26 to 12 – another weight loss blog

One woman's journey to lose half her body weight


July 2014

Food I Never Thought I’d Try

A while ago, the lovely Nancy over at my year[s] of sweat and I had a discussion about breakfast, and she recommended overnight oats.  Now, it seems that the world and his wife had already heard of/tried this and I had been left behind.  She talked (well I think it was her) about making it with almond milk, oats and various additions.  So then, having written it off years ago as being for hippies and overly health-conscious types, my new food for July is almond milk, and I have to say I really like it.

I made my overnight oats with 35g porridge oats, just enough almond milk to cover them, a sprinkling of cinnamon and a splash of orange essence (all very exact measurements dontcha know) and added some nuts, seeds or dried fruit just before eating.  It is really good for when the weather is hot, very filling and yummy.  I’m going to branch out with flavourings sometime, but not until I get bored!

If you make this, please be warned, it looks disgusting (well, it does in my opinion.)  Don’t let that deceive you, try it before you bin it!


Add Some Variety to Your Workout

I’ve been working out a lot recently.  I actually haven’t been swimming in a couple of months, I felt like I wasn’t pushing myself hard enough when I swam, I kind of did it on autopilot.  I will go back to it, I always do.  But right now I’m spending most of my workout time in the gym – and in classes.

I mentioned in my post a few days ago that I had tried three new things in the gym.  I think it’s really important to keep changing up your workouts for a few reasons.  Firstly, it is insanely boring to do the same thing every time you work out.  No matter how much you love running/cycling/stairmastering (does anyone actually love the stairmaster?) if that’s the only workout you ever do, you will eventually lose interest.  I firmly believe that if this happens you will stop trying as hard – as with my experience with swimming, it will become automatic.  Secondly, always doing the same workout means that you are always working the same muscles (and neglecting others) which isn’t what I want from my fitness routine, personally.  Finally, there are hundreds of options out there for ways to exercise.  If you stick to the same few, you could be missing out on something that you would really love.  Here is a run-down of what I have tried recently:

  • Running.  This isn’t exactly new, more that I was trying it again.  I did the first couple of weeks of the Couch to 5k programme during the first part of July, which was interesting.  It turned out that I’m actually fitter than I anticipated, I managed to do the running section in all of the workouts.  However, I have come to the conclusion that I am just not cut out to be a runner.  I stand by the opinion I had at school: running is great if you have a valid reason for it, like tennis, hockey or vehicles approaching, but as an activity in itself I just find it tedious.  Sorry running community, I cannot be converted!
Approaching vehicle: good reason to run
  •  Boxercise.  As regular readers will know, I take a one-to-one boxing class every week, which I absolutely love, but I wasn’t convinced about boxercise.  Everything I’ve ever read about boxercise made me think I would just be punching the air in time to some upbeat music, which seems a bit weird to me.  However, in honour of saying yes when my knee-jerk reaction is to say no, when my friend asked me to go to her first class with her, I said I’d give it a try.  I don’t know how other classes work; this one is run by Phil, my PT, and the warm-up was pretty hard going for me.  We then lined up in two lines facing each other (like country dancing at school, if anyone did that), one side with gloves and one side with pads.  We did one minute of punching followed by one minute of “rest”, then the pad people moved down the line, repeated until we got back to the beginning.  It was divided more or less evenly between jabs, hooks and upper cuts.  You may have noticed that I put that we had a minute’s “rest” between punches.  The inverted commas are there because Phil’s shout of “one minute of burpees” did not make me think restful thoughts.  As it was, I didn’t do most of the rest activities because I’m not really able to do most of them yet, so I did squats, lunges, push-ups and running to keep my heart-rate going.  Before swapping sides we did 2 minutes of push-ups and then I became a pad person.  The class was exhausting, but I really enjoyed it.  I think that although it was a little beyond my fitness level to do everything, I put in a good performance and there were some great people there who gave me encouragement when I was struggling to keep up.  I will be going back.
  • Weights.  I know, I already do weights.  What I really mean is barbells, in the man section (which has now been re-branded as the “don’t be scared, men” section due to the fact that a few females have infiltrated and some of the regular men have disappeared…)  I booked a PT session as an early birthday present to myself, so that Phil could help me with the best weights for me to use at the moment and to teach me good form so I don’t damage myself.  I loved it, and I now alternate my weight workouts between dumbbells/machines and barbells/cable machine.  In my PT session, I did squats (because everyone who does any kind of training with me insists that squats are essential to my well-being, deadlifts, chest presses and overhead presses.  I had a lot of fun with the session, and I have got over my fear of the weights section in the main gym!

Why Do We Eat?

I think that a surprisingly small number of people would answer this question with “because we are hungry” or “because food sustains us”.  For a lot of people, food is associated with certain emotions or situations.  I am one of those people; my immediate response to unpleasant emotions is to eat.  Bored?  Food.  Sad?  Food.  Angry?  Food.  I’m sure you know what I mean.  I suppose here when I say “eat” I mean “overeat” or “comfort eat”.

It’s taken me two full days to get beyond that opening paragraph.  I have done a lot of reading and a lot of reflection recently.  I have known for a while that I use food as a way of comforting myself, but I have never really considered it too far.  Most literature offers advice on things to distract you from food when the cravings strike.  Go for a walk, take a bath, paint your nails, read a book etc.  This is all well and good for the odd craving, but I have been coming to terms with the fact that whilst that can sometimes work for me, it is often only a displacement activity.  No matter what activity I choose, I am not dealing with my feelings – only avoiding them.

Additionally, there is a great deal of difference between “craving a chocolate bar” and “craving a chocolate bar, then another, and another, and maybe one more for luck”.  Similarly, there is a difference between savouring the chocolate bar (or whatever) you have been craving, and barely tasting it because you’re so desperate for it.  This isn’t something I find myself doing very often anymore, but it still does sometimes happen.  It has taken a lot for me to admit this to you all, and my next step is going to be to discuss it with my doctor.  I am already seeing him on a regular basis for help with depression, and he has asked me to think about whether I would like to be referred to a psychologist.  I think the answer to this is “yes”.  It is time to face up to my feelings and stop cushioning them with food and fat.  I cannot make it all the way through my journey without trying this.

My main problem is fear.  I’m scared of many many things, but my biggest fear is failure and letting people down.  I need to work on this and stop being afraid of experiencing other emotions too.  I know it is going to be difficult, but this is the first step.  Here’s to a healthy future – emotionally as well as physically.

*takes a deep breath before clicking the publish button*


I’m Here (In Case Anyone Noticed That I Wasn’t)

I’m really sporadic with blogging, I have so much to say sometimes that I write post after post. And then… I stop. I think it’s about a week and a half since I last wrote, but I have been doing things. In fact I’ve been doing so much that I haven’t really had the time to write.
Anyway, to catch up, I’ve been eating healthily most of the time, I’ve done a LOT of working out, including not one but three new things at the gym (post on this coming soon!) and I’ve done a lot of self-examination. Actually, that sounds more like I’ve been checking my breasts for lumps. Which I regularly do, and it’s a good practice to keep to. But that wasn’t really what I was trying to say. I’ve been thinking about my eating and motivational habits and looking at ways to address my problems. So that’s taken a lot of my time, and I have a great deal of work to do.
July’s challenges are going well so far, I think that I’m going to complete them all except for the plank one. That was a bit ambitious, but I’m up to a one-minute plank and that’s enough for me for now. Instead, I’ve been doing more squats and some wall sits to go with the push-up challenge, and they seem to be going together quite nicely.
I have a whole load of posts in my head, waiting for me to write them, so you might be seeing a lot of my ramblings quite soon.


And This is July

And summertime is well and truly here, even in rainy England!

I think I may have over-challenged myself in June, so I’m dropping it back a step. I will be sticking to my healthy habits through the month (of course) and I will also do a minimum of one each of the following:

  • try a new food
  • cook a new recipe
  • have a go at something new at the gym
  • do something that scares me
  • take some time to do something for me (that isn’t a workout)
  • research one of the diet and exercise topics I have written down as “interesting”
  • say “yes” when my knee-jerk response is “no”

I will also be doing the Beginner Push-up Challenge and the 30-day Plank Challenge below (I couldn’t face more squats and crunches).  This seemed like a great idea until I realised that for my birthday at the end of the month I am giving myself 50 push-ups and 5 minutes of planking.  Anyhow, I’ll try and make it through, then I can reward myself with a cocktail or three 😉

I have had it mentioned that planking for 5 minutes in one go could potentially lead to injury.  Just to make it clear, I don’t imagine that I could do a five minute plank, for the longer ones I fully expect the times listed here to be my total planking time that day.  If you want to try a plank challenge, please take care, don’t strain your back and stop if it ceases to be a challenge and just causes pain.



That Was June

And didn’t it go quickly? You might recall that at the beginning of June I published my challenges for the month. This is a quick round-up post to let you know how I got on.

10 new things? Done!
20 hours of exercise? No problem!
30 days of water? Ah.. Well I had a week in the middle of the month where I was away. I had planned to stick to all of my healthy habits, but some of them went out of the window. One of these was drinking water. So it’s more a case of 23 days of water. Ok, but not great in my opinion.
40 good things? I managed 25, which is almost one per day. This has been useful though, but I don’t think a set target worked for me.
50 portions of fruit and veg? Similar to the water challenge, I managed this on the weeks where I was at home, but not when I was away.

And finally, the Level Up Challenge? Tough, but completed. I don’t have a six-pack but I’m a little more toned, and my thigh muscles are definitely more developed from all the squats.

So what have I learned? Mostly, that I can stick to my healthy habits when I’m in my usual routine, but going out of it throws me off. I think that this will come with practice, as I become more and more used to my healthy lifestyle.

Bring on July!


More Awardiness


Well, actually, it was here just before my great disappearing act earlier this year. The lovely Sam over at Midsummer 365 Project nominated me for a Liebster Award (thanks Sam!) I spent a lot of time catching up and I haven’t got round to accepting the award until now, which is really rubbish of me.

The rules of this award are as follows:
For my nominees – if you decide to accept, here are the rules:
1. Thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog.
2. You must answer the 10 questions given to you by the nominee before you.
3. You must nominate 10 of your favourite blogs with fewer than 200 followers and notify them of their nomination.
4. You must come up with 10 questions for your nominees to answer.

And the Q&A part of the proceedings:

1) What is your favourite time of year?
Whichever season is just starting!
2) If you could only listen to one band/singer/or similar who would they be?
Ooh this one is difficult for me, I’m really struggling to just pick one. I think it has to be Green Day, but now I feel bad for all the bands I didn’t pick!
3) Who or what inspires you?
My mum, who is the most selfless person you could ever imagine.
4) How would you describe yourself, in 3 words or less?
Short, disorganised, caring
5) What superpower would you choose?
37976-26917Shapeshifting, like Mystique
6) How would you spend your ideal weekend?
Hmm, there’d be shopping with no worries about money, the seaside, a barbecue and a trip to the cinema.
7) Mountains or Beaches?
Beaches, I love the sea.
8) What is your main goal for 2014?
End it with more £s and less lbs than I started with.
9) What is the best book you have ever read or movie you have seen?
This may not come as a huge surprise, but I love books and films, so this is another difficult one for me. My favourite book ever is Lord of the Flies by William Golding, but there are so many that I have read, re-read and still love. There are loads and loads of films I could list too, but I think the best one is Hard Candy which has a tiny cast (most of it is just two characters) but the actors are fantastic.
10) If Dr Who asked you to travel in the TARDIS with him would you go?
Yes, absolutely, what an adventure!

And the questions for my nominees, should they choose to accept them:
1) Where is your favourite place?
2) Who is the best Bond?
3) Name three things that you are proud of.
4) What was the last thing that made you laugh?
5) Do you do any regular exercise/sport?
6) Do you have any pets?
7) What would you do in the event of a zombie apocalypse?
8) What was the last book that you read and enjoyed?
9) What annoys or irritates you?
10) If there was a movie of your life, what would it be called and who would play you?

Now, a lot of the blogs I follow aren’t eligible for this because they have over 200 followers. The ones I’m nominating are awesome, you should definitely check them out!
Eat Less Sugar, You’re Sweet Enough
Spa Curious
Fi’s Mutterings and Mumblings
The Ipockolypse
Living on an Awesome Shoestring
Fattie No More
They Call Me Storm
Not Weighting For My Dreams

I’m very aware that a lot of my nominees probably already have one of these. I won’t be offended if anyone doesn’t want to accept it, or if you just want to answer the questions without nominating anyone else – I know if you have been nominated before you have probably already nominated other blogs once… I would be interested to read the answers to my questions though 🙂



Very Inspiring Bloggers

I’m feeling quite overwhelmed here today.  I have been nominated not once but three times for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.  I’m so flattered I can’t even describe it!  Huge thanks to The Ipockolypse, Weight2Lose2013 and Not Weighting for my Dreams for the nominations.

So, here are the rules:

1.Thank and link to the amazing person who nominated you.
2.List the rules and display the award.
3.Share seven facts about yourself.
4.Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
5.Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you

And here are my seven facts:

1. I have four tattoos, and I’m planning a fifth to celebrate when I reach my target size/weight
2. The person I admire most in the world is my mum, she’s been through so much herself but she is always there for other people.  She is an inspiration.
3. I can remember song lyrics, phone numbers and vehicle reg numbers from when I was a child but I often can’t remember if I’ve seen a particular film.
4. I love reading; at the moment I’m reading my way through Philippa Gregory’s books in chronological order.
5. One of my favourite places to go is the cinema; my boyfriend and I occasionally book a day off work and spend the whole day watching films (our record is five in one day!)
6. When I was 14 I fainted down an entire flight of stone stairs at school.  I still cringe when I think about it – and that’s from the embarrassment, not the bruises.
7. I can’t walk in high heels.

And now for my nominations… These are not all health/fitness/weight loss blogs, they all inspire me in different ways.  In no particular order:

My Year[s] of Sweat
Midsummer 365 Projects
Weight2Lose2013 (I know he nominated me, but I was already planning to include him so he’s staying on the list!)
Living on an Awesome Shoestring
Fi’s Mutterings & Mumblings
Hiking to Healthy
Beauty by Caitlin (she does some awesome projects as well as beauty)
Winding Road
Cassandra Parkin (if nothing else, read her 50 Things That Annoy Me about 50 Shades of Grey post, I dare you not to laugh)
My Life Lived Full
Eat Less Sugar, You’re Sweet Enough
Fattie No More
They Call Me Storm
Two Fat Ladies Getting Slim
Not The Fat Kid In Gym Class Anymore…


New Thing #10 – Tracking

You might have noticed that I have mentioned the Sparkpeople website a few times in recent posts and comments.  This is because I am using it on a daily basis to track my food and exercise – and as a possible alternative of Slimming World.  As a SW member for the past year, I feel a little as though I’ve reached a point where it is no longer useful for me.  The beauty of Slimming World is that it is simple to follow and it does teach people about healthy food choices; I lost my first two stone using their plan and my parents have both followed it and reached their goal weights, for which I am very very proud of them.

However, what has happened for me is that I’ve found that I’m either “on it” or “off it”, most notably if I go over my daily syn allowance I have a tendency to think “**** it!” and overeat.  So I am experimenting with tracking via Sparkpeople, which gives daily nutritional target ranges for calories, fat, protein etc which I think will help me to keep control by letting me occasionally have a “splurge” meal which I can balance with lower calorie meals through the rest of the day.  Slimming World’s mantra is that nothing is off-limits, but there is a definite culture in group that foods that take you over your daily syn allowance are forbidden.

So, I am experimenting with tracking this way, and I am also tracking my weight (obviously), measurements and body fat percentage).  I have taken a break from Slimming World rather than quitting entirely – I don’t want to burn any bridges until I find out how I get on without the support of my group – but I’m hoping that this will give me a little more freedom and perhaps imitate “real life” a little more.  I’ll keep you posted!



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