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Fat Girl Slim gets the Point.

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It’s a whole new language isn’t it? Points. Not as in, ‘what is the..” but as in the divine weightwatchers system. Of course being a big girl I have done diets before and weightwatchers too in various incarnations. But I decided to sign up to their online system last week. I get a discount for joining from the NHS where I work so it seemed like a good enough sign to take the plunge and leap in.

I like having something to record what I’m eating and how much and cleverly the online programme works out your points and adds them up for you. here’s what they say about their philosophy, I kind of like it :

Our approach is built on four pillars that have the greatest impact on success. Our philosophy is that a person should:

▪ Learn to eat more healthfully
▪ Increase physical activity
▪ Learn to create and live in a supportive environment conducive to achieving a healthy weight
▪ Manage the challenges involved in changing behaviors weightwatchers on facebook

As those of you who’ve been around me a while know I’m pretty keen on what I’ve learnt and know from my own experience about sugar addiction and I have integrated the seven steps from Kathleen DesMaisons work into my life over the last few years. I see those as the cornerstone of my health and recovery. But I want to add in other things to help me on my journey to weight loss. There is so much wonderful information available to us and I love reading and researching about health and diets and nutrition as well as about addiction. It is a good way to employ my addictive personality from time to time into doing research!

So this is week one of WW online. I am getting my head round the points thing. With their new system all vegetables and most fruits are points free which is great. I am focusing on really increasing my veg anyway but I am trying to keep the fruit to meals and the lower sugar versions like berries as they suit my sugar sensitive biochemistry the best.

Activity points are another thing to ‘collect’. Apparently you can swap these for food. I am not sure my mind needs to get its head round do this then eat more! But I know movement and activity are Good Things and I love ticking boxes so that is helping me to move more too. Last night me and the Missus went back to the gym and had a swim at 8pm for half and hour. We came out feeling  refreshed and both slept well too. Very therapeutic.

So I am looking at this as the next step for me for now in my journey. I don’t see it as a competition between diets or programmes just a way of following a path towards health. I realise I am in this for the long haul. I have had my blips and fits and starts since January but the direction of travel has been the same. I am going to do this and do it well. One day this blog will say Fat Girl IS Slim.

New start, new day, same journey.

Fat Girl Slim – my Last diet

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I learnt something new today. Spinach in a shake is just amazing! I can’t believe it either but it is true. I have been studying along with my friends on ‘Your Last Diet’ programme ( don’t you like the sound of that? )Huh?

And one of the ideas is to increase potassium and reduce sodium in our diet. So potassium comes from increasing veggies and beans and reducing sodium by not eating processed foods and not adding salt. I have noticed a few people have been adding in veggies at breakfast. That was something I struggled with 🙂 Except for tomatoes and mushrooms with a good old fry up English breakfast, but that is not really the look Im aiming for!

My usual breakfast is a shake. I make it with protein powder. Right now I’m using a whey protein which is vanilla flavoured. I tend to add some banana or some berries, or maybe some coffee, soya milk and whizz it up. Its nice with ice too.

So I thought this afternoon that I’d have a little experiment. I find it best not to inflict experimentation on myself at breakfast time. I need calm and quiet and breakfast on automatic if I’m not to end up frazzled and weepy. So this was my shake :

2 scoops of vanilla whey pp

About 6 strawberries

3 blocks of frozen spinach, they are about the size of a plum

soya milk.

It is a nice green colour and honestly tastes delish. I am a convert. Some people are adding kale. I guess nice dark green veggies are the best for potassium. I only have a stick blender so I wanted to see how it would work and it turned out just fine. If I am going to progress to kale I think Id need a jug blender. So I’m pretty excited about this new discovery and just thought Id share. I definitely find increasing my veggies makes a BIG difference.

Oh and if you are interested here is a link to YLD ( Your Last Diet). See what you think.  YLD

Not another diet guru

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I was looking at diet and health books the other day and realising just how many ‘guru’s’ there are out there! Each one has their own special diet magic that means that This time you will ose weight, or Lose Weight and Keep It Off for Ever. Well yes I confess that is my goal. Me and most of the adult female and a good proportion of the male, population. And yet we get fatter.

So what goes wrong? I know there are some crazy half-assed diets out there. Cabbage soup, grapefruit, slimfast, Cambridge – starvation diets really. So of course you lose weight, initially. And darn it, of course you put it back on.

But we know what to do, right? Less fat, whole grains, reduce or eliminate sugars and alcohol, sensible amounts of protein, good fats. Some supplements for good measure – I like Vitamin C, B complex and zinc plus a good fish oil. And exercise.

Not quite Eat Less, Do More but nearly. More like, Eat More of the Good Stuff and less of the bad. And Move

A friend of mine pointed out that the trouble with some good diets is they don’t understand addiction. So true. So the diets that allow you treats and Syns and extra points to spend on a glass of wine or an ice lolly or a jaffa cake don’t cater for those of us who don’t do the ‘stopping at one’ thing. I know that moderation is a good thing but it’s not the way my brain and body works. I was the same with cigarettes. I can’t just have one. I stopped smoking a few years ago now but if I started again today Id force myself through the horrible taste of the first three till I was back to twenty a day in no time. Mad isn’t it?

And I don’t do one chocolate. I know people who can just have one biscuit or maybe two. The same people who still have chocolate left from Easter in June and can have a family size bar of Dairy Milk in the fridge for when a chocolate moment strikes. Oh how I envy them some days. So I much prefer to have none. None means that my food tastes clean and clear and I don’t salivate after cream cake. As long as `i dont ‘just have a little bit’.

so why am I writing about this today? Because i am reminding myself I know how to do this diet thing. And I know how to do it for good. And that is by changing the way I eat and move and live. One baby step at a time. Not because a guru said so but because I can take all this knowledge and use it to make it work for me.

Fat Girl Slim – another step closer

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Well I didn’t get to my ‘diet class’ this week as planned. A night out for a curry with work colleagues just couldn’t be avoided! But I stayed clear of fatty sauces and had a vegetable curry with mushroom pilau rice. Mmmm. No pud and no alcohol so that was a good night. And we had a laugh which has got to be one of the best ways to spend an evening.

I have been focused this week. The last 2 weeks had seen me put on a few pounds so this week back at work has been an opoortunity to get back into routine. Sometimes weekends and holidays are hell on diets aren’t they? A normal week means regular meal times and being prepared with my lunch in a bag and dinner happening on time. I need to work on making that happen on holidays.My body like routine. and that way I am so much less likely to succumb to stuff I don’t want to eat because I’ve let meals get too late and I’m starving.

It’s funny how easy it is to let slip habits and routines that I think are as well established as breathing. And getting habits established is hard. I always struggle with consistency with exercise. Some people seem to find it easy. Not me. I am intrinsically lazy. And yet I remember loving movement as a child ( who thought of it as exercise then?). I loved swimming and skipping and walking and hop-scotch. Riding a bike, a scooter and playing games like rounders. Doing hand stands and cartwheels and roly-polys and the crab. How flexible and fun that all sounds.

I think one of the keys to getting moving must be re-creating that sense of fun and play.And the other part must be being the grown up who knows its good for me and says ‘Just Do It’. But I am still being kind to myself here and recognising that I am doing pretty well. I’ve been much clearer with my food this week. I have had one too many cappucinos and exercise has been sketchy. But I’m still moving forward one little step at a time.

Next week my plan is to make sure I’m writing down what I eat and how I feel.  Step 2 of the Radiant Recovery Programme is about keeping a journal. To know more follow this link:  Seven Steps of RR

I am going to join a class where I can do an aerobics workout as well as the diet. I feel like I need the support and motivation to go alongside what I already know and do. And I am going to commit to taking the dog for a proper walk every day. I posted a blog earlier in the week which linked to some research that has shown how writing a blog about dieting / losing weight really helps. See it again here: blogging-it-off-lose-weight-with-help-startribune-com

The evidence seems to show that it’s the interactivity that really makes a difference. When the topic starts a conversation and when it means a current of support and encouragement flowing back and forth. Pretty cool I thought. And in my own little way I can testify that this is true. One of the tools for success seems to have been being honest about sharing photos of progress, weight lost and gained etc. Well this is my photo of me taken in May. I think I’ve lost about 10 pounds since then. We will get to starting weight on another occasion when I’ve got used to the numbers!

So thanks for reading, listening and commenting. Thanks for sharing the journey. And lets kick some  fat ass this week!

 

Addiction- The Big Mouthed Sucky Monster

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monstermonth.blogspot.com for image

I don’t know too much about other addictions but I do a helluva lot about sugar, some about alcohol although not from my direct experience and less about other drugs. I know there are a million addictions that we don’t even always think of as such. Gambling and shopping most people know of and many identify with even if just a little bit. Then there are ‘workaholics’, addiction to being busy, being the only one ‘who can do it’. Then what about video gaming? I’m pretty sure we all know someone who gets caught up in the X Box or Playstation and gets bad-tempered when they come off it. I expect that a lot of things can become addictive if we have the right sort of personality/ wrong sort of opportunity.

So how do we know? Well there are some standard indicators of addiction which are worth contemplating.

Let’s start with the formal definition of addiction. The American Psychiatric Association publishes a book called the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) which provides clinical diagnosis for mental illness and non-traditional behaviors. (They might refer to them as aberrant, 😉 ). One section of the manual provides a series of questions to determine addiction. These are typically used to measure whether a chemical is being used in an addictive way. Insert alcohol or drugs in any of these criteria to get a sense of how they work.

  • The substance is taken in greater amounts or for a longer time than intended 
  • There is a persistent desire or one or more unsuccessful attempts to cut down or control use 
  • Major time is spent in seeking, using or recovering from the effects of use
  • Frequent intoxication or withdrawal interferes with responsibilities 
  • There is a decreased level of social, recreational activities due to use 
  • There is continued use despite adverse consequences 
  • There is a marked increase in tolerance 
  • There are withdrawal symptoms 
  • There is use to prevent withdrawal

These criteria are easy to use if you are a professional in the field of chemical dependency. When you are on the inside of your own addiction, it may be hard to recognize a “marked increase in tolerance.” You are likely to simply think you can hold your liquor well. One major marker for recovery is the ability to recognize how many of these criteria are applicable to your use.

For more on addiction in relation to sugar, alcohol and drugs take a look at this article by Kathleen DesMaisons Here

I was thinking today how easy it is to slip into addiction or back into it. I know. I’ve been there a million times. I’ve been out of it too, but it lurks and I don’t think you ever leave it behind. Like the ‘black dog’ of depression addiction seems to me like the Big Mouthed Toothless Sucky Monster ready to suck me back under. Of course every day away from that place makes the monster a bit smaller on my shoulder. But I know s/he can grow and grow given half a chance.

But here’s the thing, giving into that monster never ever fills up the empty place. And I’m sure that for any addiction there is an empty place, right? It’s the urge to make that better, take away or numb the pain that gets us on that slippery slope. But it doesn’t matter how much sugar I eat it’s not going to help. And I think I’m pretty much ok. Yes I’ve got my hurty bits and those empty spaces sometimes surface. Or I have a bad day and my insecurities creep up. Or I am just tired ( like now), and a bit sad and want a holiday but can’t quite afford one. That sort of crap.

So why would sugar help with that? Now if you are reading this and you don’t do addiction you are probably going “Well duh, J. of course it won’t help!”. And you, dear reader and wise one, would of course be right. But if you too have a little addictive brain cell or two, you KNOW this stuff.

So what can we do about it? Accept it. Live with it. Learn from the millions of brave and tenacious souls who have gone before us on this recovery journey. Give thanks. Be grateful for life and living it and not being afraid. Being prepared to make a slip or two along the way. Asking for help.  Going to AA, finding support, seeing a counsellor, whatever works for you. Stop expecting to be perfect and rejoice in being human!

Sometimes I just have to say what’s on my mind. It is part of my own process, my own journey and some days are better than others. If you’ve read this far thanks for being present with me. I am thinking of you too, whover you are as I write this. We are on the same path. Kudos

Wanted: One big fat creamcake

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Generally speaking there are only two things that make me want to have a big fat cream cake, one is that I haven’t had enough of the right sort of food over the last day or so, and the other is emotional satisfaction/comfort eating. I am pretty good at knowing when the first is true and keeping a journal can really help there. Hmm what went wrong? Oh yeah, skipped lunch or had it late, didn’t eat enough protein/brown things/veggies. It all stacks up nicely.

But the emotional stuff. Woo. That’s a doozy.

So today I had some bad news. Well not really bad, but sort of disappointing/sad/leaves me with a whole lot of other questions to ask/things to sort out/ sort of news. And pretty much straight away I started thinking I could really eat a great big fat cake with cream and strawberries on the top.

Now the really good thing about today is that I can’t use the car so that stopped me from heading straight into self destruct/unconscious/I am having it now behaviour.

But I don’t think I would’ve gone there anyway. I really like the fact that as long as I’m sticking to this way of eating that works ie. no sugar, enough protein, complex carbs and plenty of veggies my ability to resist those cravings is pretty good. So a solid lunch of leftover chicken, new potatoes and salad and a snack this afternoon of walnuts and an apple and I’m ok.

But it interests me. A lot. I have spent a lot of my life doing emotional eating. It seemed like a good mechanism for dealing with uncomfortable feelings. Feel=eat=feel less then Feel fat=low self esteem=low mood=feel bad=eat=feel less. You know the cycle maybe. Not doing sugar lightens things up. I got clearer. Sometimes that is uncomfortable but mostly its ok. Feelings don’t kill you. They pass. And guess what? Feelings feel a lot worse when they are stuffed and numbed and distorted by sugar.

Even better for a walk with the dog. We saw swallows swooping up and down around us, their bluey-purple backs catching the sunlight. Too fast to catch with the camera but I took one or two of them where you can just make out their swooping shape if you look closely ( take your specs off/put them on).   

Fat Girl Slim -the journey continues

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So the other day I was moaning about middle-aged spread and menopause as well as the hard time I’m having losing weight in middle age. I kept feeling that maybe there was a piece missing in my diet/exercise equation, something I wasn’t quite getting.

And a few people chimed in with some interesting suggestions. And I remembered some stuff that I had read and half forgotten but was there lurking somewhere! Recently I went to see a Specialist Dr. for a review following recent illness. I had loads of blood work done and repeated every few weeks and this was to be the final follow-up. She had been concerned about my glucose levels and I kep being asked if I was diabetic. As you might imagine this started to freak me out a bit. I know I’m a prime target. I’m 53, overweight and wasn’t very active. I’ve also had a history of sugar addiction and at this point this had been out of control again. So I knew my blood sugar would have been spiking and falling and the chances of me doing some damage to my insulin levels was there. Whilst I was ill my blood sugars / glucose levels were in the diabetic range. Now that I’m well again they have fallen back to the ‘normal’ range. That is a relief of course but the Dr told me that she thinks I am ‘glucose intolerant’ ( I could have said that!) and so my body can go into a sort of diabetic state when I’m ill. This isn’t a scientific explanation by me you understand, but a sort of nuts and bolts one! So the conclusion I can draw from that is that my glucose intolerance puts me into a pre-diabetic category possibly and heightens my risk. So what’s the solution. Hey! Lose weight, get fit and balance my blood sugar. Eureka!

As it happens I’ve been following a great programme for the last few years, mostly on although sometimes off ( eg when I was ill recently). It is a programme for recovering from sugar addiction and includes a book called ‘Your Last Diet by Dr Kathleen DesMaisons. I hadn’t read it for a while but I was pretty sure there was something in there about losing weight ( genius, me!) and also about possible road-blocks like insulin resistance.

http://www.radiantrecovery.com/                                     

So home I went to my books. Here is what Kathleen says:

Insulin resistance becomes even more of a problem if you are overweight.Your fat to muscle ratio has a huge impact on how much fuel you need. Muscle cells contain insulin receptors because muscles need glucose as fuel. People with more muscle and leaner muscle need more burning power and have more insulin receptor sites. Fat does not have insulin receptor sites. It just sort of sits there passively waiting to be called. People with a higher proportion of  fat to muscle have fewer insulin receptor sites than people with less fat and more muscle. People with more fat than muscle have way fewer places to burn. People with 44% body fat are going to burn a whole lot less than people with 27% body fat”  YLD page 212

  And bingo, I realised there is more than one thing going on here. Insulin resistance means that I may eat what my slim friends eat and exercise and still be fat. I need to make some other shifts. Kicking up the exercise is one of them. I need to do aerobic exercise ( tick) but I also need to work on weights. Building muscle is really important in terms of helping my body metabolism get that it can shift into fat burning mode. And I probably need to do More exercise. Like every day. For an hour. So I need to work on tis steadily ( I am). Two half hour slots are fine. A walk in the morning with the dog. A session on the cross trainer or in the pool or a class in the evening. And some weights at the gym.              

 

Another piece of the puzzle is that some fats are better than others at fat burning. So making sure I sick with those omega 3’s and 6’s. Lots of fish and chicken, not so much of the sausages and beefburgers and Bolognese with red meat. Turkey mince is great 🙂

And abdominal fat is also caused by stress. It is much, much harder to lose weight when you are stressed. Your body produces cortisol in response to stress as the fight or flight adrenaline mechanism kicks in. So your little body refuses to let go of that fat that it might need to face the starvation of winter or the sabre-toothed tiger it expects genetically. So stress reduction, meditation and exercise all help with that. Calm is best for weight loss as well as for inner peace!


Some people also like the low GL way of eating for managing blood sugar  nuts, seeds and fruit for great snacks to keep steady. And low GL to balance your carbs. Patrick Holford is pretty much the UK guru for this approach and I like a lot of what he has to say too. Optimum Nutrition is the watchword here and that is a pretty good message to live by too.

So for me I’m working on tweaking my existing plan a little while keeping with the basics which have brought me freedom from the sugar addiction and steadiness emotionally thanks to no more highs and lows from the sugar hit!

Steady complex carbohydrates – Im thinking of moving to the beans / legumes end of the spectrum more and much less of the wheat

Enough protein to provide fuel for fat burning but mainly of the white meat/ fish/ vegetarian variety

Good omega 3s and 6’s – olive oil, oily fish, supplements like flax oil in my protein shake

And exercise – I’m pretty pleased honestly with how I’m doing with that. I’ve gone from couch potato to using the gym / pool every other day. I’m thinking to try to build in a walk every day now as well. I enjoy it, the dog enjoys it and with my walking poles I’m much better at it. Win-Win.


Oh and lots of water!

Having just been away for a couple of days at a family wedding and eaten far too much cheese I’m now ready for action 🙂 It’s good to have a plan, have found some clues to help me get going again and to know what to do next.  Keep watching this space I will report back!

Garden adventures

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Over the last few months Ive been taking stock of life, work and all. I came to a bit of a crashing halt after getting seriously burnt out in my management role in health services and have had to work my way through anxiety and depression, some dark days and nights. I’ve been sad, angry, irrational and exhausted. No fun to live with as my partner and kids can testify to I’m sure. Day by day and step by step I have been coming back. I got love and support form family and friends. I am doing some work with a great therapist who treats me holistically with talking and reiki / healing work. We have explored health, life, work and happiness and its all in the context of the here and now. And Im still taking the tablets too 🙂
I know some people get worried about the idea of anti-depressant / anti-anxiety meds but for me at this time they have been a gift. Enough to take the edge off, support me in getting steady and given me a foundation from which I can make some real changes. Dont knock it!
As part of my journey back to health I thought a blog might be fun. I can feel the creative juices beginning to flow a little after some desert time and think this might be a way to share some of my musings, planning and wild and wonderful ideas.
Currently Im working on meditation and mindfulness with special reference to Louise L Hay ‘ You can heal your Life’. Getting my food back on track with reference to Kathleen DesMaisons ‘Potatoes not Prozac’ and ‘The Sugar addicts Total Recovery Plan’.
Im sitting at my kitchen table, it is raining gently outside and Im glad for my newly planted veggies instead of feeling sad at the loss of sunshine!
Today I have a meeting to talk about a new role at work. I am visualising only good things, creative, happy satisfying work with wonderful people! What could possibly go wrong? LOL
I mentioned the veggies. Oh Im so excited about that. It’s a new thing for me. I have always been half  held back in my gardening plans by believing I don’t really know what to do, or how to do it ‘properly’! I think my streak of perfectionism got in the way there. So as I am beginning to feel the energy start to flow again, tackling the wasteland that is our garden seemed like a project I might have fun with. The first thing was not to scare myself! I don’t have to do it ALL in one day ( no really). So I started with a patch about 3′ square and started to clear the weeds. Wow. The ground was rock hard the weeds put up a fight but after several mugs of tea and with muscles aching that I didn’t know I had it got done. I covered it with black material that stops the weeds coming through and planted my first veg – 2 squashes.
Getting the bit firmly btween my teeth I have become a garden centre stalker and have to keep visiting them to see what the latest veggies are in plug plants!
I have containers of courgettes, peppers and tomatoes and a pot of dwarf runner beans. Two tiny strawberry plants are now in the top of an old chimney pot where I hope they will tumble down.
Im getting a whole new perspective on predators and pests. Slugs have never been my favourite creature, I mean I wouldn’t have chose one as a pet, but hey Im a pretty pacifist sort of girl and I wouldn’t have actively hurt one. Hmmm. That was then. Now the little horrors have eaten my squashes, yes both of them with now a sign of leaf left. This is war. Snails and slugs go underfoot ( sorry!) and I have bought organic slug stufff which looks like cat litter ( maybe it is??). I have replanted and the new ones have a halo of broken eggshells and slug stuff round them and my fingers are firmly crossed.
Yesterday my first courgette burst into flower. That glorious gloden yellow trumpet and I can see another 6 just waiting to burst open. What a miracle.
There is something very therapeutic about pottering about in the garden. On so many levels it just works.