Tag Archives: Diet

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!

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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!

An update on Operation Chrysalis…

“Operation what?” cry my new readers.

chrysalis

Let me fill you in.  Basically, back in September, I began to feel like a big fat caterpillar.  I had put the weight on that I had fought to take off in the previous 6 months and I decided to start again and to lose all the weight that I want to lose.  Initially I tried to do it on my own, using my own knowledge of nutrition and what worked and what didn’t for my own body.  The plan was to use the winter as my form of cocoon (they are also called Chrysalises, hence the title!).  The idea is that come the spring, when the summer wardrobe is back out from the loft and everyone want to looks awesome in shorts, I shall take off the winter layers and reveal my new butterfly me.  Or if not the entire transformation, certainly a good way towards it.

Operation Chrysalis

The first two months of Operation Chrysalis did not go well.  I discovered, week after week, the weight was going back on again.  So, I decided to take the bit between my teeth and head for a local slimming class.

It so happened that I got a text message from one of the leaders I used to go to slimming class with, and as I do not believe in co-incidences, I decided to go along.  So… I did.  In the 8 weeks since I have been going (even with Christmas and New Year festivities in the way) I have lost 15 and half pounds.  This is really, really good for me, because with my PCOS and Insulin resistance, losing weight is incredibly difficult for me.  I have great support at home, which is crucial, and I must say, it is rather pleasant to have people from Church come up to me and tell me how good I am looking, and have I lost weight.  It is massive boost to the morale, and makes you want to keep going.

tape measure

I have also taken my measurements.  Those inches are really beginning to show.  I have to wear a belt with all my jeans now.  Some of my skirts are too loose on me.  I am actually looking to take some of them in.  This is, let me tell you, a FABULOUS feeling.

Seeing as it is a New Year I have committed to a new start on the diet front as well.  I lost 1.5 pounds this week, but I am going back to basics on the eating plan.  I am going to write down everything I eat (“write as you bite” is the phrase I am taking away from today’s class!) and hopefully I shall come away with a good weight loss next week too.

If any of you are undertaking your own “Operation Chrysalis”, how are you getting on?

I think I was tempting fate…

I did say I liked December… and I still do.  Sort of.  Unfortunately, the heating system at home has decided that it is not that happy.  So we are going to have a few days of shivering in a cold house.  It is not too bad though – it is definitely a first world problem.  Luckily we have contacted a heating engineer who is coming out on Monday at noon – so not too much longer to wait.  In the meantime there are hot water bottles, thick blankets and hot drinks on the cards.  Oh, and I am in layers.  Lots of layers!!

cold inside

In my many years of dieting, I have often heard that being cold is a good way of losing weight.  I know that when you do lose weight you feel the cold more, which is to be expected really, with a lack of erm… insulation.  I can tell you, I am feeling the cold more this year than I have previously and I am sincerely grateful.  I went to my slimming class this week and was thrilled to discover that I have lost my first stone (14 pounds).  I have a good few more to come, but getting over the first stone barrier is a psychological thrill and the fact that all my clothes fit me better is just bonus.

It is slightly odd to realise that I am now the same weight as I was when I was 18.  The year I went to University.  Goodness.  So, the rest of my “journey” to being a better weight is going to be a magical mystery tour, as I really don’t have any frame of reference for how I will look or feel.  But that can be my motivation – lets see just how awesome I can feel/look.  Anyway, I had promised myself that I would treat myself to some new makeup when I reached the first stone.  So, I did.  And let me tell you, it felt GREAT.

make up

I also streamlined the contents of my makeup bag at the same time.  I still have enough, but I do not have too much, and what I do have, I like and will wear when I want to put a face on.  Plus, losing the weight means my clothes fit better, so the general look of me is better than it was.  Not that there was anything wrong with me before, but I am enjoying the change of losing weight.

There are some bad things – tights keep falling down (very annoying indeed), the fact that my fat cells are reducing means there is a lot of oestrogen being released into my system.  I generally have a headache when this happens – but I am happy with that – especially as it means that I am losing inches.

knitting 1

So, my treat when I get to my next stone target is to get a knitting pattern and the wool to knit it up.  In the smaller size I will be when I get there.  I am keeping that in mind when temptation presents itself.

A modern plague… and what you can do about it.

There is an idiomatic quirk of the locale where I live.  A lot of people, when discussing their ailments love to express that they “Suffer with Blood Pressure”.  It is at this point that my inner pedant rises up in protest.  You do not suffer with blood pressure; you absolutely and totally require blood pressure in order to survive.  It is what pumps the blood around the body.  What you actually suffer with is either high blood pressure, or low blood pressure.

high blood pressure

Either is equally nasty, to be honest.  In modern days however, it is high blood pressure which is something of a plague.  I have lost count of the people who have been diagnosed with it in my network of friends and family (including myself at one stage), so I think it is quite important to think about the causes of it and what we can do in our own home arsenal, before we take to the medical profession.

Doctors actually call high blood pressure the silent killer, because it rarely causes you any problems until something in the body gives out, like your heart or your kidneys.  Effectively, it is the result of your system getting overstressed due to something or other.  Shortness of breath and severe headaches can be a sign of high blood pressure, but the only sure way of telling if it is normal or elevated is by going to get it checked.  A good guide is to get it measured once a year.  You can go to the doctor for this, but equally you can purchase your own machine from the pharmacy, or you can use some publicly available machines if that is a service provided in your community. If you are a normal, healthy person should have a blood pressure of below 140 over 90.  The last time I was checked, for my adoption medical, I was 120 over 80.

hypertension

A few years before that, when I was 35 or so, I went to the doctor reporting symptoms of unexplained headaches, nausea, no energy whatsoever and inability to sleep.  She took my blood pressure, took it a second time because she didn’t believe the first reading and then told me that if I didn’t calm down I was going to have a stroke before I turned 40.  It’s a shame I can’t remember the reading from that occasion, but I know it was elevated.  I am rather proud that I never required drugs to keep it under control.

I did my research.  I knew which risk factors I had (overweight, stressed to the maximum, pretty crappy diet at the time, hardly any exercise because I was anchored to a desk all day at work) and I knew I needed to change things if I wanted to beat the beta blockers.  So if you are in this position yourself, here is what you do.

vegetables

First, overhaul your diet.  I will be honest, I am not the best at eating like an angel all the time.  If I was, then I would have lost this excess weight a long time ago.  But one thing I have done is cut out the excess salt in your diet.  You might recall a few years ago there was a big push from the medical profession to the food industry to stop putting extra salt in things?  That was because of this, and the link to heart disease.  So…  gradually cut out convenience foods out of my diet.

Consequently, I lost some weight, and that is also good for the blood pressure.  I could stand with losing some more, but that is for the sake of vanity rather than anything else.  I do not need to do so for my blood pressure to equalise.  Another good tip is to learn how to breathe properly.  A lot of people do not take as deep breaths as they should, due in part to appalling posture brought on by sitting for long periods in front of a computer screen.  Taking deep breaths, holding it and then releasing it slowly is actually a great technique for relaxation as well.  I actually know of one lady who was about to be put on beta blockers, but learning how to breathe properly meant that she was able to get her blood pressure down entirely without the aid of drugs.

walking

You also need to do some exercise.  Walking is one of the best exercises you can do, and a gentle walk for 30-45 minutes per day is perfect for getting the blood pressure down.  You need to do this at least 3 times per week and ideally walk steadily without a break.  The whole point is to exercise your heart for a sustained period.

Walking is also a great stress reliever and walking the family pet is also a great reason to walk places.  Having a pet and fussing it, and receiving love back from it, is a wonderful feeling.  I certainly noticed the difference on adopting two cats and a nutty dog!  Anything that relieves stress in a healthy way is fine – get out and see people, laughing at a funny movie, listening to music you enjoy, planting something in the garden  (well, I like that, anyway!).  Anything that can get your blood pressure down and lets you chill out.  After all, another phrase for high blood pressure is hypertensive.

Failing to plan is planning to fail…

And I really do not want to fail again.

fail

I have often muttered to people that diets and eating plans and lifestyle changes always fail me.  The actual fact of the matter is that I fail them.  After so many years of attempting to lose weight and inches, I continually fail at them.  I am really good at failing at them actually.  It is a talent.  But it stops now.

Today is the first day of Operation Chrysalis.  I woke up this morning, weighed myself, measured my salient dimensions (nearly died of horror as I took those numbers down) and I have decided that these numbers are the worst numbers that are going in the little book we now have in the bathroom.  I am going to reduce those numbers, and I am going to lose weight and inches. There is no point weighing and measuring every day because our weight and size oscillates quite regularly, and it is quite a soul destroying process to monitor that daily, so it is going to be a weekly thing instead.

measure

I have to run my Mother to the hospital to an outpatient clinic this morning.  But when I get home, I need to sort out my plan of attack.  Butterflies do not need to plan, but I am a caterpillar right now and caterpillars definitely need to plan.

I know two things right now.  I am going to self sabotage the eating side of things because I always do, and at some point my body will stop co-operating and will increase the weight or the inches somehow and I will get all dramatic and throw up my arms and wail and gnash my teeth and throw myself dramatically over the furniture proclaiming how unfair it all is.  So, I need to have a plan in place so I can counteract both of these things.  I guess the one benefit of being on a diet of one sort of another over 35 years is that you know your faults and foibles.

But I also need to have a plan so that I can fit in everything I think is necessary to the success of Operation Chrysalis.  The food side, the exercise side, the “I have nothing to wear because my clothes are hanging off me” side (I will get there. I will).  If I write it down then I have something to refer to when the attack of the drama queen vapours takes over – and please, feel free to kick me in the bahookie if you see this sort of behaviour as well as remind me that my plans have been written down and really ought to be used.  Thank you.

Now, the other thing I am implementing in Operation Chrysalis is that we must all look our best.  By this I mean we must all brush our hair, wear clean clothes every day (unless you are painting or doing mucky jobs in the garden… we need to be realistic here people!) and make ourselves feel good.  I actually do feel better when I have my hair done, or when I put make up on, and when I make an effort with what I wear.  I know this doesn’t happen for everyone.  But do whatever it is that makes you feel good.  It is powerful medicine for the head stuff.

self love

I think the biggest part of planning in Operation Chrysalis is changing our collective head stuff.  So here is my starter for 10.  If you hate yourself when you are big, then getting skinny is not going to change anything.  You will still hate yourself.   That mind set has to change before anything else does.

So I will be planning for that as well.  Any ideas gratefully received!!

It might be Autumn… but I am thinking of butterflies…

Every self respecting butterfly will have headed for warmer climes by now, I am sure.  In the UK, it is cold, damp and pretty miserable today, and I am not sure about everyone else, but my summer wardrobe has been retired until sometime next year.  My autumn/winter “Let’s wear layers” wardrobe is out and now heavily in use.  Yet I am still thinking about butterflies.

butterflies

Here’s why.  After my self administered bahookie kicking on Friday, I took a critical look at my eating of late and I was not that impressed.  In fact, it would be safe to say that I was much less than impressed and I know my eating habits need an overhaul.  This is not unusual.  Every 6 to 7 months, I need to check out what I am eating, appraise it and then tweak it to make sure I am getting the nutrients I need and I am not snarfing too much. Also, I don’t know about you, but after holidays, I find the relaxed eating patterns often stay around a little too often.  I need to get back on track.

Then I looked at the amount of exercise I take.  I am much, much better now than I was when I was stranded in an office for 10 hours a day… but I know I can squeeze more exercise into my life somewhere, somehow.

And then, in the shower this morning, the idea came unbidden into my head.  Operation Chrysalis.

You know that the life cycle of the caterpillar culminates in the Chrysalis, right before it transforms into a butterfly?  Well, that is what I want to do over autumn and winter.  After being wrapped up in layers and woollies for 6 or 7 months, I want to reveal myself in spring/summer as a butterfly.  Rather than the big hungry caterpillar.  Again.

caterpillar

So how am I going to do it?  Faddy diets?  No. They wind me up and are rarely effective. Never eating anything?  No.  Not sustainable, and very, very bad for you, plus I am not good at depriving myself of food.  In fact I suck at it.  So, the only way is to be sensible.

I hereby commit to eating only food my grandmother and great grandmother would recognise.  I also commit to eating slightly less of them, because I need to retrain my body to recognise when I have had enough.  Also, I am going to let myself eat what I want on Sundays.  This has to be sustainable, and being incredibly virtuous for 7 days a week is not just impossible, it is impractical.  I am also going to avoid artificial sweeteners and lots of fats.  I will still use fats, because you need them for proper nutrition, but not loads of them, because that is bad for you.  If I want biscuits, or ice cream, or cake, then I will make some.  If I go off the idea because I have to expend the energy of actually going and making it then I wasn’t that committed to the cause in the first place, was I?

ggrandmother food

I also commit to drinking no diet soft drinks.  If I really want a soft drink then I will drink the full sugar variety.  As I don’t like the taste of most full sugar varieties, it will mean I will drink more water, which has to be a good thing.  Despite my protestations to the contrary, I do not drink vast quantities of coffee, so I will keep my coffee intake the same, and instead drink more fruit and spice infusions and proper tea.  I would say I will drink green tea, but I can’t stand the taste, so I am not going to do that.  This is about enjoyment as well.

And finally, I commit to doing more exercise.  I have MASSES to do in the garden over the winter to get it ready for the growing season next year, so that will definitely add to the exercise regime.  Add to that the housework and all the painting and stuff I want to do in the house and that is quite a bit already.  But if this caterpillar wants to be a butterfly then I am going to need to step it up a bit more.  So, I have exercise DVDs that need to be used.  There is also the Wii Fit Plus.  I need to work out a plan of using them.

weighing scales

Of course, one thing I haven’t mentioned is how I am going to track my progress.  Generally speaking I am anti scales and weighing, though that is a handy way of doing things.  So, instead, I am going to measure my body as well as weigh it.  I think weigh in day will be Wednesday and I shall measure myself at the same time.

Who else wants to play along?