Category Archives: Diet and Nutrition

As promised… results from my blood tests

Well, the good news is that I am resoundingly normal.  Seriously… nothing at all to report from the blood tests, except that my triglycerides are a little elevated.  My doctor has suggested I reduce my carb intake and that will help that number.

normal12

The bad news is that the pain I have in every joint in my body is, according to the doctor, because I have lost weight and if I continue to lose weight then I will magically stop being in pain and it will all be fine.  What a total crock.  I am so angry.  I had hoped that this GP would be better than my last one.  To be fair, he was lovely about it, and was not rude or belligerent, which is a nice change, but still the doctors in this country won’t look at the person in front of them as an individual.  They see the symptoms.

 

The doctor has told me that I have to get down to a BMI of 25.  You all know my thoughts about BMI in the first place (another absolute crock) and I have done the calculations.  To have that magic number on my medical records, I need to lose 91 and a half pounds from where I am now.  That is 6 and a half stone.  For goodness sake.  It has taken me 13 years to get down 6 stone, and another year to lose the last 28 pounds.  I am fighting for every sodding ounce to leave my body.   Another 91 and a half pounds?  Someone pass me a saw and I will lop a limb or two off.  Seriously, I just can’t see how I am can keep this up.

weight

However… I am supposed to be training to be a herbalist and naturopath, so I will do the whole “Physician Heal Thyself” thing.  I have done my research… assuming I have fibromyalgia, which is what I think I have, I need to top up the Vitamin D levels, fish oils need to be in my diet, preservatives are out as is “fake sugar”, I have to cut out or cut down on caffeine (*sob*) and I need to up even further the number of fruit and veg I have in a day.  How, I am not sure, but there you go.

veg patch

Needless to say, I am a little overwhelmed with this at the moment.   Once I have a plan of action, I will let you all know and we can see if I can sort myself out where conventional medicine has singularly failed to do so.

 

 

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Why calories should be ignored…

It has been months since I did a lesson on my course. My excuse is that I have been busy, and while that is definitely true, I feel the need to get back into the studying groove.  This morning, I picked up my next Nutrition lesson to discover… it is all about calories.

calories

Reading through the study lesson, it soon became clear that my attitude to calories (I don’t think they tell you the whole story and frankly are nothing more than numbers in a chart)  is absolutely right.  Did you know that the calorie data on the sides of the packets are calculated by either burning the food in a vacuum and measuring the energy output (ummm…. Our bodies are not in a vaccuum… and my body might not use the food like your body does.  Hell, I have conclusive proof that my body doesn’t work like ANYONE else’s body does!), or by estimating the calories on the basis of the weight of protein, carbohydrates and fats in the food.  Hang on.  Estimates?  People are making decisions about how much to eat on the basis of this information.  I want actual figures thank you very much.  And anyway… won’t one sort of carbohydrate burn differently than another type of carbohydrate?  Calories are inherently garbage and should be ignored.  Entirely.

No

So, yes, needless to say I am a little hot under the collar about all this calorie garbage.  I know it is fashionable to use calories to dictate your food intake.  But proper nutrition is about more than the number of calories in and the number of calories you use.  Whilst I agree that there needs to be a deficit of calories in order to lose weight, just ensuring that you get 1700 calories a day is not a sure fire success guide to weight loss.  If it was, I would look very different.

vegetables

No, proper nutrition is about using your noggin, using your own knowledge and working out what works for you.  For example, I know that for me, fat is rarely the issue.  Usually the problem is more likely to be sugar.  Hey, I am pre-diabetic and have been for 2 decades now, so that isn’t too weird.  It is almost to be expected.  So, I take very careful note of the sugar content of low fat foods.  Quite often food manufacturers will take out fat and add in sugar in order to make them taste better.  Sneaky swines that they are.  I also know that my body likes to have fruit and vegetables.  My body objects to having too much bread and yeasty or malty things in there too.  So, in the end, I eat a healthy and nutritious diet because I know what my body likes and what it doesn’t.  It is pretty simple when you get right down to it, isn’t it?

calories meme

But calories?  No.  Calories are a measurement used by scientists and they have no relation to eating properly or not eating properly.

No I have got that off my chest, perhaps I can get on with my lesson and answering the questions properly?  Here’s hoping anyway!

Operation Chrysalis… is at an end…

I think it is now official.  Not only have I put away the old winter clothes and done a serious wardrobe clear out (3 large black bin liners are heading to a charity shop of my choosing!)  I have also revealed to people outside my family what my body looks like following my weight loss campaign.

tada

Please do not get me wrong.  I have not finished the weight loss attempt.  I have plenty of weight left to get rid of, but I think it might be time to start revealing the new me, which is what Operation Chrysalis was all about after all.

So what decided me to start to reveal my changing shape?  A few things really.  I have been struggling to stick to the eating plan I am on, and I thought it might keep me “honest” if I told myself that I would be wearing a new dress soon.  I think it has worked this week, but to be honest, I need to wait until Wednesday, which is slimming club weigh day!

summer clothes

I think summer clothes also encourage revealing the body more than winter shrouds to.  I do not mean wearing bikini tops to do the shopping (the natives are far too skittish for that, and quite frankly, I would be arrested if I attempted it!) but rather an ankle here or there and wearing T shirts instead of thick heavy jumpers and coats.   I know the prevailing wisdom in these parts is “Cast nary a clout till May is out” which means to keep the woollies to hand until the end of May, but I was getting really bored of wearing the same old stuff.  It was getting depressing.  So a couple of weeks ago, I got all of my clothes out, both summer and winter and did a HUGE purge of them.  Then I put the winter stuff into storage (the loft!) and hung up all the lovely summer stuff.  Of course, then the weather decided to put a nip in the air, but I always knew that could happen.  Which is why I kept some woollies back from storage!  I am not entirely insane!

dressmaking

Also, as part of my frugal living endeavours, I have been relearning how to make clothes.  I had been sewing a dress for some time.  I was a bit scared of making a terrible mistake, so I did one seam, then left it for a week or two, and then did another seam when I was brave enough.  This weekend, I decided I couldn’t make any more excuses and I finished it.  I actually finished it at 4pm on Saturday and wore it that evening to a concert my husband and I were attending.  I saw a lot of people I knew from when I was singing in the choir that was performing and I received a lot of compliments.  I think the fact that these people haven’t seen me day after day and a lot of them commented on my appearance (and the spanking new dress too!) really bought it home to me.  Yes.  This weight loss thing has worked.

weighing scales

Now, I am not going to give up on the weight loss.  The scales are oscillating at the moment, but I have lost the equivalent weight of a bag of cat litter.  Those things are HEAVY!  It must be making a difference, but to be honest, I can’t really feel any difference.  I need to lose another 3 of those bags of cat litter, and I will be and exceedingly happy person.  Even at that point, the doctors will say I am still overweight and probably still obese, but I am beyond caring what they all say.

Have I learnt anything from Operation Chrysalis?  Weighing yourself every day is a short cut to insanity; once a week is fine.  Weight loss is not linear; the weeks you think you have done really well tend to be the weeks that the weight goes up.  Bingeing behaviours are really hard to break; and I am still working on that one, though things are better now than they were.  Making clothes is really satisfying, as is seeing the look on people’s faces when you tell them “Oh yes.  I made this dress.”

Operation Chrysalis

Butterflies totally have the right idea.  Hide yourself away and then reveal.  It is a great feeling!  Here’s to the next transformation!

Lent has begun…

I don’t know if you know, but Lent has begun.

Lent

In Christianity, Lent is the 40 days before Easter and tradition has it that you should make a sacrifice during this time as a reflection of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us all on Good Friday.  Thankfully, nothing as major as getting crucified is required, but I do try and do something challenging over Lent.  It seems only right to do that, given what He did for us.  Giving up chocolate doesn’t seem appropriate when I can take or leave it generally and rarely eat it anyway.

In years past I have given up caffeine.  That was really, really hard; not just on me but on anyone within ear shot of me.  I get really grumpy without caffeine.  So, in the spirit of being kind to my husband, I decided to give up sugar instead.

no sugar

Now, if I was being all medieval and hardass about it, I would give up all refined carbohydrates for Lent and just eat meat and fruit and vegetables.  However, having done the Atkins diet years ago, I know that style of eating is not as easy as it sounds.  I also learned that my body needs carbohydrates to work properly, and I do not want to go through the kind of pain my digestive tract put me through last time.

So, instead, I am giving up all the fake sugar and the added sugar that I seem rather adept at keeping in my diet, despite being careful about what I eat.  I am not going to drink diet or “full fat” sodas.  I am not going treat myself to candy or sweets.  I am not going to have pudding, dessert or fake sugared anything.  I am allowing myself to continue to eat fruit and vegetables though, so I won’t come down with scurvy or kill my nearest and dearest when I am jonesing for sugar.  Who knows, maybe I will be able to re-educate myself into craving an Orange rather than Fizzy Cola Bottles or Jelly Beans.  Yeah… I am not going to hold my breath on that one either!

candy

So why sugar?  Well, I know I am addicted to it.  As a pre-diabetic (and I have been for nearly 20 years, which is allegedly impossible according to the medical textbooks, but I have managed it…!) I should avoid sugar anyway.  It is also not great for the eating plan I am following and having success with at the moment, and also, I have often had issues with candida infestations, so starving it of sugar is a really, really good idea.

Lent is going to be tough this year, no question, but I am hoping to come out of it with better habits than I went into it.  What are you giving up for Lent?

Time to start spring cleaning your brain…

It might seem a little early to think about spring cleaning at all, what with snow on the ground and those frosty temperatures every morning.  But when the calendar hits February, I always start to seek the signs of Spring, and as soon as I can see the bulbs poking out of the ground, snow drops in flower, leaf buds emerging, I get a need to clean.

cleaning frenzy

However, it is still early in the month… and I am not totally sold on the whole cleaning thing yet, but I am keen on getting rid of some of the mental clutter that is lying around making things feel a little awkward.  We all know that if you don’t sometimes have a clear out of your stuff that seems to accumulate with startling ease, that you end up feeling choked and cramped in your own home.  Well, I believe the same is the case for the mental clutter that builds up.  The more clutter the psyche has, the greater the toll on your mental well being.

I was inspired by an article I read in this month’s Slimming World Magazine.  A new book has been published called “This Book Will Make You Feel Beautiful” by Dr Jessamy Hibberd and it is basically suggesting that doing a spring clean of the brain is a great way to kick start creative and bodily energy, and to keep you on track when you are dieting.  It has been a difficult week for me in terms of head stuff generally, so I am totally up for this, and thought I could share the tips from the article with you too.

rut

The first piece of advice is to get out of the rut that you are in.  As we are all creatures of habit, we sometimes slavishly follow routines.  That can be everything from getting the same coffee at the same time every day, to exercising on the same machines at the gym, to wearing the same clothes in rotation.  Sometime routines really work.  Like if you need to take regular medication.  Routines is what is going to make it work.  But routines can also be bad.  That cookie you have at 3pm, or the dessert you have after supper.  So, ringing the changes in some ways has got to be a good thing.  Maybe have fruit instead of the cookie, or have a hot cup of tea instead of the dessert.  One thing I like to do is just to sit down and think about what are my routines and then if there are some unhealthy or bad ones… then I will try and change things up a bit to be more positive.

packed calendar

Advice point two is to declutter the calendar.  Who hasn’t had that moment when you look at the month on the 1st and think “Oh my Goodness, how am I going to get through all of THAT!”.  The whole thought of it is energy sapping in the extreme, and that is before you even attempt to do any of it.  A few years ago, I learnt two really powerful tricks.  One, was to keep at least 2 weekends completely free of anything per month.  The second, was to say no.  That last one is soooo hard, because over most of our lives we are conditioned to say yes, yes, yes all the time. At some point though we have to say enough is enough and then say no.  It is simple, but boy does it work!

sweeping attics

Third piece of advice is something I have got sloppy over.  You need to clear out your worries.  Now, I am the first to admit that I am a worry wart.  I always have been.  I am better now than I used to be, but occasionally some niggles will nibble at the sides of my brain and keep me awake in the middle of the night.  I deal with them in two ways.  First, I imagine a box in an attic and then I put the worry in the box, move the box to a corner and then leave the attic.  All done in the imagination.  It works for me.  Second, if it is still causing sleeplessness, then I will think about what it is that is causing me to worry.  Now, I know from long personal experience that the things which stress me out are the things that are outside of my control.  If I can control it, then I don’t need to worry.  So, I tend to repeat to myself “I can’t do anything about it, so why worry?”.  For me it works a bit like counting sheep.  After the first 100 times or so, I go back to sleep!  Generally, the following morning, I am not worried about it any more.

toxic people

Now… the next piece of advice is a tricky one.  You might want to do a friendship audit.  There is nothing quite so energy sapping as a negative Nelly, or an energy Vampire as some people call them.  You know the type.  It doesn’t matter what you say, they always turn it to a negative.  “Oh it is a lovely sunny day” will be met with “And the sun is in my eyes”.  You know the type.  I was one of those for years and years and years.  Thankfully I am not a reformed negative person and instead I try and concentrate on the positive.  It is hard.  It is exceptionally hard sometimes, but I have noticed that it is indeed worth the effort.  If you can’t kick them out of your life entirely, then reduce the time you spend with them.  It will free up a lot of room in your brain when you haven’t got the negative commentary from them running around your head.  Or if they are a close family member, try and introduce them to the gifts of positivity.  You may convert them!

update

Finally, in order to spring clean your mind, you might want to think about the outside package.  Update your “look”.  For me, with Operation Chrysalis under way, I am doing my own updating as I go.  I will, at some point soon, go into the local charity shops and see if I can buy a couple of amazing outfits that will update my image a little and put a spring in my step.  A new outfit on the outside can bring huge benefits on the inside.  If I look confident, I feel confident.  If I look beautiful, then I feel beautiful.

What is there not to love about that?  And spring added into the bargain!  What a great deal!

Operation Chrysalis Update…

As many of my readers already know, I have embarked on a course of healthy eating and exercise over winter in an effort to emerge in spring time significantly thinner and more glamorous.  Today’s blog is an update on that process, which I christened Operation Chrysalis.

chrysalis

Wednesday was weigh in day at the slimming class I attend.  It was not good news.  It was like every week in January really.  I have either put weight on, or I have maintained the weight loss.  Okay, it was a pound that I put on, and in the grand scheme of things, it could have been much, much worse.  But, I have given myself a target to reach for my second stone coming off, and that date is fast approaching.  I can feel things slipping away from me, and I am DAMNED if it is going to happen to me this time.

My body is doing what it always does.  I lose a stone and then it decides it is going to creep back up again.  And yes, I am still following the diet and no, I haven’t gone back to bad eating habits.  But something isn’t going right.  Now, the old me would have decided to say “to hell with it” and go and eat junk food – not entirely sure why, because I don’t like it and it makes me feel decidedly icky.  But not this time.  No, this time, the new me, has decided to arrest the downward slide and get back on the path of righteousness… or at least the path of losing weight.

always

My group leader has given me a pep talk, and suggested I go back to basics.  On this diet plan I am on that means writing EVERYTHING down.  If it passes my lips it goes on the sheet.  I have just done the food I have eaten so far today, and I know I am on the right lines today.  The thing is, I need to do this for all my food over the next week.  It takes commitment, but it will be worth it, I know it will, so I just need to keep it up.  I am trying to jazz up the process by using a funky coloured pen.  It is bright pink ink.  So far, its working!  I am willing to try anything!

If the weight gain has been because of food choices, the food diary will show it.  If however, my body is doing its thing of holding on to weight because I am stressed… well, I need to find some way of reducing the cortisol flying about my body.  My track record of finding positive ways of reducing stress is not great – my previous favourite way of letting off steam was to go out on the tiles and get drunk.  No… not a good way of doing things.  Alcohol has a HEAP of calories in it anyway.  No, there has to be a better way.

Exercise DVD

I have therefore decided to use some of those old exercise DVDs which have been lying around the place gathering dust.  I actually mean this literally and not figuratively… some have never even seen the light of day!!  So… I am going to put them to one side, set up the DVD player and when I feel like I am going to pop with the stress, then I am going to burn through some workouts.  Hopefully it will help both the cortisol levels AND the weight loss.

Stay tuned, to see if it works!

Eating right and feeling calmer…

Can you tell that managing stress is really up there for me at the moment?

stressed comic

I know it seems like I keep harping on about it, but I am really aware that January is a stressful month for many people.  In my life at the moment, I am desperately attempting to get organised so I can cope if I go back to work, plus I am preparing for a job interview and I am painting the hallway in the new house.  I need as much help as I can get in managing those stress levels right now.

Getting stressed and anxious is less about what is happening outside, but more about the reaction inside.  But managing the stress levels and anxiety is not just regulating your reaction; what you eat can have a major impact on how you feel when confronted with those ARGH moments that we all get from time to time.

no sugar

The bad news is that the things you might think would work a treat (sugar, chocolate, chips) are precisely the things you should avoid.  They actually stress your nervous system and therefore should be avoided at all costs.  The good stuff though, the stuff which supports your nervous system, is the stuff you know you should be eating.  Ideally you should be eating alkalizing foods like fresh sprouts, high quality protein, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, root vegetables and cultured milk products such as yogurt, kefir or buttermilk.  Lemons are good as well as grapefruit, nuts and seeds.  If you want to have a healthy nervous system, then you need energy, and these foods will provide that.

The other things you need to do is to add calcium to your diet.  You need calcium to have healthy nerve function, and this is what we are aiming for.  If you have too little calcium in your blood, then you might be nervous, irritable, get muscle spasms, get muscle cramping, be hyperactive and probably not sleep very well.  Thankfully getting calcium in the diet is fairly simple.

green leafies

Obviously dairy products helps.  It helps more if they are cultured.  Plain milk has surprisingly little calcium in it, so choose yoghurt instead.  You can also eat lots of green leafy vegetables such as spinach. chard, broccoli, turnips greens, kale, beet greens and parsley.  Surprisingly large amounts of dietary calcium can be found in seaweed as well.  To be honest, taking in calcium rich foods is going to have very little effect unless you also have adequate levels of Vitamin D.  Either get out into the sunshine, no matter how cold or watery it is at this time of year, or take a supplement.  I take a supplement with added calcium in it.

If you are feeling like things are all getting on top of you and you are struggling to cope, then you might want to consider making a high quality calcium tea.  You take 1 part horsetail, 1 part nettle and 1 part oats.  Combine the herbs, pour boiling water over them and leave to steep for 5-15 minutes, depending on how strong you like it.  Strain the herbs and add honey to taste and then drink it all up.  If that doesn’t sound appetising (and to me, it really doesn’t!) consider taking some herbs with high quality calcium in them.  Chickweed, Amaranth and Dandelion Greens are good sources, must so are Mustard Greens, Horsetail, Nettle, Oats and watercress.  A lot of those will be easier to get hold of come the spring!

Still, there are a lot of lovely foods to choose from.