The Diminishing Vegan

Veganism and Weight Loss

Category: Personal (Page 1 of 2)

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.

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.

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

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.

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!

PMDD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Emotional experiences:

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

Physical and behavioural experiences:

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

 

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

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

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

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

PMDD

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

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

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

pmdd

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

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

sober clubbing

Sober Clubbing Glasgow | Bad Alcohol

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

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

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

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

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

sober clubbing

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

sober clubbing

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

sober clubbing

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

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

 

Hurtful Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bad weekend…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Race for Life | 5k

I’m taking part in the Race for Life in Irvine in June later this year and while it is just a 5k and I have no doubts I can run the length of it the main thing that is worrying me is my speed, or lack thereof. I am running it with 4 lovely other ladies from work including the owner of the business, and it’s safe to say they are all significantly smaller (and fitter!) than me, although I believe I run the most out of everyone.

Part of my aim with focusing on losing weight is that it will help me speed up, I’m still so slow, between 7:30 – 8 minutes a km, taking around 40 minutes for a 5k. My aim is to cut this down to around 30 minutes for a 5k before June, although I have no idea whether that is realistic or not! It seems quite a big jump, and I’m not sure how to start making gains with my speed.

I’m giving myself until mid April (around two months to go) before I really start making an attempt to get my speed up, that gives me around another month to lose weight while running normally, then two months to focus on speed, I just don’t want to embarass myself! (Plus it would be nice if I could run a bit faster, especially if I’m considering a half marathon later in the year)

You can sponsor me here although that is totally not needed. I actually feel a bit cringey even posting the link, but it is for a good cause! Plus this may be good training for something a little longer later in the year.

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 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!

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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!

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 🙂

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.

 

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!

Minimalism in 2017 | Simplify for 2017

In the spirit of my word of the year, simplify, this post lays out what I am doing regarding minimalism in 2017. As I’ve previously covered, my desire to move towards a minimalist life is driven by a few desires, one of these is using less time to clean, organise and generally think about my house, plus to cut down on the stress associated with it.

My scenario a few months ago, I was tired, swimming uphill, my house was always messy, not the end of the world messy, but messy enough for me to look about daily and inwardly say “Why is it like this? How do I spend so long tidying and it never gets any better?” The door would knock, my heart would pound, I have fairly bad anxiety attached to the house and other people, and the door knocking would send me into an inward frenzy. Don’t get me wrong, it was never awful, but the untidiness added to my anxiety meant it was bad enough for me to know I had to do something about it. I had implemented many cleaning routine, a timer, flylady, the app unfuck your habitat, breaking every task into a time limit and doing one hour a day, every day, massive weekend cleans, roping in the kids, I had tried pretty much everything, nothing worked. My house was still messy.

Why did nothing work? Because even with my good intentions, I had too much stuff. It is impossible to keep your house tidy and clean with too much stuff (unless you are willing to spend many hours doing this, which I wasn’t, and even then I think it’s impossible really). I would spend all my time moving things back to their “place” and when I got there the place was usually full, so the offending item would pile on top of other offending items. Cleaning? The surface cleaning happened with regularity, but when you have so much stuff, deep cleaning is once in a blue moon.

Having toyed with minimalism previously, and having got rid of a lot of stuff before I still hadn’t made much headway, it always seemed to creep back in somehow.

So last year I took part in the minsgame, I got rid of over 1500 items. To the normal house this may leave you in an oasis of calm and emptiness. Not to my house! It’s still full, granted a lot less full than it was previously. I actually managed to get through Christmas and New Year without household chaos, and keep the place reasonably clean and tidy. We also bought the kids a lot less this year, my son an xbox and daughter a starter laptop, but not loads of small, space consuming presents. My husband, not full on board, said on Christmas Eve, there is no big things, we should have got big things. He felt uncomfortable with the amount there was there, I felt joy. Glad I had made it to Christmas without caving. The kids were over the moon with what they got. Everything has been used, nothing discarded in the living room.

So overall it was a good Christmas season, I am evaluating every single object that comes into our house, and I’m back on the getting rid train.

For 2017 I have joined a facebook group of lovely supportive people called 2017 in 2017. The aim, as the name suggests is to get rid of 2017 items in 2017. I’m pretty sure I can manage considering I got rid of 1500 in November 2016, however this 2017 is going to be considerably harder! I have tied it into a new round of the minsgame for January, giving me a fairly slow start. Some people in the group have already got rid of hundreds of things, myself I have got rid of 10 (1 + 2 + 3 + 4). I will keep going though with my quest to minimalism. It’s worth it. My cleaning time is already far lower than it was and I’ve implemented a new cleaning routine I’ve now followed for a month, and my house (and head) is thanking me for it. We even had a friend over the other day and all it took was a 15 minute going over.

That’s minimalism in 2017 for me, a simple goal, rid myself of 2017 items. Continue to clean my house. Be happy and spend more time on the important stuff. If you think you’d like to join in, please join the facebook group and use the hashtag #2017in2017out on social media.

New Years Resolutions/ Reflecting on 2017

New Years Resolutions | Word for 2017

New Years Resolutions and my Word of 2017

The Christmas season is drawing to an end, and for me this year it has been a good one. I missed my mum and dad a lot this year, my mother in law couldn’t make it over due to illness so it was just myself, husband and kids, which made not having my mum and dad a little more raw I think, but despite that we still had a great time, completely overindulged and enjoyed the period. For New Years Eve we stayed overnight at friends, they have a little girl, so we took our kids and dog too. Said friend made a delicious meal, some of which was especially vegan, which was much appreciated!

While we had a lovely time, I’m glad for some normality to return. I do usually make some New Years Resolutions, but its 50/50 whether I manage to finish them, although I believe in the past I have made them a little open ended, which doesn’t help with completion. Really, you must aim for a finish point to be able to say you succeeded. (Last year my daughters was to go through an automatic car wash for example, very random but we completed it in the Summer).

For 2017 I have decided to use a word I would like to motivate my year, and additionally i have two completable new years resolutions which tie together a lot of other areas I would like to focus on.

My word for 2017 is Simplify.

Simplifying for me means making changes in my life to cut out unecessary thinking, decisions and time. I feel I spend too much time thinking, and doing tasks and jobs that with a little work could be cut significantly, leaving time and thought process for more important areas of my life, that I would like to succeed in.

Simplifying my diet is my number one simplifcation. I’m moving to a more plant based whole foods vegan approach. Less processed food, less oil, less bread, less sugar, more whole plants, fruits, legumes, wholegrains. I love big portions and food in general, but big portions only work when food is low in calories, big portions of processed, sugary, salty food makes me (and I’d imagine others) gain weight. I love vegetables, I feel food when I eat them, so that’s what I’m going to do. I doubt I’ll be perfect, but losing weight is a massive priority for me, and I think moving to whole foods will be an amazing step in the right direction.

Simplifying exercise comes in next but is also tied to diet. One of my new years resolutions is to run a 10k race. This is a resolution that can be gained with work, it has an end point. Simplifying my exercise for me means a focus on walking and running, and not overthinking it too much, just to get out and do it. Even if it’s a walk/jog. I have my gym membership but I’ve not used it enough, so fitting in the gym and treadmill are on my list of priorities.

Simplifying my house and household routines via minimalism is very important to me. I took a huge step last year getting rid of over 1500 things in November that I didn’t need or use, but I still have a long way to go until I reach a level I am happy with. My cleaning routine is faster now than it ever has been, and additionally, my house looks cleaner than it ever has. Funny how those things tie together. There is still a way to go though. For January I am back on the minsgame challenge, but for the year as a whole I have joined a facebook group to help me reach New Years Resolution number two, get rid of 2017 things in 2017. I don’t expect this to be too hard, and I would like to have it done well before the end of next year, but I think 2017 will be the year where I start to really put my money where my mouth is, and take minimalism seriously. We had successes at Christmas, our kids still got many Christmas presents, but less than previous years, and they were over the moon with what they go. They have used what they got, there isn’t endless piles of pointless stuff still lying around the living room. I know stuff is not the answer.

Additionally, and I guess tying in to the last simplify, I would like to simplify my waste. I can’t see me reaching the dizzying heights of zero waste any time soon, but waste is bad for the planet. I’m already doing a good job on the planetary front with veganism, but another area in my life I am interested in targeting is waste reduction. I recycle already, but could recycle more. I am looking for shops in the area where you can buy with less packaging, and if eating whole foods there will be less anyway. Additionally, I am looking into composting leftovers indoors, I don’t have a garden sadly, but that shouldn’t stop me.

There are many other things I am looking to continue throughout the year, bullet journalling, blogging, meditation and yoga, these all help me keep a healthy mind. I also have big changes on the horizon, I am in the early stages of setting up a new education business, this will require much concentration and work, and a large part of simplifying other areas of my life is so that I can give my business the focussed time it needs without many other distractions. I know the new business is massively important, but I need to clear space in my head (and home) to give it the time it deserves. Simplification does this.

So there are my aims for the year, run a 10k, get rid of 2017 things and simplify. What are your aims for the year? I’d love to hear on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

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