The Diminishing Vegan

Veganism and Weight Loss

Author: Fiona (Page 1 of 7)

Consistency

Extended Absence

I fear I am just destined to be an intermittent blogger, no matter my inner promises to blog somehow life gets in the way, when time and mental space are at a premium my poor blog suffers! I’m still active on Instagram and My Fitness Pal during these times, it just becomes increasingly difficult to fit in time to write full posts. Anyway, enough of me beating myself up for my absence and onto the reasons/excuses.

The main source of lack of time is that I started a new job 7 weeks ago, it’s the type of job that for a long time I thought I would never do. For the last couple of years I have worked in a software development role, but I would use that term a little loosely. There was day to day development but it heavily leaned on an existing framework, which was great, it offered a level of support in such a small team, but I was aware that ideally I wanted to get into a more hands on, technical development role. A recruiter contacted me for a role at a large international company, I  interviewed (even with a technical test), and I was over the moon when I was offered it, but at the same time terrified. I have impostor syndrome, although not as bad as it once was. While at uni I remember thinking “Well, there is no way I’m going to be able to do this as a job“, that I had wasted my time (I got a first class honours degree and postgraduate diploma with distinction..didn’t exactly scrape passing!), that I would never be good enough to work in this field.

Starting this job was a massive step, it was a little overwhelming to begin with, they have huge projects, not in my first programming language and a fairly large international team. But I have tried to take on lessons I have learned in years of meditation and mindfulness, don’t think too much about the big picture, notice when I am stuck ruminating on my fear and distract myself, and just get on with it.

It’s difficult at this stage to tangibly say how I’m doing, but I’m enjoying it, feel I am understanding things and writing code in a way I haven’t since University. The atmosphere is very positive, I’ve made some nice friends, it’s a world away from my previous job which I enjoyed but had some serious flaws. My commuting time has cut by 40 minutes each way as well, so I have more time back to myself, and it’s more money with routes upwards, better benefits. Overall it has been highly positive, and I’m looking forward to keep pushing forward.

My gym and diet however, especially in the last few weeks of my old job and first month of this have not been great or very consistent. I haven’t flown completely off track, but my weight has crept up a little, I’m currently 13 stone, 3.5, or 185.5 pounds. This is 6 pounds up from my lightest weight 2 months ago.

My weight is fluctuating wildly at the moment, initially I thought there was something going on physically (unsure what though) but now I think it is a combination of dropping off going to the gym, and general inconsistency with food. I am very susceptible to bloat after eating salty/oily food, it hangs around for days, and there has definitely been more of this on the menu in the last few months.

To get back in the routine I have been meal planning, and batch cooking at the weekend. For the last two weeks I have picked up exercising again, running and weights at the gym. I’ve changed the plan I’m following and will do a post about this next week. The IT department (including software development) have a weight loss competition I have joined to keep me motivated. They also have a little gym which I’m going to try out at lunch time with one the girls who goes fairly regularly. Overall, everything is moving in the right direction now, but things have definitely been a little bumpy!

Thank you anyone still around and I’m sorry for not being about! I suppose that is real life and weight loss, sometimes your focus has to shift, but it’s important to not throw it all away. A few pounds I can handle, it’s about recognising when things are going south and putting the brakes on before you end up back at square one.

We’re going on holiday to Dubrovnik in 3 weeks and I’m looking forward to trying some of the vegan options out there, so there will be some upcoming posts about that too. I’m also going to do some posts on my meal prepping/batch cooking healthy meals to save time during the week.

To join and support me (and also to get some support back too!) please add me on My Fitness Pal , and other social media, InstagramFacebookTwitterFitbit.

Consistency

2019 Week 6 Update

This week I’ve lost 1 pound, this year that is now 11 pounds.

My total weight loss is now 82.5 pounds, with 47.5 to go to reach my 10 stone goal weight.

No OMAD this week, every day I have fasted for between 16 to 18 hours. I’ve eaten between 1200 and 1500 calories a day. Still taking a B12 supplement, Biotin supplement and a vitamin D supplement, I bought a new vegan friendly mushroom based supplement from Holland and Barrett at the weekend so will give this a try.

Exercise this week –

  • Sunday – Lower body strength workout
  • Monday – AM and PM – 2.5 km rum, 2.5 km hill walk, swimming my with my daughter then 1 hour of swimming in the evening
  • Tuesday – PM – 1 hour of cardio at the gym
  • Wednesday – PM – Upper body strength workout
  • Thursday – AM – 15 minute HIIT, PM – Rest
  • Friday – PM – 1 hour cardio at the gym
  • Saturday – AM – 5km Run

My plans for next week are –

  • Sunday – AM – 1 hour 15 minutes Lower Body/Core Strength Training
  • Monday – AM – 15 minute HIIT, PM – Chest and Triceps/Core Strength Training
  • Tuesday – AM – 15 minute HIIT, Rest
  • Wednesday – AM – 15 minute HIIT, PM – Back and Biceps/Core Strength Training
  • Thursday –  AM – 15 minute HIIT, PM – Swimming
  • Friday – AM – 15 minute HIIT, 1 hour Gym Cardio
  • Saturday – AM – 5km Run

To join and support me (and also to get some support back too!) please add me on My Fitness Pal , and other social media, InstagramFacebookTwitterFitbit.

Mushroom Stroganoff

Mushroom Stroganoff Recipe

I know, I have posted a recipe for Mushroom Stroganoff previously, but if I’m being honest, this one is better and I would try it first.

Ingredients

  • 400g Mushrooms
  • 4 portobello mushrooms
  • 1 white onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cups of vegetable stock
  • 3 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tbsp wholewheat flour
  • Olive oil for frying onions (as little as possible)
  • 20ml Vegan single cream
  • Brown pasta/rice and green vegetables for serving

Method

This doesn’t take long to make so you can put on your pasta or rice first.

After this sautee onion, garlic and regular mushrooms in a little olive oil for 5 minutes until soft. Place aside in a bowl.

Chop the portobello mushrooms into slices around 1/4 inch thick. Sautee for a couple of minutes then add one cup of vegetable stock and Worcestershire sauce. Boil until reduced.

In a separate bowl mix the remaining cup of stock with the flour until dissolved. Once the fluid has boiled off the portobello mushrooms add back in the regular mushrooms/onion mix and then the stock/flour mix. This will thicken quickly so put on a very low heat. Once well mixed add vegan single cream, I used Alpro. I didn’t actually measure my cream but it wasn’t too much, I reckon about 20ml.

Mix well and serve with brown pasta or rice and green vegetables. This was a really nice creamy quick dish that had around 200 calories without pasta/vegetables. It did 2 good sized portions and the full meal was 500 calories.

Mushroom Stroganoff

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Consistency

2019 Week 5 Update

This week I’ve lost 3 pounds, this year that is now 10 pounds.

My total weight loss is now 81.5 pounds, with 48.5 to go to reach my 10 stone goal weight. I’m officially the lightest I have been in around 10 years..madness.

No OMAD this week, I’m struggling to fit it in if I’m being honest. Every day I have fasted for between 16 to 18 hours. I’ve eaten between 1200 and 1500 calories a day. Still taking a B12 supplement, Biotin supplement and a vitamin D supplement although I’m on the lookout for a new one as I’m not keen on the D Spray I have.

Exercise this week –

  • Sunday – Lower body strength workout
  • Monday – AM – 15 minute HIIT, PM – 1 hour of swimming
  • Tuesday – AM – Upper body strength workout
  • Wednesday – Rest Day
  • Thursday – AM – 15 minute HIIT, PM 1 hour of swimming
  • Friday – PM – 1 hour and 10 minutes cardio at the gym
  • Saturday – AM – 1 hour and 10 minutes cardio at the gym

My plans for next week are –

  • Sunday – AM – 1 hour lower body Strength Training
  • Monday – AM – 15 minute HIIT, PM – Swimming
  • Tuesday – AM – 15 minute HIIT, PM – 1 hour of gym cardio
  • Wednesday – AM – 15 minute HIIT, PM – Upper body strength training
  • Thursday –  AM – 15 minute HIIT, PM – Swimming
  • Friday – AM – 15 minute HIIT, possible rest day although the gym was so quiet this week I’m tempted to go back and do something on the Friday as well
  • Saturday – AM – Long Run/Cardio

Weights are still improving slowly, although I’m planning on doing a post about this soon. This week my husband has been tagging along to exercise with me which has been a good motivation. He really complimented me by saying that although the gym is full of super fit people I work out as hard as the rest of them…I do try!

To join and support me (and also to get some support back too!) please add me on My Fitness Pal , and other social media, InstagramFacebookTwitterFitbit.

2019 Week 4 Update

Last week I’ve stayed the same, this year that is still 7 pounds

My total weight loss is now 78.5 pounds, with 51.5 to go to reach my 10 stone goal weight.

No OMAD this week due to when my exercise has been scheduled. Most days I have fasted for 16 to 18 hours. I’ve eaten between 1200 and 1500 calories a day. I’ve added in a B12 tablet vitamin supplement and a biotin supplement daily, and I’m taking my B12 spray and D spray.

Exercise this week –

  • Sunday – Lower body strength workout
  • Monday – AM – 15 minute HIIT, PM – 1 hour of swimming
  • Tuesday – AM – Upper body strength workout
  • Wednesday – PM – 1 hour and 10 minutes cardio at the gym
  • Thursday – AM – 15 minute HIIT, PM 1 hour of swimming
  • Friday – Rest Day
  • Saturday – Hungover but did go for a walk

My plans for next week are –

  • Sunday – AM – 1 hour lower body Strength Training
  • Monday – AM – 15 minute HIIT, PM – Swimming
  • Tuesday – AM – 15 minute HIIT, PM – 1 hour of gym cardio
  • Wednesday – AM – 15 minute HIIT, PM – Upper body strength training
  • Thursday –  AM – 15 minute HIIT, PM – Swimming
  • Friday – AM – 15 minute HIIT
  • Saturday – AM – 1 hour of gym cardio

This week has been good with food. I’ve found myself focusing on it a lot less, generally not sitting thinking about it. I’m wondering if this is a side affect of eating the same thing every day? Exercise has felt good this week. I feel my cardiovascular fitness is improving, my swimming form for front crawl is getting better and I’m definitely feeling more comfortable in the weights room at the gym. No falling off the wagon which marks a full month on it. Bit annoyed I haven’t lost weight but unfortunately as I know too well weight loss isn’t linear!

To join and support me (and also to get some support back too!) please add me on My Fitness Pal , and other social media, InstagramFacebookTwitterFitbit.

Vegan Blood Test Results Dashboard

Blood Test for Health Results | Medichecks

This post is part two, following on from the original post about Blood Tests for Health, you should probably read that first if you haven’t already.

I sent my results via the post office on the Friday afternoon and by the Tuesday I had my results and doctors feedback by way of an email and an update on the Medichecks website.

It was a bit of a mixed bag, some of which I was surprised about and other bits not so surprised.

Starting from the top down –

  • Alanine Transferase – Raised levels can show an inflamed liver which can be caused by alcohol, drugs or hepatitis.
  • Alkaline Phosphatase – Test for problems with liver, gallbladder or bones, raised levels can show bone or liver disease.
  • Creatine Kinase – Shows muscle cell damage.
  • Gamma GT – Can be raised in liver and bile duct diseases, can also be raised in alcoholics.
  • Bilirubin – Elevated levels can cause jaundice and indicate liver damage.

All of the liver function tests came back well within the normal range, in fact all on the low side of normal.

  • Ferritin – standard iron level test

Iron came back normal, not on the high side but within normal levels, which was great as I’m never sure whether I am getting enough green vegetables, this test would suggest I am. Iron is something I don’t supplement but have considered whether I should or not, years of conditioning about red meat is obviously stuck in my head!

  • Triglycerides – raised levels can be a risk factor for vascular disease.
  • Cholesterol – total cholesterol, made up ot HDL and LDL.
  • HDL Cholesterol – good cholesterol, removes cholesterol from the bloodstream.
  • LDL Cholesterol – Bad cholesterol, can cause fatty deposits and atheroscelrosis.
  • Non-HDL Cholesterol – Calculated by subtracting HDL from total cholesterol.
  • Total HDL/Cholesterol Ratio

Cholesterol levels all came back normal , HDL (good cholesterol) was on the high side of normal, and LDL was normal. Cholesterol was one of the measurements I was really keen to see the results of. When I was almost 6 stone heavier, and eating a diet laden in animal fat (fat in general) I’m doubt my cholesterol was normal. I have no evidence of this, but it’s a worry I have had over the years. Added to that my father had a triple bypass, and ultimately a heart attack is what killed my mother, I’m acutely aware of attempting to avoid heart disease. It’s also the Western World’s biggest killer, so who wouldn’t want to avoid it? Overall cholesterol was still a little higher than I would have liked, although I have heard that your cholesterol can be raised when you are losing fat. I’m still doing this, so I will continue to keep an eye on it as my weight drops and see if I can get it even better.

  • CRP-hs – C-Reactive Protein, used to show inflammation in the body.

This came back on the low of the range. Apparently anything below 1 is completely normal. I do think about inflammation, I have psoriasis which is caused by inflammation within the body (it is an auto immune response), although since changing diet and losing weight this has drastically decreased. I wonder if it would have been higher previously?

  • Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D – general vitamin test

This is where there were some issues. Both my B12 and D were low which confused and concerned me a little. They do ask when taking the test that you stop taking your supplementation which I duly did, so I do wonder if that was what took me over the edge outside of the normal range. I know though in myself that I can definitely be forgetful when it comes to taken my B12 supplement. The current supplement that I use is the Boost Better You B12 Spray which supplies you with 1200 ug of B12 per every daily 4 sprays. I also have a vitamin D spray which I barely use. Since taking this test I have made taking these more regular, every single day now rather than once or twice a week.

  • Testosterone – General reading of testosterone levels.

This came back within normal levels. A little on the high of normal but I’m not really sure what this means.

Vegan Blood Test Results

Full blood test results

My dashboard has now populated with my test results. The dashboard features blank areas for all the tests you haven’t done, really tempting you to do them all.

Vegan Blood Test Results Dashboard

The doctors feedback from the test was positive, they said well done for losing weight, my cholesterol levels were good considering, and that all other readings were fine other than B12 and D which can be low in anyone, and to make sure that I supplement regularly. They recommend I retest vitamin D and B12 in 3 months, and have a full blood test done in a year.

If there was one thing about this whole thing that I wish was different, it is that I wish I had taken one of these tests before I started losing weight, and before I went vegan. I *think* the results would have been very different, but that is just a guess.

As with my previous post, if anyone is thinking about giving Medichecks a try for personal blood tests for health then you can use the affiliate code given to me by my friend of WMAC10, this will give you 10% off the standard price. The whole process was straightforward and relatively painless (other than a finger prick!). I think checking in on your health inside as well as out is a wise idea, it certainly has given me some reassurance that I’m going the right way with my general health.

I’ve also decided I’m taking another test next week to test my thyroid. I have been borderline with this previously many years ago, but have had such a slow time losing weight I feel it is something I should at least take a look at. I could go to the doctors to get this done but I don’t have time for that, and I want my full results quickly. The thyroid test was only £29 and I used the code above to get 10% off.

Remember to add me on My Fitness Pal , and other social media, InstagramFacebookTwitterFitbit.

Consistency

2019 Week 3 Update

If you’re on the ball, you will notice there was no week 2 update….no, I’ve not given up already, but I was away at a friends last weekend and didn’t even weigh in. It was also my time of the month which pretty much guarantees a stay the same for me.

This week I’ve lost 3 pounds, this year that is now 7 pounds.

My total weight loss is now 78.5 pounds, with 51.5 to go to reach my 10 stone goal weight.

I’ve eaten between 1300 and 1500 calories every day apart from Saturday and Sunday (when I was away at my friends), and Thursday where I did one day of OMAD and ended on just under 1000 calories. I’ve added in a B12 tablet vitamin supplement and a biotin supplement daily, and I’m taking my B12 spray and D spray.

Exercise this week –

  • Sunday – Nothing (3.5 hour drive though!)
  • Monday – Nothing (was totally disorganised after being away so needed some time to meal prep/catch up at home)
  • Tuesday – AM – 15 minute HIIT, PM – 5k run on treadmill, 20 minutes on elliptical
  • Wednesday – AM – 15 minute HIIT, PM – 1 hour upper body strength training
  • Thursday – AM – 15 minute HIIT, PM – Rest
  • Friday – AM – 15 minute HIIT, PM – 55 minutes swimming
  • Saturday – AM – 5km run on treadmill

My plans for next week are –

  • Sunday – AM – 1 hour lower body Strength Training
  • Monday – AM – 15 minute HIIT, PM – Swimming
  • Tuesday – AM – 15 minute HIIT, PM – Upper body strength training
  • Wednesday – AM – 15 minute HIIT, PM – Rest
  • Thursday –  AM – 15 minute HIIT, PM – 5k run, 20 minutes on elliptical
  • Friday – AM – 15 minute HIIT, PM – Swimming
  • Saturday – AM – Lower body strength training

I’m really happy with how this week has went, especially with my food. Considering I was away at the weekend when I do a lot of my preparation it would have been really easy to default to convenience and takeaways but I managed to keep on track and still fit in the exercise. I know I won’t lose 3 pounds every week, but I’ll take it while I can!

To join and support me (and also to get some support back too!) please add me on My Fitness Pal , and other social media, InstagramFacebookTwitterFitbit.

Blood Test for Health | Medichecks

My leading motivation for losing weight has always been to improve my health. Before I started losing weight (back at 270 pounds), my underlying health (or lack thereof) would pop into my head, usually when I was ill and I would start to really worry. It’s difficult to truly care about your health when you were shoving pretty much any and all fatty food into your mouth, smoking like a chimney, and the most exercise you ever took was walking back and forth to the fridge. There were periods of caring (dieting and exercising) but none ever stuck long term.

This all changed, as I’ve discussed previously, when my parents died. My mum’s sudden death in 2013, then my dad’s drawn out illness and death in 2015 really brought health to the focus of my life. Death staring you in the face can be a powerful tool for change, and I found I wanted to live a long and happy life.

When it comes to being really truly healthy, losing weight is really one step of many. When I started calorie counting my diet was still far from optimal,  I did eat some plant based foods but nowhere near enough, still barely exercised, I calorie counted junk. But I still lost weight which was good enough, to begin with anyway.

When I went vegan I gradually transformed my diet, moving further and further towards plants. That is when I began the real research of health, and what being healthy really meant. I listened to podcasts, read blogs and books, spoke with knowledgeable people. I have spent a lot of time researching how to improve my health. I take the supplements I believe I need (Vitamin B12 and D), I try to eat a wide variety of plant foods, exercise, get enough sleep, meditate, generally look after myself to the best of my ability as time allows. I slowly lose weight, I feel good, but do I know if my health has actually improved? I know I definitely feel better, but not knowing about a number of key health measurable’s definitely causes me some consternation. I have always had an interest in health monitoring, I’ve had multiple iterations of Fitbit’s over the years, and very happily report that my heart rate is 20 bpm lower than it used to be thanks to losing the weight I have so far.

Some of my favourite vegan Youtubers (specifically springing to mind is Happy Healthy Vegan) fairly regularly take a blood test for health and then post their results publicly. Ryan from Happy Healthy Vegan had posted his results after his online arguments with Shaun Baker, infamous from his ridiculous carnivore diet, and his terrible blood test results.

Recently, myself and a friend who is very interested in health and fitness had a number of conversations relating to taking blood tests for health, and personal health screening. He recommended checking out the online company Medichecks, who he had used a number of times before, and said they were quick with getting the results back to you and reasonably priced.

I took a look at their site and saw that they offer a large list of personal health tests, depending on what results you are looking for. Most of these tests are taken via a finger prick, but you can also arrange for some to be taken venously. I was keen on doing the test myself, time constraints making arranging the venous test difficult.

Blood Test for Health Medichecks tests

Blood Tests provided by Medichecks

My budget wasn’t huge, and the choice was wide and varied so instead of uming and ahing for a long time, after a browse I decided to just go for the baseline fit test which cost £55 (down from £69 with a new member discount). The name certainly indicated it would give me what I wanted, an idea of my baseline fitness, and test gives 16 results covering a variety of areas:

  • Liver Function
    • ALP
    • ALT
    • CK
    • Gamma GT
    • Bilirubin
  • Iron
    • Ferritin
  • Cholesterol
    • Triglicerydes
    • Overall Cholesterol
    • HDL Cholsterol
    • LDL Cholsterol
    • Non HDL Cholesterol
  • Heart Disease Risk
    • HDL % of Total
  • Inflammation Marker
    • CRP-hs
  • Vitamins
    • B12 Active
    • D
  • Hormones
    • Testosterone

The tests I was most interested in were for Cholesterol, Iron, Vitamin B12 and D. For Cholesterol I have always been interested to know what my measurements are. I didn’t have cholesterol tested when I was 5+ stone heavier and eating a diet full of animal products but my guess is that it surely it would have been pretty high. As I’m still overweight, and heart disease being the biggest killer in the Western world, cholesterol measurements are of interest to me. Iron is something I think about fairly regularly, worrying am I eating enough green vegetables to get to the required intake? It’s difficult to know purely by diet. Most of the country is deficient in B12, and I often forget to take my supplement, and D is just difficult to get in certain countries, the UK being one. The rest of the results would be interesting to give me a baseline reading but these the above were the statistics I was really interested in.

The whole ordering process was straightforward, there was a section where you could add some information and in here I noted that I had lost 5 stone, was vegan and was looking for some general health information after having lost so much weight. There was the option to receive doctors feedback although apparently this can make it slightly slower. I chose to take this, as I felt the interpretation of results would be handy especially as it was the first time taking the test.

Once I had ordered my test, I input my health and lifestyle details and received feedback on these via their Health & Lifestyle dashboard. I was pretty pleased, I know a follow a healthy lifestyle but there is clearly room for improvement, especially in the BMI and body fat readings (I’m trying Medichecks, I’m trying!)

Blood Test for Health Medichecks Dashboard

Health and Lifestyle Dashboard in Medichecks

Medichecks recommends that you stop taking your supplements before the test, so I duly did this, and after a few days a parcel arrived at my house and was waiting for me when I got home from work. The box itself was very well packed and presented professionally.

Blood Test for Health Box

Blood Test for Health Inside Box

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On opening all of the required items were laid out nicely, the instructions were very clear and all round, considering taking blood is never really a nice thing to do, they made it very straightforward.

Blood Test for Health Inside Box 2

What you receive inside the box differs depending on what test you are taking. My box only required one sample bottle of blood so on the left had a plastic container which held the bottle inside. At the top there are four finger prick devices and at the bottom right there are extensive instructions in how to carry out the test. Behind the instructions is a pre-paid return bag that you hand in to any post office.

Whenever I have blood taken at the doctors it has always been problematic, usually resorting to a vein on the back of my hand. It’s safe to say I was definitely a little concerned about the ability of the finger prick device to get enough blood for the test. Medichecks recommend taking the blood test in the morning, and my friend suggested a holding a hot drink to bring the blood flow to the surface of your skin, so I duly got myself ready while drinking my usual black coffee.

I opened the bottle, and within the box there is a little cardboard hole you can place it in so you all you need to do is hold your finger above and let gravity drip the blood in. There were two lines on the bottle and my instructions said to fill to the second line, it looked like quite a lot of blood!

I took out the finger prick device and suddenly felt nervous that it was going to hurt. I went with my left middle finger, and pressed down on the pad. A tiny bead of blood came out and I thought here we go! I stood up and held my finger over the bottle and the blood flow stopped almost immediately. Massaging my finger pushed out one other tiny drop but nothing after that. My initial thought was that I had just wasted £55 as I wouldn’t be able to get this required blood out.

As they provide 4 finger pricks, I moved onto a new finger, my fourth finger but this time went for the tip rather than the pad. Instantly the blood flow was different, faster. I held my finger over the bottle and it filled up incredibly quickly. It barely needed massaged at all, and in about 20 seconds I was done. I cleaned myself up, plastered my pricked fingers and screwed the cap on the bottle. You fill in a sticker with your name, date and time of test, and put the bottle within the plastic container the provide, then put this, along with the return note in the plastic bag. It is important to remember the return note as this tells them which test you are due to have carried out, without this they won’t even do the test.

That day at lunchtime I took my sample to the nearest post office and sent it away. The wait was on for results. Part 2 will be coming next week so if you are interested keep an eye out for this.

If anyone is thinking about giving Medichecks a try for personal blood tests for health then you can use the affiliate code given to me by my friend of WMAC10, this will give you 10% off the standard price.

To join and support me (and also to get some support back too!) please add me on My Fitness Pal , and other social media, InstagramFacebookTwitterFitbit.

Consistency

Monthly Measurements – January 2019

Along with some other regular posts I’m going to be making, I’m throwing a monthly measurements post in here too. Alongside actually losing weight, it’s important to track the impact this has on my measurements. I have been intermittently tracking my measurements since way back in 2015 and I’m 42.5 inches down from various parts of my body.

For the first post I will include my original measurements and also the measurements I have taken as of this morning. I’ll update these once a month and eventually add some pictures.

5th August 2015

Area Measurement
Hips 54.5 inches
Waist 48 inches
Bust 51 inches
Under Bust 46 inches
Upper Thigh 27.5 inches
Calf 19 inches
Bicep 16 inches

13th January 2019

Area Measurement Lost
Hips 46.5 inches 11 inches
Waist 37 inches 8 inches
Bust 44.5 inches 6.5 inches
Under Bust 39.5 inches 6.5 inches
Upper Thigh 23 inches 4.5 inches
Calf 16.5 inches 2.5 inches
Bicep 13.5 inches 3.5 inches

Overall that is 42.5 inches lost, it’s great if not a little slow. I’m hoping to see more results a little faster this year. Please remember to add me on My Fitness Pal , and other social media, InstagramFacebookTwitterFitbit.

Consistency

2019 Week 1 Update

Just a quick update about my first full week after refocusing on weight loss. This week I’m down 2.5 pounds, combined with the days last week that is 4 pounds in 2019.

My total weight loss is now 75.5 pounds, with 54.5 to go to reach 10 stone.

I’ve eaten between 1400 and 1700 calories a day, around 70% carbs, 15% fat, 15% protein. Sometimes carbs have dropped into the 60s but I’m not keeping too close an eye on that.

Exercise this week –

  • Sunday – 1.5 hours cardio
  • Monday – Swimming
  • Tuesday – Lower body strength training
  • Wednesday – 5k run
  • Thursday – Rest
  • Friday – Swimming
  • Saturday – 1.5 hours cardio

A very productive week and I’m feeling great! This weekend I’ll take up to date measurements and pictures to share.

My plans for next week are –

  • Sunday – Upper body strength training
  • Monday – Swimming
  • Tuesday – Run or cardio at gym
  • Wednesday – Lower body strength training
  • Thursday – Swimming
  • Friday – Run or cardio at the gym
  • Saturday – Rest

I’m off to visit my best friend in England next weekend so won’t be overly strict next weekend. Here’s to another good week!

To join and support me (and also to get some support back too!) please add me on My Fitness Pal , and other social media, InstagramFacebookTwitterFitbit.

Consistency

Word of 2019 and looking back on 2018

Goodbye to 2018,  and Hello to a New Year. I know that really the new year has no proper significance, it is just the day we humans picked to reset our calendar, but there is no doubting for many that it provides an impetus unfelt at other times of the year.

Looking back on my 2018 my results are mixed. Overall it was a successful year, but not necessarily in some of the ways I wanted it to be. We went on our first family holiday abroad (Majorca), also went on our first couples holiday abroad (Amsterdam). We also bought our first house, which really took up a large number of months, and caused a lot of stress.

In the process of getting ready for the move I hit my target of getting rid of 2018 things in 2018, which was really needed. I think without the decluttering that has taken place in the last few years, our move would have been incredibly difficult.  We moved to a house that had more rooms (and very importantly a garden), but has less storage and floor space. In the end it was pretty easy, so much so I have signed up for 2019 in 2019, although I do think this year will be a lot harder. I’m not even sure where I’m going to start for next year, but I’m sure there is more to go, at least 2019 things.

The elephant in the room that I didn’t reach my weight goal in 2018. Not even anywhere close. I started the year at 218 pounds, reached a low of 189 pounds, but ended the year at 199, 10 pounds up from my lowest weight. So overall, over the year I lost 19 pounds. Not great, but I really need to look at the positives here. Another year has passed and I have finished it lighter than I began. The reasons why I didn’t reach the weight? Well, ironically considering my word of 2018 was Focus, I definitely lost it at times. Not to the point of completely throwing my weight loss away, but enough to make any decent headway. It is really frustrating when everyone around you seems to be easily losing weight, 3, 4 pounds a week. I remind myself I’ve lost over 5 stone so far, but it is a hard pill to swallow.

However, I put on a few pounds, lost a few, and overall I reckon I’m at least capable of maintaining. It is really now about getting my head down to get the last few stone off, and I know it is not going to be an easy task.

Time, tiredness, a busy life, they all get in the way, so my word of 2019 reflects what I need to get my weight over the finish line….Consistency. I’m going to avoid the ups and downs, the periods of non exercise and takeaways, and I’m going to give it my all to be consistent with my eating and exercise during 2019.

My plans are to focus on the day to day, rather than the actual physical weight measurement. If I can consistently eat well, exercise and get enough sleep, my body can do this. If I obsess over the minutiae, the half a pound here, or half a pound there I will get demotivated, start eating more, exercising less and maintain. I have been at this long enough to know the thought patterns, the excuses that arise in times of frustration.

My goal, 10 stone. Do I think I can do it this year? Yes..I really believe I can. I have rejoined the gym, have a new exercise and eating plan in place which involves healthy meal prepping and a little less fasting (but this will still feature I’m sure).

I am adding in another couple of health checks over the year, so keep an eye out for posts related to that too. It’s not just about weight, there is more to health than what the scales say, and I’m keen to see how healthy I really am.

To start the year I thought I would also share a recent selfie taken on a night out, and I must say I felt pretty damn good when that was taken, even at the weight I am.

Consistency

To join and support me (and also to get some support back too!) please add me on My Fitness Pal , and other social media, InstagramFacebookTwitterFitbit.

Frustration and the end of 2018

This year has went by so quickly, almost in the blink of an eye.

I am putting a lot of the feeling of that down to a few significant life related events, the biggest of which was buying our first house, then the move, which was a fairly drawn out process!

Moving house is not an easy process for anyone, but after 8 years at our rented flat, and having inherited most of my parent’s posessions after their deaths, the run up to the move was intense. I thoroughly decluttered, more than I ever had before. This was a combination of selling, giving and throwing away. Although we were moving from a 2 bedroom flat into a 3 bedroom house, our 2 bedroom flat was massive, floor space and storage were readily available. Our new house lacked in both, not that I was phased by this, I’ve always liked the idea of having a bit less space, I find you generally expand your posessions to fill the space you have, smaller space = less stuff.

We got our keys at the end of September, and gradually began moving non essential items. The main move was on the 15th October, I swear it was the wettest day of the year. Thankfully it went smoothly, but due to the sudden nature of our house purchase, and generally being short on cash, it was done on a budget. Our movers moved all of our big furniture, but we did all of the small things. This trickled on for another month, I only moved our goldfish and shrimp at the start of November, it was a military operation.

But now, mid December, we are in, mostly settled. The new house requires some work but we’re waiting until the new year to even think about this.

Weight wise I have made it through this period maintaining, which is a positive considering how much takeaway food I have eaten. I have continued fasting, mostly whole foods plant based, but not as rigid as I would have liked, and certainly not good enough to lose weight. Exercise has been minimal, I did go do a 5K  and to the gym last week and I think next year I will be ready to start adding that back in again.

I’m looking forward to the start of 2019. I thought this would be my year to reach my target weight, but alas it was not to be. Maybe 2019 will be that year? On the other hand I am glad to have made it through another year lighter than I was at the start of the previous one, plus my general health and energy levels have been fantastic, and this is not something I can easily discount.

Please add me on My Fitness Pal , and other social media, InstagramFacebookTwitterFitbit. I love new people and the support from online sources is invaluable.

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!

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