Dieting part 5

So, this is the time of year when a lot of people decide to set a goal to lose weight after the festive period. Sometimes people opt for crash course diets or they set unrealistic goals, both of which are asking for failure as a crash course diet may well help you loose weight quickly but as soon as you started eating normally again the weight will creep back on and by setting unrealistic goals it can be all too easy to feel despondent by what you deem to be lack of progress and so it is easy to give up.

As you know, I am not a fan of diets as such but rather a healthy lifestyle that allows for food that you like and treats otherwise again, not allowing yourself these things will no doubt result in temptation and then giving up.

Of all the diets I have tried the most useful tool I have found is becoming aware of what I am eating which may sound simple, but you would be surprised how much we may not be aware in terms of what ingredients are in ready meals, how big our portion sizes actually are or how many calories we really are consuming. It’s all too easy to guess how many calories we think are in something or how much we’ve really eaten but that is setting yourself a trap.

Aside from Noom getting me to rethink my relationship with food and body confidence it has really helped me know how many calories I am consuming; how many I should be consuming and what types of food I am eating (they use a traffic light system).

To begin with it can be time consuming and tedious to enter everything you’ve eaten and figure out the portion size, but it definitely opens your eyes. It makes you think and often reconsider eating that extra slice of pizza or adding more green foods to your diet or having an extra cup or tea or water before you decide if you’re really hungry.

I never thought I would be saying that I have got used to this way of living but I certainly feel like it is now engrained in me. I feel as though I am much more knowledgeable about food and nutrition which must have contributed to me maintaining my goal weight for nearly a year now.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am by no means a health or fitness guru and never will be as I love my food too much and have never loved exercise.

I do however feel healthier and fitter than I ever have been and despite having had 2 children this is the first time in my life that I quite like my figure and feel comfortable in my own skin.  

I still allow myself to have treats and do not rule any food out of my diet. There are days when I know I eat more calories than I should or when I eat more red foods than I should, but I don’t beat myself up about it. I think that I would have an inkling if I thought I was putting on weight again just by how I feel or by how my clothes feel but I still weight myself quite often just so that I don’t start piling the weight back on again. The main reason for this is because I have always found it incredibly easy to put weight on but a lot harder to lose it.

My weight does fluctuate by a couple of pounds and sometimes a little more but that is when I am a little more controlled about what I eat. I don’t want to get back to being a size 18/20 and still to this day can’t believe that I am a size 12, because I have always had curves, I never thought I’d get below a size 14.

I have got into the mindset of generally trying to make healthier choices without depriving myself and this can be down to something as simple as do swaps such as having sweet potato instead of potato or making pizza from scratch rather than buying one from the shops. I try and fill up on salad or fruit or if I want a pizza I’ll try and have ½ pizza with salad instead of eating the whole pizza but then again sometimes I will eat the whole pizza and that’s ok.

I’m also a firm believer that it’s important not to skip meals…I know if I did I would no doubt end up reaching for something to keep me going which is unlikely to be the healthiest choice. It’s hard to grab something healthy on the go as we are surrounded by pastries, cakes, and chocolate at all the convenience shops. This is also a reason that I try to make sure I have a snack with me whenever I go out as I know what I am like. A good tip is to try and keep a couple of things in your car and at work to stop temptation.

Another thing to be aware of is boredom, when we can think we are hungry but we aren’t or if we are fidgety so it can be worth taking a minute to be aware of this before reaching for something. This can be a time when I try to do something instead or make a drink first.

If you do try any diets or a change of lifestyle, allow for hiccups and don’t beat yourself up if you have a wobble. Keep in mind your goal and your reason behind your goal and don’t get too het up about what the scales say as weight does fluctuate which doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t on the right tracks.

Dieting Part IIII

I am quite surprised that I have managed to keep the weight off that I have lost over the last 4 months, especially as I know I am not doing as much exercise as I should be doing. I believe that this is down to how Noom has changed my thought process when it comes to food, and I guess my relationship with food. I will always like my food and never want to feel restricted when it comes to food choices which is why I am not a fan of diets, because I feel they make you crave foods you are told to avoid and eventually give in.

I am still recording everything I eat, which not only tells me how many calories I have consumed, but also how many calories I should be consuming and how many I have left. I don’t worry too much about the traffic light system that it produces based on the food you have entered, however I am conscious to try and aim for more green foods. I still get a little grumpy when I feel I have had a healthy snack and it tells me it’s red such as nuts, seeds, seeded flatbread, natural fruit bars, peanut butter, rice cakes etc but on those occasions I don’t beat myself up if I go over my allocated calories in the red section.

I have tried calorie-controlled diets before and quickly got bored of writing it all down and trying to keep track, so I am not quite sure what is different this time. I chose to keep Noom even after reaching my goal weight as I felt that I needed it for a bit longer in case I had a wobble and to keep me going so that it really does become a lifestyle…which I think it has. No day goes by when I feel that I am missing out on something, and I do allow myself treats but it keeps me on track if I want to eat an entire tub of Ben & Jerrys dairy free ice cream!! (It’s really hard not to!!)

Recently I have found myself in a routine of knowing what I can eat and what works which is good, but I also feel that I am in a bit of a rut when it comes to thinking of different things I can eat and know that I am lacking a bit of variety. I pretty much live off salads, sweet potatoes, chicken, cauliflower rice and porridge. My aim is to try and mix it up a bit and my coach suggested some different meal ideas, but I have realised that I have been avoiding pasta, rice (no surprise there after living off it for a week when I did the ration challenge!), noodles and couscous, possibly because I feel they may make me put on weight again or at least make me look and feel bloated.

Part of my struggle to come up with different meal ideas is because I prioritise planning what my girls will be eating, and I know that I don’t always end up thinking about what I am going to eat, which is possibly why I have got in my comfort zone of what I tend to reach for when it comes to mealtimes. I feel like I need someone to inspire me (or ideally come and cook for me!!).

Now that I am hoping to become pregnant, I am slightly concerned that I will never return to this weight or clothes size again and whilst it isn’t the end of the world, I know that I would like to at least try. When I was pregnant with my youngest daughter, I definitely ate for 2 (adults!) and didn’t care, which may explain why I put on so much weight.

This time, obviously I know that I will put weight on, and my figure will change but I am determined to not use pregnancy as an excuse to eat for 2 and pig out. I really want to try and maintain a healthy diet and try and brush up on how many more calories my body actually needs and try and find healthy foods for these extra calories. I still intend to use Noom, not for weight loss but more for helping me feel in control throughout my pregnancy and afterwards when I hope to lose the baby weight.

Being the kind of person who likes to be organised I know that I want to go away and research what the recommendations are when it comes to diet and calorie intake during pregnancy so I can think of ways to avoid putting all the weight back on that I have lost.

Noom has definitely given me a completely different relationship with food and has enabled me to reach my goal weight and maintain it. I never thought I would be this slim and to some degree I still consider myself to be large/curvy but slowly I am trying to embrace my new figure and allow myself to wear clothes that aren’t baggy and instead show off the fact that I do have a figure for the first time in my life.

Dieting Part III…

It has been three months since my last post about dieting and this is when I first signed up to Noom. I was pessimistic about how successful Noom would be and did not expect to lose much (if any) weight by completing their articles about the psychology of weight loss, our relationship with food etc, logging my meals and tracking exercise. I chose to try and lose weight slowly, so it gave me three months to lose 9 pounds. I had been desperate to lose half a stone since the beginning of the year and struggled to get the weight to budge despite watching what I was eating and trying Joe Wicks workouts. I was starting to feel despondent as my weight has fluctuated throughout my life…. however,… drum roll please!!!!

I have achieved my goal of losing half a stone and more!

In fact, I have lost 9 pounds in three months! I am now the slimmest I have ever been, and I am so happy! Yes, I still have a stomach and wobbly bits, but my clothes are falling off me and my confidence has grown in how I look. I no longer think of myself as fat and still like my curves. I know that I need to keep up with everything that Noom has taught me as I know only too well how easy it easy to pile on the weight so this is something that needs to become habitual rather than as a ‘diet’.

I now need to see about getting some new clothes and realise that I am no longer a size 18 or 16 or 14 and that I do not need to wear baggy, shapeless clothes. Part of my frugalness makes it hard for me to buy new clothes and feel that I should wear clothes until they fall apart!

Moving forward, I know that I will need to keep Noom or find an app that will help me keep track of what I eat as well as counting my steps. Otherwise I can see myself not keeping it up, even though I know I could google the calories in what I eat and write it down, it’s just not the same.

I like that Noom tracks your weight, and you can see the graph from the day you start, including the ups and downs, but it is a positive reminder of what you have achieved, even if there have been times when weight has fluctuated or stubbornly remained the same!

Noom also breaks down food into the traffic light categories automatically and shows you what proportion of red, yellow, and green foods you have eaten every day.

For me, the trickiest part of logging calories is when you are eating out, be it at a friends or a restaurant and you don’t know how much something weighs or how many calories are in something, so you end up guessing. I don’t want to kid myself so I always try to overestimate but it can be hard, especially if you are still hungry but daren’t eat anything else in case you go over but in fact you do not know for sure.

What I like best about Noom is that there are no restrictions…. I have managed to lose the weight and still gone out to eat, enjoyed cocktails, pigged out on ice cream, home baking etc. Although obviously not every day! I have tried, when possible, to get into the habit of planning ahead, so if I know that I am going out to eat or fancy that pizza for tea then I try to budget it into my daily calories. I never thought that I would get into the habit and expected to find it tedious but that hasn’t been the case, Noom has made it so easy.

Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t all been plain sailing and there have been days when the scales have not been my friend and that can be tough especially if I have felt that I have been really trying to eat healthily and stick to my calories. However, I have learned that my weight does fluctuate for a variety of reasons and so I have tried to almost forget what the scales say and carry on, which has paid off. Not long after I first struggled with the scales, the subject came up on Noom and it recommended that you take a break from weighing yourself every day, which I did.

Noom has really become that annoying parrot on my shoulder but in a positive way so for example I am someone who can find myself reaching for food in an evening regardless of weather I am hungry or not. So, if having a drink or distraction does not work, I find myself automatically turning to Noom to find out if I have any calories left. On most occasions I will have either no calories left or a maximum of 200 calories left, therefore it really makes me think about what I am ‘allowed’ to eat.

I am not too strict with myself otherwise it would not work for me, but I do want to feel good in my own skin so knowing how many calories I have left really makes me think. So now I will choose to eat fruit, have a cup a soup, a boiled egg, or my go to filling ‘treat’ which is sweet potato wedges or my recent discovery… cauliflower nuggets. (Cauliflower florets dipped in low fat mayonnaise and then dipped in a spice mix, breadcrumbs, or both). Who would have thought that I would genuinely enjoy eating these things?! (Particularly before going dairy free my evenings would have consisted of cheese and crackers or chocolate).

I now want to keep the weight off and try to tone up a bit, so this is my next challenge.

I am proud of what I have achieved and hope my new figure will help my confidence to grow.

Lockdown part 3….Week 15

This week has felt like what I imagine the new normal may be the foreseeable future. My youngest daughter returned to her childminder for the first time since the last lockdown started and my eldest daughter had her first day at pre-school. I cannot remember the last time I had to put my alarm on which was a shock to the system as we have enjoyed relaxing mornings, eating breakfast in pyjamas, instead I was running around like a headless chicken getting the girls up, dressed and fed before putting them in the car at 8am. Thank goodness it was light and sunny! I didn’t know how my eldest would be on her first day as she has spent the last 6 months with me and her sister and before starting preschool she went to the same childminder as her sister, but she took hold of her teachers’ hand and went straight in. I spent the day wondering how she was and if she was ok but when I went to collect her in the afternoon, she had a smile on her face and her teacher said it’s like she has always been there. I was very proud and a little choked at how well she had coped and adapted, it made me realise that children can be more resilient than adults!

This week parents of pre-schoolers in England were waiting to hear what Primary School their children had gained a place at and although I was resigned to accepting whichever school this maybe I was starting to get fidgety in anticipation of the news. I had my hopes on a small village school rather than my local school which is very big but as it wasn’t in my catchment area, I didn’t get my hopes up. When I woke up on Friday morning, I checked my emails and saw the notification and was so happy and relieved to see she had been offered her first choice! I still can’t believe that my youngest daughter will be starting school in September!

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Whilst both girls were in childcare, I used the opportunity to go to a clothes shop with my Mum for the first time since lockdown and felt reassured that they were limiting numbers in store, so it felt safe and pleasant to look around. I certainly wouldn’t have been queuing to get in and can’t even imagine how crowded it must have been in the likes of Primark! I haven’t really missed going into shops as it kind of feels like the new normal to not be able to do so many things. The highlight of the trip was when a woman asked us if we would mind watching her new-born baby whilst she took her daughter on the escalator as her daughter hadn’t been on one for so long and found it exciting. Her baby boy was fast asleep and looked so peaceful and content, I stood and looked at him with a sparkle in my eye, I could feel myself getting broody, but I soon snapped myself out of it! It was lovely that the woman felt able to ask us and trust us even though it was only for a couple of minutes.

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I finally managed to hand in my case study (2 weeks early) for my counselling course and have been working my way through my last assignment of the year which is due in 10 days’ time. At times I’ve felt like spitting the dummy out but know it must be done. The final hurdle before finishing the first year of the course is doing a 10-minute presentation to the rest of the group and anyone who knows me knows I don’t like talking to groups of people or attention being on me so this will be a challenge for me especially as we must talk about ourselves.

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I have been sticking to my Noom plan and I am 2 weeks in…let’s see how I get on this week.

I caught a bit of Jamie Oliver’s, Keep Cooking Family Favourites and found myself rolling my eyes when he kept telling viewers to add a ‘kiss’ of oil…please! If I were cooking with my children and told them to add a ‘kiss’ of oil they’d look at me as if I’d lost the plot!! Now I’m all for exposing children to new foods but when he was making the aubergine salad, I kept thinking that my girls would look at me as if to say what’s that and why are there flowers in it, his son didn’t look too impressed when he was trying it either!

Dieting Part II…

As you know, I have struggled with my weight all my life and despite being slimmer than I used to be, I’m still not satisfied. I’ve learned to accept that I will always be curvy and I’m happy with that, but I hate my stomach. I lack body confidence and feel I always need to hide my wobbly bits rather than wearing what I’d like and being proud. I know I’ll never have a body like a model and I’m not after showing my body off in a bikini, but I would like to feel good about how I look. I wonder if I ever will feel good about myself, but I also have realised recently that this lack of confidence in how I look affects how I present myself and instead I shy away from crowds or drawing attention to myself. I feel that people judge others on their appearances and have never felt on par with people of my age.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve tried a variety of diets and know that diets need to become part of your lifestyle. I’ve struggled to maintain what’s required from the Body Coach App due to the price of the meals and lack of choice as well as keeping up the exercise. I quite enjoyed doing it and believe it helped me cope with the stressful times I have been through, but it wasn’t giving me the results I wanted to see fast enough. It’s funny because I realise that the best way to sustain weight loss is for it to be slow and steady rather than drastically loosing it over a short period of time.

I wanted to lose ½ stone which isn’t much, but I still haven’t managed to achieve this. I think there is more to dieting that we think. Our bodies are all built differently, and I think what works for one person may not work for others. I know people who can lose weight just by cutting back on what they eat without doing any exercise and I do mean no exercise at all. This frustrates me as the only times that I have successfully lost weight is when I’ve combined healthy eating with exercise, and I am not a fan of exercise. I like dancing and will enthusiastically join in with the girl’s dance class or Saskias School of Dance videos (Saskia’s Dansschool – YouTube) or do my ‘mum’ dancing to songs whilst singing my heart out. I don’t mind doing aerobic exercises, but I don’t particularly enjoy it. I battle with myself as I lack motivation, I really want to lose a bit of weight and feel better about myself but I’m not doing enough exercise consistently to achieve this.

Wouldn’t it be good if we could choose where we lost weight from? Why do we lose weight from our fingers (I know I have, as rings have become too big) but not our stomach?!

So, I am now trying Noom which was recommended to me, I feel hesitant about it and am becoming resigned to not losing the weight I want but I am giving it a go. So far, I like how when reading through the course it is funny and sarcastic and real. I like the psychology behind it and how it drip feeds into you. Before starting Noom I wasn’t drinking anything other than tea but due to Noom nagging me to drink water and how good it is for us I am now walking around with a water bottle aiming to drink 2 litres a day. Noom requires you to log everything you eat, and it is interesting to see how many calories are in things. I’ve been given an allowance of 1200 calories per day and I now think twice if I enter a food into Noom and I don’t like how many calories it says it is! It also puts food into a traffic light system, and it gives you a limit of calories for each colour. No foods are off limits which is a good thing for me, but you can’t have many red foods. The other thing I have found interesting is low calorific density foods fill you up quicker with fewer calories than high calorific density foods therefore we should aim to eat foods rich in water as well as vegetables and whole grains. I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to keep it up, but I like being rewarded for reaching my step goal as I get given some extra calories. Let’s see if I start seeing results!