The Diminishing Vegan

Veganism and Weight Loss

Category: Weight Loss (Page 2 of 3)

The lasting effects of yo-yo weight loss

Don’t get me wrong, my diet is far from perfect. Sometimes I eat too much, snack a little here, takeaway a little too much, but a lot of the time (at least 80%) I eat healthy wholefoods, in reasonable amounts. But I really struggle to lose weight at a normal rate, and I’m beginning to think this may have something to do with yo-yo weight loss. I have lost three stone three times separate times now, this time is the most I’ve ever managed. Every time, other than this I put it all back on (quick) plus more.

I have been at this weight loss attempt for nearly two years, and I’ve only lost four stone. I know, I know, four stone is great, but even at 1 pound a week, that should be at 104 pounds. I’m less than half of that.

I have been to the doctors and had tests carried out, Thyroid was fine, hormones were fine (these were all a fairly long time ago but I doubt anything has changed). I don’t think there is any measurable reason as to why I struggle. I do however think that years of dieting/gaining have lead to a body that isn’t sure what’s happening. I have read of the effects of yo-yo dieting, and while I’ve never heavily restricted, or tried any too crazy diets, I have been on this cycle of weight loss gain now for years, all of my adult life. Is that enough to mess up a metabolism? It might just be as I see no other reason as to why it’s happening.

On the other hand there are some seriously good things to take from this, and my life now even if I am still currently overweight. I have managed to maintain this weight loss effort for nearly 2 years. This has never happened before.

Not only that I seriously eat healthier than I ever have in my life, healthier than anyone I know. I am hitting my daily dozen nearly every day. Daily Dozen is an app by Dr Michael Greger over at NutritionFacts.org which he recommends 12 essential things every single day, you can check it out the app here and an article about on MindBodyGreen. I average around 8 – 11 portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

I walk more than I ever have, and would do more if I had the time. Ideally I would like to up my exercise, and get my diet to perfect around 90% rather than the current 80%, but my lifestyle has changed and for that I’m happy, and feel great.

I may not be the weight I’d like to be, but I’m not going to let that knock me off the journey to health. It’s not just about the number on the scales. If my body needs some time to readjust after the damage I have done so be it. I’ll still be here, eating well, exercising more and living a healthy life for when it’s ready.

Whole Foods Plant Based

I made a number of New Years Resolutions for 2017, as laid out in my post in January found here. I set a word for the year, Simplify. At some point I will do a proper catch up but today’s post ties into this, I’m going to discuss the difference between Vegan vs Whole Foods Plant Based, and where I lie on this.

Vegan is generally for ethical reasons, this could be ethics relating to animals, or the  future of the planet. Vegan is not a diet as such, although you can follow a vegan diet. The word vegan transcends diet to cover your whole lifestyle, it is a lifestyle whereby you avoid the use of animal products as far as possible in all areas. Vegan does not equate to healthy though. I think assumptions are made that if you can’t eat animals/dairy/eggs what can you eat? Surely it’s just fruit and vegetables (and pasta grains etc). No! shout the vegans, there is a huge amount of vegan junk food, accidental or deliberate. (I’m forever grateful for the accidentally vegan co-op doughuts for example).

Whole foods plant based is a diet, however, you can be a vegan following a whole foods plant based diet. WFPB does relate to what you eat, which is mainly natural plant based foods in their whole form. They don’t need to be organic, or raw. Just whole, and plant based.

What counts as plant based?  Fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, legumes and nuts. What isn’t plant based? Animal products, meat, overly refined foods such as sugar, white flours, and some would say oil. Why do people choose a wfpb diet? Namely health, there is mounting evidence to say this is our optimal diet for short and long term health. (Much of this evidence is reviewed on the website nutritionfacts.org, check it out if you haven’t, Dr Michael Greger is a total legend in the nutrition world).

So where am I on this scale? I would say I am a vegan, who tries to follow a Whole Foods Plant Based diet around 80% of the time, with 20% being still vegan, but not whole foods. Pasta, I just can’t quit you! (although I do try to have wholegrain as much as possible)

How does this fit in with my New Years Resolution? Well, I have a number of personal reasons for moving towards wfpb. I truly believe it is the healthiest option. I also believe it is the only way I can lose weight, whole foods are nutritionally dense but calorifically low. This fits in with my propensity to eat a lot, large portions of wfpb is preferable to large portions of junk on a purely calorific level.

Additionally, I like to remove some of the needless decisions from my life. So I simplified my weekly meal plans to a mostly plant based diet (and have mostly stuck to this). This has became increasingly important now I am working a full time job. I know what I’m having every week (with a little editing), it’s fresh, healthy and filling.

I feel there are so many benefits to eating plant based, recently people have been saying my skin looks great. People at my new job were shocked when I revealed I had a teenage son and was in my mid 30’s. I know, I know, they could (probably are) just being polite, but I do feel as if I am looking healthy. Skin, eyes, hair. I can really only put this down to my diet. I’m full of energy, don’t really get tired (until bed time), don’t struggle out of bed at 4:45 am, pretty much always manage my step goal, housework, time with kids. My head is in a good place, body feels it too, and again, I think this comes back to what I’m putting in my body.

Now if I could cut the impromptu takeaways/crisp sandwiches/jam doughnuts down to maybe 5% I might actually be lose more weight!

Weaknesses

Everyone has weaknesses when it comes to being healthy and losing weight, I think the most common one I hear from nearly everyone is chocolate.  I never liked chocolate much even in my pre-vegan days, and less so now. I’m not a fan of vegan milk chocolate, I have a little dark chocolate occasionally but nothing to affect me.

Another one I hear is crisps, again, I do like crisps, but generally I can stop myself from eating too many (unless it’s a large bag of these, then I’m going to struggle to stop!)

If I was trying to quantify my weaknesses I would say they can be boiled down into two distinct, but related areas. Portion size and takeaway food.

Portion Size

Portion size is something that I think about a surprisingly high amount, when I see pictures of other people’s food on Instagram I actually feel embarrassed with my own. I love a big meal, I know sometimes that what I am eating is just too much. I alleviate the guilt a little by not overthinking fruit and veg in large portions, for example yesterday I had a rice and veg teriyaki stir fry for lunch which had what I would consider a large amount of vegetables (half an onion, 4 mushrooms, 2 celery sticks, 2 handfuls of spinach, 1 handful of mixed cabbage), I had this with leftover rice (1 cup), seeds (Flaxseed and hemp) and teriyaki sauce, so it was a fairly substantial lunch. Was it too big? I’m unsure, I’m not sure if my portions are large or other people’s are small! I do try to weigh my problem foods for portions, rice, pasta, grains, beans. All healthy but sometimes I eat a substantial amount. Mostly healthy, not great for weight loss.

Takeaways

Takeaways, oh how I love and hate you equally. Takeaways are no doubt a huge part of the reason I am overweight, and how I got so overweight in the first place. Takeaways also tie in heavily to the Portion Size issues I have.

I do all of the cooking in my house, I always have, and in all likelihood will continue to do so. My husband can’t cook, he was just never shown how, and has no interest in cooking, I could try to force him into it but I would feel bad, he just isn’t interested. Additionally, I quite enjoy cooking sometimes, I like making something new, I don’t do that too often though due to time constraints.

As much as I like cooking, I also like not cooking. Sometimes the thought of having to prepare a meal in the evening after working, or even on days off, it is just too much. There isn’t much I can get pre-prepared as a vegan, so I often jump to the easiest option, takeaway.

There are so many reasons I don’t want to eat takeaway, here are a few of them

  1. They are bad for me, too much oil, salt and fat
  2. I always feel ill the next day, always, doesn’t matter what I get
  3. I eat too much, I have zero self control when it comes to portions and takeaways
  4. They cost too much, for the four of us it’s at least £20 for a cheap takeaway, usually more though. For one meal. I spend nowhere near that for home made, that £20 would probably cover 3 meals for the four of us
  5. They are never as nice as I want them to be, there is one takeaway that is 20 minutes away that I love, but the 4 above reasons count even for there

There is one reason I want a takeaway,

  1. I can’t be bothered cooking

That’s it. Sometimes, too often, that one reason overrides the five listed above (and I’m sure there would be more if I thought about it for longer). I try techniques to avoid takeaways, I have a slow cooker that I’ve barely used, but am planning to from next week. I choose meals that although being homecooked take as little time as possible (that people in my house will eat). I pre-cook elements of meals at the weekend (Pasta Sauce, Lentils, Mashed Potato), which I’m going to try to stop doing mostly in favour of using the slow cooker. Sometimes even the putting together of meals is too much for me to be bothered to do.

I can’t really call it laziness, I’m certainly not a lazy person. It’s just at that time of the day all my willpower is depleted, and I often jump to the easiest, unhealthiest option.

I’m not sure really what steps to take to curb this, I have often wished for a takeaway that would make me ill, putting me off for life (although sadly I’m not even sure that would work). If all the takeaways within a 10 mile radius would shut that would be a good start.

I would really like to improve how I handle weaknesses, I can do great all week then bam, two nights in a row I’ll have takeaway and it ruins the hard work. I also find this is only an issue with evening meals, I very rarely eat anything pre-prepared for breakfast or lunch, in fact I avoid them, I wish I could transfer that to evenings.

Both of these problems ultimately come down to resetting my head and thought processes. Portions, is the easier problem, I can weigh things. There is no reason to have tiny portions, I enjoy food and although I want to lose weight starving myself is not an option I am willing (or able!) to take. Takeaways though, that requires a shift in thinking. I need to start to see them for what they are, unhealthy, overpriced junk. They don’t align with my values to being healthy, so therefore should play a much smaller part in my diet. One every two weeks, fine, one twice a week, not fine.

If you have similar weaknesses and have any ideas how to combat them please share them with me via instagram, facebook or twitter.

Finally Making Progress? | February 2017 Update

February 2017 Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

50 Pounds Lost | Weight Loss Milestone

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thoughts on Calorie Counting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Getting back on the Weight Loss Wagon

The last week has just been chaotic, and as the title of this post suggest, I am forcing myself back on the Weight Loss Wagon. It started with my husband, he got the flu (a bad cold) and had days of being ill, all of last weekend he was so miserable, and I knew it was just a matter of time until it was me. Back before going vegan I just had to hear the word ill to suddenly become sick myself, usually for an extended period.

Tuesday I just felt not quite right, not ill, but not great, not so much physically, but mentally I just struggled to get going. Wednesday I woke up with a sore throat praying that I wasn’t getting tonsillitis for the first time in about 2 years. Thursday my nose was running, slight temperature, and by Friday it was pretty much gone. I was shocked, my husband still isn’t feeling well and is adamant I didn’t have the same thing as him but after all my worry I had two days of feeling a bit off and that was it.

However, me and my husband had some time to ourselves this weekend and that means one thing, eating! I have eaten too much, two (to be fair smallish) takeaways, a whole bag of peanuts at the cinema, some vegan doughnuts, yeah it’s not been good. But as of today I’m getting back on the weight loss wagon. I’m showing a little gain but I reckon a day or two of eating properly and that will be gone, it’s probably fluid retention after salty fatty foods.

I am considering a bit of a change though, I’ve got to be honest, I’m struggling with Slimming World, do other Vegans feel like this? There are certain things that I honestly feel aren’t too bad but they have to be synned, for example last night I had sausages and mash, the calorie count of the sausages was a paltry 128 calories (Morrisons vegan ones) but syn wise they are 4! Out of only 15, it feels harsh. I don’t know if I am just a calorie counter at heart but I do feel Slimming World is harder for vegans. I do a lot of cooking, but sometimes with kids I need to eat convenience food and it is heavily penalised. The other thing is smoothies, I will sometimes have a smoothie with no more fruit that I would usually eat (One banana, pear and a handful of berries), with 20g of Porridge Oats and a glug of Oatly, this is 5 syns! I get it, it’s not in its whole form, but the whole doesn’t fill you up you end up eating more argument just isn’t correct for me, a smoothie with oats in it takes longer for me to drink than eating and it really does fill me up. I know, I could just not count this but then I feel like I’m cheating. I also find all of the talk at group of meat and muller lights a bit overwhelming. I’m the only vegan there and it’s lonely.

So, for the moment I’m back on my fitness pal, well I never actually left, I’ve been calorie counting the whole time too, but I’m weighing more, and paying more attention. Any feedback from other vegan slimming worlders is appreciated.  Running has been missing for the last week too but I’ll be back to that tomorrow morning at the gym.

Couch to 5k | Weight Loss Apps

Couch to 5k is something that I have taken up since New Year, since one of my resolutions is to run a 10k, I need to begin somewhere! Before Christmas I was running for 30 minutes at once without stopping, but I was struggling to even add a minute onto this, and it wiped me out for days at a time, so when I missed the gym for a couple of weeks over Christmas, going back to this just seemed like too much. At this point I decided that I would give the popular plan Couch to 5K another try.

I have started it before, my furthest attempt was last year, when I was using the Zombies Run 5k App. I’m a big fan of the main Zombies Run App (So much so I did a post about it here), and the 5k version just didn’t cut it for me. Technologically it isn’t as good, it doesn’t interrupt google play music to play the story or prompts so I would be having to listen so hard to try to hear it or not listen to music, that was distracting and just put me off. Additionally, the story was so far back compared to where I am in Zombies Run!,  I made it to week four then just quit.

I had a look on the google play store and went with the highest rated Couch to 5K app, there are many available, but the one I am reviewing is Run Double Couch to 5k.

Couch to 5k Start ScreenCouch to 5k Plans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The interface is fairly simple, with coloured buttons, but how much flash do you really need for a basic running app, I’m happy with it. The app is free, but you are limited to three weeks of free couch to 5k runs and some free fun runs (this is from memory, their website doesn’t specifically mention costs). At this point you can upgrade the app to the paid version, again from memory I believe that there are two purchase options, the 5k pack at £1.99 and the 10k pack also at £1.99, so under £4 for the whole app. As I am interested in eventually running a 10k I purchased both.

Couch to 5k progressCouch to 5k Runs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You have the option of running with GPS if outside, or timed if inside. If I had one criticism it would be to change the length of time, as I really think I am running significantly slower than expected, and at the end I worry I may be running less than 5 k. Sometimes if I still have some time left on Zombies run I will run for another few minutes just to get in the practise. All of your previous runs are available to see, as are the upcoming runs. It syncs with Facebook and My Fitness Pal which is great for a My Fitness Pal addict like myself. Calories burned are ridiculously high as usual but the fact it is added is great. I use this app with Zombies Run and Google Play Music and it works fine with both, I start google play music first, then zombies run which will interrupt the music, then lastly I start this, this doesn’t interrupt, it just speaks over it to tell me time and run number, you can set what feedback you want to hear within the app. I find these three working together (with my fitbit!) really cover all bases and work together well.

Overall it’s a good app, my only concerns are around the timing but as I near the end of the plan I will gauge  how well I am doing via distance on the treadmill. Once I’ve finished the 5k plan I’ll move onto the 10k plan, that seems a long way away yet but I’m committed. You can see other review of my fitness pal and fitbit here and remember to follow me on facebook, twitter and instagram.

Vegan Slimming World Diary 2 | 11/01/17 – 17/01/17

Coming up is what I’m calling vegan slimming world diary 2, trying to keep track of these by numbering them.

Wednesday 11th January

  • Breakfast
    • Tomatoes and spinach (speed), homemade houmous (free), rye bread with sunflower seeds (HexB and 6 syns)
  • Lunch
    • Pasta salad (4 syns), new potatoes (free), tomato and cucumber (speed)
  • Dinner
    • Chilli (speed, protein and free), rice (free), hot sauce (1 syn)
  • Snacks
  • Exercise
    • 15 minute dog walk, 5 minutes yoga

Thursday 12th January

  • Breakfast
    • Fruit smoothie (5 syns)
  • Lunch
    • Orzo (free), veg (speed), dijon mustard (1 syn)
  • Dinner
    • Lentil sheperds pie(1.5 syns), cabbage and carrot(speed), mushy peas (free)
  • Snacks
    • 2 slices of rye bread (HexB and 6 syns)
  • Exercise
    • 35 minutes gym

Friday 13th January

  • Breakfast
    • Tomatoes (speed), rye bread with sunflower seeds (HexB and 6 syns)
  • Lunch
    • Baked potato (free) and beans (protein/free)
  • Dinner
    • Quorn fishless fingers (4.5 syns), slimming world chips, mushy peas (free), cabbage and carrots (speed)
  • Snacks
  • Exercise
    • 2 x 15 minute dog walk, 5 minutes of yoga

Saturday 14th January

  • Breakfast
    • Potato Scone (3 syns), homemade hashbrowns, baked beans (free), tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach(speed)
  • Lunch
    • Homemade houmous (free), tomato, spinach, lettuce (speed), bread (HexB)
  • Dinner
    • Baked tomato risotto (1 syn for nooch), cauliflower and brocolli (speed) chilli sauce (1 syn)
  • Snacks
    • Crackers (4.5 syns)
    • Banana soreen bar (4.5 syns)
  • Exercise
    • 40 minute dog walk, 20 miniute jog/walk with daughter, 5 minutes yoga

Sunday 15th January

  • Breakfast
    • Mini chickpea omelette (2.5 syns), potato scone (3 syns) homemade hashbrows, baked beans (free), tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach(speed)
  • Lunch
    • Lentil and Veg Soup (free), Bread (1/2 HexB)
  • Dinner
    • Roast dinner with quorn fillet, roast and new potatoes, parsnips, peas (free), carrots, cabbage and brocolli(speed) and gravy (1.5 syns)
  • Snacks
    • Soreen banana loaf (4.5 syns), 2 plums
  • Exercise
    • 15 minute walk with the dog x 2, 45 minutes at the gym

Monday 16th January

  • Breakfast
    • Costa oat and banana smoothie (no honey – 5 syns)
  • Lunch
    • Beetroot (speed), rice (free), Chilli sauce (1)
  • Dinner
    • Tomato Pasta Sauce (All speed), wholemeal pasta (free), Nooch (1 syn), Chilli sauce (1 syn), Spinach (speed)
  • Snacks
    • 2 x Rye (HexB and 6 syns), Banana
  • Exercise
    • 15 minute walk with the dog

Tuesday 17th January

  • Breakfast
    • Fruit Smoothie (5 syns)
  • Lunch
    • Tomato and Onion Pasta (free)
  • Dinner
    • Sandwich Thin (HexB), Bean Burger (9 syns!), parsnip and carrot chips (speed), tomato, cucumber and onion (speed)
  • Snacks
    • Potato Hoops (4 syns)
  • Exercise
    • Walk with dog 15 minutes

There was this weeks diary, honestly, I felt it wasn’t quite as good as the week before, this rye bread is a bit of a problem, although it is very good for me with the seeds/being wholegrain, I need to be careful because it is 6 syns a slice! I’m also enjoying the smoothies, it’s annoying they need to be synned, I don’t eat any more fruit in them than I would be anyway, I do consider just not synning them but we will see how I get on anyway. I lost 1 and a half pounds, so not too bad. Reached 48.5 overall (.5 until it’s three and a half stone!), and 14.5 now at slimming world meaning I got my stone award!

You can see my previous weeks diary here, and remember to follow me on twitter, instagram or facebook, or you can add me on my fitness pal or fitbit.

Zombies Run | Weight Loss Apps

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

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

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

Zombies Run Abel Township

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

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

Zombies Run Previous Missions Zombies Run Mission Types

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

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

Zombies Run Stats

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

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

Fitbit | Weight Loss Apps

The second app I’m speaking about really is more a tool and an app, it’s fitbit and their associated application and website. I currently own a charge 2, have previously owned a charge HR, one, and a zip. This has been over a number of years, since 2011 also, and at one point I kept accidentally washing them!

The fitbit’s first and foremost capability is that of a pedometer, for the charge 2 you wear it on your wrist and it tracks your steps. On top of that it also tracks stairs climbed (although I find this pretty inaccurate, especially on windy days), active minutes (where you are moving more than just a gentle walk) and it prompts you to do 250 steps per hour to remain active throughout the day.

There are two different dashboards depending on whether you are using the mobile app or the website, however they both show the same information. The website dashboard is completely customisable, you can drag around tiles to order the information you want to see, or remove and add things as you like.fitbit mobile dashboard

fitbit website dashboard

 

 

 

 

Additionally, the charge 2 also tracks your heart rate using a little sensor which is against your upper wrist. This keeps track of your resting heart rate, and exercise heart rate. When you are completing exercise that is more than walking, you can set it into exercise mode. There are a number of modes for different types, for example run allows the charge to use your phones gps to track where your run was, there is also elliptical, treadmill, weights etc, that are better set up as opposed to the standard fitbit measurements.

fitbit heart rate

The charge 2 also tracks your sleep, it can sense when you have went to sleep, when you move around, and when you wake up. You set the time goals for this but this is a great feature. You can see your sleep on a weekly basis and also look at individual nights.

fitbit sleepfitbit more sleep

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The integration with my fitness pal is very good as well, your steps are passed over as are your calories burned, although I do find these on the high side. These are added to your diary as a fitbit adjustment, you can also allow negative adjustments so if you’ve had a day you’ve not moved from the couch then fitbit will take away calories.

I actually really like my fitbit and do find that it motivates me to walk more, I park further away from shops, walk to them rather than drive, if I’m close to my active hourly goal I will get up and walk around just to hit it. I like tracking my sleep, as I get up so early I find I often struggle with getting “enough” sleep, but have found with time and monitoring that I function perfectly well on less than the recommended 8 hours, in fact I can’t remember the last time I got anywhere near that, 6 and a half  to seven is sufficient for me, but without the long term tracking I may have worried about this more.

You can add friends to your fitbit friends list, then you can participate in challenges, these could be the workweek challenge, or weekend challenges, or just one day challenges. These are good for motivation, they also added other challenges that take you on a journey through other places, seeing landmarks, having to walk a certain distance. I’ve only tried one of these and it was interesting, but not necessary.

The charge 2 charges by connecting it to a USB cable with special connection which they give you when you purchase it. The battery lasts around 5 days, and it will give you a warning notification on your phone around a day before it needs charged. Charging only takes around an hour which is pretty quick.

There is also a guided breathing exercise on the charge, for 2 minutes and 5. I love meditation but sometimes don’t have the time, this little exercise is good as it vibrates when you breathe in and out, so you can shut your eyes, get comfortable and breathe along with it. It’s a nice little touch.

You can also receive notifications from your phone, for example when I am receiving a call my fitbit vibrates and the number of the caller flashes on the screen. Also when I get a text message the sender name and first bit of the message scrolls across the screen, again, a nice touch.

Overall, whether you get a fitbit or not comes down to whether you like tracking. I absolutely love tracking my life, activity, food, sleep, thoughts, progress. I’m not sure why I love it so much but the fitbit really enables me to do this with lots of information. I can’t really imagine life without my fitbit and imagine I will always have one. There are fancier models than the one I have, they use gps more, look more like watches, however, for me the charge 2 is the perfect level of functionality and price. My fitbit cost £120,  but it really was £120 well spent, some of the more expensive models are up to £160, and you can get a zip (which really is just a pedometer with access to the app/website) for £45. There are other pedometers but the amount of value that is given by the app, integration and the functionality as a whole definitely makes me recommend it.

My Fitness Pal | Weight Loss Apps

As part of my weight loss apps series, the first app (and website) I’m going to cover is My Fitness Pal. My Fitness Pal is a free app for android, apple and windows, all you need to provide to sign up is an email address and a password, this makes you an account with a username.

my fitness pal pic

My Fitness Pal has been around for a number of years, according to wikipedia it started in 2005, and in 2015 had 80 million users. I became a member in November 2011, so just over 6 years ago. It’s highly unusual for me to use an app for that long unless I really love it, and I really do love my fitness pal.

In it’s simplest form, my fitness pal is a food tracking application, allowing you to track calories in vs calories out. When you sign up you set a number of goals, give it your personal information, and it gives you a target calorie amount to aim for. Then, when you eat or drink, you search for the food in the database and add it to your diary. When you have finished your day, you press complete and your diary is logged. You diary, weight, everything can be set to public or private depending on what you prefer.

My fitness pal is a lot more than just a food tracking app, you can add exercise, link it with other applications and devices for more accurate tracking, it has it’s own feed, where you can see you and your friends updates, there is a busy online community of forums and groups, it has a blog facility, you track your weight over the years, it really is a special app, made even more special being that it is free. They have recently introduced a premium version, but even with my high levels of use I haven’t subscribed, and don’t think it’s necessary at the moment, however I may in the future.

For food, you can set targets for your macro’s and nutrients, it really is very customisable, I have changed my aims to 60% carbs, 20% protein, 20% fat, and I find this achievable following a vegan diet. I am also aiming to lose 2 pounds a week (when my body agrees!) and using my height/weight/age and activity level, my fitness pal suggests around 1320 calories per day. Additionally, I have my fitbit linked to my fitness pal, so it also keeps track of my steps, and estimated calories burned. If I had one criticism it is that the calories burned is always, and I mean always overestimated, but I’m used to this now. It is a hot topic of debate whether to eat back any exercise calories, as any you gain via exercise are added to your total. Due to the overestimation, most people on the forums suggest eating around 50% of your calories back, I only eat any back if I’ve had a really active day.

I love the support of my fitness pal, I have real life friends on there, people who I’ve never met who we have supported each other for years, many people who are just serious about weight loss. (You can find me here, feel free to send me a friends request!). It’s a great feeling when you log a weight loss and your friends like and comment to see congratulations. You also get streaks for logging in, as you can see from the below picture I’m currently on a 410 day streak, my longest ever. my fitness pal feed

The food database of my fitness pal is also comprehensive, initially, years ago a lot of the foods were American, but over the years more and more people have been adding food (myself included) and pretty much everything is on there, the only thing I would say is to keep an eye on the nutrients, sometimes entries don’t have iron/calcium etc, I will go for a different version that has similar calories if it has the nutrients.

my fitness pal diary

Calorie counting can become addictive, and of course focusing on it too much isn’t necessarily advisable, however, by logging everything in my fitness pal it allows for you to see exactly what you are eating, and when. You can customise meals, add recipes, it is very comprehensive and I would recommend it to anyone wishing to track their food, exercise and ultimately lose weight.

The app and the website are a little different, the app allows for you to see your full weight loss history since joining, whereas the website only allows for the previous year, here is mine, a bit of a rollercoaster!

my fitness pal weight

To end this post, if it’s not clear whether I would recommend using my fitness pal, the answer is a resounding yes. I love the app, love the food database, love the linking with other apps and devices, love the social aspect of it, I really just think it’s great. Over the years it has continue to mature, they have continued to add more features and I think it will just continue to grow. I’m looking forward to being there to see it.

Running Update 1 | 5k Training

Since it’s a month since I posted my running aspirations post, I’ve decided to share an update. I will try to do this monthly to keep me accountable to the training. Sadly, the last month has not been good for my running goals, as I posted a few weeks ago I made the New Years Resolution to run a 10k this year, but when I posted that I’d not been at the gym for a week or so, and didn’t go back until Sunday of last week (8th January).

While I was previously running for 35 minutes non stop, after a few weeks off this just felt like too much for me, and was even putting me off going back. So I decided to take a more structured approach and I’m back on the couch to 5k. I’m using the run double couch to 5k app, I believe to unlock everything it was £1.99, although that’s not necessary to begin with, it gives you a free amount of runs first. It seems quite comprehensive and goes all the way up to half marathon training.

I’ve completed week 1 this week on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday at the gym, and will continue to go on these days. I actually found week 1 totally fine, but you are actually only running for a minute at a time. I have been putting the treadmill at a faster speed than I was previously, I would like to get my pace up a little, I felt as if I was stumbling along rather than running.

I’m looking forward to the rest of the plan, it is nine weeks long, so hopefully by the end of that I will be looking to move onto the 5k to 10k plan and making one of my New Years Resolutions come true!

You can follow me on instagram, twitter, facebook, myfitnesspal and fitbit if you would like to keep up with my journey.

Vegan Slimming World Diary 1 | 04/01/17 – 10/01/17

I had a good week this week, a good weight loss, didn’t feel hungry, ate plenty of fruit and veg, less processed foods, all round very smooth week. I lost 3.5 pounds which for me is a lot in a week! I also got slimmer of the week, combined with losing 1.5 pounds the week before, I’m guessing most people were still gaining at that point, either way I was over the moon.

vegan slimming world diary 1

Wednesday 4th January

  • Breakfast
    • Tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach (speed), new potatoes, baked beans (free)
  • Lunch
    • Cabbage, brocolli, onion, carrot, mushroom (free) stir fry, soy sauce (free)
  • Dinner
    • Portobello Mushroom(free) burgers in a sandwich thin (HexB), potato wedges (free), salad (speed), sauces (3 syns)
  • Snacks
  • Exercise
    • 15 minute dog walk

Thursday 5th January

  • Breakfast
    • Chickpea Omelette (5 syns), baked beans (free)
  • Lunch
    • Poha (free), veg (speed), hot chilli sauce (1 syn)
  • Dinner
    • Lentil sheperds pie(1.5 syns), cabbage(speed), mushy peas (free)
  • Snacks
  • Exercise
    • 15 minute dog walk

Friday 6th January

  • Breakfast
    • Fruit smoothie (5 syns)
  • Lunch
    • Leftover lentil sheperds pie(1.5 syns), cabbage(speed)
  • Dinner
    • Baked Rice/Tomato Risotto (free and speed), Slimming world chips (free), pepper and cabbage (speed)
  • Snacks
  • Exercise
    • 15 minute dog walk

Saturday 7th January

  • Breakfast
    • Chickpea omelette (5 syns), baked beans (free), tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach(speed)
  • Lunch
    • Homemade houmous (free), veg (speed), tomato and veg soup (speed)
  • Dinner
  • Snacks
  • Exercise
    • 65 minute dog walk

Sunday 8th January

  • Breakfast
    • Mini chickpea omelette (2.5 syns), homemade hashbrows, baked beans (free), tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach(speed)
  • Lunch
    • Homemade houmous falafels (free) salad(speed)
  • Dinner
    • Roast dinner with stuffing(4 syns), roast and new potatoes, parsnips, peas (free), carrots, cabbage and brocolli(speed) and gravy (1.5 syns)
  • Snacks
    • Banana, Tangerine
  • Exercise
    • 15 minute walk with the dog, 60 minutes at the gym

Monday 9th January

  • Breakfast
    • Sandwich thin (HexB) with 1/2 can of low salt/sugar baked beans, 5 mushrooms(speed), 1 tomato(speed)
  • Lunch
    • Teriyaki (2 syns) 1/2 pepper, 1/2 onion, 2 mushrooms, green cabbage, red chilli, 1/2 courgette(all speed), 80g dry white rice (free)
  • Dinner
    • Tomato Pasta (All speed), wholemeal pasta (free), Garlic Bread (7 syns)
  • Snacks
    • Banana, Tangerine
  • Exercise
    • 15 minute walk with the dog, 5 minutes yoga

Tuesday 10th January

  • Breakfast
    • Rye Bread (6 syns), Homemade Houmous (free), spinach and tomato (speed)
  • Lunch
    • Stirfried veg (free), wholewheat cous cous (free) chilli sauce (1)
  • Dinner
    • Mini wrap (4.5 syns), rice and beans (free), veg and salad (speed), chilli sauce (1 syns)
  • Snacks
  • Exercise
    • Gym 60 minutes, Dog walk 15 minutes, yoga 5 minutes

I’m planning on having a similar week this week, if I managed a 3 pound loss I would be at 50 pounds, also I would be over a stone and a half, and I would be over a stone since starting slimming world, so I’m really giving it my all this week!

Remember to follow me on instagram, facebook and twitter to see how I’m doing.

Weight Loss Apps | Weight Loss Tools

I’m a big fan of technology, and when used in the right way I think technology can be a powerful tool to aid life in general, but especially weight loss, plus I’m a massive fan of tracking, so I’ve decided to do a series of posts on some of my favourite weight loss apps. Some of these apps I have used for years, some newer, but they are great for supporting weight loss efforts.

What is a weight loss app? Well, it is a mobile application usually, something that can be used every day to track behaviour mainly. They can also be used for motivation, sending push notification reminders to exercise/log food etc. Some apps also have an associated website which I like.

Why is tracking good? Tracking allows me to first of all view what my normal behaviour is. As I’m trying to lose weight, my normal behaviour needed to be modified in some way, to become a new, more healthy behaviour. I think sometimes it can be easy to not see where you are going wrong when you aren’t tracking, tracking allows me to see this. Tracking my food continually allows me to see good days and bad, I can look back to when I lost a lot of weight to see what, and how much I was eating. Tracking my weight lets me see my loss on a graph vs time. Steps, my ongoing activity levels.

What do I track? My food intake, my workouts, my step count, my sleep, my feelings in a paper journal, my to-do list and tasks. I track a lot! Which isn’t necessary for everyone, but maybe tracking food or exercise is a good place to start with weight loss.

What do I use to track? For food I have used the free app and website My Fitness Pal for years. Their database of food is outstanding, even in the UK, I think once once have I not found what I was looking for (so I added it, as it’s very user friendly).

For exercise I use a few things, my fitbit mainly, this synchronises with my fitness pal though which is great as I can see how many steps, and how many extra calories I’m owed from a lot of exercise. My charge 2 also tracks sleep, heart rate (resting and exercise), active minutes and allows for focused breathing. I also use another couple of apps I will review for exercise, not for tracking, although they both do track progress, the first is Zombies Run. Man, I love that app! It’s a game-based running workout, with an ongoing story which you really get invested in! The second is a couch to 5k app, which I’ve only just started using. I also occasionally use an app for yoga (down dog). Additionally, I use the slimming world app to check syns, and on the website you can log exercise to receive awards, log food etc, which I do intermittently. One of my most used apps is a task tracking to-do list, wunderlist. I probably won’t cover this as it’s not specifically about weight loss, but it’s such a great app I needed to get it in there for a special mention.

Over the next couple of weeks I will do a few posts detailing the features of these apps, what I think is good about them, and what is not so good. You can follow me on instagram, facebook and twitter to see more.

Vegetable Curry | Dinner

I often struggle making tasty curry’s, but this vegetable curry is a hard one to mess up. It took around 40 minutes to make, and has 1.5 syns and was enough for two biggish servings, if you doubled the quantities it would be fine for more servings.

Vegetable Curry

Ingredients

  • 2 white potatoes cubed
  • 1 large courgette sliced
  • 1/2 red pepper sliced
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 10 mushrooms sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp of mild curry powder
  • 2 tsp of coconut milk powder
  • 1/2 a tub of passata
  • spray oil

Method

Using spray oil and a little of the curry powder, put the potatoes, courgette and red pepper in the oven for around 20 minutes to soften.

Once they are soft, sautee the onion, mushroom and garlic in a pot for a few minutes, then add the remaining curry powder and ensure it is mixed well, cook for another couple of minutes. Add the veg from the oven and passata and mix.

At this point I boiled the kettle and added an undetermined amount of water, you have to cook it on the hob for around 20 minutes to ensure the spices get through it all, so add enough to keep it liquidy, I would guess around 400ml. (This seems to be how much of my cooking goes, just throw it in and hope for the best!).

In the last 5 minutes I mixed my coconut powder with water, around 1/4 of a cups worth, to make a thin milk. You could also use coconut milk out of a tin if you like, I just find the powder is easier to store especially when you only need a little. 1 level tsp is 1.5 syns. I added the milk last and cooked for another couple of minutes.

We had this with rice and more speed veg in the way of purple and green cabbage. It was lovely, not too spicy, I could have chucked in some cayenne pepper but my husband wouldn’t have at it then so mild was fine.

vegetable curry

Remember you can find me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for more.

New Years Resolutions/ Reflecting on 2017

Plant Based Simple Menu | Simplify for 2017

As part of my word of 2017, simplifying my food is high on the list. This has two prongs, I am now eating a mostly plant based menu, but also, I want to spend less time thinking about and making food. I do enjoy cooking, especially if it’s a special meal, but standard week day meals really need to be quicker, I would like to remove some of the decisions about dinner from my mind. As a result of this I have created a plant based simple menu which I will follow week by week. It allows for some movement in what we actually eat but every evening will have a theme.

I had heard of this technique before, but most recently I listened to the No Meat Athlete podcast who had Sid Garza Hillman on. The episode was about simple meal planning, and they were discussing using certain nights for certain foods, which is exactly what I will be doing. Breakfasts and lunches will be chosen the night before when I’m filling in my bullet journal, and will be based on what I currently have in the fridge.

Plant Based Simple Menu – Slimming World Friendly

Breakfasts

  • Porridge (refrigerator porridge or prepared in the morning) with fruit
  • New potatoes, tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach, baked beans
  • Hash browns/Potato Scones, tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach baked beans (weekends only)
  • Fruit (and sometimes Oat) smoothie with Oatly

Lunch

  • Veg stir fry with soy sauce
  • Huge Salad with chilli sauce
  • Baked Potato with beans and salad
  • Homemade houmous with veg
  • Homemade Soup
  • Some combination of rice/quinoa/grain with beans and whatever veg I have
  • Falafel made from homemade houmous/Tofu/Seitan with salad

Dinner

  • Monday
    • Wholewheat Pasta, usually with homemade tomato and basil sauce but I may make other plant based sauces
  • Tuesday
    • Homemade veggie burger, either with bread or lettuce, with homemade wedges/chips and salad OR rice and spicy beans in lettuce wraps with chips/wedges and salad
  • Wednesday
    • Mixed Bean Chilli with rice or chips or a baked potato, with vegetables or salad
  • Thursday
    • Green lentil sheperds pie, or vegetables and mashed potato, basically something with mashed potato night, with loads of vegetables.
  • Friday
    • Risotto, can be mushroom and onion, tomato, any type, served with a salad/vegetables
  • Saturday
  • Sunday
    • A roast dinner of some type, seitan, quorn, stuffing with potatoes, vegetables and gravy.

My plant based simple menu really isn’t that different to what I currently eat, other than I’m trying to cut out most of the processed foods, refined sugar and bread. Having structure though for each week takes away the thought required to plan. This isn’t the exact meal plan for my whole family, some aren’t vegan and some are fussy, but this can be slightly changed for them to fit in so it really should remove much of the decisions associated with food.

The meals are slimming world friendly, either no or low syn, so if I stick to this I will be set. I will also be tracking on my fitness pal again, I’ve been logging in to maintain my streak (400 days!) but I will start tracking again, it always helps.

New Years Resolutions/ Reflecting on 2017

New Years Resolutions | Word for 2017

New Years Resolutions and my Word of 2017

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

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

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

My word for 2017 is Simplify.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Refrigerator Porridge | Overnight Oats | Breakfast

This refrigerator porridge recipe is very straightforward, but is a quick breakfast that is prepared the night before, ready for you to eat in the morning. I often have this after going to the gym, I’m usually in a rush to get ready so don’t have time to prepare something in the morning.

Refrigerator Porridge Ingredients

  • 30g Rolled Oats
  • 5g Chia Seeds
  • Squeeze of Agave Nectar
  • 3 tbsp plain vegan yoghurt
  • Rice Milk/Almond Milk/Any Plant Milk
  • Frozen Berries
  • Banana/Plum
  • Optional: Maple syrup, peanut/any nut butter

Method

Mix up all of the ingredients except the banana/plum. It should be fairly thick, if it isn’t you can add more oats to thicken it. Cover it and put it in the fridge overnight. Next morning it should have thickened up quite a bit, give it a mix, add a little more agave nectar if you want to sweeten it more, then add either a chopped banana, plus, apple, pear etc. That’s it! Really straight forward, quick, and tasty.

refrigerator porridge

If you happen to be following Slimming World, this is 1 syn roughly if you use your Healthy Extra A on the milk (or some of it) and your Healthy Extra B on the oats and chia seeds. 0.5 for agave and 0.5 for the yoghurt if using alpro.

Running Aspirations | Exercise

Fairly recently I decided to take a step back towards exercise. My weight loss has been sooo slow, I’m not sure if my body is just reluctant to lose more weight, I have struggled at the three stone mark previously, never really breaking through it. Alongside joining slimming world, I have also signed up for a gym membership at the gym local to me, it’s a small gym but has all of the equipment that is required for me. Although I will eventually be taking on weights, at the moment I am really focusing on burning calories, and cardio. And I have a secret aspiration, I want to take up running, specifically running long distances.

I am slightly confused why running is something I would like to do, I hated running when I was at school, going so far as to stop with my friends and take shortcuts to avoid having to run the whole distance. When me and my now husband first got together we were both rather thinner, and he loved running. We occasionally went out running together, I remember the first time I ran a mile without stopping, I was so happy with myself. At that moment I thought wow, I could be a runner! Sadly, I put on weight massively over the years, and while I have been out for an occasional jog, I’ve never progressed.

Around a year ago I started using the app Zombies Run, I love this, but I was walking it, I have now nearly completed up to season four, all walking my dog. I have dipped my toe in the water with couch to 5k a couple of times but never completed the plan, the embarrassment of running outside and the willpower required to go out no matter the weather is just too much for me. My gym however has lots of treadmills, so this is where I find myself mainly when I go there.

Why do I want to be a runner? I’m not 100% sure, I’ve mentioned before but I listen to podcasts by Rich Roll, and No Meat Athlete and I find both of these highly inspirational. I have dreams of stepping out of the door and being able to run (or jog slowish) for hours. There is something about the freedom of it that just appeals to me.

My problems with running:

  • I’m very overweight – an obvious problem, when you’re lugging around all the extra weight any form of cardio exercise becomes harder. I am trying to help that issue though!
  • The where and when – I’m running at the gym currently, that is good, but it means actually going to the gym. I have limited time to do this but I do try to fit it into my schedule three times a week. I need to go in the mornings which leads onto the next issue…
  • The energy expended – After a run I am often completely wiped out. Running at this weight is tiring. Being wiped out isn’t great for the rest of the day.
  • Mental weakness – I’m not sure if everyone suffers with the same mental weakness when running, it something I really should research into further. Half of the time I’m running I’m thinking don’t stop, the other half I’m thinking stop. I wish I could get that split down a little. I try to focus on how many minutes I have left, constantly repeating that to myself, 35, 35 35, 35…34, 34, 34 etc
  • Speed – I’m really really slow. I am only 5 foot 2 but I’m lucky if I’m jogging at 6 km/h. I would like to build that up.

Currently I can run for around 35 minutes at 6km/h, doing just over 3km. My first aim is to get this up to 5k at around 50 minutes. I have joined a local parkrun but don’t want to go until I know I can run 5k. I try to add 5 minutes on occasionally to my time, every 3 or 4 visits, but man it is a struggle! I need to work on my mental strategy, when you’re telling yourself that this run is killing you it can’t be good for your physical capabilities!

My running plans for the next month :

  • Rather than adding on 5 minutes (which seems like a very long time!) I will add on 2, every visit or two.
  • I will keep going 3 times a week.
  • I will research mental strategies and what is the best thing to think.
  • I will attempt to lengthen my stride. I always feel small and tight when running, and I guess I should really feel the opposite of that,

I will post about this again in a month, 11th January, with the aim of being able to run 5k in just under an hour. I would really like to join the vegan runners club, but feel I’m a bad example at the moment, so once I can do 5k I’m going to do that.

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