26 to 12 – another weight loss blog

One woman's journey to lose half her body weight


April 2016

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!!



Healthy Living: G is for Gardening – #AtoZChallenge


Gardening is a fantastic pastime for people who want to live a healthier lifestyle – there are loads of benefits!  It is cheap to do and can actually save you money in the long run.  Growing fruit and vegetables from scratch is really therapeutic, it can give you focus as well as a good workout, without you even realising it!  Working outside provides you with plenty of fresh air and daylight, which are great for your lungs and for mental health.  There is an amazing sense of pride in cutting something you’ve grown from the garden, cooking it and eating it fresh – and it also retains all the nutrients.  This also means that you can be sure that there have been no chemicals introduced in the growing process.

Getting started with gardening doesn’t need a lot of money – just basic tools and seeds, and there are loads of books and websites out there to help beginners to plan their garen (or windowbox), to make the most of the available space and make sure that you can get fresh food throughout the year.

Healthy Living: F is for Friendship – #AtoZChallenge


I thought a lot about what to do in the AtoZ challenge for the letter F.  I was going to write about fun or fear – fun is so important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and fear of failing is one of my biggest problems…

Instead I decided that friendship is much more important. When I first started losing weight I didn’t tell anybody except my partner and my mum, but over the last couple of years I have found that talking to friends about it has only been beneficial.  Good friends will always be there for you, no matter what, and will help you to get where you want to be.  A friend of mine from work has been really helpful – she skips me out when she offers the biscuit tin round, and is doing the Race for Life Pretty Muddy mud run with me – and has promised that we will stick together as a team.  She has helped me to fight my fear and sign up for something I might not have considered even a few months ago.

Support is incredibly important when losing weight or learning to live more healthily – and it can come from places you might not expect.


Healthy Living: E is for Eggs #AtoZ Challenge


No, not Easter eggs (although I have some of those left!) I mean the kind that come from chickens.

First and foremost, eggs are yummy!  I realise that this is subject to opinion, but I love them.  They are also healthy and quick to prepare and surprisingly portable.  Eggs are low calorie, high in protein and full of vitamins and, despite a couple of health scares over the years, now widely recognised as a great basic food.

This site has useful information on the health benefits of eggs and the best basic ways of cooking them.  I also recommend oven cooking them – line a silicone muffin tin with lean ham, crack an egg into each cup and bake in a low-medium oven until the white is cooked through.  These are great hot or cold; I like to take them to work as a packed breakfast or eat them at home with asparagus dippers.

A final thought – please please don’t buy eggs from barn or caged hens.  Free range eggs come from happier hens!

Boiled egg and soldiers(6)




Healthy Living: D is for Dancing #AtoZChallenge


I’m late, I’m catching up again, bad Helen!  A friend of mine recently was talking about “clubbercise” which she has been invited to,but she doesn’t want to make a fool of herself.  As far as I can tell, this involves pop-dance music and glowsticks, which sounds like an amazing combination to me.  But then, I love dancing, even though I am completely graceless and prone to walking into things.

Dancing is really very good exercise, it can be a full body workout (wave your arms in the air like you just don’t care and wiggle your hips a lot – that is my main dancing method).  If you don’t want to go to clubs (or clubbercise) there are loads of kinds of dancing – just find one that suits you – ballroom, morris, country, tap, ballet, pole – there are hundreds of classes out there.

If a club or class really isn’t for you, just dance around the house – I dance when I’m cooking or cleaning, it makes chores much more fun!  Dancing builds confidence as well as stamina and muscle tone, it always puts me in a good mood.  Stick on some music and away you go!

A few of my favourite songs to dance to…







I should stop here, I could keep going and going – I love music!!


Healthy Living: C is for Cooking – #AtoZChallenge


For a healthy lifestyle, I cannot emphasise the importance of cooking more strongly.  I am not talking about Masterchef level gourmet meals, but just good, nourishing food.  The biggest advantage of cooking meals from scratch is that you control exactly what goes into your food.  Convenience foods generally contain a lot of additives – salt and sugar, preservatives, colourings, fats… the list goes on.  Cooking from basic ingredients limits this, and by using herbs and spices you can make your food taste amazing without adding calories and chemicals to your diet.  I also find cooking therapeutic and I love cooking for other people.

If you’re not confident in the kitchen, there are loads of useful books and websites around that can teach you to cook, even if you feel that you can’t successfully boil water.  I love the Good Housekeeping books, but I’ve had mine forever – they are a family tradition and I got mine from my dad when I got my own place!  Student cookbooks can be a good place to start, check out youtube if you prefer to see cooking in action, or have a look to see what is on offer at your local adult education centre.  Anyone in the UK may also find that their NHS offers healthy cooking courses – mine does – which are free and start from the basics and also include advice on meal planning and cooking on a budget.

Finally, in a shameless plug, keep following my A to Z as later in the month I will be sharing some of my favourite recipes.

Some of my yummiest homecooked meals:


Healthy Living – B is for Bananas – #AtoZChallenge



Today’s word of the day is BANANAS (I feel a bit Sesame Street having a word of the day, but it makes me smile so I’m going to run with it!)  When I’m eating healthily, bananas are my go-to snack.  They are filling and last for a while – I usually have one with breakfast or as a mid-morning snack as I find them more satisfying than apples, for example.

Bananas are filled with useful nutrients – they are well-known for being a good source of potassium; potassium is helpful for muscle and nerve function.  Like most fruits, bananas are low in fat and high in fibre, which is why they keep you full for a while.  Bananas are also a good substitute for fats in baking; one of my favourite recipes is for a wholegrain banana bread which is a delicious treat, and if you’re into smoothies, bananas are a great ingredient to both thicken and sweeten them.  For more info about the benefits of bananas, have a look at this article from Livestrong.




#AtoZChallenge – Healthy Living: A is For Action


I thought that this month I would take part in the A to Z Challenge to help myself with my focus, and to give a bit of advice (which I don’t always manage to take myself) to anyone who is trying to live a healthier lifestyle.

With that in mind, today’s (well, yesterday’s really) letter is A, and my word for the day is ACTION.  I don’t know about you but I’m very good at sitting and reading and planning what I will do to change my life… but I’m much less good at actually implementing those plans.  We can only change things by changing our behaviours – take action, get out there and do something different – try a new recipe, eat a piece of fruit instead of that Easter egg you have left over, go for a walk, sign up for a class… Take action and start to make those changes you really want.


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