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26 to 12 – another weight loss blog

One woman's journey to lose half her body weight

Month

November 2013

Larger Ladies Like Clothes Too!

In a Buffy/Angel type manner (yes I’m geeky), this is a crossover post for my two blogs: http://uniquechicgeek.wordpress.com and https://26to12.wordpress.com, since it covers weight issues and fashion.  I have noticed recently that finally, finally there are more options for larger ladies to buy nice clothes – particularly those on a budget.  A couple of years ago, it was quite difficult to find nice clothes for younger women in plus sizes without spending a fortune – I found myself limited to Evans and Simply Be, both of which seem to sell poor quality clothes at extortionate prices.  The other option was Ebaying to buy clothes from the USA, which also works out pretty expensive.  So I thought I’d celebrate this with my pick of the best plus size party dresses (it’s nearly Christmas, doncha know) under £30.

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Skater style dress from http://www.yoursclothing.co.uk – available in sizes 16-26, and priced at £18.40 (this is the sale price, usual price is £35)  I love this – the material, the flattering shape and the white detailing.

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V-neck dress from http://www.newlook.co.uk – available in size 18 – 28, and priced at £24.99.  Another flattering shape, creating a waist and skimming over the bits most larger ladies are unhappy with.  It also comes in purple and black, but the teal is my favourite as it’s a little more unusual.  I especially love the sequins on the shoulders – I’m like a magpie!

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This one from the Curve range at http://www.asos.com is a little bit of a cheat, as the full price is £45, however I love love love it so I had to share it – and its sale price is £27 for coral, or £18 in navy.  There are only a few sizes left though – it seems other people like it as much as me!

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Because I cheated with the previous one, here is another dress from http://www.asos.com – this one is priced at £30, and is available in sizes 18 – 28.  It also comes in black, but I personally like the berry colour for Christmas parties.  This one has a slightly longer length, and has the covered shoulders for those who don’t want to show quite as much flesh!

These are just a few options from my favourite plus size ranges.  I’m enjoying the fact that now I can find fashionable clothes that actually fit and don’t cost a fortune!  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going shopping!

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How Obesity Affects Your Health – What The Doctors DON’T Tell You

I’ve done a lot of thinking over the last few days, reflecting on why I started this journey, what I hope to achieve and how it is already changing my life.  One of the most important things about losing weight is, for me, the positive impact on my health.  Although I don’t have any major health issues at the moment, we all know that obesity can cause diabetes, heart disease and, according to some reports, cancer, so obviously I want to lower the chances of me getting any of these.  Whilst these are all scary illnesses, I think it can be quite easy to brush the facts and figures under the carpet, and worry about these diseases later – after all I’m only 31, surely I’m in no danger now.  Stupid, yes, but easy to do.  So here are a few less dangerous but more unpleasant illnesses that can be caused or the likelihood be increased by being overweight.

Cellulitis
This is an infection of the deeper layers of skin tissue.  It is caused by bacteria that live naturally on the skin’s surface entering the body through small cuts or bites, or even eczema or athlete’s foot.  Poor circulation can also cause or exacerbate the condition.  One of the most common body parts affected is the lower leg, which will become red, hot and swollen – you may even be able to see the infection spreading.  This is something I unfortunately experienced last year, and never ever want to go through again.  My leg swelled to the point where each step was agonising – I felt as though the skin on my leg was going to split open.  It also causes a fever and all the problems associated with that.  My temperature at the peak was 104F, I could barely move or even sleep and when I did I had horrific nightmares.  Cellulitis can also cause blisters and abscesses, both of which I unfortunately had, and my final abscess has only just healed 17 months later.  Here’s a few photos of how it looked:

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On my second day in hospital

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Three weeks later – the remnants of the blisters

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Ten weeks later, after having another stay in hospital to have the abscesses drained.

 

Intertrigo
Intertrigo is a rash-type skin condition that forms between folds of skin – particularly where sweat might form.  It can cause skin to be itchy, discoloured or raw.  It can lead to secondary bacterial or fungal infections, and can cause skin to begin to break down and then emit a foul odour.  I have had a mild form of this, and while it didn’t really cause any problems, the itching really annoyed me.  Thankfully it did not smell bad, but I think that would have made me very self-conscious – and I was already feeling kind of touchy about it as I knew it was linked to my weight.

PCOS
This stands for polycystic ovarian syndrome, which is a condition whereby a female’s eggs start to form in the ovaries, but do not mature enough to be released, instead forming cysts.  Women with PCOS may have hormone imbalances, leading to masculine traits such as excess body hair or thinning hair on the head, and may have irregular or absent periods.  It can cause fertility problems.  There are conflicting opinions on whether weight problems are the cause or the effect of PCOS; I am inclined to think that it is a cycle.  There is no cure for PCOS, but making lifestyle changes can help to relieve the symptoms.  I will write more on this subject at a later date, as it is one of my health issues, but I find it difficult to talk about so it may be a while coming.

Depression
I won’t talk too much about depression here – again there is some discussion about “chicken and egg” analogies.  Suffice it to say that even if the physical effects of obesity cannot be proved to cause depression, it is clear that the low self-esteem and separation from society that many obese people cope with on a daily basis can certainly lead to depression or other psychological illnesses.  This often leads to comfort eating, causing weight gain and so making the issue worse.  

These are just a few examples of illnesses or problems that can be caused or worsened by being overweight.  They can affect people at any time and have an impact on their lives.  So, as well as considering illnesses that may affect me at some point in the long term, I think it is worth remembering these conditions that can and do affect me now.

Real Life Gastric Bypass Experience

A few days ago a friend of mine came out.  No, she isn’t gay, she decided to reply to the many many people who have been asking how she’s losing weight so rapidly.  It turns out that she had a gastric bypass in July, and since then she has lost over 6 stone.  I have been looking on enviously when she has posted her progress on Facebook – she looks fantastic, and I have to admit that I have wished on more than one occasion that I was doing even half as well.  I have been offered gastric bypass surgery by my doctor; in fact the first time I went to the doctor to discuss my weight issues that was his first response.  I just don’t feel that it’s right for me.  My Mum has had a lot of surgeries over the past four or five years, including having parts of her bowel removed, which have had a big effect on her life, both from the anaesthetic and the surgery itself.  Between witnessing that, and my first (and hopefully last) anaesthetic experience a few years ago, I really wouldn’t want to have surgery unless it was absolutely necessary.  After a lot of contemplation my friend did decide that it was necessary for her, and she has kindly agreed for me to share her experience here.  In her own words, this is her story, as shared on Facebook:

“Hope I don’t do ‘over sharing’ here but I’ve always been one to wear my heart on my sleeve and thought this could make for an interesting story. I like anecdotes as you may have seen from some previous blogs I’ve done. This one won’t have any testicles, evil elves or plastic cheese in it though… probably!

A lot of people have been asking me how I’ve been losing the weight recently. Not surprised really to be honest, I’d be doing the same. I had a look through my friend list and found that actually, the majority of people know anyway. So, here it is,  the reason it’s been falling off is because…dah dah dahhhhh! I had a gastric bypass. Shock horror!! 

 I suppose the reason I didn’t mention it sooner is because I have the ‘Daily Mail’ mentality drummed into me and thought that some people may be a bit funny about it.. I’ve had these phrases floating around in my head of what people might say: ‘Well why didn’t she just eat less, move around more? Simples.’ And also, ‘Can’t believe my taxes have paid for an operation like that – all it needed was self-control!’. Am I paranoid or what?!

 Yes, yes, if I was a naturally thin person, I’m pretty sure I would be saying the exact same things.. 

So I thought I’d get those recurring questions out of the way first: I actually paid for the operation entirely myself because a) I didn’t want to be a burden on the tax payer for something that I’d ultimately done to myself and also, b) the waiting list for bariatric surgery of this kind on the NHS is about 3 years long and I was told that because I didn’t have any other health issues apart from being porky they might not even do it at all. Fair enough.. But let me tell you – it ain’t cheap.  I don’t begrudge anyone who has it done on the NHS for a second though because I know exactly how they feel.  I realise how lucky and fortunate I am to have had the funds to have been able to do it privately. I was also worried that a 3 year wait would be pretty detrimental to my health if I didn’t lose weight, I was fairly sure I was on the cusp of diabetes, my back was hurting which ever way I laid in bed and my knees were just about to give up. 

I’ve always been a big lass cos I did love my food but I wasn’t always sooo very big. I had some mystery womb problems in 2011 which made me put on approx 3 st in a year. There was not a lot I could do about it and despite a giant uphill struggle to get into the worst doctors surgery in the universe where you can’t get an appointment unless you’re already dead, the receptionists are trained by Beelzebub himself and finally ending up in casualty one horrible day where they ran a myriad of fairly invasive tests, they never got to the bottom of it which is about as helpful as a chocolate teapot.  I struggled on..

 I was probably the biggest I’ve ever been on my wedding day which is very ironic because most brides are at their most slender and wonderful on the day. I didn’t really feel my best at all. Don’t get me wrong, I love plus-size brides and think they should be celebrated from here to kingdom come (which they are on offbeat bride – yey!) but I just didn’t feel comfortable the way I was at the time. My mystery problems finally stopped on honeymoon.. Great timing. Doh!

Christmas 2012 I popped off to Flares where I saw my friend Ami. Well, I saw about half of her. I hadn’t seen her since the summer and I knew she was having a gastric bypass that June but was totally not expecting what I saw. 

 I’m sure she won’t mind me telling you that she had had some really serious health issues almost to the point of having one of her legs amputated and she’d always struggled with just walking stupidly short distances. She walked in and I honestly must have had my gob hanging open for about 4 seconds. I could tell it was her because she had the same face, but other than that everything had changed. She had shed 10 stone in 7 months. That’s a whole other person’s worth of space! But what she said to me is the thing that struck me: ‘You just wouldn’t believe it – nothing is a problem anymore: fixed seating, chairs with arms, clothes, you name it, it’s all turned totally on its head, I’m no longer diabetic, no longer have depression and I’ve come off every one of my pills’ 

That certainly set the cogs turning.. I’d seen it with my own eyes now.

I booked an appointment with my new doctors surgery in January this year.  I was absolutely petrified (to put it politely) sitting in the waiting room. The doctor couldnt have been sweeter to me. I was thinking that I’d have to beg, cry and have some sort of panic attack to get him to refer me for surgery as I would’ve had to do at the previous doctor’s gaff but as soon as I’d told him of my struggles it was a case of ‘no problem, I’ll have a look into it and call you this afternoon.’

To cut a long story short, I had a few meetings with the consultant that was going to be doing my surgery at The Spire hospital in Elland – a very straight talking Spanish man (who, I was assured, hadn’t killed anyone yet) with this surgery. He told me I had to get fit for the operation by doing a sh*t load of swimming which I duly did, I also had to have a gastroscopy which is the most evil thing anyone can ever do to another person. It is to check the stomach for any ulcers prior to the op which involves sticking a camera right down the back of the throat into the stomach and the duodenum (which is part of the pipe bit that food goes through from the stomach to the rest of your intestines) WHILE TOTALLY AWAKE. Normally, when someone has this done, they are sedated but because I hadn’t had a sleep apnoea test at that point he wanted me fully conscious. He is evil. I was expecting the camera to be pretty small considering where it was going but no, it was actually the size of your regular hose pipe. There were about 5 people surrounding me while I had this done.. I will tell you what happened but don’t read if you’re squeamish – I suffered so I’m gonna make you suffer by reading it ha! 

One person was holding my head, one person was gripping both my hands and another my feet. I was gipping really badly while the camera went down and never stopped the whole time because the camera is filling your whole throat and gullet and you can actually feel it in your stomach, it is not a nice feeling. Burning and squirming about like a worm. Despite the fact that I hadn’t eaten for the previous 8 hours as instructed, there is still acid, bile and other junk in your stomach so it was all coming up and I’m gasping for air and coughing and gipping and can’t move an inch cos everyone is holding me down, then there is some other bugger vaccuming up the sick right next to my face – I can’t convey to you the panic that comes over you in situations like that. The only way I can describe it is either being hung from the inside or being trapped underwater in some murky canal. When it was finally over (about 4 minutes) I couldn’t speak for crying. It was a truly barbaric experience but it was worse when I saw my face in the mirror. Because I’d been heaving so much, my entire face was riddled with broken capillaries and my eyes were totally bloodshot. I also had the headache from Hell. When Dr Evil came to see me a few minutes after, he said that he wasn’t sure I was ready for the surgery because he thought I had depression because I was crying. Never have I wanted to punch someone in the face so much.

Didn’t feel right for about a week, I tried to cover up the busted capillaries with make up and powder cos it looked like I had really bad acne. I dieted and swam my ass off for the next few weeks.  Leading up to the surgery I had to go on a really strict diet in order to shrink my liver because the liver is a bloody big thing and is situated right over the top of your stomach. The surgery is keyhole (laproscopic) so it’s kind of like a very delicate video game that is performed just from looking at screens in theatre with some special cutlery that goes through your skin. This means that your liver must be proper flaccid and easily moved to the side so they can see what they’re doing with your stomach. Doing this diet, I can see why sustained dieting has never worked for me before, granted, I was only eating a piddling little amount every day but I actually wanted to kill someone. For real.

I finally had my surgery on July 1st.  

 People had spoken about the ‘long walk down the corridor’ to the theatre in the bariatric support group I’d been to just before the op and I was crapping myself about doing it. The anaesthetist had had a meeting with me the week before to answer any burning questions I might have about the surgery, but me being me had got nervous, gone all inappropriate and may have actually flirted with him. Yes. I flirted with him. I think in the end, he was more scared of me then I was about the op ha! 

The theatre manager came to get me and it was time to go. I kissed my hubby goodbye and told him to get Jezza on the telly for me for when I returned. I tried to chat with the man on the walk down the corridor to try and stop myself wetting my pants and more than likely cracked some inappropriate jokes about death but he eventually told me to get my big fat ass on that trolley. Not sure what happened next but I felt great, like being totally pissed up on Bacardi but without the headache. 

I woke up to someone saying it was half past 11. That meant that I was in surgery for 4 hours. 

The next thing I remember is OH MY ACTUAL GOD WHATTHEHELLHASHAPPENEDIWANTTODIE. KILL ME NOW…..

I was attached to 11 different machines monitoring, beeping, weeing for me and there were needles and cannulas and.. you name it, it was sticking out of me.. I couldn’t breathe properly because when you breathe your diaphragm raises upwards and it was pressing on my surgery area. I told my husband to tell my mum and dad not to come cos to be honest – it looked really awful. 

That night was probably the worst night I’ve ever had in the history of ever. I felt guilty that I’d done this to myself and then tried not to think about anything at all cos thinking hurt. I think I wanted to cry but had to stop myself because that hurt too. At one point the machine next to me stopped beeping and flat lined. I thought ‘Right, concentrate – is your heart still beating? I think so.. Sh*t, I don’t know. Wait, yes it is.’ I tried to press for the nurse but try as I might, I couldn’t press that damn button hard enough. She came in about half an hour later (I was still alive) and stuck the ECG sticker back on my boob that had fallen off. 

They did try sit me up in a chair the next day which I thought was going fine til my hubby said ‘ermm.. I’m just going to get the nurse’ I looked down to find the entire right side of my gown was covered in blood. Apparently, the pressure of standing up had opened one of my wounds and they put me back horizontal. He says my face was the colour of the hospital wall – a lovely bluey grey. 

I came back home (to mum and dad’s) the next day. I had told them not to tell anyone because I was feeling pretty bad about the whole thing and just thought it’d be easier and less hassle to keep it to ourselves. I think mum struggled with this a bit but in the end it turned out OK because she hadn’t been able to tell the story over and over again and wind herself up about it more than necessary.

I couldn’t breathe or walk for 3 weeks. Nor could I go to the loo on my own. It wasn’t a fun time really but I stayed positive despite the fact that it was totally a bazillion times worse than I was expecting. A handful of my closest friends knew what was going on, in fact, we had a ‘last supper’ a few weeks before the op which was a heap of fun. They are still known as my disciples.

I was actually really touched by their visits and flowers and thoughtful presents in the weeks following the surgery. They know they are my best buddies cos I let them see me looking totally muntering and bruised and battered to death.

I just want to make it clear that this was never a vanity thing. I don’t actually give a toss what I look like, it’s just an added bonus that I am starting to look like the person I was meant to be. I’ve said all along this process that is is purely for health reasons and now I’m married Its not just me I’ve got to think about..

I must admit, I did regret the surgery in the days following because OMG it hurt like a total b*tch. I was on puree and yoghurt for 4 weeks (2 teaspoons each meal) and mush for 6 weeks and now I can pretty much eat normal food. The only difference is, if I eat too fast I’m sick, if I eat too much, I’m sick, If I eat food that’s too fatty, I’m sick or on the loo, if I eat food that’s too sugary, I can get what’s called ‘sugar dumping’ (not what it sounds!) where, because some of my intestines have been bypassed, sugar ain’t absorbed as much so I go sweaty, faint and sick! Lots of sick going on but that’s not happening so much these days. I will be on vitamin pills for the rest of my life but they’re not so bad. I can’t eat much per meal and now know when to stop so hence, the weight is falling away and Jessica Rabbit is emerging. I’m feeling good, looking better and actually, I’m pretty grateful for modern medicine, science and technology which have been pivotal in making operations like this happen and changing people’s lives for the better.  

That’s my story, now you have it. Thank you for all the lovely comments you’ve left on my photos, I really do appreciate them and I’m glad I now feel ready to share my experience of everything with you. x”

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Weekly Weigh-In Results 27th November 2013

This week’s weigh-in results aren’t good. I think partly due to a roast dinner blow-out at the weekend, and partly due to being weighed in the evening when the previous two weigh-ins were first thing in the morning. I have taken a lot away from the group ‘therapy’ on Wednesday night and found my focus again. Even though the next target is now 3.5lb away, I’m intending to reach it very soon – after that comes my drop into the next stone – which will begin with a 1 instead of a 2! – and then my Club 10 – when I’ll have lost 10% of my body weight. These are all heading my way quite soon – I am within 8lb of them and I’d love to get there before Christmas.
So, I’m getting back up, yet again, and looking forward instead of back. Sometimes I feel like an elephant, so here is a picture of one (tenuous link, but I thought it was cute and wanted to share it!)

Weekly Weigh-In Results 23rd November 2013

I weighed in on Saturday again last week, the last one before I go back to my regular Wednesday group. It wasn’t great, I had gained a pound. I am working hard to lose it again before tomorrow so fingers crossed. I think part of the reason was complacency – I lost 2lb the previous week without feeling as though I’d tried very much, so I thought I could sneak extra bits in without it being a problem. Problem is I snuck too many extra bits in!

I have learnt my lesson I think, and hopefully I am back on track – tomorrow’s weigh-in will hopefully be better! I’ll try to post sooner after I get weighed this week as well!

Having Fat Friends Is Such Hard Work

Thursday night saw me absolutely fuming.  It takes quite a lot for me to lose my temper, but this really did it for me.  The article is by a journalist named Angela Epstein, who you may be familiar with from her unusual take on feminism.  Some time ago she wrote an article about how she dresses up to attract other men and so make her husband jealous, thus resulting in a happy marriage.  Um, what?  So that gives you an idea of the kind of views she puts forward.

This particular article, written for Best Daily – the website for Best magazine, is all about the pitfalls of having overweight friends.  The main thing that got my back up was not what Epstein was saying so much as her general tone.  It certainly came across as though she believes that she is somehow better than her “fat” friends because she happens to weigh less.  Now I’ve seen photos of Angela Epstein, and she seems to have a certain amount of weight fluctuation herself, so I’m going to assume that she is human and to some extent has to pay attention to her diet to avoid gaining weight.  I’m not going to comment any more on her physical appearance because I don’t think it has any real bearing on her article.

The first thing I took issue with was her descriptions of going out to eat with her friends who are losing weight.  Now, she claims that her friend said “wistfully” that she’d have the house salad whilst Angela was merrily ordering Welsh rarebit.  I may be in the minority here, but if I was the one ordering the salad, I’d feel pretty bloody virtuous and sounding quite smug in the face of an ordering decision like that.  I probably wouldn’t make it unless I really fancied salad though (particularly given that we are in the depths of British winter), I would have looked down the menu and found something else healthy that I really fancied.  And to take it a step further, I have never ever ordered a “cottage cheese monstrosity” in a cafe or restaurant, despite the fact that, as I said in a post last week, I happen to like cottage cheese.  Why?  I am yet to find a restaurant that serves it except the jacket potato van in town.  I have thought and thought about this, and the conclusion I have reached is that Angela Epstein is lying.  Sorry, I mean that Angela Epstein is using artistic license, and using clichés to make her point.  If her larger friends really do behave like this when she goes out to eat with them, then the potential conclusions I can reach are:

  1. Epstein’s attitude towards their size and their menu choices makes them feel that they should order the house salad, making them wistful and her (rightfully) guilty
  2. Epstein is projecting her guilt about her own menu choice onto them, perhaps realising that she is seeking to numb her own pain with food and risk becoming one of the fat people she so obviously despises, or
  3. Epstein’s overweight friends are all completely obsessive about their diets, forcing themselves to order meals that they don’t want to keep up to it and probably should seek professional help.

Next up, Epstein complains to her “porky pal” about having put weight on and her jeans feeling tight after a holiday blow out.  From the fat girl side of things, this sounds very much like Epstein trying to make herself feel better by snidely bringing weight up.  There are again three options here; the possible responses her friend could have given are:

  1. Lie.  As in “oh no, darling Angela, you can’t possibly have gained an ounce.”  Nice to hear, but still a lie from a friend.
  2. Tell the honest truth.  Maybe “yeah, you do look pretty fat today now you come to mention it” would do?
  3. Commiserate.  Like, oh I don’t know, “well you’re lucky, I can’t even remember the last time I got into my jean.”

I know which I would prefer from a friend, but maybe Angela wanted a different response.  (By the way, you can buy jeans in sizes up to a UK 28, so overweight people can wear denim too.  I don’t know where Angela’s friends shop, but they should look harder if they want to wear denim so badly.)

Finally, Epstein goes shopping with her overweight friends.  She dawdles over “little twinkly numbers” while her friends look in in envy because they can’t “shoehorn their spare tyres” into the same outfit but two sizes larger.  I think that’s what she was trying to say, but unfortunately she must have been working to deadline as the last few paragraphs are nonsensical so I had to make my best guess.  This, I think, is the worst part of the article for me.  I can’t entirely fathom the situation here, but I think they are supposed to be looking at clothes together for both of them to buy.  Why then, have they gone to a clothing shop where the sizes are only suitable for one of them?  Again, this screams of Angela purposely putting her so-called friends into a situation where their weight becomes an issue, simply to highlight the fact that she is thinner than them.  Incidentally, it doesn’t seem to have occurred to her that in this country it is actually very difficult for plus size women not to be able to find nice clothes nowadays.  There are numerous high street stores which do plus size ranges (so fatties and skinnies can shop together if they happen to be friends) as well as specific plus size stores.

There are a few points about the article that stood out for me.  Firstly, that the descriptions of her friends don’t ring true.  They may be caricatures of her actual friends, they might be her subjective view of them which seems to make their weight a focal point.  Or of course, perhaps she is making them up for the purposes of the article, based on generalisations which are not true.  In which case, I have to assume that the point of the article is to spark controversy and make her better-known in the field of “journalism” (see also her views on feminism.)  Secondly, if these are real people who all happen to behave this way around Epstein, there is a very good chance that it is her smug, self-satisfied attitude that is sparking defensive behaviour in them.  Frankly, I don’t think that Epstein deserves to have these “warm, loving, loyal” friends if she can’t accept them for who they are, and if she is uncomfortable expressing who she is around them.  I would be absolutely mortified if a so-called friend of mine wrote an article about how terrible I made them feel with my fatness.  Thirdly, I find it offensive that Epstein is bundling all us fat people together for the sake of her article.  She wouldn’t do that with other groups who had only one physical feature in common, so why does she find it acceptable to do it with overweight people?  And finally, I noticed that Angela Epstein mentioned a couple of times that she uses food to comfort herself – with the Welsh rarebit ordering and chocolate demolishing.  I put it to you then, that Angela Epstein has the potential for weight gain owing to psychological issues, and her nasty attitude towards fat people stems from her fear of becoming one of us.

Sorry for the long rant, and thanks for reading!

Weekly Weigh-In Results 16th November 2013

I know, late again!  Last week’s and this week’s weigh-ins have been moved to Saturday due to the new job, or more specifically the fact that the drive to group is so traffic-ridden and stressful that it makes me late and grumpy.  But next week I will start another new job, 10 minutes from home, 10 minutes from group and 5 minutes from the gym so things can get back to normal!

So, getting down to it, my weigh-in on Saturday morning was at a different group – I didn’t stay to the meeting, but the people I met were very nice.  It’s not the same as being at my own group though, since I have people there that I have come to regard as friends.  I lost 2lb, which is great, but so frustrating, since an extra half pound would have meant my two-stone award!  The lady at the scales was great though – she encouraged me to take off my watch and bracelets and try again, but unfortunately it made no difference.

I’m happy to see that my weight loss has become steady – 2 or 2.5 lb every week seems to me to be good progress – finally I can see my efforts paying off, and even (dare I say it?) an improvement in my attitude.  It is no longer all or nothing – on plan religiously or off it and going wild.  Long may it continue!  Incidentally, my BMI is now below 50 – I know that’s still really really high, but I’m proud to have reached another milestone on my journey.

Because I like graphs, this is my weight loss so far
Because I like graphs, this is my weight loss so far

Slimming World Free Foods To Experiment With

Since I started Slimming World, there have been some foods that get discussed in group that I’ve heard about and thought “ugh, there’s no way I’m eating that“.  Some of them are foods that I just don’t like recreated in a different format, and some are foods that just look or sound unpleasant, or have a reputation for being “diet food” and therefore automatically horrible.  Here are a few Slimming World friendly foods that are quite nice.  Really.

Quark – if you haven’t heard of it before, Quark is a fat free soft cheese made of skimmed milk.  My mum doesn’t think highly of it, and I think she may be in a majority there, but I actually like it.  No, it’s not as nice as full fat cream cheese, but I’d rather take the healthy option.  And without wanting to put too fine a point on it, I have discovered that if I eat too much high fat food I end up with a dodgy stomach the next day!  So what can you use Quark for?  Well I think you can just use it as spreadable cheese, although I haven’t.  It’s great mixed with a small amount of Blue Stilton or other crumbly blue cheese to make a dip for carrots/celery/cucumber/spoons – for best results mix well, cover and leave overnight to infuse.  You can also use it in cooking, to make sauces – I had a lovely pasta a few weeks ago, which had various blanched veg including sugarsnap peas, baby sweetcorn and peppers and a sauce made of Quark, fat free fromage frais and lemon juice.  I have also heard that you can use it to make low fat cheesecakes, but again it isn’t something I have tried yet.

Mushy Peas – I hate mushy peas.  I really do.  But one recipe that comes up over and over again in my SW group is mushy pea curry.  Please bear with me, I know it sounds disgusting, and in all honesty I haven’t yet been able to bring myself to try it.  But I’m told it’s very good, and it’s filled with what SW call speed foods – ie ones that keep you full for longer and with less calories, so I’m going to recommend it anyway!  I have heard two different options for making mushy pea curry, one is easier than the other but both seem pretty simple.  The first option is to mix one tin of mushy peas with one tin of chickpea dahl (the Asda and Aldi ones are both free on SW, you would need to check about any others), heat and serve.  The other option is to fry a diced onion (and any other veg you might want to add) in Frylight until soft, add one tin of mushy peas and one tin of chopped tomatoes and mix well.  Then add spices to taste (I usually use cumin, coriander, ginger, garlic, turmeric and garam masala).  Simmer until thickened and serve with basmati rice.

Cottage Cheese – I am one of the few people in the world who will voluntarily eat cottage cheese and enjoy it.  I’m not that keen on the plain one, which is the one listed as free on SW, but there are certain flavoured ones that are also free.  I like Aldi’s pineapple one with crackers or salad (or even on its own!) and they also do a herby one which can be used for SW quiche (I’ll have to post the recipe for that another day as I don’t have it to hand).  Cottage cheese tastes nice and it’s filling – you just need to get past how it looks I think!

Ryvita – Another food with a bit of a bad reputation as a “diet food”, I think it may stem back to the 80s, but I’m not sure.  Ryvitas aren’t actually free on Slimming World, they are a Healthy Extra; I have three of the cracked black pepper ones with my pineapple cottage cheese and some tomatoes and cucumber and it is surprisingly filling.  I think how many the HEx covers may depend on the type of Ryvita it is, you probably get more of the plain ones but I prefer the flavoured ones personally.  You can also have a packet of Ryvita Minis as a HEx but I haven’t done that for a while – the chilli ones are really good though.

Scan Bran – Again, not something I have been able to bring myself to try, but there are some SWers who swear by it.  I believe it is a rye-based cracker type thing, which you can top and eat (I think 6 scan brans is one HEx), but it seems to feature in a lot of SW recipes, for example SW Ferrero Rocher, which also uses Nutella.  If you are following Slimming World, have a look on the website and you will find lots of different uses for Scan Bran (and not just as a coaster!) and it should also help to boost your weight loss.

Smash – I think I may have already done a post about Smash, if I haven’t then I definitely meant to.  I don’t actually like mashed potato very much, but I am becoming a Smash convert.  I don’t know about in other groups, but mine advocates the use of Smash in creating a lot of healthy versions of takeout food – it can be made into a dough-like consistency and used as a pizza base, or used in its dry form to make KFC-style coating for chicken pieces or to make onion rings.

As someone in my group said a few weeks ago, you really need to experiment to find new recipes.  If you only use free foods, then your final product will also be free – and you don’t need to worry about the quantities you add to make the recipe taste good!

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Big Changes!

As you know if you read my last post, I has lost 2.5lb at this week’s weigh-in. I can’t remember if I said in that post, but that loss came as a nice surprise to me, as I was unsure of how I had done over the week. The main reason is because the beginning of the week (my SW week being Thursday to Wednesday) was fairly noticeably off plan. Friday was my last day at work before changing jobs, so Thursday involved a (delicious) panini from the shop over the road, and Friday involved homemade cupcakes (note the plural there!) and an evening out for a meal, with dessert and a couple of drinks. On Saturday I was really struggling to get back on plan and ended up in Burger King, but finally, FINALLY on Sunday I got back to it.
So last Monday I started my new job, which hasn’t turned out quite how I thought it would. I don’t hate it, but I’m finding it quite dull compared to how it was described, and the travel to get there is quite troublesome, as it is on the outskirts of Birmingham! One of the positive aspects, however, is that it is quite far from any shops, and I only get a 30 minute lunch break – so I can only eat what I take with me. For someone who used to work in a town centre with an hour every lunchtime, this has been quite a change! I also can park right outside – I used to have to arrive so early to park that I had an extra hour to kill before work every day as well. I don’t think I realised how much I snacked before – even if it was on SW free food it was still unneeded food intake! Now I have three meals a day and a mid-morning snack and that is enough. I am looking for another new job, but I intend to keep that change as it has been very positive. So big changes afoot, and whilst it hasn’t worked out like I thought, at least I have been brave enough to try – six months ago I wouldn’t have had the confidence to apply, let alone walk into a new workplace.

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