The Diminishing Vegan

Veganism and Weight Loss

Category: During (Page 2 of 3)

Smoothies | Breakfast

I’ve recently taken to having smoothies to break my fast. Smoothies are something that previously I was never a fan of, I didn’t like drinking my calories, the smoothies in the shop seemed to be full of sugar, I just had an all round bad impression of them.

My opinion began to change when I listened to Michael Greger and Jami Dulaney’s respective podcasts (found here and here and also on any major podcast player you have). I really respect these two doctors (one a nutrition doctor and the other a cardiologist) and find pretty much most things they say sensible, well researched and I do try to follow their advice in my diet.

Now, some people are against smoothies, but both of them recommend them, in the occasion where you have having whole fruits and vegetables and not juiced, as when juiced the fibre is lost. They both agree they are a delicious and easy way to easily increase your intake of fruit and vegetables, so recently I’ve been giving them a whirl, especially the green variety.

My smoothies are around 350 – 400 calories a go, not a small amount, but they allow me to break my 18 hour fast with a nutrient dense tasty drink. What do I use in my smoothies?

  • Bananas
  • Mangos
  • Frozen Berries (strawberries/blueberries/raspberries/blackberries)
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Oranges
  • Apples
  • Kale
  • Cucumber
  • Carrot
  • Vegan Yoghurt
  • Almond/Rice Milk
  • Flax Seeds
  • Chia Seeds

Not all at once of course, this week I have been having 2 bananas, 1 apple, 2 large handfuls of spinach, yoghurt, almond milk, chia seeds and ice. I use my nutri-ninja and pulse for a minute or two getting it really nice and smooth. I don’t use any artificial sweeteners as it is sweet enough already.

Vegan Smoothies - Green Smoothie

For the moment at least I am going to keep having these on a daily basis, I feel they are helping my weight loss (7 pounds off in 3 weeks, 56.5 overall), taste good, are great for me, it’s win win win! What combinations do you use in your smoothie? Are there any good flavours I’m missing out on?

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!

What I think about tesco as a vegan

What I think about Tesco as a vegan?

A bit of a weird title but “What I think about tesco as a vegan?” was the question asked by my omnivore husband this week. This comes off the back of the range of vegan ready meals launched this week, Wicked Kitchen . I’ve already tried a few  and have even been to two separate tesco’s to get them and my opinion on the taste of them is that they are delicious. They are plant based, don’t use fake meats/cheese and while I have absolutely nothing against these (and eat them from time to time), these meals are really tasty and don’t need the fake stuff. They are also pretty healthy for ready meals, £4 a pop is pretty steep but for an occasional treat (and in place of a takeaway!) it’s great to have options.

A conversation with my husband about these lead the above question, what I thought about tesco. I felt a bit annoyed at this question initially but dug deeper to try to understand what he really was asking. I asked, in what way? He said morally, they are one of the worst companies out there ethically, and sell mostly non vegan food, so what do you think about them. Here are my thoughts:

  1. I feel like people judge vegans way more strictly on their ethics than they do non-vegans. Do I go around asking non-vegans about what they think about tesco? It’s like being vegan is taken as a target on your back, and you are expected to have much higher ethics in every single area of your life. Now I know, vegans probably do consider ethics in some areas more, certainly when it comes to using animals. But being vegan does no equate to being more ethical in every area of life. They are unrelated in my opinion. Veganism is defined by the vegan society as“… a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.” Nothing to do with other ethical areas. Do I think vegans consider ethics more in other areas too? I don’t know, some certainly do, some don’t. Do I feel comfortable with the ethics of Tesco? Not particularly. Why do I shop there? Because of number 2…
  2. I have a lack of choice. Realistically, the way the world is built, and where I live in it, the main options for quick easy shopping are large supermarkets. I feel when it comes to the ethics of these (Asda, Tesco, Sainsburys, Lidl, Aldi etc) they are all probably pretty similar. My life is busy, I work a full time job, have a family, try to look after myself somewhat, have pets etc, and have limited time to shop/look for other options. Therefore I shop at places like Tesco. If there were other options in my area I would definitely look into them. I do look to see if there are local shops/delivery options but really where I live in the West Coast of Scotland (Inverclyde), there isn’t many choices. If there are some out there which you know please let me know too!
  3. Non-vegan food. Obviously Tesco et. al sell mostly non-vegan food. As a vegan I don’t like this. But, surely the more vegan food they sell the less space and demand they have for non-vegan food, the less non-vegan food they order, the less animals are killed, the less animals are bred and on and on. Tesco recently shut some meat and fish counters due to lack of demand and the new ready meals have been selling out all over the country. Just eat has seen a ridiculous rise of 987% for vegetarian food and the RSPCA says there has been a 37% rise in demand for meat alternatives. This can surely only lead to less animal death. All of those statistics are for the UK only, I’m aware in other areas of the world meat consumption is increasing, but for the UK this is great news, and I am confident this will spread. I believe people are slowly waking up to the fact that meat is bad for the planet, bad for people and I think concern for animal rights is beginning to grow.

So there it is, my opinion on tesco as a vegan. Bit of a weird one I know but worth a post I thought!

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

A blip in a long long journey

I’m now a few days into the New Year and on have officially weighed myself and as I knew I had a bit of a blip, I am up a stone exactly, taking my weight to 218 pounds. I’m still 52 down but there is no doubt I am disappointed with myself and the gain.

Since I did the 10k, and even in the run up to it I knew I was eating too much. I was focusing on completing the race, knowing I needed to fuel my body, and to be honest I think I just needed a break. Losing weight is a long ongoing process, it takes up a lot of my thoughts, I need it to, that is the only way I can ensure that I keep going in the right direction. I need to be logging everything I eat, considering every single mouthful. If I don’t I go the other way. So for three months there I didn’t go completely haywire, I still fasted a fair bit, kept an eye on what I was eating but I knew I was eating too much. That, combined with Christmas and New Year has led to the stone gain.

Looking at this from the other direction though I can be positive about this gain too. Three whole months, not quite following plan, barely exercising, then Christmas and New Year and I only gained a stone! Previously, when I’ve had an off spell all of the weight has come back and more. So gaining a stone, what is that over the course of a lifetime journey?

This week so far I have been excellent with my eating, 18 hour fasts, smoothies and a salad for my first two meals totally around 500 calories, then a large evening meal. I’m averaging 10 – 13 portions of fruit and vegetables every day, feeling full, and way less bloated. I just need to wait and see how the weight loss goes now!

Remember you can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit. Add me on any or all, I’m going to need you all during 2018 for support ?

January 2018 Progress Report February 2018 Weight Loss Report

New Years Resolutions | Word for 2018

Well another year is drawing to a close, I’m left marvelling at how 2017 passed so quickly. I already covered in my last post how I felt that 2017 was overall a success, but it is time to look to the New Year,make plans for how I want 2018 to go, an set an intentional word for 2018.

Last year when making my resolutions I purposefully steered clear of specific weight loss targets. I had lost some weight and hit some major plateaus, this year has been fairly similar. Last year I also decided to set a word for the year, and throughout times in 2017 I have tried to keep that word, Simplify, in mind. I did simplify a lot of my daily routines, food and exercise. This year, weight loss is in the forefront of my mind. I know, it’s not linear, I only have so much control over how much I can do, but I feel I’m ready to make a good long push to get off the rest. I’m around halfway, half to go, I’m sure I can do it. Therefore, my word for 2018 is Focus. I’m focusing on losing around 5 stone. It may seem a lot, I’m not sure whether my body will play ball but I’ve decided 2018 is the year when I give it my all. So, how am I going to change my behaviour to do this? Some of it is based off of what I already do, and some is taking it a little further,

Word for 2018 – Focus

Fasting

On work days I will follow 18:6, fasting for 18 hours every day, and having an eating window of 6. I will start eating at 1 pm, and finish by 7. Now I honestly don’t know whether fasting will be a massive help with weight loss but logic dictates, if I am less time to eat I should eat less. Towards the end of this year I have been fasting, but in all honesty I’ve been eating too much in the window, taking it as a time to really force food in. I’ve not gained (maybe over Christmas though!) but it’s not helped me lose. One thing about fasting though is that I feel great when I follow it, I am full of energy, generally not hungry, feel lighter and just feel good.

Whole Foods Plant Based Diet

I already “mostly” follow a whole foods plant based diet. I’m taking this a step further in 2018. I’m going to cut down drastically on oil, sugar and processed foods. My first meal of the day when fasting will be a large smoothie full of fruit and vegetables. If hungry after this I will have a salad a little later in the afternoon. In the evening I will have a fairly large, mostly plant based meal. For example Risotto, Pasta, Chilli, Curry, Stir fry, Rice and vegetables. Certain things will be staples, all green vegetables, all vegetables in general, paired with wholegrains, legumes, beans. Snacks will need to be looked at carefully, I want to start being more smart with snacks, rice cakes, things not full of sugar, not just jump to a packet of crisps. I’m still going to be loosely calorie counting and using myfitnesspal, but not to be strict with calories, more to watch my nutrition. I believe that you can really pack away lots of whole fruits and veggies without thinking too much about calories.

Goodbye Takeaways

This is going to be a huge one for me and I feel I have really sabotaged myself this year with takeaways. I am busy with work, I am out every day from 7:30 am to 6:00 pm, my husband is an awful cook, therefore it’s down to me to provide the meal every night. A lot of evenings I am feeling lazy, it’s not tiredness as such, just a desire to not be cooking. We will then get a takeaway. This is at least once a week, but usually it’s at least twice. It costs a fortune, a family of 4 is at least £30 a time, twice a week is £60, every month that is £240 and that is a really low estimate. I hate it, but for some reason I keep doing it. This is a behaviour I am going to work really hard to change. I will allow myself two lunch time takeaways a month (sandwiches/pasta/subway/possibly a burger king) and one big takeaway dinner a month, probably a Chinese. If my husband still wants them occasionally that’s fine, I’m not in control of him or his choices, but for me, and the kids, on those nights I can’t be bothered my first choice will be to pop to a supermarket and get something convenient, a tofu stir fry, sweet potatoes to pop in the microwave and have with beans, even a plant based microwave pot. I just cannot justify it any longer. Taking away the money, and the hindrance to weight loss, I always feel awful after eating them! I eat way too much, it’s full of salt and oil, yeah, they have to go.

Focus goes into more than the weight loss too, I have signed up for 2018 in 2018 with the aim again of getting rid of much of my possessions. The more I get rid of the less time I spend cleaning, that really does go hand in hand so I’m back on the bandwagon. I also want to focus on spending less and saving more. We want to go on a family holiday this year, I’d like to pay off some debt and even save a little. All of this should be possible with some cuts in some areas, re-prioritising in others.
Meditation again is something I want to keep up over the year too, it helps me in ways other things don’t, keeping me grounded, aware of the now, not so caught up in mind. I also want to keep blogging, blog more in fact, I’m going to need the support and accountability in the year ahead.

So that’s my 2018. My only tangible goal this year is 5 stone (at least) in one year. I’m putting all my focus into that and I’m going to do it.

Remember you can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit. Add me on any or all, I’m going to need you all during 2018 for support ?

New Years Resolutions/ Reflecting on 2017

Reflecting on 2017 | A Successful Year

It’s that time of year where you look back at the year that’s passed and begin to make new plans for the year ahead. I would say that 2017 for me has been a pretty good year! I got a full time graduate developer/IT job which I enjoy and I got a new car which isn’t completely falling apart, that has released a lot of anxiety and stress I used to feel.

Last year I set the word simplify as my word of 2017, along with some tangible goals which I will recap:

  • Simplify my diet/Eat more plant based
  • Simplify my exercise/Run a 10k
  • Simplify my house and routines
  • Simplify my waste/Recycle

When it comes to simplifying my diet and eating more plant based I did pretty good! The plant based simple menu I came up with in January last year was pretty much followed, nearly every single week (although we’re all a bit fed up with tomato pasta!). I definitely ate more plants, however I did feel we ate a lot more takeaways. I’m putting this down to the new job (being out of the house from 7:30 am – 6:00 pm takes its toll) and having more money. This is something I’m going to address next year.

Simplifying my exercise and running a 10k. Well that was well and truly smashed. I ran the 10k in October, never did I really think it was possible. I’ve barely ran since, weather and time, but as soon as the weather improves I’m getting back out there. I also went back to swimming and rejoined the gym for when I can actually make it.

Simplifying my house and routines was more mixed, I took part in 2017 items in 2017 and failed miserably, only getting rid of 680. However added to my 1000+ from November 2016 I think that’s not too bad. I still have a lot I want to get rid of so I’m back in for 2018 in 2018 and determined to complete it this time!

Simplifying my waste didn’t really go anywhere, I am recycling more but this is something I want to look at again.

Losing weight wasn’t a goal I set myself last year, I knew that while I was trying to lose I had to focus on other things for a while, but I’m over 20 pounds down in the year without focusing too much. That though will be different in 2018 but more on that early next week.

Overall I would say a successful year. The highlights have been getting the job and running the 10k but overall it has been good, my family are well and healthy, animals are fine (17 year old cat is still going!), I’ve met and spent time with great people old and new and I will look back on 2017 with fondness.

I also just wanted to say a massive thank you to anyone reading this! I can see from google analytics that some people are actually coming here to read what I say which is kind of scary considering I mostly talk/type rubbish, but it is really appreciated. I have been quiet on Instagram for a while, in all honesty I just needed a break from weight loss as a whole but with the New Year approaching I’m feeling re energised again and would love for anyone else on this journey (or any!) to give me a follow/send me a message.

You can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit.

I hope everyone has a lovely New Year and I will see you on the other side!

Great Scottish Run 10k

Firstly, if anyone reads my blog you have my sincerest apologies for having disappeared for the last couple of months. I have majorly struggled with time management, which in turn stresses me out, which then leads to more time management issues, it’s a circle I struggle to get out of. My whole social media interaction has been less recently, business, but in part because of the main reason for this post, I’m currently in training for the Great Scottish Run 10k.

Way back in January I made some new years resolutions and set a word for the year, simplify. My new years resolution were –

  • Simplify my diet, more plants, less processed, do this by following a simpler meal plan
  • Simplify my home and routines, get rid of 2017 things
  • Run a 10k race
  • Simplify waste, more recycling, thoughtful purchases

I would say this year I’ve done not too badly, I’ve continue to get rid of things from my home (although I will need a big push soon to reach 2017), my diet could be a little more simple, I’m still recycling but would like to do more, but one of these, possibly the hardest, I am about to put to rest. On the 1st October I’m taking part in the Great Scottish Run 10k race. Last time I was posting about running I couldn’t even do 5k. I finally completed couch to 5 k on the 29th July and promptly signed up for the 10k race on the 30th of July. Nothing like throwing yourself in the deep end!

For most of my 5k training quite honestly I struggled. I started the program three times this year, and dropped out around week 6 twice (this year, I’ve attempted couch to 5 k 5 times now). But I was determined, I knew I had committed to 10k and can’t really do that unless I can do 5 (obviously!) so I dragged myself out and it was third time lucky. And by week 7 of 9 (shout out to fellow star trek lovers) , it began to feel more comfortable. My breathing felt more in control, I could even think about things other than pain and regret of why I was doing this. I completed the program believing I could do 10k. So I signed up and jumped straight into 5k to 10k training.

This went pretty successfully, but I found I was outstripping what the program said, when I added in intervals the whole thing was harder so I just kept running. I was doing about 7 – 8 k within a week or two of the 5k. Then one day I woke up after a night of hallucinations with a temperature and a painful swollen foot. A trip to the doctor later and I discovered I had cellulitis, a nasty deep tissue infection that can turn septic quickly. After a couple of days narrowly avoiding hospital admittance, and two weeks of strong antibiotics my foot began to look normal. I had missed two and a half weeks of training however so my first run I only did 3k, and on my second run I went out with the intention of doing 5 but I felt good, and did 8.5, the most I’d ever done.

Since then I have ran a mix of 5 – 10k (Yes, I’ve actually already ran 10k!). It’s painful, but I can do it.

I do want to caveat all of this with the fact that I am very slow, very very slow. 8 – 9 minutes a km slow. However, I am still obese, so ya know, I’m not that fussed about speed at the moment, just doing it is my aim. The slowest pace that you are allowed to run as part of the race (and not on the pavement) is 12 minutes a km, so I’m well within that.

Great Scottish Run 10k Route

This is the route of the 10k, the main worry I have is about hills. I have done very little hill running although have now taken some of my runs to the very large hill behind my house, I’m hoping I’ve not left it too late. I think the crowds and atmosphere though will pull me through.

My plans for the day, arrive early, make sure my phone is charged, put on my headphones and run. As long as I make it to the end without stopping I will be happy. Ideally I want no walking, which I think I can do.

After the 10k, who knows? I think I need to focus on losing more weight before taking running much further than the 10, but I do enjoy it and have my eye on the half marathon next year. I’ve also started swimming and while being slow I’m fairly strong, maybe I’ll take up cycling and do a triathlon by the time I’m 40!

Remember you can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit. You can also now find my on Strava to follow my slow (hopefully getting faster) runs. Add me on any or all, I love new friends on all social media for support 🙂

My Approach to Social Media

This post comes off the back of a mammoth post about veganism, and specifically the damage caused by red meat to both humans and the environment, made by my husband on Facebook recently which sparked a lot of debate (and outrage from some).

My husband’s general way of using Social Media is very brash, he has no care for offending anyone, deeming offence solely with the reader. I do agree with this, however, my approach to social media is the opposite to his. Instead of not caring at all about others I worry too much that I may offend them! This is on my personal page, on my diminishing vegan page I post anything as my thoughts are that people have to go there to follow it therefore are fine with what I say.

I noticed pre any vegan related posts I used to get a lot of likes on things. Now please believe me when I say that I couldn’t care less whether lots of people “liked” what I have said. But I have noticed a sharp decline since I went vegan. My assumption is that people who I’m not that close to have unfollowed me. Of course that is people’s right to, the truth is hard to take especially from someone you went to school with in the mid 90’s and have never seen in person since. It’s easier to hide than read and think.

This correlation though between veganism and likes made me think about whether I was offending people, was I doing wrong by sharing things about veganism? I never shared any graphic content, more interesting articles and information I thought people may not know, often not even saying anything of my own.

My worry about this led to this website, my Facebook and Twitter accounts. I occasionally shared something on facebook, usually about visiting a vegan festival or the like, but I pretty much stopped sharing information. That was until I witnessed the blow up on my husband’s status. A lot of people on his status said that this was not the right way about getting your point across, but having done it the other way for a year a half I can say he got more reaction than I ever have!

So I have started sharing on my personal facebook again, I ensure as far as I can what I share is from a legitimate source, try to find academic backup, and I even give a commentary on it.

So far I’ve had one bacon joke, original eh? I’m going to keep posting. It is too important not to. Climate change has been in the news so much recently and many people don’t even know the impact their diet has on the planet. If they don’t care about animals, surely they will care about what happens to their children/grandchildren. I need to take a page out of my husbands book and just get on with it, and stop worrying about things I have no control over, it is not on me to think about the offence of every single person on my Facebook!

How much do you share on Facebook? Do you think about what others think about you?

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 🙂

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.

Apologies for my absence…| New Job

Hello to anyone reading! I can only apologise for my absence, things have been very hectic in my life in the last few weeks.

Two weeks ago I started my first graduate job. This is something I’d been trying to get since the start of the year so I’m lucky and grateful it didn’t take me that long to get, and I’m in a place with great people, where I’m going to learn a lot of new skills, doing things slightly different from my degree but familiar enough to be comfortable with. My background is with computers, computer programming, totally different from this blog. For a long time I seriously doubted my skills in this area, ridiculous considering I got very good results at University at Undergraduate and Postgraduate, I think I suffer with imposter syndrome, which is very common according to the internet.

Getting this job has been a massive step forward for me, even attending interviews and attempting to speak about my skills was a huge hurdle. I think the hardest bit was getting my head around the fact that I could actually manage a professional job, I just didn’t believe it for a long time. It has also led to a shift in my whole lifestyle. I’m no longer available to pick the kids up from school, I’m not at home during the day, I’m adjusting to having less free time.

There is another side to this too though, I’m actually beginning to believe in myself. I am gradually realising that I’m perfectly fine at what I’m doing, yes, I am needing to learn a lot of new skills but surely this can only be a good thing in the long term. It is expanding my knowledge, that in the future can be used, and I actually love learning. I’m interacting with new people daily, and I love meeting new people. And the obvious benefit to working, having more money.

I know, I consider myself a minimalist (of some version), and I will not be rushing out to start going mad with consumerism. But there are some things in life that require money, for example a car that actually works, or holidays. These are things that I’ve just not been in a position to think about, but now I will be, and I believe our family life while being different is going to improve.

So again, I apologise for my quietness, things are changing in my life, it is on a different trajectory, but that doesn’t change that I’m still me, a vegan trying to lose weight. I will be trying to post more regularly from now, so hang with me please!

Remember you can find me on facebook, twitter, instagram, my fitness pal and fitbit, feel free to follow and interact with me on any or all.

 

Finally Making Progress? | February 2017 Update

February 2017 Update

I’ve decided I’m going to do some monthly updates, previously when I was following slimming world I was doing a weekly food diary but it takes up quite a lot of time and my diary is visible on my fitness pal, so you can check it out there.

It’s one week since I managed to get over that 50 pound wall that I had been stuck behind for so flipping long, and I’ve lost another pound this week taking me to 51.5. I believe this is it, I’m not sure why but I have good feelings about the future and my weight loss goals. I feel this week my relationship with food has began to change, I’m not thinking about it so much, one day this week I even had a massive bag of crisps (these bad boys at 470 calories a big bag) for lunch. Now I know, I don’t want to fall into the unhealthy eating trap. But I also know that I can get so focused on what I’m eating and when, it becomes overwhelming. Then, when I fail to drop even a measly half a pound I get really annoyed, which often ends up with me eating more. And the circle continues.

But this week things have been a little different, I’ve stayed within my calorie amount but I’ve eaten a little differently. Nothing awful, but I’ve just not thought about it as much. And I think as a result this past week has been quite successful, and I’ve lost another pound.

Additionally this week I dug out some old clothes, jeans and a top I remember wearing to my first day of uni back in September 2012, I’m pretty sure they didn’t fit me anymore by the start of next year. But I am pleased to say I wore them all day on Friday, and dare I say it the top was maybe even a little big?

I also took measurements for the first time in about 6 weeks and I’ve lost another 3 inches, one from under my bust, one from my waist and one from my hips. After comparing with my starting measurements  back in May of 2015 I have actually lost 7 inches from my waist! 7 inches! I held the measuring tape out around me at what my waist used to be and I was shocked! I often feel like there isn’t much difference in me physically but that proved me wrong, there absolutely must be. 24.5 inches all over is the difference in me. I also weighed my dog, I’ve lost 2.5 of him, and 2/3 of my daughter, you get the picture, I’m pleased to get over that hurdle!

Anyway, I’m not going to get complacent, but I have a feeling that now things are moving again they may keep going. I had a year there of maintaining, gaining a bit of it back and then losing it again, and I stuck it out, didn’t go back to my original weight or more, so I feel this has been a victory. I’m looking forward to seeing what the next few months hold!

50 Pounds Lost | Weight Loss Milestone

First of all, I’m sorry for my absence of late, I have been trying to get a graduate job in the real world and it is taking up a lot of time, applications, interviews, then preparing, it’s constant, hopefully it will pay off soon.

I have reached what I feel is a monumental point in my weight loss journey. I have (finally!) reached 50 pounds lost. This is a milestone I have been trying to reach for nearly a year and honestly for a long time I’ve worried I would be forever destined to reach 49 then gain weight again. Why oh why has 50 been so hard?

Last year, last May I reached 49 pounds lost, weeks (months) of trying and failing to get that ONE EXTRA POUND left me frustrated. Is it a mental block? Do I start self sabotaging when I reach a milestone such as 50? It’s difficult for me to know, but whatever the reason is it drew my weight loss efforts to a halt.

My weight eventually began to climb again by around 18 pounds (aided by too many lazy takeaways). Aware I was entering dangerous “gain it all back and more” territory I joined Slimming World hoping the public weighting would stem the tide and get me off the bad eating. It worked, I got back down to 49 (then left slimming world due to frustrations over the plan itself), and on Saturday 18th February I reached 50 pounds lost, not just 50, it was actually 50.5. The relief I felt, it was immense. It’s funny, because I still have 80 to go to my target weight of 10 stone but for some reason this one pound has been harder than the previous 50.

I’m not going to focus on why it’s been such a struggle, who knows what’s going on my head, but I’ve made it through it and now I’m focusing on one day at a time. Calorie Counting has been going well on My Fitness Pal, so I’ll keep that up and see what the future holds, hopefully reaching my target weight sometime in my lifetime!

Remember you can find me on My Fitness Pal, Fitbit, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, feel free to reach out and let me know how you manage to get through those hard points in weight loss.

Thoughts on Calorie Counting

As I stated in my previous post earlier this week, I’m firmly back on the weight loss wagon. A large part of this has been due to stopping following slimming world and going back to my fitness pal and calorie counting. Now I really don’t want this post to come across as a major moan-fest at slimming world (or other weight loss clubs), they work for some people, although I do question the long term success of them. But there are some parts of slimming world specifically that I really question, not only for vegans, but for everyone.

Logic dictates to me that the most straightforward way of losing weight is to count calories, ultimately our bodies burn calories, and we take calories in via food, so therefore if you want to lose weight you should eat less calories than you burn, calorie counting. There are other things to be considered, what you are eating, how that will impact your health, but ultimately, for weight loss, a calorie is a calorie is a calorie. That is why I love my fitness pal. It’s free, it has a massive catalogue of foods, it shows not only calories but nutrition, exercise, and it is a social network.

I grew up watching my mum count calories, I remember she had a book she kept in the kitchen that had the calorie content of many foods in it, I remember her looking at it regularly, I also used to study it. She was never that big, never as overweight as I was, in fact in her youth she was the opposite, but after having me, and settling into life as a mother the weight crept on. Her first thought was counting calories. She spent most of her adult life a little overweight, but not much. That is not to say her diet was healthy, it wasn’t, she added salt to everything, barely touched a vegetable, ate chicken every single day (for pretty much every single meal). She suffered high blood pressure, and died of a heart attack in the end, whether this was to do with her diet I have no idea, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a correlation.

Back to slimming world, their rules about being able to eat lots of food things freely (until full), there is something about this that just sounds too good to be true. Vegetables (excluding potatoes and some other root vegetables) are very light on calories, so those I can understand, and some fruits also. These are the “speed” options, that speed up your weight loss (this also doesn’t make sense, surely the only thing that can really speed up your weight loss is eating less?), now these are all good for you, but totally freely, nothing is good for you. It’s possible to overeat anything.

Next we move onto free foods, as the name dictates these are also free (as long as you are eating a lot of speed foods too). Free foods – pasta, potatoes, rice, lean meat (including bacon!). These (minus the meat obviously) are a big part of my problem, when I hear the word free attached to these it’s like a field day. Rice, Pasta, Potatoes! I love these! Eating these freely is a no-no for me sadly(and I guess many other people). I’m just not capable of stopping myself, I have a problem telling when I’m actually full.

Healthy extras, it’s good they encourage people to eat wholegrains, dairy I disagree with, and barely any vegan dairy substitutes count so I would pretty much always not have a Healthy Extra A. Plus Hi-Fi bars are counted as a healthy extra? Isn’t that a surprise, considering they are overpriced slimming world food only available at slimming world groups? And what’s even in them? How on earth can they be deemed a “Healthy Extra?!”

Syns, these annoy me. I know, it stands for synergy, but lets face it, no one thinks of that. We all think we are sinning when we eat these foods. The things that require syns are just madness. People can pretty much freely stuff their faces with muller lights, but an avocado is 9.5 syns (out of 15 per day), I know, I know, it has fat in it, there are such things as good fats, and unless you are eating multiple avocados I think the odd one is fine, even when calorie counting you would need to watch how many you eat.

Or a smoothie, with the same amount of fruit that you would usually eat is at least 5 syns (because fibre/fullness/other nonsense reasons). So much vegan stuff has high syns, take morrisons vegan sausages, 2 syns each. Now I’m not saying they are a perfect diet choice, but you compare them with syn free (so you can literally eat as many as you want) slimming world pork sausages and morrisons meat free have less saturated fat and more fibre, I personally just don’t think the syn value is justified. This is just one example, when following slimming world I found many of my syns had to go on my meals, rather than any kind of “treat”, which actually lead to me feeling a little deprived, especially after sitting in group and listening to everyone else talk about all this food that was free/very low syns, all of it not vegan.

Now, my ultimate aim is to reach a healthy weight, stop calorie counting, eat mainly plants and enjoy life, but at this point in time I need to track what is coming in. I still have a lot of weight loss to go, and this, “eat however much you want, until your full” just isn’t right for me. I also think that over the long term it’s not a good lesson for people, a few people I know who have lost large amounts of weight with slimming world have all put it back on (and more). Teaching people you can eat all of this food freely, I think could lead people back down the weight gain path. I’m no expert though, this is all my own ponderings. I know, weight loss is hard, I find it so hard myself, but I’m just not sure slimming world (or other meal plans/weight loss groups) is the right way about it, for me at least.

All of this is my own opinion of course, and if slimming world (or other weight loss groups) work for other people, then I’m happy for them! The most important thing is that people are getting healthier and losing weight. However I don’t think encouraging people to eat meat/eggs freely is healthy, and I believe calorie counting combined with eating mostly plants is the healthiest way to do it.

If you use my fitness pal you can find me here, feel free to add me, I’m also on fitbit, facebook, twitter and instagram, let me know what you agree or disagree with!

Why I get up at 5 am | Early Rising

5 am

If anyone had suggested to me when I was younger that not too far in the future I would firmly believe 5 am is the best time to start your day, I would have laughed my head off. I was always an early riser, but 5 am was still the day before in my mind. 7 was acceptable, 6 was early, 5…madness.

But every day, my alarm is set for 5:02 am, that includes weekends (mostly). Why I hear you ask? There are a few reasons for me but I suppose if I was breaking it into three distinct areas, they would be as follows, peace and quiet, self reflection, routine.

Peace and Quiet

The world can be a busy, loud place. I live on a main road, it’s got cars on it at all times, a lot of cars. All day long I hear them in the background going past. When you get up at 5 am, you can hear the birds. There are cars too, but a lot less than during the later hours of the morning. In addition to being quieter externally, it is also quiet in my house. When I get up it’s just me and my cat and dog. I feed them, give them some attention, they wander around after me, happy to see someone else up. The kids and my husband are asleep. I love this time for that reason. I grew up an only child and really cherish alone time. Getting up at 5 am allows me to have this.

Self Reflection

What I do at 5 am differs depending on what day it is, but there is always an element of self reflection, and self improvement. Every day I meditate for at least 5 minutes, more if I have time. At the moment I’m using the free app insight timer, this has many different types of meditation, to music, nature, my favourite though at this time are guided, I find hearing the voice lead me keeps me on track. Currently I am meditating to forgiveness based meditations, but I have followed anxiety, self esteem and many other types. Starting my day with meditation is a beautiful and calming start to the day. Next up my day branches depending on later plans although I will usually have coffee at this point. I may include journalling, I try to do this daily, although sometimes if I can’t fit it in during the morning I do this at night. I also have a book of ideas to write about, to aid creativity, I find this a fun addition to my days, and do it at least 5 out of 7. I also write blog posts in the morning, scheduling them for later publishing. I may also do some yoga, especially when it’s a nice clear morning and the sun is rising.

Again, depending on the day, I leave to go to the gym around 5:45 am for a 6 am opening. On days I don’t go to the gym I take my dog out for a walk around 6 am. It is important for me to get exercise in early, it means that I can get on with the day and know I have done some activity.

Routine

Routine for me is really the underlying reason and motivation for getting up early. I have suffered with depression on and off for many years, and if I have a good, healthy routine, diet, and exercise included, this generally keeps it at bay. Getting up early gives me the chance to combine work on me, and peace and quiet, so it’s a win win. Getting up early allows for me to think about my day, and what I would like it to be about, setting an intention for myself, which I find very helpful.

One thing that does suffer as a result of getting up so early is my ability to stay up late at night, although I was never a night owl, now I like to be in bed for around 10, and I have a marvellous knack of being able to fall asleep in seconds. I usually get around 6.5 to 7.5 hours sleep, this may seem a little low but over the years I seem to have settled on this being sufficient, if I’m any under 6.5 I begin to feel a little tired, but anywhere in my 6.5 to 7.5 window and I’m great, no tiredness throughout the day. Sleep is so important, there is no point getting up at 5 am if you aren’t going to sleep until midnight. For me, those morning hours are more important and useful than the night time ones, where I would generally be sitting about watching TV, or eating!

There is a podcast I listen to that is really big advocate of early rising, plus he is also vegan, so definitely worth a listen, the 5 am miracle by Jeff Sanders, he is one of the most positive people I have listened to, his energy is really inspiring, so if you are looking for some motivation to get up early, or some productivity tips in general, I definitely recommend checking him out. What time do you get up? Do you have any other routines you would like to share? Feel free to comment on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

Zombies Run | Weight Loss Apps

Zombies Run! is an app that I have been using now for over a year. It’s main aim  is the gamaification of exercise, specifically, but not limited to running.

Zombies Run is a story, a funny, emotional, surprising, and very enjoyable story. You take the role of the voiceless runner 5, one of a group of people who carry out tasks for your township, Abel. It’s the zombie apocalypse,  and with very little transport, some of the most important people are the runners, who risk life and limb to carry out tasks, investigate, travel to other townships, pretty much anything you can imagine.

One of the best points of this game is the story telling, there is quality there, there are ongoing characters, one of the main ones being Sam Yao, your operator (the person who speaks to you and controls your runs over headset). Janine De Luca, the military head of Abel Township, Maxine Myers, the doctor of Abel and many more. The story is very entertaining, it is ongoing, spans over 5 seasons with many hours of content.

Zombies Run Abel Township

In addition to the story, there is also a game within the game, the building of abel township, it is a little like the sims, but you earn materials to rebuild with by carrying out the missions. Although this is a neat little addition, nothing much really happens in it other thaZombies Run Mission Logn a drive to keep adding more buildings/people/get contentment as high as possible. They still regularly update the app though so may do something more here.

You can view stats of all of your past missions, as you can see I have played the game for quite a long time now! Unfortunately, for most of that I have been walking, running is something I am only recently beginning to take seriously, however, it is also fine to walk it, I have spent many many an hour (or day when it’s all added up) out speed walking with the dog listening to zombies run.

Zombies Run Previous Missions Zombies Run Mission Types

There are different types of mission available also, not just in the direct story. You can take part in air drops which means you specify a location on your map that you want to go to, and the mission will use your GPS to track when you get there, and build itself around your location. There are supply missions which get you materials to help build Abel, but you don’t need to continue the story for example.

Each mission you do is logged and stored. You can choose how to track your mission before you start, if you are outside this could be using gps, but there is also a treadmill step counter mode and a constant speed mode which simulates running if you were using a rowing machine for example. You can also allow chases, which occur at random intervals and require you to speed up for a certain amount of time, if caught you lose materials.

Zombies Run Stats

Fairly recently the makers have also added additional global races, these cost extra money to enter however you receive memorabilia from the game, medals, certificates, even T-shirts, and you get your name on the global leaderboards. These races are usually 5k or 10k, and you have to take part within a certain time frame to be ranked. I took part in the first one but as I was walking I was away down the list, I would definitely take part in another. I wear my zombies run t-shirt proudly to the gym, and use zombies run alongside couch to 5k for my treadmill runs. Zombies run integrates seamlessly with google play music (what I use for music), but many other music apps, it will interrupt and pause your music to play the next part of the story. You can also set it so that it only comes on inbetween songs, there is a lot of settings for you to choose from.

Overall, Zombies Run is a fun app if you are looking for something a little different to motivate your exercise. It costs £2.30 per month to subscribe and I definitely think if you are using it regularly it is worth every penny. It’s easy to subscribe and unsubscribe as and when you are using it too, so you can use it for a while, drop out, come back etc, all of your progress is saved and it’s straight forward to pick it up. It is available for Android and App here, they also have books, a board game and other cool things available for fans. Additionally, they have a 5k training app, this is a separate app from the main game so I’m not covering that here, but it may be worth checking out.

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