The Diminishing Vegan

Veganism and Weight Loss

Category: Weight Loss (Page 1 of 3)

The irreversible damage of morbid obesity

The Irreversible Damage of Morbid Obesity

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.

The outcome?

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 InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit on any of these platforms and please share your story.

The Self Licensing Effect

The Self Licensing Effect and Weightloss

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.

You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, My Fitness Pal and Fitbit. Add me on any or all, support is very appreciated.

How to eat more plants

Easy Ways to Eat More Plants and Whole Foods

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.

  • Smoothies
  • Oats
  • Salads
  • 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

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

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

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.

You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, My Fitness Pal and Fitbit. Add me on any or all, support is very appreciated.

Previous Weight Loss Attempts

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
  • Slimfast

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.

Still Hungry

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.

I hope my tales of my previous weight loss attempts helped you. You can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit. Add me on any or all, support is very appreciated.

Year Start

How I’m eating in 2020

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.

Slimming Clubs

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.

Food Choices

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.

Sugar

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.

Meal Prep

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

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.

How I'm Eating in 2020

Breakfast

How I'm Eating in 2020

Lunch

How I'm Eating in 2020

Dinner

How I'm Eating in 2020

Snacks

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.

You can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit. Add me on any or all, support is very appreciated.

Year Start

Year Start – January 2020

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)

Waist: 39.5 
Hips: 49
Chest: 46.5
Upper Thigh: 24
Bicep: 14

Exercise

Max Run Distance: 2km
KM Time: 8:30 (this is a guess based on previous starting times for a km)

Personal Updates

Average Sleep: N/A
Meditated: N/A
Minimised: N/A

Monthly Mini Goals
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter,My Fitness Pal and Fitbit. Add me on any or all, support is very appreciated.

Year Start

Review of 2019 and Looking Forward to 2020

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 InstagramFacebookTwitterMy 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.

Weight loss competitions don’t work

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, InstagramFacebookTwitterFitbit. 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.

 

8020plants

8020 Plants – No Meat Athlete

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!).

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

Extended Absence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consistency

Word of 2019 and looking back on 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consistency

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

Frustration and the end of 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eat to Live | Nutritarian | The End of Dieting

This post is a bit of a catch up post along with some information about where I’m going next with my diet.

We got confirmation of house purchase a few weeks ago, so exciting, we are buying our first house! No more renting! I have been moving things up there slowly, but our actual move date is in 13 days. There is so much to arrange before then, so it’s safe to say I’m incredibly busy. Packing our belongings, moving boxes, selling and giving away things, fitting this in with work and kids is proving challenging. Adding in exercise and weight loss and I just don’t have enough hours in the day. My exercise has ground to a halt until we move, but I’m still trying to keep my diet on track.

We went to Amsterdam for my birthday last weekend too, and the food there was amazing, I’ll make a post about this once we’re all settled in the new house.

So, keeping in mind all of this external activity, and the rapidly approaching end of year I’m beginning to seriously get worried about reaching my goal weight this year. There are 3 months left, and if I keep going the way I have been I will stay exactly the same weight I am now. It’s just not good enough and I can’t accept it. I need to change it up a bit as what I’m eating and doing now, while keeping me maintaining my weight, it’s just not getting me losing. I’m not sticking to it enough, a doughnut here or there, a huge portion of pasta, vegan ice cream, little to no exercise, if you put in half the effort you get out half the effort.

I’m going to change up my diet, and give Nutritarian a try, it is like whole foods plant based on steroids (I don’t condone steroid use!). The diet and books were created by Dr Joel Fuhrman, a pretty well known American doctor, and are aimed at getting the most nutrients in for every calorie you eat. The main book, called Eat to Live was released in 2003, and lays out his 6 week diet plan. There are a few keys rules, some of which I hope are really going to help me.

There are some foods you can eat completely unrestricted. These include all vegetables other than starchy vegetables. Lettuce, greens, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, broccoli, cabbages, leeks, celery, radish, beetroots, carrots, peppers, spring onions, asparagus, green beans, kale, spinach, aubergine, courgettes, cauliflower, all of these can be eaten unlimited at meal times. These can be raw, or sauteed in water. At least 1 pound of these a day is suggested which is a huge amount.

Also unrestricted is beans, legumes, peas, lentils and tofu. Fruit is suggested at 4 servings per day. No oil or salt is allowed at all.

Restricted foods include starchy vegetables and grains. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, butternut squash, pumpkin, quinoa, wholegrain pasta, millet, buckwheat, oats, any whole grains, these are limited to one cup per day. This scares me! It probably scares me for the reason why I’m not currently losing weight. I can admit it, I eat too many of these. Calorie wise they make up a huge amount of my daily intake.  You can even restrict these completely for the first 6 weeks but quite honestly that seems too far to me, so I will be sticking to 1 cup per day.

Also suggested is 1 oz of nuts or seeds per day. I will likely have this in the form of peanut butter with a banana in the evening, or added into a smoothie. No processed foods/added sugar are allowed for the 6 weeks.

When to eat also matters here, 3 meals per day is suggested with no snacks. I’m going to be combining this with fasting. I’m so far along with fasting now having breakfast so early during the week just does not feel right. I may not go as long as 20 hours, but at least 14 – 16 before my first meal which will more than likely be a huge salad with beans/chickpeas. I will follow this up immediately with some fruit. I’ll then hold off till dinner which will be some kind of cooked meal with my 1 cup of grains/starchy vegetables, tones of non starchy vegetables and greens. I’ll finish it off with more fruit and my nuts, or a smoothie.

While following this I’m reading the end of dieting book by Dr Joel Fuhrman, released in 2014 it expands on his eat to live Nutritarian approach. I believe this has some further guidelines, I’ve not started reading this yet so as the weeks go by I will post about this.

I’m aiming to keep a weekly diary on here charting the ups and downs, and all food that I eat, along with some weight loss hopefully! He suggests you can lose 20 pounds in 6 weeks, that would take me a good chunk of the way to my goal weight. If you have any experience with eat to live please send me some advice  on My Fitness PalInstagramFacebookTwitterFitbit.

1000 Days on My Fitness Pal

Unbelievably, I have reached a 1000 day streak on My Fitness Pal. I don’t think I’ve ever logged into something for such a long streak of days ever. My streak began on Monday 28th November 2015 an wow, so much has changed since then!

I had not been vegan very long then, I went vegan on the 4th November 2015. I was still a student having not long started my Postgraduate Diploma, I had lost about a stone at that point, having stopped smoking a few months before at the end of May.

In that time I have –

  • Graduated
  • Got my first job (left)
  • Got my second job (still there)
  • Lost another 4.5 stone
  • Went abroad on holiday for the first time since I was a child
  • Ran a 10K

And just for nostalgia, here is the post I made at my 200 day streak.

My Fitness Pal

It’s been full of ups and downs, I have had a lot of time stuck in that period, but I have chipped away and am reaching my goals, I don’t care if it takes me 1000 more days, as long as I am going down the way I’ll be happy (it would be good to finally reach my end goal though one day!). I also lost 1 pound on my 1000 day streak, which marks my first downward movement since June!

Some of the things I have done with My Fitness Pal over the years? There have been plenty of days where I’ve logged in and only added water, just to make sure it registers. Also, remembering right as I’m about to go to sleep, and having to quickly login again just to check. I hope other users also do these things.

While I have had periods of no diary logging, I always go back there, and I honestly think it is one of the best apps/websites I use. I recommend it to anyone I speak to about weight loss, calorie counting I feel is the most reliable way to lose weight, and I don’t think anyone else does it better than My Fitness Pal. The community is good too, I regularly browse the forums for inspiration. I have made friends there too from all over the world, and I love looking at other people’s diaries. Overall it is a great too, and free as well. I have tried the paid for version but quite honestly the free version has so much information, it’s more than enough for me.

Here’s to the next 1000 days! Please add me on My Fitness Pal , and other social media, InstagramFacebookTwitterFitbit. I love new people and the support from online sources is invaluable.

weightloss failure

My ongoing weightloss failure (and what I’m going to do about it)

I really don’t like to make a post which such a negative title, but I’m stuck in a rut when it comes to weightloss failure and I really need to do something about it. I feel this rut is inevitable, and I guess potentially the reason most people are unsucessful losing weight in the long term. You stop losing weight for a variety of reasons such as :

  • Your body has adjusted to lower calories but you haven’t made any changes
  • You start eating more and not realising it
  • You stop exercising but continue eating more
  • You get bored
  • You have a personal crisis/stress period and start eating more

When the weight loss stops, you may not have fixed your underlying problems with food, you get annoyed, fed up, eat a little more, the cycle continues, before you know it you are gaining again but ignoring it. You stop weighing, feel your clothes getting tighter, eat more until eventually you reach a point when you just say enough, bite the bullet and weigh yourself and either you have gained, or you may even be the same weight you were to start with (or more!). I’ve been there. This has happened to me twice, I have lost 3 stone twice and put it all back on. Losing weight is very difficult over the long term.

Losing weight is what I am currently failing at, I am stuck, I have been stuck now for a number of months. The 16th June was the last time I registered a loss. Very very frustrating. Since that period I had a week long holiday in Spain where I overate and drank, I put on around 6 pounds and lost it within a week. I have bobbed about the same 2 – 3 pounds since then depending on water retention.

Why? Why am I stuck? Well, I could make a lot of excuses, the one I hear myself saying all the time (and I mean all the time) is that my body has had enough of weight loss. 5 and a half stone is as much as it wants to do. I say this as if my body has it’s own brain and has made some kind of conscious decision. People tilt their head and nod understandingly, saying something like, oh you’ve lost so much already, surely you don’t have that much left to go anyway. I still have nearly 4 stone to go! I don’t feel anywhere near done yet.

My real reason for being stuck probably is a number of reasons:

  1. I stopped OMAD (I found it too extreme), but I’m still doing 18-20 hour fasts every weekday, and 14-18 hour fasts at the weekend. I think fasting has helped me not gain.
  2. I upped my calories a little as I felt I was struggling (1200ish to 1500ish). I did this because I just felt as if I should be able to eat more, I compared myself to others and felt I was too restrictive.
  3. I have stopped exercising as much. In my personal life there is an ongoing issue (regarding housing), and it is taking up my thoughts, and some time. This is time I was previously exercising.

When it actually comes down to it though, the real reason I’m failing can only be that I am eating too much! I know, it’s not just as straightforward as calories in vs calories out. Hormones, Microbiome, Sleep/Stress etc all play a part. But people in parts of the world starving don’t generally have a two month plateau. I’m not suggesting a starvation diet is required, but I need to stop making excuses to myself. Excuses are not going to get me to my goal, they help literally no one.

My goal regarding my weight is healthy, rather than too slim. My body will be ruined in a way. After over 9 stone (hopefully) of weight loss I am under no illusions my skin is going to go back into place. But how I look isn’t why I’m doing this. I’m doing this to not be obese.

Why do I want so much to not be obese? Well, we’re all going to die, I watched my parents die, I know there is no stopping it, but I don’t want to live a lifestyle that hurries it along. One of the biggest causes of death is obesity, or more specifically the increased risk of other health problems that obesity brings, cancer, heart disease and many others.

So, what am I going to do about my goals..? I’m going to think back to the 1st January this year when I posted my word for the year..the word was Focus.

I’m going to remember how much that word means this year and I am going to fully refocus on what I have power over. The main thing I have power over is how much I am eating. I’m putting my calories back down slightly, back to 1250. If I exercise I will allow myself to eat less than half back, I’m sceptical how much I really burn.

For food I will keep doing what I’m doing with whole foods and fasting, however I will cut back to my new calorie goal.

Every day I will have:

  • A salad with grains, legumes, greens, potatoes and other vegetables.
  • A fruit smoothie/nice cream.
  • A main meal.

Everything will be weighed and measured, and added to my fitness pal, every single mouthful.

I’m going to start properly weighing in every week on instagram/this site. I’m not sure on the best day to weigh in, I would like to avoid weight fluctuations so think mid-week is probably best, at the moment I will go with Thursday. I may move this to around the weekend as they do tend to be a bit of a problem.

I did consider rejoining a slimming club but I still fundamentally believe they are unecessary. What I need is accountability without prescribed actions, and without the cost! So my accountability will come from you guys on the internet. You are going to help cheer me over the finish line.

 

Exercise will be gradually re-added in. I am struggling with the personal housing issues (trying to buy a house and it’s not going well!) but this should be sorted one way or another in the next couple of weeks, and I can’t keep making excuses about not being able to fit it in. Even 15 – 20 minutes in the morning is better than nothing. The exercises I will be doing will be a mix of strength training (I will make a post about this soon), running and swimming.

I’m thinking about starting a Youtube channel, or using instagram stories more but I’m worried my Scottish accent is too Scottish! I definitely need to make myself more accountable and I’m open to suggestions. I’m over the half way point and I really need a push to make it over the goal line. To lose this final weight this year will be tough, and I may not do that, but I’m going to give it my all.

Please follw me on InstagramFacebookTwitterMy Fitness Pal and Fitbit. I love new people and the support from online sources is invaluable.

Absence

I’m sorry for my extended absence, yet again consistency is something I struggle with, during weight loss and making blog posts!

I’ve not completely fallen off the wagon, my weight is exactly what it was a couple of months ago, no more no less. That however is the problem! Losing weight should not be so damn difficult. I say to myself (and others!) it’s my body, I’m 5.5 stone down and it just doesn’t want to lose anymore, but inside I think surely that cannot be right? If someone is starving their body still loses weight, it doesn’t reach 5.5 stone down and then they forever stick at that weight do they?

I know it’s not as straightforward as calories in vs calories out, but really it’s not far off, hormones have a role to play but not so much that weight loss just doesn’t happen. I don’t think it is purely down to exercise either but it’s safe to say my consistency with that hasn’t been great either.

In my defence (and I seem to say that a lot…making excuses for myself), I went on a weeks holiday (where I barely gained any weight, and lost it the next week), and I’ve been going through a stressful time for the last month with a personal issue. But these are ultimately just excuses and they mean nothing. If I can’t be accountable to myself on my own weight loss blog then where can I? I must be eating too much, and not exercising enough, and that is just it.

This week I’m going to religiously use My Fitness Pal, aim for wholefoods (which I’ve been pretty good with tbh), and get in some exercise.  I’m still fasting, 16 – 18 hours a day and I’m going to keep this up, but not aim for the 20+ hours I was, I shouldn’t need to go to those extents to lose weight. I do sometimes think about stopping calorie counting and sticking to all whole foods, but then I remind myself that sometimes I really lack self control and think calorie counting is for the best. Wish me luck!

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

What’s up with the Keto craze?

I don’t know about any of the people reading my blog, but being quite heavily into the weight loss community I notice one diet is doing the rounds at the moment, everywhere I look someone is mentioning keto. Keto is often combined with Intermittent Fasting, so that is probably doubling my exposure to it, but honestly I can’t get away from it.

Always curious to investigate other ways of weight loss, I have looked into it to try to get an understanding as to what it is, how it works, why people are so crazy about it and what the impacts of it are.

Keto Craze

What is the Keto diet? To understand that it’s best to take a few steps back to describe how the body works. Generally, on a standard diet, the body burns sugar for energy. This sugar is ingested in the forms of carbohydrates (and some protein but mainly carbs). Our body converts this to glucose and and uses this as it’s main energy source. Excess carbohydrates are stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles. When you exercise, and on a normal day to day basis when your body needs energy it gets it from these sources as they are readily available.

Eventually though your glucose and glycogen stores run out, at which point your body moves to it’s backup energy source, your fat stores, stored as adipose tissue on your body. Energy is taken from your fat cells, it is lost via bodily fluids (sweat/breath/urine). When it comes to weight loss, you want to take in less calories than you burn, therefore you use up your glucose and glycogen, then you use the fat, and over time you will get lighter. If you exercise more you will also burn more, but it mostly comes down to how much you eat. This is why people can lose weight while eating McDonalds (supersize me anyone?).

So, back to keto. The aim of Keto is to get your body into “Fat burning” mode. Instead of burning glucose and glycogen as your primary fuel source, you force your body to burn fat (broken down fat known as ketones) directlly, this is done by eating a large amount of fat (60 – 75%), protein (15-30%) and a very low amount of carbs (5-10%). As you are taking in so little carbs, you really shorten the glucose and glycogen phase of burning. It takes adjustment and has side effects, but once in this mode people report feeling great, full of energy, and many find it a successful way to lose weight.

There are a few ways of reaching the fat burning stage, as mentioned previously exercising while eating at a calorie deficit will burn fat, but also intermittent fasting is another choice. When you don’t eat for extended periods of time eventually you run out of glucose and glycogen and your body has to burn fat for energy. Then, when you eat carbs you replenish the glucose and glycogen until towards the end of the next fast.

The Keto diet and Intermittent Fasting combined keto foods aim to keep you in the fat burning stage at all times, keeping carbohydrate low so to keep fat being burned. It all sounds great so far, fat burning, increased energy, weight loss..that’s what you want isn’t it? Well, yes… but there are downsides to the keto diet that hardcore keto proponents try to ignore or disregard.

A diet high in fat and protein is not good for longevity. Although there does appear to be some who argue this, the vast majority of doctors agree, high cholesterol (much of which is eaten via saturated fat) is one of the leading causes of heart disease. (Here, here and here, and about a million other places, and here is a NHS page speaking out against a study which says cholesterol does not cause heart diesease). I am not claiming that all cases of high blood cholesterol is caused by eating saturated fat, there are certainly people who can have high cholesterol naturally, just that actually eating saturated fat does correlate with an increase in cholesterol.

Most ingested saturated fat is eaten via animal products, although some plant oils (coconut oil for example) also contribute to this. So what does eating a diet at 60-75% fat (mostly saturated) do for people in the long term? Unfortunately there aren’t many long term studies on this, however the Inuits (often held up as an example as people who ate almost all fat and remained healthy) did in fact suffer from heart disease and strokes, and their life expectancy was around a “decade shorter among native populations”.

One thing that is known from scientific studies is that groups who follow a plant based diet generally have a longer life expentency than those who don’t, and that those to raise their intake of animal protein raise their risk of all cause mortaility overall. Of course, you can make the argument that we will all die eventually, but I would guess for most people (certainly for myself and my desires for my children), a long, healthy life is the goal.

Even taking away the longevity argument, a keto diet is difficult to follow, anecdotally people struggle in the medium – long term with almost completely avoiding carbs, and report side effects such as hair loss, bad breath an leg cramps. The lack of fibre in the diet can also be a cause for concern when it comes to digestion. Additionally, if you are following a keto diet as a non-vegan ,in an attempt to fit in all the animal products and fat you are responsible for the deaths of animals and unecessary destruction of the planet on a larger scale that even a standard diet.

You can follow a ketogenic diet as a vegan although it is more of a challenge if you are not eating fatty animal products. Although, with the known down-sides of eating so much fat, I struggle to understand why anyone would want to, apart from the reason of enjoying fatty foods (thanks evolution!), and wanting to hear good news about your bad habits.

The main reason I follow Intermittent Fasting though isn’t for ketosis. I’m not sure whether I fast for long enough to reach ketosis, but fundamentally, I can’t find any research saying ketosis (being a fat burner) itself is actually bad for you. It is the dietary route of doing it that hurts your body in the long term. I like to think that with intermittent fasting I get the benefits (weight loss, increased energy etc) without the downsides (heart disease and stroke increased risk, arterial clogging).

I get the freedom of not thinking about food all day and the ability to eat a large evening meal. I have always enjoyed this, but that large meal with two other meals during the day inevitably leads to too many calories and weight gain, whereas that large meal with minimal other food can still equate to weight loss.

My disclaimer to this post is that I am not a nutritionist, nor a scientist. Just an interested person who has read and listened to many podcasts about the subject. I would suggest anyone following a keto diet to not automatically take everything at face value, in fact, that goes for anyone following any diet. Read, understand the science to the best of your capability.

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

onederland

Stuck at the edge of Onederland

I thought I should give some kind of update with progress, and unfortunately at the moment that progress is minimal and I’m stuck at the edge of Onederland, I seem to be bouncing between the same 3 – 4 pounds continually, not managing to get any of them to stick.

Is it because it has got to that point in the year where the New Years Resolutions are well and truly a distant memory? Is it because I’ve had quite a successful year up to this point and my body needs a break? Is it because I’ve had a few social events and reasons to eat out? Is it because I’ve started running properly again? I’ll break all of these down but I actually think it is a little to do with all of them.

New Years Resolutions

How can it be May already? We are at that point where I am going to hazard a guess that most people have already long quit their New Years Resolutions. I don’t think I’m one of them, I still have my eye on the year long goal. But my focus has definitely began to slip a little.

My body needs a break? 

I am a firm believer in set-point theory around weight loss, that your body reaches a high weight and is continually trying to get back to it, seeing this as the safest weight to be at in case of famine etc. Losing weight is not easy, all of us would be a healthy weight if it was. A combination of evolution driving us to the bad foods, and the set point, it’s difficult to do, especially for large amounts of weight and over an extended period of time. I’ve lost a fair bit of weight this year and quite honestly I think my body is holding on a lot harder now than it was at the start of the year.

Social Events?

I’ve been out a couple of times with friends recently and for me this is always an excuse to eat more. This then tends to bleed into the weeks around the days out. Not huge “stuffing your face eating” but enough to slow my weight loss. I’m not willing to give up all social events but I would like to find a way of dealing with this.

Running?

This is the biggie I think. Whenever I up my running time my weight loss slows to a complete halt. It happened last year when I was training to do the 10k, and it has happened again this year now I have been upping my distances. Why though? I do eat more when I’m doing longer runs, I am definitely hungrier and when I look at the calories burned via my fitbit, even if I half these I am still not eating near the limit. Or am I kidding myself? Am I sneaking a little bit more here and there? And, am I really burning what my fitbit says? I am beginning to seriously doubt it. So, what are my options? Well, run less and eat the same, or run more and eat less. With a holiday to Spain coming up I have temporarily decided to shelve longer distances. Initially I was planning to completing a 10 mile race later this month, and while I’m sure I can train up to that distance in time (My longest run recently was 13 km, 16 km is 10 miles), I’m not sure I want to. Running will surely be easier the thinner I am, so I think I again need to drag my focus back to losing weight, not running further/faster.

I do worry I am self sabotaging as I have reached (and am still in) Onederland. Hopefully constantly reviewing and revising my progress helps with this.

My plans over the run up to the holiday are to really nail the whole foods plant based food, and to eat at a deficit, but enough to feel full. My eating has been a little lazy, no doubt. I’m maintaining but not losing and it’s not good enough. I’ve been re-reading the starch solution and I’m adding more potatoes into my diet, I love them, they fill me up, plus I believe they are very good for you. Can’t face going the full spudfit route (eating only potatoes).

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

Bad weekend…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One Meal a Day

One Meal a Day | Vegan | OMAD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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