26 to 12 – another weight loss blog

One woman's journey to lose half her body weight

Moody Food

I’m in a full-on grump today for absolutely no reason.  Do you ever have that?  I do, and I know I’m grumpy but I can’t help myself.  It makes me feel like this:

It also makes me want to eat lots and lots of comfort food.  Chocolate, cakes, pizza, crisps, cheeseburgers… you get the picture.  So what is the best way to handle an attack of the grumps?  Well I can tell you the first thing I would have done this morning if I’d realised quite how cranky I was: I’d have left my purse at home.  A sure-fire way to avoid a trip to the junk-food shop (unless you fancy a few hours in a cell.)

Next thing, and not as easy as it sounds: keep myself busy and keep my mind off food.  Fortunately, being a finance-type person, this is my busiest week of the month so work has kept me out of trouble today.  I volunteer tonight after work and then go home to a nice dinner which will be sitting in the slow cooker waiting for me.

Finally, when I’m tempted, keep reminding myself that it’s not hunger causing me to eat.  This is the most difficult one, and it’s not always guaranteed to work.  I have a little voice in my head that will say “so what?” and steer me to the chocolate/cake/pizza etc etc anyway.  But it works some of the time and that’s a lot better than none of the time.

I also need to find a way to shake off the grumpy mood.  I think the drive home in the sunshine with some nice cheesy music will help me out.  I might even do the traffic light dance.

The Fear

On Monday night I went to A&E (the emergency room if you’re not sure what I mean.)  You see, on my drive home from work I started having pains in the left centre of my chest, which went out into my armpit and ribs.  My family has a history of heart disease at youngish ages, so despite the fact that I’m only 34 I got quite worried.  My boyfriend made me ring 111 when we got home (they are fantastic, by the way.)  For those who don’t know, this is a non-emergency medical line where you can get advice and assistance, and they will direct you to the most appropriate place.  On Monday, they said I should go to A&E “within the hour.”  Cue the following conversation (this is the abridged version):

Me: I don’t want to go.
Bf: Why did you ring if you’re not going to take the advice?
Me: But what if it’s something bad?
Bf: It’ll still be something bad whether you go or not, the only difference is whether you get treated.
Me: But we don’t have time to go to the hospital this evening…
Bf: But we have time for you to have a heart attack?
Me: Ok, fine 😦

I think that’s a fairly decent example of how much I’ve been sticking my head in the sand about what my weight could be doing to me.  I was genuinely terrified of finding out if it was a heart problem.  So we tootled off to the hospital (in a hugely overpriced taxi since I wasn’t allowed to drive) and I got an ECG.  Turns out, if you show up to A&E with chest pains, they see you reeeally quickly.  My ECG was clear (I cried with relief, honestly), blood pressure was slightly raised but everything else looked good.  Finally I saw a doctor who listened to my heart, prodded and poked me and asked a lot of questions about the pain.  She declared that it was muscular, probably strained from swimming, gave me a prescription for co-codamol, told me I did the right thing by getting it checked, and sent me off home telling me to rest my chest.  I’m not sure exactly how to do that, I tend to use it for breathing.  So I felt a bit silly, but I still think getting it checked was the right thing to do.

So, my fear.  I didn’t realise until this happened quite how afraid I am of getting heart disease.  The doctor says I am low risk, I’m totally healthy and my age is on my side, but I know that my weight and lack of exercise aren’t doing me any favours.  No more head in the sand for me.  I need to face my fear and do what I can to lower my risk.  I guess motivation has to come from somewhere and no matter what Gus Fring says (Breaking Bad is awesome btw) fear can be a really useful motivator.


Goats Cheese Salad With Raspberry Vinaigrette

I’ve been following Laurel’s blog for a while, and when I saw the recipe for raspberry vinaigrette it was perfect timing – I’d just read another recipe recommending a berry dressing for goats cheese salad, but it was a shop-bought dressing (does anyone else hate it when that happens?!)  Here is my salad:


It contains mixed baby leaves, cucumber, grated carrot, strawberries, cashews (supposed to be pecans or walnuts but I didn’t have those!), crumbled goats cheese (I like the soft one) and a decent drizzle of the vinaigrette.  The recipe for the vinaigrette is in the link below, it makes quite a lot and I don’t know yet how long it keeps, so if I did it again I might make half as much as I’m not sure how often I’ll use it.

I wish I could give measures of what I used, but I pretty much did it in handfuls so the proportions looked right for my tastes!

Original Post here:

My MSG free journey is coming along pretty well. Of course there have been a few surprises along the way. One of the surprises was the realization of just how much MSG has infiltrated our lives by being in almost every prepared product on the shelves of the grocery store. This annoying little toxin is […]

via Homemade Raspberry Vinaigrette — eat less sugar you’re sweet enough

Happy Monday!

I am in a ridiculously good mood today.  I’ve had a fab weekend, I managed to swim 1.5 miles on Friday night, which I haven’t completed in ages.  I was slow – it took about 1hr 10mins, but I made it and my arms and legs didn’t fall off!  Yesterday my boyfriend took me out for lunch to a Vietnamese place in Birmingham, which was fantastic, and we had a wander round in the sunshine.  The only thing that brought me down a bit was realising how slow I am when walking around.  Carrying this amount of excess weight is hard.  Fortunately, the realisation only made me more determined to succeed in my weight loss journey.

I woke up today full of enthusiasm for the week ahead.  The sun is shining, I’d had a good weekend and I’m lucky enough to spend the week doing an job I enjoy for a company I’m happy to work for (99% of the time.)  I even managed to start the day with a little exercise – I’ve actually written myself a schedule for my mornings as I waste a lot of time.  The schedule includes things like “shower”, “get dressed” etc, but also today’s read:

10x kettlebell swings
10x squats
10x lunges each leg
10x pushups
10x situps

I thought that was enough for now.  Not much but better than nothing!  My breakfast and lunch were all ready to grab and go – recipes may follow later in the week.  Breakfast was mini frittata type things and lunch is Moroccan couscous salad which I’m about to go and eat.  And dinner is stuffed mushrooms, which is one of my absolute favourite meals, which I haven’t had in months!

How’s everyone else this week?  I hope other people are enjoying the sunshine too!

Help Me Please, I Need a Challenge!

I’ve been thinking about this, and I feel like I need something to work towards fitness-wise.  Ideally not a run (walking hurts my back at the moment so running is definitely not an option!),  preferably a swim actually.  All ideas are welcome, I’m struggling to find organised events that aren’t open water (hopefully next year when I can get back into my wetsuit!)  UK-based please unless anyone wants to pay for me to go on one of Swimtrek’s awesome looking trips!!

Sorry lovely readers, this is a really garbled post.  Hopefully you will get the gist.  Maybe when I read it back I might even know what I’m on about!


So apparently I was featured as number 10 last May in Diet To Go’s 100 Inspirational Weight Loss Bloggers post.  Here’s what they had to say about me:

“Contrary to the title, Helen’s blog is anything but “another weight loss blog.” Helen’s been on a journey to lose weight since June 2013. She’s had many ups and downs along the way — which is one of the best things you’ll notice about her posts: that she never gives up and she is extremely positive no matter how difficult things get. If you’re looking to find real encouragement from someone who knows, look no further.”

How nice is that?!  I can’t believe it’s been so long since I started blogging, and unfortunately I weigh more now than I did then.  But I’m still here, I haven’t given up and I know a lot more now than I did back then.

I’m feeling a bit introspective now about my journey so far, here are the top five things I’ve learned:

  1. Never give up.  You started for a reason, so when you struggle go back and find the reason again.
  2. Planning is key in healthy living.  Prepare things in advance, have that gym kit packed the night before, make sure the fridge is full of healthy snacks.  Be a boy scout.  Be prepared.
  3. Diets do not work.  I kind of knew this already, but permanent weight loss requires a permanent lifestyle change.
  4. Celebrate the small victories.  If I waited until I reach my target weight to treat myself, I’d never feel encouraged.  Make smaller milestones and reward yourself for those.
  5. Do not underestimate the people around you.  When I started my journey I didn’t tell people around me what I was doing.  When they started to notice my losses, they were so supportive, and I could have had that from the start.


Guess Who’s Back, Back Again?

No, it’s not the Real Slim Shady, just me!  The first line of the (admittedly outdated) pop-culture reference is “I created a monster” which seems very apt today.  I have created a monster, and the monster is me.  Honestly, I am deeply ashamed of myself.  For a variety of reasons, I have stopped going to the gym and I haven’t been eating healthily.  Well, in fairness, I do occasionally but that’s more the exception than the rule.  So with all of this, I have gained a lot of weight.  It’s been a while since I actually weighed myself, but I think it’s probably crept up more than I want to admit.  I can tell, as I don’t feel that well a lot of the time, I’m really unfit and I’m getting terrible backache.

So, with a little preparation and a lack of help from my doctor (been on the waiting list and jumping through hoops to get into a specialised programme with psychological help since November) I have decided to take the situation in hand.  I know from experience that this might not be easy will be very difficult from time to time, but I am determined.  I have nabbed by dad’s old Slimming World book for guidance and roped my lovely parents in to be a support team.  I like Slimming World personally, I know it’s not for everyone but it has worked for me in the past.  I’ve been swimming a few times in the last month or so, and I’ve really enjoyed it.  I don’t have much spare time in the week, so I’m doing a long swim on a Friday night (a mile-ish) for around an hour.  I need to try and build in some exercise during the week, but unfortunately walking too much can be quite uncomfortable until I’ve shifted some lbs, so I need to have a think about what I can do instead.  It’s quite gutting when I think of how fit I was a few years ago, but I only have myself to blame!

Old readers, welcome back to my journey, although we are back at the start we can only go forwards.  New readers, welcome, I hope you will join me regularly in my quest to be a better me.

What Happened To The #AtoZChallenge?

Basically I suck at sticking to things!  I missed a day, and then another one… and then things spiralled out of control.  I think this might be a metaphor for my weight loss efforts.  But, as I have been reminded recently, no matter how many times I fall down, I keep picking myself back up and trying again.  So there is something to be proud of, I guess.

This week I have been back in the gym, walking in my lunchbreaks, and being much more aware of what I am eating.  I have, under recommendation, downloaded the My Fitness Pal app and I’m using it to track my exercise, weight and food.  Being more conscious of what I’m putting into my body has definitely been helpful – and so has the appearance of the sunshine!

Yesterday I had a fantastic day.  This isn’t really to do with my weight loss/exercise usual topics, but I’m going to tell you anyway because it made me happy.  My other half and I went into Birmingham, which is about a 25 minute train ride from where we live.  We had a good long walk up to the New Alexandra Theatre and picked up our tickets for a play called Bad Jews, then headed off for lunch – at Subway which I don’t do often but really love!  We walked back up and found our seats for the play, which was absolutely brilliant – well-acted and directed, clever, funny and thought-provoking.  I believe yesterday was its last day in the UK, but I would recommend it to anyone who gets the opportunity to see it.  Then we walked up to the Mailbox and had a wander round.  It is next to the Worcester and Birmingham canal, so we had a walk along there in the sunshine, then went for a cocktail (mine’s the bright green one)


Afterwards we went to the Everyman Cinema for dinner and to watch Captain America: Civil War.  I hadn’t been there before but it was a lot of fun, really comfortable and quite nice to have a meal brought to our seats.  The menu is limited but good, I definitely would go there again.  Finally we had a dessert and a (soft) drink in the cinema’s bar after the film and headed home.  It was a long day and I feel like I did a lot – which has been great at giving me a boost!

So that’s why I’ve waffled on about my day out yesterday, because it has helped my mental health, and a boost to my mental well-being was definitely needed.  Today I’m a bit tired, but feeling really positive – and about to head out into my garden to try and clear it out ready for growing some veg and salad this summer!

Healthy Living: H is for Hiking #AtoZChallenge

Yesterday I went hiking, it was the first time I been on that kind of walk since I did my Duke of Edinburgh Award when I was at school – we go on canal path walks quite often in summer and spring but nothing like this! I got the walk map/instructions from and they were really good, except a couple of minor details which had changed since the route was uploaded. Oh, and the distance of 7.4 miles given was a bit different to the 9 miles my Fitbit detected…

I had honestly forgotten how much I enjoy walking! I’m staying about 10 miles north of Portsmouth at the moment, and my hike took me over part of the beautiful Staunton Way with views across the Hampshire Downs and as far as the coast – apparently if it had been a clear day I’d have been able to see the Isle of Wight! It wasn’t all easy going though – there was a fairly decent rainstorm for about 40 minutes, some brisk winds, a LOT of mud, scary sheep, broken stiles, a flood with wet feet, more mud and a really really big hill! But all that didn’t dampen my spirits and I made it through, enjoying spectacular views, fresh air, quaint villages, teeny ponies and plenty sunshine!

All things considered, I definitely plan to do that again – but I need a get a proper waterproof before I do!!


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