on. And why not be focused? We only have one lifetime, surely we are worth it?

What I took from that article initially was a feeling of being disheartened. However, as I thought about it, and considered the reality of the obesity epidemic, I do understand. Is it impossible to lose weight? Never. With the right attitude, life changes, commitment and focus, not so much on the numbers but on health and lifestyle, I believe it can be done. Hopefully I’m going to keep proving it too.

Remember you can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, My Fitness Pal and Fitbit. Add me on any or all, I love new friends on all social media for support 🙂

Reaching the lowest weight ever on my fitness pal

Reaching my lowest ever weight on MFP

When I first signed up to My Fitness Pal way back in 2011 I knew I had found something that I would enjoy, I had previously counted calories in a book (like I watched my mum doing for years previously), and having a website/app to do this on just really got me hyped up. I thought wow, this is it, I will reach my goal weight in no time!

My starting weight was 270 pounds, just over 19 stone, 122.5 kg. Not a good weight to start at, I still marvel at how I got to that weight (and it wasn’t even the last time I was there!).

My weight loss was very quick in the beginning, I dropped to 225 within 4 months, then hit a bit of a blip and gained a little, and reached 215 in November 2012. All I could think is just over a stone till I’m in the 100’s. I was so excited, feeling good, looking back though I was still eating crap, but not too much of it. Something changed however and I started on a gaining streak, I took my eye off the ball, and the weight piled back on.

By May of 2013 I was back to 260, almost right back where I had started. I managed to get back down to 243, going in the right direction, then my mum died in September 2013. As you can imagine, weight loss was literally the furthest thing from my mind, in fact I almost took this as a cue to rebel, eat whatever I wanted in whatever portion size I wanted, who could blame me I thought? The next year and a half where a bit of a yoyo, bouncing between 260 – 230, then my dad was diagnosed with a brain tumour and off I went again, eat eat eat, I lived on takeaways. I juggled staying with my dad part time, being a mother, and completing my undergraduate degree, but my health suffered, I smoked, ate whatever I wanted, my asthma was awful, I could barely walk any distance and my weight was back at that all time high of 270 pounds. What a depressing time that was, at times I just couldn’t see a way out.

Just before my dad died at the end of May 2015,  I promised him I would stop smoking, he was worried for me, he had smoked himself and quit many years previously. He also worried about my weight, general health. I quit smoking less than a week after he died, and I’m now about to reach two years free. I lost half a stone within that first week of him dying too. I knew I had to do it, and especially to not replace smoking with food. It didn’t matter how long or hard it was, I was going to improve my health, for me, for them, for my children.

It’s taken me two years, but I am now down four stone. Additionally to that I am the lowest weight I have ever been on My Fitness Pal, 213.5 pounds which is a massive milestone for me. Looking at my all time weight loss chart for years and seeing that low point in 2012 has driven me mad over the years.

Reaching my lowest ever weight on my fitness pal

It has not been straightforward, I had a blip and gained for a while but instead of reaching that 270 pounds I turned it around and have progressively lost. I am far from the fastest loser, it has been frustratingly slow in fact! However I had lost/gained for years and I am sure this messed up my metabolism and queues for weight loss. Plus it’s not a race, they say it’s more indicative of long term stability to lose it slowly, I don’t know for sure whether that’s true but I tell myself it is.

My diet is spectacularly good compared to any previous weight loss attempts, in fact compared to any period in my life. I exercise more than I ever did, I am generally more active, even with a full time desk job. I get up early, meditate, walk, run, do yoga, eat well and feel good inside and out. I’m grateful for life, and I’m even grateful for the weight loss journey. It has taught me a lot about myself I would never have known otherwise, and I know when I get to a healthy point somewhere down the line I am going to be so proud of myself, and so happy for being there. I already am.

Remember you can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, My Fitness Pal and Fitbit. Add me on any or all, I love new friends on all social media for support 🙂

Running Update – May 2017

Well, I had intended to be doing this running update about three months ago. In my usual style however I missed a couple of planned runs, stopped going to the gym and before you know it had stopped running again.

I was serious way back in January when I said I wanted to run a 10k this year however, and I often have the nagging thought that time is slipping by and I am no closer to one of my major goals for this year. So around a month ago I decided to take a long hard look at my schedule and see where I could fit in running. I know that if I don’t get it in a workable schedule I just won’t keep it up, I feel this is an important step for anyone who is looking to start a new habit. If you are like me and you are not a fan of doing things in the evenings, there is no point planning to go running when you get in from work at 6 pm.

Looking at my schedule, and knowing I wanted to fit in at least three runs a week, this means that I have to run on work days, there is no way around this. When though? I leave the house pretty early and I’m not back until pretty late, at which point dinner making and cleaning takes over. The only time available to me for running is in the morning.

I already get up at 4:45 am, but  I often make lunches in the mornings, so I decided to move this to the night before, on running mornings bump my alarm clock time forward to 4:30 am, with an aim to be out and running by 5. Honestly, if you had told me about a year and a half ago I would be getting up at 4:30 am with not much bother I wouldn’t have believed you.

So how is it going? Fine. Better than fine in fact. I started at week 3 of the couch to 5 k and tomorrow I’m onto week 5. After my run I still need to take my dog out which means some mornings before I even get to work I’m hitting over 8000 steps, not bad for such an early start. Am I little more tired a work? A tiny bit, but really not much. I will have an extra coffee if I need it but so far so good. How will it work as the runs get longer? I may need to get out even earlier to run, but pushing it back 10 minutes at a time makes for less of a stark shock at getting up so early.

I’m feeling good, in the last two weeks I’ve lost 3 pounds which I am putting down to running, time restricted eating/intermittent fasting and generally mostly adhering to a plant based diet. On top of some movement on the scales I’m really beginning to see the difference in my body and clothes so I’m excited for the next few weeks and months!

Remember you can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, My Fitness Pal and Fitbit. Add me on any or all, I love new friends on all social media for support 🙂

Intermittent Fasting – 12/12 and 10/14

After hearing in multiple health podcasts how great Intermittent Fasting is for you, and having read about it for some time, I have been keen to try it out but a little wary.

I think most people have heard  of 5/2, where you eat normally for 5 days then eat very restricted (around 500 calories) on the other two, I follow a lot of people on Instagram who  do this, and while it appeals, (and definitely seems to work) I think I would really struggle on my two fasting days. Food is an important part of my day, the thought of only have 500 calories twice a week just makes me sad.

Another form of fasting I heard of used Eating Windows. This is where you only eat within a limited number of hours of the day. After doing a little reading, I found that even limiting your eating to 12 hours a day showed positive side effects, and weight loss. This may seem like common sense, but for me, on a general day this never happens. I get up and often have breakfast by 5 am, don’t have dinner until 7 and sometimes a snack/pudding as late as 9. There is not a lot of space in there! Plus, I have always always always found that if I eat late at night I don’t lose weight. That seems to go against the common thought now that it doesn’t matter what time of day you eat, all you need to do is eat the right stuff. Well, I eat the right foods, even if I have a bowl of cherry tomatoes in the evening it will affect me the next day.

After reading about eating windows I thought I would jump right in and give it a bash, my plan is as follows:

I will finish eating by 7:15 pm every night (except maybe one day at the weekend)

I’m running again, now very early in the morning, 5 am, so on running mornings I will have my breakfast at 7:15 am. I leave for work at 7:30 so I need to be ready to go before having breakfast. This gives me a 12 hour eating window.

On days where I’m not running I will take my breakfast to work and not have it until at least 9:15, however I will attempt to extend that as far as I can. Once I’m in work sitting behind a computer I forget about food more than if I’m up walking about.

So 3 days a week I will do roughly a 12 hour fast, 3 days a week at 14-15 hour fast, and 1 whatever I fancy, fast or not.

I’m 5 days in now and how am I finding it? Fine. Like, totally fine. I’ve lost a pound this week, and I lost two last week (probably due to be restarting running, a post on that is coming soon), so my weight is on the move again.

Another thing to note, I don’t feel anywhere near as bloated in the morning, and I find running a little easier. I am running on an empty stomach (fasted cardio I believe this is called), not for any particular reason other than this is the only time I have to fit it in, but it feels good!

I may eventually stretch the fasting period to 16-8, but it’s hard when I’m out working and not home till 6pm, for the next few weeks though I’ll keep this up and see how it goes!

Remember you can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, My Fitness Pal and Fitbit, feel free to follow/add me on any or all of them.

The lasting effects of yo-yo weight loss

Don’t get me wrong, my diet is far from perfect. Sometimes I eat too much, snack a little here, takeaway a little too much, but a lot of the time (at least 80%) I eat healthy wholefoods, in reasonable amounts. But I really struggle to lose weight at a normal rate, and I’m beginning to think this may have something to do with yo-yo weight loss. I have lost three stone three times separate times now, this time is the most I’ve ever managed. Every time, other than this I put it all back on (quick) plus more.

I have been at this weight loss attempt for nearly two years, and I’ve only lost four stone. I know, I know, four stone is great, but even at 1 pound a week, that should be at 104 pounds. I’m less than half of that.

I have been to the doctors and had tests carried out, Thyroid was fine, hormones were fine (these were all a fairly long time ago but I doubt anything has changed). I don’t think there is any measurable reason as to why I struggle. I do however think that years of dieting/gaining have lead to a body that isn’t sure what’s happening. I have read of the effects of yo-yo dieting, and while I’ve never heavily restricted, or tried any too crazy diets, I have been on this cycle of weight loss gain now for years, all of my adult life. Is that enough to mess up a metabolism? It might just be as I see no other reason as to why it’s happening.

On the other hand there are some seriously good things to take from this, and my life now even if I am still currently overweight. I have managed to maintain this weight loss effort for nearly 2 years. This has never happened before.

Not only that I seriously eat healthier than I ever have in my life, healthier than anyone I know. I am hitting my daily dozen nearly every day. Daily Dozen is an app by Dr Michael Greger over at NutritionFacts.org which he recommends 12 essential things every single day, you can check it out the app here and an article about on MindBodyGreen. I average around 8 – 11 portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

I walk more than I ever have, and would do more if I had the time. Ideally I would like to up my exercise, and get my diet to perfect around 90% rather than the current 80%, but my lifestyle has changed and for that I’m happy, and feel great.

I may not be the weight I’d like to be, but I’m not going to let that knock me off the journey to health. It’s not just about the number on the scales. If my body needs some time to readjust after the damage I have done so be it. I’ll still be here, eating well, exercising more and living a healthy life for when it’s ready.

Whole Foods Plant Based

I made a number of New Years Resolutions for 2017, as laid out in my post in January found here. I set a word for the year, Simplify. At some point I will do a proper catch up but today’s post ties into this, I’m going to discuss the difference between Vegan vs Whole Foods Plant Based, and where I lie on this.

Vegan is generally for ethical reasons, this could be ethics relating to animals, or the  future of the planet. Vegan is not a diet as such, although you can follow a vegan diet. The word vegan transcends diet to cover your whole lifestyle, it is a lifestyle whereby you avoid the use of animal products as far as possible in all areas. Vegan does not equate to healthy though. I think assumptions are made that if you can’t eat animals/dairy/eggs what can you eat? Surely it’s just fruit and vegetables (and pasta grains etc). No! shout the vegans, there is a huge amount of vegan junk food, accidental or deliberate. (I’m forever grateful for the accidentally vegan co-op doughuts for example).

Whole foods plant based is a diet, however, you can be a vegan following a whole foods plant based diet. WFPB does relate to what you eat, which is mainly natural plant based foods in their whole form. They don’t need to be organic, or raw. Just whole, and plant based.

What counts as plant based?  Fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, legumes and nuts. What isn’t plant based? Animal products, meat, overly refined foods such as sugar, white flours, and some would say oil. Why do people choose a wfpb diet? Namely health, there is mounting evidence to say this is our optimal diet for short and long term health. (Much of this evidence is reviewed on the website nutritionfacts.org, check it out if you haven’t, Dr Michael Greger is a total legend in the nutrition world).

So where am I on this scale? I would say I am a vegan, who tries to follow a Whole Foods Plant Based diet around 80% of the time, with 20% being still vegan, but not whole foods. Pasta, I just can’t quit you! (although I do try to have wholegrain as much as possible)

How does this fit in with my New Years Resolution? Well, I have a number of personal reasons for moving towards wfpb. I truly believe it is the healthiest option. I also believe it is the only way I can lose weight, whole foods are nutritionally dense but calorifically low. This fits in with my propensity to eat a lot, large portions of wfpb is preferable to large portions of junk on a purely calorific level.

Additionally, I like to remove some of the needless decisions from my life. So I simplified my weekly meal plans to a mostly plant based diet (and have mostly stuck to this). This has became increasingly important now I am working a full time job. I know what I’m having every week (with a little editing), it’s fresh, healthy and filling.

I feel there are so many benefits to eating plant based, recently people have been saying my skin looks great. People at my new job were shocked when I revealed I had a teenage son and was in my mid 30’s. I know, I know, they could (probably are) just being polite, but I do feel as if I am looking healthy. Skin, eyes, hair. I can really only put this down to my diet. I’m full of energy, don’t really get tired (until bed time), don’t struggle out of bed at 4:45 am, pretty much always manage my step goal, housework, time with kids. My head is in a good place, body feels it too, and again, I think this comes back to what I’m putting in my body.

Now if I could cut the impromptu takeaways/crisp sandwiches/jam doughnuts down to maybe 5% I might actually be lose more weight!

Weaknesses

Everyone has weaknesses when it comes to being healthy and losing weight, I think the most common one I hear from nearly everyone is chocolate.  I never liked chocolate much even in my pre-vegan days, and less so now. I’m not a fan of vegan milk chocolate, I have a little dark chocolate occasionally but nothing to affect me.

Another one I hear is crisps, again, I do like crisps, but generally I can stop myself from eating too many (unless it’s a large bag of these, then I’m going to struggle to stop!)

If I was trying to quantify my weaknesses I would say they can be boiled down into two distinct, but related areas. Portion size and takeaway food.

Portion Size

Portion size is something that I think about a surprisingly high amount, when I see pictures of other people’s food on Instagram I actually feel embarrassed with my own. I love a big meal, I know sometimes that what I am eating is just too much. I alleviate the guilt a little by not overthinking fruit and veg in large portions, for example yesterday I had a rice and veg teriyaki stir fry for lunch which had what I would consider a large amount of vegetables (half an onion, 4 mushrooms, 2 celery sticks, 2 handfuls of spinach, 1 handful of mixed cabbage), I had this with leftover rice (1 cup), seeds (Flaxseed and hemp) and teriyaki sauce, so it was a fairly substantial lunch. Was it too big? I’m unsure, I’m not sure if my portions are large or other people’s are small! I do try to weigh my problem foods for portions, rice, pasta, grains, beans. All healthy but sometimes I eat a substantial amount. Mostly healthy, not great for weight loss.

Takeaways

Takeaways, oh how I love and hate you equally. Takeaways are no doubt a huge part of the reason I am overweight, and how I got so overweight in the first place. Takeaways also tie in heavily to the Portion Size issues I have.

I do all of the cooking in my house, I always have, and in all likelihood will continue to do so. My husband can’t cook, he was just never shown how, and has no interest in cooking, I could try to force him into it but I would feel bad, he just isn’t interested. Additionally, I quite enjoy cooking sometimes, I like making something new, I don’t do that too often though due to time constraints.

As much as I like cooking, I also like not cooking. Sometimes the thought of having to prepare a meal in the evening after working, or even on days off, it is just too much. There isn’t much I can get pre-prepared as a vegan, so I often jump to the easiest option, takeaway.

There are so many reasons I don’t want to eat takeaway, here are a few of them

  1. They are bad for me, too much oil, salt and fat
  2. I always feel ill the next day, always, doesn’t matter what I get
  3. I eat too much, I have zero self control when it comes to portions and takeaways
  4. They cost too much, for the four of us it’s at least £20 for a cheap takeaway, usually more though. For one meal. I spend nowhere near that for home made, that £20 would probably cover 3 meals for the four of us
  5. They are never as nice as I want them to be, there is one takeaway that is 20 minutes away that I love, but the 4 above reasons count even for there

There is one reason I want a takeaway,

  1. I can’t be bothered cooking

That’s it. Sometimes, too often, that one reason overrides the five listed above (and I’m sure there would be more if I thought about it for longer). I try techniques to avoid takeaways, I have a slow cooker that I’ve barely used, but am planning to from next week. I choose meals that although being homecooked take as little time as possible (that people in my house will eat). I pre-cook elements of meals at the weekend (Pasta Sauce, Lentils, Mashed Potato), which I’m going to try to stop doing mostly in favour of using the slow cooker. Sometimes even the putting together of meals is too much for me to be bothered to do.

I can’t really call it laziness, I’m certainly not a lazy person. It’s just at that time of the day all my willpower is depleted, and I often jump to the easiest, unhealthiest option.

I’m not sure really what steps to take to curb this, I have often wished for a takeaway that would make me ill, putting me off for life (although sadly I’m not even sure that would work). If all the takeaways within a 10 mile radius would shut that would be a good start.

I would really like to improve how I handle weaknesses, I can do great all week then bam, two nights in a row I’ll have takeaway and it ruins the hard work. I also find this is only an issue with evening meals, I very rarely eat anything pre-prepared for breakfast or lunch, in fact I avoid them, I wish I could transfer that to evenings.

Both of these problems ultimately come down to resetting my head and thought processes. Portions, is the easier problem, I can weigh things. There is no reason to have tiny portions, I enjoy food and although I want to lose weight starving myself is not an option I am willing (or able!) to take. Takeaways though, that requires a shift in thinking. I need to start to see them for what they are, unhealthy, overpriced junk. They don’t align with my values to being healthy, so therefore should play a much smaller part in my diet. One every two weeks, fine, one twice a week, not fine.

If you have similar weaknesses and have any ideas how to combat them please share them with me via instagram, facebook or twitter.

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