26 to 12 – another weight loss blog

One woman's journey to lose half her body weight


December 2013

Weekly Weigh-In Results 18th December 2013

Well I have no idea how, but after two disappointing results and a week of not sticking to plan particularly well, I have lost 3lb! I am very happy if a little surprised. I can only think that it is an effect already of stepping up my training – either that or it is the weight loss I’m owed from two weeks ago!

Either way I’m happy, and I have only half a pound to get my 2 stone award, it’s in sight… Next weigh-in is Monday and I have Christmas with my parents this weekend. Let’s see what happens!


Personal Trainer: Scary But Worth It

As you know if you’ve been here before, I’ve just started training for the Great North Swim in June next year. I enlisted a personal trainer to help me achieve my goal, and he has written me a simple exercise programme to follow. I will be having some PT sessions after Christmas as well, but this seems a good place to start.

I was actually a bit scared of asking the trainer for advice, I mean I hardly look like the sort of person who is into exercise. But he has been great so far, he knows what he’s doing and he hasn’t judged me by my size, which a lot of people tend to do. Unfortunately he says that I can’t just swim to train, I have to do gym work too. I used to enjoy the gym but lately I’ve only been swimming. I don’t really know how it happened, it just did!

Here is my training plan, there isn’t a lot to it, but it is designed to build the muscles I will most use for swimming and also my stamina.

Day 1: 2 x 1/2 mile swim, aiming for 25 mins each, with a 5 minute break between.
Day 2: squats using a step (under my bum!) 20 squats, 1 minute rest and repeat x6, followed by a steady pace 1/2 mile swim.
Day 3: 45 mins cross trainer, 30 seconds as fast as I can, 2 mins at a steady pace. Allegedly this should be 200 and 150 on level 5.
Day 4: chest press 15 reps, 30 seconds rest, repeated x4, lat pulldowns 15 reps, 30 seconds rest, repeated x4, followed by a steady pace 1/2 mile swim.
Day 5: swim 2 lengths sprint then 2 lengths at steady pace, repeat “as many times as I can until I’m shattered” – that’s the actual wording on the programme – for up to an hour.
Days 6 &7: rest days.

He is also planning to talk to me about nutrition which should be useful, I will hopefully be able to combine his advice with Slimming World. The programme looks pretty good, I have only done the first two days (I had Monday-itis this week and didn’t make it at all on Monday morning), the swim was fine – it’s a time and distance I can manage ok – and I have had a couple of people in the last few days ask me for swimming advice so I must at least look vaguely as though I know what I’m doing! I did the squats and swim this morning, well, most of it anyway. I had more rests in the squats than it says – a short one in the middle of each set – and I still only managed four sets! My legs were like jelly afterwards too, but I felt great for what I’d done – and then I did my swim, and used mixed strokes since I had the pool to myself. Tomorrow is cross trainer day, which I’m approaching with a certain amount of trepidation. But I know that if it’s difficult in the beginning it will get easier, and my final goals will make the work worthwhile.

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Friday Night Fakeaway

Tonight we had curry for dinner, since it’s Friday night, and the temptation is to have a takeaway. Well so say the people in my SW group. I actually don’t tend to have that problem – I think it’s Mondays that can be tempting. Maybe it depends on your job and how stress fluctuates during the week.

Anyway, I’ve wandered off on a tangent. Back to the curry. Curry and other spicy foods are allegedly very good at speeding up your metabolism. I’m not sure about that, but I do know that a good curry is one of my favourite foods. This one is quick to make, healthy and syn-free if you’re following Slimming World.

Heat some Frylight in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat, and add 3 cardamom pods, 2 cloves 1/2 tsp cumin seeds and a piece of cinnamon. Heat until the cumin starts to pop, then add 1 diced onion, 2-3 crushed garlic cloves and 1tsp grated ginger (I use the stuff by Very Lazy, cos I am! but not the one in oil). Cook gently until the onion is starting to soften. Add 2 diced chicken breasts and 1/2tsp ground cumin, 1tsp coriander, 1/4tsp chilli powder (adjust to taste) and 1tsp garam masala. Sometimes I also add a bit of fennel, turmeric or ginger. Stir round so the spices coat the chicken and cook for about 5 minutes. Keep stirring as it has a tendency to stick (I learnt this the hard way). Add 1 tin chopped tomatoes, 1tbsp tomato puree and any veg you fancy – I like mushrooms in mine, actually I like mushrooms in anything – stir well and simmer. At this point I usually put the rice on to boil – don’t forget to rinse well first – and deem the curry done when the rice is cooked. If the curry starts to get a bit dry while it’s simmering, add a splash of passata or water if you don’t have any. Stir in 1/2tsp garam masala just before serving with the rice.

Sorry my recipes are a little vague sometimes, I have an aversion to weighing, measuring and timing (unless I’m baking) and I often adapt recipes after I’ve tried them to suit my tastes etc. Hopefully anyone who wants to try it will be able to follow my rambling instructions, if not leave a comment and I’ll try to explain better!

It serves two, by the way!


Weekly Weigh-In Results 11th December 2013

I went and weighed in last night with a certain amount of trepidation. Having stuck to plan so well the previous week and being disappointed, I was only hoping that the gain from my long weekend away would be limited to a pound or less. I was pretty chuffed then, when I weighed in the same as last week. It looks like the previous week’s hard work has caught up, and getting straight back on plan after the weekend has done some damage limitation for me. I am aiming to get my 2 stone award before Christmas – 2 weigh-ins and 3 1/2lb to go!
It’s funny I have had the same results two weeks running, but completely different attitudes towards them. I guess it just depends how you look at it. Last week I built it up in my head that I would get a good result and was annoyed because I felt like I’d failed. This week I was only hoping for the best and am happy to have got back on track. It’s all a question of perspective.


Swim Training Begins

Since I made my pledge to do the Great North Swim next summer, I have been swimming three times, to try to judge my fitness level and see how much work needs to be done. Monday I managed half a mile, with a rest in the middle, but time was limited so I had to get out. Yesterday I added another 10 lengths (the pool is a 16m one, so 100 lengths is a mile), again with a short stop in the middle. Today I had plenty of time before work, so I decided to challenge myself to do a mile. This was partly to test my stamina and partly to practise pacing myself.
The good news is I can swim a mile without stopping, hurray! The bad news is it took me about 55 minutes and the last 20 lengths were a real struggle – I think I got through on sheer willpower alone! My muscles are pretty achy now as well, so I guess they need some work. That gives me a good baseline to work from, hopefully.
I have decided to seek professional help (insert joke here…) and enlist a personal trainer to guide me in my mission. I can’t really afford to have regular PT sessions, so I have found a trainer who works at my local gym, who offers personalised gym programmes, and explained my aims to him. He will write me a simple plan, which I can update as and when I need to, and later hopefully I will get some PT sessions as well.
I have gone down that route because I don’t know what to work on for the best, and I would rather get help from someone trained and educated specifically for this. I know that I will need to do more than just swimming to prepare, and I’m looking forward to getting started! In the meantime, if you need me, I’ll probably be in the pool!


Weekly Weigh-In Results 4th December 2013

I got weighed last Wednesday, two days after the Christmas party that I was so well-planned for. I had a brilliant week, stuck to plan all week, and I… drumroll please… stayed the same. Disappointment doesn’t even begin to cover it, I was absolutely gutted and so, so annoyed, especially since there were quite a few people who thought they had done terribly and all lost weight. I almost went home, but Laura (who goes to my group and is a leader elsewhere) persuaded me to stay, and even sat with me to cheer me up. Thanks Laura, if you’re reading this!
I will freely admit that I haven’t followed the plan this weekend (since that weigh-in) in the slightest – I went to visit family for the Lincoln Christmas Market, treated it as a holiday and had a fantastic time, and now I’m back with a vengeance and following Success Express for the rest of the week – which involves reversing the usual SW plate to be 2/3 superfree food (fruit and veg) and 1/3 free food (meat, fish, eggs, potatoes, rice, etc), but isn’t meant for long-term use.
So, to sum up, annoyed, grumpy disappointed, but not letting it beat me – I’ve come too far, and have too many reasons to carry on to quit now!


Challenge Helen

In 2011, when I was losing weight without the help of Slimming World, I trained for the Great Salford Swim. I completed it in May, raised about £650 for charity, and was so proud of myself that I planned to do another one the following year. Unfortunately, what I actually did was to put on the weight I’d lost, with some extra to keep it company, and stopped exercising altogether.
Now, inspired by Sam (, Nancy ( and my friend who wrote the piece about her gastric bypass last week, I have decided that in 2014 I will be doing another open water swim, and hopefully even beating my previous time.
I ummed and ahed about what distance to do – the half mile of the mile. The half mile I would definitely be able to complete – I can do that much in a swimming pool at the moment. But I have thrown caution to the wind, I decided that with six months to go, half a mile wouldn’t really be a challenge. So here it is, the challenge I am training for is the Great North Swim, in June 2014, a one mile open water swim in Lake Windemere – hopefully followed by a day or two staying in the beautiful Lake District. With that in mind, I am going swimming tonight, to work on building my distance and stamina.
Here is a teeny tiny photo of me completing the Salford Swim!


Christmas Party Part II

As you know, last night was my work’s Christmas party, and I was a little concerned about how that would affect my weight loss this week. Now it’s over, I can safely say that I stuck to it, and it made no difference to my enjoyment of the evening. Here’s what I had:

Starter – spicy tomato soup and wholemeal roll (it was a little too spicy for me, so I only managed half of it – I picked which bread to have and didn’t have any butter) – this wasn’t creamy or greasy, so I think reasonably safe for Slimming World-ers

Main Course – as expected, turkey and all the trimmings. My boyfriend doesn’t really do veg, so I had his (except the sprouts, ugh) and he had my roast potatoes and pig in a blanket. So far so good.

Dessert – chocolate and Cointreau mousse with satsuma segements. I could have said no if it was Christmas pudding, but I just couldn’t say no to this! It was delicious, but really really rich, so I only managed half of it. A marked improvement on my former self who would have forced the lot down regardless.

Drinks – two glasses of red wine, two Diet Cokes and a glass of water. I had as much alcohol as I planned – and I even checked the markings on my wine glass! And, judging by the state of some of my colleagues today, I am one of a restrained minority.

I had a great night, I danced and got to know my colleagues a bit better. And I won the hotel’s prize draw – I got a choice of prizes and picked 2 three-month leisure passes for their gym and pool, which I’ll start when my gym membership is up! (The other options were champagne or a Sunday dinner for 4.). So all in all, a wonderful evening and I stuck to plan, so no regrets either!


Tis The Season – Coping With Christmas Parties

As some of you know I have recently changed jobs.  When I started my new job last week, one of the first things I heard about was an upcoming party that was being organised, to celebrate a company anniversary and Christmas together.  The party is tonight; it is a set menu with an open bar for wine, beer and soft drinks.  In short, there is a lot of potential for this week’s planned weight loss to turn into a gain.  Here’s how I will be dealing with it.

Eat Light The Rest of the Day – Yes, still eat, I don’t want to be starving when I get there, but I’m going to eat mostly salad, fruit and lean protein.  This isn’t the kind of thing I would advocate to do all the time, but it will help to balance out tonight’s (presumably rich) meal.

Make Good Choices – I’m working on the assumption here that the plates will arrive with the meat and stuffing already served and the rest on the table.  This means that I can fill up on veg and just have a small amount of the other things – like roast potatoes – which will also mean that I won’t feel that I’m missing out.

Don’t Go Overboard – Just because it’s a party does not mean that I am obliged to over-indulge, and stuffing my face will just mean that I feel guilty tomorrow.  The same applies to alcohol.  I don’t drink much usually – I think I drank so much when I was a student that it’s lost its sparkle for me!  A couple of glasses of wine is enough for me, and then I’ll stick to soft drinks.  I’m aware that I probably sound quite boring, but I have come to believe that you don’t need to drink to have a good time (or make a fool of yourself, I can do that successfully when I’m sober as well!)

Only Indulge In What I Actually Like – For example, I’m really not that bothered about Christmas pudding – so why eat it?  I’d prefer to have an extra roast potato personally!

Enjoy Myself – I don’t plan to spend the whole evening worrying about what I’m eating and drinking, the point of the party is to have fun with my boyfriend and my new colleagues, so that’s what I’m going to do!

Hopefully I will be able to stick to this plan of action – I’ll report back tomorrow on how well it worked for me!



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