Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Cals, Cals, Cals (or Now That Summer is Over)

I don't know about you, but if there was one word to sum up my summer it would be 'indulgent' or maybe 'extravagant' or taking it right down to basics 'calorific'. Pre-summer my weight loss year to date was around 14kgs. For the majority of June and July I plateaued, well, sort of. Yes, my weight has been pretty steady until the last couple of weeks where my current diet has, well, let's say its having a relaxed summer holiday. Consequently my weight has quickly gone from flat to having an impressively steep incline. 

With tomorrow being the 1st of September and the start of a new season, (technically not the start of Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere which is confusing) its time to stop celebrating and time to get back on track. Luckily I haven't given up exercising so I can focus on getting my diet back on track. As I mentioned in this post, I have been reading about nutrition, and whilst of course I've wanted to get less fat, my long term goal is to improve my overall health. 

Now, I am absolutely certain that I have lost this weight by watching what I eat. I've gone totally old school and counted calories. That's right, weighing everything I eat and then recording it on the MyFitnessPal (MFP) app. Let me tell you, it is seriously tedious. And boring. So boring. The problem is that it works twofold, there's a constant awareness of what and how much you've been eating as well as a new mindfulness around what you are putting into your body. Or maybe that's just me.

My biggest piece of advice is that you MUST enter every single thing you eat. It doesn't matter if you're having a bit of feast day or if you've just eaten lettuce, keeping track is only going to help you more. No cheating. Seriously. 

Luckily for us all MFP does most of the hard work, and the more you use it, the cleverer it gets. As well as my food, I also use it to track my weight, exercise and steps (it magically talks to my Fitbit). It also has this clever 'complete entry' button on the bottom of the diary screen that you click on at the end of the day and it gives you an estimate of how thin you'll be in five weeks time. I take screen shots of these each week and use them as a lovely motivator of how I am totally on track. Its a bit weird how excited I get as I see the numbers fall. Who doesn't like a bit of positive reinforcement?

I know I've been extra preachy in this post and unfortunately before I finish I just need to lecture you briefly about the the nutritional content of your calories. This is not an opportunity to fill up on mysterious, chemically, low calorie food. Going back to this Amelia Freer quote 'If you want to lose weight and tone up - you have to eat less now'. Less in volume, less in calories and fewer suspicious additives. If you want a bit of help getting the balance right MFP has a pie chart that shows the nutritional break up of the food you've been eating. So clever. 

Its the start of a new season (sort of) and thus a lovely opportunity to make a few changes to improve our health, lower our weight, reduce our cholesterol and look better in our favourite undies. 

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Darjeeling Express at The Sun & 13 Cantons

We're going slightly off-piste for a moment, I'll go back to how I'm being sensible in my next post. Promise. 

Last week, after a spin class, I went for lunch at the Darjeeling Express residency at The Sun & 13 Cantons in Soho. Like many people I had heard about how amazing Asma's food was, but somehow never made it to one of her supper clubs. Luckily for all of us, Asma and her lovely friends will be in the kitchen until March 2016. Yes, next year. Which is necessary because you'll want to go back many times. 

If you want to read in some detail about how delicious the food is try here and here. Suffice to say that it is so good that after the meal I asked Asma if I could spend some time working in the kitchen. Understandably I am yet to be let into the inner circle of recipe knowers so I'll happily keep going back to eat more of my favourites because the one thing I have learnt is that these dishes take time and cannot be rushed. Possibly one of the best examples of the rewards of the long, slow cooking is  the Hyderabad Mirchi Ka Salaan, a green chilli and onion side dish peppered with curry leaves and is a sweet as it is spicy. 

Advice to those of you going the first time, book a table in advance, give yourself time to try things from all over the menu and take friends so you can order more. 

Monday, 3 August 2015

There isn't a Quick Fix

I'm really sorry I don't have a miracle weight loss trick to share with you. Imagine the blog hits! The fame! The endorsement deals! Sadly Oprah and I will have to agree to disagree on this one. 

Just in case there was any doubt, I am neither a qualified nutritionist nor a thin, young, hot, wellbeing blogger. I'm going to tell you what's worked for me, will it work for you? No idea. 

I read a lot, and over the last few months I've been reading about what we should be eating to be healthier. Its all very interesting, but not so interesting that I have completely stopped eating ice cream. 

On reflection there were 3.5 key catalysts that led to my becoming more sensible and less fat. 

1. I've known about Sarah Wilson's blog and her decision to cut out sugar for quite some time, I had even flirted with the idea of doing the same, only lasting a few days at a time. It is hard. April 2014 I decided to go for it, by then (long before then actually) Sarah had started up I Quit Sugar. This is basically the best resource for all things not involving sugar, which by the way IS IN EVERYTHING. Its quite scary when you start reading about it. 

There's an 8-week program which you can even do on your own or with online support. I did it on my own and spoke about it constantly. Not annoying at all. 

2. Psycle. I love Psycle so much. I have a least one conversation a day about it and yet for all the winning autocorrect produced by the various apple products in my life, they still think I mean to use 'Psyche' instead of 'Psycle'. 

Before I started going to Psycle in May 2014, I hadn't done exercise in at least five years. FIVE. That first class was scary. Luckily all the hard work is done for you, cleats, towels, padlock-free lockers, bumble & bumble hair products, ilia skincare and GHD hair straighteners, you just turn up and try to make it through the class alive. The best bit, the studios are dark so even if someone wanted to look at how terrible you are at spinning, they can't. Bonus - everyone there is so lovely, it stops being scary very quickly. 

3. I read this post on Maggie Alderson's blog. I have been reading Maggie's column in The Age for so long that I know what Maggie says, goes. And so I was introduced to Amelia Freer. 

3.5 Of course I bought the book immediately. At the time I was in Melbourne, escaping from the London winter and eating everything delicious. Amelia's 10 key steps to change are quick to read and understand, and following her advice of changing just one thing at a time, easy to implement. I started with '7. Eat 3 meals a day ONLY'. Yes, that means no snacks at all. None. To take an Oprah quote completely out of context 'not a grape, not a nut, nothing'. Do I sometimes have a snack? Sure, but now its a rare occurrence.

AF is right 'If you want to lose weight and tone up - you have to eat less now'. It took a few weeks for me to get used to eating less, now its mostly habit. 

AF is right 'If you want to lose weight and tone up - you have to eat less now'. It took a few weeks for me to get used to eating less, now its mostly habit. 

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