Well, it’s been a while since I blogged with regularity, so I guess it is time for an update. I have been working from home for approaching 7 months, and I am incredibly grateful to still have a job as so many people don’t. Coronavirus really has changed life, but I have always been a homebody, so it’s not all bad for me, we are all healthy and doing okay. I’m glad we have the garden though.
Category: Life (Page 1 of 5)
I thought I would do a post with my current routine during this lockdown during coronavirus, and my efforts to not gain/lose weight (which isn’t doing great so far!)
We are currently in lockdown, only allowed to leave the house for strict reasons,
- Essential shopping
- One set of exercise with your family group or at least 2m apart from others
- Urgent Medical Appointments
- To and from work if required, but should only be essential
I have been working from home since the 13th March so have settled into it, but I am struggling a bit. I am good at logging in at start time, taking a break at lunch time and finishing at end time, but working in the same room all day as you usually relax in does make it a little more difficult to relax.
I am still getting up early, around 5:30 am. When I wake up I am meditating using the Waking Up app by Sam Harris. I was finding that my mind was running at a million miles per hour, and I wasn’t really aware of it, so I have introduced morning meditations and it seems to be helping. First morning I could barely stop thinking, but this is improving and I find during the day I am a little more mellow.
This is followed by either going for a short run, followed by my cooldown being a short dog walk, or a long dog walk in the morning. I haven’t been regularly exercising for a while, so the run is tough but I am trying to build up and just ensure I am getting outside for a bit. I’m currently fasting for around 18 hours. No breakfast for me, but I make it for everyone else in the morning before work.
Just before work starts I plan what my daughter will do that day with her school work. We are using a mix of work provided by the school, additional resources such as BBC Bitesize and Khan Academy, and time spent playing her musical instrument. She is pretty self motivated and just gets on with it unless she runs into any issues.
At lunch I get off my laptop for the whole hour. I have been doing some jobs in or for the garden at lunch time. My kitchen is currently looking like a makeshift greenhouse with seed trays everywhere. I will do a longer post about my garden and growing ambitions at some point soon (once things start growing!).
I’m then back on work for a few hours. After work I do some cleaning while making dinner. Meals have been not too different from usual, although some supplies are beginning to run low and seem to not be getting restocked in our nearest supermarket.
This week I am going to add in some kind of home body weight workout I can do with my daughter, squats, pushups for example. It is so important to keep moving during this time, I find it much harder to be strict with food while at home so much, so I need to keep my calorie burn up as much as possible.
I’m not losing weight at the moment, I’m probably eating too much, but every day I do try. I’m still using my fitness pal, meal prepping, making the usual meals, but here and there an occasional vegan cheese and pickle toastie may pop in my mouth, or vegan shortbread which I have the best recipe for (coming up soon!)
I’m going to the shops twice a week at the moment, the big shop is at the weekend, either early on Saturday or Sunday morning, and once midweek for bread and any other essentials. My logic of going at this time is that it is quiet, and hopefully they are restocked, however, for staples like pasta/rice, I’ve not been able to buy these for 3 weeks. Thankfully I had a couple of bags, and we have had some potato based meals to spread out the use of the things I can’t get. Also I am having cous cous with my lunch instead of rice as this is still available.
My weekends are being spent again, in the garden, or doing home related jobs (of which I have many). I’m also trying to include our daughter in these just to keep her occupied. This time is not easy, certainly not as easy as I expected it to be. Working from home has now got a little tiring, trips to the supermarket are paranoia filled, the news updates are terrifying. There is nothing we can do other than stay at home if you can, and if not try to stay physically away from other people. There are plenty of things I am grateful for, having a job that enables me to be able to work from home so I keep getting paid, our health, our house, there are many people in an awful position at the moment all over the world and I feel terribly sorry for them, so even through this I try to remember what I am grateful for.
Well this is not a post I thought I would be making. When, right at the end of 2019, news came out of china of a new virus, the coronavirus that was spreading, I didn’t seriously think that less than 3 months later, the entire UK would be in lock down, schools would be shut, I would be working from home and that numbers of people infected would be rising daily.
There are a few things that strike me during this time of crisis, and one major one is the difference in people’s attitudes. As of the 23rd March we are under an unofficial lockdown. We are only allowed outside of the house for very specific reasons. This has moved on from when I started writing this post just a few days ago where the scientific expert advice is that we were practising social distancing. All non-essential businesses are now closed, including clothes and electronics shops, pubs, nightclubs, libraries, cinemas, gyms, many restaurants/takeaways. Laws have been relaxed allowing many restaurants have changed to takeaways so that they can continue to generate some revenue but many have shut, including chains like McDonalds, KFC, and Greggs. There are a limited number of shops open now, we are only allowed out of the house for essential shopping, one period of exercise per day alone or with household members, emergency medical care or to go to essential jobs.
Even with all of this, there are still some people claiming this reaction to the Coronavirus is an overreaction, that they will be fine, we don’t need to worry, the flu kills more people (a whataboutism argument that just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny). These people flaunt the rules, there was a pub open locally at the weekend full of people. It was eventually shut, but this is ridiculous. I know people personally who had their elderly relatives over to visit for mothers day, when these people are the highest risk. The weather at the weekend was nice, and thousands flocked to the coast, mingling certainly less than 2 metres away from each other. The introduction of fines for disobeying the rules may curb this behaviour, but I worry they will need to make the lockdown even more stringent
The economy is facing one of it’s toughest times, countless people are losing jobs, businesses are going under. The government has announced a huge input of money into the economy, for people and businesses to try and keep them afloat.
Schools have shut and more than likely will not open until after the summer holidays. Exams are cancelled, only the children of key workers such as NHS staff are allowed to return to ensure they can still go to work.
When we were in Amsterdam in January, I remember watching the news in the hotel, and thinking about that the Netherlands had no confirmed cases of the Coronavirus, but considering whether the airport was safe. I saw a girl with a mask on and I was shocked for a second, but it seemed to sink in that something was happening.
Now, a few months on, it feels as though the world has changed. Everywhere is affected. Deaths are still fairly low (currently just over 17,000 worldwide, only 10,000 when I started writing this two days ago), but expected to rise exponentially. This seems unreal at the moment, like we are in a dream, or a simulation.
Now, as I mentioned, attitudes differ. I stand on the side of believing the scientists, they have no reason to lie. Governments have agendas, all politicians have an agenda and the current leadership in the UK is not who I chose, but scientists speak in facts and figures, and as someone who works with software and with computers, I appreciate facts and figures.
For our family, we are following the lockdown to the best of our capabilities. Limited trips to the shops for essential food shopping, washing hands before and after. No non essential travel, I go for a run and walk the dog before most of the neighbourhood has woke up. We are both working from home, supervising our daughters school work the best that we can.
My plea for anyone reading this is to stay at home. This virus is deadly for a number of reasons. This article explains the reason why the lockdown will work in the long term to save lives and is definitely worth a read. Another good article that describes how the virus works, why it kills people and generally the scientific background can be found here. There may be a time to discuss the suspected theory that the virus made the jump from a bat to humans at a Chinese Wet Market, or that the global lockdown is reducing our greenhouse gas output, but now isn’t that time.
Please everybody, stay safe, stay at home if you can. Don’t panic buy, wash your hands, follow the scientific advice and hopefully we make it to the other side.
This past month has been a world of chaos. Never mind losing weight, I have had one of those runs of bad luck where everything has gone wrong at once. I posted a little about this on Instagram, but I’ve been either too busy, or too emotional to post. Even getting through the basics of life at times this month has been difficult.
The first and most traumatic event was that my beautiful old cat suddenly got very sick. She had gradually been going off her food but I thought she was just getting a little fussy in her old age, however one morning we got up and she couldn’t use her back legs. We rushed her to the vets and were told she had a sudden onset of Chronic Kidney Disease. I nursed her through a extra month, with a subcutaneous drip daily, special medicine to make her eat, antibiotics, steroids, you name it. Unfortunately we reached a point where she was completely refusing food, and the drip wasn’t helping at all, so we had to make the difficult decision to have her put to sleep. This was on the 7th March, and I really struggled for the first few days to accept what had happened. The fact it had been my decision really upset me, I was plagued with continual thoughts of, could I have done more?
I had Shelly for 19 and a half years, I picked her up when I was 17 years old, and she was only 7 weeks. Over half of my lifetime later and life without her seems something I can almost not fathom. She was my trusted and loving companion through so much, my parents dying, meeting thomas, my children being born, so many house moves, job changes, being a student, pretty much my entire adult life. I am adjusting now, but I still look at her little spot every single time I come up the stairs, and inside I sigh. I know there was no option, and this is the quandry of all pet owners. I’m grateful though for having such a long time with her, and I will miss her dreadfully.
On top of losing my gorgeous girl,
- My washing machine broke
- A leak was caused by new washing machine, plumber had to come out
- Cooker element broke
- Electrician pointed out that our fuse board is dangerously old so have arranged for this to be replaced
- Car broke at the house and had to get it towed
- Had to go into the garage for a relatively expensive fix
- A family member has had some ongoing, worrying health issues
At one point in the month I could have just screamed. I felt so run down, a lot of that was probably attributed to the internal knowledge that Shelly didn’t have long left. Things were finally beginning to settle down until Covid-19 came along to remind me that all of these problems are passing, and sometimes there are bigger worried to think about.
Myself and my husband are lucky as we both work jobs which enable us to work from home in this time of crisis. I feel incredibly sorry for those who can’t, all areas, but the fear of those working in healthcare, I can’t even begin to imagine.
On the weight loss front, things have pretty much been a wash out. I have been eating pretty well, counting calories, having a mostly whole foods plant based diet but I still don’t lose weight. When I hear people say you don’t need to count calories on a whole foods plant based diet it makes me angry. This may be right for some people, those have recently switched from a standard junk food diet, but for me, after years of eating mostly plants, it’s just not enough.
So I come to two conclusions being the solution. I can either severely cut my calories, and eat the same amount of meals, trying to frontload the day, or I can go back to intermittent fasting. Recently I have made the decision to move towards intermittent fasting. Doing this during the week gives me a little more wiggle room with calories. In all honest, I get so frustrated and just think will I ever get to a healthy weight?
Anyway, I’m going to keep trying, but for the next few weeks I would imagine anyone in the world reading this will be trying to remain isolated. This coronavirus is incredibly worrying. I’m not in the danger age group, and I know it doesn’t affect children as badly, but you can’t help but worry that it is your bad luck to be the one in the tiny percent that is affected by this. I’ll do a post relating to the corona virus later this week, but keep safe everyone!
Myself and my husband have been to the Netherlands a couple of times now and we have just loved it, the architecture, the food, the people, the public transport, everything is amazing. We loved it so much that six months ago we decided to start learning Dutch using duolingo. We’d been looking for a language to learn for a while, and thought why not go for Dutch?
We also decided to book a long weekend away in January, to give us something to look forward to in the bleakest of months, so went to Amsterdam and this is my review of the food here.
Amsterdam is one of the most vegan friendly cities I have visisted, there are so many places on the Happy Cow app it is almost difficult to decide where go to.
Maoz – Vegan Falafel Chain
In europe, all of the places we have visited, there seems to be a lot more falafel available. I’m not speaking your standard lunch falafel wrap here, these are freshly made, fried falafel that I have struggled to find in Scotland (shout out to Turquoise here in Glasgow as they come pretty close!)
Maoz is a chain of falafel based fast food options, I have seen three in Amsterdam at least, and I wish so much they would come to the UK! The main choice is a falafel pitta, they also do salad boxes, and have a large array of salad toppings for your pitta. They have lots of sauces too, and everything I’ve had out of here has just been delicious. They also do fries that are crispy and tasty.
Vegan Junk Food Bar
This is another chain, I’ve seen at least two of these in the city centre of Amsterdam. They have a large menu of junk food, everything is vegan, and again, everything I’ve tried out of here in the past few visits has been delicious. I couldn’t eat it every day, it is definitely under the junk food category, but when you are really hungry it hits the spot! The Bitterballen are amazing!
Willerton Vegan Cheese Shop
After reading an article about a British expat who had moved to Amsterdam and opened a vegan cheese shop, we decided to go visit while in Amsterdam.
They have a variety of cheeses, some made by themselves and more made by some third party companies. We tried a few different options (all of which were delicious!) but settled on an Apricot Cumin and , a hickory smoked and the cheese fondue.
We ate these with crackers over the next few days in the hotel and I could have eaten double. All of the cheeses were delicious, and while not exactly like cows milk cheese, they are so close it is almost indistinguishable. I struggle to see how anyone could complain about vegan cheese when the upper end vegan variety are truly delicious, with none of the cruelty. Now if only we could get the supermarket vegan cheese a little better.
Okay, it’s not a review, but one night we had been out all day and were exhausted, so decided to go back to the hotel a little earlier to watch a film. I had heard Dominos did a vegan option in Europe, and it turns out I was right, and they delivered to where we were staying. Not much to say other than it was good to be able to get a takeaway vegan pizza. This is something lacking from the bit of Scotland I live in!
The Breakfast Club
On our last day we went to the breakfast club in Sloterdijk (where we were staying). We had a vegan breakfast burger with fries each, and then shared a portion of pancakes between us. The burger was nice, not the best I’ve had but tasty, but the pancakes were the best out of the two choices.
My last meal in Amsterdam was at Schiphol Airport. We stopped at a little place called Cafe Flor, and my body at this point was crying out for healthy food. I had the tofu poke bowl and it was so fresh, tasty, very nice. My husband had a wrap which was okay, but the poke bowl was the best of the two. It has inspired me to make something similar to mix up my meal prepped lunches. The rice/tofu/vegetable combination really hit the spot and gave me some vitamins I may have been missing over the last few days with all of the junk food! Although to top off the healthy food, we did share a piece of banana bread (I think this was pretty healthy too, it certainly was tasty!)
It’s safe to say I love the Netherlands, and Amsterdam. It’s not often I feel so comfortable somewhere else, I consider myself a real home body, but I just love Amsterdam, the architecture, the people, and the food! My Dutch is coming along, and we are booked to go back in Summer with the kids for a week, can’t wait to try some new places!
While I am still overweight, I am no longer morbidly obese. The day I discovered I was categorised as morbidly obese, well it wasn’t a surprise but it was depressing. While I may have some grumbles with the BMI measurement system (doesn’t take into account body composition for example), there was no denying it, I was massively overweight for someone of my height, and I didn’t need a predefined scale to tell me this, although there is something awful sounding about it, obese to the point of morbidity.
While you can lose weight, lose the fat, there are some things you just can’t undo. It’s why prevention is better than a cure, but the irreversible damage of morbid obesity is unfortunately something that many of us will need to face.
Skin…skin and more skin.
You know when you go on Instagram or Facebook, and you see these amazing weight loss transformations, lost over 100 pounds, look at me now, with an attached picture of the person looking like they never were 100 pounds overweight? That’s a reality that doesn’t happen very often and isn’t realistic for most people for one big reason. Where does the skin go?
Skin has elasticity, and if you are young enough I’m sure it isn’t quite as extreme, but once that skin has been stretched, it doesn’t just spring back into place, no matter how slowly you lose weight.
I have a lot of loose skin. Being only 5 foot 2, and originally 270 pounds, my skin was very stretched when I was at my highest weight. My worst area by far is my stomach. I still carry most of my weight there, but it’s difficult to tell what is remaining fat and what is skin. I also had two cesarean sections along the way which I’m sure hasn’t helped.
My only solution I fear for my stomach would be to get surgery once I have finally reached my goal weight, but until I get there it’s difficult to tell quite how bad it will be.
I also have loose skin at the top of my thighs, and a little around my upper arms, but my stomach is where it is at it’s worst. One day I may share a picture of it but that would take an extreme amount of bravery.
When I’m wearing clothes that doesn’t cling to it (work trousers – why do you fit so bad?! I usually wear flowing dresses), to the outside it probably doesn’t look too bad. I know though the damage underneath.
One thing that helps me dealing with the skin is to see others who have had similar issues, on youtube and instagram I love Jordan Shrinks, she has a number of videos from before and after weight loss surgery and is very open about the impact on her skin. Another favourite is PuggyPantsDoesPlants who had weight loss surgery, and again has pictures from before and after. These ladies are so brave for posting these, and as someone who is considering weight loss surgery, it gives you a realistic end goal, separate from the “oh I had no loose skin at all” talk.
Still being morbidly obese inside your head
A lovely issue that you may or may not suffer with is that you are still the same weight in your head. I know I am healthier when I was morbidly obese, I can tell by the sheer fact that I can walk for more than 5 minutes without needing to stop, but somewhere, somehow I don’t see myself as others do. My mental picture of myself is bigger.
It impacts the type of clothes I go to buy, how I feel before I walk into a room, what I think other think about me. If I’m not careful, and mindful, it can impact a lot of situations that it has no right to.
Something about being that size, and knowing what it feels like to be that size sticks in the psyche.
The long term health risk factors
The good news is that a lot of the long term health risk factors can actually be reversed by losing weight, and following a whole foods plant based diet. Not all of them though. You will more than likely never be quite as low risk as someone who has lived a similar life but was never obese as far as I understand.
These irreversible damage of morbid obesity, well, there is nothing that can truly be done about them once you have been obese. While they are not great, and things no one would want, they are certainly more preferable than still being obese. My stomach may look awful, but I would take that any day over still being 270 pounds.
What can you do about it? Ensure the next generation don’t reach this point, speak openly about your issues with historical morbid obesity, as to help others avoid even reaching this point. Let go of the things you have no control over and focus only on health. Looks don’t really matter, they mean nothing to me anyway.
May I get surgery once I reach my goal weight? Potentially, but not to improve how I look, more to get rid of the damn skin as it tends to get in the way. (Yoga is not good when doing a downward facing dog!). The mental side of it, there is nothing I can do apart from being mindful of who I am, and for long term health, focusing on a whole foods plant based diet is my best chance of reversing long term damage.
Have you suffered with any of these or other side effects after losing weight? You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, My Fitness Pal and Fitbit on any of these platforms and please share your story.
While reading how not to diet (there is a review coming but it’s going to be a biggy!), I came across a psychological effect known as the self licensing effect, and it was described how it can come into play regarding weightloss.
The description of it made me realise that I am susceptible to this, and the knowledge of it’s effects has made me more aware of it. It goes like this –
You have been good for a few days, eating well, exercising. The weekend rolls around, or a night out, or there is junk in your house, any scenario that takes you away from following your typically healthy new diet. You think to yourself, oh I’ve stuck to this for days now, surely I’m due a little something to reward myself? Instinctively, you reach for the unhealthy food choice. You are now rewarding yourself for healthy choices, by doing the complete opposite, making the unhealthy choice. This sabotages your effort, and at the same time minimises quite how bad this food is, and the effect it will have on your long term goals.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with an occasional treat, the issue around this is that it only ever works one way. This effect only strongly encourages you to eat badly when you’ve been good, not healthily when you’ve been bad.
If this is an occasional thing, then it’s not really an issue. If it happens once every two weeks, an occasional treat isn’t going to derail you. The issue I find is that as changes in eating extend in time, this tends to happen more and more, to the point where you are undermining all of the good work with these choices.
It is as if the brain is keeping a counter of “good” and “bad” choices. When you think you have made enough “good” choices, then it isn’t so awful when you make one of the “bad”, even though this is completely counter to your overall goal of losing weight.
How to overcome the self licensing effect?
For me, it comes down to really trying to not see these food choices as good or bad, as not seeing decisions I make as good or bad. You have to recognise that something either moves you towards your goal, or away from your goal, on an individual meal basis rather than looking at the whole picture.
This healthy meal moves me towards my goal, it is irrelevant how many healthy choices I have made previously, or even how many I may make in the future, but right now, this meal will move me either towards or away. Now, do I really feel like I want a bit of pizza? Yes, but I will need to accept that this moves me away from my goal.
This can be easier said that done, as much of the time we aren’t actually thinking about our goals, we are living on autopilot.
The key to battling the self licensing effect
There is one simple key to realising that you are self licensing, and that is mindfulness. Being present right now to see what the outcomes of your choices are. For mindfulness I would really recommend some kind of meditation plan, it may feel that you are struggling with meditation but it’s long term effects are huge.
If, with every meal, you are mindful of your long term goal and not your immediate good/bad percentage, then you are more likely to make decisions that are in line with that goal. When making choices, try to remember your long term goal, and not your previous choices.
When I first went vegan, I thought I already ate a lot of plants and whole foods. To be fair, I probably did in comparison to many, but a lot of my meals focused around meat (and then meat replacements), pasta or some kind carbohydrate, with vegetables on the side.
In recent years the research has shown that eating mostly plant based foods is best for your body. There may be occasional studies that show otherwise, but after digging there is usually something unusual around the methodology, or there are conflicts of interest, however the majority of the science shows that a whole foods plant based diet can be disease preventing, and even reversing.
With this knowledge, it can seem a little overwhelming to completely change your diet. I have gradually, over time moved towards a majority of whole foods, but I thought a post about easy ways to eat more plants and whole foods could be useful.
- Greens with every meal
- Make the vegetables the main, rather than the side
- Switch white carbohydrates for wholemeal
- Try new grains
- Always look for a way to add vegetables no matter the meal
Smoothies can be a great way to get in a lot of fruit (and vegetables), and can be a good breakfast option if you are busy in the mornings. In addition to the fruit, you can really load up with vitamins by adding ground flaxseed (readily available in tesco and other shops), which is a great vegan source of omega 3. I have heard that whole flaxseed (sometimes called golden linseed) can’t be broken down properly, so for the benefits of the omega 3 either buy already ground, or grind yourself.
I would note that with smoothies, it is important to drink slowly rather than gulp down. This is discussed within How Not to Diet, that the speed of drinking helps the full feeling. Personally, I also avoid juicing, as the majority of the fibre is removed, and this is one of the key ingredients that you want in your diet.
Ideas to have in smoothies – Bananas, Apples, Berries, Mangoes, Nut Butters, Oats, Oranges, Ginger, Kale, Spinach, Cucumber, your favourite vegan milk and so much more.
Oats are a nutritional powerhouse, full of fibre and goodness. I have started having porridge in the mornings and again I add flaxseed. I add berries, a banana, occasionally a little dried fruit, cinnamon, nutmeg, cacao nibs and it is a naturally sweet, filling start to the day. There are so many flavour combinations out there it would be difficult to get bored with oats.
Overnight oats are a good choice if you don’t have time to make porridge in the mornings. When I make this I usually do the same as my hot porridge but I add a little vegan yoghurt. You can also make cookies from oats which is a good way of avoiding white processed flour.
Salads, or some variation of them can be a good choice for lunch, or to have with dinner. Salads have moved on from just iceberg lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes (although I do still like and eat this combination). My meal prepped lunches are technically salad. Their base level is the old school combination but then on top I have my grains, legumes and many more vegetables of all different colours. There are lots of recipes for dressings out there too if that’s your thing.
Greens with Every Meal
An easy way to fill up on iron, calcium and fibre is to have greens with every meal. The base of my plate is usually kale, cabbage, spring greens, brocolli, spinach, some kind of green vegetables.
One point of note when it comes to what greens are you choosing to eat. Spinach is pretty high in oxylates, and there is some evidence that large amounts of spinach can potentially cause kidney stones. Recently, even though I eat quite a lot of spinach, I have began subbing some of it with kale. Kale is really better all round so its a good choice, but don’t avoid spinach altogether!
A lot of greens consumption comes down to how you cook them and I do it in a few different ways depending on the meal. My usual dinner preparation is too lightly steam them. After steaming for a few minutes these go even more green coloured and this is when to take them off the heat, its a sign of the nutrients being released. I also have them water sautéed with my veggies, and regularly throw handfuls of spinach and kale into meals.
Switch White Carbohydrates for Wholemeal
Switch out white rice for brown or white pasta for brown. They both have a slightly more nutty flavour, but are far higher in fibre as they haven’t had the outer husk stripped. This is an easy switch to make. I don’t eat bread that much anymore but I try to choose wholemeal, and love brown sourdough (too much though!). My family aren’t keen on brown bread so they eat 5050 which is even a small step in the right direction.
Try new grains
I like to try new grains in place of rice and pasta. While I think these are okay within moderation, they can be fairly calorific, and often I’m looking for a more nutritious option instead of these.
My favourites are quinoa, wholewheat Cous Cous, pearl barley, bulgur wheat, there are so many options out there.
Always add vegetables no matter the meal
I try to add vegetables no matter the meal. If I’m having pizza I’ll add vegetables to the topping and have a salad. If I’m having pasta I’ll have my bowl of greens with it. If I’m having a meal I can’t force vegetables in I’ll have homemade soup before.
There are so many ways to move towards a whole foods plant based diet, so many swaps to make, some of them significantly cheaper and faster to make. I find over time my diet has moved closer and closer to a higher percentage of plants, and my health and energy levels have improved along the way.
Something I have never really spoke about are my previous weight loss attempts. I am counting the last 5 years as a single event, as in reality I have trended downwards that whole time, with a couple of blips along the way.
This is not the first time I have lost weight. Twice, I managed to lose 3 stone, but then hit a wall. I think, with a few more years experience I now know why.
At the time I really thought I just couldn’t lose weight. It must have been genetic. I was just destined to be fat, and go through this endless cycle of weight loss and weight gain. I was eating less, more healthy and exercising, if I couldn’t lose weight doing this then I never could.
Then I discovered veganism, and then later, whole foods, plant based diets. I’m now just under 6 stone lost, and still have a bit to go. This is however, the longest, sustained lowest weight I’ve had in my entire adult life.
Previous attempts, I had tried a variety of things including, but not limited to:
- Calorie counting reasonably healthy but non vegan food
- Calorie counting unhealthy food
- Slimming World
- Scottish Slimmers
They failed for a variety of reasons, but I can categorise them into two distinct areas, either I was still hungry, or for some reason, it wasn’t sustainable.
Long Term Sustainability
I found the slimming clubs to be unsustainable in the long term. They encouraged healthy eating in some respects, but certain foods were recommended to avoid, and some unusual foods were recommended. Something in the nature of it didn’t sit right with me. I get that they are businesses, but when it’s motivated by money then the main aim is usually making more of it.
There was also something about the sympathetic tones when you didn’t lose much, or at all, and were questioned on whether you had a bad week, as if weight loss is linear and your body knows the play along with the club.
It was always the same people at them too, very few people ever reach their target weight at all, but the people who go to slimming clubs are paying for the privelege.
My previous calorie accounting attempts, and slimfast left me hungry. Although they all involved eating different foods (junk food, healthy omnivore and slimfast), ultimately they all failed for the same reason. In one way I was on the right track, it is important to keep an eye on the calories to ensure you are eating a deficit. However, I have an issue with food volume. I can eat a high calorie but low volume meal and I don’t feel full. In fact, unless I have eaten an absolutely huge amount, I don’t often really notice feeling full. For me, portion size is important.
And this is where all of these attempts failed. As I was still eating a lot of calorie dense foods but restricting my calories, so I had less on my plate. I would start eating more vegetables but it was never enough. This is where a plant based diet comes in.
Why a whole foods plant based diet works for me
The reason why this diet works for me where my previous weight loss attempts didn’t, is calorie density. The food I now fill my plate with isn’t calorie dense, but it is dense in fibre, vitamins and minerals, and almost more important for my weight loss, it takes up a lot of space in your stomach. I often have kale and spring greens as a base to any meal I am eating (sometimes with some added sriracha). This big serving is likely to be around 40 – 50 calories, but the volume is the key here. Steamed, these vegetables take up a lot of space. This makes me feel full, and that is the key to my weight loss. I have discovered, the only way of me keeping on track is feeling full. The only diet that can do this, at the portion size I like, is a whole foods plant based diet.
I sometimes look at my portion sizes and feel a little bit shameful (hello still morbidly obese brain!). I then however look at what others are eating, compare calories mentally and realise I am eating less than them, but often many more nutrients and definitely more fibre.
Added to the weight loss, eating a plant based diet makes me feel fantastic, my skin is pretty good, and I’m full of energy. But that’s not the point of this post. If you are struggling with calorie counting, and still feeling hungry, I encourage you to up your roughage. Leafy greens are so low in calories, but filling and excellent for you. Try having a large salad before your meal, or for lunch with some added legumes and grains, but have them as the side to the salad.
Earlier this week burger king launched a plant based burger. This sounded exciting, I’ve always liked the bean burger from there, and a new option would have been appreciated.
I’m using past tense there as unfortunately, they released that this burger was not suitable for vegans or vegetarians as it was cooked on the same grill as the meat burgers, and that this burger was always aimed at meat eaters looking to reduce their meat intake.
It’s safe to say, this has angered vegans. Having a new vegan burger released but it being inedible to vegans, well, it seems to fly in the face of logic.
Shortly after this began to die down, a tweet was shared online, from Peta UK, in response to another tweet. This tweet suggested that vegans should eat products made on the same equipment as meat products as this doesn’t help more animals.
I recently made a post about KFC, and how I felt that in my opinion it was acceptable for vegans to eat from here, as I feel that supply and demand means that if we buy the KFC burger, and more vegan food becomes available, then eventually this will take the place of the animal products, and less animals will be killed.
This may seem like a similar argument to above, but I don’t think you can classify this burger as veganism.
The definition of veganism, from the vegan society
“…is 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…”
The main purpose of this statement is to not use animals. Nowhere does it say to take all steps required to ensure less animals are killed. Now I know, I know, of course, avoiding using animals products will indeed cause less animals to be killed.
When it comes to this burger (and the chips for example out of KFC being cooked with the popcorn chicken), we know there are animal products in there via contamination. The companies themselves have told us this, no if’s no buts. If you eat these products, there is a likely chance you will consume some remnants of animal products. And for me, with the above definition of veganism, this just doesn’t fit.
Avoiding as far as is possible and practicable is not choosing to eat a burger soaked with animal fat, in an attempt to ensure less animals are killed. It seems backwards to me. There is a line for every vegan, and this is where my own sits.
There is also the “may contain” argument, and I do choose to occasionally eat foods that may contain milk for example. But there is a very big difference from a manufacturer warning in case of accidental contamination via production, and the manufacturers telling you of deliberate contamination via cooking.
I also feel that if vegans do get behind this burger, it sets a bad precedent. That it is purely acceptable to create a plant based burger, but take zero care in it’s preparation. Other companies could look at this and think it’s a money saving way to cash in on the vegan craze. We can make a vegan option and we don’t even need to bother with the logistics of preparation, they will buy it anyway.
Others will have differing opinions of course. I was surprised about Peta publicly stating this. I have mixed feelings on them, and I’m thinking of doing a couple of posts about them this month. It just seems like an odd stance, for a group that apparently loves animals, and especially for vegans.
I still think encouraging natural supply and demand is the way forward, plant based foods are now taking up a significant chunk of my local supermarket, even in the meat aisle. Personally however, I will be avoiding foods where I know they are contaminated.
It’s time for an update on how I’m eating in 2020. I have tried a few different ideas over the years, Slimming World, OMAD, general intermittent fasting, all while plant based. I’ve had mixed success with these, some more successful than others, but this year I am taking a simpler approach. A longer post is coming about my recent reading of How Not to Diet, but my eating for this year ties in heavily with the suggestions within this book.
Time Restricted Eating
I’m no longer strictly following intermittent fasting. I found that while I did see benefits from 8/6 hour windows initially, and I felt good not being weighed down with food, eventually it seemed to stop helping with my weight loss. Something in my gut tells me that it’s not great for my metabolism, potentially putting my body in the mode of holding onto weight as it’s not sure when food is coming next. Can I put my slow progress down solely to Intermittent Fasting? I’m not sure, it certainly worked in the beginning, but it seems like time to mix it up a little. I found OMAD a little too restrictive, and felt as if it was a step too far for me. I also have issues with portion control which OMAD did nothing to help. One huge meal a day just wasn’t working, I like eating too much. Now I eat around 9 am when I get to work, and try to finish for around 7:30pm. At the weekend I may not eat till around 12 so there is a bit of a smaller eating window there but generally it will be around 10 and a half hours.
Front Loading Calories and Calorie Counting
This almost ties in with time restricted eating, but as suggested in How Not to Diet I am starting to move the majority of my calories to earlier in the day. This is discussed in depth in the book, that you can eat the same food at different times of the day and it will impact your body differently, you will actually burn more of those calories earlier in the day.
I also heard something similar mentioned in the intermittent fasting podcast with longevity expert Valter Longo as a guest, he suggested if fasting to eat two early meals, breakfast and lunch for example. Now, while I am not fasting, I am attempting to move my calorie balance. Historically, it has always been weighed to a high calorie dinner around 7pm. These calories could be around 700 – 800, and I would eat less during the day to compensate. I am eating a breakfast of around 400 calories, snack of around 100, lunch of around 500, then main meal of also around 500 taking me to around 1500 a day. I am attempting to get to the suggested, Breakfast like a king, Lunch like a prince and Dinner like a pauper, but it takes a lot of unlearning for me and feels counter to what I have ever tried.
For calorie counting I am still using My Fitness Pal. I reached a 1500 day logging in streak just yesterday and don’t intend on stopping using it. I’m aiming for 1500 calories a day. I’ve been down as low as 1200 calories, and while I can do this for short periods of time, long term it makes me miserable. Even eating lots of vegetables, greens, whole grains and legumes, I come in at around 1500 a day and this is what I’m aiming for.
My slimming world post is one of my post popular posts, but I haven’t went to a slimming club in many years. While they work for some, especially in the short term, longer term they seem to have issues. I went to Slimming World on and off for years, along with most of the other people there, and very few reached (then stayed) at their goal. In 2020 I will definitely not be attending a slimming club.
This year I am putting much more time and effort into following a whole foods, plant based diet, avoiding as much processed food as possible. This has multiple positives, when it comes to calories these foods are not calorie dense. You can eat a lot of them (especially green vegetables) for very little calories. Added to that, they are full of vitamins (calcium, iron, and of course fibre), are cheap and they really fill you up. I’m eating a variety of colours too, trying to eat a large mix of different vegetables with every meal.
I’m making a concerted effort this year to cut back on processed sugar. Fruit is no issue, but sources of processed sugar generally are also sources of fat. No more doughnuts at the weekend for me, and generally I am avoiding dessert as this also became a bad habit. Dessert almost fostered the “treat” mindset, oh you’ve been so good today, you can have a little treat. That treat was often sabotaging how good I had been, and ruined it.
For a long time I have meal prepped and taken my lunch into work with me. If I don’t, inevitably the options are too expensive, too processed, too high in calories. I have got myself into a good routine, and make a similar meal every week. I will do a post on this, but it is a mix of vegetables, whole grains and legumes, with spices, some houmous and a little sriracha. It is around 400 calories, very very filling for a fairly large portion and I’m happy to have settled into this. I have also added in a cup of soup (often miso) and I’m even taking in porridge in the mornings now. Organisation is key!
I also meal prepped my main meal for a while when I was going to the gym in the evenings, but currently I am making dinner at night when I get in from work. This is something I may look at again later in the year, as it seems less hassle to make it at the weekend and put it in the fridge. Either that, or batch cooking larger amounts of meals and freezing them could potentially help free up some time in the evenings.
Meal planning is also a key point, I need to know what I’m making ahead of time. I hate last minute trips to the supermarket. I always end up spending more than I wanted and buying things I didn’t really intend to (which usually are processed). I currently meal plan for the week nights, and the whole weekends at some point during the week. Then I get my shopping early on a Saturday morning.
Food Diary Example
Lastly, here is an example of what I eat in a day. If you want to see what I eat every day, and are a user of my fitness pal, please send me a friends request.
Remembering the bigger picture but focusing on the small choices
This may be one of the most important parts for me in 2020, and it’s while remembering the bigger picture, the every day decisions are what will get me over the line. My weight fluctuates throughout the month and that can really get me down, then into the eating mindset. I am focusing on one meal at a time, all throughout the year. It’s those individiual choices that add up to success.
Earlier this week a number of news stories popped up about a man who had been fired from his job at the League of Cruel Sports. He pointed out that their pension fund was being used on a company which tested on animals.This led to a court case, and about whether veganism should be considered a philosophical belief, and therefore carry the same protections that other philosophical beliefs carry (such as religion).
The man was sacked for gross misconduct, for sharing this information publically. Whether this was correct or not is debatable. Usually when working for a company there are rules about releasing negative information about your employer. This court case however seems to have morphed into a larger question over the philosophy of veganism.
According to lawyers Boult burdon Solicitors in the UK, while discussing the Equality Act 2009, a philosphical belief is defined as
- it is a belief and not an opinion or viewpoint based on the present state of information;
- the belief is genuinely held;
- the belief concerns a “weighty” and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour;
- it is “worthy of respect in a democratic society”; and
- it is held with “sufficient cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance”.
The outcome of the course case was successful, ethical veganism can be considered a philosophical belief, and looking at the definition above I would suggest this is correct.
There is a difference between someone purely following a plant based diet, and someone who chooses to step away from the mass use of animals and their body parts in daily life.
- it is a belief and not an opinion or viewpoint based on the present state of information; – Veganism is an underlying belief to avoid animal use in life, the present state of information is irrelevant. Information has changed drastically over the years, yet still vegans choose to avoid animal related products
- the belief is genuinely held; No question over this, vegans (or ethical vegans as the wording was in the court case), genuinely hold the belief of avoiding animal products.
- the belief concerns a “weighty” and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour; This is a little more difficult to define, but choosing every product in your life and diet to avoid animal products could easily be defined as weighty and substantial.
- it is “worthy of respect in a democratic society”; I think most people would agree that veganism and it’s arguments are worthy of respect (although maybe not all of the trolls on social media but they can be ignored)
- it is held with “sufficient cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance”. Even non vegans could surely agree veganism, and holding it as a belief hits the above points.
I’m unsure what this means in the future, but surely ethical veganism being a protected belief is something we can all agree is a positive thing. I personally have never experienced anything other than curious questions, a few debates and requests for recipes at work, but perhaps I work in a field which is less likely to discriminate against veganism.
Today is the day that KFC launch their vegan chicken burger nationwide. This, and whether vegans choose to eat it has caused controversy in the vegan Facebook groups I’m in, and it got me thinking about the rationale behind it.
There are two distinct opinions when it comes to a company like KFC having a vegan option.
- This is something we should support, can’t wait to try it, exciting times for vegans
- I’ll never eat out of there, their welfare standards are atrocious, this is something we should boycott.
I can understand why people do have issues eating out of a place like KFC. KFC is a business built almost entirely on slaughtering chickens. There definitely have been horror stories link over their treatment of animals and I think it is clear that most vegans wish places like KFC didn’t exist.
However, the more vegan food there is out there easily available, the more people (mostly non vegans) will try it. In turn, surely this will ultimately lead to fewer animals being killed, supply and demand generally rules in these circumstances.
I find the argument against KFC similar to the argument against the Yulin Dog Festival. Most non vegans are against this, they think the treatment and eating of the dogs is awful, and will often share stories and videos relating to this on social media. At the same time they are sharing pictures of their food, burgers, pizzas, covered with animal products, and not seeing the link (or deliberately ignoring it). Cognitive Bias at it’s finest.
I find vegans who make the argument against KFC may also be suffering from an element of this cognitive bias. Most people (at least in the UK and who I know) shop at locations which are not (and nowhere close to being) fully vegan. I wonder what percentage of the products in shops like Tesco, Asda, even restaurants like Greggs, contain animal products. The Greggs Vegan Sausage roll launched this time last year, and although there was some of the “not buying it” response, it appears to be less vehement KFC, certainly from what I have personally witnessed online. In my opinion, Greggs, KFC, Tesco, there is no real difference.
Now, that is to say, if there was a fully vegan supermarket nearby, I would shop at it. There aren’t anywhere near where I live, as far as I know there are only a couple in the UK. And while I of course don’t agree with the vast majority of the options in KFC, I can’t help but feel if the vegan burger is popular (the trial was incredibly popular and sold out in 4 days), then they will put more vegan options, and less meat on the menu.
This is of course ignoring the entire health side of the argument. Ultra processed vegan food is little better than ultra processed non vegan food, and should be consumed in moderation. However there are a lot of people out there who are not interested in health, and if given the choice I would far rather they consumed a vegan version of their favourite junk food.
I also think the militant vegan stereotype is rampant among non vegans, and taking such a stance doesn’t help with that stereotype. For me, every step in the right direction is still movement we should be proud of, when I first went vegan 4 years ago I could never have imagined all the options we have today, so something is happening.
Personally, I will be trying the KFC burger. I want to support vegan options, and to be quite frank I’m curious as to how it tastes. Keeping it in line with my goals for 2020 and January, I will have it with a large salad as my main meal. If you don’t want to try it, I can understand, but be aware of the bias when shopping from large supermarkets/eating out at mainly omnivore restaurants.
Well it’s the start of a new decade, the day the resolutions are made, and as mentioned in my previous post, my one main aim this year is to finally reach my 140 pounds goal. The last year, while pretty much moving no further forward to my goal, has taught me some lessons about what works and what doesn’t for me. I am 37 years old, and I know the older I get the less likely I am to reach that weight. As a result, this year, I am giving this my single focus.
While this is my main single focus, I have also given each month a mini aim, 1 relating to health, 1 to personal goals, 1 to minimising our belongings and 1 to doing up our house, I will update my progress on these as well.
Weight and Health Updates
Weight at Start of Month: 201 pounds
Weight at End of Month: N/A
Fat Percentage at Start of Month: 43%
Fat Percentage at End of Month: N/A
Days within calories: N/A
Body Measurements (inches)
Upper Thigh: 24
Max Run Distance: 2km
KM Time: 8:30 (this is a guess based on previous starting times for a km)
Average Sleep: N/A
Monthly Mini Goals
- No Takeaways – Takeaway food is my nemesis. I do the most of the cooking for our household and a takeaway is a great way of meaning I don’t cook. The problem with them is that they are always fattening, I have poor self control with how much I eat, they cost too much money and I inevitably feel rubbish after them. My no takeaway goal covers evening meal takeaways while at home. We are going to Amsterdam at the end of January, to practise the Dutch that me and my husband have been learning for 6 months, and there will no doubt be eating out then. I may also try the vegan KFC burger when it launches but this would have to be with a salad and fit in with my main meal. This goal is used a few times throughout the year and actually think it will be quite difficult as we generally rely on takeaways once a week/fortnight, often on a Thursday or Friday night, so it is important that I plan easy/no excuse meals for these nights.
- Work on Blog every day – I have been rather slow blogging this year and I’m unsure why as it’s something I enjoy. I have a number of posts in a half written state, and a large list of ideas so for January I will be working on the blog daily.
- Get rid of 4 boxes of belongings that I need to have valued and sell – I recently cleared out part of a large cupboard and have some nice China given to me by my parents. Now while it’s lovely, I have and will never use it. It sits in a cupboard wrapped in newspaper. I’ve got over the emotional ties of letting this go, but practically I’m a bit stuck. I suspect it may be worth something, so I’m going to try to sell it first, and if I get nowhere then I’ll donate it. It is my aim to do these four boxes in January. My plan is to photograph the china and send in pictures to a local auctioneer for valuation, then once this is done either sell via them, try on ebay and if none of these work then donate it.
- Paint the window frames in my main two living room windows and cut, then put up new blinds I have for these – Our house requires an interior update (the polite way of saying it looks like it’s from the 1990’s), and I’ve been doing some little bits here and there but for 2020 I have a plan of things I’d like to do every month. This month it is as above, paint some window frames that are chestnut to white, take down the ancient vertical blinds and replace with some room darkening grey venetial blinds I bought at the end of last year. There are three windows in the living room, one is very high up so that’s got its own item later in the year, this is for the two floor level/easily reachable windows. The blinds need cut, and I’ve never put up this type before so could be an interesting job.
A summing up of my starting measurements is that really, it isn’t good. I’m not focusing on that though, only on the small steps to follow this month which for me are mainly a 1500 calorie whole foods plant based diet, no takeaways, and beginning to reintroduce regular exercise.
A new decade is around the corner, and this year has been one of my quickest yet. It’s been another big year of changes (although every year for the last few has been). We bought a house at the end of last year, moving out of our long term (huge) rented flat, and moved into a regular/verging on small 3 bedroom house. This was a bit of a shock to the system, and I was very grateful of my years of minimising our belongings.
Moving showed me though that we still have too much, and this year I have continued to clear our, and I’m now reaching a point where the end is in sight (although still likely a year away). Our new home needs a bit of a makeover, and we have tenatively began this, but have big plans for the next year which I’ll likely mention occasionally, at least keeping track of the number of items that leave the house.
I started a new job in May which I am loving. It is much closer to home, and all round it is a better job for me. I have massive imposter syndrome, so getting a new (more technical) job was a big step, but turns out I build everything up in my head and I’m doing fine there. My husband also started a new job, so with work it’s been pretty hectic!
A note about my husband is that he also (finally!) went vegan this year, 3 years after myself and our daughter did. I thought he would never make the switch, but he did and I’m so proud of him. We eat pretty differently, he’s not a fan of huge salads, tonnes of legumes, and I still often find myself cooking multiple versions of meals, but it’s baby steps in the right direction, and that definitely makes life a little easier.
On the vegan food front, this year there have been so many different foods released in so many different shops, it is crazy the amount of choice even compared to January 2019. Some notable mentions are richmond sausages (we all love them), Marks and Spencers for continuing to expand their range, the Greggs sausage roll (great for publicity if not for health) and Tesco. They are our closest supermarket and for the first 9 months of the year they were pretty diabolical, but they rapidly expanded their range overnight and it has been greatly appreciated by our family.
Onto the elephant in the room (again), weight loss. I got to my lowest ever weight this year, however I have regained about a stone. I have been lazy with my eating, eating too much, too much of the awesome vegan options. Exercise has been sporadic, although I have really came around to the idea that exercise is for health as opposed to weight loss, and I need to see it like this, to avoid the “oh I can eat more, I went to the gym this morning” mindset. I think my ability to remain around the same weight (gained a little but far from it all back), shows that my mind set has changed, and that it is actually incredibly difficult to lose weight (and so much of it) consistently and over a long period of time. The moral of the story here is don’t put it on in the first place, although I’m a little late for that.
On that note, for 2020, I have one singular New Years Resolution, and that is to slowly, and healthfully get to my goal weight of 140 pounds (10 stone). I recently read How Not to Diet by Michael Greger which I will be doing a review of in January, but I am going to be implementing some of his tips, such as front loading the days calories, eating more greens with every meal and a few more I will cover.
For exercise, I’m not setting myself any firm goals other than get back into running. I would like to, and will incorporate strength training alongside this, but at least for the first three months of the year this won’t be my main goal. Running (especially outside) is something I thoroughly enjoy, so I should definitely do more of this.
I have set myself a number of monthly challenges, 1 based on health, 1 based on personal development, 1 based on minimising and 1 based on decorating our house. I will share these at the start of each month, alongside a summing up of the previous month. As usual I’m tracking everything in my new bullet journal, this is my third year using one.
If I was picking a word to guide this year, I think it would be Intentionality. I want to make sure that my time is spent doing things that align with my long term goals. For those they are being healthy, living in a comfortable home which requires minimal upkeep, freeing up time for other things, such as running, spending time with my family, being creative.
Thank you to everyone for your support mainly via Instagram this year. I did take a fairly extended break around the time of changing jobs, and will be posting a little more this year.
You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, My Fitness Pal and Fitbit. I am most regular on Fitbit, MyFitnessPal and Instagram, so if you are also trying to get healthy and lose weight drop me a message and we can support each other.
This summer our family went to Dubrovnik in Croatia for a week, with 3 out of 4 of us now vegan, and 1 mostly vegetarian, it’s safe to say I was a little bit concerned with vegan options.
We always go self catering on holiday, which means we had a decent kitchen, the downside being that you have to cook on holiday, but hey, I’m used to it, it’s the price to pay for being a vegan mother of two!
Happy Cow showed a few options, and I used Instagram too (#dubrovnikvegan mainly), and did plenty of research. We were staying in the area called Lapad, and additionally to Dubrovnik we also had a day trip to Montenegro, and a day trip to Bosnia Herzegovina, and I’m pleased to say I found a vegan option for every day.
On out first full day we visited the full vegan restaurant of Nishta. Nestled in Dubrovnik’s old town, there was a 45 minute wait for a table, it really is a small restaurant. They change menu daily so if you are there for a week you can have something different daily. We had chilli, nachos, raw sushi, a falafel wrap and a mince pancake. It was nice, some of the food better than others. I didn’t love the sushi, and the pancake was a little weird but the rest was very enjoyable.
Chihauhua Cantina Mexicana
This Mexican restaurant is in Lapad, a 10 minute walk away from our apartment and worth a trip out if looking for delicious vegan options. It must be booked ahead of time, they will do their absolute best to fit you in, but one night we went it was a bit of a wait, so the second time we went I reserved a place.
The staff were so friendly and 100% knowledgable on what vegan meant, pointing out all of the options and modifications they can make. We had a burrito, fajitas, rice and chips and all of it was was completely delicious. It was handy having such a great place nearby, and the price was very good.
Ombra Caffe & Lounge Bar (Kotor, Montenegro)
This little restaurant is in Kotor in Montenegro, and had limited options but the pizza and chips on the menu were delicious. The restaurant is in a little square in Kotor old town, and there was plenty of space. We visited around lunch time and didn’t need to book. Kotor was a nice little town, the views were spectacular, it would have been nice to spend some more time here exploring but we were only there for a few hours.
Food House Restaurant (Mostar, Bosnia)
Food House is in Mostar in Bosnia, and I’ve got to say this was the best food of the trip. The plate of veggies, salad, rice and casserole was just delicious, I was almost sad we were only there for one day! The seating is on a lovely little cobbled path in Mostar. The city itself was lovely, but tinged with sadness for the remnants of the war are everywhere. It is definitely worth a trip to though if you are in Croatia and can do a day trip to Bosnia, or in any of the surrounding countries.
Bon Appetit Bistro
On our last night we travelled to the port of Dubrovnik, Gruz, and visited a little Bistro. We had salad with seitan, bruscetta and chia pudding. It was all nice, the bruscetta was the best bit, and it was a nice end to our trip.
Additionally to eating out, can I just say that the bread in Croatia is something else, I ate so much I practically came back loaf of bread shaped. I made some delicious pasta dishes, had tasty fresh olives, and there is a chain of german health food shops (DM) that had plenty of tofu, delicious sausages and many options. Most of the supermarkets also had a section with dairy free milks, yoghurts, grains, so there were plenty of options if you are doing the cooking.
We would love to go back to Croatia one day, the people were so friendly and the weather was glorious. There are so many places to visit in Dubrovnik, we did a game of thrones tour of the old town, walked the city walls, visited the Island of Lokrum (my favourite thing we did), went up the cable car to the war museum, had a day at the beach, really, it was an action packed holiday, and we could go back and find even more to do I suspect.
The Best Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff Ever…and it’s healthy!
A bold claim, but I made this recipe last week and I was so impressed, although I did make some tweaks to the original recipe. I’m not a massive fan of overly creamy dishes, and light coloured sauces, no idea where that little foible of my personality came from, but in a restaurant, or takeaway I would never choose something light coloured.
When I was a child, my mum used to try to get me to drink milk (being good for the bones nonsense). It always made me feel sick, eventually she gave up on it as I could barely even drink a mouthful without feeling queasy. Milkshakes were a no go, even ice cream, definitely never not mayo though other so it appeared to have transferred to the colour. Since going vegan I have tried to open myself up to foods like this a little more though, and my husband loves a creamy meal, so I saw this recipe online and thought we could give it a try. Well, it was so good I’m going to add it to my fortnightly list, we all really enjoyed it. The original recipe has the stroganoff sauce with garlic cream on top, this was too much for me to take so I mixed the garlic sauce in with the stroganoff (which also heated it up) and this really made it perfect.
The Best Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff...Ever!
- 1 Cup Cashews (Soaked)
- 1/2 Cup Water
- 2 tbsp Lemon Juice
- 4 Cloves Garlic
- 1 pinch of Salt
Pasta and Sauce
- 80 - 100 grams Wholewheat Pasta per person
- 1 Large Onion
- 2 Tbsp Wholewheat Flour
- 2 Cups Vegetable Stock
- 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
- 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce (Reduced Sodium)
- 1 Tsp Tomato Puree
- 1 Tbsp Dried Sage
- 1 Tbsp Dried Thyme
- 1 Pinch of Salt
- 400 Grams Mushrooms Cut into Quarters and Sixths
- 1/2 Tin Garden Peas
- 1 Tbsp Dried Parsley
- The cashews should be soaked the previous night/earlier that day. I put mine in a small bowl covered with cold water and drained before using.
- First of all, add your pasta to a pot of boiling water and cook until ready.
- For the garlic creamy sauce, I drained the cashews and put in a blender with the garlic sauce ingredients, then blended until smooth.
- Water Sautee the onions until transluscent. This recipe is oil free so adding a little water until evaporated, then a little more at a time to stop the onions sticking is the way forward here.
- Once the onions are soft add the flour and a little stock, mix this well and try to get rid of the lumps.
- In a separate bowl mix the remaining stock, tomato puree, soy sauce and lemon juice.
- Gradually add this stock mix to the onion/flour mixture, thoroughly stirring until all is added. Let this cook for a minute or two to thicken.
- Add the cashew garlic sauce then add the chopped mushrooms and stir well. Put a lid on the pot, turn down the heat and let the mushrooms and sauce simmer until they are soft.
- Once the mushrooms are cooked, drain the pasta and mix well. Add the peas and parsley and serve.
Let me know if you try this recipe, I think in future I will start calculating the rough nutritional estimates for the recipe per serving, and may go back through my old recipes to update these.
At my new workplace, my department has a fairly regular weight loss competition which is completely optional to take part in. There is a set of scales in the office which we all use to weigh in. I believe this has ran multiple times before I started, but as I have only been there a few months, plus I really want to finish losing weight, I decided to join in. It ran for 13 weeks and there are a number of financial rules and penalties which go like this –
- Weigh in on Friday of week 1
- Every subsequent week you weigh in on Friday within an hour of arriving at the office. (there are a number of rules in place for when you are off on the Friday/on holiday for multiple weeks)
- Every week every person pays £1
- If you lose between 0 – 1 pound you pay an additional £1 penalty = £2 per week
- If you lose more than 1 pound you only pay the original £1 = £1 per week
- If you gain weight you pay a £5 penalty = £5 per week
Everyone is ranked on their overall percentage lost, and at the end the money is used to pay for a meal and a night out for those who took part (and anyone else who wants to join but pay for themselves). I thought, “hey, what could be bad about this?” Surely this will give me the motivation I need? I was back up to 190 pounds, the weight I have been at for over a year (give or take ten pounds at most). During the first few weeks I really got back into the gym, five times a week, three times a week weights, twice a week cardio. My eating was okay, not perfect but reasonable. I lost about 5 pounds and after week 2 I was second! I knew I was going on holiday soon so really tried hard.
Then, around came my time of the month, and the week before it I had to pay my first £5 fine. I knew my weight always goes up (a lot) at period time. My stomach severely bloats (even more than usual) and water is held onto as if I am very dehydrated (usually drinking around 2 litres of fluid per day on top of plenty of fruit and vegetables). This was very demotivating, as I was good with food and exercise and really there was nothing I could do to avoid the gain.
The following week I had a mid week takeaway, another thing that encourages my body to retain fluids in a desperate attempt to clear itself of the increased sodium. Unsurprisingly there was another fine. The next week I lost but then I was on holiday in Croatia for a week. It’s safe to say I wasn’t sticking to reduced calories while away, and when I got back I was half a pound heavier than I had been the week I started! Another loss next, then it was the time of the month again, and yet another fine.
In the run up to the end of the competition I signed up for 80/20 plants, which motivated me to really stick to my healthy eating, but i hadn’t ventured back to the gym, for fear it would make my weight loss stall again. I lost a pound one week, then another pound the next, finishing the competition at just over 2 pounds lighter than I started. The total I paid in was £33, I finished last having lost 0.94% of my original weight. Other people paid bigger fines, but overall lost more weight.
I have really struggled getting much below 190 for so long now, I truly think this is the set point of my body, and to lose this last 50 pounds is going to take extreme dedication. I thought the weight loss competition would give me the motivation, but a few weeks in I realised it was affecting me in the same way that Slimming World did all those years ago. My body just does not lose weight in a linear fashion. Okay, I had a holiday in the mix, but a combination of exercising/weights, periods, and not eating perfectly leads my body to produce big weight fluctuations.
On a day to day basis I am not aware of these (other than feeling bloated), but weighing in, competing against colleagues once a week showed me this. And instead of taking it for what it was, fluctuations, it would generally leave me feeling disappointed, angry at myself. No surprise what I sometimes do when feeling like this? Eat more. So for me (and I suspect most people), weight loss competitions just don’t work, especially long term. This is not a race to the finish line, it is your whole life and health, and next time the competition starts, as much as I would like to completely destroy my colleagues, I won’t be joining in. I suspect this is why slimming companies continue to exist, and the number of classes just seems to continually rise. Weight loss is incredibly difficult to sustain over the long term, short term loss and fluctuations don’t teach the message of true lifestyle and habit change, don’t rid people of the negative ideas they have around food. This competition reminded me even after 6 stone, these thoughts can still be within me to pop out when required.
Since starting the new eating plan with 80/20 plants, I have been eating around 80% whole plants, and this week I have made it back to the gym five mornings out of five. I’ve not weighed myself this week, it is nearly my time of the month which means I’m bloated, plus it’s my birthday in a couple of days and to be honest I’m in for the long haul, not the minor changes. I just need to remember that. I am envious of those who lose weight consistently until they reach their goal, but I just don’t work like that, does anyone really? If the statistics of over 90% of people regaining any weight they lose are correct I begin to think this is actually a myth, and longing for something that just can never be is a pointless endeavour.
To join and support me (and also to get some support back too!) please add me on My Fitness Pal , and other social media, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Fitbit. I’m not so active on Instagram/Facebook/Twitter at the moment but I am still consistently using My Fitness Pal and my Fitbit so these are probably the best places for us to connect.
Well, I’m still stuck in plateau hell, I’ve been the same weight within a few pounds now for around a year, but I still have 50 pounds to lose. This is incredibly frustrating, having lost so much weight (80+ pounds), I feel I am almost being done out of celebrating the success I have had so far by still being so overweight.
I struggle with consistent exercise, fitting it in around work takes a lot of dedication and time, but even without much exercise I always strive to eat as close to a whole foods plant based diet as possible. However there are times when this slips, one too many takeaways are eaten, or one too many vegan doughnuts (damn you Morrison’s and your cheap, delicious, fresh doughnuts!). I have always felt that improving my diet to low calorie density plant foods, therefore giving me the ability to eat more and feel full is the way forward for not only my weight loss endeavours, but health and life in general.
I had been considering buying a meal plan to mix things up, when along came 80/20 plants, found at www.8020plants.com , a new meal plan and support service which offers videos, a community and a coach you can message alongside recipes. It was started by the guys from No Meat Athlete, one of my favourite podcasts I have listened to almost since day one of being vegan (along with some other people but I believe they are heavily involved with it). Being a subscriber to their site and podcast offered a large discount so I thought I would give it a try.
I’m two weeks in currently, and they break up the roll out of plant foods in stages, focussing on different meals each week allowing for you to move change one meal at a time over to more plants.
Now they aren’t as strict regarding oils and processed food but heavily push the plants, hence the name 80% plants, 20% plant based processed (no animal products..ever). This works for me, as when I am struggling and I am probably closer to 50/50, and my weight creeps up at these times, generally I feel tired, just not quite as good.
The first week was breakfasts, and since I started I have had an 80/20 breakfast every day, this is something a little different for me. I have been intermittent fasting on and off for years now, but as I have completely stalled I have tried to mix it up. I still think intermittent fasting is great for you, and if/when I ever reach my target weight it is something I would consider permanently, but at the moment it just isn’t having the same impact it used to, and I do wonder if it encourages me to almost binge once my eating window starts. I have had some issues with binging, not in a eating disorder way but occasionally being unable to stop myself (especially with large takeaways), eating to the point of feeling sick.
For breakfast during the week I have had overnight oats, this is a good option for me as it means I can make it the night before, take it into work and eat straight from the tub with no preparation. Ingredients have been rolled oats, ground flax seeds, chia seeds, whole frozen pitted cherries and blueberries, a little vegan yoghurt, sweet cinnamon, unsweetened soy milk and then some frozen breakfast topper fruits which has strawberries, pineapple and some other bits and pieces. At the weekends I have been having tofu scramble with lots of veggies, homemade hash browns and some beans.
This is pretty similar with what I have eaten for a while, other than that I would usually eat it around 1 in the afternoon for opening my window, although at the weekends I would have a lot more processed foods in there such as vegan sausage, potato scones, oven hash browns, toast (again, to the point of feeling a little sick after eating so much). Breakfast at the weekend tends to be more brunch, around 11 am, during the week it is around 9 am. So far, so good, I wanted to see if eating earlier encouraged me to binge afterwards, and for the first few days I felt the familiar urge to start piling in the foods, but I am now easily making it to lunch time without anything else.
Week two was snacks, and I have made a few of these, but also tried to change what I snack on while cooking. I have made oat cups from a recipe on this blog www.shelikesfood.com . Instead of having them for breakfast they have been my pudding, and to be honest over the week I have began to really enjoy them. Initially they felt as if they weren’t indulgent enough, and previously I would have something small but very sugary (such as a mince pie/apple pie/aforementioned doughnuts). I’ve almost made some date/cashew balls rolled in desiccated coconut and these are so sweet! Sweeter than my previous snacks, but it’s natural sweetness from the dates so I’m fine with that! I’m also having two to three pieces of fruit per day.
Although I haven’t started lunch and dinner yet, eating this way has definitely encouraged me to eat in a more whole foods plant based way. I have tried some new recipes which may or may not make it to the blog, and I’ve lost a pound or two since starting, but I’m trying to keep my eye on the long game, and not focus on the minutiae of the week to week. Next week, on top of formally tackling lunches, I’m going to head back to the gym and see how that helps both weight loss and hunger levels. I can definitely say so far that 8020 plants is motivating me to eat in a way that is more aligned with my goals, and I’m excited to see how the next couple of weeks go!
I’ve been a little quiet on instagram recently as I have another project on the go which is taking up a large chunk of my social media time, but this week am going to at least post my interesting meals (possibly not the same overnight oats every day though!).
I fear I am just destined to be an intermittent blogger, no matter my inner promises to blog somehow life gets in the way, when time and mental space are at a premium my poor blog suffers! I’m still active on Instagram and My Fitness Pal during these times, it just becomes increasingly difficult to fit in time to write full posts. Anyway, enough of me beating myself up for my absence and onto the reasons/excuses.
The main source of lack of time is that I started a new job 7 weeks ago, it’s the type of job that for a long time I thought I would never do. For the last couple of years I have worked in a software development role, but I would use that term a little loosely. There was day to day development but it heavily leaned on an existing framework, which was great, it offered a level of support in such a small team, but I was aware that ideally I wanted to get into a more hands on, technical development role. A recruiter contacted me for a role at a large international company, I interviewed (even with a technical test), and I was over the moon when I was offered it, but at the same time terrified. I have impostor syndrome, although not as bad as it once was. While at uni I remember thinking “Well, there is no way I’m going to be able to do this as a job“, that I had wasted my time (I got a first class honours degree and postgraduate diploma with distinction..didn’t exactly scrape passing!), that I would never be good enough to work in this field.
Starting this job was a massive step, it was a little overwhelming to begin with, they have huge projects, not in my first programming language and a fairly large international team. But I have tried to take on lessons I have learned in years of meditation and mindfulness, don’t think too much about the big picture, notice when I am stuck ruminating on my fear and distract myself, and just get on with it.
It’s difficult at this stage to tangibly say how I’m doing, but I’m enjoying it, feel I am understanding things and writing code in a way I haven’t since University. The atmosphere is very positive, I’ve made some nice friends, it’s a world away from my previous job which I enjoyed but had some serious flaws. My commuting time has cut by 40 minutes each way as well, so I have more time back to myself, and it’s more money with routes upwards, better benefits. Overall it has been highly positive, and I’m looking forward to keep pushing forward.
My gym and diet however, especially in the last few weeks of my old job and first month of this have not been great or very consistent. I haven’t flown completely off track, but my weight has crept up a little, I’m currently 13 stone, 3.5, or 185.5 pounds. This is 6 pounds up from my lightest weight 2 months ago.
My weight is fluctuating wildly at the moment, initially I thought there was something going on physically (unsure what though) but now I think it is a combination of dropping off going to the gym, and general inconsistency with food. I am very susceptible to bloat after eating salty/oily food, it hangs around for days, and there has definitely been more of this on the menu in the last few months.
To get back in the routine I have been meal planning, and batch cooking at the weekend. For the last two weeks I have picked up exercising again, running and weights at the gym. I’ve changed the plan I’m following and will do a post about this next week. The IT department (including software development) have a weight loss competition I have joined to keep me motivated. They also have a little gym which I’m going to try out at lunch time with one the girls who goes fairly regularly. Overall, everything is moving in the right direction now, but things have definitely been a little bumpy!
Thank you anyone still around and I’m sorry for not being about! I suppose that is real life and weight loss, sometimes your focus has to shift, but it’s important to not throw it all away. A few pounds I can handle, it’s about recognising when things are going south and putting the brakes on before you end up back at square one.
We’re going on holiday to Dubrovnik in 3 weeks and I’m looking forward to trying some of the vegan options out there, so there will be some upcoming posts about that too. I’m also going to do some posts on my meal prepping/batch cooking healthy meals to save time during the week.