Struggling with weight loss

Like many women, I first started struggling with my weight as a teenager. I seemed to go from being a bit chubby to being very much overweight in no time at all. Unfortunately, with no real idea of what to do about it, I crash dieted. I lost weight very quickly and felt happy about it (or at least I thought so at the time). People commented on it, asking what my secret was and laughing when I said I just didn’t eat much.

About a year down the line, I looked in the mirror one day and it was like an illusion had broken. I wasn’t dangerously skinny – a size 8 – but it looked ridiculous. I have a naturally curvy figure so my hips kind of jutted out and I had a tiny waist but a large bust that just didn’t match at all. I snapped out of it and started eating more. I went up to a size 10 and looked so much healthier. I stayed at that weight for a couple of years, thinking my troubles with weight were far behind me.

Then when I got pregnant at 19, I inevitably gained weight. I didn’t really think about it. Gaining weight during pregnancy is just the norm and somehow I assumed it would just come off again once I had the baby. It did not.

If anything I gained even more since having my daughter. I think it was a mixture of a few things. In my teen years, any stress killed my appetite but now, stress makes me comfort eat. Struggling with depression only made it worse. When my daughter was a baby, I stayed at home most of the time, dragging myself to playgroups so that she could make friends. Then we moved to Cardiff and I became a bit more confident, less anxious and made a few friends myself. Then I realised that I’d put on quite a bit of weight. I was 14 stone, about 4 stone heavier than my ideal weight. I actually tried a crash diet again, thinking it had worked so well previously (remember, I wasn’t mentally healthy at this point). It didn’t work. I didn’t have the willpower to stop myself eating constantly.

Once I started dealing with my mental health, dealing with my physical health became easier.

Now I know I’ve gotten into a habit of yo-yo dieting. I’ll manage four weeks of a really strict diet and lose maybe half a stone, then I’ll have a bad day or week and fall back on my bad eating habits. I need to change that. I’m back on a diet. But instead of trying to stick to 1200 calories per day, I’m going for 1600 calories per day. The weight loss will be slower but it’ll be easier to stick to. I can allow myself a few treats and not feel like I’ve failed.

I’m also meal prepping more. Yesterday I made a 4 portions of black bean chilli, some roasted chickpeas (never tried these before but they are So Good), boiled some eggs as snacks and bagged up lots of fruit, veggies, nuts and dried fruit so that I’ve got healthy snacks on hand. Hopefully this means it’ll be easier to avoid unhealthy foods.

For a while I tried exercising for an hour every day. But with family and work as well, it just isn’t something I can do. I started feeling like a failure when I didn’t manage it. I also forgot that I can count the walking I do as exercise. I walk my daughter to school each day – that’s about 2 hours altogether. Plus, I’m always on my feet at work. I’m not an inactive person, really. So I’ve cut down my exercise goal to half an hour, at least four times a week and added in some yoga, which really helps with depression and stress. I’m trying to take more long walks. Like if I have a day off, I’ll drop my daughter at school then go walking for hours in the park or to somewhere interesting, like Cardiff Bay or Castell Coch.

I’m starting to learn that I need to focus more on being healthy than on being thinner. Yes, I should lose weight. But the way I’ve going about it makes my depression and anxiety worse. I’ll have a pizza takeaway then feel terrible for days afterwards, like I’ve failed completely. Instead, I need to realise that if I eat healthily most of the time, the occasional takeaway or slice of cake isn’t going to hurt me.

Most importantly, I need to keep in mind that healthy eating (as opposed to either crash dieting or overeating) makes me feel happier. Bad depression days are more likely to occur when I’ve been strictly dieting or after I’ve binged. It’s all about balance!

My goals used to be to be a size 10 again. Now my goal is to feel good.

Wish me luck with it!

 

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The Weeks Eats {14.4.17}

So we’re now on Easter Holidays! Is it just me or is this year going by really quickly?

With Pip at home and as we had family visiting earlier this week, we’ve been doing lots of Easter baking! To an extent, my diet has fallen by the wayside a little, although I am trying to keep with working and making sure that even if I’m having a few treats, my main meals are still healthy and low calorie. I have accepted that I’m simply not going to lose as much weight over the next couple of weeks.

But you’ve got to treat yourself, especially at special times of the year! So here are our two favourite Easter baking recipes:

Cornflake Nests

A staple recipe when cooking with children, we’ve been making these every year since Pip was about two. Only this year, now at 7 years old, has Pip been allowed to stir the melting chocolate in the saucepan (obviously with close supervision!).

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Ingredients: 

150g cornflakes

150g milk chocolate

75g butter

4 tbsp golden syrup

Cadbury’s Mini Eggs (optional)

Method:

Break the chocolate into small pieces and add to a small saucepan, along with the butter and golden syrup. Over a low to medium heat, stir until everything has melted. Leave for a few minutes to cool a bit (maybe while you weigh out your cornflakes).

Put the cornflakes in a large mixing bowl then pour the melted ingredients over them. Stir thoroughly to coat all the cornflakes but be careful not to crush them!

Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases. Top with a couple of mini eggs, if using. Put them in the fridge for about an hour to set. Then tuck in!

Carrot Cupcakes

I wouldn’t call these healthy exactly but they are a little better than a standard cupcake. I don’t often use oil in cakes but that plus the carrots make these super moist – delicious!

carrot cupcakes

Ingredients: 

200g carrot, grated

200g self raising flour

175g light brown sugar

1tsp bicarbonate of soda

2tsp mixed spice

zest 1 orange

2 eggs

150ml vegetable or sunflower oil

225g icing sugar

3-4 tbsp hot water

1 tsp vanilla extract

Decorations (optional)

Method:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees (160 degrees fan, gas mark 4). Line a 12 hole muffin tray with paper cases.

Add to a large mixing bowl the flour, sugar, bicarbonate of soda, mixed spice and orange zest. Mix well.

In another bowl or jug, add the oil and eggs and whisk together thoroughly.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, along with the carrot. Mix everything until combined.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared paper cases.

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Then allow to cool completely before icing.

To make the icing, put the icing sugar in a mixing bowl, add the vanilla extract then gradually add the boiling water, mixing as you go. You should end up with a fairly thick icing but not a paste.

Use a spoon to pour icing over the cakes (who cares if it dribbles a bit, right?), then use the back of the spoon to spread the icing to cover each cake completely.

Add decorations, if using (I found these cute little carrots for mine but you could use sprinkles or anything else that takes your fancy!). Allow fifteen minutes or so for the icing to set.

 

This week I also tried out another meal prep idea. If you read the last The Weeks Eats, you’ll have seen my black bean and veg stew that lasted me a few days. This time, I’ve gone for turkey mince. I sautéed it in a little oil with a minced clove of garlic. Once it was cooked, I mixed half of it with chopped tomatoes and mixed herbs and the other half I mixed with chopped spring onions, soy sauce, honey and ginger. I shared each mixture between two food containers then added some steamed vegetables. Once they were cool, I popped them in the fridge. Four days of lovely lunches ready to go!

PicMonkey Collage-2

Plenty of other bloggers have been posting their own Easter treats too! The following are a few of my favourites. Alice from NewYoungMum made these awesome looking Speckled Easter Cake – I love the alternating sponges inside. These Easter Egg Sprinkle Cookies from Sarah’s Little Kitchen are so cute! As a big peanut butter fan, I’d love to try these Chocolate Peanut Butter Easter Eggs from Invisible No More – so beautifully decorated too!

So that’s my second The Weeks Eats done! I hope you enjoyed it. I’m hoping for some nice weather next week so I might be posting some of our favourite picnic ideas and recipes!

Thanks for reading.

It’s all good…

The title of this post might seem odd to a lot of people. There’s a lot of anxiety in Britain right now after the EU referendum and with the political parties picking new leaders. I was getting pretty stressed over this stuff so I’m writing this post to focus on the good things that are happening in my life right now…

After six years of study, I have finally been awarded my degree! 

It’s not something I really thought I’d manage, after dropping out of sixth form and having to support myself living alone at a fairly young age. But with lots of encouragement and support from my Husband (thank you!) and some very useful funding, I’ve done it! I really feel proud of myself, which is quite a rare thing for me. I feel like I’ve overcome the difficulties I had from my tricky childhood and I guess this is a real sign of how far I’ve come.

 

I had a night out with my Husband! 

This may sounds very mundane but fellow parents will know how rare this is. Even if we hire a babysitter, we can’t really relax. But this time, my lovely brother-in-law came to visit and looked after Pip while we went out. We had such a great time and it really reminded me of how we were before becoming parents. Of course I was suffering a bit the next day but it was worth it!

 

I’m actually managing to successfully diet! 

I have started diets too many times to count and they never go very well or last very long. But with my weight hitting an all time high, I’ve been really determined to do something about it. I’m now in my fifth week and I’ve lost just over a stone, just through eating healthily and exercising, mainly videos from Blogilates , a site full of free pilates and cardio videos, plus lots of healthy recipes and other tips. I’m starting to feel and see the difference in my body. I feel so much healthier and stronger than I did five weeks ago.

 

My work life is improving! 

Firstly, I’ve been moved departments at work. This wasn’t exactly my choice but it’s meant I have more working hours and therefore a bit more of a wage, which is always nice. Plus, being trained at something new is always good. I’m also looking for full time work and I’ve had a couple of interviews recently which I’m really hopeful will lead somewhere good.

 

It’s nearly the summer holidays! 

I’m lucky enough to have some time off with Pip and even a little bit with Husband too. I’m busy planning tons of fun stuff to do. It’s going to be an awesome six weeks!

 

So there! Plenty of great things are happening right now. I think it’s really important to remember that when things get tough.

What good things are happening in your life right now?

Change is Good (and healthy)

I am not healthy. It’s something I realised just after Christmas. I know many of us put on a few pounds over the festive season, regretted as soon as January begins. But for me, this was a little more than that. I realised that I have gained some really unhealthy habits. It’s not even just weight gain. I don’t feel healthy. I know that’s a bit of an abstract thing to say but it’s just that feeling of unhealthiness. I’ve never been skinny and I’ve been a bit overweight since having Pip but I always felt ok. Now I actually don’t, which is quite worrying really.

I do walk for around two hours every weekday but that is all of the exercise I regularly do. I’ll occasionally do half an hour of pilates but nothing regular.

I eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. The problem is, I also eat plenty of everything else. It’s always been a problem of mine. I am always hungry. Put food near me and I’m bound to eat it. It’s shameful really, having so little self control.

So, I need to make some changes. I am not going on a strict diet and exhausting exercise regime. I’ve been there and done that and it simply does not work for me. I do not have the self control. So it’s time for a different approach.

First of all,  I’m going to give the 5:2 diet a try. Supposedly it’s the diet for people who find it difficult to stick to diets. It’s also not very strict. You simply only eat 500 calories on two days of the week and try to eat reasonably for the other five days. No list of allowed foods or recipes. No disgusting shakes made from powder that never seems to quite dissolve. No special supplements.

Secondly, I’m going to make healthier food decisions. No, I’m not cutting out chocolate or banning takeaways. I’m simply going to choose healthier options. Instead of ice cream, I’ll choose frozen yoghurt. Instead of crisps, I’ll choose air popped popcorn. I’ll try to cut down on my portions a bit too. After she got a little used to eating treats over Christmas, I’ve imposed a ‘No treats on weekdays’ rule for Pip. Well, it seems a bit hypocritical if I say this to her then dive into the chocolates as soon as she’s in bed. So I’m going to try and stick to it as well. No chocolate or sweets on weekdays. That’s not denying myself them completely, it’s just putting a more healthy habit in place. Who knows, I might find myself enjoying these things a bit more if I have to wait for them.

Thirdly, I’m going to try and do some more regular exercise. I think twice a week to begin with then maybe push it up to three times. I really want to get back into jogging and I’ll stick with pilates too as my belly has been a mess for five years and it’s time I sorted it out!

I think the main thing is to remind myself that I actually enjoy lots of healthy foods. They don’t have to boring or taste bad. So I really want to look at a few recipes that are healthy, easy to make and taste yummy. Here are a few breakfast ones:

Honey & cinnamon porridge

Hot and comforting on a cold morning, this is also favourite of Pip’s. The honey and cinnamon honestly do make it taste just as good as porridge sweetened with sugar and much, much better than a fry up! Also, if you half the portion and use water instead of milk, it makes a great breakfast for fast days on the 5:2 diet.

40g porridge oats

270ml skimmed milk

2 tsp honey

a pinch of cinnamon

1. Add the oats and milk to a saucepan over a medium heat. Then add the honey and cinnamon.

2. Stir until the porridge is as thick as you prefer.

Banana Smoothie

Unlike lots of smoothie recipes, this has no expensive or strange ingredients and tastes wonderful. Also makes a quick and easy breakfast.

1 banana

250 ml skimmed milk

2 tsp honey

Put all ingredients into a blender, blend (obviously) and serve. So simple and so yummy.

Crumpets topped with yoghurt, berries and honey

I think this was one of the Hairy Biker’s diet recipes. I’ve only had it once or twice and, despite being healthy, it actually feels like a real treat! Fat free yoghurt is one of those ingredients that doesn’t cost any extra and I really don’t think tastes too different either.

2 crumpets

About 2 tbsp of fat free yoghurt

About 100g frozen berries (I like raspberries but you could use whichever you like best)

1 tsp honey

Put the frozen berries in a saucepan and heat to thaw and warm up. Creates lots of lovely juice too. Toast the crumpets and serve topped with the yoghurt, then the warm berries and some of their juice (if you use it all, you might find you get a soggy crumpet and nobody wants that…) and then drizzle the honey on top.

I’ll post some nice, healthy and simple lunch and dinner recipes at some point too.

I’m really hoping that with a few changes to my lifestyle, I’ll start to feel better again. Wish me luck!